These days, just about everyone relies on the internet for work, school, entertainment, shopping, networking, you name it. So, speed and connectivity have become big issues.
Ideally, you want a fast, reliable connection — consistently.
If you have a router and connect with WIFI, here are some ways to boost the signal:
- Occasionally unplug your router, wait ten seconds, and then power up again. Routers get clogged with settings, protocols, code, you name it. Resetting the router is like cleaning the pipes.
- Connect your computer directly to the router with an ethernet cord. This hard-wiring will often double or even triple internet speed. The downside is, you’re restricted by the length of the cord.
- Check that you have the best router for your internet plan. Some newer high-speed plans require better routers, but you may not have been told that when you upgraded.
- Experiment with the placement of your router. The ideal spot is often on the main floor near the centre of your home. If possible, place it in an open space away from walls and other obstructions.
- Consider using Mesh WIFI. These are little “satellite” WIFI stations that you can place throughout your home. Your main router then connects to these, creating a much stronger WIFI signal in areas that were formerly weak.
Another way to improve your home WIFI is to contact your internet service provider. They’re the experts in their system and can advise you on how to create a better signal throughout your home.
If you want to reduce your home energy costs, the easiest way is to turn the thermostat up or down. In fact, you probably won't notice a difference of 2 degrees either way — and the savings can be substantial.
However, if you want to lower your bill even further each month, here are some additional tips that are relatively easy to implement.
Plug or fix the drafts. Even in newer homes, air filtration can occur at windows and doors. So, check around your home for drafts. Windy or cold days are the best days to check. Then, get any drafts you find repaired or, at least, temporarily plugged.
Check the attic. Heat rises and can escape through the attic. So, once a year, check the attic insulation for thin or bare spots. The insulation should be even across the space.
Get smart with your thermostat. Most thermostats these days are programmable. Program yours to reduce the heat at night and when you're away in the winter. In the summer, be easy on the A/C during the day and save the cooling for nighttime.
Unused rooms? Close the vents to reduce heat or A/C. You might be surprised by how much that will lower your energy bill. (Think about rooms, such as a rec room, that you only use on weekends.)
Harness the sun. It's free energy! Whenever possible, keep curtains open during cooler seasons to take advantage of this heat source, even on cloudy days. Do the opposite during hot summer days.
Try some of these ideas over the next couple of months. Then, look at the impact they’ve had on your energy costs.
Why is making a big change in life often so difficult?
According to psychologists, maintaining the "status quo" is one of the most powerful motivations we have. If things are "okay", even making a change for the better can be difficult. Our brains resist.
You may have experienced this if you’ve thought about selling your current property and finding your next dream home. Your house may be "good enough" for you now and the neighbourhood might be "okay" too. So, even if your dream is to get into a better home that's more suited to your family and lifestyle, you may be hesitant.
That's just the way the psychology works.
One way to get around this psychology is to get your dream out of your head and on to paper. Write down the kind of home you'd love to live in next. For example, you may want a detached home, with 3-bedrooms in a family-oriented neighbourhood. Also jot down the specific features and characteristics of the property and neighbourhood such as a goodsized backyard, family-size kitchen, and an easy commute to work. That will help you see the real possibilities.
Next, find out whether getting into a home like this is doable for you right now. Avoid making assumptions. Get the facts. Find out what you can expect to get for your current property, and what you'll need to spend for the new home.
If you discover that moving to your next dream home is something you can swing this year, your hesitancy will likely vanish!
I can help you get the information you need to make the best decision. Call me.
A total of 808 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this June, 9.2 per cent more than the 740 properties sold in June 2019 and 76.8 per cent more than the previous month of May 2020. Sales of condominiums were down 3.2 per cent from June 2019 with 209 units sold. Sales of single family homes were up 16.8 per cent from June 2019 with 460 sold.
“This June we saw competing factors from all different sides of the real estate equation,” says Victoria Real Estate Board President Sandi-Jo Ayers. “If all we do is look at numbers, we see a fairly normal June, in the midst of a very not normal world. The impact of COVID-19 on our entire economy continues. And while some buyers and sellers are slow to emerge from isolation, others have been highly active since the start of Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan. Because of the pandemic, an eviction order that prohibited a landlord from ending a tenancy was introduced. The order may have kept some homes from going to market. The portion of this order that prevented a seller from providing vacant possession of a tenanted home was lifted late this month, which may bring some listings to market that had been stalled. Due to the pandemic alone, we have multiple factors influencing the inventory and sales in our market.”
There were 2,698 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of June 2020, 11.3 percent fewer properties than the total available at the end of June 2019 but a 6.1 per cent increase from the 2,544 active listings for sale at the end of May 2020.
“Additionally, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation announced changes that start July 1 which will reduce the borrowing power of some buyers who insure through CMHC,” adds Ayers. “This may have pushed some demand forward - although there are alternate suppliers of mortgage insurance. Ongoing low inventory levels also mean that we are seeing a fair number of multiple offers. The condo market is slightly softer in terms of sales numbers. This may be in part due to the recent strata insurance issues which caused concern for owners and sellers. The government promised this month to begin to address the insurance issue, so there may be some relief on the horizon. These are not normal days for local real estate, nor is this month a signal of a return to normal, regardless of the numbers. That said, buyers and sellers are successfully navigating our market with the help of local REALTORS®, who know how to implement health and safety protocols and understand the complexities of our current market. As always, I recommend you consult your Realtor to understand what is happening in the moment.”
Vancouver, BC – April 15, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 6,717 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in March 2020, an increase of 17.2 per cent from March 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $789,548, a 15.1 per cent increase from $685,892 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in March was $5.3 billion, a 35 per cent increase over 2019.
“Provincial housing markets started the month very strong before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to activity,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Activity will slow considerably in April as households and the real estate sector implement measures necessary to mitigate the spread of this virus.”
“While we don’t know when this unprecedented period will end, markets will be boosted by pent-up demand and historically low interest rates when it does,” added Ogmundson. “The ultimate strength of the recovery will depend on how long the economy remains effectively shut down, as well as the efficacy of federal and provincial measures to bridge households through the financial difficulties brought on by the pandemic.”
Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 37.1 per cent to $12.9 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales increased 21.7 per cent to 16,866 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 12.6 per cent to $763,031.
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There's a reason why there are "kitchen and bath" stores, and even design magazines devoted to these rooms. A well-staged kitchen and bathroom can make the entire home look better. So, it's no surprise that professional home stagers pay particular attention to these spaces.
What do these pros have to say about bathrooms?
Professional stagers advise that you start by taking a picture of the room. Looking at that picture will give you a better sense of how others see your bathroom and reveal what needs to be changed.
Then, de-personalize it. When you’re showing your home to buyers, you want the bathroom to resemble a guest bathroom. So, no shaving kits, toothbrushes, sticky notes to self on the mirror, etc.
Stagers also recommend that anything worn be replaced. This will likely include the shower curtain and mats, which tend to wear and stain quickly.
Hang fresh new towels on the rack. (If you’re buying new towels for this purpose, choose white.) Put an unused bar of soap or hand cleaner next to the sink. Make it look like a freshly stocked hotel bathroom.
If required, paint the walls. Off-white colours, including beiges and light greys, work well.
As you can see, it doesn't take much to stage your bathroom and make it look its best for buyers.
Looking for more staging tips? Call today.
As you can probably guess, when you're preparing to move, you'll need boxes and tape — and, perhaps some bubble-wrap or old newspapers to use as protective wrapping for delicate items.
But that may not be all you need. Take a look at this list and see if you'll want any of these on hand while you’re packing or on moving day.
• Colour markers for labelling boxes. (Tip: Colour coding boxes by room will make unpacking much easier.)
• Stretch wrap to protect larger items that can't fit into a box.
• Small plastic bags to store dis-assembled parts, such as sofa legs, cabinet hardware, etc. (You don't want to lose them!)
• Moving blankets to protect floors.
• A dolly or hand truck to move heavy items. (You can rent these.)
• Mattress moving bag. This helps prevent stains and tears during your move. You can also buy specialty bags for sofas and tables.
• Reusable foam furniture sliders, to protect floors when furniture needs to be pushed into place.
• Foam corner protectors. This prevents furniture with sharp corners from banging and damaging other items during a move.
Planning ahead and having the right packing materials on hand will makeyour move less stressful and, hopefully, damage-free!
There are many storage options for your household items. For example, receipts and other paper records can be stored in a file box. Seasonal items, such as winter clothing, can be put in the basement. You can even rent a local storage unit to help with decluttering.
But what about stuff that exists electronically?
These days, many important records -- vacation pictures, tax receipts, home videos, school documents, etc. -- are in the form of PDFs, JPEGs, and other electronic formats. Having those reside entirely on your computer is risky. What if your computer crashes?
Someone smart once said, "A computer file isn't a file until it's in two places." So, the solution is to store your important electronic documents in a second place.
Here are the most common options:
• Portable storage. These are data storage devices that fit in the palm of your hand. For most homes, 1T (terabyte) of memory is plenty.
• Cloud storage. Box, DropBox, and iCloud are the biggest players here. The advantage of storing your documents "in the cloud" is that, unlike portable storage, you can't damage or lose it.
• Large backup units. These larger units continuously backup your files so you don't even have to think about it.
Whatever option you choose, the important thing is to have a duplicate or backup of your important files, so you never have to worry about losing them.
Ideally, when you sell your home, you want the process to go smoothly and relatively stress-free. While things may happen that are outside your control, there is a lot you can do to ensure that the selling experience is a good one.
Consider these four steps to reduce worry and stress when listing your home:
Step 1: Learn the selling process.
Find out what to expect when the FOR SALE sign goes up. How will viewings be scheduled? Will an Open House be needed? What happens when there is an offer? The more you know, the less mysterious—and, therefore, less stressful—the experience will be.
Step 2: Schedule wisely.
Use a calendar to block out times for viewings and other selling-related activities. Be sure to schedule plenty of time to clean and declutter your home before a viewing or Open House. Try not to have a tight schedule during the sales period.
Step 3: Anticipate issues.
The more problems you can foresee, the better you'll be prepared to deal with them as they arise. For example, if you know you're going to have a busy week at work, start making plans now to deal with viewings and related matters during those days.
Step 4: Make decisions.
Things can move quickly in the real estate market. There might be a few days when there are no enquiries at all, and then suddenly two offers will come in. Be prepared to make some quick decisions. Fortunately, with sound advice from me as your real estate agent, making those decisions will be a lot easier.
So, follow these simple steps. They'll help make your sale less worrisome and even enjoyable!
Want to make your bathroom look fantastic without having to do a major renovation?
There are a lot of projects you can do yourself. In fact, there are some improvements you can get done in less than a day that will transform the look and feel of your bathroom. Check out these ideas:
Update the sink.
If you have some basic plumbing knowledge, this is a project you should be able to do on your own. A new sink can make the entire vanity look like new.
Buy new decor.
New shower curtains, towels, window coverings, mats, etc. can transform the look of a bathroom.
Install new hardware.
Replacing cabinet hardware may not seem like much of a change. However, it can have a surprisingly big impact. Shiny new hardware is like jewelry. It stands out.
Replace the vanity mirror.
Even if there are no scratches, an older mirror is like an old pair of glasses. It can become foggy. No amount of cleaning will make it any clearer. When ordering a replacement mirror, be sure that your measurements are exact.
There's no doubt about it. A fresh coat of paint makes any room look better.
These bathroom improvement projects can make a huge impact on the look of your bathroom. And, they can all be done affordably and in just a day or two.
Outdoor lighting has come a long way from the days of patio lanterns and
strings of lightbulbs. These days, there's an exhaustive array of options
available to illuminate your outdoor space, and make it more appealing and
comfortable, particularly in the evenings.
Here are just a few ideas:
• Solar garden lights. These lights are on stakes that can be easily inserted throughout the garden. Powered by the sun, they generate enough energy to cast a soft, pleasant glow along walkways or in flower beds in the evenings.
• Deck post lights. These are easy to install because they're designed to sit on top of a standard 4x4 wood deck post. Most are solar powered.
• Street-style lamps. As the name implies, these look similar to old fashioned street lamps. Installation is a little more complex, but still DIY-friendly. They're eye-catching and have a dramatic impact on the look of your outdoor space.
• Portable lantern lights. These are outdoor lights that are portable and often made to look like a decorative fixture for a coffee table or side table. They can be placed anywhere.
• LED walkway lights. These are small lights that fit neatly and almost invisibly under stairs and around walkways. Walkway lights not only look good but also improve safety. Most are battery powered.
• Planter lights. This is one of the most interesting options. Each one is both a flower pot and a light in one! The pot itself is translucent which allows the light inside to shine through.
Design experts say you should treat your outdoor space as you would any
room in your home. Lighting it up for evening comfort and enjoyment is a
good place to start.
On moving day, you'll have a big task. You’ll need to get your possessions from your old property to your new one — ideally without delays or damage! Surprisingly, many people underestimate the time and costs involved in doing that. Careful planning and budgeting are crucial to ensuring moving day goes smoothly.
You basically have three options:
1. Hire a moving company to handle everything.
2. Hire a truck and crew, while doing some of the work yourself. (For example, you can pack and help with loading.)
3. Do it all yourself by renting a moving van and getting friends and family to help.
If you're going with option one, get quotations as early in the buying/selling process as possible. Services, costs and quality vary widely among fullservice moving companies.
If you're going to do some or all of the move yourself, the best place to start is by making a list of what you'll need. In addition to renting a moving van, or hiring a truck and crew, there are many supplies you may require. For example, you’ll need boxes, protective fill and/or wrapping (i.e. bubble wrap), markers for labeling boxes, packing tape, and more.
You may decide to rely on friends to help load the truck on moving day. That's
fine. Just be sure you have enough people to do the job within a reasonable
timeframe, and confirm everyone's attendance at least a couple of days before.
Moving around the corner or even across town is relatively simple because you are likely familiar with the various neighbourhoods and you can access them anytime. If there's a listed home you want to view, you can simply go see it.
Relocating to a different town or city, however, is much more challenging. It may not be possible for you to make multiple visits to see homes for sale. You may also be unfamiliar with the various neighbourhoods. So what do you do if you want to move out-of-town or need to relocate due to work?
Your first step is to get the information you need. You'll want up-to-date data on the neighbourhoods so you can pinpoint the ones that are the best fit for your needs and lifestyle. You'll also want to get a sense of the types of homes
for sale in those neighbourhoods — style, size, features, listing price, etc.
Your next step is to schedule a day to view homes. This visit must be carefully planned so you only see those properties that are likely to be of interest. You don’t want to travel all that way only to end up seeing properties you wouldn't likely buy. What a waste of time!
So, if you’re relocating, you’ll need help. Give me a call. I can help make the
relocation go smoothly for you.
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.
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.