5 Tips When Upsizing from a Condo to a House

Posted by under Buying a Home

A bigger yard, your own garage and more space are all great reasons to move from a condo to a house, but an upsized living space also means upsized costs. Beyond the larger down payment and monthly mortgage payments, common increased costs include increased commute costs, insurance premiums, larger furniture, property taxes, and general maintenance costs like heating.

When homeowners upsize from a condo to a house, it’s important to take a hard look at all the associated costs. Planning ahead and preparing for this milestone will mean cost savings both initially and down the road. We spoke to Shelley Smith, a financial planner with TD Wealth for tips on how to save for an upsized property.

Consider your time horizon when upsizing from a condo to a house

When it comes to purchasing a home, Ms. Smith recommends sitting down with an advisor and coming up with a plan. If you’re a few years out from your house purchase, you have the opportunity to look ahead and budget for your down payment, upfront costs and ideally set up emergency savings. Take a look at where you are today, outline your future financial goals and set up a budget that will help you get there.

Budget for upfront costs

Ms. Smith notes that there are a number of upfront costs beyond the purchase price that must be considered when purchasing a home – many of which are new to former Toronto condo dwellers. These costs often include:

Home inspection
New appliances
Home renovations
Moving costs
Property appraisal
Land transfer costs
Property tax adjustment costs (if previous owners prepaid for property taxes for the year)

Ms. Smith feels the home inspection is of particular importance in order to get a thorough picture of what is in many cases the largest purchase homebuyers will make. Make a list of your upfront costs and work towards saving for them in advance.

Understand and budget for new monthly costs

Moving from a condo to a Toronto townhouse or detached house or might have homeowners jumping for joy at the prospect of no more maintenance fees. The downside is, however, that many of the monthly costs previously covered by an overall maintenance fee are now the responsibility of the homeowner. These costs could include things like heating and hydro, and are likely higher in a house than in a condo. Many banks – including TD Canada Trust – have online mortgage calculators, which help homeowners lay out their monthly costs including mortgage payments, property taxes, and other monthly expenses.

Set up an emergency fund

Moving to a house means an array of new costs for issues that might arise. Where things like a new roof or basement leaks are non-existent in a condo, they’re now something to watch out for and prepare for. Having an emergency or rainy day fund is crucial and can save you the added stress of gathering cash, taking out debt, or liquidating assets in order to pay for last minute emergencies.

“You need to set aside a certain percentage of your pay or the value of the home every month or annually because something will come up on the home, and it can be expensive to replace a roof or furnace,” says Ms. Smith.

Look into tax credits

There are a number of tax credits available to homeowners, so it can be worthwhile to look into what is available. First time homebuyers, for instance, might be eligible for the Home Buyers’ Tax Credit of up to $750. If you work from home, you might also be able to claim expenses related to your home such as internet, heating and electricity. For home improvement projects, rebates are often available for things like replacing appliances, upgrading insulation, and replacing windows. Speak to a tax specialist about how you can find savings in your new home purchase and related expenses.

When it comes to upsizing to a house, planning ahead will help you manage all of the expenses that come with your new purchase. Do your research and speak to an expert to ensure a smooth road ahead.

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