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Posts from the ‘Discussion’ Category

A Return to a Seller’s Market in Greater Victoria?

Photo credit: zedzap on Flickr

Photo credit: zedzap on Flickr

Yesterday, the Victoria Real Estate Board released statistics for February 2015. While the rest of the country contended with a seemingly never-ending winter, the cherry blossoms were out early in Victoria and vicinity, and so, apparently, were the buyers.  Read more

What Is Your Home Worth?

If you want to start an argument on the Internet, or anywhere else, for that matter, start talking about the pros and cons of owning vs renting your home. It’s guaranteed to get people fired up on either side of the argument. Of course, depending on your level of debate, you might never get invited out with that group of friends again. There are points on both sides that make a lot of sense. Let’s take a look: Read more

24% Buys A Lot Of Gas

Photo Credit: Mutley *--* on Flickr

One of the things that attracts people to Sooke is the price of housing. My clients are always amazed at what they can afford in Sooke compared to Victoria, or even just 20 minutes down the road in Langford. But have you ever wondered just how much cheaper homes are out here? Read more

Oh My God, What Have I Done?!

 

 

Sleepless Nights

I think it should be a rule that REALTORS® have to complete one real estate transaction of their own every five years at a minimum. This would help put things in perspective and make us better agents. Having just completed a transaction for me and my family, I can certainly relate to the stress, anxiety, and sometimes, sleepless nights that a buyer experiences. I had purchased a home before, but it was 7 years ago. When we do many transactions each year for different clients, they tend to become routine (in most cases) and we can lose sight of the client experience. As much as we all think we understand our clients, it is worthwhile to become one every now and then to make sure.

In my experience, I had at least two sleepless nights, and more anxiety than I care to admit, wondering what the hell I was thinking buying a bigger house. I’m a pretty logical, reasonable guy, so this was not an impulse buy in the least. I calculated, re-calculated, extrapolated, and otherwise contemplated this purchase for the past 6 months at least. Once I had found the right house, I triple and quadruple checked my math to make sure I wasn’t committing financial suicide. I think I got a pretty good deal on my house – you’d think an experienced agent would know!

But all that doesn’t matter when those nagging, anxious thoughts creep into your brain late at night! No matter how illogical and frivolous these thoughts are when you really think about them, it can scare the crap out of you and shake your confidence so easily when they run away with your brain.

It’s Normal

Everyone feels this way. Talk to your friends and colleagues. Talk to co-workers and your family. Chances are they will have had similar thoughts and feelings when they purchased their homes. And it’s not just the first-time jitters. I talked to another agent friend of mine who has completed five or six transactions in the last 20 years or so, and he still freaks out every time. The key is to work with a team of advisers (mortgage broker, REALTOR®, financial planner, etc.) that you trust. They can help separate the important, key details from the noise of your subconscious mind that is keeping you up at night.

It Will Pass

For me, all the anxiety and stress disappeared the morning after the move. Here we were in our ‘forever’ house: me, my wife and our new baby daughter, and a pile of boxes and disarray. And it was perfect.

What about you?

Were you stressed about your first home purchase? What about your second or third? Did it get any better? When did it pass, and what advice can you offer readers about home-purchase anxiety?

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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What is a Strata Duplex – And Why Are They So Great?

I’ve always been a fan of strata duplexes – and I’ve never understood why some people shy away from them. Often, I find the same people who would not buy a duplex would quite readily buy a townhouse, which seems counter-intuitive to me.

A strata duplex is a duplex which is registered under the Strata Property Act. The purpose of such registration is to allow each side to have a separate title, and therefore, enable each side to belong to different owners. You could think of a strata duplex as a 2-unit condo or townhouse complex. Each side is a separate strata lot (like each unit in a condo building), and the common property is the exterior of the building including the roof, and sometimes, a common driveway. Usually the yard area is designated as limited common property: common property designated for the exclusive use of a certain strata lot.

The difference between a strata duplex and a condo or townhouse lies in the way the Strata Property Act affects the owners. Typically, strata duplexes are much less formal than condos or townhouses. Technically, they are subject to the same rules and regulations as any other strata – they must have a council, records, bylaws, collect strata fees, and contribute to a contingency fund. However, in practice, most strata duplexes do none of this. Beyond splitting the cost for insurance (a fire/earthquake policy covering the exterior of the building and common property liability) and common property maintenance and repairs (cleaning gutters, roof maintenance, etc), there is very little strata-like business that goes on in a strata duplex.

Strata duplexes are great because they are often larger and cheaper than a comparable townhouse, and don’t have some of the potential headaches that come with strata property ownership. Instead of 50 other owners to deal with and make happy, there are two. Good neighbour policy will prevail in most cases and the owners will come to an agreement about repairs and maintenance. In addition, you will often find that strata duplexes have much larger lots than the tiny postage-stamp that you’d have in a townhouse.

Sometimes, you can find a half duplex with a rental suite in it, making it ever-more-affordable and potentially attractive from an investor’s standpoint. It’s important to note, however, that most suites in duplexes are unauthorized.

If you’re considering buying a townhome or condo, you should look into a half duplex – you might be surprised to find a great alternative. If you decide to buy a half duplex, it would be wise to inquire with the owner of the other half about maintenance responsibilities. Obviously, it’s no good to replace just your half of the roof if the whole thing is getting to the point of replacement and the other owner refuses or doesn’t have the money. You’ll want to ensure the other owner is on the same page as you about replacing it.

If you’ve got a strata duplex to sell, and want an agent who understands this market segment, I’d love an interview. For more information about strata duplexes, including current listings, contact me.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Secondary Suites in Sooke – Input Needed!

A Basement Suite (complete with The Sopranos on TV)

The District of Sooke is currently investigating the secondary suites issue, and is looking for feedback from residents about suites. At issue is the potential for legalizing secondary suites (also known as basement suites or apartments) in more zones in the District. Currently, suites are only allowed in dwellings on lots with a certain zoning applied to them.

Despite this fact, many property owners in Sooke have created secondary suites to rent out to help with the mortgage, or generate revenue. As the District isn’t in the business of evicting tenants, they’ve for the most part let it slide. It only makes sense for them to regulate and control all suites in the district, allowing them to ensure first that they are properly constructed and safe for habitation, and to collect extra revenue to recoup the additional strain on municipal resources such as sewage, fire, and police services.

Secondary suites are essentially the main type of rental housing in Sooke. There are very few purpose-built rental apartments, and many of the privately-owned condos are subject to rental restrictions. This has become the case in many municipalities in the greater Victoria region, as financial incentive for a developer to build rental apartments has been virtually non-existant since the 70s – instead, they opt to build and sell condos.

Visit the District Of Sooke’s web site to take the survey on secondary suites, and ensure your voice is heard.

Got an opinion on secondary suites? Post a comment and start the discussion!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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CRD Agrees To Buy Sandcut Beach, Jordan River, Sooke Potholes Lands from WFP

Photo credit: sometimes_anna on Flickr

The Capital Regional District (CRD), along with non-profit The Land Conservancy (TLC) has agreed to buy up more than 2300 hectares (nearly 5700 acres) of land that was slated to go up for sale today. The land, belonging to Western Forest Products (WFP) has been the subject of much controversy in our area since the provincial government allowed WFP to remove its private lands from a tree-farm license (TFL) in 2007.

The lands being purchased include Sandcut Beach, the Jordan River surfing beach and townsite, and lands surrounding the Sooke River near Sooke Potholes Park.

While some of the land on the interior side of the highway may be sold off to help finance this purchase, most of it will be dedicated as park. One exciting feature of this deal is that the land acquired near the Potholes completes the Sea-to-Sea Green-Blue Belt, which, besides having the distinction of being the most awkwardly-named park reserve/network on the Island, will now stretch all the way from the Sooke Basin to Saanich Inlet.

The land deal is worth nearly $19 million, most of which is coming from the CRD’s parkland acquisition fund, and will be paid over 3 years. The rest of the money will come from TLC, and hopefully, the provincial government, who have been under fire since the land was released from the TFL three years ago. Many see it as an opportunity for the province to right a wrong that caused great controversy.

And speaking of the parkland acquisition fund… this is part of your yearly property taxes. Since it was established in 2000, it has been $10 per household per year, which has been well used in my opinion, protecting  nearly 3000 hectares of land at a value of nearly $31 million. Your contribution to the fund will be going up this year by $2, and will eventually rise to $20 per year, allowing the CRD to purchase lands such as the Jordan River WFP parcels for everyone’s use and enjoyment, forever. I’d happily pay $50 or even $100 per year to pad this fund and enable the special areas in our region to be protected. It’s a great example of taxpayer money going into something we all benefit from.

The deal is still tentative, but is slated to close in August. I’m looking forward to the CRD’s plan and longterm vision for these newly acquired lands.

What’s your take on this announcement? Good, bad, otherwise? State your opinion, but be nice to one another!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Your Home Is Not An ATM!

Something’s been bugging me for a while now, and I’ve been meaning to write about it. You know the commercials on the radio and TV. I probably hear them half a dozen times a day, more if I’m listening to a Canucks broadcast.

“Making your home equity work for you…..”

“If you own your home,” say the commercials, “we’ll lend you money.”

Sounds great, right? Free money! Against the value of my home! More and more, Canadians’ chief source of wealth these days is the equity built up in their home. Equity is the difference between the market value of the home and the outstanding balance on the mortgage on the property.

Homeowners should approach equity take-outs with extreme caution, because managed improperly, they can cost dearly. Many financial advisers will tell you it makes good financial sense to refinance high-interest debt such as personal loans, lines of credit, and credit card debt with low-interest mortgage money. While this is true, one needs to first examine how the indebtedness happened. If you’ve got $30,000 of student loans at a high interest rate, it makes good financial sense to pay them out with lower interest money. However, if you’ve racked up $30,000 of credit card debt at really high interest rates by consistently spending more than what you make, what is stopping you from doing it again once you’ve paid it out?

The point is: spend within your means. Irresponsible credit use is one of the biggest financial problems in this country, if not the world.

Some people have the mistaken assumption (and perhaps some members of my profession are partially responsible) that real estate prices only go up. We don’t have to look far back in history to bust this myth. If you had purchased a home in Victoria in the spring of 2008, with a 5% down payment, there is a very good chance you owed more on it than it was worth by February or March of 2009. Real estate prices fluctuate, and the worst situation you can be in is to owe more than you could get for your home if you had to sell it.

Treating your home like an ATM is a great way to end up in that situation.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Lindsay Day – 2 Years Later and Buziak’s Murder Still Unsolved

Lindsay Buziak: Still No Arrests In Murder Case

As long as I write this blog, I’m certain to never forget that two years ago today, February 2nd, is the day that Lindsay Buziak, a 24 year old real estate agent from Victoria, was murdered in the house she was showing to prospective buyers.

In the month or so before the anniversary of her death, searches for “Lindsay Buziak” and related keywords surrounding the case show up with increasing frequency on my blog stats because of what I wrote the days after the murder and on the one-year anniversary in 2009.

It’s only natural I guess – people scouring the Internet for information on the case: clues, speculation or rumours. I’d like to think that some of the traffic is law enforcement, hoping that somebody somewhere has posted a new tip or clue about the case.

Because it’s ridiculous that the police have next to nothing to go on. She was killed in the early evening in a residential neighbourhood where people would be getting home from work. Somebody saw something. Somebody knows something that will lead to an arrest. Saanich Police concede that she was intentionally targeted and that the murder was planned many weeks in advance. You can’t plan something like that and have no one know about it.

“Lindsay was intentionally targeted, she was intentionally lured to the home and she was intentionally killed.” – Saanich Police spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Fast.

Lindsay’s family has announced a reward of $100,000 for information leading to an arrest. The Victoria Real Estate Board and the Canadian Real Estate Association have each contributed $25,000 to the reward pool, in a show of support. What happened to Lindsay, while not a direct result of her profession, could happen to any of us in real estate. All too often we get complacent in the chase for another deal. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it – listen to your instincts.

I really hope I never have to write another Lindsay Day post on this blog. Please, if you know anything about this case, no matter how small it may seem, call the Saanich Police tip line at 250-475-4356.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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