One of the most prevalent pieces of advice a home-hunter will receive is to set a budget and stay within it. But when setting a budget, it’s important to account for all costs. Homes aren’t like clothes, where you pay the sticker price and that’s that. There are numerous associated expenses that must be accounted for.
This blog post examines some of the costs you should be aware of when searching for a new home. While renters will have a unique set of challenges, this article is concerned with homeowners.
Last year, homeowners paid an average of $3,906 in property taxes in Toronto. And that was before a recent tax increase levied in March. While the sum owed will vary, based on the value of your property, it’s important to know that your mortgage isn’t the only recurring payment you’re on the hook for as a homeowner.
You’ll also have to pay a land transfer tax when initially buying a new home, which scales based on the purchase price of the home. This tax ranges from 1.5-2.5% of the cost of the home.
Home or condo insurance
Once you’re in possession of your new home, you’ll have to pay to protect it. While property insurance isn’t a legal requirement in the same way car insurance is, it can be exceedingly difficult to acquire a home without insurance. This is because most mortgage lenders won’t approve you without proof of insurance, and most condo boards will demand you have coverage before moving in.
Home insurance is usually $1,000-$2,000 annually, while condo insurance tends to cost $300-600.
If you live in a condo you’ll probably pay condo fees. In some cases you may be able to opt out of these payments, but more often than not, you’re obligated. These fees vary widely from building to building, depending on the shared amenities provided and the age of the condominium. In most cases, condo fees will be at least a few hundred dollars per year, and often significantly more.
Internet and cable hookups will be needed to preserve existing services when you move. Different telecommunications providers have different policies and promotions regarding installations for existing customers, so there’s a chance this will be a gimme. But more likely you’ll have to pay $100-$200 to have your services reinstalled.
The cost of moving ranges greatly, depending on how far you’re going and how much help you can muster. For example, if you require professional movers to give you a hand, you’re looking at $100-$200 per hour.
And then there’s the moving truck if you go it alone, which will come cheap if you’re moving a few blocks away, but can get pricey if you’re coming from Ottawa to Toronto. Factoring in insurance and gas, you should likely budget at least a couple hundred dollars for a moving vehicle.
If you’re moving from an apartment where utilities were included, and you now have to pay for them, it can be a bit of a shock to your bank account each month. Between gas and hydro, your bills will probably be $200-$400, but that will change based on the number of people in your home.
The full cost of homeownership
Of course, the cost of buying and owning a home varies. But in every case, that cost is more than the down payment plus the mortgage. There are numerous auxiliary expenses to account for, and it’s best to work them into your initial budget rather than go in blind when buying a home.
Make sure you’re prepared to handle these expenses. If it looks like they’ll stretch your finances to the brink, it’s worth reduces the maximum offer you’re willing to make on a prospective home.