BUYER INFORMATION: Housing Needs

No matter what kind of home you’re looking for, there are some key features to consider. Always remember that you will find large townhouses and small single-family homes, so looking for what you want in a home is as important as the type of dwelling. Your REALTOR® will ask many questions before the hunt begins.

Where will your family spend most of its time? Kitchens are a popular family gathering area. Make sure your prospective kitchen can handle the traffic. You may also want an eat-in kitchen or one with a breakfast nook, allowing you to keep the dining room for special occasions.

How much bedroom space do you need? Some people prefer small, plentiful rooms to house children, frequent guests or a home office. Others prefer fewer, larger rooms. Of course, if your budget permits, many large rooms would probably be ideal!

Bathrooms are also a major point to consider. How many bathrooms does your family need to handle peak traffic times? Is one enough? (Not likely!) While one per person might be more like it, that dream may not be affordable. Make sure the home you’re ready to purchase has sufficient bathroom space and that the bathrooms are comfortable. When looking at bathrooms, ask yourself how important a window is for light and fresh air.

Note: Hot water is always a problem with a large family. Remember, most hot water tanks are rented from the utility company. You can always have them upgrade the size of the hot water tank for a minimum cost.

When it’s time to relax and entertain, how will your prospective home meet your needs? Do you want a formal living room, or a room where your family can stretch out and watch television? Do your children need a play area or your teens an entertainment room? Some homes have a living room and a family room.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attics and basements can be wonderful storage areas, or can serve as additional living space. If extra space is important, you will want to consider a finished basement. Everyone seems to have their own definition of what this means. Take a good look at the workmanship. Was it done by a professional? Do you see yourself redoing a sloppy job? A poorly finished basement can be more work than a completely unfinished area. Some signs to watch out for are moisture along the floor lines and corners of all exterior walls and pungent odours which may also be a sign of moisture, mildew, and/or mold which can be costly to repair.

A brief word about closets. Look at the clothes you have now. Add another half, and then look for closet space to hold it all. If you’re like most of us, you’ll never have enough closet space!

Heating and cooling systems are also key features to consider. When it comes to heat, natural

gas, oil and electric furnaces are all options. Older homes may even have hot-water radiators. Still other homes have baseboard heaters. Make sure you find out about the maintenance and condition of the heating system as well as annual operating costs. If you’re thinking about air conditioning, think about how expensive it would be to add central air, or if a window unit would suffice. Try to get on to a “Homeowner’s Insurance Plan” with the utility company. For a minimum annual fee you have guaranteed regular maintenance and repair. As you can imagine, each type of home has its advantages and drawbacks and no two buyers will have the exact same wants and needs. The only way to truly evaluate which home is right for you, outside of price, is to consider what you absolutely must have and what you can live without. Before you go house hunting, prepare a list of ‘can’t live without’ features and a list of ‘would be great if…’ features.

Preparing For Your Open House

Open House - Dan Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First impressions count when selling your home – especially during an Open House. Your REALTOR® will help you prepare for your open house by suggesting many ways you can present your home in its best light and increase its saleability factor.

An open house is just one aspect of an effective marketing plan your REALTOR® will develop to sell your home and one of the many services a REALTOR® provides.

Tips and advice on how to get to your house ready for sale are also part of a REALTORS® expertise.

He or she will advise you about things like de-cluttering and de-personalizing your home as well as minor improvements such as painting and rearranging furniture. Obviously, you will want to ensure your home is squeaky clean for your open house and there are other simple touches that can make your home even more appealing.

Fresh flowers are an easy way to give your home a cheery and well-looked-after feeling. Invest in enough flowers to place one large bouquet for impact either in the foyer or the living room and a few smaller ones throughout the house. The scent of fresh-brewed coffee, home-made bread or cookies can also be very welcoming. See the list below for more Open House preparation tips.

REALTOR® Open House

Your REALTOR® may suggest you first hold an open house for REALTORS®. Other REALTORS® are already working with buyers who may be interested in your property and will inspect your home with their buyers in mind. An open house for REALTORS® is also more convenient for you, eliminating many of the single inspections that would be otherwise necessary.

Your REALTOR® will likely recommend you hold at least one or more open houses for the general public as well. This type of open house tends to attract many browsers. But if your home is clean, attractive, in good repair and well-priced, it may just turn a “browser” into a buyer. Also, many purchasers want to get the ‘feel’ of several neighborhoods before they begin working with a REALTOR®. An open house often attracts these buyers.

Chances are your open house for the public will be held on a Saturday or Sunday since that’s when most people are likely to have free time for cruising around the neighborhoods they are interested in.

Although you may be curious, it’s a good idea for you and your family to leave the home during an open house. Your presence could be distracting and potential buyers may rush their visit to avoid disturbing you. They may be hesitant to comment on your home while you’re there and, generally, feel more relaxed if the owner is not present.

Your REALTOR® may also suggest you temporarily remove your dog, cat or other family pets from the property since their presence could also be distracting.

Here are some tips to help ensure a successful Open House:

  • Remove or lock away valuables such as jewelry, cameras, compact discs, valuable coins and currency;
  • Attend to potential hazards – electrical wires crossing open areas, sharp table or counter top corners, slippery stairs and walkways, fragile items that can be easily damaged;
  • In poor weather, provide a place at the front door for overshoes, boots, umbrellas, and coats;
  • Avoid cooking food that would leave strong odors behind;
  • A warm fire on a cold day can be a nice touch, but ask your REALTOR® first since he or she will have to tend to the fire in your absence.

Spruce it up!

Often the smallest defect can be a turn-off to some potential buyers. Use this handy check list to assess what needs cleaning, mending, or changing before the big day:

Floor Coverings (includes carpeting, tile, linoleum, hardwood, etc.)

  • Dirty or stained?
  • Worn or damaged?
  • Is there hardwood under carpeting that can be restored?
  • Walls, ceilings, baseboards:
    • Any fingerprints or stains?
    • Any holes, nails, tape residue?
    • Are they all neutral or complimentary colors?

Doors

  • Do they squeak?
  • Are the handles secure and working properly?
  • Any stains or other damage?
  • Windows:
    • Are they clean and crack free?
    • Do they open easily?
    • Are the coverings clean and also easy to open?

Lighting

  • Is there sufficient light?
  • Any broken switches; exposed wiring?

Pet Areas

  • Are these clean, organized and odor free?

Kitchen and Bathrooms

  • Are countertops organized?
  • Are all sinks and faucets working properly?

Other Rooms

  • Have all areas been thoroughly vacuumed and dusted?
  • Has all clutter, including excess furniture, been collected and removed?
  • Are books, toys, clothes all neatly stored?
  • Do mirrors look clean?
  • Are window coverings open?

Outside the home

  • Are all exterior surfaces, including decks, pools, walkways and driveways clean, clear of clutter and in good condition?
  • Do fence and other gates open easily?
  • Are the lawns mowed, walkways clear of snow, leaves removed, trees pruned, garden weeded, hedges trimmed?

Seller Information! Thinking of Selling?

There are a million different reasons why people sell their homes, but every seller has one thing in common: the desire to get as much money as possible from their existing residence as quickly and as hassle-free as possible. (If your home is your principal residence, you won’t have to pay capital gains tax on any profits from the sale. If, on the other hand, it is an investment property, prepare for the tax man!)

Before you begin the selling process, really evaluate why you’re moving. Do you have too few rooms, or too many? Has your job moved to another city and you’re relocating? Are the neighbours driving you away? Or are you simply looking for a change? A complete analysis of your current position will set a good foundation for your next home hunt.

When is the Best Time to Sell Your Home?

Everyone seems to have specific ideas on when the right time is to sell. Some base their theories on the overall economy, while others will tell you that there are key buying months that you’ll want to capitalize on.

If you’re not buying and selling strategically or for investment, the best time to sell is really when you feel your existing home will not meet your future needs. The best reason to purchase a new home is to take advantage of your family and lifestyle changes. Do you wish to be closer to a school? Are you switching jobs? Do you have an aging parent to care for?

In Canada, weather and holidays do play a factor. Almost no one goes house hunting around Christmas, and few give up their summer vacations. Of course, those with school-aged children are less likely to move during the school year and summer is an ideal time. In some areas, there is a definite “spring cycle” — perhaps it’s a bit of spring fever and a wish to break out of the bonds of winter.

Some gamblers look for winter bargains and then try to sell their homes during the spring cycle. But overall, that could be more tension and aggravation than you wish. And the monetary results may be disappointing.

Another key factor to consider is the economy. Are interest rates higher or lower in comparison to your current mortgage? If they are higher, you may want to stick with your current home, as your new mortgage payments could be uncomfortable. If rates are lower, you might be able to trade up to a more expensive home without a significant increase in your monthly mortgage obligation.

What’s more, if it’s a buyers’ market, you may be in a strong position to purchase a new home, especially if you have accumulated some equity in your current property.

Are There Costs Involved in Selling?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Even if you think your home is perfect, you may have to do some minor repairs or upgrades to make your home more attractive to potential purchasers.

  • A professional home inspection may be a condition of the offer. If the inspection points to problems, your purchaser may ask that you make the necessary repairs or choose not to close the deal.
  • Closing costs, such as lawyers’ fees or unpaid taxes, will also have to be paid.
  • Mortgage discharge fees may be levied by your lending institution.
  • Sales commissions must be paid. They usually amount to 6% of the selling price.

Buy or sell first?

That’s tricky. After all, if you find a purchaser for your existing home, before you’ve found a new one, you may find yourself living out of a suitcase if convenient closing dates can not be negotiated. On the other hand, if you find your dream home before you’ve unloaded your old one, you may be faced with carrying two mortgages for a time.

So how do you manage? Easy. Do your homework and have a good idea about the neighbourhood and type of home you’re looking for. Do an honest evaluation of your family’s needs and budget.

Speak to your Real Estate Sales Representative and start your new home search as soon as your existing home hits the market.

If you’ve found a home, before you’ve sold your existing one, use “sale of your existing home” as a condition on your offer. If you don’t sell your house within a fixed period of time, you can choose not to go through with the offer. This, however, is a difficult condition for many vendors to agree upon and you may find that you have to forgo your price negotiating power.

Purchasing a home before you sell could be a risky strategy if you’re counting on the proceeds from the sale.

If you’ve found a purchaser before you’ve found your next home, use “purchase of a new home” as a condition when you sign back the agreement. Again, it will only be for a fixed time. Even if you have not found the ideal next house by the time the deal closes, you may still wish to proceed with the offer. As a buyer with a “sold house” you will be in a better position to negotiate price.

There are a million different reasons why people sell their homes, but every seller has one thing in common: the desire to get as much money as possible from their existing residence as quickly and as hassle-free as possible. (If your home is your principal residence, you won’t have to pay capital gains tax on any profits from the sale. If, on the other hand, it is an investment property, prepare for the tax man!)

Before you begin the selling process, really evaluate why you’re moving. Do you have too few rooms, or too many? Has your job moved to another city and you’re relocating? Are the neighbours driving you away? Or are you simply looking for a change? A complete analysis of your current position will set a good foundation for your next home hunt.

Buyer Information! Location and Affordability.

The first question you’re bound to ask is, “How much home can I afford?” That depends on a number of factors:

  • Your selected location. Are you set on a specific area? Downtown? The suburbs? A rural setting?
  • Your preferred type of home. Detached? Semi? Duplex? High-rise? Link? Townhouse? New or Resale? There are a variety of home styles you will want to explore.
  • Your income. After all, it’s not just the mortgage you have to take into account. There are property taxes, utilities, and in some cases condo or strata fees. As a general rule of thumb, your monthly home-carrying cost should not exceed 30-35% of your income.
  • Market conditions. Is it a buyer’s, sellers or balanced market?

There are also additional costs to keep in mind. It’s a good idea to work out exactly what you want and what you can afford before you begin the search. Be specific! After all, you don’t want to suddenly come to the realization that your dream house has come with a nightmare of bills and expenses. Stick to looking at houses in your price range. The more you’ve thought it out, the better your REALTOR® can meet your needs.

A part of deciding just what you can afford can be accomplished by meeting with your bank or a mortgage broker and negotiating a pre-approved mortgage. There are many types of mortgages and many different terms. Research all of your options. This ensures that there are no surprises once you’re ready to make an offer.

Once you’ve figured out your monthly expenses and what you can afford, you can start your search. It could happen that the first home you see is the one you want; or you might look at home after home with none of them catching your interest. Rest assured, the home you’re looking for is out there, and when you find it, you’re ready to make an offer. If your offer is accepted, the next steps are closing and moving into your new home.

As you can see, you will want to give some thought to how long you intend to stay in your home. It may be difficult to answer before you’ve even found your home, but if it’s your first home give some thought to the resale value when it is time to upgrade. On the other hand, if you’re planning to stay in your home for a long time, consider your future needs and purchase a home that will accommodate them.

Purchasing a home is easy once you put your plans into action. Contact us now and we’ll help you get started.

Tips for Waterfront Property Owners

ADVICE FOR WATERFRONT PROPERTY OWNERS TO MAINTAIN LAKE HEALTH, WATER QUALITY AND PROTECT SENSITIVE WILDLIFE

Natural areas of shoreline along lakes in the Okanagan are rapidly disappearing. Water quality, wildlife and property values are at risk when natural areas are removed or degraded. Natural shorelines help act as buffers to land use impacts on the lake, protecting the lake from erosion, toxic chemical spills, excessive sediment depositing in the lake, reduced water quality and other undesirable effects. Support the health of shorelines and lakes by following the recommended practices and avoiding those that cause impacts.

Do’s:

Be aware of provincial and local government regulations that govern development in your community. • Learn about provincial and local government permit and approval requirements before you consider the following activities near a shoreline, stream, wetland or other sensitive area: » removing or altering plants » disturbing soils » constructing buildings and structures » constructing roads, trails, docks, wharves, bridges » creating hard surfaces such as decks and pavement » installing works for flood protection » developing drainage systems and utility corridors » servicing sewage and water systems » servicing subdivisions • Plant a buffer of vegetation between the lakeshore and your lawn and driveway. • Provide shade trees near the lakeshore. • Retain native vegetation where it exists. • Whenever possible, plant native species to restore shoreline vegetation. • When accessing the beach, a designated pathway is preferable and avoids damage to vegetation in the riparian buffer. • Consistent with safety, maintain dead and dying trees to support species at risk and other wildlife. Many cavity nesting birds and other wildlife depend on tree cavities for survival. • Consider a shared dock consistent with provincial regulations/ directions. • Maintain permeability of surfaces to avoid surface erosion and help filter rainfall and surface water. • Consider testing water quality in areas where septic fields have been historically installed adjacent to lakes and creeks.

Dont’s:

Do not add sand or soil to beaches. • Do not remove sticks and debris from beaches as these help feed algae and small organisms that feed fish, consume organic material and maintain a clear, clean lake. • Development is regulated within 30 m of the high water mark of lakes and streams; avoid construction of permanent structures like gazebos and patios. • Do not install retaining walls near beaches. • Except where required for safety or to highlight navigation hazards, avoid the use of lights near the water; where possible and not required, turn lights near water off at night. • Avoid the use of lawn chemicals (fertilizers, weed killer, pesticides & herbicides) and washing cars in close proximity to lakeshores.

IDEAS FOR PLANTS TO INCLUDE AS PART OF A HEALTHY SHORELINE: Trees Black Cottonwood, Water Birch, Mountain or Sitka Alder, Paper Birch, Pacific Willow. Shrubs, Sedges and Grasses Red-Osier Dogwood, Tall Oregon Grape, Nootka Rose, Sandbar Willow, Blue or Red Elderberry, Smooth Sumac, Sedges, Giant Wild Rye.

SOURCES FOR PLANTS: Grasslands Nursery in Summerland and Sagebrush Nursery in Oliver sell native and dryland plants and provide advice and installation services.

MORE IDEAS TO KEEP YOUR SHORELINE HEALTHY AND HAPPY: Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society http://www.okanagansimilkameenstewardship.ca On the Living Edge: Your handbook for Waterfront Living http://tinyurl.com/living-by-water

BC Homes Sales Set to Normalize in 2020

Vancouver, BC – September 5, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2019 Third Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 5 per cent to about 75,000 units this year, after recording 78,505 residential sales in 2018. MLS® residential sales are forecast to increase 11 per cent to 82,700 units in 2020, just below the 10-year average for MLS® residential sales of 85,800 units.

“BC markets are showing signs of recovery after nearly a year and a half of policy-induced declines,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Deputy Chief Economist. “We expect that recovery to continue into next year, with home sales normalizing around long-term averages.”

A recovery in home sales has slowed the accumulation of resale inventory, with active listings still well short of the previous peak in 2012. That leaves market conditions at the provincial level essentially balanced with little upward pressure on prices. We anticipate that the MLS® average price will decline 2.4 per cent in 2019 before rising modestly by 3 per cent to $718,000 in 2020.

8 simple ways to save energy (and money) while on vacation

Out of office message? Set. Luggage? Packed. Thermostat? Cranked. EEK!
If you’re like most British Columbians, your home works hard to keep you warm during the chilly winter and cool during the scorching summer months. While it’s bad manners to keep a vacation waiting, take a few minutes before you set off on your beach/tropical/European getaway (#blessed) to ensure your appliances get a break while you’re gone.

Adjust

1. Air conditioning
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn the AC down.” Just like David Bowie sang (those are the lyrics, trust us), an easy way to reduce energy use and save money is by turning your air conditioning unit down, or better yet, completely off during your summer getaways.

2. Thermostat
During the hot summer months, there’s no sense wasting energy and money by cooling rooms when there is no one home to chill in them. If you’re getting out of town in the winter, your thermostat should be set around 10° Celsius in order to keep pipes and appliances from freezing. With a programmable or smart thermostat, you don’t need to worry about forgetting to adjust the temperature. Smart thermostats can be paired with your smartphone and controlled with an app. Depending on the model, you can even adjust the temperature in your house remotely from the road, plane or beach.

3. Refrigerator
You can save energy while you’re away by adjusting the temperature to higher settings on your refrigerator by one or two degrees. Your food will stay cold and you’ll save money. A win-win!

If you’re heading on an extended vacation, consider cleaning your refrigerator out and turning it completely off. If you decide to go this route, be sure to leave the refrigerator door propped open and some baking soda inside, which will leave your fridge as refreshed as you after your holiday.

4. Blinds and curtains
While your blinds and curtains obviously aren’t consuming any energy, you can use them to keep the heat out during the summer and in during the winter. Be sure to close all blinds and shades to keep the sunshine out and reduce heat gain in your home during the summer. During the winter, closing shades and blinds will keep the cold air out.

Unplug
5. Power vampires
Chargers and computers and printers, oh my! While the spooky season should be in October, phantom power usage is a scary thought year-round. Before leaving home, be sure to unplug all of your electronics, including TVs, DVD players and game consoles, as well as microwaves, coffee makers, toaster ovens, etc. If this sounds like a bit of a chore, try putting your electronics on smart power strips, which automatically shut down power to products that go into standby mode. This will save you the trouble of hunting your home for sneaky power vampires or contorting your body into a pretzel to grab hard-to-reach plugs. Unplugging and powering down can also reduce the risk of electrical fires and protect your items from potential power surge damage. Just like you, your electronics and appliances need to unplug and unwind.

Turn off
6. Water heater
Reduce standby losses, which occur when no one is home to use the hot water, by setting your natural gas water heater to “low” or “vacation mode.” If you have an electric water heater, set the temperature as low as possible.

7. Lights
While you may be tempted to leave a few lights on at home while you’re out of town, this is a waste of energy and can be a dead giveaway that no one is actually at home. If you’re not comfortable turning off all the lights, set them up with automatic timers to deter potential intruders while saving energy.

8. Fireplace
Even when you’re not using your fireplace, your pilot light may still be drawing energy. If you have a natural gas fireplace, turning off the standing pilot light while you’re away can reduce between 600 and 1,500 BTU per hour, and reduce extra heat in your home. A licensed gas contractor can turn it on again during your annual appliance maintenance, so it’ll be safe and ready for fall. Of course during the winter, fireplaces should be turned off while you’re away, but the standing pilot light can be left on so that you can cosy up by the fire as soon as you return from your tropical trip.

Following these simple tips can help reduce your energy use, keep you safe and save you money (to put towards your next vacation, of course).

Take a few minutes to adjust, unplug and turn off your appliances, then kick back and enjoy!

Real Estate Cooling Down

Summer is heating up in Penticton while the real estate market is cooling, according to the South Okanagan Real Estate Board.

“We are seeing a bit of a slow down,” said Dori Lionello, president of the SOREB. “Houses in the $500,000 to $700,000 aren’t selling as fast as they were.”

According to the SOREB June statistics, a total of 89 residential properties were sold in Penticton. Year to date, 432 residential properties have sold, down from 550 the same time period last year.

“Prices are stabilizing,” said Lionello.

It took an average of 62 days for a single-family home to sell in Penticton, compared 49 in 2018.

“If you price your house properly, it can sell faster,” she added. “I actually went into a bidding war on a home in Naramata but that is rare these days.”

As a realtor in Penticton, Lionello has some clients waiting to see if prices drop.

Despite the slowdown, the typical price of a single-family home sold in Penticton climbed in June to $567,585, compared to an average of $536,754 for all of 2019 so far, according to SOREB statistics.

The Penticton market remains tied to Vancouver market, Lionello said. For most of 2019, homes on the Coast weren’t selling and when they did, they had to drop their prices to do so. But Vancouver’s market is starting to see some movement.

Lionello currently has several clients from the Coast who have sold their homes and want to move to Penticton, some looking for waterfront.

“Vancouver homes are starting to sell again and a lot of those people are moving to the Okanagan,” she said. “We are exempt from the speculation tax here so that helps.”

Albertan retirees make up some of the migrants to South Okanagan, but for the most part, people sell their homes on the Coast to live the Okanagan lifestyle, she said.

“People are always going to want to live here, so a home is going to be a good commodity,” she said.

The South Okanagan, like Metro Vancouver, is coming out of a red hot market where bidding wars were the norm, she said.

“We had this hot market and then the federal government came in with the [stress test] and new mortgage rules that curbed activity. It’s all had a trickle down effect on the market,” she said. “In B.C., we now have the toughest mortgage rules. It’s so much harder for young families to qualify for a mortgage now so they just can’t get into the market.”

Summerland home prices continue to climb. The average home sold in June was $846,431 compared to $717,456 overall this year-to-date, according to the SOREB statistics.

However, homes sit for sale a lot longer than in Penticton. On average, it took 106 days to sell a home last month in Summerland.

“We aren’t seeing the inventory we saw in South Okanagan like in 2015, but we are still seeing a lot of great options for buyers,” said Lionello.