The plight of the first-time home buyers is something we have all come up against recently. Whether you’re the first-time home buyer, you know someone trying to break into the market, or you work with a lot of first-time home buyers, it can be a stressful and sometimes overwhelming project. Real estate isn’t always the rainbows we wish it were, especially now with looming interest rate hikes and consistent multiple offers pushing prices higher and higher.
But that’s not to say that we can’t still have some fun and make sure you’re as prepared as you can be to head out into the real estate market. Here are our top three tips to getting started on your home search.
Explore Those Neighbourhoods
Victoria encompasses so many fantastic neighbourhoods, ranging from the gorgeous Uplands to historic Oak Bay to the hip, inner-city Fernwood to the majestic acreages in Metchosin or spacious homes in Central and North Saanich. Did we mention Sidney by the Sea? We’re a collective of attributes, like all great cities, and sometimes it takes you by surprise what you gravitate to. Maybe you had only considered Fernwood, but you actually love the idea of living in Sidney.
So, go explore! Especially if Victoria isn’t your hometown, it is worth putting on the miles to explore the different parts of the Greater Victoria capital region. Haven’t looked too closely at Vic West and Esquimalt? Take a bike ride across the Johnson Street Bridge or walk along the Songhees Walkway. If you’re cruising by car up, take somebody with you and switch drivers along the way. I swear: you can see the same street differently if you aren’t driving.
Take note of where your favourite stops are, from your favourite restaurant to coffee shop to grocery store. Pay attention when you’re making your commute to work, too. Are some neighbourhoods entirely off your list because of how long you would have to spend in the car? Even though the pandemic has changed how we approach work, it is still a viable thing to consider. And because the pandemic kept us confined to our immediate neighbourhoods, did you find yourself missing anything in particular or wishing you had closer?
Not only does this help narrow the list of options for your dream home but also it, more importantly, helps you realize the parts of the region that you could truly see yourself calling home.
Find Your Financial Champion
This is a huge one and maybe the most important right now, especially in this market. We always recommend finding your financial champion at the start of your search, not after you’ve fallen in love with a place.
That’s for two reasons. One, we want to be able to turn your condition period around as quickly as possible. If you already have your financial guy or gal on standby, then we can have everything moving in a snap. More often than not, time is of the absolute essence: an extra day for conditions could mean the difference between winning and losing a multiple offer.
The second reason is that it’s the worst feeling when you fall in love with your dream home only to find out that it absolutely does not fit in your budget. Talking to your bank advisor or mortgage broker early in the process helps you find out what you qualify for and what you’re comfortable paying each month. Sometimes the mortgage payments on what you qualify for are not what feels comfortable to pay. Your broker can help you find the financial set-up that feels just right.
(Don’t’ have a broker yet? Let us know. We’ve got the hookups.)
What does your dream home life look like?
This one is always so interesting because it is so intensely personal. What might be on one person’s must-have list isn’t even on the radar of the next person. This part is fun for us, talking about all of the combinations of property types, locations and amenities and explaining how each part plays into the decision.
Don’t care if you have to share laundry with other people in a condo building. Great! Can’t ever imagine yourself living in a condo at all? That’s cool, too. We got you.
Need the flexibility of being close to your kids’ school but also not far from your work? Looking for that perfect oasis in the middle of nowhere, regardless of proximity to amenities? We got you.
An investment condo that has parking and allows short-term rentals? We got you there, too.
Now, the one drawback here is that the more restrictions you put on your search (i.e. the must-haves), the fewer options become available. And right now, with still record-low inventory (with no end in sight, either), you may have to concede a few requirements and put them on your “I can live without” list instead. With so few properties, we may have to cast the net wider than you would choose in a balanced market.
Regardless of what you’re looking for in today’s market, we can help. Interested in learning more about our no-pressure approach to real estate? Let’s talk. We’re always happy to meet for an introductory coffee (on us, of course), see if we click, and talk about a basic overview of the market and how it relates to you as buyer. We’re here to help you navigate the ins and outs of Victoria real estate.
You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!
Kaley + The Haro Group