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Friday, 5 December 2014

News Release: December 2, 2014

News Release: December 2, 2014

(Surrey, BC) – The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,136 sales on its Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in November, an increase of 15 per cent compared to the 986 sales during the same month last year and 22 per cent lower than the 1,448 sales processed in October.
New listings in the Fraser Valley decreased by 2 per cent in November, going from 1,774 last year to 1,748 last month taking the number of active listings to 8,302, a decrease of 4 per cent compared to the 8,641 active listings in November of 2013.

“This is the time of year when families are settling in for winter and the holidays, so we expect to see a decrease in activity,” explains the Board’s president, REALTOR® Ray Werger. “After a busy fall with volumes reaching 5-year highs, we’re winding down the year with sales on par with the ten-year average, but about 8 per cent fewer new listings therefore home buyers will notice a shortage of inventory in certain price ranges.”
Pricing continues along the same trends as seen for most of 2014, with single family detached prices continuing to rise; townhouse prices remaining steady, and apartment prices decreasing. The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in November was $575,400 an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to November 2013, when it was $550,300
The MLS® HPI benchmark price of townhouses increased 2.2 per cent from $292,400 in November 2013 to $298,900 last month. The benchmark price of apartments decreased year-over-year by 3.5 per cent, going from $196,200 in November of last year to $189,400 in November 2014.

“Prices are a function of supply and demand - which your REALTOR® will explain varies considerably from area to area and within the different property types - as well as local amenities, transportation options and future community development, underscoring the importance of expert guidance when you’re looking to list or buy,” says Werger.

“Overall, 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for Fraser Valley real estate,” continues Werger. “We hit a bit of a trough during the summer of last year, but since then sales have recovered and we’re tracking towards a 15 per cent increase in year-to-date sales for 2014 compared to 2013 with prices remaining relatively stable.”

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board is an association of 2,751 real estate professionals who live and work in the BC communities of North Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley, Abbotsford, and Mission. The FVREB marked its 90-year anniversary in 2011.
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Friday, 7 November 2014

News Release: November 4, 2014

News Release: November 4, 2014
(Surrey, BC) – The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,448 sales on its Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in October, an increase of 16 per cent compared to the 1,249 sales during the same month last year and 2 per cent more than in September.
Ray Werger, the Board’s president, says, “Sales overall continue to outperform last year and as we’ve seen for a number of months now are the best they’ve been in five years.
“Demand remains steady in our region for single family detached homes and townhomes. Last month, the market share of sales of single family homes increased by almost five per cent compared to last year; while the share of condo sales decreased by the same amount and we’re seeing that preference reflected in prices.” 
The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in October was $573,500 an increase of 4 per cent compared to October 2013, when it was $551,400.
The MLS® HPI benchmark price of townhouses increased 1 per cent from $295,500 in October 2013 to $298,500 last month. The benchmark price of apartments decreased year-over-year by 3.5 per cent, going from $199,500 in October of last year to $192,600 in October 2014.
In the last five years, the MLS® HPI benchmark price of a detached home in the Fraser Valley has increased by 16.6 per cent. For townhouses, the price is flat having increased by 0.5 per cent and for apartments; the price has decreased by 6 per cent.
Werger adds, “With the influx of new developments and a steady supply of resale units, we’ve never had a better selection of condos than we do right now at prices the lowest they’ve been in years. For those that say housing isn’t affordable in Metro Vancouver, you need to check out the opportunities currently for condo buyers in the Valley.”   
In October, new listings in the Fraser Valley increased by 3 per cent, going from 2,336 last year to 2,395 last month taking the number of active listings to 8,807, a decrease of 3 per cent compared to the 9,047 active listings in October of 2013. “Inventory is edging down, which is typical for this time of year,” says Werger. “The result is we’re seeing good quality homes that are priced right moving quickly.”

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board is an association of 2,738 real estate professionals who live and work in the BC communities of North Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley, Abbotsford, and Mission. The FVREB marked its 90-year anniversary in 2011.

Monday, 27 October 2014

These real-estate agents walked into real-life houses of horror

The first floor of the house contained many floor to ceiling bookshelves, displaying countless vases.
That was odd.
In the second-floor office, sitting on a desk, sat a sign that read “World’s Greatest Mortician.”
“Either it was the craziest coincidence that the owner liked to collect vases and was a mortician, or we were in a mausoleum,” and all those vases were actually urns, said Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.-based real-estate broker Phil Faranda, of J. Philip Real Estate.
It doesn’t have to be Halloween for real-estate agents to stumble into some truly creepy houses. In some cases, sellers haven’t taken the care to stage their home properly before listing. Foreclosures also often yield some rather odd showings. Here are some of their stories.
The creepy
Halloween spectacular: The seller’s birthday was on Halloween, and his home d├ęcor showed it. The house was decorated with skulls, scary dolls and other odd items, said real-estate agent Cyndi Lesinski, of Cyndi Lesinski & Associates — Cobalt Realty Group, based in Valencia, Calif. She took limited pictures for the listing so she wouldn’t scare off buyers. When prospective buyers arrived, some people couldn’t give the house a chance, and would walk out of the showing.
Haunted-looking house: Atlanta real-estate agent Colette Barnett and her clients saw a foreclosure home that could rival a haunted-house attraction: The porch was held up by cinder blocks — and had caution tape strung around it. The stairs were crooked. A garden window was caved in. A huge patch of black mold colored a wall in the basement, and tiles were falling off the shower. The house “looked like it had survived an earthquake,” said Barnett, an agent with Redfin.
Strange boarding house: Something about the house in Santa Clara, Calif., looked not quite right from the outside. But when Janelle Boyenga, with the Boyenga Team of Intero Real Estate Services, entered the place with her client, they discovered it was, in essence, a boarding house. Bedroom after bedroom had locks that needed to be accessed with a key, and even more rooms were carved out in the attic, garage and storage shed spaces. Some rooms they could get into, some they couldn’t. “It was kinda creepy — every nook and cranny was occupied by someone,” Boyenga said.
Terrifying money pit: In Colorado Springs, real-estate agent Willi Ellis, with ERA Shields, showed a pre-foreclosure home where most of the flooring was ripped out, exposing the plywood subflooring. A beat-up refrigerator was in the dining room, and clothes were piled in a bathtub. Her clients bought it anyway, seeing it as a diamond in the rough, but the problems continued — asbestos remediation was required and radon levels were well over the EPA’s limit.
The weird
Someone’s watching you: A number of times, Jordan Clarke, a buyer’s agent with Redfin in San Diego, has come across mannequins lurking in corners — clearly items used by seamstresses in their work, but very creepy when you’re not expecting to see a human figure while walking through an empty house. “You walk in and get that sense that something is staring at you,” he said. “This has probably happened a half dozen times now. I had one client scream briefly,” Clarke said.
Creepy reptiles: The townhome was fairly new, and very normal — until they reached the basement, said Tonya Nelson, a real-estate agent with Redfin in Arlington and Alexandria, Va. Once down there, she and her clients discovered 10 large reptile aquariums containing frogs, snakes and alligators — and fluorescent lights everywhere.
The gross
Disgusting discovery: When you visit a foreclosure, you might not be expecting the tidiest home on the block. But you also don’t expect to find piles of feces in the bedrooms. That’s what Atlanta-based agent Barnett and her clients found in a house they visited, likely the work of homeowners who became very angry when they were told to leave. Barnett wasn’t sure if the waste was from a human or a dog, but it didn’t matter — she and her prospective buyers rushed out of the house quickly. While the former owners left that surprise behind, they took plenty of the house’s fixtures with them, including the kitchen cabinets.
Teen spirit: The house wasn’t exactly clean, but that was no preparation for when Clarke, the San Diego agent, and his clients entered the mother-in-law suite of one particular home. The area reeked of body odor, he said, adding “it was almost as if a dozen teenage boys were living in there with no housekeeping whatsoever.” His clients were able to stay and look at it; he had to get out of there.
The lessons
In preparing a home for sale, it’s important for it to be clean and uncluttered. “Anything that is too specific to a homeowner has to be put away,” said Kerrie Kelly, interior design expert for Zillow Digs, Zillow’s home design site, and the founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.
To make sure smells aren’t a problem, be sure to air out your house regularly. Do this even as the weather gets colder, just keep the doors and windows open for a shorter amount of time, she said. You might even ask a friend or family member for a second opinion on how fresh your place smells.
Also, it’s best to board pets or keep them at a friend’s home during showings and open houses, said Nelson, the real-estate agent from Arlington who stumbled upon the reptile-filled basement.
Of course, if you can look beyond the scary aspects of these homes as a buyer, you may be able to cut a good deal — since much of your competition will run for the door.
By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch

Sun columnist Shelley Fralic says, “I knew then as I know now that the best way to get into the market is to get into the market…”

Shelley Fralic: Housing affordability in Metro Vancouver — Is the real issue our expectations?


All the talk about housing affordability is usually limited to a single-family detached house. That’s not a reasonable expectation for most people in many work-class cities, so stop complaining, columnist Shelley Fralic writes.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann , Vancouver Sun

Right now, in New Westminster, there is a well-kept, 1,080-square-foot, two bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath apartment for sale, with a fireplace, in-suite laundry, stainless steel appliances and a wraparound balcony in an older three-storey building on a quiet street near parks, shops, transit and schools.
The price: $249,000.

Which means, if you negotiated it down to, say, $240,000 and put down 20 per cent and qualify for a three-per-cent, five-year variable mortgage, the monthly payment would be under $1,000, or less than the average rent in Metro.

Right now, in Surrey, one low-rise complex currently has three condos for sale. They have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and range from 1,145 to 1,334 square feet. The most expensive is $269,900.
Right now, in Coquitlam and Burnaby, there are 200-plus listings for two-bedroom, two-bath units under $300,000.

And so it goes
Do an MLS search on Metro Vancouver condos and townhouses and there are hundreds, yes hundreds, of similar offerings across the region.

There are even a number of two-bedroom condos for sale for less than $300,000 in, wait for it, the city of Vancouver. A two-bedroom, two-bath unit in East Van is on the market for $238,000. It has in-suite laundry, and the building has a gym and pool.

And yet the moaning about unaffordable housing in Vancouver and environs grows ever more loud, especially on the eve of municipal elections. Good lord, the cry goes up, who can afford to live in this place? Who can afford to raise a family here? It’s not right, and the mayor/feds/my parents need to do something about it.
Fuelling the chorus are the endless surveys and comparisons reminding us that if this is heaven on earth, it’s also a mighty pricey postal code.

The latest dose of bad news, delivered recently by this paper, reported that 76 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s 21 municipalities are unaffordable for the average family earning $80,000.
But is that true?

Well yes. And no. Those statistics, like so many published before them, refer to the purchase of single-family homes. The kind of place with no shared walls. No elevators. No pot smoke wafting in from the adjoining balcony. No restrictions on window coverings and tomato planting.
It’s the dream, right? The picket fence. The big backyard for the kids and dog. The two-car garage. We have been conditioned to believe that ownership of a single-family home is the symbol that you have made something of yourself, that you have secured the lottery ticket to ensure a happier family and comfortable retirement.
But why, one wonders, does one’s first home have to be a house?
Oh right. Easy for the big bad baby boomer to say. We had it easy, didn’t we? All those post-secondary jobs for the taking, all that cheap local real estate.

I was born in Vancouver nearly 62 years ago. I have never been able to afford a house in the city.
Nearly 40 years ago, when I was in my early 20s, my young family’s first “house” was a condo in Burnaby, purchased for $49,900 with the help of the CMHC’s Assisted Home Ownership Program. The unit was eventually bought back from us because the complex was leaky, riddled with mould, and eventually torn down.
Our next “house” was a townhouse in a co-op in Newton, a neighbourhood then on the wrong side of the Surrey tracks.

In 1984, facing soaring gas prices and an increasingly brutal commute into Vancouver, we bought a little heritage pile on a postage-stamp lot in New Westminster. It cost $73,000 and the roughly 13-per-cent interest rate demanded a mortgage payment of $800 a month, exactly half of my then take-home pay from this newspaper. Oh, and the bathroom in the basement had a dirt floor.

In 1988, we moved a few blocks over into the house in which I now live. It cost $130,000, and my husband and I lay awake at night wondering how we could possibly afford it, along with two young children to raise.
But I knew then as I know now that the best way to get into the market is to get into the market, even if the dream doesn’t come with stainless steel appliances and isn’t in the dream neighbourhood.
I have equity now, but I will still never be able to afford a single-family house in Vancouver, and gave up that notion long ago, along with the arrogance to think it is somehow my right.
And, as it turns out, Vancouver has nothing on the ’burbs. This is where density and congestion are traded for wide open spaces, family-oriented neighbourhoods and, yes, more affordable housing, single-family and otherwise.

So for the love of God, people, stop complaining about the price of housing in Vancouver. Market forces, not your mayor or mom, determine the cost of housing. Just ask home buyers in New York, Paris and London.
And consider that your home doesn’t have to be a house, and that it doesn’t hurt to start small and think big.
Who knows? Someday, a new generation of Metro Vancouver house hunters might be grouching about your good fortune.
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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Not Going It Alone - Single clients often depend on practitioners for emotional support as well as transaction knowledge.

Not Going It Alone
Single clients often depend on practitioners for emotional support as well as transaction knowledge.
For Marianne Guenther Bornhoft, green, SRES, working with single women—40 percent of her clientele—was a natural fit. “I’ve learned that it’s easy to work with people you can identify with and who can identify with you,” says Bornhoft, a sales agent with Windermere Real Estate in Spokane, Wash. “I bought a house on my own when I was divorced, so I know that market intimately.”
Nationally, 25 percent of buyers are single, according to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of REALTORS®, with nearly twice as many single women as men (16 percent vs. 9 percent) purchasing homes. Though the share of homes bought by singles has been stifled in recent years, first by the recession and then by tight lending conditions, many practitioners are finding success serving single clients, regardless of their own marital status. The bond between those real estate pros and their single clients can be especially strong. “Buying and selling real estate and moving is already a highly emotional process. If you’re doing it alone, it can be scary and stressful,” says Tiffany Stevens, gri, sales agent with Phyllis Browning Co. in San Antonio. “I keep that in mind when working with my single clientele, so that they never feel like they are completely alone in the process,” she says.
Unmarried people may, in fact, have more frequent real estate needs than couples and families because they tend to be more mobile. Between 2012 and 2013, 12 million never-married and 3 million divorced people moved homes compared with 9.9 million marrieds, according to Census Bureau data. Christopher Mills, sales agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, D.C., says many singles who buy homes in the District’s hot H Street Corridor change jobs or need to move within five years. For them, the issue is finding a home that can transition to a rental property easily.
Rising Purchasing Power
The rising purchasing power of single women suggests they’ll be an important demographic for decades to come. Currently, six out of 10 college graduates (whose incomes are typically far higher than those of high school grads) are female, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Income parity is also improving: Among workers ages 25 to 35, women’s hourly wages in 2012 were 93 percent those of men, compared to 84 percent for women of all ages, according to a Pew Research Center study.
To reach single women, community involvement is key, according to Bornhoft, who has worked with more than two dozen nonprofits in her area. She serves on the board of Visit Spokane, a local visitors’ bureau, and targets her advertising within the tourism industry, where a lot of women happen to work. “I’ve sold a lot of properties to single clients who are successful professional women,” Bornhoft says. Many of her clients end up being lifelong friends as well as repeat -customers—in fact, one client has purchased seven homes from her. “You have to be a confidant, a financial adviser, sometimes a parent, and a friend.”
Social media can play a powerful role in strengthening contacts. Stevens reaches singles on Fridays by posting local events on Facebook. “Someone who’s single is likely trying to get out there and meet friends,” she -says “[My posts] can make them feel I’m more connected and really know the community.” She has found single women to be a powerful referral sources. “If you’re really there for them, they rave about you to everyone they talk to. You didn’t just get their house sold; you took care of them,” Stevens says. “They won’t forget that.” Conversely, if the customer is unhappy, her friends will likely know that as well.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014



(Surrey, BC) – The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,419 sales on its Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in September, an increase of 25 per cent compared to the 1,131 sales during the same month last year, and an increase of 9 per cent compared to sales in August.

Ray Werger, the Board’s president, says, “Similar to this past summer, this is the busiest September we’ve had since 2009 with sales of all property types combined out-performing the 10-year average by 13 per cent.
“Residentially, the single family home remains the preferred property type. From North Delta to Mission, sales increased in every Fraser Valley community compared to last year with the price range of $400,000 to $699,999 garnering almost sixty per cent of our total detached market.”

New listing activity was also brisk in September with the Board’s MLS® receiving 2,758 new listings, an increase of 16 per cent compared to last year, taking the total number of active listings by month-end to 9,156, a decrease of 7 per cent compared to September 2013.

Werger adds, “An important factor underlying the housing market is consumer confidence and in our region that confidence has been bolstered by the stability of home prices. Since March, the benchmark price of our three main residential property types combined has remained flat, increasing by only 0.6 per cent.

“Long-term, the value of single family detached homes has increased at a faster pace than it has for attached properties, particularly in areas such as Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Abbotsford where we’ve seen many new townhome and condo developments. The supply of new inventory has affected the price of resale product.”
The MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in September was $569,800 an increase of 3.1 per cent compared to September 2013, when it was $552,900. In the last six months, the HPI benchmark price of a detached home has increased by 1.1 per cent.

In September, the HPI benchmark price of Fraser Valley townhouses was $299,600, an increase of 1.1 per cent compared to $296,200 in September last year, and in the last six months has increased by 0.8 per cent. The benchmark price of apartments decreased year-over-year by 4.7 per cent, going from $203,100 in September of last year to $193,600 last month, and has decreased by 0.9 per cent in the last six months.

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board is an association of 2,751 real estate professionals who live and work in the BC communities of North Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley, Abbotsford, and Mission. The FVREB marked its 90-year anniversary in 2011.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Seniors Wanting To #Downsize Struggle To Sell Their Homes

Seniors Wanting To Downsize Struggle To Sell Their Homes

In the past, financial stability within the senior population had a lot to do with financial stability in the housing market. In fact, home equity was supposed to help with retirement lifestyle. However, as the housing market went downhill, seniors were dramatically affected.

Those senior homeowners who are now ready to move are getting much lower amounts for their homes and while many would love to downsize to a condo or other senior living community, they can't afford to do so without first selling their home.

However, seniors who are interested in selling their home can follow these tips to help them sell their home without jeopardizing their retirement savings fund.

The first thing seniors can do is re-evaluate the market and be sure they are pricing their home realistically. Many homes that won't sell are simply overpriced or not in a condition that matches the price being asked. Instead of going by the tax assessment value alone, the condition of the home and the sale price of other comparable homes in the area should be researched carefully.

Next, seniors who are having trouble selling their home so they can start enjoy condo living may want to hire a professional stager. These qualified individuals will help stage a home to draw buyers into the sale. Statistics show that homes professionally staged and de-cluttered sell faster at for higher amounts than those not staged.

Staged homes are like the show homes you look at when a developer is selling. Just enough furniture and subtle colours.

Often, you can stage the home yourself, by repainting using a neutral color palette and renting more modern furniture.


Lastly, it can be extremely emotional for seniors to sell their home if they've lived in it for a lengthy period of time. The common line is "I'm not giving this place away...they don't build them like this anymore"!

However, those who want to downsize to a condo or move to seniors housing must learn to leave their emotions out of the sale.

Thanks to for these practical thoughts.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

5 Great Home Projects for Fall

5 Great Home Projects for Fall

Of all the home improvement projects Hyedi Cribben and her boyfriend had on their to-do list, building a patio was one project they were looking forward to completing so they could it enjoy it during the summer months. So why then did they get started in the fall?
“No one likes to do that kind of work in hot weather,” said Cribben. She and her boyfriend, Jesse, are lucky enough to have parents willing to help them get their Minneapolis fixer-upper into shape.

“There was some sifting through dirt, because there was a lot of rock,” she said, “and bringing in concrete. It’s pretty labor intensive.

“With the humidity and hot weather this summer, it would have been too much. With our parents helping us, I thought, for health reasons, we should wait until fall.”

Saving those heavy lifting jobs for fall makes a lot of sense, said Spike Carlsen, former executive editor of Family Handyman magazine and the author of Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual and, most recently, A Splintered History of Wood.

“If you have the time to wait until fall to do them, it will be less strenuous and more enjoyable,” Carlsen says. Here’s what else he suggests tackling this fall: 

1. Insulate the attic

“Going up into the attic on a hot day isn’t something I would choose to do,” he says. But there is another reason to wait until fall to do any projects that have to do with insulating your home. “You can feel a draft when the weather starts to cool down,” he said. “That’s an easy way to tell where you need to improve your insulation.”

2. Become energy efficient

Caulking around windows, doors, and siding is a simple, inexpensive way to save some money, said Carlsen. “Unless you keep warm air in and cold air out, money is going out the smokestack,” he says. A trick he uses to test where you need to caulk is to walk around the interior of your home with a lighted incense stick. “If the smoke starts blowing, that tells the story pretty quickly,” he says.

Carlsen recommends using silicone caulk because it’s flexible, waterproof, and crackproof. You do it on the outside of your home, so make sure you do it before it gets too cold. “If the temperature drops below 40, you shouldn’t caulk,” because the caulk won’t take as well, he warns.

3. Clean the gutters

“Moisture is the No. 1 problem in maintaining a home,” says Carlsen. “Getting moisture away from the foundation is key. And the way the do it is to clean your gutters and check your downspouts to make sure water is being funneled away from the house.” Clogged gutters in the winter mean ice can build up and cause damage. “In the spring, you want them running free and clear, so do it as soon as all the leaves are off the trees.”

Another place where moisture can build up is between the slats of a wood deck. Carlsen offers a simple way to clean them out. “Take a dull handsaw and run it between each board and push the crud out. If you don’t, moisture can build up, and you get mold. This will help the wood to breathe, and it will look better, too.”

4. Plant a tree

Because trees are dormant in the fall (as they are in the spring), it’s easier on the root system, says Carlson. Think about where you plant it so that it can help with saving energy, he advises. If you get it in the right position, it will be a windbreak in the winter, and provide shade in the summer. “Plus,” he says, “It’s a fun project.”

5. Organize the garage

Right now, you’ve probably got bicycles, lawn tools and the beach umbrella taking up the space your car could occupy, if only you could get everything back where it belongs. “A lot of people never get their car inside the garage in the winter because the garage is overflowing with stuff,” said Carlsen. “There are so many great organizing systems — shelving, hooks that allow you to hang bikes from the ceiling — that you can get everything into a place and find room for your car.” And it’s easier to get junk to the dump on a nice fall weekend than a cold, wet, winter day.

And while you are in the garage, advised Carlsen, check the snowblower, shovels, and snow brushes to make sure everything is in working order. It’s easier to buy replacements in the fall, before the first snow sends everyone to the hardware store.

One other benefit to cleaning the garage: It allows you to be outside to enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

That is what Hyedi Cribben and her boyfriend intend to do, after all the hard work they’ve put in earlier this fall on their patio. Cleaning that site, putting up a fence, and laying stone and sod have taken up all their free time since the weeks after Labor Day. And now, two weeks into October, it’s nearing completion. Said Cribben, “We might even have a week or two to enjoy it before it gets too cold here.”

This article originally appeared on AOL Real Estate: Top 5 Home Improvement Projects for Fall

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Evaluate Your House for Basement Finishing

Evaluate Your House for Basement Finishing

  • Published: December 11, 2009
  • By: 

  • Basement finishing is a great way to add that extra bedroom or playroom you’ve always wanted, if you have the money and space.

    Basement remodel cost
    When it comes to basement finishing, not all unfinished space is created equal. Consequently, the per-square-foot price of basement finishing starts at $100/sq. ft. and can climb higher depending on how much or how little remodeling you must do.

    Granted, you won’t have to dig and lay a foundation or frame and insulate exterior walls—that’s already done.

    Depending on your circumstances, here’s what you’ll need to know:

    Building to code
    The International Residential Code (IRC) says a basement living space must have a clear, floor-to-ceiling height of at least 7 feet (6 feet for bathrooms). Local codes for basement finishing may vary, and exceptions are made for the presence of exposed structural beams, girders, or mechanical system components along the ceiling, but only if they’re spaced at least 4 feet apart and extend no more than 6 inches from the ceiling.

    If your existing basement ceiling height doesn’t meet those specifications, you have two options, and neither is cheap:

    ·         Raise your house and build up the foundation around it to gain the ceiling height you need.
    ·         Lower the floor, which entails removing the existing concrete slab floor, excavating to the desired level, and pouring new concrete footings and a floor slab.

    Both options during basement finishing require professional and precise engineering, excavation, and structural work that will cost at least $20,000.

    Add a staircase
    The IRC also governs the staircase that leads from your home’s main level to the basement remodel. Requirements include a handrail and stairs with proper width, tread, and riser dimensions. There must be at least 6 ft. 8 inches of headroom at every point along the staircase.

    If the stairway isn’t wide enough (at least 36 inches) or the steps aren’t to code, you may have to rebuild them during basement finishing, an extra cost of about $2,000.

    Condition the space
    Heating and cooling your basement finishing can be as simple as tapping into existing HVAC main trunks and adding a couple of vents ($1,000) or as complicated as upgrading your entire heating and cooling systems ($7,000 to $15,000).

    Your contractor will have to “size” your existing system to make sure it can handle the additional load and will comply with building codes that consider health and safety, such as adequate venting of furnace combustion gasses.

    Cure moisture problems
    You’ll have to fix moisture problems before basement finishing begins. You may have to waterproof walls and floors, grade the yard so water falls away from the foundation, install a sump pump, or install drains around the foundation, all or any of which can add thousands in costs.

    Add emergency egress
    Code dictates that basement finishing have at least one door or window big enough for people to get out and for help to get in during an emergency: If you’re including a bedroom, it must have its own point of egress. Each egress opening must be at least 5.7 sq. ft. with the windowsill no more than 44 inches above the floor.

    Most basement walls are built using poured concrete or masonry blocks, which can be cut (although not as easily as wood-framed walls) to create openings for egress windows or doors.

    Wednesday, 13 August 2014

    Five Sure Signs It’s Time to Downsize

    Five Sure Signs It’s Time to Downsize

    If you, like many others, are considering downsizing for one reason or another, and you aren’t certain you are ready for such a bold move, there are a few things to consider. Perhaps you are holding on due to sentimentality, as this was the home in which you created many wonderful memories, or perhaps you are holding on for more practical reasons, and you hadn’t thought of downsizing before this, or how it could benefit you.
    Here are five sure signs that you are definitely ready to downsize:
    1. The Empty Nest.
    Many homeowners bought large homes when their children were small, and after their children are grown and gone, they don’t need the space anymore. There may not be as many young families in need of large homes anymore, but the ones that are would be happy to use the same space as you did to make their memories.
    2. There are rooms you only enter to clean.
    When there are rooms that you only enter monthly to dust, rooms that haven’t been used or enjoyed in years, you are wasting your time, money and energy on that room — time, money and energy that could be better spent elsewhere.
    3. You can’t believe how much that person just said your house could sell for.
    If your friend or neighbour is selling their home, they may comment that they think your home would sell for far more money than you could have imagined, and with the markets lately, it’s likely that they are right. If you have even been considering downsizing, it is worth it to get a Realtor in to assess the potential value your home has.
    4. You’d rather have… something else.
    Something like a bungalow, or easier access to different areas of your city, etc.
    That three storey Victorian you fell in love with years ago has served you well, but… three storeys means three sets of stairs. It is definitely time to downsize if you are already starting to dread what those stairs will feel like in 2, 5, or 10 years.
    Perhaps your home was in the ideal location for you to get to work without partaking in rush hour traffic, or it was serviced by the school that you felt would be best for your children. If those considerations are no longer a priority for you, and the gym, church, or club you wanted to join in a different neighbourhood are, then perhaps downsizing and discussing a change of neighbourhood with your Realtor would be a good place to start.
    5. Less work — both yardwork and housework.
    You don’t use the swing set, your tiny dog is nowhere near as energetic as the bigger dogs you once had, and you don’t want to have to mow your huge lawn ever again, or shovel the snow out of that driveway yourself, either.
    It’s time, isn’t it?
    The costs involved in owning a large house are growing by the year, and the housing market is booming, but won’t be forever. Call a local Realtor today, even if you haven’t made your final decision on whether or not to downsize.
    Above all, remember that while your large house is where you built all of your memories, a house is just a building. Those memories will go with you when you move to a more convenient home.

    House for Sale – 6 Tips for a Quick Sale

    House for Sale – 6 Tips for a Quick Sale

    When you list your house for sale, you’d ideally want it to be a quick, easy, and smooth process with no hiccups. Many external factors influence how fast you can sell your house, including the market conditions, competition, and interest rates, these variables you can’t control. However, there are many things within your power that you can do to successfully sell your house much quicker.

    Price it right

    One of the most common mistake sellers making when they list their house for sale is to overprice their property, which can be a costly mistake. Any smart real estate agent will tell you that in the first 2 to 3 weeks you’ll get the most buyer traffic for your property. By overvaluing your house for more than it’s worth will put off many buyers, and leave your house lingering on the market for many more months to come.
    Undervaluing also has it’s downside, find out how much similar homes in your area are going for, and get two or three private appraisals to give a indication of what your home is worth.

    First impressions are vital

    Before even walking into your house, buyers have already started judging your home the moment they drove onto your street. As the old saying goes you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Brighten up your home by buying colorful plants and keep the hallway clutter free, this will be the first room they see in your house, make sure it gives off the right impression. The overall tone of your home should be warm and welcoming, you want to the buyer to visualize your home as their own.

    Hide the ankle biters

    Your pets may be the nicest and cutest animals in the world, and you may even think they’ll win the hearts of your potential buyers, wrong! Not everybody loves pets and having cats and dogs running around the house can put buyers off. Empty the litter trays to ensure your house doesn’t smell, and keep your pets in the garden when you have a house showing.

    Always be ready for viewings

    Extending from the previous point, it’s always important to have your property ready for a showing at any time when your house is for sale. Make sure there are no dishes in the sink, all the worktops are clutter-free, and the bathrooms are sparkling. It may be a little tiresome to constantly clean everything, but if will get your house sold.

    Remove the curtains

    As a general rule of thumb, if your drapes are older than 10 years, take them down now. Your house is for sale so privacy isn’t really that important, and the extra light will give your house a bigger feeling. Otherwise, always tie your drapes back as it makes rooms look cleaner and more appealing.

    Bring out the paint rollers

    Painting your home inside and out can really make a difference when it comes to selling your home. Stick to neutral colors such as white and cream, any rooms in your home that are of an unusual color, paint over them. You won’t be living here much longer and buyers prefer a clean canvas to work with, then having to adjust to the previous homeowners style.
    Many factors need to be considered when you list your house for sale, it’s simply not enough to just list and expect it to be sold. Buyers are more picker than ever and their demands are high, by following some of the tips advised today can be the difference between selling your house in just a few months, to waiting for a year or more.

    Real Estate Agent – Picking the Right One

    Real Estate Agent – Picking the Right One

    Picking the right real estate agent can be the difference between having a nice easy buying experience, or being a total catastrophe that will never make you want to look at another home again. But what exactly goes into picking an agent? This blog post will underline some key factors that you should consider before selecting your real estate agent.

    How well do you communicate with each other?

    Communication is the key to success in many relationships, including the one with your real estate agent. Be honest with what you need, ensure everything is out there in the open, and explain to them exactly what you want from them. Communicate your concerns and demands, as the better you can communicate, the better chance your real estate agent has to meet all your needs.

    Don’t be afraid to turn agents away

    Upon meeting with an agent, ask yourself if you feel comfortable talking to them? Do you feel any sort of connection or chemistry? Would you like to spend time with this person? If something seems off and you just don’t seem to click, walk away and keep on looking for another agent.
    Ask most people and they’ll tell you that buying a home isn’t easy, there will be a lot of highs and lows as you try to find your perfect home. Your real estate agent will be along side you for all of it, and they’ll most likely learn about your personal life along the way. For these reasons it’s important to pick someone you trust and like, otherwise the whole experience is going to feel weird and off-putting.
    Real estate agent

    How well does the real estate agent know the local area?

    Finding an agent who has worked in the local area for more than a few years is going to be detrimental to finding your new home. Knowledgeable real estate agents can tell you which suburbs to avoid, the ones which are ideal for starting a new family, and be able to answer any question you may have about the area.
    Picking somebody who is unfamiliar with the local area is a waste of time, many times you will actually know more than them!

    You need to relax

    Good real estate agents have your best interest at heart, there will be times when they push your patience, but remain calm. For example, it could been a month or two and they’ve yet to pick out a home that you truly love, this may just be because the housing market is running slow and there’s not enough homes for sale. Buying a home should never be rushed as that’s when mistakes are made and future regrets are born. Take it easy and when the right house comes along, all that hard work and wait would have been worth it.
    There is more than meets the eye to finding the right real estate agent, many times after helping a buyer find a home, I develop deep personal friendships that I have even to this day. Finding the right real estate agent is more than just picking someone to find you a house, they’ll be there to advise you during tough decisions, comfort you the lows, and smile with you during the highs.

    First Time Home Buyer – 4 Tips

    First Time Home Buyer – 4 Tips

    Buying your first property can be a tricky process as a first time home buyer with no experience . Buying your first home is a big deal after all, it’s probably the most valuable item you’ll ever buy in your life, so you’d want to make sure you do everything right. Here are 4 tips that all first time home buyers should follow when shopping for their first home.

    Create a budget

    Too many buyers get lost in the excitement of buying a home, that they stop thinking logically and instead focus on finding the house of their dreams. This dream quickly shatters when they find out the home is worth way more than they can afford, leaving them often deflated.
    Using your salary and any other earnings you make, figure out how much you can realistically afford to pay out each month for your mortgage. Don’t forget to factor in other living costs such as food, commuting, utilities, and all other home associated costs. Once your budget is complete, you’ll have a much better idea of what you can afford. Many first time home buyers make the mistake of not creating a budget, and only after purchasing their first home they start to realize they cannot afford it, and by then it’s all to late.
    First time home buyer

    Finding the right real estate agent

    Researching online is a fantastic way to get clued up on what to look for when buying your first home, things to avoid, and what to prepare for. However, one thing it doesn’t provide you is experience, finding the right real estate agent who can find you property’s within your price range, in the right areas of town, and help you through the whole process is a critical. A great real estate agent who is familiar with the local area can help you to avoid common mistakes that first time home buyers usually make.

    Do adequate research

    Need a home near a school for your children? Maybe you need to commute to work everyday and need something close to the train station? Whatever your needs are, research, research, and then research some more! After getting the mortgage and signing the dotted line, the last thing you’d want to find out is that your new neighborhood has a high crime rate, or the closet public transport links are 25 minutes away.
    According to a study done by Forbes, they estimated that approximately 15% of all home buyers wished they’d of done more research on the surrounding areas before making a purchase. Don’t be apart of that 15%!

    Get pre-approved

    Save yourself the headache and get pre-approved first, many home deals fall apart at the last minute because the buyer couldn’t find a lender to give them a loan. Go to various lenders such as national and regional banks, credit unions, and local lenders. Compare each loan and see which one is best for you, if you’re unsure what to make of these loans, feel free to give me a call or pop into my office, I am more than happy to help.
    Once you’ve decided which loan provider to use, it’s time to get yourself pre-approved. Depending on the lender they may sometimes charge a fee to become pre-approved, so be sure to ask them about that before hand. Most pre-approvals tend to be valid for around 60-90 days, if you’re unable to find a home in that period, you may have to start the whole process again.
    Being a first time home buyer will probably be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do in your life, with so many procedures to go through, it’s no wonder most people dread the thought. With the tips provided today, I hope to make your first time buying experience a pleasant one.

    Thursday, 7 August 2014


    News Release: August 5, 2014

    (Surrey, BC) – Continued demand for single family homes and townhomes resulted in the busiest July in five years for the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. The Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) processed 1,615 sales in July, an increase of 11 per cent compared to the 1,456 sales in July last year and 1.4 per cent above the 10-year average for the month.
    Ray Werger, President of the Board, says, “July’s steady activity is a continuation of what we’ve been seeing all year. Our market has fully recovered from last year’s slump and has returned to what we typically see in the Fraser Valley, which is a steady, consistent market.”
    In July, the Board received 2,724 new listings, a decrease of 2 per cent compared to July 2013 taking the number of active listings in Fraser Valley to 9,636, a decrease of 8 per cent compared to the volume available in July 2013.
    Werger says, “Although our sales were slightly above average for the month, the volume of new listings added to the MLS® was 7 per cent lower than what’s typical for July, so for certain property types and price ranges we’re actually seeing a shortage of listings creating a seller’s market for particular homes.
    “When demand starts to exceed supply it puts upward pressure on prices and in areas such as White Rock/South Surrey, North Delta and Langley we’ve seen an increase in benchmark prices of single family detached homes ranging from 3 to 6.6 per cent over the last year. It’s a different story for condos. In most of our market, there’s excellent selection and prices lower than they were one year ago offering tremendous opportunities for buyers.”
    In July, the benchmark price, as determined by the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI), of a ‘typical’ single family detached home was $568,300, an increase of 3 per cent compared to July 2013 when it was $551,000.
    The HPI benchmark price of Fraser Valley townhouses increased by 0.2 per cent; going from $297,800 in July 2013 to $298,500 in July 2014. The benchmark price of apartments was $194,700 last month, a decrease of 3.6 per cent compared to $202,000 in July of last year.
     —30 —
    The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board is an association of 2,774 real estate professionals who live and work in the BC communities of North Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley, Abbotsford, and Mission. The FVREB marked its 90-year anniversary in 2011.

    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    June 2014 - Strongest June in four years for Fraser Valley real estate market

    Strongest June in four years for Fraser Valley real estate market

    SURREY, BC – The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) processed 1,668 sales in June, an increase of 26 per cent compared to the 1,327 sales in June of last year and 2 per cent higher than sales in May. In terms of historical comparison, last month’s sales finished 7 per cent below the 10-year average for June with the previous best June occurring in 2010.
    Ray Werger, President of the Board, says, “Recent news reports indicate that consumer optimism about real estate is at its highest level in a number of years and we’re experiencing that at the ground level.
    “Over the last three months, we’ve seen a surge in demand specifically for single family homes and townhomes in most of our communities. Our number one buyer is families with children and they’re taking advantage of ultra-low interest rates combined with more affordable, stable prices in the Fraser Valley.”
    In June, the benchmark price, as determined by the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI), of a ‘typical’ residential home – detached, townhouse and apartment combined – was 1.3 per cent higher than June of last year. For the single family detached home, the HPI benchmark price in June was $568,600, an increase of 3 per cent compared to June 2013 when it was $552,200. This is a record high benchmark price for detached homes since the MLS® HPI began in January 2005.
    The HPI benchmark price of Fraser Valley townhouses decreased by 0.3 per cent; going from $298,700 in June 2013 to $297,800 in June 2014. The benchmark price of apartments was $197,000 last month, a decrease of 2.7 per cent compared to $202,500 in June of last year.
    Werger adds, “We’re essentially seeing two markets right now, so it’s important to get advice dependent on what you’re listing or buying. Competitively priced, mid-range single family homes are being snapped up quickly, on average in a little over a month, whereas condos and higher-end, executive homes in our region are taking as long as three months on average to sell. Talk to your REALTOR® to find out where you fit.”
    The Board’s MLS® received 13 per cent more new listings in June, 2,974 compared to the 2,625 new listings received during June of last year. The month finished with 9,853 active listings, a decrease of 6 per cent compared to the 10,515 active listings available during June of last year.