Recently I wrote a blog about starter homes vs. forever homes. What I didn’t mention at the time was the disappointment many of my clients have felt when faced with the reality of what they can actually afford. It’s usually about this time too–when I’m watching a client stare down the reality of buying a studio apartment on the east side instead of a semi-detached home in the West End–that I tell them to remember one thing: as your life changes, so do your home needs.

Here’s a look at some of my favourite stories from recent years to show you how a few others are doing it.

NEW TO CANADA WITH A NEW BABY

CLIENT PROFILE 1: Originally from the Philippines, I met this wonderful couple a few years back when their daughter was just born. A pharmacist and an employee of BC Hydro, their combined household income was approximately $140,000. On maternity leave with her first baby at the time, the couple was both in their mid 30s. What I found most interesting about them was their pragmatic approach to buying a home.

FIRST HOME: As relatively new immigrants to Canada, they were true to form in their approach to building their new life: all hard work and sacrifice. While what they really wanted was a detached home somewhere in the GVA, they knew it wasn’t possible right away. Instead, they opted for a condo in Surrey, which they bought four years ago for a price of $185,000. Unwilling to overextend themselves, they wanted to make sure they would still be able to save while paying off their mortgage.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Because the area where they purchased their condo has rental restrictions and is slightly older, it had slower growth than much of the surrounding area. Even still, less than five years later their condo is now valued at $285,000. That is a profit of $100,000 if they sell at the appraisal price. Currently, we’re looking to purchase a townhouse or detached home with a rental suite and their budget has ballooned to $925,000. With a rental suite income of $1200 per month, this will be easily possible.

AN ENGINEER & AN ACCOUNTANT

CLIENT PROFILE 2: Another professional couple in their mid-30s, I first met these clients about four years ago. At the time both working full-time, and had a combined income of approximately $170,000. Both originally from BC, their goal was to buy a principal residence in downtown Vancouver and, at some point, possibly acquire rental properties for investment income.

FIRST HOME: At the time we first met, these clients had just bought a property in Osoyoos. There were lots of renovations to be done, but both were game to tackle much of the work themselves. After some fairly extensive renovations, this handy couple decided to refinance the property. I handled their affairs and eventually got them debt free with the proceeds of the refinance allowing them to save a bit extra each month.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? They just bought their dream detached home with a rental suite for just under $800,000 and got to keep their cozy home in Osoyoos. Their rental income will help for the mortgage while allowing them to put down extra money towards paying it off completely.

CLIENT PROFILE 3: Over the years I have build up something of a reputation for dealing with junior entry-level people. The team leader of a large retails store, this client was a single female professional in her mid 20s who wanted a starter home. With an income around $50,000 she did not have a lot of wiggle room, but she was adamant about wanting to get into the market sooner rather than later.

FIRST HOME: After some serious house hunting, we found the perfect place. A one-bedroom condo in Port Coquitlam that she purchased for $240,000 with just a 10% down payment.

As a mortgage broker, it’s part of my job to help my clients through the different changes and stages of their life. In doing so, I’ve seen up close just how unpredictable life can be. The bachelor who swears by the sword of single-life winds up the father of three children, the ambitious young businesswoman decides what she really wants is to start her own NPO.

Of course, it’s not always that dramatic. Sometimes it’s simply accepting that the journey to your dream home is going to take a few twists and turns along the way. And you never know, it may look like you envisioned or then again it may not.