Are you a first-time homebuyer wondering where to live in Metro Vancouver?

Monday, June 17th, 2013

If you’re a young twentysomething first-time homebuyer looking to get on the property ladder in Metro Vancouver, where should you start looking for a home that you can afford?

I recently came across this article by Michael Ferreira of Urban Analytics which could help to point you in the right direction.

Generation Y has many advantages over others, but when it comes to buying a first home it appears the “good old days” truly did belong to baby boomers.

Today’s twentysomethings are not only having trouble earning meaningful pay cheques to put toward a mortgage, but the Canadian government has made it even tougher by tightening lending rules to keep a leash on the housing market. Combine this with a decade-long rise in house prices across Canada, it’s no surprise Gen Y is feeling down about buying their first home.

While it’s a discouraging time for young people with a dream of owning their first home, it’s not impossible for Gen Y to buy. At Vancouver-based Urban Analytics, we’ve watched the evolving first-time homebuyer market for years and can offer some advice to young people – Metro Vancouver in particular – who are contemplating buying their first home.

Tip #1 – Consider “best buy” locations (not the electronics store)
By “best buy” we mean the five areas in Metro Vancouver with the largest selection of new condos and townhomes. These include: Richmond, Coquitlam, Southeast False Creek, Surrey Central, and neighbourhoods south of the Fraser. In fact, Richmond is now the most competitive new condominium market in the region as developers have become increasingly aggressive in their fight for market share. Six major new condo projects totaling more than 1,000 units have launched in Richmond in the past two months alone. Another five condo projects are potentially launching in the next few months. Now may be the time to invest in Richmond.

Tip #2 – Think like Donald Trump: Negotiate

When it comes to buying a new condo unit from a plan, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or for an upgrade feature to be included. Your real estate agent can also do this for you – just let them know what you want. Some developers are more willing to negotiate than others, depending on their sales targets or those of their lender, so it never hurts to make a pitch.

More and more developers are offering incentives these days. Some include: Bohème on East Hastings where buyers of units more than $330,000 receive either a new Fiat car or $15,000 in cash; at The Rolston in downtown Vancouver, renters who buy in the building receive $1,000 off their mortgage payments for three years, or $500 off for six years; at the Wall Centre Central Park in Burnaby, buyers receive a 3.2-per-cent credit off purchase price. These incentives result in significant savings.

Tip #3 – Tis’ the Season? Or is it?
Spring typically brings with it a sense of renewal, which seems to get more people thinking of buying a new home, is a traditionally strong home-buying season. That means more competition for properties, and less incentive from sellers to offer discounts. Unless your timing is tight, consider buying during traditionally slower times of the year such as mid-summer when there are fewer buyers, and sellers and developers may be more willing to negotiate.

Tip #4 – Become a Landlord

Buying a house doesn’t have to mean carrying the entire mortgage on your own. A lot of first-time homebuyers purchase properties with two or more bedrooms or units, and rent out the extras to roommates or tenants. Becoming a landlord isn’t for everyone, but if you’re up for a little extra work, and some company, it could make the difference between changing your status from renter to buyer.

Recent real estate sales in West Vancouver, Surrey and White Rock

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Vancouver Sun November 5th, 2011

1263 Fulton Avenue, West Vancouver

Type: 3-bedroom, 4-bathroom detached
Size: 3,827 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $1.755 million
Listed for: $2.95 million
Sold for: $2.65 million
Sold on: Sept. 15
Days on market: 59
Listing agent: Paul Rickman at RE/MAX Masters Realty
Buyers agent: Eric Christiansen at Angell Hasman & Associates Realty

The big sell: According to listing agent Paul Rickman, the appeal of this Ambleside home was multi-faceted. First was the fact that the home is made of concrete; that’s relatively unique, and despite the additional cost, it offers a longevity and strength not always found with a wood-framed house. Other attractions highlight the extensive use of West Coast materials, including cedar in the vaulted ceilings and soffits, the custom millwork, and the floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive skylights that allow natural light into the home. And the view? Vistas of the water, Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver are showcased from the upper floor, where the kitchen, reception rooms and two offices are located. Double-entry doors open to the ground level, where a spacious foyer leads to the bedrooms, each with its own patio and access to the garden and hot tub.

115 — 13468 King George Blvd., Surrey

Type: 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment
Size: 591 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $N/A
Listed for: $174,900
Sold for: $174,900
Sold on: Aug. 22
Days on market: 15
Listing agent: Michael Sikich at The Agency Real Estate Marketing, TRG Downtown Realty
Buyers agent: Stanley Ng at Sutton Centre Realty

The big sell: The Brookland is a new condo development in Surrey that is set to complete toward the end of November. The four-level project will feature 91 one- and two-bedroom homes ranging from 441 to 914 square feet. This ground-floor unit has fully optimized the space available and includes a master bedroom with a walk-in closet and an ensuite bathroom that can be accessed from the main living space. As well, the home has a kitchen with double sinks, stainless-steel appliances, polished granite countertops, natural maple shaker-style cabinetry, a breakfast bar, in-suite washer and dryer facilities, and a balcony off the living room. The complex, which has a fully equipped fitness centre and lounge area housed in a separate building, is within proximity to Central City Mall, SFU’s campus, the Gateway SkyTrain station, numerous parks and the Surrey Arts Centre.

15552 Columbia Avenue, White Rock

Type: 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom, detached
Size: 4,610 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $1.023 million
Listed for: $1.299 million
Sold for: $1.27 million
Sold on: Aug. 25
Days on market: 86
Listing agent: Kelly Wood at Hugh & McKinnon Realty
Buyers agent: Jeanette Leith at HomeLife Benchmark Realty

The big sell: This four-level residence sounds like it would be more at home in a California setting, thanks to 180-degree ocean views and an East Beach address in the South Surrey/White Rock neighbourhood. The contemporary-style home was built into the hillside in 1991 and features large decks on every floor to capitalize on the views. The upper two levels combine to create a spacious 2,610 square feet that accommodate the bedrooms and open-concept reception rooms. Below, there is a 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom suite with 10-foot-high ceilings, a five-car garage, a workshop and a cold storage room. The property has a high-efficiency natural gas hot water boiler with in-floor heating on all levels, two gas fireplaces, and an HRV air-circulation system. The lively shops and restaurants of White Rock’s Marine Drive are just down the road.

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