TGIF – We’ve got you covered – what you need to know Real Estate in the ‘burbs this week!

Shane’s pulling up his realtor socks – it’s going to be a busy weekend here for Real Estate in the ‘burbs!

Our week kicked off with B.C. Family Day, followed by Valentine’s Day, and a flurry of closings for our clients! We can’t believe it’s Friday already. Today, we’re in and out of the office preparing for some open houses and incoming multiple offers.

Months after the introduction of the 15% foreign-buyer tax and new federal mortgage rules, our Greater Vancouver housing market has cooled, but we are feeling the heat begin to rise as we inch closer to spring. The detached home market has moderated with the foreign tax and tighter mortgage rules, but townhomes and condos remain strong and steady in many areas.

The influx of young families who have migrated here from Vancouver’s downtown core are snapping up our detached homes as well as townhomes and condos in pursuit of a more affordable, comfortable lifestyle for their growing families. Our easy access to our new Evergreen Extension Skytrain station makes commuting and Vancouver hockey game nights a breeze, too! And what about our baby boomers? They’re actively seeking their best downsize option in the ‘burbs – often in pursuit of “one-level living” that’s ideally larger than the typical 2 bed/2 bath condo.

Buying or Selling – Your Best Bet in the ‘Burbs?

It’s important to note that our sales averages vary greatly across our local neighborhoods as well as by property type – if you’re wondering if now’s a good time to buy or sell in Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Burnaby, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, or Maple Ridge, contact us to find out the ‘sellers best bet’ and the ‘buyers best bet’ in each neighbourhood.

Regardless of the season – we’ve got you covered. You can count on us to carry you through what’s sure to be another exciting spring in Real Estate!

Your partners in Real Estate,
Michelle and Sheila


In other news? We’ve got some EXCITING new changes we can’t wait to show you. Be sure to follow us on social as we roll them out…

TGIF – Love is in the air! Celebrating Family Day, Valentine’s Day, and National Umbrella Day.

It’s official – they’ve got a holiday for everything now, don’t they?

This year’s Family Day is on Monday, Feb. 13th, giving us a much-deserved long weekend. With plenty of family-friendly activities scheduled in every city –many of them free of charge – the ‘burbs truly are a wonderful place to raise our families.

Following Family Day, comes Valentines Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14th . If you needed an excuse to partake in some of our local sweet treats or enjoy a beautiful meal out, here it is!

And today, Friday Feb.10th, we honour one of the most useful inventions known to Vancouverites – the all-mighty umbrella! Every year on February 10th, this protective piece of rain gear is celebrated across the nation.

Not only does it keep us dry from the rain, but the umbrella also protects us from the heat of the sun (especially during patio season) – a wonderful friend, year-round!

The YVR ‘burbs are known for our West Coast weather: mild, temperate, and a bit rainy during the cooler months. If you live here, chances are you’ve got a solid pair of gumboots and a large umbrella at the ready for whenever the skies may open.

Beyond a helpful accessory, the umbrella holds a great deal of significance to our team. In fact, we even incorporated the umbrella into our branding, along with the now-recognizable “walking lady”, in 2013.

Why, you might ask?

We consider our team to be your umbrella for the (sometimes) unpredictable climes of the Real Estate market. It’s our mission to keep you covered, for every step of your Real Estate journey.

Through the ins, and through the outs – through the rainy skies, and through the sunny times – you can count on us to keep you informed.

Need one? Swing by our office and pick one up. It’s our gift to you!

Sometimes, Jimmy says it best:

”I didn’t invent the rainy day. I just own the best umbrella.”
Jimmy Fallon

Just like your favorite umbrella? We’ve got you covered.

- Sheila and Michelle

TGIF – It’s not always about moving!

There are moments when we go to visit seniors who feel that, financially, they have no option except to sell their home, even though that is the last thing they actually want to do. If the owners have paid off their mortgage, they can access their equity with ease by means of a reverse mortgage which supplies a much needed additional income.

We know many people who have extended their time in their happy place, their home, by means of a reverse mortgage. It is always our pleasure to be able to advise these seniors that selling is not their only option. As the Baby Boomers age, and we experience a remarkable appreciation in real estate values, reverse mortgages have become a more popular trend. Home Equity Bank reported a 26% rise in reverse mortgages last year alone!

We are supplying the link to the appropriate Gov’t of Canada website and, if you still have questions, please call us and we’ll put you in touch with a live expert!

All things real estate come under our umbrella – know that we have you covered. Sheila and Michelle

Red is IN this Year! Happy Chinese New Year – Year of the Rooster.

Gong hei fat choy
Gong xi fa cai
Happy New Year!

We wish all our Chinese friends and clients a prosperous, healthy, joyful New Year!

This, the 4714th Chinese New Year, 2017, is the year of the red fire rooster. In the interests of full disclosure, this is my year and it explains why red has always been my favorite colour. The Chinese believe that having red as part of your home decor brings in energy and in the west we refer to red being the power color. Both work for us!

According to Chinese astrologists, this will be a year to celebrate progress, honour & maximum integrity – a year of fortune when people learn to temper their ardour. The Year of the Fire Rooster begins, tomorrow, January 28 – the second new moon after Solstice.

Chinese astrology is considered to be the most ancient system in the world, believed to be over 5000 years old. While western astrology depends on the 12 months of the year, Chinese astrology is based upon a 12 year lunar cycle. Here in Vancouver, we are privileged to be able to celebrate both Chinese and western New Year with huge celebrations for both.

Have a wonderful weekend enjoying the parades, parties, family gatherings and all that fabulous food! And remember, whatever the date, we have you covered.

See you in the New Year – Sheila and Michelle.

TGIF – Clients are invited to our RE/MAX Skating Party at Planet Ice this Sunday! Plus, your week in Real Estate News – we’ve got you covered.

It’s that time again – time to say Hi to many of our clients and their families as they take to the ice this Sunday (Jan. 22nd) at our private RE/MAX party at Planet Ice from 2:15-5:00pm. We love connecting at this event and seeing how much those children have grown since we last saw them! There is food, face painting and balloon animals for off-ice activity. Please come and say hello if we don’t catch you among the arrivals. If you have not yet registered, please give us a call at (604) 936-7653. We are looking forward to seeing you, and have included here some cute memories from a previous party.

Good news for those of you with variable mortgages & lines of credit – the bank rate did not go up this week and shows no signs of any upward trend in the near future. Bad news for those coming into the market requiring CMHC insurance – it is increasing substantially – effective March 17 this year. CMHC quotes an average of $5 per month increase on mortgage payments. For those with 5% down, buy before March 17 and avoid having the increase chew up your equity. We can connect you with experienced mortgage brokers for more detailed information and explanations.

As with every day, not just Friday, we have you covered.

Sheila and Michelle

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