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  Once withdrawn, you have 15 years to pay it back, or you can claim it as taxable; the decision is up to you.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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