On October 6th, we closed on our first ever home.
It took about 3 hours to buy it, and 18 months before we could live in it.
The story of how we found the house was kind of mind boggling, and really reinforces my belief that everything happens for a reason. We saw the builder’s website, picked a model that we liked, and when we went to the sales centre – the house we wanted was the ONLY one left. Handed over a cheque for the deposit and then… waited. It was scarily simple.
Our decision to buy a new construction home was pretty easy – the housing market in Toronto is ludicrous and it was the only way to get something we wanted without feeling like we got completely and utterly hosed. After signing the contract, I hopped right on MLS and checked out what homes were going for in the same area… Not. Even. Close…
One less bedroom here, one less bathroom there, outdated appliances and fixer upper status – for more than what we paid!
If you know me, you know I love a good deal, and we were able to score our house for $298,900. Just in case you live in those crazy TV towns where 3000 square foot mansions are going for $150k, getting a freehold 3 bedroom/3 bathroom townhome in the GTA for under $300k is almost unheard of.
Right now, the exact same model of our home is selling out at $410k.
This is the SAME HOUSE.
Dan and I can’t believe it.
I know, I know, there are some drawbacks to buying a new construction home:
The wait is long.. And, there’s a chance of not getting your house on the first date. Our closing date was extended by one month, which actually worked out for us, but my friend didn’t get her house until over a year after her original closing date.
We didn’t know what we were getting. As in – we chose between a bunch of floor plans. No model homes, no walkthroughs – it was just “yeah I think I can picture the inside of this house…”
It’s like living in a construction zone for who knows how long.
This is my front yard.
We have our slidey-play-house and water table at my parents’ house because there’s no where to put it. They also have our BBQ and patio set because if we shoved it in our backyard, it would probably get ploughed over. There was someone drilling into our house yesterday as I was making breakfast, so he was right there in the window of the back door. Sweet Pea was a little confused.
There are guys ringing the doorbell every day asking me to move my van or to park on the other side of the street so they can build the curb and the sidewalk.
At 7am, the machines start up and I swear everyone is driving in reverse only, at all times.
I realized I have to put Sweet Pea down for her nap at noon, because that’s when the workers go on lunch and she’ll actually be able to fall asleep.
The cars won’t ever look clean, because the dirt is everywhere. They have streetsweepers that clean the roads, but ironically, it ends up spraying dust and mud onto our vehicles, so car washes seem futile.
No one can find our house, because you can’t Google our address. The satellite image on Google Earth is like, the wooden frame with some dudes working on it. We’re going to have to start giving coordinates as directions.
Despite all this, don’t get me wrong – I would not think twice about buying a new construction home again, because there are so many plus sides to the list!
Updated everything. Our new home is considered a “green” home, so it’s pimped out with all the cool new efficiency and energy saving features like drain water heat recovery, Energystar windows, heat recovery ventilator, efficient lighting and water efficient fixtures. All these features already save on the costs of running the house versus a home with older technology. Every room also comes pre-equipped with a modern smoke/carbon monoxide detector that’s been tested and inspected by someone legit and knows what they’re doing.
Warranty covered. Last week we noticed that the toilet was acting funny – every 2 minutes it sounded like it was “topping up” and filling the tank as if someone had just flushed it… but without the flush. I just sent one email and someone was at my door within a few hours, and fixed it at no cost. Really convenient since I’m no plumber, and it turns out it was just one simple little thing that was upsetting the system. If I actually had to call a plumber and pay whatever it is they would have charged me for coming over and fixing it, I would have been embarrassed (and probably a little ripped off).
Our design choices. As part of a purchase incentive, our deal included $4000 worth of designs and upgrades. One downside to the upgrades is that they are pricy. Exorbitantly pricy. Like they wanted over $200 PER potlight. $8000 to upgrade from carpet to wood in the main floor (which isn’t a huge space). $2000 to paint the stair railing. $3000 to paint the house something other than off-white.
Uhh… no thanks?
Not only were these prices ludicrous, but some of the styles that we wanted weren’t even available – for example: we want grey hardwood floors throughout. They don’t have ’em. We’d even go for grey tiles throughout the main floor – but tiling the living room and dining room wasn’t an option, period. So we currently have grey carpet, something that Sweet Pea is loving because now all of our “Ring Around the Rosy” sessions are just that much cushier. We’ll probably do the floors in a year or two, and it definitely won’t cost $8000.
However, we were able to choose all of the standard finishes based on our tastes, and I’d like to think we used our design credit wisely. We used most of it on things that we would probably never ever change – or would be too much of a hassle to change – like upgrading the tiling in the kitchen, main entrance, and ensuite bathroom. I’m pretty confident in saying that I’ll never be smashing up these tiles to lay down new ones! We also went for a deep cabinet over the refrigerator (as opposed to a shallow one that loses practicality as soon as you put anything on top of the fridge) and French doors for the patio. We can always paint, rip up carpet, or put in new countertops – but I feel that these are “meaty” upgrades that would just be such a pain to try and change later.
Slow process. I know, I just listed a long wait as being a con. But this actually worked out in our favour. We were able to save up even more money towards our down payment while we waited for everything to be finished, because you don’t start paying for it until you close. Really handy if you’re a couple of first time homebuyers looking to pad their down payment while locking in a low price.
Oh yeah -the price. You just can’t argue with the fact that it earned over $100 thousand in equity before we even moved in. Every time the builder released a new block of houses, we’d check out the website and see how much they were going for. At first they only creeped up by about $7000 each time, but then one day it jumped by $30,000, and now it’s over $110,000. Ca-razy. How’s that for ROI?
This isn’t always guaranteed (hello 2008), but you’re going to be paying less before there’s a hole in the ground than when the house is already built up. It also helps if it’s in an up and coming neighbourhood instead of an established one. The developers want people to buy into their vision, so they’re obviously going to give a break to early adopters.
So far, we’ve been enjoying our new home experience. Sweet Pea now sleeps in her own twin bed (I KNOW. What baby??) and loves playing in her own room. It’s nice to have our stuff out of the storage unit, and we no longer feel like we’ve completely invaded my parents’ house. (Thanks for putting up with us for so long, Mom and Dad!)
I’ll put up some interior pictures when it doesn’t look like a bunch of movers brought in half our stuff then went on strike. 😉