Don’t let the temptation of the "perfect" house lure you into ignoring the way its location will affect your commute. Whether you commute by car, on foot, or by bicycle, make test runs to and from work during your regular commuting hours so you have a good idea of what you’ll be facing. Also scope out the parking situation. Will you have to park a block away and get stuck lugging heavy bags of groceries every time you shop? Once you factor in any transportation hassles, that charming house may seem a lot less charming
Without a survey to determine property lines, you could find out after you move in that part of what you thought was your yard is actually your neighbor’s. Visual borders, such as fences and hedges, are not reliable for determining where one property ends and another begins. For a small fee (usually around $200), you can have a city surveyor come out and locate the property pins. If you need a more extensive survey—if, say, you're buying several acres—it can run a few hundred dollars more, but it’s essential to have it done so you know exactly what you’re buying.
Big houses are enthralling; they offer vast living spaces, and it’s easy to get swept up imagining how you could put all that room to use. But large homes not only come with bigger price tags, they also cost more to heat and cool and, because county assessors take square footage into account, they have higher property taxes. Do you really need that fourth garage stall or room for a home gym? If the answer is no, look for a more moderately sized home.
While you might not need a McMansion, don’t sell yourself short. If you plan on this house being your forever home, you need to be able to grow into it. Sure, the kids can share a room right now, but what about in a few years? Is there space for entertaining if you like having company over? If you have doubts about the size of the house without any of your stuff in it, chances are it will feel even more cramped once you move everything in.
Before you start house-hunting, decide what factors in a new home are most important to you. Do you want to live in a specific school district or near your place of employment? Perhaps you need a house with at least three bedrooms, or you want a large garage so you can have a workshop. Determine your needs, and don't let the sight of a super-charming home derail them. It’s easy to fall in love with a house, but if it doesn’t meet your most important criteria, move on.
First-time home buyers often focus on the amount of their potential mortgage payment and forget to factor in the additional costs of homeownership. Nothing will sour you on your new home more quickly than finding out that living in it costs a lot more than you thought it would. Before you sign on the dotted line, find out how much you’ll be paying in property taxes and utilities, and figure out what a homeowners insurance policy will run. Budget in extra money for maintenance, home repairs and strata fees, if applicable.
Even if you believe you've just found your dream home, research the neighborhood. What school will your children be attending? How far is it to a grocery store? Are the other homes in the neighborhood in good shape? Visit with local law enforcement and find out what the crime rate is in the neighborhood. You'll probably be living there for a good long time, so you'll want to be sure that you like the neighborhood as much as you love the house.
Buying a home that needs a little TLC can be a good investment, particularly if you do the work yourself. Before you start making offers, though, be aware that if you have to hire pros to get the work done, you may end up paying more for renovations than the house is worth. Even if you have the DIY chops to tackle major remodeling projects, the local building authority might require that some parts of the project be done by pros (wiring, HVAC, and plumbing, for example). Your best bet is to get free estimates from contractors before you buy so you’ll know what the work will cost if you can’t do it all yourself.
Most buyers get preapproved by a mortgage company before they start looking at houses, and their lenders tell them exactly how much they can afford to spend on a house. The lender determines that amount by comparing the buyer’s income and expenses. If you take on more debt, however, the amount you can afford to spend on the house will drop. If, for instance, you buy a new sports car before you close on a house contract, the additional monthly payment for that new car could disqualify you from the mortgage, even after preapproval, and you could lose the house you wanted.
The world of real estate can be confusing to first-time home buyers, so it pays to have someone in your corner who’s looking out for you. For this reason, consider hiring a buyer's agent, a real estate agent who specializes in representing only buyers, not sellers. A buyer’s agent works on commission, getting paid only when you close on a house. Her job is to protect your interests throughout the real estate process. She handles important details like scheduling surveys and inspections, and she'll work with your lender and the seller’s agent to solve problems.
If you buy a home listed with a real estate brokerage, the listing contract will usually specify that an inspection be done after your financing is approved. If you’re buying a for-sale-by-owner house (FSBO), however, an inspection may not be part of the contract. Nevertheless, insist on one—even if you have to pay for it—before you commit. For about $300, you can have a professional inspector examine every part of the house, including appliances, wiring, and HVAC, so you won’t end up dealing with unexpected repairs after you move in.
It can be tempting to go over your planned budget for that “dream house,” but you created that budget for a reason. As a homeowner there will be many unexpected costs in your future, you don’t want to spend all your savings to own a house that you are unable to afford to maintain. Plus, you’ll never be able to enjoy the place if it becomes the reason you have to miss out on trips, concerts, and other fun events.
When you’re buying a house friends, family, your real estate agent, and even strangers will want to share their advice and opinions. Sure, some of it will be useful, but when it comes down to picking the right house your own opinion is the one that matters most. Mom and dad might have comments about the location, your best friend might not like the cabinet colors, but at the end of the day you will be the one living there. Choose the house that meets all of your needs and wants, not theirs.
Calmer than last spring’s record pace, Metro Vancouver home buyer demand remains elevated
While down from last year’s record numbers, home sale activity in Metro Vancouver’s housing market remained elevated in March.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 4,344 in March 2022, a 23.9 per cent decrease from the 5,708 sales recorded in March 2021, and a 26.9 per cent increase from the 3,424 homes sold in February 2022.
Last month’s sales were 25.5 per cent above the 10-year March sales average.
“March of 2021 was the highest selling month in our history. This year’s activity, while still elevated, is happening at a calmer pace than we experienced 12 months ago,” Daniel John, REBGV Chair said. “Home buyers are keeping a close eye on rising interest rates, hoping to make a move before their locked-in rates expire.”
There were 6,673 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in March 2022. This represents a 19.5 per cent decrease compared to the 8,287 homes listed in March 2021 and a 22 per cent increase compared to February 2022 when 5,471 homes were listed.
The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 7,628, a 16.6 per cent decrease compared to March 2021 (9,145) and a 13.1 per cent increase compared to February 2022 (6,742).
“We’re still seeing upward pressure on prices across all housing categories in the region. Lack of supply is driving this pressure,” John said. “The number of homes listed for sale on our MLS® system today is less than half of what’s needed to shift the market into balanced territory.”
For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for March 2022 is 56.9 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 38.8 per cent for detached homes, 73.3 per cent for townhomes, and 70.3 per cent for apartments.
Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.
The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,360,500. This represents a 20.7 per cent increase over March 2021 and a 3.6 per cent increase compared to February 2022.
Sales of detached homes in March 2022 reached 1,291, a 34.3 per cent decrease from the 1,965 detached sales recorded in March 2021. The benchmark price for a detached home is $2,118,600. This represents a 23.4 per cent increase from March 2021 and a 3.6 per cent increase compared to February 2022.
Sales of apartment homes reached 2,310 in March 2022, a 14.3 per cent decrease compared to the 2,697 sales in March 2021. The benchmark price of an apartment home is $835,500. This represents a 16.8 per cent increase from March 2021 and a 3.4 per cent increase compared to February 2022.
Attached home sales in March 2022 totalled 743, a 29.0 per cent decrease compared to the 1,046 sales in March 2021. The benchmark price of an attached home is $1,138,300. This represents a 4.4 per cent increase from March 2021 and a 28.1 per cent increase compared to February 2022.