Metro Vancouver’s first-time homebuyers' guide

Metro Vancouver’s first-time homebuyers' guide

Looking to purchase your first home but don't know where to start? We curated a first-time homebuyer's guide just for you

Our complete first-time homebuyers guide includes tips on what to consider when shopping for a condo, and red flags to watch for in strata minutes.Our complete first-time homebuyers guide includes tips on what to consider when shopping for a condo, and red flags to watch for in strata minutes. PHOTO BY SIMPSON33 /iStock/Getty Images Plus

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Real-estate prices continue to soar across much of B.C., and home ownership is out of reach for far too many people. It can take years of sacrifice to scrape together enough money for a down payment on a modest first home. Then what?

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Anyone poised to plunge into the most expensive housing market in Canada faces myriad questions and choices, such as:


• What real-estate lingo do I need to know?
• How do I find my first realtor?
• How do I win a bidding war?
• Should I buy a new condo or older condo?
• What red flags should I look out for in a condo building?
• What extra costs will I have to pay when I buy a home?
• Do I qualify for financial help to buy my first home?


Postmedia reporters and editors in Metro Vancouver and cities across the country have created a First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to assist with these and many other questions. In addition to local journalism, you’ll find explanatory stories about the housing market and home-buying process from reporters at the National Post and Financial Post.

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This comprehensive collection of stories and videos is intended for those contemplating the most expensive purchase of their life.





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10 terms first-time B.C. homebuyers need to know


Mariko Baerg helps clarify deposits from down payments, and completion dates from possession dates.Mariko Baerg helps clarify deposits from down payments, and completion dates from possession dates. PHOTO BY FRANCIS GEORGIAN /PNG

From selecting a realtor and scrolling through the MLS to checking your bank account, buying a home for the first time can be an intimidating prospect. Then there’s all the lingo to learn, such as amortization and variable mortgage rate.


Here is a list of 10 terms that first-time homebuyers should know before wading into the Lower Mainland real estate market.


We asked Bridgewell Real Estate Group’s Mariko Baerg to help us separate our deposits from our down payments, and our completion dates from our possession dates.


 
 

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How to find your first realtor: 3 things to look for


Realtor Mary Cleaver says it’s a very intense relationship for the time you’re working with a real-estate agent, so getting the right fit is important.Realtor Mary Cleaver says it’s a very intense relationship for the time you’re working with a real-estate agent, so getting the right fit is important. PHOTO BY NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

Buying a home for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Choosing a realtor is one of the first steps to make it less scary. With more than 14,000 real estate agents to choose from in the Lower Mainland, how do you find the right one?


“It’s a very intense relationship for the time you’re working together,” said Mary Cleaver, a realtor since 2011. “There’s a lot at stake.”


The process can take weeks or months as the buyer and the realtor meet for an introductory session, visit open houses, review and discuss documents, and write offers. Rapport is crucial.


“It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or 10th time buying, the things you’re looking for are the same,” Cleaver said. “Competence, as in can they do the job; capacity, can they take you on; and connection.”

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Old, newer or newest? The pros and cons of purchasing an older vs newer condo


Realtor Matt Scalena says Olympic Village in Vancouver is an example of how communities move from new and sterile to desirable quite quickly.Realtor Matt Scalena says Olympic Village in Vancouver is an example of how communities move from new and sterile to desirable quite quickly. PHOTO BY ARLEN REDEKOP /PNG

For some homebuyers, it’s all about the laundry.


“In-suite laundry can be a deal-breaker for some people,” Stillhaven Real Estate Services’ Kristi Holz said.


If a buyer is thinking about a condo in a newer building it’s no problem. But older buildings likely have shared laundry — one of the things to be aware of when considering whether to buy old, newer, or newest.


From amenities to location, here are some things to consider when deciding between buying a condo in a new building versus an old building.



5 tips if you end up in a bidding war


Realtor Amy Trebelco says it’s important to keep your cool in Vancouver’s housing market.Realtor Amy Trebelco says it’s important to keep your cool in Vancouver’s housing market. PHOTO BY NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

You’ve finally found the home of your dreams. So have 15 other people.


Competing offers are the buyer’s bane in a market where demand far outstrips supply. The Lower Mainland has had more than its fair share of bidding wars as emotions run high and home-hungry buyers get caught up in the thrill of the hunt. As they say, it’s a jungle out there.

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That’s why in Vancouver’s housing market it’s important to keep your cool. There are a few things you can do to try to lessen the stress of buying when you’re not the only one who thinks they’ve found their dream home. Local realtor Amy Trebelco provided us with some tips on surviving the Greater Vancouver bidding wars.


 
 

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Buying a condo? Watch for these red flags in the strata minutes


Realtor Nicola Campbell says she looks for issues that come up repeatedly in strata minutes.Realtor Nicola Campbell says she looks for issues that come up repeatedly in strata minutes. PHOTO BY FRANCIS GEORGIAN /PNG

When it comes to buying a home in a strata property, some detective work is in order.


With more than 1.5 million British Columbians living in strata housing, it’s important for homebuyers to know what they’re getting into. Parsing building reports and strata minutes can help avoid future pitfalls, such as special assessments and levies, or worse.


Here are some tips on reading strata minutes, what documents to look for, and how to spot red flags.



Q&A: First-time homebuyers face sticker shock from hidden costs


Along with the minimum deposit, there are fees on top of fees for a home purchase. Realtor Michelle Comens offers some tips about these hidden costs.Along with the minimum deposit, there are fees on top of fees for a home purchase. Realtor Michelle Comens offers some tips about these hidden costs. PHOTO BY ARLEN REDEKOP /PNG

First-time homebuyers are often surprised at all the extra costs involved in purchasing a home. Along with the minimum deposit, there are fees on top of fees — before, during and after the actual purchase.

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We talked to Michelle Comens, who left the city’s VFX industry for the Lower Mainland real estate world 12 years ago, about these hidden costs.


 
 

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How to get financial help to buy your first home in B.C.


Sutton Premier Realty’s Abdul Safi (second from left, with Omar Samadi, Farid Kaywan and Dylan Huang) details what incentives are in place first-time homebuyers in B.C.Sutton Premier Realty’s Abdul Safi (second from left, with Omar Samadi, Farid Kaywan and Dylan Huang) details what incentives are in place first-time homebuyers in B.C. PHOTO BY MIKE BELL /PNG

At first glance, it seems that first-time homebuyers have options when it comes to financial help and government incentives. But dig a little deeper and what looks like a good deal for cash-strapped buyers is either not much of one or based on unrealistic conditions.


To break it down, we talked to Abdul Safi, a mortgage specialist who works for TD in Guildford.


 
 

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Other resources for first-time homebuyers


• CMHC calculators: Mortgage | Affordability | Debt Service
• B.C. property transfer tax exemption for first-time home buyers
• CMHC’s first-time home buyer incentive
• CMHC’s condo buyer’s guide
• Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C

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