First-Time Home Buyers In Nova Scotia

So you’re thinking of buying a house in Nova Scotia. Put your seat belt on and get ready for an exciting ride! Buying your first home is an amazing step in life and is a big endeavour. Confusion sets in for many first time home buyers as to where they should start. Let’s look at the early stages of the home buying process in Nova Scotia and many things to consider.

First off, you need to decide if purchasing a home is the best decision at the present moment. Are you living with your parents? Someone else’s home? Perhaps you’re renting? Calculating whether it’s smarter to stay with the parents, keep renting or to buy is tricky (I can help!), especially when factoring in the financial pros and cons. All that said, if you want to change the status quo, let’s dive into the fundamental questions that need answering when looking at property.

Type Of Home

You may consider a single-family detached home because it’s free from anyone else’s physical structure. Or you may look at a townhouse or semi-detached home that comes adjoined to a neighbour’s property. Finally, a condo has neighbours surrounding you and features shared common spaces and monthly fees. There are other types of properties to consider, the ones listed above are the most common. Each of these property types have pros and cons which need consideration in conjunction with many different variables. Lets dive into them.

Future Outlook

Are you married, single, with kids (or planning on kids), pursuing a long-term career, wanting to move across the country or beyond? These are all things to think about, as the costs associated with making a purchase are considerable both in the initial transaction and future sale of the property should things change. Ideally, your first the purchase should leave you with the flexibility to make future life changes while maximizing return from the property you’ve invested in.

Proximity To Work

Walk, ride a bike, drive, bus, boat? If you work in the downtown core during regular working hours, a commute may be a key a determinant of where you might purchase a property. Maybe you want to consider a smaller place and live in a bustling area with a shorter commute and high walk score. One advantage to buying property in the desired area, regardless of size, is the future appreciation you’ll likely experience. And though the property may be smaller than other areas, the overall convenience of amenities could offset the potential size of the dwelling.

If you work a flexible schedule or from home, the world is your oyster and this oyster lets you match your home to your desired lifestyle. You may want a bigger property and house, so searching outside the city will be beneficial.

If the market doesn’t appreciate at the rate you expect, start asking about the rental market is in your desired area. Should something arise and you need to move, there’s peace of mind knowing that your property can easily rent, minimizing the risk of your next play.

Growing families tend to covet acreage and privacy over other factors. Wide open spaces sound great until your kids never stop asking for lots of rides over to friends houses. All of a sudden, a suburban neighbourhood like Craigburn/Montebello, Clayton Park, or Bedford offers the perfect balance of privacy and proximity.

Additional Costs

Owning a home comes with additional responsibilities that you won’t worry living with parents or while renting. Paying taxes, utilities and repairs, as well as physically caring for the property become a part of your routine. Taxes for single-family dwellings tend to range around 1.2% of the assessed value within the HRM (check here for assessments) though they ultimately fluctuate depending on where you live.

Water, electricity, and heating/cooling costs will fluctuate with usage and the size and style of your home. This is the same for repairs, including roofing, appliances, floors, along with many other necessities and accoutrements. To avoid leaving this cost to your imagination, I typically find average annual bills for oil-heated homes roughly between $3000 and$4000, while electricity and water will fall in the $1000 to $2000 ranged (combined). These are only estimated I quote to illustrate a potential range for consideration.

Closing costs for a home can be broken down as follows (again, this only is a sample, all transactions will be unique):
Purchase Price 250,000
Down Payment 50,000 20%
1 Land Transfer 3,750 1.5%
2 Lawyer 1,000
3 Inspection 400
4 Appraisal (optional)
5 Title Insurance 350
6 Locks/Misc 500
7 HST on Services 338
8 Prepaids (utilities, tax) 1,000
Closing Costs 7,338 2.9%
This addresses some of the major considerations in purchasing a home, though there are endless variables as all properties are unique. Check out other blogs where I will continue to go in-depth with different styles of homes, functionality of a home, the services for consideration in the home-buying process, and required forms for the transaction to happen.