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Making the leap: A first-time home buyer's journey

CWB’s Gordon Wickstrom opens up about his own experience and learnings as a first-time home buyer.

Buying your first home is one of the biggest decisions — and investments — you can make. Regardless of how many of your friends and family have purchased homes, you can never fully appreciate what that all entails until you experience it firsthand. When you decide it’s time to start house hunting, you may be asking yourself important questions such as: How much do I need to consider interest rates? What is the average home price? Is the current market more favourable for buyers or sellers? Is there anything in my life that may impede this purchase? Am I ready to settle into a home or do I want to relocate? It can be overwhelming.

Knowing when it’s the right time to buy


For Gordon Wickstrom, CWB’s Digital Marketing Specialist, the decision to buy was a meticulous one. “I’m analytical, but if I debated the decision anymore my partner probably would have just went and bought a house and told me after the fact,” Gord jokes. He mentions that knowing the perfect time to buy “equates to trying to predict the future,” and people shouldn’t dwell on the fear of missing out.

“I was always concerned that if we bought too early we would miss some perfect option that came up later.”

He says that for people like him, letting go of what could be is a major challenge but necessary when purchasing a home. Gord also mentions that one of the first homes he looked at was the home he and his partner, Michelle, ultimately decided was the perfect fit.

For the couple, the decision of when the “right time” to buy a home was largely influenced by some of the downsides to renting. “We were always at the mercy of a landlord,” he says. “We had a revolving door of people renting the basement property underneath us. We wanted a place where we could have real ownership over.” This isn’t to say that Gord didn’t appreciate renting. He notes that the value in renting is that you don’t have to pay for property tax or routine maintenance. However, he cautions that if you are saving money by renting, you should try to set some aside to build up over time. Those savings could go to your eventual home, or other major purchase, down the road.

Making their move and settling in


When Gord and his partner moved into their new home, Gord immediately saw the benefit, in part because it was the first time in six years the couple had a dishwasher. “We moved from a 1950s rental property to a brand spanking new home! We now have fixtures that always work, laundry that we didn’t have to go into the basement tenants’ home to use and a dishwasher, he recalls. Gord suggests taking some time to look at new homes because they are less likely to have hidden problems such as old wiring or foundation issues.

Funny stories aside, Gord took away some key learnings from his experience, including making sure that as a first-time homebuyer, you have patience with your money and the market.

“When you are looking at homes, you have to find the price range that is comfortable for you early on,” he explains.

“We had years of getting to a place where we could look for a home and have a comfortable down payment. You really need to put a lot of thought into what you can afford, and when you can afford it.”

CWB offers new home buyers a wide range of helpful information and tools, including a mortgage calculator, to help you on your journey. For more advice on finding the right mortage for you, whether you’re a first-time home buyer or seasoned home owner, talk to a CWB Mortgage Coach today!

(Photos courtesy of Accent Infills.)