July 15, 2021

Easy Interior Design Cheats

So you’ve put in an offer, subjects have come off, and now you can let yourself daydream. Or have you just decided it’s time to move on and are staging to sell? Just because you don’t fully own your home yet, or if you are in those initial stages of selling, doesn’t mean you can’t think of the best way to show it off!

When planning how to decorate any space it’s essential to start by choosing a few key pieces, aiming for adaptability, low-maintenance materials, and neutral tones. Here are a few of our tips around making the house feel and look its best for anyone who may be coming by:

 

 

1. Greenery

A space filled with the different textures and hues provided by plants can actually allow you to personalize rooms without leaving a mark. Choosing ones with various maturity levels, heights, and the pot colours and designs can do the same job as walls full of art. The placement really allows you to stylize each room and make it feel spacious.

 

 

2. Rugs

If you’re lucky enough to have floors in great shape that act as a focal point of their own accord, then use that to your advantage. But, usually, putting down area rugs (not full carpet) can do wonders for a space. They add warmth, colour, ambiance, and depth. They tie with your furniture to create spaces within bigger spaces, protecting your floors, soundproofing between stories, and grounding you to that particular place.

 

 

3. Modular Furniture

Furniture does not need to be expensive, formal, heavy, or remotely permanent! Nowadays, most homes have open concept floor plans and modular furniture really allows you to flex and customize when your lifestyle needs change. Additionally, if you’re planning to make structural changes at any point you’ll have the ability to modify your setup time and time again.

This type of furniture can be easily built and taken apart, is often affordable, environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient! You can easily find pieces that are to your taste, look good, but suit the space and make potential buyers feel at ease with how they might live in the same space.

 

 

4. Lighting

This one is pretty obvious, but it also tends to be something a lot of us don’t focus effort on. Invest in stand out pieces that give that “homey” feeling and tie the other elements of the room together without being too unique or attention-grabbing. Light is something that soothes and balances–it sets the tone or mood of a space and helps us feel more comfortable. It can also be used to showcase the best features of any room, and can generally be done at a fairly reasonable cost. The bonus? You can move it around and take most of these fixtures with you.

 

 

With that, you have a good start. These elements can make a room feel lived-in without being saturated by personal mementos and collectables. You can tell a story that has an unwritten ending, and invite visitors to imagine how they would finish it off. Most especially when you know you’ll be living here for some time, the best advice we can give is to start with some key bigger items that are practical, and then only add pieces as you come across them that really, truly, bring you joy.

Posted in Tips and FAQs
June 21, 2021

Here Comes The Summer

As summer kicks off, we can’t help but relish in the many options that Victoria, BC offers for a lakeside weekend, be it a getaway or an easy breezy lake day, we have lakes near wineries, hiking trails, and some of the dearest towns north of Victoria.

Having spent as much time exploring outside as we could this year, we thought you might want to know a little more about our favorite lakes to cool off in during the Summer.

 

 

 

1. Shawnigan Lake

An easy 30 minute drive out of Victoria, BC this is a great spot to rent a home for a week or two during the summer season. Most homes feature private docks and allow motorized sports so get out those water skis, wakeboards, and even a trendy SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board)! If you want to treat yourself or the family to some top-notch dining, the local go-to is The Lakehouse.

 

  

Pictured: Our newest listing at 2415 West Shawnigan Lake Road | $1,499,000

LEARN MORE

 

 

2. Cowichan Lake

This one is a little bit further out from Victoria, BC but it’s another top spot for locals to head to. In the centre of town, many folks like to rent a tube at The Tube Shack and dedicate the day to floating casually down river. The lake and river are mostly great for kids, but there are parts of the river that are notoriously tricky and even dangerous so it’s best to do a little bit of research to be safe. We always love jumping in just by Jakes at the Lake, which is also a perfect spot to break for lunch too. Homes can be rented in Cowichan for a holiday right on the lake and you’ll be a hop, skip away from Duncan, BC!

 

 

3. Day Tripping

If what you really want is a day spot to visit, there are some absolute classics in Victoria, BC. Elk Lake, Beaver Lake, and Thetis Lake all offer some beach area to throw a blanket down and that can be in or out of the shade–your call. These are well maintained public areas, often with bathrooms, fountains, parking, and bordering trails to walk about if you wish! All are relatively close to the city centre, and Sophia herself often walks around them with her pups as the loops range from approx. 5K to 10K and are used by many locals. Some other classic hotspots include Durrance Lake, Pease Lake, and the Sooke Potholes.

 

 

June 9, 2021

We Love Our Local Magazines

There are so many incredible publications in Victoria BC, and they can usually be found in shops and cafes all over the place. Why? Because small businesses here are each other's biggest supporters–one of the many reasons we choose to operate here. 

Every community in Victoria has honed in on the art of shopping locally, most locals leading by example for their family and friends. But especially in the last decade, there has been a clear social movement toward slow food, craft brews, artisanal products, and the like. As such, local publications have welcomed the breadth of brands, goods, and services, to advertise and promote. One of those, is our own. 

We are proud to be featured four times a year in YAM Magazine. The local expertise, and passionate drive, of the team at Briggs & Stratton and Associates is regularly showcased in this high quality and popularly read magazine. YAM celebrates the vibrant personalities, trends, and tastes that make Greater Victoria such a desirable place to live. Produced by independent media company Page One Publishing, the magazine shares the expertise of some of Victoria's most prominent and successful residents and also documents current trends and new haunts to experience through features, profiles, and how-to articles.

 

Front cover of YAM Magazine, May/Jun 2021

If you haven't received or picked up a copy of your own yet, you can click the cover image above to see it on Issuu along with our other publications for more information on how we can help you in your Real Estate endeavours!

For another great read, Page One also publishes SPRUCE Magazine–a content-rich, beautifully photographed read that publishes thrice per year (Spring, Summer, and Fall/Winter). The magazine showcases Victoria's most interesting and innovative homes, as well as ideas and resources around home and design that make this unique region a sought-after place to call home.

Read Spruce Magazine Spring 2021 on Issuu

Posted in Press
June 8, 2021

We Love Our Local Magazines

There are so many incredible publications in Victoria BC, and they can usually found in shops and cafes all over the place. Why? Because small businesses in Victoria are each others biggest supporters–one of the many reasons we choose to operate here. 

Every community in Victoria has honed in on the art of shopping locally, most locals leading by example for their family and friends. But especially in the last decade, there has been a clear social movement toward slow food, craft brews, artisanal products, and the like. As such, local publications have welcomed the wide breadth of brands, goods, and services, to advertise and promote. One of those, is our own.

We are proud to be featured six times a year in Boulevard Magazine, and in Tweed Magazine as well. The local expertise, and passionate drive, of the team at Briggs & Stratton and Associates is regularly showcased in these high quality and commonly loved magazines.

Boulevard is a leading lifestyle magazine published bi-monthly throughout Greater Victoria for over 26 years. Boulevard Magazine is designed to capture the personality, culture and vitality that is Greater Victoria by focusing on the Arts, People, Trends, Food, Architecture and Design.

Front cover of Boulevard Magazine, April/May 2021

Tweed Magazine tells the stories of our unique and eclectic community here in Oak Bay. Readers look forward to an amazing narrative that explores not only local businesses and their owners, but also all the nooks and crannies of the neighbourhood including it's great cafes, shops, restaurants, and other amenities! In short, what makes Oak Bay great.

 

Tweed Spring 2021 on Issuu

If you haven't received or picked up a copy of your own yet, you can click either of the cover images above to see them on Issuu along with our other publications for more information on how we can help you in your Real Estate endeavours!

Posted in Press
May 27, 2021

Ask Your Realtor | Terms & Conditions

This may not be a particularly “fun” blog, but it’s an important one. For folks writing offers on a new property there are things that you will need to find out about to ensure it's a property that fits your needs and the needs of your family. Our Buyer's Guide does a deeper dive into defining your goals.

 


 

When you view a property (and like it) you can write an offer, but you still have the opportunity to make sure it really is the right property overall. Whether you are searching for a single family home, duplex, townhouse, or a condo, each property will include different pros and cons you should be clear on before moving forward.

In a standard Contract of Purchase and Sale, there is a section referred to as Terms and Conditions. The terms can refer to how much you are offering to pay, the date you want to take possession, how much of a deposit you are going to be able to put down, etc. Though decided upon at the time of writing, they can sometimes change down the road, so long as all parties agree to the changes being requested and made.

Conditions (AKA. Subjects) are often considered to be the potential “deal breakers” of an offer. Also decided upon at the time of writing, you’ll usually have about 10 days to waive or remove them if you wish to–it is referred to as “our due diligence”. If any of the subjects demonstrate that the home is not what you want after all then you can be “released” from the offer and walk away without penalty having put no money down.

 

 

The two most common subjects or conditions you’ll hear of, though there are more, include:

 

Financing

By the time you’ve reached this point, you should already have a pre-approval. Once an offer has been accepted, we then inform the bank to get their official approval. The bank needs to feel confident about the value of the property and be sure that it isn’t worth less than what they’ll be lending, so they may seek an appraisal and request an appraiser go look at the property.

 

Home Inspection

This is an important subject, especially if you are buying an older home, as you’ll want to know what condition the property is currently in and answer some key questions: How old is the roof? Is the foundation in good shape? Are there any signs of water damage? Find out all you can about the larger components of the home, because these are the aspects that could cost you big money if they need to get dealt with. When something needs to be repaired or replaced right away, there may be options for you as a buyer because Nancy and Sophia can ask the sellers to take care of the issues as part of the conditions. If it’s something that is too great an expense to remedy, we could instead opt to walk away from the offer altogether.

 

 

Depending on what you are buying: condo, single family home, or investment property, there are many parts to making an offer to purchase. What is key for you to know is that we will put the terms and conditions into an offer that make the most sense for your needs, goals, and plans!

This intro. was just a start, but we hope it gives you a better idea of some of the most important aspects of making an offer and all that comes with the process of buying a home.

Posted in Ask A Realtor
May 18, 2021

Our Handy Guides to Buying & Selling

We recently revamped our free, wisdom-filled, tip-packed guides on the process of buying and/or selling homes. If you've ever wondered about all the different steps involved, or if you wish you'd been given a list of key contacts involved in relocation, you'll find thorough and essential advice in these informative booklets!

 

 

Using Issuu, a great platform that allows you to share publications online, we've been sharing them across our social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. For even more great advice and to learn about our agents' day-to-day real estate adventures, give us a follow there too!

 

 

We recommend browsing in fullscreen mode, but feel free to download each guide here and then use your favourite viewing software to fill in the interactive pages, annotate key ideas you wish to remember, or highlight the advice that most speaks to your situation and goals!

Want to learn even more from our agents? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and Ask A Realtor playlist for regular, easy to digest tips from the experts.

Posted in Tips and FAQs
May 12, 2021

Ask A Realtor | The Importance of Financing

As a Realtor, and the wife of a mortgage broker, Sophia understands the world of Real Estate from various angles, including how lending works. She is also from a generation that has learned to live with a lot of debt, some of which is “good” but mostly it’s “bad”. 

Credit-building debt (or “good” debt) is that which you can use to prove your dependability, responsibility, and financial stability to lenders. This would include regularly paid phone, utility, and credit card bills or loan payments. Harmful debt (or “bad” debt) can quickly bring down this kind of hard work, by pushing your limits and overspending without having enough income to tell a lender that you will be more than likely to pay them back in a timely manner.

In simpler terms, having good debt shows another entity that they can trust you with their money. They can confidently let you borrow funds, and know they will get it back with little hassle. Having bad debt habits, makes everything harder and riskier. After all, would you lend money to someone that can’t really show you they’ll for sure pay you back? Didn’t think so.

 

Mastercard

 

Now, we’ve explained a little about this already in our earlier post about credit scores. This time, we want to elaborate on why “bad” debt prevents folks from successfully purchasing property:

1. Car loans.

This is at the top of our list, and it does have the most serious consequences. Our agents see so many people paying $1200+ a month in car loans! This type of payment could actually cost you a few hundred thousand when it comes to getting a mortgage approval. Our best advice is to buy real estate before you take on a car purchase (with loan).

2. Student loans.

Getting your education is, of course, hugely significant and important. That said, be very wary as your repayment gets included into your debt ratio. So, as always with loans, focus first on overpaying whenever you can instead of just the minimum amount. Paying down the principal will save you a lot of interest fees over time!

3. Not saving for a down payment.

General living costs, especially here in Victoria, British Columbia, are getting more and more expensive. The modern world comes with a growing price tag too. Sound obvious, but it’s worth acknowledging, because if your goal is to own a home then it will never be more important than it is right now to choose adding to your savings account over buying the newest airpods or going out for lunch every day, etc. There’s no way to sugar coat this one: either you save your pennies, or you pinch them in a rental forever.

4. Maxed out credit cards.

This is a double whammy no-no. Not only does this massively hurt your credit score, it will most certainly affect your pre-approval application. For a deeper dive into credit, and how to manage it, read our recent post all about the subject.

 

 

Moving forward towards your goals will feel less stressful and far more achievable if you heed our warnings and begin implementing baby steps toward changing bad money habits into good ones. There are great tutorials and podcasts out there, but even better is first hand advice from our in-house mortgage broker. Reach out today to start getting closer to your dream home!

Posted in Ask A Realtor
April 23, 2021

Ask Your Realtor | Credit Scores

 

We work with lots of first time buyers and people just starting to think about buying a home. Along with many other factors that make up the purchase of a home, financing (the funds you are able to borrow from lenders) is a significant part.

Your credit score is one of the biggest markers lenders will look at, and it’s worrisome as realtors when so many people are confused as to how credit scores work and how to maintain a good score! In an effort to clear up the confusion, let’s review three easy starting points to getting you that great score:

 

 

1. You actually need to have a little debt! 

 

We know this seems contradictory and totally backwards, but you need to have at least a few credit lines that act as proof of your ability to pay off monthly debt consistently. Having no debt is definitely still a good thing, but it can be even better to go into a little debt and demonstrate how you pay it off because it gives lenders the confidence in you to loan you funds and trust that they’ll be paid back. 

Examples include: loans, credit cards, lines of credit, or even your phone bill! If you don't have any of these pieces in play, you can easily sign up for a low limit credit card. All you have to do is use it once and a month and pay it in full for a regular period of time.

 

 

2. Do not be late! 

 

This might be the key piece of the puzzle. No matter what you do, make your payments on time and in full. Being a day late on your cell phone bill might not seem like an issue, but that gets reported to the credit bureau and it can affect your score in a bad way! We set our banking to auto-pay our cell phone bills–believe it or not, we’ve been there and done that...lesson learned.

 

 

3. Never approach the limit!

 

If you’re one of those people that often toe the line with your credit card or line of credit, just stop now. If you want to reach your home buying goals, or really any financial goal, you have to start keeping your balance at around 50% or less than your limit allows. Part of having debt is showing you have enough self-control not to go blow it all every month on “things”.

Okay, so now that we’ve made you stop and smell the dollars, we want to make sure you know it’s not just us that have your best interests in mind! Your score can change quickly so start making small mental notes to yourself every time you pull out your wallet. Focus on what that purchase could ripple into, this kind of attention will most certainly pay off in the long run!

 

Here are some great resources that you should delve into:

Government of Canada: Improving Your Credit Score

TransUnion: How To Improve Credit Score

Equifax: How To Improve Your Credit Worthiness

Find Me A Mortgage: A List of Canada’s Key Financial Bodies

Posted in Ask A Realtor
April 1, 2021

We Could All Use A Little Staycation

 

Lets face it, we all need a little break from the go, go, go, and media messaging of today's world. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to book a staycation on the lower portion of Vancouver Island, and with ready access to great outdoor activities year-round, any time is the right time to get a change of pace, or breathe some different air!

 

 

Without disregarding the public health orders, you can still safely treat yourself to a mini-adventure in your community and show support for local travel businesses! We thought we’d give you our top picks to consider visiting this month:

 

1. Point No Point | 250 646 2020

Bring along that stack of books you never get to, a kit of craft supplies to work that long-ignored side of your brain, or a disposable camera to document your experience with. That’s right, go analog, get off the grid.

Just past Sooke sits a haven for travellers on the remote West Coast. Venture into the wilderness and take a moment to meditate on the natural beauty of the place we all call home. Mere minutes driving, you’ll have a multitude of beaches and park trails to explore from dawn to dusk right nearby!

This is a uniquely coastal experience, and you’ll be able to choose from 18 different fully-renovated, and enviously cozy, log cabins on the water. You’ll be able to order in from the restaurant and really settle in, and even pamper yourself at the hands of Sooke West Coast Wellness (book ahead). Take our word for it, you’ll have no regrets.

 

 

2. Brentwood Bay Beach Resort | 250 544 2079

If it’s luxury with more than a splash of zen, you’ve found your spot. Though offerings may vary now that new public health orders have come out, the resort offers you the perfect mix of all things: live music, stunning views, fresh food, and “joyfully graceful” service as they put it.

Want to jot down your thoughts or dream big new ideas over a delicious cup of coffee? Do it.
Want to call your family or listen to a great podcast while the sun goes down at the pub? Do it.
Want to connect with others over a meal, like really tune out the tech and look each other in the eye? Do it,
but over one of the most nourishing and wholesome meals from The Arbutus Room.

Hole up in beautifully appointed rooms after getting out on the water or soothing your soul at the spa. Right now, there’s even special Mother’s Day and springtime offers that local residents should absolutely take advantage of!

 

 

3. Oak Bay Beach Hotel | 250 598 4556

This is our team's favorite place to stay in town. Located just a few blocks from our office, the hotel offers 100 different rooms with panoramic views of the ocean and also residential Oak Bay. Three great restaurants, one of which is Faro–a favourite for their wood fired pizzas–boast quality service and individual charm. The best place to relax though, is in their seaside heated pool, hot tubs, or at the spa. It's a great place to unwind and enjoy a glass of wine as the sun sets.

The hotel is still close enough to town that you could even walk into Oak Bay village for a patio meal at Vis-a-Vis or stroll down to Estevan Village in the morning for a spot of brunch at your leisure!

 

 

Honestly, it was hard even to pick just three places to share with you but there you have some incredibly luxurious, unique, dreamy staycation spots to check out!

If you aren’t comfortable leaving your home, you can still create the feeling of being on vacation right where you are. Consider ordering food to pick up or have delivered from the above-mentioned restaurants! Or, click this list of Victoria’s finest to order treats from. Pick out some movies, bury your tech, and more important than ever: get outside!

 

 

Feb. 25, 2021

Ask A Realtor | Preparing For Sale

 

That saying that’s been passed down to us since grade school, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression,” is as applicable to selling a home as it is to making a connection. 

The market in Victoria continues to move quickly, and the competition is fierce. You really only have one shot at leaving a good impression on current buyers, and we just thought you might like a hand figuring out where to begin when it comes to getting your home listing-ready.

 

Sparling Living   Moss Bedroom

 

As realtors, we love when homeowners ask us to help them build out a to-do list before hitting the market. Obviously, each home is different, but here are seven of our top tips for every home:

 

1. Half Pack. As you’re already “on the move”, why not get a jump on things?

This step not only helps you declutter your home (less is always more), but it gives you a great excuse to finally clear out and hone in on what you want to take with you into your new space.

When it comes to selling your home, you need to keep rooms minimalistic and tidy (but not empty), so that buyers can clearly see the space and envision themselves in it
.

 

2. Clean, clean and clean some more. Having a clean home goes a long way.

This means giving your home a deep scrub inside and out. We know it can be hard keeping your space “show ready” but it really does go a long way! Some sellers like to book a getaway that first week so that they don’t need to take on extra cleaning duties.

 

3. Paint! Painting, along with cleaning, is a brilliant way to clean up your space while giving it a crisp “like-new” look. 

Remember to use neutral color. It’s important to realize your personal preferences need to take a back seat until you move into your new home. When selling, focus your efforts on what will help a new buyer visualize their belongings and personal style in your home.

A fresh coat of paint on the exterior could carry significant weight in their first impression. It also has potential to add a lot of curb appeal, so make sure you leave time to paint!

 

4. Hire help. Get a handyman to come and fix all those small issues you’ve put off. Things like the front door lock sticking or a leaky kitchen faucet should be fixed before you put the home on the market.

 

5. Curb appeal. Try and help your home to stand out from the neighbours. By adding a few plants or giving the driveway a good pressure wash, you’ll turn heads. Keep your front yard looking neat and tidy, then add in a pop of colour or texture using a few unique plants in the garden or even in spectacular pots to draw eyes to the front door.

 

6. Light it up! Shine a light on your homes best features.

Make sure you’ve changed out any burnt out lightbulbs and see if there are better ways to configure lighting or make it more efficient. Installing simple lighting along the front path, or sconces on the garage are the small finishes that add comfort outside.

There’s nothing worse than a home that sits in the dark, or poorly lit rooms that bring your mood down (especially if the room is already fairly dark). People, like plants, need light to feel energized and proactive, so if you have some darker rooms bring light in!

 

7. Set the stage. Is your home vacant? It might be smart to look into some staging options. 

Buyers can’t always visualize a room without furniture in it. Bringing a couch into the living room, or a table into the dining area really goes a long way when imagination just won’t cut it. At Briggs & Stratton and Associates we can happily assist with a “light” level of staging, but if your space is completely empty we can connect you with some great staging teams right here in Victoria.

 

Staged Study   Kitchen

 

These are some of the most essential steps you ought to take when preparing to sell your home. Of course there are many other things you can do although they will likely depend on your particular home’s condition, layout, and level of wear. Realtor® Sophia elaborates further in our latest “Ask A Realtor” vlog!

 

 

Comment below with your own recommendations and best experiences prepping a property for sale, that way we’ll pool all the best advice for selling well here for future readers!

If you, or anyone you know is thinking they might be ready to get listed, reach out to our experienced all-star agents today by phone or email. Be sure to download our free Seller’s Guide for more #expertadvice on the process of preparing your home for sale and listing it!