Posted on December 7, 2021
This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbors, and community. It truly “takes a village” to keep a community functioning effectively.
With the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home. You might want to focus your efforts near home, expand to our larger community, or even help support the people closest to you. Whether you’re passionate about a particular cause or just want to get more involved in general, let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good.
GIVE BACK NEAR HOME
1. Attract local wildlife. By making your neighborhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination.1
- Add a birdbath to your backyard or create a rain garden to attract wildlife (and filter out local pollutants).
- Place bird feeders on your property to feed birds all year long.
- Tie corncobs to tree branches to feed squirrels.
- Hang birdhouses on your property to provide shelter.
- Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters.
Take action: While you might not be able to “break ground” until spring, start researching native plants now to design a landscaping plan that provides food, shelter, and water for local wildlife.
2. Clean up our community. Besides beautifying the area, picking up trash keeps it out of our local waterways, which means a cleaner water supply for all of us.
- Whether you make this a solo effort or join in an organized group event, pick up trash in your neighborhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community.
- Depending on your community’s regulations, you can recycle many home items such as paper, glass, and aluminum.
- And don’t forget to clean the exterior of your home, where water runoff (such as on your driveway and sidewalks) can carry debris into the local sewer system.2
Take action: Check with your local municipality to learn about environmental clean-up efforts in our community, as well as recycling and composting.
HELP OUT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
4. Boost your civic engagement. Regardless of your politics, you can get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community.
- Sign a petition to make a needed change in our community.
- Attend local school board meetings, town halls, or city council meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.4
- Watch (and read) a variety of local news sources to get balanced reporting on what’s happening in our community.
- If you don’t know your neighbors very well, introduce yourself.
- Then make a commitment to check in on those who might need help, such as an elderly neighbor.
- Get plugged into the resources and events in our town by visiting local museums, taking historical tours, borrowing materials from our local library, and attending community festivals.
Take action: Do you know who our local leaders are, such as our mayor or city councilwoman? Get to know their names, their policies, and their stand on issues that affect our community. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media.
5. Support local businesses. Our community has been impacted by the pandemic. Help keep money in our local economy by shopping local instead of relying on online shopping from national chains.
- From handcrafted soaps and one-of-a-kind apparel to locally produced chocolate and small-batch wines, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts at the small businesses that dot our community.
- Consider purchasing tickets to attend holiday concerts and shows.
- Buy cookies and other baked goods from our local bakery.
- Get takeout from our local restaurants.
- Support local farmers.
Take action: Many of these businesses, though small, offer online shopping, with options for in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, and/or mail options.
6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission in our community. But if money is tight (or you want to support in other ways), think beyond just donating dollars.
- Consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name as an altruistic gift on behalf of a friend or relative.
- Give blood to our local blood bank.
- Send school supplies to our neighborhood elementary school.
- Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families.
Take action: Many collection efforts run by charitable organizations and businesses take place during the holidays. Look to see what’s already taking place in our community and choose one or more to give to this season.
CARE FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS
7. Organize a holiday food drive.
- If you personally know someone who needs help buying groceries, reach out and offer to help that one family.
- If not, partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit or community organization that feeds people in need.
- Round up a few friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to collect food for a few weeks. Then deliver the bounty in time for the holidays.
Take action: Take advantage of your grocery store coupons and buy-one-get-one offers to inexpensively stock up on nonperishable goods.
8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a struggle, especially financially, for some families. They might not be able to buy a Christmas tree or presents for their children. Maybe their holiday meal consists of boxed macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford a turkey and fresh vegetables. You can make a difference by “adopting” a particular family (or even just a child) to help make their holiday special.
- If you know a needy family, help them directly.
- If not, ask a community group for the name of a family or individual in need.
- Some businesses even sponsor toy drives or “angel trees” where you can pick the name of a needy family off the tree and buy from their wish lists.
Take action: This works great as a family project. Get the kids in your life involved to help make holiday cards and pick out toys to give to the children in the adopted family.
9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or ongoing project. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in your community as you make a positive impact together for a shared cause.
- Give your time to a cause or organization that really matters to you, such as your local school, animal rescue organization, mental health awareness group, or environmental nonprofit.
- Tap into a skill you already have, like creating videos, and offer your services.
- Or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.
Take action: Start with your local community to see where its needs are the greatest. Make a point to help this holiday season, perhaps extending your commitment throughout 2022.
10. Perform random acts of kindness. Don’t think you need to “go big or go home” in your give-back efforts. You can make a big difference one small act at a time.
- Give a generous tip to a waitress.
- Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the drive-through.
- Take care of a neighbor’s pet while they’re out of town.
- Deliver a plate of homemade holiday cookies to our local fire or police station.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Rake leaves for an elderly neighbor.
- Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year.
- Send an uplifting text to a friend.
- Compliment someone.
- Help a coworker with an unpleasant task.
Take action: Need more ideas? Visit randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of inspiring ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU?
As real estate experts in our local community, we’re tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to us today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And we want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, let us help you!
- Redfin –
- The Groundwater Foundation –
- The Globe and Mail –
- Parade –
- MentalFloss –
- Together We Rise –
Updated on November 11, 2021
Vancouver, BC – November 10, 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total 9,593 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in October 2021, a decrease of 13.7 per cent from October 2020. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $964,777, an 18.9 per cent increase from $811,307 recorded in October 2020. Total sales dollar volume was $9.3 billion, a 2.6 per cent decline from the same time last year.
“The story across the province continues to be the record low number of listings,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Rising mortgage rates should start to temper sales activity next year, but even with a moderation in demand it will take quite some time for the inventory of homes to return to a healthy level.”
Total active residential listings were down nearly 40 per cent year-over-year in October, falling to an all-time record low for the province. Active listings have now fallen for five consecutive months on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume is up 69.7 per cent to $99.6 billion compared to the same period in 2020. Residential unit sales were up 42.8 per cent to 108,798 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 18.8 per cent to $915,833.
Posted on October 5, 2021
• 3622 sqft , 5 bath , 5 bdrm character, cottage/cabin, west coast “Single Family Detached, Residential, Rural” – FOR SALE CAD1,600,000 .
in British Columbia, Errington
UNIQUE ACREAGE backing Englishman River w/2 homes, garage/workshop plus shop/retail/work space. This is an amazing opportunity to have 5 acres w/a character main home, extended family/rental home, home based business and/or lots of garage/workshop space, tranquil gardens, & nature at your doorstep all in 1 package! It’s an over-used phrase, but “too much to list” so ask your agent for the extensive info package. Main home with 3 beds, 3 baths, office, rec room, extensive storage and gorgeous style. 2017 built detached secondary suite w/2 beds, 1 bath, wrap-around veranda, kitchenette for guests, family or rental. Detached garage/workshop of 1400+ sqft with it’s own 2 piece bath perfect for car enthusiasts or home-based business (current business also available for sale). Trails throughout the property lead to the crown land trails down to the river. Plus your own yoga platform/relaxation deck overlooking the river/ravine. Come enjoy Island life! Business also available under MLS 886668
Posted on October 5, 2021
A break and enter occurs every 90 seconds in Canada.1 Fortunately, there are some proven tactics you can use to decrease your likelihood of a home invasion.
Most burglars won’t go to extreme lengths to enter your home. They are looking for easy access with minimal risk. A monitored security system can be an effective deterrent—homes without one are 300% more likely to be burglarized—but it isn’t the only way to protect your property.2 The strategies below can help to maximize your home’s security and minimize your chances of being targeted by intruders.
Thinking about listing your home? We have some additional recommendations for you. Contact us to find out the procedures we use to keep our clients and their property safe and secure during the buying and selling process.
- Check Your Doors and Windows
According to insurance company SGI Canada, the most common entry point for a burglar is through a basement or ground floor door or window.1 So securing these points of entry is essential.
- Evaluate the condition of your doors and locks.
A steel door is generally considered the strongest, but many homeowners prefer the look of wood. Whatever material you choose, make sure it has a solid core and pair it with a sturdy deadbolt lock that is a minimum of 2.5 cm long when thrown.3
- Add window locks and security film.
Aftermarket window locks are an easy and inexpensive upgrade that can provide an additional layer of protection for your home. Choose a lock that is compatible with your window frame material and a style that is appropriate for the window type. And consider using a specialty film on windows that are adjacent to a door. Security film holds shattered glass in place, making the windows more difficult to penetrate.4
- Landscape for Security
When it comes to outdoor landscaping, many of us think about maintenance and curb appeal. But the choices we make can impact our home’s security, as well. Thieves target homes that they can enter and exit without being detected. Here are a few tweaks that can make your property less appealing to potential intruders.
- Increase visibility from the street.
A privacy hedge may keep out nosy neighbours, but it can also welcome thieves—so trim overgrown trees and shrubs that obstruct the view of your property. According to police officers, they offer an ideal environment for criminals to hide.5
- Place thorny bushes and noisy gravel below windows.
Don’t eliminate shrubbery altogether, though. Certain hedges can actually offer a deterrent to robbers. Plant thorny rose bushes or sharp-leaved holly beneath your first-story windows for both beauty and protection. Add some loose gravel that crunches when disturbed.
- Light Your Exterior
When it’s dark outside, criminals don’t need to rely on overgrown shrubbery to hide. Luckily, a well-designed outdoor lighting system can make your home both safer and more attractive.
- Install landscape lighting.
Eliminate pockets of darkness around your yard and home’s perimeter with strategically placed outdoor lights. Use a combination of flood, spot, well, and pathway lights to add interest and highlight natural and architectural details.
- Use motion-activated security lights to startle intruders.
The soft glow of landscape lighting isn’t always enough to dissuade a determined intruder. But a motion-activated security light may stop him in his tracks.And if you choose a Wi-Fi connected smart version, you can receive notifications on your phone when there’s movement on your property.
- Make It Look Like You’re Home
Motion-activated lights aren’t the only way to make an intruder think you’re at home. New technology has made it increasingly possible to monitor your home while you’re away. This is especially important since most burglaries take place between 10 am and 3 pm, when many of us are at work or school.6
- Turn on your TV and leave a car in the driveway.
A survey of convicted burglars revealed that the majority avoid breaking into homes if they can hear a television or if there’s a vehicle parked in the driveway.7 If you’re away from home, try connecting your TV to a timer or smart plug. And when you travel, leave your car out or ask a neighbour to park theirs in your driveway.
- Install a video doorbell.
In that same survey, every respondent said they would knock or ring the doorbell before breaking into a home. A video doorbell not only alerts you to the presence of a visitor, it also enables you to see, hear, and talk with them remotely from your smartphone—so they’ll never know you’re gone.
- Keep Valuables Out of Sight
Few home invasions are conducted by criminal masterminds. In fact, a survey of convicted offenders found that only 12% planned their robberies in advance, while the majority acted spontaneously.8 That’s one of the reasons security experts caution against placing valuables where they are visible from the outside.9
- Check sightlines from your doors and windows.
Don’t tempt robbers with a clear view of the most commonly stolen items, which are cash (think purses and wallets), jewelry, electronics, firearms, and drugs (both illegal and prescription).5 Take a walk around your property to make sure none of these items are easily visible.
- Secure valuables in a safe.
Consider the possessions that are on display inside your home, as well. It’s always a good idea to lock up firearms, sensitive documents, and expensive or irreplaceable items when you have housekeepers or other service providers on your property.
- Highlight Your Security Measures
While it’s prudent to hide your valuables, it’s equally important to advertise your home’s security features. In surveys, convicted burglars admit to avoiding homes with obvious protective measures in place.7,8
- Install outdoor cameras.
Security cameras are the most common home protection device and for good reason.10 Not only do they help prevent crime (burglars are known to avoid them11), they can offer peace of mind for homeowners who want to sneak a peek at their property while away. And if you do experience a break and enter, security camera footage can help police identify your intruder.
- Post warning signs.
Security system placards and beware-of-dog signs are also shown to be effective deterrents.8 Of course, you should back up your threats with a noisy alarm and loud barking dog for maximum impact.
- Limit What You Share on Social Media
Social media platforms can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it’s easy to reveal more than you’ve intended. Be thoughtful about what you’re posting—and who has access.
- Delay posting photos or travel updates.
It can be tempting to upload a concert selfie or pictures from your beach vacation. But these types of photos scream: “My house is unoccupied!” Try to wait until you’ve returned home to share the photos on social media.
- Set privacy restrictions on your accounts.
Think twice about connecting with strangers or casual acquaintances on social media. If you enjoy sharing family updates and personal photos, it’s safer to limit your followers to those you truly know and trust.
YOUR HOME IS SAFE WITH US
We take home security seriously. That’s why we have screening procedures in place to keep our clients and their homes safe when they are for sale. We also remind our buyers to change the locks before they move into their new homes and provide referrals to locksmiths and home security companies that can help. To learn more about our procedures and how you can stay safe during the buying and selling process, contact us to schedule a free consultation!
- SGI Canada –
- Bankrate –
- Square One –
- SafeWise –
- Toronto Police Department –
- Canadian Security Professionals –
- KGW News –
- Science Daily –
- Security.org –
- SafeWise –
- The Guardian –
Posted on July 16, 2021
The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank reiterated what it calls “extraordinary forward guidance” in committing to leaving the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation sustainably returns to its 2 per cent target. The Bank projects that will not occur until the second half of 2022. The Bank announced that it is adjusting its quantitative easing (QE) program down to purchasing $2 billion per week Government of Canada bonds per week. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that it expects a strong pick-up in economic growth over the second half of the year as vaccinations progress and restrictions are lifted. The Bank expects growth of close to 6 per cent this year, followed by 4.5 per cent growth in 2022.
As we hopefully approach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of inflation has arisen as the most hotly debated topic among economists and analysts. Specifically, whether current elevated inflation of around 3.5 per cent is a sign of accelerating prices or merely the transitory effect of supply constraints brought on by the pandemic. The Bank of Canada is firmly on the side of believing higher than normal inflation is a temporary phenomenon. In today’s announcement, the Bank noted that base-year effects, meaning we are comparing prices in a recovered economy now to one in which prices were falling amidst a severe recession one year ago, rising gasoline prices and pandemic related bottlenecks in supply chains account for most of the increase in inflation. The Bank expects inflation to remain above 3 per cent through the remainder of this year before easing back toward its 2 per cent target in 2022. Given that outlook, and uncertainty surrounding timing of when the economy may be fully back to normal, the Bank seems to be on a path to raising its policy rate between the end of 2022 and early 2023.
Updated on July 13, 2021
If you’re searching for drama, don’t limit yourself to Netflix. Instead, tune in to the real estate market, where the competition among buyers has never been fiercer. And with homes selling for record highs,1 the appraisal process—historically a standard part of a home purchase—is receiving more attention than ever.
That’s because some sellers are finding out the hard way that a strong offer can fizzle quickly when an appraisal comes in below the sales price. Thus, many sellers favour buyers who can guarantee their full offer price—even if the property appraises for less. For the buyer, that could mean a large down payment or extra cash on hand to cover the gap.
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, it’s never been more important to understand the appraisal process and how it can be impacted by a quickly appreciating and highly competitive housing market. It’s also crucial to work with a skilled real estate agent who can guide you to a successful closing without overpaying (if you’re a buyer) or overcompensating (if you’re a seller). Find out how appraisals work—and in some cases, don’t work—in today’s unique real estate environment.
An appraisal is an objective assessment of a property’s market value performed by an independent licensed appraiser. Mortgage lenders use appraisals to lower their risk of loss in the event a buyer stops paying their loan. It provides assurance that the home’s value meets or exceeds the amount being lent for its purchase.
In certain circumstances, an appraisal can be avoided. For example, when a buyer purchases mortgage insurance because they have a down payment of less than 20%. In that instance, the mortgage insurance would cover the lender’s loss in a case of default. Or, if a buyer makes a large down payment, a lender may waive their right of appraisal.2
Additionally, sometimes a lender will use an automated valuation model (AVM) to estimate a property’s value. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, “AVMs are computer programs that provide real estate market analysis and estimates of value.” If the sales price falls comfortably within the AVM’s range of value, a lender may skip the formal appraisal.3
However, in the event a formal appraisal is required, it will need to be conducted by a licensed and authorized appraiser. In most cases, the appraiser will analyze the property’s condition and review the value of comparable properties that have recently sold. Using this information, they will determine the home’s current market value.Mortgage borrowers are usually expected to pay the cost of an appraisal.2
APPRAISALS IN A RAPIDLY SHIFTING MARKET
Problems can arise when the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price. And while low appraisals are not common, they are more likely to happen in a rapidly appreciating market, like the one we’re experiencing now.4 That’s because appraisers use comparable sales (commonly referred to as comps) to determine a property’s value. These could include homes that went under contract weeks or even months ago. With home prices rising so quickly, today’s comps may be lagging behind the market’s current reality. Thus, the appraiser may be basing their assessment on stale data, resulting in a low valuation.5
According to Kevin Lonsdale, Executive Director of the Canadian National Association of Real Estate Appraisers, the best valuations should be based on “data, not emotion. This emotional process where people are outbidding each other creates a disconnect and that then becomes a comparable six months down the road. It’s very difficult to value properties based on what the market wants to pay for them.”6
HOW ARE BUYERS AND SELLERS IMPACTED BY A LOW APPRAISAL?
In a balanced market, a financing condition is a standard inclusion in a home purchase offer. It enables the buyer to make the closing of the transaction dependent on their ability to secure a mortgage. And in many cases, the loan is contingent on a satisfactory appraisal, wherein the value of the property is at or near the purchase price.
But in today’s market, sellers often hold the upper hand because the current demand for homes exceeds the available supply. That’s why many buyers are choosing to exclude the financing condition altogether, as a way to sweeten their offer in a competitive bidding process.5
However, this approach can leave a buyer vulnerable if the appraisal comes back lower than expected. Without a financing condition, the buyer will be obligated to come up with enough cash to bridge the gap between the contract price and the appraised value—or be forced to walk away from the transaction and potentially lose their deposit.
It may seem, then, that a buyer carries the sole risk of a low appraisal. However, the sellers will have wasted time and money with little to show for it. And they run the risk that the market may have cooled or interest in their home may have waned by the time they relist.
Sellers should keep this in mind when evaluating offers. The offer price should never be the sole consideration. We weigh a range of factors when advising our clients, including a buyer’s conditions, mortgage qualifications, financial resources, and deposit size, among others.
According to Lonsdale, overheated blind bidding in Canadian real estate means that there is additional pressure on everyone involved in the transaction. With a tight timeline, there’s not always enough time for proper due diligence, putting stress on the transaction and on the buyer and seller involved.6
MITIGATE YOUR RISK WITH THE BEST REPRESENTATION
There’s never been a market quite like this one before. That’s why you need a master negotiator on your side who has the skills, instincts, and experience to get the deal done…no matter what surprises may pop up along the way. If you’re a buyer, we can help you compete in this unprecedented market—without getting steamrolled. And if you’re a seller, we know how to get top dollar for your home while minimizing hassle and stress. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
- Financial Post –
- Mortgages.ca –
- Appraisal Institute of Canada –
- Teranet–National Bank House Price Index™ –
- The Globe and Mail –
- Personal Interview: Kevin Lonsdale, Executive Director, Canadian National Association of Real Estate Appraisers. 4 Jun 2021