This Summer One In Four First-time Home Owners Will Be Caught Off Guard By Early Costs, Survey Finds

The dog days of summer are not stopping thousands of Canadians from pulling up stakes and moving this year. According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for title insurer First Canadian Title, more than 600,000 Canadians* will have a moving day by the end of August in 2007, and one in four first-time homeowners will be unprepared for the costs and surprises that come with their purchase.

The Canadian Real Estate Association counts the number of homes selling or trading hands across Canada between January and May of this year at 233,156. The volume of home sales represents an increase of eight per cent from the same time last year, 19 per cent from five years ago, and 72 per cent from 11 years ago.

?Despite the joys associated with owning a home, people are often dismayed at some of the surprise costs they encounter, particularly during their first year of homeownership,? said Susan Leslie, Vice President, Claims, Underwriting and Legal, First Canadian Title. ?These can range from something as simple as changing the locks to unanticipated closing costs or having to deal with something more serious like a property encroachment issue.?

Unexpected first-year costs can range from small items such as a new garden hose or a lawn mower, to more expensive items and repairs such as window coverings or a leaky foundation. Serious issues like property encroachments, unpaid liens, defects in title, or costs arising from pre-existing building code violations can be offset with the purchase of title insurance.

Despite the number of Canadians on the move, the survey found that as many as 26 per cent of home owners say they were totally or somewhat unprepared for the costs and expenses that come with the first year in their new homes. A much higher number ? 43 per cent ? rated themselves as very or somewhat unknowledgeable of closing costs such as mortgage loan insurance, legal fees and land registration fees. The survey found that among Canadians, Quebeckers claim to be the most knowledgeable, with 66 per cent stating they were well aware of up-front closing costs before they made an offer on their first home.

The Ipsos Reid survey, conducted exclusively for First Canadian Title in June, also asked Canadian homeowners about the level of stress they experienced around moving day. The findings revealed that 1 in 5 ? or 21 per cent ? described the experience of moving as very or quite stressful, and about 65 per cent who described their move as very stressful were either totally or somewhat unprepared for the costs and expenses that come with the first year in their new homes (66 per cent), or were very or somewhat knowledgeable about up-front closing costs before they made an offer on their first home.

Saskatchewanians and Manitobans experienced being very or somewhat stressed around the time of their moves at 29 per cent.

?There are a lot of emotional issues we encounter when moving, from fear of not being prepared to stress about the financial responsibilities that lie ahead. After all, our home is the most valuable purchase most of us will ever make,? said Leslie. ?The best solution for stress is doing your homework ? from budgeting and planning to ensuring that your property and title are properly protected.?

IPSOS REID / FIRST CANADIAN TITLE SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

Percentage of Canadians claiming to be somewhat or completely unprepared for the costs and expenditures they had to endure during the first year in their first home (including such items as a new lawnmower, landscaping, window coverings or decorating costs):

– National: 26 per cent

– Alberta: 29 per cent

– Atlantic provinces: 30 per cent

– BC: 30 per cent

– Ontario: 26 per cent

– Quebec: 18 per cent

– Sask. and Manitoba: 26 per cent

Percentage of Canadians rating themselves as very or somewhat unknowledgeable of up-front closing costs before they made an offer on their first home (such as mortgage loan insurance, legal fees, title insurance, and land transfer taxes):

– National: 43 per cent

– Alberta: 44 per cent

– Atlantic provinces: 53 per cent

– BC: 49 per cent

– Ontario: 43 per cent

– Quebec: 34 per cent

– Sask. and Manitoba: 39 per cent

Percentage of Canadians rating their stress around the time of their move to their first home as ?very? or ?quite? stressful:

– National: 21 per cent

– Alberta: 17 per cent

– Atlantic provinces: 24 per cent

– BC: 17 per cent

– Ontario: 23 per cent

– Quebec: 20 per cent

– Sask. and Manitoba: 29 per cent

* Based on Statistics Canada census data estimating the average occupancy per household at 2.6 people.