7 new home buying lessons you won’t have to learn the hard way

A new home is one that’s truly yours. Make sure the journey from dream to reality is as smooth as possible by following our seven tips—it’s the advice we share most frequently with our new home buyers, and the words of wisdom that make the biggest difference on move-in day.

1. Research your builder.

Doing your homework on a company that builds new homes will increase your confidence in your choice—and we don’t mean simply visiting the builder’s website. Put together your own tour of the builder’s existing developments and ask residents about their experiences. Online reviews are another source of information, but it can be difficult to get a balanced view from these. You can also search the Ontario Builder Directory, which provides information on whether a builder is licensed in Ontario, the number of homes they’ve built over the last 10 years and the warranty claims payable. (It can actually be a real challenge to find a builder in the directory if you don’t have their Tarion registration number. You can find DiCenzo Homes by searching #10957.)

2. Compare apples to apples.

Some things you think might come standard with a new home—like sod, a paved driveway or a fireplace—may actually be “extras” or “upgrades.” Upgrades can add up quickly. Make sure you read the fine print on any new home marketing materials or ask direct questions of the person at the sales centre. Then compare homebuilders based on the actual cost to get what you consider the basics, not what they consider the basics.

3. Take a hard look at the neighbourhood amenities.

Is the new home you’re considering part of an infill development, where amenities like parks, schools, shopping and transit already exist? Or are you looking at a field of dreams? Walkable neighbourhoods and complete streets have become important to many people who value being able to leave the car at home to do their daily activities. It may be several years before some new home developments have a sense of community and accessible amenities.

4. Ask about the deposit schedule.

Cash flow can be a problem for some builders, who are required to get as much money as they can from new home buyers prior to closing. Ask about the deposit schedule as part of your research phase, so you aren’t surprised by the amount when it comes time to sign the paperwork.

5. Know your rights.

Make sure you review your Agreement of Purchase and Sale with a lawyer specializing in real estate or condominium law. That way you’ll know exactly what’s included in the purchase price, such as what’s legally yours and what’s held in common for condos and townhomes, and what happens if there’s a delay in construction. DiCenzo Homes provides legal services free of charge to our homebuyers at our pre-launch events—it’s just one more great reason to join us early.

6. Make a list and check it twice.

The first time you’ll turn the knob on your new front door is likely during your pre-delivery inspection. It’s an exciting and emotional moment—savour it! But it’s also an important opportunity to learn about your new home and confirm that all the work has been completed in accordance with your purchase agreement. Bring a list of things to check during your pre-delivery inspection so that you don’t forget anything. Tarion (the company responsible for protecting the rights of new home buyers) has put together an excellent checklist.

7. Get some of your tax back.

As part of your financing, you’ll have to budget for the HST that’s payable on all new homes. The good news is that you may be eligible for a tax rebate if the home you purchased cost less than $450,000. Check out the Canada Revenue Agency’s website for more information.

Buying a new home is exciting but there’s a lot to consider. It’s natural for an article like this to prompt even more questions. We’re here to offer answers—don’t be shy!

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