Buying Your Home

There is no mystery to purchasing a home or property. The process is the same as any other purchase you would make, with maybe a few extra zeros on the end! You decide what you can afford and what you want, you do the research, then you buy. 

You don't need an account with BC Island Homes. You don't need a middle man. You don't need a realtor. You can do this!  BC Island Homes has taken home buying to a whole new level and we strive to make the process fun and easy for you. Our website is easy to use and understand, it is fast, and it is informative.

BC Island Homes serves more than 140 communities on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Discovery Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. Everything you need to make an informed home purchase decision is available on our website. There are writeups on every community here on the West Coast. Our Homes & Properties For Sale Directory has property ads that are detailed with large photos, and we make it easy for you to contact the Seller directly. 

Considering a new community? Our sister site, Your West Coast, has several directories to inform you about everything that each community has to offer and will help to clarify whether the community you are considering is a good fit for you. The list of directories includes,



Not sure what is involved in the home buying process? BC Island Homes has condensed this for you in an easy to read Nine Steps To Buying A Home. You can either dowload our PDF or keep on reading right here on our website. Buying a home or property should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. With a little preparation on your part, it will be.


Nine Steps To Buying A Home

Step One     - Get Prequalified

Step Two     - Assemble Your Team

Step Three  - Determine Needs & Wishes

Step Four    - View Properties In Your Target Area

Step Five    - Make An Offer To The Seller

Step Six      - Put It In Writing

Step Seven - Remove Subjects

Step Eight   - The Legal Stuff

Step Nine    - Get Moving!

Step One - Get Prequalified 

Most of us dream of owning our own home but believe that it will remain just that – a dream. BC Island Homes recommends that you speak to your financial advisor, your financial institution, or a mortgage broker. You may well be pleasantly surprised to discover that the dream of home ownership is actually within your reach. 

Before having that meeting, find out what information they require from you so that the meeting will be a productive one. Usually they will request documentation of all your sources of income, your assets (things you own), savings including RRSPs, and records of your debts including monthly payments. These items combined will help determine your net worth and your gross debt service ratio, both of which are required to determine the amount of borrowing power you have. Be sure to ask your lender for a pre-qualification letter that you can have on hand to show Sellers when it comes time to viewing homes and properties.

Now that you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, combine that amount with your down payment and you know what the maximum price is that you can afford to pay for a home. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend that! Decide what you are comfortable spending. Break it down to a monthly mortgage payment. Combine that with all your other monthly expenditures so that you have a clear picture of the financial situation that you will be comfortable with. 

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a section on their website to help you prepare for that meeting with your lender -

Are You Financially Ready?


Step Two - Assembling Your Team

Before the house hunting begins it is important to assemble your team. Once the purchasing begins, things may move quite quickly due to time constraints. Having your team in place will eliminate the majority of stress that many home buyers experience. 

Your team includes your lender whom you now have, a lawyer or notary, a home inspector, and an insurance broker. Depending on the circumstances, you might also require an appraiser, a land surveyor, and a builder or contractor. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a handy worksheet to help you assemble your team as well as information on the role of each professional.

In some cases, you might require the additional services of a specialized inspector. If you are anticipating this to happen it would be best to add them to your team. They might include, but are not limited to, an engineer, a septic inspector, electrical inspector, and a plumbing inspector. 


Step Three - Determine Needs & Wishes

Now that you have your home purchasing budget and your team, it is time to put together your home requirement list. There are four components – location, lifestyle, needs, and wishes. 

Location is the most important factor. Do you want to live in the city or the country? Where will you be working? Are schools a factor? What services are available in the community? BC Island Homes has an overview of the more than 150 communities that make up the West Coast, to assist you in sorting which community is the best fit for you. 

The second area for consideration is Lifestyle. Do you have or will have children? Are you retired or soon to be? Do you require room for extended family? Do you have time for yard or home maintenance? What activities do you enjoy? Is having access to the arts important? Is buying local produce important to you or do you want the space to grow your own food? Every decision you make, every question you answer now helps you to focus on the home that is right for you. BC Island Homes has a range of directories to help you narrow that focus including Arts Culture & Heritage, Farms Farmers & Food, Festivals & Events, Recreation & Leisure, and Business & Services. 

Thirdly, you must consider your needs. What is a must have in your home? What can’t you live without? Number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Garage? Home office? Fenced yard? Mortgage helper? No stairs? Really take the time to pare down the list to what you really can and can’t live without. It will save you so much time in the long run and is priceless when it comes to making the decision on which home to purchase. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has an excellent Home Features Checklist to help you work through to the core list of must haves. Once you have your list of must haves, put them together on a spreadsheet. 

Now it is time to pull out that scrapbook or the overflowing folder. You know the one. It has all the photos and articles that you have cut out of magazines over the years. All the hopes and dreams that make up the components of your new home to be.  If you haven’t sorted these photos in any order, now is the time. This is actually a very useful process for two reasons. One, you will see a recurring pattern of items that will make up your wish list. A cozy wood fireplace, the large soaker tub, the window bench, etc. Whatever they are for you, they will quickly stand out. Put them in a list and then sort them by order of importance or preference to you. The second recurring pattern that will appear is style. You thought you were sleek modern contemporary but you have at least a dozen photos of a plush comfy plaid armchair cozied up next to the fireplace! 

The wish list process helps you to define house style preferences and sheds light on what makes up the right home for you. Once you have your wish list, put them together on a spreadsheet. 


Step Four - View Properties In Your Target Area 

Before you start looking at properties, go to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and print off their Home Inspection Checklist. It is intended for reviewing a home inspection report but is also a very useful tool for your own initial inspection of the property and a great reminder that the home you are purchasing is a financial investment as well as an emotional one. Make sure you have in your folder a Contract of Purchase and Sale and a Contract of Purchase and Sale Addendum. You never know when you will find the right home and you will want to be prepared to make an offer. You can obtain the most current forms from your lawyer or notary. Be sure to ask your lawyer or notary for a list of the most common Subjects included in a Contract of Purchase and Sale, including the correct wording to use. 

You are now ready to start looking at properties. You are well prepared. You have your budget, your team, you know where you want to live, you have your spreadsheets with the must haves and the wish list, you have your home inspection checklist, and you have your contracts. Now go and have fun! Don’t be afraid to look at everything in your target area. You just might find a gem. Join BC Island Homes Facebook and/or Google Plus pages to ensure you are notified when a new listing appears on our website. Tell anyone and everyone that you are looking for a home and what you are looking for. Put notices up on community boards, real and virtual. If your target area is not too large, consider making up a flyer and delivering them direct to the houses. Be confident, be creative, and be willing to compromise. Most of all, be patient. The home that is right for you is out there. 

BC Island Homes suggests that you do not view properties alone for personal safety reasons and of course it is always helpful to have a sounding board. Only view properties during daylight hours. A lot of potentially important things that may affect your decision making process can be missed inside and out when night has fallen. Feel free to ask lots of questions. Most Sellers are quite happy to discuss their home and property with you. Find out what is included in the sale and what is not. Try your best to look beyond the Sellers’ personal clutter. What is clutter to you is life and memories to them. Do your best to focus on the bones of the house. This is where your needs list and your wants list come in handy. 

Once you have finished viewing the property, if you feel it might be a contender, take the time to fill out your spreadsheets if you haven’t done so while touring the home. You want to make your notes while the house is fresh in your mind. If you find the home of your dreams, great! In most cases you might have two or three contenders to choose from. Your spreadsheets and notes will become invaluable to narrowing it down to the one you will make an offer on. If time allows, it is always recommended that you make arrangements with the Sellers for a second inspection of the home. It is always less emotional, you will most likely see things that you missed the first time through the home, and it will confirm whether it is the right home for you. 


Step Five - Make An Offer To The Seller 

You have decided on which home you would like to purchase. Now you need to decide what you are willing to pay. In most cases, the Sellers have left room for negotiation. The BC Assessment of the property is a good place to start. The Sellers can provide you with a copy of that. But it is not necessarily a reflection of the value of the home. The value of a home is what someone is willing to pay for it. BC Assessments valuations of properties are one year old or more and are not a reflection of the current market. It is important that you have done your research during your home search and that you have a good idea already of what similar homes are selling for in your target area. 

You will next need to decide what is and what is not included in the sale. If it is not part of the structure of a building it is considered a chattel and is not considered part of the sale unless specifically stated. That includes light fixtures, appliances, and window coverings, to name a few. You must document what chattels are included and/or excluded in the sale. 

The third item you must consider is your subjects. Do you require a mortgage? Then you must include a ‘Subject to Financing’ clause in your offer. Just because you have been approved for a mortgage does not mean the lender has agreed to lend you money for the specific home you wish to purchase. Do you require a home inspection or a specialized inspection? Can the Seller provide you with a copy of the survey of the property? Your lender and your lawyer or notary will request this. If the Seller cannot provide you with a survey, who is going to pay to have one done, you or the Seller? Each item requires its own Subject. If this is your first time buying a home or the first time buying directly from a Seller, you might feel more comfortable including a ‘Subject to Contract Review by the Buyer’s Lawyer or Notary’. For all Subjects, the proper wording can be obtained from your lawyer or notary prior to house hunting. 

Last, but not least, is the closing date. Decide what time frame you require to move. Do you have to give 30 days notice from the end of the month where you are currently living? 60 days? Do you want to give yourself a two week overlap to do work on your new home before in? Maybe paint? New flooring? How long does your lender need to complete? Your lawyer or notary? If possible, plan for a mid month completion date. It will be easier to book a mover or rental truck, and the rate will probably be less as well. Work everything out ahead of time. 

If you are already living in or around your target area, it is best to sit down and negotiate a price with the Sellers in person. If this is not possible, by phone or email is perfectly acceptable. Be prepared to provide documentation to the Sellers of why you are offering the price that you are. Enjoy the experience, be respectful, and remember your budget.


Step Six - Put It In Writing 

You and the Seller have agreed on a price. Wonderful. But before you break out the champagne, put it in writing right then and there. The legal property description can be obtained off of the BC Assessment report or the property tax statement. Either one would also include the name of the owner of the property. 

Be sure to include everything that was negotiated in the sale, the price, the chattels, and the closing date. Carefully write out all your Subjects using your lawyer or notary’s reference sheet and what date the Subjects are to be removed by. Typically a Buyer has ten (10) business days to fulfill and remove Subjects. It is not a long time but very do-able especially if you have followed all the steps up to this point. Should you run out of room on the Contract of Purchase and Sale, you can use the Addendum form to complete writing out your Subjects. 

You must also include the amount of the deposit on the Contract. A deposit is typically 5% of the sale price of the home and is made out ‘In Trust’ to the Seller’s lawyer or notary. Do not make your cheque out to the Seller! It is best to give the cheque to your lawyer or notary to forward to the Seller's lawyer or notary.

Be sure that you and the Seller sign the Contract and the Addendum. Keep the original for yourself. Provide the Seller with a copy. Obtain the name and contact information of the Seller’s lawyer or notary. Obtain a copy of the title search from the Seller if they have one. Obtain a copy of the property survey from the Seller. Now you can toast the sale!


Step Seven - Remove Subjects 

You have a signed Contract of Purchase and Sale. Time to get busy. Take a copy of the Contract to your lawyer or notary. Have them review it. Provide your lender with a copy of the Contract. Advise them that you would like to set your mortgage up as an automatic withdrawal from your bank account so you never miss a payment. You will require a commitment from your lender before removing any financing Subject. 

Arrange for all inspections that you have included in the Contract. BC Island Homes recommends that you be in attendance at all inspections. Carefully review the inspection reports. Sometimes issues come up that neither party was aware of and that can provide you with the opportunity to have the sale price of the home reduced to compensate for the cost of doing the work necessary or you can add an Addendum whereby the Seller will make good on the work, including a time frame to complete the work. If the Seller is doing the work your closing date might need to be revised. 

Do not remove the Subjects until advised to do so by your lawyer or notary. Usually the Subjects are removed all at once. Have your lawyer or notary assist you in correctly wording your Subject removal. Provide the Seller with a copy of the Subject removal. 

Once all Subjects have been removed you have a firm and binding contract. Time to get packing!


Step Eight - The Legal Stuff 

Your lawyer or notary will take over from here. They will receive instructions from your lender for the mortgage. They will do a current property title search to ensure the Sellers are who they say they are and to see what liens there are on the property if any. Your lawyer or notary will calculate your share of the property taxes for the current year, and your share of any annual municipal charges. You will be required to provide a commitment of insurance from your insurance broker. Once everything is complete your lawyer or notary will arrange for you to come in and sign all the final documents of the sale including the mortgage.


Step Nine - Get Moving! 

While your lawyer or notary is busy taking care of the legal end of the sale for you, there are still lots of things for you to do. First and foremost is to schedule the mover or moving truck. Next to consider is your change of address notification. Again, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation have made things simple for you. They have a detailed Change of Address Notification form on their website to make sure you don’t miss anyone. 

Pack, pack, pack. This is a great time to purge. Have a garage sale or give things away. Make sure you number and label your boxes. Mark whether they are fragile and what room they are for. Keep a list of your boxes, the room they are for, and the contents. Plan on where the boxes are to go on delivery day. Is the box going in to the room that it is intended for, is it going in to the garage, or in to the storage room? Make sure you pack in your own vehicle an overnight bag with toiletries, pajamas, and a change of clothes, one box for clean sheets, towels, pillows, blankets, one box of cleaning supplies, and one box for the all important first morning including the coffee maker, coffee, cups, spoons, etc. Trust us. You will be glad you did. 

You are in your new home. Congratulations. You did it! We hope it was a fun and exhilarating experience. And right about now you are probably feeling a bit nervous. Don’t worry. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation have a guide, Now That You Are A Homeowner, that will assist in smoothing out the transition from home renter to home owner! 

If you have any questions that were not covered here, on our website, or you can’t find the answers to on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website, please feel free to email us at info [at] bcislandhomes [dot] com .

The comments contained on this website are for information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.