If you're in the market for a house, first of all, congrats! Buying a home is one of the most rewarding — albeit at times exasperating — things you'll do in your life. By the time you're ready to buy, you likely have a sufficient grasp on the basic necessities: a solid foundation, a roof that doesn't leak, wiring that won't cause your new home to spontaneously combust, and so on. But what about the other stuff you should be mindful of? You know, the considerations not covered during your home inspection?
These more personal assessments may not be as "dear-god-get-me-out-of-here" detrimental as a crumbling foundation, but they could likewise affect your quality of life for the foreseeable future. So here are a few things to watch for, as well as the ones you shouldn't sweat.
3 Things to Pay Attention To:
1. The amount of natural light
Unless you're particularly partial to living like a cave-dweller, you want your home to have ample natural light. Besides making everything inside look better, it just makes you feel better. Yet this is often glossed over by some buyers during the house hunt. If you have your sights set on a house, schedule viewings at different times of the day to get an accurate picture of the natural light situation.
If you need secondary motivation outside of how beautiful natural light is, consider this: The amount of natural light in your home could indicate bigger (read: more costly) issues. Too little and you may have to add or modify existing windows, which could run upwards of $15,000.
2. The driveway and parking situation
You may be thinking, "Really? The driveway?" To which the answer is, "Yes. Really, really." The dimensions of your driveway could very well determine how quickly your new-home infatuation fades. It may seem silly in the grand scheme of things, but consider your parking spot like an extended part of your entryway. If the drive is too narrow, you'll spend countless hours playing musical cars to squeeze vehicles in. Alternately, if it's too long and you live in an area prone to snowdrifts, you may never want to leave home during the winter months. Street parking may seem like a viable option, but some cities have strict regulations regarding visitors and even overnight parking. Be sure to ask!
3. The neighbourhood
This is the epicenter of the house hunt for many people for one readily apparent reason: You want to like the area where you live. But there are a few less obvious things to consider before you hit the local coffee shop in preparation for your first early Saturday open house. Are there ample sidewalks in case you want to take a leisurely stroll or go for a bike ride? Is it in close proximity to public transportation? If you have kids, there's little doubt you looked into the local school district. Even if you don't, though, keep in mind a better school district equals a better resale value. And, finally, read any HOA documents before you sign on the dotted line. It will be tedious beyond belief, but doing so will alert you to restrictions, bylaws, and other issues that could be unwelcome surprises down the road.
3 Things to Ignore
1. The seller's style
Don't let that Day-Glo paint in the kitchen be a deal breaker. For that matter, don't let any paint color put you off of a home you like. You can always repaint and, let's be honest, what first time home-buyer doesn't want to hand-pick their own hues anyway? Similarly, if the seller's fuzzy toilet seat cover stresses you out, don't worry — they'll take it with them when they go. It can be hard to envision your stuff in a home that currently clashes with your personal style, but try to remember decor is easily changed and offers you the opportunity to tailor things to your own tastes.
Hey, life is busy, you know? Sometimes a seller just can't find the time to pack up the plethora of tchotchkes littering their living room before a showing. Cut 'em some slack (selling is just as stressful as buying) and think outside the box. Just bring a tape measure to make sure there actually is enough room for your belongings and focus on the condition of the house as opposed to its clutter.
3. Unsolicited opinions
You'll soon find that everyone and their brother has an opinion about your potential new home, from the color of its exterior to the quality of the finishes inside. If you feel as though a particular piece of unsolicited advice may be helpful, by all means cull that wisdom. Fortunately, though, you can simply ignore anything else. You're the one who'll be living there and paying the mortgage. Ultimately, the only person you need to please when you pick your house is you.
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Latest numbers from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) revealed that B.C.’s southwestern region has experienced significant home price growth in February, indicating a possible companion to the red-hot Vancouver market in the near future. Last week, the Board revealed that the benchmark price for a single-family property in the Valley increased by 20.4 per cent year-over-year and 0.4 per cent compared to January, hitting $859,300.
“This is the kind of February we like to see. Last year at this time, the incredible demand created a market that was difficult for consumers,”
according to FVREB president Gopal Sahota, as quoted by CBC News.
“Now, we have sales moving upward from the winter months at a typical, healthy pace and a growing inventory to support it,” Sahota stated, adding that the numbers are so far showing a “return to normal historical sales numbers.” Apartment prices also rose sharply by 26 per cent compared to February 2016 and 1.8 per cent month-over-month, up to $267,000. Meanwhile, average townhome costs grew by 25 per cent year-over-year and 0.5 per cent since January, reaching $422,400. Recently, Finance Minister Bill Morneau assured that the federal government is still closely monitoring the Canadian housing market, amid seemingly inexorable price growth in Vancouver and Toronto.
“We continue to be very focused on thinking about how we can manage what is peoples’ most significant investment. And we do watch the level of indebtedness, in particular around housing,” Morneau stated, adding that “strong underlying markets” continue to drive the two cities’ outsized performance. “So in Toronto and Vancouver, unemployment is lower in those two places than it is in some other places. Incomes are higher. The economy is doing better. So there are underlying reasons for the housing markets to do better and we’ll continue to monitor, to work with provinces and municipalities who have an important role to play here to manage what we see [as] a challenge, but not one that isn’t manageable.”
Celebrated chef Vikram Vij teams with Vancouver-based Arts Umbrella to offer cooking classes to teens
Feb. 28th, 2017
Local chef Vikram Vij is partnering with Arts Umbrella’s South Surrey arm to share his culinary expertise with teens.
The celebrated restaurateur will be offering three separate three-hour cooking workshops at My Shanti(15869 Croydon Drive, South Surrey), the youngest of his three local eateries, on March 25, April 29, and May 27. There, budding young chefs will learn the fundamentals of producing a family-style dish alongside Vij himself.
“I’m extremely passionate about teaching young people about Indian food,” said Vij in a media statement. “Not only that; this is a perfect partnership with Arts Umbrella. In the same way you take a script or an art assignment and add your own personality, I want these students to take a recipe and make it their own—adding extra spices, different flavours, and to adapt a recipe to something that’s uniquely theirs.”
The classes will help Arts Umbrella, a Vancouver-based non-profit that provides access to arts education for kids, expand beyond its visual art, theatre, and dance offerings to include the culinary arts.
Chef Vikram Vij’s cooking workshops are open to youth aged 13 to 18. To register for a class, contact Arts Umbrella South Surrey by emailor phone at 604-535-1127.
In all the excitement and packing, buying & selling, many people forget to take care of some essential items before they move. Don’t look past these 5 things you need to take care of, or it could cost you $$$.
1. Take care of all subscriptions: Magazines, memberships, recurring orders, gym memberships. Get a head start on updating your address or cancelling memberships before charges mount on your credit card. We suggest you take care of this at least 30 days prior to your move, as many gyms, clubs, and mail subscriptions require this much time for cancellation or updates.
2. Change your address at the post office: For a small fee Canada Post will allow you to register your new address to ensure all your mail finds its way to your new home. Leaving bills or an outstanding balance behind, may impact your credit score, as well as lead to accumulated interest charges -–neither of which you are likely o want.
3. Call utility providers: Cable, internet, electricity, gas, etc…These are all services that you should be making contact BEFORE you move. Many of these services can pivot on a dime so not much notice is required, but we do recommend making contact at least 1 week prior to your move date. Make a list of required utility providers & check it twice! Or, you could wind up paying for someone else’s electric bill!
4. Manage your motor vehicle insurance: If you are new to British Columbia here is what you need to know; ICBC allows up to 90 days to switch over your license, and 30 days to register, license and insure your vehicle.
If you are moving within the Province, you must update your address within 30 days of moving. Your auto-insurance policy must always show your current home address and vehicle use, so do not forget to update this information!
5. Get a ‘To-Go’ box ready: Whether you are moving across the country, province, or just down the street, make sure that you have a go-to box ready. This should contain items you will need as soon as you get to your new home; cleaning products, toilet paper, garbage bags, paper towels, clean sheets, fresh towels, paper plates and eating utensils and maybe even a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.
Foreign buyer tax has resulted in “policy shock,” but market will quickly recover to see prices higher than they are now, predicts Central 1 Credit Union chief economist
Courtesy of Joannah Connolly REW.ca September 20, 2016
Left to right: Tom Davidoff of UBC, Helmut Pastrick of Central 1 Credit Union and Tsur Sommerville of UBC listen to Arnon Dachner of Dentons at the UDI's September16 lunch panel on the Foreign Buyer Tax — Ryan Broda Photography
The “policy shock” of the new foreign buyer tax has created a “temporary market disruption” that will play out over the next three to six months, after which “market fundamentals” will mean the market recovers, according to a leading economist.
Speaking to a sold-out audience at the Urban Development Institute’s Foreign Buyer Tax luncheon and panel debate September 16, Helmut Pastrick, chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union, said that he expects house prices to recover so that they are higher this time next year than they are today.
Pastrick said, “I fully expect September’s sales to be down again, year-over-year, probably by 30 or 35 per cent compared with last September. The average price will probably fall again, relative to August, and this will play out over the next three to six months – it’s a temporary market disruption.
“After the market has absorbed this new tax regime, we will begin to see other market fundamentals come into effect. Prices will then continue to rise, and they will be higher this time next year.”
Pastrick’s fellow panellist at the UDI lunch, Tsur Sommerville, associate professor at UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, added, “In other markets where a foreign buyer tax was introduced, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, in both those markets, prices continued to rise.”
Pastrick said later in the discussion, “I think home prices will begin to increase again, but at a slower rate. I expect to see higher prices until this economic cycle comes to an end, as all cycles do… But recessions only last a short while, and the cycle begins again. And in the long term, I would expect that over the next two or three decades, [Vancouver real estate] prices will double again, if not more than double. But there will be more economic cycles between now and then.”
He added, “Right now we don’t see any signs of an economic recession due to a shock event – we’re in a strong economic cycle.”
Sommerville added, “In terms of the demand side, you’ve got the combination of the strong economic cycle, low interest rates, and a demographic profile where you’ve got a large number of young people ramping up into home ownership. There are more Millennials than any other group, so you’re going to have a huge increase in housing demand, in a market where the ability to respond on the supply side is securely constrained.”
Sommerville’s colleague Tom Davidoff, associate professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, who was also on the luncheon panel, said that despite the strength of the economy and demand, there was still a significant risk of a sharp correction in home prices due to the foreign buyer tax.
He said, “A potential collapse in foreign buyer demand… could result in a less-bad version of what happened in the United States [in the sub-prime crisis of 2008]. There is a significant risk of an over-correction in prices – but I wouldn’t say that is the most likely outcome.”
The fourth member of the panel was lawyer Arnon Dachner, a partner at Dentons LLP, who warned delegates that tactics to avoid paying the foreign buyer tax – even seemingly legal approaches, such as contract reassignment – could be defined as an “avoidance transaction” that could leave the party still liable for the payable tax or other monies lost to the BC government.
The panel debate was moderated by Neil Chrystal, president and CEO of Polygon Homes, who recently told REW.ca that that he thought the overseas buyers’ tax was “morally and ethically wrong” and added, “I wouldn't be surprised if it was challenged legally.”
Joannah Connolly is the editor and content manager of REW.ca and Real Estate Weekly newspaper, and editor-in-chief of Western Investor and West Coast Condominium. She also moonlights as the host of the Real Estate Therapist call-in show on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM every Saturday, 9-10am. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 20 years of media experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture and business media. Like many of the residents of her newly adopted town, Joannah has a decidedly unhealthy passion for Vancouver real estate and is often to be found scouring property listings well above her pay grade.
WHERE: Sandpiper Pub, White Rock WHEN: September 11 5 – 8 WHAT: Live music, door prizes, toonie toss, raffle and 50/50 HOW MUCH: $20 / ticket ( $10 directly to Semi Rugby) – You get a Burger, Fries and a Beverage (Beer or Pop) Kids Welcome – Bring the whole family
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