7 Helpful Tips For Buying A House In Canada If You Feel Like All Hope Is Lost

The Canadian housing market can feel feel discouraging. 🏠

Trending Staff Writer
A aerial view of a neighbourhood in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Right: College Street in Toronto.

A aerial view of a neighbourhood in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Right: College Street in Toronto.

Buying a home in Canada has continued to get harder and harder for first timers over the last few years, due to increasing prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, this may have young Canadians feeling a little disheartened, to put things lightly.

Finding a home in the city that you want to work and live in can be a struggle, especially if you're a first-time home buyer.

Prices can feel unobtainable, depending on your income, and can really make you ask yourself, "Am I ever going to own a home?"

But, before you give up hope, keep reading!

To help shine some light on a sometimes dreary-looking housing market, Narcity sat down with realtor and real estate expert Trish MacKenzie to provide some promise for those out there feeling hopeless.

She says instilling hope in your home-owning future requires a lot of things, such as setting realistic expectations, getting yourself prepared, and understanding your own lifestyle, among other things.

So, here is how you can feel a little more positive about the future of owning a home:

Set realistic expectations

The last two years have seen sky-rocketing housing prices, but expectations for a lot of buyers remain the same.

One thing that MacKenzie really wants buyers to do is really analyze what they expect out of a home.

"I find most buyers are looking to fulfill an ideal they’ve created in their minds," said the real estate expert, warning against this way of thinking.

"Maybe its out of their price range, maybe there’s too much competition, maybe it doesn’t even exist!"

She points out that buyers should focus on the function of the home, not just the bits and bobbles that would meet their "dream home" requirements.

Talk to an expert

The best way to understand what's possible for you is to sit down with an expert and seek their guidance.

And, when you do meet with them, be open and honest about your financial situation, goals and next steps.

"Together, put together an action plan to get you from house hunter to homeowner," said MacKenzie. "Develop a strong, transparent relationship with them — there’s a reason many agents say they moonlight as therapists."

After all, it is one of the biggest and most emotional financial decisions of your life and their job is to make it easier.

Analyze your lifestyle

This is where you get real with yourself. Take a look at what is a "must-have" and what is a "nice-to-have."

"Do you want private outdoor space, or are you okay with the park nearby? Do you need a high walk score and specific school district or are you okay driving to the necessities?" said MacKenzie.

And these questions will be different for everyone. But, when you really consider what is needed and what is wanted, you're able to start figuring out what type of home would work for you.

You can always change what a house looks like, so if a home fulfills all your functional needs, but maybe lacks a few aesthetic perks, it might be a better fit than you first expected.

Look at your capacity to 'upgrade'

Understanding how much time and money you might have to spend on fixing a place up is also something you should consider when making inroads into the housing market.

"A home with 'good bones,' as realtors love to say, may need some TLC but the work required will have an impact on the overall value," said the realtor. "And, may give you an 'in' to the market."

Plus, decorating, improving or upgrading a space increases its value, thus setting you up for a better financial future down the road.

Act now

The thing with housing is that the value is almost always is going up. So, acting now is advisable.

"The best time to invest in anything is always yesterday," said MacKenzie. "Over time, the value of real estate will increase, and help you grow your portfolio."

So, while you might not be able to afford that dream home right now, by buying property you can set yourself up for a future with more financial potential.

"Use your first home as a way to grow your potential equity so you can use the appreciated and added value as a tool to upgrade," she added.

Know everyone has a different path

It's easy to think about what you "should" be doing with your life, or when and where you "should" be buying a house. But MacKenzie says thinking like that is just not productive.

"Don’t compare your path to homeownership to everyone else."

She continued, "Homeownership isn’t a one-stop journey anymore. For most of us, we need help with the down payment or need to invest in something smaller that will appreciate over time."

A great way to find your own path is to arm yourself with knowledge. Along with understanding the many incentives and programs out there, MacKenzie also points out that you should "get well acquainted with your market, lean on the experts you are choosing to work with, and work with people who have a knack for finding solutions."

Realize that it's not totally hopeless

"Things are never hopeless," said MacKenzie. "But, our understanding of how we become homeowners is changing."

She's the first to admit that, yes, home prices are on their way up. But, our housing market is a product of how we understand homeownership in our society.

"People, at first, only lived in multi-generational homes," explained the real estate expert. "Then, with the rise of the middle class and the introduction of mortgages, more people found themselves able to find independence in their own space."

"We may be about to see more alternative approaches to getting ourselves into the market," said MacKenzie, pointing out that multi-generational housing, co-ownership multiplexes and income properties could all be "a means of increasing our equity to get to where we want to be."

So, hopefully if you weren't feeling good about the housing market before, that's changed a bit!

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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