In the gloomy winter months we often find ourselves dreaming of new hopes, dreams, and resolutions.
For some of you, all three of these things might revolve around purchasing your very first home. In the hope to inspire and encourage you, here’s the story of my husband Brandon and I buying our first home.
It’s a story of two adults being hit hard by rent increases and the fast-paced real estate world in Kelowna. It’s also a story of how we happened to meet Danielle and how she fought every step of the way so we could move into our home, all while on a budget of $375k and just a little over two months to find a new place to live.
From Renters to Owners
Our story begins seven years ago when Brandon, our friend, and I began to rent a 3-bedroom suite in a house in the Mission for $1200/month. We paid this amount for five years, until our rent was bumped up by $100. By the beginning of 2017, our landlord shared her plans to renovate the place and begin leasing it for $1700/month; couple weeks later we got a notice that our rent would go up another $200.
Brandon and I then first seriously spoke about buying a house. We had enough for a down payment and our credit was good. We put our numbers together and realized that for a bit over $1500/month we could, and should, afford to own a house.
This is where Danielle came into the picture. We had met a couple months earlier through Grindstone Award Foundation and I asked if she could be our realtor. As per Danielle’s recommendation, we got a mortgage through a broker, got a great interest rate, and got in touch with a lawyer.
Then the search began.
What Can 375k Get You in Kelowna?
Our first limit—finding a house under $400k, all while having grand expectations of what our first home should be like. Even though Danielle explained what our budget will give us in Kelowna, it took us about a week of looking at listings and crunching numbers to realize she actually does know what she’s talking about.
Owning our own single-family home was soon a dream Brandon and I decided to leave for the future. It was townhouses and duplexes that didn’t require any major renovations for at least the first few years.
So, what’s out there in Kelowna?
Lots, as we soon discovered, until you see how many properties are run down by careless renters and owners, and how many are court sales and former grow ops.
Crunching Numbers and Running Out of Time
We placed our first offer on a beautiful townhouse in Rutland, within our price range, and didn’t get it.
We placed our second offer on another townhouse, this time just off Springfield. At an offer of $381k we knew we were over our initial budget and would have to be smart with our expenses if we got the place, but we felt we had to act quickly before the end of our lease at the Mission house. Our offer got accepted.
The catch—a strata fee of almost $400 a month, which bumped up our mortgage and had us apply for the First Time Home Buyers Loan. Long story short, we couldn’t get all the paperwork together on time before the closing and a few other things happened that led us to believe this was not the place for us.
We called Danielle, explained what was happening and how we felt, and asked her to withdraw our offer.
Danielle had put in a good word for Brandon and I to get our offer ahead of two other offers. For days, she had worked with us until as late as 11 PM, calling back and forth arranging legal and financial matters. For Brandon and I it felt like a defeat, but also like disrespecting all the work Danielle had put into this.
She laughed and said, “This is how real estate works. It’s a game and you have to play it fast.” She then promised we would find our dream home before our lease ended.
Our New Home
Brandon and I revisited all listings and found a place in Glenrosa we had previously overlooked because we thought it was too far of a drive to work, our friends, and activities we had gotten used to while living in the Mission. But we decided to give it a shot.
The place was half a duplex at the end of a cul-de-sac, $325k, just a hair over $1500/month in mortgage payments.
We got there and were blown away.
It was quiet, the air was cool and smelled of trees. The duplex had a little bit of everything we were looking for: a spacious kitchen, a deck, back yard with the potential to become a beautiful garden and a place to relax, four bedrooms, enough parking for us and people who visit.
Because the place needed a little bit of work, we placed an offer under the asking price. Danielle coordinated all the back and forth negotiations, and a few days later we signed the paperwork and became the proud owners of our first home. FIY, we got the place for $5k less and got a new water heater put in.
But this is not where the story ends, yet.
The Final Hurdle Before Moving In
On the day we got the keys, we met Danielle at our new home. When we arrived, she had an odd expression on her face. The place was a bit messy at our first viewing, so a part of our contract was to have the place professionally cleaned prior to us getting the keys. This was not done.
We were left with a pile of garbage and a quick this-will-do cleanup.
Danielle did not hesitate to put her game face on and make as many phone calls and arrangements as necessary with the seller’s realtor to get the house clean for us. Our move was delayed by a few days, but when we did finally step into our new home, it literally smelled like a fresh start and a new chapter in our lives.
Since we moved into our new home in the summer of 2017, we’ve done a lot of work both inside and outside the house. Every time we paint a wall, do yard work, or change a light bulb we feel like building our first home and we take pride in it. In the spring of 2018 we welcomed our daughter, and we couldn’t be happier to have a wonderful, quiet, and safe place for her to call home, too.
Why Share Our Story?
First, if you are looking for a home and need to get stuff done in a timely and professional manner, get a hold of Danielle.
Second, buying a house for the first time is a scary experience. To have someone experienced by your side, who is also passionate to fight for you, makes the process easier.
Third, living in Kelowna on a budget is tough but doable if you’re willing to recognize that sometimes your grand plans of a home have to start with smaller beginnings.
I hope that by sharing our story, others would be encouraged to not give up on their search.
Thank you for reading!
Thank you, Danielle, for being our realtor!
Written by Elina Briezkalne