Posted May 18, 2009 by Adam Toren in Blogs

What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know

shutterstock_27061876A rough ride for the real estate market in the Lower Mainland in recent months has had potential buyers and sellers asking a lot of questions about when the best time really is to buy, sell-or do both.

Vancouver View Magazine assembled a panel of some top local realtors to advise buyers and sellers on some key issues that they need to know about in this consumer crunch.


1. Sell first before you buy, even it means walking away from a negotiation because both parties can’t agree on a price. Come back a week later to see if things have changed, but always try to sell before you buy. Sarah Daniels, a realtor with Bay Realty, says, “Don’t make a ‘subject to sale’ offer if you don’t have to: if you need to sell in order to buy, do that first-then put in an offer on what you want. A cash buyer has much more leverage with both the seller and the sellers’ realtor.”

2. Getting pre-approved is one thing the entire panel agrees on. Shawn Webster of Homelife Benchmark Realty says, “Before you even start looking at properties, make an appointment with your bank or mortgage broker and find out what you can afford. There’s no point falling in love with a place that will put you in the poor house. Be sure to ask the mortgage specialist to explain all of the different mortgage products that they have available, because not only are the rates great right now, but there are also some very flexible mortgage packages that you can modify to suit your needs.”

3. Have a plan. “Ideally, you should have your mortgage paid off before your children enter university, thereby freeing up funds for their education,” advises Allan Krueger, a real estate consultant with Keller Weller Williams Elite Realty. “For sure you’ll want to have your mortgage paid off before retirement, as it would represent a large portion of your monthly income, leaving little money to do the things you have always wanted to do. If this is the case, it’s time to downsize.”

4. Professional home inspection. As of March 31, British Columbia is the first province requiring inspectors to be licensed. Most realtors will likely be able to recommend a number of trusted, qualified inspectors. Getting a home inspection before rushing into buying is another key step the entire panel highly encourages every buyer to take.

5. Think long term. “Buy something you are prepared to live in for three to five years. The days of buying property, holding on to it for a year or so, and then selling for a profit are gone,” explains Vancouver-based realtor Rob Viccars.

6. Consider the land your property is on. Kreuger advises, “Ideally, you buy the biggest piece of land possible in a growing area. Land grows faster in value than the actual house that’s sitting on it. It is more than a home. It is an investment.”

7. New vs. Old. “As a buyer, don’t jump at the first thing you see with great countertops. We are currently in a market where there is a lot of selection for buyers-perhaps a home that is a few years older offers more space, and putting some new countertops in yourself would save you some dollars. Not to mention that by buying re-sale you save yourself the GST over a brand new home,” says Webster.


1.  Don’t take things personally when it comes to pricing.

Daniels says, “Never refuse to respond to a low offer. Everyone wants a deal. When it’s your turn, you’ll be trying the same thing. It’s business; it’s not personal. It’s a competitive market. Do the ground work and price your home properly, use a realtor who knows the area, and don’t be dazzled by a realtor who wants to list at a certain price.”

2. Pay attention to your home’s appearance.

Krueger wants people to use the camera.Take lots of pictures,” he says. “Home A with ten pictures gets more attention than a similar home B with only three pictures. What are they hiding? We all believe our home is our castle but our personal tastes may not make it a show home. You want it to appeal to the widest range of buyers.”

Viccars adds, “Make sure your home is spotless. Get it professionally cleaned if necessary. Having a clean home shows potential buyers that it’s been well taken care of and maintained.

3. Consider hiring a professional stager. Shawn Webster thinks that “as a seller you need to see your home as a product, so try to detach yourself and remove the emotion from it and see it as buyer might. Is it looking worn out? Is it full of junk? Is it just too personal? Get real with your self or have a stager come in for a different viewpoint.”

Buyers and sellers should both use the services of a realtor for obvious reasons-such as a realtor’s access to information-but be careful who you sign up with. As Shawn Lee says, “There are almost 9,000 realtors in the Lower Mainland. Chances are you have a cousin, friend, or neighbor in the game. However, you are dealing with perhaps the biggest investment of your life. Don’t take a chance on an amateur. Interview realtors you are interested in and do your homework. By using an agent who is not familiar with your neighborhood or product, you stand to lose tens of thousands of dollars. Almost every realtor will be happy to sit down and spend 20 minutes discussing their marketing strategies. Take them up on it and don’t be afraid to ask some tough questions.”

Adam Toren

Adam Toren
Adam Toren is born and raised in Vancouver BC and loves everything Vancouver BC has to offer. He loves traveling and exploring new and unique restaurants and places around the world.