I have a column in lovmag magazine. This is my article for the Summer 2011 edition.

download article courtesy of lovmag

 

Is Vancouver's gaybourhood going through a straight phase, or is it awakening from its slumbers? This is typical of the questions I get asked about the area long considered our city's gay epicentre-the West End. Often imitated but never duplicated, the venerable neighbourhood is in the midst of a rebirth, re-emerging as the area to see and be seen-in. Nestled between Coal Harbour and English Bay on the edge of world famous Stanley Park, the West End boasts beautiful buildings old and new, and an eclectic assortment of shops and restaurants. Despite its recent mainstream appeal, it's the original diva of Vancouver's neighbourhoods-and knocking this queen off her podium will take a lot more than throwing marbles on a runway! Every neighbourhood has its character, and the West End is no different. My nickname for this splendid location by the sea is the Wild West because once the sun goes down people here know how to party. This is, after all, home to one of the largest parties in North America, Vancouver's Pride parade, as well as some of the city's hottest clubs and bars. Investing in the West End is kind of like going on safari; if you love ' wildlife' and can afford the price, it's a great adventure. If you try to cut corners searching for a spot in an area unfamiliar to you, however, it can be a risky situation and you may very well get eaten alive. A Realtor should be your guide along the way, allowing you to enjoy one of the most valuable investments in your life. A small rule of thumb for property junkies out there:the area makes the prices;the prices do not make the area. There is a lot of old money in the West End and a large population of senior and gay residents keep it clean and weli-maintained. Property prices vary, but even the most modestly priced homes can stretch the average person's budget. The West End sits within one of Canada's highest priced markets, and like the rest of Vancouver the justification for the price tag is a beautiful, natural, urban setting combined with a scarcity of land. So how do you go about making a purchase? Well, there are a few ways. If you're single, try partnering with someone you trust in order to secure a mortgage and down payment. This will allow you to buy a two bedroom,which has a higher resale value. You can sell the property and use your portion of the profit to buy your own property. If the partnership agreement is strong there is minimal risk involved, but always consult with a lawyer before entering into a legally binding contract. If you can afford to buy a two bedroom home,but want to offset costs,get a room mate to take one of the rooms and pay half the mortgage. When the time is right and the market is strong, you can sell at a higher price and use the equity to purchase another place (roommate free) or perhaps a bigger property outside the city. A sceptical friend recently asked, Hlf it's that easy, why wouldn't everyone do it? The short answer is not everyone wants to be a homeowner. Owning your own home requires hard work and dedication. Buying property in a volatile housing market comes with a certain amount of risk, as we witnessed when the market crashed and the real estate bubble burst a few years ago. If you are careful, however, it is a calculated risk with potential benefits and rewards. If you would like to purchase your own home, do your homework. Make a list of risks and rewards,and pros and cons,and make sure you are fully prepared for the responsibility; you are in it for the long run after all! Consult with a Realtor to discuss your best way into this active market; it's a game of strategy and if you know what you are doing it's a great game to play. With Vancouver being such a diverse, open, cultured city, I am almost certain that there are going to be other beautiful areas vying to give ourWest End diva a run for her money. But she will always be the original gaybourhood of Vancouver. And honey, don't you forget it. - Ty Campbell, Real Estate Representative @ Sotheby's International Realty Canada tcampbell@sothebysrealty.ca