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12 Lessons for First-Time Homebuyers from the Dumfries Team

Each month we interview experts in our local community on topics that are helpful to our policyholders who own homes, vehicles, farms, and businesses. This month, our own team are our experts. We asked them what advice they had for first-time homebuyers based on their own experiences as homeowners.

Is there something you wish you knew at the time? What would you have done differently? What should a first-timer watch out for?

Here’s the advice they shared:

On the buying process

“Don’t be pressured by your own real estate agent to forego the inspection. Lots of agents will tell you to not make an offer conditional upon inspection because someone else’s unconditional offer will be accepted before one with conditions. However, it can really hurt you later when you are paying for unforeseen required repairs.” – David T.

On the house & moving

“Try your best to get a feel for your new house at different times of the day or week.  You might be surprised at what you find. For example, you don’t want to be disappointed by a house that looked great lit up during your evening viewing, but turns out to have poor natural lighting during the day.” – TJ S.

“Have a minimum of $1000 set aside for last minute “moving expenses” to cover incidentals you may have forgotten such as a lawnmower, snowblower, hoses, sprinklers, and the normal items such as picture hangers, light bulbs, and a new light fixture or lamp for your new home.” – Linda B.

“A dishwasher isn’t always a must-have, but they do save marriages!”

Be realistic about a budget for renovations.  When renovations begin, things always end up costing more or you do more work than you planned to do, so some extra padding helps!”   Megan R.

“When packing up your dishes, put paper plates between them.  It protects the plates and also gives you something to serve the pizza on to all your friends and family that agreed to help you move while you’re unpacking!” – Kim

On your new neighbourhood

“You will know what kind of neighbourhood you’ve moved into the first time you plant hostas in your front garden. If they haven’t been taken in the first week, you’ve chosen the right place!! Good luck.” – Melissa

“Be sure to check out the schools close to your neighbourhood. You might be childless and fancy free when you first buy but that can change pretty quick.” – Kerry B.

On future planning

“Make a financial plan that covers not just your mortgage payments, property taxes and utilities, but also a reasonable “savings” sum on a monthly basis for larger maintenance items such as appliance replacement, roof replacement, furnace, etc.” – Linda B.

On home insurance

Find an insurer early in your shopping stage to ensure you will have the coverage you need and a premium you can afford! Often home buyers get so busy with the shopping process that the topic of insurance lands at the bottom of the priority list. You need a policy in order to close and the bank has very specific expectations about the policy itself.  Many home closings have been delayed for this very reason!” – Colleen M.

“Remember to check with your insurance agent/broker to see if your automobile insurance premiums change based on the new address.”  Linda B.

“Advise your broker or agent of any specialty or high value items you have like jewelry, collections, and art so that they can offer you the best coverage.” – Janice B.

First-time homebuyers, we hope you found these tips helpful and wish you the best in your search and purchase of your first home. If you have any questions, we are here to help, so check out our resource for first-time homebuyers.