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The 3 Biggest Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

Just yesterday we talked about the biggest mistakes anyone can make when buying an older home, such as not making sure that certain systems are up to code and in proper working order. But first-time home buyers are a group that are especially prone to making some other pretty common mistakes on any home they buy, simply because they’re new to the market. Never having owned a home before, applied for a mortgage, or many times, even gone house-hunting, it can be easy to fall into certain traps, and to overlook certain things. Here are some of the biggest mistakes home buyers make, and how you can avoid them if you’re just stepping into the market for the first time.

Falling heads over heels in love with the show home

Show homes of course, are homes typically in larger developments where many units are created to be the same, or at least very similar in size, layout and features. However, not wanting to offer cookie-cutter units wherein every single unit is the same, builders will offer different upgrades that can be added to the basic model unit. Granite countertops, central vacuum, central air, rich hardwoods, stainless steel appliances – these are all upgrades, and they are all some of the most high-end and expensive stuff you can find. They’re also what builders fill their show homes with.

It makes sense, given that a unit with every upgrade installed is going to look much better, and have more convenient amenities, than a unit that only offers basic square footage. And while ordering those upgrades can quickly rack up the amount of that mortgage, it doesn’t mean you can¬†never order them for your home. Just ask questions and make sure you’re very clear on what comes standard, and what’s an ¬†upgrade. Then be very choosy about the ones you do include in your home.

They don’t fight delays of move-in dates

When you purchase a property with a builder if it’s new construction, you will be given a move-in date, or date of possession. That date legally means that that is the date that you can expect to have all your stuffed moved in, and spend your first night in your brand new home. Fifteen years ago, if that date was delayed by the builder for whatever reasons (landscaping not done, not all features installed on all homes, etc.) buyers had no choice but to accept it and wait. Often that meant having no place to live, due to the sale of their previous home, or staying with friends and family until their new home was finally ready. That however, is no longer the case.

After Toronto condo buyer Keith Markey had the possession date delayed and delayed again, to the tune of a total eight months, he took the builder to court, requesting that the builder pay him $5,000 for the inconvenience caused him while waiting for his condo to be ready. Not only did he win the case, but he changed the laws in Ontario and now, builders are legally bound to the possession dates they issue.

“The law is now clear and critical dates are now included as part of the purchase agreement and contract,” says Jason Silverman, an agent in Toronto. “If a builder misses these critical dates and requires an extension, a buyer can either agree and seek compensation, or simply get out of the deal.” Whatever the buyer decides to do, Silverman says that it’s critical the buyer get legal advice before making any final moves.

They don’t consider the good – and the bad – that goes with living in a construction zone

Even if you’re in a development where all homes are set to be ready at approximately the same time, it’s doubtful that everything will be finished by the time you move in. Whether new buildings are being constructed nearby, right within your same building, or just in the general area in areas unrelated to your home, it’s likely that if you’re moving into new construction, you’re going to have to put up with some construction for at least a little while after you move in.

Many first-time home buyers want the idealistic setting for their new home, and that doesn’t include jackhammers going at all hours of the night and day, or workmen continuously grunting past you in the hallway. Truth to be told though, construction workers and builders run by pretty fairly normal hours, and will never be working at all hours through the night. And as for those construction workers? Most of them are very nice, and with no grunting at all.

Secondly, living in a new construction zone doesn’t have to be all bad – and that’s something first-time home buyers especially don’t see. Seeing growth around you, buildings going up, people moving in, that can all be a very exciting experience. So says Jason Saxon, another Toronto condo buyer.

“You take the dust and dirt and noise with a grain of salt,” he says. “And it’s actually nice watching the homes go up.”

But, also don’t be so star-struck by those new buildings that you do overlook the inconveniences they may cause. Mr. Saxon says there are some of those, too.

“When the builders put the final grading on our road, no one could drive or park on our street,” he says. “For many of our neighbours that meant a hike through muddy and overgrown fields just to get home.

Buying your first home certainly is a very exciting time! But, being new to the entire process, it can also be a very stressful one, especially if you overlook things that really need more attention, or if you get so overjoyed by the process that you can’t take a step back and look at the big picture – not just that pretty new kitchen that you just can’t stop thinking about!

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