Vital lessons for first time homebuyers

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When you were younger, the promise of a little house with a white picket fence in no-name suburbia seemed attainable easy even. You didnt have to consider factors like insurance and property tax, because you didnt know they existed.

Flash forward to adulthood, when youre about to make the jump from your criminally small loft to an actual house (fence not included).

While the complicated moving process may seem overwhelming, there are a couple of vital things you can do to get the most out of your first home. There are a wealth of perks, benefits and life-lessons you can stockpile as a homeowner and plenty you can do to save your future-self from a total headache.

If you think your job is over when you close the deal: Think again.

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1. Make sure you can actually buy the house you plan on buying

Off the top of your head, do you know how much money you have left over at the end of every month? How much do you typically spend on food? Do you have enough money in your bank account to cover the down payment to your new home?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, youre in luck. If not, dont sweat it; a financial advisor can swiftly and easily sort your finances and steer you in the right direction of making the necessary life changes.

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2. Buy a house for the life you want, not the life you have

The prospect of a bachelor mansion may seem enticing, but lets face it were not all going to end up like movie stars. If youve bought a house in anticipation of starting a family, it wouldnt hurt to plan accordingly.

Ask yourself how many kids you want. One? Two? A bakers dozen? Are there going to be dogs and cats in the mix? Do you plan on letting your kids numerous friends stay over on a regular basis?

Even if its not something youre thinking about at this very moment, its smart to think ahead. If youre set on expanding your family, go for a house that can accommodate said offspring.

Most importantly, you want a house you can grow old in. Always keep an eye out for a house that can move with the direction of your life; so, theoretically, a two-bedroom house with an office can easily become a three-bedroom house with no office.

If your financial situation isnt ideal, but you want to be proactive in securing a home, the Home Buyers Plan allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to help with the purchase or construction of a home.

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3. Milk your homeowner status the way our government intends

You may not realize it, but your new living room is located smack dab in the middle of a cash cow. Did you know that Canadian homeowners have a number of home tax deductions they can claim? If the prior statement has prompted sweat and hives, you can relax.

Its actually pretty easy to claim these benefits. TurboTax, Canadas premier tax software, can help you identify the credits youve been missing out on and secure a way to get that sweet cash into your pockets. For example, have ever heard of the First-Time Homebuyer Credit?

This non-refundable tax credit means you can claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $750. This new non-refundable tax credit is based on a percentage of $5,000. How about the GST/HST Tax Rebate youre entitled to if your house costs under $450,000? See? Taxes arent that scary.

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4. Consider a house with a built-in office

Think of your new home like a pair of expensive shoes. When you buy a new pair of shoes, the entire world expects you to wear them.

Why not apply that same way of thinking to houses? Not only are you missing out on the lovely nuances of your new home when you spend too much time away from it, but youre also missing out on money.

You can deduct expenses that are required to run your home office. Electricity, heat and maintenance costs are examples of deductible expenses. Plus, theres an endless amount of fun in setting up your very own home office in the style you want. Were not trying to force you in the direction of mid-century modern, but hey, everybodys doin it.

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5. Dont discount the idea of a rental suite

Its time to reconsider the idea of living with people by renting out rooms in your house. Instead of filling your extraneous rooms with bikes, clothes and trophies, consider becoming a landlord.

It may seem like a daunting process to be responsible for someone elses well-being, but TurboTax makes the whole process painless. You can use the T776 Tax Form to easily report an extra rental income and even claim allowable expenses.

This means you can claim money spent on advertising and insurance and even interest on money you borrow improve the property. So, if you have a tenant who refuses to move in unless you have that hole in the ceiling fixed, youre in luck. Also, you should really get that hole fixed.

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6. Use renovations to your advantage

If youre renovating, TurboTax is on your side, too. Lets say you buy a new home under as your principal residence that comes in at under $45,000.

Did you know that you may be able to claim the GST/HST new housing rebate? Ontario and British Columbia residents can claim the provincial portion of the HST if they buy, build, or renovate.

TurboTax Software can help ensure you dont miss any of the deductions or credits you deserve. Its Easy, fast and 100% accurate, guaranteed. For more info on TurboTax products, click here.

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