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  • Writer's pictureNeil Joseph

Balancing Act: Weighing Financial and Non-Financial Factors When Upgrading Your Home

Updated: 4 days ago

Factors to consider when upgrading from current home

Your home is more than just a place to live; it's an investment in your future and a reflection of your lifestyle. Whether you're considering upgrading to accommodate a growing family or simply looking to enhance your living space, making the decision to upgrade your home involves a careful balance of financial and non-financial considerations. In this guide, we’ll delve into the key factors to help you determine when it makes sense to upgrade your home.

Financial Considerations:

  1. Equity: One of the primary financial factors to consider when upgrading your home is your current equity position. Equity is the difference between the market value of your home and the amount you owe on your mortgage. If your home has appreciated in value since you purchased it, you may have built up substantial equity that can be leveraged to finance the upgrade. However, if you're in a negative equity situation, where you owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth, upgrading may not be feasible without additional financial resources. At a minimum, the value of the existing home should have increased by 10% or more to just make up for the expenses involved in the three transactions: initial purchase of the home, sale of the existing home, and then the purchase of the new home. You can further increase this threshold if the existing home was renovated after the purchase.

  2. Closing Costs: Upgrading your home typically involves buying a new property, which means incurring closing costs such as land transfer tax, appraisal fees, inspection fees, title insurance, legal fees, etc. These costs can add up and should be factored into your budget when considering an upgrade. You would also not be eligible for the Land Transfer Tax Rebate that you initially received as a ‘First Time Home Buyer’.

  3. Penalty on Mortgage: You may incur an early repayment penalty if you decide to sell the property during the term of the mortgage. This penalty can vary depending on the remaining term of your mortgage, any restrictive clauses in the mortgage agreement, type of mortgage (Fixed / Variable), and the lender (Big 5 bank or Monoline Lender). Big Bank Fixed Rate mortgages will most likely have higher penalties.

  4. Realtor Fees: Selling your existing home and purchasing a new one often involves working with real estate agents who charge a commission on the sale. The standard commission is typically around 5% of the sale price, which can eat into your equity and affect your overall financial position.

  5. Market Conditions: If it’s a seller's market, then you could get a good price on the sale of the existing home but most likely you will need to pay a higher price for the new home as well and vice-versa. You may want to work with a knowledgeable realtor if you want to get any edge in this process.

  6. Upgrade vs. Renovate Analysis: Depending on your needs and the by-law considerations of the existing property, there might be a potential to make changes to the existing home to meet your needs. If that is even remotely possible, then it would be a good idea to work out an estimate of the costs involved in making such a change. Comparing the costs of the renovation to that involved in the sale & purchase could be a determining factor. (Note: As a real estate investor, I often carry out such financial analysis for my projects and I can offer that service to you.)

Non-Financial Factors:

  1. Expanding Needs: As your family grows or your lifestyle changes, you may find that your current home no longer meets your needs. Whether it's a need for more space, better amenities, or a different location, upgrading to a new home can provide the flexibility and comfort you desire.

  2. Aging Home: Older homes may require more frequent maintenance and repairs, which can be both costly and time-consuming. Upgrading to a newer home with modern construction and amenities can reduce maintenance expenses and improve energy efficiency, providing long-term savings and peace of mind. Typically houses have a 100-year life-cycle, and those older than 50 years will require increasing capital investments for the latter half of their life. It would not be advisable to invest more capital (other than for 100% rebuild) once the property is more than 75~80 years old or earlier based on the structural condition.

  3. Lifestyle Enhancements: Beyond practical considerations, upgrading your home can also enhance your quality of life. Whether it's a larger kitchen for entertaining, a backyard oasis for relaxation, or a dedicated home office for remote work, investing in your living space can make daily life more enjoyable and fulfilling.

  4. School District: For families with children, the quality of the school district may be a crucial factor in deciding whether to move.

  5. Sentimental Value: Acknowledge any emotional attachment you may have to your current home. Moving to a new property can be an emotional decision, especially if you have fond memories associated with your current home.

Deciding when to upgrade your home involves weighing a variety of financial and non-financial factors. While equity, closing costs, and mortgage penalties are important considerations, it's equally crucial to assess your changing needs, the condition of your current home, and how a new property can enhance your lifestyle. By carefully evaluating both the monetary aspects and the practical implications, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and priorities.


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