Permits – What Homeowners Need to Know

Permits – the nessecary evil! BEWARE of the gas fitter, the contractor, electrician etc. doing professional work on upgrades and renos in your home who tells you that permits are unnecessary, as they are professional licensed tradespeople. Also BEWARE of the tradespeople who charge you for permits you never see and turn out to be not registered either at City Hall or BC Safety Authority.

Whenever you have any work done, check with City Hall if permits are required. They are always required for installation of a new furnace, gas fireplace & electrical work. You must have a copy -proof that the final inspection is completed and permit in place, not simply applied for. Aside from the obvious safety and insurance issues, you will be required to prove you have permits when you come to sell your home. The confidence that comes with the proof that all work has been completed properly affects your bottom line as a seller and lack of permits etc. can discourage a buyer from even making an offer.

Even worse, is the scenario where a seller without permits has to have the City inspect the work, then have the seller redo it to code. This has happened too many times – like taking every nail out of a huge deck! Be prepared to deal only with the professional contractor who is on top of this and then ensure that you have copies.

If you have questions, check with your municipality. And.. please feel free to check in with us. We are happy to answer those queries about which upgrades add to value and which do not.

As always, we have you covered. Sheila and Michelle.

TGIF – BC’s property assessments have hit our mailboxes, the 2016 market statistics are out – here’s what you need to know!

Well we know we’re well and truly into 2017 when the BC assessments hit our mailboxes! And…our phone is already ringing with protestations! Remember, these assessments were calculated last July following a run of escalating prices caused by low supply and high buyer demand. At that point there was no expectation of winding up the same year with slumping home sale prices. Just to put things in perspective, 2016 was still the 3rd best year on record behind 2015 and 2005. Our home values are still substantially higher than the year before. And…most importantly, unless an Assessment Authority appraiser personally toured your home, the assessment is likely NOT the accurate market value of your home.

In analyzing the December sales statistics, we realize that the December drop in sale prices was driven by single family detached sales which halved from the same period last year. This market had already cooled by the time the Provincial Government implemented the additional 15% property transfer tax for non resident buyers.
Condominiums represent the strongest market – in many spots, still a seller’s market. However, again Government interventions, both federal and provincial are changing buying capabilities for first time buyers. The interest free loan could prove hazardous in the long run, depending on interest rates and prices holding…or not. As our Vancouver Real Estate Board president, Dan Morrison, recently commented:- “The long term effects of Government actions won’t be fully understood for some time”.
The real estate market is always especially good for certain sectors. At this time, it is the moment for move up buyers, specially coming from a strata situation. The differential is so much more favorable now than last Spring.

If you are trying to figure out next real estate steps, please consider us your resource. Happy to discuss preparation & strategies with you, whether your move is next week, next month or next year. Our privilege is to still keep you covered for another interesting year. Make it a good one!

TGIF – Happy New Year from the Francis and Hawthorne Team!

“The more you praise and celebrate your life the more there is in life to celebrate.” Words of wisdom from Oprah Winfrey.

So easy at this time of year to focus on what went wrong in 2016 – let’s build on what went right! Time for moving forward with a clean slate and a practical plan for the New Year – another opportunity to “get it right this year” – also an Oprah quote. Our goals in every aspect of our lives should not be so lofty that we give up by February, nor such hard work that we burn out by March! They should reflect our best intentions with measured steps for achieving them – like eating an elephant one bite at time! Most of us need to share these with a special someone so that we can be accountable and keep up the good work.

Terry always says that one of the greatest attributes we can have is adaptability – very necessary when the road to our goal takes that unexpected turn. We think our best saving grace is humor – laughing is the best therapy!

So…onward and upward to a happy, healthy, successful, fulfilling 2017 – Canada’s 150th birthday.

Our team has been hard at work making plans, rebranding and creating a new look for 2017. We intend to keep you covered for another interesting year in real estate. It is always a privilege to be part of your plans, so call us with all those real estate market questions. Happy to meet with you any time.

With very best wishes from our team to you all for a Happy New Year – Sheila and Michelle.

Happy Holidays from the Francis and Hawthorne team!

Merry Christmas to all our friends, colleagues and clients. We wish you the joy this season brings along with the warmth of family gatherings and the hope that comes with a New Year. With best wishes from everyone on our team, Sheila, Michelle, Terry, Shane and Leah.

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Christmas Bells”

Home for the Holidays in the Tri-Cities

First time buyers received an early Christmas gift yesterday with the Christy Clark announcement that the provincial government will match a downpayment up to $37,500 by way of an interest-free 5 year loan. This will be welcome news to many buyers and to all those brand new condo buildings we have all over the place. The only sting in the tale, is that buyers have to qualify as though that loan were not in place. Hopefully, this will stimulate the market at entry level, which will then have the ripple effect upwards.

We are getting used to seeing the SkyTrain fly by, and now the TriCities bus routes have to change to accommodate. The changes begin this Monday, December 19 and include some new service routes, some discontinued service, shortened routes and expanded service. The Community shuttle buses are also undergoing change with higher capacity buses during peak times and smaller community shuttles when less service is required. Visit or tripplanner to map out your bus route and know what is happening and when before you leave home.

We are looking so festive with all the beautiful trees, lights and nature’s decoration – snow! An absolute must-see is Lafarge Lake – Coquitlam has done a fabulous job on the lights round the lake – they rival Van Dusen Gardens! And, I am happy to report, are still attracting lots of visitors in spite of the cold.

Only 8 more shopping days until Christmas! There is a bonus for those last minute people – an unbelievable number of sales with slashed prices.

Enjoy the fun and fellowship of the season. Through it all – we still have you covered. Sheila and Michelle

TGIF – Big Day for the Tri-CIties with the Evergreen Extension Grand Opening, Rising Interest Rates, and More!

Today is the BIG DAY and we are soooo excited – finally the TriCities is connected! Yes, the Evergreen Line, our own SkyTrain service, opens today with all the hoopla happening at Coquitlam Central Station. First train leaves at noon and entertainment, information and food happening most of the day, both at this station, Moody Centre & Burquitlam, plus other stations and spots around the TriCities. TransLink has the information on their website. A giant stride towards getting more cars off the road and commuting without stress! Even our stations look good!

Interest rates definitely on the rise – TD announced this week new rules and higher interest rate for investors purchasing rentals and higher rates for anyone taking a mortgage with an amortization more than 25 years. All this, while announcing how many billions in profit they have made this year! Big Brother can stop looking after us now – government and big bank interventions not helping!

Enjoy all the fun that December brings – our cities and businesses all looking magical with lights and trees. Lafarge Lake is amazing! ‘Tis the season. And, as in any season, we still have you covered.

Sheila and Michelle.

TGIF! Interest rates are on the rise – what does this mean for you? We’ve got you covered.

Well – now we know…interest rates are on the rise. Baby steps right now, but nevertheless this will be the latest game changer, and probably the thin end of the wedge.This will be the difference for the “wait & see” buyers sitting on the fence – an increase in mortgage rates makes a much greater impact on the cost of a home than relatively minor price adjustments. If you are a buyer or know someone who is, this is the moment to get a rate hold – have your interest rate capped for the longest available time – then get out there for serious house hunting! If ever there was a time to take advantage of the services of a good, experienced mortgage broker, it is now. Know what your options are and which is the best plan for you.

As our weather becomes colder, please remember those who are in need of some warm clothes. Our Vancouver Real Estate Board annual blanket drive is starting next week. Please bring any blankets, socks, hats, gloves, warm jackets etc to our office and we’ll deliver. If you need us to pick up from you, please call to arrange.

Remember to Like us on our Facebook page, and leave us your comments!

Whatever the weather, we still have you covered.

Enjoy the season – Sheila and Michelle.

George Derby Care Society’s “Plant a Flag Day” – honouring the service and sacrifice of our veterans with our local schoolchildren and teens

Our thoughts today are with our veterans as we prepare for Remembrance Day next Friday. Our local George Derby Veteran’s hospital invited local school children and teens to Plant Canadian flags to honour the service of soldiers past and present. Very proud of our team family member, Ted Hawthorne, for his years of volunteering and advocating on behalf of our soldiers.

Here is the article shared by the British Columbia Regiment Association:

It was a perfect morning to start Veterans’ Week, when George Derby Care Facility (“George Derby”) partnered with neighbouring schools, Cariboo Hill Secondary and Armstrong Elementary, to “plant” over 5,000 Canadian Flags on the front lawn and grounds of the facility in order to honour the service and sacrifice of our veterans and to remember our Fallen.
Directors of George Derby, John Buis, RCMP Staff Sergeant Major, and Ted Hawthorne, Honorary Colonel of The BC Regiment (DCO), were on hand to celebrate the occasion and to meet so many supporters of the facility at this very memorable event. As many will, George Derby has proudly served veterans since 1988 and its reputation continues as a “Centre of Excellence.”
For further information on the “Plant a Flag Day”, visit the George Derby Website at:
Congratulations George Derby for a job well done and for your many years of support of our veterans!

TGIF: We’re Not Scared – We’ve Got You Covered!

We discovered some quiet good news this week. If you buy a brand new condo under $750,000, property transfer tax does not apply even if you are not a first time buyer. It was an unexpected $8,000 windfall for our buyer this week! Amazing how this good real estate news got buried under the constant barrage of bad news.

Going into a presentation centre to purchase a brand new condo, not yet built, can be daunting and tricky to see the full picture with all the details. Let us help you – we have done this before!! And…we are representing your best interests, not those of the developer. Here are our happy mother and daughter – this week’s condo purchasers – 1 each! Hats off to Ledingham McCallister who made the experience at ‘The Cameron’ pleasant & efficient – great product and professional, patient, accommodating staff. Thank you Larissa and Josephine.

As long time realtors, we are enjoying this shift in the market where we can put our years of negotiating practice to work for our clients. Without the previous frenzy, our buyers have time to consider and do their due diligence with a building inspection, financing subject, strata documents etc. And… sellers don’t wake up to find their buyer has remorse because of having outbid the competition and taken all the risks attendant to a cash offer! It is back to business as usual.
Looks like we might get all the rain over in time for a dry Hallowe’en – what a novelty! We hope the costumes stay dry and the trick and treaters can stay warm. Wishing you the safest and spookiest Hallowe’en – don’t forget to visit the frightfully scary haunted house at 443 Draycott St, Coquitlam. All donations to Variety Club – the Children’s Charity. Thanks to the Ayers family who continue to do this incredible labour of love year after year.

Let us clear the fog and demystify the real estate world for you because we’re not scared to have you covered as always!
Sheila and Michelle

TGIF – Talking affordability and the new mortgage rules!

In this neck of the woods, we are always accused of being obsessed with real
estate (and the weather!) just like this obsession is unique to Vancouver
and environs. Well – guess what? I was in the tiniest village in Yorkshire
recently – Danby – for those Brits in the know -and found myself deep in
conversation with an elderly, long time resident. He lived in the most
beautiful stone cottage which had, in its time, served as the butcher’s then
the pub – surrounded with hanging baskets, it was charm itself. His real
estate beef? – local residents can no longer afford the Danby cottages
because outsiders have bought them up for holiday homes and they lie empty
for much of the year – sound familiar? To add insult to injury in Danby,
these holiday makers bring their own food and beverage and don’t add to the
village economy while they are there! It is universal folks!

Talking of affordability closer to home – the new mortgage rules announced
by the Federal Government will make it more difficult for first time buyers
to get into the market. Buyers with less than 20% down will have to qualify
on the posted Bank of Canada rate regardless of the term of their mortgage.
For instance, a buyer taking a 5 yr. fixed rate mortgage at 2.39% interest
rate would previously have been qualified to purchase using the 2.39% rate -
now the buyer will have to qualify at the BOC posted rate – currently 4.64%.
The net result of this is an approximate 20% reduction in the amount of
mortgage money being made available to the buyer.

I just heard from a person previously anticipating buying at $400,000 – now the price tag has to
be $340,000. It will take a little while, but there will be a ripple effect
as fewer people buy at the first rung of the housing ladder, affecting the
number of people upgrading from their first home to a second and so on.
Watch this space! Not clear on anything, please call us.

Enjoy the sunshine between the showers. And remember, we always have you
covered! Sheila and Michelle.