So we bought the house, now what?
On the home hunting TV shows that I adore so much, once the offer is accepted, the couple/family/friends celebrate, move in and live happily ever after (or at least that's the assumption). But, after a little bit of celebration, Mr. Speedy and I found out that the work was really only getting started now that we had the house!
Before closing, which is normally a 30 to 60 day period (ours is about a month and a half), we've got to get all of our documents to our real estate lawyer, set up home insurance and choose our mortgage options, not to mention giving notice to our landlords, packing, transferring hydro, internet and other related bills, changing our address and actually doing the move.
To start tackling this massive list, we started by looking for a real estate lawyer, whose job it is to review the sales agreement, handle payments and give you the keys on closing day, among other tasks. Your lawyer is also responsible for dealing with the insurer, mortgage lender and the sellers' lawyer. They'll also handle title insurance, if you choose to go that route, which can help protect you from issues such as lack of building permits by former owners or after-closing fraud.
We asked around for recommendations and chose someone pretty close to our new hood to make picking up the keys easy, as we're guessing it's going to be a pretty hectic weekend when we move!
We're still filling out all the necessary paperwork (and, boy, there's a lot! We thought we had signed our life away after finishing the agreement, but it just keeps on coming!) but we have decided to go with title insurance due to a possible encroachment issue on our new property.
The next stop was our mortgage broker's office. Because we'd gotten a pre-approval, she already had most of the necessary documents from us, so we just had to hammer out all the details.
The most pressing, for us, of these was how often did we want to pay? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? By choosing a bi-weekly option, you can cut years off of your mortgage term, as it gives you two extra payments each year. As an example, you can cut a 35 year mortgage term down to just under 30 before you even make your first payment. Weekly payments slice this down even further. We ended up going with the bi-weekly option to coincide with our pay schedules. It's definitely worth going through all the math with your broker or mortgage specialist!
We also had to decide on fixed or floating rates. You can save a lot of money going with floating, but it could also mean fluctuations with payments down the road. This was really a tough decision for us (what if we could have saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars?), and one that merited a lot of discussion.
We didn't know if we could stomach the uncertainty in our first few years of home ownership, especially if the rates went up and our bill jumped, so Mr. Speedy and I decided to opt for a fixed bill instead. Once we get more comfortable with our monthly budget, and are fully settled into a home ownership routine, we may consider floating rates again.
After signing a ton more paperwork, the last pressing issue on our to-do list for this week was insurance. With our knob and tube issue, which we plan on fixing as soon as we get into the house, get estimates and find someone reliable (and affordable!) to handle it, we are a little concerned about the kinds of rates we're going to be offered. With that task now safely passed off to my father-in-law, who is an insurance broker, we're well on our way to getting it handled.
So, with a few more signatures here and there, along with a couple more cheques, of course, we can soon start focusing on the fun stuff, like packing and choosing a new chandelier for the master bedroom!
Catch up on the home hunt: