Demand, The Weather Cycles and a Surprise

Demand, the weathercycles and a surprise

The reference last month to expectation of botanical blooming early in the New Year has reversed itself in the past few weeks. The non-proliferation of sales has clearly taken very little advice from the natural world. The warmth of the sun and prolific blossoming has no influence on the fiscal patterns of mortals, except for possibly the purchase of new spring outfits.

When will the reversing of the cycle happen – soon, soonish, much later or never?  The answer is much like the answer to the riddle: how long is a piece of string? Everyone having their own concept or opinion and, hopefully not arguing pig-headedly as to the universality of the picture in their own mind. When the concept of that actuality materializes, we can all take our tape measures, prove its dimension and then agree. Likewise, when we see an up or down cycle reversing, we can make a temporal measure of the passage of time since we saw the previous down or up cycle commencing. Interesting conjecture or meaningless semantics (you choose) but either way not nearly as important as the actuality of the arrival.

My regular readers know that I have been saying, for the past few months, that I believe many will shortly look back at the preceding few months and utter the words “If only I’d bought over the last month or so”. The $64,000,000 question – how long is shortly? I guess this is where the piece of string comes in!

So, now let me let you in on a “true life/ non-fiction short story”.  It illustrates the oft touted challenge – ‘Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?’  Well, in a manner of speaking, I guess I have!  Since my last update, my beloved soul mate and I have committed to the purchase of our next home – value somewhat akin to that of our present dwelling. Once that purchase closes (within approximately a year– April 2,2014 to be precise  – we shall own Real Estate in Greater Vancouver with a total worth of roughly twice that of today (and have a sizeable ‘interim borrowing’). Home #1 will then ‘go on the market’ for a closing which will hopefully coincide with the completion of the necessary renovations on home #2 ….. and – roll of drums – we shall then move into the “new place” – diarize for the party sometime in September/ October 2014.  It will be a clear night to take advantage of the ocean and islands view.  See you there!  As they say, you can’t make this stuff up. Okay, I guess you can, but, as truth is stranger than fiction, factual reporting is more fun and, if it weren’t true, ALL of the credibility of OnTopOfTheMarket.ca would evaporate and not just the part that has already done so 😉 . Oh, and did I not mention another fact. The acquired property was listed earlier this year at a figure which happened to be $235,000 higher than the final contract price  –  Follow your dream!

‘SnapStats’ (what price ranges are selling and which are not) is being very well received. I’m now forwarding the past 12 month trend for not only N and W/Van but ALL available metro neighbourhoods, as many w requested. If any locations are not of interest, please ignore those areas.

So, visit my website to see and “hear” the new developments.  I continue my commitment to keep you… www.OnTopOfTheMarket.ca – the “go to” site for N/S R/Estate analysis and jump-off point for FULL market information.

Join those wishing to get the e-mail version of the “update” and SnapStats  – send a request to alanskinner@shaw.ca; phone (604) 988-7368 or visit www.OnTopOfTheMarket.ca and you’ll be added.

April 2013 Numbers

We turn now to the ‘Year to Date’ figures for 2013. We now have the first quarter’s figures 2013 vs. 2012 (1/4 of a year is better than the 1/6 we had last month!)  .  North Van detached homes sold, down 14% from last year, attached (t/hses) down 17% and apartments down by 31% from 2012. Detached average prices are unchanged and inventory now up by 38%. Average prices down 4% (t/hses) and down 2% for (apts). Inventory (t/hses) 34% higher than Mar 31st 2012 and (apt) down from the same date by 4%. Remember that numbers here reflect only the activity in 3 months and these minimal figures should not be used to define a serious trend.

In West Van, detached number of sales for 2013 has dropped by 31% from 2012.  Average price of what has sold is unchanged and inventory up 21% over Mar 31st 2012. On the condo side – attached (t/hses) sold 2013 are down 54% from 2012 at 10 vs. 22 units. Active listings are up year over year from Mar 31st 2012 by 33% (56 vs. 42).  Apartments reflect 33 sold in 2013 vs. 44 by Mar 31st 2012; with average price up 25% from Mar 31st 2012 and active listings up 9% from Mar 31st 2012. Again the sample size is too small for meaningful analysis.

Overall North Shore demand is up a little over the last quarter of 2012 with overall inventory generally climbing since Jan 1st 2013. With this few actual sales to compare we are far more prone to anomalies e.g. possibly fewer “luxury units” selling in these lower demand times.  I continue using average YTD prices which will become more meaningful as we get more months’ stats to compare.

Podcasts

North Shore Real Estate Radio

On an ongoing basis I pledge both my continued personalized service and a commitment to my reduced  business ecological “footprint”. A significant part is the radio (podcast) library which I’m continually creating.

All North Vancouver Real Estate “Updates”, reports and information articles, checklists etc. will be archived on my website and available for download or desktop listening 24/7. You can access the information you seek when the spirit moves and not when someone pushes yet another flyer into your mailbox. I am most excited about these developments. Input as to the topics for “programming” you feel would be of interest is strongly sought. Please e-mail This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call me 604 988-7368 and 1-800-665-1455.

Click on the “Podcast” Icon in the top right of this article to listen now.

North Vancouver Real Estate

Podcasts

Recommended Home Improvements for Increasing Property Value

There are stories of homeowners irate over the fact that the special remodeling job they performed added zero value to their home. The imported Italian tile you used in your entryway or the pool in the backyard may be of immense value to you while you live in the home, but unfortunately they aren’t items that buyers shopping in your neighbourhood may value.

To get the most bang for your renovation dollar, consider these 10 top home improvements:

1. Indoor Systems

Before you consider cosmetic improvements and even functional improvements (such as adding additional square footage) to the home, make all needed upgrades, repairs or replacements to the home’s major systems. Buyers need assurance that the basic items are in working order and won’t need to be replaced or repaired in the near future, an issue that will most likely be addressed in the professional inspection of the home.

Older homes may require updated wiring and plumbing. An old roof should be replaced. Address problems with the heating system.

2. Outdoor Replacement Projects

Replacement projects will give you more added value than remodelling projects. Fortunately for homeowners, these types of projects are also the least expensive and add to the home’s curb appeal. Consider replacing the garage door, siding, the front door and windows. The average return on investment for these projects is almost 72 percent.

3. Attic Bedroom

The number one home improvement project as far as recouping a return on your investment is the addition of an attic bedroom, according to Remodeling Magazine. At an average cost of a little over $50,000, expect to recoup 72.5 percent of the cost when you sell the home.

4. Add an Additional Bathroom

Over the past few decades, the kitchen was the average home buyer’s focal point when choosing a home. In 2011 bathrooms became more important to buyers than kitchens. That said, an additional bathroom, even a half bathroom, adds significant value to your home. A half bath may add up to 10.5 percent to a home’s value, while a full bath can tack on an additional 20 percent. Of course, the amount of additional value you will receive varies according to the home’s other features.

Tip: If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a bathroom addition, give the existing bathrooms a facelift. A fresh coat of paint, new fixtures and new flooring will add value and make the home show better.

5. Kitchen Improvements

Kitchens tend to be the heart of a family home so anything you do to improve your kitchen will add value. Again, painting the kitchen should be the first step, whether you plan an entire remodelling or just a minor facelift. Vinyl flooring tends to make the room look dated, so consider replacing it with laminate or tile. New cabinetry, kitchen sink fixtures and updated lighting will all add value.

Tip: Folks on a budget can still increase value by sanding and then painting or staining cabinetry and adding new hardware and by purchasing new (matching) appliances and new counter tops.

6. Boost Curb Appeal

When a TV show can be built around this one subject, it’s a pretty good indication of its importance. Curb appeal is what beckons potential buyers into your home and underestimating its importance to the value of a home is a big mistake many homeowners make.

If you have a healthy budget, and your landscaping needs extensive work, consider hiring professionals for this home improvement project. A landscape architect can be pricey but necessary if your yard is in desperate need of an overhaul. Curb appeal shouldn’t stop at the front yard, but should be extended to the backyard as well.

At the very least, clean the yard of any debris, trim trees and shrubs and spread fresh mulch in the planting beds. A poorly maintained front yard can result in up to a 10 percent drop in value.

Tip: Budget home improvement landscape projects include:

  • Line the walkway with solar-powered lights. The big home improvement stores carry a variety of inexpensive styles and all you need to do is stick them in the ground. Not only are they functional – lighting your way at night – but they provide ornamentation as well.
  • Green up the lawn, keep it mowed and edged and reseed bare spots.
  • Add colour to the planting beds. Be careful to keep your colour choices aligned with the home’s architecture. In other words, don’t add cottage garden-type flowers to a bed in front of a starkly modern home. If you have questions, ask experts at your local nursery.
  • Plant a tree. Yes, it sounds like a reforestation slogan, but planting a tree in your front yard can help with energy costs in the summer (if strategically located to shade the house) and by adding value to the home. Which tree to plant? Ask local nursery experts.

7. Refurbish the Basement

Converting the basement to a family room, in-home theater or recreation area adds useable square footage to the home, which is one of the best ways to add value. Check out decorating magazines and websites for creative ideas.

8. Additional Storage

Most new homes come equipped with lots of storage. Older homes, on the other hand, tend to lack even the basic storage options, such as coat or linen closets. If you lack space to expand closets or other storage spaces or build new ones, consider redesigning the spaces you do have.

There are specialty stores now dedicated to nothing but storage solutions. Do-it-yourself projects may include adding a complete closet system or adding organization details to a pantry.

9. Additional Square Footage

Every 1.000 sq. ft. added to a home raises the value by more than 3.3 percent, according to a 2003 study done in the US for the National Association of Realtors®.

While that percentage doesn’t sound significant, when you put it into numbers it makes a lot more sense. For instance, if your home is valued at $500,000 a 3.3 percent increase adds an additional $16,600 to the value.

Additionally, the 3.3 percent statistic can most likely be adjusted upward based on the age of the study. That study also claims that each additional bedroom adds 4 percent to the value of the home.

If your laundry is located in the basement, the value of your home decreases by two percent, so if you plan on adding square footage to the home, build a laundry room on one of the upper floors.

10. Miscellaneous Home Improvements

There are many small items you can add to the home that buyers will perceive as adding value. Some of these include:

  • Alarm systems
  • Water filtration system
  • Luxury touches such as an upgraded dishwasher, whirlpool bathtub and built-in wine coolers may peak the buyer’s interest. Luxury homeowners can take this a step further by adding an in-home theater and additional spa-like features to the bathrooms.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when considering any home improvement project is not to go overboard. The value of your home is determined by the value of your neighbour’s homes, so don’t make improvements that bring your home’s value significantly over the general value of neighborhood homes. Over-improving is just like throwing money away.