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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The Lure of Palm Springs
IF IT'S SPRING IT MUST BE PALM SPRINGS
50's tract homes today
It's that time of year when all thoughts turn to warm weather, golf, tennis, & a short flight. March Break is the perfect time to warm up after a cold & wet winter in Vancouver. We go for different reasons but Palm Springs seems to satisfy them all. It seems most people I know are either down there, were just down there, or are going there.
I not only love the warm dry weather but also the architecture found primarily in the town of Palm Springs itself, rather than the newer areas like Palm Desert, Indian Wells, etc. That mid century style is so clean of line, so simple, and still works today with a little updating,
We were lucky to find a great home on VRBO which was an updated mid 50's tract house complete with a couple of recovered vintage pieces of furniture that really stand the test of time both for function & comfort.
I wonder how many Canadians will buy homes this year; those prices are starting to inch up, thanks mostly to Buyers from Western Canada who see it as easy to access, with good tennis & golf facilities, low crime rates, and a warmer climate when we most need it.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Mortagage Rate Update
Announcement from BMO this week was that rates for 5 year term mortgages were being dropped to 2.99% but brokers have been offering that rate for some time & probably other banks as well. This is just a reminder that despite the changes in mortgage rules, there are still good deals out there & it pays to shop around especially in this more competitive Spring real estate market,
Monday, March 4, 2013
FEBRUARY STATS ARE IN FOR WESTSIDE
FEBRUARY STATS ARE IN-WESTSIDE NOT THE HEADLINES!
Unfortunately those newspaper headlines are general and don't give a realistic picture of what's happening on the Westside.
Overall listings are up from January but sales are up a lot more which means properties are selling in 2-3 weeks on average and within 2-4% of list price. Although house sales are down 42% from a year ago the median price is down less than 1%. February 2012 had the highest median price of the year so it will be interesting to see how 2013 trends after this month.
This isn't a "Buyer's market" despite the headlines and good homes priced realistically are selling. The biggest adjustment in our market is mostly for homes affected by the immigrant real estate market which explains the large drop in the number of sales. Many of the listings that aren't selling were built for this market and local buyers look for different features and locations so there is no appeal for them.
The condo and multi family market is a little different in that the median price has not caught up to last year reflecting the number of sales in the $300K-600K range as part of the total number of sales. These homes are still selling close to list price in that 2-3 week period.
The Westside market begins earlier than other parts of Vancouver so I expect that we will see business pick up there as part of the Spring market.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
no protests about the food!
We braved the protestors Saturday night to try new restaurant Pidgin; there are definitely issues for discussion in the DES but this is not the way to do it. Pidgin has a number of programs in place as good neighbours and supporters of the DES so hopefully the guys showing up every night with their signs & flashlights will soon disappear. They definitely aren't from the area.
PiDGiN is smaller plate dining making great meals out of every day ingredients by talented chef Makoto Ono, Mr Ono is a Canadian chef with an impressive resume; it shows in his food. 3 of us shared 5 different plates, all delicious & while the drink list was inviting, stuck with wine. They have a small wine list but also have wine by the glass via Fresh Tap. So far we recommend the scallops & the Steak Ssam but we have a lot more to try. There is something for everyone on this menu & we appreciated his innovative use of the everyday-the "daily pickle" bok choy was amazingly good.
The interior design is by Craig Stanghetta (Meat & Bread, Bao Bei, Revolver Cafe, etc) & suits the building as well as the style of the food.
It's a friendly atmoshphere with dining neighbours sharing recommendations; sounded like there was a lot of enthusiasm for the food.
Reservations are definitely a must; the guests start arriving early & it was still going strong at 9:30 when many restaurants are slowing down. It's a strong competitor for successful neighbours like Wildebeest & L'Abbatoir but gives yet another reason for those of us on the other side of the bridge to head downtown.
Can't wait to try it again and you can check it out online at www.pidginvancouver.com.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Renovation Options-Lighting the Way
Renovation Options-Lighting the Way
Renovations are always more expensive than planned so we need options wherever possible to keep costs in line. In some areas, there are no options but in finishing choices, there are always options.
Below are 3 similar styles of pendant light & if using in a kitchen you probably need 2-3 especially over an island so the price difference adds up.
Home Depot $75 Shades of Light $269
Circa Goodman light by Thomas O'Brien $840
I have seen both of the more expensive lights used and frankly, I prefer the Shades of Light but of course it's a matter of personal taste. The Home Depot light could be really effective (every room needs a little black) & could probably be refinished in a different colour with a little elbow grease if need be.
Note all prices are FOB US and do not include any shipping or import costs.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The Catch 22 of Westside Real Estate
The Catch 22 of Westside Real Estate
In most areas of Greater Vancouver or the country for that matter, Buyers must sell their homes before purchasing a new one. On the Westside we are caught in a Catch 22 where Buyers don't want to sell their homes for fear there will be nothing to buy once sold, and when they find something to buy, they can't (or won't) because they haven't sold their home.
With so few good listings available to Buyers, you have to have a strategy to get the home you want. The listing situation has been this way for quite a while so unlikely that it's going to change anytime soon. It is what it is so how do you prepare yourself to make a move?
There are a few options and the best one is the one that fits your financial situation and tolerance for risk:
Option 1: sell and prepare yourself to rent until you find your new home. There is no financial risk & you're in the best possible situation once you ready to make an offer. Inconvenience? Yes, 2 moves potentially & finding rentals can be challenging too.
Option 2: wait until you find your new home, negotiate the longest close you can, & list your home for sale immediately. Financial risk is that you could be in the position of owning 2 homes-can you handle that? Can you arrange for interim financing in case your home sells but the dates don't match up? Inconvenience? Probably, if you have to stay in your existing home until it sells in which case there are also additional costs of insurance for 2 homes as well as any carrying costs.
It's always a good idea to talk to your financial advisor or lender, if you have an existing mortgage, to weigh out the real risks and affordability to help you make a decision that's right for you.
It's also a good idea to speak with a realtor to find out what you need to do to your home to make it as saleable as possible, easier now than panicking later when it needs to get to market quickly! Also, get a realistic idea of what your home is worth-its value in today's market, which will change over the course of the year (update as time passes).
Now you can make a smart decision!
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Wallpaper or Art?
Wallpaper or Art? Is it Real-Is it Not?
I know that wallpaper isn't what it used to be; I've even framed and used it as art courtesy of British artist Tracy Kendall. However Italian wallpaper company Wall & Deco have taken it to a whole new level. These are just a few of an amazing range of options for your home or business.
"Rosa" outdoor wall indoors
"tile" Louis XV "mirror"
Monday, February 18, 2013
Real Estate in Vancouver
The High Cost of Real Estate in Vancouver
I think we can all agree that it's expensive to own property in Vancouver, probably in the top 3 in N. America after Manhattan and San Francisco. There were a couple of good articles in the Globe and Mail and Vancouver Sun on the weekend about the cost to live here.
However, what is Vancouver? People use Vancouver often to refer to the place they live when in fact, they live outside the city limits. It's not that big a city, stopping at the water on 3 sides and at Boundary Rd on the East. Once you cross those boundaries there is a lot of affordable real estate available.
Yes we would mostly all love to live in and enjoy the convenience of city living. Most of us who do live here can either afford it because we're middle aged and got into the market when it was more accessable or we have have made compromises like living in a much smaller space for the same price as a home in the suburbs.
Much of it is a matter of choice. There is nothing wrong with living in one of the many suburbs; they can be a great place to raise a family. I've done both and can't say that one is better than the other-it really depends on what's most important to you at the time.
Make a home buying decision based on your needs as well as your budget and it will be the right one for you!
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Great Design-Thinking Outside the Box
Thinking outside the box is often what's required to create great design. In this case an interior designer from Brooklyn added a lot of new design elements to her "box" of a modern condo. Most owners don't think of all the possibilities but remain within the confines of the original design rather than truly personalizing their home space. Here is a before and after of what can be done.
the move-in "before"
the owner opened up the doorway & added French doors with a Transom window above adding light to the smaller room which was then painted in a deeper colour. Floors were stained darker & with personal possessions added, it's a far more interesting space-and a lot different from the neighbours' I bet!
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Multiple Offers in Today's Market
Multiple Offers in Today's Market
Surprised? Yes even in our current market we are seeing multiple offers but they're not the ones from 2011! With fewer Buyers in the market very few Sellers would even consider listing their homes at what might be considered under value. Instead most Sellers will choose a price to allow for a little negotiating room. That said, good homes are always in short supply so it's still possible to generate multiple offers if a home is priced within reason.
So what's the bidding strategy with this type of pricing? As always Buyers need to do their homework with their realtor and determine a price that they are comfortable with, the one that means if you aren't successful, you have no regrets.
The reality for today's multiple offers is that it will result in a sale price that may be at, just slightly above, or even below the list price. Yes, the good news is that multiple offers can now be reasonable offers-finally.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
DEPRECIATION REPORTS-WHO, WHAT, WHEN?
Well it's you if you live in a Strata, and it will required by the end of 2013 so hopefully you now know what it is. Don Cayo's column in the Business section of the Vancouver Sun yesterday did a good job of discussing why it's important to hire a competent person/company to prepare this report which is a comprehensive look at the current condition of a building and come up with a plan to cover future costs of maintenance & replacement. At a minimum Tony Gioventu of CHOA recommends that Strata Corporations hire someone who is "substantially insured to cover any lapses in their work."
While it's tempting to base a hiring decision on cost, especially for smaller developments, the downside is huge. Ontario has done a better job in specifiying 8 acceptable types of qualifications, all of requiring specific training and/or certification by recognized professional bodies but B.C. left a gap that allows virtually anyone to do it. It's Buyer beware when it comes to choosing who does your depreciation report!
Thursday, January 24, 2013
The Power of Colour
The Power of Colour
I like white as much or more than anyone but there is no arguing the impact of colour, It can be a llittle intimidating for those used to beige-and I see a lot of it in real estate. Now Glidden Paints has come up with a way you can try colour without leaving your computer. You upload a photo of your room and "paint" it. To try out a room in your home go to MYCOLOURTOPIA
Here's an example of a Before & After courtesy of blogger sfgirlbybay-looked good before but better after!
Monday, January 14, 2013
UBER CAR SERVICE UPDATE
UPDATE ON UBER CAR SERVICE-NOT GIVING UP
I was raving about the car service availble from Uber but of course the taxi companies werent' happy and brought pressure to bear on the City of Vancouver. Uber is fighting it of course and often finds themselves in this position when going into a new market. Unfortunately for the time being they must charge a minimum of $75 per trip as a limousine trip as mandated by provincial law which effectively closes down the business. For more on this in the Georgia Straight, click HERE.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Who knows what 2013 will bring-certainly not the "experts." We know what happened last year and can only do our best to make this year a better one. It's true in life and it's true in real estate.
Monday, December 17, 2012
MORE GREAT CONDO HOLIDAY STYLE
MORE GREAT DECORATING STYLE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Once you look beyond the usual there are lots of great ideas for decorating a small space-here are a couple more
3 different ways to make it look like Christmas at your house-no matter what the size!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Space is at a minimum in most condos and a Christmas tree is a big footprint so what's one to do when it's time to put up the tree?
Friday, December 7, 2012
BUY LOCAL-GIFT BASKETS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
BUY LOCAL-GIFT BASKETS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
Gift baskets-the easy gift when you don't know someone very well or when you do and just can't make up your mind about which gift. I had never heard of this company until one my clients gave me one as a thank you. In this case it was chosen as a way to support a local company which in turn supports other local companies and communities.
The Saul Good Gift Company offers a mouth watering selection of local favourites, many of which may be new to you (that's how I got hooked on the cocoa dusted Aldergrove hazlenuts from Coco Nymph on W. 10th) but they don't stop at food. There are also spa baskets and those thaat include local cleaning products. In addition $2 from each sale goes to 1 of 3 excellent charities (you choose which 1) and the list of how they participate in our community goes on.
The Saul Good Gift Company allows makes it easy to buy "good" gifts. I think I've just checked 2 more off my list!
Look for their holiday pop up store at 2539 Main St as part of the "We Are Local" Pop Up Shop, open daily from 11-7 until December 31st. Click HERE to find out how to order and more.
Monday, December 3, 2012
THAT HOLIDAY SPIRIT
I'm on of those people who dreads the holiday season, not because I don't like Christmas but because of everything that goes with it-advertising that begins too early, holiday decorations that are put out too early, that forced holiday spirit, all in the hope that consumers will begin buying. My kids don't understand why I feel this way but to me Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year should look more like this
and not before the month of December
and gifts would look like this
I wonder if we will ever return to a time when we can just have a breather in between selling seasons, that it isn't that one begins just as soon as one ends...one can only dream...
Friday, November 30, 2012
BAG IT-BAG TO EARTH!
New to me but no longer, thanks to Green Grads who left me with a sample when they cleaned my gutters this month. I don't have a built in waste bin to handle all the materials that can go into the City compost bin, so having these bags sitting on my counter makes it easy to collect vegetable and plant waste. The small bags easily sit on the counter and when full, the whole bag goes into the compost bin. It's about as easy as it can be and they are available everywhere in multiple sizes. BAG TO EARTH is a Canadian company that is making it easy to be a responsible consumer. Click HERE to find out more about their products and where to buy them.
Friday, November 23, 2012
PLAN YOUR MOVE
YOUR REAL ESTATE STRATEGY-PLAN YOUR MOVE
The second most asked question after "what do you think is going to happen in the market" is WHEN is the best time to buy or sell. Most of us who have been in the business for more than a few years have a gut feel as to when that might be but to be more precise, I did some investigation into activity for the past 12 months. Here's what I found-it should make it easier to plan your move. All information is for the West Side only.
SINGLE FAMILY HOME
peak prices-February, then October. This means list in January and September
peak sales-February then March. This could mean more listings competing for Buyers or types of homes sold
peak inventory-May followed by June & July-more choice for Buyers
peak prices-June/August/September/February are all very close
peak sales-March then May
peak inventory-June followed by May & July
reflects the influence of snow bird owners, summer visitor/buyers
peak prices-March then October
peak sales-May, then March/April
peak inventory-May, then June/July
similar to single family homes which makes sense as sales of homes linked to those downsizing on West Side