Largest Expense

Purchasing a home is the largest single expense most people will incur in their lives, so why overpay? A home and even condominiums costs hundreds of thousands of dollars at the minimum to buy. Having a huge mortgage on the property is the cancer to eroding your wealth.

The smart folks out there take their time with this purchase as it may be a decision they have to live in for 30+ years. It’s the largest physical item you’ll own and will be your pride and joy.

Purchasing a home must be a SMART decision. If you have not had a chance to read up on Determining what your SMART debt is, take a read before we dive into the world of house debt.

According the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)  the average price for a house in Canada is $480,000. Do you even have that kind of money?

True cost of a mortgage

Please sit down for this one. You will be utterly shocked at the true cost of purchasing your home using a mortgage. Using mortgage calculators from the National Chartered Banks in Canada we have the following situation:

  • Home price of $450,000
  • 5% down payment of $22,500 for first time home buyers
  • 25 year mortgage with monthly payments of $2,500
  • Interest rate of 4.64% is used is on a five year fixed term (rate obtained from Royal Bank of Canada)

The amount of interest paid on this mortgage is $303,000 – 67% of the value of your home! You’ve now paid $753,000 for a home excluding any renovations and additions needed to keep up with the debt trapped Joneses next door!

Not only is the interest horrendous but how can you afford the down payment when you are carrying credit card, auto loan and student debt? Will you have to borrow for the down payment from a line of credit that is carrying interest in most cases double the mortgage rate?

Future Interest

We are currently in a low interest rate environment meaning in the future interest rates will increase and having more debt now means having less money in the future.

Go to a store today and take a look around, everyone is shopping for a deal, they are trying to save, well why are we not doing that with life’s largest purchase?

Emotions of home ownership

A home is not a house. When buying a home it is hard not to become emotional about this purchase, it’s the item you will be living in for many years. Being comfortable, safe, and in the desired location are important things to everyone. Let’s take a look around for a moment.

I have seen it with myself and with friends, we venture into a house showing and came to the conclusion it was the house of our dreams finding out two weeks later there is a better one around the corner. It is human nature to want things we do not have and to always look for better. It is the keeping up with the Joneses disease all over only in a different form.

I get it, I really do that you’ve fallen in love with this house and you’ll pay anything to get it. Write down what the priorities are in life. You’ll see that you want other things in life that require more money.

Unless you learn to live comfortably you will find another better dream home the instant you move into last week’s dream home. So look around and follow your priorities, don’t get wrapped up in a bidding war, you’ll pay more for it than just money and that’s your freedom.

Is purchasing a home really an investment?

As we have seen above the cost of the $450,000 home is really $753,000. Assume you put into the home $45,000 for renovation over the 25 year period bringing the total spent to $798,000.

Renovations include:

  • Finishing the basement – $20,000
  • Redoing the kitchen – $15,000
  • Redoing the bathroom and making a second one $10,000

According to a blog post from the average rental price for a three-bedroom apartment in Canada is $1,535.  A three bedroom apartment is a sufficient size for the modern family. The cost of renting over 25 years is $460,500.

Now time to figure out if purchasing a house is worth the investment.

Cost of house = $798,000

Cost of renting = $460,500

Your home would have to increase 173% in order to break even. BUT wait what if we took the difference between the mortgage payment and the rental payment and invested that over 25 years?

Mortgage payment = $2,500

Rent payment = $1,535

The difference of $965 per month invested at 2% (rate of return is below historical average rate of return in a balanced portfolio) would in 25 years become $378,000. This investment reduces the cost of renting which is evidenced in our revised figures are below:

Cost  of house = $798,000

Net cost of renting = $82,500

I’ll let you be the judge of whether buying a home is a SMART investment.

Ways to save save

Debt is the cancer of the financial world. It erodes financial security and cripples you from achieving freedom and happiness in life. Is owning a house a SMART investment?

Remember what SMART is, it’s you making the investment or utilization of debt SMART. So let’s find out how we can save and not overpay for a home.  Here’s a few steps to help you reduce the real cost of your mortgage.  Utilizing any one of these steps could help you save huge amount of your money and live a life with less debt!

Step One: Live within your means

Within the financial world a general guideline is to have your housing costs (mortgage, property taxes, insurance, hydro, etc.) equal 30% of your after-tax income. Purchasing a house that allows you to live within the 30% is ideal providing you do not have credit card debt.

Step Two: Increase the down payment

A larger down payment (double of the down payment in the scenario above) means $20,000 less interest over the 25 years! That’s more money in your pocket. It will take more time to save up for a down payment however just because your friends are buying homes too early in life does not mean you have to. Live at home if you can, rent if you must, the down payment should be cash not on credit.

Step Three: Pay your mortgage

Accelerated payments is a great way to tackle the principal portion of your debt. By going with accelerated weekly payments you can save $50,000 of interest, that’s 6% on the total price of the home. Now where can you get a guaranteed 6% rate of return?

Step Four: Read your contract

Anniversary payments: Every year you can make a lump sum payment that goes directly on the mortgage principle. Using that bonus from work or your tax refund is a great source of this extra cash. Plus you can sleep better at night knowing you just filled a large portion of the giant debt hole.

Step Five: Shorten your mortgage

Amortize your mortgage over a shorter period. On the above scenario changing your amortization period from 25 to 20 years will save you $65,000 with monthly payments and $100,000 on accelerated weekly payments! Talk about a great way to save!

Step Six: Pay cash (if you can!)

Pay cash for the entire house. Yes that’s right, save the money and pay in cash! You won’t make any friends at the bank but you have enough friends already and they’re not trying to steal your money.

Despite the many financial pitfalls of home ownership there are more than enough easy ways to reduce your debt.  Following these steps, you should be able to reduce the true costs of your mortgage.


Buying a home is the largest purchase you ever make. Interest on your home is the second largest drain of cash in life but it does not provide any benefit to you.

Use the ways to save to decrease the amount of interest you pay and keep the money in your pocket to use in accomplishing your goals. Don’t worry about making friends at the bank, they don’t need friends they are already working at some of the best companies on the planet.
Say it with me: do not overpay for a home.