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What I Wish I Knew Before Buying My First House: Part 4 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 6: When it came to financing, did you already know your mortgage broker, or did you have to go out and find one?

John: When it came to financing, did you already know your mortgage broker, or did you have to go out and find one?

Elliot: We reached out to LGBTQIA+ community and asked for referrals. It was important to be able to talk to someone who would not have a barrier in terms of talking about our personal future-plans like adopting a family.

John: Got it, and did you interview them similar-to how you found your agent?

Elliot: That’s right, we went and had a conversation to make sure it felt like a good fit.

John: That makes sense, and you mentioned that you wish you had gone with a different property inspector. What do you think you would have done differently here?

Elliot: Yeah, with the home inspector, we should have shopped around a bit more. We just went with the first referral because I was exhausted at that point. I would have wanted to hire an inspector that could provide more testing capability, and more testing certifications. I would add that they did a great job. It was more about needing extra services, not the quality of work that they did do.

John: That makes sense, despite the shortcoming of your inspector, did you find leveraging referrals was helpful overall?

Elliot: Yes, over all our referrals were so important because they helped us to identify good candidates with a track record.

John: Okay, and would you say that applied to your search for a good realtor as well?

Elliot: Absolutely, I find it’s the same in real estate as financial planning (my previous field), you

really rely on good referrals to get the service you need.

I also found that it was important to have the right group of professionals to cover all-of your needs. Our mortgage broker was good about filling in financial gaps for our realtor. She gets complaints about giving too much information, but that’s what I needed so it was perfect for me. You want those kinds of relationships, because now you know the team you want to work with. Capturing that with your first home is hard, a lot of trust is required and a lot of unknowns, for some it’s really about investment for others it’s about that home.

Some Final thoughts

John: I’m glad you found a mortgage broker first, that’s the best first step, but not everyone does that, a lot of people start window shopping first

Elliot: We did really well that way, my spouse was looking at listings and figured out what type of home we wanted, and I figured out our financing right away. That way once we started actively looking it only took us two and a half weeks to make our first offer and it got accepted!

John: That’s awesome, and I think you had mentioned that getting an insurance quote was really important for you?

Elliot: Yep, it helped to highlight if the property we were buying was a flooding plain and if it could be insured. Once you get used to seeing quotes it will help you with cost expectation.

John: That makes sense, you also mentioned not trusting real estate listing writes ups, do you want to expand on that?

Elliot: Well, we found a property that said it had a sewer but it actually had septic instead. You really have-to question the property sometimes or learn what it has. You need to double check for yourself, don’t just trust what’s written, it could be a mistake, or it could be that the seller’s aren’t aware.

For the property with septic, the hook up to city sewage would have been another $10-20k plus maintenance. That was a property we didn’t write-on. Our first indication of septic was structures in the backyard, we thought that must have been a septic system. That led us to make a quick inquiry.

John: If you had not checked it, do you think the inspector would have caught it?

Elliot: You would hope so, but I’m not sure. We might not have even thought to mention it if he assumed we already knew about the septic system. Next time I will take the key information and run it by our inspector to make sure things are good to go.

Also, an experienced realtor will know this kind of stuff, this information about the neighbourhood came from our realtor. That was another clue.

John: That’s great, thanks for sharing all-of his information. Any last thoughts?

Elliot: No problem! Hmm, well I think realizing the concept that someone else’s lawn might actually-be my property was important. With that in mind I might rent a pin locator if we are looking at homes in the future. After we bought our place, I discovered a tree that is mine that we will have to deal with, it’s a dying tree that will need to fall. It’s not a big expense, but it was a surprise that we weren’t aware of until after the fact.

However, since surveying can be expensive if you’re not sure about the property line, a pin located is an option that can be a good alternative. Knowing more about the property boundaries and title was important for me. There was another property we saw that shared a front driveway which led to the property in the back. I’m generally not comfortable with properties that have easements or a right of way for access to my property.

John: Interesting, and what is a pin locator?

Elliot: It’s a magnetic based device that detects pins in the ground where the property boundaries sit. It’s not that expensive in-order-to give you some peace of mind.

John: Right, so even though technically the only official way to confirm property boundaries is to hire a surveyor, you were using this as a cheaper alternative to give you an estimation.

Elliot: Yep, the small cost of the pin locator would save me money for having to hire a surveyor, which we could still do if needed (i.e. if a pin is missing and needs to be replaced).

John: Well, thanks for your time today Elliot, I really appreciate you sharing your experience with us.

Elliot: My pleasure, I hope it comes in handy for someone else who is buying their first home.

This concludes this series, but if you think you may have missed a part, explore our Tips & Strategies page.


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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