It almost seems impossible to purchase a home nowadays. The sentiment is that the dream is slowly drifting away, and millennials are looking for other ways to build generational wealth. What went wrong? How did we get here?
I came to Canada when I was 2 years old, lived in my aunt and uncle’s attic for a few months before moving to St. Clair and Bathurst. Times were tough, we lived in subsidized housing, my parents didn’t know how to speak English and my mother never intended on staying in Canada. Every month she would send money to Chile hoping that when we returned, she would have enough to buy a house. That never happened. My youngest sister was born with Spina Bifida and my parents decided it was best to stay in Canada.
Back then, buying a home was not about status or prestige. For immigrant families, it was about stability. Can you imagine moving to a different country in your early 20’s with two kids, no education, freezing cold temperatures and no English, completely displaced! I can’t help but wonder how they did it? It took a tremendous amount of strength and courage for them to start over and find a place to call home.
My parents bought their house just 12 years after we arrived in Canada. Interest rates were about 7-8% back then. My father worked 7 days a week, my mother administered his money. She barely finished high school but since she came from nothing, the only thing she was certain about was that she didn’t come here to be broke. She became curious about financing and hired a financial planner – I had life insurance when I was 15 – por si acaso!
My mom taught me the biggest lesson in life – el que busca encuentra – she was tenacious. She started noticing that other banks advertised lower interest rates than what she had so she would walk in the bank and negotiate with them. They would tell her it would cost money to switch, she did the math and sure enough even if she paid the penalty, it would save her thousands of dollars in interest, so why not? She did this for a few years until she managed to bring down her interest to as low as 2%. She had that house paid off in 15 years.
I tell this story to remind people that it has always been nearly impossible to buy a home. Our parents beat the odds, sacrificed their life, their homes, to give us an education and the tools that we needed to succeed so that we did not have to go through what they did. They taught us that where there is a will there is a way. They taught us that having a “no-choice” mentality will always get you far in life.
Buying your first home may take many years. You need to start planning years in advance, save money, be disciplined, and have the tenacity to keep going no matter how many obstacles come in your way. Work with a team that will help you achieve your dreams. You can start by talking to a financial planner and a mortgage advisor who will answer all your questions and give you the confidence you need to start your homebuying journey.
Written by Vania Carrasco, Mortgage Advisor
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