Hopefully someone with more real estate experience can chime in here. Your dad wants you to get a place now because if you can manage the payments then you'll be able to pull enough money/equity out of a sale down the road to make getting into a new place easier.
Whether you decide to buy or not is something you'll have to figure out yourself. If you decide to rent, then I would recommend renting rooms in houses instead of living at an apt. In most cases, you don't have to worry about leasing offices bugging you every 6-12 months about renewing and you don't have to fight for parking or mess with carrying your trash a quarter-mile away to the community dumpster.
i don't wanna rent because to me that's a waste of money, in the end you have no equity when you decide to "sell". that may be a traditional way of thinking but i would like to believe that when i pay for something over a period of time i'd like to see what i have/am potentially gained/gaining.
i know it's the same case as leasing a car, you can either return it or pay off the remainer due on the vehicle after 4 years. i financed my car, leasing to me is just an expensive way of renting it...but you get the jist of my mentality...whether it be bad or good, i guess that's for you guys to decide...haha
Don't stress. I bought two years ago after looking for a year and a half. On a $142K purchase price, I had to come up with about $13-14K TOTAL. I seem to have more an more disposable income, now. You can write off mortgage interest(I use to get no tax return, now I get a buttload). My realtor was useless for finding something I was interested in. I had to look daily and ask him to take me to them. He totally had my back when submitting all of the forms, contracts, etc. Oh, and 2 to 3 times your gross annual salary is probably the price range you can afford with 2 times being a breeze and 3 times needing some spending discipline.
the housing market in the states is substantially cheaper than up here in canada...$150K will land you an amazing property home down there while up here it gets you nothing but a ghetto apartment. double my salady is basically $90K, you're not gonna get anything for $90K, better off renting.
Also, what Tarzanman wrote is correct.
You have to ask yourself why you want to purchase a home. Renting will almost always be cheaper when comparing to the same type of place. Your home will become your equity only when you sell it. If you are living in it, you have tied up your cash. However, what most people cannot do is put away their money they are saving from renting and not touch it for 25 years plus.
Sure you can put the money you save into RRSP's but remember, RRSP is NOT tax free as some people think. It is a tax deferral. You will pay income tax on it when you withdraw it as RRIF when you retire.
Since your friend is an agent, he will be a valuable source of information.
No i understand the whole RRSP and TSFA ordeal, i did a fair bit of research in that as well. You might already know this but you can also pull your RRSP out tax-free IF you go under the first home buyer's "act" i guess you can call it. which is basically you being able to pull out your RRSP and put it directly into a downpayment for a house without any tax penalty, you do have to pay the interest on it though but it's over the course of 15 years, so it's next to nil.
So come tax season, you can drop a lump sum into RRSP, go below the tax bracket so you get an awesome amount of $$ back from the government and then pull out the RRSP and use that for your down payment + whatever you get back from the government for your new home...*BOOM*. of course easier said than done...