We got back on Tuesday, the 4th of October. At work on Wednesday we saw a house online that we liked. Since we had to go to our cabin on the Canadian Thanksgiving (the 7th-10th) to close it down, and the fact that this house was going to have an open house on the Saturday, and the fact that it was a nice house in the Brentlawn neighbourhood (Southlawn) listed for a very good price (for the Lawns), we knew it would go fast. We arranged so that Susan could go in and see it on the Friday afternoon so we could get to our cabin. She liked what she saw, and it looked good in the pictures we took. Knowing the house would likely go for considerably more than the asking price due to the open house that was to happen on the weekend, we put in an offer of a little over $15k over the asking price. We talked long and with much thought, and had determined that what we were offering was pretty close to the upper limit we would go for on any house, unless we found a house that was our dream house. The house in the Lawns was nice, but I wouldn't call it our dream house. We thought that we had a good chance, since only if somebody was really into it and put in the neighbourhood of $20k over would we be beat out. We went to the Shuswap to close things down on Saturday morning. Imagine our shock when our agent phoned on Sunday morning and told us there had been 11 offers, and the house had sold for more than $70k more than the asking price, with no subjects attached. Measured on the house buying enthusiasm scale, we were pretty disheartened for the rest of the weekend. A feeling sort of like a nightmare, because the cost of buying a nice house in an area we wanted to be in seemed to be quickly going up and seemingly getting out of our grasp.

  By the time we returned to work on Tuesday, we had decided that we would have to expand our search scope. So far we had been pretty limited in what we were looking for. We had refused to look at 4000sq foot lots, and had only been looking at 6000sq foot lots. We also had limited the area to Burrard Inlet on the North, Lougheed Highway on the South, Boundary Road on the East, and Kensington Avenue on the West (with a preference for the area close to the lawns). We talked it over, decided we didn't like near Metrotown, or more truthfully Susan didn't want to be near Metrotown due to the more frequent gang problems which would cause her to be apprehensive when taking transit home. We decided we would beside looking at a few 4000sq foot lots, and would expand out into the Sperling and Duthie area.

  That week we spent the evenings looking online and doing drive bys. We sent our agent a list of houses we would like to see on the following weekend. Number one on the list was a house on Curtis, about halfway between Curtis and Duthie. 6000sq foot lot, list price considerably lower than our maximum. Number 2 was a house we felt was a bit out of our price range at about $5k over our max, but we wanted to see it since it had a lot size of 8640 sq feet and was on Broadway a couple of houses past Duthie. We listed a half dozen more, most below our max price, a few a little over our mark just to get a feel for how the quality went up in comparison to price, and one quite far over. There was another 6000 sq foot lot house selling for a reasonable price that had just come on the market and was having an open house on the Saturday, the day we were looking at a bunch of houses, and we believed it would be like the Southlawn house and could go for considerably more than the asking, so we thought we should definitely see it to make sure we could get an offer in if we wanted.

  Our first appointment was at 10:30 and was a 4000sq foot lot house on Albert, just behind Paul's restaurant on Hastings Street.. We toured through the house in about 20 minutes, and weren't that excited by it. It had supposedly been built by one of the Bosa brothers in 1964, and the old Italian lady was the original owner. She had a good sales line... "Look, close to park, can see mountains, nice view, close to Hastings Street...." But we knew it wasn't right. Our next appointment was at the Curtis House which we were looking forward to. We spent almost half an hour walking around, and it was a big house (~2500 sq feet), good size lot (~6600 sq feet), and we were giving it some serious thought. As we left, our agent told us "only if you really find the next house interesting at Broadway and Duthie should you spend any time there. If we are to see the open house that will probably have a few offers, we need to get there by twelve." So we went to Broadway with the mindset that we would be fast. Because of the mindset we had, we kind of ripped through the house. Again it was a big house (~2500 sq feet). It looked really nice. Most of the inside had been redone so would not need much if any work for the buyer. The lot was huge, as I said before 8640 sq feet. But with our mindset, we left probably less than 15 minutes after we arrived in order to get to the open house that was going to be popular. We went in, and boy, it wasn't for us. It was 1500sq feet, and it felt smaller than that metric. So we left about 2 minutes after we got there. Because we were now ahead of time, we went and saw another house we weren't supposed to see until 1:00. It was a lockbox, noone there, so we chatted while there about the differences between the Curtis and the Broadway/Duthie house, and how we really liked the Broadway house but would like to spend more time there since had so rushed it. Our agent suggested going in on Sunday to see them both again, but Susan had to work all day at the Vancouver home show on Sunday, and then we had to go to a wedding reception on Sunday evening. She also had to work on Monday evening, so Tuesday would be the first day we could get there. Our agent said she would let the Broadway realtor know we had an interest, and would like to see it on Tuesday night. She also told him that if he was to be receiving an offer he should let her know so we could decide if we wanted to put one in.

  As Saturday wore on, I got more and more nervous that maybe we should have just put an offer in on the Broadway and Duthie house. I knew we could simply then go look at it and pull our offer at that time if it turned out we didn't like it as much as we remembered, but I didn't do anything about it. As Sunday came to a close, I was feeling pretty good. It seemed the house had made another weekend without getting an offer, which I thought would give us more bargaining power if we were to put in an offer after we saw it on Tuesday evening. Monday afternoon, I was kicking myself like crazy when our agent phoned and said she had been phoned by the selling realtor and told that an offer would be coming in by some people who had seen the Broadway house on Monday afternoon. Not only had we lost our bargaining power, we were now in a bidding war if we wanted to get the house. Generally feeling that it really was a dream house for us, but obviously not being endlessly rich, we went over our budgeted maximum and ultimately decided we would put in an offer of close to a couple of grand more than the asking price. We were extremely pleased to hear late on Monday night that our offer had won, but had only been accepted on the condition that we move our subject removal date to the coming Friday.

  Tuesday we jumped into gear, phoning to arrange an inspector, start the mortgage details at the bank, and arrange for an inspection to find if there was a buried oil tank. Tuesday night we went in with the inspector, and were very pleased with not only what we saw of the house (finally getting to view it at a more leisurely pace and look at things more thouroughly) but the results of the inspection as well. Unlike an earlier house we had had an offer in on where the inspector came up with about $50k of things that really should be done to the house, this time he came up with about $2k of improvements (improve the electrical system and improve the sealing on one corner of the house where the sidewalk meets the foundation so that rain can't get in).

  Wednesday our mortgage approval came in. On both Thursday and Friday the oil tank guy was at the house. On Thursday with 4 guys, when they dug down about 4 feet and found only an old gas jerry can. By the end of Thursday, he was confident there had been or still was an oil tank, but it was or had been in the house. He couldn't get into the house, so had to come back on Friday. He was back on Friday hunting around the inside for an hour, and ultimately stated that if there was one, he couldn't find it. He strongly suspected it had been an upright that had simply been taken out when they converted to gas. It caused about 2 minutes of discussion, before we decided his "there's never been an oil tank found after I couldn't find it" statement was good enough for us. We faxed and removed the final subjects on late Friday.

  Finally on December 9th we took possession of our house. Excellent location for transit with two different bus lines going right by, one going to a skytrain station three minutes away and the other going to another sky train station 4 minutes away. Or direct to anyone of SFU, Lougheed Mall, Brentwood Mall, or Metrotown depending on which bus and which direction you get on. With 5 bedrooms, we've also definitely got room whenever anyone is visiting.

  After living in the Albert St. condo for the last 12 years, with Susan in her sixth year there, we had a lot of stuff accumulated. We were lucky in that Susan's sister had recently moved back from Asia and so needed to reclaim her furniture that we had been storing for years. We also shifted quite a bit of our own stuff over to Susan's sister's place so that we could make more space for showing of the condo. On December 10th we had a moving company help us move, our good friend Nikita also come over from the island to help us move in, and it was done.

   Now that we've been in our own house for a couple of weeks, we're really enjoying it. Our condo hasn't yet sold, but we're confident it will when the market likely picks up in the spring. For now we're house poor since we've got two mortgages, but it's probably good in that when the condo does sell, we'll feel relatively rich. How's that for looking at the bright side?

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