Editor’s Blog #5: Diary of a Condo Buyer

I am in a unique position – as well as being the editor and content manager of
Joannah Connolly
April 14, 2015

Real Estate Weekly newspaper and REW.ca, I am also a Vancouver home buyer.

Having sold a home I owned in London, UK, following my emigration in 2010, I am in the process of buying a condo in Vancouver’s West End, where I have been renting. I am in the fortunate position of having a substantial down payment from the equity raised on my London apartment. And of course, because of my job, I have great contacts to help me land my dream home. Otherwise, I am subject to the same highs, lows and vagaries of the home-buying process as all our readers.

Here I chronicle my home search and buying process and share all the lessons I learn along the way. I promise not to hold anything back, although names will be changed for anonymity!

It’s all over. I’ve moved in, unpacked and I’m fully settled in my new condo, just a few short months after my property search began.

Following my last blog, I had the place repainted while I packed up my belongings from my rental unit down the road. I used hired plastic crates, rather than cardboard boxes, and I recommend this system – they’re great for packing, stacking and labelling with the right room – it makes the move itself so much smoother.

Then on March 21 the movers arrived early and the Big Day began. What an amazing day that was. The movers were really fantastic and the whole thing was so seamless – in fact, we were done in five hours instead of the predicted eight! (The crates helped with that.) And because I had taken the risk of going with a moving company that didn’t charge a flat fee (they just gave me an estimate based on eight hours) it ended up WAY cheaper than I had been quoted.

Of course, there had been a risk in doing that – if it had taken longer than eight hours, I’d have paid more than the flat fee another company quoted me. So I don’t know if that was a lesson learned, or sheer good luck. Anyways, it worked out for me and I gave the movers a fat tip to thank them. One lesson I did learn: always keep cash on hand on moving day to tip the movers, as they have to pay tax on their tip if you pay by credit card. Sorry guys…

Whichever type of fee you go for, having a professional, reputable moving company is really advisable rather than trying to do it yourself with a hired vehicle. It was such a stress-free experience, and when we got to the new place I was able to start putting items in place while the movers were still unloading. So I really got a jump on the unpacking.

With the place already repainted and the furniture put into place and, in some cases, rebuilt by the movers, unpacking was really quite easy. Admittedly I still have a Room of Shame – the second bedroom is full of discarded bubble wrap, packing materials and items that haven’t found a home yet! But everywhere else is done, the art is hung and it’s all looking as I want it. I think I’m going to be very happy here.

So, the Big Question: what have I learned from what has been a very seamless home-buying process?

That’s easy. Trust your home search, mortgage search, moving day and everything in between to the professionals. It’s a false economy to try to do this yourself as that could end in disaster and ultimately cost you more. The reason my journey has been so easy and smooth is the great team I’ve had behind me.

Now I know how easy it can be, I’m thinking it would be great to buy an investment property at some point in the future… Watch this space!

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.