A Walk Down Memory Lane… our Flip in North Van

At some point in late 2015 we got tired of all the rules of renting and thought that maybe we could buy a home. We were very fortunate to come into some money (through stock options at the company we both worked for) and that coupled with the first time Home Buyers Plan made a down payment possible.

The reality of living in Vancouver is that it’s expensive. We started looking for a home at the peak of our insane real estate market. The very first townhouse we looked at was priced at $799k and we were told to expect that we would be going against 10+ offers, cash deposits, and offers in excess of $200k over asking. It sold for over $1million.

At the time, we were intimated. We were curious and excited, but also realistic. Each open house we went to was busy. Very very busy. We had friends who had been looking for months – rejected offer after rejected offer. We knew that it would take good timing and a bit of luck to find the right home for us.

In Spring of 2016 we became very clear on what neighbourhood we wanted to buy in (Inter-River Park in North Vancouver). The neighbourhood was close to the highway (easy access to downtown), there were plenty of 3 bedroom townhouses and the entire community backed onto the forest.

A few months later, 3 units came up on the same street. All pretty much the same, except 2 were immaculate and staged, and one was not. We viewed all of them, and after receiving strategic advice from our realtor, we offered on the “ugly duckling.”

The other 2 units sold for $200k+ over asking and had lots of competing offers. The other unit sold at $5k over asking and we were the only offer. It was a great day.

The reality of real estate is that buyers have a hard time looking past stuff – terrible paint jobs, dated furniture, clutter and more. The townhouse we bought had renters in it, none of the furniture made sense, a bathroom was used as a pantry (…) and it kind of smelled. It looked a lot worse than the MLS photos let me tell ya.

But we knew that all of that was superficial and that we could easily fix it up. Heck it was only 6 years old!

We moved in the summer of 2016 and immediately started our first reno:

Over the next 18 months we completed the following projects:

  • Installed new engineered hardwood flooring
  • Scraped the popcorn ceilings upstairs
  • Painted the whole house – ceilings, walls, closet doors and trim
  • Painted the kitchen & bathroom cupboards
  • Installed new bedroom closet organizers
  • Installed an Ikea Pax closet in the kitchen (to be used as a pantry)
  • Replaced and installed new light fixtures
  • Replaced and installed new blinds
  • Removed a very odd garage conversion
  • Added tile decking to the balcony patio
  • Landscaped the front yard

We learned a lot on that reno. A lot. We put a ton of sweat into each project, and at the end of the day, we listed it for sale before we started to enjoy it.

Throughout the renovation, we continually talked about our future and what was important to us. We realized that we yearned for a quieter life. We wanted silence, privacy, a bigger yard, less/no traffic and a smaller community. At the same time, we knew that the real estate market was still trending upwards, and if we were going to sell, now was the time to do it.

In June 2018, we sold our home for just under $1.1 million (approx. $200k over what we paid).

A few befores:

The afters: