We are renovating our house--ugh! (more about that in another post)-- and I am taking a course towards a double certification as an Interior Staging and Redesign Professional™ so I've been doing a lot of reading and dabbling into a world extremely unfamiliar to me.  In my career as a real estate agent I've helped sellers tweak their living spaces, rearrange furniture, remove clutter, paint walls etc and I know when something looks right...but I don't really know WHY.  That lead to me, with my eternal thirst for knowledge, to not just learn about the WHY's of design, but since I am also reward based, to acquire a designation and certificate for my wall.  

The topic currently on the table is curb appeal and some of the information I learned I shared in a previous post.  What I want to share with you today is a very objective method for spotting problem areas that affect the curb appeal of your home.  As you know when you live in a home after awhile your eyes stop seeing the deficiencies and it's only when you have company coming over that you begin to see your home through someone else's eyes.  Am I right?  When I have guests coming over suddenly I notice the paint chips in the wall, the marks on the carpet, and the clutter in the corner--and that's only on the inside!  What about the cracked driveway, the dying plants (I'm horrible at remembering to water them!), and the rotten fascia boards?  Do you see those?  Your guests might not because they're thinking about whatever wonderful dinner you're serving them, but I can guarantee you that a potential buyer is going to see them.  And not only will he see them, they will settle in his mind as part of his first impression.  And, as you know, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

So what can you do, especially given that you're so familiar with the home that you're likely overlooking things?  The answer--get a camera.  Go outside and take a ton of pictures of your home from every angle.  Go across the street and snap a shot of the house in it's entirety.  Walk around the side and the back of the home and take photos.  Close ups, wide shots, different angles. It's amazing how much you'll see as you begin to look with different, more objective, eyes.  But that's just the start.  Take those photos and load them up on your computer and then enlarge sections of it.  See those cracks in the stucco?  See that slant in the walkway?  Notice how much moss is on the top of the roof?  See how that fascia board is rotting on the end? Ugh, what about those weeds in the cracks of the driveway?  Had you noticed those before?  Thanks to this exercise you now have an idea of some of the little fixes you need to make to ensure that your home looks perfect.

One more thing.  That kiddie pool and swing set.  Looks okay to you, right?  How does it look in the photo?  Junky?  Yep, it does. If it absolutely must stay, make sure the swing set is clean, has all it's parts, and if possible has a fresh coat of paint applied to the chipped parts.  Seems a bit excessive, no?  Yes, it does.  Buyers will chose to view or drive by your  home based on a picture.  It's not entirely fair but that's life. If your exterior picture looks cluttered with either unsightly yard furniture, broken swing sets and kiddie pools, rusted trampolines, or overgrown foliage then a potential buyer will likely pass it by and go on to the next listing--the one with the groomed yard, clean roof, and weed free driveway.

After you've identified the issues, go ahead and make the necessary repairs.  Hire a handyman if you need to.  It may cost you a bit of money but you'll get that back in the end when you sell--in less time and at a higher price!

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment in the box below or email me at and I'll do my best to get you answers.  

Take care of yourself and have a lovely weekend!



Property Transfer Tax and the First Time Buyer Exemption

What is Property Transfer Tax?

This is a provincial tax (BC)  that the BUYER pays and it is calculated on the purchase price of the home. The tax is charged at a rate of 1% for the first $200,000 and 2% for the portion of the fair market value that is greater than $200,000. For example, if the fair market value of a property is $350,000, the tax paid is $5,000.   Ouch!--that's a lot of money and for the young person gathering their pennies (ahem, loonies) in order to scrape together a down payment this Property Transfer Tax (PTT) can put the brakes on the dream of home ownership!  

The government decided to be nice guys and help out those First Time Homebuyers.  What?  How?  Well, my friends, read on...

What is the First Time Homebuyer's Exemption?

Recognizing that the PTT would be an obstacle to home ownership, the provincial government provided an exemption for 'first time' home buyers.  Being a 'first timer' isn't the only qualification though, read on for more information.

Do I qualify?

Here are some of the major criteria for qualifying for the exemption but please remember that I'm only a mere human, not a lawyer or government agent, and so you can't rely on this information 100%  (that's my legal disclaimer) so please access the website (see links below) for more information, and talk to your notary or lawyer.

1. You have never owned a principal residence anywhere in the world.

Yes, you read that correctly...anywhere in the world...but the key words here are 'principal residence,' which is defined as a place where an individual normally resides.  If you are, or have been, a registered owner of an investment property; or if you've been on title to your parent's home and in either case didn't occupy the home as your principal residence then you still qualify.

2.  You have lived in BC for 12 consecutive months immediately before the date you register the property, or you have filed 2 income tax returns as a BC resident during the 6 years before the property registration date.

Darn, you're so close to being here for a whole year...only 2 more months and you'd qualify.  No problem, you can still shop for and buy a home but just make sure that you delay your closing date of purchase for 2 months (which is a typical closing period anyway).   

3. You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident

If you're not sure if you're a permanent resident, see the Immigration and  Refugee Protection Act (Canada),

4.  You have never received a first time home buyers’ exemption or refund.

What price range qualifies for the exemption?

What matters is not what kind of home you buy --an attached home (like a condo, townhouse or duplex), or a detached home (such as a freestanding home)-- but rather what price you pay.   The fair market value of the home you purchase must be less than $475,000.00.  That can be a tough one in high priced areas like Vancouver but if you move out towards the valley (become a Valley girl or boy--um, like you would totally love it in the Val!)  it's possible to get you into a detached home for that price, and most definitely a really nice townhouse or condo!   In order to receive a full exemption on your PTT, the purchase price must not exceed $475,000.00, but don't despair if you've paid a little more than that as there is a partial exemption for properties valued between $475,000.00 and $500,000.00.  Yay!  If you go over $500,000.00 though, I'm sorry, you're out of luck and will have to pay the PTT.  

How do I apply?

Your lawyer or notary will complete the First Time Home Buyers’ Property Transfer Tax Return as part of the conveyancing/legal work and you will sign the appropriate documentation when you meet with him/her.

At the end of the first year after your purchase you'll receive a letter from the government asking you to confirm that you moved in within 92 days of transfer of title and that you occupied the property as your principal residence for the remainder of the first year.  If you did not move in within 92 days, you will be charged the tax.  If you moved out within the first year you will be charged for a pro-rated portion of the tax.  If, heaven forbid, you pass away or the property is transferred pursuant to a separation agreement or court order, you still keep the exemption.  

What happens if I fib a little?

Yeah, so that's not a great idea.  If the government finds out that you made a false declaration about previously owning property anywhere in the world at any time, or about previously receiving a  BC first time home buyers' tax exemption or refund, then they are going to slap your wrists. HARD!  Be prepared to face a penalty of an amount equal to double the tax (the tax you owe plus a penalty equal to the exemption or refund you claimed).  

I had a situation where a client, a first time homebuyer here in Canada, had a question about whether or not she qualified for the exemption based on the fact that she was on title (only briefly) in a foreign country, and only occupied the home for two weeks.  We discussed this situation with a representative of the Property Transfer Tax division and his advice was: "When in doubt, pay it out."  

What if I forgot to apply when I purchased?

Well then, lucky you, you might qualify for an exemption!   If you met all the  criteria but didn't apply when you registered your home, you can apply for a refund as long as you do it within 18 months of the date that you registered the property ('registering' means the day that title transferred into your name).   Also, if you  became a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within 12 months of the registration date and, on the registration date, you met all the other qualifications for the exemption. Contact (250) 387.0604 to apply.

What else?

Property TRANSFER tax is not property tax. You pay property tax on an annual basis for services you receive from your local government.  

Websites for more information:

First Time Homebuyer's Program
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act




Thanks for reading, I hope you found this information helpful!  Remember to use a REALTOR® whether buying or selling --we can make the process much nicer for you!


Take care!  Next week's topic: Renovations (ugh, gag me with a spoon--or a kitchen, a bathroom, or flooring)



With Halloween just around the corner I wanted to give the little ghosts and goblins in your home a fun free contest to enter:


  • This contest is open to children ages 12 and under.
  • A $25.00 Gift Card to Toys R Us will be given to one lucky winner.
  • Winners will be announced on November 5th!
  • The contest closes on October 31st.



To print out colouring sheet CLICK HERE.


Please scan and email your artwork to  OR  Mail / Drop off at: Lisa Yasuda – RE/MAX LifeStyles Realty, #8-8880 202 Street, Langley, BC V1M 4E7


Good Luck!


Are you in the market for a new home?  Are you thinking of putting your home on the market?  If so, here are some tips to keep in mind.


5 Tips for Buyers


1. Get your credit in shape.  If you plan to finance your home, check your credit history, especially if you're a first-time buyer.   Doing this gives you the chance to correct any errors or take measures necessary to boost your credit score.  You can order your free credit report in writing from Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada.


2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.  Early in your search, meet with a mortgage lender who will take a look at your credit history, your savings and investment statements and your current financial situation, and give you a better picture of what you can afford and the financing options available.   


3. Establish your budget.  Whether you're financing your purchase or paying cash, it helps to establish a budget.  This will help you focus your search on great homes within your price range.


4. Make a list.  Buying a home is a process of elimination, not a process of selection.  Make a list of your ideal home's must haves and deal breakers.  This will help you to narrow your search so that you can find a home that fits your current and future needs.


5. Think about resale.  While you make purchase your home as a long-term investment, keep in mind that you may need to sell it one day.  Conside the homes resale value when you're looking at properties.




5 Tips for Sellers:


1. Clear the clutter.  Before you put your home on the market, clear the clutter that's accumulated over the years.  Tackle one room at a time, and divide your items into three piles:  keep, donate and toss.


2. Get packing.  Although you don't want to pack up all of your belongings, it helps to start boxing up the items that you want to keep, but won't use for a while, such as out of season clothing or sporting equipment.  Also, think about packing away sentimental and valuable items.  Packing up  your belongings will help potential buyers picture themselves living in your home and also prevent your valuables from damage.


3. Research the local market.  Knowing how much the homes in your neighbourhood are selling for and how long they stayed on the market can help you guage your home's value and estimate a time frame for the sale.


4.  Repair and improve.  Boost your home's curb appeal by doing minor repairs and improvements inside the home and out.  Tackle any necessary repairs, paint your walls a neutral color and replace light fixtures or appliances that are damaged or out of date.  And, don't forget to clean--potential buyers can't enjoy the views if the windows are too dirty to see through.


5.  Be realistic.  While it's good to get a feel for the local market, be realistic about the selling process.  Having realistic expectations for your home sale willhelp to relieve some of the stress of selling.



Final last words?  Trust your realtor...and let him/her guide you through the process.  


Good luck!




(taken from @ 2014 Buffini and Company)

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