Follow local house hunters as they experience the highs and lows of buying a home in the intense Vancouver real estate market. Elaine L. is the first to share her search with us. We'll check in with her every couple of weeks to see how it's going.
Last time we talked to House Hunter Elaine L., she was off to Vegas with a group of friends. She was fed up with having to keep her condo spotless and ready to show at a moment's notice, so she figured she couldn't make a mess if she wasn't there. Problem solved.
While Elaine is enjoying a delicious lunch in Sin City, her phone rings. It's her realtor. He's got an offer. Can she look at it now?
They talk a bit and work out a counter offer and the realtor sends it off. Lunch is interrupted several more times as offers and counter-offers fly back and forth. Finally, when Elaine is in the back of a cab on the way to an outlet mall, the realtor calls with the final offer. He scans it to her phone and Elaine signs it, gets it witnessed, returns and continues to the mall... with considerably more to spend than she had when she set out.
Digital transactions like this are more and more common with the advent of Wi-Fi, tablets and smartphones. So far there's never been a problem. Digital signatures are informally accepted as valid, although the real estate industry has not yet had occasion to test them in court. The realtor also took the contract to Elaine's co-owner-her mom, Patty-for an ink-on-paper signature.
The condo was on the market for exactly two weeks before the offer, with one open house and 10 private viewings. The buyers saw it in one of the private viewings. The time on market is bang-on for Elaine's Collingwood neighbourhood. Since May, the majority of comparable condos there have sold within 18 days.
Elaine says the condo had numerous advantages that helped it sell so quickly. First was all the work she and Patty put into it.
"We took so much time to clean it up perfectly," she says. "We got rid of every trace of our everyday life. It was completely staged. I don't think other people go to that extreme. We saw other places, and they weren't as perfect as ours."
It was also listed in the mid$400,000s-a price that appealed to people getting into the market. Elaine has seen more expensive condos sit unsold. "A friend of mine has a sub-penthouse that's selling for $150,000 more than mine, and she's had it on the market for a year now."
On top of that, the location is perfect: it's right by the Sky-Train and close to an elementary school.
The couple who bought have two young daughters. At 880 square feet, the condo will be a tight fit, but in the Vancouver market, condos have replaced fixer-upper detached houses as the first rung on the property ladder for first-time buyers and new Canadians.
The buyers' bank sent an appraiser, the home inspector did a report and the subjects were removed a little over three weeks after listing. The completion date is less than a month away. That's too soon to find a house and move in, so Elaine and Patty are staying with Elaine's sister for a bit.
"It's nice not to have a set date for leaving. We can look around until we find the right place. But it's a motivation as well. We don't want to impose on my sister for too long."
The search is on in earnest now. Follow along as Elaine and her mom chronicle their house-hunting adventures on REW.ca.