Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Real Estate’ Category

Disputing Your 2012 BC Assessment Value

It’s the end of the first week of January, and by now you should have received your 2012 BC Assessment notice in the mail, or checked online to see what the provincial assessment authority values your property at. Most people simply open it, read it, and file it away with their other house documents. It makes great water-cooler banter, as colleagues ask “what was yours assessed at?” and “did yours go up or down?” But what if you disagree with your assessment? Read more

Foreclosure in BC: What You Need To Know – Part I

The F-word in real estate.

Everyone is curious when they see “Court Ordered Sale” or “Foreclosure” in a listing they find while browsing homes. In this new series, I will take you through the foreclosure sale process in British Columbia, and hope to demystify it and to dispel some of the common myths about foreclosure. I was inspired to write this series because currently, I have 2 foreclosure listings in Sooke, and a good deal of time is spent explaining the process to prospective buyers. Buying a foreclosure listing is not as simple as buying any other house, and there are many pitfalls to avoid and processes to follow if you want to be successful. I won’t get into the details of how the foreclosure process happens and the legal steps necessary before a court can order the property sold. Instead, I’ll pick it up where it becomes relevant to buyers – when the listing hits the MLS® system and the sale process begins.

Foreclosures are always a bargain, right?

Not necessarily. Remember, this is a court-ordered sale in most cases. The court is involved to make sure that the home owner’s rights are protected, and that he or she is not taken advantage of by the lender and the prospective buyer. The court decides if the terms of the purchase contract are reasonable and fair. For example, let’s imagine a home owner who has fallen on hard times. His home is in good condition, worth about $300,000, and he only owes $100,000 on his mortgage. He stops making payments, and through a long process, the lender finally gets authority to sell the property. It is unlikely that a judge (called the Master in foreclosure proceedings) will approve a sale for, say, $125,000 because clearly, the bank is trying to dump the property and leave money on the table that could go to the buyer.

The important thing to remember about foreclosures is that they are market-value transactions, in most cases. If a foreclosure is listed at a bargain-basement price, chances are it’s for a good reason, needing repair or maintenance. Also, at court, anyone can show up with an offer on the property, so sometimes an auction-like situation is created at court. More on this in a later post, though.

How is an offer on a court ordered sale different?

When you offer on a regular listing, typically, your REALTOR® will insert several clauses in the offer to purchase that allow you to do your due diligence on the property – inspection, approval for financing, research on the title, etc. When you offer on a foreclosure, in some cases, you’ll need to have your ducks in a row ahead of time – you must write an offer subject only to court approval. If you are the first buyer to offer, you will usually be able to write an offer subject to the regular conditions, but this is not always so. And, if you write an offer with conditions, the lender will not set a court date until after you remove your conditions. However, if there is already a contract in place – another buyer has already offered, done due diligence, and removed their conditions – you’ll have to compete at court for the property, submitting a sealed bid at court. This means spending money on an inspection, appraisal if necessary, and getting your bank to approve the financing of the property, all before you have a contract in place. This represents a little bit more risk than a typical sale, because it’s completely up to the master at court which buyer will be successful.

So, your REALTOR® prepares the offer, and it is submitted to the lender for consideration. A typical back-and-forth negotation will likely occur, and once consensus is reached, and any conditions have been removed, the lender’s lawyer will set a court date for the offer to be approved (typically, 2-3 weeks from acceptance of your offer). I’ll talk about the court process in the next post.

If you have any questions about foreclosures in BC, contact me and I’ll be glad to try to answer!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,

or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

Wild Coast Cottages Port Renfrew is Nearly 70% SOLD OUT!

Wild Coast Cottages, Port Renfrew, BC

The onset of our rainy and windy fall weather has not deterred excited buyers from making the trip out to Wild Coast Cottages in Port Renfrew. This intriguing development is truly unique on southern Vancouver Island and offers 40 ‘micro-cottages’ on their own lots in a waterfront recreational property at affordable prices. I had an update from the developer last week and there are now 25 firm sales and 3 conditional out of the total of 40 cottages!

Amazing Views from the Property

There are still some great lots available, including my listing of Lot 16, one of the largest and most private lots in the development.

If you’d like more information, please contact me for a quick response! Please see below for an updated price list:

Wild Coast Cottages Price List Nov 1 2010

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

Wild Coast Cottages Port Renfrew, West of Sooke

Wild Coast Cottages, Port Renfrew

Today, instead of our usual Sooke REALTOR® tour where we go around to the new listings in Sooke, we had a bus take us out to Port Renfrew for a tour of Three Point Properties‘ new Wild Coast Cottages development. The roughly one hour drive along Highway 14 is entirely different when you’re not driving – lots more time to look around at the absolutely stunning scenery around you: creeks, waterfalls, tall trees, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Olympic Mountains in the background. We even saw three black bears along the roadside.

Arriving on site we found a hub of activity – excavators, builders, trucks, and other workers getting the site ready. Title registration for the first purchasers should be coming in the middle of August. There are already two cottages at the site, one of each floor plan that they’re offering at the moment.

Wild Coast Cottages is more that your average cottage country development. With the usually high cost of recreational property, Three Point is trying to do something different – to keep these architecturally designed west-coast style cottages within reach of the average buyer. To do this has taken innovation for sure. Port Renfrew is pretty remote, and only has a population of about 200 residents. There are no hardware stores, building supply outfits, or large construction companies. So, instead of building the cottages on site, they are framed, built and completely finished, right down to the designer paint colours, 70 kilometres away in Sooke, and trucked up to Renfrew on a flatbed. This enables the builder to save on travel costs, and allows some economies of scale to be realized by “mass-producing” these cottages all in one place.

A breezeway connects the bedroom (pictured) with the living space

The current phase has 24 lots out of the 40 planned, and Three Point has more property in the area that they plan to develop similarly. The property is waterfront, and the cottage owners will have access to a boardwalk and a marina.

The cottages are small – around 400 sq ft, one bedroom and one bathroom. Furnished properly, they will easily sleep a family or group of 4. The two designs they had on site were lovely. One features a breezeway type covered deck joining the living space and the sleeping space and bathroom, and the other was a more traditional layout with everything together and a large deck out front. Finishing is impressive with natural-stained cedar, hardi-board type siding, pitched 50-year metal roofs, and high-end long-lasting composite decking material. These solid units are built to last, and built to withstand the bumpy ride from Sooke to Port Renfrew! The builder boasted that not even a crack in the finished drywall was evident after the transport of the finished cottage to the site.

Small, but ample living spaces define the Wild Coast Cottages

Pull out couch, full kitchen and living/dining space

Wild Coast Cottages sits on gorgeous high-bank waterfront

Overall, I was impressed. I was curious about this project since I first heard about it. Starting at $130,000 and ranging to $160,000 I think the price point is right on. There’s no way you could have a cottage built on a lot for that price, and certainly not a fully serviced (underground wiring, city water, common sewage disposal) lot on a waterfront development.

I won’t be surprised when Three Point sells this phase out.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

Bank Of Canada Raises Interest Rate to 0.5% At June 2010 Meeting

Only one direction to go!

This morning at its June 1, 2010 meeting, the Bank of Canada raised its key overnight lending rate (the rate at which it lends funds to chartered banks) one-quarter per cent (25 basis points) to 0.5%, its first rate hike in almost three years.

What can we expect? Banks will be increasing their prime lending rates. This is the rate upon which variable-rate mortgages are based, as well as other borrowing products such as personal loans, and some credit cards. The quarter-per cent hike translates into about $12 more per $100,000 of borrowed funds.

One thing to consider if you’re going to be renewing your mortgage or taking out a new mortgage when you buy, is that the lender discount from prime rate has been increasing (best I’ve heard is prime -0.6% lately), which may help make up for this first rate hike. Talk to an experienced mortgage broker and see what your options are.

The Bank of Canada’s move to increase rates comes amid a shaky worldwide recovery and only time will tell if more rate hikes will be necessary.

Bottom line: don’t panic. Rates are still historically low and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. Mortgage rates have been on a generally downward trend for about 30 years.

The full Bank of Canada news release can be found here.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

Victoria BC Real Estate Buyers Profile – April 2010

Modern homes in Victoria, BC. Photo: pnwra on Flickr

It’s once again time to look at our “on the street” snapshot of Victoria-are real estate buyer activity. April’s data from our Member Market Survey has just been released by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Each month, agents who’ve completed a transaction while acting for a buyer are polled on various questions about their buyers. The goal is to get a snapshot of the situation on the street directly from agents who are actively involved serving their clients.

Highlights from this month’s data:

  • The trend of decreasing number of first-time buyers continued, with  19.23% identified as such
  • Nearly one-third of buyers were moving from one property to a similar one. Perhaps this correlates with the lower number of first-time buyers in recent months; after they sell their smaller homes to first-timers, this set of buyers is now shopping for their ‘move-up’ house.
  • This month, single females bought fewer houses than single males.
  • As usual, the fast majority of buyers (67%) moved within the greater Victoria area. The next largest group came from within Canada, but outside B.C.
  • The Western Communities were more popular with buyers than the Saanich Peninsula.

As our inventory of properties on the market increases, there continues to be more choice in the market for buyers. Not surprisingly, most agents were reporting fewer instances of multiple offers (54 vs 12 reporting more multiple offers).

Check out the full details of this month’s survey here.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

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

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

Victoria BC Real Estate Buyers Profile – March 2010

Last month’s data from our Member Market Survey has just been released by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Each month, agents who’ve completed one ore more transactions while acting on behalf of a buyer are polled on various questions about their buyers. The goal is to get a snapshot of the situation on the street directly from agents who are actively involved serving their clients.

Highlights from this month’s data:

  • First-time buyers did not represent the largest segment of the buying population, with 27.85% identified as such
  • More people moved into a condo or townhouse from a single family home than vice versa (10.76% vs 8.23%).
  • Once again, single females bought more properties last month than single males. (23 vs. 16)
  • One in five buyers were classified as empty-nesters/retired.

Check out the full details of this month’s survey here.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

Victoria BC Real Estate Buyers Profile – February 2010

The Johnson Street Bridge, Victoria. Photo credit: Sylpherware on Flickr

The latest data from our Member Market Survey has just been released by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Each month, agents who’ve completed a transaction while acting for a buyer are polled on various questions about their buyers. The goal is to get a snapshot of the situation on the street directly from agents who are actively involved serving their clients.

Highlights from this month’s data:

  • First-time buyers represent the largest segment of the buying population, with 36.5% identified as such
  • Interestingly, the number of people moving from a single family home to a condo or townhouse was nearly the same as those moving from one property to a similar one.
  • Single females bought more houses last month than single males.
  • Only one buyer came from outside of Canada last month.

Check out the full details of this month’s survey here.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!

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

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

You can bookmark this post using the button below,
or subscribe to this blog for free updates using the big buttons on the sidebar!