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BC and the Real Estate Market

By Ashley Stephens, Darpan, 22 Jul, 2014
  • BC and the Real Estate Market

Are you ready to buy your first home? Is it time to upgrade or downsize? Are you hoping to invest in a rental property? Whether you're in the market to buy or sell, real estate can be a confusing venture. Understanding interest rates, scouting out locations and evaluating your needs are all small parts of the big process when it comes to buying, selling or investing in a home. With a hot market heating up this summer, DARPAN took a look at what's for sale, what's selling and what it all means for buyers and sellers alike.

CURRENT MARKET & FUTURE FORECAST

The Vancouver real estate market is the most active it has been in three years. Showing no signs of slowing down in the near future, the market is hot as the demand for homes continues
to rise.

According to the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, British Columbia is expected to see a 5.2 per cent increase in residential sales this year, jumping up to 76,700 units. The month of May saw the biggest increase in home sales since the 2008 recession, jumping up 13.9 per cent compared with the same time frame a year before.

The Housing Forecast released by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) predicts that the demand for housing will continue to rise into 2015 as a result of strong economic growth and the subdued demand seen throughout the start of 2014. These conditions are expected to bump MLS residential sales up an additional 6.7 per cent to 81,000 units within BC for 2015. Five years from now, this number is predicted to decrease to 75,400 only to increase again in 10 years to 84,800 units.

BCREA forecasts that the BC economy will grow 2.4 per cent in 2014 followed by a 2.7 per cent increase in 2015 which should result in a complementary rise in employment. “With stronger economic conditions on the horizon and mortgage interest rates at rock bottom, BC's housing markets are poised for an extended period of relatively robust demand and moderately rising prices,” reports the BCREA's Housing Forecast.

According to BC Stats, the province's 20 to 44 year old population is projected to steadily rise over the next 5 years before beginning a consistent downward trend that begins to decrease below current levels in 10 years. This expected increase in population will put pressure on the housing market to expand in order to accommodate the demand for new housing.

“The population of the Lower Mainland (Vancouver and the Fraser Valley) is projected to expand by about 1 million people over the next 25 years,” says British Columbia Real Estate Association Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Naturally, in an area that is already highly populated, the response from developers has been to add higher-density units to the existing housing stock. This dynamic has also meant that single-family homes are seeing a significant premium attached to prices due to land constraints and limited supply while well supplied multi-family units have mostly seen a flat pricing environment since 2009.”
2014 and 2015 will see modest gains in new construction compared to the increase that is expected five to ten years in the future as a result of the growing demographic. The multiple unit market will particularly be under pressure with an increase in prospective first-time home buyers looking for affordable options to market entry.

Consumers across the province have been relatively frugal with their spending the last several years. Still recovering from the effects of the 2008 recession, spending has been slow but it is on the rise and expected to pickup throughout the remaining months of 2014.

“We expect home sales in the Lower Mainland to experience [a] fairly robust growth in 2015,” says Ogmundson. “Some of that growth reflects a return to more historically normal levels following weaker demand in 2012 and 2013, though we also anticipate that the BC economy will accelerate next year with higher levels of employment and faster income growth offsetting modestly higher interest rates.”

The average MLS price for a residential home in British Columbia in 2013 was $537,414. According to MLS, this figure is forecast to increase 4.3 per cent to $560,000 this year followed by a further 2 per cent increase in 2015 to $571,500. This figure is significantly higher than the national average home price which is projected to increase by 5.7 per cent to $404,300 in 2014. 2015 is only projected to bring a 0.7 per cent increase to the national average, rising to $407,300.

“The Lower Mainland housing market is currently in balanced market conditions and has been since the spring of 2013,” explains Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Senior Market Analyst, Robyn Adamache. “This means that overall, conditions favour neither buyers nor sellers so both parties have an equitable bargaining position.  As a result, home buyers have time to do their homework and check all their facts before finalizing their purchase. With a balance between demand and supply conditions, prices are generally stable in most areas of the Lower Mainland, as illustrated by the MLS Home Price Index, which has been increasing at a modest pace.

The benchmark price, which represents a typical property within a market according to the MLS Home Price Index, to purchase a detached home in Greater Vancouver is just below $1 million. The average price for a single-family detached home sold in Greater Vancouver in May 2014 was $1,218,772, an increase of 4.2 per cent over last year at the same time.
A new report by Sotheby's International Reality that evaluates top-tier sales has indicated that sales of homes over $1 million grew by 34% in the first six months of 2014 over the same period last year. Sales between $1 million to $2 million were up 32 per cent, the $2 million to $4 million range saw a 35 per cent increase and the $4 million-plus market took the biggest jump, rising an incredible 49 per cent. The greatest jump was seen in sales of single-family homes where increases of 35 per cent, 39 per cent and 51 per cent were seen within the three price categories respectively.

This may seem like bad news to those of us without millions to spend on a home but Ogmundson assures buyers that it's not the case. “While the high-end of the Vancouver market tends to garner the most media attention, what we are seeing in the wider market is healthy consumer demand and an array of affordable housing options for first-time and move-up home buyers,” he says.

Housing starts, an economic indicator that expresses the number of housing units on which construction has been started during a given period, are predicted to change only modestly throughout the rest of the year and into 2015. According to reports by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Greater Vancouver area is projected to see construction begin on 18,600 units throughout the year with 18,300 to follow in 2015, compared to 18,696 units in 2013. New construction in the Abbotsford and Mission area is projected to drop down to 710 units in 2014 with a further drop to 650 in 2015, compared to 749 starts in 2013.
For the first time since June 2011, the Vancouver real estate market may finally favour the seller. Considered a seller's market when at least three sales occur for every five homes on the market in one month, this ratio of listings to sales shifted in favour of the seller as the second quarter of the year began. While the shift could cause an increase in prices, it is too early to see its effects and analysts believe that any increases are more likely a market correction from previous years' poor sales and not necessarily a long term trend.

The sale of detached homes increased 19.9 per cent in May over the same month last year and apartment sales rose by 13.2 per cent throughout Greater Vancouver.
“So far this year, both single detached and multiple-unit (duplex, townhouse and apartment) housing starts have increased compared to the first five months of 2013,” says Adamache. “In many communities in the Lower Mainland, strong demand for ground-oriented homes (single detached and town home prices) has kept prices for these home types rising at a faster pace than apartment condominium prices.”
As a result of the upswing in activity in the Vancouver economy, other areas across BC are reaping the benefits as well. As the prices for detached homes continue to rise, first-time buyers are forced to consider townhouses and condos in the suburbs to keep their prospective purchase within their budget.  “Now even in the cities outside of downtown we see high rises going up,” says Balraj Mann, CEO of Polycrete Restorations. Even out in Langely, it's townhomes and rowhomes.”

Just like its northwestern neighbour, the Fraser Valley has seen some of its busiest months in the past seven years. MLS predicts that sales in the Valley will rise at a “moderate but steady pace this year and next” as the market continues to “reflect well-matched demand and supply conditions.”

“Depending on location and property type, the markets can have tremendous variation,” says Ray Werger, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. This variation can be seen when examining sales across the province. “In May, sales of single family detached homes and townhomes in our region were up by almost 20%, while the increase in condo sales lagged behind and in some areas dropped.”

“In terms of specific areas or neighbourhoods that may boom, look to areas that are booming now – neighbourhoods in South Surrey, Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford – all with these things in common: available land to develop, civic leaders encouraging growth and investing in the livability of their communities,” Werger says. “Buyers want good quality homes that are affordable. They want schools, parks, amenities and good transportation. That’s why Fraser Valley is doing so well, plus it’s beautiful out here!”

The Lower Mainland has seen several improvements to the transportation systems in recent years including the updated Port Mann Bridge linking the Fraser Valley to the Greater Vancouver Area. The continued enhancements are making it more convenient for consumers to live and work where it is economically feasible.
“We don’t have hard data to indicate what impact the bridge has had, but anecdotally I’ve heard from clients who think it’s fantastic and it’s saving them over an hour a day,” says Werger. “We do know that sales in North Delta, Surrey and Langley have picked up, so it’s likely both new bridges, plus the South Fraser Perimeter Road and all the recent improvements have contributed to buyers seeing Fraser Valley as an even more accessible, affordable location.”

DEVELOPERS

The competition in the condominium market is fierce. With condo developments popping up all around the city, competition between developers – and buyers – has quickly increased, forcing companies to differentiate themselves in creative and untraditional ways.

Aspac Developments has found a way to stand out with the first phase of River Green, an upscale condo development in Richmond that also boasts an exclusive club that accompanies ownership. The 458 units are priced between $459,000 to $3.6 million and include membership perks not offered anywhere else. Being a part of the prestigious club will give members exclusive discounts and special services from eight “Lifestyle

Partners” including Holt Renfrew and Spa Utopia as well as invites to members-only events for River Green card holders. With “a mandate to develop world class communities while enhancing the lifestyles of our homeowners,” it is clear that Aspac aims to make condo living more about enjoying life at home and less about just buying a place to live.

The idea that homeowners, and condo owners in particular, are looking to get more out of their home has become more important in the current market. As condo construction skyrockets and buyers have multiple developments to pick from, buying into a lifestyle is much more appealing than just buying a home.

Bosa Properties took a different approach to standing out in the market when they introduced the world's first transformable condos in the fall of 2013. These compact homes are designed to adjust to the needs of its dwellers without the obligation to offer more space at a higher price. Bedrooms convert into living rooms, kitchen islands open up into large dining areas, entertainment units hide guest beds – it is a revolutionary design that sees a space change as much or as little as you need it to, according to your daily activities. These smart spaces allow the developers to offer flexible living at an affordable price to buyers looking for a smaller space without sacrificing the livability. With such small-space living on the rise, Bosa's entire tower of these transformable condos has put them in a position to capitalize on the growing trend to minimalism and efficiency.

“With BosaSpace, we are trying to change the world of condominium development, and we want other developers, builders and by extension, homeowners to see that they can make their real estate perform and do more,” Daryl Simpson, Senior Vice-President of Bosa Properties, told DARPAN.

And developers are responding. As Mann explains, the consumer has evolved and so has how developers do business. “The size of the multifamily target got bigger and you need more resources and strategies for marketing and building,” he says. “You need a proper team of professionals with you – it's not a one-man building part-time anymore. There's a team of consultants and many other people involved.”
In Vancouver alone, the city has reported that 74 buildings are currently under construction or about to be with more than 13,000 strata units in the development permit stage or being constructed. These numbers illustrate the plethora of properties available and the need to stand out to prospective buyers who have condos to choose from.
 

DEMOGRAPHICS

Developers are being forced to cater to specific markets and the exact needs of their targeted subset. Buyers are no longer just looking for a place to lay their head and some land to call their own. They have specific needs that they not only want to see when looking for a home but expect to see as they search for their perfect abode.
While catering to the market isn't a novel concept, it has become increasingly important as a means to attract enough buyers.

So what do buyers want these days? It depends more on who the buyers are. Real estate developers are studying demographics to help with the planning and construction of future projects. Understanding who may be looking for a home, what exactly they'll be looking for and how to attract these buyers has allowed developers to put plans in place that effectively incorporate these economic and demographic statistics.

“The typical house has changed. The consumer isn't looking for family homes anymore – with the big backyard and picket fence,” says Mann. “We are catering to either the aging population or to the youth who are buying for the first time. The young people want all the amenities of a big house but no maintenance, so townhouses and condominiums are becoming more and more attractive. Most of the buildings going up these days are due to the youth and seniors – they are the demographics of today.”

Making up approximately one third of the current real estate market, baby boomers are the wealthiest buyers. They are experienced and often repeat homebuyers who know what they're looking for; they understand the market and are less influenced by long-term financing options. They are motivated by their retirement plans and, as they look ahead to the future, they aim to find a space that suits their changing needs.

While downsizing usually means moving into a smaller, more manageable and cheaper space in order to free up financing for retirement or to avoid the unnecessary waste of empty rooms, the wealthier generation of baby boomers has created their own version of what it means to downsize. Their priorities have changed and instead of enjoying a large detached home on the outskirts of the city, they're willing to pay for the luxuries they are used to but in a condominium or strata setting downtown. They want easy access to transit and services without giving up what they've worked to enjoy.

According to successful Vancouver real estate marketer and realtor Bob Rennie, Vancouverites in the 55 and older demographic are currently sitting on $163.4 billion in mortgage-free residential property. In his annual address, Rennie revealed that almost one third of Vancouver homes have more bedrooms than people, indicating that a growing number of older people are still in the homes that their children have moved out of. This large percentage of the population has equity to spend and is forecasted to be the future of the real estate market in the area.

Not to be ignored are the Millennial buyers; also known as Generation Y, this group of -20 and -30 are going to college, moving out of their parents' homes, starting families of their own and have a specific set of needs that dictates their first foray into the real estate market. Realizing that homeownership is expensive and not affordable as anticipated, many Millennials have put off their first home purchase. Some have money to spend as they've lived at home longer than their predecessors while others are lucky enough to have loans from parents and grandparents to fuel their demand. They've saved up for a down payment, are looking to skip the 'starter home', and want to invest in the best their money can buy.

According to a poll conducted by Rennie Marketing Systems, 40 per cent of first-time homeowners in Vancouver have been provided with funds for their deposit from their parents or grandparents.
The Generation Y crowd will be hoping to invest in larger units with space for a future home office but will settle on smaller units to suit their current needs. They can be easily swayed by the amenities and would give up square footage if it meant easier access to public transit, living in an up-and-coming neighbourhood or being within walking distance to restaurants and shops. Many are used to the high quality finishes of their parents' homes and don't want to sacrifice such luxuries just to have a larger lot.

While community has often been a key aspect of a home purchase, Gen Y's have redefined what it means. Instead of suburban sprawls that required cars to get around town, city life has become closer-knit than previously believed to be. The sense of the community that homeowners currently crave is similar to that of their online social network – quick, easy-to-access, and right at your fingertips. Millennials have become accustomed to instant gratification and are willing to give up larger lots or big backyards for immediate interaction with their friends, neighbours and urban amenities.
Small units may be the current trend but as Millennials grow up they will be looking to expand their families and will demand larger spaces. This is especially important for investors to note as the small, liveable condos won't suit their needs for too long into the future.

The market in BC is not only affected by age or environmental concerns; the growing population of immigrant and cultural diverse families impacts the needs of the market due to the size of this group of buyers.

According to a projections report by Statistics Canada's Demography Division, Vancouver's visible minority is set to become the majority over the next two years. It is predicted that Vancouver's visible minority groups will account for 63 per cent of the city's population. With 24 different ethnic groups within the city, the changing trends within the real estate market may be significantly impacted by these growing groups.

Canadians of South Asian origin make up one of the largest non-European ethnic origin groups in Canada. Approximately 10 per cent of Vancouver's population are of South Asian decent and their influence is not lost on the real estate market within the city and surrounding area. With the majority between 25-44 years of age and few living alone, larger family homes are most common for South Asian buyers. With a strong sense of community, central to their decision making and room for the older generations to live amongst the younger generations, certain areas are seen to be better for long-term settlement.
“Multifamily developments bring a different lifestyle,” says Mann. “They have more amenities and more community designed developments.”

The Immigrant Investor Program was recently eliminated and with that came concerns about the negative impact it may have on the Vancouver real estate market. The program existed to attract foreign investments in exchange for citizenship rights. Visas were offered to “business people whose net worth totalled at least $1.6 million and who were willing to lend the Canadian government $800,000 interest-free over the course of five years.” These concerns have been quieted by the strong demand for luxury homes as international interest seems to have remained strong despite the cancelation of the program. Reports indicate that there has been no impact due to the recent government changes.

While the CMHC is without data on foreign ownership within Vancouver, it is clear that investors have an impact on the market. “We do know that just over one-quarter of the apartment condominium stock is owned by investors (both foreign and domestic) who rent their units out, says Adamache. “This is an important source of new rental supply, particularly because there has been little purpose-built rental construction (e.g. rental apartment construction) for many years in the Lower Mainland.”

"In the case of offshore buyers in the Fraser Valley, we think the impact is small," adds Werger. "An informal survey we send to our members every month indicates that buyers who live out of the country represent approximately three percent of our sales. Relying on the same surveys, we estimate that ten percent of buyers in the Fraser Valley buy for the purposes of investment not to live in as their principal residence. The bulk of our buyers are families or first-timers looking for a home to build memories in, plus have a smart investment."

SUSTAINABILITY

A recent study released in the spring of 2014 and conducted by international property group Grosvenor examined which cities had real estate markets that would be best for long-term investments. Canadian cities took the top three spots with Vancouver sitting in second place behind Toronto and ahead of Calgary. The survey measured vulnerability and the ability to cope with adverse events as well as infrastructure, environment and climate and determined that those investing in properties could view Vancouver as one of the most resilient real estate markets in the world. Conversely, short-term investments in the city's real estate were noted to have more variance than normal markets and were viewed as a less safe bet than investing for the long run.

As the real estate market continues to grow with condo developments on the rise and cities becoming more populated than ever, the environmental sustainability of such gains is being called into question. The environmental impact of new buildings and increased population has put pressure on designers and developers to construct buildings that are not only energy-efficient but also completed with a lower carbon footprint than previously acceptable.

The demands of the market dictate that green initiatives must be introduced and developers and designers need to be environmentally conscious if they want to win over buyers and investors.

INTEREST RATES

With interest rates forecasted to rise towards the end of the year, buyers are more anxious to make a move before they're negatively affected by the changes. The beginning of 2014 has brought about several drops in mortgage rates as the big banks have fought to stay competitive within a hot market.

Rates have dropped to some of the lowest levels in recent years which began when Bank of Montreal introduced a 2.99 per cent five-year rate earlier this spring. The Bank of Nova Scotia quickly followed suit with a 2.97 per cent rate. Confusing the market even more, credit unions, who are exempt from the federal regulations of their big banking counterparts, have taking advantage of the competition and introduced their own low rates, dropping down as low as 2.69 per cent despite the commission that they might be missing out on.

In a bid to gain market share and the public's attention, Investors Group recently introduced a three-year variable mortgage with a rate of 1.99 per cent. While not a record low, it is the lowest in the current market and certainly the lowest rates have been in the past two years.

These drops are heavy stimuli for a real estate market that saw slow gains in 2013. While lower mortgage rates are good for homeowners, they are also a way for banks to attract more customers to their branch. Lower rates attract attention and bring in business but often come at the expense of restrictions that consumers must be weary of before signing on the dotted line.

The financial institutions' influence on the real estate market may be a controversial one but when BMO decided to lower their rates this year, the government made it clear that they were stepping back from the mortgage market and would let customers respond accordingly. While lower mortgage rates may set certain buyers up to go into debt before they should be taking on the responsibility, the decreased rates have made homeownership more affordable for those who may have been on the cusp of entering the market.

“Consistent with the view of Canadian economic forecasters, interest rates are forecast to register gradual and modest increases in the latter part of 2015. This will lead to increases in mortgage rates,” says Adamache.

“Despite this, mortgage rates will remain low and will continue to support housing market activity. According to CMHC, the average for the one-year posted mortgage rate is forecast to be within 3.0 per cent to 3.25 per cent, while the average for the five-year posted mortgage rate is anticipated to be within 5.0 per cent to 5.5 per cent. For 2015, the average for the one-year posted mortgage rate is expected to rise and be in the 3.20 per cent to 4.25 per cent range, while the average for the five-year posted mortgage rate is forecast to be within 5.25 per cent to 6.0 per cent.”

While rates might be low now, most economists are predicting a gradual rise in fixed mortgage rates over the next two years. If this change were to happen all at once, which would be unlikely, home prices would decrease by necessity to correct for affordability. However, this steady rise combined with the normal 3 per cent increase in household incomes over the same period would mean that housing prices wouldn't be affected by the forecasted rise in interest rates.

"Greater Vancouver MLS sales are forecast to increase 3.5 per cent in 2014 to reach just over 30,000 transactions, in line with the 10-year average level," Adamache says. "Steady population growth, improving employment and low mortgage interest rates will drive the increase in resale activity during 2014. In the later part of 2015, the impact of these positive demand factors will be somewhat dampened by gradually increasing mortgage interest rates, which will move sales lower. In 2015, sales are forecast to decline four per cent to 28,750 homes changing hands."

The usual spring selling season got off to a slow start but analysts within the big banks are predicting strong activity is on its way as they are seeing steady increases in mortgages week after week.

While sales seem to be skyrocketing in the Greater Vancouver Region, experts caution not to get too excited by the upswing in the market. While it is still good news that the market is more-or-less balanced, activity has merely returned to the norms of a decade ago.

WHY BUY A HOUSE

So why should you be concerned about buying a house? Is there a need to enter the market? With the highest home prices across the nation, some Vancouverites might be questioning why it's a good idea to surrender so much of their salary to the high cost of having their own home. It may ultimately come down to personal preference but there are several benefits to having your name on a home mortgage.

The current trend within the market is to rent for a longer period of time. A recent survey conducted by BMO reported 60 per cent of potential homebuyers said that their timeline for purchasing a home has been delayed with 56 per cent of renters in Vancouver continuing to rent due to a lack of affordable housing. Prospective buyers aren't entering the market because they are not yet able to – not because they don't want to.

For those who aren't lucky enough to be within that 40 per cent that receive help from family for their deposit, saving for monthly rent payments seems a more feasible choice than saving for a down payment on a home purchase.

While high home prices may be a deterrent or deferment, purchasing a home can actually be financially beneficial. Buying a home is an investment. It may be one of the biggest investments you'll make in your lifetime and it has the potential to pay off significantly in the long run. If and when the value of your home increases, your investment increases. The worth of your assets can increase substantially over the cost of your original investment. While some may struggle to see this as a benefit in the short term, the long-term benefits are worth researching before settling in to a rental.

By redirecting the money you currently pay in rent into your mortgage payments, you will begin to build equity in your home. Your equity increases with every payment on your home compared to rent where you don't see such a benefit.

For many tenants, the idea of a mortgage just sounds expensive and the rising house prices don't help the situation. However, crunching some numbers and keeping your options open may reveal that a monthly mortgage payment can rival your rent cheques. When paying for a home can be just as affordable as some of the costly rental suites, investing in the present for future gains may be the best course of action. Most financial institutions and mortgage brokers provide online calculators that allow you to compare potential mortgage payments, interest rates, and amortization periods against your current rental costs.

Psychologically, home ownership has benefits beyond the long-term investment. Knowing that you aren't paying into your landlord's pocket along with the freedom to do what you want to the walls you live within, bring feelings of satisfaction and pride that increases mental health. Buying a home puts you in control of any and all maintenance and upkeep decisions – something that renters often complain about when it takes days to get a leak fixed or they're unable to paint their walls. This proprietorship provides freedom, security and stability, and a heightened sense of independence, all which greatly add to quality of life.

“With the recent increase in the land values, I don't think the prices are going to go any lower,” suggests Mann. “The builders are not building with huge profit margins so there's no room for the prices to go down and the interest rates are low. If somebody is thinking about buying, they should do that now.” Ensuring you've asked all the right questions, researched your options and asked for a second opinion, there might not be a better time to buy according to the experts.

Mortgage advisors suggest spending no more than 32% of your household income on housing costs. It is important to take this, as well as several other costs, into consideration when debating whether to buy or rent.

Buyers need to calculate the cost of a down payment, additional closing costs such as home inspections and appraisal fees, and the potential need to cover maintenance and emergency costs as they may arise. Other items to consider before signing up for homeownership are how the location might affect your commute, how long you plan to stay – experts suggest three to five years to make it worthwhile – and if you're ready to take on the responsibilities that accompany your purchase. Despite the list of benefits to owning a home, it's not for everybody and it's certainly no longer an expected purchase.  

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A HOME

Consider the location in relation to parks, schools, shopping, and public transportation as well as how it might change your commute. You can change most other details about your home except for its location.

Consider both the interior and the exterior. While the inside might seem ideal, the neighbourhood, view, yard or access to the property might be a deal breaker you don't want to overlook.

Plan for the present and the future. A large home may be impractical if you won't end up using the space while the plan to expand your family might not fit within the small space you've fallen in love with.
Avoid focusing on style and decor. Furniture, paint colours and decorative touches are all things that can be easily changed.

Pay close attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. Both spaces can be essential to your happiness with your home but are the most costly when it comes to remodelling or makeovers.

Check for storage. Older homes often have tiny closets which may not suit your need to store lots of supplies or sports equipment, so consider where your belongings will go before you move in.

Don't be afraid to act like it's your own. Turning on light switches, opening windows and doors, flushing toilets and even tasting the water will allow you to see how the house works and potentially avoid any costly surprises.

Invest in a qualified home inspector. You may love the layout but it may need more maintenance than your untrained eye can see.

Other elements to be mindful of when on the hunt for your perfect home:
•    Electrical systems
•    Source of heating
•    Proper insulation
•    Type of flooring
•    Parking for you and your guests
•    Up-to-date plumbing
•    Condition of the roof
•    Sewage and drainage systems
•    Efficiency and placement of windows

Though it may initially be daunting entering the real estate game, it is always best to do your research and closely observe the current trends in the real estate market. Even if you are planning to buy a property in the near future, it is advisable to start exploring in advance and understanding the market so you are aware of what questions to ask and what factors to keep in mind while getting answers to all your real estate conundrums. Your house is an important investment and making an educated purchase will ensure it is the right purchase.

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