Getting Started with Finding Your New Home in Vancouver
Your home provides you with a personal place to relax, relieve stress, play, or enjoy quality time with your family and friends.
When purchasing a home in Vancouver, buyers must consider a multitude of factors, including down payment, credit score, neighbourhoods, layouts, prices, and mortgage. For most people, buying a home represents one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime — especially in the Vancouver real estate market.
Vancouver residents planning to move into their first home, seasoned home owners downsizing from a single-family home, or buyers relocating to the Greater Vancouver Region, this guide contains the basic information you will need to understand the home-buying process.
Taking the time to learn or remind yourself of the basic dynamics of buying real estate in Vancouver and possessing clear knowledge of what you can expect alleviates stress because you will be able to avoid surprises. Use this guide to help formulate your plan of action for purchasing your a piece of the most expensive real estate in Canada.
The action plan helps you move purposefully through each of the steps involved with buying a home in Vancouver. A plan helps you get organized, increases the likelihood of your closing the deal without a major hitch, and ensures that you receive the best value for your money.
Assemble Your Features Checklist
Before you begin your home search, visit several open houses. Familiarize yourself with the housing stock in the Vancouver real estate market, including features, amenities, and types of materials. Put together a “wish list” of the features and amenities you want in your home to make it a comfortable place to live in and add value to.
Consider the needs of family members currently in your household as well as any future additions, such as another child or elderly parents.
Start by choosing a housing type: single-family home, townhouse, or condominium. Decide on the minimum square feet of the home, its layout, number of stories, and lot size. Determine the age range of the home, such as new, two to five years old, or a heritage home.
If you want the look and feel of a new home, make sure you understand that the market value of your home might drop the moment you move into the property — similar to purchasing a new vehicle. Choose how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want in your home.
Other attributes you may want to include in your list are:
Style: Choose a home that harmonizes with the neighbourhood. A jarring, out-of-place home may fit your criterion for unique, but could affect the home’s resale. It is prudent to stick to the prevailing architectural style. The home’s entryway has a significant effect on its curb appeal and gives buyers a significant first impression. This item comes into play for a subsequent resale of the property.
Siting: The orientation or position of your new home determines the amount of morning sun, the location of the afternoon sun, and which room receives limited sunlight. Consider the view from the sunroom or deck if the family spends a lot of time socializing or entertaining in a particular area. The locations of windows also have a direct effect on the energy bill.
Building Materials: Determine the appearance of the home and the expense of maintaining the dwelling. For example, vinyl and aluminum siding reduces maintenance requirements and trim costs. Some buyers prefer newer, self-insulating window or patio doors instead of storm windows or hardwood to carpeted floors.
View and Landscaping: A view of the water or mountains or city panorama can make a property more valuable. It can also have some effect on the sale price of the home. The view does not have to take in sights of the mountain or sea, but may consist of a backyard creek or a colourful landscape. Vancouver home buyers should view and landscape as though it is an ordinary property or lot as much as possible.
Garages/Parking: Do you need a garage? If so, think about whether you want indoor or outdoor parking. How large of a garage do you need? Will you use the garage for storage?
Prioritize Your Wants and Desires
When assembling your checklist, prioritize features by order of importance, such as:
1 = must have, 2 = important, and 3 = desirable, nice to have. Assign each feature a ranking. This gives the agent some flexibility when searching for properties on your behalf. Ponder each “must-have” feature, and determine if you really need it in your home. For instance, is a living room a “must-have” item if your family spends most of the time socializing in the family room?
Think about trade-offs such as buying a smaller condominium for a shorter commute to your job or purchasing a larger house now because you will grow your family and expect an increase in salary. You can obtain a mortgage with an interest rate that increases your payment in the future.
The list of features and amenities can get rather lengthy as it expands to other desires. For example, an asthmatic might only consider homes with hardwood floors or prefer a hot water boiler instead of a forced-air heating unit.
When touring Vancouver homes, pay particular attention to features that will enhance your ability to resell the property later — even if you plan to reside in the home for a significant period. Place emphasis on the attractiveness of exterior appearances, kitchens, and bathrooms. Potential buyers tend to give these areas more weight when evaluating a home. Be flexible and willing to modify your list. Once you look at a few homes, you should have a better understanding of what features and amenities work for your family and budget.