Once you’ve determined your financial situation and the type of mortgage that will work best for you, it’s time to figure out what type of house you can afford. Knowing your mortgage status goes a long way here—the bigger and better house you choose, the more money you will likely have to borrow. But, once you’ve found your financial window, it’s easier to find something that will fit inside.
Different types of houses come with different expenses, so it’s not enough to find one that looks nice. You also have to consider the additional costs you’ll be looking at when making a house your home.
A single-family house stands on its own and may give you the most freedom as a homeowner. It typically offers more living space and a larger lot size than other housing options. You are free to renovate your home, as long as you adhere to local bylaws and apply for the necessary permits but, you’re also on the hook for any repairs or maintenance costs as well as heating and water bills. Because you’re also purchasing the land the house is on, it tends to be the most expensive type of home to purchase.
A duplex is similar to a single-family house, with one major difference: it shares a common wall with a neighbour. Still, each house sits on its own plot of land so although you share a wall, you don’t share the land. These types of homes are usually smaller than single-family homes, but you’re still responsible for any repairs, maintenance costs and bills. Some of the costs may be shared with your neighbour, such as roofing repairs or snow removal.
When you purchase a townhouse, you’re purchasing one unit in a row of units. If you purchase a freehold townhouse, you’ll own not only your unit but also the land —this also means you’ll own all maintenance and living costs, as above. If you’d rather have the common areas (outside repairs and snow removal among them) taken care of for you, it’s a condominium townhouse you’re after. Of course, this means you’ll have monthly condo fees. Depending on your agreement, your condo fees may cover some of your monthly bills, such as water or natural gas.
Purchasing a condo gives you ownership of your individual unit, but you’ll share the upkeep costs of any common areas with the other residents in the condo building. Your monthly condo fees will be used to keep the parking areas, elevators, carpets, front entrances, and any recreation areas in good condition. These fees are in addition to your mortgage payments. Depending on your condo agreement, your condo fees may also cover some of your monthly bills, such as water or natural gas. You’ll be responsible for paying the bills the condo fees don’t cover.
In addition to choosing your balance of freedom and responsibility, your options can be branched out further:
If you want to make your dream home a reality, this is the best option. You get to choose the layout, the colours, the flooring and more. Additionally, you shouldn’t be blindsided by any unnoticeable issues such as fire or flood damage. Unsurprisingly, building a home from scratch may be one of the more expensive options, but you’re paying for what you want instead of things you don’t.
Newly constructed home (spec home)
These homes are usually available close to completion, so your move-in date could be sooner than with a custom-built home. Newly constructed homes are built based on what the builder thinks a buyer would be looking for, so although you won’t have the option of choosing the floor plan or giving it your personal touch, you might find the builder has incorporated a lot of your must-haves. This type of home is cheaper than constructing your own, but it comes with the same plus side of having had no previous owners.
Previously owned home
Of course, many people take great care of their homes and then decide to sell, leaving you with some nice options for home ownership. You’ll also have more room for price negotiation, which can make a huge difference when you’re on a budget. It might not be new, but it’s new to you!
A sad reality of the economy today is that some homeowners can no longer afford to make payments on their houses. When this happens, the lender will force the sale of the house to collect the money. These properties are often well below market value to ensure a quick sale, so they are another option if you’re looking to cut expenses.
Happy house hunting!