Follow local house hunters as they experience the highs and lows of trying to buy a house in Vancouver's intense real estate market. Elaine L. is the first to share her search with us.
The MLS Home Price Index has moved down 2.3 per cent over the last three months in the Greater Vancouver market. Elaine is starting to see that change on the ground, as prices in her chosen neighbourhoods drop, some significantly. A house she had her eye on in the Burnaby Hospital area just reduced its price by $40,000.
"It's definitely looking more like a real buyer's market now," says Elaine.
Despite lowering prices and more choice, Elaine and her mom are still searching for the right house, at the right price.
Even though prices are trending downwards, some sellers are still slow to adjust to changing market conditions. Case in point: Elaine put an offer on a house she loved in Fraserview, one of two side-by-side houses built last year.
"We were hoping that with a calmer market, the price would come down," says Elaine, pointing out that the house next store had sold for less last year, even though it was exactly the same.
But the builder/seller was slow to play ball, shaving just a few hundred off the asking price. "We felt a bit offended by that, but we went back and forth a bit." Finally, the seller asked for their best offer. It wasn't accepted.
"I think they thought we had money in that house, because we'd had it Feng Shui'd," says Elaine. "And if it was up to just me, I would have taken the higher price, no problem." But her family persuaded Elaine to let the offer lapse. Three days later, the seller got back to them accepting their best price - proving that sometimes the best strategy is to hold out for what you want.
But it was too late. "We had started to think of all the bad things about the house," says Elaine, pointing out it had a smaller-than-standard lot size. And Elaine learned the value of taking a few days to let emotions cool. "I get caught up in the heat of the moment. You can imagine yourself living there-where am I going to put this and that."
After her last offer was rejected and Elaine had a few days to think about it, she realized that the small lot size didn't meet their investment criteria.So what's next?
Elaine's narrowing in on neighbourhoods with a strong Chinese community. "My mom's retired and I want her to be able to mingle with the neighbours, or share pastry recipes-or whatever it is retired people do!"
With a renewed focus and prices in her chosen neighbourhoods dropping significantly, Elaine and her mom want to see what else is out there-a strategy the Vancouver market is finally starting to support.
REW.ca is a local real estate search website for Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
ELAINE L. BIO
. Family size: Two-a single woman and her mother.
. Current residence: Owns a condo.
. Budget $800,000 to $ 1.1 million.
. Desired neighbourhoods: Collingwood, Fraserview, Renfrew, Renfrew Heights, Killarney.
. Looking for 2,000 to 2,500 sq. ft. newer