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The Decision to Purchase

Purchasing a home in Vancouver can be both exciting and frightening!! It is probably one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make. You’ll not only have to live with your decision, but also live in it, so you don’t want to make any costly mistakes.  Before you start looking for your “dream” property, organize yourself by considering a few basic questions:


What are my housing needs?

What are the choices?

What can I afford to spend?


Time spent answering these questions in advance may save you from frustration and disappointment during your search.

What Choices do you have?

To meet the many kinds of needs that people have, a number of different housing styles and types of ownership have developed over the years. Your individual requirements and your income level will govern the housing type which is most suitable for you at the present time.

Types of Housing Structures in Vancouver

Single family, detached house 

A detached house is one which has no common walls with any other residential structure, resting on its own land with front, rear, and side yards. It may be any size from a small, one-storey bungalow to a huge mansion.

Semi-detached house

A semi-detached house is two single family dwellings joined together by a common middle wall. It is sometimes called a “side-by-side” duplex.


A duplex is two separate dwellings which are attached either side-by-side (a semi-detached house) or one unit above the other.


InBritish Columbia, the term “townhouse” is usually used to describe one of a group of dwellings (most often two-storey) joined together by common walls, each with its own entrance from the outside.


An apartment is one of several dwellings (most often single storey dwellings built one above the other) joined together by common walls, each having its entrance from a common hall. The overall building containing the apartments may be from three to 33 or more storeys.

Mobileor Manufactured Home ( you will see these more in the suburbs)

A manufactured home is a factory-built residential structure designed to be moved from one place to another, although wheels are not necessary. It is often placed on a rented space (called a “pad”) in a manufactured home park.

Types of Housing Ownership in Vancouver


A freehold interest (also known as a fee simple) is the more precise term for what we ordinarily refer to as “ownership” of a property.  The owner of the freehold interest has full use and control of the land and the buildings on it, subject to any rights of the Crown, local land-use bylaws, and any other restrictions in place at the time of purchase.

Strata Property

The strata property form of ownership is designed to provide exclusive use and ownership of a specific housing unit (the strata lot) which is contained in a larger property (the strata project), plus shared use and ownership of the common areas such as halls, grounds, garages, elevators, etc. This type of ownership is used for duplexes, apartment blocks, townhouse complexes, warehouses, and many other types of buildings. Because ownership of the common space is shared, the owners also share financial responsibility for its maintenance.


In some cases, you might purchase the right to use a residential property for a long, but limited, period of time. The owner of this right of use has a type of ownership called a leasehold interest. This type of ownership is used most often for townhouses or apartments built on city-owned land. It is also used occasionally for single detached houses on farm land, on First Nation reserves, and for apartments where the owner of the freehold interest of an entire apartment block sells leasehold interests in individual apartment units to other “owners.” Leasehold interests are frequently set for periods of 99 years, but regardless of the length of the original term, you will only be able to purchase the remaining portion.  Of course, the shorter the remaining portion, the less you, or the person who eventually purchases from you, will be willing to pay for the leasehold interest.


In the cooperative form of ownership, each owner owns a share in a company or cooperative venture which, in turn, owns a property containing a number of housing units. Each shareholder is assigned one particular unit in which to reside.

Buying old or new?  What’s best for you?

Buying a home is an exciting time. Whether you're looking for a townhome, apartment or detached home deciding what you want to buy is an important decision. Part of this decision is deciding if you want to purchase a resale or new home.


The time is right for buying. Low mortgage rates and government incentive programs account for housing affordability.


When looking for a home, a realtor will be able to assist you every step of the way in your search. You'll want to look at and compare homes that are both old and new before making a decision.


Depending on what type of home your looking for, the area, the price range and other amenities, there are advantages to buying both older and new homes. Here's a look at both.

Why buy an older home in Vancouver?

With an older home, you often get the advantage of improvements made by previous owners.

You can see what you are getting and don't have to try and picture the completed home from a set of blueprints.

If there are any structural faults they are clearly seen and can be or have been corrected.

The neighbourhood is built up and its character has been established.

The landscaping is in place and trees are mature.

There are generally fewer immediate move-in costs, because basic features such as window coverings and lighting fixtures are already installed.

Why buy a new home in Vancouver?

You have more flexibility with a new home in customizing your décor and landscaping to suit your tastes. You get fresh, unblemished walls and you can usually choose the type of flooring, carpeting and cupboards you want.

With most new homes, you generally get much more storage space and larger rooms.

Today's minimum standards for plumbing, electrical, insulation and heating systems are higher than ever.

Traditionally, land values tend to increase during the first few years as neighbourhood services develop and the subdivision nears completion.


No matter what type of home you choose - old, new, or in-between - be sure you examine all your options first, so that you and your family are happy with your final choice. Your realtor will assist you in finding the right home for you. 


For more information on Buying a home in  contact Vancouver Realtor and Real Estate Specialist Adan Sprauer.


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