One of the best ways to learn more about buying your first home is to talk to a first-time homebuyer who has already gone through the process. That’s why we chatted with Gea Koleva, a 30-something Torontonian woman who recently purchased her very first condo!
Where and what did she buy?
Gea purchased a unit at The Carnaby, a new condo by Streetcar Developments at Queen and Gladstone in Toronto.
One of the most difficult decisions for first-time homebuyers is whether to buy new or resale. Gea bought new because she wanted the option to customize her features and finishes before the condo was built. She also felt more comfortable knowing that she was the first person to live in the unit.
“I want to move in and just worry about decorating the space to my liking, rather than think about renovating or personalizing someone else’s finishes. Also, resale is usually more money and with a new build, I had more time to save money,” explained Gea.
Another tough decision to make is whether to buy a house or condo. A condo made more sense for Gea for a couple reasons; a house involves too much maintenance for a single person, and she wanted to live downtown and a house just wasn’t an affordable option. “I don’t have to worry about shoveling snow or mowing a lawn or general big-budget expenses like the replacement of a roof, repaving of a driveway etc.” said Gea.
The homebuying process
There are many steps to the homebuying process. The most difficult part of the homebuying experience for Gea was the very first step: saving for the down payment.
Many first-time homebuyers find saving for the down payment the most difficult part of the process. In Canada, you are allowed to use money from your RRSP to go towards your down payment, and that’s what Gea did.
Gea was also fortunate enough to have her parents help her with the down payment, and with home prices on the rise, that kind of assistance is becoming more and more common in the Greater Toronto Area. Young adults are staying in school longer, paying higher rent, and building up more debt than ever before. According to a recent report by BMO, 30% of Canadian first-time homebuyers expect their parents or families to assist them with the purchase of their first home. Even with help from parents and using money from her RRSP, it took Gea three years to save for her down payment, and she works full-time.
Gea’s favourite part about the homebuying process was the customization stage. It was very exciting for her to pick her flooring, kitchen cabinets, and other features and finishes.
Tips for first-time homebuyers
If Gea met a first-time homebuyer who was looking for advice, she’d tell them “When you do your research and work closely with the sales representative, and also take the time to visit a good real estate lawyer, you feel prepared and they can help answer any questions you may have,” and “Do your research in terms of location (make sure you like the location you’re buying in); be realistic with your budget (what can you comfortably afford).”
We thank Gea for taking the time to chat with us about her homebuying experience. We hope you learned a lot! Stay tuned for our next first-time homebuyer interview to get another perspective of the homebuying process.