Want to Buy a Bigger House? Here's What to Know

Despite the downsizing trend, moving into a bigger home still makes sense for many people. 

Young people often start with a starter home or a condo, planning to expand later on. 

Whether you have a growing family, or you’re taking care of relatives under the same roof, you could use the extra space. Also, simply having more residual income can offer the opportunity to upsize and live a more comfortable life.

While a larger home often offers an increased quality of life, the process of assessing the budget and finding the ideal home can be a bit overwhelming. There are a few important things you should consider before starting house-hunting, so here are 7 tips to ensure a smooth and successful process: 

1. Requirements

Before starting your search for a house, take the time and consider your requirements and goals carefully. Creating a ‘wish-list’ is an exciting first step, and helps make house-hunting easier.

You can go through a number of questions, and then express these requirements clearly to your real-estate agent. Some questions include: 

  • why do you want to move?
  • what do you want to achieve from the extra space?
  • do you want more spacious rooms, or just more rooms? 
  • does a bigger kitchen make sense for you?
  • do you need more bathrooms (especially relevant for an expanding family)? 
  • do you want your own office space at home?
  • do you want flexibility to turn the office into a nursery/bedroom in the future?
  • what is the ideal layout of the house?

Having a clear picture of your requirements can really help you stay focused and practical, reducing the risk of making mistakes and having future regrets. 

2. Financial aspects

A bigger house comes with bigger costs, so you should examine all the financial aspects before making a purchase.

As a first step, it’s important to set aside a budget you’re willing to spend for purchasing the new property. 

Other initial costs could include potential renovations, buying extra furniture, moving costs etc. A larger space usually means you’ll need more furniture and home decor as well. If the new property also has a yard, this will also require money to arrange and maintain. 

You will also have higher long-term ongoing expenses. The monthly utility bills will increase, as well as various taxes. When viewing properties, make sure you inquire about utility costs in order to get an estimate. If you’re moving further away from the centre, commuting costs might also go up. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t get a bigger home. Just be aware of these extra long-term costs in order to avoid future financial troubles. 

3. Maintenance

Maintenance will not only change in terms of expenses, but also the time you’ll need to invest for keeping your new home clean. There will be more space and furniture to clean, and potentially a yard to maintain. 

Therefore, it’s good to be practical when it comes to how large the property should be, how many rooms you want etc. Only buy the extra space you actually need. 

4. Location

Moving home could also mean moving to a new neighbourhood, closer/further from your friends and family, further from the centre, or even a complete relocation to a new city. 

Before buying, you should always do your research on any new potential location, discussing any advantages or disadvantages of the area with your realtor, as well as inquiring about parks, schools, restaurants etc. 

Buying a bigger house often means moving further away from the city centre. A more suburban environment has both pros and cons, depending on your individual priorities and perspective. Living further away from the centre can mean longer commutes, but it can also offer you a more quiet, safer environment for your children, and more green spaces.

Most Canadians live in the suburbs, with only 14% of the population living in downtown areas. If moving further away from the centre is not a problem for you, you can find much bigger homes for very good prices. 

5. Resale potential

When it comes to up-sizing their home, people often overlook the possibility of downsizing again in the future. 

However, moving back into a smaller home can happen for various reasons. Your kids grow up and might move, your financial situation might change, you might want to relocate etc. 

It’s always a good idea to look at the house as a potential future investment. Considering the resale potential increases the chances of buying a house whose value will increase over time. 

Some things to consider are: buying trends, future plans for the neighbourhood/location, the age of the building/house etc. 

6. Buying a house or selling first?

Selling the old home and buying a new one is not always easy to time, but which should you do first? This depends on your individual circumstances and financial situation. Consulting with a realtor can give you a better understanding of the pros and cons of each option.

For some people, it can be better to sell the old house before buying a new property. Buying a new house before selling can lead people to settling for lower selling prices for their old homes, in order to get money quickly for the new property. It might also lead to handling two mortgages. When selling first, it’s best to negotiate a good seller’s closing date. 

However, if money is not an issue for you, buying first can offer you more time during house-hunting, renovations and decorations. It also means you can stay in your old house until the moving day, making the process more convenient.

7. Visiting several houses that meet the requirements

Ideally, you should visit several good houses before buying, instead of settling on the first house that meets your requirements. Seeing more houses will give you a better view of the possibilities. This way, you can compare various aspects, and see what you really like most. 

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