Sanjay’s Guide to Buying
There’s a lot to know when it comes to buying a home in Vancouver. Whether you’re buying your first condo, moving to a bigger house or downsizing, our in-depth Buying Guide will take you through all the steps. Click through the tabs above to find out how to:
- Get pre-qualified for a mortgage, make important financing decisions and choose a lender
- House hunt like a pro, online and in person
- Make an offer and not be intimidated by the paperwork, negotiations or bidding wars
- Be prepared for the closing process and costs so you don’t get caught off-guard
How Sanjay can help you negotiate and get your new home:
- I’m kinda known for our kick-ass negotiation skills.
- I’ll stand up for you come negotiation time. I won’t be bullied or pressured to make a move you aren’t comfortable with.
- I’ll decipher the fine print. I’ll take the mystery out of financing and legal requirements and make sure your interests are protected. Think of us as your coat of armour as you enter the battle of buying a home.
Let the fun begin! Whether you’re searching online, hitting open houses or searching with a REALTOR, hunting for your dream house or condo is both a science and an art. Here’s what’s involved:
Step 1 – Develop your Wish List
Knowing what you need and want in your home is critical. What are your must-haves, your nice-to-haves, and your no-way-absolutely-nots? How many bedrooms do you need? What kind of outdoor space do you want? What about counter-tops, appliances and floors? You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want. Of course, location will be a big decision – what Vancouver neighbourhood makes you feel at home? Check out our Vancouver Neighbourhood Guides for some insider scoop on Vancouver’s hottest neighbourhoods and make sure to read up on the Best Vancouver Neighbourhoods for Return on Investment and the Best Vancouver Neighbourhoods for First-Time Buyers.
Of course in a hot market like Vancouver’s, compromise is a big part of the process. Almost everyone needs to compromise on something, and it usually comes down to 4 things: size, finishes, location and price. What’s most important to you? Would you rather live in a bigger house or closer to downtown? Are you OK spending more money for a renovated house or could you buy a cheaper house and do the renovations yourself? Would you consider living on a busy street to more affordably be in a better neighbourhood with access to better schools?
Step 2 – Pick your team
Buying a house or condo will likely be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make – but don’t worry, you don’t need to do it alone. You’ll want to start by picking a Great Vancouver Real Estate Agent who works exclusively for YOU. You’ll also need a lender to take you through your financing options, and a lawyer to help with the legal aspects of the purchase. There are thousands of professionals out there (of varying quality), so ask your friends and family for recommendations, do your research and don’t be afraid to interview multiple people.
Step 3 – Searching for Houses and Condos Online
You aren’t alone: 94% of Canadians search for their home online. While there are endless real estate websites out there, here are the ones you should consider:
Realtor.ca is the website owned by the real estate association. It pulls available properties for sale directly from the system that agents use, the MLS (multiple listing services). realtor.ca is usually a day or two behind what’s happening in the market, but a great tool to explore what’s for sale and start to get a feel for what’s available.
The SANJAY KHUNGER Personal Real Estate Corporation home search tool – Of course we’re biased, but our home search tool pulls house and condo listings directly from the MLS every 2 hours and includes a lot more information than what you’ll find on realtor.ca. You can set up a custom home search for yourself that will automatically e-mail you listings that match whatever criteria you set, so you never miss a listing. Click here to check it out or set up a property search for yourself.
Custom Listings from a REALTOR Another way to get quick and easy access to what’s available is to have a real estate agent e-mail you daily listings of available houses and condos that match what you’re looking for.
Tips for looking for a home online:
- Keep an open mind. Photos aren’t always representative of what the house looks like in real life.
- Don’t always believe the description and read between the lines. ‘Ready to put your decorator touch on it’ means it needs a lot of work. And ‘Leslieville dream home for under $500K’ probably isn’t really in Leslieville.
- Remember that the asking price is very different than the sale price. In a hot market like Vancouver’s, houses often sell for far more than the listing price. If you want to know actual sale prices, sign up for our monthly Neighbourhood Reports that give you all the inside scoop.
- If you’re shopping for a condo, keep in mind that what’s included in the maintenance fees varies from building to building, so it isn’t easy to compare condos. A lower maintenance fee might still mean more monthly costs if it doesn’t include heat and electricity.
- Take some time to learn how to read an MLS listing – all those acronyms are guaranteed to confuse you.
Step 4 – House Hunting in Real Life
This is your opportunity to get a feel for the different Vancouver neighbourhoods, refine your wish list, and ask questions. While a wish list seems kind of scientific and is a useful tool in deciding which properties to visit, the truth of the matter is that most people walk into their perfect home and just feel it. Of course, it helps when it satisfies your needs and wants too, but don’t underestimate the power of ‘just knowing’.
You can visit homes for sale in real life with your real estate agent or by attending an open house. Keep in mind that not all properties will have open houses, so working with a real estate agent you trust the only way to guarantee that you’ll be able to see the houses or condos you want to see (and on your schedule!).
Tips for looking at homes in real life:
- Make a plan. Vancouver is a big city, and if you’re like most people, you have a few target neighbourhoods. Try to focus on one neighbourhood at a time and don’t forget about traffic and the time it’ll take you to parallel park.
- Car pool. If you’re looking at houses or condos with a real estate agent, let them do the driving. Your attention is better focused on the actual neighbourhoods rather than when to turn left. If you’re checking out open houses, try walking or biking to them – Vancouvernians love open houses, and street parking can be a drag.
- Wear slip on/slip off shoes. Seriously. You’ll be taking your shoes off dozens of times, so save yourself the hassle of lace up shoes. Wearing socks will also save you in the ‘do-frat-boys-live-here?’ houses.
- Don’t just focus on the house or condo, focus on the neighbourhood. Drive around the neighbourhood. Locate the schools, parks and grocery stores. Take a walk down the street and check out the neighbours. Make a point of going to a cafe, restaurant or pub in the area.
- Vary the time of day that you house hunt. Everything looks better when the sun is shining, but it’s important to get a feel for the house or condo and the neighbourhood during the day AND at night.
- Experience the bad with the good. Every neighbourhood has its drawbacks, so make a plan to experience them. Thinking of buying a house near the railroad tracks? Check it out during rush hour when most of the trains are running. Thinking of buying on Queens Quay? Make sure to check it out when there are throngs of tourists and roller-bladers jamming the streets.
- Take notes and photos. It’s surprising how quickly you can forget the first house or condo you saw. In fact, we’ve taken to giving our clients an iPad that they can use to take notes and photos of every property. And no, you’re probably not allowed to take photos of other people’s houses, but it happens all the time. Just don’t go posting them online.
- See past the gross. You’ll probably be surprised to find out how some people live, but don’t let someone’s bad decorating styles, outdated tastes and lack of housekeeping get in the way of finding your perfect Vancouver house or condo.
- Don’t fall in love with the seller’s stuff. This happens all the time and that beautifully staged condo won’t look nearly as great with all your IKEA stuff in it. Try to imagine your furniture and style.