Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Home Ownership: Speed Dating Edition

I've never been part of a whirlwind romance. My husband and I dated for a good solid six years before tying the knot. I've been living in Vancouver for three years and only NOW do I actually like being here, though there's still a tough kernel of Easterner stashed away in there.

If you had told me that I would end up being a homeowner in less than a month after I started looking, I would've called you a liar. Stood right up, jabbed an accusing finger at you and called you a filthy lying scumbag. Ok, maybe not that strong. But you know what I mean.

As you have probably gathered, I am a homeowner. Fernando and I now own a one-bedroom plus den on the North side of False Creek in downtown Vancouver. This is quite the accomplishment. We're both first time homeowners who are pretty much on our own. We saved our own downpayment and are paying for everything ourselves.

Thing is, we only started seriously looking a week ago. We got preapproved for a mortgage. We had been to some open houses on the weekends, checking out different buildings. The open houses downtown are as abundant as dandelions. We got ourselves a real estate agent and prepared a shortlist of places we liked. We had a whole afternoon planned with the agent to look at prospective dream homes.

It turns out there was one place that just got put on the market that morning. This is a much coveted building in the much coveted neighbourhood of False Creek. We were told we would love it.

And we did.

For a one bedroom condo downtown, it has a ton of flex space. There's the perfect office space, the huge pantry right next to the large kitchen (with gas stove! YES!) which has a WINDOW...totally unheard of downtown. It's a corner unit with a balcony. Tons of light. Sigh.

Love at first sight.

So we decided then and there to send in a proposal. Unfortunately so did a bunch of other people. Our real estate agent got repeated calls saying there were several people who wanted to put in offers.

This is how fast real estate moves in downtown Vancouver. If you blink, you're homeless.

Luckily our agent kicked ass. His name's Ryan DeLuca if you're wondering, and no, he did NOT pay me to write this! He was all over it, put together the contract and then we played the waiting game. Not very long though. We put in the proposal on Sunday. On Monday he went to submit it to the seller and Fernando and I pretended to be high schoolers waiting for a date to call and stared at the phone.

It didn't take long for it to ring. Turns out there were THREE other people who were going to bid against us (yeah, I know, CRAZY competitive market) and two of them dropped out because they didn't want to compete against so many people. Heh. I LIVE for competition.

So it was us and one other offer. Guess what? Turns out the other real estate agent didn't even show. He faxed in his contract. So even though they bid $3000 more than we did and had fewer subjects attached...we got it!

Normally I disapprove of excessive exclamation points. But !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We got called to come over and sign the contract ASAP. I felt so anxious the whole time walking over there, like I was going to pick up a baby. We took a look around afterwards and thank god, we still loved it as much as the first time we saw it.

So June 30th: apartment ours. July 17/18th: we take possession. You just can't stop for one second in this real estate market.

Now it's time to make this baby ours. We're planning to put in hardwood floors. I want to change the kitchen backsplash. We're looking for new furniture. As my friend Devon puts it, I'm a "real adult now, not a fake one".

My parents (well, mostly my dad) are somewhat pissed that I didn't go to them for advice. But I like the fact that we did this entirely by ourselves. I get to use words that didn't mean anything to me until now, like building "equity". I'm opened up to a whole new financial world. I really am an "adult".

I expect it's just a toboggan ride into middle age now. Oh, who am I kidding, I've never been young. I hope this whole love at first sight things works out. Haven't made a bad life decision yet, so here's knocking on wood...

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