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How A Supply Chain Manager Bought Her $337k Bungalow In Calgary

Welcome to How I Bought It, where, each month, one Canadian shares how exactly they managed to buy their home. Our goal is to demystify the path to home ownership by talking openly about the challenges — and often the privileges — in getting there.
This month: a 23-year-old supply chain manager in oil and gas with an income of $72,000
Location: Northern Calgary 
The home: A 1970s bungalow with three bedrooms and one bathroom. The basement is unfinished, and all of the kitchen appliances and carpeting are original from 1975.
When I bought it: July 2021
What I spent: $337,000
Downpayment: $21,000
Monthly mortgage payment: $1,368
Property Taxes (yearly): $2,000
Land transfer and lawyer fees: $1,300
How I bought it: I’ve been working since I was 16 years old. After working at an amusement park for one day (I hated it), I started working at a local frozen yogurt shop (this was minimum wage, around $13 and hour, and they eventually went bankrupt, which is why I had to leave). In Grade 12, I did an internship at an eye clinic as part of my work experience [co-op] for school. One of the doctors there ended up opening her own clinic and I worked as a receptionist for her part-time while attending post-secondary school. In addition to this, I did three summer internships in the oil and gas sector between Grade 12 and my fifth year of university (earning between $1,600 to $2,700 a month).
I was very privileged and my parents helped with a lot of expenses. I lived at home throughout university and they covered my bills and first year tuition ($6,500), so 90% of my paycheques would automatically go into savings. During this time, the only things I paid for were my phone bills and personal expenses like clothes and going out with friends. After my first year, my circumstances changed a little bit. I got scholarships and grants for the majority of my schooling and school supplies. I paid the difference for my tuition, which was around $3,000 a year, plus gas to commute to and from school (about 20 minutes away from where I lived, via my family car). About 60% of my paycheques went into savings during this time. My paid internships during the summers were extremely helpful, and I was able to put almost 100% of my paycheques into savings or investments.

My paid internships during the summers were extremely helpful, and I was able to put almost 100% of my paycheques into savings or investments.

While I was in high school and post-secondary, any allowance or monetary gifts were automatically saved and were used on a need-for basis. I didn’t use any specific apps to save, but I’m a huge Excel lover. My whole life revolves around Excel, so a lot of it was just something I created where I’d add up my savings and budget my monthly allowances. In addition to my savings, $3,000 of my downpayment was in an investment account. I took out a portion of my stocks and sold it so I could get that extra $3,000 instead of taking it all out of my savings.
Why I bought it: I’ve been thinking about buying a home since my first year of university, but when I got a full-time job in my industry in May of this year, I knew I could finally get the employment letter needed [for a mortgage]. I grew up in an immigrant household where owning assets and investing for the future was considered important. My parents would put their money into assets such as houses or an RRSP, or just savings accounts. So it was put into our minds that the safest asset you can own is a house — it’ll always appreciate. It was also like, save for a rainy day kind of thing, that if you ever needed to sell the house to get the money, that was available to you.
The market is hot here in Calgary and the cost of purchasing a house is inflating considerably. I had enough for a downpayment and decided rather than purchasing a car, it made sense to purchase a house first, plus my mortgage amount would have decreased if I had purchased a car first (it's a liability). In my culture it’s kind of looked down upon to move out of your family’s home before marriage, so I knew that I would be buying as an investment property to own and rent out for a couple of years. There’s currently a family renting the main floor for $1,600 a month. I’m hoping to rent it for about three years before starting any renovations.
How the deal went down: I had about $10,000 of my money invested in stocks, which were at an all-time high during the month of March, so I decided to withdraw them to combine them with my savings and start looking. I hired a realtor that was used by my family (who managed to find us multiple off-market houses) and began searching. The timing for buying was challenging as supply was low and the houses we looked at were overpriced, needed considerable work, and were in bad locations. 
My budget was $330,000, and Calgary was booming, so at first it was almost impossible to find something in my budget. I put an offer in on one other house before this one, but there were five other bidders. By chance, my realtor saw this house on a Facebook real estate market group. It was listed as going on the market the next day. He called me and said, “it’s an amazing house, you should write an offer before seeing the house and then we can go and see it.” So I trusted him. I wrote the offer so they wouldn’t list it on the public website. The house was being sold through a trust as the original owner had dementia and wanted a quick sale, so it was priced low. Ultimately, we wrote the offer, saw the house, and negotiated for the off-market house all within 12 hours. It was in an amazing location and was a catch. (We later found out the house behind it with similar square footage was sold for $70,000 more.) Because the seller’s realtor was new to the field, they accepted our offer of $10,000 over the listing. We managed to negotiate $6,000 in savings after our inspection due to multiple faulty issues.

My whole life revolves around Excel, so a lot of it was just something I created where I’d add up my savings and budget my monthly allowances.

It was definitely a risk, but I really trust my realtor’s judgment and the big thing was the location. I didn’t really care about the house itself, location was more of a thing for me. And when this house came up, I just knew right away that the location was perfect. I'm expecting around $40,000 in total renovation and development of the basement, something that I’ll start saving towards now. (I’m completely broke so am hoping that a pay raise or end-of-year bonus will help with this!)
What I wish I’d known before I bought: I wish I had vetted my mortgage broker! I worked with a new broker in the field who made the process stressful and almost lost us the offer, just because they were inexperienced. Shop around until you find a great mortgage rate and an even greater broker. One great tip I learned is you can negotiate with your realtor to gift you appliances after the sale (they often get corporate discounts)! 
Submit your How I Bought It here, along with any photos of your home. It’s completely anonymous, meaning you can be fully transparent.
Buying a home is the biggest purchase you'll ever make — but who says you have to make it? Welcome to New Lease, a series that examines our long-held beliefs about home ownership and renting in Canada.

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