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  • Writer's pictureDiana Meneses

5 Lessons We Learned While Buying Our First Home in BC, Canada

Updated: Apr 6

After living in Canada for six years, we decided to purchase our first home in British Columbia. It was exciting but intimidating as we navigated the housing market. We learned many lessons along the way that helped us refine our approach to home buying. These lessons included setting realistic budgets, following our instincts, and seeking expert guidance. In this blog post, we will share the five most helpful lessons we learned, offering practical advice to other homebuyers who may be going through a similar experience.

5 Lessons learned while buying first home in British Columbia Canada, this maple life, blog post title

5 Lessons Learned While Buying Our First Home in BC

Lesson 1: Setting Realistic Budgets First - Prioritize Defining Your Monthly Budget Over Your Purchase Price Range

I understand the excitement of starting your house-hunting journey by scrolling through listings and attending open houses on weekends (which we all enjoy, don't we?), but it's crucial to set realistic budget expectations first.

While knowing your down payment and using mortgage calculators can provide an estimate of the bank's lending amount, it may not be enough.

To begin with, it is important to prioritize your monthly budget before determining a purchase price range when planning to buy a home. Your monthly mortgage affordability depends on various factors, such as down payment, lending amount, property taxes, and strata fees. Even if you currently rent a place, owning a property involves additional expenses beyond rent.

To begin creating a realistic budget, start by carefully reviewing all your financial figures. You can use the traditional approach of pen and paper or opt for the convenience of digital tools like Excel. Firstly, list down all your sources of income. Next, detail your expenses, beginning with fixed costs like internet bills and tuition fees. Then, move on to variable expenses like groceries and fuel. When estimating variable expenses, it's always a good idea to round up to account for any unforeseen costs that may arise.

Once you have compiled all these figures, it's a simple process of deducting your total expenses from your total income. This will give you a clear idea of your monthly budget.

calculator, expenses, income. budget

Lesson 2: The Importance Of A Mortgage Broker

After determining your monthly budget and deciding how much you can spend on mortgage expenses, the next step is to seek the assistance of a mortgage broker. These professionals offer their services for free (they earn a commission on each deal through the bank) and are experts in analyzing your financial data. They can help you with interest rates, loan amounts, legal fees, property transfer taxes, inspection costs, and other variables like annual property taxes and strata fees. They use this information to evaluate your eligibility for financing and ultimately to help you set a realistic purchase price range.

Working with a mortgage broker offers a significant advantage because they can compare deals from different banks to ensure that you get the best terms possible. This may include securing a lower interest rate or getting access to a higher lending amount.

Your mortgage broker should be a trusted ally throughout your home-buying journey, so it's important to choose one that you feel comfortable with and who understands your needs. A good relationship with your broker ensures that you receive personalized guidance and support tailored to your unique circumstances, setting you up for a successful home-buying experience.

mortgage, scribble, letters

Lesson 3: Prioritizing Needs Over Wants

As we began the process of purchasing our first home, we got very enthusiastic and started to dream about all the features and luxuries we wanted in our new home. However, we soon realized the importance of distinguishing between our needs and desires. By prioritizing our essential requirements over our wants, we remained focused throughout our search, ensuring that the property we selected met our core criteria without exceeding our budget.

For instance, some features were non-negotiable for us, such as having a fourth bedroom or a den, as my husband works remotely and we required separate spaces for our two children. We also considered the location, the presence of a patio, and natural light as crucial factors. As for our nice to haves, the size of the patio, the age of the home, and strata amenities were less important and not considered deal breakers. Doing this helped us find a home that suited our needs without jeopardizing our financial stability.

Lesson 4: Trust Your Instincts - Find The One That Sparks Joy

Even if you have a well-crafted list, a budget, and specific criteria in hand, there may come a time when the perfect place on paper just doesn't feel right. In these situations, it's important to trust your instincts. Although lists and rational considerations are significant, there's a certain visceral aspect to finding the ideal home that cannot always be quantified.

Think about how you feel when you imagine waking up in that space every morning or entertaining guests in the kitchen. As Marie Kondo famously asks, "Does it spark joy?" This intuitive connection is essential when searching for a home.

In our own experience, we encountered a couple of situations where we found a property that seemed to check off all our boxes, yet something didn't feel quite right. Despite its apparent suitability, I couldn't shake the feeling of disinterest. It was then that we realized the importance of listening to our instincts, even when logic suggested otherwise.

Ultimately, trusting your intuition can lead you to a home that not only meets your practical needs but also resonates with you on a deeper level, ensuring a sense of comfort, happiness, and fulfillment for years to come.

joy, sign, drawing, colourful, painting, outside, yard

Lesson 5: Take Your Time & Trust The Process

After spending weeks searching for the perfect home, my partner and I were left feeling exhausted and drained. Vancouver's notoriously competitive housing market made it seem like an endless cycle of disappointment as we either failed to find the right place or had our offers rejected.

One of our close friends gave us great advice during this challenging time – take a one-week break from house hunting. This simple yet profound suggestion allowed us to step back, take a breath, and reset without the weight of constant house-related stressors bearing down on us. And it worked like magic!

Despite feeling the urgency to secure a home before the market became even more frenzied and the fear of missing out on great opportunities, we realized an important truth: good opportunities will always arise, and there's more than one perfect house for us out there.

We understand that buying a home is a complex process involving numerous hurdles, steps, paperwork, and research, and it's easy to become overwhelmed by it all. However, it's crucial to take things one step at a time and not let the process consume you entirely.

keys on table, miniature house model on table, red door, chairs on background

To wrap up

In conclusion, buying a home can be a complex process, but it's important to approach it with patience, diligence, and an open mind. By prioritizing our needs, seeking expert advice, and trusting in the process, we were able to find a home that we truly love. We hope that these 5 lessons learned while buying our first home in BC we've shared will help you make informed decisions and find your perfect home.

You've got this! Trust the journey, and remember that the right home will reveal itself soon.


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