House Hunting 2016: This Place Is How Much?

Here’s the first thing you should know about buying a property of your own up front: watching all those shows on HGTV is the absolute worst thing you can possibly do before or during this adventure because all they will do is make you angry and prompt you to stay up nights wondering just how difficult it would be to move to Waco, Texas.

Damn you, Chip and Joanna Gaines and your amazing Fixer Uppers!

You want there aren’t any of in Abbotsford, British Columbia? Single-family homes with fenced backyards and solid bones that cost less than $200,000, giving you a nice chunk of change to spend on renovations. You know what there are plenty of though? Beat up single-family homes with unpermitted additions and decks, wildly outdated bathrooms and illegal income suites that I wouldn’t allow my worst enemy to live in even if he was willing to pay me an astronomical amount in rent.

Welcome to our struggle.

Heading into this, we knew that a single-family home probably wasn’t going to happen and that wasn’t even necessarily our main target anyway; we don’t need all that space since it’s just the two of us and the dog and all of our family and friends out here live in “you can drive home at the end of the night” distance.

But when you’re debating townhomes and condos, new build versus resale, sometimes you just want to know what a $400,000 single-family home looks like in real life, not just on MLS.

The answer is something that needs serious renovations that has the potential to make you reconsider buying entirely. We’re talking straight out of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, ugly carpets, gaudy bathrooms, closed in kitchens with busted up Formica countertops and cupboards that are lacking doors. No, I’m not kidding.

It wouldn’t be so bad if whoever was selling the place cared enough to pass the vacuum once or twice, maybe sweep the floors and put away even 12 percent of the clutter and crap that serves as a minefield while trying to check out the rooms, but because this is a seller’s market and the vast majority of single-family homes in this area are selling above list in a matter of days, there is no need to put lipstick on these pigs and pretend they’re pretty.

Oh yeah – having the people that are selling the house lingering the living room and the tenant renting the illegal suite downstairs still sleeping in the one and only bed room in the unit make it quite pleasant too. Good times.

The really funny thing about the cost of these beat up single-family homes is that you can actually get an older townhouse with just as much square footage and in better condition, but the trade off, of course, is that you’re sharing walls, missing out on having your own backyard and paying strata fees.

What’s great for us in this search is that we can afford to take our time and find something perfect or close to it – we have a sweet situation living with family and they’re not in a rush to hustle us out of their basement suite, so as much as we want to find something to call our own, we’re not going to settle.

And that’s a good thing for you because it means more adventures in house hunting for you to enjoy.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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