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!

Feb. 12, 2021

The Value of Representation

Before you disclose confidential information to a real estate professional regarding a real estate transaction, you should understand the type of business relationship you have with that individual.

Many people are under the impression that to buy and sell property you need to be represented by a real estate agent. Although we feel that this really should be the case, we want to clarify that you actually don’t have to be a client–you have the option of choosing to act without representation if you so wish. This would mean that you want to view properties on your own and not be shown around or assisted in any other ways by a real estate agent, which is fine as long as you assume the risks!

 

4246 Gordon Head

 

In this type of relationship, anything discussed with the realtor(s) is not protected or confidential. You've decided to go unrepresented, which means that on the day you view a property, the real estate agent (on either the listing or selling side) can only discuss the details pertaining to the property itself with you–they cannot advise you on any other matter.

Facts to do with a property include finer points like: dimensions, any changes made, grounds and maintenance, its particular ins and outs, etc, but nothing else! You may wish to see multiple properties, and a realtor will always be able to grant you access, but they’ll help with little else. Things tend to get tricky when you end up loving a house and want to move forward writing up an offer.

Because that real estate agent is working for the seller, it follows that they cannot advise you on anything in regard to your offer. Not how much, what subjects/conditions you should go in with, or anything else! They can only act as a scribe, writing what you say into the contract and then presenting it to their clients.

 

Consider the following case study as an example:

 

Team of agents, Max, Penelope, and Finn list a property. Max is the principal listing real estate agent, but his fellow team members, Penelope and Finn get a call from some potential buyers: Sam and Lynne. 

Sam and Lynne are savvy buyers. They’ve written offers before and are confident that they can write their own offer on this property. They write a very well-written offer, however, this is a crazy market and other offers start to come in at the same time. Now, they find themselves in a situation where there are multiple offers. The other offers are being presented by experienced real estate agents, who know how to negotiate amid this scenario.

Unrepresented, they can't ask Max for advice and he can't offer suggestions or help in any way, just as he can't help buyers putting in those other offers either! Agents presenting offers on behalf of their clients are assisting them, and using their skills to try to be the winning bid. What ends up happening is that Sam and Lynne miss out, which is so sad because they had a great offer but they just didn’t know all the rules of the game or have experience with actually negotiating an offer!

 

DORTS

 

Typically, a Disclosure of Representation of Trading Services is provided to clients at the outset of a transaction. It’s a document outlining the duties of a real estate agent to you, the client, that also enforces a sense of security. When you become a client, you may be asked to sign a written agreement setting out the responsibilities of each party.

 

As a client, you can expect a real estate agent to: 

  • Work on your behalf.
  • Legally bound to be loyal and act only in your best interests.
  • Fully disclose everything they know that might influence your decision in a transaction.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest or any situation that would affect their duty to act in your best interests.
  • Not reveal your private, confidential information, without your permission (even after your relationship ends). This includes your reasons for buying, selling or leasing, your minimum/maximum price, any preferred terms and conditions you may want to include in a contract, and so on.

As a non-client (or unrepresented individual), you can expect a real estate agent to give you limited services and demonstrate: 

  • No legal duty to you.
  • No loyalty. They may be representing a client with competing interests to yours in a transaction, which means they must be loyal to their client and not you.
  • No duty of full disclosure. They do not have a duty to give you all relevant information.
  • No duty to avoid conflicts. They are not acting in your interests.
  • No confidentiality. They must share any information you tell them with their clients in a transaction.

 

That all said, whenever a real estate professional works with you in a real estate transaction (whether you are their client or not) they have a responsibility to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill.

 

Nancy working

 

More often than not, opting out of representation can end up costing unrepresented buyers a lot more money. Listing agents work on behalf of the seller, so they’ll want to afford their client as much money as possible. When you let an experienced real estate agent negotiate on your behalf, you’ll be able to rely on the expertise and understanding of someone who has been through this process many times and can ensure you pay a fair price for your dream home.

Reach out today to speak with one of our exceptionally talented agents. They are available anytime and really want to help you understand your place in Victoria’s crazy hot Real Estate Market!

 

Posted in Tips and FAQs
Feb. 4, 2021

Ask A Realtor | Multiple Offers

 

Today’s real estate market is a fast-paced, competitive one. If you are buying a home in Victoria in 2021 you need to be ready to move quickly and compete. There can be more than one offer submitted on properties that you are interested in. When this happens, it’s known as a “Multiple Offer”, and there are very specific ways of dealing with these offers. Here’s our tips on how to be prepared!

 

 

Probably the most significant step when submitting for a Multiple Offer is putting your best foot forward. There is usually no opportunity to negotiate back and forth with sellers. Your Realtor will NOT be told what the other offers are, which means we need to go in with an offer that you, as a buyer, will be happy to get the home for. That said, it should also be a number with which you feel that you did your best even if someone put in a higher offer you couldn’t compete with.

 

 

Additionally, with multiple offers, you’ll need to be prepared to jump some other hurdles.

To start out:

  • Read our buyer's guide, in which we go over the process of putting together a competitive offer.

    Be ready to go see a home as soon as it gets listed! For many homes listed these days, sellers are holding off offers with a set date and time, while other sellers may not. If you are able to view a home right away, and the owners are holding off offers for a few days, it will give you the time to:
    • See the home a second time
    • Review Title and any charges on the title
    • Go over property reports from the city and any associated permits
    • Do a pre-home inspection
    • Get your financing started
    • Review strata documents (if applicable)
  • If you’ll need to take on a mortgage, get pre-approved for a mortgage and be sure to communicate with your broker when you are about to submit an offer.

    If you are considering submitting an unconditional offer, keep in mind you must have cash at the ready to ensure you can close on the home (that is, if you cannot get financing).
  • Give yourself time to review and sign a contract you plan to submit.

    On the day you submit, you need to be ready, willing, and truly able to sign that contract making an offer on that home. It's important for your Realtor to be able to reach you at any point, and for you to be able to review and sign off on your offer. Sometimes, last minute updates or unexpected changes arise, so this flexibility is very important!
  • Review offers with your Realtor beforehand; so you can go over the terms and conditions of each contract.

    All required documents should have been submitted to your mortgage broker ahead of time, as there won't be time to waste! Though it really depends on your particular situation, these required documents can often include:
    • Proof of employment
    • Tax reports and/or pay stubs
    • Proof of downpayment
    • Credit Check

 

 

Our very own Sophia made this clip to give you her best advice for tackling MO's. With the help of an expert team that’s always a phone call away, you’re off to the races!

 

 

Posted in
Dec. 11, 2020

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!