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COVID-19 Market Activity Update – March 27, 2020

By REW (Real Estate Wire)

COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on every market and industry, and real estate is no exception. Though we’re still in the early stages and it’s difficult to predict how long coronavirus and the current self-isolation measures will last, REW is committed to supporting you every step of the way. 

To start, let’s take a look at how the market has changed during the COVID-19 crisis. In the graphs below, you’ll see data showing the trajectory and drop in market activity since the pandemic began.

How has COVID-19 impacted real estate activity?

Pageviews – the raw number of pages viewed by visitors – are a strong indicator of audience volume and engagement on REW. Below, you can see the week over week page view trend line, generally moving up and to the right on the year so far – until the week of March 8th.

REW was seeing nearly 20 million monthly page views prior to the COVID-19 crisis, with the number increasing month over month since the beginning of 2020. Based on this, it was clear that interest in properties was growing, a clear indicator of strong demand in the residential market. After some brief dips in 2019, 2020 was initially predicted to be a return to form for the real estate market. 

As people have had to adjust their regular routines to stay home and self-isolate, we’ve seen a corresponding and immediate impact on engagement with property listings. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen a 21% reduction in audience activity compared to the beginning of March. Comparing the site traffic to the same period in 2019, we see a total of 25% fewer page views overall. However, there is some cause for optimism – the decline is starting to show a small rebound in recent days.

REW is by no means representative of the entire real estate market, but as the number one property site in British Columbia (with regular traffic of over three million visitors per month), it is certainly a clear indicator of the shift in market behaviour at this time.

How has coronavirus affected leads and property enquiries?

Leads and enquiries generated by property shoppers on REW have also seen a decline in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 crisis. Though it’s a small sample size, In the last few days, we’ve seen a decline of nearly 45% in the total amount of property enquiries generated.

Given the current economic uncertainty, most buyers and sellers are likely taking a more cautious ‘wait and see’ approach. However, it’s telling that people are still reaching out to agents. The more serious buyers and sellers – likely those looking for a long-term home rather than a short-term investment opportunity – are still in the market.

Another indicator of behavioural change is the Bounce Rate (how many people leave the site immediately after arriving). This rate usually hovers around 30% for property websites like REW, but has now dropped well below 10%. People that are still in the market and coming to our site are more likely to be serious home seekers, and are spending more time evaluating property listings.his is going to be an interesting part of the property purchase process to observe, as people spend longer in an evaluation phase before moving to make a purchase.

Current Market Takeaways

These are unprecedented times, and it’s impossible to predict exactly how things will play out in the coming weeks and months. Like other industries in North America, the real estate market has never dealt with a true pandemic. However, as Canada continues to take steps to “flatten the curve” and gain more information on how to combat the spread of COVID-19, we will, eventually, see a market rebound. The actual demand for property buying and selling is still very much present – it’s just likely operating on a longer consideration-to-purchase timeline than we’ve seen before.

INTEREST RATE CUT MARCH 2020

While Canada’s economy has been operating close to potential with inflation on target, the COVID-19 virus is a material negative shock to the Canadian and global outlooks, and monetary and fiscal authorities are responding. These new lower rates will change what you could get approved for. Click to find out more.

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5 Financial Benefits Only Available for Homeowners

By Catherine Musgrove – REW

1. Possible Tax Breaks and Benefits are Attractive Incentives

Everyone loves a tax break! Although most tax benefit programs are specific to each province, there is a National Program called the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC). The purpose of the HBTC is to give you back a small portion of the purchase price considering that one of the biggest challenges for first-time home buyers is the down payment. This tax credit can give you a non-refundable $5,000 when you file your tax return the year after you purchase. This translates to roughly $750 extra in your pocket. Great for those new home expenses that may pop up.

Provincially, there are many different tax breaks and benefit programs available across the country. Exclusive to British Columbia, for example, is the First Time Home Buyers’ Program. It exempts first-time home buyers from the property transfer tax by reducing or eliminating the amount of tax paid. There are certain stipulations so make sure you check the qualification criteria

BC has some of the most expensive real estate in the country, and with that comes some of the steepest property taxes. With the Home Owner Grant, you may be eligible to reduce property taxes on an annual basis with the amount of  tax relief dependant on where you live. For example, if you are living in Vancouver you might be eligible for a $570 grant, whereas outside of the Capital Regional District, Greater Vancouver, or the Fraser Valley District, you may be eligible for a grant of $770.

BC also has a tax incentive for home buyers who are not first-time home buyers necessarily but are purchasing a newly built home. The Newly Built Home Exemption helps lower or eliminate the property transfer tax you are required to pay. This exemption applies to newly built homes only and can save you up to $13,000 in tax exemptions.

Similarly, Ontario offers a refund on all or part of your land transfer tax. But you need to be an eligible first-time home buyer. This program can save you up to $4,000 in taxes. Prince Edward has a program as well with a maximum of $2,000 refund.

2. How Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Helps with Home Ownership

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a Crown Corporation of the Government of Canada. It exists to help make housing affordable to everyone in Canada and has developed several programs to help homeowners and first-time home buyers find more affordable options.

The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive Plan offers five to 10 per cent of the homes’ purchase price to put toward a down payment. These additional funds added to your down payment help lower your mortgage carrying cost.

The Government of Canada, essentially, partners with you in a Shared Equity Mortgage, taking a share of the increase or decrease in your property’s market value. There are specific criteria to qualify. 

3. Home Buyers Plan Helps You Leverage RRSP Investment

Another great Federal Program is the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP), which allows you to use a $35,000 Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) withdrawal to put towards your new home purchase. It is specifically designed to assist first-time home buyers in saving funds to purchase a home.

Normally, when you withdraw funds from your RRSP, you’re taxed on those funds. Under the HBP, you can withdraw up to the $35,000 amount in a single calendar year to put towards a down payment of your first home. 

4. GST/HST New Housing Rebate Can Put Money Back in Your Wallet

It’s true! By buying a home you may qualify for a rebate on part of the GST or HST you paid on the purchase or cost of building your new home. In addition, you could save on the cost of substantially renovating or building a major addition onto your existing home, or on converting non-residential property into a house. There are multiple rebates you can claim, and the value of this rebate will vary based on which category your home purchase falls. Your accountant or tax office and point you in the right direction on this one. 

5. Building Equity and Credit Gives Financial Benefits

Beyond the provincial and federal programs available, another key financial benefit to buying a home is to build equity. Not only will you own “more” of your home (a.k.a. equity), you also build a line of credit. This is a significant asset you can use for almost anything. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is essentially a secured form of credit. The lender uses your home as a guarantee that you’ll pay back the money you borrow. You can borrow money, pay it back, and borrow it again, usually up to a maximum credit limit.

If you have been renting because home ownership seemed out of reach, look at the requirements to qualify for these programs. You may be surprised at what you can save as a homeowner!

Thinking of Buying a Leasehold Property? Read This First

By Atrina Kouroshnia – REW.CA

Don’t know what a leasehold property is? Don’t worry. Here’s a basic introduction with some finer talking points.

What Exactly is a Leasehold Property?

A leasehold property means that the owner owns the house/townhouse/condo itself but not the land it is built on. That land is leased to the home owner by the land owner. Leasehold land is basically a plot of land that has been rented out to a developer, who then builds on the land and rents the property for a certain sum of money (or a portion of it as with an apartment building or condo). The leases on the plots of land are typically for extended periods of time (think up to 100 years or more), very often pre-paid up front (see section below), and often belong to either the City, or in many cases a corporation, a University or are First Nations Reserve lands.

On REW.ca (just add ‘leasehold’ to your filter), you can find some great examples of leasehold lands in Vancouver and Toronto. The land on south False Creek close to Granville Island, for example, as well as in south-east Vancouver along the Fraser River, are leaseholds owned by the City of Vancouver, whereas various corporations own much of the leasehold land in Vancouver’s West End.

How Long Can I Own a Leasehold Property?

If you decide to buy a leasehold property, you are essentially purchasing the right to possess that property until the end of the lease, or until you sell it to someone else – whichever comes first. If the lease expires and you are still in the home, you will have to renegotiate your terms for leasing the land your home is standing on – often at considerable expense. Or, in instances where the property was passed down from one person to another (throughout a family from parent to child say) and the lease is about to expire, whomever is the current owner would have to renegotiate.

With a leasehold property it is extremely important to find out these details before you make a purchase. All leasehold land will have a lease agreement outlining details such as the terms of the lease, and what happens at the end of the lease. If you own property on non-pre-paid leasehold land (ie, you are making monthly lease payments), the lease agreement will also tell you whether the owner can raise your lease payments and, if so, at what intervals of time.

More About Pre-Paid Leases

In addition to your strata fees and taxes, you may or may not be required to pay a monthly lease payment on your leasehold property. The only way to find out is by carefully reviewing the lease agreement.

A pre-paid lease means that the developer has paid the lease payments ahead of time, so you will not have an extra bill; although most likely the owner has combined these fees into the overall value of the property itself. Non-pre-paid leases, as are often found on First Nations Land, will see you ponying up one more expense every month. On the other hand, it might mean that your home’s overall value was or is lower upon purchase.

Can I Get a Mortgage on a Leasehold Property?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question. Generally speaking, however, leaseholds are more challenging. To begin with, most lenders will not approve a mortgage for a term or an amortization that is longer than the lease itself, which, depending on the lease’s expiration date can be problematic.

Any time the property is not a freehold strata there will be limits, but some lenders will be more open to the possibility. Your options will be reduced for a First Nations reserve leasehold, and private leaseholds are the most challenging. In many cases the only option may be a private lender but even that is not a guarantee.

When looking for mortgage on a leasehold property, the lender will look at everything: income, credit score, down payment, and of course the property itself. Clients of mine purchased a 1,200 square foot town-home in east Vancouver for $490,000. Their lease is a little over 60 years; but they were extremely happy with their choice. It is in a gentrifying neighbourhood with lots of amenities, and they were able to obtain a mortgage through a big bank with getting their best rate. Also, because leasehold land is much cheaper than freehold land for similar properties, they would not have been able to find anything similar at that same price point.

If you choose a leasehold property, you will be limited as to the lenders and mortgage rates. But to put things into perspective, as with any home that you buy there will be lenders that like it and lenders that won’t.

Read the fine print, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, and seek out advice from someone with experience.

How to Save for a Down Payment: 7 Tips from Financial Experts

By Catherine Musgrove – REW.CA

We understand, saving for a down payment for your first home can seem overwhelming. You may wonder how you are ever going to transition from being a renter to a homeowner when all your money is going towards someone else’s mortgage. But there’s no need for despair. There are many things you can start doing today that will help you save for tomorrow’s home purchase.

According to well-known financial author and businessman Dave Ramsey, you should first look at how much you are going to need. Knowing your goal upfront will save you from disappointment later.

How Much Should You Really Have for a Down Payment for a Home?

In Canada, the minimum amount you will need for your down payment depends on the purchase price of the home you want to buy. 

  • For amounts under $500,000, you will need five per cent down. 
  • For amounts between $500,000 and $999,999, you will need five per cent for the first $500,000 and 10 per cent for the portion between $500,000 and $999,999. 
  • If the home is more than $1 million, you will need 20 per cent of the purchase price. 

What if You Don’t Have the Minimum Requirement for a Down Payment? 

No need to fret. You may qualify for a High Ratio Mortgage which will allow you to borrow up to 95 per cent of the cost of the home. Because this is considered a higher risk loan, you will need to purchase mortgage insurance and without the minimum down payment, you may be left with less options on interest rates and terms. 

As you know, the amount of money you put forward as a down payment is subtracted from the total price of the home so the more the better in reducing your monthly payments. Map out how long it is going to take you to save the required amount. It is common for it to take two to three years. Keep this in mind before you start your search.

When looking for how much you will need, you will undoubtedly discover what you can afford. Setting your down payment goal goes with what you can afford. Most experts agree you should stick with less than 25 per cent of your monthly take-home pay – including the mortgage payment, private mortgage insurance, possible Homeowners Association (HOA), property taxes and home-owners insurance.

Keep in mind, you may need additional mortgage insurance if the bank feels your down payment is too low or you may find making payments challenging. In other words, the more you can put down, the better.

With Your End Goal in Mind, Let’s Look at Some Creative Ways to Save

1.  Pay-off High-Interest Loans and Credit Cards

Entering the home buying arena will be less stressful if you don’t have a pile of debt hanging over you. Debt will influence what you can afford and how quickly you can get into your own home. Take the extra time and get out of debt. While you are at it, have a small emergency fund set aside too. Once done, you are ready to start putting funds towards your down payment.

2.  Automatic Transfer of Funds Equals Automatic Savings

Having a budgeted amount withdrawn automatically from your paycheck and redirected to your savings will be a great step. You will get used to this lower pay and adjust spending accordingly. Before you know it, you will have substantial funds in your savings account.

3.  Find an Income Booster

Consider taking on a part-time job or side hustle. Turn a hobby into some extra income. Perhaps dog walking on the weekends or becoming a weekend referee is within your realm of interests. Regardless, choose something you enjoy, and it won’t feel like extra work. Remember to put this extra income into your savings.

4.  Move to a More Modest Rental and Cut Expenses

Look at your current expenses, develop a realistic budget, and then start living within those means. You might have to look for a less expensive rental property until you are ready to buy or reduce the number of dinners out. You will be surprised at how those little expenditures add up. Remember to take the extra money you are saving and redirect it to your savings account. Otherwise, it will disappear on morning drive-thru coffees.

Download a budget tracker app to help you stay on track. Mint.com and everydollar are great choices, but there are many out there to suit every style.

5.  Have a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

When you put money away in a savings account you are taxed on the interest generated on that money. With a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), the funds are not deductible for income tax purposes. Any amount contributed as well as any income earned in the account is generally tax-free, even when withdrawn.

Juan Munoz, Financial Advisor with Industrial Alliance in Quebec, says TFSAs are also a way to keep your savings out of reach. The money will be kept separate from your regular savings and you can set it up so automatic withdrawals are made from your primary bank account. Your money gets set aside before you have a chance to spend it. It’s also motivating to see your TFSA balance growing!

Munoz cautions against depositing savings in Money Markets if you are buying a home within a short period of time. Money Markets funds are great for having access to your money quickly, but the value fluctuates and you may not be able to wait for the market to rebound.

“In 2018, the money market was doing great. Different from the last three months, when the market has shown a decline,” cautions Munoz. “With money market investments instead of creating extra funds for your down payment. It is a risk.”

6.  Borrow from Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

In March 2019, the amount you can withdraw from your RRSP for a down payment without being taxed increased to $35,000. Keep in mind, this money must be repaid within 15 years or you will need to pay income tax on it.

“It is a great way to get your hands-on significant down payment funds quickly,” adds Munoz.

7.  First-Time Home Buyers Program

Another great option to consider is the First-Time Home Buyers Program. This incentive makes it easier for you to buy a home and lowers your monthly mortgage payment. This program is a shared equity mortgage. Meaning, you are sharing the ups and downs of your property value with the government. The program offers five to 10 per cent of the homes’ purchase price to put toward a down payment. These additional funds will help you lower your mortgage carrying cost. You pay back the same percentage of the value of your home when you sell it or within a 25-year window, whichever comes first.  

In addition to the federal FTHB program, check out similar programs in your city. Often, cities will offer additional incentives to first-time home buyers. Sometimes it is to revitalize or redevelop a neighbourhood that has become less popular over time. These programs usually have very specific requirements so check out city hall to see if they are the right fit for you. 

Examples of programs in the past include Winnipeg, Manitoba and Surrey, British Columbia. They have offered up to $20,000 under their home buyer programs. Interesting note: the money is repaid without interest over a predetermined number of years.

Decide what you can afford, determine your budget, start saving, and look to provincial and federal programs that exist for the purpose of helping first-time home buyers save for their down payment. With these things in mind, you will be well on your way to drinking your morning coffee in your own home!

Family Fun Day Activities Across Metro Vancouver

It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s Family Day. There’s a whole lotta love crammed into this weekend. And if your kids are like Sonia’s, they have a Pro D day on Friday so the weekend is extra long. Never fear, we’ve got tons of ideas for family entertainment in Metro Vancouver for this February 14-17 weekend. Have a great one!

Link: https://www.familyfuncanada.com/vancouver/metro-vancouver-weekend-event-guide/

6 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home at The Same Time

By Catherine Musgrove with REW

Buying or selling a home can be daunting, even in the best circumstances. Combining them can mean stress overload unless you are prepared and have a plan B for when things go awry. Here are some tips to consider when buying and selling your home at the same time.

1. Assess Your Situation

Everyone loves it when the planets align, but how often does that happen? If you don’t plan, then plan to fail.

To prepare for the process of buying and selling your home at the same time, know current real estate trends. The best place to start is with a reputable, experienced Real Estate Agent. This person knows the market situation in your area and in the new area you are considering. An agent will also know if it is a buyer’s or a seller’s market. This is important so you have a sense of how quickly homes are moving and for how much. This, in turn, will help you with your timeline, your listing price, and how much you can afford.

Make sure to choose the same agent for the buying and selling process. Having an agent who understands your situation on both ends will be invaluable. The only times this shouldn’t be the case is if you are moving out of province or if the agent is also working with the seller of your new home.

Remember, you have options. Negotiating the length of your close, rent-backs, short-term rentals, and other ways to bridge the time between buying and selling.

2.  Contract Contingency and Bridge Loans

Another key is knowing if you need to sell your current home to have the down payment for your new home. If you do, you need to consider a contract contingency when purchasing or apply for a bridge loan.

Contract Contingency or Conditional Sale means the purchase of the new home will depend on the sale of your existing home. This can be dangerous in a seller’s market and could cost you your dream home if you are not careful. If the market is competitive, the seller may not want to decrease their chances of selling by waiting for you to sell your home. You will need to convince the seller you are in a desirable market, priced right, and your house will sell quickly. If there has been no movement on their property and it has been on the market for a while, then this might be a desirable option for everyone involved.

Bridge Loans might be a great alternative. These loans allow you to own two homes at the same time if you don’t have the money for a second down payment. Make sure you’ve evaluated your options before you make a decision.

3. Consider Having a Cushion in the Price

When setting the price of your home, consider what you want to spend on your new home and weigh this against the market value. Make sure to leave a cushion when considering your new home budget. For example, if your home is assessed at $900,000 and your new home is $850,000, then you know your bottom-line is $850,000. If the market is slow and you don’t get your $850,000, then you know you will be looking at a new home for less. Have a buffer and manage your expectations.

Make sure you cover your sale price with your purchase. If you know the general price range you want for your next purchase, talk with your agent about what you’ll need to get from the sale of your current home in order to cover it. Having a professional agent at this time will definitely help.

4. Pre-Approved Mortgage

Knowing what you can afford is crucial. Often, buyers will be upgrading to a bigger home and think because they have a current mortgage, have a down payment, or are making more income they can upgrade. This is not always the case. Make sure you know your limit. By having a Pre-Approved Mortgage, you won’t be setting yourself up for disappointment after you find your dream home.

5. Covering Yourself in Between the Buy and Sell Process

Just in case those planets don’t align on schedule, make sure you have a Plan B. It is rare if the new home closes at the same time as your existing home. A little off in either direction and you could be paying dual mortgages or be homeless.

Make sure you have an emergency fund for such a situation. You may find you are in a hotel for a week or two. You may want to consider short term rental options (like an Airbnb). Consulting with friends and family may also give you some arrangements until your new place closes.

Another option is a Rent-Back Agreement. This provision would have you renting your home back from the buyer (now the owner) from the time of closing until you are ready to move. The buyer does not have to agree to this, and their agreement to this scenario will likely be determined by their own buying and selling situation. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. Have a back-up for this back-up!

6. Selecting a Closing Date and Time

If strategically chosen, the time and date of your closing can make buying and selling at the same time seamless. Banks can take up to two to three days to transfer funds, and those transfers are usually done before 3 p.m. Tip: Do not schedule your closing on a Friday and always choose the morning hours. Having this buffer in your schedule will help close the deal on schedule and as planned.

Now you have your plan, and you are ready to sell your home and buy a new one at the same time. It won’t be without its curveballs, but the process will be a lot smoother and successful with your checklist complete.

Happy home selling and buying!

BC Assessments Vs. What Your Home is Truly Worth

By Dustan Woodhouse – REW.CA

BC Assessment notices have arrived in the mail, giving some homeowners a big smile and a bit more spring in their step (increased property taxes aside), while others wilt and lament at a modest gain or decrease in assessed value.

But hold on a sec. Neither this assessment document, nor either parties’ emotions, are tied to a current true market value. In fact, provincial property assessments can be significantly too high or too low. Values are determined in July of the previous year, and properties are rarely visited in person by provincial appraisers.

For this reason, provincial property assessments should never be solely relied upon as any sort of relevant indicator of true market value for the purposes of purchase, sale or financing.

Think of the assessed value instead as something akin to a weather forecast, spanning far larger and more diverse areas than the unique ecosystem that is your neighbourhood, your specific street, or your specific property. A weather forecast made the previous July, not the previous week. As this is when assessed values are locked in, a full six months prior to the notices being mailed out.

The BC Assessment Authority does offer some useful tools for a high-level view of the market. Go to http://evaluebc.bcassessment.ca/ and start typing an address. You’ll get a drop-down window where you can click on the address you want. Here’s what you can find out:

Details on single address: These come up on the first screen and include: current and last year’s assessed value; size and rooms; legal description; sales history, and further details if property is a manufactured home or multi-family building. There’s also an interactive map as well as links to information on neighbouring properties and sample comparative sold properties.

Neighbouring properties: Here you can compare the assessed value of houses in the immediate neighbourhood. Clicking on any property brings up further details.

Sample sold properties: Find comparable properties and see what they sold for and how their sold price compares to their assessed value. This is a great research tool for owners, sellers and buyers.

These tools can be a starting point, but if you’re looking to set a selling price on your own property, always enlist a professional. Valuing your property is not a do-it-yourself project. In a buying/selling transaction, it is best to order an appraisal, which is a much more accurate reflection of current market value. It is timely and reflects value for zoning, renovations and/or other features unique to the property. An appraiser is an educated, licensed, and heavily regulated third party offering an unbiased valuation of the property in question.

What’s My Home Really Worth?

Usually, market value is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for a home, and what the seller is willing to accept.

A quick survey of recent sales and their relation to assessed values will often demonstrate no clear relationship between sale price and assessed value. It’s often all over the map. Some properties selling well below assessment, and others well above.

You also want an experienced and local REALTOR® to help you determine the selling price of your home. A (busy, local) agent will have a far better handle on what is happening in your area for prices than does a government document, and in many instances will save you from yourself.

In theory, a comprehensive current market review completed by a real estate agent should not differ radically from the value determined by a professional appraiser.

Professional appraisers spend all day every day appraising properties, and their reports are often seen as less biased. Imagine your reaction, as a buyer, to the following statements…

  1. The seller says their house is worth $500,000.
  2. The sellers’ listing agent says it’s worth $500,000.
  3. This house is listed at $500,000 based on a professional (marketing) appraisal.

Most buyers would consider #3 the most reliable of the above statements. And most buyers requiring financing will have the benefit of the lender ordering their own independent appraisal to confirm fair market value. Sellers rarely order an appraisal in advance, which can create some interesting situations.

In practice, agents are relied upon for listing price estimates. Most buyers don’t care much about what anybody else thinks the house is worth. Buyers care what they think it is worth. This is why we say that market value is ultimately determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for the home, aligned with what is acceptable to the seller.

The Two Kinds of Appraisals

It is important to note that there are two kinds of professional appraisals. There is the marketing appraisal, such as one ordered by a seller. And there is the financing appraisal, which is done so the bank is satisfied the house is worth what the buyer and seller have agreed it’s worth. The financing appraisal is a less in depth review and more a matter of answering the question: Is this property worth the agreed-upon purchase/sale price?

marketing appraisal goes deeper (and costs more), but a lender is not concerned with the actual market value over and above the purchase/sale price. A lender just wants the simple question answered. It is a rare day that the appraisal for financing has a value that differs significantly, if it all, from the sale price. Therefore one should not be surprised if, when buying a home, they find that the appraisal comes in bang on at the purchase price. As they do 99 per cent of the time. The one per cent of the time that the value is off, it is almost always a private transaction where the seller has had no professional guidance at all and has inadvertently set their price below market, by relying on something as inaccurate as their BC Assessment document.

In summary, rather than relying on your out-of-date BC Assessment for your home’s value, you should gather professional opinions from real estate agent(s) and an appraiser – these are the people with their feet on the ground and their heads in the game.

Five Great Tips For Selling Your Home During Winter

By Barry Magee  – REW.CA

Sometimes the last thing someone wants to do during the winter months is shop for a home. As real estate agents we always dread showing units on dreary, rainy days because it often doesn’t show a property in its finest light (quite literally).

Now that the holidays are over, let’s have a look at some tactics to make your house stand out in the crowd. Don’t let the winter blues get you down, just follow this great advice and your property sale will happen sooner rather than later.

1. Don’t Let Winter Win

Even when it’s driving rain and super cold, there are things you can do to use this to your advantage. Focus on providing a warm, dry home to prospective buyers, make sure your heating system is on a comfortable setting and maybe even have some towels at the front door to dry off visitors. If it snowed outside recently, make sure to dig out the old shovel and make sure your buyers don’t have to park too far away from your property. If you don’t let winter get in the way, it’s no longer an obstacle to a home sale.

2. Make Your Home Cozy and Warm

warm home

When it’s cold outside there is nothing nicer than entering into a warm room. If the weather is cold enough outside maybe this will give added incentive to a visitor to stay in your home, and perhaps discover something in the property that tickles their buying bone. Make sure you don’t go overboard and make it too hot, though, you don’t want a potential buyer to be sweating before they make an offer! Comfort can go a long way to securing a potential sale, so make sure you find a sweet spot on your thermostat.

3. Let There Be Light!

Vancouverites head out in droves the second the sun breaks through the clouds, and winter is no exception to this rule. It gets darker earlier in the evening, making weekday showings trickier. Make sure the outside of your house features great lighting and make sure every available light inside is turned on. No one will stay in your property and be able see all its subtle features if it’s dark and dreary inside. It’s also a safety feature, as you don’t want a visitor tripping and falling while they are visiting your home!

4. Be Prepared

When you plan for the worst, the best will often show itself. That’s a motto I live by when selling a property. Many people ask potential buyers to remove their shoes inside, but if you think it’s rude to do so, make sure you have some hearty rugs so they can properly wipe their feet as they enter. You should likely have an assigned spot where everyone can place their coats, so they don’t have to carry them around as they tour the unit. Be prepared to spend some time cleaning afterwards – it could very well be worth it if you find the right buyer.

5. Take Your Pet to the Groomer

dog

Focus primarily on your home, but if you have some furry friends at home it’s a good idea that they should be cleaned and groomed prior to showing your home. This will reduce the allergens given off by your pet and improve the smell of your home. You want to present your property as somewhere that anyone can live. Having a home that smells great and is presentable and clean can only improve your chances of success.