Mike Holmes Reveals the One Mistake All Home Buyers Make

There’s no name more synonymous with home improvement than Mike Holmes. The Canadian handyman uses his three decades of experience to help young couples purchase their dream homes in his new series, Holmes: Buy It Right.

Contractor and television personality Mike HolmesCourtesy: HGTV Canada

Mike Holmes reveals the right way to buy a house

For most Canadians, purchasing a home is the single-most expensive investment there is. But even before hiring a home inspector or making an initial offer, first-time home buyers have already made one huge mistake, according to Mike Holmes: they haven’t educated themselves.

“Most people are buying their homes based on impulses: they like the house because of the kitchen or the backyard or because it was across the street from a school,” says Holmes. “The biggest problem is they’re not buying with an understanding of the house or neighbourhood.”

The popular contractor returns to Canadian television screens with Holmes: Buy It Right, a new series in which he uses his expertise to guide couples through the home-buying process. In each episode, potential homeowners pick three houses, and Holmes provides them with tools to spot problems and plan repairs before making a down payment on one of the properties. By the end of the episodes, he says, the would-be homeowners are telling him what’s wrong with the house.

“Many buyers aren’t paying attention to what the house really looks like,” he says. “If you see something that appears to be wrong on the outside, remember where that is and take a look on the inside; by doing this, at least you’re starting to be aware of possible issues.”

While repairs like waterproofing windows and installing secure hand railings are common, bigger problems like water damage or electrical work that doesn’t meet current codes are red flags. In those situations, Holmes says it’s important not to do-it-yourself.

“Don’t be afraid to hire the right people,” says Holmes. “If you really don’t know anything, then you shouldn’t play with electrical, plumbing and certainly not structure.” Even projects like painting and trim require owners to educate themselves: the last thing you’d want to do is put a latex paint over an oil paint. (Here are the home improvement projects you should never do yourself.)

Knowing these things, says Holmes, also puts you on an even playing field with real estate agents.

“In today’s world, a lot of people are waiving conditions just to get the house, so you really do want to have some bargaining power when it comes to buying that home,” he says. “When you understand why certain things need to be repaired and how much it’s going to cost to fix it, that gives you room to negotiate.”

Holmes: Buy It Right airs on HGTV Canada on Sunday, Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. ET.