I have had people ask me recently,

"Garry, how does the current market affect my future plans?"

I'm a big numbers guy (I love looking at statistics, reading charts, analyzing graphs) and numbers don't lie, so let's take a look at what they are saying.
 

Sales are down about 25%...
... which is largely due to the fact that, this past April, we saw the lowest amount of active listings on the market that we have in 10 years, keeping it a strong sellers market. Since fewer new listings are coming on the market, housing prices continue to rise and are 14.5% higher than last year!
 

The good news for townhouse & apartment owners...
... is that we are still seeing a more dramatic price change in townhouses (which are up 26.2%) and apartments (which are up an amazing 29.8%) from last year. These are becoming a more affordable alternative for buyers and builders are now building larger units to attract the buyers that would traditionally look at detached homes.
 

"Okay, Garry, the numbers are great and all, but what does this mean for me?"

Although the frenzy has slowed down a little, the demand is continuing to stay high while the supply is decreasing, which means that prices won't be coming down any time soon.
 

In short...
... if you're thinking of buying, the sooner the better! If you're thinking of selling AND buying, it doesn't affect you as much since you'll be doing both in the same market. If you're thinking of selling and then waiting to buy, DON'T! You don't want to be waiting too long to re-purchase with the way the market is rising.
 
 

If you have any questions or would like to explore some of your options personally, I'd be happy to talk with you!

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Although a few months have passed since this program was unveiled, we're now getting some more clarity on some of the finer technical points surrounding BC's program aimed at assisting first-time buyers to get into a home more easily.
 

1. The mortgage insurance premium you pay is based on the amount you personally are putting down, not the total downpayment with the government money included.
 

2. On mortgages plus improvements (example: a $400,000 house plus $40,000 needed for immediate renovations), the program will lend based on the $400,000 purchase price, not $40,000.
 

3. The program will still assist with down payments obtained non-traditionally (ie: not through savings or RRSP's, but rather through certain types of gifts, etc.), but the insurance premium is simply higher.
 

4. Even if a buyer has saved their own down payment, it may make sense for them to use the program in order to get into a higher price range of home, or to put "more" down on the one they're buying, for leverage purposes.
 

If you have questions about the program, how to apply, what the parameters are, or anything else, feel free to give us a call!

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Last week, I attended a session where consultants from CMHC (Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation) shared stats they have and trends that they see. It's very insightful because CMHC has many statistics that I don't typically have access to and these give us a strong indication of what the market is doing.

 

1. The number of sales to active listings is very similar to what it was this time last year. The supply of homes on the market is still low in relation to the demand in nearly every price range. This could lead to an upward pressure on prices yet again.
 

2. This is interesting: for the past few years, and even despite the sharp rise in prices over the past year or so, attached housing has always made up approximately 60% of the sales in the Lower Mainland. This shows that, despite how highly-priced detached housing has become, there's still a strong and stable demand in nearly all price ranges and for nearly all types of housing.
 

3. When prices rise drastically over a short period of time, generally those who suffer first are the would-be-first-time buyers. However, we're still seeing the new records for numbers of new household starts being established by people who are new to the real estate market or individuals/families new to the area. In other words, prices have gotten high enough to alter what most people are buying, but not so high to completely eliminate many of the first-time buyers in the marketplace.
 

4. Based on predictions of how many new household starts will occur in the Lower Mainland, it's still a concern that there will be a shortage of new product on the market to meet that demand.
 

5. All of this has happened despite the amount of money foreign buyers are spending here on a monthly basis dropping by well over 90%.
 

So, what does all this mean? In short, we expect prices to continue to increase. At the end of the day, the people paying the "outrageous" prices here and now are local people, not foreigners. They're people who've decided that they'd still rather pay whatever it takes to live here than move outside the Lower Mainland where it's noticeably cheaper.
 

Have any questions? Give us a call and we'd be happy to chat with you!

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We work with a very large group of buyers who are purchasing their first home in their late 20's, early 30's, or even later. With increases in prices of housing everywhere, this is unfortunate but not surprising.

As we've looked at why this is, a common pattern we've come across is that often times people severely delay their purchase process by renting something which EXCEEDS THEIR CURRENT NEEDS.

What we mean by this is that people will rent a place that is "comfortable" for them but comes with a higher rental price, rather than living in a rental that provides for their basic needs without a bunch of extra dazzle.


If this is you, we recommend finding the least expensive rental option that most satisfies your basic needs. By doing this, you will discover two main benefits:
 

1. You will be able to put more money away each month for your purchase. This not only speeds up the process, it also gets you into the market sooner and probably at a lower price.
 

2. There's more motivation for you to move to your own home if you are currently living in something that checks fewer of your "Perfect Home" boxes. People are generally more eager to move when there are motivating factors. The desire to move to something more comfortable, better located, bigger, or whatever else we're looking for, often creates more urgency in many of us. People who are renting something the suits all their needs and their preferences generally aren't motivated to moves as quickly.
 

EXAMPLE:
 

We recently spoke with a family of three who aspire to purchase a home. They currently rent the upper two floors of a 3-level home for around $2400/month and have been doing so for a few years now. This family could probably easily find what they need for around $1800/month in a townhome, or (to be extreme) a basement suite for $1300 in the same neighbourhood. This would allow them to save much more.

If they put aside that extra $7200 per year (if they rented a tonwhome) along with an additional $200 or so per month in budgeting, over three years they would have their $30,000 down payment!
 

The basement suite option would put them closer to $50,000 in three years! That's if they simply put the money into a savings account each month and didn't use any other short-term investment options over those three years.

My question is: would this family really suffer by renting something just a little smaller or further out of town with the same number of bedrooms while preparing to buy their own home? Probably not.
 

Short term discomfort is better for long-term gain.

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The past couple of weeks, especially last week, we're seeing signs of the typical spring market heating up. More listings coming onto the market, more buyers showing signs of increasing levels of motivation, and more traffic through open houses.
 

What we're seeing is that detached houses, although still selling steadily, are more or less remaining around the price points we would've expected them to sell a month or even two or three months ago. Sometimes a place will surprise us and go into multiple offers, but often the homes are simply selling within a week or two and for pretty close to asking price.
 

Townhomes and apartments, on the other hand (particularly townhomes, as they cater to a larger market) are still going up in price. Townhomes are more and more becoming what families are considering as they're a longer-term option, and they're also becoming a more attractive option for investors as rental rates continue to climb in light of prices limiting such a high number of people.
 

Apartments in much of the Fraser Valley are being scooped up generally by first-time buyers looking for any stepping stone into the market here.
 

Expect these trends to continue, as the gap in price between detached houses and strata is still fairly wide. Whenever this gap narrows, we may see things level off a little more.


If you have any questions, give us a call!

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"REAL ESTATE AGENT"
 
Most people personally know at least a few realtors or, if you don't, you have a close friend or family member who probably does. With so many realtors to choose from, how do you select the right one to represent you in your purchase or sale? Here are a few questions to consider as you look for a realtor:
 
1. Are they experienced enough to handle your type of transaction?
Remember that age does not necessarily mean experience, either!
 
2. Do they understand enough about what you are personally going through in your own housing situation to be effective in helping you navigate the process?
 
3. Do they have a team?
A realtor working alone can only do one thing at a time and can only be in one place at a time. Sometimes 'time' can be a critical issue!
 
4. Do they have connections to other professionals who are equally as knowledgable?
Having a realtor who's in cohesion with a good mortgage broker, lawyer, accountant, inspector, and people in trades not only speaks to their credibility, it also assists in ensuring that your experience will be the best it possibly can.
 
5. Do they have the resources to properly advertise and market your home?
Most realtors put your place on the MLS and wait for it to sell. That's not enough! Find a realtor who will be active in advertising your property through multiple platforms.
 
6. Do they have connections to find you the home you're looking for, and to find it before someone else does?
Again, a realtor who simply uses the MLS is not enough. Find a realtor who is actively working for your benefit, not passively waiting for something to show up.
 
These are just a few criteria to think about when searching for a realtor to work with. There are many other factors to consider before committing to someone and we'd be happy to provide you with more questions to ask!
 
At The Reimer Group, we are determined to serve our clients with integrity and hard work. If you want to discuss how we differentiate ourself from our competitors, give us a call. We'd love to chat with you!
 
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 "Mortgage Broker"
 
Whether buying or selling, we encourage you to have a relationship with a mortgage broker  before the process starts.
 
As BUYERS, you want someone who's a full-time mortgage broker. The industry changes so fast and the policies/guidelines for the dozens of lenders in Canada are so fluid that you need someone who keeps up on the changes. You also want someone who has strong personal connections with multiple lenders so that they have places to take your file if things get challenging. It makes an enormous difference in terms of how quick an approval happens, preferential treatment with rates that you're offered, and sometimes whether or not your file will even be looked at (depending on your situation) by some lenders. Get connected with the right mortgage broker before you even start viewing homes! They'll help you to get organized and they'll inform you on how to prepare ahead of time so that when you find the right place and are facing some tight timeframes, you're positioned to come out on top.
 
As SELLERS, most people don't realize that speaking with a mortgage broker at the beginning of the process can be a really helpful thing. The reason for this is simple: most people base their decisions to sell around the idea of what they're planning on moving to. By getting guidance on your payout penalties, portability of your mortgage, possibilities of blended rates, or even just finding out what exactly you can get approved for (if upsizing), it's all helpful information. 
 
If you have any questions or you need to get in touch with a good mortgage broker, give us a call!
 
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"HOME INSPECTOR"
 
We've found that there are mainly two different types of home inspectors:
 
1) The first type are excellent at finding issues in the home: they have great all-around knowledge of what things to look for in homes built in different eras, and they rarely miss any of the things that you've hired them to find. They're excellent detectives, but if you ask questions about how to rectify fairly generic and common issues, you'll find that they have little first-hand knowledge or experience. I'm finding that these types of inspectors, although there's nothing wrong with their service or abilities, are a good fit for only a small number of our clients - generally, the ones who are personally almost experienced enough to inspect the home themselves.
 
2) The second type, and the ones I find much more helpful to the majority of our clients, are the ones who find all the issues, but who also have thorough knowledge and expertise on what specific procedures and costs will be involved. Often times the pending offer on your purchase or sale is at a fairly time-sensitive (and possibly stressful) place when the home inspection is being done. The inspector you hire needs to deliver their findings to you in a way that properly informs you as the buyer on the severity/triviality of the deficiencies found and what exactly you need to prepare for in terms of cost and urgency to resolve them. Finding the problems aren't good enough; what you really need are the solutions and numbers. For certain things (such as structural, electrical, gas, plumbing, etc.) you may want opinions from people in those industries, however, the right home inspector can likely help guide you if they've had hands-on experiences with similar issues.
 
Have any questions? Give us a call and we'd love to chat with you!
 
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"LAWYER / NOTARY"
 
Although they usually aren't involved until the final steps of your purchase or sale, it's important that you have an effective lawyer or notary working alongside you. Real estate conveyance is an intricate process and issues completely outside yours or our control can come up at the last minute before closing with potential to cause a lot of stress if mishandled. The conveyance professional you choose can have huge bearing on how smooth the transaction goes!
 
Over the past few months we have run into several situations where the conveyance department selected by the other party for a transaction with our client had some difficulty handling an issue properly due to lack of knowledge/experience and it complicated the given situation.
 
Some recent examples include:
- A firm was given an assigned contract but they had never seen or heard of an assignment before
- An acreage was sold by a couple who had owned the property for many years and had claimed farm statuses/tax exemptions that needed to be settled prior to completion
- A client took a promotion and moved out of country, which legally required holdbacks of the sale proceeds of property that the other firm had never heard of
- A seller/purchaser threatened to close the deal over a dispute
These are some real-life experiences in which a knowledgable conveyancer would be a huge asset.
 
In addition to these examples, we've dealt with many foreign buyers, first-time buyers, and partnerships which have transfer tax implications surrounding them that require adequate knowledge of the conveyancer in order to deal with them properly. Also, some lawyers or notaries are not on the "approved list" of firms for many banks or mono-line lenders, but a quick phone call to the lawyer/notary to make them aware of which lender the mortgage is being provided by could avoid problems.
 
People often talk about the importance of selecting the right Realtor, but the right legal help is important too. We work more closely with them than our clients often perceive, and having someone effective on your side is a huge step in avoiding possible complications.
 
If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to contact our team - we'd love to chat with you!
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While the most active time of year for new listings (and for the most buyers looking) remains the April to June stretch, we've seen more sellers each year try to get a jump on potential competing listings by getting onto the market first.
 
My recommendation this year is the OPPOSITE of what it was last year.  Last year, prices were rising and we were encouraging many of our clients to hold off a little before listing. 
This year, my advice is to get onto the market as soon as possible! 
As the ripple effect of the surprise changes the government brought in last year continues - and with the likelihood interest rates will rise - I expect that we'll see a short window of time in the first part of this year where the market will still favor the seller. However, that will change once too many sellers get into the marketplace.  Typically, spring break for the school system is the time frame when the number of active listings increase.
 
We still see a group of buyers who have been searching for homes since before the holidays; the last buyers remaining from that crazy game of multiple offers and musical chairs that 2016 was. By getting onto the market by late-January or early-February, you're grabbing the attention of the buyers who currently have few places to choose from and you can, in some ways, establish the price range for a home like yours because there are perhaps no other comparable places for sale in the area to state otherwise.
 
Have any questions or concerns? Send us a message or give us a call!
We'd love to chat with you.
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Most first-time buyers prepare for between one and three years before buying their first home. If you're currently in this group, and preparing to purchase your first home, here's something to think about...
 
The main hang-up for first-time buyers is almost always the TIME needed to accumulate the money required for a down payment. A suggestion we have is to consider the RRSP deadline, just over one month away, on March 1, 2017.  That's your deadline to purchase tax-exempt RRSP's for your 2016 tax year.  Now, our federal government has an awesome Home Buyers' Plan, where you can use up to $25,000 of your RRSP savings (or $50,000 for a couple) as part of your down payment on a home.  Once withdrawn, you have 15 years to pay it back, or you can claim it as taxable; the decision is up to you. The point is, this allows you to save quicker, essentially deferring some of your income tax to a time when your career and net worth will likely be in a much stronger place.
 
With prices the way they are, and with how complicated the financing process has become (especially for those getting into the market for the first time) we're finding that it takes more and more time to assist our clients in being properly prepared to make that exciting first purchase.
 
Give us a call to see how you can get set up.  We're not just here for when you're ready to buy; we're also here to help you make a game plan!
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Since prices in the area rose so much over the past year, we are seeing a lot of people take out home equity lines (which is different than refinancing) to spend their new-found equity on renvoation projects, paying off car loans, taking the family to Disneyland, you name it.

 
The banks will allow you to refinance or equity lineanything over 20% of the appraised value of your home. In other words, if your home appraises at $500,000 and you owe $350,000, then $100,000 equity has to remain untouched and you can "play" with up to $50,000. I'm simplifying things a bit, but that's how it works.
 
There are 2 ways to use equity in your home: one is to diversify and leverage, and the other is on a cosumer basis. The smart one, however, is diversity and leverage.
 
Here are two examples:
 
1. Renovation Projects
More often than not, these are a wise use of equity - you can improve your principle residence, essentially using the home's value to increase it's own value. Brilliant. An added bonus is that the equity used isn't taxable because whenever you do decide to sell your principle residence, in most cases you're exempt from capital gains. You would also pay income tax on the money used to renovate the home, if that money was coming from your paycheque - not so with an equity line.
 
2. Purchasing Another Property
An equity line applied against one property in order to purchase another rental property can be an excellent move to increase your wealth. Say, perhaps, in addition to some savings, you use an equity line to put the 20% down-payment needed on your first (or next) revenue property. Long term, it can be a fantastic idea that'll pay enormous dividends. An added advantage is that, if you prefer, most equity lines can be mitigated with interest-only payments. So, if you have rental places that have capitalization rates 6% or 7% AND they're increasing in value, drastically out-performing your borrowing.
 
Have any questions? Give us a call! We'd love to chat with you about your options.
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 Of course, most homes look their best in mid-to-late Spring when the flowerbeds are looking sharp, the house is power-washed, and the sun is shining.  However, there are things you can do to have your home stand out in the January and February months, if that's when you're choosing to put your home on the market and have it shown.  Here are some suggestions we have:

 
1. LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON: Leaving lights on for showings is always a nice little extra that just helps a home show that much better. This is especially the case during cold weather or when the sky is grey, as having lights already on is much more welcoming and warming to someone looking at homes. It can also compensate for possible lack of natural light.
 
2. HAVE THE HEAT ON: There's always a balance needed so that our heating bills aren't astronomically high just because our house is being shown, but having the house nice and warm during winter showings makes it more comfortable for the buyers. As a seller, you want to show potential buyers why they want your home. Having it heated creates an impression that your home is well-built, cozy, safe, and well maintained. We've shown many homes this winter that were absolutely freezing inside and, even though they could be an otherwise beautiful homes, an uncomfortable showing can have a negative effect.
 
3. REMOVE SEASONAL DECOR: If you are trying to sell your house, be sure to remove seasonal items or decor as soon as the holiday is past. This might sound silly, but it's not! Think of this: if someone still has Christmas decorations up almost a month after Christmastime and has procrastinated taking the lights down, how likely is it that they're procrastinating on any number of home-maintenance items (ie. roof, boiler/furnace, etc.)? 
 
4. SALT THE WALKWAYS: Salt your driveway, porch, and walkway. If someone slips and falls at your home while it's being shown, not only could you be liable for injuries to that person but their immediate (and possibly accurate) impression is going to be that your property is an unsafe one to purchase. The large majority of buyers have either children, elderly relatives, or both.  A few bags of salt could set your place apart and also cause it to appear better cared for.
 
5. APPEAL TO THE SENSES: Obviously you want to have your house looking presentable when you know there will be showings, but think about other ways that you might be able to stand out from all the other sellers! Make sure the rooms are tidy and that the main areas are wiped down. Invest in some air freshener plug-ins to give the house a clean smell (just not too strong). Create a good "experience" for the prospective buyers to leave a lasting impression that says: "YOU WANT TO LIVE HERE!"
 
Want to chat? Our team would love to answer any questions you might have! Feel free to message us or call 604.988.8889!
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