Buyer's market for those who look
It is officially a buyers' market now as real estate prices continue to fall. That means your dream of owning your own home could come true sooner than you thought possible.
Josh Grover and Carmen Oke recently celebrated moving into their first home.
"Neither one of us actually thought it would happen," said Josh.
Before they started looking they sat down with their bank and set a firm budget.
Carolyn Heaney of Bank of Montreal helps clients make a plan.
"Plan carefully and be realistic," is her advice to those starting the process of looking.
Many banks have tools to help home buyers, like this BMO First Home Essentials kit.
"Everything from looking for a realtor to actually shopping for your first home," explained Heany. "It has worksheets in it that actually compares one home versus the next one you see. How to chose a lawyer, how to chose an inspector," she said.
Many experts say you will save money with a variable-rate mortgage versus a fixed rate, but there are risks.
"With a fixed rate mortgage you know absolutely what your monthly housing costs are going to be month after month, regardless of what the economy is doing. With a variable rate mortgage not so much it can change, but for some people they don't mind they have a higher risk tolerance for that sort of thing," explained Heaney.
Carmen and Josh chose a five-year fixed-rate mortgage at below five per cent.
With the mortgage pre-approved, they visited many open houses.
"We were really aggressive when we started looking. We know what we wanted and how much money we wanted to spend," said Josh.
They found there were lots of condos on the market. The catch? Many were overpriced -- with owners not adjusting to the buyers' market
"A lot of places need a lot of work and people are still expecting top dollar for them and it's just not a reality any more," noted Josh.
Their condo has a great view and inside was extensively renovated -- but they still bargained hard -- and the price dropped $30,000.
"We feel pretty lucky for the price we did and he dropped it quite quickly," said Carmen.
And they didn't skip any steps, including a thorough inspection.
"Our place is only 1,000 square feet and he spent over two hours in here going through the outside of the building the parkade the inside here checking everything out,"
It was all documented in a huge binder, which they went over item by item. The condo got a passing grade and Carmen and Josh now own their first home.
Carmen and Josh said they asked lots of questions along the way -- learning more than they ever thought they would. It's the beauty of the buyers market. You have the time to make the right decision.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen.