24 Aug

Your Home; Your Community.


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Most of us, even if we don’t participate, crave a sense of community.

Our lives, both digital and analogue versions, are made up of small communities to which we belong. We are the intersection point for all those differing communities.

Each small community has special meaning in our lives; each wave from a neighbour, each time your neighbours’ little kid yells “ HI, JONATHAN!” as she rides by in the back seat of their car, the time you have lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in thirty years, and you end up laughing and joking like no time has passed, has individual meaning for us.

There is a tendency, particularly for homebuyers in areas such as Vancouver, to look at any purchase as an “investment” rather than the purchase of a home and access to a community.

Even in the most adamant ‘investor’ though, the craving for community comes through. Even when I meet with people attuned to the investment side of home ownership, the need for community is clearly evident. It’s evident in statements like, ‘the only neighbourhood we want to live in is….”.

One of the things that I try and walk every prospective purchaser through is an exercise where they sit down and write down the things that their new home must have; the “non-negotiables”, the “must haves” and the “nice to haves”. For each person, the various lists are different, but they help to clearly define what they want in and around their new home.

Two things generally happen when people go through the exercise; They have a clearer picture of how they want to live and a less distinct picture of where they want to live. Because there are now multiple community options, there are more options in terms of where to buy.

Then, armed with your list, you and your Realtor can easily focus on areas and properties that better suit your needs.

So many times in our lives, there’s a real challenge in trying to define what we actually want and need. Make sure you know what type of community you want to be part of before you buy.

If you want more information about the Non Negotiables exercise, you can read about it here.

Here’s hoping you find your perfect community.


8 Aug

Housing Affordability Is Not A New Issue, But It Is The Key Issue.

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One of the regular features in the Real Estate Weekly News, an online publication that I get, is an articles called ‘This Week’s Top Five Most-Viewed Homes’. It’s a fascinating look at what’s on the mind of buyers.

In normal circumstances, even as little as three or four months ago, you’d get a sample of properties from all price ranges.

Not so this week however; all the properties listed are priced under one million dollars. This is quite telling, especially in light of an accompanying article titled “ Greater Vancouver Benchmark Home Price Breaches $1M “.

Each generation has had affordability challenges, but the challenges have been unique to each generation.

My parent’s generation bought their homes early on in their lives and generally, lived in them all their lives, many of my peers having grown up on the same street and had their parents live in the same house all of their lives. One childhood friend was even raised in the same family home that she’s now lived in and raised her own family in. Many of our parent’s generation were raised in an era where mortgage financing was new and rare, making buying a home challenging.

Because house prices were increasing, my generation were taught that the way to get into a home was to “buy what you can afford” and then over time, trade up. This made extra sense to many of us who were in rental housing, because even with mortgage rates at 7 or 8 %, a mortgage payment was most often less than a monthly rent payment, especially in major urban centres.

The gap between market growth and wages is now such that the current generation even struggles find something they can afford.

Even when we find something we can afford, we all want to have a home that’s reasonably close to work, in a safe neighbourhood and most importantly, somewhere where we can be a part of a community.

The top five most viewed homes are especially interesting this week because they cover a wide range of affordability and they meet the above criteria for happy living. It demonstrates that even today, there are affordable, desirable homes to be had. You can read more about them here.

When you do locate your affordable home, it’s important to be prepared. Having a pre-approval in place gives you the confidence to quickly decide on that great home.

Just give me a call if you need any help or advice.

Jonathan Barlow