Jun 172015

Though the housing market has been in recovery, it’s still a tough time to try to sell a house. If you are considering putting your house on the market or you are in the midst of it, it pays to know a few things about what it takes to successfully sell and move out of your house. To really make your house competitive on the market, make sure you are doing all of the following things.

A Realistic Picture

When you bought your house, you may have done so under the pretense that its value would increase and that you would end up making money on the sale of your house. However, as many people experienced during the housing bubble, you can’t rely on early predictions as a definite measure of the future value of your house. You may not end up getting as much for your house as you might have at one point hoped, but that doesn’t mean you should be prepared to take a low offer. Before putting your house on the market, talk with at least three real estate agents about the value of your house to make sure you are getting a fair and realistic evaluation.

Finding the Right Realtor

In order to sell your house, you will of course need someone who is going to do a good job representing and selling your house. Consider using an accredited and professional real estate agency. Here are a few guidelines on making sure you pick the right realtor:

  • Talk to several before you settle. Get a good feel for their histories and qualifications. You will probably want to choose a realtor who gives you a middle-ground number on your home, not too high or low.
  • Read up on their qualifications. Recognize that, just like doctors, realtors have specialties. For example, some are accredited to work with seniors in particular. You should also look into their history of sales and see how long they’ve been doing business. See what other listings they currently have on the market and see if those are similar to your own. Pay attention to any awards they have received from their company for most sales or best service.
  • Talk to other sellers currently working with that realtor to see if they recommend them or can give any other insight.
  • Do not work with a friend or relative. You want an objective experience when trying to get an expectation on the value of your home. You should also avoid anyone who has not been in business long, is a part-time realtor, or who has never sold homes in your area.

Making Your House Attractive

Once you’ve started to work with a realtor on selling your home, it’s time to start thinking about making your house attractive. You may want to hire a professional to take photos and video or ask the realtor to help you. Make sure your home is clean and organized. If you are anticipating moving soon, regardless of the sale of your home, you may want to start moving clutter out of your house. This will make it easier for prospective buyers to start to imagine your space as their future home.

Make sure you also attend to any inspections and repairs right away. Have the results of these inspections available on hand should prospective buyers want to see them, and keep a record of recent repairs performed.

Your realtor will probably help you organize an open house, but you can help expedite the process by keeping your home clean and organized and making your areas especially presentable. Set up a table by the front door with a sign-in book for prospective buyers and a book of photos or a video. Make their experience as pleasant and welcoming as possible.

And don’t forget to market your home! Place a sign on your lawn, separate from the one your realtor may put up, to advertise that your home is for sale. And while your realtor will likely take care of most of the online and print marketing, it does not hurt to advertise among friends and coworkers who may know people looking to move.

Preparing to Move

It’s the last step of the house selling process! Actually completing the move! While the process of moving could easily take up its own article, here are a few brief things to keep in mind about moving. Make sure you work out a schedule in advance with the realtor and buyer to make sure you aren’t without a place to stay for a period of time. Make sure to settle quickly and efficiently to avoid losing a sale. But don’t forget to take your time to do what you need to do in your home! Take photos or videos to help you remember your home. Leave a little house warming present for your buyers. Hire professional cleaners to clean up when you’re done moving out. Make sure you have all your paperwork organized for tax season. And finally, enjoy your new home!

 Posted by at 7:40 am
May 132015

Not in my Backyard 

I recently read an article about a lower mainland couple who doesn’t like how a neighbouring $2 million house sits empty all the time. The yard is unkempt, there are no cars in the driveway and the lack of human presence is “driving [the couple] slightly bananas.”

Sacré bleu! You mean to tell me that there are people who buy property only for investment purposes? How dare they offer above market price to purchase a house here, so that Canadians can unlock the full value of their real estate. What can we do with cash anyway? Buy a diversified portfolio of liquid assets like stocks and bonds to provide passive income for retirement? No thanks. I’d much rather put all my nest eggs into a single illiquid asset that produces no income, and lies on a major fault zone. 😛 Those pesky foreign investors who don’t even live here think they can just not contribute any waste to our sewage system, and not use the city’s garbage services, but somehow think they still have the right to pay the full brunt of utility tax and property tax. Some nerve! How dare those foreigners help fund our police, fire, and public education system when they don’t even have kids here to overcrowd our classrooms. It’s also unfortunate how quiet their house is all the time. Who would want to live beside quiet neighbours anyway? Not me. :roll:

Sarcasm aside, foreign ownership of real estate is a hot button issue around here. Should non-residents or non-citizens be allowed to purchase Canadian residential property?

There’s actually a petition to restrict foreign investment in Canada’s most expensive real estate market, which I’ve signed and shared on social media. To be frank I don’t believe this petition will bring about any meaningful change, but I think it’s an important discussion for fellow Vancouverites to have. :)


click on image to sign the petition

There will also be a rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 24th, to focus on the problem of affordable housing for young people in a city where the average house costs more than $1 million. Feel free to attend and take a stand if you believe in the cause. :)

Foreign Real Estate Ownership

Some believe foreign ownership drives up the cost of housing which makes it less affordable to live in the city. But I think that’s largely a myth. The amount of foreign owned property is just a fraction of the overall market. Foreign investment laws haven’t changed much in Canada over the last decade. However mortgage interest rates have been cut in half over the same period. Raise the interest rate and watch as prices correct overnight.

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Mar 282015

According to a Financial Post report the average price of detached homes in Toronto passed the $1 million mark for the first time last month. :) The GTA has experienced a housing bull market for almost 2 decades and there is no sign of it stopping.

I want to congratulate Torontonians for reaching the $1 million milestone. Welcome to the club. :) Meanwhile the average detached home in Vancouver now stands at about $1.4 million. But hey, it’s not a competition. 😉 And extreme cases like the Point Grey mansion that was sold a few months ago for nearly $52 million will skew the average results. Can you imagine the commission real estate agents make around here?

We often hear complaints about how unaffordable housing is in Canada. But there are two sides to each coin. My friend’s parents bought a home for $70,000 over 40 years ago. They have since paid off their mortgage, and their home is now worth over $1 million. 😀 They plan to sell their house soon in order to downsize and will become liquid millionaires. That sounds great to me. The majority of Americans and Canadians are home owners. So financially speaking rising home prices should benefit most of us. :)

Recently a Vancouver house sold for $567,000 over the asking price. It was listed for $1,600,000, but sold at $2,167,000. People are even making jokes about how insane the housing market is. Below is a short video I found of a Vancouver real estate agent talking about his inexperienced clients. It captures the ridiculous nature of the current market around here. 😆

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Feb 092015

Canadians are notoriously overweight. 😛 Financially overweight in real estate that is. 😉 When it comes to buying houses we are even more gluttonous than our American pals. The Canadian median household net worth may be one of the highest in the world, but strip away the equities in our homes and many of us would feel financially emasculated. 😐

Foreign ownership, low interest rates, and a growing population in major cities all contribute to our strong real estate market, which many say is in a bubble. But whether properties in Canada are overvalued by 10% or 30% it really doesn’t matter for investors who keep the following points in mind.

  1. Diversification –  Invest in more than one type of asset class
  2. Time – If we have a long term outlook then our risk of losing money is greatly reduced, especially if we combine this knowledge with diversification.

If we’re properly diversified and hold our investment long enough then we’re bound to make money in stocks, real estate, bonds, or any other market. Over 70% of Canadians are real estate investors. Fortunately most of these investors understand the benefits of a long term investment and forced savings. But it’s the first factor, diversification, that many seem to struggle with.

Having one’s net worth tied up in multiple condo units is not the best way to allocate assets. There are other types of properties out there like office space, restaurants, parking lots, etc. that are all available for anyone to purchase and rent out. With the recent lowering of interest rates and the falling Canadian loonie I’ve decided to take another look at real estate. Since I already have a residential property and farmland, I think it would a good idea for me to diversify my real estate portfolio and buy some commercial properties. :)


Here is what I’m looking for in an investment property:

Type: Industrial – usage would include manufacturing, warehouse, garage, etc
Location: Greater Vancouver Area – includes Burnaby, New West, Richmond, Surrey, and the Tri-Cities
Price range: $250,000 to $500,000
Zoning: I, M, C – Each municipality will have its own naming convention. For example M-1 in Vancouver is a flexible designation for a range of business types like animal clinic, catering, laundry/cleaning, work shop, cold storage plant, etc. And C-2 can be used as a barber shop or beauty salon. These zoning bylaws can be found on the local government’s city website.
Capitalization rate: 4% to 5% – Similar to the ROI (return on investment.) This kind of return would be comparable to a high-yield bond fund, but with less risk. :)

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Jan 052015
The Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz stated last month that this country’s housing market could be overvalued by as much as 30%. This may very well be true, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about. 😉 In fact I would be really surprised if our real estate market was not overpriced given what’s going on in the rest of the economy. Toronto’s real estate has increased almost every single year for the last 19 years, except in 2009.
A large part for the seemingly illogical run-up in real estate prices in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, and parts of Asia over the last 2 decades, can be rationally explained by TINA, which is an acronym for There is No Alternative, a term first made popular by Margaret Thatcher. It’s the same reason North American stock markets reached all time highs at the end of 2014. :) The Canadian Stock market is currently overpriced by more than 20% according to historical averages. The S&P 500 stock market index in the United States currently has a P/E ratio of 20. That’s 25% more overvalued than the historical average P/E ratio of around 16.

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