Is Buying A Home A Good Investment?

For those wanting a steady return on their money, houses can be a sure bet. When the baby boomers started madly buying houses in the 1980s, suddenly real estate seemed like the path to instant wealth. The real estate markets fluctuate constantly. There have been times when house prices have gone down. However if you look at the overall price of homes in your area over the last 10 years, in most cases, (depending on your region) prices have risen.

Where is the housing market headed? Nobody can accurately predict. But even if house prices don’t rise phenomenally, a home has two strong things going for it as an investment. First, any capital gains on your principal residence are tax-free. If your house appreciates by 6 per cent, you get to keep every cent of your gains.

Now 6 per cent may not sound like much, but in terms of how much you end up with, you’d have to earn as much as 12 per cent on a fixed-income investment such as a GIC to match that return, after tax.

Second, you don’t have to come up with the full purchase price, meaning you’re able to harness leverage. The conventional mortgages require a down payment of 25 per cent of a house’s appraised value. Where as the High Ratio Mortgage, requires only 5% down payment.

For example, if you buy a $200,000 home, you need to come up with around $50,000 for a conventional mortgage. If the home’s value rises to $220,000, that’s an increase of 10 per cent. But what’s really happened is you’ve put up $50,000, and made $20,000. Your real gross return on your invested funds is around 40 per cent. But notice the word “gross”. Don’t forget that your real return will be less.

Buying a home and having a mortgage is also a tremendously powerful forced savings program.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, or have any real –estate related questions, email us at admin@thevlist.com, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

 

FILED UNDER Buying & Selling, Vancouver    Leave a comment

Use these Feng Shui Secrets in your Home to Attract Wealth.

Basically, feng shui decorating means applying the feng shui wisdom to create harmonious energy in any home, be it modern, classical or mid-century. Good feng shui decorating will never scream for attention or fight with the style of the home, but rather create an energy that is vibrant, happy and harmoniously complimenting the already present identity of the home (or office). 

Did you know that feng shui, when used properly in your home’s design, can affect your bank account? Here are some basic tips based on the ancient art of balancing energy:

Keep your kitchen clean. Your kitchen is directly related to your ability to attract money. To attract more money, keep the stove clean. Use every burner equally and make sure that they all work. Also remove all the clutter from the kitchen table.

Decorate in red, purple or green. Color has a powerful impact on mood, and red is considered auspicious and powerful. Purple and green are also key colors for attracting prosperity.

Make your front door inviting. If it is hard and confusing to find your front door, then it will be hard for opportunities to make their way into your life.

Lose clutter and add plants and water. To bring in more prosperity, you need to create a vibrant, healthy, inspiring and clutter-free home. Clutter jams up good energy and leads to procrastination. Plants and flowers bring in vibrant life forces. Fountains are important wealth adjustments as they stimulate prosperity and energy and symbolize wealth.

Display wealth symbols. Display feng shui symbols in your environment that speak to you of wealth and abundance. This can be either classical symbols, such as the wealth ship, for example, or your own representation of wealth energy.

Remember, good feng shui does not bring you wealth if you do not strive for it, but it gives you the necessary support to seek your wealth and fortune.

To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss a property sale or purchase, email us at admin@thevlist.com, visit one of our offices, or call 604-695-1000.

FILED UNDER Exterior Upgrades, Changes & Help, Interior Upgrades, Changes & Help    Leave a comment

How to Childproof your Home if You have Infants

Did you know that unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home.

Household injuries are one of the top reasons kids under age 3 visit the ER, and nearly 70% of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4 years old and under. Young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time.

Here are some simple ways to prevent injuries in your own home. Please note that although childproofing will make your job easier, it won’t eliminate the need for supervision.

Kitchen

  • Install safety latches on all cabinets and drawers to keep children from potentially poisonous household products.
  • Use the stove’s back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of      the stove to keep hot pots and pans out of the reach of children.
  • Keep kitchenware and appliances out of reach and away from the edge      of counters and tables.
  • Put visual reminders like the Mr. Yuk stickers from poison prevention centers on potential poisonous or hazardous items.

Bathroom

  • Install safety latches on cabinets  and drawers to keep children from potentially poisonous household products.
  • Install toilet locks to keep toilet lids closed. Children are more top-heavy than adults and can lean and fall into a toilet easily. They also can drown in just one inch of water.
  • Install anti-scalding devices on faucets and showerheads to prevent burns. Also set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. It takes just three seconds for a child to sustain a third-degree burn from water at 140 degrees.
  • Unplug hair dryers and electric rollers after use to prevent electrocution from contact with water in the bathroom. Also keep them away from curious children to prevent burns.
  • Make very sure your child cannot lock the bathroom door from the inside, or ensure that you can unlock it from the outside.
  • Place a non-skid mat in the bathtub.

Generally around the house

  • Cover unused electrical outlets with outlet protectors or safety caps. Make sure outlets in the bathroom and kitchen – or near any water source – are updated with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which turn off electricity if appliances fall into water. For outlets in use, especially those low to the ground, there are devices  available which make it difficult to pull out plugs.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs and in the doorways of rooms with hazards. Gates with expanding pressure bars should not be used for blocking stairs.
  • Use doorknob covers to keep children away from rooms and other areas with hazards, such as swimming pools. Be careful, though, that these devices are easy for adults to use in case of emergency.
  • Put corner and edge bumpers on furniture and other items like a fireplace hearth to protect against injury.
  • Place furniture away from high windows so children won’t climb onto windowsills. Screens aren’t strong enough to keep children from falling through windows.
  • Make sure window blinds do not have looped cords - they can be strangulation hazards for children. Always lock blinds into position whether they are all the way up or not.
  • Remove free-falling lids from toy chests, which should have      lids that stay open or very light, removable ones.
  • Prevent furniture from tipping by securing bookcases, shelving,      and heavy furniture to walls with brackets and anchors. When storing      items, put heavier items on bottom shelves and in bottom drawers.
  •  Put a smoke alarm in any bedroom whose door will be shut at night or where children are sleeping in bunk beds, because smoke rises.

Remember that childproofing your home can never be 100% effective against injury. Supervise your children at all times.

If you are contemplating buying a home, why not get in touch with us for some useful advice?  Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  by email or follow us on Facebook.

FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment

Here Are Some Great Ways to Save Money on Your Water Bill.

Summer is here and if we get a limited amount of rainfall, we will all have to do our bit and conserve. Conservation also helps the pocket book. The metered water charges on your utility bill are based on your actual consumption. To pay less, just use less!

Many residents on the North Shore have poorly set up or inefficient sprinkler systems that are one of the biggest water wasters. If you use this type of system, here are some ways that you can reduce the costs:

  1. Don’t overwater your lawn. Your lawn requires roughly 1 inch of water per week to stay green, which is approximately 1 hour of sprinkling. Any more is going to waste.
  2. Interval sprinkling. Set your system to water for a few short intervals over the course of 1 hour instead of 1 long session. This allows the water to soak into the soil and reduces run off.
  3. Water between 4-9am in the morning. Mid-day or afternoon watering loses water due to evaporation. Evening watering leaves plants wet overnight – an open invitation for fungus.
  4. If it rains, switch your system off. Adjust your system as the weather changes. Better still, install an inexpensive shutoff device that detects moisture.
  5. Repair all leaks. Always check your system periodically to ensure that everything is working properly. A clogged sprinkler head or torn line can become very expensive.
  6. Adjust your sprinklers. Make sure that you are watering plants and grass, and not paths and driveways.

Remember that regulations in West Vancouver (and probably in other municipalities) limit lawn watering to 3 mornings per week from June 1st to September 30th.

If you really want to save money, why not let your lawn go dormant in the summer, just as nature intended?

If you are contemplating buying a home, get in touch with us for some useful advice.  We can guide you within your budget and lifestyle. Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  or follow us on Facebook.

FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment

How to Deal with Bad Neighbours

Most people get on well with their neighbors – after all, we all want to be able to live happily at home. But sometimes this isn’t the case, and bad relationships with neighbors can become very stressful if you don’t take considered action to remedy the situation.

Problems between neighbours can take various forms, ranging from barking dogs, persistent loud music or rubbish burn offs, to more serious ones like harassment, threats or violence. It’s a good idea to manage disruption before it becomes a long-standing annoyance, which can escalate into more serious problems causing more stress.

Here are ways to be a good neighbor and deal with a bad one. 

1.     Get to know each other.

Being a good neighbor doesn’t mean taking family vacations together. Just knowing them well enough to say hi, or maybe borrowing a cup of sugar or loaning a gardening tool, can build trust and understanding. Issues are much more likely to escalate among strangers than even casual acquaintances.

2.     Communicate directly with your neighbor.

It is better to handle things this way than to resort to talking behind the person’s back, which would make the issue messier. Go to your neighbor’s house and speak with him in a calm manner. Be firm yet be considerate of his feelings as well. If you don’t feel safe enough because harmful threats have been exchanged, then invite a friend along and talk with your neighbor in a safe, public place.

3.     Head off problems before they’re problems.

If you are throwing a party at your place, go to all neighbors who might be affected and offer them two things: a verbal invitation to the party and a card with your phone number. If the noise escalates or there is another problem, your neighbor can call you instead of the police.

4.     Keep a diary record of your activities

Note the time, day and nature of the problem, who you contacted, what you said and their response. If you have to attend any mediation or hearing to resolve the matter that information may be used as evidence.

5.     Check with other neighbors.

See if anybody else on the block is having similar issues – they may be willing to help resolve it. If one of the neighbors is closer to the troublemaker, have them come with you when you talk it out.

6.     Get a mediator.

A neutral third party experienced in settling disputes may succeed where you can’t, although it can only work if your neighbor is willing to talk. It’s a lot cheaper than going to court, though – in some cases, it may even be free.

7.     Write and report.

If you suspect your neighbor is violating city ordinances, do a little research, write it up, and submit it to the proper authorities. If your neighborly dispute involves code violations, the city might solve your problem for you. But don’t try to anonymously report code violations on your neighbor. Not only does the neighbor usually figure out who “snitched” anyway, but they may resent you for being a passive-aggressive busybody, which can make future situations trickier. Remember you still have to live next to these people.

8.     Call the cops.

If you’ve acted in good faith with no success, involving the police is the next step. You can explain the situation and show how you’ve tried to work it out and kept notes, but realize they probably can’t do much unless a law or ordinance is being broken. This is for things like excessive noise and illegal activity, not a tree limb hanging into your yard. Nonetheless, a police presence might show your neighbor that you aren’t going to let the problem go.

9.     Take it to small claims court. This is much cheaper than a bigger lawsuit (which can cost $10,000 or more) because you can represent yourself. But you must do your homework – you need to lay out the problem, provide evidence, and come up with a reasonable damage estimate that you can justify when questioned. Damages are usually capped at a few thousand dollars, although the amount varies by state.

Bottom line? As with any relationship, being a good neighbor – or dealing with a bad one – is all about communication.

Do you have any property related issues? Please contact us. We can advise you on a property purchase, a valuation or even a renovation. Our experienced Real Estate professionals are keen to impart their knowledge and expertise.

FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment

Buying a Timeshare: The Pros and Cons You Must Take into Consideration.

A timeshare is a type of property ownership in which you share ownership of a single property with a group of people. A traditional timeshare usually binds you to a specific place and time each year, but there are many timeshare companies that offer exchange programs, allowing timeshare owners to swap weeks.

Like any other investments, venturing into timeshare vacation requires a lot of thinking and assessment. It is important to weigh the pros and cons first before you finally make a decision. Here are some points that you may want to take into consideration:

PROS:

a)    Timeshares are affordable: Although timeshare prices vary widely according to the week purchased and the resort location, the resale market has deeply discounted weeks available for the price of just a few years’ worth of hotel stays. A value-added feature is that timeshare units are usually fully equipped condominium-type apartments comparable to luxury hotel suites.

b)    You only pay for what you use: Unlike a vacation home, which you pay for throughout the year but only use for a few weeks, you only pay for a timeshare during the time that you are using it. Because you are sharing the cost with others, there is much less financial strain throughout the year.

You can also rent out your timeshare if you do not plan on using it that year and save the money for other things. Having control of your timeshare allows you to decide who rents from you and it also allows family members or friends to take advantage of your timeshare.

c)     Flexibility: Although you buy a specific week, timeshare exchanges make it possible to trade one week for another, or even one resort for another. You’ll have to look for an exchange well ahead of time in most cases, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a willing partner. However, if worse comes to worse, you may rent your week and use the money to take a vacation at a time or location that’s more convenient.

d)    Maintenance fees ensure regular upkeep: A timeshare takes care of itself. Annual maintenance fees insure your timeshare and resort upkeep and any repairs that it may need. Your fees also pay for on-sight management and insurance so there is always someone looking after the property, which cannot be said for vacation homes or condos that may sit vacant for months at a time.

CONS:

a)     You have to plan ahead: Rescheduling your vacations may be hard to do; usually, owners keep their weeks, and it may be hard to swap. If you want a holiday week, you may not be able to trade your timeshare for it because there are many timeshare owners hoping for the same week. You also may not be able to decide last minute that you want to use your timeshare in a certain location because spots may already be filled. This requires you to plan ahead, months in advance, and often takes the spontaneity out of planning a trip.

b)     Can be difficult to resell: The timeshare resale market is consistently flooded. Not only does the competition make it tough for your unit to stand out, it also deflates the price. Although there are a lot of venues through which to sell your timeshare–eBay and timeshare reseller and sale-by-owner websites, for example–it’s not unusual to find units for a fraction of their original price with current-year fees already paid, or even to find units available for the price of the current-year maintenance alone.

c)      It is a large financial commitment: The whole concept of timesharing is based on prepayment of your vacation. For some, this is convenient.  For others, it is hard to give up money for something immediate, for a vacation you won’t experience ’till months later. Timesharing is a big commitment financially; you are contractually obligated to pay maintenance fees for as long as you own it, and there is no easy way to extricate yourself from your timeshare.

d)     Increasing maintenance fees: Maintenance fees cover the grounds and housekeeping services, utilities, insurance, on-site management, keeping facilities and appliances up and running etc. They are assessed and paid annually, but it is often difficult to factor them in since they are not a constant. Because the cost of goods and services goes up every year, maintenance fees have been known to increase up to 4 percent in a single year. Keep in mind that a nice, upscale resort needs to spend someone’s money to keep it looking that way. If you don’t use your property, these costs will have gone to waste.

Purchasing a timeshare should not be an impulse buy, and potential investors should first decide what specifically works for their family and life style.

Do you have any property related issues? Please contact us. We can advise you on a property purchase, a valuation or even a renovation. Our experienced Real Estate professionals are available at any time to  impart their knowledge and expertise.

 

 

FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment

If You Are Buying A Home With An Attic, You Must Get The Attic Inspected.

There are a lot of good reasons why buyers need to get into an attic or send their home inspector into the attic before completing a home inspection. An attic reflects the history of a home. It can provide clues to serious problems that might not be disclosed or even known by the current occupant of the home.

Signs of previous fire damage

If the rafters are any other color than natural wood, this could be a sign that the home was on fire at one time. If the wood is black, scorched and sooty, that’s almost a sure sign it had been burned in the past. However, if the wood is painted white, this could indicate that the smoke and burned damage was covered up because painting wood helps to eliminate the smell.

Water damage

If there is staining on the wood supports or on the walls,  this is evidence that water has leaked or is leaking through the roof somewhere. Condensation can form around pipes, which can cause wood to rot.

Damage from animals  – rodents, squirrels

The first sign that a critter has been living in the attic is often evidence discovered in the form of tiny pellets. Squirrels, raccoons or rodents often enter attics through the eaves or loose boards and if left undetected can cause considerable damage.

Chimney damage

Of course, one cannot inspect the interior of the chimney from the attic, but an inspector can note whether the structure itself is solid within the attic. That portion of the chimney that is not exposed to the elements can also weather and deteriorate, and this especially holds true for older homes. Inspectors will look for cracks in the bricks and whether the mortar has crumbled.

Supporting truss or rafter damage

Roof inspections won’t necessarily turn up defects in the structural members inside the attic. While the roof might look sound and secure, inside the attic you could find broken trusses or rafters. An inspection would disclose stress cracks that could lead to a loss of integrity and would also give buyers peace of mind that the size of the lumber was correct and up to code.

A lot of prospective homebuyers look at the attic as an extra room or more storage space.  An attic should get the same careful consideration as a roof.

To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss a property sale or purchase, email us at admin@thevlist.com, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

 

FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment

Now’s the Time To Clean Out the Clutter and Hold a Garage Sale

If you are planning a move this summer, it’s pointless moving with items you no longer need. So why not hold a garage sale? You will clear out all the “junk” you no longer need, and earning some money at the same time.

Here’s how to do it:

Preparing for the sale:

  • Phone or visit your local municipal authorities and find out whether you need a permit or a notification to hold the sale.
  • Visit other garage sales to get an idea of how people price things. Also, if you check the merchandise at local resale shops, antique shops and flea markets, you may discover that some of your old junk is worth more than you thought.
  • Start saving shopping bags, cardboard boxes and newspapers to pack things for your customers on the day of the sale. People are more likely to buy things if they can carry them away easily.
  • Ever thought of holding a joint sale with other families? You’ll have more merchandise and more choices of location, and there will be more people to share the work.

Where and when to hold your sale:

  • Weekends are when most people have free time, so Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are the traditional garage sale days.
  • Avoid holding your sale on holiday weekends as people leave town or are entertaining visitors.
  • Garage sale enthusiasts like an early start, so begin your sale first thing in the morning. When you close depends on when the number of customers begins to dwindle and how much energy you have left.
  • The best time to hold the sales is from mid-spring to mid fall.

What you should sell:

  • The larger the display, the longer people will linger and the more likely they’ll be to buy things.
  • Remember – Items you see as junk could be someone else’s treasures.
  • You may be most interested in selling some large, expensive items, but don’t forget to include smaller, low-priced ones. Many garage sale shoppers are looking for a bargain.
  • Be ruthless! If you haven’t used something for the past couple of years, why keep it?

How to price your merchandise:

  • Place price tags on everything to help buyers identify bargains. Self-adhesive tags are quick, convenient and easy to change if necessary.
  • On a new article, charge no more than half the normal retail cost. Prices on used items should be even lower. Low prices are the main attraction of any garage sale, so keep them at rock bottom.
  • People may want to bargain for a better price, so be psychologically prepared for this and take it into account in your pricing. After the haggling is over, articles will probably sell for about 10 per cent below your asking price.
  • Keep your prices in round numbers to simplify calculations for both your buyers and yourself.

Advertising your sale:

  • A week before the sale, run a classified ad in your local newspaper or an online bulletin board. The ad should include a brief listing of major items for sale, the date(s) of the sale, rain date(s), hours of operation and your street address. If you don’t mind people calling you for more information, include your telephone number. To catch the reader’s eye, spend a little extra to have a border put around the ad, or use a headline in larger type.
  • Put notices on bulletin boards in churches, schools, supermarkets, community centres and clubs.
  • Prepare a sign to go in front of your house on the day of the sale. The letters should be large, visible and waterproof.
  • If you live on a side street, you may want to put signs at the nearest crossroads and on the main roads.

On the day of the sale:

  • Have wrapping supplies ready and make sure you have paper, pencils and calculators available for adding up sales.
  • Have plenty of change ready in a cash box. A $100.00 float should be enough, but make a note of the sum so you can figure out exactly how much money you made once the sale is over.
  • Have as many helpers as you can get. You’ll need breaks and you can’t leave the sale unattended.
  • Make sure there’s an electrical outlet available for testing appliances.
  • Accept only cash, never cheques, and post a sign to that effect. Get a deposit if a customer wants an article held, and set a time limit for holding the item. Make sure your helpers know about this policy and any others you may have for the sale.
  • Arrange small articles on tables. Use twine to hang poles from the garage ceiling for clothes racks. Keep things looking casual – people like the informal air of garage sales.

During the sale:

  • Let your customers browse in peace but be ready to answer their questions.
  • Be prepared to lower your prices later in the day to avoid being left with unsold merchandise.
  • Keep your cash box out of sight and keep larger bills on your person.
  • Never leave the sales area unattended. Watch for shoplifters. If someone looks suspicious, ask how you can help him or her. Pilferers are discouraged by close supervision.
  • Keep the house locked and don’t allow people inside to use its facilities.
FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment

Buying A Home In A Good Neighborhood Is Important – Here’s What To Look For.

Finding a home with the features you want is only one important aspect of home buying. You also need to find one that’s in a good neighborhood.

Here is some useful home buying advice to help you figure out whether you’re looking in the right neighborhood:

  • It has everything you want. There are certain signs of a good      neighborhood that are universal, such as a low crime rate. Other factors that you consider ideal depend on your living situation. These factors might include being near good schools, being close to work or being near malls and restaurants that you can walk to. Look for a neighborhood that has all of the features that are important to you.
  • There’s a strong sense of community. Neighborhoods that hold meetings or      organize watch groups tend to have lower crime rates. If you like the idea of being involved in a close-knit community, look for this type of neighborhood.
  • It’s safe at all hours. Drive through the neighborhood you’re interested in after dark and on weekends to see what it’s like when residents aren’t busy with work or school. This will give you a better sense of how safe the area is and what the traffic is like.
  • Homes maintain their value. Look for a neighborhood with homes that      maintain a steady or increased value over time. Avoid looking in areas where the homes are dropping in value, since this affects how much your home is worth and how easy it will be to find buyers when you want to sell it.
  • It’s seeing economic growth. Homes in neighborhoods that undergo big      economic developments, such as a new retail or business center being built or a major employer moving in, typically go up in value.

If you are contemplating buying a home, why not get in touch with us for some useful advice.  Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  or follow us on Facebook.

 

FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment

Does Your Home Insurance Policy Cover Earthquakes?

According to Natural Resources Canada, there’s a 30% chance an earthquake large enough to cause significant property damage will hit southwestern B.C. in the next 50 years.

Earthquake coverage is not automatically included in your home insurance policy – It is optional coverage in all property insurance policies.  If you want to be protected against these risks, you must purchase coverage separately.

Many B.C. homeowners assume that earthquake coverage is included in their house insurance, or that governments will compensate them for damage, but neither is the case.

You must ask yourself,  “Could I easily recover without financial assistance if my home or business were damaged or destroyed by an earthquake?”  If the answer is no, you should seriously consider buying earthquake coverage.

Earthquake insurance only covers damage caused by the earthquake itself—fire and explosions resulting from an earthquake are already covered under an “all risks” policy. Also, earthquake insurance has a much higher deductible than regular home insurance, so claiming damage from an earthquake requires a significant loss.

The cost depends on where your house is and how it was built. Your insurer may be able to advise you of things you can do to cut the risk of earthquake damage to your home.

We strongly advise you to ensure that you have adequate earthquake insurance cover, and that you are materially prepared because British Columbia has the highest earthquake risk in Canada.

 

 

Do you have any property related issues? Please contact us. We can advise you on a property purchase, a valuation or even a renovation. Our experienced Real Estate professionals are keen to impart their knowledge and expertise.

FILED UNDER Uncategorized    Leave a comment