April 8, 2020

Creating Your "Dream Home" Shopping List

Creating Your Dream Home Shopping List

Everyone needs a roof over their head. And just because this pandemic has put a halt to most things, people still need to move for various reasons. Whether a recent divorce, estate sale, downsizing, change of job location - or change of job income - many people are finding that moving is still necessary. Which is why Realtors have been government mandated as an essential service.

The need for social distancing can make these interactions a bit tricky, but as long as we all act with the 3 C's - Common sense, Courtesy & Compassion - showing a place is completely doable.

So we've put together a 4-part mini-blog series providing a few tips and ideas to help safely sell or buy a property during this time:

  1. Creating Your Dream Home Shopping Wishlist
  2. How to Tour a Property Virtually
  3. How to Show a Property Virtually (Tips for Sellers)
  4. Moving Tips During a Pandemic

Create Your Dream Home Shopping Wish List

This is always the fun part! And since everyone’s been ordered to stay home, our online property viewings have gone through the roof (no pun intended)!

Whether looking for a place to buy now, or in the future when this is over, people are looking at homes for sale online more than ever. And March 2020 saw almost as many sales as March 2019.

So people are still buying and selling properties. We expect that, come the end of this lockdown, the market will likely become flooded with both buyers and sellers.

  • The best way to create your dream shopping list is to create an account on our website.
  • When you find a property that meets your criteria, simply click the heart button: Add to Favourites at the top of the listing.
  • Now that you’ve selected a few favourite properties, you can now go to your account to see them all in one easy place.
  • Go through as much detail about the properties as you can: photos, virtual tours, information, Google Maps, etc, & write down any questions you may have.

 

 

Home Shopping Checklist:

Often price is the number one thing people look at first when considering a new home. Followed closely by style and size. While most people have an idea of the area they want to be in, we usually encourage prospective buyers to consider their lifestyle wants and needs first. This will result in narrowing down what you really want in a house and its location - hence, enjoying your new home so much more.

Some things to consider when looking to buy a new home:

  • House location and positioning
  • Neighbourhood
  • Size of the house and lot
  • Style and features of the house
  • Age of the house (and appliances)
  • What you would want included in the house (appliances, lighting, blinds/curtains, etc)
  • Purchase price, your credit score and monthly mortgage 
  • Maintenance requirements and how they align with your lifestyle and goals

Use these considerations to make your Home Shopping Checklist. This will help narrow properties down and help you prepare questions to ask your realtors.

Contact a Realtor to Represent You as Early as You Can

Once you have your new home shopping wishlist and checklist, now is a good time to contact us to get more details about your favourite properties.

Even if you’re not planning to buy just yet, these days, everything takes longer - and while we’re still hard at work, we do have more time on our hands than we normally would this time of year.

Plus, by getting an early start, you’ll be better positioned to make a move (ok, pun intended this time), once things swing back into action and the market gets flooded with offers again.

Posted in Market Updates
April 6, 2020

Market Update | Victoria, BC

Sunset as seen from Mount Tolmie. – Heather K Jones Photography

(Sunset as seen from Mount Tolmie. – Heather K Jones Photography)

So the month of March has been interesting for most part. We have gone into almost lock down due to Covid-19 which has been deemed a Global Pandemic. No one knows how things are going to really look after all this but I can tell you one thing, I am damn excited to see everyone and get back to working at our office! In the meantime, my wine rack is slowly looking slimmer each day and I don't think I like my TV anymore but hey, we are safe, healthy and have a roof over our heads.

Our Victoria Market March stats are in and we had a pretty good month considering the times, with a total of 608 sales. Last year for March we had 640 sales which was in non-Covid times. It will be interesting to see how April holds up, however Realtors are deemed an essential service and we are still seeing homes sell daily.

As for the home prices our average single family home in the core of Victoria is $877,700 which is up from last year which was $836,100 in March of 2019. We also saw an increase in the average sales price of a condo coming up by 4.8% from last year at $507,700 to $527,400 for this March of 2020. You can read the full update from our real estate board here.

Posted in Market Updates
March 31, 2020

Sophia Eats | Spring 2020 Edition

dining around victoria bc

Sophia's Eats

Victoria is full of amazing eateries around town. We are so lucky to have such amazing chefs in the city and some diverse places to enjoy food.

I personally do not get out for brunch often as most days are filled with work and I am not too inclined to eat at 7am before the workday. My list is full of places that my husband and I love to go later at night to unwind with a good glass of red wine or great coffee! 

Caffe Fantastico

If you haven't tried their coffee then you are missing out. My go to order is either an Americano or for a treat on the weekends I will grab myself a mocha, with whip cream of course! If you have time to sit and grab a bite to eat, I also love their breakfast sandwiches

Tapa Bar

Who wouldn't love Tapa Bar? It's set in Trans Alley in Victoria that offers that old world charm. They have a great patio that is full of heaters making it great all year round. My all time favourite thing to order is their bacon wrapped dates which is not meant for sharing in my world. They offer a great cocktail as well as wine list. 

Bao 

So I have some extra time on my hands right now with the Covid crisis, so my husband and I have been able to explore a few places lately and one of our favourites is Bao. This little gem is one tasty stop. They are offering take out right now so we tend to walk our dogs and grab a few Bao buns on the go. Once we can dine in again this will probably be our first stop!

Il Terrazzo

This is my all time favourite date night place. My husband and I have spent many anniversaries pouring over the wine list tucked away on the patio near one of their outdoor fireplaces. We love to chat with the sommeliers and try new wines while enjoying their delicious pastas and my favourite, the Funghi Arrosto. It's our 5 year anniversary this June and we will be extra thankful to be able to get out for dinner!

Written By: Sophia Briggs

Date: March 31, 2020

Posted in Market Updates
March 31, 2020

Best of Bear Mountain | A Local Perspective

Best of Bear Mountain - A Local Perspective

My Favourite Things About Bear Mountain

There are so many pretty, different, unique places to live in Victoria and Bear Mountain is one of them. My husband and I have lived on Bear Mountain for the past 4 years and we love it.

Being a Realtor means I’m out and about most of the time, but when I’m home, I like to enjoy what the Mountain has to offer! The peacefulness and mountain air… ahhhh!

These are some of our favourite things to do...

Friday Night Flights at Westin Bear Mountain!

This is when you get to feel sophisticated! Get dressed up and head down to the wine cellar at the Westin Bear Mountain and sample wines from all over the world! The wines are always different and the sommelier is very knowledgeable! A great way to spend a Friday night. #westinbearmountainresort

Saturdays at the Mountain Market

Then on Saturday Morning, we take the dog and head up to the Mountain Market. It’s a little coffee shop and market in the village that offers fantastic coffee and fresh sandwiches. We like to pack a little lunch and go for a hike… could be the best way to work off the wine headache from the Friday night wine… yikes! #mountainmarket

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

After the hike, we have worked up a thirst.  We can head over to Jacks Place, a great neighbourhood Pub… feels a little bit like Cheers, when you walk in here, everyone knows your name! It’s awesome!

They have all the favourite things on the menu and the biggest surprise? They offer the best Sushi... yup I said Sushi! #jacksplacebearmountain

So, these are some of my favourite things I've discovered from living at Bear Mountain... maybe you can check them out too?

Written by: Nancy Stratton

Date: March 31, 2020

Posted in Market Updates
March 27, 2020

COVID-19 | Real Estate and Financial Changes

Changes Over the Last Week

Things are quickly changing with our government and they are trying to get funds to people who need it most as quickly as they can. In light of everything I am really hoping that the government learns that teaching the need for a safety net and a good financial budget would go a long way in school. The tax bill that Canada will see after all this will hurt the masses by paying more taxes and more budget cuts. With that said, no one wants a lecture, so lets re cap what's going on.

Rentals in BC

Rent supplement up to $500 a month payable to the landlord. This will be through BC Housing however there are in the works of making the application and we have not seen who will actually apply too.

I am sure most landlords are stressed and are wondering why they got into this mess however remember that this will pass and we will be alright.

There will be no evictions at the moment unless there is a healthy and safety issue or to prevent undue damage to the property. This will be up to the Residential Tenancy Branch. If you believe you might have an issue I would suggest calling them now and getting more information. This also includes all existing eviction notices which will impact some homeowners planning to move into the new home they just purchased.

If tenants do decide to move that's great and makes things a lot easier, however if they do not you might need to extend the closing or find a short term rental.

Parkside hotel is offering a lower rate and has full condo units for rent. Nancy and I personally have had a few clients use this option in the past and they have all had a great experience.

Rent Freeze

There will be no rent increase at this time.This is while we are in a state of emergency.

No Access to Rental Units.

Landlords are not to enter their rental units at this time without the consent of the tenant. The tenant can refuse access at this time. This of course does not include where health and safety is an issue or damage to the property will occur.

All Notices Can Now be Served via Email and Not in Person.

Personally I am not sure why we are serving notices in person with read receipts on emails, however we will get there one day.

Landlords Can Restrict the Use of Common Areas Used by Tenants and/or Guests.

I do hope this means that everyone with shared laundry isn't running out to a laundromat! If you do have a shared laundry I would suggest limiting hours and having cleaning supplies in the area so everything can be wiped clean after each use. If you are living in a condo or rental building most common areas got shut down over a week ago to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Small to Medium Business Grants

This morning, it was announced that small-medium sized businesses (making under 15 million a year) are going to get more help than initially thought.

The Liberal government would like you to keep your employees employed! They are now offering a 75% payroll subsidy that you will be able to back date to March 15. This will also now include a loan up to $40,000 which will be interest free for one year. We are not sure what interest will be attached to the loan after the one year, however some businesses will qualify for a non-repayment of up to $10,000. We will find out more details in the upcoming week.

Written by: Sophia Briggs

Date: March 27, 2020

Posted in Market Updates
March 20, 2020

Planning Ahead in Uncertain Times

We have been getting flooded with questions regards to buying, selling and moving in these unprecedented times. As we are seeing more and more businesses shut down, now is the time to plan ahead and prepare for any upcoming big events that require others to be involved.

Paperwork

Fortunately, our offices at Sotheby's in Victoria, has been using digital paperwork for a while now. Initially we started it for environmental reasons - who could have guessed how handy this practice would become!? This transition to sending and signing documents virtually hasn't changed much for us, which makes completing contracts for our clients much easier and less stressful for everyone. That said, not everyone is using digital practices and for some businesses, paperwork is a necessity.

If you have some important purchases or other events that may require a lawyer, we recommend going to them and taking care of as much as you can. Fortunately, many lawyers already are digital, while others are currently adapting to assist you virtually. Still, it's better to be proactive and get as much legal work done as you can - before the time when you absolutely need it.

Moving

Are you planning to either move out of your sold property, or move into a recently purchased one in the next few weeks? Or perhaps you know someone who is?

As so often happens in times of hardship, the hardest hit are our most vulnerable community members. For example, seniors planning to move soon, who likely rely on movers, could find themselves stuck without anyone to help facilitate their move.

If this is the case for you - or anyone you know - we highly recommend packing up and getting stuff into storage right now! Whether you rent a storage locker or a portable storage bin, if you move as much as you can now, this will reduce the likelihood of being stuck in a few weeks. We are still seeing moving companies open and working, but again, no one knows if (or when) that could change.

Buying or Selling Property

Many people are asking us about listing their property or buying a new one. Just because the world has stopped, doesn't mean yours has. So if you still need (or want) to go through with buying or selling a home, we're here to assist with that as much as we can - with everyone's safety and best interests in mind.

Here are a few ways we can support you in the purchase or sale of a property in these uncertain times:

1. We are doing virtual open houses.

That means that we will connect with interested buyers via video conferencing app and will take you around the house that way, answering all of your questions as we go.

2. Photos, photos, photos!

The more photos we're able to provide of a property, the better we can assist prospective buyers to "see" as much of the house as possible.

3. Virtual contracts.

As mentioned above we do 95% of our paperwork digitally. If however, digital isn't your thing, we can still work out a safe system to get paper documents filled.

4. Keeping up to date.

We have regular meetings (virtually of course!) to help each other and our clients. And we're actively keeping an eye on the events surrounding the virus outbreak and the resulting lockdown.

Conclusion

Being pro-active and taking steps to ensure any important changes about to occur in your life are dealt with as soon as possible - before more businesses shut down - is your best and most prudent course of action. The last thing we want to see is for people to be stuck in a critical time in their lives with no one to help them when they need it most! On that note, if you're healthy and able to help out a friend or neighbour who may need assistance, let's do everything we can to support each other in anyway we can - that won't jeopardize anyone's health!

Take care out there!

Posted in Market Updates
March 18, 2020

COVID-19 | Collaborating with the Government

We are all trying to stay up to date with all the changes happening across the country. Our team understands that this is a tough time for a lot of Canadians. The government has rolled out some programs to help Canadians who are being affected by the COVID- 19 shut downs and the virus spreading. 

 

The government has introduced an Emergency Care Benefit to all Canadians that is not covered by EI to provide up to $900 bi weekly for a max of 15 weeks. This also implies to self employed which where never covered offering them time off to help with sick family members with COVID -19, sick time or being quarantine due to Covid-19. You can apply for the benefit starting in April through the Canada Revenue Agency My Account secure portal, My Service Canada Account, or through an automated application process by telephone.

 

An Emergency Support Benefit that will provide up to 5 Billion to support workers who are not eligible for EI who are facing unemployment. This will also be available to Canadians who are self-employed.

 

As for small businesses the government will be providing a temporary wage subsidy for a period of 3 months. This will be 10% of remuneration paid during that period of time with a max subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. This will help small businesses as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

 

We are also going to get a bit of relief with filing and owing taxes. You can defer all payment of any income tax amounts owing between now and September 2020. You can defer until August 31, 2020. This applies to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

 

The stress test which affects a lot of Canadians buying homes right now will stay put at the qualifying rate 5.19%. This will suspend the coming into force of the new benchmark rate that we were all waiting for on April 6.

 

We are also seeing major banks allow homeowners who are being affected to defer mortgage payments for up to 6 months. You must reach out to your lender to see if you qualify, however they are experiencing high wait times due to a number of Canadians looking for relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Click here for a full list of the Canadian Government’s Covid-19 relief.

Posted in Market Updates
March 18, 2020

Getting Your House Ready to Sell

It’s Spring...thinking about listing your home???

Well... just like you, us Realtors do sell our own personal homes too… and we know how stressful it can be!  We decide we are going to list the property and then what? You need to know what to keep, what to sell, what to send to goodwill...it can be very overwhelming. I just listed my house the other day and I had the same problems...what do I need to do…?? accck

So... we have some helpful information for getting your place ready to list!

Half Pack

You know you are moving, so start emptying some of those cupboards, then, when you get an offer, you are almost ready to go…

Where to start? It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, every time you open a cupboard to look for something... pause and see what's there that you haven’t used for a long time. Decide what is going to be sold, go to goodwill or into the bin; for instance...do I really need 15 wooden spoons?? Especially when I only like to use the silicone ones I have?

Less is More

Look at each of your rooms in your home and see what you can edit….that extra couch that you have been meaning to sell/give away….it’s time to do it now.  Or...does Finlay, my 8 year old golden retriever, need to keep all of his stuffies from when he was a puppy??  Probably not

Clean and Tidy

This is very important and probably the hardest to do, especially if you have a family….husbands and kids are the worst (sorry husbands and kids). I know my husband likes to leave everything on the kitchen island….arrgh! Try to have a place for everything, and try to put everything away before the next day, as you might have an unexpected showing.

Give Yourself Extra Time in the Morning

You still have to live in your home, but you also have to remember that people will be seeing it that day possibly before you get a chance to get back in., so by giving yourself extra time before leaving the house, it will reduce the stress

Exterior

A pressure wash goes a long way...get rid of the winter grime, maybe even plant a few primulas...they are inexpensive, colourful and perfect for this time of year.

Also, when you think of your property going on the market, just remember the things that you liked or didn't like about a home,  when you purchased the last time...

Smells Are Bad. Flowers Are Good.

You want people to remember your home, but you don’t want them remembering your house as “the house that smelled like bacon…” again you have to live in your home, but be aware of what you are cooking or when people may be viewing.

Pro Home Seller Tip: Use a diffuser with a very light amount of aromatherapy oils - preferably ones that smell like home baking or vanilla. This creates a subliminal, automatic "home sweet home" association from buyers.

Small Spaces

If your home is on the little side, try to edit the rooms to make it more spacious...take out the second armchair if it's not one you use all the time.

Final Words

So, In conclusion, just remember….you only get that one opportunity to make the first impression and Sophia, Rebecca and myself are here to help you every step of the way!

...........

Written by: Nancy Stratton

March 18, 2020

Posted in Market Updates
March 13, 2020

How To | Mitigate COVID-19 Condo Insurance Risks

COVID-19 for Real Estate 

As we enter into a busy Spring market we'd like to remind everyone that with the COVID-19 there are a few things we all need to remember while out looking at properties.

We will still be showing properties of course, but here are a some tips to keep yourself and others healthy:

  • Wash your hands and keep your distance.
  • Touching everything in sight at a home probably not a good idea.
  • Handshakes and hugs are a no go. This will be hard for us too.
  • Clean your home thoroughly after all showings. Our team will not be doing open houses at this time 
  • We won't be sharing our laptops or phones so Docusign will need to be done on your own device
  • If you are sick please stay home. We are happy to Facetime you through a home. We have done this a lot for out of town clients, we are pros!
  • Our team is not sick nor quarantined so please do not take us down!

Condo Insurance 

Chances are, you've seen the news reports of the scary insurance issues that we are facing here in BC. One of our buildings in Victoria Shoal Point was in the news about this issue. Insurance deductibles are going up and some buildings are not getting insured at all. 

We at Briggs & Stratton are of course staying on top of the issue and have some faith that the insurance sector will come up with a solution. In the meantime we need to manage risk for anyone purchasing a condo and give out some pointers to all our condo owners. 

If You Are Purchasing a Condo in Today's Market

  • Get a copy of the strata's insurance policy and find out what deductible you are responsible for your condo. Find out when it expires and do they have a history of claims.
  • We have a strata insurance quote clause that we urge you to make use of.*
  • Get the strata's insurance policy reviewed and find out exactly what you need for your own policy and how much that will cost you per month. Insurance quotes are only good for 30 days 
  • The over health of the building: check over the depreciation report, is there delayed maintenance? 
  • Is there any mention of water issues or claims in the strata documents? Ingress, moisture etc.

Own a condo? Tips To Help Prevent Mishaps

  • Stay on top of general maintenance
  • Build up a good contingency fund
  • Add a water sensor to hot water tanks -  A simple product that will shut off your main water if the tank bust. Also make sure that there is a drain and pan under your hot water tank
  • Going on Holidays? Shut off your water to the condo. This will prevent a water leak happening when you are not home that can cause major issues to your condo and your neighbours 

*We will be adding in an extra condition clause to all strata contacts:

Subject to: (A) the Buyer reviewing and approving the terms and rates of the strata corporation’s insurance, including the premium amounts, deductible amounts, and coverage limits thereunder and the date of expiration of such policy or policies; and (B) the Buyer confirming the Buyer’s ability to obtain personal strata owner insurance on terms satisfactory to the Buyer, including coverage for any owner’s portions of deductibles payable under the strata corporation’s insurance, in each case on or beforeMarch 17, 2020. These conditions are for the sole benefit of the Buyer.  

Immediately upon execution and delivery of this Contract of Purchase and Sale by all parties, the Seller or the Seller’s agent, will obtain copies of the strata corporation insurance policy or policies, or a summary of coverages, a cover note or a binder in respect of same, and will immediately, upon receipt, deliver such document(s) or cause such document(s) to be delivered to the Buyer or the Buyer’s agent.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 24, 2020

Springing Into Multiple Offers

Spring Market Brings Back Multiple Offers

We Are Back in a Multiple Offer Market

Days are getting longer, weather is getting warmer, flowers are starting to bud - Spring is nearly here. But the weather isn't all that's warming up. With the coming of Spring, we're starting to see our local Victoria real estate market heat up as well.

Heading back into a fast-moving sellers' market, we're already experiencing multiple offers on listings. Homes are selling quickly and for over asking price; especially in the under a million-dollar price range.

There are a few reasons why conditions are forming this way. For starters, we have seen interest rates stay put and drop; the government lowered the stress test for buyers who have under 20% down. Another big reason is that the Vancouver market is coming back to life. With all the taxes in place, we are seeing a lot more movement and sales happening in our neighbouring city across the pond. This tends to have an effect on our local market as a lot of sellers will turn to moving to Vancouver Island due to cheaper real estate, great schools, easier commutes and the great island lifestyle we all love. And just maybe... the press from our Royals staying in Victoria has brought more attention to our city!

Home Buyers' Tips for Handling a Busy Market

1. Be Prepared

Have a full mortgage approval from a licensed mortgage broker with all supporting documents ready. Not having the necessary requirements arranged and in order can slow down the process and make for a very stressful situation while purchasing a home. Ultimately, not being prepared and pre-approved could mean losing the sale to another bidder who is ready with fewer contingencies.

Apply for a mortgage approval here: findmeamortgage.ca

2. Make Sure Your Deposit is Easily Accessible

This shouldn't be confused with your down payment on the total home purchase. A deposit is an amount that is held in trust at your until closing which can be anywhere from $5,000 on a $400,000 condo to a few hundred thousand on a $2,000,000 home.

3. View the Property as Soon as Possible

Keep a watch on newly listed properties and be prepared to go looking as soon as the home you want hits the market. Getting through a home right away gives you an advantage to having more time to prepare an offer as well as sometimes having less offers to complete with if you are quick at making an offer. If a seller has set a date and time when all offers are to be reviewed, that extra time allows you more time to arrange financing, do a second viewing of the home and a pre-inspection. 

Subscribe here to get your personalized market updates: briggsandstrattonrealtors.com/member/contact

4. Show You're Serious

If the seller allows us to present the offer directly to them, it is a great idea to be in your car waiting. This allows the sellers to see how serious you are and if any changes to the offer needs to happen, you are right there to do so!

For more buyers' tips download our free guide here: briggsandstrattonrealtors.com/buying-selling

Multiple Offers - What's Involved

Whether you're selling a house or wanting to buy a home, dealing with multiple offers can be very stressful - and each situation is different. This article by the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) will give you an overview of some key points to bear in mind.

Multiple Offers: vreb.org/resources/view/54-multiple-offers-whats-involved

Be Ready with a Mortgage Approval

A mortgage pre-approval is an important step in the home buying process and we can help you out. Our business associate Andrew Wade, a reputable mortgage broker, can help with your financial strategy, your mortgage amount, down payment amount, purchase price and give you an overall idea of what you can realistically afford.

Apply now for your mortgage approval here: findmeamortgage.ca

Posted in Market Updates