Buying Our First Home

Towards the end of last year, we realized that we were ready to leave the rental market and although TOTALLY intimidating, wanted our own home. 😬

We spent *many* months trying to figure out what was important to us, and danced between staying in Mt. Pleasant, buying a condo in the West End, and briefly considered houses in East Van. We were struggling with the decision because it felt *so* permanent. It felt like we had one opportunity to enter the housing market and if we didn’t leap now, we would be priced out.

Throughout the process, we talked a lot about how we wanted to design our life (current & future), and both recognized that nature, the ocean, access to mountains & trails, silence, the stars and room to grow (a family) were all important to us.

One day a light bulb went on and we talked about the idea of moving to North Van. 🌲 Parts of it felt unknown, but once we started talking through our fears, we realized that it was everything we wanted. (Yeah the commute to downtown might be ugh, but everything else… 😍).

This pic was taken this summer in Cates Park. ☀️ (We often ended up at a trail or beach after looking at open houses.)

Once we figured out where we wanted to live, we obsessed on it. We scoured MLS on the daily, spent our weekends touring open houses, bid on a few places, and were dead set on finding “the one.” It is funny how you’re “the one” shifts as you learn more about what you like and what you actually need.

We were positive that if we were patient, we would find it. And in June 2016, we did. (Eeek.)


We bought a 5 year old townhouse that was in need of a bit of a face lift. It had been tenanted and wasn’t in the best of shape.

We decided to rip out the floors, scrape the popcorn ceilings, repaint the whole place (ceilings, walls, doors, etc), install new headers/casings & baseboards, new blinds, change the kitchen island & all kitchen/bathroom cabinets to white, install closet organizers, build a pantry, etc. 😬

We’ve learned a few things along the way…

  1. Timing is everything. We had our eye on a few complexes in our favourite community. Two townhouses ended up being listed in the same week, and it split the offers. (YAHOO). We received *very* smart advice and offered on the “unattractive” one. 😏 (It wasn’t staged, kinda smelled & the powder room was being used as a pantry. You couldn’t see the toilet. 😂) We were the ONLY bid & our offer was accepted! 👊🏼 (The other townhouse had 10+ offers and sold for $200k+ over asking… #ohvancouver)
  2. Only do a quick possession if the market forces you to. Within 1 week, we moved out of our old place, moved into our new place, Elliot did Ironman Canada, and we left for a 2 week vacation. (Stress levels were high!) If you can ask for some time, then ask for some time. 🙏🏼
  3. Spin Mortgage was fantastic to work with and made the process way less intimidating. They answered all our questions (late night phone calls and all!), didn’t make us feel dumb and supported us through our subject-free offer (terrifying).
  4. Renos are the worst. Everyone told us that and we were like — no, no, it will be fine. Contractors are complicated. Everything takes forever. If there was one mistake we made, it was underestimating the scope (time) of our project. Our original estimate was 6 weeks. We are currently on WEEK 20 😱 (and not quite done).
  5. Everything is on YouTube. We have done a large part of this reno ourselves and have been self-teaching along the way. YouTube (& the internet) has been a lifesaver.
  6. You don’t really need bathroom doors. We went 3 months without them… 🙃
  7. Renos are HARD. Hard on you, hard on your relationship – just super hard. It’s important to step back, reflect on the progress you’ve made, and remember why you’re doing it. 😊
  8. Takeout teaches you how much you appreciate a home-cooked meal. Our fave takeout restaurants in North Vancouver (so far) are: Mythos Greek Taverna, Alberello Pizzeria, and Sansho Sushi.
  9. Handy family and friends are the best. Graham, every time we look at our floors, we think of you. Gratitude, forever & always.
  10. We love North Van. Best decision ever. 🌲

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PS – There are many people that helped us land our first place. Massive thanks to Barry Berg at Oakwyn Realty (our realtor & friend), Gavin & Veronica Price (experts on North Van & Deep Cove), Jeff & Ryan at Spin Mortgage (best of the best! 💯),  and of course all our friends who helped us talk through where our head was at throughout the process.