We’re expecting our first child soon, and so we’re looking to get a bigger place. What do I need to know?


Congratulations! Whether it’s a boy or a girl, parents-to-be often start looking for a bigger home when there’s a baby on the way.

And just like having a baby, buying a home can lead to a long to-do list. Especially when you have to sell an existing home, there’s a lot to think about.

Before you embark on the house hunt, think carefully about what you’re looking for. Now that you’re going to have a child, your priorities will probably be different than when you bought your current home.

First of all, how much space do you need? If you are going to have more kids in the future, it might be worthwhile to plan ahead so you don’t have to move again. Or maybe you’ll need space for other family members who will be helping with childcare.

Also, think about the kind of neighbourhood you want to live in. Where are the local schools? Do you want somewhere quieter, with less traffic? How much yard space would you like to have?

Once you’ve determined your needs and wants, you’ll also want to think carefully about whether you want to buy first or sell first. There’s no right answer, but it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan in case your closing dates don’t align, leaving you with two homes, or no home,  for a period of time.

Buying first can give you a little breathing room when you’re house hunting, because you don’t have a closing date for your existing home. But once you find a property you like, you’ll need to sell your current home. If you can’t sell it fast enough, you could end up owning both homes at once.

If you do end up owning both properties for a short period of time, you might need bridge financing to cover the down payment and other closing costs in the short term.

So how about selling first? If you sell first there’s no risk of owning two homes at once. On top of that, you’ll know how much money your existing home sold for, which can be a big plus when you’re budgeting for your new place.

But, once your home has sold, the clock will start ticking. With your closing date looming you’ll have more pressure to find a suitable home. If you’re not careful, you could end up settling for a home that isn’t ideal for you, or paying more than you planned.

If your current home sells before you have settled on a new property, consider a short-term rental or moving in with family or friends. This short-term inconvenience may be better than settling for a less-than-ideal property.

With so much to think about, it’s important to have the right help. A registered real estate professional can provide invaluable guidance, but it’s important to find someone who is a good fit for you. Ask friends and family if there’s anyone they have worked with that they would recommend and be sure to interview a few candidates before you decide. Ask them about their approach to the process to make sure it matches your expectations. Also, use the real estate profession search to confirm that they are registered with RECO.

Having a child is an amazing experience, and it’s great that you want to find the perfect home to raise your little boy or girl. Planning ahead and finding the right real estate professional help will make the process a lot easier. And the sooner you find the right place, the sooner you can start decorating the nursery.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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