Tips for First-time Homebuyers in Canada

You’re a first-time homebuyer in Canada, so what’s next?


To help answer all the questions you might have, and ones you might not even be aware of, we’ve done the research for you and put together a First-time Homebuyers Guide to help you with purchasing your first home in Canada. No matter where you are on your journey, this blog answers questions that will lead you down the path of homeownership.

Research:

– Determine how much of a mortgage you qualify for depending on your debt ratio

  • How much of a down payment you have
  • -Whether you will need CMHC insurance (a mortgage insurance that let’s you get a loan for as much as 95% of the purchase price)
  • Inform you of how much your average closing costs will be

Step 1) Understand how a credit score works

A credit score is crucial to buying a home in Canada. When you buy a house, lenders will look at your credit score to determine if you are qualified to handle the financial obligation of a mortgage, and to determine their risk level when they lend you money. In Canada, a credit score is a rating between 300 and 900 and is determined by your credit history. Your credit history is made up of what type of credit or open accounts you have, your total levels of debt and how consistent you are with making your payments.

So, what is considered a good credit score? For both first-time homebuyers and previous owners the ratings are:

There are more nuances to credit scores than just paying your bills on time. Before buying your first home in Canada, make sure you know what your credit score is, and how a credit score works so that you know all the criteria that goes into calculating it.


At EP Homes, we have a team of credit coaches that will work with you to make sure that you are well-prepared before buying your first home in Canada. Contact us today to talk to a credit expert!

Step 2) First-time Homebuyer Programs in Canada

There are many first-time homebuyer programs in Canada. These programs can provide you with financial assistance and tax breaks like the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive or other rebates (Source: CMHC-SCHL) that will assist you the purchase of your first home in Canada. 

Step 3) Down Payment

Acquiring a down payment can be a hurdle that first-time homebuyers come across. A down payment is the money that homebuyers pay towards the purchase of a home. In Canada, people are usually required to pay 5-20% of the house price for the down payment. This amount must be saved prior to obtaining a mortgage.


If your down payment is less than 20% of the house’s purchase price, you are required to pay for insurance on the mortgage. Based on how much a down payment you have, your lender will explain what the premiums for the insurance are on top of your monthly payment. 


However, with our EP Homes Bridge to Own ™ program, first-time homebuyers in Canada can lease and live in their brand-new homes while saving for a down payment and set onto the path to homeownership. It’s really 0% down.

 

To find out if you qualify for our Bridge to Own™ program, contact us today!

Step 4) Closing Costs

First-time homebuyers often overlook the closing costs when buying a home. Other than saving for the down payment and preparing to pay for the mortgage, future homeowners should start saving for the closing costs as well.

 

These costs can range between 3-5% of the purchase price and will cover fees such as: land transfer tax, GST/HST on a new home purchase, legal and administrative fees for closing a real estate transaction, moving and insurance costs, and home inspection costs.

 

It is important for first-time homebuyers to save and be prepared for these expenses in advance so that they are not in the red when it is time to close on their home.

Step 5) Get yourself ready to pay a mortgage

Once you have saved up enough for the previously mentioned costs, it’s time to get a mortgage pre-approval. You need to figure out if you can afford a mortgage. A pre-approval will let you know the maximum amount you qualify for and estimate your mortgage payments.


While pre-approvals aren’t mandatory, they give you an idea of what types of houses you can afford and assist with setting a budget.


While setting up a budget, you should take your household income, personal monthly expenses, property taxes, condo fees, utility bills, and an emergency fund for life’s unexpected expenses into consideration.

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Buying your first home in Canada may seem like a daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Before you start looking for your dream home, make sure you should know your financial situation and start saving.

 

 

 

Want to talk to an expert? Book a consultation session with us to talk about homeownership in Canada and find out if you are qualified to buy your first home with $0 down payment through our EP Homes Bridge to Own™ homeownership program!

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Spring Maintenance

Spring cleaning is a must-do just after the spring equinox, but let’s not forget about spring maintenance!

Inspecting both the interior and exterior of your home during the spring is like going to the doctor’s office for an annual checkup. You want to make sure that everything is operating well and is maintained properly so that you won’t have any surprises down the road which might make an unexpected dent in your wallet.  

With all the cleaning and organizing you have to do around the house during spring, we thought we’d save you the trouble of having to make your own spring-maintenance checklist. Below are some tips to help you get through your spring maintenance!

Tip 1) Air Conditioner

We’re jumping into the spring-maintenance checklist with summer’s most desired home appliance, air conditioners. With the recent summer heatwaves we’ve been having, it’s no wonder so many people have gotten air conditioners installed. Cleaning them off with a hose to get rid of any residual dirt or cobwebs is a good starting point to your spring maintenance routine. 

Tip 2) Eavestrough a.k.a Gutter or Rainspout

When the spring arrives, so does the rain. If you have any trees nearby, especially spruce or pine trees with needles on them, you’ll need to clear them out so that water doesn’t leak out of the eavestrough potentially causing pools of floods on the ground below. Also, if there are any leaks you will need to seal them.

Photo Credit: Adrien Olichon @pexels.com

Tip 3) Inspect the Roof

While shingles don’t have to be replaced every year (in fact it is usually every 10 years or so), you do need to include roof inspections in your spring-maintenance checklist. Most people can do this themselves, but if you do make sure you have a sturdy ladder to use and someone spotting you when you go on the roof. This task is easily done with tip #2 above.

If you choose to have someone else inspect the roof, ask them to take photos while they are up there so you can see for yourself what the condition of the shingles are.

Tip 4) Check Smoke Alarms

Sometimes spring-maintenance is as easy as changing out the battery. Most smoke detectors are battery operated and will beep at you when the battery is almost dead, but to get ahead of the game change the batteries twice a year – once in the fall and once during spring-maintenance, for good practice.

Tip 5) Cracks in the Concrete

Inspect the concrete in and around your house for cracks. This includes the foundation of your home, the sidewalk and the driveway. In the late winter and early spring, we start the freeze-thaw cycle. The snow that thaws turns into water which can seep into the concrete. When it freezes again, a lot of pressure is put on the concrete which can sometime expand so much that it causes cracks. It’s important to inspect everything properly and if there are cracks spotted, call a professional to seal them properly; especially for the foundation of your home which could lead to interior flooding if not taken care of right away.

Photo Credit: Polina Tankilevitch @pexels.com

Tip 6) Paint and/or Repair the Fence

Winter weather can take its toll on the exterior of our home, and nowhere is this more true than when you have a peek at the fence. Like the deck it’s subjected to rain and snow leading to potential paint and wood damage, but its vertical placement gives it the disadvantage of having the additional misfortune of bearing strong winds. This can cause loose panels and nails that have rusted because of being exposed to the elements.  

Tip 7) Check the Siding

Check under your siding to make sure there is no water damage, or on top of your siding depending on what type you have, this will prevent potential mold from growing. If you have vinyl siding and see a panel sticking out more than other panels, there is a high likelihood it’s because there is some moisture under it and you should get it replaced. 

Tip 8) Inspect Outdoor Faucets

When spring comes along, we reach for the outdoor hose to water our lawns and gardens. But before we can water our yards, it’s important to make sure that the hose and more importantly the faucet is intact. If the faucet has any leaks, you might need a new valve. Troubleshoot to see where the leaks are coming from and determine next steps from there.

Make sure to hold off on connecting the garden hose to the faucet until the chance of frost is completely ruled out. Prematurely connecting the hose can cause the waterline to freeze or the pipe/faucet to crack causing leaking into the basement if the temperature drops.   

Photo Credit: Chris Thornton @pexels.com

Tip 9) Window and Door Screens

Spring brings warmer weather, but it also brings bugs. Making sure that all the window and door screens are undamaged is vital to keeping all the bugs outside instead of in your home. Making sure the screen isn’t ripped is also important because it also acts as a barrier between your pets and the outdoors. We don’t want our fur babies running out whenever they want to, so make sure this item is on your spring-maintenance checklist. 

Tip 10) Garage Door Spring Maintenance

This one is easy to spot anytime of the year, but during spring-maintenance season, you will want to give it some extra attention. Signs to look for are things like, is the edge of the door on the tracks? Are there squeaky noises when you open or close the garage door? Is there rust anywhere on the frame? If you think your garage door requires professional maintenance, reach out to a specialized garage repair technician.

If you haven’t already, check out our spring-cleaning and organizing tips. For more home tips and resources, subscribe above and don’t forget to share us on social!

Spring Cleaning and Organizing Tips

Spring cleaning and organizing are big jobs—with so many things to clean and organize, it’s hard to know where to start. 

Sometimes spring cleaning can be overwhelming, so to help with all the cleaning and organizing we put together a list of tips to help you get into those hard-to-reach-places.

With our spring-cleaning checklist, you’re sure to get every nook and cranny including the ones that family member *you know who* always manages to spot when they come over!

Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used spaces in the house, so it’s no doubt that it’s the first mention on our spring-cleaning checklist. Getting to things like organizing the pantry and the kitchen cabinets is usually reserved for when we have time to rummage through everything, so it’s no wonder these items, along with several others, are usually taken on during spring cleaning.

Tip 1) Fridge

Most people can admit that moving the fridge every time they clean is not high on the chore priority list, but it shouldn’t be overlooked when doing your spring cleaning. Moving the fridge will give you a chance to clean all the dirt and dust that’s been secretly trapped underneath it on the floor.  

 

Since you’ve already pulled the fridge out, make sure to wipe down all sides of it while you do your spring cleaning. And don’t forget the interior! We all have jars and condiments that have been living in the fridge way past their expiry date—empty and recycle them, and give the fridge a good wipe on the inside as well. You’ll thank yourself for adding this to your spring-cleaning checklist. 

Tip 2) Microwave

Spray it down with vinegar and water (an economic and natural cleaning solution), then let it soak for a bit. While it’s common to clean your microwave, give it some extra attention during spring cleaning and clean the outside of it as well.  

Tip 3) Cabinets and Drawers

Take out all of your dishes and cutlery, and give both the inside and the outside a good scrub. It may be one of the more time-consuming, spring-cleaning tasks, but it will be worth it—we promise! 

Tip 4) Oven

Cleaning the oven is possibly one of the worst spring-cleaning checklist items, no matter how you go about it, the smell of oven cleaner always lingers in the air. If you have a self-cleaning oven, you are ahead of the game—though we do recommend opening the windows and staying out of the kitchen while you have it on as the temperature gets extremely hot.  

Tip 5) Pantry

Organizing the pantry is a satisfying task, but it takes some time. Depending on the size of the pantry, it can be a good idea to get some pantry organizing shelves and build a few tiers to better see everything you have in your pantry. Also, make sure to check the expiry dates on all of your food, it’s easy to let the items at the back of the pantry age well past their expiry date.

Photo Credit: Karolina Gabowska @pexels.com

Bathroom

Tip 1) Shower Curtains

While it is advised to do this at least every few months, you should include washing your shower curtain into your spring-cleaning checklist as well. Take the curtain off of the shower rods and throw it into the washing machine on the ‘delicates’ cycle and throw in a couple of towels to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. 

Tip 2) Cabinets

A crucial part of spring cleaning is purging. Getting rid of old makeup or medications in your bathroom cabinets will create some more space and make it easier to find things you are looking for—especially in the mornings before work! 

Tip 3) Grout

Often overlooked, cleaning the grout in your bathroom is an essential item to add to the spring-cleaning checklist. All you need is some grout cleaner, and you’re all set! 

Tip 4) Drain

Unclogging your shower drain should be done frequently, but give it some extra attention during spring cleaning. Most plumbers recommend that you avoid using a drain cleaning product because it could rust your pipes. Instead, try getting a drain cleaning tool found at most hardware stores.

Tip 5) Exhaust Fan

Even though we use it often, we don’t clean it often. Take the cover off your bathroom exhaust fan and give it a good wash to avoid mold build up.

Photo Credit: Burst @pexels.com

Bedroom

Tip 1) Blinds and Curtains

If you have blinds, removing them can be a bit of a hassle, but well worth it. Once you remove the blinds. Take them off and put them in the bathtub or shower so that you can rinse and wash them easily. If you can’t remove the blinds, vacuum them with the hand attachment.  If you have curtains, remove them from the rods and throw them into the washing machine on delicate. While tedious, this is an important spring-cleaning task.  

Tip 2) Under the Bed

Moving your bedframe or box spring out of the way in order to clean under it will likely be a two-person job. Grab your vacuum and give the floor or carpet a good scrub to check this item off of your spring-cleaning checklist. 

Tip 3) Dressers

Take everything off and out of your dresser. Wipe down both the interior and exterior.  

Tip 4) Closet

One of the most rewarding spring-cleaning items is cleaning out your closet! If you want to really get into it, you can colour code your clothes and arrange by occasion (but for the sake of getting through your spring-cleaning checklist this might be something you could hold off on doing until another time).  

Tip 5) Ceiling Fans

Dust and wipe them down to make sure the air circulating in your home is dust free. If you have AC, you can find tips on how to clean it in our Spring Maintenance article.  

As a bonus spring-cleaning item, don’t forget to clean all the baseboards!

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