Friday, April 6, 2012

The home buying process

So I thought since it is a holiday and we are all chilling in our PJs this morning, that I would share the coolest story of my life- how I bought my condo. Now if anyone knows me, they will know that this story is SO unlike me. Heck, I can't even pick a darn couch. Keeping my indecisiveness in mind, check this out:

In the summer of 2009 I was living with my friend Ginny in the grimiest apartment ever (which was awesome, but a story in and of itself). I went in July to my friend's cottage in Quebec and upon flying back to Toronto, Gin came to pick me up. She told me in the car that while I was gone she had been offered the opportunity to work in Orillia. While the distance was terrible, she really wanted the job. We discussed it and decided to go our separate ways- her to Orillia and me to my own place in the city.

Over the next month I contemplated my choices. I had a lot of money saved up from living at home for 8 months after university, I saved because our current rent was ridiculously low, and I had received a bit of money as a gift. I decided to "investigate" whether I could afford to buy. I contacted my bank and got a pre-authorized mortgage amount that was a terrible rate and a low amount. I knew I probably couldn't afford downtown, but thought I should investigate condos a little outside of the city.

I contacted a real estate agent that my friend Sarah had used when buying her place, and that agent referred me to one of her associates. That associate helped me get in contact with a mortgage broker, who was able to find me a much more acceptable interest rate and mortgage amount- I may actually be able to afford something! So I looked at MLS and found neighbourhoods I could afford and I decided to go actually see some condos with the agent. At this point I was just exploring options, well aware that I would probably rent and not own.

On Sept 8th 2009, my mom, my friend Erika, and I went to go look at a few condos. The first condo I looked at was a modern studio apartment near downtown that my agent wanted me to look at. I really liked it, but I would have rather had a one bedroom. Then we looked at one bedrooms a bit farther from downtown- but they all needed a lot of work or were in a terrible neighbourhood. By this point I realized I could be in a much better area with a much nicer place (and perks such as a concierge, amenities, and security) if I lived in a studio.

I casually inquired with the agent about what the process would be if I offered on the studio condo. She informed me that they were only accepting offers the next day and that it would probably sell for over asking. I wanted to give it a shot. The next day she sent me the comparables and her, my mom, and I met up at Starbucks and put together an offer on the condo (which involved me taking a huge cash advance on my credit card because the deposit money was still in my savings account and couldn't transfer in time! That's right- I put my down payment on credit card).

The offers were set for 7:00pm, so I went home and waited by the phone. I received a call from my agent that there were eight offers, and they sent everyone back. I raised my offer. I got another call saying I was now in the top two offers and they were choosing between mine and another person's. I raised my offer again.

I got the condo.

It was 09/09/09. The agent drove out to meet me and we signed the final papers. I promptly freaked out. Like, I had just gone to "look" the day before and I now I had bought a place for WAY over asking! WHAT HAD I DONE?

I freaked for weeks after, even after financing was approved and the papers were all signed. I had crunched my numbers. I knew I could afford it- but that I would probably be a bit housepoor for a bit. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. I didn't know how to live in a studio- the previous owner did not have a bed (he used a pull out couch) and I thought for sure I couldn't fit one either. Even when I took my dad with me for measurements I was freaking out. I realized driving around with him that I didn't even know the area. I knew it was nice- but not if it was near ANYTHING. I spent days pouring over the listing photos, analyzing ever angle. I only had one photo from my tour of it and whenever I looked at that photo I felt like throwing up from the stress.

In the meantime, Gin and I subletted our apartment and at the end of September I moved home with my Dad. I got the keys to my condo on Oct 15th. I immediately went over and seeing the place empty freaked me out more- it was so small! How could I have spent so much money on this place??

But the day I actually moved in (a couple of days later), I fell in love. I don't know what it was but it suddenly felt like home. I was so proud it was mine. I have slowly filled it with "me" ever since. I found out that yes, a bed would fit, and that revolutionized my life. I watched the prices of studio condos in my building rise- and yes, they are now well above what I originally paid (even the teeny tiny units- mine is actually a deluxe bachelor).

Believe me. There have been so many unexpected expenses and challenges with this place. I have learned SO much about home ownership and what is involved with that. It is by no means something that should be taken lightly. I am well aware how lucky I am that my place has been so awesome, that prices have continued to rise, and that my income has risen to the point where I can easily afford my mortgage, property taxes, maintenance fees, and hydro.

I am proud of my home. And whether you own, rent, or live at home- I hope you are too.

PS- here is the only photo I took while touring the condo. It took me a long time to lose the feeling of nausea when I looked at this. I don't know why my mom is so grumpy, but Erika clearly knew this was a winner.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my condo. :) I appreciate all your comments and suggestions and sure helps me feel less alone in this home ownership adventure!


  1. You should have asked to keep his couch. It looks like it's what you're looking for now!

    1. Haha and it was a pullout! Bonus! But he left me the TV stand and TV mount for free- I can't complain :)

  2. GRUMPY??!! Whatcha talking about? I'm NEVER Grumpy!


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