The MapleMoney Show » How to Spend Money Wisely » Real Estate

Advice for First Time Home Buyers, with Lauren Haw

Presented by Wealthsimple

Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.

Buying your first home can be a daunting experience. There’s so much to think about, from finding a realtor to getting approved for a mortgage. It’s also harder than ever to save for a down payment. This week’s guest knows all about the home buying process, and she’s here to help make things a little easier.

Lauren Haw is the CEO and Broker of Record of Zoocasa. This award-winning brokerage uses technology and a team of real estate professionals to offer full-service real estate to Canadians.

In the episode, Lauren and I discuss most of the major considerations one needs to make when buying their first home. One of the things I asked Lauren was whether you should spend to the limit of what the bank will approve you for. After all, there can be a big difference between what the bank will approve you for and what you can afford.

As Lauren explains, there is no definitive answer on that one, and there are several factors to consider. There is also a consensus among prudent financial advisors that it’s best not to push the limit.

We also talked about the fact that the home buying process looks very different, depending on where you live in Canada. One of the challenges for young people living in cities like Toronto or Vancouver, for example, is finding it difficult to save their down payment quickly enough to keep up with the ever-increasing prices of homes.

Our sponsor, Wealthsimple, believes that financial independence should be available to anyone. That’s why they have no account minimums, meaning that you can get started investing for as little as one dollar. Don’t delay any longer, invest online by visiting Wealthsimple today.

Episode Summary

  • Step # 1 when buying a house
  • Land transfer tax explained
  • Why it’s smart to limit the number of times you move
  • Factors that drive housing prices in large cities
  • Down payment breakdown
  • The advantages of dealing with a mortgage broker
  • The First Time Home Buyers Plan explained
  • Should you insist on getting a home inspection?
Read transcript

Buying your first home can be a daunting experience. There’s so much to think about from finding a realtor to getting approved for a mortgage. And it’s never been harder to save for a down payment. This week’s guest knows a thing or two about the home buying process. And she’s here to help make things a little easier. Lauren Haw is the CEO and broker of Record – Zoocasa. This award-winning brokerage uses technology and a team of top real estate professionals to deliver full service real estate to Canadians.

Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. Our sponsor, Wealthsimple, believes that financial independence should be available to anyone. That’s why they have no account minimums, meaning you can get started investing for as little as one dollar. Don’t delay any longer. Invest online by visiting today. Now, let’s chat with Lauren…

Tom: Hi Lauren. Welcome to the Maple Money Show.

Lauren: Hey, glad to be here, Tom.

Tom: One of the biggest things people are going to do in their lifetime is buy that first house. Maybe not everybody. Some people might rent. But pretty often it comes up that you’re going to buy that first house at some point. I wanted to have you on to discuss the beginning to end of how to deal with this. The first thing that comes to mind is where do people start? What are they looking for? What is step one when you’re looking for a house?

Lauren: Usually step one is whatever made it happen to show it’s time. That’s usually a personal event. It’s the first-time home. Sometimes it’s after they graduate from university, get married or have children. Sometimes it’s an inheritance or they’ve saved up because they didn’t have student loans. It’s usually something happening that is the trigger. It may be a new job, a new city. What I usually tell people (in the best-case scenario) is just to start by getting a preapproval. Talk to a mortgage broker, get a referral to know exactly what your financial picture looks like. The two numbers that go into it really are how much cash do you have? In some parts of the country… Let’s take you for example, in Alberta. You guys are lucky enough to have land transfer taxes. In Ontario, depending on the purchase price, anywhere from zero to five percent of the purchase price in cash on top of your down payment. So first it’s how much cash you have. Then they’ll inform you of one max price. And then how much mortgage you can afford based on your current income levels. And that will give you how much mortgage you can afford. The lesser of those two numbers is going to set out the maximum purchase price you’ll be able to achieve. And at least you’ll have a maximum budget. With that you can start looking at where you can go and what to buy; condos, towns, semis, detached and neighborhoods.

Tom: A couple of thoughts from what you said. First of all, yes, I’ve been in Alberta my entire adult life so I do not have a land transfer tax. Can you just go into that a bit for those listening… did you say up to five percent?

Lauren: Yes. Well, that would be a big budget. It’s a tiered system so the land transfer in Ontario works such that all across Ontario—do you want me to give you specific numbers?

Tom: If you want to. There are probably a lot of people listening in Ontario so it’s an example, at least.

Lauren: Honestly, you can check your rate of debt and it’ll have land transfer rates right there. It will give you 10 numbers in different bands. But essentially, there’s bands. So, from zero to $400,000 purchase price is a certain percentage. Starting from 0.5 percent up to 2.5 five percent is the purchase price that is paid to Ontario. If you are in the city of Toronto, the actual Toronto municipality, it’s double that. It’s an additional 0.5 to 2.5 percent of the purchase price paid to the city of Toronto. Up to about $450,000 in purchase price, if you’re a first-time homebuyer, you get all of that rebated. Up to that $450,000 you get a sizable chunk rebated if your first-time homebuyer. But the kicker is, in Ontario there are not many homes under $450,000 left. And that’s not just Toronto. That’s London, Kitchener, Waterloo and Barrie so it’s hard to come across homes under that. The chances are if you’re buying a property in Ontario, you’re most likely going to pay some sort of land transfer tax. And that is cash due on closing.

Tom: That’s a lot.

Lauren: Now, when we talk about 2.5 percent, those are for every dollar over $2 million. So those are not usually for first-time buyers.

Tom: The other thing I wanted to cover from what you said so far is this idea of how much mortgage you can afford. I assume it’s often higher than what people can really afford. I remember when I was told what I could afford, it was quite a bit more house than I would need or would comfortably be paying. Do you have a rule of thumb there? Is there something people should hold back on? What’s your idea on how much house someone should be able to have?

Lauren: That is a great question. The answer is, unfortunately, quite nuanced. Let’s say it’s just you as a single person buying a home and you know you’re going to be a single person forever earning the same amount of income, then I believe most personal finance advisers say try to stick within is it 30 to 50 percent? I don’t know what the number is.

Tom: I think it’s all over the place. I’ve seen a few different versions. It just seems to be based on credit checks and pre approvals alone. You get offered a lot more mortgage than you may need.

Lauren: Well, I think the prudent fiscal advisers will suggest within 30 percent. The reality is that the mortgage (in the way that they do ratios) with interest rates low, based on what you can afford, big banks might give you a little more than that. A lot of people may be uncomfortable with that saying, “Well, I guess I could pay that mortgage but now I’m eating Ramen every night,” so it does become a tradeoff. What’s interesting, though, is where you might be a couple and potentially one of the partners is going off on maternity leave. So you definitely don’t want to go up to the max for the next year because you’re going to cut your income in half. Also, let’s say you’re going to buy a home with a secondary suite, a basement apartment or a duplex, then you might want to stretch to your max because, in reality, the tenant is actually going to be paying a large portion of that mortgage for you. There are different times it makes sense to stretch. For people that are in the beginning of their career who feel they’re stable and know where they’re going may also want to stretch to limit the number of times you have to move. One of the worst things to do in real estate wealth building is to hold properties as long as possible. Sometimes it makes sense to stretch a little bit uncomfortably for one or two years knowing that it’s a bit more than you’d want. But if you’re confident in your path and we are where you’re going, it allows you to stay and own that home in that five to 10 year window instead of getting what you could afford right now for only two years, sell it and lose all that appreciation to land transfer tax and realtor fees.

Tom: Yeah, that’s a fair point. We’ve had to move for my job before. It was for a different reason but I can certainly attest to the pain.

Lauren: There are a lot of transaction fees so the longer you can hold on, the better. Now, that doesn’t mean stretching uncomfortably into something that you can’t afford but it means potentially trading off a little bit more lawn. A few less lattes right now, who’s to say it isn’t better to get into the market and start building more equity? It just makes more sense. It really becomes a very personal decision.

Tom: When someone’s looking for a house, what can they do to find the best deal?

One of the things I was thinking of is the classic fixer upper. Is that a good choice for first house? I guess it would obviously depend on the person. I would not be able to renovate anything on my own so maybe I wouldn’t come out ahead in my case.

Lauren: Because your podcast is national, I just want to be wary of the reality that real estate and real estate advice should be hyper local. There are pockets in and around Calgary where you could do the fixer upper and add equity by making a home move-in-ready. There are pockets in the GTA where you’re, quite frankly, buying the dirt. Even with renovations. I’m about to renovate my home. I’m doing that fully, financially. I do own a number of rental properties and we’re much more careful to do what makes sense there. But in my personal home right now, if I sold it today for unrenovated value and I add the renovated value, my post renovations are going to be about the same. And that’s my choice. Just because you renovate a fixer upper doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to give return so you’ve got to be really careful in how you choose your project. Obviously, the main floor is master with kitchens and baths. But what’s interesting is a lot of people who want to get into, flipping and adding value may cut some corners or do it too cheaply and then can’t even get that money out because it’s not the best product. There’s also timing. If you purchase a home right now and hoping (speculatively) that it will be worth more in six months, you can get burned by the real estate market if you’re not careful and thinking you know everything and can time the market. We saw a really big impact in both the Vancouver and the GTA markets when the speculation for buyers tax came in, affecting both those markets—and some certain pockets within them, very drastically.

Tom: You mentioned in Toronto—and I assume it’s the same in Vancouver, the idea that you’re basically buying the dirt. Is that what’s fueling this problem? Is it people who are basically buying for location? I see these random stories where there is literally a shack on dirt that goes for $1 million. Does location trump all when it comes to these cities?

Lauren: Yeah, it would be the same. I think you said you’re just outside Calgary. It would be the same in Calgary. There is a value on the dirt and there’s a value on the house. There’s just certain markets across Canada where right now the value of the dirt is almost always more than the house. That location is very valuable because of the school zones—the proximity to a school. Back when people used to commute, it was important to be close to parks, not on a busy street but in a quiet cul de sac, in a family neighborhood. The old adage in real estate of, location, location, location is absolutely true. Location is, without a doubt, number one. When I see you’re buying the dirt in Toronto, it’s more that most of the value in a house is in that location, right now. However, that shack means it is actually sold for dirt value. But the person that buys it for $1 million can build a house for $500,000 to $1 million and it will eventually be worth $2.5 million to $3 million. The house has a lot of value, but that goes without saying because the lot value of the lot is what’s going for $1million. There are some much more expensive plots of dirt.

Tom: The way I see it, with no real estate experience, it seems like part of the problems with Toronto and Vancouver, too, is that they’re landlocked up against bodies of water. Here is Alberta, if need more residential area, we just throw up new neighborhoods like crazy and keep sprawling out. You can still always get to your job within an hour or so. In Toronto, I’ve heard of people doing two-hour commutes in one direction so I can see the value of in location then.

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. Even within Calgary where you say you can just keep expanding, there will always be people that want to live in certain pockets or want to look out at a mountain view or have a south-facing backyard for a garden—or be in a certain school district. Vancouver is closed in by ocean, mountains, border by some lakes. And there are some greenbelt developments there. Within them, there are still just pockets where people want to live where they’re close to transit lines, the highway, or be in certain school districts. I think that, within the inner burbs, drives that a lot as well.

Tom: Yeah, a lot of it makes sense if it’s based on where your job is located. It makes a lot of sense to be in the right school zone.

Lauren: We’ve seen a lot of the biggest price gains across the country during COVID in have been in a lot of the urban centers and outer suburbs. People don’t need to make big transit commute times anymore. Instead of working five days a week, they’re going down to one or two. A lot of people are willing to do that commute for one or two days a week so they’ll absolutely go further to get more for their family now. You read the stories right now of people completely changing their lives. If I could, I’d move to Jasper but the reality is, my parents are still here. And I want my kids to grow up with their grandparents, so maybe I’ll just move to Guelph. It’s a little bit further away and it’s rural. That’s what we’re seeing right now, is those people that were not loving life in the city moving a little bit further from cities so the biggest price gains right now have been in those outer burbs.

Tom: Yeah. I can see that, too. I’m in Airdrie, where it’s mainly people who either work in Calgary or up in Fort McMurray even. It’s basically a city that’s built around people coming in from all over Canada because they have to work somewhere in Alberta. There are very little offices or anything in our little suburb city.

Lauren: The ultimate bedroom community.

Tom: Yeah. I highly recommend it if someone’s looking to move because it checks off all the things you said. I can see the mountains. It’s a good chunk cheaper than living in the city and it’s kind of nice to be outside the city. So, yeah, it checks a lot of boxes. But I’ve never had to work downtown. I’d understand if someone had to driving into that downtown office five days a week, that would certainly change my thought of where I’d want to live.

Lauren: And in the last few years we’ve seen this real trend towards urbanization. The condo market in urban centers—and I don’t just mean Toronto and Vancouver. Calgary, Ottawa, Hamilton, are seeing a lot of condos and tenants developments. And invariably somewhere where there is actually room to develop. You can continue to go out but generally, in the last 18 to 20 years, millennials and Gen Xers wanted to be able to walk to get their coffee and other things. The walking culture and spending time with family and not stuck in their car was becoming more and more popular. What COVID and work-from-home has really done is shifted some of that to the idea, “Well, I don’t have to commute anymore. The reason I was downtown was to spend more time with my family but now I can work anywhere.” We’re seeing a lot of information workers make the choice to move out further where, potentially, they can actually buy homes they want that are more affordable.

Tom: I really hope we’re going to go that direction more and more. I think COVID probably jumped the whole work-from-home movement by a decade. There were a lot of corporations that were very slow, thinking, “Oh, we can’t do this. We don’t have the technology. The workers won’t do the work.” But I think this year, if there’s one silver lining to this whole situation, it’s from a career standpoint. I think a lot more corporations are going to look at this and realize it can work and they could get more productivity and save money by reducing office space. I do think it’s kind of jumped it forward by a good decade. It’ll be interesting to see how many companies actually do go back to normal, if ever.

Lauren: I think many will go back in some capacity, even if it’s just a couple days a week. We are seeing issues arise with culture and being able to still bond with coworkers, and with people’s mental health. Not everybody has a family at home you can talk to or neighbors that they can go out to a park with and talk to. It’s interesting because even in our office we’ve had two marriages come out of our company. People need to work so I think there’s still room for office space. I do think we’ll have people come back to the office in some form but I doubt a 5-day mandatory will be back anytime soon.

Tom: It will be interesting to watch. Now we’ve gotten to the point where we know how much we can be approved for—what that max is. What about the down payment side of it? How much does someone need saved up for down payment? What lesser amount can trigger the CMHC? What does that look like if someone’s wondering just how much they need? Going back to Toronto again, I always hear getting a down payment seems next to impossible for a lot of younger people.

Lauren: Yes, it’s a big chunk. When you’re talking about lesser amounts it will trigger CMHC. There is a tradeoff between a five percent minimum up to $500,000. Call it 7.5 percent if you’re at $999,000. And some of that is where we’re looking at markets so speak with advisors. Can you save a down payment fast enough to keep up with the market? Obviously, if you have the cash, you can do 20 percent and not the five because the instant return on that is quite significant when you don’t have to pay the CMHC. The CMHC is a real cost. It is and has an impact on your long-term wealth. However, if you wait if a couple of years to try and save up 15 extra percent is best. In the last 20 years in Toronto and Vancouver—well, Vancouver is a little bit more of a rollercoaster. But in the GTA and parts of Ontario, most younger people wouldn’t be able to save quickly enough to keep up with the market. Even though you’re saving and trying to save CMHC, you’re actually falling behind in terms of purchasing power. That’s something that’s really important. Obviously, past performance is not an indicator of what’s coming but you do need to look at whether you can realistically save fast enough to make it worthwhile. Also, remember that CMHC is in bands. It’s everything from 5 to 9.999 percent is one fee. And everything from 10 to 14.999 is another rate. If you’re at 9.8 percent is not far from 10 percent. If you’re at 14.5, look at the timing and maybe save up to 15 percent. If you’re over 15, it’s usually a good idea to try to get to that 20. But it also depends what hits the market at the time. It really becomes a bit more of a game. But watch the levels and try not to put down 9.8 percent save to get to the 10.

Tom: That makes sense. It feels like a bit of luck on my part but originally, my first place was a townhouse in the early 2000s. With oil at the time and everything here in Alberta, it increased in value at almost the same as an annual salary. It would keep increasing. Back then, especially, it felt ridiculous to not get into a property as soon as possible. Now, the past 10 years or so, things have really mellowed out here where I could see it looking like a bit tougher decision—a little more of a crystal ball approach in which way could work better if you want to get to the 20 percent or not. And to still have to drag your rent during that time, too.

Lauren: And that’s where it just becomes so personal. Look at the market and where it’s going. Also, be aware that one month’s shift may shift quickly. However, once it starts going up, it can move very fast. Once you start going down, it can move very quickly. So if you’re in that mode of saving and you’re at 12 percent, it may make sense to wait for 20 before making a purchase. But watch because if prices start to rise and you get priced out it might make sense to change your plan. Never make a plan and then just sit in a box and watch the environment (as it goes), to make that decision.

Tom: At this point, if someone’s got their down payment and know how much they’re pre-approved for, how do they find a mortgage? I’ve heard of people just going into their local bank because that’s the branch they’ve always dealt with. I know that’s not the best way to do it so can you tell everybody how they should go about even finding a mortgage?

Lauren: Yes, absolutely. I would check out You’re going to able to see, nationwide, the best rate for you in your area. Something that’s important is if you go into a local branch, (big banks, for the most part) you’re going to get what they have. There’s one option for uninsured mortgages under $1 million. There’s one option for your mortgages $1 million. There’s one option for an income property. I’m sure there’s nuances to that. But for the most part, that teller can sell you that bank’s products. If you go to rehab and work with a mortgage broker, that broker is actually going to be able to sell you a few of those big bank products. They’re going to be able to sell you some smaller bank products. They’ll be able to sell you Scotia or connect you to be a BMO or TD or some of the smaller banks like EQs and actually find the right product that makes sense for you. With rates so low right now, we’ve become obsessed with what is the lowest possible one I can get? But 10 basis points on a mortgage—if you get stuck and have to break a mortgage, sometimes those terms can be much more expensive than if you had just paid 10 basis points more for more flexible mortgage. So it’s really important to work with a mortgage broker who can say, “Here are a couple different products that you qualify for right now. What one makes the most sense given your long-term plans?”

Tom: I like that, especially about the rates not being the only thing because maybe it’s not even breaking your mortgage. Maybe you just want to be able to prepay it, make those extra payments in the year. I know there’s a lot of variety. Some of them are very strict. You make your payments and that’s basically it. And some might have an annual amount and some might have an extra payment you can make every month or whatever.

Lauren: And also, the service you get from a mortgage broker is going to be important. I’m in real estate, so the service you get from a realtor are going to be very important. Just getting the cheapest you can find—you get what you paid for. So find a great rate with great service. Someone who will be connected to you and actually return your calls, be there for you and work in your best interest. That’s really important. And that combination is going to serve me better in the long run.

Tom: Now, there’s help on a governmental tax level. Can you talk a bit about two things related to that? The first-time homebuyer incentive is something that’s newer. Also, the homebuyers plan. These are two things I think could probably help out a new homeowner get ahead a little bit on this and make that down payment.

Lauren: Absolutely. The first-time homebuyer incentive hasn’t been picked up very much. I’ll be curious to see if it lasts because it hasn’t been very popular. I think part of it is just that people don’t understand. I don’t want to spend too much time on it but essentially, the government will co-own your home with you. That’s not how they’re saying it but that’s what it is. They will give you up to five percent of a home. But they also own that five percent. So it’s not like a bank giving you money. You’re effectively paying rent on your mortgage. You’re renting the money from the bank so you can own a home and then you pay rent on that. That’s what interest is. But with the first-time homebuyer incentive, they’re actually owning the home with you. So you own 95 percent of the home and they own five percent of home. That means, if the market goes up, they get that life with you. And if the market goes down, then they also participate on the downside. I think that turns a lot of prospective buyers off. Everybody wants the free ride. If this was on $100,000, you get an extra $5,000? People just don’t want that. What’s interesting is you don’t have interest on it in the meantime. I actually think if you understand the product and you are short coming up with that down payment amount, it will bump you into a different price bracket, then by all means… It’s really interesting because they’re going to share the downside, too. So it’s kind of like saying, “Would you rather have 95 percent of that house or not have a house at all?” That’s an interesting way to look at it, but it just hasn’t been understood or picked up very well. The homebuyers plan was just increased to $35,000. The home buyers plan is where you effectively borrow money from yourself. If you’re borrowing money from your RRSP, you can borrow up to $35,000 per person. If a couple is buying a home, then both people could borrow up to $35,000. Then you pay it back to yourself with 1/15th over the next 15 years. You’re borrowing the money and you have to pay it back to your RRSP.

Tom: That’s what we did. And again, way too much luck on my side. We pulled the money out in 2008 and then the stock market started to tank. A good chunk of our money was pulled out of our RRSPs. And, like you said, we have to pay it back over time. So we’ve been paying that back. We keep getting a better value than what we pulled it out for the most part. It was a fluke in my case. But in general, no matter what, I think it’s a good opportunity, especially if you’ve already made that RRSP payment and then decide to get a house. Maybe it’s not so much part of your plan, but if you wanted to do a just a straight-up down payment there are other ways to do that. You can TFSA and all that. But if you’re making this RRSP payment just because you think that’s what you should do right out of the gate when you get your first job, there might be money in there that you can then unlock towards a down payment.

Lauren: Just make sure organized enough to pay it back because it counts as income. It counts taking money out of your RRSP and you lose that room. It’s a fantastic program because you’re obviously getting a tax credit if you’re getting the tax rebate. Then you’re able to purchase with your own money that you’ve saved. Something a lot of people don’t know is, let’s say you have been saving in your TFSA or somewhere under your mattress and you want to buy a home. You can put it in your RRSP. It needs to be in your RRSP for 90 days and then you can take it out through the homebuyers plan. Let’s say you didn’t have an RRSP but you still want to buy a home, put the money into an RRSP for 90 days to get the tax rebate. Then you can take it out pay it back over the 15 years.

Tom: That’s not a bad idea. If you have no RRSP and you have $35,000 sitting around for a house down payment, then that would definitely work. What other steps are there? The last one I can think of that might matter financially if you want to get the right house, is getting a home inspection—making sure that house is what you think it is. That may start to form part of the offer. In the past I’ve seen issues like that where people find something wrong and kind of price that into their house offer.

Lauren: Yes, absolutely. With home inspections, I really think of it as a to-do list for your new home. Whether you’re doing a home inspection before you make an offer or after, it’s essentially a maintenance list that also shows anything scary. What we’re trying to find with home inspections is, what are the things I need to do right away? And is there anything that’s a safety concern? Is there anything that’s out of the norm for the neighborhood that the seller should fix before closing. Normal wear and tear in home maintenance is not usually something you renegotiate. However, if there are items that were not disclosed before you made an offer or that are potentially scary, like water in the basement or mold in the attic or things that need to be rectified, if you decide you still want this home, it does make sense to work with the seller on either a price reduction or fixing it before closing which can save you some big-ticket items up front. Another thing a home inspection does is give you that list. It effectively becomes clear, the things need to right away as well as things that may come up within years one to three. And a list of things that are going to come up after four or five years. Most the time, home inspectors working with first-time homebuyers will also tell you what normal maintenance is going to be. So, in any given year in that neighborhood, maybe the rule of thumb is one percent of the purchase price. In some neighborhoods, it may be two percent. It might be half a point. Again, that’s really local, depending on how much of the value of the property is the property versus the land. They’ll help you figure out what you should budget for annual maintenance. Some years it may be close to zero and some years it will mean a new $20,000 roof. You’ve got to understand that it’s going to be chunky. So save and have emergency funds for those chunks. When I’m working with clients, I’m trying to decide how to find the right home—the best home for this client. And it’s all about timing. The most important thing when you are buying your first home is to have as much of a “long-term” view as you can. As a renter it’s, “What is my utility right now?” Do I want to live in the sky and walk to work? Or do I want to live in a house beside my mom? If you’re renting, you have so much flexibility and it’s easy. You’re not committed. As soon as you sign on the dotted line and buy a home, as we talked about, there are sticky transaction costs that make it a lot harder to move. And anytime you do move, you’re going to lose a bit of your equity to those transaction costs. The most important thing when you’re buying your first house is to think long-term. It’s not just about the 5 percent and buying the first pretty thing you see. It’s really how to make a decision for yourself and make plans that you can stretch and live in that home for five years, seven years—as long as you can. Try not to get into the habit of getting a starter home which is a two to three-year run. Then turn it, and turn it, and turn it. You should just rent. If you’re only going to own a home for one to three years, just rent. If you want to start building equity in real estate, you’ve got to have a long-term view.

Tom: Every time we’ve bought a place, we’ve had this idea that it’d be great to own this for 10 years. We have yet to actually do that but that is the goal.

Lauren: Sometimes you get lucky with the market and sometimes it’s unlucky. You can do things to make better decisions which are long-term. Look at the numbers. Look at the carrying costs. You and I could have a multi-hour conversation about how to buy income properties. I feel like we’re running out of time and we’ve barely even scratched the surface about what it takes to buy a home. We could go on and on but the most important thing for people listening to your podcast who are going to be much more in that personal finance mindset is long-term. You’ve got to hold as long as you can.

Tom: That’s great advice and I’m all for bringing you back so we can go into this more and maybe get another half hour in there. Can you tell people where they can find you online?

Lauren: Absolutely. I run a brokerage out of Ontario right now called, Zoocasa. So it’s We’ve got 130 agents southern Ontario from Ottawa to London to Barry, and we focus on just a small group of really highly, productive, full-time professional agents. And we will be coming to Alberta and BC very soon which is exciting. You can find us online there. We’ve got all the listings but we’re not boots-on-the-ground just yet. We provide great advice with great online tools.

Tom: Perfect. Thanks for being on the show.

Lauren: Thank you so much.

Thank you, Lauren, for shedding light on the many considerations first time homebuyers must make before entering the housing market. She also shared some great financial tips that can save people thousands of dollars in long run. You can find the show notes for this episode at Did you know you can watch videos from our past episodes on our YouTube channel? If you’re interested, you can check them out at Make sure to hit the subscribe button while you’re there. I’m looking forward to having you back here next week when Sa El is on the show to discuss term versus whole life insurance. See you then.

Always the best case scenario (when buying a home) is just to start by getting a preapproval. Talk to a mortgage broker and get a preapproval to know exactly what your financial picture looks like. - Lauren Haw Click to Tweet