Real Estate

Currently renting but should we buy? [Vancouver]

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  • Jan 2nd, 2022 12:59 am
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 29, 2021
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Currently renting but should we buy? [Vancouver]

Hi everyone - apologies if this is not the right place to ask this. I'm new to RFD and new to homebuying!

My partner and I earn about $126K annually before tax and got serious about saving in the past couple years. We save/invest at least $2K per month and currently have $50K in investments + $20K more for general life expenses and emergency fund.

My question is whether you'd get on the property market in our situation. We both have solid, stable jobs, though we're trying for a baby so ideally we'd want 2 bedrooms soon. We currently rent at $1,750 in Vancouver.

From the research that I've done so far, we could go with 5% down payment on a mortgage under $500K. I believe we can only afford a condo and the idea of strata fees really puts me off but realistically, this is the only stepping stone we have to owning a town home or detached home. Also willing to look further out like Surrey or something, as long as it's near a Skytrain station.

If interest rates go up, we should start looking now right? Should I be speaking to a mortgage broker about this? How do I find one?

Sorry for all the rambly questions and thanks for reading!
59 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 3, 2020
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First of all, wishing you well on your journey, wherever that may take you.
Second, keep in mind that no matter what opinion anyone gives you, these are all opinions. No one has any crystal balls.

Re: condos, always make sure you read strata minutes, see if it is time for any large levies etc.
Member
Oct 6, 2017
378 posts
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Each day you are delaying, you are adding more cost Thumbs Up Sign
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Jan 14, 2009
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Vancouver, BC
Very hard to find something under 525k. Save a bit more so you can afford something like this.

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/2296 ... rt-burnaby

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/2384 ... et-burnaby

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/2384 ... ue-burnaby

Condo fees suck but unless you have 2m for a house, tough shit right?

Also lots of presales coming in the Metrotown-Patterson area, maybe look at some of those.
If you buy vgro for a thousand years Vancouver homes will still be out of reach.
[OP]
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Nov 29, 2021
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zakarydoks wrote: Very hard to find something under 525k. Save a bit more so you can afford something like this.

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/2296 ... rt-burnaby

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/2384 ... et-burnaby

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/2384 ... ue-burnaby

Condo fees suck but unless you have 2m for a house, tough shit right?

Also lots of presales coming in the Metrotown-Patterson area, maybe look at some of those.
Thanks for the links! They look way more appealing, but realistically would be another 1-2 years out from being able to consider something like that I think. How crazy might the housing market get between now and then!? I guess this is where @berrytree 's comment about the crystal ball comes in handy lol.

I would love to live on the Kingsway route near Metrotown actually, thanks for the suggestion. Do you have any tips as to what to look out for with presales? They seem out of my range too but I haven't looked into those as much to be honest.
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Dec 27, 2009
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I wouldn't feel comfortable trying to buy anything in Vancouver area at your income/savings levels - especially if planning kids soon.
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essvee88 wrote: Thanks for the links! They look way more appealing, but realistically would be another 1-2 years out from being able to consider something like that I think. How crazy might the housing market get between now and then!? I guess this is where @berrytree 's comment about the crystal ball comes in handy lol.

I would love to live on the Kingsway route near Metrotown actually, thanks for the suggestion. Do you have any tips as to what to look out for with presales? They seem out of my range too but I haven't looked into those as much to be honest.
I would just wait while saving aggressively. You said you have 5% down and qualify for <500K mortgage, so you are looking to put down around 25K? A budget of 500K means comprising a lot. But delaying having children is also very costly. How old are you? Delaying children for 2 years is not that bad at 30 but not so good at 35. Maybe just have the baby and rent? It really depends on your personal preference and risk tolerance.

Check buzzbuzz home for presales.
If you buy vgro for a thousand years Vancouver homes will still be out of reach.
Deal Addict
Dec 5, 2009
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You definitely want to look for a 2 bed (or even a 1 bed + 1 den) condo. It'll most likely be a low-rise midframe since a highrise concrete condo will cost more.
Financially, it'll be a struggle and you'll probably have to use all of the FTHB tools at your disposal (ie. RRSP withdrawal) but IMO, you should buy a home before you have a child.
Your costs will escalate once you have a child and that may make it even more difficult to buy a home.

In terms of a mortgage broker, you honestly don't need one. Just schedule a meeting with a mortgage advisor at a couple of big banks, and then play them against each other.
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 29, 2021
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zakarydoks wrote: I would just wait while saving aggressively. You said you have 5% down and qualify for <500K mortgage, so you are looking to put down around 25K? A budget of 500K means comprising a lot. But delaying having children is also very costly. How old are you? Delaying children for 2 years is not that bad at 30 but not so good at 35. Maybe just have the baby and rent? It really depends on your personal preference and risk tolerance.

Check buzzbuzz home for presales.
Yeah I think a minimum of 25K down payment, while keeping some cash spare for other associated closing fees and also not having to deplete all our investments. We're 33F and 36M, so not old but no spring chickens! Definitely don't want to delay children as it's already taking longer to get pregnant than we thought. Like I said, we're adding $2K+ each month so the expectation is it continues to grow, so more than 25K is certainly possible.

So far we've been content renting and had a pretty loose, general plan of "just save what we can and if the opportunity to buy a home presents itself, then we'll assess then". I guess it's hard not to get FOMO though, with house prices unlikely to cool off and interest rates being as low as they are. I already kick myself for being late in the investment game (played it way too safe and invested after most of the COVID recovery had already passed) so I don't want to lose on the opportunity cost of buying while we can.
[OP]
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Nov 29, 2021
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Alpine84 wrote: You definitely want to look for a 2 bed (or even a 1 bed + 1 den) condo. It'll most likely be a low-rise midframe since a highrise concrete condo will cost more.
Financially, it'll be a struggle and you'll probably have to use all of the FTHB tools at your disposal (ie. RRSP withdrawal) but IMO, you should buy a home before you have a child.
Your costs will escalate once you have a child and that may make it even more difficult to buy a home.

In terms of a mortgage broker, you honestly don't need one. Just schedule a meeting with a mortgage advisor at a couple of big banks, and then play them against each other.
Thanks, I started playing around with pre-approval calculators so I'll see where those conversations lead before going with a mortgage broker. It would be great to have a home before a baby comes along too, I agree. We're in a 1 bed place right now so may as well lump all the big life changes together if we do buy!

I don't know a lot about FTHB incentive admittedly but have heard from other users on Reddit that they are ultimately not worth it, though would love to be proven wrong. Also we're still focused on maxing TFSAs so no RRSP to speak of yet.
Sr. Member
Dec 13, 2010
770 posts
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Vancouver
Have a few suggestions for you:
  1. First and most importantly, figure out between you and your partner, what you would be comfortable paying monthly for housing. Mortgage + strata fee + property taxes + insurance. This is very different from what you could afford/get approved for by the bank (the bank will try to lend you as much money as they can calculate would be "safe" for them - not necessarily for you). You can try one of the online calculators such as this to help you: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/consumer ... calculator
  2. Go to the mortgage rates thread here and get in touch with one of the brokers who can help determine what you might qualify for mortgage wise; brokers have access to multiple lenders, as well as some of the Big Banks (at the moment, Scotia and TD).
  3. Directly contact the mortgage specialists at the other banks who don't usually use brokers (CIBC, BMO, Royal Bank), and do the same thing. This will give you a sense of how much you can actually borrow
  4. Determine what your maximum purchase price is - hopefully this is based on what you are comfortable paying per month, not just the maximum the bank will lend you
  5. Determine what your "must haves" are for your home: how many bedrooms? Den? In-suite washer/dryer? Pets allowed? Underground parking? Close to transit? Close to amenities? Close to family/friends?
  6. Find a realtor you can trust (perhaps through recommendations from friends/family), who can help you with the purchase. Unless you are comfortable enough searching on your own, which many people are not


I would also recommend you don't over extend yourselves, and buy at a price where you are unable to save for retirement (TFSA/RRSP), save for your kid(s), go out for dinner occasionally, or take a modest vacation. Others will say that it's fine, as your salaries will increase, you can cut back on non-essentials for a few years, and the housing market in the GVA will go up so it's a good investment. There's no right or wrong answer, but make sure whatever choice you make, the both of you are comfortable!

Also, don't forget that if you are going to start a family, one of you will be on maternity/paternity leave for likely a year, so make sure you can afford your mortgage (or have enough saved up) when dropping down to just 1 salary for that period of time. Then once the leave is up, you will have to factor in daycare - or decide that you will make do with one income for a few years while the other stays home with the child(ren).

Good luck! It can be both exciting and stressful at the same time, as many of us here will tell you Face With Tears Of Joy
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 29, 2021
16 posts
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mastaj wrote: ...
I would also recommend you don't over extend yourselves, and buy at a price where you are unable to save for retirement (TFSA/RRSP), save for your kid(s), go out for dinner occasionally, or take a modest vacation.
...
Good luck! It can be both exciting and stressful at the same time, as many of us here will tell you Face With Tears Of Joy
Thanks so much for a helpful and thoughtful response! I think at our current situation we'd be looking at spending about 40% of our income on housing which is not ideal. I don't know if it is good for our mental health to sacrifice so much for the sake of a mortgage and having to be house poor.
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Nov 30, 2005
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essvee88 wrote:
Thanks so much for a helpful and thoughtful response! I think at our current situation we'd be looking at spending about 40% of our income on housing which is not ideal. I don't know if it is good for our mental health to sacrifice so much for the sake of a mortgage and having to be house poor.
We spend about 37% and don't feel stressed at all. Hopefully your salaries will continue to increase which would relieve more pressure. You pick what you want to be stressed about, the mortgage or aggressively saving every dollar for a mortgage down the road, either way if you're that kind of person, you'll be stressed regardless lol

However the reality is this, even saving aggressively at 25k a year, you will never catch up for the crazy price appreciation. A modest 400k condo 2yrs ago is probably 500k or more today. That's literally double what you have saved in the same time frame. Even if things slow down to a mere 5% appreciation YoY, thats still 25k. At best you are breaking even but most likely you'll be left behind.

Never try and time the market, if you can afford it, go for it. At 126k income, youll qualify for a 600k mortgage. Put 50k down and start looking at homes in the 550-600k range and begin saving up to upgrade in 5 years when you have a couple of kids and need something bigger.
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Dec 13, 2016
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Can anyone who lives in Vancouver tell me if 108, 128 Cordova condo is a good building. I'm starting to see downtown condos in Vancouver being more affordable than Toronto.
[OP]
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Nov 29, 2021
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BiegeToyota wrote: Can anyone who lives in Vancouver tell me if 108, 128 Cordova condo is a good building. I'm starting to see downtown condos in Vancouver being more affordable than Toronto.
That's the Woodwards building, which I believe is pretty desirable but probably mainly at the higher floors with the fancy penthouses. Try searching Woodwards apartment on Reddit or something for personal experiences perhaps.

The condo is on top of a kinda indoor retail space with a jj beans, london drugs and other small stores. The block is a bit sketchy being on the outer edge of downtown Eastside and you'll regularly see shoplifters being chased out of the stores. The location itself is great, right near Waterfront station and lots of bus routes.

If you want to be close to downtown try looking in the West End? Seems pretty popular with people!
[OP]
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Nov 29, 2021
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ZxExN wrote: We spend about 37% and don't feel stressed at all. Hopefully your salaries will continue to increase which would relieve more pressure. You pick what you want to be stressed about, the mortgage or aggressively saving every dollar for a mortgage down the road, either way if you're that kind of person, you'll be stressed regardless lol

However the reality is this, even saving aggressively at 25k a year, you will never catch up for the crazy price appreciation. A modest 400k condo 2yrs ago is probably 500k or more today. That's literally double what you have saved in the same time frame. Even if things slow down to a mere 5% appreciation YoY, thats still 25k. At best you are breaking even but most likely you'll be left behind.

Never try and time the market, if you can afford it, go for it. At 126k income, youll qualify for a 600k mortgage. Put 50k down and start looking at homes in the 550-600k range and begin saving up to upgrade in 5 years when you have a couple of kids and need something bigger.
I appreciate your input! I guess it depends on the raw numbers whether 40% can be comfortable or not. For us it means way smaller retirement savings. Do you find you're able to contribute to non house related savings still each month?

Totally hear you on timing the market. I guess this is the first time I've realised we can actually afford to seriously consider it so it's all quite overwhelming lol.
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Dec 13, 2010
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BiegeToyota wrote: Can anyone who lives in Vancouver tell me if 108, 128 Cordova condo is a good building. I'm starting to see downtown condos in Vancouver being more affordable than Toronto.
That's in an area called Gastown. Whether you consider it "nice" or not, depends a bit on your perspective. It's definitely a character area; but it's also close to the downtown east side, which is uncomfortable for some (it's an area where a lot of very vulnerable and homeless population live).

The building itself is relatively new, completed in about 2010.
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mastaj wrote: That's in an area called Gastown. Whether you consider it "nice" or not, depends a bit on your perspective. It's definitely a character area; but it's also close to the downtown east side, which is uncomfortable for some (it's an area where a lot of very vulnerable and homeless population live).

The building itself is relatively new, completed in about 2010.
I've been to Vancouver and I visited gastown.... And I also remember this building. I remember area having some very nice restaurants around and never seen anything sketchy. That was in 2011 tho.

One bedrooms look very nice. I especially like separate shower/bathtub in units. The prices at around 599k seem cheap compared to Toronto and I'd rather live in Vancouver than Toronto.
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Jun 14, 2018
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Tough situation here. You might be going on mat leave soon so it might be a bit of a struggle if you're paying your mortgage, but also I don't know if you can afford to be out of the real estate market for much longer if you are looking to own. If you want to stay in Vancouver, there are a few older (20+ year old) 2 bedroom condos currently on sale for ~$500k in East Vancouver. That might be the best you can do
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Dec 13, 2010
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BiegeToyota wrote: I've been to Vancouver and I visited gastown.... And I also remember this building. I remember area having some very nice restaurants around and never seen anything sketchy. That was in 2011 tho.

One bedrooms look very nice. I especially like separate shower/bathtub in units. The prices at around 599k seem cheap compared to Toronto and I'd rather live in Vancouver than Toronto.
True, the downtown eastside is about 3 or 4 blocks away. So not right where the building is, but in fairly close proximity.

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