How To Buy A House In Vancouver

It’s no secret that buying your first home can be a tricky endeavor and if your looking how to buy a house in Vancouver, it can seem a little daunting. As I scroll my Facebook feeds on a daily basis I’m bombarded with headlines stating “Vancouver House Price Skyrockets!”, “Lane-way Home In Vancouver Sells For 2 Million Dollars!” and “Randa, you’re never going to buy your first home!”

Okay, the last one didn’t actually happen but it sums up my feelings on how my generation feels exiled from purchasing their first homes. I’m not a real estate guru nor am I an any expert in the field at all but I do strongly believe that if you want to buy a home in Vancouver, you can. There are prices for mostly everyone and there are many ways to enter in the real estate market and today I’m going to share how I bought my first home at age 26!

I’ve spent my fair share of years paying for rent and moving from one condo to another. In my career to date, I haven’t made an astonishing amount of income and have a pretty steady handle on my savings. I’ve tried to pinch a penny since I was a child but also enjoy the finer things in life – It’s how a Taurus lives. Don’t blame me, Alex, blame astrology.

Ideally, I would purchase a newer condo in downtown Vancouver and it wouldn’t cost me too much money and my mortgage payments would be cheaper than rent elsewhere. I found my ideal situation and it took me no less than 1 month to find it!

This situation is a unicorn for us Millennials. We’ve been bred to work hard for our future, much like our parents have, yet we can’t seem to catch a break. I’m here to let you other Millennials know that there is a way that you can reach your own ideal situation.

Below is a photo of my downtown Vancouver condo. The reason I chose to purchase downtown is because at this stage in my life, I live for convenience. My condo is in the heart of downtown Vancouver which allows me to walk to my favourite coffee shops, grocery stores, clothing stores and all of the every day amenities that I need. I don’t have a car so a walkable neighborhood was key for me. Click HERE for a full tour.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I have no idea how to tell a short story! To share the details on how I purchased my first home I feel I should start from the beginning. It all began with my parents…

My father came to Canada in 1971 and lived a life worthy of his own movie. He met my mother in 1980 and after 3 months of dating, he proposed to her and they’ve lived an adventurous life together for 37 years! They purchased their first home and started the first pita bread manufacturer in B.C. with the help of Vancity. After establishing a relationship with Vancity for many decades, they were able to establish a mortgage for my brother and later on, for myself. To learn more about my parents and their story, click HERE.

Vancity was the major stepping stone for me to purchasing my first home in Vancouver and was a great tool to get started. (Read: Vancity’s First Time Homebuyers Hub.) But to get there, I had to take the following steps:

  1. Talk to your bank – Vancity discussed the opportunities, interest rates and potential monthly payments it would take to purchase my first home. Determining my affordable monthly payments allowed me to find what listing price range I should look for.
  2. Find a Realtor – They can help you locate listings that are not available to the general public and can speed up the viewing process.
  3. Narrow it down – Find the neighborhoods and you want to live in along with how many bedrooms and amenities.
  4. View them all – Book a viewing with any listing that checks off the items on your list. I viewed a couple handful of homes before finding the one.
  5. Be decisive – If you like a home, jump on it! You cannot place offers on multiple homes at one time but if it’s the home for you and the price is right – go for it.
  6. Income additions – If you’re able to, look for ways on receiving loans to place a down payment. I’m not saying this is your best option but it’s what I needed to do in conjunction with help from my parents and my savings.

NOTE: Find out why someone is selling their home. If they are in a time crunch, like my previous owners were, you can bring the asking price down quite heavily.

Don’t be afraid to include your parents or guardians when purchasing your first home. They’ve gone through the same process as you and their experiences can help you. My parents joined me on every viewing and literally walked me through the process of buying a home and what to ask for.

Learn more about buying your first home, by visiting Vancity’s First Time Homebuyers Hub.

Photos by Jonathan Spooner.
Home photo by Tracy Ayton.

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