630 Fifth St
New Westminster, BC, V3M 2X9

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


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.


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


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.


  • 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.


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.


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/


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.”


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?

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.


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


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

Property assessments still feeling the heat

Metro Vancouver housing prices may have cooled since the summer, but the real estate market’s heat will linger when homeowners receive their property assessments in January.

Jason Grant, an assessor with BC Assessment, says the preliminary analysis for 2017 property assessments indicates values will be going up 30 to 50 per cent for single family homes in Burnaby, Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, the Tri-Cities and the North Shore. Assessments for strata homes will increase 15 to 30 per cent.

Property assessments are a component of the formula used by BC municipalities to set property taxes.

Property assessments in BC are set on July 1, when the real estate market was still hot.


Property assessments are set on July 1. That’s when BC Assessment estimates the market value of residential, commercial and industrial properties across the province. They do this by analyzing current sales in the immediate area of each property, as well as its size, age, quality, condition, location and view. The notices are sent to homeowners on Jan. 3, 2017.

In July, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported the benchmark price for a typical detached home in Metro Vancouver was 38.7 per cent more than the previous year. The benchmark price for condos had gone up 25.3 per cent.

Property assessments are part of tax calculation

Assessments are used by municipalities as a component of a complicated formula to determine property taxes.

Grant says just because a property’s assessment may increase by 30 per cent, doesn’t mean its property taxes will go up by a corresponding amount.

“Your taxes are actually affected by your assessment changes compared to the average change in your community,” says Grant.

That means, if your assessment went up 30 per cent along but is inline with the average increase in your community, your taxes will likely only go up by whatever rate set by the municipality. But if your assessment went up 50 per cent, compared to the 30 percent average in your community, you could be in for a bigger tax bill.

To avoid sticker shock for any homeowners whose assessments are significantly more than the typical range of change in their area, the BC Assessment office is sending them courtesy notification letters this month.

Most municipalities set their tax rates in May and property taxes are due in early July.

Here’s how various municipalities calculate property taxes:

Condo sales hold steady in November

Condo sales in Metro Vancouver are holding their own even as buyers of detached homes and townhouses continue to wait and see where the market might be headed in the new year.

Condo sales are holding their own even as buyers sit out the real estate market

Condo sales accounted for more than half the property sales in Metro Vancouver In November.


More than half of the 2,214 residential properties sold in the region in November were condo apartments. The 1,200 condos sales last month is 1.9 per cent more than the 1,178 that were sold in October. Sales of detached homes dropped 2.1 per cent in the same period and townhouse sales slipped 6.7 per cent.

The benchmark price for a typical apartment in Metro Vancouver stayed steady $512,100, the same as in October. That’s 18 per cent better than November, 2015.

“Demand, relative to supply, for detached homes is lower right now than demand for townhomes and apartments,” said Dan Morrison, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. “This is causing prices to remain stable, or flat, for townhomes and apartments, while detached homes are seeing modest month-over-month decline.”

Indeed, the benchmark price for a detached home in Metro Vancouver dipped 2.2 per cent from October to $1,511,100. But that’s still 23 per cent higher than a year ago.

Overall, housing sales slipped .9 per cent from October, and 37.2 per cent from a year ago. The total number of properties listed for sale also went down 8.3 per cent from the previous month.

That’s helped keep the ratio of sales to active listings at a healthy 26.4 per cent, two per cent higher than October. As long as that ratio stays above 20 per cent, home prices can continue to feel upward pressure. But they start to go down if the ratio goes below 12 per cent for a sustained period of time.

“While 2016 has been anything but a normal year for the Metro Vancouver housing market, supply and demand totals have returned to more historically normal levels over the last few months,” said Morrison.

Condo sales still strong in New West and Burnaby

We’re seeing pretty much the same trends in New West and Burnaby.

The benchmark price for condo sales in New West went up .8 per cent over last month to $380,000, and 2.5 per cent to $539,200 in the east end of Burnaby. The benchmark price for a typical detached home in New West dropped 1.8 per cent from October; but that’s still 18.7 per cent better than a year ago.

November’s full stats

How realtors price a home

How realtors price a home to sell is influenced by a number a factors.

The sale price for a homes doesn’t just come from thin air. It’s based upon a number of pieces of information and analyses that can be assessed and applied to your home by your realtor. These include:

1. Reviewing the market

Realtors know the local property market; it’s what we do after all.

When realtors price a home to sell, they will look at recent sales and listings histories of similar homes in your area. This is called a comparative market analysis.

James Garbutt New Westminster realtor discusses how realtors price a home to sell.

Recent sale prices in your neighbourhood will effect how realtors price a home to sell.


It’s usually comprised of three elements:

• Houses currently for sale – this shows what other sellers in your area are hoping to get for their home.

• Houses that failed to sell – this helps set a ceiling.

• Houses that sold – this shows what buyers are willing to pay to live in your area, and what they’re getting for their money.

If there haven’t been a lot of sales in the neighbourhood to help come up with a value for your home, a realtor may calculate its “replacement value.”

The replacement value is an estimate of what it would currently cost to rebuild your home, including features and any additions.

You likely went through the exercise of getting your home’s replacement value appraised when you purchased home insurance. And you should be updating that information as you get your insurance renewed or after completing major renovations or an addition.

2. Inspecting your home

First impressions count for a lot in how realtors price a home. How well your home has been maintained, renovations, upgrades, additions, even the quality of appliances and fixtures will go a long way in determining what buyers will pay.

Curb appeal is an important important part of the process of how Realtors price a home.

First impressions count a lot toward how Realtors price a home. That’s called its curb appeal.

A realtor will inspect the interior and exterior of your home. They’ll note features that could help its sale price, even issues that could hurt it. They might even offer suggestions for renovations to your home that could significantly improve its marketability.

3. Economic factors that affect how realtors price a home

When times are good, people are working and feeling confident about the future, they’re more inclined to make the financial commitment to become a home owner. If there’s more demand for homes than there is supply, prices go up.

A realtor has their fingers on the pulse of current economic factors that could impact how much you decide to sell your home for.

4. Your property assessment notice

Property assessments are used by municipal governments in helping them determine property taxes. But they’re not a particularly accurate measure of a home’s current market value.

Still, some homeowners look forward to January when they receive their notice in the mailbox from BC Assessment. This notice is their estimate of what your property was worth the previous July 1. BC Assessment is a crown corporation that reviews close to 2 million properties in the province every year.

To come up with an appraised value for a property, appraisers analyze all real estate transactions in the neighbourhood before or after the July 1 assessment date. They’ll also inspect new construction, verify the physical condition of properties as well as the property’s current ownership through the Land Title and Survey Authority.

When appraisers evaluate a property, they’ll consider its unique characteristics, location, size, age, quality, condition, as well as any additions like garages or sundecks.

All of the information is input into a database that can be updated by occasional visits. The database is used by BC’s municipalities as part of their formula for setting property taxes.

But that assessment is pinned to one date and it often doesn’t take into account renovations that may have been done inside or elsewhere on the property, or changes in the market after the assessment date.

Ultimately the decision on how much to sell your home for is up to the seller. But an informed decision is more likely to get you the result you desire.

Best time of year to sell a home

The best time of year to sell a home is when you’re ready to sell it.

That’s the short answer. But of course it’s more complicated than that.

Just like the calendar, the real estate market has seasons. There are times of the year when it’s easiest to show your home at its best to potential buyers. And there are times of the year when buyers are actively shopping for a new home and inclined to make offers.

You’re more likely to sell your home quickly and for top dollar when those times coincide.

The best time of year to sell a home is spring.

Spring, when gardens and tress are blossoming, is the best time of year to sell a home.


The best time of year to sell a home is …

If you’re selling a house, typically spring is the best time of year to sell a home.

In nature, spring is a time of renewal. Same for home buyers.

Home buyers emerge in the spring flush with optimism. They’ve survived another winter in their current digs; but it’s time for a new start, time to address those nagging issues like space or location that have made their current home a challenge.

If those buyers are a family with school-aged children, it’s especially important for them to get the process of finding and moving to a new home into gear in the spring so the household is settled and the kids are registered for their new school in time for fall.

For sellers, the spring is the best time of year to show off your home. Especially if you’ve used the winter months to clear the clutter from the garage, repainted the living room, tended to those persistent maintenance issues in and around the house. With the trees trimmed and the gardens bursting with new flowers, your home is sure to have great curb appeal.

If spring is the best time of year to sell a home, isn’t everyone else also trying to sell their home in spring too?

When the market is buoyant and buyers are eager, prices are likely to stay healthy; if your neighbour’s house sells for top dollar that’s good news for the price you’ll be able to ask for your own place.

The next best time of year to sell a home is fall

Not everyone is prepared to sell their home in the spring. The fall is also desirable.

The weather is still good, so buyers are out and about. Save for Thanksgiving, most weekends aren’t busy with holiday activities. Anyone thinking of moving is keen to get it done before winter and the Christmas season kick in; they’re serious and motivated.

There’s usually fewer listings in the fall. That’s less competition for your home, so you may be able to get a better price. In fact, if it’s a rising market prices may peak in the fall; that’s what happened locally in three of the last eight years.

Any time is the best time of year to sell a home – if it’s a condo

Of course these timelines don’t really apply to the condo and townhouse market; they tend to sell steadily any time of year.

Any time is the best time of year to sell a home if it's a condo

Sales for condos and townhouses tend to be pretty steady all year.


That’s because condos and townhouses are generally geared towards first-time buyers and downsizers who don’t have to worry about things like getting their kids registered in a new school. They’re shopping for location, proximity to their work or recreational activities. They’re looking at indoor space and amenities that aren’t as tied to the weather outside. They’re buying lifestyle.

When not to sell your home

Whether you’re selling a house or a condo, it’s best to avoid December. With so much going on leading up to the Christmas holiday season, the last thing on most people’s agenda is shopping for a new home. Not that it doesn’t happen; but if you can hold off until January, you’re likely to see more active buyers and get a better price.

Unfortunately, not everyone is in control of the timing to sell their home.

Which brings us back to our opening point; the best time of year to sell a home is when you’re ready to sell. If you work with your realtor to set a proper sale price, maximize its exposure and show it off to its fullest potential, your home will find a buyer.

Getting ready for an open house

Last week we offered some tips to buyers to help them get the most out of visiting open houses. This week we turn the tables with tips for sellers getting ready for an open house.

An open house is one of the best marketing tools for selling your home. But a successful open house takes a lot more than just handing the keys to the front door to your realtor and going to a movie for the afternoon. A little planning and preparation getting ready for an open house will go a long way to helping you achieve top dollar for your home after buyers have had a chance to see it.

Make sure your home presents well at an Open House.

Planning and attention to detail will make your home look great for an Open House.


1. Getting ready for an open house, not an open home

If you’re getting ready for an open house you’ve got to detach your emotions and start thinking of your home as a commodity, and everything you do from the day you sign a contract with your realtor has to be looked at through that prism. You’ll likely be facing some tough decisions as you depersonalize your home as much as possible.

2. Identify your market when getting ready for an open house

Is your neighbourhood filled with young professionals and families or is it more established? Buyers tend to stick to their demographic so you should be marketing your home to match that targeted population. That means if you’ve lived in your home and haven’t updated it since the 1970s while your neighbours are now all hipsters who’ve moved out from the city, you should probably strip that floral wallpaper in the living room, replace those harvest gold appliances.

3. Assess and address

Make a thorough assessment of your home’s condition and any faults that should be addressed. Most buyers want their new home to be move-in ready and the last thing they expect to have to deal with are your legacy maintenance issues.

Sometimes it helps to get an impartial third party to help with your walk-through; you may have lived with the dingy paint on the living room wall so long you no longer notice it, but it could be readily apparent to a first-time visitor.

Once you’ve compiled your list, prioritize according to what’s likely to be a turn-off to potential buyers and the budget and time you have available. Don’t scrimp! A few thousand dollars and a few weeks work getting ready for an open house could mean many thousands of dollars added to your sale price.

Some areas that are sure to catch the attention of potential buyers include:

• The condition and colour of the paint on the walls. A fuschia feature wall in your living room may be your taste, but if you’re getting ready for an open house, buyers will likely prefer a more neutral slate they’ll be able to make their own.

• Flooring. When you’re getting ready to host an open house clean or replace dirty and worn carpets. You may even consider installing hardwood or laminate as that’s often an attractive feature to potential buyers.

• Update light fixtures and replace or repair any that are broken. This can be a quick and relatively inexpensive upgrade that will instantly make your home seem more contemporary and well-kept.

4. Curb appeal

Give your home curb appeal by ensuring it makes a good impression from the outside. That means trimming the grass and trees, weeding the gardens, straightening shutters, rolling garbage and recycling bins out of sight. Clean out gutters, power wash the siding, repaint the front door and replace broken or faded house numbers. If your home looks good from the street, buyers will be excited to see the inside.

Curb appeal is a big part of staging a successful open house

Putting on a successful open house starts from the curb in front of your home.


5. Staging

Staging is the fine art of making your home look appealing to the highest number of potential buyers. It highlights your home’s strengths, and downplays its weaknesses. It tells a story, creates a mood.

Staging can be as simple as decluttering, to rearranging your furniture, to hiring a professional stager who will remove much of your stuff into storage and replace it with carefully curated furniture and decor.

As the living room is usually the first room buyers see when entering your home, it should be staged to impress. Remove large pieces of furniture so it appears more spacious. Arrange the furniture so it draws attention to a focal point, like the fireplace or an expansive window.

The kitchen should be spotlessly clean, the countertops cleared of small appliances and storage containers. Take magnets and notes off the fridge door. But don’t make the kitchen seem too sterile; accessorize with small decorative touches like a glass jar of pasta noodles or open cookbook on the counter, a vase of cut flowers on the island.

Tidy the kitchen when you're getting ready for an open house.

The kitchen should be spotlessly clean and uncluttered when you’re getting ready for an open house.


All of the bedrooms should look neat and uncluttered as possible. The master bedroom especially, should look as nice and inviting as a luxury hotel. Replace everyday bedding with luxurious linens, maybe add some accent pillows.

Bathrooms should be immaculate. Hide the toothbrushes and toiletries, hang up new towels, make sure the shower curtain is clean and bright. Accessorize with fresh flowers or even candles.

Don’t neglect the backyard or deck. Outdoor space is a huge priority for many buyers so when you’re getting ready for an open house you want to make sure your yard, patio or deck is at its best, as a refuge for relaxing or entertaining.

When getting ready for an open house, don't forget to make outdoor space inviting with a bit of staging.

When getting ready for an open house, don’t forget to make outdoor space inviting with a bit of staging.


Oh, and don’t overlook how your home smells. Cooking a meal with a lot of garlic when you’re getting ready for an open house the next day is probably not the best idea. Neutralize any odours as best you can, but don’t saturate the air with artificial fresheners as that can be equally offensive to visitors to your open house.

6. The big day

The realtor has hung their Open House signs around the neighbourhood, you’ve made arrangements to be out of the house for a couple of hours; but there’s still a few things to do as you’re getting ready for an open house.

Turn on all the lights and open the curtains to make your home as bright as possible. Put out some fresh cut flowers in nice vases, or fresh fruit arranged on plates or in bowls. Adjust the thermostat so it’s comfortable.

The payoff for getting ready for an open house is waiting for those first buyers to drop by!

If you’ve put the effort into getting ready for an open house, the buyers will come!

If you and your realtor have put in the effort getting ready for an open house, your home will practically sell itself!

Get buyers to fall in love with your home

To sell your home, you have to get buyers to fall in love with your home.

Buying a home is often an emotional decision. We hear it again and again as people declare their love for a home, a room, the view, the floors, the windows, the backyard, even the front door.

People can spend hours, days, weeks analyzing and researching the purchase of a new TV. But their decision to make the biggest purchase of their lives is often left to the heart.

So what can you do to get buyers to fall in love with your home?

James Garbutt New Westminster and Burnaby realtor with tips on how to get buyers to fall in love with your home

First impressions go a long way to get buyers fall in love with your home.


1. Clean it up

Your tolerance for clutter and disarray may not be shared by the people looking at photos online of your home, or visiting it at an open house. If you want to get buyers to fall in love with your home, you’ve got to show them you love it as well.

That means trimming the grass, weeding the garden, pruning the shrubbery. Clean the windows, dust the bannisters, put away old magazines and the dog bed.

It’s also important to tidy and declutter storage areas as things like closet, cabinet and counter space can often make or break a decision to buy. If your home has a garage and it’s gotten out of control, spend a weekend cleaning it out and properly storing the items left behind so potential buyers can appreciate the space it offers.

2. Fix it up

If you’ve been putting off freshening the paint in the living room, replacing that worn carpet or patching that dent in the drywall you made when you were moving in the new couch, now is the time.

A small investment of time and money to deal with all those maintenance issues you’ve been tolerating could mean thousands of dollars added to the sale price of your home. You wouldn’t buy a dented car with a flat tire from a used car dealer, so why would a potential buyer want to have to correct your neglect.

3. Minimize your presence to get buyers to fall in love with your home

If you want to get buyers to fall in love with your home, they’ve got to think it’s their home. So while you may be proud of the carefully curated collection of troll dolls that line your living room walls, they might just creep out visitors to your open house. Pack away those personal knick knacks, photos, diplomas and snow globes. Get rid of some of your overstuffed chairs to make the home seem more spacious.

4. Work with your realtor to set a fair and marketable price

Go online and study other recent sales and current listings in your neighbourhood. If you’ve got the time, drop in on some of those open houses to gauge what’s catching buyers’ eyes, what they’re saying about that home and your neighbourhood. Then take a step back and make an objective assessment of what your home offers in comparison.

5. Play up your home’s unique features

James Garbutt New Westminster and Burnaby realtor with tips to get buyers to fall in love with your home.

To get buyers to fall in love with your home can be as simple as marketing its unique characteristics or location.


To get buyers to fall in love with your home means selling them more than just the walls, roof and floor; you’re also offering them a lifestyle. So you have to market any unique features that will help buyers fulfill their lifestyle dreams and distinguish it from other homes on the market. That could be proximity to transit or parks, space for a pool or parking multiple vehicles, a special view, even your home’s history.

While the process of buying a home is all about negotiation, dollars, contracts and offer sheets, the decision to buy a home is often emotional. So getting a signature on a sales agreement means you have to get buyers to fall in love with your home first.