Preventing Basement Leaks

If you have a basement, or even just a crawlspace, the last thing you want is water infiltrating the area. Even a minor leak can cause damage to walls and flooring, and may even lead to mould issues. Here are some precautions worth taking:

  • Every spring and fall, check the grading around your home. The ground should gently slope away from the foundation. Pay particular attention to areas where shrubs and other foliage make the grading difficult to see.
  • Look for cracks in the foundation. Get them fixed right away. Even a minor crack that doesn’t appear to penetrate all the way through can cause problems eventually.
  • Check the caulking on basement windows. If it’s worn and cracked, it’s time for recaulking. The lifespan of most exterior caulking is less than five years.
  • Watch the eaves troughs when it rains. (You’ll get wet, but it’s worth it.) Make sure the water drains well away from the foundation.

Doing these simple inspections takes just a few minutes. Yet, if they prevent a basement leak, it’s time well spent!”

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Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at Germyn.ca 

Tips on How to Find a Reputable Contractor

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There are so many horror stories about disreputable or incompetent home improvement contactors that television shows have been made about them. Unless you want to be a guest on one of those programs, take steps to ensure you find a good contractor.

Here are some tips that will help:

1. Ask for references. Speak to the references.
2. Get a detailed written estimate of the work to be done, and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions.
3. Be wary of contractors who insist on large payments upfront. The payment plan should be reasonable and tied to work as completed.
4. Ask if the contractor is a member of any professional associations.
5. Don’t deal with a contractor who offers you a no-tax, cash-only deal.
6. Ask the contractor to get the appropriate permits before starting your project.

These tips won’t guarantee you’ll hire a reputable contractor, but they will increase the chances that you do.

Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at Germyn.ca

2013 BC’s Largest Privately Owned Company Managed By a Woman | BIV

Business in Vancouver released it’s annual list of Biggest BC organizations managed by women in 2013. Overall, Macdonald Realty placed 11th however, we continue to be BC’s Largest Privately Owned Company Managed By a Woman. We are proud to see our organization on the list. If you wish to see the rest of the list, please visit biv.com

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Take a Walk on the Boardwalk (or Sidewalk)

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If you’ve played the game Monopoly then you’ve probably picked up the Chance card that reads, “”Take a walk on the Boardwalk. If you pass Go…””
That’s good advice when shopping for a new home. When you see a property you like and you’re thinking of making an offer, spend some time walking around the neighbourhood. This will give you a better sense of what it’s going to be like to live there.

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After all, the last thing you want is to buy a dream home only to find out later that there are issues with the neighbourhood that make living there miserable.

If you have kids, see how far of a walk it is to local parks, playgrounds, schools and community centres.
If you commute, you might also check out the route from the neighbourhood to your place of work. Is there a left turn that is likely to get backed up in the mornings?

Also check out how well the neighbours take care of their properties. Homeowners tend to keep their homes looking good if they enjoy the neighbourhood.

As you walk, listen. Are there noises from nearby high schools, industrial areas, or highways that are going to be unpleasant for you? Find out if the neighbourhood is near an airport flight path, or if there is a railway in the area. (Your REALTOR® can find that out for you.)
If you get a chance, talk to some of the neighbours. Ask what they like most about living in the area. You’re likely to get some candid – and useful – answers.

Finally, spend some time visualizing living in the area. Can you see yourself enjoying what the neighbourhood has to offer?
If so, then buying a home in that area will likely be a good choice for you. A good REALTOR® can help. Call me today.

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Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at Germyn.ca  

How $500 Can Save You $30,000: Why You Should Get a Home Inspection

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Many purchasers of homes decide to forgo the optional home inspection in some cases. They have a tough time trying to decipher why they would shell out anywhere between $450-$800 for a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ to come into their potential new home and tell them things they think they already know. If you fit into this category, STOP and give your head a serious shake.

Like a general practitioner doctor, a home inspector may not know a ton about one particular subject of a house, yet they do know a little bit (or more) about a lot. A good home inspector will use all the latest and greatest tools to inspect your home and should give you a full written report for you to take home at the end. They don’t need to know exactly where that leak is coming from, but they sure can point you in a better direction to figure it out than anyone else.

So why put out the expense? A familiar case sample from numbers of happy clients I have helped in the past, including a story of my own. When I set out to buy my first home, I was excited. It is such a cool experience to go house shopping and even better to imagine all of the amazing ideas, memories and plans you could experience in that new home. After a few weeks of shopping, I had decided on a 2 storey basement entry in North Delta.

The home needed some work, I could see that, and being a relatively handy guy with a good eye for what needed to be done, I wrote my offer accordingly. Now, I realize the importance of a good home inspector so as part of my conditions, I made sure to give myself some time to get my inspector into the house.

When working with clients, I have no emotion invested into what they buy and this allows me to be very unbiased. I can see many things that they typically cannot, due to the large amounts of homes I see every week and also from what I have learned from my home inspector in the past. The challenge is when emotion and excitement get involved, that trained eye can get cloudy. This was also the case for my own almost first home. I was excited and thinking more like a buyer than a Realtor.

My home inspection lasted over 3 hours and my inspector took his time to ensure he got everything I needed to know. At the end of the inspection, together we went through the list of things that needed to be done and the even bigger list of things that the average eye would not see.

There was over $30,000 worth of immediate work that was important to the life of the home that needed to be dealt with asap. This included unsafe electrical, huge drainage issues, sloppy previous home owner renovations, and more. Having a great relationship with my inspector, he jokingly remarked to me, “You need to run away from this house!”

That day was great to cement the lesson into my head that a home inspection is critical. I, nor most other Realtors, do not have a construction/electrical/plumbing/general home construction backgrounds so we cannot catch everything either. By investing around $500 in a 3.5 hour inspection, I saved myself from making a $30,000 mistake.

The moral of the story, get the home inspected everytime before you buy. You never know what yo may discover later if not. As for me, I am in a different home, with much less work to take care of. I get to save my money for bigger and better things!

Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at Germyn.ca  

Maple Ridge balanced conditions provide stable backdrop for buyers, sellers | Maple Ridge News

Balanced conditions provide stable backdrop for buyers, sellers

Stable and balanced. Those are the descriptors used by the managing brokers for two local real estate companies when it comes to the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows housing market today. Which means it’s a good time to be buying or selling because there’s finally some predictability in the marketplace after several years of ups and downs.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) concurs, noting in its July market report that, across the region, “balanced conditions provide a stable backdrop for today’s home buyers and sellers.”

The report’s benchmark price index bear this out, showing that Maple Ridge’s residential composite one-year change from June 2012 to June 2013 was a meagre minus two per cent, while in Pitt Meadows prices increased 1.5 per cent.

For single-family detached homes, the drop in Maple Ridge was 1.1 per cent, while in Pitt Meadows it was just 0.1 per cent.

Townhomes were similar, with Maple Ridge experiencing a 2.7 per cent drop in the benchmark price and Pitt Meadows a 0.1 per cent again.

The greatest fluctuation was in apartments, which was at minus 5.6 per cent in Maple Ridge and plus 5.5 per cent in Pitt Meadows.

“To me, this is the sign of a stable market,” says Harvey Exner, managing broker with Macdonald Realty Maple Ridge.
“There have not been huge changes in any pricing [for the past year], which is a good thing for buyers and sellers because it creates some predictability for both.”

Glenn Chivers, managing broker at Re/Max Lifestyles Realty, likes what he sees right now because “a balanced market is fair for everybody.

“You don’t have to play the lowball game as much if you’re a seller, and buyers are getting a fair price provided the home is priced right.”

Of course, price is just one factor in determining market conditions, and both Chivers and Exner agree that balance and stability can only be achieved if there’s adequate inventory available.

Year-over-year statistics from the REBGV show that for the months of January through June, combined numbers for the two communities show detached home listings down 11 per cent, at 1,234;  townhouse listings down three per cent, at 407; and apartments down less than one per cent, at 369.
Those numbers are good enough for Exner, who says there’s an adequate amount of inventory in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to supply the needs of both local residents and those looking from outside of the community.
The sales numbers are equally promising, says Chivers, who suggests low interest rates and stable prices are the main reasons for sales right now.

REBGV stats show there were 540 detached homes sold in the two communities from January through June, down about 11 per cent.

Townhouse sales have dropped quite a bit, with 183 being sold compared to 228 over the same time period in 2012.

Apartment sales dropped about 13 per cent, with 129 getting a sold sticker so far this year.
The median selling price for detached homes through June was $474,900; for townhouses it was $302,750; and for apartments, $210,000.
Both brokers agree that things are generally good in the market right now, and probably will be for at least the rest of the year.

If there is a weakness going forward, they also agree that it’s in the apartment market, where a “glut” of new apartment units has hit the market recently.

Chivers figures there’s about an eight- to 10-month supply – “maybe more” – of apartments on the market, with many of them brand new, meaning anyone trying to sell an apartment over the course of the next year will face some stiff competition.

However, don’t panic, he adds, because as long as you price your house, townhouse or apartment well, it will likely sell.

His best advice?

“Listen to your realtor. He or she knows the market.”

Article Written By Robert Prince – Maple Ridge News
Published: July 26, 2013 Article is available for viewing http://www.mapleridgenews.com

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Macdonald Realty Luxury Homes Magazine | Summer 2013

Macdonald Real Estate Group is proud to announce the Summer Edition of our quarterly digital magazine, Macdonald Realty Luxury Homes. This exclusive digital magazine showcases the best luxury real estate for sale in British Columbia, Canada.  This edition includes Macdonald Realty’s high end listings from across the province and a unique international listing from Bora Bora. The magazine is available for viewing at www.macrealty.com/luxury

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The listings included are from MREG’s Luxury Home Marketing program Quarter 2 (April to June 2013)  Thank you to all of those who contributed to the magazine!

For more information or feedback please email us at luxury@macrealty.com

The 8 Dangers of Overpricing Your Home

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An asking price that is beyond market range can adversely affect the marketing of a property. Here are the 8 dangers of overpricing your home.

Missed showings

Buyers and REALTORS® search within a price range when looking for a home using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®). If your price is above market value, your home will not come up in their search and you lose showings from buyers who can afford your home.

Helping to sell the competition

Buyers comparison shop when considering a home purchase. When a buyer compares
an overpriced home versus one that is priced at market value it will likely convince them to place an offer on the well priced property instead of yours; you’re helping the competition get sold.

Missing out

The perfect home for you to purchase may present itself while your home is listed. If you are overpriced, you will have very little chance of selling and therefore you won’t be in a position to buy your desired home. Watching another buyer purchase your dream home is not a fun position to be in, and it can be avoided with a well priced listing.

Low Ball offers

If you receive an offer it is much more likely to be a ‘low ball’ offer, which results in a frustrated contract and a very low chance of getting an accepted offer. Today’s buyers are quite saavy and overpriced listings don’t survive their analysis.

Tough to Close

It’s tough to close an accepted offer on an over-priced listing. This is due to the fact that buyers continue to look at the competition and they quickly realize they have overpaid, which results in buyer’s remorse and a collapsed sale prior to subject removal.

No Chance of Competition

An overpriced listing will not result in competitive offers, whereby a well priced listing will have a greater chance of receiving offers from more than one buyer, and possibly getting an offer over asking. Real estate agents may forego showing an overpriced listing, as the price shows little motivation by the seller. Buyer’s agents are always keen on getting their clients through the doors of a well priced home first, in order to give their clients first crack at getting the home of their dreams. The best homes sell first.

Risk of falling market

The longer a listing stagnates on the market the more likely it will sell for less than it would have had it been priced right in the first place. This used to be a coined term by Real Estate professionals, but now it is contained in a study by Ken Johnson of Florida State University.

Bank appraisals

Appraisals are required on all new loans. The appraised value is based on the recent sales prices of similar properties. If your home is overpriced, the appraisal may fall short of the offer, and the buyer, not willing to pay more than the appraisal price, will cancel the offer. The bank also will not lend money on an overpriced property to a Buyer looking for a high ratio mortgage, or 20% or less downpayment. A large portion of buyers are high ratio mortgage seekers.

These are just some, and by no means all the reasons why you should consider what the market is doing when it comes to pricing your home. By over pricing a home, you are esentially hoping to win ‘the home seller’s lottery,’ meaning you are hoping that someone will come along and pay an unreasonable amount of money for your home, despite all the facts and comparative information available. In the long term, over pricing your home hurts the overall value of your home, while also sacrificing your time as you wait and learn that overpricing was a mistake.

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Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at Germyn.ca 

Macdonald Realty Golf Tournament 2013 – A Huge Success

On Thursday July 11th 2013, Macdonald Realty hosted its annual golf tournament. Macdonald Realty staff, agents, friends and sponsors came together for this networking event in Richmond at Green Acres Golf Course. All the proceeds will be donated to Canadian Cancer Society, specifically research into lung cancer.

Thank You! To everyone who sponsored the event, as well as all the attendees.

Photos from the event can be found on our facebook page www.facebook.com/MacdonaldRealty

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7 Tips for Real Estate Investing

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Thinking of investing in Real Estate? Meet Don Campbell. The name needs no introduction for Canadian real estate investors. Less well-known, however, are the seven investment rules the Real Estate Investment Network founder shared for a recent feature profile. Got a pen and paper?

1. Manage Your Expectations. The road to sustainable wealth is not a straight one. There will be economic curves to navigate, tenant potholes to avoid and financing road-blocks to get around. Investors need to face the reality of the business they are entering and use a system that helps them navigate through the inevitable twists and turns while at the same time keeps them moving forward.

2. Never sign anything that’s inaccurate. A supposed shortcut that some people justify while trying to navigate the real estate investing highway is to not be honest 100% of the time. Sadly many are coached to sign documents that are truly inaccurate.

3. Numbers tell the real story. Never fall in love with a piece of real estate no matter how nice it looks or feels. It is easy to talk yourself into just about any property. A strategic investor only falls in love with the numbers and cash flow. Those who fall in love with a specific piece of real estate will always over pay for the property.

4. Gain Perspective “Don’t drink your own Kool-aid.” Never blindly believe everything you hear. Sophisticated investors never allow themselves to think they know everything about their market. Find ways to keep expanding your knowledge and expertise by speaking with investors from all different backgrounds.

5. Buy for cash flow first – value increases second. There is no more important risk mitigation factor than positive cash flow. It allows you to ride the inevitable ups and downs of the real estate market and can provide will become the basis for long term sustainable wealth.

6. Treat your real estate like a business. Unlike other investment options, the minute you buy an investment piece of real estate you become a business owner and must start thinking like one. One of the biggest mistakes investors make is considering investment real estate a passive income investment. It is far from passive and you must manage the property as you would an active business.

7. Choose your advice wisely. Only ask for real estate investment advice from somebody who has extensive history and has seen all market conditions. Find a way to get your advice and analysis from someone who doesn’t directly profit from you purchasing a piece of property. And never, ever buy based on a “Hot Tip.”

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Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at Germyn.ca