The Most Active Year Ever

Firstly, a word from our sponsors (er…. our real estate board)    –  July 5th, 2015.

“Metro Vancouver home sales were more than a third above the 10-year average in July, while the number of homes listed for sale continues to trend below recent years.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Metro Vancouver* reached 3,978 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in July 2015. This represents a 30 per cent increase compared to the 3,061 sales recorded in July 2014, and a decrease of 9.1 per cent compared to the 4,375 sales in June 2015.

Last months sales were 33.5 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.”

It is probably premature for me to use this Update’s heading at the beginning of the 8th month of this year, but, I have, and if things continue at this pace I can say that it would, on a personal level, be mine.

Statements like the heading above often need some clarification. Does ‘active’ mean busy, challenging, remunerative, enjoyable or exhausting? In this case I believe that it includes a part of all of these. Being in my 25th year in the Real Estate profession this covers a reasonable period of time and many different types of markets. This one is certainly in the top few of the most exciting years to be a Realtor but contains a number of frustrating elements. For example, as the  representative of potential buyers, it is indeed frustrating when we are one of a number of competitors and not the final buyer (exhilarating when successful !). The client often has a devastating experience and one which, if duplicated, can certainly cause them to cease participating in this arena. This last month included one such disappointment for a client following on from a similar frustration a year earlier. I am glad to say we are continuing to pursue the sought after goal.

All in all our efforts (mine and those of my buying and selling clients) are meeting with more success than frustration. We joust on – modern day Don Quixotes? …..I wonder. Amongst the windmills of Greater Vancouver.

August 2015 Podcast

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.

August 2015 Numbers

And now, the figures for the first seven months of 2015 in comparison to those of 2014. North Van detached homes sold are up 19% from last year, attached (t/hses) up from last year by 43% and apartments up 48%. The detached median price is up 19% and inventory is down 16% from 2014. Median prices (t/hses) up 4% and down 8% for (apts). Inventory (t/hses) down 36% from July 31st 2014 and (apt) up 11% from last year for the same date.

In West Van, detached number of sales YTD for July 31st 2015 is up by 34% from last year at that time. Median price of what has sold is up 16% from last year and inventory now down 3% from July 31st 2014. On the condo side, attached (t/hses) sold by July 31st 2015 are up 17% from 2014 at 75 vs. 64 units. Active listings are up 8% year over year. Apartments reflect 122 sold in 2015 vs. 105 in 2014 – median price down 10% and active listings down 3% from July 31st 2014.

Recommended Home Improvements For Increasing 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.