House Hunter Chronicles 2: Slow Start

Follow local house hunters Gerald and May as they experience the highs and lows of trying to buy a house in the Metro Vancouver real estate market. We'll check in every couple of weeks.
Elizabeth Wilson
February 1, 2013

Gerald and May's house hunt is off to a slow start.

"There's nothing really out there in terms of inventory," says May. "So far we've only seen one place. It's the only one that came on within our price range."

But while they wait for some action in the listings department, they've made a couple of big decisions.

First, they've decided to find a place to buy before they list their Collingwood condo. That means that when they find a house to buy their offer will be subject to the sale of the condo.

May says, "I want to purchase first so we don't have to be homeless. We realize that if we've already sold we'll have a more solid offer, but the market is so slow now. It used to be that people would get multiple offers in a month. Now if you sell in three months it's like, 'Oh, you're lucky.'

Fraser Valley and Vancouver real estate market so slow it's frustrating for house hunters"There's nothing happening out there. Nothing! I think everybody's waiting for a crash. So we're worried that if we sell our place, we'll have to scramble to find something to buy, and I want to be able to really look around first. With so few places on the market I don't want to be out."

It certainly is a quiet market across the Lower Mainland. Gerald and May are looking in the Newton area, and according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, 2012 was the slowest year for MLS® sales since 2003. As a result, December's new listings dropped by 32 per cent from the previous December. Board president Scott Olson summed up the situation: "The last half of 2012 was like a Mexican standoff. Buyers kept hoping for greater price drops while sellers who didn't have to sell just took their home off the market rather than lower their price."

Gerald and May
Family size Three a couple and their toddler
Currently Own a 1BR+ den condo
Budget $500,000 to $550,000
Neighbourhoods Sullivan Station/Panorama Heights, Surrey
Looking for Detached house or townhouse with rental suite

That leaves house hunters Gerald and May hoping that the usual surge of spring listings will come on the market this year and give them more choices.

To help with their search, they've made their second big decision. They've settled on a Real Estate Agent.

"I asked my friend who's a mortgage broker, and he told us about this Real Estate Agent," says May. "He's in the area we're interested in. He knows his targets that he wants to meet. And he actually gave us a break on his fees."

Last time we talked to May, she compared finding the right Real Estate Agent to dating again. With this one, they think they've found Mr. Right. Their initial interview with him was hectic. It was evening and May was in and out of the conversation, taking care of a fussing son.

"He was very patient," she says. "He repeated things I'd missed and he was understanding about us wanting to drop his rates. He's personable. I don't want someone too pushy or too much the other way. We felt comfortable with him.

"His hours were good too, and that's really important. We talked to one Real Estate Agent who said he wouldn't work after 8:00 at night. Well that's often our best time.

"And there was another person we worked with briefly when we were going to sellshe'd just got her licence and was very eager, so I sometimes got calls at 11:00 at night to set up a viewing for the next day. Well I'm trying to get my son to sleep I don't want to talk about this now!"

When they're ready, May says this Real Estate Agent will handle the sale of their condo as well. "He's in the area we're looking at and he knows it well, but he has listings in Vancouver and other places so he's willing to go anywhere."

Their new Real Estate Agent says he's starting to see a few new listings come on the market, which is good news for house hunters as we move into what's traditionally the busiest season for buying and selling homes.

Follow House Hunter Chronicles 2 as Gerald and May chronicle their adventures:January 3, 2013: Meet Gerald & May

And check out the full series about House Hunter Elaine.

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 Metro Vancouver. Those selected will earn $500. Details here.

Elizabeth Wilson
As content editor, Elizabeth spends every day immersed in real estate news and opinion so she can deliver fresh, relevant articles to’s visitors. She comes from a varied background in Internet marketing, book publishing, multimedia writing and radio, but what prepared her best for this position is her experience as a renter, seller and buyer in the Vancouver real estate market.