top of page
Search

What I Wish I knew Before Buying My First House: Part 1 of 4

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Lessons from a First Time Home Buyer Part


In this series we’ll be diving into some experiences from a first time home buyer to gather some tips and strategies that you can leverage for your first or next home purchase.


Intro


Today I am joined by my friend Elliot Hamilton-Boucher. Elliot is a Procurement professional who works for the BC Wildfire Service in Prince George BC. He provides the contracting and purchasing expertise necessary for the Prince George Fire Centre to coordinate fire prevention and forest fire response in Northern BC. As a first-time home buyer, Elliot was gracious enough to allow me to interview him and ask a bunch of questions about his personal experience including:


  • the things he would recommend for other home buyers;

  • the things that worked well, and areas for improvement;

  • and what he wished he knew before he first got started.


For those of you who might want to skip ahead I have outlined the main questions and answers below. Otherwise, feel free to read along for the whole conversation:


John: Elliot, thanks for joining me today!


Elliot: Hello sir, thanks for having me!


John: So, Elliot. It sounds like you have big news. I hear that you bought your first home recently?


Elliot: Yes, that’s right.


John: That’s awesome, I’m really excited for you!


Elliot: Haha, well it was a bit stressful, but I’m glad that we did it.


Question 1: What was the most difficult part about buying your first home?


John: So, tell me what was the most difficult part about buying your first home?


Elliot: The main thing was getting comfortable with making our first purchase. It was a real challenge for me to get comfortable, especially in this market. The Situation at the time (last summer) was a challenge. We already saw that the spring market was crazy, and we didn’t have to buy because we had a place to live, so we wanted to wait.


John: Yeah, buying property especially for the first time can be really stressful.


Elliot: Exactly, I found that the anxiousness I felt was hard, if I buy a product or car, I have the financing or cash readily available. However, with a house there are a lot more hurdles and legal processes to jump through. It’s also stressful because there is so little time to make a decision, you feel the pressure from the outside, with other people competing for the same property. Plus, I need to see the intrinsic value of buying a home, it’s something you have-to determine quickly. I could really feel the anxiety of not wanting to make the wrong decision, and I didn’t feel like I had a lot of time to make the right decision. Fortunately, in my market we weren’t outpriced, at least not enough to make it uncomfortable. In other markets you might feel lucky to get anything at all. So, that was a huge plus.


John: Completely agreed.


Question 2: What would you recommend for someone who is anxious or risk averse when it comes to buying their first home?


John: So, what would you recommend for someone who is anxious or risk averse when it comes to buying their first home?


Elliot: More knowledge would help, the more I learned about the process the more I became comfortable with it. For example, I didn’t realize right away that subjects in a contract are there to protect me. If I had known that sooner, I would have had a lot more peace of mind with writing the offer.


I also found that I was doing a lot of things that I didn’t realize were already being taken care of for me. When I was dealing with property itself, trying to find where to get info was hard. I ended up purchasing the property title myself, I didn’t realize that our notary was already doing that for me.


John: Yeah, it really is disorienting buying your first home. When we bought our first home, there was so much we didn’t know, and we really had to rely on trusted professionals to give us guidance. Did you find the same thing?


Elliot: Yes, we did. I think it is helpful talking to other people you trust, not just your realtor to get their perspective (i.e. renovations and defects in the house).


John: Absolutely, your realtor will only know so much, and they are specialized in one area. They won’t be able to give you the home inspection advice of a property inspector, the legal advice of a lawyer, or the financing advice of a mortgage broker. Did you find it difficult balancing all-of these different aspects?


Elliot: Yeah, I think learning how to gather the right information and prioritize is difficult. That’s why it is important to talk to your realtor and ask them for the info that you need. It’s also Important to make sure you find a realtor that understands your needs, for me it wasn’t just about making a good investment but also about having a nice home I could feel comfortable in.


John: That makes sense. After all, it is the place you’re going to call home. What else do you think was important either in the moment or in hindsight?


Elliot: Getting a Home inspection was important. Since I have a background in technology I have been able to keep computers long past their expiry date due to good maintenance. I think that holds true for a lot of things. When it comes to buying a house, maintenance is not always a high priority for sellers, so it is important to find something that looks like it’s been well maintained. It’s also important to get a good idea of potential costs. One of my bigger concerns was that the inspection would not pick up on every defect. I definitely was afraid of walking into a money pit. You know that if you don’t catch a major defect in a house purchase it’s going to create a pit, either for money itself or time.


John: What would you recommend for anyone wanting to avoid buying a house that might become a money pit?


Elliot: Afford yourself time and make the time to see the property and check everything out. Some places you view are rented suites. These are other people’s homes, so there are people living there already who are there when you go see it. For us, that made it really hard to assess. Also, with Covid going on, tenants are going to have reasonable health concerns with strangers visiting their home. Being in someone else’s space made it challenging for me to really take the time to assess some properties to a full extent. I didn’t want to linger too long because I don’t want to impose on someone else’s space. My spouse is more comfortable checking things out, opening-up cupboards and testing taps for water pressure. I couldn’t get over that for myself the first time around, but I learned that it’s important to allow yourself to really take the time to assess each property since it might be your future home. I also think that doing a second visit would have been helpful. Seeing a place in different lighting, for example day lighting shows different things than artificial lighting. In our place, I didn’t notice until after, that the speckle on the walls was painted over, but the previous owners didn’t even sand it down first.


John: That’s a really good point, oftentimes you might catch things you don’t notice the first time by doing a second walkthrough. In fact, it’s a great practice to visit a property at different times of a day if you're concerned about noise from neighbours or road traffic since sound will be different at different times of the day. Was there a major benefit from knowing more about your house before you made a purchase?


Elliot: I think the main thing for me was that I didn’t want to be building a list of regrets. That is to-say, I didn’t want to jump into a property quickly, and then only find out later there were a bunch of things wrong with it. I want to know about all-of the defects up front, and get comfortable with those problems so I can move forward knowing what I’m getting into. The biggest problem we knew about our house was the furnace. We knew going in that the Furnace was super old. It still worked but we wanted to replace it, and this was a $10-20k immediate repair. However, because we knew about this going in, it became a consideration in our decision to buy, and we were able to confirm we could afford this expense in advance prior to making an offer.


John: That makes a lot of sense.


That’s it for now, when we return, we’ll get into some tips and things Elliot was glad he did.



Stay tuned for Part 2!


 

I am a Victoria based local realtor with eXp Kiteke. My commitment to honesty, integrity, loyalty and hard work have been important pillars for me because they drive a high standard of excellent service for my clients. Helping you realize your dream is my goal!


I service Vancouver Island, but my focus is on: Victoria, Sooke, Saanich, Malahat, Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Duncan, and the rest of the Cowichan Valley.



14 views

Comments


bottom of page