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Q&A: Tips for home buyers in today’s hectic housing market

Q&A with REBGV Chair Taylor Biggar

Metro Vancouver’s housing market is experiencing record home buyer demand.

What do hopeful home buyers need to know to successfully navigate this hectic market?

We sat down with Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) Chair Taylor Biggar to find out.


Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s just starting their home buying journey in this market? 

Taylor: The number one thing is surrounding yourself with professionals who can advise and guide you through this journey. People with context and insight to help you through what can be an emotional process. Have your team together before you make decisions about where you're going. 

That means finding the right REALTOR®, they’ll be your key advisor throughout the process. You’ll also want to find a mortgage broker, lawyer, and home inspector.  Having this team in place will put you ahead of the game when you're in a competitive market. You've basically got everybody in place already and can make better, more informed and timely decisions. 

Q: What other legwork can a buyer do before they start house hunting? 

Taylor: Get pre-approved by a financial institution or mortgage broker.

When you're looking for a home, you need to know how much money you’re working with and that you're qualified. This is critical – especially in a busy market.

Before you go to your mortgage broker or financial institution, you also need to have the paperwork outlining your income lined up. This paperwork depends on who you are. For example, there are different documents you’ll need if you're self-employed than if you’re an employee. 

Q: You’ve assembled your team, been pre-approved for a mortgage, and found a potential home. You’re ready to make an offer. How can I help ensure my offer is successful?

Taylor: Talk to your Realtor and research recent, comparable sales in your neighborhood to make sure your offer is both competitive and within your budget. If you make an offer at the limit of your budget, you’ll have no room to counter, and you might not be successful. 

Q: What about offers without subjects? 

Taylor: This can be risky. Make sure you completely understand your offer and what subjects are involved. Talk to your Realtor. 

Stay in your comfort zone and take as little risk as possible.

There are ways to mitigate your risk. For example, you can get a pre-inspection. This is where you don't have the offer together, but you hire an inspector to go in and do a report for you.

You can also remove other conditions before your offer as well. For example, you can remove conditions to documents like strata minutes and plans by getting them early. These actions can make your offer as clean and tight as possible. 

Also remember to speak with the rest of your team about any subjects you may want to include. For example, talking with your mortgage broker, you’ll learn that there are two sides to the financing equation. You may be pre-approved, but the property you’re putting an offer on is the collateral for your loan and no one’s appraised it.  

Q: Is there any other advice you can give to potential home buyers? 

Taylor: This may be one of the biggest financial decisions of your life and working with knowledgeable professionals is so important to making good decisions. 

Be patient. Don't stress, don't worry about it. These are market cycles. It's easy to get caught up in the hype. Don't get caught up in it because things change, and they change quickly. When they do, then suddenly there'll be different opportunities. Whatever decision you make, ensure it’s based on good information and advice based on experience.

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