Selling This Holiday Season?

Written by Monica Harmse

Reduced inventory over the holidays generally means less competition for Sellers. Yes, there are cons- In parts of the country where it snows non-stop, buyers may think twice about bundling up in heavy coats, boots, and gloves to trudge through snow banks to go looking at homes when they’d rather be out shopping or staying home in front of the fireplace. But in Greater Vancouver, we have a relatively mild winter which means buyers are still on the hunt!

If You Plan on Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Back off on the decorations. Should you hang a wreath on your door or showcase a Christmas tree in front of a window? What’s overdoing it? What’s not?

By minimizing the holiday decorations, you are making your home feel more spacious. When buyers enter your home, you want them to imagine putting their own furniture in each room, making it theirs, and they can’t do that if your holiday decorations dominate the stage.

Too many decorations can be overwhelming and distracting. Don’t make the mistake of thinking buyers will “see past it” because some can’t.

Hard to Sell Unique Homes

Let’s face it…some homes take more finesse to sell. If you have a hard-to-sell home with drawbacks, maybe an undesirable location or outdated features, you might get shoved to the bottom of the showing list if you wait until Spring to sell your home. There might be too many other sparklier homes for sale at that time. Give your unique home a chance to rise to the top when there are fewer homes for sale over the holidays.

Holiday Decorating Compromises for Holiday Enthusiasts

If you decide you cannot live through a holiday season without decorating your home, keep the decorations to a minimum. Don’t block important selling features such as fireplace mantels, stairs, or new windows. The holiday decor should be replacing the current display, not bulking it up! Keep it neutral. You should think twice before displaying heavy religious focused décor during home showings ANYTIME of the year, Christmas season is no different.

So What Can you Do?!

Despite what other Realtors may say, I am totally on board with white exterior lights if they are nicely done.
You can still have a tree! Just tone down the size of the tree. In place of a 10-foot tree, try decorating a table-top or four-foot version. (Hide the wrapped gifts or save the wrapping for the night before Christmas!)
Absolutely display centrepieces made from pine cones or other wintry pieces of nature. Set a plate of cookies on the counter, next to festive paper napkins for guests.
Simmer spicy apple cider on the stove and set out Christmasy cups and serving utensils. There are a number of ways to cheat the system – just keep it light! 

Our Top Home Sales for the Month of May 2021

Every month we want to highlight some of the amazing properties we get to sell. Here are our award winners for the month of May:

Hottest Property of May!

314 Holmes Street – This beautiful 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom New Westminster home was listed at $1,199,000. 

314 Holmes St, New Westminster

After approximately 40 showings they received 9 offers and SOLD at over $246,000 over list price!

314 Holmes Street, New Westminster, 5 Bed, 3 Bath, 2,143sf – SOLD!

Best View Sold in May!

230 Salter Street is where this stunning 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom New Westminster townhome was listed for $899,000.

20-230 Salter Street, New Westminster

With gorgeous views of the river, an excellent layout with charming features, and an amazing rooftop patio this townhome sold at 99.6% of the listing price!

20-230 Salter Street, New Westminster – 3 Bed, 3 bath, 1,537sf – SOLD!

Best Backyard Sold in May!

Gorgeous backyard and 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2799 sf of living space, in this charming family home. A covered patio, hot tub and water feature, who would not want to relax in this oasis?

1507 Dublin Street, New Westminster

Listed at $1,499,000 this home sold at $76,000 over list price!

Garbutt + Dumas May Sales:

210-9262 University Crescent, Burnaby – 2 Bed, 2 Bath, 724sf – SOLD! 

312-340 Ginger Drive, New Westminster – 1 Bed, 1 Bath, 773sf – SOLD!

1501-111 E 1st Ave, Vancouver – 1 Bed, 1 Bath, 611sf – SOLD!

403-2330 Wilson Ave, Port Coquitlam – 2 Bed, 2 Bath, 975sf – SOLD!

20-102 Fraser Street, Port Moody – 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1,410sf – SOLD!

450 Kelly Street, New Westminster – 5 Bed, 2 Bath, 2,042 – SOLD!

2502-660 Nootka Way, Port Moody – 2 Bed, 2 Bath, 848sf – SOLD!

307-26 E Royal Ave, New Westminster – 2 Bed, 2 Bath, 1,060sf – SOLD!

310-3921 Carrigan Court, Burnaby – 2 Bed, 1 Bath, 920sf – SOLD!*

104-55 Eighth Ave, New Westminster -2 Bed, 2 Bath, 874sf – SOLD! *

3018 Maplebrook Place, Coquitlam – 2 Bed, 1 Bath, 1,250sf – SOLD!*

34-55 Hawthorn Drive, Port Moody – 3 Bed, 3 Bath, 1,511sf – SOLD!

8165 Forest Grove Drive, Burnaby – 3 Bed, 3 Bath, 1,987sf – SOLD!

71-3295 Sunnyside road, Port Moody – 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1,516sf – SOLD!*

A210-8150 207 Street, Langley – 2 Bed, 2 Bad, 960sf – SOLD!

26-50 Panorama Place, Port Moody – 3 Bed, 3 Bath, 1,740sf – SOLD!

1019 Hamilton Street, New Westminster – 6 Bed, 4 Bath, 2,837sf – SOLD!*

3339 Windsor Street, Vancouver – 3 Bed, 3 Bath, 1,518sf – SOLD!

22620 125A Ave, Maple Ridge – 5 Bed, 3 Bath, 2,319sf – SOLD!

*Represented the Buyer

Beautiful Burnaby Crest House Sold Fast!

Property: 7668 Endersby St, Burnaby
List Price: $1,378,000
List Date: February 27, 2107
This house at 7668 Endersby St sold fast! Even in a challenging market for some house sales, top Burnaby Realtors James Garbutt and Denny Dumas were able to sell this beautiful house in Burnaby’s Crest neighbourhood in just four days for full price!
The six bedroom, three bathroom house features a beautifully updated kitchen with quartz countertops, high-end stainless steel appliances and shaker cabinets. It also leads out to a huge covered back deck that overlooks a pristine back yard. The large living and dining rooms feature hardwood floors and a gas fireplace.
Three of the bedrooms are upstairs, along with a renovated 4-piece bathroom. Another bedroom, along with a 3-piece ensuite, is downstairs, as well as a separate 2-bedroom suite.
The new owners will be close to parks, schools, transit and easy access to Highway 1 is just moments away.
Click here to see the listing

7668 Endersby living room
The living room features hardwood floors

7668 Endersby kitchen
The updated kitchen opens to a huge covered deck.

7668 Endersby deck
The huge covered deck overlooks an immaculate backyard.


Just Listed! Burnaby North 2 Bedroom Condo for under $400K!

Property: #202 3939 Hastings St., Burnaby
List Price: $398,000
List Date: March 13, 2017
Imagine a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom North Burnaby condo in a great location for less than $400,000! No way, you say. Not in this market! But Burnaby Realtors James Garbutt and Denny Dumas have just listed one at 202-3939 Hastings St.
This 780 sq. ft. unit is located in The Sienna, smack dab in the middle of the coveted Heights neighbourhood. Restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, butchers, groceries and transit are right at your doorstep!
The open concept layout of this North Burnaby condo makes it feel much larger than its 780 sq. ft. The large kitchen features tons of storage. The huge patio is partially covered so you’ll be able to barbecue all year. And the bedrooms are on opposite sides of the suite, so you can enjoy your “me” time. Or you can use the second bedroom as a home office.
The unit comes with a newer in-suite washer and dryer as well as one parking spot. Downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver are about a 10-minute drive away.
Listed at $398,000, this North Burnaby condo is a great opportunity for a first-time buyer!
We’re going to be showing it for the first time on Thursday, March 16, 6-7 p.m., and at an Open House on Sunday, March 19 2:30-4:30 p.m. See you there!
Click here to see the full listing for 202-3939 Hastings St

living room at 202-3939 Hastings St
The bright living room features a gas fireplace.

Deck at 202-3939 Hastings St
The large deck is partially covered for year-round use.

Home office at 202-3939 Hastings St
You can use the second bedroom as a large home office.


Burnaby Townhouse Sold for Record Price!

Property: #84 6878 Southpoint Dr., Burnaby
List Price: $798,000
Sale Price: $921,000
Sold Date: April 4, 2016
A three bedroom townhouse in South Burnaby doesn’t come along every day. So it’s no surprise that Burnaby Realtors James Garbutt and Denny Dumas were able to get a record price for this 3-level beauty at #84 6878 Southpoint Dr,.
The end-unit townhouse features 1700 sq. ft. of living space, making it one of the largest in the Cortina development in Burnaby’s South Slope neighbourhood. The three bedrooms are all located upstairs, along with two full bathrooms. The open-concept main floor has 9’ ceilings, a gourmet kitchen and a powder room. The basement has a spacious rec room and direct access to the underground parkade where the unit’s two side-by-side parking stalls are located.
The huge wrap-around patio borders a green belt that connects to walking and biking trails that weave through the area’s parks. The Edmonds SkyTrain station is a 5-minute walk away, as are Taylor Park Elementary School and two daycares. Shopping at the Market Crossing is only a short drive away.
With so much going for it, plus an awesome location, this Burnaby townhouse attracted the attention of real estate agents in Burnaby who presented multiple offers. It sold well above list in just 11 days!
Click here to see the listing for #84 6878 Southpoint

The living room at 84-6878 Southpoint Dr
The living room features high ceilings and a gas fireplace.

The dining area and kitchen at 84-6878 Southpoint Dr
The bright dining area and gourmet kitchen

The master bedroom at 84-6878 Southpoint Dr
The master bedroom looks out at a green belt.


Mortgage insurance premiums going up

Mortgage insurance premiums from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will be increasing March 17.
For the average homeowner whose mortgage is insured by CMHC, that could mean an increase in their monthly mortgage payment of about $5 on a $250,000 loan with a downpayment between 5% and 9.99%. The increase applies to new mortgage applications received after March 17. The premium for current mortgages or applications that are submitted before March 17 won’t be increased.

What the increases in mortgage insurance premiums means for monthly mortgage payments
A sample chart provided by CMHC shows what the increases to mortgage insurance premiums will mean for monthly mortgage payments.

“We do not expect the higher premiums to have a significant impact on the ability of Canadians to buy a home,” said Steven Mennill, the senior vice-president of insurance at CMHC. “Overall, the changes will preserve competition in the mortgage loan insurance industry and contribute to financial stability.”
CMHC is a Crown corporation that is the largest provider of mortgage insurance in the country.

Private insurer also raising mortgage insurance premiums

Canada’s largest private mortgage insurer, Genworth, is matching the CMHC premium hikes.
“We believe this new pricing is prudent and reflects the new regulatory capital framework for mortgage insurers,” said Stuart Levings, the president and CEO of Genworth Canada.
The increase is necessary because new rules that came into effect on Jan. 1 require banks and insurers to hold more capital against the value of the mortgages they’re holding. It’s also the latest in a suite of changes to mortgage rules implemented last fall by the federal government to help temper the furious housing market in some parts of the country, including Metro Vancouver.
Mortgage insurance is required by Canadian law whenever a homeowner’s down payment on a home purchase is less than 20 per cent of its total price. The premium can be paid in a lump sum, but it’s more typically added to the mortgage principal and repaid as part of a homeowner’s regular mortgage payments. The insurance protects lenders in case borrowers default on their loans.

Homeowner grant gets higher threshold

The BC government is raising the threshold for owners to be able to claim the homeowner grant to $1.6 million from $1.2 million.
The change means many homeowners whose recent property assessment increased the value of their home above the old threshold will still be eligible for the $570 basic homeowner grant to offset municipal property taxes on their principal residence.
“The threshold increase to $1.6 million helps ensure virtually everyone who received the grant last year will also receive it in 2017,” said Finance Minister Michael de Jong.

The threshold for the homeowner grant is going up to $1.6 million.
A higher threshold for homeowners to be eligible for a homeowner grant will help offset increases in their assessed property values.

The 33 per cent increase in the threshold was necessitated by 30-50 per cent jumps in assessed property values for detached single-family homes in some areas that put many homes above the previous $1.2 million threshold. In Metro Vancouver, the new threshold will keep 83 per cent of homes below the threshold and across the province 91 per cent of homes will remain eligible for the full grant.
When a home is valued above the threshold, the grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of its assessed value in excess of the threshold. That means a home’s assessed value will now have to be more than $1,714,000 for its owner to completely lose their eligibility for any grant at all.
“We are doing our part to help keep housing costs affordable for families,” said de Jong.
When homeowners claim the grant to reduce their property taxes, the provincial government reimburses municipalities for the difference. The program will cost the province $821 million in 2017-18, up from $809 million last year.

  • To be eligible for the grant, a homeowner must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, living in BC, and the home must be their principal residence.
  • The basic grant is $570. For home owners in northern or rural areas, the grant is $770.
  • Homeowners who are over 65, disabled or are the surviving spouse of a veteran can receive an additional grant to reduce their property taxes by up to $845, or $1045 for residents in northern or rural areas.

Low income homeowners, or those on a fixed income who are still struggling to pay their property taxes can also apply for a deferral of all or part of their obligation. That’s a kind of low-interest loan against the equity of your home; the province pays your property tax on your behalf and you repay the loan, plus interest, at any time.
Everything you need to know about the Homeowner Grant

Municipal bylaws are rules to live by

The wintry weather we’ve all endured for the past month has focused attention on municipal bylaws about clearing snow and ice from sidewalks.
The unusual pattern of snowfall, followed by a slight thaw, followed by an extended cold snap, caught many people out. Homeowners, property managers and even city crews that didn’t clear the first snowfall right away suddenly found themselves confronted with a thick moonscape of ice, frozen slush and crusted snow on sidewalks, parking lots and even roads. That made getting around tough for cars, treacherous for pedestrians.

Municipal bylaws exist so members of community can co-exist.
Weeks of snow and cold weather can make it tough to get around. Municipal bylaws regulate when property owners have to shovel their sidewalks.

Municipal bylaws are a set of rules and regulations that set standards for safety, maintenance, appearance, liveability and sustainability in a community. They’re implemented so residents, businesses and visitors can enjoy the community and coexist harmoniously. One of the those rules, common to many cities, mandates when property owners must clear snow from sidewalks or foot paths bordering their property.
In New Westminster, bylaw 6.28.2 says “the owner or occupier of real property shall: remove snow and ice from any Sidewalk, transit landing and foot path bordering that person’s real property and from the roof and other part of a structure adjacent to or abutting on any portion of the Street, not later than 10:00 a.m. of the day after the snow or ice was deposited thereon.” The sidewalks must be cleared their full length and width, right down to the bare concrete; it’s not good enough to create just a shovel-wide foot path. And if you’ve got an awning that hangs over a sidewalk, it should be cleared as well.
In Burnaby, businesses have to remove accumulated snow by 10 a.m. of any day they’re open to the public and residents must clear their sidewalks “as soon as possible.”
But regulations about clearing snow are only the tip of the municipal bylaws iceberg.

Municipal bylaws affect daily life

Municipal bylaws can affect many aspects of your life, from where you can park your car, to how loud and late you can play your stereo, to how well you must care for your property and the kind of renovation work you can do on it. They can govern when and how you dispose of your garbage, how you care for your pets, and even what kind of pets you can keep.
Municipal bylaws are passed by elected councils. They’re often created to address specific issues in communities, sometimes in response to concerns and complaints from community members.
For instance, the value New Westminster residents have placed on preserving the city’s heritage homes and buildings led to the creation of a “Community Heritage Register” of those properties in 1997. It’s accompanied by a whole series of municipal bylaws that regulate how protected heritage properties must be maintained. They also set procedures owners of those properties must follow if they want to do any renovations, restorations or even just paint the exterior.
The growing concern about the loss of trees and the possible impact on climate change as well as the appearance of neighbourhoods has led many communities to pass municipal bylaws that regulate the removal of trees. Those bylaws stipulate what size and kind of trees can be removed, as well as procedures to remove those trees so other trees aren’t affected and replant new trees.
When you become a homeowner in a community, it pays to familiarize yourself with its municipal bylaws. Or rather, you won’t pay if you know the rules because then a bylaw enforcement officer won’t show up at your door with a ticket for a violation.

Where to find municipal bylaws

Busy year for Vancouver real estate

Slight price increases for detached houses, townhouses and condo apartments in New Westminster capped a busy year for Vancouver real estate.
The benchmark price for a single family detached home in New West reached $1,035,600 in December. That’s a .9 per cent increase over November and 18.7 per cent higher than December, 2015. Townhouses were up 4.6 per cent over the month prior, 20 per cent more than a year ago; and the benchmark price for condos increased .2 per cent to $380,700, 22.6 per cent more than the end of last year. Overall, the benchmark price for a typical property in New West increased .6 per cent over November, 21.2 per cent more than a year ago.

Slight price increases New Westminster in December finished a busy year for Vancouver real estate
The benchmark price for condos in New Westminster increased .2 per cent in December over the previous month.

The benchmark price for residential properties in South Burnaby also increased one per cent in December over November to $858,300. That’s mostly due to a 2.7 per cent bump in the price of condos in the area while townhouses and detached homes dipped slightly.
A busy year for Vancouver real estate was capped by a slight increase in the price of condos in South Burnaby
The benchmark price for condos in South Burnaby went up 2.7 per cent in December over November to end a busy year for Vancouver real estate.

Those increases came even though there were fewer listings and sales. They also bucked a slight downward trend across Metro Vancouver where the benchmark price for all properties dipped 1.2 per cent from November.
In North Burnaby the overall benchmark price dipped .5 per cent in December and it was down .4 per cent in East Burnaby.
A general cooling of the real estate market in the last half of 2016 wasn’t enough to keep the year from being the third-highest selling on record, said Dan Morrison, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Only 2015 and 2005 recorded more property sales.
“The supply of homes for sale couldn’t keep up with home buyer demand for much of 2016,” said Morrison. “This allowed home sellers to raise their asking price.”
In fact, the benchmark price for all homes in Metro Vancouver reached $897,600 at the end of 2016, 17.8 per cent higher than December, 2015. The benchmark price for a typical single family detached home increased 18.6 per cent over the year to $1,483,500 while townhouses went up 20.4 per cent in 2016 to $661,800 and condos increased 17.3 per cent to $510,300.

Too soon to tell if 2017 will be another busy year for Vancouver real estate

Morrison said while government interventions to temper the frenzy in the local real estate market in the first six months of 2016 may have contributed to lower sales volumes and prices in the last half of the year, it’s still too soon to tell if their impact will continue to be felt into the new year.
“The long-term effects of these actions won’t be fully understood for some time,” said Morrison of the provincial foreign-buyers’ tax that was implemented in August to discourage off-shore speculators and new rules to make it tougher to qualify for a mortgage that were introduced by the federal government in the fall.
Another new measure introduced by the provincial government, a loan program to help first-time homebuyers with their down payment, begins accepting applications on Jan. 17.
Morrison said the market was under the microscope as sales and prices peaked in the late spring.
“Escalating prices caused by low supply and strong home buyer demand brought more attention to the market then ever before,” said Morrison. “As prices rose in the first half of the year, public debate waged about what was fuelling demand and what should be done to stop it. It was an eventful year for real estate in Metro Vancouver.”
All the stats from a busy year in Vancouver real estate
Wrapping-up our record year

Assessment notices hitting mailboxes

Property assessment notices for 2017 are in the mail, and some homeowners might be excused if they go a little bug-eyed in the next few days. In some parts of Greater Vancouver, assessed values have jumped 30-50 per cent for a detached single-family home, and 15-30 per cent for strata properties.
In New Westminster, assessments increased by an average of 28.48 per cent. In Burnaby the average increase over 2016 was 30.72 per cent. Assessments in Coquitlam increased by an average of 32.91 per cent; in Port Moody it was 31.49 per cent and in Port Coquitlam it was 33.86 per cent. Residential assessments in Surrey increased by an average of 36.26 per cent.

Assessment notices are in the mail and show some eye-popping increases.
Property assessments in New Westminster are up more than 28 per cent.

The most expensive residential property in Greater Vancouver is at 3085 Point Grey Rd. in Vancouver, with an assessed value of $75,821,000. All of the top 100 most expensive properties receiving assessment notices in the region are located in either Vancouver or West Vancouver.
Across the province, 2,017,364 properties were assessed for a total value of $1.68 trillion, a 25 per cent increase in value over 2016.

Assessment notices part of formula to set property taxes

Property assessments are set on July 1 by BC Assessment. Assessment notices are then sent to homeowners early the following January.
The agency estimates the market value of every residential, commercial and industrial property in the province based upon an analysis of current sales in the immediate area of each property, as well as its size, age, quality, condition, location and view. That information is then used by municipalities as a component for calculating property taxes, although a 30 per cent increase in assessed value doesn’t typically mean a corresponding increase in property tax. In fact, if the increase in the assessed value for a property is in line with the average increase of other properties in the community, your property tax will likely go up only by the rate set by the municipality to meet its budget.
But a property’s assessed value isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of what that property might currently sell for on the open market. Some properties sell for more than their assessed value, while others can sell for less. A month after BC Assessment set its values for this year, the BC government introduced its foreign buyers’ tax on residential property transactions in Greater Vancouver that accelerated the usual summer slowdown of prices. Subsequent initiatives by the provincial and federal governments to help address the affordability of housing further impacted sales and prices.
Homeowners who can’t wait for their property assessment notice to arrive in the mail, can check their assessment online. They can also compare their assessment to others in their neighbourhood, as well as get information on how to correct or appeal incorrect assessments.