HOMEFINDER: There’s gold to be found in condo market

Buying tip: Have a Realtor help you look into any restrictions a condo building might have

Saanich condominium owner Lex Hosh stands in her remodeled kitchen. She bought the unit for a song and used a CMHC program to help cover the cost of renovations.

Saanich condominium owner Lex Hosh stands in her remodeled kitchen. She bought the unit for a song and used a CMHC program to help cover the cost of renovations.

Like many young couples, Lex Hosh and Will Corbett enjoyed living close to the heart of town at Dockside Green.

As avid cyclists, they were close to the Galloping Goose trail and their one-bedroom suite was just down Esquimalt Road from CFB Esquimalt, where Corbett is based as a crew member of HMCS Regina.

After a while, Hosh says, it started to bother her that they were paying $1,250 a month for rent and not building any kind of nest egg for the future.

She started looking casually online at condominiums, crunched some basic numbers and realized there just might be a chance to own instead of rent.

“For 10 years I thought there was no way I could afford to buy a place in Victoria,” she says.

Her original thought was to look for something as a rental property to help build equity and perhaps be a stepping stone to buying a detached home.

She initially thought her affordable price range was between $200,000 and $250,000. When her mortgage broker told Hosh she had been pre-approved for $190,000, her hopes took a dip.

“But luckily the market in Victoria is such a great buyers market right now,” she says. “Once we adjusted our search criteria to under 200,000 I was amazed at just how much there was on the market.”

With the help of Realtor Kyle Kerr, Hosh, a first-time buyer, found a number of units fitting her financial reality. The trouble was, many of them didn’t match her requirements, which were a large kitchen and room to store their high-end bikes.

She estimates they looked at 10 to 15 condos before Kerr discovered a one-bedroom unit near Mayfair Shopping Centre that was a foreclosure sale. It was priced at $168,000 and Hosh says from the photos online it “looked pretty awful.”

Doing much of the searching herself with Corbett at sea, Hosh went to have a look anyway and found a bright unit with a large kitchen and an “awesome” floor plan and a den .

Kerr told her about the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Purchase Plus improvement mortgage program. Aimed at people with less money to put down, the program allows the cost of renovations to be included in one’s mortgage payments, as long as the renos increase the home’s value.

Hosh saw the potential in the suite, obtained an estimate of $10,000 to upgrade the kitchen and got her financing nailed down. With some negotiations she secured a deal for $152,500 and, after the bid was accepted in court, moved in last summer.

The process took about six months, but left her feeling good about her ability to jump into the housing market.

“We’re literally saving ourselves $300 a month, with our strata fees included, from what we were paying,” she says.

Kerr points to Hosh’s situation as an illustration of the options available for first-time buyers and others.

“Older buildings that have been fixed up are some of the best buys out there,” he adds.

While price is one factor, he says, one also has to be mindful of things like strata councils’ approaches to funding ongoing maintenance and capital improvements, restrictions on rentals and limitations on children and pets.

“Stratas are such a unique thing with legalities and restrictions,” he says. “It’s important to have someone looking after your best interest and letting (clients) know about lifestyle and rentability of certain buildings and locations.”

Q: WHAT SHOULD I CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING AT CONDOS?

New vs. lived-in – Buying new can mean lower maintenance costs on your strata fees, but older buildings can offer more space for the same purchase price.

Who to borrow from? – Credit unions are exempt from many conditions that banks use to disqualify some borrowers. Although interest rates can be a little higher, credit unions have more flexibility regarding who they can lend to, and for how long.

Make sure you get a copy of the depreciation report – New legislation requires all strata to have a depreciation report completed that shows an assessment of the current state of the buildings. If none is available, take a pass on the building.

Do you have a house-hunting story you’d like to share with us? Email ddescoteau@vicnews.com

To advertise in Homefinder, contact Oliver Sommer at: osommer@blackpress.ca

Just Posted

Elaine Kirwin in her Expedia Cruises office talks about the future of travel. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Sidney travel agency charts course through pandemic

Owner of Expedia Cruises in Sidney expects smooth sailing ahead once travel restrictions lift

Oak Bay Rotary Club member Lorna Curtis takes over as District Governor of Rotary District 5020 on July 1. (Courtesy Lorna Curtis)
Former Oak Bay recreation director goes international with Rotary

Lorna Curtis takes over as district governor on July 1

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read