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. We check in with her every couple of weeks to see how it's going.
"I had wanted my dream house right away. I wanted to skip the steps. But now I'm thinking short-term house and long-term house."
Elaine L. is finding the search to buy a house in Vancouver more frustrating than she had expected, now that she's in serious search mode. She and her mom, Patty, are camped out at her sister's place, and they don't want to be an imposition for too long. On top of that, Elaine was recently promoted at work so her days are super busy. Her evenings are almost entirely occupied with searching online for new listings and going out on viewings or drive-bys.
She's no longer thinking about a duplex. "It doesn't feel like the responsible thing to do. I think it's better to buy a whole piece of land because that's where the money is, that's where the resale value is. It just seems more secure."
But even though she can buy a house costing up to $1.1 million, she's finding it tough to find her dream home in Canada's priciest real estate market.
There was one perfect house made even better by the fact it was priced in the $840,000 range. She found the listing as soon as it was posted and jumped on it, but despite her quick action, the house was sold before she got to it.
Then there was a new Vancouver special that looked more like a heritage house. Not only did it have a unique look, it had the layout she's after. But by the time she found it, the owners had taken it off the market.
The capper was the three-storey house with an above-grade basement suite downstairs. It was quite new and priced at $799,000. It looked like a steal... until she found out it was a former grow-op.
Lesson learned. If it sounds too good to be true, it is, and for Elaine that includes any house priced under $800,000. With all the research she does, she knows house prices in her chosen neighbourhoods inside out, and she's learned to distrust any listing with a price that seems too low for the area.
So the dream house is just going to have to stay in the future. "For now we're going to look for one with lots of rental income and save up for the one we ultimately want," she says.
The decision has lightened her load at a highly stressful time. It's broadened the range of acceptable houses. She can look at the new Vancouver specials that she used to reject because they always had a rental suite on the main floor, and she wanted the main floor and upstairs for herself.
Now that first-floor rental suite is a desirable feature. The income from that will help her get to her ultimate goal, to buy a house in Vancouver that's exactly what she wants.
Follow along as Elaine and her mom chronicle their house-hunting adventures. You can visit rew.ca for earlier installments of the House Hunter Chronicles series.
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 detached house with rental suite downstairs, move-in condition.