Now is the Time to Ensure That You Have a Beautiful Lawn for the Summer. Here’s How.

Spring is finally here and many Vancouver homeowners are itching to see lawns come alive. Unfortunately many lawns will need significant help to be green and healthy after the winter.

The key to a healthy lawn lies in simple actions that are outlined below. Remember no two lawns are alike as the soil and other growing conditions can be radically different from one neighbor to another, and even between different areas of the same lawn.

The main factors that can damage lawn health include:

  1. Poor soil: Improperly balanced soil pH, low organic matter levels, compaction and drainage can adversely affect even the most well cared lawns.
  2. Insects and disease: Non-beneficial fungi and insects are always present but not necessarily in sufficient numbers to cause damage. Properly timed controls when needed, resistant grass varieties, and healthy turf and soil are the best defense against these pests.
  3. Nutrient deficiencies: lawns require regular fertilizer treatments to replace nutrients utilized by the plant or not readily available from the soil. Get a lab test of the soil for a comprehensive analysis of soil health and nutrient content.
  4.  
Improper mowing and watering: Lawns mowed too short can lead to scorching and lawn thinning, inviting weed and crabgrass infestations. Too much or too little watering impacts both plant and soil health.

Once the reasons for poor lawn health are determined, homeowners should take the following actions:

1. Fertilize – For Spring, apply a lawn fertilizer treatment containing both quick and slow release nitrogen. Use a starter fertilizer formula if the lawn has been seeded.

2. Aerate – Core aeration followed by organic compost topdressing will improve soil drainage, structure, nutrient availability, and reduce thatch levels. For many lawns, a lime application is required to get the pH in balance.

3. Tree Pruning – Thin and raise tree canopies to allow more light on lawn areas affected by excessive shade.

4. Weed and Crabgrass Control – Catch crabgrass early by applying a preemergent crabgrass control to inhibit weedy grass germination. For weed controls, liquid products will provide better coverage to small weeds than granular materials. Apply while weather is cool and wind is still. Do not use non-selective weed controls such as Roundup in lawn areas. Always follow label directions when using lawn products.

5. Monitor – Lawn care is never done. Stay on top of changes in the lawn throughout the growing season and if you need help, always call a professional.

Want to buy or sell a home? 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.

 

 

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Reasons Why Your Home Is Not Selling and Tips On How to Sell It.

Why do some homes linger on the market for months – or years – while others are snapped up in a matter of days? While much of it has to do with price and local inventory, a whole host of factors can conspire to make a home sit and stagnate on the multiple listing service without showings or offers.

Here are some reasons why your home may be on the market for longer than expected:

Price

Price is usually the overriding factor in any home that doesn’t sell. Whatever its problem, it can usually be rectified by adjusting the price. You know you have hit the right price when you have interest and offers from multiple parties.

Décor

Everybody’s taste is different, so less is more when it comes to decor at sale time. Loud patterns and bold colors can be big distractions. Interior treatments such as mirrored walls, cheap wood paneling and 1970s kitchens can turn many potential buyers off.

Condition of property

If a home looks as if it’s going to cost half as much to repair or renovate as it does to purchase, it’s going to take a long time to move. If you don’t fix it, then prepare to reduce a large chunk off the price.

Location

Homes that are close to a power plant, waste-treatment facility or busy freeway will often sit, unless the seller is willing to take a major hit on the price. If the neighborhood has disintegrated, or if crime is up in the area, it becomes progressively more difficult to sell.

Surrounding homes

If you have the nicest, largest and most elegant house in the area, it may be difficult to sell. People are paying not only for the house but also for everything around it. If the homes around yours don’t mirror yours, you might have a hard time getting your price.

So if you want to sell your home fast, then: 

 1.     Be realistic about the price.

Price will overcome any objection. Don’t listen to your neighbors or get stuck on what you think you should get. Look at comparable sales and pay special attention to homes that are similar to yours.

2.     Keep your décor neutral.

Everybody’s taste is different, so don’t stage your home as a showcase of your own bold or traditional style. Buyers prefer a minimalist canvas in which to project their own tastes.

3.     Chose your MLS photos carefully.

Make sure the photos you submit showcase the rooms or features that are the true selling points. Buyers are making quick decisions about real estate online. Don’t give them a reason to say no.

4.     Keep your home ready to sell from the day it hits the MLS.

Your home should be clean, decluttered and ready to show from day one to generate the most interest and offers. If you wait too long, then buyers may perceive a problem with your property.

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.

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Renewing your Home Insurance? Here Are Some Important Points to Consider.

Your house is likely one of your most valuable assets and, depending on the age of your home, its condition, and where you live, the cost of insuring your house can vary significantly. Many homeowners may find they don’t have enough coverage -which can lead to even more costs when something goes wrong.

Here are some important points to take note of when insuring your home:

1)     Make sure you get advice from a reputable insurance company, agent or broker’s office that is qualified and authorized. The advice you’ll get from an agent that only represents one insurance company will be different from the advice you’ll get from an “independent” agent or broker that represents several competing companies.

2)     Never lie to your insurance company. Ensure that your insurance company knows the size of your home, other structures, the style of construction, major improvements, unusual features and your high value personal property items. By keeping information from your insurer, you are only making things difficult if there is a claim.

3)     Your insurer should be aware that you want to make sure your home is properly insured and that you want to buy full replacement coverage. Many agents fear that if they tell you the true cost of fully insuring your home you will go elsewhere to find a cheaper policy. Be clear that you will pay a fair premium for full replacement coverage and insist you don’t want to gamble or underinsure your home.

4)     Follow the insurer, agent or broker’s recommendations on increasing or maintaining your limits. Get and keep a record of the insurer’s confirmation that your limits are adequate.

5)     If you want extra security, buy the highest percentage replacement cost endorsement you can afford. This means that if you suffer a major loss and it turns out your insurer set your limits too low, this endorsement is designed to bridge the gap. Replacement cost endorsements are sold as percentage amounts above your stated dwelling limits. Most insurers offer 25-100% above limits. Shop around for this important protection.

6)     Know the cost to replace your contents and adjust your policy limits accordingly. Some items such as jewelry, art items and collectibles may be better insured if they’re specifically listed in your policy contract. This is known in the industry as “scheduling.” Scheduled personal property items are listed with separate coverage limits in a document that becomes part of the policy contract.

7)     Make sure you have enough contents coverage. A replacement cost endorsement that increases your dwelling limits may not also increase your contents limits. Most insurers set the limits for your possessions, (“contents”) as a percentage of the limits on your dwelling. Contents limits are typically set at 50-75% of dwelling limits. Most insurers sell a replacement cost endorsement that only increases dwelling limits. This means your contents limits will stay at the amount stated on your “declarations page” even if the replacement cost endorsement kicks in to increase your dwelling limits. You need to make sure that your policy allows both dwelling and contents limits to increase. If yours doesn’t, make sure you get confirmation that your limits in all categories are high enough or buy coverage elsewhere.

8)    At renewal time don’t just automatically renew your insurance. If your agent contacts you at renewal time to review your coverages, spend time with him or her discussing your policy limits and insist again that you want to make sure you’re fully insured.

9)     Tell your agent about improvements to your home. Make sure to check in with your insurance company after any major changes so that you don’t end up with inadequate coverage. Many carriers require you to report any renovations costing $5,000 or more.

10)Avoid filing claims for minor damage. Keep in mind that frequent claims lead to higher premiums. You might also choose a plan with a higher deductible – and lower your premium – if you are unlikely to file claims for damages that cost less than $500 or $1,000.

Choosing the right home and contents insurance can give you peace of mind. By researching your options thoroughly, you can protect your most precious asset: your home.

We are Vancouver’s leading property experts. To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss a property purchase or sale, please contact us, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

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Are Secondary Suites Legal in West Vancouver?

A secondary suite is a separate residential unit within a home, generally located in the basement, and significantly smaller than the dwelling in which it is located. The size must be either 40% of the square footage of the home, up to a maximum of 968 square feet, whichever is less.

In March 2010, the District of West Vancouver voted to authorize secondary suites and expand the range of housing options in the community. Prior to 2010, all secondary suites were not permitted, although there were many in existence. According to the District, there may be up to 3,000 secondary suites in West Vancouver.

Secondary suites are legal in West Vancouver if they:

  • comply with BC Building Code standards
  • are registered with the municipality
  • are licensed according to the suite’s use

So if you are a homeowner contemplating a secondary suite (suite) in your home, or already have one, there are a number requirements that must be met:

  1. Only one suite is permitted per lot.
  2. The suite cannot be detached from the principal building.
  3. The suite must occupy a minimum floor area of 215 sq. ft and a maximum of 968 sq. ft. or 40 % of the total floor area of the building excluding garage space, whichever is  less.
  4. The registered owner(s) of the property must occupy either the principal dwelling unit or the suite.
  5. A building containing a suite cannot have lodgers, a personal care facility, a childcare use, or a bed and breakfast.
  6. A suite must have a separate exterior entrance from the principal dwelling unit.
  7. The suite must have an additional off-street parking spot exclusively for the use of the secondary suite and at least two off-street parking spaces for the      exclusive use of the principal dwelling unit.
  8. The suite parking must be located so that any vehicle parked in any vehicle parking space on the lot, may exit without needing to move other vehicles and must be provided in addition to parking spaces required for visitor parking.
  9. The suite must not be subdivided from the principal dwelling unit under the Land Title Act or the Strata Property Act.
  10. Water and electrical service for the suite must not be separately metered.

A business license is required for all secondary suites.  If you do not register your suite, you will be in contravention of the District bylaws, and may be subject to fines of up to $10,000 and other penalties.

If you have any property related issue, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you want to Renovate – Lessons to Learn From the Ecowest Bankruptcy.

Early this month, around 183+ homeowners and suppliers lost over 2.3 million dollars to a popular renovation company  – Ecowest Renovations –  that suddenly declared bankruptcy.

In many cases, homeowners had unknowingly paid the full amount before the work had even started!

So despite the company having an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and lots of positive on line feedback, innocent homeowners who had contracted them to do some renovation work, ended up losing thousands of dollars.

We cannot stress how important it is for you to do your due diligence when hiring a contractor to do any work on your home. Here are some important tips you should keep in mind when embarking on a renovation project:

1)     Always do your due diligence.

2)     Read the documents carefully. Remember don’t trust the people who have given you the document. It is there for their protection, and not yours. Don’t commit yourself to what you don’t know. If the amounts are large, get a lawyer involved.

3)     If there are glowing online reviews, ask for some recent references and call them and go and actually see the work. Many times, these references can be bogus.

4)     If there is a deposit involved, and there usually is, ask for it to be released when the materials arrive. Then you have proof that your money is being used for something tangible.

5)      There are lots of other ways to protect yourself. Please refer to our Blog Post on January 16 2014 - Planning on a Renovation? If you are Hiring a Contractor, read these Practical Tips on Protecting your Rights

The Ecowest bankruptcy has shown how vulnerable people are when it comes to home renovations. Many of these unfortunate homeowners may never see their money again.

It is YOUR responsibility to protect yourself. You do that by arming yourself with knowledge – and lot’s of it. Understand just how little protection and what hassles a homeowner has when contracting for a home improvement project when things go wrong.

We have a wealth of experience in all aspects of the real estate industry. We are always ready to discuss any property related issue. So please contact us if you want advice on a property purchase, a valuation or even a renovation. Our experienced Real Estate professionals are keen to impart their knowledge and expert

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Good News – Provincial Government Reduces Tax Burden On First Time Home Buyers!

The Provincial Budget tabled last month had a surprising bit of good news for first-time homebuyers. The government announced, effective February 19 2014, under the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First-Time Home Buyers’ Exemption program, qualifying first-time buyers can now buy a home worth up to $475,000. The previous threshold was $425,000.

The partial exemption continues and will apply to homes valued between $475,000 and $500,000.

With this change, the government estimates 1,700 additional first-time buyers will annually be eligible to save up to $7,500 in PTT when they buy their home.

It seems that the Provincial Government is aware of how hard it is for young first-time buyers to get into the BC real estate market, especially in Vancouver.

The Real Estate Board, together with the BC Real Estate Association has also lobbied hard for many years for this to happen – the increase in the threshold indicates that their efforts have clearly paid off.

Pleas feel free to reach out to us if you or anybody you know has any questions about this. If you are a first time buyer or just looking for a home, why don’t you contact us, and we will be glad to help.

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10 Crucial Garage Door Security Tips to Prevent Break-Ins

Garage doors are a common weak point when looking at security in a whole-home approach and an easy target for thieves. Garage doors are not only a weakness, but provide criminals a shelter once inside. To the casual passerby an open garage with a work truck pulled up to it doesn’t look out of place or scream break-in.

In the last few months, there were 42 recorded garage break-ins in Mississauga and Brampton alone!

Here are 10 important things you can do to secure your garage and prevent thieves from breaking in:

  1. If possible, don’t leave the garage door remote in your vehicle – If a thief breaks in to your car and steals the remote he has a way into your home.
  2. Invest in a keychain remote opener – Stop using that remote you clip to your visor and get a keychain remote opener that you can leave on your keys.
  3. Make sure the door from your garage into your house is as secure as your front door – Ensure you have a strong, sturdy door made out of solid-core wood or reinforced steel.
  4. Keep it locked – Put a deadbolt on the door between your house and garage; is it really that much of an inconvenience to have to use a key each time you come home?
  5. Don’t leave your garage door open – Its uncanny how many people in certain neighborhoods just leave their garage door open all the time. It’s just inviting someone to pop his or her head in and grab something.
  6. Install a wide-angle peephole in the door between your house and your garage – You’ll at least be able to see what’s going on if you hear a strange noise; rather than opening the door to find out.
  7. Frost or cover your garage windows – Don’t do thieves any favors by enabling them to see when your vehicle is gone.
  8. Padlock the throw latch on your garage door when you’re out of town – If you don’t have a manual lock on your garage door, you can use a c-clamp tightened down on each side of the door track to effectively “lock” down the door. It’s similar to those small window track locks you can buy for your home interior windows.
  9. Don’t neglect maintenance on the mechanical parts of your roll-up garage door and keep an eye out for corrosion. Don’t forget the door from your garage to your house; check the frame, locks, hinges and any replaceable items.
  10. Some thieves are able to “record” your transmitter’s signal. Later, after you’re gone, they replay that signal and open your door. However, if your transmitter (the remote control) has rolling code technology, the code changes after every use. This renders the thieves’ controls useless. Contact your garage door opener manufacturer or your local garage door dealer for more information.

Whether you want to buy, sell or are thinking of doing this, why not contact us? Our experienced Real Estate professionals will give you the benefit of their knowledge and expertise.

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Important Tips on How To Store Wine

While storing wine is not rocket science, there are a few key points that you must keep in mind to ensure that your wine has the best chance for long-term survival and optimal aging.

Store wines away from light.

Never keep bottles in direct sunlight and fluorescent fixtures. UV rays can cause wine to be ‘light struck,’ giving them an unpleasant smell.Darker bottles are better protected and some bottles have UV filters built into the glass, but enough UV rays can still penetrate to ruin the wine.  If a wine is in direct light consistently, it will affect its flavor significantly, a result of premature aging.  If you can’t keep a bottle entirely out of the light, keep it lightly wrapped up in a cloth, or simply put the bottle inside a box out of the way.

Lay corked wine bottles on their sides.

When a bottle of wine is stored upright for a long amount of time, the cork will dry out, and air will eventually get to the wine, spoiling it. If you store it label side up, it’ll be easier to spot any sediments that may have formed in the wine over time and you will be able to read the label without moving the bottle.

Try not to move the wine bottle.

If possible, store the wines in such a way that you don’t need to move them in order to reach a bottle to drink. Try not to move a bottle at all once it is stored. 

Keep the temperature constant.

Wine storage temperature should not go over 75˚F (24°C), for longer than brief spans of time. At 75°F, wine begins to oxidize. An ideal temperature for storing a varied wine collection is 54°F (12.2°C).
Letting the temperature drop below 54°F won’t hurt the wine; it’ll only slow down the aging process.

The greater the changes in temperature a wine suffers, the greater the premature aging of the wine from over breathing. The temperature should never fluctuate more than 3°F (1.6°C) a day and 5°F (2.7°C) a year, especially with red wines, which will suffer more temperature-related problems than white wines.

Humidity should be around 70%.

High humidity keeps the cork from drying and minimizes evaporation. Don’t allow the humidity to go too much over 70%, however, because it can encourage the growth of mold and cause labels to loosen.

Keep the wine in a well-ventilated area.

Remember that wine “breathes”, so don’t store it with anything that has a strong smell, as the smell will permeate through the cork and taint the wine. Good ventilation may help prevent musty odors from entering the wine.

Chose the wine storage medium carefully.

Basements are ideal storage facilities – since they typically meet the cool and dark requirements. If a basement is not an option, then just keep the bottles in a cool closet. Or if you want to be more intentional with these prime storing conditions then consider one of the many wine refrigerator or wine storage cabinets on the market.

Storing wine is easy – just remember to keep it cool, dark, still and sideways and you’ll find that you can successfully store wine for both the short and long term with confidence. 

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

 

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February Check list of Things to do in the Garden

In BC, weather dictates almost everything on a gardener’s to-do list. Even though we are in the heart of winter, it’s not too early to begin planning for the warmer season; in other parts of the country clearing trees and shrubs of ice may be more the ticket. Although temperatures should start to rise this month, there is still a risk of frost and even snow.

There are signs of the approaching spring, with bulbs appearing and birds and wildlife waking up as light levels and temperatures increase – plenty to do indoors this month, all in preparation for the season ahead.

So here are a few tips on what gardening related activities you should be doing :

Indoors: Start seeds

  • Sow seeds now for early-season vegetables that can go in the ground a couple of weeks before the last average frost date. This includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, and leeks. Aim to start these seeds five to seven weeks before you want to transplant them outdoors.
  • Consider sowing early lettuce crops in cell packs. When it’s warm enough, you’ll have clumps of greens ready to transplant into pots or the garden.
  • Sow plants such as tomatoes or peppers six to eight weeks before the last average frost date. This means you may have to wait until the end of the month or even a little later before planting the seeds.

Outdoors: Prune

  • Choose a warmish day to prune landscape plants. Remove any dead or damaged branches. Thin plants with heavily branched interiors.
  • Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs or trees until after they bloom. If you prune now, you’ll be cutting off blossoms.
  • Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges.
  • Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.
  • As conditions thaw, some deciduous trees such as elm, maple and birch may leak sap if pruned now. This won’t damage the trees, but prune these trees next month to avoid messes.
  • To preserve flower buds, hold off on pruning lilacs, crabapples and forsythias until after their first bloom.
  •  If you covered plants earlier and  temperatures are now more moderate, remember to remove their wraps.
  • If you’re battling ice and snow, be kind to soil and plants by using cat litter or sand instead of salt; the runoff from salt can damage plants as well as pollute lakes and rivers.

Clean and repair your garden tools, book the lawn mower in for a service and check garden furniture for any rot. When it is warm enough, treat sheds, fences and trellis with wood preservative; brushes and rollers are fine for most things, however a sprayer is well worth buying for tricky projects such as woven panels!

“We’re not in the real-estate business – we’re in the experience business. That, in a very meaningful way, we change the quality and the direction of people’s lives.”

Karim Virani – Founder

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

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Home Fire Safety – Part 2 – Do You Have A Fire Safety Plan?

A fire in your home can spread rapidly within minutes. Statistics reveal that most of the fatalities occurring from a fire at home place between 2 am and 4 am, while the occupants are asleep. That is why it is critical to develop an escape plan, because one needs to react quickly as with a house fire:

  • The smoke is black and very thick, making it impossible to see.
  • There is no time for indecision; an entire home can be engulfed within five minutes.
  • Most people are killed by smoke inhalation, not the flame of the fire.
  • The heat of the fire is extremely intense and can kill you instantly.

Your fire safety plan should have the following 3 components:

1)    A written down well-rehearsed plan.

  • The entire family should sit down and discuss exactly what to do should a fire break out in your home. Make sure to consider different scenarios, for instance if it were to happen at night or when a babysitter is taking care of the kids.
  • Draw up a floor plan of the house and make note of possible routes for escape. Draw a main escape route and an alternate escape route from each room, with increased emphasis on children’s bedrooms. Be sure there is no confusion and that children understand how to exit the house from any room.
  • Choose a family meeting place a safe distance from the front of your home. You can pick a tree, a streetlight, a neighbor’s house. Just be sure all family members know where to go so everyone can be accounted for in the event of a fire. Call 9-1-1 to report a fire after everyone has reached the safe meeting place.

2)    Preventative measures.

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Keep smoke alarms clean and dust-free, checking them monthly. Replace batteries yearly and alarms every 10 years.
  • Make sure everyone sleeps with his or her bedroom door closed at night. This will help to keep fire and smoke out of bedrooms and will provide you with valuable time to make your escape

3)    Drills.

  • Conduct a fire drill at least once every six months. Sound an alarm, and treat the situation as if it were a real fire. Make sure everyone knows how to escape from the home, but don’t rush. Once everyone is outside, discuss the drill and any problems.
    • Remind your children that it is NEVER okay to re-enter a burning or smoldering building — even if that means losing a prized possession or even a pet.

A Fire Safety Plan could save your life. When fire strikes, having an escape plan can reduce panic and confusion and help save lives.

Get this Home Fire Safety Checklist  - it will just take you a few minutes to complete.

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

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