Adding value to your home is the number one concern for most homeowners. It doesn’t matter if you’re prepping to sell or looking to build long-term equity, knowing the right renos to invest in is important to ensure you get the most bang for your reno buck.


5. Flooring 

Ever wonder about the number one request from both homeowners and tenants when they’re looking for a home? Hardwood floors. And why not? Hardwood looks amazing, is timeless and is incredibly durable. It’s also expensive, so it’s wise to weigh your options before shelling out big bucks for the big impact that hardwood delivers. You can go with traditional hardwood or engineered hardwood, or if hardwood isn’t what you’re looking for (or if it isn’t in the budget) there are plenty of great laminate options available to you as well. Regardless of your choice, a flooring update always brings new life to a space and instantly gives the impression of a renovated and redecorated space. 


4. Hardware & Fixtures 

It sounds like a simple little update that doesn’t mean a lot, but replacing relatively inexpensive items like faucets, sinks, toilets and drawer pulls can make a big impact.


Let’s face it: Switchplates are $.49 at your local hardware store, so there’s no excuse. Cabinet and drawer pulls are also a drop in the bucket and things like doorknobs, light fixtures and faucets are also inexpensive, minor updates that can really improve the entire feel of a room. A smallinvestment can equal a big return, making the space feel fresh and modern.

3. Bathrooms 

The first rule of bathroom renos: If it’s pink or blue, rip it out! Pastels, seashell tiles and fuzzy toiletseat covers scream ‘grandma’s house,’ and while you probably have fond childhood memories from grandma’s house, chances are you don’t sit around reminiscing about the décor. 


When you ask people to describe their perfect bathroom, about 95% of people use the words “spa like.” What does that mean exactly? From my experience it means a soothing colour palette, clean lines, modern materials and chic finishes. You may be hearing “cha-ching”, but keep in mind thatbathrooms are small and therefore require less material. Consider making a statement with a stand-out tile or funky sink or faucet to set the tone of the space – a little goes a long way.

2. Kitchens 

Kitchen remodels are notoriously expensive. When you start throwing around words like “granite,” “stainless steel,” and perhaps the scariest – “custom,” it can make a lifetime courting takeout menus sound like a good idea. But don’t panic – I have good news on two fronts: Not only can you do a great kitchen renovation on realistic budget, but kitchens also give you the biggest return oninvestment far beyond any other room in the house.


When it comes to counters, while stone is still the number one choice, there are more and more affordable alternatives that look expensive – butcher block, composite, and high-end laminates are all great options.

1. Income Suites 

No shock here, but it’s true – there’s no renovation you can do to your home that will increase its value as adding an income suite. Whether it’s your basement, a third floor or loft conversion, or even a coach house style suite in a garage, income suite renovations, when done correctly, easily allow you to double your investment. The extra bonus?  Not only will an income add a huge amount of value to your home, but it’s an investment that will actively make you money while you build equity. What more could you ask for?




For many homebuyers, the issue of condo fees is as contentious as they come. In one camp are those who can't see past paying money into an association that may or may not use that money effectively; in the other are those who find value in what condo life provides or are not yet ready to buy a house. Unfortunately, what both sides in the debate tend to have in common is misinformation about condominium fees and how they actuallywork. If you own a condo or are thinking about buying one, here are some things you might not know about the fees.


1) They aren't all bad

Many homebuyers categorically refuse to consider a condo because of the fees alone. No fees are levied in a house, so condo fees are essentially a rip-off, right? Not so fast. What many people forget about owning any kind of home is that it entails a lot of financial responsibility. Roofs leak, foundations shift, washing machines overflow and the occasional baseball flies through the kitchen window. And whether you own a condo or a house of your own, you pay for all those unhappy little occurrences. The only difference is that in a condo, that financial responsibility is often shared with other owners.


In a condominium, the fees typically cover monthly expenses and utilities in the building, but they're also designed to collect money in advance to ensure that owners are held equally accountable for their investment. If you own your own home, you won't be forced to set aside money each month just in case your home requires an expensive repair (although that's a good idea), but you will be on the hook if something goes wrong. In addition, condo fees often go toward paying for things you'd have to shell out for as an owner of any property, such as insurance, and sometimes even heat, water and cable TV.


2) Lower isn't always better

No one wants high condo fees, but finding the building with the lowest fees isn't always the best bet either. Think of condo fees as a bit of a layaway plan for future improvements to the building, such as painting and necessary repairs. If there's no money set aside, that work either won't get done or owners will suffer a shake-down for additional funds in the form of a special assessment.


"You'll want to have a robust discussion with your realtor about what a condo's fees include," Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust advises.


And if you make an offer, make sure you put in a condition to review the condominium documents.  "This will ensure you get the information you need about the condo and whether there is a healthy reserve within the building," Haque said.


In other words, if you want to know how expensive a building's condo fees really are, you'll have to find out everything you can about what they include and how much money the building needs for upkeep.


3) You may be paying for things you don't use

Condo fees are a lot like taxes: Sometimes, you don't personally benefit from the way the money is spent. That might explain why people tend to have such a strong reaction to condo fees, but the reality is that this is just a necessary evil of any collective asset. If your building includes a pool, a gym or a patio, your fees will go toward maintaining those common areas, even if you never set foot in any of them. The flipside, of course, is that if the building requires a major repair, you'll get to split that bill with all the other owners. According to Haque, it also means that you might derive additional value from your fees if they allow you to save on things you might otherwise pay for, such as that gym membership.


4) They can go up at any time

According to the 2012 TD Canada Trust Condo Education survey, 68 percent of condo buyers had no idea that their fees could increase. Well, here's news for you: Condo fees can increase at any time, and there's virtually no limit as to how high they can go. That's because it's up to the condominium's board of directors to ensure that enough money is being collected to pay for current expenses and save up for future repairs. If something unexpected happens to the building, or other common costs such as gas or electricity shoot up, condo fees might go up right along with them. Unfortunately, 38 percent of condo buyers also said that they weren't confident that they could afford a fee increase.  Yikes!


If you're buying a condo or any other property, you should never be at the very limit of what you can afford. It's way too risky, and not just because of condo fees; interest rates, utilities and taxes can also increase significantly.

"Qualifying for a mortgage isn't the same as feeling like you can actually afford home ownership," Haque said. "When qualifying for a mortgage, look at your numbers in terms of all the possible fees. You should build in an inflation rate on the condo fees to see what your budget would look like if those fees were to increase. You also want to discuss interest rates with your lender, and what would happen if those were to increase down the road."


5) Condo fees are included in your mortgage calculation

According to Haque, 50 percent of a building's condo fees are folded into the calculation that determines whether your income is sufficient enough to cover your mortgage and other necessary expenses. This means that a condo fee affects the size of the mortgage you can qualify for. So, while owning a condo can help you to build some real estate equity, it's worth weighing this desire against waiting longer and saving a larger down payment for a house of your own. And while the costs here aren't likely to be lower compared to condo fees, you'll have full control over what repairs and improvements are made to the property when it's exclusively your own.


The bottom line: You can still pay out of pocket

Just because you're sharing a wall with a set of neighbors doesn't mean you're a renter. Owning a condo is just like owning any other home - you're responsible for maintaining it. The major difference is that paying for repairs might be a lot more complicated. For some people, the benefits of living in a condo far outweigh these inconveniences. Just be sure that you choose your condo carefully and assess what its fees really amount to. As with all things financial, condo fees aren't just about what you pay, they're also about what you get in return.


CBC News, Feb 21 2013


A CBC News investigation has discovered it’s almost impossible for homeowners to get compensation if something is missed during a home inspection, despite new regulations introduced by the B.C. government in 2009 requiring all home inspectors to be licenced and insured.


Buyers like Lindsay Denton, a 39-year-old single mother, are finding out the hard way they have little recourse if they believe an inspector misses an obvious, visible defect. Complaints to the inspectors’ association might cost an inspector the loss of his or her license for a week, but financial settlements are only awarded through the courts.

Denton was battling breast cancer when she bought a $750,000 home in East Vancouver after an inspector’s report found no structural defects.


“It’s been a nightmare, like I wish I’d never set foot in this house. I just wanted a place to live,” Denton said.

“It doesn’t mean anything that they have a license or that they have errors and omissions insurance.”

Denton has filed a lawsuit against inspector Christopher Stockdale, who used to be the president of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors of B.C.


In her notice of civil claim, she alleges Stockdale failed to follow the standard practices of his association.

Denton claims he missed the fact that her home was structurally unsound, with extensive water damage, a hole in the roof, asbestos in the air ducts, and visibly rotten sill plates and posts.


She also claims Stockdale examined her one-storey roof with binoculars instead of climbing up with a ladder and failed to carry a tool to prod any potentially rotten wood.


Denton said she discovered some rot in the structure after the tenants in her basement suite moved out.


“I went downstairs to paint and I touched the wall and it was wet and soft and the wood on top of the foundation was rotten,” she said. “It was crumbling away.”


The crumbling wood Denton refers to is the sill plate, which sits underneath the posts that hold up the structure. She said the inspector should have seen rotten posts next to the furnace he inspected.


Inspections ‘do not constitute a guarantee’

In her claim, Denton says Stockdale of Home Sweet Home Inspections returned to her house, looked at the problems and offered to refund her the $565 inspection fee.


Homeowner Lindsay Denton says a home inspector should have noticed the sill plate on top of her foundation, which holds her house up, is rotten.

Homeowner Lindsay Denton says a home inspector should have noticed the sill plate on top of her foundation, which holds her house up, is rotten. (CBC)

She claims she told Stockdale he also should have seen rot on the side of her house.


“I’ve borrowed $40,000 and I’ve spent more, and I’m looking for another $100,000 to fix my suite because it’s been 18 months without being rented.”


Denton says she’s struggling to make her mortgage payments and is waiting for another inspector's report to assess the defects allegedly missed in her home, a report which will go before a judge in her civil case.


Inspector denies negligence

Stockdale declined requests for an interview, but said in an email he "expects to be fully vindicated of any perceived errors or omissions.”


In his response to civil claim, Stockdale denies he and his company were negligent, adding the inspection and inspection report “do not constitute a guarantee, warranty or insurance policy.”

Helene Barton, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors of B.C., says inspectors are rarely found guilty of any wrongdoing.


But she says the association is watching Denton's court case closely.


“Of course it concerns me, and it would all of our inspectors in our association, that something as major as that was missed, if in fact it was. It is a concern,” she said.


‘No authority to offer damages’

Homeowner Lindsay Denton says the home inspector didn't even go into the shed, where he would have seen the beam holding up the corner of her living room is rotten.

Homeowner Lindsay Denton says the home inspector didn't even go into the shed, where he would have seen the beam holding up the corner of her living room is rotten. (CBC)

Inspectors are supposed to check roofs if possible, and should poke any structure that appears rotten. They are also supposed to ensure windows, appliances and furnaces are functioning.


If something gets missed, Barton says homeowners can file a complaint.


“We have an excellent professional complaint review system, process, however like any other association we have no authority to offer damages,” she said. “Unfortunately the courts are the only ones that can do that.”


But finding a lawyer to take on a home inspection case can be expensive, finding another home inspector to testify can be difficult, and getting any kind of payout can take years.


CBC News found only one case in B.C. where a homeowner successfully sued a home inspector. In that case, the homeowner was awarded $192,000.


One lawyer who specializes in construction law cases told CBC News they advise clients to take inspectors to small claims court, where the award is capped at $25,000.


The lawyer says the problem is the standard clause in many contracts homeowners sign limits an inspector's payout to the cost of the inspection fee.



February 2013


Luxury Market stumbles, but still records 2nd best year

The BC luxury home market stumbled in 2012 as sales of high-end homes fell 36% from their peak in 2011. However, even with the drop, 2012 was still the 2nd best year in history for sales of luxury homes.


439 $3-million+ homes transacted in 2012, down from a peak of 691 in 2011. However, to demonstrate how far prices in BC's real estate market have increased over the past 10 years, only 10 homes sold for over $3 million in the year 2000. Of the 439 homes that sold for over $3-million in 2012, 107 sold for over $5-million and 44 were condos or townhomes. The most expensive home sold in 2012 was by Macdonald Realty for $19.8 Million.


The majority of homes sold for over $3 million in 2012 were located in Vancouver's Westside. West Vancouver was also well represented while a disproportionate number of expensive homes sold in South Surrey/White Rock. Outside the lower mainland, Vancouver Island saw 8 $3-million+ sales while the Okanagan recorded 4.


Dan Scarrow, Vice President at Macdonald Realty, believes that immigrant buying patterns are driving the luxury market. "For the past few years, we've seen lots of new investor-class immigrants coming into the market," says Scarrow, "and they're not just buying a house for themselves, but also 3 or 4 residential investment properties as well. This has meant that only certain areas with high investor-class immigrant populations have prospered."


Scarrow, has seen a change though. "The past year has seen a significant shift in how these individuals purchase real estate," he says, "now, they're taking their time and only buying a principle residence."


This is for two reasons. "First," says Scarrow, "Vancouver-area house prices have grown at a disproportionately higher rate than other investment classes for the past few years and most investors realize that that trend cannot be in perpetuity. Second, expectations of flat prices results in speculators standing on the sidelines and a flat market becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."


All that said, Scarrow still believes the market is resilient. "Buyers are still there and they're not scared. They just no longer think that there's any immediate urgency to buy. If you demonstrate value, people will still buy."


The story has been somewhat different outside of the lower mainland as many areas never experienced the same Asian bump that Vancouver did. According to Macdonald Realty Kelowna manager Don Gerein, in the Okanagan, the luxury market still hasn't fully recovered from the Financial Crisis. "For the past few years, there has been a good selection of properties on the market and fewer buyers," says Gerein. "That said, buyers for this type of property are constantly looking for a deal and when the right deal on the right property shows up, they are ready to strike."


Gerein is optimistic for 2013. "We expect more buyers for these properties to make decisions in 2013 as the economy improves."


In Victoria, the story is similar. According to Macdonald Realty Victoria Manager Lynn Van de Kamp, the luxury market has struggled since the 2008 financial crisis. "We're still playing catch-up from the peak at that time," she says, "but I'm optimistic for this year."


Lower Mainland 3 Most Expensive Homes Sold in 2012:


1) $19.8 Millio 
2) $16.2 Million
3) $14.2 Million


Okanagan 3 Most Expensive Homes Sold in 2012:


1) $5.7 Million
2) $5.25 Million
3) $3.75 Million


Vancouver Island 3 Most Expensive Homes Sold in 2012:


1) $5 Million
2) $4.451 Million
3) $4 Million


If you'd like to find out more, contact me at the address above.

  *This communication is not intended to cause or induce breach of an existing agency agreement.

*Although this information has been received from sources deemed reliable, we assume no responsibility for its accuracy, and without offering advice, make this submission to prior sale or lease, change in price or terms, and withdrawal without notice.



Come check it out! Open House today from 2-4pm @ 101 - 5500 Andrews Rd, Richmond BC

Southwater in Steveston! Enjoy this beautiful private 2 bedroom 2 bathroom garden home with your own townhome style entrance from Andrews Rd. Absolutely stunning decor with outstanding quality hardwood flooring and ample open space for any type of furniture arrangement. Open concept living easy to host get together's and generous sized bedrooms easily fitting a queen bed in the second bedroom. Enjoy a short stroll along the boardwalk into Steveston Village where you'll conveniently find coffee shops, restaurants, and many unique specialty shops to browse. Move in ready!

Call Kristy for directions 604-644-8918


By Crystal RayYahoo! Contributor Network

Closets do not have to be huge to look impressive to home buyers. They want plenty of storage space, and they have to be able to imagine their belongings in your personal space. Even the smallest enclosed areas can be made to look more appealing to buyers. Use these simple storage space tips and staging tricks, and make your closets appear more impressive than ever.

Thin Out the Amount of Items in the Closets

When closets are filled from top to bottom and overstuffed with everything from off-season clothes to outerwear, they will look inadequate to home buyers. Instead of seeing storage areas that could be arranged in better ways, they will view the areas as insufficient. Thin out the amount of items in closets, and organize them accordingly. For example, use coat closets for current seasonal outerwear, and move seldom worn items to other locations. Implement vacuum seal bags and storage totes, and donate things that have not been used in the past two years.

Make the Most of Available Space with Shelving and More

If your closet organizers consist of nothing more than rods for hanging clothing and a single upper shelf, consider adding more shelving and multiple closet rods. It is not necessary to hire a professional to create storage that will make the closets more appealing to potential home buyers. Use freestanding cube shelving like the unit pictured, and consider adding a full length mirror to visually expand the space. A single mirror and stylish cube shelving can make a tremendous difference.

Make them Neat and Showroom Tidy

Neatness counts when trying to sell a home. After all, if it is not neat and clean while on the market, potential buyers will wonder if the working components have been ignored. Closets will be more appealing if the walls, shelving and flooring are clean. Take the time to get rid of cob webs, and be sure to clean the flooring. Closets are areas of the home that are most often neglected. When the doors are closed, messes are not visible. Potential buyers will be opening those doors and considering the amount of available storage space before making a final decision. Clean and organize your closets to make them more appealing. They are some of the most important areas of the home.

Source: Advice from Professional Home Stager, Kerry Collins



When you’re shopping for a new home, you want to find a property that has all the features and characteristics you want. A large deck surrounded by picturesque landscaping ... a beautiful kitchen with gleaming marble countertops... a cozy finished basement with fireplace....


You should look for the ideal home. You deserve it! But some home buyers make the mistake of becoming fixated on finding the "perfect" property, and passing too quickly on those homes that don't quite measure up.


Why is that a mistake? Because some of those less-than-perfect properties have the potential of becoming your next dream home.


First of all, a home that is lacking some desirable features, such as a finished basement, will probably cost less. Those savings may be more than enough to cover any needed upgrade or renovation.


Secondly, if you look at a home in terms of its potential, rather than the features it happens to have now, there will be more properties available on the market for you to consider.


If you're determined to have a large wrap-around deck for entertaining, for example, don't cross homes that don't have this feature off your list. At least not yet. Instead, view these properties with an eye on potential. Is the backyard big enough to accommodate a large deck? How would a deck like that look if added to this particular property? How much would such a renovation cost?


There's no doubt about it. You want to find a home that has all the features and characteristics you want. If you work with a good REALTOR®, there is a good chance you'll find a property that has most of them.


But keep an open mind. Sometimes a "diamond in the rough" can – with an upgrade or renovation – become a home you'll treasure for years.


January home sales remain quiet

Home buyer demand remains below historical averages in the Greater Vancouver housing market. This has led some home sellers to remove their homes from the market in recent months.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,351 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2013. This represents a 14.3 per cent decrease compared to the 1,577 sales recorded in January 2012, and an 18.3 per cent increase compared to the 1,142 sales in December 2012.

Last month’s sales were the second lowest January total in the region since 2001 and 18.7 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.

“Home sale activity has been below historical averages in Greater Vancouver for about seven months. This has caused a gradual decline in home prices of about 6 per cent since reaching a peak last spring,” Klein said.

Since reaching a peak in May of $625,100, the MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver has declined 5.9 per cent to $588,100. This represents a 2.8 per cent decline compared to this time last year.

“It appears many home sellers are opting to remove their homes from the market rather than settle for a price they don’t want,” Eugen Klein, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,128 in January. This represents a 10.9 per cent decline compared to the 5,756 new listings reported in January 2012. Last month’s new listing count was 18.9 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® is 13,246, a 5.6 per cent increase compared to January 2012 and a 4.5 per cent decline compared to December 2012. This is the fourth consecutive month that overall home listings have declined in the region.

“When a home seller isn’t receiving the kind of offers they want, there comes a point when they decide to either lower the price or remove the home from the market. Right now, it seems many home sellers are opting for the latter,” Klein said.

With the sales-to-active-listings ratio at 10.2 per cent, the region remains in buyers’ market territory. Since June, this ratio has ranged between 8 and 11 per cent.

Sales of detached properties in January 2013 reached 542, a decrease of 17.8 per cent from the 659 detached sales recorded in January 2012, and a 31.7 per cent decrease from the 793 units sold in January 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties decreased 3.1 per cent from January 2012 to $901,000. Since reaching a peak in May 2012, the benchmark price of a detached property has declined 6.9 per cent.

Sales of apartment properties reached 576 in January 2013, a decline of 12.3 per cent compared to the 657 sales in January 2012, and a decrease of 19.2 per cent compared to the 713 sales in January 2011. The benchmark price of an apartment property decreased 2.9 per cent from January 2012 to $358,400. Since reaching a peak in May 2012, the benchmark price of an apartment property has declined 5.6 per cent.

Attached property sales in January 2013 totalled 233, a decline of 10.7 per cent compared to the 261 sales in January 2012, and a 25.6 per cent decrease from the 313 attached properties sold in January 2011. The benchmark price of an attached unit decreased 1.7 per cent between January 2012 and 2013 to $449,900. Since reaching a peak in April 2012, the benchmark price of an attached property has declined 7.7 per cent.

Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.