What Should You Buy?

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Try to buy a home that meets most of your needs for the next five to ten years or find one that can grow and change.


The environment surrounding your home can be almost as important as the environment inside of it.

Before you start searching for a home, you need to think about your needs both now and in the future. Here are some things to consider:

– Size requirements. Do you need several bedrooms, more than one bathroom, space for a home office, a two-car garage?

– Special features. Do you want air conditioning, storage or hobby space, a fireplace, a swimming pool? Do you have family members with special needs?

– Lifestyles and stages. Do you plan to have children? Do you have teenagers who will be moving away soon? Are you close to retirement?

Try to buy a home that meets most of your needs for the next five to 10 years, or find a home that can grow and change with your needs. Use the Home Features Checklist at www.cmhc.ca to see what you want, need and may potentially need in the future. Use CMHCs Home Hunting Comparison Worksheet to note and compare features of up to three different homes to help you decide on the right home for you.


Even if the home you choose has everything you need, the location might not be appropriate. When deciding where to live, you should take the following things into consideration:

– Whether you want to live in a city, a town or even in an out-of-town location

– Where you work and how easy it is to commute

– Where your children will attend school and how they will get there

– Whether you need a safe walking area or recreational facilities such as a park nearby

– How close you would like to be to family and friends

When thinking about the kind of home you want, the first thing you should consider is whether you want a previously owned home (often called a resale) or a new home. Here are some characteristics that may help you decide:


– Personalized choices. You may be able to upgrade or choose certain items such as siding, flooring, cabinets, plumbing and electrical fixtures.

– Up-to-date with the latest codes/standards. The latest building codes, electrical and energy-efficiency standards will be applied.

– Maintenance costs. Lower maintenance costs because everything is new and many items are covered by a warranty.

– Builder warranty. A homebuilder’s warranty is usually available in all provinces (except Nunavut and the Northwest Territories). This can be important if a major system such as plumbing or heating breaks down. This warranty does not apply if you build the home yourself.

Neighbourhood amenities like schools, shopping malls and other services may not be complete for years.

– Taxes such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) (or, in certain provinces, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)) will apply. However, you may qualify for a rebate of part of the GST or HST on homes that cost less than $450,000. For more information about the GST New Housing Rebate program, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

– Extra costs. You may have to pay extra if you want to add a fireplace, plant trees and sod, or pave your driveway. Make sure you know exactly what’s included in the price of your home.


– Easy access to services. Probably established in a neighbourhood with schools, shopping malls and other services.

– Landscaping is usually done and fencing installed. Previously owned homes may have extras like fireplaces or finished basements or swimming pools.

– No GST/HST. You don’t have to pay the GST/HST unless the house has been renovated substantially, and then the taxes are applied as if it were a new house.

– Possible redecorating and renovations. You may need to redecorate, renovate or do major repairs such as replacing the roof, windows and doors.

There are many types of homes to choose from and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Think about your needs before making a decision. Don’t forget to look beyond the walls. The environment surrounding your home can be almost as important as the environment inside of it.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007


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