Whistler Market Update – Fall 2015

Strong and steady remains the description of the real estate market. Overall, we are consistent with sales volumes that were achieved in 2014.

Chalet sales (year to date) median price is $1.4M. Last year for the same time  period it was $1.250M. The Whistler Market median price of single family homes has increased 12%. Sales of chalets is up 9%. Whistler sold 123 (YTD) single family homes this year and 112 last year during the same time frame.

Our market is on track for another big year. Understand the stats so you don’t miss out! As a result of two strong years in real estate; prices are trending upwards and buyers are being forced to focus on higher priced properties.  The strongest pressure has been on our chalet or town home market.  A Buyer can easily find themselves in a multiple offer situation.

The townhome market faces the largest pressure and sales are up along with prices due to the rising costs of chalets and Buyers seeking to find an affordable alternative.

Vacant land is on demand due to the lack of choices and Buyers wanting to build their “dream in Whistler” as oppose to taking on a large scale renovation of an Old Timer’s A frame.

The condominium dollar volume showed a gain but a decline in the # of transactions demonstrating this market being the slowest to rebound. Also, maybe an indicator of some potential assessments in many of the buildings.

As a Buyer; be able to move quickly.  Expect potential multiple offer situations and expect to jump in or anticipate watching prices climb. Anticipate fewer choices as the snow starts to fly.

For Sellers, October is a historically a strong sales month as many Buyers have been educating themselves and are now ready to purchase.

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Blog post provided by Shauna O’Callaghan, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Whistler.  Visit her website shaunaocallaghan.com  for more information.  Oct 8, 2015.

 

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Getting the most from an open house

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Have you ever attended an “Open House” advertised in your area or in a community you like? Most people have. Even if you’re not serious about moving, viewing a few properties in a neighbourhood you like is a great way to get a sense of the market. Who knows? You might stumble upon your next dream home! To get the most out of an open house, follow these guidelines:

  • Most open houses will have a handout available containing the list price and other property information. Be sure to keep a copy.
  • Don’t just view the rooms. Explore the entire property, including the backyard.
  • Don’t be shy about asking the listing agent (or whoever is hosting the open house) questions about the property.
  • Ask about the area. Are there schools nearby? Where is the nearest park or playground located?
  • Ask about potential required repairs and renovations. For example, if the furnace is more than 15 years old, it may need to be replaced soon.
  • Walk around the neighbourhood. Try to get a sense of what it’s like to live there. If possible, chat with a neighbour.
  • Finally, if you become interested in the home, be sure to advise the listing agent that your own REALTOR® will be following up. Otherwise, the listing agent might assume that he or she will be representing you. Looking for a good REALTOR® to have by your side? 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  originally posted April 4, 2014.

Preparing Your Kids for a New Home

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Sooner or later, many families face the prospect of moving. Disruptive as moving can be for parents, the experience can be even more traumatic for kids, who may not be a part of the decision to move and might not understand it.

Kids can need some time and special attention during the transition. Try these tips to make the process less stressful for everyone.

Making the Decision to Move
Many kids thrive on familiarity and routine. So as you consider a move, weigh the benefits of that change against the comfort that established surroundings, school, and social life give your kids.

The decision to move may be out of your hands, perhaps due to a job transfer or financial issues. Even if you’re not happy about the move, try to maintain a positive attitude about it. During times of transition, a parent’s moods and attitudes can greatly affect kids, who may be looking for reassurance.

Discussing the Move With Kids
No matter what the circumstances, the most important way to prepare kids to move is to talk about it. Try to give them as much information about the move as soon as possible. Answer questions completely and truthfully, and be receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Even if the move means an improvement in family life, kids don’t always understand that and may be focused on the frightening aspects of the change.

Involving kids in the planning as much as possible makes them feel like participants in the house-hunting process or the search for a new school. This can make the change feel less like it’s being forced on them.

If you’re moving across town, try to take your kids to visit the new house (or see it being built) and explore the new neighborhood. For distant moves, provide as much information as you can about the new home, city, and province (or country). Access the Internet to learn about the community. Learn where kids can participate in favorite activities. See if a relative, friend, or even a real estate agent can take pictures of the new house and new school for your child.

Moving With Toddlers and Preschoolers
Kids younger than 6 may be the easiest to move, as they have a limited capacity to understand the changes involved. Still, your guidance is crucial.
Here are ways to ease the transition for young kids:

  • Keep explanations clear and simple.
  • Use a story to explain the move, or use toy trucks and furniture to act it out.
  • When you pack your toddler’s toys in boxes, make sure to explain that you aren’t throwing them away.
  • If your new home is nearby and vacant, go there to visit before the move and take a few toys over each time.
  • Hold off on getting rid of your child’s old bedroom furniture, which may provide a sense of comfort in the new house. It might even be a good idea to arrange furniture in a similar way in the new bedroom.
  • Avoid making other big changes during the move, like toilet training or advancing a toddler to a bed from a crib.
  • Arrange for your toddler or preschooler to stay with a babysitter on moving day.

Moving With School-Age Kids
Kids in elementary school may be relatively open to a move, but still need serious consideration and help throughout the transition.

There are two schools of thought about “”the right time to move.”” Some experts say that summer is the best time because it avoids disrupting the school year. Others say that midyear is better because a child can meet other kids right away.

To avoid glitches that would add stress, gather any information the new school will need to process the transfer. That may include the most recent report card or transcript, birth certificate, and medical records.

Moving With Teens
It’s common for teens to actively rebel against a move. Your teen has probably invested considerable energy in a particular social group and might be involved in a romantic relationship. A move may mean that your teen will miss a long-awaited event, like a prom.

It’s particularly important to let teens know that you want to hear their concerns and that you respect them. While blanket assurances may sound dismissive, it’s legitimate to suggest that the move can serve as rehearsal for future changes, like college or a new job. However, also be sure to let them know that you hear their concerns.

After the move, consider planning a visit back to the old neighborhood, if it’s feasible. Also, see if if the teen can return for events like prom or graduation events. If you’re moving midway through a school year, you might want to consider letting an older teen stay in the old location with a friend or relative, if that’s an option.

After Moving Day
After the move, try to get your child’s room in order before turning your attention to the rest of the house. Also, try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and bedtime to give kids a sense of familiarity.

When your child does start school, you may want to go along to meet as many teachers as possible or to introduce your child to the principal.

Set realistic expectations about the transition. Generally, teachers expect new kids to feel somewhat comfortable in their classes in about 6 weeks. Some kids need less time; others might need more.

After the move, if you’re still concerned about your child’s transition, a family therapist might provide some helpful guidance.

A move can present many challenges, but good things also come from this kind of change. Your family might grow closer and you may learn more about each other by going through it together.

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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  originally posted Dec 18, 2013.

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

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  

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 

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 

How to Be a Savvy Home Viewer

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If you’re planning on finding your next dream home, then you’re probably going to view several homes on the market that meet your criteria.

You will want to make the right purchasing decision for you and your family. So, it’s wise to be savvy when viewing properties for sale. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

  • Bring a notepad. Take notes, not only of the home’s characteristics, but also of how you feel. For example, can you imagine yourself happily cooking up a storm in the kitchen? Do you see yourself entertaining family on the back deck?
  • Bring a measuring tape. Will the furniture you plan to bring fit? Your dining room suite? Your home fitness equipment?
  • Ask about maintenance. Is the property in a good state of repair? Will anything need to be replaced soon, such as the windows?
  • Bring a camera. Take lots of pictures of the home’s exterior features. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll remember how everything looked.
  • Check out the area. Do other homeowners take good care of their properties? This shows pride of ownership. How is the noise level? Is there a playground, or another area feature nearby?
  • Make a list of compromises. For example, are there only two bathrooms instead of three and, if so, can you live with that?
  • Make a list of bonuses. What features does the home have that, are not a necessity, but would be nice to have? For example, an entertainment bar in the basement recreation room.
  • Remember your budget. Is the price within your range? Can you afford to buy this home?

The savvier you are when viewing properties on the market, the more likely you will be to find your next dream home.

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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  

Thinking of becoming a landlord?

This blog is largely written as a result of the learning and struggles, both past and current, I am going through regarding having a tenant I have personally. I wrote this blog in the hopes that anyone will be better off when entering into a tenancy as a landlord and know exactly how to protect themselves should an issue ever arise.

Now, it is important to preamble this with I believe all people are good deep down inside and know that it is important to treat others as you would want to be treated. When someone needs some help, it is everyone’s responsibility to lend a helping hand. With that being said, when all is done to create a fair and equal resolution for someone, it is just as important to take a stand and not let people take advantage of you. As I sit in the lobby of the Residential Tenancy Board in Burnaby, I am considering all of the ways a tenancy should be approached to prevent issues before and after they arise.

Beginning a tenancy

When beginning a tenancy, you must start by screening your tenants properly. A brilliant way to do this is simple. Get references from their employer and past landlords, and possibly personal references if you are stuck. Asking questions about their work history and past tenancy is a great start to knowing who you are getting involved with. Have they been at their job a long time? Is it secure? Do they pay their rent on time? If the past landlord could do it again, would they rent the unit out to this person again?

You are also going to want to ask for a credit check. This is a very good indication if you can expect your rent in full and on time. A good way to accomplish this is to mention it is a requirement in your ad. When someone applies, BEFORE you get too involved with them, be sure to get a look at their credit check. If they don’t like to pay their bills on time, your rent money has a good chance of becoming one of those late bills.

When accepting someone to rent your home/unit, you must put EVERYTHING in writing. Who is responsible for the utilities, day to day maintenance, repairs, etc. what are the terms for pets, renting to students, or any other provisions? Once you have all of the information, it is time to decide on the length of the stay for the tenant, and the type of term, either a fixed or month to month. When it comes to a damage deposit, ALWAYS take the maximum amount. This means half of your monthly rental amount and if they have a pet, another half of the monthly rent. Many tenants could make an upset about this yet it is important to remember, this damage deposit is your ONLY security that your unit will be left the way it was found. This includes cleaned, no trash or furniture left behind, and no damage to the unit in general. Use the tenancy agreement provided by the RTO on their website and be sure to add any extra pages with other details if need be.  http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/

The day the tenant moves in is crucial as they should be paying you all of your damage deposit and first month’s rent. Be sure to always provide your tenant with a receipt for their rent as it is required. You also must do a condition walk through with the tenant and document it on the form provided on the RTO’s website. Failing to do this will ELIMINATE any chance of getting to keep the damage deposit in the future. Have both parties sign all documents and be sure to give copies to the tenant.

Welcome to being a landlord

During the tenancy, always remember to document everything. Rent paid and when, conversations, emails etc. this will come in useful should there ever be an issue. When dealing with a tenant, it is always best to be clear about expectations before a tenancy, yet it is just as important to give them their freedom and peace of mind. It is important to check the condition of the property regularly but always give the proper 24 hours’ notice and ask for their permission to visit. Fix issues with the home promptly, give your tenant the respect and courtesy that they deserve, and be the landlord that you would want if you we’re a renter.

A tenancy can be for a fixed period of time or a month to month time frame. You should talk with your tenant before hand to decide what works best for everyone. The day will come when your tenant is either ready to move out, you are going to end the tenancy for positive reasons (major renovations, moving in yourself, etc.), or for unfortunate reasons such as unpaid rent or utilities on the home.

Ending a tenancy

You can give a 30 day notice to a tenant to leave the property when you are in a month to month tenancy. It is important to note the tenant by law is deserving of a full calendar months’ worth of notice, meaning if notice was given on March 1, the earliest date the tenant must be out is April 30. This also works the same way if a tenant gives notice to move to you, they must also provide a full calendar 30 days, due before the rental payment of their final month. All notices to end a tenancy must be done in writing. When ending a tenancy, it is important to not include the damage deposit in the last month’s rent as this is your only security that the property will be in similar condition when you get it back as to when you rented it out. On the final day of tenancy as you are receiving the keys, you must do a final condition walk through with your tenant to review if any damages need to be monetarily accounted for. All parties must sign off on this condition report and if everything looks good, you can exchange the keys and release the damage deposit to your tenant, or forward it to their new address within 15 days.

If there is a problem with your tenant

If there is a problem, document everything. You can give a tenant 10 day notice to vacate a property for unpaid rent or utilities, and other reasons listed on the RTO’s website. The notice can only be issued on a day after rent is due. This can be done in person, posted on their door (3 day lull) or via registered mail (5 day lull) and either must be witnessed by a person or with a receipt. Your witness will need to fill out another critical form called the Proof of Service. From this point, the tenant has 5 calendar days to pay you the rent in full or it is deemed that they accept the eviction and must be out in the 10 calendar days. Evicting a tenant with a 10 day notice does not give you authority to keep their damage deposit. At the end of the 5 days the tenant has to pay you their rent, if the tenant has not paid you in full (only accept full payments), it is wise to apply to the RTO for an Order of Possession as it is illegal for you to remove them, their belongings or change the locks with them still in the property. The tenant may not move out the day they are supposed to and getting an Order of Possession expedites the process to get some help from the RTO if it goes that far.

Dispute Resolution

So what happens if the tenant buggers up your property, doesn’t pay you rent or refuses to move? You must go to the RTO and apply for a dispute resolution. A dispute resolution is a sort of a court hearing that can be done over the phone with all parties. This is your chance to speak your case, provide evidence (all the evidence you have been collecting over the tenancy, right!) and get your issue sorted out. The arbitrator who hears the story will make a decision that is binding on both parties deeming whose story is most believable and has the proof to back it up. From this point, the arbitrator can make decisions as to what happens with the damage deposit, whether the tenant must pay you more money, including any missed rent money via wage garnishing or other means, and a date that the tenant MUST vacate the property through a court order. Let’s all hope you never get this far. Once the arbitration is done, the tenant may STILL not move out. Unfortunately for the landlord, from here you need to apply for a Writ of Possession from the Supreme Court and hire a court bailiff to remove the tenant and all of their possessions from your home. The bailiff can also auction off the tenants seized items to help recover any additional money you may be owed.

Summary

When it comes to a tenancy, NEVER take it lightly. While it is important to treat people with courtesy and respect, you must do everything by the book in order to protect yourself in the future. Money is a funny thing and it can change even the most respectful relationship for the worst. If the rent is late, provide the tenant with one warning and let them know that future late payments will result in a notice to end the tenancy. Always take your full damage deposit at the beginning. Never settle for less than excellent care of your property. At the end of the tenancy, you will be glad you followed the rules and prepared yourself for the storm, if one should arise.

For a full set of rules, best practises and documents, check out http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/

When entering a tenancy

Do
•Take the entire damage deposit you can
•Take photos of the property
•Do a condition walk through at the start and end of the tenancy and fill it out on the required documents
•Put everything in writing
•Give your tenants receipts for their rent payments
•Put your tenancy agreement in writing
•Document everything including all conversations and emails
•Set the intention and bar at the beginning of the tenancy
•Remember: everyone must live up to their agreements
•Fix all issues with the home promptly and with as little disturbance to your tenant as possible

Do not
•Give anyone more than one chance at late rent
•Let a pet deposit go without collecting it
•Let a day pass before seeking an order of possession after ending a tenancy
•Let rent be continuously late, the RTO may deem it okay if you let it happen all the time
•Let people take advantage of you

Documents to start a tenancy
•Residential Tenancy Agreement
•Condition Inspection Report

Documents to end a tenancy
•10 day notice for unpaid rent or utilities
•1 month notice to end tenancy for cause
•2 month notice to end tenancy for landlord’s use of property
•Mutual agreement to end a tenancy
•Proof of service

Dispute resolution
•Dispute resolution application
•Order of possession application

All documents and full guides to beginning and ending a tenancy can be found at http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/

I hope you never end up evicting a tenant as it is a long and aggravating process. Protecting yourself properly will help avoid problems before they arise.

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 for Maintaining Good Credit

Are you planning on buying your first home? Or are you moving and will be refinancing your mortgage? We met with one of our mobile mortgage specialists recently and she gave us some tips on improving your chances of getting a good mortgage. We also checked online and found some advice, so here’s a compilation of top mistakes that hurt your credit score.  Here are our top 5 tips for maintaining good credit.

  1. Paying bills late. Even paying just one day late can hurt your score. Mark your calendar or set up an automatic payment plan with your bank.
  2. Not checking your credit reports. You really should try to do this once a year. Apparently there can be some mistakes on there or unfortunately, identity fraud, so it’s prudent to do this. Check out www.equifax.ca or www.transunion.ca for more info.
  3. Maxing out your credit cards. If you do that, it shows that you are using too much of your available credit. Try to give that credit card a break and use another one… but try to keep it at less than half of your available credit.
  4. Using cash over credit. If you use cash, you can’t show your lenders how well you handle debt. So then you don’t have much of a credit history.
  5. Applying for extra cards. Not a good idea as it may look like you are desperate for credit. Closing credit cards on the other hand is not a good sign either. You are ultimately shrinking your amount you are allowed to borrow. However, if you are concerned about identity theft, annual fees, etc., then by all means close the account.

If you find out that your credit score isn’t very good, some mortgage specialists will work with you to improve your score. It may take 6 months to a year, but that is well worth it to get your financing in order to ultimately get the home you want.

* Please note this is general information only and should not be taken as specialist advice. If you need more specific information, contact your mortgage specialist/broker.

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Investing in New Construction

Investing in new construction can be rewarding and hurtful at the same time. Let’s examine some of the benefits and deterrents of buying that brand new home.

Benefits

Everything is new
If you like shiny things and clean corners, new construction cannot be beat

Prices can be promotional
Getting into a new development with early bird or promotional pricing can help you gain financial ground in the real estate market

Developer incentives
The Developer may offer incentives for buying one of their products, such as memberships to certain clubs or business’, additional appliances or upgrades, etc.

New technology
Your building will be made of the latest and greatest advancements in construction and design

Support staff with development
Onsite development staff will be constantly at the development for the first few weeks. This is the time to let them know of any problems, while they are easy to track down

New home warranty
The new home warranty covers all new homes built in British Columbia. You get 2 years on labour and materials (some limits apply), 5 years on the building envelope and 10 years on structure. It’s the strongest construction defect insurance in Canada.

Deterrents

High rentals
Most new developments these days have a very high rental rate due to changes in our fluctuating real estate market. Renters are associated with taking poor care of the property and having a lower level of respect for the occupants. Most new developments would have no restrictions on the amount of rentals

Unestablished strata
The strata council can change and implement changes altering bylaws manipulating your resale audience

Cost can be speculative
Buying a new property at tomorrows prices have burned many people in the last 10 years, disabling them to sell at a profit or even break even

Prices are non negotiable
Developers tend to avoid price haggling at all costs. The price is usually the price

Contracts written by the developer, for the developer
Any contract you sign from a sales office was written by a very educated and determined legal team to protect all aspects of the developers behind. These contracts are heavily weighted for the developers benefit only.

Floating completion and possession dates
Your move in date can be pushed back typically, not fully ensuring an exact move in date

HST
Got to love those taxes. Similar to buying a new car and driving it off the lot, 12% HST is difficult to recover short term

Immediate resale complications
Many developments do not want to compete to sell remaining properties if you choose to sell your unit in the early stages as well. If you have purchased and decided to move, there may be restrictions on how you are able to market your property, or you may even have to pay the developer a portion of your sales money as a penalty.

When purchasing a new home, it is critical to include the involvement of me, your REALTOR®. By reviewing the contract for unfair terms or conditions, providing you with a real time market value, proper pricing forecasting, and ensuring you do not overpay, you can avoid many of the deterrents listed above. Investing in a new development can be rewarding, if done correctly and well-researched.

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  

The Little Known Secret All Home Owners Must Know

Refinance…

What a weird, confusing and funny word. What exactly does it mean, and why should you care? What if I told you that by “refinancing” your current mortgage could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long term. Would you want to learn more? I thought so.

What is it?

Refinancing is not new. I discovered that I myself never truly knew what a Re-Fi (or refinancing) a mortgage was truly about and how it can be beneficial. A Re-Fi is a replacement of an existing mortgage obligation with a different mortgage obligation under different terms. This means renegotiating your mortgage to replace it with more beneficial conditions. If you have purchased a home in the last few years, even up to the last year, a Re-Fi may be the best thing to happen to you.

Why should you care?

Most people think I refinance is only for people paying of credit cards or lines of credit, and although this is a GREAT idea, as serious money gets saved.  What most people don’t know, you don’t have to pay off credit cards to save.  If your mortgage is higher than 3.49%…you could be leaving ten of thousands on the table in interest.  Seriously, one of my clients saved $24,000!  Just by refinancing…simple.

Will it help you out?

Let’s put it into a easy to understand case study to see if it is worth exploring.

Imagine you took out a mortgage 2 years ago at 3.99% on a $230,000 mortgage.  If you were to  refinance that mortgage today, even after you paid the $4000 penalty for terminating your current agreement, you could save over $24,000 in the next 5 years. I will repeat that, $24,000 in the next 5 years.

I want to save $24,000…How do I do it?

It’s simple.  I will have one of my mortgage professional contact you.  Because you know me, they will do a mortgage analysis FREE OF CHARGE.  There is no obligation, and it is easy.

If you are currently in a 5 year term of a mortgage and have been underway in it for about 2 years or so, this is an avenue you definitely want to look down. This will benefit you long term, should the numbers work out, in lower monthly payments, paying off your principle faster, and of course, saving money over the long term.

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  

The Luxury Kitchens of Harbour Green Place

The Luxury Residential towers that make up “Harbour Green Place” offer the cutting edge in Modern Luxury Living. From the highest end material to the latest in Technology, Amenity & Services. The Harbour Green Towers are the pinnacle of Luxury High End Condominium Living, in Downtown Vancouver’s Water Front neighbourhood of Coal Harbour.

The centre of most homes is the kitchen and this is one place that the homes of Harbour Green Place definitely excel! Each Harbour Green address has been outfitted with kitchens from the world renowned Italian design house from Snaidero. From One Harbour Green (completed 2006) to Two harbour Green (completed 2008) & Three Harbour Green (Completed 2012), each Snaidero kitchen is the new & improved updated model. Offering the newest in design, form & feature to the newest owners of the Harbour Green Trilogy. As you will see below, every tower offers a timeless Kitchen design by Snaidero. However you will see the changes in details from one building to another, outlining how cooking & entertaining expectations have changed over the years.

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Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website jaymcinnes.com  for more information. 

Most Luxurious Block in Downtown Vancouver, Will it ever be out-done?

Most Luxury Block in Downtown Vancouver, Will it ever be out-done? (1169 W Cordova St / 1139 W Cordova St / 277 Thurlow St)

The eleven hundred block of West Cordova Street has been transformed from an old rail yard to what you see today, the most expensive block in Downtown Vancouver. This is with much thanks to ASPAC Developments. This block contains the most expensive buildings offered in Downtown Vancouver Luxury:

 

Recent quotes describing the lifestyle here have been (“Infinitely Privileged” / “Elite LifeStyles” / “Unrivalled Collection of Exclusive Privileges”).

Will this block ever be over taken for offering the most luxury addresses in Downtown Vancouver?

With the advantage of these three un-obstructable view lots being gracefully placed to the south of Harbour Green Park, this luxury will be extremely tough to beat. Each of the three addresses offers full Amenity packages with the highest end details. The most recent news-worthy detail regarding Three Harbour Green’s (277 Thurlow Street) Amenity Package is that it includes a brand new Ferrari California for the exclusive use of the Residents at this address.

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Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website jaymcinnes.com  for more information. 

Don’t Forget the Small Things Before Your Vacation Fun!

Are you planning on going on vacation soon? Now that the weather is finally sunny (sort of) and warm, and school is out for the kids, tis the summer season! Here are some tips to protect your home and save money (in the long run).

To decrease any chances of water damage from a running toilet, or leaky faucet, you may want to consider shutting off your water supply while you go away. If you have a fridge that has an ice maker, it might be a good idea to disconnect it, especially if you are going away for a long period of time. Sometimes the ice builds up and may potentially cause a problem with your fridge working efficiently and correctly. Don’t leave your washing machine or dishwasher running when you leave – again you just never know if something happens.
Turn off any alarm clocks so that you don’t annoy your neighbours! Turn off and disconnect computers, printers, iPOD docks and other items that continue to suck up your electricity and could potentially cause a fire. Check that the batteries in your smoke detectors are working or are replaced.

Cancel your newspaper delivery during your holidays. If you are expecting a package from canada post or fedex you may want to have a neighbour be a contact person for that delivery so that the package doesn’t sit at your front door too long and acts as an indicator to potential thieves.

Ask a neighbour, family member or friend to check your home if you are going away for more than a few days. Have them check for any gas smells, water leakage, anything out of the ordinary. Another option is to have someone you know house sit. It will give you relief knowing your home is being looked after.

These are just a few things to do to make your home safe while you are on holidays. Now go relax and enjoy your trip!

 

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

I wish you wouldn’t listen to the market hype

All the hype, is just that. Hype.

It is tough today to get a firm grasp on what is taking part in our real estate market. If you have read any articles or watched the news lately, it is filled with a ton of gloom and doom, stating ‘our’ market is down 10% from this time last year. What a terrible time to own a home!

Let’s pull back on that thought a bit to exam some facts. When you hear about ‘our’ market, most of the time that means the Vancouver market, not the Fraser Valley. We are the little brother to the Vancouver market and tend to follow their trends, yet there are some reasons why we may not.

  1. We are affordable in the Fraser Valley, much more so than North of the river (Vancouver, Burnaby, ect.)
  2. At this time last year, a large Asian influx was purchasing up a ton of high end homes in Vancouver, Richmond and White Rock, squewing our numbers dramatically.

The facts are in our numbers. In our area, we have 3 types of markets:

  • A Buyer’s Market – over 7 months of inventory (where buyers are favoured with tons of inventory and choice)
  • A Seller’s Market – under 5 months of inventory (Where sellers are favoured with minimal inventory promoting competition among buyers)
  • A Balanced Market –between 5-7 months of inventory (where both buyers and sellers have equal opportunity and prices remain stagnant)

With the latest statistics, we can see there are huge differences in the areas based on what we hear on the news. Look below to find your area and product type to get an accurate idea of what is happening right now.

So what does all this mean? Not a whole lot unless you are planning to get out of the market today. When you are buying or selling, you are getting into the market and likely going to stay in there. Whether you buy high or buy low, sell high or sell low, everyone is riding the same wave of activity you are. At the end of the day, no one has a crystal ball to dictate what may happen tomorrow yet all things tend to come back around regardless of if we are on a high or a low. If you don’t believe me, type “hipster” into Wikipedia and you won’t believe people think that style is back. Believe me, it’s back.

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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  

New Condo Towers Proposed for Rogers Arena Crosstown Neighbourhood

Rogers Arena is in for an addition…. The proposal is on the table and just waiting to be approved. My opinion is positive on this as I believe any neighbourhood growth is a good thing. The more condos that are built, the more people that will join the community. The more people that join the community, the more businesses and amenities that will follow.

The Aquilini Group are the team behind this new proposed addition to the Crosstown Vancouver neighbourhood. There are 3 new towers proposed directly around & attached to Rogers Arena. The proposal on each of these towers ranges from 26 floors to 32 floors in height. Two of the three proposed Crosstown towers will offer a mixed use of both Office Space & Residential units. The third tower is offering strictly Residential Condos.

The Team at Aquilini Developments are also trying to achieve LEED Gold status on each of their 3 new proposed towers. To try and achieve this LEED Gold status The developments will offer Green Roofs, Green Walls and will use these aspects to harvest rainwater for toilet flushing etc.

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Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website jaymcinnes.com  for more information. 

Happy Birthday to the Property Transfer Tax

This week the dreaded BC property transfer tax turns a quarter century old. For those who do not know, the Property Transfer Tax (PPT for short) was a tax brought in by Bill Vander Zalm back in 1987, the same Bill Vander Zalm who looks like a BC hero, who recently helped overturn the HST back to the traditional PST and GST models in BC.

The tax is 1% of the 1st $100,000 spent on a home, and 2% on the remaining balance, a considerable amount for most BC homes.  In 1987, the average price of a Vancouver home was a mere $187,000.  Today the average in Greater Vancouver is about $1,034,000, what a difference a quarter century can make. The tax was originally intended to tax speculation and wealth in our province, so high earners and those purchasing expensive homes paid a transfer tax on those purchases. The threshold was $200,000 in 1987 and approx. 95% of the homes in metro Vancouver were under that mark. Unfortunately for home buyers, times have changed.

Since 1987, BC home buyers have paid nearly 12 BILLION dollars in PTT since its inception, or about 900 MILLION dollars a year goes into the province. On the purchase of a $500,000 home in a suburb of Vancouver, a family would be looking at about $9,000 in PTT on top of all their other fees. This outdated threshold is something the BC Liberals are looking at and have suggested they would review the thresholds in the near future. The problem is, if you remove 900 million dollars a year from the system, what happens?

It is definitely time for a change to make it more affordable for families in BC to purchase a home. Be sure to speak your voice when the opportunity to be heard is there, and let’s see if we can adjust or extinguish this tax to make property ownership more affordable and attainable for more BC residents.

Contact Jordan Bateman of the BC Taxpayers Association and speak your mind, I know he would want to hear it.

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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  

Overwhelmed by all the Real Estate chatter in the news?

Prices are falling! Hold Hold Hold! Don’t buy until next month! Rates are the lowest they have been since yesterday! Overseas Buyers increase market by 300%!

It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the chatter over Real Estate in the news print, on TV and radio. The challenge with what you hear or see is that everyone has an opinion and there is many ways to share them nowadays. Through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and any media outlet looking to get their story in front of you, it can be a lot to process. So how do you make the best decisions for you?

Understanding what really pertains to you and your own individual situation is crucial to staying afloat in the bombardment of information that flows our way daily. Although it is important to stay atop the latest and greatest info, you should understand what applies to you or not. Rates dropping only matters after a certain point if you are already locked into another mortgage. Overseas buyers may be in the market for properties that have nothing to do with yours. Lowering real estate prices don’t matter unless you plan to move in the foreseeable future.

When it comes to the information rushing in your way, the best way to stay ahead of the pack is to be open and honest with your real estate and mortgage professional about your plans. Every situation is unique in its own way and the right advice will guide you down the proper path. When a professional you trust is on the up and up about what you want to accomplish in the short or long term, they can provide you with the plan that DOES make sense for your situation, keeping you ahead of the herd.

No need to get overwhelmed, it’s just can be a lot of chatter.

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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  

Real Estate Renting vs Owning

Let’s duke it out for one last time – Renting vs Owning 

It is the debate as old as time and is as entangling as trying to do your own taxes: Is it better to be a renter or own your own home? There are so many sides to the story that everyone’s opinion seems to take over rather than the facts. Renting allows you freedom, freedom to relocate on a moments notice, come and go as you please, minimizes responsibility and can be cheaper. Owning a home is a rewarding experience, you fol-low no ones rules, are in charge of your domain, and have an asset that history has shown will grow in value.

Renting vs. owning has always been a hot topic for the followings reason, each displaying their own fair advice on why. Let’s explore.

 

 

 

I may have missed some here yet what a great start. I can see how the debate can be heated and both sides have a valued argument. Whenever I am approached by someone on the rental side of the fight, there is always one failed piece of information that is never considered. If owning a home is more expensive, more responsibility and more commitment, then why in the world do it? You want to own a home because after years and years of mortgage payments, the payments stop. Imagine 25 years of paying a touch more per month for a home you could easily rent for less… Now imagine year 26 when the payments STOP. What would you do with that money? What would you do with that money if you sold? Owning a home is a long term investment and a forced savings plan, renting is not. For the short period, renting is great yet in the end, you are still just making your payments while your landlord smiles and owns a home.

In the fight against renting versus owning, count this as the knock out punch for the victor, Owning wins again.

Do you know anyone that is currently renting? There are options out there for people with average jobs and income to make home ownership possible.

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  

The Death of the Low Ball Offer

More often than not optimistic home buyers setting out for their first place are inclined to do as they have been instructed. From advice of parents, grandparents, or other friends or family they follow a rule that was popular years ago when times were much different.

Lowball those sellers. A lowball offer is a mediocre at best attempt to get the property at a price that often defies market trends, area statistics and is sufficiently lower than what a seller has offered their home for sale at. Well times have changed so why is the low ball dead? Here are a few reasons…

  1. We live in the Fraser Valley, a suburb of Metro Vancouver, one of the most attractive cities worldwide to live in. This means there is demand to live in our community. Prices will vary month over month yet unless we are in dire affairs with our real estate market, there is not much sense in a home selling for far under its fair market value because people will pay for fair value.
  2. Sellers are educated. There is an amazing amount of information you can pick up from a real estate professional and even online regarding neighbourhood trends and market prices relating to particular and individual home details.  Sellers tend to have a very good idea about what their home is actually worth.
  3. Some sellers can only go so far. With the decline of many property values after the crash of 2008 many sellers cannot afford to take a large loss on their property. If their equity is cleared out they lose their ability to move into a new home after they lose a chance at a down payment, selling fees or property transfer taxes.
  4. The homes that are desperate to sell are the ones in foreclosure. A suggestion that any family about to go into foreclosure on their property would align with the thought that a sharp asking price would attract a prompt sale.

When you as a buyer decide to lowball a seller, you do one thing. You seriously offend and upset that seller. By doing so you enter into a world of swimming against the current, provoking much emotion and pride to get wrapped up in the negotiations, which only hurts your chances of making a good deal. Now, this is not to say that a low ball will never work again because that is just not true. There are some cases that scream a low offer is a great move, yet the large majority do not. So what is the best way to get a great deal on a home? Put yourself in the seller’s shoes and ask yourself, “What is a fair market value for this home?” Once you figure that number out, try for slightly under that number. If you can save $2000-$5000 on the price of your home versus what the market tells us is under market value, you are winning. You may never hit a homerun in baseball as long as you try, but a good base hit will still help you win the game.

 

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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  

Avoid Excessive Humidity in Your Home

Bathroom and kitchen fans are an important part of your home’s ventilation system. They remove odours from your home, which improves indoor air quality. Most importantly, they also remove moisture, which decreases the level of humidity in your home. High humidity can damage building materials, therefore the diligent use of these exhaust fans is essential.

In order to avoid lint build-up in the dryer vents, homeowners can clean the dryer’s lint trap after each individual load. In addition, the dryer should be run for ten more minutes after clothes are removed and traps cleaned in order to dry out any moisture in the ducts.

In the winter months, it is a good practise to open a window and allow moist warm air to escape and cold dry air to take its place.

Ensure that window coverings and interior doors are left open for the greater part of the day and don’t keep interior doors closed for extended periods of time.

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Legal Mistakes to Avoid When Buying or Selling a House

 The process of buying or selling a house seems to involve a million details.  It is important that you educate yourself on as many parts of this process as you can—this knowledge could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in the long-run.  The legal issues involved in the process are often particularly intricate, ranging from matters of common knowledge to subtle details that might escape the untrained eye.  Any of these issues, if not handled properly, could develop into larger problems.  With so many  legal issues to consider, your first step should be to seek out experienced professionals to help educate you and represent your best legal interests.  Begin with an experienced real estate agent, who can help guide you through the initial hoops.  S/he should also be able to point you in the direction of a reputable local real estate lawyer to assist you in all legal matters involved in the purchase or sale of your house.

While there are countless legal details involved in a real estate transaction, some seem to pose larger problems than others.  We’ve outlined two legal clauses that are commonly misunderstood and may cost you money if not worded correctly.  Handle these carefully and you will be on track to a successful sale or purchase!

Home Inspection Clause

Some real estate transactions have been sabotaged due to the wording of the home inspection clause.  This clause originally allowed that the buyer has the right to withdraw their offer if the home inspection yielded any undesirable results.  However, this allowance was known to backfire, as Buyers took advantage of it, using some non-issue stated in the inspection as an excuse for having changed their minds.  Of course, this was unfair to the Sellers, as they’d poured time and money into what they believed was a sure deal.  Not only might they have missed out on other offers in the interim, but their house might also now be unfairly considered a “problem home.”  Additionally, they’d now have to shoulder the costs of continuing to market the property.  All of this adds up.

In order to remedy this potential problem, the clause should indicate that the seller has the option of repairing any problems the home inspection might point to.  With this slight change in the clause, both buyer and seller are protected.

To ensure this clause is fair from one side of the bargain to the other, work closely with a lawyer experienced in these transactions and all the nuances that may affect the outcome for you.

Survey Clause

It is the right of a home buyer to add a survey clause to the real estate contract on the home they’d like to purchase.  If you are on the selling end of the contract, be aware.  If you have added an addition or a pool to your property since the last survey was produced, your survey will no longer be considered up-to-date and the Buyer may request that a new one be drawn up—the cost of which you will incur.  The price of this process will run anywhere from $700 to $1000.

Your real estate agent has the responsibility to provide you with the most recent survey of your home.  It is then the Buyer’s right to decide if it is acceptable.  An experienced agent should offer you reliable counsel if you encounter an issue with this clause, but it is advisable to talk to your lawyer if you’re unsure at all of the potential ramifications involved.  Remember, the wording of this clause could cost or save you thousands of dollars.

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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  

 

 

 

Investing in Vancouver Real Estate

Vancouver Real Estate is the easiest investment to diversify!

Residential Real Estate as an Investment Vehicle is the best investment option you have in Vancouver!  I’m about to give you the straight talk about investing in Vancouver real estate.

Real Estate is the most talked about topic in Vancouver conversation. It has been for years and will be for years to come. Whether it’s about the mainland Chinese family that out bid 20 local buyers just to bulldoze the house next door up in Dunbar. Or the penthouse listed at 18.2 million that only sold for 7.5 million Downtown. Everyone has an opinion and everyone talks about it, constantly. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The Real Estate run from 2001 to 2008 in Vancouver made a lot of people rich, and lot of people missed the boat. It grew a lot of expectations for some on future growth of the city, and further justified that the big crash is soon coming for others.

The Reason I became a (Re-Sale) Residential Real Estate Agent as opposed to a Commercial Real Estate Agent, or a Stock Broker (what I was thinking about before Real Estate) is because of the reasons I will be speaking about in this short story. These are the same reasons why I tell my friends, family & clients that Residential Real Estate is a much safer investment than the stock market, even with all of the different investment vehicles it offers. This is due to one word that in reality, really sums it all up. The opportunity of “diversification“!

This is a word that I very closely believe in, as in my opinion it is the only tangible safety net in the game of investing. I am more than happy to take on as much risk and usually more than the next guy. When it comes to investing time, energy & money with the goal of creating financial flexibility, and more importantly financial freedom you have to give what ever you are doing 110%. Ask anyone who has it, that didn’t inherit it and they will tell you the exact same thing. Risks need to be made at all levels to try and achieve this ever so popular goal in life. However at the same time we all want to mitigate as much of that risk as possible, and diversification is the only way to do so in my opinion.

The majority of people I talk to believe that there is just one road to the riches if you start with nothing. That road is:

1 – get a job

2 – work hard at it & get a promotion for the raise, or sell more/something bigger to get more commission

3 – save as much money as realistically possible

4 – get your down payment (minimum 5%) and use it to buy your first condo

5 – repeat steps 2 & 3 to save up another down payment

6 – buy your first investment condo & become a landlord

7 – repeat steps 5 & 6 until you die, hopefully giving the next generation of your family (your kids if you have any) a better start than you had.

There is nothing wrong with that plan if that is a road you are satisfied with. In my profession this is the road most commonly believed by my clients as the best way to built financial flexibility or financial freedom.

Cue word of the day, “diversification”.

When this is your chosen road, or anything that has the key features of this road in it (buying Real Estate), you will benefit from the diversification offered to you by investing in that Real Estate. Without further a due, I introduce to you the leverage offered to you with Real Estate diversification:

–       Live in it

–       Renovate it

–       Rent it

That’s it!

Those three little points can weather you through any Real Estate market storm.  Let’s go into a little further detail on the benefits of each:

Live in it – You have to live somewhere. You will either be living in your own home or paying your own mortgage.  You will be living in someone else’s home or investment property, paying their mortgage. An act commonly known as “Renting”.  Or living in your parent’s home taking advantage of what parents believe to be an “opportunity” to save up that down payment to buy your first place. We all know (other than those parents) that this “opportunity” seldom works to the advantage to the children’s down payment savings plan.

Renovate it – The purpose of renovating can be for one of 3 reasons. a) You want to live in a nicer home. b) You want to receive a higher monthly rent, so you renovate enticing potential tenants to pay more. c) You want to sell the property and want it to look nicer & more expensive than when you bought it, to justify the next buyer to spend more than you did, Giving you a capital gain.

Rent it – If you ever needed to lighten your monthly expenses you always have the option of renting our your primary residents. You would then rent a home that would cost you less than your current mortgage does (assuming your have enough money down on the primary residence that the market rental rates for your principal residents covers your monthly costs of ownership). This is key, so you are not subsidizing any costs from your owned property that is now a rental.

These 3 diversification options with Real Estate are the reasons I believe it can be so lucrative.  You have any of these three options at your disposal once you are a property owner.

Most people I talk to just believe that Buying/Selling Real Estate is a two-step process. You Buy it and either live in it or rent it out. They then watch the market and their neighbors sell to see how their “Market Value” fluctuates.  Forgetting one key factor, YOU ONLY MAKE OR LOSE MONEY WHEN YOU SELL! If you have a 5-year exit strategy for the piece of property, it does not matter what it is worth between today and the last day of the 4th year that you own the property. This is because you have not lost or made any money YET as you have not sold YET. Don’t stress along the way, the market will go up & down. This will happen over the years to a certain degree and even seasonally, monthly & daily. This leads me to my next point. There are two ways you can invest in Real Estate. These are more points of view and expectation levels for your investment than anything & are very basic explanations:

1) Investing for a Capital Gains return: This means that you buy something today, wait for capital growth (the market value to rise above the price you paid) then once you feel the property has realized a big enough financial gain (capital gain) you sell and pocket the difference (after expenses).

2) Invest for a Cash Flow return: This means that you buy the Real Estate today and rent it out. You finance the property in a way that your monthly return (rent) exceeds your outgoing monthly costs of ownership (mortgage payments / strata fees / property tax / maintenance etc) giving you positive cash flow monthly.

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Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website jaymcinnes.com  for more information. 

 

 

How is winning at the stock market like selling your house?

What’s a great way to make some cash without exerting a ton of energy? The stock market of course! Where else can you pick a lucky fund, invest some hard earned cash and come out with a big return? Now, you could choose to do it yourself, that would be a cheap way of getting it done yet you may worry some of the fact that you don’t know too much about the idea. It would be silly to invest a bunch of money on a hunch or a ‘stock tip’ from a friend who knows less about it than you do. What are your options then? Hire a stock broker.

Stock brokers are required to go through educational requirements in order to serve you and your money, such as a completed Canadian Securities Course,  and thank goodness too, because you want to make sure you are in the best hands. When picking a stock broker, how do you know who is the best? To pick do you

A) Go with the trader who offers you the best rate on your trading, the professional that offers you the biggest discount saving you money per trade?

Or

B) Go with the trader that has a track record of making their clients significant gains and produces extraordinary results?

The answer is B. The answer should always be B.

The same goes for real estate. We are in an extraordinary time where we have begun to see competitive convergence in our market place, where we have so many Real Estate professionals competing over price to help sell your home. This is such a great opportunity to help the industry get better because it lets those who shine be brightest of them all. When choosing to sell your home, are you worried about who will give you the best discount, or who will sell your home and net you the most amount of money? Like a stock broker, real estate professionals are not all created the same and I caution you, to pick based on track record and results, not discount. Because doing the latter would be considered silly, wouldn’t it?

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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 

 

 

Dealing with Low Ball Offers on Homes

Real estate listing inventories in Greater Victoria have been relatively high in the past few months, so it comes as no great surprise to us that we are seeing more “Low Ball” offers in the market of late.

That being said, sales activity remains steady, albeit at a lower level than the frenetic pace set last year in the wake of low interest rates and an unwinding of demand left over from the financial crisis of late 2008 & early 2009.

When faced with more homes to choose from than usual in the current market, some buyers are starting to write very low offers in the hopes of “getting a deal”.  I used quotes there because in real estate, a “deal” means different things to different people; no two houses or lots are alike.

Resist the urge to walk away

Most people realize that real estate transactions usually involve a mix of logic, emotion and pride, on both sides of the transaction.  Those realizations usually fly right out the window for both the buyer (when writing the offer) and for the seller (when receiving the offer), even when the purchase price is not in “low ball” territory.

Your REALTOR® is there to help you not only with the legal, logistical and negotiating aspects of selling your home, but to also be a sounding board, an ally and your advisor for those times when emotions are running high!

If you receive a low offer on your home, do your best to limit your emotions & pride and do your best to focus on the facts.

It may help to keep in mind that even a low purchase price offer means that the buyer wants to buy your home.  Many buyers may prepare a really low offer because they are afraid they will pay too much, because they are trying to get an indication of where your expectations are, or simply because they think a low ball offer is normal business practice.

Unless the offer is ludicrously low, prepare to counter the offer to keep the buyer engaged and interested in your home, because, as mentioned, they have more than a passing interest in your house.

In the absence of multiple offers for your listing, consider countering a low ball offer with the price, conditions, closing dates and other details that you’re willing to accept.  If you choose to just ignore a low ball, you won’t ever know if there was a possibility of a low offer turning into a negotiated sale that leaves both parties happy!

Consider the comparable sales

Some buyers will provide a list of recent sales with their offer to attempt to justify a low offer price.  Your REALTOR® will be able to help you decide if those comparables are similar to your home, or not. If the sales in that list do represent similar homes to yours and are at lower prices, you may need to lower your price if you truly want to sell your home.

In the absence of a list of comparables from the buyer, your REALTOR® can also help you prepare a list of comparable sales to send back along with your counter offer that support your asking price.

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Blog post provided by Sean Farrell, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Victoria.  Visit his website farrellgroup.ca for more information. 

Costs of Buying a Home in BC

Many of our clients, particularly first time buyers, ask us what are the costs associated with buying a home. We thought we’d compile a list of the major costs and share them with you.

1. Mortgage costs
There may be a mortgage application fee at some lending institutions.
If you put less than 20% down for the purchase of the mortgage, you will have to buy mortgage loan insurance from CMHC or a private company. There may not be an application fee charged but a onetime insurance cost added to your mortgage amount. Please refer to your mortgage specialist or broker for more info.

2. Legal/notary fees
Whether you hire a lawyer or a notary to help you with legal representation, costs are approximately $800-1000 to convey title and register a mortage plus taxes. Add another $500-600 if you are selling a property at the same time. The legal fees to only register a mortgage will be in the $400-600 range.

3. Property transfer tax
This tax is payable on the purchase of real estate in BC. The British Columbia Provincial Government imposes a property transfer tax, which must be paid before any home can be legally transferred to a new owner. The amount of tax is 1% of the first $200,000 and 2% on any amount of the purchase price above $200,000. Some buyers may be exempt from this tax, particularly First Time Buyers if:
a) they never owned a principal residence anywhere
b) they are a resident of BC for a minimum 12 months
c) the purchase price is not over $425,000
d) they borrow at least 70% of purchase price

4. HST
If you plan on buying a newly constructed home, you may be subject to HST on the purchase price. There may be some rebates available, contact Canada Revenue Agency for more info www.cra-arc.gc.ca

5. Appraisal fee
If a client has 20% or more down into the purchase the lender may require an appraisal. This is done to ensure that a) the lending institution is not over lending on the property and b) to protect the borrower from overpaying. Typically an appraisal costs $200-250.

6. Home inspection
It is a wise investment to have a home inspection done on the property you plan to buy. This is not a requirement but we suggest that all our clients consider this. The inspection evaluates the structure, systems and components of a home and generally costs $300-500.

7. Deposit $
In all purchases a deposit is required on the subject removal date or within 24 hours of subject removal. The amount is generally 5% of the purchase price but negotiable at the time the contract is written. This is your money and is held in trust at your realtor’s office. This forms part of your downpayment.

8. Home insurance/insurance binder
This is a requirement by the bank to ensure that the borrower has arranged sufficient insurance to cover any losses that may be incurred on the purchase. Proof of coverage by way of an insurance binder supplied by the insurance agent is necessary and usually costs $35 (not applicable for a strata property). To be safe, make the insurance effective on the earlier of either the completion date or the date that you pay the balance of the funds in trust.

9. Survey certificate/title insurance
The lending institution may require that a survey certificate be presented to them. The purpose of the survey is to formally establish the boundaries of the property and to ensure that all buildings don’t encroach or cross over property lines. The seller may have a survey but if not, the purchaser will need to order a new survey. Cost is generally $200-300.  An alternative to obtaining a survey certificate is to obtain Title Insurance (approx $200-400).

10. Strata title and fees
If you are buying a strata property (condominium or townhouse), you don’t need a survey certificate but there are a few fees you may have to pay. Two documents that are required to complete a strata purchase are Form B and Form F and fees range from $50-100 each. Your lawyer will order a copy of the Strata Plan to ensure that you are in fact purchasing the strata unit you are intending to (approx $15).  An adjustment for your portion on the monthly strata fees for the month in which your purchase falls. There may be a move-in fee (approx $100-300).

11. Prepaid property taxes or utility bills
You will need to reimburse the sellers for any prepayments, which is typically done during the adjustments with the lawyer or notary at closing. Property taxes for the calendar year are paid at the beginning of July for the full calendar year. If you purchase a property before July 1st, the seller will be paying you for the days they owned a home from January 1st to completion day. You are then responsible for the entire amount to be paid to the municipality on July 1st. If you purchase a property after July 1, you will have to pay the seller for the days you own the property from completion day to December 31. Your lawyer or notary will make this adjustment.

12. Interest adjustment
This is the interest you will pay for receiving your mortgage money before the official start of your mortgage (eg. if your “completion” were on the 23rd of a 30 day month, your interest adjustment would be 8 days interest).

13. Moving fees
If you are budgeting for costs, don’t forget to include moving expenses!

14. Maintenance and utility costs of your new home

Whew! There’s a lot to consider but thought it would be useful to have these costs considered upfront rather than later when you are having difficulty getting the money out of a RRSP, savings account or locked term account. If you have any questions, comments about the buying process and costs or are considering buying a home, contact us.

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

The value of an expert and why you need one in real estate

An expert as defined by Wikipedia is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual’s opinion.

If your car is broken, do you send it to a mechanic or your hairdresser? If your refrigerator stops working, do you call in the technician or call you accountant? When you decide to purchase or make available your most valuable asset, your home, do you call a realtor or take advice from your neighbour? Buying and selling a home is best left to an expert.

Everyone seems to have an advanced knowledge of many things, and real estate is no different. Quite often you have someone who has bought and sold a home as many as 5 times in their lifetime, and feel that this warrants an advanced knowledge of the subject. I have baked cookies about 5 times in my life, and that does not make me an expert baker.

A self-proclaimed expert as defined by Urban dictionary is The annoying know-it-all in everyone’s social circle, or quasi-member thereof, who always insists on one-upping the person controlling a current conversation with useless factoids or name-dropping to make himself appear more knowledgeable or superior to the audience in question. Considers himself (herself) the perfect candidate for “Jeopardy.

Now this description is humorous yet also strikes to a point. John Nesbi made famous so many years ago by saying, “We are drowning in information but starving for Knowledge.” With the likes of Google making information readily available to the public within micro seconds, anyone can be a self-proclaimed expert on anything within minutes online. This does not make you an expert based on our Wikipedia understanding.

It is ever so important to have someone that you like and trust when deciding to acquire or dispose of your most valuable asset. The right real estate professional will guide you to the best practises, the ins and outs of the industry, the common pit falls, and most importantly, represent your best assets on your behalf. The right real estate professional will help you get what you want, on your terms, and ensure you are looked after. The process of buying/selling is full of major hazards, legalities, and costly ventures. Trust the professionals and experts to handle the ride as you sit back and enjoy the view. When it comes to taking advice from your neighbour, family, or co-workers, double check their day to day job descriptions and thank them for thinking of your best interest. Smile and kindly remind them, you will take their recommendations to heart, and relay their concerns and advice to the expert, your real estate professional.

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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  

 

 

A Happy Home for You and Your Dog

Let’s face it…there’s a lot of excitement when buying a home. The idea of more space, summer BBQs in the backyard, new paint colours and new decorating thoughts fill one’s mind. You want a happy home for yourself…but if you have dogs, you also want a happy place for them too!  We’re proud dog owners…our beloved Amber is more than a pet…she’s part of our family. She’s practically a big sister to our little girl, who is almost two years old. We’re very happy where we live, and we made sure we considered our dog in our buying process.  Therefore, with so much going through your mind when buying a place, it would be wise to put yourself into Rover’s shoes, or should we say, paws to consider their feelings about a new home.

Flooring:
Does the home have hardwood floors. In our opinion, a hard-floored surface seems to be great with pet owners. We all know how dogs shed hair, and cleaning up a carpet can be a big hassle. Hardwood or laminate is easy to clean, but it’s important to know that a lot of hardwood surfaces are actually quite soft so susceptible to scratches, including dogs nails. Those nails can dig into the floor and leave some pretty big gashes in the floor, especially if you have an exciteable dog that runs around inside. If you have a dog that has long and/or sharp nails, a laminate floor might be a more suitable option. We’ve found laminate to be more resistant to scratches. If you prefer carpeting, consider the length of the carpet. If it’s a long and shaggy carpet, remember that it will be more difficult to get dog’s hair out, as opposed to a groomed carpet, or something easier to vacuum. If your dog is anything like ours…she loves lying on the soft carpet in front of our fireplace…oh how snuggly!

Fencing:
You should never assume that a house is fully fenced. It’s a good idea to walk around the property and check to make sure all panels of the fence are in place and not about to fall off. We can’t imagine a worse feeling that seeing Rover running down the street due to a missing fence panel. This also includes fencing behind shrubs. While shrubs add privacy to a yard, sometimes there is not fencing behind the trees, making an easy escape for dogs.

Around the neighbourhood:
Obviously, it would be important to know whether dog parks, or parks in general, are within walking distance. Places within walking distance usually mean you (and Rover) get out more. If it involves a car (even a short drive), it’s more easy to put off that trip to the park…poor Rover won’t get to see his friends as often. Also, what kinds of pet services are nearby… Where is the closest animal hospital? How far away is a reputable kennel for those times you travel? Where are you going to get their pet food? Since these may be aspects in our everyday lives, you probably should at least think of this when buying a place.

Pet-friendly complexes:
While it is true that many strata properties (condos or townhomes) have pet restrictions (often limiting the type and/or number of pets), some complexes are “pet-friendlier” than others. Be sure to look around when you’re looking at properties. Do you see large dogs? Are there “no pet” signs? Do you see a lot of people walking with the dogs on a leash? All these are pretty good indicators as to “how pet-friendly” a complex is.

Overall, there are a lot of factors that go into buying a home. While Rover probably doesn’t get the final say, it’s important to consider how your dog will adapt to their new home. As you know, they only want you to be happy, so why not make sure that they’ll be happy too.

Happy trails!

 

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Hire the Right Agent, For the Right Reasons: 8 Questions to Ask When Hiring a REALTOR

Finding a real estate agent who is right for you requires doing a little homework, and asking the right questions.  Choosing an agent is a decision that could ultimately cost or save you thousands of dollars.  Keep in mind the individual you choose will be handling almost every maneuver in the biggest financial investment of your life.  Experience, interests, and expertise vary from agent to agent, so you should be asking very specific questions in order to align your own needs with the abilities of an appropriate representative.  Use the following list of questions as a guide to finding the agent that is right for you:
 
1. How long have you been involved in residential real estate in this area?
 
If the agent hasn’t been connected to the residential real estate market for several years, s/he will be out of touch with the cyclical nature of the current market. Your agent must be familiar with trends of the local market and have an eye for the ways in which it will change.  This knowledge could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in the long-run.

2. What is your marketing strategy for my home?

A realtor should be able to lay out for you, in detail, a marketing plan to sell your home.  Examine this plan carefully.  How much money does the realtor allot to advertising?  What type of media does s/he use?  S/he should be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of one form of media over another, explaining why his/her particular marketing strategy will sell your home faster and for top dollar.  The realtor should employ current, innovative marketing techniques that indicate creativity and a willingness to market outside of the box.  Stay away from realtors who rely on traditional, dated forms of advertising.  They simply won’t work in the current real estate market.

3. How do you support a buyer throughout the process?

A realtor should be able to indicate how s/he will support you through each step of the home-buying or selling process, offering you a unique system to suit your needs and goals.  Also, ask if a specialist will be available at each level of the sale.  Your realtor should always be on hand to answer questions, but the specific resources of an expert can be invaluable during different stages of the process.

4. What other properties has your company sold in my area?

The realtor should be able to provide you with a complete, detailed listing of their own sales in your area, as well as other comparable sales.  You should get a clear idea of what you might be able to expect both from the realtor and from the current market.

5. What is your experience with financing options?  How would you suggest I approach my own financing plan?

Each buyer requires a different financing strategy.  A realtor should be able to suggest a plan catered specifically to your financial background and needs.  Don’t just depend on your lender for information and guidance on financing a new home.  Let your agent lead the way.

6. On average, how close is the selling price of your listings to their asking price, and how long do they take to sell?

You can contact the Real Estate Board to obtain information on the selling record of an agent.  The Board also has statistics on a broader scale, so you can see whether an agent’s selling performance is higher or lower than the board average, and whether s/he tends to sell faster or slower than the board average.  Placing the realtor’s performance on a scale will help you get an idea of how much you might expect your home to sell for, and how long it might take to sell.

7. What is your philosophy/method of negotiation and how will you apply it when selling my home?

Your realtor should be able to articulate effective and informed negotiation tactics that demonstrate a commitment to securing the best price for you.

8. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?

Do some homework!  Choose a few names on the list and call them.  The stories of others who have gone through the home-selling process can be a valuable source of information.

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Blog post provided by Donna Harper, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Langley.   Visit her website donnaharper.com for more information.

 

Protecting Your Household Possessions

You never expect it to happen but sometimes your belongings may be stolen or destroyed. To protect your possessions in your home from theft or a fire or some sort of disaster, putting together a household inventory would be very useful. When it’s time to provide your home insurance company with a record of your items to make your claim, this will reduce your stress, anxiety and time during this process.

You probably received some nice gifts at Christmas, and now is just the time to record these items and put them into a list if not done already.

I’d suggest starting one room at a time, otherwise it’s just too overwhelming. And don’t try to do it all in one day. Also remember to include items in your garage, attic, basement or storage facility.

You can find lists online that you can print out or make your own spreadsheet and include the item’s serial and model numbers, purchase date, cost, where you bought it and attach any receipts you may have.

Take photos of the items, sometimes it’s good to have a family member in the photo to show ownership (if it’s an expensive item). Video is great too. You may also want to include copies of wills, passports, birth certificates and credit card info with the inventory list.

Once you are done with the list, keep a copy and put another copy in a safety deposit box. If you don’t have one, give a copy to a relative or friend to keep. It’s good to update this list every six months or so.

I hope you never have to go through this painful process of theft or a disaster in your home, but thought I’d bring this up, as it’s a new year, and a good time to protect your possessions.

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Bright ideas to get your home show ready to sell

Is your home show ready? Before you list your home for sale, here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Remove clutter and clear off counters.
Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small, personal decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, remove out of season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Get rid of family pictures, trophies and knickknacks. Make sure to clean out the garage too.

2. Wash your windows and screens.
This will help get more light into the interior of the home as well as looks better.

3. Keep everything extra clean.
A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, clean the stove and fridge. Polish your doorknobs (inside and out) and address numbers.

4. Get rid of smells.
Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odours, smoke and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Scented candles will help.

5. Brighten your rooms.
Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned out bulbs in closets etc. Clean the walls, or paint them with a fresh neutral colour.

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

 

Where to recycle common household items

It’s easy enough to recycle your newspapers, paper, cardboard, bottles, cans and plastics into your household recycling bins, but what about some common household items that you don’t want to throw in the garbage?  I was trying to find places to recycle my used batteries, light bulbs and plastic bags.

Recycling rechargeable batteries and cellphones have been established for quite some time now. However, just this past June, the provincial goverment set up a program to recycle alkaline and single use batteries. I don’t know why it took so long, but at least we have it now! You can drop them off at several locations, the most common places are: Home Depot, Rona, Future Shop, Best Buy and London Drugs. For more info check out www.call2recycle.ca.

 

It was a bit harder to find places that would take used light bulbs. Many places will take fluorescent tubes such as Home Depot and Rona but I just want to recycle the plain light bulbs! Edmonds Recycling will accept all types of light bulbs and batteries Their locations are in Langley, Surrey and Burnaby, open on weekdays during business hours – www.edmondsrecycling.com.

I wasn’t able to find a specific recycling program that accepts used plastic bags but some grocery stores have a bin in front of their stores to recycle bags such as Wal Mart and Superstore.

The Surrey Urban Farmers Market has a battery and printer cartridge recycle station. This market takes place every Wednesday from 1-6pm until September 29, 2010. They are located at the North Surrey Recreation Centre near the Surrey Central Skytrain. Their website is www.surreymarket.org.

The general recycling depot that accepts all kinds of electronics, batteries, computers and more can be found at 120-13065 84 Avenue in Surrey, open on weekdays. This is for all of Greater Vancouver. Their website contains the items they recycle at www.electronics-recycling.com. The Recycling Council of BC has a plethora of information as well. There is a drop down menu on the right hand side of their website where you can select the items you want to recycle and where you can find a place to recycle them. That’s very useful. The website is www.rcbc.bc.ca.

 

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Renovating your Vancouver Condo – Restrictions and Permits

Due to the prices in Downtown Vancouver (& surrounding areas) I find a lot of people looking into buying older / more run down units to renovate. This way they can leverage the renovation to boost their property value.

The best way to go about this is to hire a professional “specialist” Realtor (by this I mean an agent that actually knows the buildings “intimately” in your area of desire) who can get direct you towards buying into a building with “Good Bones”. By good bones I mean a building that has:

  • Good foundation
  • Good plumbing
  • Good roof
  • Good envelope
  • PROACTIVE STRATA (most important)
  1. Buy Real Estate in an up & coming area. When you buy in an area that is being built, as the community and local amenities around you grow as will your property value.
  2. Buy & hold! With this approach you must have patience & the financial means to HOLD ON for the ride. You must look LONG TERM as Real Estate does very much so follow cycles you must strategically pick your entry & exit points.
  3. Buy a property, Renovate & Sell. This must also be strategically assessed. You can not go into this plan thinking you can buy a condo for $300K, renovate for $200K and sell for $500K. Price to re-sale value varies with every room you renovate from bathroom to bedroom & kitchen… Its all individual.. Consult your Contractor & realtor to get that Cost to Value spectrum to give you a clear idea of what level of reno is worth proceeding with.

When renovating a condominium unit or townhouse in a stratified building / complex you need to not only comply with City bylaws but your own Strata bylaws. The most common example of this that I have seen is if you want to install Hardwood floor throughout your condo. You do not have to get permission from the City but you do have to consult & ask for permission from your Strata Council.

Once you have developed your plans for renovations now is the time to see if the right permission you are going to be needed will be granted.

NO PERMITS ARE NEEDED FOR (Condominium):

  • Replacing fixtures eg. refrigerator, stove etc (except gas fixtures, these always require permits)
  • Replacement of countertops, cabinets and flooring
  • Interior Painting

BUILDING PERMITS & APPLICABLE TRADE PERMITS ARE NEEDED FOR:

  • Removal of interior walls & partitions
  • Construction of new walls or partitions
  • Relocate or installation of new electrical, gas and plumbing lines (including moving a kitchen sink or adding a dishwasher)
  • Removal of a portion of a wall to install a door or create an archway
  • Replacement of a drain, waste and vent piping or the water distribution system
  • The upgrade, replacement or installation of a new fire alarm system or sprinkler system

BOTH DEVELOPMENT, BUILDING PERMITS & APPLICABLE TRADE PERMITS ARE NEEDED FOR:

  • Build an addition to increase floor area (Square Footage)
  • Add, remove or relocate a window, skylight or exterior door (9 times out of 10 you will not be allowed to touch the exterior of the building)
  • Install a gas fireplace that requires the installation of an outtake pipe (chimney)

** there are also slightly different restrictions on detached houses from the City of Vancouver.
If you are unclear or in doubt as to what type of permit is needed if any and why you may need it please contact:

City Hall –http://vancouver.ca/contact.htm

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Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website jaymcinnes.com  for more information. 

 

 

Moving Tips

Here’s a few tips/suggestions that we thought you might find useful when moving.

About a month before moving day:
– as a client of ours, you will receive a “Holmes Team After the Sale/Moving Checklist”
– call a moving company and book moving date
– notify post office for change of address
– notify school(s) of change of address
– contact your home insurance company to update info
– notify bank of change of address

A couple of weeks before moving day:
– contact your lawyer/notary to ensure they have all the information needed regarding the sale/purchase of your home
– arrange to have utilities disconnected at current home and connected at new home
– hold a garage sale to sell unwanted items
– arrange for transportation and care of your pets
– start packing and labeling boxes
– discontinue newspaper delivery
– plan to carry valuable documents/jewelery with you on moving day
– take down curtain rods, drapes and shelves

A day or two before moving day:
– confirm with Greg and Liz what time you will be leaving your home and moving to your new home
– clean fridge and oven
– finish packing personal items
– set aside items to go into your vehicle with you
– confirm contact information, address and moving time with movers
– verify that utilities have been/will be connected at new home

Moving day:
– have vacuum ready
– empty and clean out your fridge and freezer
– make a final inspection of house before leaving
– check all rooms, closets, cupboards and drawers
– get keys from Greg and Liz for your new place
– enjoy your new home!

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Vancouver Real Estate Supply and Demand in a Global Context

Were we spoiled by the early spring flurry?   Probably.

Does the inventory have to decline at the same rate as the number of units sold to maintain market integrity?  Probably not.

The market appears to be levelling.  Prices are adjusting slightly downward but not in all areas depending on inventory.  Once again proving that one of our principle rules of real estate analysis is “supply and demand” and that rule is absolute.  Inventory is declining and prices may be stabilizing but perhaps not at the same rate.  Buyers and sellers are having trouble reading the market signs.

With the stock markets and the economies of USA, Europe and others regions all are emitting mixed signals, it is hard to pick a cause or effect that has any long term significance.  This brings to mind our second rule of analysis, that of “cause and effect”.  Good things cause good things to happen and bad things cause bad things to happen.  One day consumer confidence is good then the next day builders confidence is down then business leaders are optimistic then Ben Bernanke says he won’t intervene, and then he will.  The stock market goes down and then recovers.  The bank of Canada says interest rates will rise then when they do the banks ignore and keep offering low mortgage rates.  Nobody knows what is to do and nobody can predict how the various markets will react and that I guess is why they call it a market.

 

Today, according to the Conference Board of Canada, consumer confidence in BC is down.  Experts say this is the result of the implementation of HST.  We would guess it is a combination of many factors and externalities.  Although we must admit we have seen a lot of confusion as to the HST and Real Estate.  No doubt our industry could of done a better job of educating the public.  But so could have the government and the fifth estate (who spent a lot of time creating a kafuffle to sell papers rather than explaining the tax).

Throw in our last rule of real estate analysis, that ”history repeats itself” and it gets even more confusing. As we have noted previously, and our friend Bruno recently calculated, that after the last big real estate correction in Vancouver, it took 7 years (from 1996-2003) for prices of West Side detached houses to recover to the previous high .The following 6 years (from 2003 – 2009) saw a compounded average growth of 13% for Westside detached houses. Then in the last three quarters of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 we experienced a 20% plus downward correction but then were fully recovered by the fall of 2009.  Anybody heard of the “dead cat bounce”?

Prices seem to have corrected downward over the past few months by 5%-10% although we may be seeing a levelling.  It should be noted that it is not uncommon for prices to adjust up and down during a cycle, upward or downward cycles.

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Blog post provided by Murphy Costello Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR®  with Macdonald Realty in Vancouver.   

How to Move the Green Way

If you are planning on moving and you would like to be more “green” or environmentally conscious, here are some ways to make that happen.

Ask your friends and family if they have any cardboard boxes you can use. Or maybe you have some already that are hidden in your storage locker or garage. Check with your local grocery store, liquor store, hardware store and the like for boxes. They may be in different sizes but that doesn’t matter, sometimes that works better for dishes or books etc.

At the office, photocopier/printer paper boxes are great boxes to use. They are not too big and are fairly strong too. Great boxes for stacking.

If you don’t want to use cardboard boxes, another option is renting moving crates. These are reusable plastic crates that are typically crushproof and stackable. There’s a cost to them, but usually the company rents them to you a couple of weeks before your move so you have them for about a month. They deliver them and then pick them up. No mess and no waste. Also check with your moving company, some of them provide this service as well.

 

What do you do about protecting your dishes, glassware or other breakables? You can use newspaper, used padded envelopes (from work) and old blankets and towels. (The latter may be a bit bulky whereas newspaper ink might get on your dishes).

Decreasing the amount of “stuff” that you have can help make your move easier on you. Hold a garage sale or put up items on Craigslist. Now, just remember not to accumulate too much stuff once you make your move! And the less stuff that you have, the smaller and lighter the moving vehicle will be and thus less gas that is burning.

Use environmentally friendly cleaning products. I like Method and Attitude products (which you can get at Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs and Superstore).

If you do use cardboard boxes for moving, think of recycling them or reusing to a friend or coworker that will be moving in the future.

Good luck with your move!

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Steps To Buying A Home For The First Time

Buying a First Home can be a very stressful & scary time for most Canadians. This article will be outlining the step-by-step First Time Home Buying process I work through with my clients.

As a Real Estate Specialist my goal is to provide First Time Home Buyers with the most qualified information possible. I enable you to purchase with ease and have full understanding of the process you have to go through by shining a light on every aspect of the deal. I do this so you expect the next step of the process and are not surprised by it.

Through positive feedback I have found this step-by-step outline to be very beneficial to First Time Home Buyers. This is an outline that is looked at as the “Buyers (things to do) Checklist” from the beginning to the end of the process. I have outlined these tasks in this order so each mandatory step is completed before the next. It is a process of elimination with the goal of turning the First Time Home Buyer into a successful First Time Home Owner!

1) Getting Ready

  • CONTACT A MORTGAGE SPECIALIST & GET PRE-APPROVED
  • Review Purchasing Costs
  • Property Transfer Tax (1% of the 1st $200K & 2% on the balance)
  • G.S.T / H.S.T (only on new property)
  • Legal Fees (Notary Public / Lawyer)
  • Home Inspection (if applicable)
  • High Ratio Mortgage Premium (only if borrowing over 80% of the purchase price)
  • Deposit (minimum 5% & forms part of the purchase price)
  • Review First Time Buyer Savings
  • R.R.S.P tax free withdraw (up to 25K per person)
  • Property Transfer Tax Rebate (No P.T.T under $425K)

2) Get Set

  • Define your Search Criteria
  • Needs Vs. Wants analysis
  • Neighborhood analysis (likes & dislikes)
  • Become an expert
  • Determine what your budget will get you in your neighborhood of choice
  • View property details from listings in your neighborhood of choice
  • Tour open houses of qualified homes
  • Through process of elimination determine what home(s) interest you the most

3) Go

  • Make an offer
  • Draft Contract of Purchase & Sale
  • Determine Price, Possession date & Completion Date
  • Determine Subjects (usual subjects: Inspection, Financing & Strata Paperwork)
  • Submit Offer (with Expiry time and date)
  • Sellers Options (Accept, Counter or let expire)
  • Once offer is accepted
  • Work through & remove all Subjects
  • Place deposit check into the Trust Account of your Realtors Brokerage (Bank Draft)

4) Congratulations

  • Select Notary Public / Lawyer
  • Prepare for the move

This First Time Home Buying outline will be altered slightly depending on the product being purchased (House or Condo). However the basic outline that you see above is the foundation of the home search needed to get you “the buyer” into the home that works best for your needs.

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Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website jaymcinnes.com  for more information. 

 

The Value a REALTOR Provides

There has been a ton of information tossed around recently in the media about REALTORS® and the value they provide.  I wanted to share a short story about a person I have recently helped who tried to sell their home on their own.  I received a phone call from this gentleman last month regarding coming to list his home and for some professional marketing advise. He had recently undergone the process of selling by owner and had even received an accepted offer from a private buyer. The buyer had committed to purchasing his condo and they went through the legal requirements and were deeply involved financially and emotionally. The deal came to fall apart as the prospective buyer could not close on the deal due to financial and personal reasons. This is where my value as a real estate and marketing professional was valued and called upon.

I listed the home and had it sold within 5 days of having it listed, as a result of my 90 step marketing strategies and knowledge of the area. Not only did I only show the property to the most qualified buyers after screening them personally, I arranged the entire process and assisted in closing the deal. Now many of you may be thinking, “Yah Darin, but the Seller also had to pay you to do this all for him,” and you would be absolutely right. The Seller received an additional $16,500 more than his private sale that was supposed to ’save’ him money. After my compensation, the seller walked away with more money in his pocket, actually, it was an additional $6000.

 

I believe strongly that you pay a professional to do their job. You go to a doctor because they have specialized knowledge and understand how to fix your health issues. You go to a Real Estate professional because you can expect a certain level of service and expertise. I have knowledge you as a Seller may not, and that is okay. Take the example written above, you can bet my Seller is smiling as he not only had the conveyance roll out as smooth as can be, he also plans to take his family on a 2 week holiday with the extra money I was able to achieve for him.

So the next time your body aches or you have the flu, call your doctor. The next time you hear of a friend or family member trying to sell their home on their own, remind them of this story, and have them call me.

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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  

 

All About Duplexes

I’ve had the recent experience of assisting clients buy a full duplex as a place to live in. They are two families who wish to share one mortgage, thus finding a large enough home that was equal for both parties limited our search to full duplexes. A full duplex is when both sides of the duplex share one title. Going through the process was different than buying a single detached house in so many ways, so it made sense to share our knowledge for anyone considering this option.

When shopping for a duplex, be prepared to be patient. Since duplexes are an old style of building, they are fewer of them available for re-sale. With the building boom of the last 15 years, many duplexes have been torn down because of the large land that they occupy. New style homes, such as the two-storey with basements have often replaced them, thus reducing the inventory of duplexes on the market. Furthermore, in an economy with much uncertainty, duplexes are fairly easy positive cash-flow generators, so once an owner has a duplex, they hold onto them.

Then, when a new duplex listing pops up on the MLS, getting into a duplex is not easy, either. Since duplexes are often converted (legally or not) into a fourplex, 24 hours notice to get access is usually necessary. In fact, it is not uncommon to have to give 48 hours notice to get access.  Listing agents, or the sellers, have to track down all tenants to give legal notice. Getting into all sides of a duplex is so important because of the quality differences from each unit. Sometimes owners will renovate one unit when a tenant moves out, but leave other units alone as long as there is a tenant. So while the layout might be the same from one side to another, the quality can be drastically different. Finally, don’t be surprised that when you go to see it, there will be other potential buyers there at the same time. Since getting access can be difficult, a listing agent will try and get as many buyers through at one time. So be aware, as this can also create an urgency in the buyer writing an offer (when they see other buyers).

Not only do you have to be patient when shopping for a duplex, you have to keep a careful eye on the quality of the duplex, too. It’s likely that the seller’s of a duplex are probably investors and don’t live in one of the units. Since they are investors, they often don’t treat the duplex with the same kind of care that they provide their own home. In many investors minds, as long as they get the rent cheque, that’s all they are concerned with. Now to be fair, many tenants simply don’t report problems with the place, either. But since most duplexes are older buildings, often built back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, they are showing their age. If owners have never lived there, it is easy to see how repairs can get overlooked. That’s why it’s even more important to have a thorough home inspection done on a duplex. Getting access to the attic, and the roof is of particular importance.

Many duplexes in the Fraser Valley seem to be located close to the city centres. So many also have redevelopment potential. But the word “potential” must be noted. Listing agents will tell you how prime the land is, but buyer’s agents must do their research to find out the long-term plan for the region.  Furthermore, with regards to zoning regulations, careful attention must be made to determine whether the duplex is conforming or non-conforming. A non-conforming duplex means that if the duplex was destroyed for any reason (ie-fire, or to rebuild), the city’s zoning laws would not allow it to be a duplex again. I think you’d agree that’s an important fact you’d want to discover before you buy it! Other zoning challenges when it comes to duplexes is to find out other restrictions of the land. Some duplexes are zoned as multi-family, and others are zoned as residential duplex…each with the own allowances for number of units, size of building square footage, etc. Do not buy a duplex without careful inspection of the city’s bylaws.

In the end, my experience with buyers of a duplex has been an exciting one. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. My clients exercised patience and kept a reasonable head to ensure they found the right fit for them. But be forewarned, it is a completely different ball game than buying a single detached house. So be prepared!

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

New Condo Development in Vancouver’s Chinatown

Have you been to Chinatown recently?  For some time, Chinatown seemed to be on the verge of fading into the horizon as another forgotten area of Vancouver downtown.  I rarely ventured there for dim sum, nor have I purchased anything in the stores.  The obvious choice for the real Chinese experience was beginning to be Richmond.   With that mentality I was pleasantly surprised at the new restaurant Bao Bei on Keefer. An area in Chinatown is becoming a pretty hip place with interesting art galleries, a new club and new condominiums, like the development on Pender St., pictured.

Talk about possibilities around Chinatown.  There are serious discussions about removing both the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.  The Vancouver Police building on Main will be rebuilt in the next few years according to the latest news.  Suddenly we have plenty of land to recycle and reuse around Chinatown to revitalize the area.

Chinatown may become a desirable place to live in the very near future.

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Blog post provided by Aki Li Foster, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in West Vancouver.   Visit her website at akilifoster.com for more information.

3 Ideas to Help You Sell Your Home This Spring

In anticipation of the spring market, here are three helpful tips to help you sell your home this spring:

Be a Minimalist and hire a cleaner – Presentation of your home is critical in selling quickly and for more money. An uncluttered home allows people to see themselves living there, their own furniture and their decorating ideas. If it’s overly cluttered, people may see a home that is not well cared for. Have a friend offer insight as sometimes we don’t notice things in our own home because we’re used to it.

Hire a professional photographer – Buyers are looking online at MLS® data and photos before they even visit their first open house these days. They want to see as many photos as possible online and as much information as they can. Show off your home and have it ready for the photo shoot. You will be amazed how great your place looks with a wide angle lens.

Keeping your place in showcase condition– Okay this is the hard part, and the stage many sellers find the most stressful. With your online photos and marketing in place, Buyers are now convinced to attend an open house or call your realtor to make an appointment, ensure you keep your home in the best possible condition for all viewings. Don’t cook onions before an open house, it’s a turn off! If you’ve got tenants, offer a cleaning service to get the place spic and span! (perhaps the day before an open house).

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Blog post provided by Carol Palfrey, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Vancouver East.  Visit her website eastvanlistings.com for more information.