Canada's housing market hit a boiling point last year as homebuyers clambered for real estate in regions with significantly more demand than supply. But now that homeowners and buyers alike are feeling the pinch of rising interest rates and record inflation, the market appears to finally be simmering down.

 That, in turn, could create a welcome opening for shoppers to be more selective with their searches. However, buyers hoping for a major downturn in prices may be left disappointed. Although home values in some segments are beginning to sag under the weight of higher borrowing costs, a persistent housing shortage is expected to keep prices high.

 Read on for a closer look at some of the top factors impacting Canada's real estate market and how they could affect you.

 RISING MORTGAGE RATES ARE COOLING AN OVERHEATED MARKET

 Over the past couple of years, homebuyers have faced record-high price appreciation and intense competition—in part due to historically low mortgage rates that were a result of the Bank of Canada’s efforts to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.1

 According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), in 2021, both the number of sales and average home price hit an all-time high, with demand for new homes far exceeding supply.2 This trend continued through early 2022, despite widespread predictions that the Bank of Canada was gearing up to increase interest rates.3

 But now that the central bank has officially begun pushing its key interest rate back up from emergency levels, the housing market is responding, with the pace of home sales cooling in March and April.4 The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) predicts that the housing market will continue to moderate in the coming year.5


The feds plan to keep raising interest rates as necessary to fight inflation, which means target rates could rise by another 1 to 2% or more over the next year.6 That, in turn, will cause both fixed and variable mortgage rates to rise.

 As Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Rogers noted in May: “We need higher rates to moderate demand, including demand in the housing market. Housing price growth is unsustainably strong in Canada.”7

 What does it mean for you?

If you’re shopping for a new home, expect mortgage rates to keep rising into 2024.8 So, you’ll need to act fast if you want to get in at a lower rate. However, the cooling effect should make for a less competitive market. We can help you chart the best path.

If you’ve been thinking about selling, higher mortgage rates may shrink your pool of potential buyers, so don’t wait too long to list. And if you are up for a renewal, you should also act quickly or risk paying a higher rate. Contact us to discuss your options.

 

DEMAND AND PRICES ARE STARTING TO SOFTEN IN SOME SEGMENTS

 Nationally, home prices soared a record 26.6% last year, an unsustainable rate of appreciation by any measure.9 But now that the Bank of Canada has put rock-bottom rates in the rear view window, sales have begun to slow.

 Soon after the Bank of Canada began raising interest rates in early March, the real estate market responded. According to the CREA, in March, home sales fell by 5.4% on a month-over-month basis and the Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) ticked up just 1%, “a marked slowdown from the record 3.5% increase in February.”10 

By April, home sales dropped by another 12.6% over the previous month as homeowners and buyers continued adjusting to higher rates.. “Following a record-breaking couple of years, housing markets in many parts of Canada have cooled off pretty sharply over the last two months, in line with a jump in interest rates and buyer fatigue,” said CREA Chair Jill Oudil. Meanwhile, prices are still rising in some markets, but are sagging in others, causing the HPI to dip in April for the first time since 2020.11

 As the Bank of Canada continues pushing up rates, more buyers may give up on their homeownership dreams if they feel too squeezed by the combination of high rates and high prices. Still, many experts say a major downturn in prices is unlikely. That's in part due to the fact that there still aren't enough homes available to meet the demands of a growing population, says CREA CEO Michael Bourque. “The supply of new homes is not even close to keeping up with demographic changes and population growth.”12 As long as housing remains a scarce asset, prices will remain relatively elevated.

 What does it mean for you?

 If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, now may be the perfect time to jump in the market. There are deals to be found if you know where to look. But don’t wait too long, or higher mortgage rates will erode any cost savings. We can help you find the best opportunities in today’s market.

 For homeowners, the outlook is still bright. Governmental interventions are being put in place to stabilize the market–not crash it. And demand for housing and a strong job market should help protect your investment.

 

INVENTORY REMAINS TIGHT

 According to the CMHC, housing starts trended higher in April after a small downturn in March. Overall, new homes are still being built at a faster clip today than in the past, but at a slower pace than we saw in 2021, noted CMHC Chief Economist Bob Dugan.13 Homebuilders are facing a wide range of challenges, including persistent inflation, rising rates, and ongoing labour shortages.

 Increased federal investment could help counteract at least some of those challenges. The federal government recently announced plans to help double the pace of housing construction over the next decade by funding significantly more new and affordable housing. It also announced additional relief measures, including a temporary ban on foreign investment, doubling first-time buyers' tax credit, and halting blind bidding wars.14

 In addition to fewer homes being built, new listings are also down, according to the CREA’s sales report. But a decrease in demand is offsetting the impact in some areas. “A little more than half of the local markets were balanced markets…a little less than half were in seller's market territory.”11

 What does it mean for you?

While supply remains at historically low levels, even a modest bump in inventory can help take pressure off of buyers. If you’ve had trouble finding a home in the past, give us a call to discuss what we’re currently seeing in your target neighbourhood and price range.

If you’re a homeowner, it’s still a great time to sell and cash out those big equity gains. Contact us to find out how much your home is worth in today’s market.

 

WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

 While national real estate trends can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighbourhood.

 If you’re considering buying or selling a home, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We can help you assess your options and make the most of this unique real estate landscape.


Sources:

  1. Bank of Canada -
    https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2020/03/press-release-2020-03-27/
  2. Global News -
    https://globalnews.ca/news/8516543/canada-home-sales-record-crea/
  3. CBC -
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/crea-housing-february-1.6385274
  4. Canadian Real Estate Association -
    https://www.crea.ca/housing-market-stats/stats/
  5. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/media-newsroom/news-releases/2022/housing-markets-moderate-historic-2021-levels
  6. Bank of Canada -
    https://www.bankofcanada.ca/press/press-releases/
  7. Reuters - https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/bank-canada-says-strong-demand-risks-higher-inflation-2022-05-03/
  8. Better Dwelling - https://betterdwelling.com/canadian-mortgage-rates-to-surge-demand-will-be-slowest-in-recent-history-moodys/
  9. CBC -
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/crea-housing-december-1.6317503#
  10. Canadian Real Estate Association - https://www.crea.ca/news/march-home-sales-and-new-listings-ease-back-following-surge-in-february/
  11. Canadian Real Estate Association - https://www.crea.ca/news/home-sales-drop-in-april-as-mortgage-rates-shoot-higher/ 
  12. Global News -
    https://globalnews.ca/news/8716412/canada-housing-market-cooling-bubble-interest-rate/
  13. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/media-newsroom/news-releases/2022/canadian-housing-starts-trend-higher-april
  14. Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau - https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2022/04/13/helping-young-people-get-housing-market
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Hedge Against Inflation With These 3 Real Estate Investment Types 

The annual inflation rate in Canada is currently around 5.1%—the highest it’s been in 30 years.1 It doesn’t matter if you’re a cashier, lawyer, plumber, or retiree; if you spend Canadian dollars, inflation impacts you.

Economists expect the effects of inflation, like a higher cost of goods, to continue.2 Luckily, an investment in real estate can ease some of the financial strain. Here’s what you need to know about inflation, how it impacts you, and how an investment in real estate can help.

 WHAT IS INFLATION AND HOW DOES IT IMPACT ME?

Inflation is a decline in the value of money. When the rate of inflation rises, prices for goods and services go up. Therefore, a dollar buys you a little bit less with every passing day.

 The consumer price index, or CPI, is a standard measure of inflation. Based on the latest CPI data, prices increased 5.1% from January 2021 to January 2022. In comparison, the CPI increased 1.0% from January 2020 to January 2021.3

 How does inflation affect your life? Here are a few of the negative impacts:

  1. Decreased Purchasing Power

We touched on this already, but as prices rise, your dollar won’t stretch as far as it used to. That means you’ll be able to purchase fewer goods and services with a limited budget.

           2. Increased Borrowing Costs

In an effort to curb inflation, the Bank of Canada is expected to raise interest rates.4 Therefore, consumers are likely to pay more to borrow money for things like mortgages and credit cards.

            3. Lower Standard of Living

Wage growth tends to lag behind price increases. Even as labour shortages persist in Canada—which would typically trigger pay raises—wages are not increasing at the same pace as inflation.5 As such, life is becoming less affordable for everyone. For example, inflation can force those on a fixed income, like retirees, to make lifestyle changes and prioritize essentials.

            4. Eroded Savings

If you store all your savings in a bank account, inflation is even more damaging. As of February, the national average deposit interest rate for a savings account was around 0.067%, not nearly enough to keep up with inflation.6


One of the best ways to mitigate these effects is to find a place to invest your money other than the bank. Even though interest rates are expected to rise, they’re unlikely to get high enough to beat inflation. If you hoard cash, the value of your money will decrease every year and more rapidly in years with elevated inflation.

 REAL ESTATE: A PROVEN HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION

 So where is a good place to invest your money to protect (hedge) against the impacts of inflation? There are several investment vehicles that financial advisors traditionally recommend, including:

  • Stocks

Some people invest in stocks as their primary inflation hedge. However, the stock market can become volatile during inflationary times, as we’ve seen in recent months.

      2. Commodities

Commodities are tangible assets, like gold, oil, and livestock. The theory is that the price of commodities should climb alongside inflation. But studies show that this correlation doesn’t always occur.8

      3. Inflation-Protected Bonds

Real Return Bonds (RRBs) are inflation-protected bonds issued by the Canadian government that is indexed to the inflation rate. Bonds are considered low risk, but returns have not been rising at the same rate of inflation, making them suboptimal investments.

        4. Real Estate 

Real estate prices across the board tend to rise along with inflation, which is why so much Canadian capital is flowing into real estate right now.10

 We believe real estate is the best hedge against inflation. Owning real estate does more than protect your wealth—it can actually make you money. For example, home prices rose 20% from 2021 to 2022, nearly 15% ahead of the 5.1% inflation that occurred in the same timeframe.11

 Plus, certain types of real estate investments can help you generate a stream of passive income. In the past year, property owners didn’t just avoid the erosion of purchasing power caused by inflation; they got ahead.


TYPES OF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS


Though there is a myriad of ways to invest in real estate, there are three basic investment types that we recommend for beginner and intermediate investors. Remember that we can help you determine which options are best for your financial goals and budget.

  • Primary Residence

 If you own your home, you’re already ahead. The advantages of homeownership become even more apparent in inflationary times. As inflation raises prices throughout the economy, the value of your home is likely to go up concurrently.

 If you don’t already own your primary residence, homeownership is a worthwhile goal to pursue.

Though the task of saving enough for a down payment may seem daunting, there are several strategies that can make homeownership easier to achieve. If you’re not sure how to get started with the home buying process, contact us. Our team can help you find the strategy and property that fits your needs and budget.

 Whether you already own a primary residence or are still renting, now is a good time to also start thinking about an investment property. The types of investment properties you’ll buy as a solo investor generally fall into two categories: long-term rentals and short-term rentals.

       2. Long-Term (Traditional) Rentals

 A long-term or traditional rental is a dwelling that’s leased out for an extended period. An example of this is a single-family home where a tenant signs a one-year lease and brings all their own furniture.

 Long-term rentals are a form of housing. For most tenants, the rental serves as their primary residence, which means it’s a necessary expense. This unique quality of long-term rentals can help to provide stable returns in uncertain times, especially when we have high inflation.

 To invest in a long-term rental, you’ll need to budget for maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and insurance. You’ll also need to have a plan for managing the property. But a well-chosen investment property should pay for itself through rental income, and you’ll benefit from appreciation as the property rises in value.

 We can help you find an ideal long-term rental property to suit your budget and investment goals. Reach out to talk about your needs and our local market opportunities.

          3. Short-Term (Vacation) Rentals

 Short-term or vacation rentals function more like hotels in that they offer temporary accommodations. A short-term rental is defined as a residential dwelling that is rented for 30 days or less. The furniture and other amenities are provided by the property owner, and today many short-term rentals are listed on websites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

 A short-term rental can potentially earn you a higher return than a long-term rental, but this comes at the cost of daily, hands-on management. With a short-term rental, you’re not just entering the real estate business; you’re entering the hospitality business, too.

 Done right, short-term rentals can be both a hedge against inflation and a profitable source of income. As a bonus, when the home isn’t being rented you have an affordable vacation spot for yourself and your family!

 Contact us today if you’re interested in exploring options in either the long-term or short-term rental market. Since mortgage rates are expected to rise, you’ll want to act fast to maximize your investment return.


 WE’RE INVESTED IN HELPING YOU

 Inflation is a fact of life in the Canadian economy. Luckily, you can prepare for inflation with a carefully managed investment portfolio that includes real estate. Owning a primary residence or investing in a short-term or long-term rental will help you both mitigate the effects of inflation and grow your net worth, which makes it a strategic move in our current financial environment.

 If you’re ready to invest in real estate to build wealth and protect yourself from rising inflation, contact us. Our team can help you find a primary residence or investment property that meets your financial goals.


 The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.


 Sources:


  1. Reuters -
    https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadas-annual-inflation-rate-hits-51-january-2022-02-16/
  2. MacLeans -
    https://www.macleans.ca/economy/inflation-worsening-2022-canada/
  3. Statistics Canada -
    https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220216/dq220216a-eng.htm
  4. Bloomberg -
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-25/canada-set-to-raise-rates-in-inflation-fight-decision-guide
  5. The Globe & Mail -
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-the-stealth-pay-cut-wages-arent-keeping-up-with-inflation/
  6. Trading Economics -
    https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/deposit-interest-rate
  7. Reuters -
    https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/canada-stocks-tsx-down-after-hot-inflation-data-dismal-shopify-forecast
  8. Research Gate -
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350016324_Gold_and_Inflation_in_Canada_A_Time-Varying_Perspective
  9. Maple Money -
    https://maplemoney.com/inflation-protection-are-real-return-bonds-or-tips-the-answer/
  10. Storeys -
    https://storeys.com/canadians-using-real-estate-outrun-inflation/
  11. WOWA -

https://wowa.ca/reports/canada-housing-market

Read full post


Our nation is in the midst of a shifting real estate market. But even as the buying frenzy begins to slow, many properties are still receiving multiple offers.1

So what’s the best way to compete as a buyer–especially if you’re wary about overpaying?

While a high offer price gets attention, most sellers consider a variety of factors when evaluating an offer. With that in mind, here are five tactics you can utilize to sweeten your proposal and outshine your competition.

We can help you weigh the risks and benefits of each tactic and craft a compelling offer designed to get you your dream home—without giving away the farm.

1.   Demonstrate Solid Financing

The reality is, that no one gets paid if a home sale falls through. That’s why sellers (and their listing agents) favour offers with a high probability of closing 

Sellers particularly love all-cash offers because there’s no chance of financing issues cropping up at the last moment. But all-cash offers are rare, and if sellers are assured that financing will come through, buying with a mortgage doesn’t have to be a disadvantage.

 The most important step you can take as a buyer is to get preapproved before you start looking for homes. A preapproval letter shows sellers that you are serious about buying and that you will be able to make good on your offer.2

It’s also important to consider the reputation of your lender. While sellers may not know or care about a lender’s reputation, their agents often do. Some lenders are much easier to work with than others. If you’re unsure who to choose, we are happy to refer you to reputable lenders known for their ease of doing business.


2.   Put Down a Sizeable Deposit

Buyers can show sellers that they’re serious about their offer and have “skin in the game” by putting down a large deposit. This, however, is not the same as a down payment.

 The deposit is typically held in a trust account by the seller’s brokerage or lawyer.3 If the purchase goes through, it is applied to the down payment and closing costs. If the sale falls through, however, the buyer could lose some or all of that deposit, depending on the contract terms.

 Deposit amounts vary, but offering a higher deposit can help demonstrate to the buyer that you are serious about the property. We can help you determine an appropriate deposit to offer based on your specific circumstances.


3.   Ask for Few (or No) Conditions

Most real estate offers include conditions, which are clauses that allow one or both parties to back out of the agreement if certain requirements are not met. These conditions appear in the purchase agreement and must be accepted by both the buyer and seller to be legally binding.

 Two of the most common conditions are:4

  • Financing: A financing condition gives the buyer a window of time in which to secure a mortgage. If they are unable to do so, they can withdraw from the purchase and the seller can move on to other buyers.
  • Inspection: An inspection condition gives the buyer the opportunity to have the home professionally inspected for issues with the structure, wiring, plumbing, etc. Typically, the seller may choose whether or not to remediate those issues; if they do not, the buyer may withdraw from the contract.

 Since conditions reduce the likelihood that a sale will go through, they generally make an offer less desirable to the seller. The more conditions that are included, the weaker the offer becomes. Therefore, buyers in a competitive market often volunteer to waive or exclude certain conditions.

 However, it’s very important to make this decision carefully and recognize the risks of doing so. For example, a buyer who chooses to waive a home inspection condition may find out too late that the home requires extensive renovations. If you back out of a home purchase without the protection of a condition, you could lose your deposit.5 We can help you assess the risks and benefits involved.


4. Offer a Flexible Closing Date

When it comes to selling a house, money isn’t everything. People sell their homes for a wide variety of reasons, and flexible terms that work with their personal situations can sometimes make all the difference. For example, if a seller is in the process of planning a significant move, they may appreciate an option to advance or postpone their closing date.

 This flexibility can provide a powerful advantage for first-time homebuyers. If you have a month-to-month or easily transferable lease, for example, you may be able to offer a more flexible timeline than a buyer who is simultaneously selling their existing home.

 Of course, the value of these terms depends on the seller’s situation. We can reach out to the listing agent to find out the seller’s preferred terms and then collaborate with you to write a compelling offer that works for both parties.


5. Work With a Skilled Buyer’s Agent

In this real estate market, one of the greatest advantages you can give yourself is to work with a skilled and trustworthy real estate professional. We will make sure you fully understand the process and help you submit an appealing offer without taking on too much risk.

 Plus, we know how to write offers that are designed to win over both the seller and their listing agent. The truth is, listing agents play a huge role in helping sellers evaluate offers, and they want to work with skilled buyer agents who are professional, communicative, and courteous.

 Once your offer is accepted, we’ll also handle any further negotiations and coordinate all the paperwork and other details involved in your home purchase. The best part is, that you’ll have a knowledgeable, licensed advocate on your side who is watching out for your best interests every step of the way.

 Helping You Get the Right Offer

In many cases, a competitive offer doesn’t need to be condition-free or significantly above the asking price. But if you’re serious about buying a home in today’s market, it’s important to consider what you can do to sweeten the deal.

 If you’re a buyer, we can help you compete in today’s market without getting steamrolled. And if you’re a seller, we can help you evaluate offers by taking all the relevant factors into account. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at 250.704.6970.  ISLAND HOME MARKETING of RE/MAX GENERATION in beautiful Victoria, BC... we are "Redefining Real Estate" 



Sources:

  1. Bloomberg - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-12/home-prices-could-start-to-cool-in-canada-s-hot-housing-market
  2. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/ca/mortgages/what-is-mortgage-pre-approval
  3. Nesto -
    https://www.nesto.ca/mortgage-basics/house-deposit-vs-down-payment/
  4. Real Estate Council Alberta -
    https://www.reca.ca/2020/02/05/conditional-sales/
  5. Loans Canada -
    https://loanscanada.ca/mortgage/what-happens-when-you-walk-away-from-your-offer-on-a-house/
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New Year, New Home? Set Homeownership Goals Whether You’re Buying, Selling, or Staying Put


The start of a new year always compels people to take a fresh look at their goals, from health and career to relationships and finance. But with historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales and price growth, and a tight housing inventory, the time is right to also make some homeownership resolutions for 2021.


Home buyers, is this the year you work to improve your credit score, pay down some debt, or save for a down payment?


Home sellers, we’ve laid out plans for you to get top dollar for your property, including timing your home sale, making your property stand out from the crowd, and investing in your extra living space.


And even if you’re staying put for awhile, homeowners, you can resolve to improve your status quo by evaluating your home budget, finalizing your home maintenance schedule, or maybe investing in a second property.


So no matter your homeownership status, we’ve got some ideas and advice for you to make this year your best one yet. Read on to learn more.



HOME BUYERS


Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.


Your credit report highlights your current debt, bill-paying history, and other key financial information. Importantly for your home-buying journey, it is also used by lenders and companies to calculate your credit score, which partly determines if you are qualified to obtain a mortgage. Therefore, before you start house-hunting, make sure your finances are in the best possible shape by checking your credit report and credit score, available directly from Equifax and TransUnion.1


Your credit score will be a number ranging from 300-900. Generally speaking, a credit score of 725 or higher is considered very good to excellent.2 If your score drops below 725, you might need to work at boosting your score for a few months before you begin house-hunting. Ways to do this are to pay your bills on time every month, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid applying for new credit.3

 

 

Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt


Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or car payments tying up your income each month? That debt is hurting your “buying power,” or the amount of home you can afford. Not only is it money that you can't spend on your new home, but your debt-to-income ratio also affects your credit score, which we discussed above. The less debt you have, the higher your score and the better mortgage you can obtain.


If you can, pay off some debt in its entiretylike a low balance on a credit card. Then apply that "extra" money you previously paid on that credit card to pay off bigger debt, like a car loan. Even if you can’t pay off all (or any) of your debt in full, reducing the balances of each account will help you qualify for the best possible mortgage terms.



Resolution #3: Create a financial safety net before applying for a mortgage.


Don’t forget that buying a home requires some cash as well. The down payment depends on the home’s price, but the minimum is 5% for a purchase price of under $500,000, and closing costs range from 2-3%.4,5 You’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up. And as the pandemic taught us, you never know when an unforeseen event might cause a job loss, drop in income, or health scare, so having some liquid savings will ensure that you can still pay your mortgage if a crisis occurs.


Dedicate some effort to building up your reserves. Cut down on unnecessary expenses, and consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account to avoid the temptation to spend it.



HOME SELLERS

 

Resolution #4: Decide on the right time to sell your home.


In a typical year, spring is when home sales spike in Canada. This might be the best time to take advantage of the price increase predicted by the Canadian Real Estate Association, which says, “The national average price is forecast to rise by 9.1% in 2021 to $620,400.”6


But sales price isn’t the only thing to consider. You might not be ready to sell your home yet because you don't want to uproot your kids during the school year or because you need to tackle some minor upgrades before placing your home on the market.


This means that there is no one month or season that is the perfect time to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit, personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to put on the market. A trusted real estate professional can talk you through your specific needs to clarify when to sell your home.



Resolution #5: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.


Housing inventory is at historic lows across the country, and that means the market is fiercely competitive.7 Selling your home in 2021 has the potential to net you a huge return right now, and you can maximize that amount with some simple fixes to make sure your property outshines your neighbors’ for sale down the street.


In your home, you might need to tackle a minor remodeling project, such as upgrading the flooring or adding a fresh coat of paint. According to one remodeling impact report, simply refinishing existing hardwood floors recoups 100% of the cost at resale, and completely replacing it with new wood flooring recovers 106% of costs.8


Outside, you might consider improving your curb appeal by removing a dead bush, trimming a tree that blocks the front window, or power-washing your moldy driveway and sidewalks. In fact, real estate agents say cleaning the exterior of your house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to a home’s sale price.9 And improving a home’s landscaping may increase its value by 15 to 25%.10


A good agent should provide custom-tailored suggestions to ensure your property pops inside and out. Ask us about our local insider secrets that will make your home stand out from others on the market.



Resolution #6: Invest in your “extra” living space to meet current buyers’ needs.


Due to COVID-19, more people are staying at home to work, go to school, exercise, and stay entertained. And these lifestyle changes are showing up in home buyer preferences. For example, according to one study, buyers are looking more and more for homes with formal, outfitted home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances.11


So if you’ve got an underutilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, schoolroom, or multi-purpose room to meet current home buyer needs and attract better offers on your home. Got some underwhelming space outside? You could turn it into an outdoor entertainment area by adding a firepit, upgrading the patio furniture, or installing a grilling area. Be sure to consult with a local real estate professional before investing in a renovation, however, as each market’s buyers have different tastes.



HOMEOWNERS


Resolution #7: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.


After this past year, in particular, your financial picture may have changed. Maybe you were furloughed, had your hours reduced, or got a new job further from home. Perhaps you’ve kept the same job, but you’re now working remotely. A work-from-home arrangement could mean less money spent on gas, tolls, a professional wardrobe, and dining out for lunch.


But this could also mean new (or increased) expenses now that you’re working at home, such as new tech-related purchases, faster Wi-Fi, and higher energy bills. January marks the perfect opportunity to update your income and expenses and review last year’s spending habits, tweaking as needed for 2021.


For more specific ideas, contact us for our free report "20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget."



Resolution #8: Save money now (and earn more later) with a home maintenance plan.


Having a schedule of regular home maintenance projects to tackle will save you money now and in the long-term. You’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” and when you’re ready to eventually sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.


Even if nothing necessarily needs fixing right now, you can lower your energy costs by maintaining and upgrading your home. For example, consider upgrading some features to ENERGY STAR high-efficiency products. You could save 10% in energy costs if you switch out your gas broiler, and up to 45% if you change your windows!12,13

 

For a breakdown of home maintenance projects to tackle throughout the year, contact us for our free report “House Care Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home.”



Resolution #9: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living.


Even if you don’t plan on leaving your current residence, real estate is a great way to improve your quality of life in 2021.


Have cabin fever from the long quarantine? A vacation home in a getaway location you love lets you safely spread your wings. And if you have been looking for a second stream of income, an investment property might be your answer. Just be sure to consult with a real estate professional to get a realistic sense of a property’s true income potential.


Want more information on how a second property fits into your 2021 plans? Request our free report, "Move Up vs Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?"

 

 

LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR 2021 GOALS

Without a plan and a support system, 73% of Canadians will break their new year’s resolutions.14 Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent to keep you motivated and on track.


As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and commit to a happy and prosperous new year.




Sources:

  1. Government of Canada -
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/order-credit-report.html
  2. Equifax -
    https://www.consumer.equifax.ca/personal/education/credit-score/what-is-a-good-credit-score/
  3. Government of Canada -
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.html
  4. RateShop -
    https://www.rateshop.ca/page-minimum-down-payment-in-canada 
  5. Bank of Montreal -
    https://www.bmo.com/main/personal/mortgages/closing-costs/
  6. Canadian Real Estate Association -
    https://www.crea.ca/housing-market-stats/quarterly-forecasts/
  7. Canadian Mortgage Trends -
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/12/tight-market-conditions-keep-home-sales-and-prices-at-historical-highs/
  8. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-remodeling-impact-10-03-2019.pdf
  9. House Logic -
    https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/
  10. Ottawa Citizen -
    https://ottawacitizen.com/life/homes/landscape-tips-to-increase-your-homes-value
  11. HomeLight -
    https://www.homelight.com/blog/top-agent-insights-for-q2-2020/
  12. Government of Canada -
    https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/10/21/23081
  13. Government of Canada -
    https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/11/26/winter-coming-top-tips-heat-your-home-less/23141
  14. Ipsos -
    https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/three-ten-31-canadians-will-set-new-years-resolution-yet-three-quarters-73-eventually-break-them
Read full post

10 Ways to Give Back to Our Local Community This Holiday Season


This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbours, and community. It truly “takes a village” to keep a community functioning effectively, whether that’s by keeping our waterways clean, feeding the hungry, teaching our kids, or supporting small businesses.


With the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home. You might want to focus your efforts near home, expand to our larger community, or even help support the people closest to you. Whether you’re passionate about a particular cause or just want to get more involved in general, let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good in your town.



GIVE BACK NEAR HOME

 

1. Attract local wildlife. By making your neighbourhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to  create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination.1


Ideas:

  • Add a birdbath to your backyard or create a rain garden to attract wildlife (and filter out local pollutants).
  • Place bird feeders on your property to feed birds all year long.
  • Tie corncobs to tree branches to feed squirrels.
  • Hang birdhouses on your property to provide shelter.
  • Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters.

 

Take action: While you might not be able to “break ground” until spring, start researching native plants now to design a landscaping plan that provides food, shelter, and water for local wildlife.

 

 

2. Clean up our community. Besides beautifying the area, picking up trash keeps it out of our local waterways, which means a cleaner water supply for all of us.


Ideas:

  • Whether you make this a solo effort or join in an organized group event, pick up trash in your neighbourhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community.
  • Depending on your community’s regulations, you can recycle many home items such as paper, glass, and aluminum.
  • And don’t forget to clean the exterior of your home, where water runoff (such as on your driveway and sidewalks) can carry debris into the local sewer system.2

 

Take action: Check with your local municipality to learn about environmental clean-up efforts in our community, as well as recycling and composting. 

 

 

3. Organize or join a neighbourhood watch. According to a recent report, neighbourhoods with Neighbourhood Crime Watch programs experience roughly 16 percent less crime.3 Keeping an eye out for each other instills a sense of safety and security in your neighbourhood by increasing surveillance, reducing opportunities, and enhancing information sharing among residents. Even if your neighbourhood doesn’t have an official program, you can still share crime information via a neighbourhood Facebook group or apps like NextDoor.

 

Ideas:

  • Make a point of looking out for each other and being observant of what’s going on.
  • You can even make it official by joining a neighbourhood watch program.
  • Don’t have one? Consider launching a neighbourhood watch program with the help of other interested neighbors.

 

Take action: Some police forces use online mapping tools that provide crime alerts to people in neighbourhoods where recent criminal activity occurred.3 Share this information with your neighbours.



HELP OUT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

 

4. Boost your civic engagement. Regardless of your politics, you can get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community.

 

Ideas:

  • Sign a petition to make a needed change in our community.
  • Join a peaceful march, protest, or rally to support a cause dear to your heart.
  • Attend local school board meetings, town halls, or city council meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.4
  • Watch (and read) a variety of local news sources to get balanced reporting on what’s happening in our community.
  • If you don’t know your neighbours very well, introduce yourself.
  • Then make a commitment to check in on those who might need help, such as an elderly neighbour.
  • Get plugged in to the resources and events in our town by visiting local museums, taking historical tours, borrowing materials from our local library, and attending community festivals.

 

Take action: Do you know who our local leaders are, such as our mayor or city councilwoman? Get to know their names, their policies, and their stand on issues that affect our community. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media.

 

 

5. Support local businesses. Our community has been impacted by the pandemic, with many businesses being forced to limit capacity, instill social distancing efforts, and even shutter entirely in some cases. Help keep money in our local economy by shopping locally instead of relying on online shopping from national chains.

 

Ideas:

  • From handcrafted soaps and one-of-a-kind apparel to locally produced chocolate and small-batch wines, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts at the small businesses that dot our community.
  • Consider purchasing tickets to attend live-streamed holiday concerts and shows.
  • Buy cookies and other baked goods from our local bakery.
  • Get takeout from our local restaurants.
  • Support local farmers by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at community farmer’s markets.

 

Take action: If you’re concerned about shopping in person right now, many of these businesses, though small, offer online shopping, with options for in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, and/or mail options.

 

 

6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission in our community. But if money is tight (or you want to support in other ways), think beyond just donating dollars.

 

Ideas:

  • Consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name as an altruistic gift on behalf of a friend or relative.
  • Give blood to our local blood bank.
  • Donate new or used books to our community library.
  • Send school supplies to our neighbourhood elementary school.
  • Help struggling neighbours by donating blankets to the homeless.
  • Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families. 5

 

Take action: Many collection efforts run by charitable organizations and businesses take place during the holidays. Look to see what’s already taking place in our community and choose one or more to give to this season.  



CARE FOR YOUR NEIGHBOURS


 

7. Organize a holiday food drive. This year, in particular, people are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. The pandemic has caused many businesses to close or reduce their staff size, putting many people out of work.

 

Ideas:

  • If you personally know someone who needs help buying groceries, reach out and offer to help that one family.
  • If not, partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit or community organization that feeds people in need.
  • Round up a few friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to collect food for a few weeks. Then deliver the bounty in time for the holidays.

 

Take action: Take advantage of your grocery store coupons and buy-one-get-one offers to inexpensively stock up on nonperishable goods.

 


 

8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a struggle, especially financially, for some families. They might not be able to buy a Christmas tree or presents for their children. Maybe their holiday meal consists of boxed macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford a turkey and fresh vegetables. You can make a difference by “adopting” a particular family (or even just a child) to help make their holiday special.

 

Ideas:

  • If you know a needy family, help them directly.
  • If not, ask a community group for the name of a family or individual in need.
  • Some businesses even sponsor toy drives or “angel trees” where you can pick the name of a needy family off the tree and buy from their wish lists.

 

Take action: This works great as a family project. Get the kids in your life involved to help make holiday cards and pick out toys to give to the children in the adopted family.

 

 

9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or an ongoing project. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in your community as you make a positive impact together for a shared cause.

 

Ideas:

  • Give your time to a cause or organization that really matters to you, such as your local school, animal rescue organization, mental health awareness group, or environmental nonprofit.6
  • Tap into a skill you already have, like creating videos, and offer your services.
  • Or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.

 

Take action: Start with your local community to see where its needs are the greatest. Make a point to help this holiday season, perhaps extending your commitment throughout 2021.

 

 

10. Perform random acts of kindness. Don’t think you need to “go big or go home” in your give-back efforts. You can make a big difference one small act at a time.

 

Ideas:

  • Give a generous tip to a waitress.
  • Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the drive-through.
  • Take care of a neighbor’s pet while they’re out of town.
  • Send holiday cards to deployed military personnel.
  • Deliver a plate of homemade holiday cookies to our local fire and police stations.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Rake leaves for an elderly neighbour.
  • Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year.
  • Send an uplifting text to a friend.
  • Compliment someone.
  • Help a coworker with an unpleasant task.  

 

Take action: Need more ideas? Visit randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of inspiring ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.



HOW WE CAN HELP YOU?


As real estate experts in our local community, we’re tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to us today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And we want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, let us help you!




Sources:

  1. Redfin -
    https://www.redfin.com/blog/attract-wildlife-to-your-backyard/#:~:text=Sow%20plants%20that%20provide%20essentials,these%20alternate%20natural%20food%20sources
  2. The Groundwater Foundation -
    https://www.groundwater.org/action/home/raingardens.html
  3. The Globe and Mail -
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/how-neighbours-and-online-maps-can-help-deter-break-ins/article34886427/
  4. Parade -
    https://parade.com/1083640/stephanieosmanski/what-is-civic-engagement/
  5. MentalFloss -
    https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88663/15-ways-give-back-holiday-season
  6. Together We Rise -
    https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/7-ways-give-back-community/
Read full post

The New Normal: A Strong Housing Market Expected to Continue into 2021


Circumstances like a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic and historic inventory shortages might have made you assume that the housing market would lose steam, but there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. As Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) senior economist, Shaun Cathcart noted, “records [are continually] being broken” in the residential property market.1


Indeed, rather than a slowdown, we are continuing to experience a surprisingly robust real estate market across the country. And experts estimate that these conditions are likely to last into the new year. TD Bank Group Economist Rishi Sondhi predicts that high home prices will persist for the rest of 2020.2


Market conditions like fewer available listings, changing criteria for desired homes, and record-low mortgage rates are changing the way people buy and sell homes, most likely in a lasting way. But this sustained activity, even in the uncertainty that is 2020, proves Canadians still view real estate as a sound investment. The only question now is how you can take advantage of the housing market’s “new normal.” In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to achieve your goals.



FEWER LISTINGS EQUALS A SELLER’S’ MARKET

 

Inventory, meaning the number of homes for sale, is at a record low across the country.

According to statistics from RBC Economics, the majority of Canada is experiencing tighter demand versus supply conditions than the country has seen in nearly two decades.3 And at the end of September, there were just 2.6 months of inventory on a national basis. That restricts supply, which increases prices if demand remains unchanged.4


There has been a bit of relief in terms of inventory. New-home construction hit levels in August that the country had not seen since 2007, but then waned somewhat in September with housing starts down in eight of 10 provinces.5 Doug Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montréal, also predicts some “building headwinds” that will further cool the influx of new inventory coming on the market.6


Fewer listings create a housing market that is advantageous for sellers for several reasons. For one, buyers have to act fast to snap up available homes. The median number of days listings now spend on the market is 26 days.7

 

Another benefit is that sellers are enjoying higher net returns on their listings. This is thanks to the tough competition for homes, which often results in bidding wars between buyers. The average price of a home sold on the Canadian Real Estate Association's (CREA’s) MLS service went for a record $604,000 (17.5% more than last year).8 Continued home-price growth is anticipated for the remainder of the fourth quarter, and the median national home price is expected to rise 7% over last year.9

 

This sellers’ market is not simply a product of the pandemic. In fact, Cathcart cited the steady decline in home inventory over the past five years—not COVID-19—as the cause for higher prices. “Heading towards records and record type conditions was something that we had already expected for 2020,” he said. This means that even if construction was to ramp back up, buyers can’t simply wait for things to go back to normal before reentering the market. Rather, all signs indicate that this is the new normal.10


What It Means for Homeowners:

These higher home prices show that buyers are willing to spend more on a home right now than they did last year. So, if there ever were a time to list for top dollar—and expect to receive asking price quickly—that time is now. Ask us for a free consultation of your home’s value today.


What It Means for Homebuyers:

Due to low inventory, buyers could easily find themselves in a bidding war. Time is of the essence in a seller’s market, so you’ll need to get your financing in order and be preapproved for a loan before you begin your home search. We can connect you with a trusted mortgage professional to get you started.

 

 

BUYERS BENEFIT FROM LOW MORTGAGE RATES AND A BIGGER PLAYING FIELD


Don’t worry, homebuyers. This “new normal” of real estate has benefits for you too.


For example, people used to base their next home purchase on how far the commute was to work or in which public school district it was. But now, thanks to the pandemic shifting the locus of jobs and work, they are free to consider what they need from home to make it a place they really want to work, teach, exercise, cook, and live.


Often, this equates to needing more space in different types of areas. The search for these criteria is driving residents out of densely populated metropolitan areas and into the suburbs.11 And this exodus from cities is good news for buyers: it opens up more possibilities for an inventory that they could not have considered pre-pandemic.

 

Another advantage for buyers is the record-low mortgage rates. The average five-year fixed rate fell to a record low of 1.99% in September, down from 3.04% at the end of 2019 and 3.74% at the end of 2018.12


Thanks to these rates, buyers are afforded the opportunity to buy much more home than they could before. Consider this example. If a buyer can afford a $500,000 home by putting $120,000 down (25%), the monthly payment on a standard 25-year mortgage would be $2,210. Conversely, with a lower rate (say, 2.8%) that buyers can now afford a $600,000 home—$100,000 more purchasing power—at a cost of only $12 additional per month.13

 

The good news is that interest rates are not expected to rise anytime soon—and may hover at these record lows until 2023.14



What It Means for Homeowners:

If you’re locked into a higher fixed-rate mortgage for the next several years, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good idea to refinance. With those additional funds, you could even choose to invest in a second home in a new desired location. Reach out to us for a referral to a trusted mortgage professional or an agent in those markets.



What It Means for Homebuyers:

The time is now to determine how much home you can comfortably afford and make a plan to find it. We can set up a search for you to find homes that best meet your new needs, even if they’re in neighborhoods you wouldn’t have considered before.



A RECORD-SETTING YEAR FOR HOME SALES IS JUST THE BEGINNING


Despite the seemingly adverse buyer conditions, 2020 experienced a record-breaking number of home sales. According to CREA, home sales activity jumped 46.5% year-over-year in September. With an additional 20,000 transactions logged, it was the busiest September thus far. Moreover, “[m]any Canadian housing markets are continuing to see historically strong levels of activity as we enter into the fall market of this very strange year,” CREA chair Costa Poulopoulos said in a statement.15


Part of the reason for these continued sales is that the pandemic has created a paradigm shift in the patterns of real estate. For example, housing needs are typically resolved by late summer and early fall to coincide with the commencement of the new school year. With homeschooling and remote work, however, buyers have been freed to continue their home search into the traditionally slow winter months.16


Another reason for the robust market is that household savings grew to 28.2% of household income during the pandemic, an extraordinary level that Statistics Canada said the country has not seen since the 1960s.17 Canadians who were able to keep their jobs, as well as those on unemployment, have evidently made growing their savings a priority. And it seems as though Canadian homebuyers are using that cash on real estate.18

 

All this indicates that the housing market is in a strong position heading into the new year. So though it looks different than it ever has before, it’s clear that consumers consider real estate to still be a good investment. The coming months should provide more clues about the market’s direction in the year ahead, such as whether low-interest rates and changing housing needs can keep demand levels high, or whether the exhaustion of pent-up demand will cool things off.



What It Means for Homeowners:

It’s tempting to believe that homes will basically sell themselves in a market like this. But we’re still seeing properties that are overpriced and under-marketed sit unsold. We can help you optimize the process of selling your home so you can get the best possible offer.



What It Means for Homebuyers:

Preparation is key to success in a sellers’ market like this, but don’t let yourself become paralyzed. We are here to answer your questions and offer sound advice to guide you through all the options that are available to you.



WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU


National real estate numbers can give us a pulse on the market, but real estate happens in our own backyard. As your local market experts, we can help you understand the finer points of the market that impact sales and home values in your own neighborhood. 


If you’re considering buying or selling a home before the new year or in early 2021, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work with you to develop an actionable plan to meet your goals.



Sources:

  1. Georgia Straight -

https://www.straight.com/news/canada-real-estate-wildcard-dealt-by-covid-19-cited-as-september-home-sales-rise-46-percent-for

  1. TD Economics -

 https://economics.td.com/ca-housing-update

  1. RBC Economics –

https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/canadas-housing-market-got-hotter-in-september/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=economics&utm_campaign=housing

  1. Yahoo Finance -

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/canada-hot-housing-market-face-123440993.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNhLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGHiUEUct_rnoOGtMbgsdPAv19LqiVnyNdbRS7x1wd0nV1AhnSvhBGStr7JEhs-CdHhox09OQK3PMK0rIoBlg5teQ5KJkW-P8az0s9FQXdiLKmpSEuIYlsGJ_1n5WMT-qvpkTVZkBWnm0xmajN2uiMY3sawaxMqiMpTbO2boIJXW

  1. CTV News –

https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/cmhc-reports-annual-pace-of-housing-starts-in-canada-fell-20-per-cent-in-september-1.5137771

  1. Financial Post –

https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/growth-in-canadian-home-sales-slows-amid-record-tight-supply

  1. Zolo -

https://www.zolo.ca/

  1. MSN Money - https://www.msn.com/en-nz/money/personalfinance/canadian-home-sales-set-record-for-september-up-456percent-from-last-year-crea/ar-BB1a3uIq
  2. BNN Bloomberg –

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/real-estate/video/expect-strong-canadian-real-estate-market-in-2020-royal-lepage~1861392

  1. Halifax Today –

https://www.halifaxtoday.ca/local-news/high-real-estate-prices-not-solely-due-to-covid-canadian-real-estate-association-2800942

  1. Global News -

https://globalnews.ca/news/7392667/real-estate-canada-suburbs-commutes/

  1. Financial Post - https://financialpost.com/executive/executive-summary/posthaste-canadas-home-prices-to-rise-12-by-the-end-of-2022-economists-predict/wcm/5f31b866-57a9-4ecf-90aa-65aa6ffbe02c/amp/
  2. Yahoo News –

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/average-house-price-continues-defy-133115838.html

  1. Bank of Canada -

https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2020/10/fad-press-release-2020-10-28/

  1. CREA –

https://creastats.crea.ca/en-CA/

  1. PwC -

https://www.pwc.com/ca/en/industries/real-estate/emerging-trends-in-real-estate-2021.html

  1. The Globe and Mail –

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/personal-finance/household-finances/article-savers-stashed-127-billion-in-2020-it-may-just-rescue-the-economy/

  1. CBC/Radio Canada –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ting-column-sept-18-1.5730878

Read full post

5 Secrets Buyers and Sellers Must Know About Virtual Home Tours


For years now, virtual home tours have helped real estate buyers far and wide find the perfect home. From long-distance military personnel being relocated to investors expanding their portfolio to homeowners looking for a vacation getaway, this technology makes finding a house that’s a bit out of driving distance much easier. And for real estate agents, virtual tours have been a useful way to help buyers with their home search and to assist sellers in creatively marketing their listings.


Because of the pandemic, virtual home showing options recently experienced a huge spike in popularity. One survey found that nearly 33% of recent home tour requests were for virtual tours, as compared to just 2% pre-pandemic.1 And it’s easy to see why.


Buyers want to quickly find their next safe haven, one that may need to serve as their office, gym, and even classroom for months to come. And sellers want to limit the number of strangers in their home, yet still have the ability to reach enough potential buyers to get the best offer on their property.


Virtual home tours are the popular thing right now, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re the only option for your home buying or selling experience. In this post, we’ll reveal five important secrets behind the virtual real estate scene. Read on to learn how they impact today’s home buyers and sellers.



SECRET #1: Virtual Tours Have Evolved

Lots of real estate professionals who had never used virtual tours before were forced to quickly adapt when the pandemic struck. Because of restrictions on time and resources, not everyone is able to create what would have been deemed a “virtual tour” last year. So instead, we’ve expanded the definition of the phrase by creating innovative new ways to show homes while keeping our clients safe and socially-distanced. Here are some terms you might come across as you explore homes with virtual tours.


Traditional virtual tours use 360° Photos, which are images that allow you to see all angles of an area. These are what allow virtual tour viewers to look up, down, and all around the interior and exterior shots of a home. Using a software program, 360° photos can be stitched together to create a digital model that looks like a dollhouse. This is called a 3D Tour. Sometimes agents will also add Virtual Staging, which decorates rooms with digital furniture and accents like wallpaper or paint.


Traditional virtual tours allow you to click to move from room to room in the home, but Online Walkthroughs feature the actual act of walking around. Either the seller or the agent (depending on factors such as time and safety requirements) will create a video by holding their camera or smartphone and simply moving through the home.


Online Walkthroughs can be filmed in advance or happen live. If live, they can also be referred to as Virtual Showings or Online Open Houses. A Virtual Showing is often a scheduled, one-on-one event that mimics an in-person tour of the home, in which the agent and viewer start at the exterior and move their way through the property. If your agent offers to FaceTime or Skype you from a home you’re interested in, for example, that would be a type of Virtual Showing. In contrast, an Online Open House is more freeform, allowing more viewers to pop in and out of a group video call on apps such as Facebook or Zoom.




SECRET #2: Virtual Doesn’t Mean Impersonal

All these styles of virtual tours showcase the property’s details better than static photos ever could. But for a purchase as intimate as your next home, details like a new refrigerator or the size of the master closet aren’t the only deciding factors. Luckily, virtual tours are exceptional tools for personal connection.


As a prospective buyer, virtual tours give you a feel for the property, inside and out, so you can easily picture yourself in the space and decide if the home’s flow and features work for your lifestyle. Live video walkthroughs with the real estate agent will give you insights on those crucial non-visual aspects, like creaky floors, super-fast internet speed, and neighborhood dynamics. Plus, you’ll be able to ask questions and get an insider’s perspective on what’s so great about the home.


For sellers, if your agent recommends using a virtual tour to market your home, you could attract more buyers.2 And you can be sure that those interested buyers are still getting the up-close and personal look inside your home that will inspire their strongest offers.



SECRET #3: Virtual Is Just The First Step To Safe Home Sales

Even as government restrictions begin to ease in some areas, virtual tours are still recommended as a safer way to buy and sell real estate.3 Buyers don’t have to worry about exposure to anyone who previously visited the property, and sellers cut down on the foot traffic in their home. Some data even suggest that virtual tours keep agents safer as well since they’re hosting fewer in-person showings and open houses.4


But despite the variety of virtual tours available, some buyers will still need to visit a home themselves in order to feel confident enough to submit an offer. In this situation, listing agents and sellers will work together to come up with a procedure that ensures everyone feels safe and comfortable. Some recommendations include requiring interested buyers to present a pre-qualification letter, conducting tours only by appointment and with essential parties, and asking buyers to self-disclose whether they have COVID-19 or exhibit any symptoms.3


On the day of the in-person tour, agents might ask buyers to remain in their vehicle until they arrive at the property and to wear protective gear such as face coverings and gloves. Many will provide hand sanitizer and will ask buyers to refrain from touching any surfaces in the home. Instead, the agent (or seller, prior to the buyers’ arrival) will turn on lights, open doors, and pull back curtains. Then, after everyone has left, the agent will return the home to its original state and disinfect it as needed.3



SECRET #4: The Speed of Closing Depends on Your Goals

Though maybe not literally, virtual tours are opening doors for both buyers and sellers in terms of options available to them. In 2019, buyers viewed an average of 10 homes over a period of 10 weeks before submitting an offer.5 But thanks to an increased prevalence of virtual tours saving them driving time, they’re able to peek inside that number of homes in a much shorter period to make their final choice.


With all this viewing activity, it makes sense that sellers whose listings feature virtual tours are receiving more offers on their properties. According to one study, virtual tours can add between two and three percent to the sales price of a home, in part because increased buyer interest has made sellers feel confident waiting for the exact right offer.2


So if you’re a buyer luxuriating in viewing homes from your couch, just remember that you’re not alone in your search. Your competition is virtually viewing the same properties you are, so it’s still important to work with your real estate agent to quickly submit a strong offer when you find the home of your dreams. And for sellers, if a speedy sale is important to you, carefully weigh that against the temptation to entertain more and more offers, which can keep your home on the market up to six percent longer.2 Your agent can help you decide the right strategy for your priorities.



SECRET #5: Virtual May Not Always Be the Right Choice

Creating, editing, uploading, and marketing virtual tours for a listing can be pricey. Packages through popular 3D imaging platforms like Matterport and Immoviewers can cost hundreds of dollars on their own.6 Virtual staging will further bloat a listing’s marketing budget, and then there are the advertising dollars needed. Even seemingly inexpensive options like video call walkthroughs still require time and energy on behalf of both the seller and agent.


These costs mean that a full virtual tour package might not always be the right choice for sellers. When you talk to your agent about marketing your home, it may be that an elaborate virtual tour, showing, and the open house just don’t make sense. It could be that your potential buyers may not resonate with that type of marketing, that the investment-to-return ratio isn’t in your favor, or that there are more effective ways to get your listing seen by qualified buyers.


Buyers, you may notice that some listings within your search parameters don’t offer virtual tours. That’s because those for-sale homes might not have needed a full virtual marketing package to entice buyers to submit offers, or those homes are better marketed through more traditional tactics. Don’t close the door on your dream home because it doesn’t have virtual events and features. Stay open-minded so you can consider the wealth of home options that fit your lifestyle, needs, and budget.




ARE VIRTUAL HOME TOURS IN YOUR FUTURE?


As technology develops, it will become easier and cheaper to create virtual tours. Coupled with the high demand for them, this means that virtual tour options are likely not only here to stay, but will continue to grow into a common addition to listings.


If buying or selling a home is on your mind, we’d be happy to discuss how virtual tours can play a part in your real estate experience. Reach out to us today for help finding local homes for sale that have virtual tours, or to chat about if adding a virtual tour to your upcoming listing is the right fit.



Sources:

  1. Rocket Mortgage - https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/evolution-of-home-showings-during-covid-19
  2. Radio Iowa - https://www.radioiowa.com/2020/07/28/trying-to-sell-a-house-ui-study-finds-virtual-tours-will-bring-more/
  3. NAR Showing Guidance During Reopening - https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/Showing-Guidance-During-COVID-05-14-2020.pdf
  4. NAR 2020 Member Safety Report - https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2020-member-safety-report-08-31-2020.pdf
  5. NAR 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers - https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers-highlights-11-21-2019.pdf
  6. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/how-to-host-virtual-home-tours-almost-as-good-as-the-real-thing/
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Move-Up vs. Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?

 


The pandemic has changed the way many of us live, work, and attend school—and those changes have impacted our priorities when it comes to choosing a home.


According to a recent survey by The Harris Poll, 75% of respondents who have begun working remotely would like to continue doing so—and 66% would consider moving if they no longer had to commute as often. Some of the top reasons were to gain a dedicated office space (31%), a larger home (30%), and more rooms overall (29%).1


And now that virtual school has become a reality for many families, that need for additional space has only intensified. A growing number of buyers are choosing homes further from town as they seek out more room and less congestion. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly 40% of urban dwellers had considered leaving the city because of the COVID-19 outbreak.2


But not everyone is permanently sold on suburban or rural life. Instead, some are choosing to purchase a second home as a co-primary residence or frequent getaway. Without the requirements of a five-day commute, many homeowners feel less tethered to their primary residence and are eager for a change of scenery after spending so much time at home.


If you’re feeling cramped in your current space, you’ve probably considered a move. But what type of home would suit you best: a move-up home or a second home? Let’s explore each option to help you determine which one is right for you.



WHY CHOOSE A MOVE-UP HOME?


A move-up home is typically a larger or nicer home. It’s a great choice for families or individuals who simply need more space, a better location, or want features their current home doesn’t offer—like an inground pool, a different floor plan, or a dedicated home office.


Most move-up buyers choose to sell their current home and use the proceeds as a downpayment on their next one. If you’re struggling with a lack of functional or outdoor space in your current home, a move-up home can greatly improve your everyday life. And with mortgage rates at their lowest level in history, you may be surprised how much home you can afford to buy without increasing your monthly payment.3,4


To learn more about mortgage rates, contact us for a free copy of our recent report!
“Lowest Mortgage Rates in History: What It Means for Homeowners and Buyers”


One major benefit of choosing a move-up home is that you can typically afford a nicer place if you spend your entire budget on one property. However, if you’re longing for that vacation vibe, a second home may be a better choice for you.


 

WHY CHOOSE A SECOND HOME?


Once reserved for the ultra-wealthy, second homes have become more mainstream. Home sales are surging in many resort and bedroom communities as city dwellers search for a place to escape the crowds and quarantine in comfort.5 And with air travel on hold for many families, some are channeling their vacation budgets into vacation homes that can be utilized throughout the year.


A second home can also be a good option if you’re preparing for retirement. By purchasing your retirement home now, you can lock in a low interest rate, start paying down the mortgage, and begin enjoying the perks of retirement living while you’re still fit and active. Plus, it’s easier to qualify for a mortgage while you’re employed, although you may be charged a slightly higher interest rate than on a primary home loan.6


One advantage of choosing a second home is that you can offset a portion of the costs—and in some cases turn a profit—by renting it out on a platform like Airbnb or VRBO. However, be sure to consult with a real estate professional or rental management company to get a realistic sense of the property’s true income potential.



WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?

 

You may read this and think: I’d really like both a move-up home AND a second home! But if you’re dealing with a limited budget (aren’t we all?), you’ll probably need to make a choice.  These three tactics can help you decide which option is right for you.


  1. Determine Your Time and Financial Budget


You may meet the bank’s qualifications to purchase a home, but do you have the time, energy, and financial resources to maintain it? This is an important question to ask yourself, no matter what type of home you choose.


Most buyers realize that a second home will mean double mortgages, utilities, taxes, and insurance. But consider all the extra time and expense that goes into maintaining two properties. Two lawns to mow. Two houses to clean. Two sets of systems and appliances that can malfunction. Second homes aren’t always a vacation. Make sure you’re prepared for the labor and carrying costs that go into maintaining another residence.


Of course, some move-up homes require more work than a second home. For example, if your move-up option is a major fixer-upper, you’ll probably invest more energy and capital than you would on a small vacation condo by the beach. Have an honest discussion about how much time and money you want to spend on your new property. Would a move-up home or a second home be a better fit given your parameters?

 

  1. Rank Your Priorities

 

If you’re still undecided, make a wish list of the characteristics you’d like in your new home. Then rank each item from most to least important. This exercise can help you determine your “must-have” features—and which ones you may need to sacrifice or delay. Here’s a sample to help you get started:


#

FEATURE


Dedicated home office


Extra bedroom


Pool


Walk to the beach


Big backyard


Close to friends and family


Short commute to the office


Investment potential

 

 

  1. Explore Your Options


Once you’ve determined your parameters and priorities, it’s time to begin your home search.

If you’re still not sure whether a move-up home or a second home is right for you, we can help.


Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We’ll discuss your options and help you assess the pros and cons of each, given your unique circumstances.


We can also send you property listings for both move-up homes and second homes within your budget so you can better envision each scenario. Sometimes, viewing listings of homes that meet your criteria can make the decision clear.



LET’S GET MOVING


Whether you’re ready to make a move or need help weighing your options, we’d love to help. We can determine your current home’s value and show you local properties that fit within your budget. Or, if your heart is set on a second home in another market, we can refer you to an agent in your dream locale. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!



Sources:

  1. Zillow -
    https://www.zillow.com/research/coronavirus-remote-work-suburbs-27046/
  2. The Harris Poll -
    https://theharrispoll.com/should-you-flee-your-city-almost-40-have-considered-it-during-the-pandemic/
  3. MarketWatch -
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/mortgage-rates-keeping-falling-so-will-they-finally-drop-to-0-2020-08-13
  4. Toronto Star -
    https://www.thestar.com/business/2020/08/07/you-can-get-a-fixed-rate-as-low-as-184-per-cent-which-is-unbelievable-low-mortgage-rates-driving-up-home-prices.html
  5. Kiplinger -
    https://www.kiplinger.com/real-estate/buying-a-home/601091/timely-reasons-to-buy-a-vacation-home
  6. The Press-Enterprise -
    https://www.pe.com/2018/11/17/5-tips-on-when-should-you-buy-a-retirement-house-hint-before-you-quit-work/
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Lowest Mortgage Rates in History: What It Means for Homeowners and Buyers


The interest rate on Canada’s most popular mortgage, the five-year fixed rate, has fallen to its lowest level in history. In early June, HSBC made headlines when it began offering Canadians a five-year fixed-rate mortgage below 2%. Multiple brokers followed suit, and some are now advertising even lower rates.1 And while many Canadians have rushed to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, others question the hype. Are today’s mortgage rates really a bargain?


While discounted five-year fixed mortgage rates have hovered between 2% and 4% for the past decade, they haven’t always been so low.2 For a period of 18 years, from 1973 to 1991, the posted five-year mortgage rate never fell below 10%. At the time, the Bank of Canada was hiking interest rates to try to stem a rising tide of inflation. It’s hard to imagine now, but the five-year fixed rate peaked at over 21% in 1981.3 Fortunately for home buyers, inflation began to normalize soon after, sending mortgage rates on a downward trajectory that has helped make homeownership more affordable for millions of Canadians.


So what’s causing today’s five-year fixed rates to sink to unprecedented lows? Economic uncertainty.


Fixed mortgage rates move in sync with the yield offered on government-backed bonds.4 As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dampen the economy and inject volatility into the stock market, a growing number of investors are shifting their money into low-risk bonds. This increased demand has driven bond yields—and mortgage rates—down.1


Quantitative easing measures taken by the Bank of Canada are also helping to bring down mortgage rates. The federal bank dropped its overnight lending rate to .25%, and it continues to inject billions of dollars into the economy, giving financial institutions the confidence and ability to continue lending.1


 

HOW LOW COULD MORTGAGE RATES GO?


No one can say with certainty how low mortgage rates will fall or when they will rise again. But the Bank of Canada has signaled its commitment to keeping the policy rate at its effective lower bound of .25% for the foreseeable future, and many economists expect it to remain there through 2022.4


The real estate technology firm Mortgage Sandbox compiled forecast data from Bank of Montreal, Central 1, Desjardins, National Bank, Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and TD Bank. According to their analysis, the consensus was that the fixed 5-year mortgage rate will rise modestly over the next two years, averaging between 2.3% and 2.88%.5


While forecasts may differ, many experts agree: Those who wait to take advantage of these unprecedented rates could miss out on the deal of a lifetime. Positive news about a vaccine or a faster-than-expected economic recovery could send rates back up to pre-pandemic levels.

 

 

SHOULD I CONSIDER BREAKING MY CURRENT MORTGAGE?


If you have a variable rate or recently renewed your mortgage, you may already be enjoying the benefits of falling interest rates. But if you’re locked into a higher fixed-rate mortgage for the next several years, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good idea to refinance.


Reduced interest rates can save homeowners a bundle on both monthly payments and interest over the term of a mortgage. The chart below illustrates the potential savings when you decrease your mortgage rate by just one percentage point. When it comes to refinancing, the bigger the spread, the greater the potential savings.

 

Estimated Monthly Payment On 5-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

25-Year Amortization

 

Loan Amount

3.5%

2.5%

Monthly Savings

Interest Savings Over 5 Years

$100,000

$499

$448

$51

$4,720

$200,000

$999

$896

$103

$9,441

$300,000

$1498

$1,344

$154

$14,161

$400,000

$1,997

$1,792

$205

$18,881

$500,000

$2,496

$2,240

$256

$23,601


Of course, you’ll need to factor in prepayment penalties and any fees associated with your new mortgage. In some cases, these can cost as much as 4% of the mortgage amount.6 You can use an online refinance calculator to estimate your potential savings, or we’d be happy to connect you with a mortgage professional in our network who can help you decide if refinancing is a good option for you.


 

HOW DO LOW MORTGAGE RATES BENEFIT HOME BUYERS?


We’ve already shown how low rates can save you money on your mortgage payments. But if you can meet the mortgage stress-test requirements,* they can also give a boost to your budget by increasing your purchasing power.


For example, imagine you have a budget of $1,500 to put toward your monthly mortgage payment. If you take out a 5-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.0% amortized over 25 years, you can afford a loan of $285,000.


Now let’s assume the mortgage rate falls to 3.0%. At that rate, you can afford to borrow $317,000 while still keeping the same $1,500 monthly payment. That’s a budget increase of $32,000!


If the rate falls even further to 2.0%, you can afford to borrow $354,000 and still pay the same $1,500 each month. That’s $69,000 over your original budget! All because the interest rate fell by two percentage points. If you’ve been priced out of the market before, today’s low rates may put you in a better position to afford your dream home.


On the other hand, rising mortgages rates will erode your purchasing power. Wait to buy, and you may have to settle for a smaller home in a less-desirable neighbourhood. So if you’re planning to move, don’t miss out on the phenomenal discount you can get with today’s historically low rates.


(*This scenario assumes you can meet the current mortgage stress-test requirements.)

 

HOW CAN I SECURE THE BEST AVAILABLE MORTGAGE RATE?


The best mortgage rates are typically reserved for only highly-qualified borrowers. So what steps can you take to secure the lowest possible rate?


  1. Consider a Variable-Rate Mortgage

 

If you’re looking for the lowest rate possible, and you don’t mind the added risk, a five-year variable mortgage may be right for you. Even though the prime rate has held steady at 2.45% since April 10, lenders are gradually increasing their discount rates.1 And interest rates are expected to remain low at least through next year.


  1. Opt for a Closed Mortgage

 

Closed mortgages usually come with hefty penalties if you opt to prepay or refinance your mortgage before the term ends. However, they offer lower interest rates than convertible or open mortgages. It’s important to note that not all closed mortgages are created equal. Before you commit, make sure you understand exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay should you need to break your mortgage mid-term.


  1. Give Your Credit Score a Boost


You may have heard that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has raised its minimum credit score requirement from 600 to 680. And while there are plenty of banks willing to lend to borrowers with a lower score, their best rates go to those with excellent credit. Unfortunately, there’s no fast fix for bad credit, but you can take steps to give your score a boost before you apply for a loan:7

  • Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report.
  • Pay off debt, or spread it across multiple credit facilities.
  • Charge small amounts and then quickly pay off any dormant credit cards.
  • To lower your utilization rate, pay your credit card bill before the statement date.


  1. Make a Large Down Payment

 

You may be surprised to learn that the lowest advertised rates often go to insured borrowers who put down less than 20%. That’s because these “high-ratio borrowers” must pay for mortgage default insurance, which protects the lender from any financial loss. So while “conventional borrowers” who make a down payment of 20% may be charged a slightly higher interest rate, their total borrowing costs are lower because they don’t have to pay for mortgage default insurance.8 A down payment larger than 20% can bring down borrowing costs even further.

 

  1. Shop Around

 

Rates, terms, and fees can vary widely amongst lenders, so do your homework. If you’re renewing an existing mortgage, start with your current lender. Then contact several others to find out which one is willing to offer you the best overall deal. But be sure to complete the process within 45 days—or else the credit inquiries by multiple mortgage companies could have a negative impact on your credit score.9



READY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE LOWEST MORTGAGE RATES IN HISTORY?


Mortgage rates have never been this low. Don’t miss out on your chance to lock in a great rate on a new home or refinance your existing mortgage. Either way, we can help.


We’d be happy to connect you with the most trusted mortgage professionals in our network. And if you’re ready to start shopping for a new home, we’d love to assist you with your search—all at no cost to you! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.



Sources:

  1. Canadian Mortgage Trends -
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/06/mortgage-rates-keep-setting-new-record-lows/
  2. Rate Hub -
    https://www.ratehub.ca/5-year-fixed-mortgage-rate-history
  3. The Globe and Mail -
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/the-market/remember-when-what-have-we-learned-from-80s-interest-rates/article24398735/
  4. Canadian Mortgage Trends -
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/07/bank-of-canada-hints-at-no-interest-rate-hikes-until-2023/
  5. Mortgage Sandbox -
    https://www.mortgagesandbox.com/mortgage-interest-rate-forecast
  6. Financial Post -
    https://business.financialpost.com/moneywise/with-mortgage-rates-bottomed-out-its-time-for-homeowners-to-take-advantage
  7. Canadian Mortgage Trends -
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/02/five-tips-increase-credit-score-quickly/
  8. Integrated Mortgage Planners -
    https://www.integratedmortgageplanners.com/blog/first-time-home-buyers/canadian-mortgage-rates-explained-why-a-smaller-down-payment-comes-with-a-lower-mortgage-rate-tuesday-morning-interest-rate-update-may-23-2017/
  9. Equifax -
    https://www.consumer.equifax.ca/personal/education/credit-report/understanding-hard-inquiries-on-credit-report/
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Add Value To Your Home With These 9 DIY Improvements



Whether you’re prepping your house to go on the market or looking for ways to maximize its long-term appreciation, these nine home improvement projects are great ways to add function, beauty, and real value to your home.


The best part is, once you’ve secured the materials, most of these renovations can be completed over the course of a weekend. And they don’t require a lot of specialized skills or experience. So grab your toolbox, then get ready to boost your home’s appeal AND investment potential!




1. Spruce Up Your Landscaping


Landscaping improvements can increase a home’s value by 10-12%.1 But which outdoor features do buyers care about most? According to a survey of Realtors, a healthy lawn is at the top of their list. If your lawn is lacking, overseeding or laying new sod can be a worthwhile investment—with an expected return of 417% and 143% respectively.1


Planting flowers is another great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal. And if you choose a perennial variety, your blooms should return year after year. For an even longer-term impact, consider planting a tree. According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, a mature tree can add up to $10,000 to the value of your home.2



2. Clean The Exterior


When it comes to making your house shine, a sparkling facade can be just as important as a clean interior. Real estate professionals estimate that washing the outside of a house can add as much as $15,000 to its sales price.3


A rented pressure washer from your local home improvement store can help you remove built-up dirt and grime from your home’s exterior, walkway, and driveway. Just be sure to read the instructions carefully—and only use it on surfaces that can withstand the intensity. When in doubt, a scrub brush and bucket of sudsy water will often do the trick.


 

3. Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint


New paint can have a big impact on both the appearance and value of a property. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to revitalize a home’s exterior, update its interior, and make it appear larger and brighter. The best part? Painting is relatively easy and inexpensive!


To get the maximum return at resale, stick with a modern but neutral color palette that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. According to a recent survey of home design experts, cool neutrals are a safe bet when it comes to interior paint. And respondents chose white and gray as the best exterior paint colors to use when selling a home.4 However, it’s important to consider a property’s architecture, existing fixtures, and regional design preferences, as well.  



4. Install Smart Home Technology


In a recent survey, 78% of real estate professionals said their buyer clients were willing to pay more for a home with smart technology features.5 The most requested smart devices? Thermostats (77%), smoke detectors (75%), home security cameras (66%), and locks (63%).6


The good news is, many of these gadgets are fairly easy to install. And some of them, including smart thermostats and light bulbs, will pay for themselves over time by making your home more energy-efficient. In fact, many manufacturers report that smart thermostats can cut back on heating and cooling costs by 10-20%.7  


If you already own a smart speaker, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, choose devices that will pair with your existing technology. This will enable you to create a truly integrated (and in many cases voice-activated) smart home experience.



5. Modernize Your Window Treatments


Smart—or motorized—blinds are also growing in popularity, and several manufacturers make models you can order and install on your own. But they’re not the only way to modernize your window treatments.


If you have old aluminum blinds, consider replacing them with plantation shutters, which are energy-efficient, durable, and have strong buyer appeal.8 Roman and roller shades are another stylish alternative, and they come in a variety of colors and fabrics, which you can personalize to meet your design and privacy preferences.


Fortunately, upgrading your blinds has gotten easier and less expensive in recent years. There are a number of retailers that specialize in affordable window coverings that are simple to measure and hang yourself.



6. Replace Outdated Fixtures


Drastically transform the look and feel of your home by swapping out dingy and dated fixtures for contemporary alternatives. Start by assessing your current light fixtures, faucets, cabinet hardware, doorknobs, and even switch plates. Then prioritize replacing those that are particularly outdated or in highly-visible areas, such as your entryway or kitchen.


Even if your home is fairly new, consider trading your builder-grade fixtures for higher-end options to give it a more upscale appearance. And forget the old rule about sticking to one metal tone throughout your property. According to designers, mixing metal finishes can add interest and character to space.9


For more designer insights and decor trends, contact us for a free copy of our recent report: “Top 5 Home Design Trends for a New Decade.”



7. Upgrade Your Bathroom Mirror


A minor bathroom remodel offers one of the best returns on investment, with a $1.71 increase in home value for every $1 you spend.10 We’ve already explored several improvements you can make to your bathroom: new paint, fixtures, and hardware. Now complete the look by upgrading your vanity’s mirror.


Before you purchase a new mirror, examine your existing one to see how it is attached to the wall. Some vanity mirrors are glued to the wall and difficult to remove without shattering the glass or damaging the sheetrock behind it.11


If you prefer to keep your existing mirror, you can paint the frame—or add one if it’s currently frameless. There are several online retailers that will send you the frame components cut to your specifications, which you can assemble and mount yourself. Much like a work of art, your vanity mirror serves as a focal point for your bathroom, so let your creativity shine through!


 

8. Shampoo Your Carpet


Carpet is notorious for trapping dust, dirt, and allergens. It’s one of the reasons that most buyers prefer hard surface flooring.12 But if you love your carpet, or you’re not ready to invest in an alternative, make an effort to keep it clean and odor-free.


To properly maintain your carpet, you should vacuum it weekly. Experts also recommend a deep shampoo at least every two years.13 Fortunately, this is a cheap and easy DIY project you can knock out in about 20 minutes per room. According to Consumer Reports, you can rent a machine and purchase cleaning fluid and supplies for around $90. With an average return on your investment of 169%, it’s well worth the effort and expense.14



9. Customize Your Closet


Real estate professionals estimate that a closet remodel can add $2500 to a home’s selling price. And while a professional renovation can cost upwards of $6000, there are many high-quality DIY closet systems you can customize and install yourself.15


Experts recommend taking a thorough inventory of your wardrobe and accessories before you get started. Make sure frequently-worn pieces are easy to reach and store seasonal and seldom-used items on high shelves. Place shoe racks near the closet entrance so they are easy to access.16 A little planning can go a long way toward building a closet that you (and your future buyers!) will love.



GET A COMPLIMENTARY ANALYSIS OF YOUR PROJECT

 

We’ve been talking averages. But the truth is, the actual impact of a home improvement project will vary depending on your particular home and neighborhood. Before you get started, contact us to schedule a free virtual consultation. We can help you determine which upgrades will offer the greatest return on your effort and investment.



Sources:

  1. HomeLight -
    https://www.homelight.com/blog/improve-curb-appeal-landscaping/
  2. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/landscape-renovations-that-pay-off/
  3. HouseLogic.com - https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/
  4. Fixr -
    https://www.fixr.com/blog/2020/01/14/paint-color-trends-in-2020/
  5. T3 Sixty -
    https://blog.coldwellbanker.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/CES2018-Smart-Homes-An-Emerging-Real-Estate-Opportunity.pdf
  6. Consumer Reports -
    https://www.consumerreports.org/smart-home/smart-home-tech-upgrades-to-help-sell-your-house/
  7. American Council for Energy Efficient Economy
    https://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/a1801.pdf
  8. Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2016/07/05/10-upgrades-under-1000-that-increase-home-values-2/#47b0d3162e60
  9. Insider -
    https://www.insider.com/home-design-rules-you-should-be-breaking-2020-1
  10. Zillow -
    https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/roi-for-bathroom-remodel/
  11. Lowes -
    https://www.lowes.com/n/how-to/remove-a-bathroom-mirror
  12. HomeLight -
    https://www.homelight.com/blog/what-flooring-increases-home-value/
  13. Angie’s List -
    https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-often-should-i-clean-my-carpets.htm
  14. HomeLight -
    https://www.homelight.com/blog/projects-that-increase-home-value/
  15. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/remodeling-impact
EasyClosets -
https://www.easyclosets.com/tips-ideas/2016/10/02/how-to-plan-your-walk-in-closet/
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Traditionally, spring is one of the busiest times of the year for real estate. But the coronavirus outbreak—and subsequent stay-at-home orders—led many buyers and sellers to put their moving plans on hold. In April, sales volume fell to its lowest level since 1984, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.1


However, while sales have fallen, prices have remained stable. The average home price in April was down just 1.3% from the same month last year.1 And in many metropolitan areas, prices have continued to rise. The Teranet–National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures 11 major Canadian markets, showed home prices in April were up 5.3% from a year earlier.2


But given safety concerns and the current economic climate, is it prudent to jump back into the real estate market?


Before you decide, it’s important to consider where the housing market is headed, how the real estate process has changed, and your own individual needs and circumstances.



WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?

 

In response to the economic slowdown, the Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates.3 That’s good news for homebuyers who have struggled to afford a mortgage in the past. Lower mortgage rates can bring down monthly payments or increase a buyer’s purchasing power while making it easier to qualify for a loan.


And at a recent press conference, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz told reporters that interest rates would likely remain low for the foreseeable future. He also noted that the country is on track to meet the central bank’s “best-case scenario for recovery” as outlined in April, and he didn’t predict damage to the economy would be as “dire” as some have speculated.4


While many buyers are eager to take advantage of low mortgage rates, some wonder if recessionary pressures could drive down home prices, too. Economists at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predict that prices will decrease over the next 12 months.5 However, many real estate industry veterans expect supply and demand fundamentals to prevent a drastic drop in home values.6


There’s been a shortage of affordable homes on the market for years, and that inventory shortage has helped to prop up prices—even as sales have slowed. That’s because supply and demand have fallen at around the same pace.7 Of course, some market segments have fared better than others. For example, demand has softened for urban condos in some areas, which has caused prices to drop. Whereas, the supply of single-family homes in many neighbourhoods has dried up, leaving eager buyers to compete for listings.7


There are certainly opportunities out in the marketplace for both buyers and sellers. But now more than ever, it’s crucial to have a professional real estate agent who understands your local market dynamics and can help you assess the best time to buy or list your home.


 

HOW HAS THE REAL ESTATE PROCESS CHANGED?


The safety of our clients and our team members is our top priority. That’s why we’ve developed a process for buyers and sellers that utilizes technology to minimize personal contact.


For our listings, we’re holding online open houses, offering virtual viewings, and conducting walk-through video tours. We’re also using video chat to qualify interested buyers before we book in-person showings. This enables us to promote your property to a broad audience while limiting physical foot traffic to only serious buyers.


Likewise, our buyer clients can view properties online and take virtual video tours to minimize the number of homes they step inside. Ready to visit a property in person? We can decrease surface contact by asking the seller to turn on all the lights and open doors and cabinets before your scheduled showing.


The majority of our “paperwork” is also digital. In fact, many of the legal and financial documents involved in buying and selling a home went online years ago. You can safely view and eSign contracts from your smartphone or computer.

 

While these new ways of conducting business may seem strange at first, keep in mind, many military clients, international buyers, and others have utilized virtual methods to buy and sell homes for years.

 

 

IS IT THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME TO MAKE A MOVE?


The reality is, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to whether it’s a good time to buy or sell a home because everyone’s circumstances are unique. But now that you know the state of the market and what you can expect as you shop for real estate, consider the following questions:


Why do you want or need to move?


It’s important to consider why you want to move and if your needs may shift over the next year. For example, if you need a larger home for your growing family, your space constraints aren’t likely to go away. In fact, they could be amplified as you spend more time at home.


However, if you’re planning a move to be closer to your office, consider whether your commute could change. Some companies are rethinking their office dynamics and may encourage their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.


 

How urgently do you need to complete your move?

 

If you have a new baby on the way or want to be settled before schools open in the fall, we recommend that you begin aggressively searching as soon as possible. With fewer homes on the market, it’s taking longer than usual for clients to find and purchase a home.


However, if your timeline is flexible, you may be well-positioned to score a deal. We’re seeing more highly-incentivized sellers who are willing to negotiate on terms and price. Talk to us about setting up a search so we can keep an eye out for any bargains that pop up. And get pre-qualified for a mortgage now so you’ll be ready to act quickly.


If you’re eager to sell this year, now is the time to begin prepping your home for the market. Prices could fluctuate, and experts predict a second wave of infections may necessitate another lockdown.8 If you wait, you might miss your window of opportunity.


 

How has your particular market segment been impacted?

 

Certain segments will weather this economic downturn better than others. It’s important to understand the market dynamics of your particular area, price point, and housing type. The truth is, broad macroeconomic projections rarely paint an accurate picture of the day-to-day market realities of a given neighbourhood.



How long do you plan to stay in your new home?


During times of market uncertainty, your best bet is to buy a home you can envision yourself keeping for several years. Fortunately, with decreased competition and ultra-low mortgage rates, you’ll be well-positioned to score a great deal.



Is your income stable?


If there’s a good chance you could lose your job, you may be better off waiting to buy a home. The exception would be if you’re planning to downsize. Moving to a less expensive home could allow you to tap into your home equity or cut down on your monthly expenses.



WHEN YOU’RE READY TO MOVE—WE’RE READY TO HELP


While uncertain market conditions may give pause to some buyers and sellers, they can actually present an opportunity for those who are willing, able, and motivated to make a move.


Your average spring season would be flooded with real estate activity. But right now, only motivated players are out in the market. That means that if you’re looking to buy, you’re in a better position to negotiate a great price. And today’s low mortgage rates could give a big boost to your purchasing power. In fact, if you’ve been priced out of the market before, this may be the perfect time to look.


If you’re ready to sell, you’ll have fewer listings to compete against in your neighbourhood and price range. But you’ll want to act quickly—a second wave of coronavirus cases could be coming later this year. Ask yourself how you will feel if you have to face another lockdown in your current home.


Let’s schedule a free virtual consultation to discuss your individual needs and circumstances. We can help you assess your options and create a plan that makes you feel both comfortable and confident during these unprecedented times.


 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. CTV News -
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/canadian-home-sales-fall-to-record-breaking-36-year-low-1.4940984
  2. House Price Index -
    https://housepriceindex.ca/2020/05/april2020/
  3. CBC -
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/bank-of-canada-interest-rate-1.5512098
  4. Financial Post -
    https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/bank-of-canada-governor-says-interest-rates-will-probably-stay-low
  5. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation -
    https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/media-newsroom/speeches/2020/supporting-financial-stability-during-covid19-pandemic
  6. RE/MAX -
    https://blog.remax.ca/no-nosedive-ahead-for-canadian-real-estate-prices-re-max/
  7. Global News -
    https://globalnews.ca/news/6943727/coronavirus-housing-market-good-time-to-buy/
  8. CTV News -
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/the-second-wave-will-come-and-experts-say-canada-is-not-prepared-1.4948733
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20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget



These days, it seems like everyone’s looking for ways to cut costs and stretch their income further. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your household expenses without making radical changes to your standard of living. When combined, these small adjustments can add up to significant savings each month.


Here are 20 things you can start doing today to lower your bills, secure better deals, and begin working toward your financial goals.


  1. Refinance Your Mortgage - For prime borrowers, mortgage rates are at or near historic lows. Depending on your current mortgage rate and the terms you choose, refinancing could save you a sizable amount on your monthly payments. There are fees and closing costs associated with refinancing, so you’ll need to talk to your lender to find out if refinancing is a good option for you.


  1. Evaluate Your Insurance Policies - If it’s been a while since you priced home or auto insurance, it may be worthwhile to do some comparison shopping. Get quotes from at least three insurers or independent agents. Try bundling your policies to see if there’s a discount. And inquire about raising your deductible, which should lower your premium.1


  1. Bundle Cable, Phone, and Internet - You can also save money by bundling your cable, phone, and internet services together. Shop around to see who is willing to give you the best deal. If switching is too much of a hassle, ask your current provider to match or beat their competitor’s offer.


  1. Better Yet, Cut the Cord on Cable - In many cases, you can save even more if you cancel your cable subscription altogether. An antenna should give you access to the major stations, and many of your favorite shows are probably available on-demand through a less expensive streaming service subscription.


  1. Revisit Your Wireless Plan - You can often save by switching from a big brand to an independent, low-cost carrier. If that’s not feasible, ask your current provider for a better deal or consider downgrading to a cheaper plan.


  1. Adjust Your Thermostat - Turning your thermostat up or down a few degrees can have a noticeable impact on your monthly heating and cooling costs. To maximize efficiency, change your filters regularly, and make sure your windows and doors are well insulated.


  1. Use Less Hot Water - After heating and cooling, hot water accounts for the second-largest energy expense in most homes.2 To cut back, repair any leaks or dripping faucets, install low-flow fixtures, only run your dishwasher when full, and wash clothes in cold water when possible.


  1. Lower Overall Water Consumption - To decrease your water usage, take shorter showers, and turn off the sink while you brush your teeth and wash your hands. If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, retrofit your current one with a toilet tank bank or fill cycle diverter. Irrigate your lawn in the morning or evening to minimize evaporation.3


  1. Conserve Electricity - Save electricity by shutting off your computer at night and installing energy-efficient LED light bulbs. You can minimize standby or “vampire” power drain by utilizing power strips and unplugging idle appliances.4


  1. Purchase a Home Warranty - While there is an upfront cost, a home warranty can provide some protection and peace of mind when it comes to unexpected home repair costs. Most plans provide coverage for major systems (like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC) and appliances (such as your dishwasher, stove, or refrigerator).


  1. Outsource Less - From lawn care to grocery shopping to minor home repairs, we pay people to do a lot of things our parents and grandparents did themselves. To save money, try cutting back on the frequency of these services or taking some of them on yourself.


  1. Prepare Your Own Meals - It costs nearly five times more to have a meal delivered than it does to cook it at home.5 And home cooking doesn’t just save money; it’s healthier, cuts down on calorie consumption, and can offer a fun activity for families to do together.


  1. Plan Your Menu in Advance - Meal planning is deciding before you shop what you and your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It can help you lower your overall food bill, eliminate waste, and minimize impulse purchases. When possible, buy produce that is in season, and utilize nutrient-rich but inexpensive protein sources like eggs, beans, ground turkey, and canned tuna.


  1. Plant a Garden - You can save even more on produce by growing it yourself. If you have space in your yard, start-up costs are relatively minimal. Gardening can be a rewarding and enjoyable (not to mention delicious) hobby for the whole family. And it could save you around $600 per year at the grocery store!6


  1. Review Memberships and Subscriptions - Are you paying for services and subscriptions you no longer need, want, or can utilize? Determine if there are any that you should suspend or cancel.


  1. Give Homemade Gifts - Who wouldn’t appreciate a scratch birthday cake or tin of cookies? And if you enjoy crafting, Pinterest and Instagram are full of inspiring ideas. Show your recipient how much you care with a homemade gift from the heart.


  1. Minimize Your Debt Payments - The best way to reduce a debt payment is to pay down the balance. But if that’s not an option right now, try to negotiate a better interest rate. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to qualify for a balance transfer to a 0% or low-interest rate credit card. Keep in mind, the rate may expire after a certain period—so be sure to read the fine print.


  1. Get a Cash-back Credit Card - If you regularly pay your credit card balance in full, a cash-back credit card can be a good way to earn a little money back each month. However, they often come with high-interest rates and fees if you carry a balance. Commit to only using it for purchases you can afford.


  1. Ask for Deals and Discounts - It may feel awkward at first, but becoming a master haggler can save you a lot of money. Many companies are willing to negotiate under the right circumstances. Always inquire about special promotions or incentives. See if they are able to price match (or beat) their competitors. And if an item is slightly defective or nearing its expiration date, ask for a discount.


  1. Track Your Household Budget - One of the most effective ways to reduce household expenses is to set a budget—and stick to it. A budget can help you see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut back. By setting reasonable limits, you’ll be able to reach your financial goals faster.



Want more help getting a handle on your finances? Use the budget worksheet below to track income and expenses—and start working towards your financial goals today! Please reach out to me for a downloadable version.

 

HOUSEHOLD BUDGET WORKSHEET

 

Expected

Actual

Difference

HOUSING

Mortgage/taxes/insurance or Rent




Utilities (electricity, water, gas, trash)




Phone, internet, cable




Home maintenance and repairs




FOOD

Groceries




Restaurants




TRANSPORTATION

Car payment/insurance




Gas, maintenance, repairs




OTHER

Health insurance




Clothing and personal care




Childcare




Entertainment




Gifts and charitable contributions




Savings, retirement, college fund




INCOME

Salary/wages




Tips and other




MONTHLY TOTALS

Total Actual Income


Total Actual Expenses


ADDITIONAL SAVINGS




WE’RE HERE TO HELP

We would love to help you meet your financial goals. Whether you want to refinance your mortgage, save up for a down payment, or simply find lower-cost alternatives for home repairs, maintenance, or utilities, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals. And if you have plans to buy or sell a home this year, we can discuss the steps you should be taking to financially prepare. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation! (250) 704-6970

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.



Sources:


  1. Insurance Information Institute -
    https://www.iii.org/article/twelve-ways-to-lower-your-homeowners-insurance-costs
  2. Department of Energy -
    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings
  3. Money Crashers -
    https://www.moneycrashers.com/ways-conserve-water/
  4. Harvard University -
    https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/poster/top-5-steps-reduce-your-energy-consumption
  5. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/#2c53b2f35e54
  6. Money -
    https://money.com/gardening-grocery-savings/
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Top 5 Home Design Trends for a New Decade



Whether you’re planning a simple refresh or a full-scale renovation, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in home design. Sellers who make tasteful updates can generate increased buyer interest and, in some cases, a premium selling price. And buyers should consider which features of a home will need updating immediately (or in the near future) so they can factor renovation costs into their overall budget.


Even if you have no immediate plans to buy or sell, we advise our clients to be thoughtful about the colors, materials, and finishes they select when planning a remodel or even redecorating. Choosing over-personalized or unpopular options could hurt a home’s value when it does come time to list your property. And selecting out-of-style or overly-trendy elements could cause your home to feel dated quickly.


To help, we’ve rounded up five of the hottest home design trends for 2020. Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.




1. IN: Sustainability / OUT: Fast Furniture


Consumers have become increasingly eco-conscious. Many are shunning the mass-produced, “fast furniture” popularized by retailers like IKEA, opting instead for higher-quality pieces that are built to last. And the availability of non-toxic, environmentally-friendly furniture and decor options are set to grow in 2020 and beyond.


At the same time, there’s been a noticeable shift toward individuality in today’s interior design. Instead of following the latest fad, more homeowners are opting to embrace their personal style and invest in items they believe will “spark joy” (à la Marie Kondo) for years to come.

 

Want to know more about Marie Kondo’s famous organization method and how it can increase your home’s value? Contact us for a free copy of our recent report, “Top 6 Home Organization Upgrades That ‘Spark Joy’ for Buyers.”


To incorporate this trend, designers recommend layering old and new pieces for a curated look that you can build over time. Instead of purchasing a matching furniture set from a big-box retailer, buy one or two sustainably-sourced pieces that complement what you already own. Try searching estate sales and Craigslist for vintage classics or well-built furniture that can be refinished. And to accessorize your room, mix sentimental items with newer finds to create a truly personalized space.




2. IN: Cozy / OUT: Cold


Designers are moving away from cool grays, industrial finishes, and stark modernism. In 2020, there’s a big emphasis on creating warm and cozy spaces through color, texture, and shape.


Gray has dominated the color palette for the past decade. This year, expect to see a move toward warmer neutrals, earth tones, and nature-inspired shades of blue and green. Warm metals, like gold and brass, will also continue to trend. And hardwood floors are heating up, as cool gray and whitewashed finishes fade in popularity. Expect to see a rise in classic choices like walnut, mahogany, and oak in richer and darker tones.


Furniture will also get cozier—and curvier—in 2020. From rounded sofas and curved-back chairs to oval dining tables, softened-angles are dominating the furniture scene right now. And designers expect softly-textured fabrics—like velvet, shearling, and mohair—to be big this year, as homeowners strive to add a touch of “hygge” (the Danish concept of calming comfort).


Want to warm up your home decor? Try one of the top paint colors for 2020: Benjamin Moore’s First Light (soft pink), Sherwin Williams’s Naval (rich blue), or Behr’s Back to Nature (light green).




3. IN: Bold / OUT: Boring


Bold is back! After years of neutral overload, vivid colors and prints will take center stage in 2020. Expect to see geometric designs, color blocking, and floral and botanical patterns on everything from pillows to rugs to wallpaper.


The hottest trend in interior paint right now is bold trim and ceilings. Monochromatic rooms (e.g., walls, ceilings, and millwork painted the same color) will be big this year, as well as high-contrast pairings, like white walls with black trim. Color is coming back to kitchens, too, and two-toned color schemes continue to gain steam. In 2019, 40% of remodelers chose a contrasting color for their kitchen island.1 While white was still the top choice for cabinets, blue and gray are increasingly popular alternatives.


If you’re ready to “go bold,” separated spaces like laundry and powder rooms are great places to start. It’s easier to incorporate busy wallpaper or bright wall color in an enclosed area because it doesn’t have to flow with the rest of your decor.


Of course, clients always want to know how design choices could impact their home’s value. The reality is, neutral finishes are still the safest bet for resale. If you’re prepping your home to go on the market, stick with non-permanent fixtures—like artwork and accessories—to brighten your space.




4. IN: Nature / OUT: Industrial


Biophilic design has been big in the past few seasons, and it isn’t going anywhere in 2020. It centers around the health and wellness benefits of connecting with nature, even while indoors, and it’s impacted the latest trends in color, prints, and materials.


As we mentioned previously, floral and botanical patterns are hot right now, along with nature-inspired hues, like blues, greens, and earth tones. We’re also seeing a heightened use of organic shapes and sustainable materials in furniture and furnishings, including wood, wicker, rattan, and jute. This infusion of nature coincides with a decline in the popularity of urban-industrial fixtures. Designers predict that concrete floors and Edison light bulbs are on the way out.


Want to bring in elements of biophilic design on a budget? Houseplants are a great place to start. But you can also enhance your home’s natural light and create a visual sightline to the outdoors by removing heavy curtains and blinds. And when the weather is nice, open your windows and enjoy the breeze, sounds, and smells of nature. These simple acts are scientifically proven to help reduce stress, boost cognitive performance, and enhance mood!2



5. IN: Functional / OUT: Fussy


In 2020, homeowners want design that’s beautiful, but also liveable. With the rise in remote workplaces, online shopping, and virtual exercise classes, many of us are spending more time at home than ever before. Cue the growing appeal of multi-functional spaces, like a combination kitchen/office or gym/playroom. Real-life—and rising housing prices—necessitates the creative use of limited space.


Durable, low-maintenance materials will also surge in popularity this year. Engineered quartz—which is more stain, heat, and chip-resistant than natural stone—is now the #1 choice for kitchen countertops.1 Waterproof, wood-look luxury vinyl is the fastest-growing segment in the flooring industry.3 And improvements to water and stain-resistant performance fabric has made it a mainstream option for both indoor and outdoor upholstery.


Now that functional is hot, what’s not? Designers say that mirrored furniture, open shelving, and all-white kitchens are too impractical for today’s busy families.


So how can you start enjoying the time and energy-saving benefits of this design trend? Begin by structuring each room so that it best suits your needs. And when purchasing furniture or fixtures, choose options that are durable and easy-to-clean. The truth is, design fads come and go. But a comfortable and relaxed home (that you don’t spend every spare minute maintaining!) can help create memories to last a lifetime.


 

DESIGNED TO SELL

 

Are you contemplating a remodel? Want to find out how upgrades could impact the value of your home? Buyer preferences vary greatly by neighborhood and price range. We can share our insights and offer tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. And if you’re in the market to sell, we can run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!



Sources:

  1. Houzz -
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/2020-us-houzz-kitchen-trends-study-stsetivw-vs~129594531
  2. Terrapin Bright Green - https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/
  3. Remodeling Magazine -
    https://www.remodeling.hw.net/products/vinyl-ceramic-and-hardwood-oh-my-todays-popular-flooring-trends_o
  4. Elle Decor -
    https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/trends/g29859422/design-trends-2020/?slide=1
  5. Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/sites/amandalauren/2019/12/23/twelve-interior-design-trends-well-see-in-2020/#43f81f044a5f
  6. Wall Street Journal -
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-top-6-interior-design-trends-for-2020-11577460357
  7. Good Housekeeping -
    https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g29849170/home-decor-trends-2020/
  8. Architectural Digest -
    https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/top-design-trends-of-2020
  9. Los Angeles Times -
    https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2020-01-11/2020-home-design-trends




 

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HOUSE CARE CALENDAR:
 A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home



From summer vacations to winter holidays, it seems each season offers the perfect excuse to put off our to-do list. But be careful, homeowners: neglecting your home’s maintenance could put your personal safety—and one of your largest financial investments—at serious risk.


In no time at all, small problems can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. And even if you avoid a catastrophe, those minor issues can still have a big impact. Properties that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.1


The good news is, by dedicating a few hours each season to properly maintaining your home, you can ensure a safe living environment for you and your family ... and actually increase the value of your home by one percent annually!1 You just need to know where and how to spend your time.

Use the following checklist as a guide to maintaining your home and lawn throughout the year. It's applicable for all climates, so please share it with friends and family members who you think could benefit, no matter where their home is located.



 Spring


After a long, cold winter, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the spring. Wash away the winter grime, open the windows, and prepare your home for warmer weather and backyard barbecues.


Inside


❏     Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
Be sure to tackle those areas that may have gone neglected—such as your blinds, baseboards, and fan blades—as well as appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and range hood. Clear out clutter and clothes you no longer wear, and toss old and expired food and medications.


❏     Shut Down Heating System
Depending on the type of heating system you have, you may need to shut your system down when not in use. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for proper procedures.


❏     Tune-Up A/C
If your home has central air conditioning, schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC technician. If you have a portable or window unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance.2


❏     Check Plumbing
It’s a good idea to periodically check your plumbing to spot any leaks or maintenance issues. Look for evidence of leaks—such as water stains on the ceiling—and check for dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your hot water heater for sediment build-up. Check your sump pump (if you have one) to ensure it’s working properly.3


❏     Inspect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so change them now and again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.4

 

Outside

 

❏     Inspect Perimeter of Home
Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or wear and tear that should be addressed. Are there cracks in the foundation? Peeling paint? Loose or missing roof shingles? Make a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor.


❏     Clean Home’s Exterior
Wash windows and clean and replace screens if they were removed during the winter months. For the home’s facade, it’s generally advisable to use the gentlest method that is effective. A simple garden hose will work in most cases.5


❏     Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year. Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. If your gutters have screens, you may be able to decrease the frequency of cleanings, but they should still be checked periodically.6

 

❏     Rake Leaves
Gently rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris. Too many leaves can cause an excessive layer of thatch, which can damage the roots of your lawn. They can also harbor disease-causing organisms and insects.7 However, take care because overly vigorous raking can damage new grass shoots.

❏     Seed or Sod Lawn
If you have bare spots, spring is a good time to seed or lay new sod so you can enjoy a beautiful lawn throughout the remainder of the year. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn. If you miss this window, early fall is another good time to plant.8


❏     Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide
While a healthy lawn is the best deterrent for weeds, some homeowners choose to use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to minimize weeds. When applied at the right time, it can be effective in preventing weeds from germinating. However, a pre-emergent herbicide will also prevent grass seeds from germinating, so only use it if you don’t plan to seed or sod in the spring.


❏     Plant Flowers
After a long winter, planting annuals and spring perennials is a great way to brighten up your garden. It’s also a good time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove and compost any dead plants.

❏     Mulch Beds
A layer of fresh mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and moderate soil temperature. However, be sure to strip away old mulch at least every three years to prevent excessive buildup.9

❏     Fertilize Lawn
Depending on your grass type, an application of fertilizer in the spring may help promote new leaf and root growth, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce weeds.10


❏     Tune-Up Lawn Mower
Send your lawn mower out for a professional tune-up and to have the blades sharpened before the mowing season starts.11

❏     Inspect Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, check that it’s working properly and make repairs as needed.


❏     Check the Deck
If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration that may have occurred over the winter. Then clean it thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of stain if needed.


❏     Prepare Pool
If you own a pool, warmer weather signals the start of pool season. Be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety.


 

Summer


Summer is generally the time to relax and enjoy your home, but a little time devoted to maintenance will help ensure it looks great and runs efficiently throughout the season.


Inside


❏     Adjust Ceiling Fans
Make sure they are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze. Utilizing fans instead of your air conditioner, when possible, will help minimize your utility bills.


❏     Clean A/C Filters
Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly, particularly if you’re running your air conditioner often.


❏     Clear Dryer Vent
Help cut down on summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once a year. Not only will it help cut down on drying times, but a neglected dryer also poses a serious fire hazard.


❏     Check Weather Stripping
If you’re running your air conditioner in the summer, you’ll want to keep the cold air inside and hot air outside. Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal.


Outside


❏     Mow Lawn Regularly
Your lawn will probably need regular mowing in the summer. Adjust your mower height to the highest setting, as taller grass helps shade the soil to prevent drought and weeds.


❏     Water Early in the Morning
Ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of water during the hot summer months. Experts generally recommend watering in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be mindful of any watering restrictions in your area, which may limit the time and/or days you are allowed to water.


❏     Weed Weekly
To prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home’s valuable curb appeal, make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week.


❏     Exterminate Pests
Remove any standing water and piles of leaves and debris. Inspect your lawn and perimeter of your home for signs of an invasion. If necessary, call a professional exterminator for assistance.



Fall


Fall ushers in another busy season of home maintenance as you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead.


Inside


❏     Have Heater Serviced
To ensure safety and efficiency, it’s a good idea to have your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time.


❏     Shut Down A/C for the Winter
If you have central air conditioning, you can have it serviced at the same time as your furnace. If you have a portable or window unit, ensure it’s properly sealed or remove it and store it for the winter.


❏     Inspect Chimney
Fire safety experts recommend that you have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned periodically. Complete this task before you start using your fireplace or furnace.


❏     Seal Windows and Doors
Check windows and doors for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.


❏     Check Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the spring, they are due for another inspection. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so it’s time to replace them again. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.3


Outside

❏     Plant Fall Flowers, Grass, and Shrubs
Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables, and bulbs that will bloom in the spring.12 It’s also a good time to reseed or sod your lawn.


❏     Rake or Mow Leaves
Once the leaves start falling, it’s time to pull out your rake. A thick layer of leaves left on your grass can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Or, rather than raking, use a mulching mower to create a natural fertilizer for your lawn.


❏     Apply Fall Fertilizer
If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.13


❏     Inspect Gutters and Roof
Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Remove fallen leaves and debris.


❏     Shut Down Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, drain any remaining water and shut it down to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter.


❏     Close Pool
If you have a pool, it’s time to clean and close it up before the winter.



Winter


While it can be tempting to ignore home maintenance issues in the winter, snow and freezing temperatures can do major damage if left untreated. Follow these steps to ensure your house survives the winter months.


Inside

 

❏     Maintain Heating System
Check and change filters on your heating system, per the manufacturer's instructions. If you have a boiler, monitor the water level.


❏     Tune-Up Generator
If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it’s working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil, and filters.

 

❏     Prevent Frozen Pipes
Make sure pipes are well insulated, and keep your heat set to a minimum of 55 degrees when you’re away. If pipes are prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly overnight or when away from home. You may also want to open cabinet doors beneath sinks to let in heat.

 

Outside


❏     Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
Before the first freeze, drain and shut off outdoor faucets. Place an insulated cover over exposed faucets, and store hoses for the winter.


❏     Remove Window Screens
Removing screens from your windows allows more light in to brighten and warm your home during the dark, cold winter months. Snow can also get trapped between screens and windows, causing damage to window frames and sills.


❏     Service Snowblower
Don’t wait until the first snowstorm of the season to make sure your snowblower is in good working order. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance or have it serviced by a professional.


❏     Stock Up on Ice Melt
Keep plenty of ice melt, or rock salt, on hand in preparation for winter weather. Look for brands that will keep kids and pets safe without doing damage to your walkway or yard.


❏     Watch Out for Ice Dams
Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that can build up along the eaves of your house. They can do major damage to gutters, shingles, and siding. Heated cables installed prior to the first winter storm can help.14


❏     Check for Snow Buildup on Trees
Snow can cause tree limbs to break, which can be especially dangerous if they are near your home. Use a broom to periodically remove excess snow.15



While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home’s maintenance needs, it can serve as a general seasonal guide. Systems, structures, and fixtures will need to be repaired and replaced from time-to-time, as well. The good news is, the investment you make in maintaining your home now will pay off dividends over time.


Keep a record of all your maintenance, repairs, and upgrades for future reference, along with receipts. Not only will it help jog your memory, but it can also make a big impact on buyers when it comes time to sell your home … and potentially result in a higher selling price.


Are you looking for help with home maintenance or repairs? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and service providers and are happy to provide referrals! Call or email us, and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors.




Sources:

  1. HouseLogic.com –
    https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/value-home-maintenance/
  2. Home Advisor –
    https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/servicing-your-air-conditioner/
  3. Keyes & Sons Plumbing and Heating –
    http://keyes-plumbing.com/things-to-check-in-spring/
  4. Allstate Insurance Blog –
    https://blog.allstate.com/test-smoke-detectors/
  5. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/17268616/list/how-to-wash-your-house
  6. Angie’s List –
    https://www.angieslist.com/articles/why-gutter-cleaning-so-important.htm
  7. Angie’s List –
    https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-thatch-and-how-does-it-impact-my-lawn.htm
  8. HGTV –
    http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/lawns/top-spring-lawn-care-tips-pictures
  9. This Old House –
    https://www.thisoldhouse.com/more/may-mulching
  10. Lowes –
    https://www.lowes.com/projects/lawn-and-garden/fertilize-your-lawn/project
  11. The New York Times –
    https://www.nytimes.com/guides/realestate/home-maintenance-checklist
  12. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine –
    https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/what-to-plant-in-the-fall/
  13. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/late-fall-fertilizing-2152976
  14. This Old House –
    https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-ice-dams
  15. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/55572864/list/your-winter-home-maintenance-checklist
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How to Amp Up The Resale Value of Your Home


Whether you're putting your home on the market this year or in the next five years, it is a smart decision to start building your home's resale value now. Here are some ways to create a comfortable home while making it easier to put more money into your bank account on the closing day.


Small Maintenance and Repairs


If you think that home maintenance on the weekends is a low priority, think again. The small chores you do around your home prevents it from losing value. Neglecting small maintenance and repairs causes 10% of your home's value to walk out your door and slip through your windows. Most appraisers claim that homes showing little to no preventative maintenance can depreciate from $50,000 to $90,000!


Preventative maintenance can also actively increase your home’s resale value — according to a recent study, by about 1% per year! Also, because homebuyers generally notice any repairs needed upon buying a new home, proactive maintenance lets the homebuyer know that he or she will not have to spend extra money to maintain the basics. This makes your home more attractive, and thus more likely to get higher priced offers.


Top 5 Remodeling Ideas


  1. Landscaping: Studies show that a home valued at $750,000 could increase its value between $40,000 and $75,000 with the addition of landscaping. These studies also note that positive landscaping can reduce the amount of time your home spends on the market!
  2. Changing out the entry doors and garage doors of your home are generally a smart design choice. Lately, wood doors are a coveted aesthetic by homebuyers and new doors distinguish your home from the rest on your block and provide a 95% return on investment. 
  3. Outdoor Living: Outdoor Kitchens, Decks, Patio’s, or Porches. Building a deck is a great way to improve the value of your home and provide a fabulous outdoor entertainment getaway.  Homebuyers are always looking for a place to entertain outdoors. 
  4.  Paint Colors: The colors you choose to paint your home inside and out can make a difference in its resale value. Painting goes above and beyond routine maintenance. It increases or decreases visual appeal to buyers and so can result in a higher or lower offer.
  5. Minor Bathroom Remodel: It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity, and fixtures. You’ll easily get back your investment and then some. Most buyers do not have the vision, nor the willingness to take on projects like this. Fear of unknown costs can make your home less attractive. So do the work yourself and reap the rewards!


Your Needs and Buyers' Wants


On that note, if you need to renovate your home, be sure to consider how those changes will affect its appeal to future buyers. Knowing design trends will give you the opportunity to make changes to your home based on where your needs and your potential buyer's desires intersect, thus increasing your property's resale value drastically.


Designers and design websites provide great ideas when you’re brainstorming home renovations. Keep in mind as you research, however, that you don’t want to sacrifice your needs for a comfortable home just for the sake of what you think a future buyer will want!


Therefore, before you begin making any changes to your home, consult your real estate agent. Real estate agents, because we are constantly working with new buyer clients, have insider insight into what home buyers are looking for now and in the future. We’ll be able to help you make smart choices when remodeling or renovating your home.


If you think you might want to remodel or renovate your home in the near future, or if you are just curious about other ways you can increase its resale value, please reach out to me!

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#StayHome: How to Create Functional Spaces in Your Home
During the Coronavirus Outbreak



Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’re all being called upon to avoid public spaces and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of this infectious disease. While it can be understandably challenging, there are ways you can modify your home and your lifestyle to make the best of this difficult situation.


Here are a few tips for creating comfortable and functional spaces within your home for work, school, and fitness. We also share some of our favorite ways to stay connected as a community, because we’re all in this together … and no one should face these trying times alone.


 

Begin with the Basics

 

A basic home emergency preparedness kit is a great addition to any home, even under normal circumstances. It should include items like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, first aid kit, and other essentials you would need should you temporarily lose access to food, water, or electricity.


Fortunately, authorities don’t anticipate any serious interruptions to utilities or the food supply during this outbreak. However, it may be a good time to start gathering your emergency basics in a designated location, so you’ll be prepared now and in the future—should your family ever need them.


Ready to start building an emergency kit for your home? Contact us for a free copy of our Home Emergency Preparation Checklist!


 

Working From Home


Many employees are being asked to work remotely. If you’re transitioning to a home office for the first time, it’s important to create a designated space for work … so it doesn’t creep into your home life, and vice versa. If you live in a small condominium or apartment, this may feel impossible. But try to find a quiet corner where you can set up a desk and comfortable chair. The simple act of separating your home and workspaces can help you focus during work hours and “turn off” at the end of the day.


Of course, if you have children who are home with you all day (given many schools and daycares are now closed), separating your home and work life will be more difficult. Unless you have a partner who can serve as the primary caregiver, you will need to help manage the needs of your children while juggling work and virtual meetings.


If both parents are working from home, try alternating shifts, so you each have a designated time to work and to parent. If that’s not an option, experts recommend creating a schedule for your children, so they know when you’re available to play, and when you need to work.1 A red stop sign on the door can help remind them when you shouldn’t be disturbed. And for young children, blocking off a specific time each day for them to nap or have independent screen time can give you a window to schedule conference calls or work uninterrupted.



Homeschooling Your Children


Many parents with school-aged children will be taking on a new challenge: homeschooling. Similar to a home office, designating a space for learning activities can help your child transition between play and school. If you’re working from home, the homeschooling area would ideally be located near your workspace, so you can offer assistance and answer questions, as needed.


If possible, dedicate a desk or table where your child’s work can be spread out—and left out when they break for meals and snacks. Position supplies and materials nearby so they are independently accessible and place a trash can and recycling bin within reach for easy cleanup. A washable, plastic tablecloth can help transition an academic space into an arts and crafts area.

 

 If the weather is nice, try studying outside! A porch swing is a perfect spot for reading, and gardening in the backyard is a great addition to any science curriculum.


In addition to creating an academic learning environment, find age-appropriate opportunities for your children to help with household chores and meal preparation. Homeschooling advocates emphasize the importance of developing life skills alongside academic ones.2 And with more meals and activities taking place at home, there will be ample opportunity for every family member to pitch in and help.



Staying Fit


With gyms closed and team sports canceled, it can be tempting to sit on the sofa and binge Netflix. However, maintaining the physical health and mental wellness of you and your family is crucial right now. Implementing a regular exercise routine at home can help with both.


If you live in a community where you can safely exercise outdoors while maintaining the recommended distance between you and other residents, try to get out as much as possible. If the weather is nice, go for family walks, jogs, or bike rides.


Can’t get outside? Fortunately, you don’t need a home gym or fancy exercise equipment to stay fit. Look for a suitable space in your home, garage, or basement where you can comfortably move—you’ll probably need at least a 6’ x 6’ area for each person. Many cardio and strength training exercises require little (or no) equipment, including jumping jacks, lunges, and pushups.


And if you prefer a guided workout, search for free exercise videos on YouTube—there are even options specifically geared towards kids—or try one of the many fitness apps available.



Socializing From a Distance


Even though we’re all being called upon to practice “social distancing” right now, there are still ways to stay safely connected to our communities and our extended families. Picking up the phone is a great place to start. Make an effort to reach out to neighbors and loved ones who live alone and maybe feeling particularly isolated right now.


And while parties and playdates may be prohibited, modern technology offers countless ways to organize networked gatherings with family and friends. Try using group video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom to facilitate a virtual happy hour or book club. Host a Netflix Party to watch (and chat about) movies with friends. Or plan a virtual game night and challenge your pals to a round of Psych or Yahtzee.


There are safe ways to connect offline, too. Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Drop off groceries on an elderly neighbor’s porch. Or organize a neighborhood “chalk walk,” where children use sidewalk chalk to decorate their driveways and then head out for a stroll to view their friends’ artwork.


Of course, there’s one group of people who you can still socialize with freely—those who reside in your home. Family dinners are back, siblings are reconnecting, and many of us have been given the gift of time, with commutes, activities, and obligations eliminated. In fact, some families are finding that this crisis has brought them closer than ever.

 

 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

 

Even with all of the tools and technology available to keep us connected, many of us are still feeling stressed, scared, and isolated. However, you can rest assured that you are not alone. We’re not only here to help you buy and sell real estate. We want to be a resource to our clients and community through good times and bad. If you and your family are in need of assistance, please reach out and let us know how we can help.




Sources:

  1. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/how-to-work-from-home-with-your-kids-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html
  2. TheHomeSchoolMom.com -
    https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/benefits-of-homeschooling-2/
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I’m sure you are all aware that the Provincial government has deemed the Real Estate industry as an essential service. Let’s be clear as to what that means. There are a number of essentials which we rely on in order to have the necessities of life in this country. Simply they involve food, clothing, shelter, transportation and communication and services required to maintain those necessities. We are in the shelter business and our industry has been a responsible guardian in helping support, promote and maintain this necessity.


We have been allowed to continue to operate in order to provide a much-needed service when perhaps we are most needed. But let’s be clear, this does NOT mean business as usual. What this means is that while taking all of the precautionary measures we have been, leaving our offices closed to the public, not allowing open houses and trying to do every part of our work remotely as much as possible, that we can still assist those clients we have that may be in a critical situation. The seller who has sold and hasn’t bought and will become homeless, or the buyer who has bought and hasn’t sold which would leave them in financial ruin. I have seen a lot of social media criticism of the government's decision because the authors think this industry is about the compensation we get as opposed to the valuable and much-needed service we provide. For most of us, this is not the case. We genuinely care about our individual client's needs.


No one knows what a client’s situation is. This ruling allows us to continue to help those in dire need where we can while still practicing social distancing and all of the rules put out by the WHO. It also allows the Land Registry and lawyers to continue to close the transactions that have already been completed so our clients can move on to their new normal. We are still encouraging remote, electronic and virtual business as much as humanly possible during these next few weeks.


We are a service industry and RE/MAX Alliance’s only focus right now is how do we provide our service in the safest possible way to those who need us.


If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out. I am waiting to hear from you!

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Victoria real estate market returns to traditional sales numbers, but low inventory persists

February 3, 2020 - A total of 411 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this January, 24.9 percent more than the 329 properties sold in January 2019 and 2.2 percent more than in December 2019. Sales of condominiums were up 6.3 percent from January 2019 with 118 units sold. Sales of single-family homes increased 31.6 percent from January 2019 with 200 sold.


There were 1,958 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of January 2020, 6 properties more than the total available at the end of December 2019 and a 4.8 percent decrease from the 2,057 active listings for sale at the end of January 2019.


The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single-family home in the Victoria Core in January 2019 was $846,900. The benchmark value for the same home in January 2020 increased by 1.4 percent to $858,500, 0.4 percent more than December's value of $855,000. The MLS® HPI benchmark value for a condominium in the Victoria Core area in January 2019 was $500,500, while the benchmark value for the same condominium in January 2020 increased by 4.1 percent to $521,100, slightly more than the December value of $520,700


Have a look at the infographic below for a quick summary.



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MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.