So, late last week we finally "hired" a Realtor. On Friday, he sent us a list of 74 properties that matched our criteria which, over the last couple of days, we narrowed down to about 20. Most are 3 or 4 bedrooms and all but one have 2 bathrooms; all are in the $400K-$475K range -- much, much better than the choices 6 months ago.
We drove by those 20 today and brought that number down to 6, one of which we have been inside (an earlier open house). Driving by really helps to have a look at the neighbourhood (and potential neighbours, barking dogs, and so forth) -- we ruled out at least one property this way. It also helps to check the access -- we ruled out another that had a driveway which was difficult to pull into but near impossible to pull out of.
Our favourite, and the front-runner so far, is still the one we saw a month ago. It lacks some storage on the main floor and currently there is a wasp nest under the front stairs, but otherwise seems ideal. It's near Hillside Mall, two blocks from an elementary school, and an easy commute even by bike to campus.
However, there were several properties in Saanich, most near Swan Lake, that were appealing, too. Of course we also saw a listing for a Mill Bay property today.... 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms on 2.25 acres for $349K (or best offer! FSBO) ....but unfortunately, commuting from Mill Bay is not high on my list.
Now we just have to get inside a few of the others and then put in an offer somewhere!