Episode #7 – Real Estate Photography & First Impressions

When it comes to selling Real Estate, imagery is everything. Almost everyone who comes through the door will have first seen and judged the property online. So how do you make the most of that? This episode will focus on the importance of professional photography, how to get the most out of a photo shoot and how to separate your listing from others online.

Listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast (bottom of page) to learn why Professional Real Estate Photography is so important when marketing your home!

Real Estate Photography & First Impressions 

It goes without saying that marketing homes well is a huge part of our job as realtors. And it begins with real estate photography.  As such, it’s paramount to ensure that any property for sale is well presented, whether that be on your website, social media, MLS (multiple listing service) or anywhere else on the web. That first impression is normally the difference between a potential buyer deciding to come for a viewing or not.

In the following post, we’ll share with you our views on the importance of real estate photographer, presentation and first impressions:

Helping You Get Ready For Real Estate Photography 

Our first point of order is to do a room-by-room walkthrough of your house to establish the “important rooms” that need to be photographed. 

It’s important to remember that there is a difference between getting ready for photos and preparing for viewings. The images don’t pick up on all imperfections, nor do we take photos of every room that a buyer would see if they walked through your house. Regardless, there are a few details you need to tend to first.

Declutter The “Important Rooms” For The Photoshoot

Before professional pictures can be taken, we recommend that you tidy up any clutter. Which may include removing family photos from the fireplace mantle, clearing the kitchen countertop, taking a toothbrush off the bathroom counter, or reshuffling any other household items to clear up the space for that perfect shot.

Little touches like that, provide a much improved first impression when someone is scrolling through pictures of a property online. A simple idea to keep in mind is trying to make your home look like a hotel. Not too plain, not too cluttered. It calls for just the right balance between the two. If in any doubt, our advice is to remember that less is more in general.

Stage Your Home (To Some Degree) For Real Estate Photography 

Putting a little bit of effort into staging your home for real estate pictures is good practice for two main reasons. Firstly it improves the appeal of your home, which could result in better offers from buyers. Secondly it can help to sell your property faster.

We always arrive for photoshoots equipped with staging items including plants, table settings and extra decor. We’re constantly thinking about how to best present your home. That could be adding a centerpiece with glassware and plates to a table that otherwise looks too plain without it.  It helps make a great first impression for buyers.

Take Professional Pictures

Today, professional property photography is almost a prerequisite compared to 5 years ago when there were still a lot of amateur photos. But the level of effort going into professional photos differs greatly across the board. Different agents have different approaches.

In our team specifically, we ensure that two or three members of the team attend client photoshoots. While the photographer is setting up for pictures, we are working behind the scenes moving furniture around to frame each shot so that it 

can be seen in its best possible light. 

We want to lure potential buyers through the door with great photos. The more buyers that see your home, the more offers you get, which often leads to a better outcome. 

The Importance of The Feature Shot

In most cases, you want to highlight the best features of the home early in the listing or order of photos. If possible the best photo should be the first featured shot. This can be different from property to property though. For condos, for example, it’s often going to be a kitchen/ living room shot. For detached properties, it’s common to have a curb appeal shot. If it’s a view property, it’s often going to be that view shot, and so on.

From there we like to ensure the listing has a natural flow of photos. We want that person who’s scrolling through the pictures online to feel as though they’re going through the home. We don’t want them to jump from the kitchen to the bedroom, to the dining room, back to another bedroom, and so on.  

Make Your Real Estate Pictures Remarkable 

The goal for every photoshoot is to make the property look as attractive as possible.  Be sure to declutter the rooms that will be photographed, stage your home where needed and seek a professional real estate photographer that is patient and cares about quality.  It could be the difference between a potential buyer scrolling past your listing or booking a showing to view it.

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Episode #6 – The Best Time of the Year to Sell or Buy a Home

When is the best time to list your home? Does buying/selling a home at different times throughout the year make a difference? James and Denny go through different scenarios where yearly timing may have an impact on price. This episode will focus on the positives and negatives of selling/buying a home at certain times of the year and how to get the most out of a property whether you are buying or selling.

Episode #5 – BC Mortgages with Shaun Francis

Mortgages are complicated. Shaun Francis is the Principal and Senior Mortgage Consultant at Bespoke Lending Solutions and joins James and Denny to share information with anyone with a mortgage or anyone looking to buy their first home. This episode will focus on how to afford a mortgage, figuring out a budget, minimum down payments, the first time Home Buyers’ Plan, real estate investments and the stress test.

Watch and listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast below and follow us on Spotify, iTunes & Youtube.

Episode #4 – BC Property Assessments

Are your property assessments down this year? What does that mean? James and Denny try and cover all aspects of this year’s BC Assessment. This episode focuses on answering these questions around property assessments: how accurate is it compared to the actual value of the house? Does it reflect the current market? How is the assessment done and how much can you trust it?

Watch or listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast below and make sure to follow us on Spotify, iTunes & Youtube.

Episode #3 – BC Energy Step Code & The Future of New Home Construction

How energy efficient is your home? Have you ever had an Energy Advisor provide you with energy modelling and air tightness testing? Do you know what a Step Code is? James and Denny talk about the BC Energy Step Code and how builders are using energy software modelling and on-site testing to rate the insulating efficiency of a home. Listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast (bottom of page) to learn about the BC Energy Step Code and the future of new home construction.

BC Energy Step Code & The Future of New Home Construction

The BC Energy Step Code is a system of guidelines laid out to make sure the construction of new buildings are compliant in terms of modern-day energy efficiency. The goal of implementing such regulations is to make all new buildings “net-zero energy ready” by 2032. While this may be ambitious, it’s happening, and we need to get ready…

With more and more local governments adopting the BC Energy Step Code as part of their legal compliance for construction, in their latest podcast, our friends, James Garbutt and Denny Dumas, discussed the implications of these new regulations and offered some practical advice for those who wish to make sure they’re operating within the new laws.

A total of 64 local governments in British Columbia have submitted their initial notifications that they have started to consult on the new regulations, with 31 of those fully adopting the BC Energy Step Code as a part of their bylaw.

Displaying great humility, James wanted to make it clear to listeners that he doesn’t have the definitive answers on making sure homes meet the new provincial standard, however, he does offer us his own, practical insight into the topic based on his years of experience in real estate construction.

BC Energy Step Code

The BC Energy Step Code is different according to two distinct categories: Houses (Part 9, simple buildings) and Wood Frame Residential Buildings (Part 3, more complex buildings). In this podcast, Garbutt and Dumas discussed the application of the new code to residential houses (Part 9).

Part 9 buildings are categorized according to five steps; step five being the highest level of energy efficiency and, to all intents and purposes, is a building that could be considered off-grid or completely self-sustainable. Some local governments are demanding that builders comply with step four of the BC Energy Step Code by 2022, with the aim of achieving step five by 2032.

While steps one and two of the BC Energy Step Code are very much achievable without the addition of huge costs, James gave us his practical advice to help builders understand what is needed in order to achieve step four. To keep it simple, it’s all about insulation and designing a home in a way that has more focus on energy efficiency.

All About Insulation

“Let’s talk about insulation,” James said, “because that is what it really comes down to”. His personal interpretation of a home that would meet step four of the BC Energy Step Code comes down to simply building with 2 x 6 walls that have batt insulation, a rain screen on the outside, and a vapor barrier on the inside. James recommends adding insulation boards to the foundation walls, like a 2-inch rigid board to the exterior, as well as beneath the concrete slab in the basement.

In James’ opinion, if you put rigid board (or similar insulation products) around the exterior of your home and on top of the sheeting in your roof too, the framing materials of your home will be encapsulated in this, giving extra protection to preserve the building for the long term. It could also block condensation from getting to the wood and, in his opinion, is the great way to make a home compliant with step four of the BC Energy Step Code.

One of the most important factors in achieving compliance with the BC Energy Step Code is creating a fully sealed building that has minimal air gaps. Right now, there is no air testing, but as part of the BC Energy Step Code, buildings will be subject to an “airtightness test” at a certain stage of its construction. While there is no obligation to commit to step four at the moment, 2022 is fast approaching, and so James advises us to get used to the extra reports and tests in energy efficiency now.

A home that is compliant with step four of the BC Energy Step Code will have to have significant insulation in the roof. They want to increase the minimum to R40 (currently at R20), meaning, in some cases, a metre of insulation could be required. This will, of course, affect how architects approach roof heights as we move forward.

In order to achieve compliance with the BC Energy Step Code, James discusses using triple pane windows with insulated frames to improve efficiency. Window placements and overhangs are also important factors that can affect whether the home meets the new energy-efficient insulation demands. An overhang keeps water away from the walls and offers shade against the summer sun. Clever design means the home can be angled to capture the warming winter sun without having that sweltering greenhouse effect in the summer.

James goes on to discuss the mechanical changes on the inside of the property as the BC Energy Step Code aims to reduce heat loss through vents. The use of a heat exchanger system is James’ tip to combat heat loss as they warm the fresh air that is coming in. “There are lots of ways to get there”, James added, “there is no one way”.

Market Effects of the BC Energy Step Code 

What will be the effect of constructing according to step four of the BC Energy Step Code? Well, incredibly efficient and durable homes for a start. In James’ opinion, these houses could easily last for 200+ years if built and designed to a high standard.

Having said that, there will be additional time and costs to this energy-efficient construction. For example, factoring in the costs of the design, tests, reports and the extra building material costs, such as insulation, on a typical Vancouver suburb home could exceed $50,000.   More so if you include financial carrying costs for the extra time.

James Garbutt and Denny Dumas conclude this podcast by discussing how step four and above compliant homes will affect the future of real estate in the area. In two years, many cities throughout BC have a goal to meet step four of the BC Energy Step Code.  In the short term, they agree that speculative new home construction may be affected by this as buyers may take some time to pay the additional premium for these new homes. At some point, however, high energy efficiency will be the norm, and homes built prior to this era might have a negative connotation. Similar to how a building without rain-screen does today.

Episode #2 – Social Media in Real Estate

How important is social media in growing a business? James and Denny share their personal experiences with social media and how it allowed them to get ahead in the world of real estate. This episode focuses on the power of being yourself in marketing, property exposure, building an audience, business vs personal social media, follower engagement, and favorite social media platforms.

Listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast (bottom of page) to learn about make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel!

New West Condos – Buyers Are Back!


The market is heating up!! 

Inventory is low, buyer demand is up, and multiple offers are back!  Currently we are seeing good opportunities to upsize to a larger condo, townhouse or house.  Condos in the lower price points are very active, while houses and higher price points are lagging behind as there is less demand, for now.  If you’re considering an upgrade, this is a great time because the gap in prices has narrowed.

Last year we experienced a down year for our local real estate.  Last March (2019) was historically slow as the headlines read ‘Vancouver home sales hit 33 year low!’.  However, as the year progressed, buyer activity increased. July was the turning point where sales started outperforming the previous year (2018) and we finished the year off very strong with home sales in December up 88% compared to December 2018. 

We expect a busy year ahead, particularly for condos and townhouses where the more affordable price points have a higher demand. It’s early in the year, but so far we have experienced more multiple offers and quicker sales. 

If you are thinking of making a move this year, we would love the opportunity to meet with you, answer all of your questions, share our thoughts and help you make an informed decision.

Contact us today for your free home evaluation!


Why you should buy or list NOW!

Why List in March?

1) Less competition: Lower inventory could result in a better selling experience due to lack of available listings to existing buyers.
2) Test the market: If you don’t see a great offer early, spring and summer markets are typically strong and right around the corner.
3) Put yourself in a buying position: Selling early in the year puts you in a stronger buying position in the spring/summer when there is a better selection of listings. This would reduce your financial risk and put you in a more favourable offer position.


Why Buy in March?

1) Less buyers: snow and rain keeps buyers indoors, which could help you get a better deal on the home you love.
2) Potential deals: Winter weather, less buyers, lingering inventory from the fall can lead to buying opportunities.
3) Seasonality: Every year is different, but in a typical year winter is slower than spring and summer. Take advantage of the slow season before more buyers show up.


Last year we helped over 100 families move on to the next chapter of their lives, and we hope to help more this year! If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or just curious about what your home is worth, give us a call!



SOLD 220 Durham St. in only 2 weeks!

Buyer confidence is back and the market is picking up! 

We are coming off a very interesting and abnormal year in Greater Vancouver Real Estate.  Last year started off very slow! In March the headlines read ‘Vancouver home sales hit 33 year low!’  However, as the year progressed, buyer activity increased. July was the turning point where sales started outperforming the previous year and we finished the year off very strong with home sales in December up 88% compared to 2019 and above the 10 year average. 

We expect a busy year ahead and a significant increase in single family home sales.  It’s early in the year, but so far we have experienced more multiple offers and quicker sales. 

What does this mean for your home?

Inventory is low to start the year and there are lots of buyers looking to make the jump from strata to single family in New Westminster! Our recent sale at 220 Durham St, at the end of January, received 4 offers in 2 weeks on market and sold full price subject free! 

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Contact us to see what your home is worth today!

January 2020 Market Update

January 2020 Market Update

2019 was a very interesting (and abnormal) year in Greater Vancouver real estate. Typically we see the strongest market activity in the spring, but in 2019 we were off to a slow start, and the sales activity improved as the year went on. In March the headlines read ‘Vancouver home sales hit 33 year low!’, and by December home sales were up 88% compared to December 2018, and 9.5% above the 10 year December average.  Buyer confidence was the main factor.  In the first quarter, many prospective buyers were holding off and waiting to see if prices would continue to fall due to changes in the mortgage stress test and new taxes. However, confidence started to return in the summer, and we saw above average sales in the fall 2019.

It feels like the market bottom is behind us and we’re no longer seeing downward pressure on prices.  For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for December 2019 is 23.4 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 15.2% for detached homes, 25.7% for townhomes, and 32.5% for apartments.  Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12% for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20%.

Averages tell a general market story, but there are many markets within Greater Vancouver.  We’re seeing differences amongst cities, product types and price points.  Luxury real estate continues to struggle and experience a buyers market, whereas entry level condos are experiencing bidding wars and seller’s market conditions. Based on these recent trends, we expect the stronger sales in the lower price points to trickle up to higher price points over the coming months. Since the financial markets are up, mortgage rates are low and buyer confidence is back, our expectation is that market activity will continue to strength over the coming months.  Expect more bidding wars for entry price point houses, condos and townhouses. As for the luxury market, expect sales to increase, but it will likely take a few years for it to catch up to 2016/2017 pre-foreign tax levels.