First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide for Edmonton

Looking to purchase your first home but don’t know where to start? We curated a first-time homebuyer’s guide just for you

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So you’ve decided to take that first big step and plunge into homeownership — starting with the purchase of your first home.

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First of all, congratulations! Buying your first home is a huge milestone. While the process can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be daunting, especially if you’re not sure where to begin.

That’s what this homebuyers’ guide is all about. Complete with stories about tips for first-time homebuyers, real estate trends, how to sell your home and more, we hope it gives you a glimpse into what you need to know to purchase (or sell) your first home.

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Why young Edmonton professionals are eschewing Downtown for the suburbs

As Edmonton’s newer neighbourhoods ripple outwards beyond Anthony Henday Drive, the city’s Downtown core is undergoing another shift.

Initially rejuvenated by Rogers Place and the accompanying Ice District, Downtown resembled a ghost town during the COVID-19 pandemic as high-rises were devoid of office workers, sapping foot traffic from the usual bustling sidewalks.

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Jared Cox, a real estate agent with Sterling Real Estate who has been in the business for 24 years, says the pandemic changed the perception of Downtown Edmonton from being a red-hot destination for young professionals to a barren assortment of towering buildings with unsold condo units.

Edmonton infill advocates see uptick in housing options boosting affordability

Infill developments have traditionally priced out many Edmonton homebuyers, but local experts say a changing market could bring more people to mature areas.

Plenty of modern “skinny homes” and new builds have gone up in neighbourhoods like Westmount and McKernan, but they can be priced well north of $500,000, and often into seven figures.

Chelsey Jersak is the founder and principal of Edmonton urban planning company Situate, which specializes in advising on infill projects. She said five to 10 years ago, infill was almost strictly about skinny homes, or subdividing lots to accommodate more than one detached house.

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COVID-19 may change where homebuyers find the best return on their investment

Edmonton’s real-estate market is heating up and homeownership may look like a ripe iron to strike for first-time investors. But with several segments of the market to consider and hundreds of neighbourhoods to choose from, getting the biggest bang for a buck can seem like a puzzling prospect.

Will Hickey, a broker with YEGPro Realty, invokes the old adage that location should be a key consideration for buyers. If it sounds cliché, it’s for a good reason, he added, noting that patience also plays a factor in tempering investments.

“Certainly when people are talking about how to buy low and sell high, it’s one of those things where they have to allow time to be that factor,” he said. “A good piece of real estate bought in a good location, well maintained and under reasonable financing terms will always be a good investment over the long term.”

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Edmonton market heating up, but affordability still a key selling point

Homebuyers on budget still have choices in some Edmonton neighbourhoods, but prices are rising — even for affordable options like townhouses — making it difficult for buyers facing fierce competition in an increasingly hot market.

Average home prices in the Edmonton area hit a record $411,464 in February 2022, or $493,000 for single-family homes, but there are still many houses in some older neighbourhoods, like in the northcentral and northeastern parts of Edmonton, with much lower prices.

Costs of townhouses, duplexes, and rowhouses — typically more affordable options — are still low, but even these prices are on the rise.

Office space an important feature for more than half of Edmonton home buyers

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Home office space has been in demand over the last two years with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people across the globe to set up shop and work from home.

Laura Bruno, CEO for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) — Edmonton Region, said more than half of Edmonton home buyers consider a home office space an important feature.

The majority, 61 per cent, of Edmonton homebuyers said a home office is a “must-have” or a feature they “really want,” according to the 2021 CHBA Homebuyer Preference Study. The study shows 63.2 per cent of Canadians said the same, a 2.9 per cent increase from 2020’s study.

Add Newsletter plugin: Buying a home can be overwhelming — so we’ve created a two-week newsletter course that you through the many steps and decisions. The course is crafted by National Post columnist Tristin Hopper, who had the dubious fortune to be raised by real estate professionals and has also owned (and renovated) a few homes of his own. But he’ll be sourcing a whole galaxy of experts and statistics for the course so you don’t have to worry about taking his word for things. Sign up now, it’s free!

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An artist’s rendering of Avalon Master Builder’s Zen Sequel, which offers net-zero and net-zero ready townhomes. Courtesy, Avalon Master Builder
An artist’s rendering of Avalon Master Builder’s Zen Sequel, which offers net-zero and net-zero ready townhomes. Courtesy, Avalon Master Builder jpg

Net zero 2050: More people are buying homes with the future in mind

New home buyers want to be socially responsible in regards to climate change and reducing their carbon footprint, as long as their new home doesn’t cost more.

The deadline for Canadian buildings to be “net-zero ready” by 2030 is only eight years away. The hard deadline to be “net-zero” is 2050, in 28 years. For context, the hit movie Forest Gump was released 28 years ago. Time flies.

Building energy-efficient homes has been a priority for decades but when it comes to balancing energy costs versus mortgage costs, new home buyers want a net-zero solution here, too. Net-zero homes produce as much clean energy as they consume. Net-zero “ready” homes are built to the same efficiency standards as net-zero homes, but don’t yet have their renewal energy system (solar panels) installed.

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Lack of land transfer tax makes homes more affordable in two provinces

Alberta and Saskatchewan’s housing markets are among the most affordable in the nation, and it’s not all due to average prices being below those in larger markets such as Ontario and British Columbia.

Rather, these two prairie provinces offer homebuyers another benefit: no land transfer taxes.

“It’s a huge advantage,” says Brad Mitchell, chief executive officer of Alberta Real Estate Association. “That’s because a land transfer tax is really taking money away from a down payment.”

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Budget beyond the mortgage payment when buying a home

Few people will ever make a larger purchase than buying a home. This makes it easy to overlook the additional expenses that come with stepping into home ownership.

From covering costs needed before the move to needs once one takes possession, first-time buyers benefit from budgeting beyond mortgage payments.

Here is a look at some of the costs new homeowners need to keep in mind, writes Josh Skapin.

Lawyers are a necessary part of buying a home

Along with calls to a home builder and moving company, one of the essential contacts when buying a new home is a law firm.

The complex documents involved in buying a home are considerable and require a lawyer’s attention and expertise.

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“Notwithstanding it is mandatory to hire a lawyer when buying a home in Alberta, there is a significant amount of paperwork required and a lawyer will ensure your interests are protected and ensure the transaction goes smoothly and on schedule,” says Daniel G. MacAulay, associate at McLeod Law LLP in Calgary.

Your Big Questions Answered

Many questions about entering the housing market — like how to prepare for rising interest rates or how to access your RRSP to make a down payment — are asked across Canada and we have the answers. Postmedia’s in-depth journalism is possible thanks to the support of our subscribers. Subscribing to the Edmonton Journal gives you unlimited online access not only to the stories in your backyard, but also to the National Post and other major Canadian news sites across the Postmedia network.

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New homes stand in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.
New homes stand in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.

Sixteen things to know before buying your first home

We’ll be blunt; Canada is not an easy place to buy a home. Decades of underbuilding have resulted in Canada having one of the most acute housing shortages in the G7. With fewer homes to go around, real estate in many of Canada’s major cities has been bid up to levels that now rank as some of the most unaffordable on earth.

But it’s not impossible, even for those Canadians who may not have the good fortune of an eight-figure inheritance to play with. Nearly 70 per cent of Canadians own their own home, and that figure is rising each year. Read more for tips on how to join them.

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How this 22-year-old bought a $1.3 million pre-construction home in Brampton, Ont.

Sumi Ragu bought his first home at 22-years-old, a near-impossible feat for the average millennial these days.

But the accomplishment came at no small cost, he acknowledged. “I didn’t have a work-life balance. I was doing a lot of work and minimal sleep,” he said. “I lost half my hair, like, trying to get a mortgage for this.”

How this young Ontario couple bought a 3,200-square-foot home for $1.4 million

After having a child, Amanda and Joseph wanted to expand their living space and have a place to call their own. Amanda has been working since she was 17 years old, and homeownership was always something in the back of her mind, she said. Beyond savings from work, both her husband and her lived with their respective parents until they got married, in order to live more frugally.

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Before they got married, she invested in a pre-construction condo in Maple, Ont. The development took about three years to complete and was profitable by the time they sold it. She said this initial investment helped to fund the house they bought.

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How this young B.C. couple bought their first home — a two-bedroom condo — for $620,000

Camille has been saving up for some time now to buy a place of her own. She decided to stay at home while attending school and save money she would have otherwise spent on rent.

Through her previous job, she had saved up enough for half of the down payment, and she continued saving until she could pay for it.

Although she wanted to live in Ottawa, where she works, the cost was too high and she had to remain open-minded and look elsewhere. Quebec seemed like a viable alternative.

How this 24-year-old bought her first condo for $175,000 in Quebec

Derek feels lucky he was able to buy a place of his own. Knowing he wanted to buy in Tofino, he kept an open mind to how he would buy a place. Initially, he thought he would buy a house with his friend and split the cost. Houses were moving fast and he said everything he was interested in would get snapped up quickly — often over the original asking price.

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“It was just very frustrating being a first-time homebuyer, not being able to lean on my equity from a previous house to buy a second place or a huge line of credit or anything like that. I just felt like it wasn’t fair. Like, I couldn’t really do anything,” she said. “But then I got really lucky.”

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The rate hikes cometh: How to get your mortgage ahead of a rising rate environment

The era of ultra-low borrowing costs is over.

When the Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest a quarter point to 0.5 per cent in early March, it made clear that more increases were on the way.

What first-time homebuyers need to know about using RRSPs to fund a down payment

The biggest obstacle to home ownership for many is the down payment, especially these days, with home prices in Canada’s hottest markets running rampant.

One way many first-time buyers get over that barrier is with a boost from their registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) through the Home Buyers Plan. Before depleting this tax-sheltered savings account, there are a few things to consider.

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Rent or buy? Here’s how to decide what’s best for you

Buy or rent? Simple question, difficult answer.

Renters boast about the flexibility that comes from being unanchored by a mortgage, nor is it their problem when something breaks around the house.

The Financial Post’s Down to Business podcast tells you what you need to know about Canadian business each week in under 30 minutes. That team also took time to explore key questions when it comes to buying a home. Download the first episode here.

Looking to buy property out of province?

Check out our other first-time homebuyer guides:

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