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Understand what you really want to buy

Understand what you really want to buy

I was talking to a mature client this week on the front porch of his pleasant Kitsilano house. He is considering downsizing to a condominium and said his son is hoping to buy his first home in Vancouver. But he was concerned that he “wouldn’t fit” into a condo after 25 years of living in the same house.

He also wants to help his son and daughter-in-law with their purchase, but wondered if they may be better off in the long run if they bought a detached house in the suburbs than a condo in the city.

There are serious decisions to make in this housing market, and perhaps the most important is “what type of housing should I buy?”

It may fly in the face of the current condo-at-any-cost trend across Metro Vancouver, but I believe people looking to purchase a principal residence should buy only what they are comfortable with and, if they can’t find that, they should buy only for investment.

There are more options in today’s marketplace than most imagine. For instance, my Kitsilano client could use his home’s equity to build a laneway house on the same lot. He could then sell the strata laneway house to his son while he continued to live in the main house, or sell the laneway house to help his son buy a townhouse.

More cost-conscious first-time buyers could buy a low-cost condominium – you can still purchase for less than $400,000 – and rent it out for two or three years to gain appreciation and leverage for the home they really want. Since 2014, the typical condo in Metro Vancouver has increased in value by 64%.

The real question today is not whether you should buy a home, but will you be happy living there?

Condominium and townhouse sales are setting records this year, outselling detached houses by a wide margin, and condos have seen higher price appreciation than houses over the past year. But detached houses traditionally retain their value long-term better than strata units because of the inherent land value. Detached houses also provide more flexibility in adding value.

Some prefer the lock-and-leave freedom of a condo: others will chaff at the strata rules, monthly strata fees and lack of a private yard or garden. For many, a townhouse is an ideal compromise, combing outdoor living space and less regulations but with the convenience of professional maintenance.

Fortunately, in Metro Vancouver it is hard to make a financial mistake in a housing market that continues to post steady appreciation of all property types in one of the most livable cities on the planet.

At faithwilson | Christie’s International Real Estate, we make the buying decision easy with our exclusive Peace of Mind Guarantee for buyers.

So, what should you buy? Buy where you will be happy and the rest will take of itself.