Friday, November 6, 2009

(2004) Stop press - we have a house!

November 2004

Dear Aunt Agatha,

Well, we are all still a bit shell-shocked. This has happened so much faster than we expected. After less that two weeks in Canada - we've bought a house!

When you put it like that, it sounds irresponsibly hasty, but believe me it didn't feel like it at the time. I guess because life is still such a whirl of novelty that time is still playing tricks on the mind.

We spent a few days driving through various districts around Victoria, checking out locales and driving past a few properties listed on MLS. I suppose, in our defence, that we'd really been on the property search for months rather than mere days. Ali is the family researcher, and she'd been on the Internet endlessly since we got our letter from the Canadian High Commission back in January. But for all that, there's no substitute for getting out there and looking for ourselves. For example, there were some beautiful areas that, when we actually got out there, we decided were just too remote for us.

It didn't take long for us to narrow our search to the Saanich Peninsula. Plenty of rural open spaces, but loads of amenities and handy for Victoria. So we got ourselves a realtor, talked over what we were looking for, and she started showing us around some properties.

Having a realtor acting for the buyer, as well as one for the seller, is a major difference over here. But it proved invaluable having someone to look after our interests and walk us through the process, especially as house-buying is so different from what we were used to.

One of the big things to beware of is that when you make an offer, you are already entering into a legally binding contract. You can choose to place certain conditions on the offer, such as finance and property inspection, but if those conditions are met then you are committed. It's no good unearthing something a few days later that you don't like the look of. So you need to pay attention to include anything you want to investigate that might become a deal-breaker. In our case we included conditions like checking for developments or restrictive covenants at the local municipal hall. We were surprised to find, for example, that if we'd bought a bit further up the road from where we now live, then we wouldn't have been allowed to fence our yard, put up a washing line, or park an RV in our driveway. Things like that are worth checking!

So we fell in love with house number six, which seemed to hit all the right notes with us after properties that would have involved some serious compromise. Our realtor played devil's advocate, pointing out all the things we might not have thought about, but in the end it came down to a matter of probabilities. We asked what was the chance of another property coming up in the next few months that came so close to meeting our needs?

Just one fly in the ointment. We can't move in for another three months. The current owners have their own affairs to sort out which will take time. All the same, we are getting a spooky feeling that this was "meant to be". Right now we have a short term rental on an apartment which we know we have to vacate in ... three months.


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