First-time home buyer finds her new abode by following her instincts
Danielle Burtoway has always had her sights set on buying a home, rather than renting one.
“I want to be smart about it,” said the 24-year-old, who currently lives with her parents. After looking for the past several months, Burtoway has taken the proverbial plunge – she’s buying a unit in Copperfield Park III.
While Burtoway admits that price was a definite consideration, she didn’t commence her property search with a specific list of criteria.
“When I started looking, I was very open-minded,” she explained, adding that she even considered a couple of detached properties. However, she said, “With that comes a higher price point and more work behind it … it’s too much for my first home.”
Burtoway says location was also important when deciding upon what to buy. “The south is very desirable, because I work down there and I have a lot of friends who live there.”
As soon as I walked in, I knew I could see myself living there. I bought the place within four days. I felt really passionate about it.
REALTOR® Bryan Logel is Copperfield Park III’s vice president of sales and marketing. He says the top two criteria that a new homebuyer should consider are affordability and location.
“Review your finances and talk with a mortgage professional to help you figure out what you can afford. Consider your savings, monthly costs, other debt,” he advised.
When it comes to location, Logel said, “This is one of the largest deciding factors when purchasing a new home. Look at where – and with whom – you spend your time most. Along with that, look at access to transportation and main roads, and distances to and from work.”
Burtoway first became aware of Copperfield Park III from advertisements. After exploring the virtual tour on the development’s website, she visited its show suites.
“As soon as I walked in, I knew I could see myself living there. I bought the place within four days. I felt really passionate about it,” she said.
While units in Copperfield Park III start around $160,000, Burtoway secured an 820-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath unit for around $200,000. The layout will allow her the option of having a roommate, if she so chooses.
Burtoway says she feels more comfortable purchasing a new property, because the building and its appliances are under warranty.
“If something went wrong in an older building, or broke down, I would have to fix it.”
Home inspector Alan Fisher says while a home’s age “shouldn’t be the only thing on a buyer’s radar, as newer isn’t necessarily better,” he advises if a buyer is looking at a prospective property and notes serious structural cracks in the foundation and/ or water damage, those are definite “red flags.”
“It’s easy to be overcome with excitement when you’re purchasing your first home. Don’t be tempted to skip the home inspection process. It’s better to have a home inspection now than an unpleasant surprise later,” added Fisher, the owner of Integra Inspection Services and the immediate past president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (CAHPI) – Alberta.
Fisher notes that a home inspection can also serve as a learning opportunity for the new homeowner.
“An inspector can show homeowners things like where the water and gas shutoffs are, how the ventilation system works and how to change the furnace filter.”
Logel says among the most important tips about buying one’s first home is to be realistic with expectations.
“Your first home may not be your final home, so keep that in mind. When analyzing a potential property, recognize the difference between needs and wants and desires. Create a wish list. The more you focus on your needs, the clearer things become. Don’t over-analyze, just be honest with yourself and keep answering the question: How important is that specific item on the wish list?”
Burtoway says she came up with her wish list after viewing several properties and noting what aspects she really liked about each place.
Burtoway settled on a west-facing unit on the top-floor of the building. The unit comes with underground parking and an in-suite washer and dryer.
Her best advice for first-time homebuyers? “If you have things you’re passionate about finding in your new home, don’t force a decision … if you’re presented with an opportunity, and it works, just do it.”