© Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos


You probably don't think buying a lighting fixture for a room is all that complicated. It isn't. However, it does require you to consider which types of lighting you may need. According to the Lighting Association, there are three types:


  1. General lighting. By far the most common, this is the type of lighting that is designed to create a functional brightness that spreads throughout a room. A good example is a main ceiling light.


  1. Task lighting. As the name implies, this type provides extra light needed for a specific task, such as working at a desk or chopping onions on a kitchen countertop. A bedside lamp used for reading is another example of task lighting.


  1. Accent lighting. This type is designed to set off a particular feature of a room, such as a painting. It creates some practical light, but its main purpose is to add to the overall decor.


When choosing lighting for a room, it's important to consider these three types. First, decide how best to light the space generally. Then think about any special lighting you might need for specific functions, such as reading. Finally, consider how accent lighting might add to the overall look.



Sometimes we don't have much choice about selling our home and buying  another. Circumstances, such as a job relocation, may have made that choice for us.

However, most often the decision to move is discretionary. Sometimes people move simply because they think it's a good idea. They feel that "Now" is the right time to find their next dream home. So how do you make that kind of decision?

There are, of course, many reasons to make a discretionary move. Usually, those reasons fall into one of two categories: need and want. You may need to find a new home, for example, because you've outgrown your current property. Perhaps you have a growing family and require more space. Maybe you're doing more entertaining and need a larger backyard with a more spacious deck. It could be that the commute to work is arduous and you need to move to a place that's closer.

Those "needs" may motivate you to move, but sometimes a "want" plays an important role, too. For example, you may want to live in a quieter neighbourhood or in a newly built home that requires less maintenance. Maybe you simply want a change.

If you're thinking of making a move, take a moment to write down a list of your needs and wants. Seeing them on paper will help make the decision easier.

Looking for expert help? Call today.


When is it time to talk to a REALTOR®?

Many people only see a doctor when they're sick or have some other health concern. On the other hand, some people visit a doctor regularly for checkups, to ask questions and get advice, and to maintain good health.

Which do you think is the better approach? Obviously, the second one! The same thing is true when it comes to real estate. Even if you have no current plans to buy or sell a home, there are many reasons to talk to a REALTOR® regularly in order to maintain your good "real estate" health.

For example, you can:

• Get an assessment of the current market value of your home, so you
can make an informed decision about whether to stay or move.
• Ask about the state of the local real estate market (which may be
vastly different than what you hear on the national news.)
• Find out what homes are currently selling for in the area.
• Learn what's currently available on the market, especially in
neighbourhoods you would like to live in and that are within your
• Ask for a contractor recommendation.

In fact, it's a good idea to have a chat with your REALTOR® once or twice a
year, even if it's just to say hello.
You want to build a relationship with a good REALTOR® who understands(and cares about) you and your needs. That way, when it does come timefor you to make a move, you're dealing with a REALTOR® you already know and trust.

Don't have a good REALTOR®? Call today!


How Long Does it Take to Find a New Home?

If you're planning to look for a new home sometime in the future, you
may be wondering how long the process will take. How much time
should you set aside for viewings? How many of the listed homes
should you see?
Of course, the process varies from person to person. According to
the Department of Housing & Urban Development, home buyers view
an average of 15 properties before finally choosing to make an offer
on one of them. That number may be a good benchmark for you.
On a Saturday afternoon, you can comfortably look at three or four
potential properties. You can see more if you want to make a full day
of it.
One factor that impacts the home shopping process is how clearly
you know what you're looking for.
For example, if you're certain you want a three bedroom backsplit,
backing onto a wooded area or ravine, in an upscale neighbourhood,
then the process is going to be fairly simple. You're just going to view
properties that closely meet that criteria.
But if you're the kind of person who simply says, "I'll know it when I
see it", then you'll need to look at several homes on the market. That
means carving out plenty of room in your schedule for viewings.
A good REALTOR can help you understand what's available on the
market and which homes are worth seeing. He or she can also help
you determine how long the process will likely take, and show you
ways to make the process go more quickly and smoothly.


Small Steps Towards Financial Freedom


Good news!

You can baby step your way to mortgage freedom and save thousands of dollars in interest in the process.

According to Scotiabank’s Mortgage Landscape Study, almost two-thirds of mortgage holders agree they could pay off their mortgage faster without impacting their lifestyle. How much does it take — only an extra $20 a month.

While many homeowners think in terms of lump-sum payments, which are a great option, there are other ways to save money and pay down that debt. Seventy-nine per cent of mortgage holders have taken at least one of these steps:


1. Refinancing for a lower interest rate

2. Renegotiating for a lower interest rate

3. Switching to bi-weekly payments

4. Increasing amount of regular payments

5. Lump-sum payments


Increasing your payment by just $20 a month will have a positive impact because the extra money is applied directly against the mortgage principal. This decreases the amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan. For example, the average borrower would save almost $2,800 in interest over 25 years and reduce the amortization by 10 months.

Imagine if you added $40 or $60 a month.

Interestingly, the poll also showed that 21% of mortgage holders have not taken any steps to pay down their mortgage for the following reasons:


1. Don’t have available funds

2. Have other payment priorities

3. Don’t know what steps to take


The poll also revealed that 51% of mortgagors have spoken to their mortgage professional about how they can become mortgage-free faster.

It’s easy to forget about your mortgage when you’re making automatic payments. It’s a good idea to keep up-to-date on mortgage options and interest rates .You could potentially save a ton of money by understanding those options.

The freedom that being completely debt-free brings is a dream for many Canadians. If you’re unsure of what your next step should be, just give me a call. Together we can review your mortgage, look at your financial picture and devise a mortgage-reduction plan that works for you.


2012 Ends on a Steady Note for Greater Victoria Real Estate Market

January 2, 2013

VICTORIA BC - Victoria’s real estate market ended 2012 with relatively flat pricing when compared to 2011, along with similar sales numbers for the third consecutive year.

Total MLS® sales in December 2012 were 283, a 17% decrease over December 2011 when 339 units sold. A different picture is told, however, when comparing full years, where there is only a 5% decline from 2011 to 2012.

Similarly, pricing has held steady year-over-year. The annual average price of a single-family home in Greater Victoria was $603,298 in 2012 compared to $613,839 in 2011. Shelley Mann, President of the Victoria Real Estate Board, notes that while the annual average in 2010 was $629,925, it was $580,748 in 2009.

"In December there were less active listings on the MLS® system than in recent months," Mann says. "With less competition, homeowners have a better opportunity to sell. But the property must show well, and they cannot expect to sell for the all-time high prices of 2010 and 2011." Current active listings are 3,896.

"We continue to see buyers waiting to make their move. Two factors seem to have triggered this, the first being the tightening of lending regulations which has affected the purchasing power of many consumers," Mann says.

"The second factor is that some buyers are continuing to wait for the market to fall," Mann says. "What we heard at the local 2012 CMHC Housing Outlook Conference is that the market has bottomed out and slow growth is in store for 2013."

There were 65 condominium sales in December 2012, compared to 98 in November 2012 and 89 in December 2011, and the year-over-year average price has decreased by 3%. Townhome pricing remains flat.

Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 10, also 10 in December 2011
Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 146, down 27 sales from December 2011
Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 10 (3 over $2 million)

Graphical representation of recent sale counts and average prices

Stats Quick Reference

Tablular representation of sales statistics from the last two months and from last year

Total Single Family All Areas includes Shawnigan Lake/Malahat, Gulf Islands and Up Island

Summary Report and Graphs

Monthly Sales Summary
Average Selling Price Graphs
Active Listings, New Listings and Sales Graphs

When Interpreting Our Statistics

To ensure sales are not over-reported, we report net sales: that is, the number of sales less the number of collapsed sales, if any. Average Price is the total dollar volume of sales for the month divided by the number of sales in the month. Six Month Average is the total dollar volume of sales for the last six months divided the total number of sales in the last six months. Median Price is the mid-point price between the least expensive sale and the most expensive sale in the month.

The use of average price information can be useful in establishing trends when applied over a period of time, i.e. six months or longer. The Victoria Real Estate Board cautions that an average price does not indicate the actual value of any particular property. Those requiring specific information on property values should contact a REALTOR®.


Why we won’t crash like the USA

By David Larock

Statistics Canada recently changed the way it calculates key economic data to bring its methods into line with agreed upon international accounting standards. As a result, the debt-to-income ratio for the average Canadian household shot up 11 per cent, literally overnight, to 163 per cent (a record high). This has inspired lots of foreboding talk about how our “soaring” household debt-to-income levels are now higher than U.S. debt-to-income ratios were at the peak of their housing bubble. That may be technically true, but it is also totally misleading. That’s because the standard method for calculating this ratio uses after-tax income, which isn’t a fair comparison because Canadian personal income taxes cover health care costs and American personal income taxes don’t. (To put this difference in perspective, according to my initial research the average American spends anywhere from 10 per cent to 20 per cent of their after-tax income on health-care related costs.)


While it has become fashionable to predict that Canada is headed for a U.S.-style housing crash, most economists still think that is unlikely and they use plenty of data to support their position. To be clear, I readily agree that our household debt levels are too high and that’s why I have consistently supported the federal government’s attempts to reign in borrowing by changing the lending policies and regulations used by CMHC and OSFI. But that’s a far cry from believing that our debt levels are about to cause our houses to start spontaneously combusting. (Did I just give Maclean’s an idea for their next apocalyptic magazine cover … or have they used that one already?)


Before you start loading up on canned soup and fire extinguishers, consider this sampling of recent comments from the experts I read:


* A report by BMO economists in January 2012 first pointed out the flaw in using after-tax income to compare Canadian and U.S. debt-to-income ratio levels. Instead, they argued that using a debt-to-gross income ratio would provide a better apples-to-apples comparison. Using this revised methodology, BMO economist Sal Guatieri reported recently that Canada’s debt-to-gross income ratio (121 per cent) is still well below both the current (146 per cent) and peak (166 per cent) U.S. levels. That presents a very different comparison from the popular one being bandied about in much of the mainstream media.


* David Rosenberg, a well-known Canadian economist, wrote recently that our ratio of housing starts to the civilian population is “not far off the average of the last 10 years, whereas as in the U.S. back in the 2006-07 peak, that ratio was 25 per cent above the long-run norm.” In other words, Canada has not seen the kind of short-term spike in speculative real-estate investing/borrowing that we saw in the U.S. during the latter stages of their housing bubble.


* Mr. Rosenberg also notes that Canadian policy makers and regulators have been pro-active in responding to our rising household debt levels while their U.S counterparts were basically asleep at the switch until it was too late (hyperbole mine).


* Further to that last point, Benjamin Tal, an economist with CIBC, recently noted in an interview with Rob Carrick that overall Canadian household debt is now rising at its slowest pace in 10 years, while consumer debt levels are actually falling for the first time in 20 years. That kind of momentum makes for a trend in the right direction.


* In a separate report, Tal notes that the crash in U.S. house prices was far more extreme in cities with above-average levels of sub-prime lending, where prices corrected by an average of 40 per cent. This is more than double the average decline seen in U.S. cities with below-average levels of subprime loans.


“Eradicate subprime from the U.S. housing market and, instead of the most severe house price meltdown since the Great Depression, you get a soft landing.” By comparison, Canadian subprime loans account for about seven per cent of our total mortgage debt outstanding while U.S. subprime loans peaked at a little under 25 per cent of their total mortgage debt outstanding before their housing crash.


The bottom line: Like any informed observer who can see beyond his own short-term self interest to what is best for the whole economy over the long term; I am concerned about how ultra-low interest rates have pushed our household debt levels to record highs. But I reject the implication that we have driven over the debt cliff to financial ruin and are now in free fall just waiting to hit the ground.


David Larock is an independent mortgage planner and industry insider specializing in helping clients purchase, refinance or renew their mortgages. His posts appear weekly on his blog,

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.