With Vancouver house sales at their lowest level in 12 years, Elaine L. is one of the few people out there looking to buy a house right now. And with around 350 active listings in East Vancouver and Burnaby, she can take her pick. But even so, she’s having trouble finding the house that meets her expectations.
Last time we talked to her, Elaine had tackled that problem by changing her expectations. She decided that she was willing to buy a house with a rental suite on the main floor — a layout she had rejected in the early days of the search. She’s now willing to wait and let a rental suite help her save up for her ultimate home. But though she’s relaxed her standards, she still hasn’t found a house to buy.
“I feel a little defeated right now,” she says. “It’s just not coming together as fast as I thought. Whatever I’ve seen that I’ve loved is always gone by the time I get to it.”
So once again, she’s moved the goalposts. Elaine went back to her banker and got approved for another $100,000 in financing. She can now buy a house priced at up to $1.2 million. That jump will open her up to more Vancouver listings, including many that have been on the market for a while but were out of her price range before.
|Family size||Two — a single woman and her mom|
|Currently||Sold condo, staying with family|
|Budget||$800,000 – $ 1.2 million|
|Neighbourhoods||Collingwood, Fraserview, Renfrew, Renfrew Heights, Killarney, Burnaby Hospital|
|Looking for||2000 – 2500 sq. ft. newer detached house with rental suite down, move-in condition|
And who knows? Low sales, a healthy number of listings and increasing time on market (12.5 months for detached homes in Metro Vancouver) might result in lowered house prices. Not that Elaine has seen any evidence of that so far.
“I’m living on the west side temporarily and I have seen some ‘price reduced’ signs there, but I haven’t seen any price drops in the South Vancouver areas where I’m looking.”
She did see new listings drop off in August, though. “I get email alerts for new listings, and I would get five or six a day during June and July. Then in August it was only about one a day. So that’s part of the problem.”
Listings always drop off in summer, when people are taking it easy. But Vancouver real estate market pundits also believe that people who don’t have a strong motivation to sell are simply keeping their homes off the market during the current sales slump. As a result, new listings in August were below the 12-year average for the month. We’ll see if listings flood back on the market once the kids are back to school and everybody gets serious again.
Elaine’s house hunting team
Elaine is the first to admit that she’s picky, too. “We don’t go out and wander around neighbourhoods looking at open houses or anything like that. In fact, physically we only go to see about one house a week. The Internet is so accessible and everybody’s helping us look — even friends are sending listings. In our case three people look at every downloaded listing before anything is accepted or rejected. Mom, my sister and I all have a say in whether we think enough of a house to go and see it. Mom and my sister sent one yesterday, but it had a bus stop in front of it, so I wasn’t okay with that. That means it’s off the list. We’re a team.”
Elaine is typical of the new kind of buyer for whom the Internet is a second home. With savvy home searchers like this, the Realtor’s job is to provide value over and above finding potential properties. Sites like REW.ca make detailed searches easy and allow buyers to save searches and receive alerts about new listings that match their criteria. Meanwhile, the Realtor offers specific selling and negotiating skills, hyperlocal knowledge and in-depth market statistics, along with the insight that comes from experience. The Realtor’s another member of the team.
Follow along as Elaine and her mom chronicle their house-hunting adventures:
- June 16,2012 Meet Elaine L.
- June 22, 2012 Elaine Loves and Lists
- July 18, 2012 Keep it Clean
- July 27, 2012 Elaine’s Las Vegas Luck
- August 16, 2012 Know the Market
- September 4, 2012 Buyer’s Market
- September 24, 2012 Best Offer?
- October 24, 2012 You’re Fired
- December 3, 2012 Home at Last
And if you’re currently looking to buy a home and/or sell a home, get in touch! We’re looking for house hunters who are willing to tell us about their experiences as they go through the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes frustrating process of buying a home in Vancouver. Those selected will earn $500. Details here.