Special to the Financial Independence Hub
Buying a home can be daunting, especially for people who want to buy on their own. And that number is growing. In fact, according to a survey we at TD Canada Trust recently conducted, single homeowners represent a quarter of Canadians buying or intending to buy a home.
A large part of this trend is driven by unexpected life circumstances: Canadian homebuyers who are divorced (69%) or widowed (35%) more likely to purchase solo, along with a growing number of single Canadians who say they’ll go it alone (67%).
From personal experience, I know that being creative –- and realistic –- on ways to afford to own a home is going to get you in one faster. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Buying solo doesn’t mean living solo
Just over one-quarter (27%) of single Canadians who have or intend to purchase a home alone would consider having a tenant to make solo home ownership more affordable, while just under one-quarter (23%) said they would consider a roommate. Having rental income can help pay down the mortgage principal more quickly. Be sure to qualify for your mortgage without rental income so you have flexibility if you decide a roomie or tenant is not for you.
Think beyond the picket fence
Before you make any commitments, do your research and seek out professional financial advice to know what you can afford. For example, you can check out the TD Mortgage Affordability Calculator online to see what budget works best for your situation. Remember, it’s not just a mortgage payment you have to manage – other costs including property taxes, insurance, and ongoing maintenance will add up. Your mortgage payments should be low enough so you can take care of all your monthly expenses, meet your savings goals and still have some wiggle room. It’s also important to have slush funds set aside to cover emergencies and household maintenance.
Protect your investment
As a new home owner or landlord, it’s important to protect your newest and biggest investment. Be sure to research what type of insurance coverage will best fit your needs and give you peace of mind. For instance, fire replacement coverage is something people typically think about, but, depending on where you live, you might also consider sewer back-up and ice damming coverage. For example, even newer neighbourhoods can have issues with water backing up into basements, if grading and drainage are not well managed. And finally, remember to tell your insurer if you decide to rent out part of your home, make any renovations, or other changes as this will affect your coverage.
Enlist a home-buying buddy
If you’re on your own, it’s important to have a support system in place, like a trusted friend or family member, throughout the process of buying a home. Having support will help you stick to your plan and can provide an objective voice as you visit properties, negotiate and close on a property, and set up your new home.
If you’re looking to make the big move, remember to speak to a mortgage specialist about your individual needs and make a solid home-buying plan before you visit that first open house.
Happy house hunting!
Marc Kulak is the Associate Vice President of Real Estate Secured Lending at TD Canada Trust with many years’ experience in the mortgage advice business.