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What I Wish I Knew Before Buying My First House: Part 2 of 4

Lessons From a First Time Home Buyer

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. Below's interview is a continuation of the conversation I had with 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.

Question 3: What are the things that you’re glad you did?

John: What are the things that you’re glad you did?

Elliot: I think the main thing for me was mitigating risks and surprises and setting expectations for my purchase. The main things that helped me in this were:

  • Visiting properties with my spouse, besides getting his opinion, a second set of eyes helped to notice more things

  • Not getting caught up in bidding wars and getting comfortable in knowing the market. Your agent should understand your concerns and meet you at a risk level that is comfortable for you.

  • Thinking about our purchase as not just an investment, but also a home. I wanted to make sure that I would be comfortable in the place we bought even if the market started to cool off.

  • Finding a great mortgage broker and agent to work with. We had a really good relationship with both, and it really helped in working through the process

John: For that last point, what were the steps you took to find the right mortgage broker and agent?

Elliot: Well honestly, we tried four different agents before we found one that was perfect for us. We also sought referrals from trusted people, and when we did connect with candidates, we asked questions and trusted our gut.

John: That’s awesome, I think a lot of people go with the first person they find instead of being open to interviewing a few different agents for the role. It’s one of the biggest decisions in most people’s lives, so it’s worth finding the exact right person to work for you.

Elliot: Exactly, and finding the perfect person was important for us.

John: Were there other steps that helped you along the way in terms of managing risk and expectations?

Elliot: Yes, a couple other things were really useful for us:

  • We gave ourselves plenty of time to move, about two weeks for both places. Moving always sucks, and giving yourself extra time makes everything less stressful

  • We also noticed that some homeowners are not always good at maintenance, so we made it a priority to do a proper inspection and check for problems to address, or maintenance that needed to be done.

John: Okay, and what was the main benefit?

Elliot: Well first it allowed us to check things before making an offer and deciding whether we needed to write it into the offer. For example, checking for:

  • appliances that aren’t working;

  • broken electrical fixtures;

  • furnaces, washing/drying machines and ducts/fans that need to be cleaned out;

  • water tank issues and signs of plumbing problems (i.e. stains from old leaks); and

  • Fences, gates, walls, flooring. Any part of the house that might show signs of damage, mold or serious defects that might be red flags.

John: That’s a good point, writing conditions and terms can be a really useful tool, especially when you're in a cooler market. It’s been difficult for people in Vancouver and Victoria over the last year (2021), since the expectation is that you need to write unconditionally to win on most properties.

Were there any other steps that you made sure to cover ahead of time?

Elliot: Yes, getting insurance ASAP and making a “must change now” list of repairs/replacements. If there was a property I was interested in and we were ready to make an offer on, I wanted to confirm that I could get the property insured, and knew how much it would cost ahead of time.

Regarding the “must change now” list, I wanted to know ahead of time all-of the costs I would be getting into with our purchase. This also helped me to decide what I would be content without and willing to add later. For me, my big one was confirming if it was feasible for either a garage or carport to be added later. Knowing this, we needed to make sure we had enough land for a carport or garage. We added new windows and a quote for a new furnace to our subjects. In the right market subjects help a lot!

That’s it for now, when we return, we’ll get into some more tips and suggestions to be aware of prior to your next purchase.

Stay tuned for Part 3!


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.



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