With a limited number of homes on the market and a number of buyers wanting to buy, preparation is an essential first step for Oak Bay homebuyers.
“It’s a tough market for buyers. I think inventory has been low all of last year and it just seems to be getting lower,” says Oak Bay realtor Cassie Kangas.
Coming off the holidays, however, “we should see an uptick now,” she adds.
“I think the biggest thing is buyers need to be really prepared. If you really want to get a house in this market, you need to have yourself ready to do so,” Kangas says.
That begins with finding a realtor you can work well with, who not only understands the market where you want to buy, but also your needs and wants and who can prepare you for the process of finding and buying your new home.
“It means having a really frank conversation with your realtor to you understand what the expectation is,” she says.
It’s also important to have a realtor who is able to actively watch for new listings as they come available; by the time a property shows up on realtor.ca, where prospective homebuyers can see it, everyone else has see it too, Kangas notes.
“Things are happening really quickly so you need to have a realtor who is really pro-active about finding it.”
For the same reason, it’s important for buyers to make themselves available to look at homes when they come up.
Because of the nature of the market, where buyers may have offered on but lost multiple homes, it’s easy to become frustrated and consider properties they wouldn’t have otherwise.
While it’s important to be realistic, patience is important, Kangas says.
“You want to make sure you really love the house,” she says.
“I think the biggest thing is patience and just having realistic expectations.”
And that’s where preparation can also help, so buyers are ready to go with their offer as soon as the time – and property – is right.
“What I always say to my people is ‘It will all come together when it’s the right house for you,’” Kangas says.
Beyond finding the right realtor, “the biggest thing would be to make sure you have talked to your broker, lender or bank,” she notes.
In addition to having mortgage approvals in place, know what your downpayment will be in your price range, and have it readily accessible as soon as you need it.
“Make sure all your ducks are in a row before you start your search,” Kangas says.
Having the other professionals in place and ready to go will also prevent delays in a competitive market.
It’s not uncommon for Oak Bay properties to be subject to covenants or easements on title, which you’ll want to have a good understanding of before committing.
With that in mind, you’ll want to have “chosen a good lawyer who specializes in real estate,” Kangas notes.
And because Oak Bay properties are often older, a qualified, experienced home inspector is essential. It’s also a good idea to have a contractor available who can provide renovation estimates to help you decide if this is the right home.
Some of those same issues that might arise in a home inspection can also prove challenging for some insurance providers, like asbestos or the old knob and tube wiring common in many older Oak Bay homes.
“Now they will ask a lot more questions about the age and what’s in the house,” Kangas says.
Having those discussions ahead of time can help you prepare for options should the need arise.
“If you don’t have all these people in your network, your realtor should be able to help.”