My blog postings have taken a hit over the summer months with the distractions of boating, visiting family, bbq’s and travelling taking a much welcomed toll. It was a crazy summer with all that smoke and the heat that just kept coming. I hope you all had as much fun as my family did.

Now that the first leaves are turning and fall is just around the corner, it’s an excellent time to prepare for being inside our homes again. An item that’s easily overlooked during the warmer weather, is the condition of the windows. Not much fun having them frost up with condensation from the first Arctic blast of winter. It feels like you are living in a cave. If you see a haze of condensation on your window, should you be concerned? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on a number of factors. First of all, an occasional build-up of condensation is normal and often the result of fluctuating humidity in the home. Usually, it’s nothing to worry about. If you’re using a humidifier, try adjusting the levels. If the humidity is being generated naturally, try placing a dehumidifier nearby. Also, remove any plants and firewood from the area, as they can release a surprising volume of moisture into the air. Do you see moisture in between the panes of glass that make up the window? If so, that means the seal has failed and moisture has crept in.

Double and triple pane windows often contain a gas (argon, for example) that boosts the insulating qualities of the window. When the seal fails, the gas disappears, making the glass colder and often allowing condensation to creep in. Eventually, you’ll want to get it replaced. If you see moisture build-up anywhere on the frame of the window, particularly at the joints, that could be a sign of water leaking through. That’s an issue you should get checked out immediately by a window contractor. If your windows do need to be replaced, far better to do it while the weather is still warm enough to be pleasant. I am happy to provide recommendations to local window installers and other home maintenance professionals that my clients have received excellent service from.

Should You Sell First and Buy Later?
When you’re thinking of selling your home and buying another, you face the inevitable question: Should I list my property first or buy my new home first? Let’s take a look at both options.

If you attempt to buy a property before listing your home, you run into a couple of challenges. First, sellers may not take you seriously as a potential buyer. After all, you haven’t put your own home up for sale. As far as they’re concerned, you might merely be testing the market.

Second, your property might not sell as quickly as you thought it would. If there is an early closing date on the home you purchased, you might end up owning, and paying a mortgage on both properties, at least until your home sells.

If, on the other hand, you list your property before buying a new home, sellers will know you’re serious. That puts you in a competitive position in the event of multiple offers.

Also, if your home sells quickly, you’ll have the peace-of-mind of knowing exactly how much of a new home you can afford. You’ll be able to shop with confidence.

Of course, like the first option, there is a chance that the closing dates won’t match and you’ll end up owning two properties for a period of time. However, solutions such as bridge financing are available to help.

So, there is no perfect answer. A lot depends on the state of the local market.

Contact me today to better understand your options.

The market stats are out for April and they show a healthy rebound in housing sales from last months dip.  The March low of 63 residential sales has been over shadowed by very strong sales in April of 102.  This indicates confidence and optimism in the local housing market despite uncertainty coming out of Alberta.  ( Interesting unforeseen development from the slow down in jobs in Alberta, has been the renewed desire from some Vernon oil patch workers to move their family back home.)

The price of the average home also increased from the previous month to $383,654 from $340,297 as the higher end segment of the market experiences good activity.

As inventory of homes below $450,000 continues to shrink in certain neighborhoods, buyers are finding it increasingly challenging to find the right home. Having financing pre-approved can give buyer’s an edge over the competition and enable them to move quickly on a quality home.

The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported March 2015 sales activity of all MLS® property types improved 21% compared to the same month in 2014 and saw a 14%
improvement year-to-date over the first quarter last year (January through March).

“The Okanagan-Shuswap market continued to show strong growth in March with sales being driven by confident local buyers rather than recreation and retirement buyers from Alberta where the economy has taken a downturn. Days on market for all property types in our Board area continues to improve and is now at 103 days on average compared to 122 last year at this time,” says Christopher Miller, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the Central Okanagan.

“The first quarter sales for 2015 in the OMREB are at a much stronger level compared to the same period in 2014. An increase in demand has outpaced supply in some segments that have edged firmly into seller’s market conditions. While selection has been reduced with the ongoing decline in inventory, the price of single family homes is steady and strong in most areas with modest gains seen in some locations where supply has tightened.”

Sales activity and prices, and supply and demand within OMREB’s three diverse market areas tends to vary among property types at different times and locations with ups and downs experienced zone-byzone and month-by-month.

“The Central Okanagan led the way in March with single family residential sales improving 30%
compared to 2014,” Miller reports. “Inventory is beginning to rise but new listings are not yet
meeting the market demand, and some buyers are still waiting to find the ideal property to
purchase.”

In the Shuswap, single family home sales were up 16% compared to last March. Homes in the lower end of the market are moving quickly but overall inventory is still high so a buyer’s market prevails.

The North Okanagan saw a 30% decline over this time last year when the Zone experienced an
unusually high spike (73%) in home sales over 2013. The market is more balanced but demand has tapered and inventory has remained stable despite new listings.

“While desirable, well-positioned and well-presented homes are in demand and selling quickly, it is important to consult with a professional REALTOR® to look at trends within property types and different price points in order to fully understand the current residential market,” notes Miller.

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke): Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s
Board area during March 2015 improved by 20.6% compared to 2014 (to 745 units from 618) – up 46% compared to February (from 511).

Total residential sales for the month jumped by 21.7% (672 units board-wide compared to 552 in 2014), while single family home sales were up 11.6% compared to March 2014 (to 356 from 319).

The average number of days to sell a single family home in March was 96 days Board-wide, compared to 123 days at this time last year. Year-to-date (first quarter), days to sell a home averaged 101 days across the Board compared to 133 days during the first three months of 2014.

The 1,945 new listings taken board-wide for the month were up 28.2% compared to the 1,517 listings posted in March 2014, while inventory (active listings) declined 5.5% to 6,821 from 7,217 last year at this time.

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country): During March, overall sales of all property types in the Central Zone were up 28.7% — to 516 units from 401 in 2014. Year-to-date sales activity was up 23.4% compared to the first quarter last year (to 1,108 units from 898).

Total residential sales for the month jumped by 33.0% to 476 units compared to 358 in 2014. The sale of 250 single family homes saw a 30.2% improvement over the 192 in March 2014, while townhouse sales improved by 43.9% (to 82 from 57), and apartment sales were up 41.8% (to 95 from 67).

Average days to sell a single family home in the Central Okanagan in March was down to 63 days compared to 71 in 2014, while days to sell year-to-date (January through March) averaged 74 days compared to 89 last year at this time.

The 1,204 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a 28.5% increase
compared to 937 in 2014, and total inventory was reduced by 8.2% to 3,549 units from 3,864.
North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby): Overall property sales for March in the North Zone dipped 2.1% to 139 units compared to 142 units sold last year at this time. Year-to-date sales activity was down 7.4% compared to the first quarter last year (to 311 units from 336).

Total residential sales for the month were down 7.6% from 2014 with 122 units sold compared to 132. Single family home sales declined by 30.0% compared to March 2014 (to 63 units from 90).

Average days to sell a single family home in the North Okanagan in March was down to 90 days compared to 117 in 2014, while days to sell year-to-date (first quarter) averaged 100 days compared to 127 last year at this time.

The 452 new listings taken for the month were up 23.8% from the 2014 level of 365. Inventory for March saw a nominal 0.2% dip to 1,922 from 1,918 in March of 2014.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke): In March, overall unit sales in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 18.7% over 2014 at 89 properties compared to 75. Year-to-date sales were up 4.4% compared to the first quarter last year (to 167 units from 160).

Total residential unit sales for the month were up 19.4% at 74 units compared to 62 in 2014, while the sale of single family homes improved 16.2% (to 43 units from 37).

Average days to sell a single family home in the Shuswap in March was down to 136 days compared to 181 in 2014, while days to sell year-to-date (January through March) averaged 130 days compared to 183 last year at this time.

The 288 new listings taken in the Zone were up 35.2% compared to 213 in March 2014. Overall
inventory dipped 5.8% to 1,345 from 1,428 last year at this time.

DISCLAIMER: Monthly Sales statistics are based on the sales reported by real estate offices on or before the last day of the month.

Sales not reported by month end and collapsed sales are reflected in the subsequent month’s statistics.

 

 

February, 2015 housing stats are out for Vernon and the surrounding area.

Very little change in activity from the previous month, although we saw an increase of listings (122 compared to 99 in January) as sellers took advantage of unseasonably warm weather to list their home,  (what a bizarre winter it has been).  This has seen a small rise in inventory, leading to greater choice for buyers.

Stronger sales than the same time last year (up 18.18 %), are being reported, particularly in the $240,000 – $400,000 range.  With mortgage rates available at 2.75% for a five year fixed term, this is an affordable sector of the market for first time home buyers and young families looking for a little more space.  There’s talk of the possibility of even lower rates.

If the open houses I’ve been hosting recently with lots of people through are an indicator, then it’s going to be a busy spring.

 

The hard work has been done in preparing your home for market. Now it’s time to find the right agent to assist and advise you through the process of selling your home. The vast majority of homeowners select their realtor by asking their neighbors, friends and family who they recommend. While this is a great first step, the prudent homeowner will go further to ensure they have made the right choice.

When you consider that the majority of homes that come onto the market don’t sell, choosing the best realtor for the job is crucial. I suggest you interview two to three realtors and vet them just like any job applicant. Remember, you will be entrusting this individual with your single most valuable asset.

Questions to ask that any good realtor will be happy to answer:

1. Commitment.
Is this their full time career? Do you really want someone trying to sell your home part time?

2. Knowledge.
Do they know their numbers and local market statistics as it pertains to your home and neighborhood? Top producing realtors have a comprehensive knowledge of the local market.

3. Marketing.
What will they do to market your home and optimize your chances of selling? Ninety two percent of all home buyers begin their search on the internet. What strategies are in place to ensure your home gets the attention? Will they be holding Open Houses, realtor tours?

4. Pricing.
Have the realtor explain, with supporting comparables, why your home should be listed at their suggested price. The ultimate decision on price should be yours.
Beware the realtor who tries to “buy” your listing by suggesting you list at a high price. All homes sell within the market range. Remember, you are interviewing for who can get you the sale and achieve the best “market” price.

5. Commission.
Have the realtor explain the various commission models and take the time to understand the implications. Does a lower rate really mean you will have more money in your pocket?

Ultimately, choose the realtor “BEST” qualified to sell your home. A hard working person with integrity, that you have rapport with and you can trust to maximize your chances of a successful outcome.

You have loved your home; the location has been great, it’s been perfect for your family, Fred the cat loves that window sill, then one day you realize this doesn’t work anymore. The children have grown up and Fred, well ——.
Now you’ve made the big decision to move to your next dream home. First, you’re going to need to sell this one and you wonder, what are buyers looking for?

Well, they are NOT looking to fill their weekends with house chores for the next two years with that spare time they don’t have. Buyers are short on time, also usually short on cash and want to start enjoying the home as soon as possible. So what do you need to do to make someone WANT your house?

First consider the outside, particularly from the curb. How does it look? Do the garden and driveway look maintained and attractive? Has the exterior been recently painted and is in good repair? Buyers are looking for cues and if they don’t like what they see from the curb, they may not even get out of the car. Who cares if you just installed that incredible hardwood flooring, added tray ceilings and a new kitchen if you can’t entice them out of the car? Paint the exterior if needed, weed the garden, sweep the driveway. It goes a long way.

Now the inside. Try and look through buyer’s eyes as they enter the front door. You have FIVE SECONDS to convince them that this could be the one. Is the entrance way warm, inviting and well lit? How does it smell? The number one missed opportunity, and most offensive to prospective buyers, is odour. You might not be able to smell your pet’s bedding, but they can, and they’re not interested. Do a walk through. Does anything need a touch up of paint, a small repair?

Finally, reducing clutter will make your home feel larger, more peaceful and remove distraction from the architecture. Move what you can into an off site storage facility, or even better, have a giant garage sale and make some money. Once you have cleaned out the clutter of everyday living it is time to clean, clean and, you guessed it, clean. Here’s a big motivator, buyer’s will pay $5000 – $10,000 less for a dirty home or not buy it at all. So have your home sparkly clean!

Congratulations! You are ready to impress the pants off any Buyer and blow your competition out of the water. It’s time to get your outstanding home on the market.

General Market Update

Will oil price’s effect local house prices in the North Okanagan? Unlikely!!! While it makes for attention grabbing headlines, the reality is there are other forces, arguably as important at play that nullify this impact.

An energized U.S economy predicted to grow at 3.1% for 2015 and lower interest rates domestically will boost confidence.
With a lower Canadian dollar, Americans are looking north at the great value recreational properties represent. Lowering housing inventory, inward migration and a growing local economy will continue to keep the pressure on.

Contact me for a more comprehensive market picture.

Now is a great time to list while your competition waits for the snow to melt.

Why wait for a crowded market place by listing in the spring? If you are thinking of listing your home, call me and find out why NOW is a great time to sell.

GREAT START TO 2015.

Somewhere, under all that snow are just a few of the Xmas trees picked up in exchange for donations to the food bank. Thanks for your generosity. You have made a difference in local families lives.