Dec. 11, 2020

Community Conscious: Twelve Days of Giving Back

Packages

From November 23rd, to December 4th, we organized the collection of monetary and dry good donations for the charitable Mustard Seed Food Drive!

We simply asked our followers and clients to let us know if they wanted us to come by and safely pick up food donations from their doorstep, but also suggested they choose to make a monetary donation this year, and to like, follow, and share our campaign amongst their friends to spread the word! Needless to say, it paid off, and we even gave away an amazing prize to the winner of our December 5th draw for #TwelveDaysOfGivingBack!

Using FundRazr, an online tool that allows folks to donate directly to the organization, we created a social campaign that ran for two weeks. The realtors at our downtown and Oak Bay offices helped with cross-promotion, and now we are so proud to announce that in total we raised $7,147.00 and 88.4 lbs of food to give back to those in need in our community this year!

Now, this campaign actually also forms part of an annual Oak Bay Business Association friendly competition between the Realty offices. Though not all the offices participated this year, those who did worked hard to bring in donations! This effort, in addition to 513.3 lbs of food donations from the public directly to the Mustard Seed resulted in a grand total of $18,647.00 and 758.3 lbs of food pouring in.

We feel very proud of what was achieved, especially in a year that has been as hard and tough on most folks as any year can be. We look forward to doing even better next year, and hope you'll help us give back more!

Nov. 6, 2020

Neighbourhood Knowledge | Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain may be best known for its golf courses and resort accommodations, but it is also one of Langford's most luxurious neighbourhoods.

Bear Mountain View

Just 20 minutes away from all that Victoria (and its surrounding areas) has to offer, Bear Mountain is one of the most sought-after communities in the area. It’s the perfect hub from which to explore Southern Vancouver Island. Most attractions are just a short walk or quick drive away and can be enjoyed in a single day. Best of all, when you live here, you will have a tranquil home to look forward to at the end of your adventure!

Canada’s urban resort community, Bear Mountain is an Ecoasis resort and golf community. Live here and experience the rugged nature of the west coast! This is one of the few places in Greater Victoria where you can golf, hike, bike, play tennis, spa, dine out, or shop, all within a charming village atmosphere. Breathtaking west coast architecture and lush landscaping is anchored by the only back-to-back Nicklaus golf courses in Canada. This community is dedicated to sustainability and to creating a connected and progressive community. Part of this plan includes creating and preserving much of the area’s green spaces. Parks and green space reduce pollution, raise property values, and provide a venue for the entire community to stay active. Many of the parks throughout the municipality are connected by the City's award-winning trail network.

We really love the juxtaposition of nature in the Highlands, with urban vibrancy in Langford. It’s a truly unique combination and each offers highly desirable lifestyle choices that enrich the character of the overall community.” – Dan Matthews, Managing Partner and Founder of Ecoasis

Besides boasting an abundance of parks and trails, Bear Mountain offers several options for boutique shopping, inspired dining, and luxurious pools and spas, frequent cultural events, and enough recreational activities to satisfy even the most active outdoor enthusiast! There truly is something here for everyone.

Featured Bear Mountain Attractions

There are so many pretty, different, unique places to live in Victoria and Bear Mountain is one of the newest!

Here are some of our recommendations for when you live there:

Dining and Entertainment

Jack's Place Jack's Place Volleyball

Jack’s Place #jacksplacebearmountain

After a good hike around the mountain, you’re bound to work up a thirst! Located by the second mountain green, in the heart of the Bear Mountain Resort Village, we’ll often head over to Jack’s Place, a great neighbourhood pub that feels a little bit like Cheers. When you walk in everyone knows your name and it’s awesome!

The menu boasts all your classics, and a savory selection ranging from burgers, pizzas, and pasta, to THE BEST Sushi! They offer a sampling of specialty beers–from draft to bottled–and a large selection of wines. There’s a fabulous outdoor patio, and it’s become a popular spot for special functions, BBQs and weddings. Inside, you’ll find large screen TVs and a games room that includes a pool table and various other games. During the summer months, there is a white sand outdoor beach volleyball court, and for when you just want to hang out on your patio with friends, there are of course several liquor store options nearby.

Friday Night Flights in The Cellar at Westin Bear Mountain Resort #westinbearmountainresort

Every week the Westin hosts an intimate gathering where their experienced Sommelier handpicks a wine region and features a well (or not-­so­-well) known vintage. Get dressed-up and head down to the wine cellar to sample wines from all over the world! The wines are always different and the sommelier is very knowledgeable. Complete with cheese and canapés, this fun evening makes for an unforgettable and sophisticated experience. It’s truly a great way to spend a Friday night.

Movies & Theatre

Cineplex Odeon Westshore Cinemas

Isabelle Reader Theatre

 

Events

 

BM Music

 

Music on the Mountain

In support of live music in Victoria, the Masters Lounge and Westin Patio hosts live music featuring local, renowned or up­-and­-coming artists.

Events in Langford

Casinos

Great Canadian Casino

 

Salons and Spas

Twist Hair Salon is a full service hair, nails and waxing salon provided in a unique, relaxing and elegant atmosphere.

Amatista Spa at Bear Mountain, a spectacular new spa at the Westin, combines the natural serenity of the area with state-of-the-art technologies to create an idyllic mountain escape.

Shopping

Millstream Village

Westshore Town Centre

Local Markets

Mountain Market #mountain.market

Though open from 6 AM – 9 PM daily, on Saturday mornings we like to head over to the Mountain Market with the dogs–it’s a little coffee shop and market in the village that offers a wide variety of groceries, including local and craft products, fantastic coffee and fresh sandwiches! Pack a light lunch and go for a hike after, it’s the best way to work off the wine-ache from your Friday flights….yikes!

Goldstream Farmers Market

Just a short drive off the Mountain, located in the heart of Langford, is the Goldstream Farmers Market. Every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM, from May to October, you’ll find locally-grown and locally-processed agricultural products and creative, artisan crafts.

The Market supports and promotes a sustainable and vibrant local agricultural industry and craft community by providing an outlet for the farmers and artists of Langford and the West Shore. Local musicians and entertainers provide atmosphere throughout the day and non-profit groups share their community stories. If you grow it, make it, or bake it, come sell it!

 

Recreation

Golf

Easily, the most popular attractions here are the two world-class Nicklaus Golf Courses: the rugged, challenging Mountain Course and the more serene Valley Course. Combined, these two courses represent the only 36-hole Nicklaus Design golf experience in Canada. All fees for both courses include power cart with GPS, club valet and club cleaning services, and warm up balls on the practice facility.

Tennis

Another popular recreation amenity is Canada's largest indoor/outdoor red clay court tennis centre.

Mountain Biker BM

Mountain Biking

A mecca for trail and cross country riding and chosen by Cycling Canada as their year-round training grounds for the National Mountain Bike Team, the bike park at Bear Mountain is open for riding every day of the year. Experience the network of intermediate to advanced west coast single track, sweeping flow lines, and scenic climbs.

Sporting Events

Westhills Stadium (Rugby Canada, Rebels Football, Highlanders Soccer)

The Q Centre (Grizzlies Hockey, Shamrocks Lacrosse)

Pacific FC

Fitness and Swimming

The North Langford Recreation Centre provides premium amenities and a variety of health and wellness opportunities for all levels of fitness. Featuring ladies only & co-ed gyms, group classes tennis, year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub and more. During the summer months, you can relax cabana-style at the poolside restaurant.

Bear Mountain is also just a short 10 minute drive to the famed Sooke Potholes and two beautiful swimming lakes: Thetis Lake and Langford Lake.

Amusement Parks & Racing

All Fun Amusement Park
Eagle Ridge Centre (bowling, water park, Kids Play Zone, mini golf, ice rink)
WildPlay Element Parks
Adrena LINE Zipline Adventure Tours

Learn about the wildlife, history, and natural beauty of Sooke and Colwood while having fun! Soar amongst the treetops, tackle different obstacles, or go for a bumpy ride.

Running Woman

Parks & Trails

No matter what the activity, the City of Langford has a park for it. Green spaces abound in Langford, from the lush Goldstream Provincial Park to Veteran's Memorial Park. Public spaces promote healthy living and a sense of place and community. Serene lakes and green spaces raise property values, reduce pollution, and provide a venue for sport and activity. The City continues to develop their award-winning pedestrian trail network and bicycle transportation routes within the growing town, working to make places where every resident and visitor can create positive memories. From accessible playgrounds and facilities to wilderness areas, there is something for everyone in Langford's parks!

Hiking

Goldstream Provincial Park
Mt. Finlayson & Gowlland Tod Provincial Park
Francis King Regional Park
East Sooke Park

 

Outdoor Winter Ice Skating

During the wintertime the outdoor skating rink is transformed into a beautiful and romantic Winter Wonderland. This is a magical place to spend time with family, friends and loved ones.

The City of Langford shines with amenities for families and individuals. From annual and seasonal events that draw thousands to amazing facilities with something for everyone, Langford is southern Vancouver Island's playground.

 

Oct. 29, 2020

Neighbourhood Knowledge | Oak Bay

 

When you look at a Map of Victoria, it can confuse even a life-long local. The big districts are broken into many smaller neighbourhoods, and most neighbourhoods have their own central hub that locals will usually reference as though that part is its own neighbourhood!

As such, we thought we would start sharing some of what we know about each part of our fair city–both in terms of history and what makes each place great to visit or live in today!

 

 

Something that visitors often find confusing, is that Victorians will refer to neighbourhoods that are actually in different municipalities or cities! A good example, which we’re about to dive into, is the Municipality of Oak Bay.

 

Widely regarded as upscale, green, and peaceful, this idyllic part of Victoria boasts great public and private schools, community centres, and some of the finest character and new-build homes in the city!

 

 

About a ten minute drive, a twenty-minute bike ride, or a one-hour walk from downtown, the District of Oak Bay has a few commercial centres worth spending time in on a regular basis. The main village situated on Oak Bay Ave. is picturesque, friendly, and one of the most iconic remaining Tudor-inspired architectural hubs in Canada. Many films have come to this location for a perfect backdrop, and during the spring and summer the avenue turns pedestrian-only for market nights, which most locals frequent religiously for a spot of fun.

 

 

Famously, the Oak Bay Marina caters to sailors wanting to moor in a convenient port to the city. The district boasts many points of historical and cultural interest, including top shops and restaurants (follow our Instagram @theagencyoakbay to see some of our go-to’s), art galleries, gorgeous green parks, and sandy beaches for families to play in. Willows Beach is understandably ranked #1 by most locals, but a close second and third are Gonzales Bay and the walk from there to Dallas Road (a pebbly beach with crystal clear waters and some of the best promenade in the city). Of course, that takes you to Fairfield, which though similar to Oak Bay is actually considered to be part of Greater Victoria.

 

 

Bordered by the University of Victoria and the Municipality of Saanich to the North, and a beautiful stretch of coastline bending South from the Haro strait along the East towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Near the aforementioned Willows Beach, you’ll find a few other commercial centres that round out anything a resident could need. Estevan Village, and the hubs at Foul Bay and Cadboro Bay Road will surprise and delight you year-round!

Oct. 22, 2020

Office Talk | Bringing Your Pets

 

Between the five members of our team, we have four dogs–that’s nearly one human per pupper. Bringing them to work with us is great because not only do we worry so much less about them, they are also a welcome reminder to take breaks throughout the day and feel home comforts!

 

There are many benefits to having a pet and bringing them to the office, and since it’s changed our work and home balance for the better we thought it could be interesting to compile a list!

 

Penelope, a French bulldog, looking over the edge of a sofa.

 

Benefits for our people:

  • Periodic distraction from screens and tension reduces stress and increases productivity
  • Playing with pets relieves hypertension and is known to lower blood pressure
  • We take more breaks because they need to go for a walk or two, eat, and drink water...much like how we ought to be breaking up our workday anyway
  • Eliminates the possibility that neighbours could be annoyed by barking or whimpering when you’re gone

 

A girl sitting on her couch at home feeding her dog a treat.

 

Benefits for our dogs:

  • Stop missing us when we’re gone
  • Get even more love, encouragement, and attention than you normally give them
  • Don’t miss out on any walks (if they’d get more in a typical day at home)
  • Grow accustomed to being around more strangers and visiting clients

 

A meme with Emma in the backdrop, looking lonely, and wondering where people are at the office.

Now, obviously some care must be taken if you’re considering allowing furry friends to start visiting your workplace. We recommend you offer a survey that can tell you how your people feel about pets, especially their sensitivities based on allergies or fears.

Minor costs are associated with having pet food/bowls, beds, cleaning supplies, and a handful of toys for them to use. Also, it’d be wise to look into the legal considerations involved in case a pet goes rogue, which does happen on occasion even with the most well-behaved of pets.

We’ve always been fortunate in that most who visit Briggs & Stratton and Associates love dogs or already know Emma, Penelope, Marley, and Finn. Besides that, they are well-trained and pretty docile dogs, but depending on who actually is in the office with you and how much traffic you normally see bringing doggos in might not be the best for you, your employees, or clients!

Bathtime for three puppies.

It’s been nothing but positive for us so far, so we’re not going to change their visitation rights anytime soon, but you’ll realize soon after making the change that your work days fill with joy. Weigh out your options and all the pros and cons so you make the best decision for you, your team, and your business!

 

Posted in Office Talk
Oct. 15, 2020

Neighbourhood Knowledge | Rockland

 

When you look at a map of Victoria, it can confuse even a life-long local.

The big districts are broken into many smaller neighbourhoods, and most neighbourhoods have their own central hub that locals will usually reference as though that part is its own neighbourhood! As such, we thought we would start sharing some of what we know about each part of our fair city–both in terms of history and what makes each place great to visit or live in today!

 

 

 

First off the docket is Rockland. Fittingly, one of the oldest parts of Victoria and easily one of the greenest, there is a sense of old-world grandeur and opulent elegance lingering here.

Developed in the 19th century, it was once a rocky hilltop home to glamorous mansion estates and dotted with Garry Oak trees native to the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

Popular at the time was the Arts & Crafts style, perpetuated throughout Victoria by famed architect Samuel Maclure. Many of these properties have been designated heritage homes, their different owners in time having restored or maintained their varied stylistic traits. Around Victoria you’ll find a variety of buildings with similar designations that look totally different! This speaks to the many changes that Victoria has undergone in its 158 year-old history, and to the blend of people and mixed social classes that lived in it’s different neighbourhoods as it slowly changed from fort to city.

 

 

Where Joan Crescent and Craigdarroch Road meet, you’ll find the area’s only official park (and the neighbourhood association’s pet project), known as the “Rockland Woodland Garden”. But, a touch more remarkable, and perhaps world-renowned, are two nearby national heritage sites that we all take for granted far too frequently: Government House and Craigdarroch Castle.

Situated an easy walking distance to the downtown core and a few different sections of coastline, there is nothing you’ll miss by living here–talk about location, location, location!

 

 

To this day, Rockland is primarily a residential and extremely peaceful neighbourhood, with a few spots of commercial activity to the West and North. Deer roam freely, as do the locals that you can find strolling down hidden paths and winding roads as they go to and from other parts of town. Most of the old properties have been revived and converted into character apartment suites, townhouses, care facilities, or single family homes. With a range of great schools nearby, community and recreation centres, shops, cafes, and the like, Rockland sits well with all!

For information on our current listings in Rockland, click here. For more detailed information about relocating to Victoria, click here. Stay tuned for our next neighbourhood post!

 

Sept. 18, 2020

Cowichan Valley | Napa of the North

Known for its mild climate and thriving artisan communities, there's always a variety of fun experiences to have when you live on Vancouver Island. It's a great gift to live in a part of the world that sees just enough of every season, offers easy access to mountain peaks and meandering shorelines, and boasts some of the best libations and culinary cognizance in the country.

 

Rocky Creek Winery

 

Amidst picturesque vistas of valleys and vineyards, forests and farmland, sits a place of incredible beauty, timeless traditions, and tidal rhythms. Just a short drive North of Victoria are some incredible wineries, cideries, and breweries to frequent when you live here.

Exploring the area is easy by car or bicycle, and can make for a memorable excursion from bigger close-by cities. However, if you’re looking to settle into a place where the living is easy, awesome, and steeped in a special sort of mystique, consider moving to Cowichan.

 

Bottle holding collection of cork stoppers.

 

The rolling fertile valleys of this “land warmed by the sun” have attracted hobby farmers and organic crop growers for a long time. Living well is a lifestyle here, and nowadays there’s an abundance of local eateries inviting you to sip, savour, and splurge on local favourites.

Not exhaustive by any means, here's a quick list of our top picks:

WINERIES

Rocky Creek
Blue Grouse
Cherry Point
Unsworth
Averill Creek
Zanatta

CIDERIES & DISTILLERIES

Merridale
Tod Creek
Valley Cider

BREWERIES

Red Arrow
Riot
McBarley's

EATS

Bridgeman's Bistro
Cow Cafe
Ma Maison
The Ainslie
True Grain
Villa Eyrie Resort

 

Handful of grapes

 

Life in this region is full of outdoor adventures too! Explore nearby communities rich with wildlife to watch, freshwater lakes to swim and paddle board, hills to hike, old-growth trees to feel tiny under, and so much more. It’s pretty hard not to slow down and savour life here.

 

June 2, 2020

COVID-19 | Real Estate Activity Picks Up As Restrictions Ease

The Coronavirus may have slowed things down slightly, but home sales and listings continued to take place. Now that restrictions are lifting and we're allowed more places are starting to open, we're seeing a surge in activity as many home buyers and sellers who have been eagerly waiting on the sidelines, are now are jumping into action.

Victoria BC Real Estate Market Update: June 2020

June 1, 2020 A total of 457 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this May, 46.1 per cent fewer than the 848 properties sold in May 2019 but 59.2 per cent more than the previous month of April 2020. Sales of condominiums were down 55.7 per cent from May 2019 with 108 units sold. Sales of single family homes were down 42.9 per cent from May 2019 with 254 sold.

"Our market continues to respond to the current health crisis," says Victoria Real Estate Board President Sandi-Jo Ayers. "Activity in real estate right now echoes the activity in our broader community - as restrictions gradually begin to lift - so too have our sales and listings numbers. Of course, like any industry, we do not expect a sudden shift back to any kind of normal. That said, one theme that persists in our market is that well-priced properties in high demand areas continue to see multiple offers. Demand exists and we continue to have motivated buyers searching for their perfect home."

There were 2,544 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of May 2020, 15.7 percent fewer properties than the total available at the end of May 2019 but a 10.4 per cent increase from the 2,305 active listings for sale at the end of April 2020.

"If you're considering buying or selling a property right now you will find the experience different than pre-pandemic," adds Ayers. "REALTORS® are doing our part to ensure that there is not a resurgence of COVID-19 in our community by following government health and safety guidelines, by leveraging technology to facilitate many aspects of the real estate transaction virtually and by implementing various clean showing protocols. Your Realtor will navigate the new processes and requirements to keep you, your property and our city safe and healthy."

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in May 2019 was $863,000. The benchmark value for the same home in May 2020 increased by 2.6 per cent to $885,400, 0.1 per cent more than April's value of $884,600. The MLS® HPI benchmark value for a condominium in the Victoria Core area in May 2019 was $516,400, while the benchmark value for the same condominium in May 2020 increased by 3.5 per cent to $534,300, 0.1 per cent more than the April value of $533,600.

Victoria BC Real Estate Market Update: June 2020 Statistics Overview

Victoria-Real-Estate-Market-Update-June-2020

To see the full report, click here.

Posted in Market Updates
June 2, 2020

COVID-19 | Office Re-Opening Protocols

Briggs and Stratton Realtors Office Re-Opening and Covid-19 Protocols

Business As (un)Usual

We're excited to be back to work in our Oak Bay office! With that, to protect everyone's safety, we have a few protocols in place. Please continue reading to ensure you understand how we will be operating in this "new normal".

Office Re-Opening & Protocols

1. Limited Hours

Limited hours for the time being are: Monday - Friday: 9am - 3pm

2. Appointments Required for Office Visits

Please call or email ahead if you plan to visit our office and we will schedule a visiting time for you.

3. Office Sanitization

We have a sanitizing station at our front door. Please use it when you visit and remember to maintain social distance of 6ft.

For added measure, we regularly wipe all handles & surfaces with professional grade sanitizer.

4. Home Viewing Protocols

Prior to viewing a property in person, we will require you to sign a Covid-19 release form.

While visiting the property, please:

  • Masks are not required, however we invite you to wear them if it makes you feel more comfortable
  • Use provided sanitizer and wipes
  • Practice 6ft social distancing
  • Do not touch anything (this includes not opening cupboards, doors, windows, etc.). Your realtor will turn on all lights and will ensure doors are opened

Thank-you in advance for respecting these protocols and understanding why we must follow them. The health and safety of you, our clients and our team, are very important to us.

Posted in Market Updates
May 8, 2020

Top Tips | Landscaping & Sustainable Gardening

Landscaping and Sustainable Gardening Tips

Landscape

A well landscaped garden can make the difference between an aesthetically pleasing home brimming with curb appeal and one that looks like it’s been let run wild. It can also save you money in the long run by working with a budget, planning for the future and can also require less maintenance.

Here are some tips to help you create a beautiful garden space that you’ll want to spend all your sunny days in.

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Posted in Market Updates
April 29, 2020

Top Tips | Home Workspace Ideas

Home Workspace Ideas and Tips

These days, more and more people are starting to work remotely. For those used to working in a formal office setting, working from home is a new experience that may require a few adjustments. Having a dedicated work space in your home - especially one away from such temptations as bed, as TV and snacks - will help avoid distractions and focus on work.

In this article we'll share some of our favourite work from home hacks as well as some inspiring ideas from Sotheby's to set up the perfect home office.

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Posted in Market Updates