How we Helped a Family Sell a Townhouse and Condo to Buy their Dream Detached House

This is the story of a family selling two strata properties and coming together to buy a multigenerational dream detached house in a scorching-hot market. We will rename them the Smith Family for the purposes of this blog post.

Currently, we are knee-deep in a Seller’s Market, and desirable, well-priced properties are flying off the shelf. While detached houses are selling quickly with overbooked showings and multiple offers, the buyer’s side is very competitive. Buyers may lose out on several houses before winning the bid. So, what does this mean for those wanting to buy AND sell?

Searching for the Dream Detached House

It was an advanced magic trick that required trust, timing, and finesse to secure this three-part deal for the Smiths. We had been searching for the perfect multigenerational home for the Smith family for over a year in the Port Moody real estate market. It was a slower Buyer’s Market when we started shopping so we had more time and less pressure to visit local showings. Unfortunately, the right product was nowhere to be found.

The Smith family was looking for:
– A completely above-ground in-law suite that felt like part of the main home.
– A property in the Heritage Mountain, Port Moody area to stay close to friends and family.

We found a few potential homes in the summer of 2020, but the market was starting to shift. We put in offers on 3 or 4 houses but lost out in multiple offer situations because we had Subject to Sale of TWO properties. 

Finding the Dream Home

Being Port Moody realtors, we had the advantage of regularly being in the area. We continued to keep an eye out for any new listings that fit the bill. It took time and patience, but a few weeks ago we finally found THE DREAM HOME! The Smith family was willing to do anything to get this house. The property was $200,000 over budget (and in our opinion a little overpriced), but otherwise perfect. My real estate partner Lucas and I discussed this purchase many times and it all boiled down to timing. 

Sale #1: How we Won the Dream Detached House

The dream detached house with a SOLD sticker

It is a challenge to negotiate dollars off the purchase price in a Seller’s Market. Our plan was to present the offer in a way that would convince the Seller that this is a win for all of us. We put our offer together with an extensive Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) arguing our case for the purchase price and a personal letter from the family.

We decided to drop the Subject to Sale of the townhouse because we had a good feeling about where the market was at for this type of property.

After a few cleanup items and a fair conversation with the Listing Realtor, the Seller accepted our offer! The house had been listed for over a year, and the family wanted it sold.

Condo and Townhouse for Sale

Now came the scary part: we needed to sell, and we needed to sell fast. With only two months until completion (the day you pay for the home), there was not a lot of time to test out the market. We priced their Westwood Plateau condo and Heritage Mountain townhouse at the top end of market value. This meant that we had to bring the heat with marketing their homes!

The townhouse in Port Moody was very popular, so we decided to give it 2 weekends on the market before looking at offers. This strategy was nerve-wracking and definitely tested our patience. For the condo in Coquitlam, we opted to look at the offers as they came. We put the condo on the market one week before the townhouse, as we knew it could potentially take longer to sell.

Sale #2: Offer time for the Cascade, Coquitlam condo

Two real estate agents standing in front of a sold condo in Coquitlam

The day before we were going to drop the condo price, we received an offer! We negotiated the price up to a very acceptable range: $5,000 higher than the price drop that was scheduled. Just to note, the contract did come with some subjects.

Sale #3: Offer time for the Discovery Ridge, Port Moody Townhouse

Two realtors standing in front of a sold townhome in Port Moody

We were scheduled to present offers on the townhouse in Port Moody the very next day. We received 8 offers after 45 buyer showings. Two of those offers really stood out. All buyers were given a chance to put their best foot forward and, in the end, we had a winner!

I want to take a quick break here to let you know that the winner was the LAST BUYER to view the property. We may have easily left money on the table if we had not given every person a chance to see the home.  

Once we had our winner, we negotiated the exact dates we needed for Completion/Possession to line up with the dates on the Smith’s DREAM detached house purchase. We also managed to slip in a very clever subject protecting the Sellers in case subjects did not get removed on the condo sale.

Are you still with me? To break it down, we put in a Subject to the Seller entering into an unconditional contract to purchase a new residence. This type of subject typically does not work in a buyer’s market, but we knew the moment was right and had the expertise to present it to the buyers in a way that made it feel like a win-win. We agreed to let the buyers do some due diligence during that time AND we got the 2nd best offer to agree to be in a Back-Up Offer position. This way, if the first offer fell through for any reason, we had another one on deck!

Putting up SOLD Stickers on THREE Properties

When Subject Removal day arrived, we were excited to remove subjects on all 3 properties. Our plan worked perfectly!

How were we able to quickly sell the strata properties? The major keys were market timing, appropriate price, and prepared real estate agents. Having the strata documents ready, all paperwork in order, and thoroughly reviewing the documents prior to listing gave buyers a sense of confidence. Buyers have a much higher rate of removing subjects when realtors can answer every question with clarity. This is extremely important. 

Goodbye strata life!

The Smith family is packing for the big move that is set to take place in just a few short weeks. Our real estate team is delighted for this family and so grateful that they put their trust in us. 

Congratulations to our amazing clients on your dream detached house in Port Moody!

Vancouver Housing Market Recap and 2021 Predictions

The real estate industry fluctuated throughout the 2020 year, finishing strong during the fall and early winter months. The last Garbutt and Dumas recap was done in June 2020 which marked an uncertain time with little data to help with future predictions.

Fortunately, there was an increase in activity and September was a record-breaking month for the Garbutt and Dumas realtors (with November being a close second). Rates are low, higher priced properties are starting to move, and land value is increasing.

In September:

  • Single-family homes went from slow-selling to outrageously active
  • Condos remained relatively slow unless they had a strong selling feature (like great view or good neighborhood)
  • Big trend towards upsizing. Buyers are wanting more space!
  • Multiple offers for certain listings (depends on how saturated the market is in that area)
  • The number of homeowners moving out of downtown Vancouver to the surrounding cities is still increasing
    • Driven by affordability
    • Includes Langley, Tsawwassen, Sunshine Coast, and the Okanagan
    • Communities with little population will double in a relatively small amount of time
    • This movement will keep the market busy for years to come
  • Downtown Vancouver market remained slow
    • Buyers finding larger and newer condos in Brentwood for the same price

What makes the market climb?

The real estate market will climb when there is a shortage of supply. When there are limited properties on the market, more buyers are looking at each one. Real estate agents may receive multiple offers on a listing, however only one can purchase the house. The other buyers must continue looking and place an offer on another property when it becomes available. As more buyers enter the market, it can become more competitive, pushing the prices to increase.  In a hot market, the offer that is subject free and has a deposit attached will be a real contender.

There is a definite upward trend in the real estate market and here are the numbers to prove it!

A sales ratio breaks down how many sales were completed in each month compared to the total number of listings available. Townhouses had the highest sales ratio with 40% and condos had the lowest sales ratio with 20% – both are significantly high. Townhouses are in high demand and it is estimated that we will see an approximate increase in price of 10-15% by summer.

Low interest rates have also played a role in the real estate market climb. More people can now afford a mortgage and are entering the real estate market. This increases the competition and can help to boost prices. HSBC announced a 0.99 rate. This will put pressure on other big banks like RBC, TD, and Scotia Bank to make their rates more competitive. It looks as if rates will remain low!
A great tool for finding out what type of rate you will qualify for is Talk to your bank or an independent mortgage broker for a better idea on your specific situation.

our predictions for 2021:

  1. The market will be active – lots of up-sizers (due to low interest rates and wanting more space) and down-sizers (due to high prices)
  2. People will continue moving out of Vancouver into smaller cities and suburbs
  3. Port Moody, Langley, Maple Ridge, Squamish, Tsawwassen, North Vancouver, and East Vancouver will see record-high prices and sales activity
  4. Townhouses and detached houses will be hot! Value of property will continue to increase
  5. Condos will increase in price (but less so compared to houses and townhouses)
  6. More investors will be coming back

Denny’s advice: buy a house now or you may never own one!

There is a limited amount of land available for single-family/detached homes to be built on. With a decreased chance of a newer house being built in your community, there are fewer properties to compare to when looking to sell. This leads to less competitive pricing, which will in turn increase selling price over time.

It is hard to know for sure if all of our predictions will come true, but one thing is for certain: the Garbutt and Dumas realtors are looking forward to helping you navigate through all things real estate in 2021!

Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: 2020 Greater Vancouver Market Recap – What’s Happening Now and What to Expect Next Year episode to listen as James and Denny discuss more about what trends they have seen and their predictions for 2021.

Do you have questions regarding low-interest rates, the upsizing trend, the popularity of apartments and townhouses, and the growing appeal of moving out of the city and into the surrounding areas? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.

Townhouses – 2021 Trends, and Things you Should Know

Is 2021 the Year of the Townhouse?

Townhouse supply is low, and demand is high. This is a Realtor’s opinion on townhouse trends, and things you should know. 

What is a townhouse?

Townhouses typically have a small footprint, multi-level units, shared walls with neighbours, and a separate entry. Often 3 bedrooms or more, and found in higher density neighborhoods.

Who wants them?

Townhouses are very popular with young families because they are more affordable than a house, and many have 3+ bedrooms, which is ideal for families with kids.  For many, townhouses are the next step up from a condo.  For some, such as empty nesters, townhouses are the next step down from a house.  

What are some things to consider when buying a townhouse?

Age & Size – Old or new? Small or big? Older townhouses often come with more space inside and yard space outside but watch rising maintenance expenses for upgrading items such as: exterior siding, windows, roofs, plumbing, etc.  Newer townhouses often have smaller footprints, are vertically stacked (on 3 levels), and many are narrow with a tandem garage.  Closer to the city, you’ll find more density with stacked townhouses, which have neighbouring units at the sides, below and even above, and underground parking.  Depending on the age and location, some townhouses are more like a house, and others are more like a condo.

Strata Fees & Insurance – In the days of rising insurance costs, a large townhouse could be left with an astronomical strata fee if it were associated with a tower or complex that has high maintenance and insurance costs. Townhouses at the base of condo towers, are treated like large condos (with a higher unit entitlement) and are responsible for a higher portion of the building maintenance costs. These high strata fees can devalue townhouses as many buyers are turned off by them.  Townhouse only complexes typically have much lower strata fees due to less (or no) expenses from; elevators, heating common areas, insurance, and amenities.  

Our team of realtors specialize in buying and selling townhouses

Why are we talking about townhouses?  Because they’re hot and the demand is growing!

Here are some of the latest Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board statistics for December 2020:

The ‘Home Price Index’ for a typical townhouse in the Lower Mainland is up +5.9% over the last 12 months.  For the markets we often sell in (Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and New Westminster) townhouse prices are up between +4.0 – 6.5% over the last year. North Vancouver was the leader on the list, with a +9.2% gain over the last year.

Median Sale Prices (December 2020):

Burnaby Townhouses – $812,000

Coquitlam Townhouses – $839,000

Port Coquitlam Townhouses – $647,000

Maple Ridge/ Pitt Meadows Townhouses – $585,000

North Vancouver Townhouses – $1,099,500

East Vancouver Townhouses – $1,188,000

Fall Sales Ratios were ridiculously high! 

A ‘sales ratio’ represents the number of sales in a given month over the number of active listings, as a ratio.  A 20% sales ratio indicates 1 out of 5 listings are selling in a given month.  If a 20% or higher sales ratio is sustained in an area for a long period of time, it typically leads to upward pressure on prices. Here were some sales ratios from November & December 2020 for Townhouse:

Burnaby 71% & 119%, Coquitlam 80% & 131%, New Westminster 117% & 169%, Port Moody 136% & 211% (Nov & Dec sale ratio %)

Where are townhouses selling?

Let’s look at the number of townhouses that sold this fall:

October, November, December (Total # of Sales)

Burnaby – 214

Coquitlam – 212

Maple Ridge/PM – 217

Vancouver East – 200

North Vancouver – 143

New Westminster – 70

Port Moody – 69

Tri-Cities (Coq, PoCo, PoMo) – 368

Which townhouse complexes should I consider?

There are many great townhouse complexes throughout the lower mainland and we can’t cover them all. From a Realtor’s opinion, here are a few options to consider:

Looking for a large townhouse?

Consider ‘Tree Tops’ on Heritage Mountain.  Located at 101 Parkside Dr, Port Moody, townhouses in this complex range from 1600sf to 3500sf.  Built in the early 1990s, these Duplex style townhouses offer some of the largest floor plans for townhouses in Port Moody.  Currently, prices in this complex range from $800,000 to $1,400,000.

Popular townhouses

‘Indigo’ at 100 Klahanie Dr, Port Moody.  Built by Polygon in 2005, and centrally location in Port Moody Centre, this townhouse complex is loaded with young families and kids, and has excellent amenities with an outdoor pool at the Canoe Club.  Indigo contains mostly 3 bedroom townhouses in the 1300 to 2000 sf range.  Current prices in this complex range from $900,000 – $1,100,000.

‘Quest’ at 2200 Panorama Dr, Port Moody.  Located up the mountain in ‘Heritage Woods’ and built in 2005, Quest is surrounded by nature and trails, and is a great option for young families that want the feeling of being away from the city.  Quest contains a mix of 3 and 4 bedroom townhouses in the 1400 to 2400 sf range.  Current prices in the complex range from $800,000 – $1,000,000.

Lesser known townhouses with good value

Brookside Dr, Port Moody – Keep an eye out for these 1970s built, well maintained townhouses that offer more space at a lower price, and are in a great location in ‘Port Moody Centre’ steps from the skytrain and all amenities that Port Moody has to offer.

Falcon Dr, Coquitlam – The 1100 block of Falcon Dr has a few complexes of 1980s built townhouses that offer more space at a lower price, and are close to all perks of Port Moody, including the future Coronation Park master planned community.  Townhouses on Falcon Drive are mostly 3 bedrooms, and are currently priced in the $600,000 – $850,000 range.

What about Port Coquitlam?

‘Fremont Blue’ and ‘Fremont Indigo’ built by Mosaic around 2015 are a great option to consider.  Keep an eye out for these townhouses on ‘Ranger Lane’ in Port Coquitlam, just steps to the PoCo Trail along the Fraser River.  Mostly 3 bedrooms in the 1200 to 1700 sf range, and currently priced in the $700,000 – 900,000 range.

Some other townhouse complexes worth mentioning:

Osprey Village & Nature’s Walk – Offer some of the best options for townhouses in Pitt Meadows

Portside – New townhouse development in Queensborough built by Anthem and expected to complete in 2021.  Offer gorgeous waterfront townhouses fronting on the Fraser River.

There are far too many townhouses to cover in just one blog post, but if you would like to hear more we did a great podcast episode on this topic that you can listen to here
If you’re thinking of buying or selling a townhouse in the future and would like more information on current values or what this city has to offer, we would love to hear from you!  Contact us here and one of our realtors will show you some of the best townhouses available on the market.

G+D Realtors: Port Moody Realtors, Burnaby Realtors, New Westminster Realtors, Coquitlam Realtors, Port Coquitlam Realtors, Vancouver Realtors, North Vancouver Realtors

Blog: Supporting Local with PoMo Life

Monica Harmse and Lucas McCann live and work in the beautiful city of Port Moody. They created the vlog PoMo Life about two years ago to create a genuine resource for information about what is going on in the community, new shops or breweries opening, or to find great restaurant recommendations.

Denny Dumas caught up with Monica and Lucas to learn more about PoMo Life and see how things have changed since it was first created.

Why did you start the vlog and how has it evolved?

  • Wanted people to see more of Port Moody and learn about us through where we love to spend our time most
  • We wanted more real estate business in the area that we are passionate about
  • Had to change our process in the last 10 months because of COVID-19 restrictions: cannot go into as many shops, not as intimate, and harder to do interviews
      • Focused on how the pandemic has affected businesses – heard their story of hardships and survival
  • Not shooting as much, focusing more on Instagram and Facebook
      • Reposting what local businesses post to help with a larger reach
  • Do not need to have both of us in every post/get each other’s permission for everything
      • Trust each other; be a part of the team, hold each other accountable for our own responsibilities

What have you learned?

  • After about 1 year in, we realized that not many people knew we were real estate agents so had to start posting more about that
      • We did not want to advertise ourselves, we wanted to interact with the community and show our personalities
      • Recognized we had to share what we did for a living so that our followers could use us as a resource for real estate as well
  • Finding balance in work life and personal life is so important
      • The intention is to get as much content out as possible but must realize that we are busy professionals and have other priorities that need our time
  • Our most successful posts are created when we have fun with our content and show things that most others are not posting about (going into dark crawl spaces, etc.)
      • Do not let fear or ego hold you back; we are all learning and do not know the answer to everything
      • Do not overanalyze! This could stop you from moving forward personally and professionally

How do you measure success with PoMo Life?

  • Hearing from shop owners that our followers stopped by after we posted about their business
      • Owners love it – free exposure, a great way to get their business out there
      • Businesses have started reaching out to us about upcoming events or promotions
  • Starting to see more real estate referrals – the more people who know you, the more likely you are to get a recommendation
  • Starting to feel like we are a part of the community

What are your long-term goals with PoMo Life?

  • In 5 years, we want to build something that people trust and find entertaining
      • Bring more business to the local shops and showcase our community
  • Build referrals
      • Feel more fulfilled working in Port Moody
      • We want to get busier in this area to decrease the amount of travel done for work all around the lower mainland
  • Become real estate experts in Port Moody
      • When buyers or agents walk into our properties, we want them to already know who we are, could be advantageous in deals or in creating long-lasting relationships
Lucas and Monica join Denny to discuss all things Port Moody

Tell us about Port Moody and why people love it:

  • It is such a cool city to live in!
  • Consists of a mostly younger demographic (25 to 45-year-old adults), newlyweds or young families
      • Great community feel, you get to know your neighbors and see the same people every day
  • Beautiful backdrop – mountains, water, and great trails
  • The amount of PoMo businesses increased within the last 5 years to cater to the families moving here
  • Connected to surrounding cities by Skytrain
  • Housing prices are more affordable here compared to comparable properties in other areas (North Vancouver, New Westminster, etc)
      • Large variety in types of real estate available: luxury homes to small condos
      • No new detached homes being built in Port Moody, so will not have a better newer house than yours 5 years down the line
      • Long term value in Port Moody, real estate value is constantly going up
  • There is a misconception that Port Moody is so far from everything else, but it takes on average about 25 minutes to get to North Vancouver or downtown
  • One area of the city that needs more attention is the amount of infrastructure available to accommodate the population growth
      • More roads and better traffic signs need to be put in place before the city gets too big and too much is built
      • Certain parts of the city are difficult to get to or have not seen any road updates recently
Monica and Lucas are excited to see where year three of PoMo Life takes them! Follow them on Instagram @pomolifebc to stay up to date with their adventures.

Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: Supporting Local with PoMo Life episode to hear more from Lucas and Monica about their love for the city of Port Moody and PoMo Life.

Do you have questions regarding buying or living in Port Moody? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.

Blog: The Importance of Having an Online Presence as a Realtor

The amount of caution surrounding COVID-19 has recently increased, and as a realtor, it is important to understand that everyone has different comfort levels. Common methods used by real estate agents in the past (for example, door knocking) may not work during today’s restrictions.

Open houses have changed as well, with a limited number of people able to enter the house at a time. It is key to take this opportunity to make a personal connection, get to know what the buyer is looking for, and answer any questions they may have while walking through the house. This is a great way to make a long-lasting good impression, and you never know which buyers do not have a realtor to represent them yet.

Helpful tips:
  1. Be pleasant with everyone you come across – it can go a long way
  2. If you do not know something, never leave it at, “I do not know.” Always promise to find out the answer and follow up with them
    • This is also a great way to get their contact information!

Real estate agents have had to adopt new strategies to reach more clients. One of the biggest opportunities in building a database and a following is by going virtual and reaching your target audience online.

Find out which medium works best for you – videography is a great way to show your personality while delivering your content.

What should agents be doing online in the next couple of months?


The first step is to get started: begin learning and creating content around topics you are passionate about, and who you want to be or what you want to do in the future. The more you share during this downtime, the more benefit will come from it. Experiment to find out what social media platforms or mediums work best for you – do you like video, blogs, Twitter?

Understand that you are not perfect and try to push past the insecurities that come with trying something new. Get comfortable being uncomfortable! Continue to produce content and if the message is genuine and helpful, your audience will enjoy it. With practice, you will gain confidence and authority in that field.

Analyze what you want to be known for:
  1. Educate:
    • Certain property type
    • A specific community specialist
      • Know the OCP, zoning, how it is changing, building applications
    • Common issues of homes built during a certain period
  2. Entertain
    • Quirky property videos with fun intros
    • Market yourself and show your personality

This process takes time, but the pay off is worth it when clients start noticing. Channel your focus into one thing and do it consistently well. Once you have become an expert in a certain niche, your followers will trust you and will continue consuming your content. It is this support that will have people sending you business from your channel and when it is time for them to sell or buy a property, you want to be the first person on their mind.

Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: The Importance of Having an Online Presence as a Realtor episode to listen as James and Denny share how they started growing their brand online and what they have learned throughout the process.

Do you have questions regarding gaining authority in your field, using social media and other platforms to reach your target audience and the power of videos in getting your brand out there? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.

Blog: The Grey Areas of GST in Real Estate

It can be a confusing and frustrating task trying to figure out which real estate deals the 5% goods and services tax (GST) applies to.

There are some examples that are not in question for paying GST. These include new construction from a developer, a brand-new lot, and a new condominium or house.

The grey areas arise with the following circumstances:

  1. A significantly renovated home (75% or more of the home was renovated)
    • The criteria for these homes are difficult as each house and renovation is different; tough to get a straight answer
    • GST will probably apply if there is an extension/square footage is added to the home or if it changes the exterior
    • GST will also probably apply if the owner is in the business of buying a home and significantly renovating/flipping it (especially if you do not move into the property)
  2. In new construction, sometimes not only the first owner but also the second owner must pay GST
    • This depends on the first owner’s intent for the property
  3. GST may or may not apply to land purchases

It is important to note that the intent of the owner is crucial in determining whether GST must be paid.

For example – let us say that Bob buys a new construction condo in 2015 that completes in 2019.

Once completed, he decided that he wants to sell. In the time that it took for the condo to be built, the condo’s worth increased. If Bob’s initial intent was to have it as his primary residence, then the GST does not have to be paid on the increase in price. If his intent was to sell for a profit, then GST is applicable.

If Bob were to have a tenant rent out his condo for a year and claim it as an investment property, then that can change whether the GST must be paid. However, be careful with this as if it is done too often, there could be consequences. The longer the unit is an investment property, the better. 

This is only one scenario with relatively little information – every real estate deal can have its own challenges, so it is best to seek out an expert who can help guide the transaction properly.

Work with your real estate agent to ensure that you fully understand the contract and small details (like who is responsible for the GST) are not missed.

Quick Tips:

  • When searching for properties, look at how the property is represented and if it states whether the GST has been paid or not.
  • In deals where it is unknown if GST must be paid, real estate agents should ensure that a GST clause is put into the contract so that it is the buyer who is obligated to pay the taxes. This stops the seller from proactively paying the GST, and instead puts the responsibility on the buyer who is less likely to pay it if deemed unnecessary.

In any circumstances where it is unclear whether the buyer will have to pay GST, it is beneficial to talk to an accountant or someone who is an expert in the tax field. They will ask all the necessary questions and help navigate the process. Real estate agents will do their best to help their clients, but they may not have the expertise for each specific situation.

Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: The Grey Area of GST in Real Estate episode to listen as James and Denny talk about their experiences with the goods and services tax in their property deals.

Do you have questions regarding when to pay real estate taxes, investment properties, the fine print in contracts, and what a significantly renovated property is? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.

Blog: The Ins and Outs of a Depreciation Report

What is a depreciation report?

A depreciation report is a formal, standardized report created by an engineering firm to evaluate older buildings in the greater Vancouver area. It was created in 2013 as a proactive way to increase the amount of information available for strata to plan and pay for the repair, replacement, and renewal of common property and assets (roof, windows, elevator, etc.) over the next 30 years. This report is also used by prospective buyers to reduce the chances of running into unexpected and expensive issues after the deal goes through.

The Pros:
  1. Gives detailed information on previous renovations – before this report, it would be difficult to know when the roof was replaced, plumbing was done, etc.
  2. If the seller was living in the building for a short amount of time, the report will offer a more detailed history that they may not be aware of
The Cons:
  1. It is a long document that is not meant to be taken word for word; the percentage of people who go through the full document and understand how to read it is quite low
  2. Not buyer-friendly – jeopardized deals when it was first created and could still be doing this today due to lack of understanding
  3. The reports tend to err on the conservative side – making estimates on all possible renovations within a 30-year span; the strata does not have to follow recommendations if upgrades are not appropriate at that time
  4. Can be overwhelming and look very negative when listing all possible upkeep projects on older buildings

A depreciation report can be a helpful tool, however, how it is communicated and used can play a huge factor in its effectiveness. Before presenting any report to your client, ensure that you understand what it means. Additionally, keep in mind that each tenant is only responsible for a certain percentage of the total cost depending on their unit entitlement, making a large renovation cost more manageable.

Remember that sizeable updates will be voted on by the strata and may not necessarily happen when they are predicted to if deemed unnecessary. Professional assessments and quotes from different experts in that field will be collected to ensure that the proper work is done at the best cost.

In the end, the positives of a depreciation report outweigh the negatives. Always take into consideration that the property’s land may be worth more than the actual structure, and it could still be a good deal even if the depreciation report is pessimistic.

Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: The Ins and Outs of a Depreciation Report episode to listen as James and Denny offer more insight into how best to use this information.

Do you have questions regarding older buildings, understanding how to read reports, and knowing if it’s a solid real estate deal? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.

Blog: Realtor Q&A – When is the best time to buy or sell?

COVID-19 continues to challenge the norm for real estate in the lower mainland. Many people have questions and concerns regarding the buying and selling process today.

Question #1: Should we buy now, or do you think the mortgage deferral program will catch up with homeowners and they will sell for less in the future?

At this point, waiting for housing prices to come down does not seem logical. There has not been a big enough trend to suggest that mortgage deferrals will influence prices.

For mortgage deferrals to make a bigger impact, prices today would have to be less than what people paid for the properties back in 2017.

Single family homes are still selling strong right now. First time home buyers are probably the most affected by COVID-19; however, they are also some of the most active in the market.

Overall, this is unknown territory and there is not a lot of data on how the real estate industry will change throughout this pandemic. It is best to buy when you find the right property as rates are so low right now. Do not wait out of fear for what might happen in the future, instead wait for the perfect house or a buyer’s market for the specific type of property that you like.


Question #2: As a real estate agent, what kind of conversations are you having with your seller if their property has not received any offers?

A lot of home buyers are already stretching themselves financially to be able to afford property in greater Vancouver. Now is not the time to overprice your home when selling because you may receive very few offers.

It is important to understand the value of the home and the market activity on those specific type of properties when setting a price. Most sellers do not have the experience or knowledge of what the best price for their home may be – talk to your real estate agent to get their opinion.

For example, condos have a lot of selection right now and are selling at over 97% of list price. If your listing is too high, it might automatically take it off some buyers’ lists. It must be a unique or luxurious property for it be overpriced and still sell.

Additionally, buyers are generally too nice to write low-ball offers. This means that if a seller chooses to put their home on the market at a number that is too high, they may not receive any interest. After a price reduction, the offers may start rolling in.

Timing is everything when it comes to buying or selling property, so it is recommended to stay off the market until you are confident with what you are doing. Real estate agents are there to help you with some of these decisions and can offer helpful insight into this ever-changing market.


Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: Realtor Q&A – When is the Right Time to Buy or Sell? episode to listen as James and Denny offer more insight into the buying and selling process.

Do you have questions regarding the best listing price, comparable properties, and when to buy real estate? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.

Blog: The Benefits of Working with an Experienced Home Inspector

Home inspectors have been extremely busy the last couple of months as the real estate market has been heating up! This can make it difficult to find a thorough and experienced professional when trying to sell a home. Here are some tips to hopefully help you through this process.

To begin with, it is important to note that not all home inspectors are the same. It is recommended to go with someone that you know or an individual who has great reviews and a strong reputation.

Communication is one of the biggest variables in having success with a home inspector. Entire sales can break down and a potential buyer may lose the house of their dreams if the home inspector is inaccurately able to communicate what the deficiencies are in a property.

Common questions to ask a potential home inspector:

    1. Are you licensed?
    2. What is your experience prior to doing home inspections?
        • Previous work experience can help with understanding the home better (such as construction)
    1. How many inspections have you done?
        • The more inspections the better, there is a learning curve associated with this job (recognizing common flaws, knowing what to look for)
    1. Do you get up on the roof and down into the crawl space?
        • Want to make sure they do not miss anything that may be lurking in the dirtier and darker spots (animal droppings, mold, wiring or plumbing issues)
    1. What type of equipment do you use during an inspection?
        • A moisture meter can be used to find moisture in the walls (ex. behind tile in shower)
        • Heat sensors can be used to determine how well a home is insulated

Ask the potential home inspector if they go into the crawl space and up into the attic

For both sellers and real estate agents, try to be present for the home inspection so you can walk through the house with the inspector and ask questions. You can use this time to hear practical explanations of the issues with the home and gain a better understanding of how to fix them.

After a home inspection, a report is created. This report should include information about electrical faults, moisture content, design flaws (ex. old skylights), and any major structural integrity issues. This report can be daunting as its main purpose is to list what is wrong with the property. It is important to keep in mind that the older homes being sold today were not built following today’s building code. Focus on what is common for houses of this age and price point and what is not common.

There are some big-ticket items that are difficult to get closure on during an inspection. These can include:

  • Drainage – home inspector may have a small scope that can show if surface drainage is clogged; would need a professional with a longer scope to gain more information on this
  • Asbestos – need a professional in a hazmat suit to perform an inspection; would cause structural damage to multiple areas of the house as they would have to open the wall for sample
  • Presence of an oil tank on the property – may be able to find some evidence, but would need a ground penetrating radar scan to know for sure

One last note is that a home inspection is a condition report of how the home sits today. This means that it cannot predict what will happen in the future and cannot tell for certain what has happened in the past. Using an experienced home inspector can help with some of these uncertainties, however there are still limitations. Nevertheless, a thorough home inspection can help you make a more informed decision when selling or buying a home.


Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: The Benefits of Working with an Experienced Home Inspector episode to hear James and Denny breakdown what to expect from a thorough home inspection.

Do you have questions regarding how to find the best home inspector and get the most out of this process? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.

Blog: Good Communication – Gaining Trust by Being Proactive

Proactive communication is the best way to keep your clients feeling calm and confident throughout the process of selling their property.

There are a variety of different ways to communicate these days and it seems to be continuously changing. From speaking to your client on the phone or sending emails, texts, and even social media messages, it is important to establish expectations to determine how and when you will contact them. Group texts are a great way to keep everyone involved in the sale up to date with changes as they happen and can lead to less redundancy.

Steps to successful communication in the real estate world:

  1. First phone call: gain information about the property and about the client
    • Know what the client wants – ask questions so that you understand the full equation:
      • Do they also want to buy another property?
      • Are they upsizing or downsizing?
      • Are they moving out of town?
      • What is their timeline like?
  1. If they want to move forward with the sale, outline what the upcoming weeks will look like and when they should expect to hear from you
    • You want your client to be fully updated with every step so that they feel confident with what is happening and do not need to ask a lot of questions
    • Let them know:
      • When photography/videography day is and tips on how best to prepare for that
      • How long it will take for photos to be ready and for listing to be created
      • When the property is listed and links for MLS listing and social media posts
    • Set realistic expectations for what will happen in terms of list price and market value, when to be aggressive and when to wait until a better time, and current amount of interest in that neighborhood
  2. Once listed, message the seller throughout the week to schedule open houses, confirm showing plans and give quality feedback after showings
    • Feedbacks after a showing is a strong way to keep the seller updated and informed
      • Message the seller with feedback from potential buyers: what they liked, what they did not like, what they would prefer instead
      • Share specific details with the seller that will make a big impact for the next showing and possible sale – honesty is always important!
      • Share with the seller how many people came through to see the home to keep expectations realistic
  1. Communication can help ease the stress of having a property listing that is lingering on the market
    • Discuss the possible negatives that are keeping it from being sold
    • If it has been on the market for 2-4 months, send weekly or biweekly updates on what is happening in their neighborhood
  2. After an accepted offer, it is important to remember:
    • If it is conditional, ensure seller knows that it is not confirmed yet
      • Prepare the seller that it may not go through, some further steps still need to take place
        1. Keep sellers updated on dates of home inspection, appraisal, and subject removal date
        2. Roughly 30% of the time it may fall apart (depends on the type of property)
      • Try to talk about specific property issues with the buyer’s agent (20-year-old roof, old furnace, etc) with the hopes that they share this with their clients. This is a proactive way to get ahead of some negatives that may pop up during home inspection and can ease renegotiations.
  1. It can take up to 8 weeks once subjects are removed until completion, which can feel like a very long time to the seller
    • Keep in contact, remind them when completion is coming up, and then how to exchange keys at completion
    • Follow up afterwards to make sure that the process went smoothly and that they had a good move


A person scrolling through their phone

Communication Tips and tricks:

Use email templates when contacting the client. This ensures that important details are not missed and that all steps of the selling process are covered.

Try to stay away from open ended questions. The sellers are most likely not experts in this field and are looking to you for guidance on big decisions. Give them an approximate plan and then get their feedback. It is amazing how appreciative and relieved sellers are when given a detailed layout!

Know when to phone and when to text. Sometimes a phone call can lead to less confusion and bigger picture conversations that can help your client understand the full process better, leading to less questions later.

Let the seller know specifically when you will call so that they are not waiting, and/or calling you multiple times instead.


Listen to The Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast: Good Communication – Gaining Trust by Being Proactive episode to hear specific examples of how James and Denny communicate with their clients during a property sale.

Do you have questions regarding real estate or how best to sell a property? We would love to hear from you – contact us and we can help you with some of the specifics.