Your home at a glance
Have you ever driven up to a restaurant and your first impression was disappointing? Perhaps the windows looked dark and gloomy, the façade was worn and unattractive or for some other reason it just didn't look like a tempting place to eat. It could still be a fantastic restaurant – a real gem--but, your first impression has soured your anticipation. If you still walk through the front door, it will likely be with the expectation of being disappointed.
This scenario often plays out in the real estate market as well.
A buyer drives up to a home for sale and quickly forms an impression based on what he sees "from the curb". That's why you'll hear real estate experts talk about the importance of "curb appeal". It's one of the most important selling points of a property.
If you plan to put your home on the market, you obviously want your home to look as attractive as possible from the street. Fortunately, there are many simple things you can do to improve curb appeal. For example, you can trim shrubs and hedges, plant flowers, clean the walkway and driveway, paint the front door and garage door, and clean the exteriors of the windows. All these projects are relatively easy and inexpensive yet each can make a dramatic improvement to how your home looks at first glance.
Don't be like the great restaurant that’s hidden behind an unkept façade. Make sure your curb appeal reflects the overall value of your property.
Looking for more advice on selling your home quickly and for the best price? Call Lisa today @ 778.242.3616.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.com OR Mail / Drop off at: Lisa Yasuda – RE/MAX LifeStyles Realty, #8-8880 202 Street, Langley, BC V1M 4E7
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.
(taken from @ 2014 Buffini and Company)
Realtors often say that pepole decide whther to buy a house within the first 30 seconds of seeing it.
What is Curb Appeal?
The first glimpse at the exterior of your home, and the impression that it creates, is called curb appeal. Likely as you've prepared your house for sale you've focused primarily on the inside of the house--painting, cleaning, staging etc--but the outside is equally, if not more, important. This is especially true when you consider that people see the outside of a home before they see the inside. Curb appeal includes anything that can be seen from the road in front of the house. This could be the driveway, the front door, the steps, the siding, the roof, or the lawn, to name a few.
Why Curb Appeal Matters
Picture yourself driving through a neighborhood looking for homes for sale. You see a FOR SALE sign in one yard but the house is completely hidden from view by a row of tall hedges.A few blocks later you see another house for sale. The lawn is brown, the driveway is full of cracks, and the front door is painted a garish color and is flaking. Finally, you drive by a house that looks promising. The yard is neat and tidy. The landscaping is pleasant with some well kept annuals and perennials, the house has been power washed and looks clean and shiny, the driveway is level and free of oil spills and stains, and the roof is free of moss and broken tiles or warped shingles. Immediately this home grabs your attention. This is the first impression that you don't get a second chance to make...and it's crucial!
Sweat the Small Stuff
The little things have a bigger impact than you can imagine. Small flaws tell people that a house hasn't been well maintained (even if that's not the truth that's the perception it gives). Small cracks in the driveway, cobwebs in the corner, broken door handles, untrimmed foliage, and chipping paint are immediate turn offs. Take a bit of time to brush away those cobwebs, sweep the steps, paint the trim and trim the trees before putting your house on the market. Not sure what else you should do? Stand at the end of your driveway and take some photographs to give you an objective view. Look at the four major areas: basic landscaping, repairing, creating a relaxing atmosphere with plants and flowers, and creating ambience through lighting--and you'll get a good idea of where you need to add (or sometimes subtract--remember 'less is more') in order to create the stage for a home that cries out 'come see me!'
H. R. MacMillan Space Centre
The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, founded 1968, is an astronomy museum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that is located at Vanier Park in Vancouver. The Space Centre is named for H. R. MacMillan, a British Columbia industrialist and philanthropist.
Inside the building, there are live demonstrations on science in the GroundStation Canada Theatre, exhibits and games in the Cosmic Courtyard, and shows about astronomy in the Planetarium Star Theatre.
Kitsilano Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver, especially in the warm summer months. Located at the north edge of the Kitsilano neighbourhood, the beach faces out onto Burrard Inlet.
The beach is home to the longest swimming pool in Canada, the salt-water outdoor Kitsilano Pool, operated by the Vancouver Park Board and open during the summer. Toward the northern edge of the beach is a playground and a number of beach volleyball courts.
Shuswap Lake is a popular summer time destination located in South-Central BC, where you can choose from many activities like outdoor adventures, golf, water activities, family fun, shopping, arts & culture, and culinary experiences.
The name "Shuswap" is derived from the Shuswap or Secwepemc First Nations people, the most northern of the Interior Salish peoples, whose territory includes the Shuswap.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park is a municipal parklocated in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Its enclosed tropical garden houses 500 exotic plants and flowers and more than a hundred free-flying tropical birds.
There are several other attractions in the park including: Arboretum, Celebration Pavilion, Bloedel Floral Conservatory, Fountains/Plaza, Quarry Gardens, Painters' Corner and Sculpture.
Activities at Queen Elizabeth Park include: Pitch and putt golf course, Disc golf course, Tennis courts, Lawn bowling Club and Tai Chi.
Barnston Island is an unincorporated island located in the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area of British Columbia, Canada. Located in the Fraser River between Surrey and Pitt Meadows, Barnston Island was named in 1827 for Hudson's Bay Company Clerk George Barnston. Great place to go bike riding flat paved road with few cars after the ferry off-loads with a distance of 9.7km.
9 O'Clock Gun
The 9 O'Clock Gun is a cannon located in Vancouver, British Columbia that is shot every night at 21:00 (9 p.m.) PT. The gun is a 12-pound muzzle-loaded naval cannon, cast in Woolwich, England in 1816. Seventy-eight years later, in about 1894, it was brought to Stanley Park by the Department of Marine and Fisheries to warn fishermen of the 18:00 Sunday close of fishing. On October 15, 1898 the gun was fired for the first time in Stanley Park at noon.
The 21:00 firing was later established as a time signal for the general population and to allow the chronometers of ships in port to be accurately set. The Brockton Point lighthouse keeper, William D. Jones, originally detonated a stick of dynamite over the water until the cannon was installed. The cannon is now activated automatically with an electronic trigger which was installed by the Parks Board electrical department. It is still loaded daily with a black powder charge. The fluorescent lights illuminating the gun from overhead go out exactly ten seconds before it fires, and turn back on a few seconds afterward.
Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
SURREY, BC – Continued demand for single family homes and townhomes resulted in the busiest July in five years for the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. The Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) processed 1,615 sales in July, an increase of 11 per cent compared to the 1,456 sales in July last year and 1.4 per cent above the 10-year average for the month.
Ray Werger, President of the Board, says, “July’s steady activity is a continuation of what we’ve been seeing all year. Our market has fully recovered from last year’s slump and has returned to what we typically see in the Fraser Valley, which is a steady, consistent market.”
In July, the Board received 2,724 new listings, a decrease of 2 per cent compared to July 2013 taking the number of active listings in Fraser Valley to 9,636, a decrease of 8 per cent compared to the volume available in July 2013.
Werger says, “Although our sales were slightly above average for the month, the volume of new listings added to the MLS® was 7 per cent lower than what’s typical for July, so for certain property types and price ranges we’re actually seeing a shortage of listings creating a seller’s market for particular homes.
“When demand starts to exceed supply it puts upward pressure on prices and in areas such as White Rock/South Surrey, North Delta and Langley we’ve seen an increase in benchmark prices of single family detached homes ranging from 3 to 6.6 per cent over the last year. It’s a different story for condos. In most of our market, there’s excellent selection and prices lower than they were one year ago offering tremendous opportunities for buyers.”
In July, the benchmark price, as determined by the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI), of a ‘typical’ single family detached home was $568,300, an increase of 3 per cent compared to July 2013 when it was $551,000.
The HPI benchmark price of Fraser Valley townhouses increased by 0.2 per cent; going from $297,800 in July 2013 to $298,500 in July 2014. The benchmark price of apartments was $194,700 last month, a decrease of 3.6 per cent compared to $202,000 in July of last year.
Find the July Statistics Package here.
The Drop (sculpture)
The Drop is a steel sculpture resembling a raindrop by the group of German artists known as Inges Idee, located at Bon Voyage Plaza in the Coal Harbour neighborhood of downtown Vancouver. The 65-foot (20 m) tall piece is covered with Styrofoam and blue polyurethane.
According to Inges Idee, the sculpture is "an homage to the power of nature" and represents "the relationship and outlook towards the water that surrounds us." The Drop was commissioned as part of the 2009 Vancouver Convention Centre Art Project and is owned by BC Pavco.
Originally named White Cliff City, which opened in 1909. Whytecliff Park is located near West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay Neighbourhood. The park is currently home to more than 200 marine animal species and is the first Marine Protected Area in Canada. Sea lions can be seen sunbathing on the beach during summer.
The park is perfect for family barbeques with ample space and public washrooms. The park also offers great hiking, swimming and is a popular location for underwater diving.
Harrison Hot Springs Water Park
If you're looking for a place that's fun for the the whole family and need to cool down then Harrison Lake and Harrison River is the place to go! Enjoy many water activites like fishing, boating, windsurfing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, or just soaking in the hot springs pool, Harrison is all about clear, clean, glacier pure water.
Souce: Tourism Harrison
The Stawamus Chief
Officially called Stawamus Chief Mountain, “The Chief” is the most recognized mountain near Squamish, BC. This granite dome is often claimed to be the "second largest granite monolith in the world." Canada's big-wall rock-climbing mecca, attracting keen rock climbers from around the world every summer. The Chief’s three summits offer rewarding views of Howe Sound, Squamish town site and surrounding mountains. This park has opportunities for camping, hiking, rock climbing and scenic viewing atop the Chief.
The Grouse Grind is Vancouver, BC’s most popular trail. Located in North Vancouver at the base of Grouse Mountain, the trail is so widely used that wooden steps were built on most of the trail to prevent erosion from further use. This trail is not for the faint of heart, there are 2,830 stairs and has an elevation gain of 2,800 feet!
Reach the top of the peak and you can successfully say that you completed “The Grind”. Then you can turn around and hike back down the mountain… just kidding! At the top you can purchase snacks, shop, hike some more, or have lunch. You can also purchase your ticket for the Gondola ride down the mountain.
**THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED**
Thinking of renovating or updating your home this summer?
Summertime is all about the great outdoors and drier weather; which for some home owners means it’s the perfect time to start a home renovation project. Whether it is a small do-it-yourself project or a large project requiring a contractor it’s going to take some time and money. We can’t give you more time, but we might be able to give you some MONEY!! Read on!
If you had $200.00 to spend at Home Depot, how would you spend it?
Tell us your plans and you could WIN $200.00 GIFT CARD to Home Depot!
- Contest closes August 15, 2014 Midnight PST
- One entry per person
- Must be legal resident of British Columbia
- Must be 18+ years of age
Don’t worry the information we collect is strictly for this giveaway, we will not share your information with others.
Head over to my Facebook page to enter: YES, I WANT TO ENTER THE SUMMER GIVEAWAY!
Thank you for your participation and good luck to everyone!
Houston Trail is a scenic loop that is located in Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley, BC. The forested trail is 4 km long, is open all year round and is popular with walkers, hikers and the occasional horseback rider.
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