Wouldn't it be nice if you had all the time in the world to find your next dream home? You could leisurely browse the current listings, select homes you'd like to see, schedule visits on dates that are most convenient for you, and make an offer on a property only after you've had plenty of time to consider all the alternatives.
Sure, that sometimes happens, but it's not typical. Often, people shopping for a home are on a timeline. Sometimes a very tight timeline.
So how do you find your next dream home when you don't have all the time in the world?
First, you need to develop a clear picture of the home you're looking to buy. How many bedrooms? What size of property? What type of structure (two story, back split, etc.)? Then, you need to list your preferences. These might include "large kitchen" or "main floor office".
Once you've completed that exercise, you'll have a more detailed profile of the type of property you want. That will make it easier to decide which of the listings on the market you want to see.
You should also narrow down the area in which you'd like to live. If you have three or four targeted areas, and only consider listings in those areas, your home search will be much faster.
What if you don't know the neighbourhoods well? Visit a few. Drive around. Explore. Get as much neighbourhood data as possible, such as demographics, recreational activities, parks, shopping, schools, etc. Then choose the neighbourhoods that fit your lifestyle.
Finally, the best way to find a new home on a tight schedule is to work with the right real estate agent — someone who, like me, is experienced in the local market.
Call me anytime.
Is there an area you'd love to get into that's "hot"? In other words, an area where, as soon as a new home comes up for sale, buyers are clamouring to see it?
It can be intimidating to try to buy into a neighbourhood like that. On one hand, it's the type of area you'd love to call home. After all, there are good reasons why it's so popular! On the other hand, you might be discouraged by the competitiveness and prices.
If you want to live in that neighbourhood, there are a couple of things you can do that will increase your chances of success.
The first is to create a strategy. Most buyers rush to see a listing in a desirable area only when it shows up on MLS — or sometimes only when it's advertised. You'll have a better chance of getting into the neighbourhood if you are alerted the moment a property comes up for sale and you have pre-arranged financing. You’ll get to the head of the line and be ready to make a credible offer.
The second option is to consider targeting other neighbourhoods with similar characteristics. You may have long-dreamed of living in Prestigious Area A, yet there might be a Hidden Gem Area B that is just as good. Maybe it’s even better!
Ultimately, your goal is to find the home you want in a neighbourhood you like. The right strategy will get you there.
Contact me for more information.
A total of 498 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this November, 25.8 per cent fewer than the 671 properties sold in November of last year and a 16.7 per cent decrease from October 2018. Sales of condominiums were down 30.9 per cent from last year in November with 152 units sold. Sales of single family homes were down 20.8 per cent from 2017 with 267 sold this November.
“We certainly anticipated a difference this year in terms of sales for November compared to last year,” says Victoria Real Estate Board President Kyle Kerr. “This time last year, the government announced plans to change mortgage lending qualification rules and our market saw a rush of activity as buyers tried to beat that new lending criteria which was rolled out January first. Our ten-year average of units sold for the month of November is 515, which is likely a better comparison than to the unusual market conditions we saw last year.”
The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in November 2017 was $832,800, while the benchmark value for the same home in November 2018 increased by 3.9 per cent to $865,200, lower than October's value of $881,000. The MLS® HPI benchmark value for a condominium in the Victoria Core area in November 2017 was $456,200, while the benchmark value for the same condominium in November 2018 increased by 9.7 per cent to $500,500, slightly less than October's value of $502,600.
There were a total of 2,343 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of November 2018, an increase of 32.8 per cent compared to November 2017 but 6.7 per cent fewer than the month previous.
“Inventory continues to be low compared to historic averages,” adds President Kerr. “The ten-year average for active inventory in November is 3,204, so although it has improved compared to last year, we are still low on choice for buyers. At the same time, waning demand has meant that there is less urgency in our market right now, which can benefit buyers and sellers. The market tends to naturally slow down in the winter, so I’d expect we will have a more balanced market heading into the new year.
If you need to upsize or you’re simply ready for a change, it’s tempting to consider a major renovation. After all, renovating means you don’t have to go through the process of selling your property and buying another more suitable home. You just fix up the one you’ve got!
However, you need to carefully consider the pros and cons of renovating before going this route. You don’t want to invest in a costly renovation only to end up with a home that still doesn’t meet your needs.
Say, for example, your current property doesn’t have a home office. Since all the bedrooms are taken, you decide to renovate a portion of the basement. Building that new home office may seem like a simple project, but once you consider new electrical, flooring, lighting, etc., it really isn’t. Like most renovations, it will probably cost more than you think. Plus, you’ll need to consider whether you’ll really want to work in the basement.
In this case, it might make more sense to find a new home with an extra bedroom that can be converted, or, better still, a dedicated home office space — with windows!
Of course, there are many circumstances in which a renovation may be the best way to go. If you don’t like your kitchen, for example, upgrading it may not only get you the kitchen you want, but also add value to your property.
Basically, you need to ask yourself: "Which is more likely to get me the home I really want – a renovation or a new home?"
If your answer is a new home, then there is probably a property on the market right now that would meet your needs. Let’s talk.
Is your home feeling a little cramped? If so, there are many relatively inexpensive ways to free up more space. Here are some ideas:
1. Convert traditional into non-traditional space. We’re all familiar with converting a spare bedroom into a home office or kids’ playroom. You can also create space by finding other uses for pantries and walk-in closets.
2. Explore smart storage solutions. There are many products on the market that revolutionize how you store things. For example, there are closet organizers available that double storage capacity. Check out the options at your local home improvement store.
3. Get rid of unneeded furnishings. Is there a chair no one ever uses? Is there a side table that takes up a lot of space, with nothing but a few knick-knacks on it? Consider selling these items to free up some space.
4. Think high. Install storage shelves, hangers or baskets high up in the kitchen and laundry room. Use that storage for items you only access infrequently.
5. Consider storage rental. If you have furnishings and other items that you don't want to get rid of, consider renting a storage unit. There may be economical options in your area. With a little creative thinking, you’ll be amazed by how much space you can create within your existing rooms.
A total of 651 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this July, 17.6 per cent fewer than the 790 properties sold in July of last year, and an 8.1 per cent decrease from June 2018. Sales of condominiums were down 22.6 per cent from last year in July with 188 units sold. Sales of single family homes were down 16.5 per cent from 2017 with 340 sold this July.
“We are in a different market now than what we have seen for the past two years,” says Victoria Real Estate Board President Kyle Kerr. “And while we see inventory creeping up after the drought in 2017, especially in the multi-million-dollar range, across our region there are 30 per cent fewer homes listed for sale under $750,000 than this time last year. This means that if you are shopping in the $750,000-or-less bracket, you are in a fast-moving market with low inventory. For example, of the 176 single family detached properties sold in our Core and Malahat regions during the month of July, only 59 (34%) were listed for $750,000 or less. And of those, 28 (47%) sold at or over list price. This illustrates the high demand for homes at or below this price point, and the pressure that is still pushing that segment of our market. If you are looking for a home priced at $1.5 million or above, there is more selection than last year and those homes are sitting on the market longer. For the first seven months of 2017 there were 481 single family detached properties for sale listed at $1.5 million or above. For the same time period in 2018, there were 664 properties for sale in this range, an increase of 27.6 per cent.”
There were a total of 2,607 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of July 2018, an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to the month of June and 35.7 per cent more than the 1,921 active listings for sale at the end of July 2017.
“Each year we tend to see a plateau in inventory over the summer months,” adds President Kerr. “It is possible that we will see more inventory come into the market through the fall when there is often a burst of activity in our market, but it’s hard to predict how that inventory might be priced. Ideally, we will see more inventory come in at under the $750,000 level to help push our housing market into more balanced territory across all segments.”
The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in July 2017 was $834,200, while the benchmark value for the same home in July 2018 increased by 5.5 per cent to $880,000, slightly lower than June’s value of $889,600. The MLS® HPI benchmark value for a condominium in the Victoria Core area in July 2017 was $442,100, while the benchmark value for the same condominium in July 2018 increased by 12.1 per cent to $495,700, slightly higher than June’s value of $496,500.
Online shopping is growing by an average of 20 million new shoppers each year. That's a lot of people clicking and buying! You may be one of them.
However, there's a cost to online shopping that's all too easy to overlook. Shipping fees. Imagine saving $10 on a luxury cookware set, only to be hit with a $15 delivery charge. Ouch.
So how do you avoid those fees?
First of all, always check the fine print on the checkout screen. Notice what the shipping cost (if any) will be before you click the final purchase button. Keep in mind that the base shipping fee shown may update — and become higher — once you've typed in your address.
Some e-tailers offer free delivery for orders over a certain threshold amount; for example, $50. If there's more you can add to an order to get the shipping fee waived, it may be worth it.
There are a few e-tailers, most notably Amazon, that offer yearly memberships where one of the benefits is free delivery on all orders. Those kinds of memberships may be worth checking out if you do a lot of online shopping with a particular company.
A final tip: Always check for multiple delivery options. Some e-tailers, list an express shipping charge as the default option on the check-out screen, but have a free standard delivery option if you choose it.
Takeaway: Shipping fees take the fun out of online shopping. Do what you can to reduce or eliminate them!
Next to your home and car, home furnishings represent the most expensive product purchases homeowners make. A mid-quality livingroom set, with sofa and two side chairs, can cost thousands of dollars. That’s why most furniture retailers offer “interest free” and “pay much later” deals to soften the blow.
These are basically financing options.
Say, for example, you want to purchase furniture for the rec room. The cost is $7,200. The furniture retailer may offer you a deal where you “don’t pay a cent” for six months. As long as you pay the balance within that time, no interest is charged.
That sounds like a sweet deal. And it is.
But, personal finance experts will advise you to tread carefully. If you pay off the balance within the “no interest” timeframe, you’ll benefit from the sweet deal, by having deferred the payment. However, if you fall behind on payments, you’ll be hit with a high interest charge. It’s often 20% or more. That can add hundreds of dollars to what you would have originally paid for the purchase.
And, even if you paid down most of the balance within the no interest period, you can still get hit hard. Some “no interest” deals charge interest on the original financed amount — not just the remaining balance.
The best advice, according to personal finance experts, is to read the fine print carefully and pay off the balance as promptly as you can.
Watch any TV cooking show, and you’ll notice that a chef’s kitchen looks quite a bit different than what you’d find in most homes. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one just like it in your home! With a little remodeling, and splurging on some new items, you too can have a kitchen worthy of Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, or Rachel Ray.
Chefs love counter space. So, when remodeling, plan to create as much as possible. If you have an existing island, for example, you can replace the countertop with a larger one. Just adding eight inches in both directions will make a big difference.
Most chefs have more than one oven. If that’s impractical for you, consider buying a double-oven stove. Also, chefs prefer gas burners for quicker heatup times and exacting control of cooking temperature.
One thing you’ll notice about chefs is they love stainless steel. That’s because it’s easy-to-clean, hygienic and durable (assuming you take care of it).
Finally, because chefs spend so much time in the kitchen, they want the space to be attractive and comfortable. So, when remodeling, keep decor in mind.
Even if you’re just an amateur chef, creating a chef-worthy kitchen will make the foodie in you smile.
Have you ever considered renting out a room to a student or renovating your basement into a self-contained rental apartment?
It’s a big decision. There are many pros and cons to consider.
On the pro side, renting can provide you with additional income. An extra few hundred dollars a month can go a long way towards paying down your mortgage or splurging on an exotic summer vacation.
Creating rentable living space in your home — for example, an “in-law suite” featuring a kitchenette and bathroom — may also increase your property’s market value.
On the con side, you’ll have more costs and responsibilities as a landlord. For example, you might need to purchase extra insurance because basic home insurance policies typically do not cover rental units, even if you’re just renting out a room. You’ll also be responsible for dealing with repairs sometimes in the middle of the night.
Also, if you’re not careful about the renter you choose, you might end up with a “problem tenant”. For example, you could have a tenant who is consistently late on rent payments or simply stops paying. That can be stressful.
If you’re deciding whether or not to rent, be sure to check local laws and regulations. Many jurisdictions have very strict rules regarding renting out space in a residential property, and those rules change frequently. Make sure you get the latest information.
You might naturally assume that it is most important to talk to a Realtor when you’re selling or buying a home. But there are many other circumstances in which it makes sense to give me a call. Here are a few examples.
1. When you’re at the “thinking about it” stage
If you’re just thinking about selling your home, and haven’t made a firm decision yet, you might feel uncomfortable calling a Realtor. Don’t be. In fact, I welcome your call. We can discuss what your current property will likely sell for on today’s market, and determine the type of home you qualify to buy. That way, you’ll have some clarity and be able to make a more informed decision.
2. If you’re nervous about the selling process
If you haven’t sold a home before, you might be concerned about what’s involved in the process. You might even worry that putting your home on the market is going to be a lot of work and create a lot of turbulence for you and your family.
Fortunately, selling your home doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, a big part of my job as a Realtor is to make the process as smooth and trouble-free as possible.
So if you have concerns about selling your home, you should give me a call.
3. If you have questions
You likely have questions about the local real estate scene from time to time. You might have questions like: “How much did that home around the corner sell for?”; “Is now a good time to make a move, or should I wait until the market changes?”; and, “How much is my current home worth?”
When you have questions like those, you don’t need to dig for answers on your own. You can give me a call. As an expert in the local market, I can give you the answers you need.
When you purchase a home, you’re hoping it will continually go up in value — just like a good investment.
However, there’s something else that you want to see go up in value as well: the neighbourhood. In fact, the neighbourhood plays a key role in what the home will be worth in years to come. If the neighbourhood goes down in terms of desirability, so will the market value of the home.
That’s why, when shopping for a new home, it’s important to get a feel for the value of the neighbourhood, and whether or not it’s on the upswing.
How do you do that? One way is to simply take a walk. Look at the properties. Are they well maintained? Is the landscaping groomed and attractive? Those are signs of “pride of ownership” — a clear indication that owners value their homes and the neighbourhood.
Another way is to do some research. Has crime gone up in the neighbourhood? Are there improvements planned, such as new parks? Is the neighbourhood attracting the kind of people you want as neighbours? How does the neighbourhood school rank?
Some of this information may be difficult to get on your own. A good REALTOR® can help you. Call today.