Thursday, 4 October 2012

Buying our retirement home

If you have been reading my blogs you know that at the start of the summer this year we made a plan to search for the place in BC we would like to retire to.  We decided quite quickly that the Okanagan was the place for us.  It has more sunny days, more hot days, beautiful lake views, and reasonable housing prices.  We ruled out Osoyoos, Oliver, Penticton, and all small towns in between, as we just could not see ourselves downsizing that much.  Kelowna is the only city with a Winners store, so that made my decision easy (kidding......, but seriously there has to be good shopping, I am retiring not dead!)

Kelowna has all the things we are looking for, starting with the lake view, restaurants, golf courses, wineries, crossfit gyms, International Airport (so we can fly away in the winter) shopping, and lake activities.  I read about a new development called West Harbour Estates, in the Vancouver Sun and put that on our original list of places to see.  You can check it out here

We met a fabulous realtor who showed us many areas of Kelowna before we saw West Harbour Estates, so we were quite confident this was the location we wanted the first day we saw it.  After we came home we investigated a bit more, before going back to buy a lot.

Things that I have learned:

  1. Talk to an expert, this development is on Indian Land, 99 year prepaid lease.  I know nothing about this, so our Realtor gave us a phone number for a Lawyer who would answer our questions for free.  He put us at ease, and he became the lawyer we used for the conveyancing.
  2. Use a Realtor who knows the area to represent you.  New developments have realtors in their show homes that will do it all for you, but they have the developers interest to deal with, it costs you nothing to have your own realtor who only cares about you.
  3. Although new homes come with warranty's, it is very handy to have an expert to check out the construction and look for flaws.  (lucky me, I live with an expert just like that)  The construction of these homes was done very well, but the finishings are where they are obviously trying to save money.   Light fixtures, kitchen cabinets are things you can upgrade if you choose.   We liked the price of the house the way it is, so we chose not to spend more money on higher quality finishes, these are things we can upgrade later if we want to stay in this neighbourhood.  The worst thing we found was cracks in the driveway, a new driveway should not be sinking if put on a proper base.  So when we wrote our offer to purchase we had our realtor include that we wanted the driveway redone properly.  We ended up getting a very good deal, and held back the funds to redo the driveway properly.
  4. Read your home owner's warranty: get a copy before you make an offer, see what it covers (driveways are not covered for cracks), if you don't understand what the warranty covers, call the provider of the warranty.  I did, and they were very happy to help me, and gave me kudos for asking before I spent my money.
  5. I have trust issues.....although that salesman in the show room is a really nice guy....he's a salesman....I have been married to a couple of salesman, you really cannot trust everything they say.... in this case I think my issues made me more cautious and therefore wiser!  
  6. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and if you don't like the answers say so, put any changes you would like to see in writing with your offer.
  7. We are very happy with the builder in this new development, they have made it very clear that they will do whatever they can to make us happy, as they would like us to spread the word about our new home, and bring in more buyers.  So talk to the neighbours before you buy.

We did intend on buying a lot and house package to be built to our liking, but actually ended up with a house that was already complete, as someone had walked away from their deposit.  We love the view from this house, and got a good deal, did I mention it comes with a boat slip, and a park with a pool and hot tub right out our front door!  Now we are really looking forward to retirement!

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