Upgrading your Comox Valley Home Kitchen can be rewarding. Comox Valley Homeowners often ask what kind of upgrades to a home bring the best return on investment. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, upgrading your kitchen is among the best. Their statistics show that this type of investment can result in a 75-100% return on investment. luxury homes are great examples of homes with upgraded kitchens.
Some of the more popular home upgrades I see featured in the Comox Valley are upgrades to the kitchen counters. These range from laminate to granite to quartz. Laminate counter tops are generally the least expensive and they come in many different styles and colors. Granite is generally more expensive and while they can look amazing, remember that there is some maintenance required for these types of counter tops. Ask about care, cleaning and maintenance requirements before you invest so that you do not end up with surprises later on. Quartz is another type of counter top that has appeal to jazz up a kitchen. While they may not have the same maintenance requirements as granite, they do need to be cared for and maintained properly. Ask your dealer to go over these types of considerations with you so that you are fully informed when you make a decision.
A new counter will ad some pizzazz to your kitchen. Think about replacing the sink and faucet as well if you are looking form maximum impact. Talk to your dealer about options – under mount, flush mount, stainless steel (different grades), composite, etc.
Upgrades to kitchen cupboards are also popular. Is your intent to have the current cupboards re-faced or re-surfaced? Do you intend to have them replaced? Are you looking for solid wood or wood veneer? What type of wood? What colour? There are many different options and price ranges for this type of upgrade. Spend some time on researching and understanding your options before you decide. Take a look at examples of installed cupboards and not just small samples of wood. waterside and view often have these kinds of upgrades in them.
Backsplash behind the counter tops can also add colour and life to a kitchen. Talk to your dealer about the types and colours that will go with the counter tops and cupboards. There are, of course, additional areas in the kitchen that could be upgraded. Whatever your plan and choice, this is an area that will help add appeal to your home. Like most upgrades, do it for your own enjoyment first and foremost unless you are an investor who is performing the upgrade just to sell the home. Contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty for help with selling your Comox Valley home.
Why a Comox Valley Home Theatre Room?
Increasingly some homes in the Comox Valley have home theatres as a feature. The room does not need to be elaborate to be effective. Home theatre rooms can be purpose built by homeowners or merely form part of the layout of an existing room. They can range from a few hundred dollars to over a hundred thousand dollars.
The Comox Valley has a number of suppliers of home theatre equipment and some businesses will build the room for you. Or, if you are like many enthusiasts, you may wish to build the room yourself. A few things to consider are: soundproofing, layout, sightlines, and acoustics.
Soundproofing of a purpose built home theatre room is important if the room is anywhere but the basement and you are thinking of cranking up the sound to enjoy the experience. Soundproofing barriers can be purchased as well as drywall that has soundproofing qualities. Extra insulation might also help. Think about where the room will be and how much volume you intend to use and then determine how you will contain the sound sufficiently so you do not disturb your neighbours.
The layout of the room is also important. As part of the layout, where will the equipment and speakers be located? Where will the chairs go? Will you have a tv screen or projection screen? How many speakers? Spend a bit of time designing the layout before you proceed.
Sightlines are also important. Ensure that everyone has an unobstructed view of the screen. If there are rows of chairs in the back, consider the use of a platform to elevate them. The experience will be more enjoyable if everyone can see the screen comfortably.
Acoustics are, of course, also important. Some people install acoustic panels. Others use the features found in many newer audio visual receivers to adjust acoustic settings. This is another consideration where time spent before hand is well invested.
What about the value that this feature adds to Comox homes resale value? According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, the payback on this type of investment is only is in the 25-50% range. Not everyone wants a home theatre in their home, but those who do generally really enjoy them. Think of this as an investment in your quality of life and not just as an investment in your home. What is life all about if it cannot be enjoyed. Perhaps a home theatre is something you can add to your “want” list? Contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty when you want to sell your Comox Valley home.
Welcome to Brett Cairns Newest Comox Valley Website
Welcome to Brett’s newest real estate and property listings website. This site is newly designed and created for home buyers and sellers of real estate in the Comox Valley. This short blog will highlight some of the features of this new site. While the old site contained a significant amount of information to help buyers and sellers of Comox Valley real estate, this new one has features that were impossible to install in the old site.
First and foremost, anyone can search for Comox Valley homes and properties for sale directly from the Comox Valley Real Estate Home Search box on the front page of this new site. It is conveniently located in the middle of the home page right below the Comox Valley real estate market video. Merely select the type of property that interests you (commercial, lot, mobile home, residential (all), condo, or single family) and then enter the city, price and features offered in the search box. Click on the Search for properties button and you will be provided a list of results that may be displayed on a number of sequential pages. Happy house hunting for homes in Courtenay !
I do still maintain my Private Client Services feature for existing clients and for serious buyers who need more detailed MLS information. This service includes emails being sent to you when new listings come on the market that match your general search criteria.
Featured homes are now prominently displayed on the home page with links to the individual pages that provide photos (some also have videos) maps, etc.
Contact forms are conveniently located on most pages to help you contact me when you need more information. On the Home Page click on the CONTACT BRETT link at the bottom right of each page.
My new Comox Valley real estate blogs will now be accessible through the BLOG link displayed at the top of each page. Older archived blogs will still be accessible through the main blog page of the website.
New listings in each of the major communities (Courtenay and Comox) will be displayed on the right side of each page that that direct links to the listings.
There are, of course, other improvement that are too numerous to list in this brief blog. Please visit the site and explore what it has to offer. If you like what you see please use one of the social like/share buttons. Hope that you enjoy what this new site has to offer and if you have any information that you think should be added please let me know. Contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty when you need more info.
Why Do Comox Valley Estate Agents Ask Questions?
It is important to understand why Comox Valley real estate agents ask questions. Not all real estate agents conduct business the same way, nor do all ask the same number or type of questions. Nevertheless, all Comox Valley agents do ask questions for a variety of different reasons. Let’s explore a number of reasons.
The Comox Valley real estate industry is a highly regulated industry. Comox Valley estate agents have a number of obligations placed on them through various laws, regulations, rules, codes of conduct and by policies of their respective offices. Some of these obligations include explaining things to people and asking questions to ensure that the intent and spirit of the law is followed when it comes to dealing with clients.
For example, British Columbia Real Estate Council rules establish disclosure requirements for Comox Valley real estate agents that must be carried out before providing professional real estate services (also called trading services) such as showing homes to people. One such requirement involves providing and explaining the information contained in the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) brochure Working With a REALTOR at the first reasonable opportunity. This brochure deals with the issues of Agency and Privacy as they apply to real estate in BC.
A second example concerns the REALTOR Code of Ethics. The REALTOR Code of Ethics requires REALTORS to respect agency or other contractual relationships. What this means in practice is that a REALTOR cannot interfere with a relationship that has been established between a Comox Valley Realtor and their client. To help ensure that this ethical requirement is followed, Comox Valley real estate agents will often ask if you are currently working with a real estate agent. If you are not, the real estate agent is free to offer you agency and help you buy or sell Courtenay real estate listings. If you are, they cannot provide you with professional services if another real estate agent is already providing you with services. You are certainly free to work with whomever you wish and you may certainly change real estate agents if you wish but be aware that your current relationship should be terminated before you enter into a new one.
Another reason that a real estate agent may ask you questions is to determine your Comox Valley property needs. Are they near term, longer term, related to home buying, related to home selling, etc. By understanding your needs a real estate agent will be able to better meet your real estate needs.
As well, a real estate agent may ask you questions just to get to know you a bit better. Just as people are free to choose their agent, so too, are agents free to choose who they will agree to work with. The agent-client real estate relationship involves human interaction, cooperation, trust, and communication on both ends. Since real estate agents provide professional services to people, if both parties are not committed to each of these elements, the relationship generally does not work very well.
These are some of the reasons that you may be asked questions by an estate agent. Just as agents expect you to ask questions of them, you should also expect agents to ask questions of you. Should you wish to discuss these real estate considerations further or ask any other questions of me, please contact me and I will be pleased to set up an appointment with you to help you with your real estate questions and needs. Contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty in Comox and get Brett working to meet your real estate needs today.
Renovate or Replace Your Comox Valley Home?
Are you thinking of renovating or replacing your Comox Valley home? Throughout the year people are active in the Comox Valley buying, selling, and renovating their homes. A frequently considered question is whether or not to renovate a home. There are, of course, many different reasons for undertaking a renovation. Before embarking on such an adventure, it is worth spending some time thinking about why, and to what extent the renovations will be done. Many people renovate for their own enjoyment. Some do so to add value to their home. Others renovate to make their home more attractive to sell. Whatever your reason consider the following.
First, if the contemplated home renovation is substantial, check with Revenue Canada to see if there are any tax implications. For example, the Revenue Canada website states that “sales of substantially renovated houses or houses with a major addition are treated in the same way as sales of new houses”. GST/HST (as applicable) may apply and there may be a tax credit as well. Each situation is specific and it is a good idea to check with Revenue Canada to see if what you are planning to do to your home will trigger either a tax implication, a tax rebate or both. Doing your homework in this regard may prevent a surprise down the road.
Second, it is generally a good idea to check the title of your Comox homes with titles to see if there are anything covenants or any other restrictions that may impact or limit your ability to renovate. For example, if your home is located near a fish bearing stream, Riparian Regulation restrictions may exist that can affect your plans. There may also be other restrictions such as building schemes that affect your neighbourhood. As well, while many things may be found on your title, not all are necessarily there. Once again, it is important to do your homework before you proceed with any major renovation plans to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.
Third, if you are renovating to add real estate value to your home, it is often useful to understand which renovations add value and which do not. The RENOVA program built by the Appraisal Institute of Canada and available on their website is a good tool to give you a sense of this. Renovations such as those done to the kitchen and master bathroom are popular and they often add value to a home in the 75-100% range of the amount of the investment. Some others such as the addition of a swimming pool can add little to no value, and in some cases actually add negative value. Knowing what does and what does not generally add value is important at the outset.
Finally, renovating a home does not just have to be about adding value. You may be contemplating a renovation to add a feature (such as a home theatre room) for your own enjoyment. Only you can determine your motivation for a renovation, but other professionals can provide you with information to help you make informed decisions that should provide peace of mind for you.
Clearly, not all issues you may have with your home can be addressed through renovations. You may be looking for a new location that offers more privacy, a larger or smaller yard, a view, a quieter area, or some other feature that you do not have right now. Real estate is immobile and all about location. When renovations will not address your needs, a move to a different location may be in order.
Renovate or replace? Your choices are many. When you need real estate information or advice to help you decide contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty.
Canada’s Comox Valley Real Estate Housing Bubble?
Will Canada’s housing bubble affect the Vancouver Island localized market of the Comox Valley? Sensational headlines attract attention. When the real estate headline is focused on something that has the potential to affect us, it can also have a significant, and even lasting, impact. Discussion of a Canadian housing bubble and 25% reduction in house prices over the next few years may fall into the category of a sensational headline. Is this type of headline credible and does it have any relevance to the Comox Valley real estate market?
When I sat down to write this blog, I recalled what a prominent Canadian news icon told me many years ago while attending a seminar on Canada and its news media. He said “always remember that the new media is first and foremost a business”. I also recall him discussing how the person who writes the headline is often not the person who writes the article. As well, when discussing the content of articles, he emphasized the importance of knowing the credentials and credibility of the person who wrote the article. In the context of this article does the author even know where the Comox Valley is located or know anything about Comox Valley homes?
Google the words “Canada Housing Bubble” and you will find a tremendous number of returns in response to the search. My search yielded 1.4 million results. But, how much of the information returned in response to the search is credible or believable? Does any of this apply to Comox Valley homes? There is far less if you google “Comox Valley Housing Bubble”.
One of the top search results was a website called canadabubble.com. The site disclaimer is an interesting read and so is the section at the bottom of the home page titled “About Us”. There is nothing written about the people or the organization who maintain the site. Moreover, the about us section states that Canadabubble.com aims at accepting automatically all opinions and giving people a place to discuss and speak out. Credible and trustworthy information? You decide. Comox Valley homeowners certainly have an interest in the topic but will they believe any of this?
In contrast, let’s turn to a Financial Post article dated 25 July 2012 written by John Shmuel. The headline reads “Canadian housing looks to be in soft landing, but actually heading for 25% crash: Capital Economics. The economist who forecast the drop first made the assertion in a June 2010 report and he reaffirmed his belief on 25 July 2012. Who, or what, is Capital Economics? They are an independent macroeconomic research consultancy firm that provides research on the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the UK and on the property sector. They have offices in Toronto, London and Singapore and they provide economic packages sold by annual subscription to over 1200 institutions around the globe. According to their website, they have a team of 25 economists, five of whom focus on property economics. The economist who wrote the article about heading for the 25% crash is not among the five, but the Canadian economist who is part of their global economics section. According to the website, he joined the firm in September 2010 and he has 10 years of experience in forecasting and conducting analyses of the Canadian economy. Let’s contrast his forecast and assertion with those of two other people.
First, in the same 25 July article, the Royal Bank of Canada’s senior economist was quoted to have said that while he doesn’t see evidence of a bubble, he nevertheless expects housings prices in Toronto to cool over the next year, forecasting a 2-7% decrease by mid- 2013.
Second, let’s consider what David Rosenburg has to say. A CNN Money article dated 12 Dec 2011 (The best and worst of Wall Street:2011) ranked David Rosenburg among the top economists for 2011 based on the accuracy of his economic projections. David Rosenburg is the Chief Economist and Strategist with Gluskin and Sheff (an independent investing firm that manages portfolios of three million dollars or more for high net worth investors with offices in Toronto and Calgary). The website of this firm states that anyone can subscribe to his daily economic and financial market insights and opinions called “Breakfast with Dave” by email for $1000.00 per year.
A Business Insider 11 July 12 article, refers to David Rosenburg making an argument for national home prices in Canada not being sustainable, David Rosenburg makes reference to the average home prices in Vancouver ($733,000) and Toronto ($517,000). Using three charts (Housing starts: Canada versus the US); (National Average Home Price Ratio: Canada versus the US) and (Canada: Vancouver and Toronto Home Prices Relative to US Home Prices), he comments on the existence of a possible Canadian real estate housing bubble. A week later in a 17 July 2012 Financial Post article, reference is made to the following two comments by Rosenburg in his morning note:
“Prices are starting to deflate by 0.8% YoY, though more like air coming out of a balloon slowly than a giant pop” and “It is gradually becoming a buyer’s market with the inventory of unsold homes rising to six month’s supply, which is at the edge of a balanced market”. The problem with this analogy is twofold. First, the Comox Valley real estate market is already a home buyers market and it has been since 2008. Second, real estate is local and national average prices or average home prices in a major city have little direct relevance to our local real estate market.
Clearly, there is a great difference of opinion between the young economist who is employed at Capital Economist, and the senior economists at RBC and Gluskin Sheff. Whose real estate considerations would you have more confidence in? Perhaps an experience Comox Valley realtor who works in the market every day?
It is also worth noting that these forecasts focus discuss changes to “national housing prices”. What are national housing prices? MLS Statistics showed that the price of an average home in Canada dropped by 0.3% between May 2011 and May 2012. During this same period of time, home price changes ranged from a 17.3% increase in the St. Catharines and Niagara area to a 11.8% decrease in Vancouver. Is a statistic on national housing prices meaningful or relevant to a buyer of seller looking to buy or sell a home in a specific location in Canada? The short answer is NO.
These and other forecasts also focus a great deal on Toronto and Vancouver. For example, TD economists (in an 11 June 12 article in the Financial Post) warn that Toronto and Vancouver are in for a 15% housing price correction in the next two to three years. While these forecast may be of interest to someone living in these cities are they even relevant to a specific location? As an example, go to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and you will find that the price of a detached home in West Vancouver rose by 41.8% over the three year period ending in January 2012. In June 2011, 77% of all properties that sold for over $1M were sold in West Vancouver. The point being made here is that real estate markets are local and there can be significant variances in a specific area.
While Vancouver was “hot” not all areas were “hot”. During this same time frame, the Comox Valley real estate market did not show any parallels to what was happening to the Vancouver real estate market. Crown Isle executive and luxury homes are a bargain compared to Vancouver. I specialize in the Comox Valley market each and monitor it statistically each and every day. If you are thinking of buying or selling in the Comox Valley, contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty.