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Garbutt Dumas Real Estate Vancouver
315 Levi Street D,
New Westminster, BC V3M 4N4
604.805.3115
info@gdrealestate.ca




James Garbutt

G + D Giving Back to Children’s Wish

Hearing ‘you are getting a wish’ can elicit many reactions.  For 15-year old Ben it felt like winning the lottery.  For us, it was an incredibly rewarding experience.

We had the pleasure of meeting Ben and his mother Jane at Steel & Oak Brewing Co.   We shared stories about life, about their trip to Fiji, got to know each other, and showed them the inner workings of a production brewery.  Although he’s too young to drink, Ben is really into science and thought it was a great experience.  He had lots of questions, and many that I couldn’t answer, so head brewer Eric had to take over the tour.  At the end of it, we traded beer swag for farm fresh eggs, made a true connections, and felt that we made a positive impact on a great family.

Ben’s story:

Born with a complex heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot, Ben hasn’t had an easy life. Heart surgeries have punctuated his childhood – the first occurred when he was a baby and the most recent was just over a year ago. Ben’s condition has affected his whole family. His mom Jane remembers the precarious times when “the strain [of being] focused on one child’s existence was painful…my other children were small and I felt such guilt when I couldn’t be physically and emotionally with them.” Ben is the youngest of four, with three older sisters; unsurprisingly he is a considerate and outgoing kid.

Granting the Wish:

To celebrate Ben’s stable health and honour this journey the whole family has been through, Ben chose to visit Fiji with his family this spring. The wish was a week in paradise – Ben surfed, made local friends, swam in the crystal blue waters and spent much-needed time with his family. The trip became a reality thanks to our donation (which feels great!).

Ben’s wish and the 1,000 others granted by Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada every year are funded solely by the generosity of our community.  I met Hannah (Development Coordinator for Children’s Wish) randomly at a wedding in French castle last fall, we discussed Children’s Wish and what they do, and after a few drinks I said ‘count me in!’.  I’m certain she didn’t think she would hear back from me, but that was not the case.  I was very inspired by the work she does, and when given the opportunity to contribute we gladly stepped up.

This was an incredible experience and something that I’ll never forget. When you hear the story that Ben and his family have been through, there is no better feeling than rewarding them with an amazing trip to Fiji.  We hope this is just the first of many wishes we grant because it sure feels good.

(Ben asking hard questions, James making up answers)

“There is profound joy and magic that comes from granting a wish for a child with a life-threatening illness. For our wish kids, their families and donors, wishes really do work wonders.” – Hannah

Left to Right: Jennifer (Children’s Wish), Jane (Ben’s Mom), Ben, James, Hannah (Children’s Wish)

Thank you Hannah, Jennifer and Children’s Wish for making this happen!

Ben, we look forward to having a beer with you in 2021 😉

 

Cheers,

– James, Denny, Rosa & Jakub (The G+D Team)

Donate to Children’s Wish Here

 

New Westminster Housing Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY NEW WESTMINSTER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for another New Westminster housing market update.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year, it started off with a lot of snow, followed by a lot of rain, which delayed everything and affected the number of sales that have taken place. In fact, numbers are down considerably. The number of sales of detached homes in New Westminster to date is 62. At this time last year, that number was 186–that’s essentially a third of the number of sales compared to last year and about half the number of sales compared to 2015. Not surprising considering the weather and considering everything that’s happened lately, and, openly, there just hasn’t been a lot of product and a lot of overpriced listings have been sitting on the market.

The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. The sales ratio for detached homes in New Westminster is 30% across the board. That means, that of ten listings, 3 of them sell in a given month. Anything north of 21% is considered a seller’s market, so the market still is strong. Isolating the ratio to focus mainly on a lower price point, say detached homes under $1.2 million, the sales ratio goes from 30% to 70%. That means the out of 10 listings, 7 of them are selling in a given month, and that is a very strong seller’s market. So there’s clear demand for the more affordable price points.

The average detached home sold this year is going for $1.125 million and the average high sales of the year is $2.3 million; but there were two sales north of $2.2 million, both in ‘Queens Park‘.

The REBGV has shown that prices for detached homes in New Westminster have gone up 8% from this time last year; but we’re finding that, for nice family layouts, in a good location, in good shape, in the more affordable price bracket, they’re up about 10%. The busy street homes, the ones that have the land value, are struggling a bit; they’re at par with April of last year or maybe even a little bit below.

Moving forward, I expect the market activity to increase quite a bit; I think sales are just starting to ramp up and that the summer is going to be a busy one. Talk about things such as coach homes for lots over 6000sqft has held back a lot of the inventory as owners wait to see what happens. But, the weather is getting better and the supply is low and the demand is high, so if you are a homeowner and you’re thinking of selling, now is the time to do so.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Greater Vancouver Realtor

New Westminster Condo Market Update for May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY NEW WESTMINSTER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a condo market update for New Westminster.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year; we’ve had some insane weather and condos have been smoking hot. That’s your update—they’re hot!

Overall, the sales for the year are down a little bit from last year, but not significantly. We’ve had 357 sales to date, compared to the same period last year which was 418, and in 330 in 2015.

So even though there’ s been a little bit of a decrease, we’re up from 2015. The sales ratio for these condos, however, is up considerably. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. Across the board, the New Westminster condo sales ratio is 76%–a smoking hot seller’s market. That means that out of 10 active listings, 7.6 of them will sell in a given month.

If we isolate the sales ratio to the hottest product right now–entry level one bedroom condos built after 2000–the sales ratio is 183%! Which is ridiculous. It basically means that is you have a newer one bedroom condo to sell, it will sell immediately. And we’ve been experiencing that. Keep in mind that that’s 183% sales ratio when a seller’s market is considered anything north of 21%.

What are prices doing? Well, prices are up. The REBGV says that prices are up 20% compared to this time last year. We’ve had cases where the prices have been up 30%+. We recently listed four New Westminster condos that received 20 offers combined averaging $43,000 above their list prices. So, if you’re a condo owner and you’re looking to sell, it’s a great time to do so; but figure out where you’re going, because if you’re buying another condo, it may be frustrating.

Essentially, everything in the strata seems to be quite active right now in New Westminster. The market is as good and as strong as we’ve ever seen.

On the buy side, expect frustration, expect competing offers and expect to pay more than the last sale. Things may slow down in the fall, but there’s nothing telling us that right now. At the moment, it is a seller’s market and New Westminster condos are hot.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Local New Westminster Realtor

Greater Vancouver Housing Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY GREATER VANCOUVER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Greater Vancouver housing market update.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year, and between the snow and the rain, the weather has been awful and it’s held back the sales a little bit; the number of sales are down considerably compared to 2016. As of April 26, 2017, in Vancouver the number of sales of detached home is 701. Now compared to the same period of time last year, it was 1473–just under half the number of sales.

In Burnaby, we see the biggest effect: 267 compared to 1400 last year. In the Tri-Cities, 469 compared to 1098 sales. Overall, the trend is that the number of sales is down considerably and, in most cases, less than half of what they were last year. Mind you, last year was insane and this year we’ve seen some legitimately awful weather.

In terms of prices, let’s look at the sales ratio. To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher.

In the last 60 days, the sales ratio for detached homes in Vancouver is 15%; that means that of 10 active listings, 1.5 of them are selling in a given month. That’s a low figure, but when you isolate listings at $1.5 million or less, that figure goes from 15% to 38%–a strong seller’s market. When you isolate that figure from $3 million plus it goes from 15% to 9%. So the high end is really what’s dragging down the sales ratio.

And similar stats are in Burnaby, where the sales ratio is 21%, but under $1.5 million, it’s 53%, and at $2 million, it’s 9%. So the high end market is what’s struggling right now, but the entry points are quite active—they’re hot.

Some fun sales of the year:

The highest sale to date was on Point Grey Road and it sold for $17.6 million, this is from the REBGV stats. In the Tri-Cities, the highest sale was $3.4 and it was ‘Anmore‘, which is, in my opinion, one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets.

In conclusion, the weather has held the market back. I expect these sales numbers to improve in the coming months, more so in the seller’s favour. The weather’s going to get better, a lot of homes will be coming on the market and I think it’s going to be a very active time. However, a lot of people are overpricing their homes–$2.5 million homes are being priced at $3 million, or $2 million dollar homes at $2.5 million, and that is proving not to work right now. You could get away with it last year, because the market would climb until it reached that point, but this year, it’s not. We’re seeing price points similar to last year in most areas and we’re seeing prices 20% above last year’s prices. So, there’s a big gap between list price and sale price and that’s holding back the sales ratios in a lot of these places.

If you’d like my opinion, if you’re selling a higher end product:

1. Don’t list it if you’re not serious about selling.

2. Price it properly.

On the buy side, I think it’s a great time to buy higher end product, but I just don’t think the seller’s are willing to come down to your price points yet. On the sell side, now is the sweet spot to sell detached homes. May, June, July, are active months, so take advantage.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Greater Vancouver Realtor

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 GREATER VANCOUVER CONDO MARKET UPDATE

Greater Vancouver Condo Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY GREATER VANCOUVER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Greater Vancouver condo market update. It’s been a bit of a crazy year, and, between the snow and the rain, the weather has been awful and it’s held back the sales a little bit, or at least that’s part of the reason for it.

As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of sales are down from this time last year in the same period. If I were to put an approximate figure on it, I would say it’s down 30% in terms of number of sales. However, number of sales is just part of the equation for the market–prices are up considerably. Condos and townhouses are hot! They’re more affordable than detached homes, and, as a result, have a lot more buyers.

To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. That usually means that prices don’t back track. In Vancouver right now, we’re seeing a sales ratio of 60% over the last 60 days. In Burnaby, it’s 66%, in New Westminster it’s 76%, and in the Tri-Cities it’s 98%. These are strong seller’s markets.

If we isolate Vancouver condos north of $1.5 million, the sales ratio goes from 60% down to 22%, which is on the fringe of a seller’s market. At that figure, it’s definitely not a climbing market, but it’s definitely not back tracking either. So, sales volume may be down, but the prices are up. According to the latest stats from the REBGV, condo prices are up 16% across all of Greater Vancouver; however, in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities, we’re seeing a figure that seems to be more in line with 25%. And, particularly newer condos built after 2000 that are entry price points in the market, they’re smoking hot. The demand for affordable condos is high; the higher the price points, the lower the demand.

Let’s look at those percentages in a more practical way. Let’s look at a ‘Yaletown‘ 1 bedroom that’s 550 sf mid-level, say 10 years old as well. Those are selling for $1100 a foot this year; in 2016 for $950sf, and the year before it would be $775. Back to back years of 20+% appreciation–that is a hot market. It’s not sustainable, but it is smoking hot at the moment and I don’t expect it to slow down any time soon. 

Some interesting stats for Greater Vancouver:

The highest sale as of April 26 2017 is $8.7 million. That was for a 3600sf condo in ‘Coal Harbour‘. That’s bigger than my house. In the Tri-Cities, a condo in Newport Village sold for $1.4 million for 1800sf overlooking the water.

Moving forward, I expect more of those to come; a lot of people that are downsizing are moving into these high end condos. So if you own a high end condo, now is a great time to consider listing. Basically, if you own any condo in Greater Vancouver, now is a great time to sell! The problem is, what are you going to buy? If you’re buying another condo, you may have some challenges.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Burnaby Realtor

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 GREATER VANCOUVER HOUSING MARKET UPDATE

10 Great Questions to Ask a Realtor When Selling Your Home

A great Realtor can make the difference between a good or bad experience when you’re selling your home. But before you sign a listing contract, here are 10 great questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home.

1. How many properties have you sold? How many did you sell last year?

Most people instantly focus on years in the business, but your Realtor’s sales volume is just as important; one agent can sell as many homes in two years than others do in 10. A Realtor with a healthy volume of sales in the local market in the past year is likely more in tune with that market.

But don’t just focus on the numbers; you should also feel comfortable with your Realtor.

2. What types of properties have you sold lately?

This will help you determine your Realtor’s focus and performance, whether they’ve had success selling similar types of products, and in your area. Ask for proven results, such as the average number of days their listings are on the market, the ratio of their list prices to actual sale prices. What about listings that aren’t selling; a Realtor who openly discusses their failures demonstrates honesty.

3. Who is the buyer and where are they coming from?

Your Realtor’s knowledge and experience with the local market will help them market your home to potential buyers and highlight the features that will be important to them. It’s important for your Realtor to know their target market for your home, whether it’s young families, downsizers, locals or buyers from out of town.

4. What is your marketing strategy for my home?

This is where the rubber hits the road, and your Realtor will earn their commission. Your home is likely your largest investment; it needs to be marketed well from the beginning if you’re going to realize a good return on that investment. It’s important your home presents well and buyers are aware of it.

Top 10 questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home

Your Realtor should know how to present your home at its best, including professional photos.

 

In a hot market, just putting up a lawn sign might sell your home, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right strategy to get you the right price. Nice photos, a posting on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and Open Houses are a minimal expectation; but what else can your Realtor offer? Creative campaigns that include online marketing, an active presence on social media, print advertising and staging can gain extra exposure for your home.

5. What separates you from your competitors?

Here’s where you’re really asking “why should I hire you?” There’s no shortage of Realtors out there to sell your home, but what is your Realtor offering to separate them from that pack. Their marketing ability is important, but so are honesty and trust.

6. What is your recommended listing price for my home, and why?

You want an understanding of how your Realtor evaluates properties. It should be by more than guesswork, or intuition.

Their evaluation of your property should be supported by recent comparable sales in the area. A more detailed evaluation could include listings that didn’t sell, and current active listings that you’re competing against.

If your home is difficult to evaluate because there’s been no recent comparable sales against which to measure it, a creative Realtor will look at similar properties outside the neighbourhood, or in similar neighbourhoods. Or they could use a “replacement cost” approach where they calculate the land value plus the cost of rebuilding the actual home.

Your Realtor’s pricing strategy for your home should align with your needs. If the market is hot and you have to sell quickly or you have specific requirements for the offer, such as a specific closing date, we typically recommend a lower price as it will generate more interest, more offers and cleaner offers that meet your terms. If the market is slow, or you have a unique property that could limit the pool of potential buyers, it may be best to price your home higher with room to negotiate; trying to set a price to spark a bidding war could be risky is these circumstances.

7. How do you, or your team, operate?

One of the questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home is how that Realtor operates

Your Realtor is likely supported by a team. You want to know who you’ll be dealing with.

 

You want to know your Realtor is going to be there for you when you need them. It’s important to understand how communication will be handled, and who will be your primary contact. You want to know who will be showing your property and who is going to be handling the negotiations with buyers; you don’t want any surprises.

8. How much do you charge?

Commission fees are determined by your Realtor and they are negotiable. If a Realtor is hungry for a listing, they may reduce their fee. But top performing Realtors typically don’t.

There are many different types of fee structures out there, from flat fee listing services to discount brokerages to full service brokerages. Whichever you choose, you should establish how much they charge, and how much of that goes to the buyer’s agent. Make sure the commission for the buyer’s agent is in line with the rates prevalent in your area.

9. What if I’m not happy with your service?

This question will help you determine a Realtor’s level of commitment to you and how strongly they believe in their ability to get you a good result.

If, for some reason, you’re unhappy with their service, you need to know if they’ll release you from the listing contract and how. There are two ways to terminate a listing: Cancellation vs. Unconditional Release. The former has restrictions that could affect your ability to move on; the latter releases you freely with no further obligation. Most listing contracts run for 3-4 months, but contracts for luxury properties can run up to 12 months.

10. What else do I need to know?

One of the questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home should be open-ended. That gives them a chance to highlight a unique service they might offer, like staging, or to speak to areas you might have overlooked. That extra little tidbit of information could be the tipping point to your decision.

Bonus…

Requesting references is one of the questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home that is sometimes overlooked. But keep in mind, if you are given references they’ll likely all be good. To get a more complete picture of your Realtor, do a little online research prior to your first meeting. See what properties they have recently sold, then ask for references from those clients specifically. If they have online and social media presence, see what people are saying about them, check their reviews and how they engage with others. See what they are doing to stay in front of buyers on a daily basis.

There’s no general rule for forging a great relationship with your Realtor. It’s all about personal preference and trust.

Your Realtor should be responsive to your needs; they should be patient when you need to take a little time, and proactive when you’re anxious. They should be a good listener who will offer advice and help find solutions.

More helpful blogs for sellers

10 Reasons to Hire a Realtor

Best Time of Year to Sell a Home

Get Buyers to Fall in Love With Your Home

7 Tips to Help Your Home Look Great in Photos

 

Vancouver too expensive? Move to New West!

As real estate prices in Vancouver’s neighbourhoods escalated out of reach, Vancouverites looking to own their home are heading east.

New Westminster Realtor James Garbutt says he’s seeing more and more buyers looking at the city as an affordable alternative to Vancouver, but without giving up the amenities of city life. While $1.2 million might get you a tear-down on a small lot in East Van, in New West it can put you in a beautifully-renovated Craftsman heritage home that’s centrally-located close to schools, parks, shopping and transit.

The city’s condo market offers similar value, says Garbutt. “Let’s take your typical 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo in a newer concrete high-rise. Currently in Yaletown or False Creek you’re looking at $1,100/sqft.  In Burnaby’s Brentwood Park area you’re looking at $800/sqft , and in Downtown New West this figure goes down to $625/sqft.”

That value isn’t going unnoticed in Vancouver. In fact, says Garbutt, over the past year about 30 percent of visitors to open houses he’s conducted in New West are from Vancouver.  For detached homes in particular the number is much higher.

Garbutt recently sold a beautiful Craftsman style home at 903 Henley St, New West. Roughly 75% of the open house visitors came from Vancouver.  It achieved multiple offers, and the buyer was a young professional couple from Downtown Vancouver.

 

Vancouverites are moving to New Westminster

This Craftsman heritage home in New Westminster was recently sold by Realtor James Garbutt to a couple from Vancouver.

 

For detached, single-family homes in New Westminster sold in 2016, 51 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver, suggesting their clients likely are as well, says Garbutt. For condos, 36 percent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver.

“In New West, our main sources of buyers are coming from more expensive markets, primarily Vancouver,” says Garbutt.

 

Who’s buying houses in New Westminster

Who's buying houses in New Westminster

Where buyers are coming from to buy houses in New Westminster

Who’s buying condos in New Westminster

Who's buying condos and townhouses in New Westminster

Where condo and townhouse buyers in New Westminster are coming from

 

New Westminster is no longer a secret, says Garbutt. “It’s centrally located. There’s a great sense of community and local pride that many other suburbs lack.  And, quite frankly, it’s the most affordable community to buy into that’s within 30 minutes of Downtown Vancouver.”

The city is undergoing a renaissance. After languishing through the 1990s as a marketplace for cheap street drugs peddled by Honduran dealers loitering around its SkyTrain stations, Downtown New West has come alive with new restaurants, with more on the way. At Eighth and Columbia Streets, the gleaming Anvil Centre has replaced a squalid block of cigar shops and temporary employment agencies. The western end of historic Front Street has been opened to the sky with the partial demolition of the old parkade. The waterfront has been enlivened by Pier Park and the River Market.

The historic Queen’s Park neighbourhood abounds with lovingly-restored family heritage homes along quiet, leafy streets, and the Sapperton area surrounding Royal Columbian Hospital is alive with young families attracted to its affordable, smaller detached houses and new condo developments.

 

The leafy streets and lovingly-restored heritage homes of New Westminster’s Queen’s Park neighbourhood.

 

Progressive businesses like Steel & Oak Brewing Co.Brick + MortarEl Santo and 100 Braid St. Studios actively promote the city far and wide on social media using the hashtags #newwest or #theroyalcity, which have more than 130,000 posts on Instagram combined.

To preserve the city’s historic identity, City Hall is taking steps to implement historic design guidelines in neighbourhoods like Queen’s Park. The City works with developers to maintain historic building facades, like the Trapp & Holbrook and the Freemasons Hall, which is currently being transformed into a new residential development.

 

Vancouverites are attracted to New West

The City is working with developers like Robert Fung to preserve historic facades such as the Trapp + Holbrook condo tower on Columbia Street.

Vancouverites are buying in New West.

An architect’s rendering of a new residential development being built behind the preserved facade of the New Westminster Mason’s Hall on Agnes Street.

 

With the pressures of growth, New West is looking at finalizing a new Official Community Plan in June (check out the 25 year vision at: OUR CITY 2041), that will introduce higher density in certain neighbourhoods and laneway houses throughout the city.

The city is growing conservatively without losing its identity, says Garbutt. It’s being proactive about managing that growth. That’s attracting new businesses and new residents. Especially from Vancouver.

 

Top 8 Questions to Ask When Buying In Older Condo Buildings

Some older condo buildings age better than others, depending on the quality of the original construction as well as the care and attention paid by the strata to maintenance and repairs.

So if you’re considering buying into older condo buildings, here are eight questions you should ask to avoid any expensive surprises once you’ve settled into your new home.

1. Has the plumbing been redone?

Galvanized steel plumbing was widely used before the 1970s; but it’s heavy and not very durable. Once the zinc coating inside starts to break down, the pipes are prone to rust. That can cause blockages or even breaks.

Copper plumbing is also popular in older condo buildings. It can last 50 years or more. But the lead-based solder that used to be used to join pipes and fixtures could eventually leach into your water.

Older condo buildings constructed from the late 1970s to the mid 90s could use polybutylene pipes. The plastic is cheap, light and easy to work with, but its lifespan is only 20 years.

It’s possible plumbing systems in older condo buildings have all three types of pipes, as repairs and replacements have been done over the years. If you see references to pin hole leaks in the minutes of strata council meetings, it’s a good sign the plumbing is nearing the end of its life and may be due for replacement.

2. How old is the roof?

Tar and gravel roofs last 15-20 years. An asphalt roof should last 20-25 years. If the answer to your question is close to those numbers, you may have to put room in your budget for your share of the cost of replacing that roof.

3. How old is the boiler?

A commercial gas-fired hot water boiler should last 10-15 years, but it could last longer if it’s been well-maintained.

4. Have the balconies been redone?

This likely isn’t a concern in older condo buildings constructed of concrete. But if the balcony is constructed of wood or vinyl, it could begin deteriorating after 15 years.

Older condo buildings can be a great buy because you usually get more space for your money.

The condition of balconies in older condo buildings shouldn’t be a worry if they’re concrete.

 

5. Are there any issues with the parkade membrane?

Water leaking into parkades can be a common problem in older condo buildings. It happens when cracks form in the structure because of settling, poor construction or maintenance, or just wear and tear.

Fixing a leaky parkade can be expensive.

6. Has the elevator been upgraded?

We’ve learned to take elevators for granted; we push the button, they take us to the floor where we want to go. But elevators wear out; all that up-and-down, opening and closing of the doors, pushing call buttons, takes a toll.

An elevator should last 20-25 years but could endure longer if they’ve been regularly maintained.

7. Has the building’s exterior been upgraded?

This question is often dependant on how older condo buildings were designed and built.

If the building is constructed of concrete, with large roof overhangs that prevent rainwater from hitting the exterior, the risk of a leaky building is minimal.

But if the building’s exterior is made of stucco or wood, and it’s exposed to the elements without protection from roof overhangs, you need to check if it has been rainscreened.

What Is Rainscreen?

8. Does the building have a depreciation report?

In 2013, the BC government mandated depreciation reports for every strata with more than four lots. The report is prepared by qualified architects or engineers who are able to assess and determine the short and long term health of the building and its upkeep schedule as well as anticipated costs. The report must be updated every three years.

Strata Documents You Should Read Before You Buy

Reading a depreciation report for older condo buildings can be intimidating; the maintenance schedules are usually pretty proactive and the dollar figures are high. But it’s how the building’s strata council reacts to that report that really matters; is it putting money aside early to deal with upcoming major expenses, does it address minor issues in a timely manner so they don’t snowball into bigger issues?

Older condo buildings can be a great value

Older condo buildings can offer tremendous value. You’re not paying for the flashy marketing campaigns of new developments. A lot of potential problems will have already been worked out. The strata has experience. And units were bigger in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, so you’ll likely get more space for your dollar.

More useful blogs if you’re shopping for a condo

Understanding Strata Fees

Strata Documents You Should Read Before You Buy

10 Tips For The First Time Home Buyer

What is Rainscreen?

7 exterior spring maintenance tips for your home

It may be hard to believe, but spring is just around the corner! (In fact, some might say it should have been here already!) And after such a rough winter, you can be sure there’s going to be some exterior spring maintenance for your home you’ll want to attend to as the temperatures warm up!

1. Roof: Inspect your roof. With all the snow and ice we had this year, you want to make sure your roof weathered the weather! If you’re uncomfortable with climbing a ladder, stand back and scan your roof with binoculars. Look for cracked or missing shingles, and a buildup of debris.

Cleaning the roof of debris is part of exterior spring maintenance.

Leaves and needles left on the roof can eventually damage the shingles.

 

2. Gutters: Check the gutters (Yes, this exterior spring maintenance tip will require climbing a ladder). Look for damage like cracks or gaps in seams. Clean out debris like leaves and pine needles. Run water from a hose to make sure there’s no leaks and the downspout is draining properly.

Some exterior spring maintenance will require climbing a ladder

Climb a ladder to check the gutters and clean them of leaves and other debris that may have accumulated through the stormy winter and fall.

 

3. Siding:  Clean the siding. That will prevent mould from taking hold. If the exterior of your home is wood, inspect it for weathering and peeling paint because those could invite rot. Touch up and repaint as needed. If your home is brick, look for cracks in the mortar where water may have penetrated and expanded and contracted as it froze and thawed. If you can slide a coin into a crack, it needs to be fixed. The same applies to your foundation.

4. Windows and doors: Inspect the seals and caulking around windows and doors. Scrape out any old, deteriorating caulk and then recaulk.

5. Decks, stairs and porches: Check them for damage or deterioration like loose planks or broken railings. Wood that is exposed to the elements should be treated and resealed every 4-6 years. If your deck or patio is stone or concrete, clean off the winter’s grime and check for debris and plant growth between the stones. Hosing it off will also give you a chance to check for settling that may allow water to pool or not drain properly.

Exterior spring maintenance includes cleaning the deck.

Inspect and clean the deck as part of your annual exterior spring maintenance.

 

Once the deck or patio is clean, bring out the patio furniture from storage and get it ready for the outdoor season. After all, those lazy sunny afternoons in the lounger are going to be your payoff for your exterior spring maintenance.

Check your driveway

6. Driveway. You know all those potholes in the streets that have been rattling your teeth? They’re caused by water penetrating the asphalt and expanding then contracting during freezes and thaws. We had no shortage of those this winter. So, as part of your exterior spring maintenance for your home, check your driveway for growing cracks and fissures. You’ll want to seal any cracks you find so they don’t get bigger and become a real problem.

7. The Yard. Rake the grass of fallen leaves and branches. Clean dead flowers and shrubs from the gardens. Trim back bushes and trees. Drain planters of any standing water, or they could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. And don’t forget to check all those outdoor garden tools like the lawnmower, so they’re ready to go when the serious gardening season hits full stride.

Try not to think of exterior spring maintenance as a chore. As the weather warms up and dries up, it’s a nice way to get outside, commune with your home, maybe even trade winter survival stories with your neighbours. Enjoy!

Housing market waking from seasonal slumber

Winter may be hanging on tenaciously, but the housing market is waking from its seasonal slumber.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports 2,425 residential home sales in February; that’s 59.2 per cent more than were sold the month before.

And while it’s still 41.9 per cent less than the record 4,172 homes that were sold in February, 2016, it’s only slightly less than the 10-year average for the month.

REBGV president Dan Morrison says rotten weather may have helped keep buyers at home. But the supply of new listings is also tight. The 3,666 new properties for sale in February was 36.9 per cent less than a year ago, and 11.4 per cent fewer than January. It was also the lowest number of new listings for the month since 2003.

That’s keeping prices buoyant in the local housing market, says Morrison.

“While home sales are not happening at the pace we experienced last year, home seller supply is still struggling to keep up with today’s demand,” says Morrison. “This is why we’ve seen little downward pressure on home prices, particularly in the condominium and townhome markets.”

The ratio of sales to active listings actually increased 10 per cent from January to 31.9 per cent; experts say housing prices don’t start going down until that ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period and they go up when the ratio stays greater than 20 per cent over several months.

Condo sales strong in local housing market

Condo sales are still hot in the housing market

Condo sales are still hot in the New Westminster and Burnaby housing market, despite the wintry weather.

In fact, the benchmark price for a typical condo in Greater Vancouver increased 2.7 per cent in February to $526,500. In New West, the benchmark price for a condo went up 1.4 per cent to $392,400; that’s a 21.3 per cent increase over a year ago. The benchmark price for condos also increased in Burnaby, by as much as 2.6 per cent to $503,600 in North Burnaby, to 1.9 per cent in South Burnaby, where a typical condo now goes for $561,600.

The benchmark price for townhomes in Greater Vancouver is now $675,500, a 1.3 per cent increase since January and 18.3 per cent more than Feb., 2016. New West townhomes experienced similar increases to a benchmark of $545,500 while in North Burnaby, the benchmark price increased 3.1 per cent over the previous month to $539,500.

House prices are staying steady; in Greater Vancouver the benchmark price of $1,474,200 for a single-family detached home was unchanged from January. In New West, the benchmark price for a typical house went up .3 per cent in February to $1,026,700 while increases in Burnaby ranged from .1 per cent in the South to $1,636,100 to a 1.3 per cent jump in North Burnaby to a benchmark price of $1,499,600.

The February stats

Creating Curb Appeal That Sells!

You may not be able to judge a book by it’s cover, but a big part of selling or buying a home is the first impression it makes when you first see it from the street. That’s curb appeal.

If a home makes a good first impression, potential buyers will be enticed to check out the inside, see how it fits their needs and lifestyle. A home with an attractive exterior could also be worth more.

But these days, curb appeal means a lot more than how a home looks to passersby on the sidewalk or in their car. It starts online.

Creating online curb appeal

For most home buyers, the first curb is their computer monitor or mobile device. They’re likely to check a listing online before they take the time to see it in person. That means it has to look good in photographs.

While a skilled photographer can avoid a property’s faults by their choice of angle, composition and lighting, if the reality doesn’t live up to buyers’ expectations from the photos, they may just drive on by. So the work you do to make your home look good in photos will also give it good curb appeal.

Giving your home great curb appeal

A house with great curb appeal will attract buyers.

Curb appeal isn’t just how your home looks to passersby, but also how it looks in photos that are posted online.

 

Creating great curb appeal starts with a good cleaning. That includes decluttering the yard of neglected toys, furniture and decorative implements that may have seen better days. Clean all the windows and consider renting a power washer to scrub grime from your home’s exterior. If needed, touch up trim like shutters, doors and railings with a coat of new paint. A little pop of colour can go a long way to making a home look fresh.

Once the yard is clean, make it neat by cutting and weeding the lawn, trimming trees and hedges and taming gardens. Plant fresh flowers.

Look up. A home’s great curb appeal can be ruined by a dilapidated roof. That’s a red flag to prospective buyers that expensive repairs or replacement could be in their future. So clean off fallen foliage and stray frisbees. Repair loose or missing shingles and eaves. If your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, consider getting an assessment by a roofing professional, then attending to their recommendations.

Turn the lights on. Replace exterior bulbs that have burned out. Repair or replace broken fixtures, maybe even add some new ones to brighten your home’s curb appeal at dusk or night. While potential buyers may never see your home at night, attention to small details sends a message that a home has been well cared-for.

Other ideas to improve your home’s curb appeal

  •  Replace outdated hardware on doors and windows.
  •  Replace your old mailbox, or give it a fresh coat of paint.
  •  Paint the front door. A pop of colour on your front door can completely transform your home’s curb appeal, make it more eye-catching.
  •  Refinish decks and porches.
  •  Repave, or at least reseal, the driveway.
A great looking patio will help a home's curb appeal

Creating curb appeal extends to every outdoor space at a home.

 

Curb appeal for strata homes

Of course, if you live in a strata condo or townhouse, much of your home’s curb appeal is out of your control. But paying close attention to detail at the outdoor areas you do control, like your patio or balcony can have a significant impact on your home’s appeal to potential buyers.

Curb appeal includes a great balcony or patio

Even if you live in a condo, you can create great curb appeal by making your balcony look great.

 

According to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, Realtors have been pitching a home’s exterior appearance as its curb appeal since about 1975. Investing in your home’s first impression doesn’t have to be expensive; it might just involve time and toil. But it will pay off.

More useful blogs if you’re selling your home

10 Great Questions to Ask a Realtor When Selling Your Home

10 Reasons to Hire a Realtor

How Realtors Price a Home

Best Time of Year to Sell a Home

Getting Ready for an Open House

Get Buyers to Fall in Love With Your Home

7 Tips to Help Your Home Look Great in Photos

10 Ways a Good Realtor Can Help

When you’re selling or buying a home, it can be tempting to go it alone. After all, it doesn’t cost anything to post your house, or search for one, on Craigslist. But there are plenty of good reasons to hire a Realtor.

1. One of the best reasons to hire a Realtor is to take the emotion out of such a large financial transaction. Owning a home isn’t just a monetary commitment, it’s also an emotional investment. You may have raised your family in your home, created cherished memories. Or you may be looking for a home to raise a family and all the hopes and dreams that come with that.

A Realtor brings an objective perspective to the process that can help you stay focussed on your goals. They’re able to use their experience and training to offer an honest evaluation of a home’s financial worth. They will analyze the local market, including recent sales of comparable homes in the area, to determine a correct price for your home. The correct price will attract buyers if you’re selling your home. It will help you decide if you’re getting good value when you’re buying a home.

2. A Realtor is essentially a marketer. Their product is your home. They know how to show it off at its best, from arranging professional photographs, to writing evocative descriptions to offering suggestions for improvements or renovations. They’ll hit the right emotional chords for prospective buyers.

One of the reasons to hire Realtor is their marketing ability

A Realtor will ensure your home looks its best for potential buyers.

 

3. A Realtor is able to list your home on the Multiple Listing Service. That’s a national database of properties for sale that is accessible to other Realtors who may be looking for the perfect home for their clients. Getting your home of the MLS increases its exposure to potential buyers.

Conversely, if you’re looking for a home, a Realtor’s access to the MLS can alert them to a listed property that fits your needs and budget.

4. Another of the great reasons to hire a Realtor is to gain access to their entire network of clients and other Realtors. A Realtor’s client base may already include a potential buyer for your home. Or someone who has a home for sale that you may be interested in.

5. Buying or selling a home is a complicated process that involves a lot of legal paperwork. A Realtor will help you navigate that process, including recommending lawyers and notaries who will ensure everything is on the up-and-up. They’ll ensure deadlines are met and documents are filed.

6. Buying or selling a home can be time consuming. A Realtor is able to invest that time on your behalf. That includes arranging showings, hosting open houses, creating a marketing campaign. A Realtor can gauge the seriousness of potential buyers, and the motivation of sellers, so you’re not wasting time and energy chasing every lead.

One of the best reasons to hire a Realtor is their skill and knowledge to show your home.

When you hire a realtor they will help prepare your home to show it at its best.

7. Realtors are skilled negotiators. Their knowledge of current market conditions is one of the important reasons to hire a Realtor. They will help ensure you get a fair price for your home, or pay a fair price for a home you’re buying. While they act on your instructions and must inform you of any offers they receive for your home, they can also offer guidance on how to proceed.

8. Realtors know the area. They know if a home is priced right for the market and whether that home might be a food fit for a client’s lifestyle needs and desires. They know about potential new developments in the area, or other factors that could impact your lifestyle or the value of your home. They can bring you up to speed on local bylaws, taxes and utility costs.

9. Realtors are accountable. They must abide by a strict code of professional ethics and follow procedures set out by the Real Estate Services Act. Violations can be investigated and disciplined by their local Real Estate Board.

10. Realtors are current. Their education is ongoing. As a condition of membership in their local Real Estate Board in B.C., they must complete courses every two years that keep them up-to-date with new information, legal requirements and trends in the industry.

More useful blogs if you’re planning to buy or sell a home

Top 8 Questions to Ask If You’re Buying a Condo in an Older Building

Creating Curb Appeal

Top 10 Questions a Buyer Should Ask Their Realtor

Strata Documents You Should Read Before You Buy

How Realtors Price a Home

Best Time of Year to Buy a Home

Best Time of Year to Sell a Home