first time home buyers

Buying a home is a monumental purchase. It might seem intimidating to take the first step, but these easy DO’s and DON’Ts will make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

If you’re a real estate agent, be sure to add this list (or one like it) to the list of buyer resources on your agent website. Online prospects will appreciate the free advice!


Know your credit score.

Check your credit score before beginning the home buying process so you know where you stand. The better your credit, the better the terms of your loan. If your score is looking a little low, you might want to spend some time trying to raise your number before meeting with a mortgage specialist.

Investigate programs for buyers in your area.

Many cities and workplaces offer programs to build their communities by helping first-time buyers. Check with your employer or local real estate association. They can point you in the right direction!

Get preapproved for a loan.

Make an appointment with a mortgage specialist to get preapproved for a home loan. Preapproval is a written guarantee by a lender or mortgage broker to grant you a loan up to a specified amount. Being preapproved also means that you will have more pull than a competing buyer who is only prequalified.

Learn more about local neighbourhoods.

Explore the neighbourhoods in your city in person and online. A lot of online real estate search websites, like Point2 Homes, will have information about the demographics and walkability about different communities in your area.

Interview real estate agents to find the right fit.

Ask your friends and family and search online to find your real estate agent. You may end up interviewing several before you find one with the expertise and communication style you’re looking for. A good agent will also be interviewing you, so keep your ears out for questions like these.

Identify your wants vs your needs.

Knowing the difference between what you really need and what you actually just want will help you compromise and stay on budget. You may need a certain number of bedrooms, but you want an open plan kitchen.


Change jobs. 

If you’re hoping to secure a mortgage in the next 6-12 months, job stability is key! Stay in your present position until your purchase is closed, if possible. If you do get offered a job that pays more, you can probably still get your loan approved, but be warned that you will have to jump through more hoops!

Make large purchases.

Large purchases – like buying a new car or lots of furniture – can affect your credit and set off red flags for lenders who worry you won’t have money left when you need it. We advise you to wait to make substantial buys until after you move into your new home.

Get attached to the first house you see.

It’s easy to do. You fall in love with the first house you place an offer on, and then are heartbroken when someone else gets it. So many factors are involved in a successful real estate contract. Talk to your agent about your local market so you have realistic expectations from the get go.

Miss an opportunity to negotiate. 

First-time buyers don’t usually know the many different kinds of negotiation that can take place before escrow closes. In addition to price, you may be able to negotiate for repairs, a new paint job or an extended move-in/out window. The agent you choose will go to bat for you, so be sure to pick a good one!

Skip a home inspection.

Never skip a home inspection on your first home. You want to know exactly what your hard-earned cash is buying before you buy it, after all! Learn more about home inspections and read about 14 common home problems to be on the lookout for.

Give up. 

Buying a home can be a long process, but it is rewarding in the end! Don’t give up if you don’t find what you’re looking for right away. New houses come on the market all the time.



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Barry Thomas Market Update

February 3, 2015 – The first month of 2015 saw home sale activity above historical

norms, while the number of homes listed for sale trended below typical levels.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,913 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2015. This represents an 8.7 per cent increase compared to the 1,760 sales recorded in January 2014, and a 9.6 per cent decline compared to the 2,116 sales in December 2014.

Last month’s sales were 14.9 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

“While demand remains steady, we’re seeing fewer homes for sale at the moment,” Ray Harris, REBGV president, said. "This is creating greater competition amongst buyers, particularly in the detached home market. The number of detached homes listed for sale today is the second lowest we’ve seen in four years.”

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver1 totalled 4,737 in January. This represents an 11.4 per cent decline compared to the 5,345 new listings reported in January 2014.

Last month’s new listing count was 1.2 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the REBGV MLS® is 10,811, a 14.2 per cent decline compared to January 2014 and a 4.8 per cent increase compared to December 2014.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $641,60022. This represents a 5.5 per cent increase compared to January 2014.

With the sales-to-active-listings ratio at 17.7 per cent, the region remains in balanced market territory.

“The Bank of Canada’s recent announcement to lower its benchmark interest rate is an important one for home buyers, sellers and owners to note,” Harris said. “A reduced rate could allow you to pay down your mortgage a little faster, save some money on your monthly payments, or change the amount you qualify for. It’s important that you do your homework and understand how these announcements impact your situation.”

Sales of detached properties in January 2015 reached 781, an increase of 7.3 per cent from the 728 detached sales recorded in January 2014, and a 44.1 per cent increase from the 542 units sold in January 2013. The benchmark price for a detached property in Metro Vancouver increased 8.4 per cent from January 2014 to $1,010,000.

Sales of apartment properties reached 809 in January 2015, an increase of 7.4 per cent compared to the 753 sales in January 2014, and an increase of 40.5 per cent compared to the 576 sales in January 2013. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.5 per cent from January 2014 to $382,800.

Attached property sales in January 2015 totalled 323, an increase of 15.8 per cent compared to the 279 sales in January 2014, and a 38.6 per cent increase from the 233 attached properties sold in January 2013. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4.3 per cent between January 2014 and 2015 to $479,600.

Greater Vancouver Home Price Index Barry Thomas

Editors Notes:

  1. 1.)  AreascoveredbyRealEstateBoardofGreaterVancouverinclude:Whistler,SunshineCoast,Squamish,West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and South Delta.

  2. 2.)  ThenationalMLS®HomePriceIndex(MLS®HPI)operationsgroupunderwentanannualreviewofthe model in January. This led to the following changes:

  • Neighbourhoods where home sales over the past three years totaled 12 or less have been removed from the model. Neighbourhoods where sales have increased to 20 or more over the past three years have been added. Historical MLS® HPI data has been recalculated to reflect these changes.

  • The benchmark property descriptions have been updated to reflect current buying trends.

    Background: MLS® HPI benchmark prices represent the value of a ‘typical’ property within a market. When the HPI was developed in 2011, a composite description was created for every neighbourhood and property type based on MLS® sales data for that specific area. What people typically purchase can change over time due to changes in affordability and buyer preferences. Therefore, it’s necessary for these descriptions to be occasionally updated.

    The MLS® HPI methodology has been updated to reflect these changes and is available at 

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So excited for the artists on Bowen Island to create the 2015 Macdonald Realty Calendar. 10,000 calendars are distributed!!

Article from The Bowen Island Undercurrent

posted Feb 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM

The Bowen Island Arts Council (BIAC) is thrilled to announce that Macdonald Realty will be publishing a custom 2015 calendar featuring the work of resident artists. The 70-year-old real estate firm prints 10,000 calendars each year, working with arts organizations to help coordinate the project. Local Macdonald Realty realtor Barry Thomas pitched the idea to the company last year, and subsequently connected the firm to BIAC. Rosey Hudson, Creative and Brand Marketing Manager for Macdonald Realty formally offered the opportunity to the arts organization this month. In response, Gallery Curator Janet Esseiva said: “The Visual Arts Committee of BIAC, on behalf of local artists, thanks Macdonald Realty for this great opportunity. We know that the 2015 calendar will be very special, featuring what will no doubt be stunning work by Bowen artists.” BIAC will receive 200 copies of the calendar for fundraising sales.

Artists whose work is selected will be asked to agree to one-time use of their work, retaining all rights. Their bios and contact info will be included in the calendar and they will receive 10 complimentary calendars.

BIAC members are encouraged to submit their work for consideration by emailing a digital photo to (max 6MB per email). All mediums will be accepted and artists can submit more than one piece. Preference will be given to horizontal pieces that showcase the beauty of British Columbia (urban, rural and island life, ocean and mountain scenes, and of course home portraits and other subjects which would be a natural fit for a real estate company’s calendar). Experience shows that still life, portraits and flowers are generally not chosen by the selection committee. The submission deadline is March 31, 2014. Submissions must include the artist’s name, the title of piece, the dimensions of piece, and the medium.


For more information, please contact Rosey Hudson at Macdonald Realty [].

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As an Island community, we depend on the ferry system to engage in our daily lives. There are some important changes happening with the BC Ferries Corporation. Follow the link below for more information.

BC Coastal Ferries Community Engagement Fall 2013

There will be an open house held at the Bowen Island Community School on November 21st, from 5-8pm.


Barry Thomas ~ Living Bowen

Bowen Island Real Estate Specialist

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Bowfest 2013 is coming up quick! Bowen's premier Summer festival is gearing up and we have all the links and info you need. This years this is appropriatly titled "Island Paradise".

"Bowfest 2013 will be on the traditional Saturday prior to the Labour Day weekend, on August 24th"

"The Bowfest Parade kicks off the morning of Saturday August 24th beginning at 10:30 am, coming down Government Road starting at the BICS parking lot.  
The festival field in Crippen Park will open at 11:00 am, with rides and games, food and fun, featuring musical performances throughout the day on stage.  
The upper Field will feature: Cinemazoo reptiles and petting zoo, exhibitions and presentations, displays, activities, and more!"

Find out more info at the official Bowfest website!

Barry Thomas ~ Living Bowen

Bowen Island Real Estate Specialist

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Here are some great Summer gardening tips to help keep your garden looking great through the heat! Keep those green thumbs green!

Ps. Remember to follow your local watering guides!

Take care for now,


Barry Thomas ~ Living Bowen

Bowen Island Real Estate Specialist

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Bowen Island may be a small town, but for a small town, it sure is sophisticated! 


"Left Bank is very much a French style bistro, charmingly French country. Funky chandeliers, Provençal colours, paintings by an artist friend, a 100-year-old baking table are welcoming sights but it’s Dawson that adds the most warmth. Black Dayton boots peeked out from her long black skirt in line with the restaurant’s funky elegance."

Read more:

Ps. The Crème brûlée is to die for!


Barry Thomas

Bowen Island Real Estate Specialist



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It's that time of year again!  B.I.G. (Bowen Island Gives) is looking for donations for their annual charity hike to the top of Mt. Gardner!

"This 2nd annual fundraising event is organized by Bowen Island Gives (BIG!). Our goal is to raise $10,000 in support of youth leadership training on Bowen Island that will encourage young people to become actively engaged citizens, both locally and globally. This youth leadership training is delivered through“Me to We”. Register to participate in the hike, or make a donation in support of a hiker and/or the cause!"

I'll be volunteering along with my Living Bowen team. We hope to see you there as well, or at the after party, which was one of the Summer's biggest parties.

Visit their website to pledge and donate!


We hope to see you there,

Barry Thomas


Living Bowen

Pleasant by Nature



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Welcome to


I would first off, like to introduce myself...

My name is Barry Thomas. I am a Bowen Island resident and specialist in Bowen Island Real Estate.

On this blog, I will post community happening, and events, as well as real estate market analysis, and upcoming listings and real estate opportunities.

Living Bowen is more than a lifestyle. It is a peaceful Island community surrounded by spectacular nature, that I am happy to call home.

Leveraging my 20+ years of professional business experience; specializing in sales, strategic account management and contract negotiation; I am focused on assisting you with your real estate requirements. I am committed to understanding your needs and achieving your objectives. 

Please contact me today to arrange a consultation for the sale or purchase of your home.

I can also be followed with social media:




Bowen Island - Pleasant by Nature


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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.