During the past few months, we have been looking at buying our first home in the Vancouver area. We have been studying the market, visiting many open houses and trying to understand a few things… A few things that I would have loved to know from the beginning #CantWinThemAll. I want to share with you, my six tips to survive buying your first home, in a very special housing market.
1. PRE-APPROVED MORTGAGE
The most important step in looking for a home is having a mortgage pre-approved in hand. The Vancouver housing market is something else #WOW. It’s a very fast turning and ruthless market. You can’t afford to lose your dream place because your mortgage pre-approval wasn’t ready or simply because you thought you would get pre-approved for more. #AintGotTimeForThat
2. THE LISTS
I highly recommend you create a few lists of your “dream” place. I used the word “dream”, but don’t dream too far 😉 , here is what I did to keep my feet on the ground. We created three lists “Need” , “Like”, “If possible”. The first and the most important list is the “Need”. You list every single need your place must have, be realistic don’t overdo it. The next list is the “like”. In that list, you write down things that would make you happy, but which you could survive without. As an example, I would like to have two bathrooms, but in fact if we only have one our life will be as good. Finally, the “if possible” list. It’s mainly a list made of dreams. Per example, I would like to have a view of the mountains, but in fact I can totally live without it. These lists will help you see clearer when you feel like you have found a good place.
Now that you have all your lists in hand, be ready to make compromises. Nope! You won’t be able to check all the boxes. I know it sucks to hear. The Vancouver housing market is very complex and heartless. Have an open mind. It’s possible that the home you had in mind turns out to be unaffordable, you might have to lower your standards or even move a little bit further. Times might be hard, but you will find your home, don’t be discouraged. After all that hard work, you will be rewarded with a place of yours; your home and that means a lot #HighFive.
4. START EARLY
The best advice I received was; start your search early. With all honesty, it made all the difference for us. There are many ways to get mortgage simulations. You can go to your bank’s website, call a mortgage broker or try out a mortgage simulator online. You should keep in mind that those numbers are not accurate, but they can give you an idea. All that prep will get you ready for the adventure. We looked at the housing market for two to three months before getting our mortgage pre-approved. We went out for open houses every damn Sunday, to get more and more familiar with the market. To prepare us for the adventure!
5. ACTION/ REACTION
When you feel like you know this market well enough to give it a shot, make sure you are ready for this. Most of the homes receive offers within the first week of being on the market. You know what that means? Most of the time we went to open houses and they had already accepted an offer #WaistOfMyTime. Ask your realtor to send you the listings as soon as they get on the market. This will improve your chances of getting a home faster. Make sure to visit them as soon as possible, if you are interested.
6. EXTRA BUDGET
According to my experience and the experience of my friends, I highly recommend you keep an extra budget to play with. Most places go for over asking price, it’s a seller’s market! If your price range is 500K, look for places listed at 470- 480K range. This way you will be able to overbid and you will have more chances of getting the place you like the most. It’s more likely that you will have to overbid to buy a place in Vancouver.
It’s a CRAZY housing market, but you’ll make it happen!
Do you have any recommendation for a future home-buyer-searching-for-their-dream-home?