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.”
Surrey population surpasses 500,000; doubles Vancouver in growth
Surrey City Centre
Census data released today by Statistics Canada has revealed that Surrey’s population has surpassed 500,000. As of May 2016 last year, the population of Surrey was 517,887, an increase from 468,251 in 2011 representing a growth rate of 10.6%, outpacing the national average, British Columbia, the City of Vancouver, and the Vancouver CMA.
In comparison, between 2011 and 2016:
Canada as a whole grew by 5.0%
British Columbia grew by 5.6%
City of Vancouver grew by 4.6%
Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA): 6.5%
The only Vancouver CMA municipality to grow faster than Surrey was the Township of Langley which grew at a rapid 12.6%. As a whole, the Vancouver CMA grew to 2,463,431.
With Surrey adding an average of 1,000 new residents per month, as of February 2017, the population of Surrey can be estimated to have already increased further to 525,000. It is expected that Surrey will surpass Vancouver in population to become the largest city in BC by 2030.
Looking at growth by Census Tract, the areas of Surrey growing the fastest were in the south and east, in places such as Grandview Heights, Sunnyside Heights, South Newton, and Clayton. There was also noticeably strong growth in Surrey City Centre as a result of new condo developments in recent years, with one Census Tract east of King George Blvd and south of 104th Avenue growing by 33%. This growth in City Centre will likely increase even more by the 2021 Census, with more new condo developments expected to be completed within City Centre in the next 5 years than in the previous 5 years.
Developable land and affordability in comparison to Vancouver can both be seen as driving factors in Surrey’s strong growth.
Growth rate by Census Tract in Metro Vancouver
Growth rate by Census Tract in North Surrey – Area east of King George Blvd and south of 104th Ave grew by 33%.
Registration begins Jan. 16 for children entering kindergarten in September 2017.
Children who turn five before Jan. 1, 2018 are eligible to start school in the fall.
Kindergarten registration must be done in-person at your neighbourhood school or school of preference (if space is available). For a map of school catchment boundaries, check here and for a list of all schools, check here.
The following documents are required at the school when registering:
* proof of birth date for the students (eg. birth certificate or passport)
* proof of guardianship (eg. birth certificate or other legal documentation)
Please note that enrolment at several schools in Surrey is already at, or over, capacity and they are therefore unable to accept out-of-catchment registrations.
Specialty and choice programs are also available. Some (French Immersion, Intensive Fine Arts, Traditional and Montessori) require online/lottery application, which begins Jan. 30. For more information or to learn about information evenings being held in January 2017, check here.
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