Buying a Starter Home in Nanaimo

Ryan Coffey
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I have dealt with many buyers and each of them are unique in terms of what they like, need and can afford. That is not to say however that certain patterns do not emerge when looking at how people find the one that works for them. Here are some tips on making that more manageable. I am focusing on buying a starter home in my illustration but most of this applies to whatever home you are looking to buy.

  • Know what you are able and willing to spend. As I so often say, the first step to Buying is finding a Mortgage Broker and getting prequalified or at least finding out what you need to do in order to become prequalified.
  • Does it have to be a house? A condo or townhome may be more realistic for a lot of people these days. These stratas have their own perks such as not having to do yard work or direct responsibility for exterior maintenance.
  • Know the difference between what you need and what you want. Really, a price range that you are willing to look up to and a minimum number of beds and baths is enough info for many people’s searches. This is especially true for starter homes since we’re not going to talking about expensive views, giant lots or built within the past couple of years. And realistiically, with starter homes, I would expect one bathroom and treat more bathrooms baths as a bonus. Remember though, that like anything you buy, having more of something that people want is either going to mean a higher price tag or it is going to mean that you are giving up/compromising on something else that adds value.
  • Every Buyer has the same worst fear and that fear is missing out on seeing a place that may have been a better deal than the one they bought. That doesn’t mean you have to look at every single place you can in person as you can eliminate most of them by looking at the info available in the listing and having good two way communication with your Realtor. It is a balancing act though as sometimes I find great places for people and they reject the idea of looking at it. Then I try again, and they are finally like “okay…” and then they fall in love with the place and sometimes they don’t. If we’re looking at a lot of places and you’re not finding anything it may be time to change your price range or your expectations for the one you’re looking at.
  • Have a good think about how handy you really are and what you are willing to have a pro come and do before you go house hunting. You will then need to reassess these thoughts when you are looking at homes. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew money wise, time wise and ability to do a decent job on it wise.  I have seen some people add a lot of value to their homes by fixing it up themselves but I have seen more people who buy a home and buy a bunch of stuff from Home Depot that they simply have no experience with and bought cheap product. The result is that they devalued the home. Usually things look good when it’s new and shiny but after a couple of years other issues, often to do with water and wear and tear, become apparent. Now, not only does the work need to be redone, but it sometimes affects the condition of other parts of the home that were not part of the original work done. An easy example is with water leaks that lasts over time because the flashing, siding or roofing or plumbing wasn’t installed quite right and the water issues wasn’t noticed and has been leaking into the wall for a long  time causing mould or other expensive to fix issues.
  • I don’t recommend trying to buy the cheapest home you can find. It may make sense in terms of mortgage costs but if they are at the bottom of the market, the vast majority of the time is because they have so many issues that even people who are really handy (i.e. professionals) are hesitant to touch them. It could also just be things like location, size or number of beds for example but most of the ones at the bottom of the market need more than just a little TLC. For most people, under current market conditions I would suggest looking at 225k-275k first but if you are able to afford a bit higher perhaps a home with a suite that you may or may not choose to rent out for extra income would be a good idea. If you decide to go the condos/townhomes route I would look at places between 150k and 180k. These are just suggestions they will only get you a modest home and most of them won’t be stylish or charming, but you might get lucky.

Ryan Coffey