Timeline:

GARBUTT + DUMAS REAL ESTATE TEAM
630 Fifth St
New Westminster, BC, V3M 2X9
604.805.3115
info@gdrealestate.ca




James Garbutt

Shawn’s top picks for investment properties

Shawn’s Weekly Top Picks for Investment Properties

Every week I will be posting 3-5 listings that I think are great investments for those who are looking to buy and hold, build, and move in. The neighbourhoods that I will be exploring are:

  1. Vancouver West
  2. Vancouver East
  3. East burnaby
  4. South Burnaby
  5. North Burnaby
  6. New Westminster
  7. Surrey

Why are you doing this?

There are so many aspects to take in to account when finding the right investment property.  You want to look at location, price point, location of that exact property, the details of the home and any issues with the lot. Whether it’s sloped, at a high point on the block that allows for a view or whether it’s riddled with trees that make it near impossible to build on without going through a lengthy process with the city halls. I will try to narrow searches down for you to make the selection process easier.

Vancouver West: 4454 W 13th Avenue

Price: $ 2,398,000
Lot: 33 x 122 (4,026 Sq Ft.)
House size:  2,356 Sq Ft.
Bedrooms: 5
Year Built: 1930
Zoning: RS-1

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Chose it:

The location is key. The price point is also great for Point Grey and the homes shows rentability. This is great while waiting for the development permits. This home is in modest shape and there appears to be little to no large trees on the lot. Although the 1930’s age may require a large portion of the home to be recycled, roughly 75%+. The RS-1 zones have recently been allowed duplexes, but given the neighbourhood elevations, a single family home with a lane way home would be best suited for the neighbourhood. In addition, the RS-1 zone allows for up to 70% FSR buildable. Please refer to the building guidelines as every house design may not qualify for the density bonus from the 60% shown on the zoning plan. The finished buildable maxed out at 70% is over 2,800 Sq Ft.

Vancouver East: 82 Ontario Place 

Price: $ 1,788,000
Lot: 33 x 121.93 (4,023.69 Sq Ft.)
House size:  2,356 Sq Ft.
Bedrooms: 6
Bathroom: 3
Year Built: 1969
Zoning: RS-1

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Chose it:

Why I chose it: The location is key. It is nestled between Main and Cambie which are direct routes to downtown Vancouver. It is a few blocks over from one of the largest developments in Vancouver, Oakridge. The price may be a bit high but the location is great!

East Burnaby: 7274 Stride Avenue

Price: $ 1,199,000
Lot: 53 x 120 (6,360 Sq Ft.)
House size:  2,425 Sq Ft.
Bedrooms: 4
Bathroom: 2
Year Built: 1949
Zoning: R5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Chose it:

The location is key. This property sits a block away from the South Gate development, which is lead by Ledingham McAllister which will be 60 acres large and home to a new community. This home may be rezoned to higher density possibly two family infill housing. This will need to be verified with the city. The location is also a few blocks over from the Edmonds Skytrain station that is easy access to Vancouver and other parts of Metro Vancouver.

New Westminster: 2038 8th Avenue

Exterior FrontPrice: $ 1,249,000
Lot: 50 x 120 (6,000 Sq Ft.)
House size:  2,775 Sq Ft.
Bedrooms: 5
Bathroom: 3
Year Built: 1945
Zoning: Future NR2

 

 

 

Why I Chose it:

The location is key. This property Is two blocks away from the 22nd Street Skytrain Station and is in the New Westminster Official Community Plan for higher density. Higher density can be either infill (townhome) housing or low rise multi-family. The city would need to be consulted for verification. The home has also been tastefully renovated

New Westminster: 825 Dublin Street

Price: $ 1,249,000
Lot: 49.50 x 130 (6,435 Sq Ft.)
House size:  2,191 Sq Ft.
Bedrooms: 4
Bathroom: 2
Year Built: 1912
Zoning: NR1

 

 

 

Why I Chose it:

Why I chose it: The location is key. It is in the heart of New Westminster. Easy walking distance to New Westminster Secondary, Moody Park and some restaurants. It is also off of 8th Street which gives access to the #1 highway. It is also on the North side of Dublin which is then high side of the suite and with the additional square footage allowable in the basement for NR1 makes this is a great purchase for a building property. Be wary that there is one large tree in the back. Although the city has tree bylaws, there may be a chance to replace the current tree.

Fall 2018 Market Update

THE MARKET HAS SLOWED

We’re in a correction, but it’s nothing like the 2008 crash.  This year we have seen a slow down in overall market activity as the volume of real estate sales is down compared to this time last year.  We had a good run, through 2016-2017 we saw a 40-50% increase in property values which is not sustainable growth.  Now, the market is becoming more balanced, less chaotic, which means that buyers are able to put subjects on their offers again. The days of bidding war after bidding war, and buyers taking on extreme risk of subject free offers seem to be over… for now.

WHAT ARE HOUSING PRICES DOING?

Well… it depends.  Every property type and city seem to be experiencing different levels of change.

LESS EFFECTED

We’re seeing about 5-10% reduction off peak pricing for your typical condos, townhouses and detached houses in the markets we work in. These are for your move-in ready, entry to mid level price points.

      

Least Effected:

  • Condos in Vancouver under $1M, and     suburb condos under $700K
  • Townhouses in Vancouver under $1.2M, and suburb townhouses under $900K (excluding Fraser Valley)
  • Houses under $1.6M

In terms of cities, less expensive suburbs close to Vancouver (New Westminster, Port Moody & Port Coquitlam) seem to be holding up particularly well.

MOST EFFECTED

  • Luxury homes
  • Land value
  • Fixer uppers
  • Busy streets or prominent negative feature

For some property types we’re seeing upward of a 20% adjustment from peak pricing.  In terms of cities, the more expensive ones; West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Vancouver West. Due to significant increase in supply of $2M+ homes. In the hot 2016 and 2017 market, buyers were less picky, foreigners were propelling the luxury market and builders were hungry for land.  All of this has changed.

UNAFFECTED?

Pre-sales for new condo developments remain to be hot.  We’re still seeing peak pricing, lineups and quick sellouts in this sector.  In particular, we’re referring to more affordable price points, in desirable locations with easy access to public transit. Too much speculation? We’ll have to wait and see.

WHAT’S NEXT?

New mortgage stress test and higher interest rates!  Long story short, lending is getting tighter.  Buyers that qualified for a $500,000 mortgage in 2017, and now qualified for $400,000.  This paired with and increase in interest rates of more than 1% in the last 18 months could start showing it’s colours in late 2018 or early 2019.

Stress test info: https://www.ratehub.ca/blog/how-to-stress-test-your-mortgage/

OUR THOUGHTS & PREDICTIONS: 

JAMES: “It’s hard to predict a crash, and corrections happen often.  In fact, we’ve seen fall market corrections over the last 3 years.  This one is slightly worse than the previous years, which is due to an oversupply of expensive real estate.  Personally, I believe that we’re in the worst of themarket correction now.  The stats are out there, fear is out there and the media is publishing negative press… same as every correction in previous years. We just seem to forget.”

DENNY: “The Fall is likely going to have a surge in sales activity for a couple months, but I expect prices to remain flat.  Typically we see the activity pick up in the New Year, so I would not be surprised if the market goes on a small run early in 2019.  As for next spring, I think we’ll see an increase in prices of around 5-10%, due to the seasonality of the real estate market and buyer/seller behaviour.”

JAMES: “Buyers, keep looking and think long-term.  Ignore the media and buy with confidence if the right place comes up.  The inventory is higher than its been in the last couple years, demand is down and I think there will be some great opportunities out there this Fall. Plus, enjoy the luxury of a subject offer… it was rare for 

most of 2016 & 2017.”

DENNY: “Sellers, keep things in perspective. Timing the peak of any market is impossible to predict, but looking back to 2015, property values are still 25-50% higher today dependant on location. That’s a pretty solid return on investment in a very short period of time. If you are thinking of selling this Fall, be realistic about pricing. Over pricing a listing in this market can be detrimental to its success, and could result in a frustrating experience. Good product will sell, but expect a few more days on market than we’ve seen in previous years.  Now is not the time to launch that $3 Million dollar home. Wait till spring.”

 

Pier West | A dynamic new waterfront development in New Westminster

Project: Pier West

Address: 600 & 700 block of Quayside Drive, New Westminster, BC

Builder: Bosa Development

Units: 665

Pier West will be the tallest waterfront residential property in the lower mainland, reaching heights of 43 and 53 stories.

Pier West by BOSA is a landmark development for New Westminster’s already thriving and dynamic waterfront community. The project includes two residential towers, one of which will be the tallest building on a Metro Vancouver waterfront (reaching heights of 43 and 53 stories).  These two modern towers feature 665 units, 1,000 public & residential parking stalls, and over 15,000sqft of new waterfront dining, shops and services. Pier West  will be located within a 6 acre park connecting the beautiful 12.5 acre Fraser River boardwalk.  This is the premier opportunity for waterfront living in one of the Lower Mainland’s most coveted locations.

Pier West will be located steps from historic Columbia Street, featuring restaurants, yoga studios, live music bars, and boutique shops. To the West, a quick 5 min walk will take you to River Market with groceries, cafes, restaurants, shops, and access to New Westminster Skytrain Station and Shops. Only a 30 minute commute to Downtown Vancouver and 20 minutes to Coquitlam or Langley, putting you right in the centre of Greater Vancouver.

If you have considered investing in real estate or are thinking about a move, this is a fantastic opportunity that you will not want to miss! Exclusive viewings are expected to begin in early February 2018. The West tower (660 Quayside Dr)  has an estimated completion of Early 2022.

Pricing & Deposit Structure: TBA

Contact us for more information about this highly anticipated development!

Northeast Views of the Fraser Valley and Tri-Cities Mountains


Modern design and comfort

This amazing location is walking distance to shops, restaurants, parks, schools, transit, and more!

 

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

Burnaby House Market Update for May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY BURNABY REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here–and it’s time for a Burnaby detached house market update. It’s been a bit of a crazy year that started off with a lot of snow followed by record amounts of rain and we feel that this held back the number of sales compared to previous years.

As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of detached houses sold in Burnaby was 276 units*, compared to 1400 units in 2016 and 558 units in 2015. That’s basically 1/5th of the sales volume in terms of units sold compared to this time last year. Not surprising, however, because the weather has been awful, and Burnaby houses have become very expensive! The average list price of a detached home in Burnaby at the moment is $2,212,700 (as of April 26, 2017), and the average sale price over the past 60 days has been $1,696,600.

To get a good indication of how the market is doing, we 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. Currently, Burnaby homes are on the fringe of a seller’s market. When looking at the last 60 days of activity, the sales ratio is 21% for all houses in Burnaby. However, if we isolate homes priced under $1,500,000, the sales ration climbs to 53%. If we isolate the $2 million plus price range in Burnaby, the sales ratio decreases to 9%. Basically meaning that 1 of out 10 listings in this price range are selling in a given month. As a Burnaby Realtor, what we’re seeing is that there are a lot of overpriced homes; there are a lot of higher end homes priced 10-20% above where they should be.

Moving forward, we expect to see the sales ratio increase in the seller’s favour. The market is starting to heat up and the weather is getting better. The high end market may still struggle, but we expect houses priced under $2 million in Burnaby to be in high demand over the coming months.

Some interesting stats for Burnaby:

There has been just 1 detached home sold in 2017 for under $1 million and it went for $998,800. It was a small older home on a very busy street (10th Ave). It’s official, the new entry price point to buy a detached house in Burnaby is $1 million. The high sale for 2017 is $3,180,000 and it was a newer home sold in ‘Upper Deer Lake‘.

*Note that this information was taken on April 26, 2017. They are likely firm sales that have not registered on the MLS. Actual 2017 figures may be slightly higher than noted above.

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 BURNABY CONDO MARKET UPDATE

Burnaby Condo Market Update for May 2017

BURNABY CONDO MARKET UPDATE BY REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Burnaby condo market update! It’s been a bit of a crazy year, we had a lot of snow at the beginning followed by record amounts of rain and we feel that this held back the number of sales compared to previous years.

As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of condos sold in Burnaby is 636 units*, compared to 1022 units in 2016 and 708 units in 2015. Sales volumes may be down, but prices are up, and condos are hot. The REBGV just released the latest market stats and it shows Burnaby condos are up 25% compared to 1 year ago.

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. Currently, Burnaby condos are experiencing a strong seller’s market. When looking at the last 60 days of activity, the sales ratio is 65% for 2 bedroom condos and 85% for 1 bedrooms. This tells us that condos are in demand, and even more so for lower price points.

Let’s look at Brentwood Park for a moment as it is a popular neighbourhood for many condo buyers due to it’s central location and ample supply of newer condos.

The price per square foot for a typical 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, mid level unit that is 850-880 sqft in a 10ish year old building at OMA (2345 & 2355 Madison Ave, and 4250 Dawson St) or Tandem (4118, 4178 & 4182 Dawson St) is currently selling for about $775/ sqft or $675,000 (as of April 2017). In April 2016, they were selling for $635/ sqft or $540,000, and in April 2015 they were selling for $520/ sqft or $450,000. It is a climbing market and Burnaby has seen back-to-back years of 20% plus appreciation.

The highest price per square foot recorded this year was $980/ft in Brentwood Park, and if that is the start of the new trend, expect Burnaby to get even more expensive!

*Note that this information was taken on April 26, 2017. They are likely firm sales that have not registered on the MLS. Actual 2017 figures may be slightly higher than noted above.

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 BURNABY HOUSE MARKET UPDATE

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!

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

What’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

What’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate? And what’s not? We’re well into the new year, we’ve settled back into familiar routines. It’s time for a little market analysis and look ahead to the coming months.

Snow and ice. A media feeding frenzy. Changes to the mortgage rules. The foreign buyers’ tax. The usual post-Christmas lull. It’s all added up to a of uncertainty, and a “lukewarm start” in the Greater Vancouver real estate market.

Sure, sales are down 39.5 per cent from last January. And there’s 9.1 per cent more listings.

But the market is stronger than it may appear.

Condos and townhouses are what’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

In fact, condos and townhouses are hotter than ever! They’re still selling at peak prices. They’ve been virtually unaffected by the legislative changes, or skittish buyers. We’ve already had a few recent sales that were 5-10 per cent above last summer’s spike.

Quite simply, there’s more demand for condos and townhouses for sale than there is supply. It’s the first time I can recall condos being hotter than houses.

So, if you’re looking to purchase a condo, don’t expect to find a deal. You’re going to have to jump when the right one comes up because there’s no sign they’re going to slow down in the short term.

If you’re selling a condo, it’s a great time. The provincial government’s new loan program to help first-time homebuyers with their downpayment is already driving demand. Many of those buyers are shopping for condos.

Houses are what’s not hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

The market for detached houses, on the other hand, is still cool. Especially for houses worth more than $2 million. Currently, there’s 240 of those listed for sale in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities. But only seven have sold.

Then again, only seven such homes sold in all of 2010.

Also feeling the pain are land value listings as builders hold off, hoping to score a deal. Difficult properties such as those with weird layouts or ones located on busy streets are presenting challenges as well.

Overall, their prices are discounted 5-10 per cent, and sometimes even as much as 20 per cent, from where they were last summer.

That’s not great news for sellers. If you’re looking to sell a high-end detached home, it might be best to hold off a little longer if you’re able; I expect the market will rebound 5-10 per cent by the time the weather warms up.

For buyers, there may be some opportunities to score a deal that would have been unattainable last summer. You could do especially well if you’re willing to throw a little sweat equity into the mix by buying a home that needs some renovation.

Of course, what’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate, and what’s not, is always evolving. The fact remains, this is a desirable place for people to live and invest in real estate, and the general trend for property values continues to increase over time. It’s all about where and when you want to jump into or out of the market. Spring is just around the corner; traditionally that’s a busy time of year whether you’re selling or buying.

Top 10 questions a buyer should ask a Realtor

Finding a Realtor may be the most important step in your search for a new home. There are questions a buyer should ask their Realtor to make sure they’re a good fit for the way you like to do things. Your Realtor should understand your needs and desires, keep your best interests first and foremost.

Think of it as a job interview; if you like what you hear, like their qualifications and feel like they’re a good match for your needs, they’re hired.

1. What is your experience?

One of the first questions a buyer should ask their Realtor is about their experience.  Not just in terms of years, but in real estate the number of sales is just as important.

You want to make sure your Realtor has a good base of knowledge and experience in the type of properties you’re looking for, and that they’re well in tune with the current market.

If the Realtor doesn’t have much experience it’s good to know if they have any related experience or knowledge.  A background in real estate investment or construction could be a valuable resource to tap as you evaluate possible properties.

2. What is your approach to the buying process?

Does your Realtor’s way of doing things align with your own philosophy and approach. Some buyers prefer to monitor listings themselves and then just inform their Realtor to set up a showing when they find one of interest. Other buyers prefer to sit back and entrust their Realtor to do all the leg work. Make sure each of you has a clear understanding of who’s watching the market.

And be clear about your timeframe for your search; some buyers are very anxious and want to get their new home purchased quickly while others are more patient, willing to wait until they find the “perfect” place. If you’re the latter, you don’t want your Realtor pressuring you before you’re ready to buy.

3. What are your expectations from your clients?

You should know what your Realtor expects of you. Conversely, your Realtor should know what you expect of them.

Be open in all your communications with your Realtor; let them know when you’re anxious to buy, or when you might want to take a break from the search. Try to stay focussed so you, or your Realtor, aren’t expending a lot of wasted energy. Make sure your financing is in order, and you’re pre-approved for a mortgage so when the right home does come along, your Realtor can move quickly and confidently on your behalf.

Be realistic in your expectations; it may take some time to find the perfect house, or you may have to make some compromises if you need to move quickly.

4. Where do you primarily work?

A Realtor who is familiar with the community and its neighbourhoods will likely get you the best result.  If you’re looking in a specific area, that Realtor should know it well.

A knowledgable Realtor will be able to recommend neighbourhoods, and even streets, that are the best fit for your needs. They’ll be give you valuable information about schools in the neighbourhood, as well as daycares, parks and transit service.

5. What is your approach to evaluating a property?

A property evaluation, or Comparative Market Analysis, will compare a home you’re looking at to other similar homes in the area that are for sale or were sold recently. This will give you an idea of the local market conditions and what it will take to purchase the home you seek in the area you desire.

You should ascertain your Realtor’s approach to doing their evaluation; how detailed are the evaluations? A generic condo can be easy to evaluate, especially if there have been recent sales above or below. But evaluating a unique home can be quite difficult as there’s little to compare it with.

A skilled Realtor will be able to evaluate a property’s value with confidence and accuracy. They’ll look at similar properties outside the neighbourhood, as well as in similar neighbourhoods. Or they could use a replacement cost approach that calculates the value of the land and what it would cost to build a comparable home.

If a Realtor doesn’t provide you with any guidance and just wants to hear your offer, you may want to find another Realtor.

6. Are you part of a team, or do you work independently?

One of the questions a buyer should ask a Realtor is whether they work as part of a team.

One of the questions a buyer should ask a Realtor is whether they work as part of a team.

 

You want to know whether the Realtor you’re dealing with is going to be there for you when you need them or whether you’ll be tapping into a team of Realtors. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who is your primary contact and who is the backup if your Realtor isn’t available. If your Realtor doesn’t have a backup, establish a contingency for when they’re not available; the perfect property could come along at any time and you want to know you can jump on it.

7. How many clients are you currently working with?

This may give you an idea how much time and energy your Realtor will have available for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Keep in mind the references the Realtor provides will likely be their best and happiest clients so try to dig a little deeper by asking around the community or other people who’ve recently bought or sold a home. Search their name on Google and Facebook, check out their profile on LinkedIn.

8. What happens after I buy?

A great Realtor will be there for you if there are any issues before, during and, especially, after the purchase, such as the seller not fulfilling their end of the contract, or leaving the place in a shambles. They’ll also be available to help you settle in, perhaps recommend professionals and trades to help with any renovations or repairs you want to do. A Realtor who doesn’t abandon you once they’ve handed over the keys to your new home will likely be your Realtor for life.

9. What is your availability and how will you communicate?

Does your Realtor prefer phone contact, or email? How often will they update you? What hours are they available? And what happens if the right property comes along when the Realtor isn’t available?

Your Realtor will likely have the same questions for you.

The more you know about your Realtor’s way of operating, and vice-versa, the more likely you’ll have a good home buying experience.

10. What else do I need to know?

It’s always a good idea to ask an open-ended question to give the Realtor a chance to highlight a unique service they might offer, or speak to areas you might have overlooked. That extra little tidbit of information could be the tipping point to your decision.

Bonus question. Do you own a brewery?

If your Realtor owns a brewery, that’s a bonus!

 

This question might throw your Realtor. Unless of course they do happen to own a brewery, in which case you may end up with a particularly thirst-quenching welcome gift when you take possession of your new home!

Questions a buyer should ask their Realtor: It’s all about trust

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

But 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. Your Realtor should be a good listener who will offer advice and help find solutions. And, most importantly, your Realtor shouldn’t try to sell you into every property you view.