Selecting the Right Style of Home As a First Time Home Buyer

When choosing a home everyone has different preferences and goals for choosing the type of home they do. Here are some key questions to consider when choosing your first home. What will the commute time be from the home to my workplace be? Will this home suit my family today and in the next couple of years? How much immediate maintenance is required on the home and do I have the time to do the required maintenance?

Choosing a New Home

Many first time home buyers are drawn to the excitement and beauty of a new home but they fail to consider all that comes with the purchase of a new home. Not only are there wonderful features of a new home but there are responsibilities that you would not have with a resale home. New homes usually are more energy efficient and have a modern design. If you decide to purchase a new home you sometimes have the option of making personalized design and decorating choices.

Many times homes listed with builders that are mid-construction process clients will find a home that is at the top of their budget or within their budget and become quite excited. Then they decide to make a few changes which take the home from the “base” product to more luxurious or custom. These “upgrades” can add up quite quickly and change the overall cost of the home.

There are also other cost considerations like landscaping, fencing, appliances (many builders don’t include), window coverings etc. These are costs that you will have to come up with after you have paid for all the initial costs like down payment and closing costs. If you have not already had a surplus of savings set up for these types of things you might want to consider looking for a home that was recently built with these things already done.

Resale Home

Purchasing a resale home also allows for different advantages and cost considerations. The home may be fully finished and have a mature yard and landscaping and it is not uncommon to have appliances included or be negotiated into a purchase contact. Also with a resale home you are not responsible for the GST. With a resale home depending on the age, the cost to heat may be more due to less energy efficiency.

Semi-Detached Homes

Often times clients are not able to initially afford the “dream home” or starter home they had initially thought of. Some alternatives to a fully detached home are duplexes, triplexes or condominiums. They are many types and styles available suited to people of varying lifestyles.

With the rising costs of homeownership during the housing boom many large scale builders increased the building of “Luxury” type multi-unit housing like duplexes and condominiums. These homes often are much more affordable than a detached home and offer perks such as upgraded flooring, garages and upgraded fixtures. For young couples or even new empty nesters these can be very attractive options. Usually the yard is smaller and requires less maintenance (some Condominiums even include yard maintenance in their condo fees). This can be a stepping stone for the first years of home ownership for the young couples that have higher debt obligations and incomes are still at the lower end of their career scales.


Condominiums are big business in Canada and they are popping up in every large centre across Canada. With many styles to choose from like stacked apartment style, row housing it offers first time homebuyers more options. The condominium market is very competitive and often the developer is trying to appeal to a certain lifestyle or demographic. Many complexes offer common space that includes gym areas, pools and common meeting areas that can be used by all tenants. For those seeking less maintenance that have a busy schedule or travel often condominiums can be a very attractive choice.

There are some key things to consider when purchasing a condominium. It is important to know what is and isn’t included in the purchase price of your condominium and what is covered by your Condominium Fee. Do you get 1 parking stall or is this an extra cost? Are you allowed pets? Is your water bill included in monthly fees? How often have fees increased in the past 5 years and why? This is an important reason why a Real Estate agent should be a part of your team of experts. Your realtor will ensure that you are aware of the advantages of the complex you are considering as well as anything that could make your home less homey than you thought it would be.

Each Condominium Complex can be different and usually there is an Association that oversees and makes decisions based on the property owners votes on how a Condominiums Reserve Fund is maintained and what it is used for. If you do purchase a condominium I always recommend contacting the Association and meeting one of the members to discuss the bylaws of the Condominiums. Having your lawyer review all the Condo documentation is very important to ensure that you are making a prudent decision based on all the facts and the health of the current association. I recommend doing this prior to making an offer on a Condominium.

Choosing your first home is an exciting and sometimes daunting task. Considering the maintenance on the home, the commute to work and your families future goals are all things that will help you make an informed decision. Including key people like an experienced Real Estate Agent and reputable lawyer will help keep things in perspective and give you an outside view to assist you in the process.

Remember that purchasing your first home is your FIRST HOME. Rome was not built in a day and it may not be feasible to move into your “Dream Home”. Becoming a homeowner improves your financial strength and creates an investment that you can utilize later to get you into the “Home of your Dreams”.

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