Once in a while someone who has only ever rented will ask me roughly what their place would cost to buy and they are wondering if they can afford to get out of the situation of paying a bill every month that they have nothing to show for the following month. (I talk about that in detail a fair bit in my post called “When Should I buy my First Home?“)
The short answer is that once you get your financials debts, income, credit rating and down payment the monthly cost is roughly similar in most cases. I have long since noticed a connection between the costs of owning a given property and what it would cost to rent it on a monthly basis. Like so many other aspects that drive people to choose option A over option B, there is an self regulating balance in markets that I believe naturally makes owning versus renting a given property similar in terms of month to month costs. At least, on the surface.
Like most things the comparison starts to break down a little once you get into the details. First off, not everyone can qualify for the mortgage due to current income, debt or credit. They would also need to have that down payment. That’s the financial hump one needs to get over in order to get their foot in the door of home ownership. Once that hurdle is accomplished things have a way of going downhill difficulty wise providing there is a balance of financial stability, planning and home maintenance. What one owes the bank goes down over time and regardless of what the market is doing at the moment, the property is expected to increase in value long term.
If you were to rent that property long term, you would of course not have to worry about maintaining it and you would be in a position to pick up and leave with less hassle but you would also have nothing to show for it each month and unless you have lucked out and gotten an amazing landlord and are an amazing tenant yourself, that property is going to become less attractive over time in terms of condition and looks. You wouldn’t be able to call the shots on what gets repaired and altered in the property or how it is done. Generally speaking, landlords are not going to be paying to make the place shiny for you because you’ll probably be gone before too long and there is no telling whether you (or the next tenants) care enough to not wreck it. Most landlords believe it’s unlikely that anything more than a basic fix is going to mean more money in their pocket long term. But that’s not even the major point. The major point is that in the long term you are shelling out more for use of the property than it is costing the landlords to own and maintain it. That’s the whole point of being a landlord and providing they have the patience and foresight to manage a rental properly they will make more and more income off of it as the years grow on.
Everyone wants to sell their home for as much as they can. The principles are pretty straightforward, as I’ve laid out in many posts on this blog, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to cheat the system and then cheating themselves instead. DIY isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but be honest with yourself about your knowledge level of renovation, real estate markets and finances. There is no shame in asking a pro.
The examples below are facepalm moments, which is why I choose them to illustrate my point. The stories are from my own experiences and the photos are things I’ve found online. I have arranged them into categories to make the points I’m trying to make more clear.
For Sale By Owner/Discount Brokerage
I’ve illustrated the typical effects of these approaches in my tongue in cheek story about “The House That Wouldn’t Sell” but the short of it is that if you are not paying Realtors for their work then how do expect to attract the Buyers that are working with them? The Buyers are with the Realtors because they have the info, tools, network and experience they need. The only reason they are likely to go to you over a conventional listing is because they are going to save a big chunk of money, which means you have to list significantly lower which in turn nixes any commission savings and greatly increases chances of you spinning your wheels a lot or having something go horribly wrong that ends in a courtroom.
There is a minefield of legal risks you are trying to navigate without proper hands on guidance. It’s just too much to get into here as writing about that properly would be textbook length and require Lawyers to proofread my descriptions. Suffice to say it’s good to have a professional navigating that minefield for you and you get what you pay for.
I also go into the in the story I link to above and I have written about it so much in this blog that I won’t go into it here beyond saying that it’s a fallacy to think that asking more will get you more. If your price is too high it will get you ignored and quickly forgotten by the Realtors who would be suggesting that their clients come see it. The Buyers will see it on whatever MLS system they are using (usually a custom one set up by their Realtor) and they only want good deals anyway so why would they bother with something they can tell is overpriced? Maybe the listing is advertised prominently in newspapers, websites and a myriad of other ways. Buyers don’t care. They want the best deal. This isn’t impulse buying like a can of pop, dinner out or the latest tech gadget. This is the biggest financial transaction of their life and they are not going to buy something until they have really had a good around. (I know, you’ve heard a story about people buying the first place they looked at without looking around. I’ve heard that story too. Never seen it, and if I did I would still be like “Are you sure?” because it’s not good business sense to sell someone something they regret buying.)
By the time you fix the price a few weeks, or worse yet months, later that “new listing” sparkle is gone and the sense of urgency that attracts solid offers from Buyers is gone with it. In the end, neither you or I or any one person decides what your property is worth. The market decides what it’s worth. You get to decide if what the market has to offer it worth it to you.
Disclaimer: There have been times when I’ve suggested listing a property a bit higher than it is probably worth with plans for price reductions until we find the right price due to certain factors regarding the property. But those exceptions are very rare. So rare, in fact, that when I suggest it I feel a twinge of anxiety because it is the opposite of what I am trying so hard to recommend to Sellers who are letting their biases and love of the property get the best of them.
Next are some links to some of the other times I have brought this up on this blog. I’ve written about it a lot because it is really important for clients to understand and there is generally a lot of resistance to accepting it, which is understandable but in order to get the most out of their sale it is in the Seller’s best interests to come to terms with it.
This is where my post gets less preachy and more entertaining. I’ve seen some wacky stuff. It’s kind of sad a lot of the time but it also fascinates me how people’s minds work when they are trying to save a couple of bucks. Most of the time when I see these kinds of things I think “Oh man…. what did you do here…” and sometimes things are so crazy I can’t help but giggle and shake my head.
The vast majority of oddball fixes can be remedied with varying amounts of time and budget but quite simply the “Why?” factor is strong enough to turn away Buyers as one starts to wonder what other maintenance oddities are yet undiscovered with the property. DIY can be a good thing, but be realistic about what your skill level is. People often lose more money than they save.
Boefore I wrap up with some entertaining images here I just want to say that the takeaway point I am going for on this post is “It’s wiser to pay a little more to have it done correctly than to pay less do have it done incorrectly. It will most likely come back to haunt you.” This can be applied to many areas of life but when it comes to real estate the effect comes with more zeros at the end.
To be clear, not each image below is necessarily someone trying to add value with an oddball fix but each image is definitely in the realm of not spending a couple of bucks because they ‘needed to save money’ when in fact the act of not doing so is enough to devalue the home, likely substantially thus having the opposite effect of saving money:
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This is the latest revision of a post that has been with this Nanaimo real estate blog since its early days. I have shared it with almost every Buyer since I first wrote it over seven years ago because I think it is an important roadmap for them to have early in the real estate buying process. Since its first inception none of the steps have changed, only the particularities that are too specific for this blog. I have however tried to reword things for improved clarity. More than that, I have written a lot of other content that ties in with what I mention here and so some of it I have linked to in the content below. Of course, you don’t need to read all or any of those links or even this post in order to buy a property. My job is in part to make things easy as possible for you, and having a little access to info from the source is something some people like while others just want me to show them some places and make an offer. I am hoping to give people the home buying experience that suits them best.
Being someone whose profession keeps them continually immersed in the world of real estate, it’s sometimes easy for me to forget that in the eyes of most, it’s a world shrouded in mystery. People who don’t normally think about real estate daily tend to feel exposed if not vulnerable when they are faced with entering this new realm. This is of course why there are so many Realtors in the world. Despite what those “sell it yourself” websites and systems tell you, the fact that Realtors are still here in large numbers tell you that it’s not a world that is easy to safely navigate. The stakes are high and everyone’s life will be changed by whatever the outcome financially and experientially.
It doesn’t have to be intimidating though. I’m going to outline the process for you so that you’ll have an idea of what to expect when you choose me as your Realtor. There are simply too many variables and possibilities for me to do this comprehensively but I can provide you with a general roadmap. As they say in commercials “actual experience may vary” which roughly translated in this case means “it doesn’t always go this way, but this is a typical, simplified experience”.
So here it is, the basic stages of buying a property in B.C.:
1. Talk to a Mortgage Broker and Get Pre-Approved.
I say this to people so often, and for good reason. It really should be the first thing you do. Going to talk to a mortgage broker and finding out how much you can borrow before looking at houses is the reasonable way to go. I explain this to my clients as “it makes sense to look in your wallet before you go shopping”. You’ll be able to realistically know what you can afford before we go out looking and not have to do a U-turn halfway down the road. That kind of scenario is not fun for anyone involved.
I do recommend going to a Mortgage Broker rather than a bank, as they tend to give better, more customized, packages than banks and with faster service too. One of the reasons for this is that, like us Realtors, Mortgage Brokers don’t get a regular paycheck, they only get paid for the deals the put together. That person at the bank stays paid anyway. It doesn’t cost you anything to use their services, they get paid by the lenders even though they’re working for you. Chances are that you may already have a rate quote from a certain bank, well chances are the Mortgage Broker can connect you with that rate at the same bank but also connect you to all the other banks and their rates and a slew of other lenders you’ve not heard of who might just be a better fit for you.
2. Come Speak to Me
Now that you have an idea of what you’re able to afford, it’s time to find out what’s out there.
I’ll sit with you and listen to what your wants and needs are. Then, I’ll start to introduce you to the possibilities of what is out there and throw various ideas at you to help you explore your options fully. You won’t like every idea I throw at you, and that’s expected. I’m trying to gauge your tastes, willingness and ability handyman wise, flexibility in budget among other things. Most of all I am trying to give you advice that will save you money.
What’s available in your budget is the biggest factor. Depending on where you’re moving from, you may be expecting more for your money or you may feel like you’ve suddenly become rich. (Human nature tends to make the former more common than the latter though.) I’ll find out what is most important to you and combined with various factors that come up in our conversation, I’ll help you find properties that are the best fit.
Once we have sufficiently zeroed in on what you need I’ll show you a list of properties from which you can choose what you’d like to view in person. This is a list which will change as some places sell and new ones come out, and also because prices on a couple of them change. I may also have some new suggestions not on the list that I think you will like that I will contact you about by email or phone.
When you are looking at listings, I recommend paying more attention to the measurable things like size, beds, baths, and location. The rest is subjective and as listings are a form of ad, the more subjective things are more open to interpretation. It’s when you go look at them in person that you find out what things are really like.
There’s no point in me finding you a home you’re not happy with, that’s a no win situation for all of us. I want you to get the best place possible for what you’re looking for and I want you to know that it is a good deal for you so that you don’t miss out on the opportunity due to hesitation. That’s the sort of thing that requires trust building and is also the sort of thing many clients have thanked me for doing years later.
3. Looking at Properties
As you look at places, you will hone your expectations and tastes for whatever sliver of the market you are looking at. I will be paying attention to your reaction of each property. It may not seem like it at the time, but I really am paying close attention to you in addition to paying attention to the property so that I can better understand how to steer you towards the best fit for you. My knowing how you feel and you listening to what I know will make this and every part of the process easier on all of us.
We will have set up a time to meet and start to go out and actually look at places. As a rule, I’ll need to set those appointments up a day ahead of time so we will have made this appointment before that and you will have let me know which properties you want to view. We usually meet at my office and hop in my car, and then go look at places together with a free exchange of info while we drive from place to place. This is a great time for us to chat about real estate, get to know each other and generally get a feel for the whole situation. Many a client have made life altering choices while sitting in the passenger seat of my car. (But they just as often go home and think about it as well.)
The looking at properties part is also the part where you find out that the properties often look quite different in person than they do in the listings, sometimes better, sometimes worse. Sometimes you find a property that suits you right away and sometimes you have to look for a while. Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations and/or price range. Eventually, we will be able to find something that you enjoy if your expectations of what the market offers are realistic.
4. Making an Offer
This is when people’s emotions start to rise and it’s also when you really start to need me.
Up until this point I am guiding you in a pretty relaxed way and showing you options and mostly just giving you info and letting you decide what it is you want based on what’s available. Once we have found you a place you like enough to buy, we will try to see if you can get it at a price and terms that you find acceptable. I will write up an offer with you and we will begin negotiations. Once it has been sent in, it is a matter of you staying close to your phone while doing your best to stay calm.
Ultimately both you and the Seller have to agree key items in order for things to move forward but in almost every case the battle is mainly about price. Expect a couple of days of negotiating before you find out whether you have to go back to step two or three again or if you can continue forward.
If all goes well, we come to agreement on both sides and we have have an accepted offer. This is where you will start to feel a sense of relief that the negotiations are over. The next thing is to write a cheque for the deposit which will be held in trust by my company and I start talking to you about our plan for removing the subject clauses.
5. Removing Subject Clauses
I have often found that many Buyers put all their emotional/mental energy into finding the property and negotiating for it but it’s actually not the most involved part of the process. Don’t get winded too early. An accepted offer is most likely going to mean that it will be your property in the not so distant future but we’re not done yet. The subject removal stage is when the real curve balls are most often thrown.
Subject clauses are the parts of the contract where the sale of the property is “subject to” a variety of things that need to be done by a certain date before the contract can proceed to closing. The time period for this is usually less than two weeks after an offer is accepted but it is ultimately down to whatever dates are agreed to in the contract.
Depending on the type of property and the particularities of the sale, you will have different clauses to remove. But for the sake of example, let’s say you’re looking at a house and the situation is pretty basic/common, you and I will have to get the following done before the sale is finalized:
Get the go ahead from your Mortgage Broker regarding financing
Have the property inspected by a Home Inspector to ensure that it is not in a condition that is substantially worse than it appeared to be when we first viewed it
Get and approve a quote regarding fire/property insurance
If we can satisfy all these criteria then you sign the subject removal and then sold sign goes up. I’ll give you a high five and you’re mostly done with me until you move in. The other professionals you use, (i.e. Lawyer/Notary and Mortgage Broker) will still want to talk to you and get their share of documents signed though. I will of course be available if any loose ends pop up, but by and large the deal is done once subject clauses are removed and it’s a matter of doing some paperwork while we wait for possession day.
Then, You Move in!!
I’ll meet you at your new property on the happy day and hand you the keys, that’s when everyone jumps with joy, hugs me and promises to name their first born after me. Ok, I’m joking about the newborn, but it is a happy day for all involved.
All these and many other measures exist to protect you and I am here to guide you, so don’t feel intimidated by the process. It’s one of those things that sounds harder than it is. Really the hardest part is getting the money together which is something you’ve already done before speaking with me. Many of my clients get to the end of the buying process and say “What? That’s it? I just bought a house?!” What they don’t know is all the goings on behind the scenes that made it easy for them to get to that point. That’s not a bad thing though, it just means things have been done properly and that things went smoothly which is what I aim for.
There are many reasons why someone may want or need to sell a home and not all of them are happy reasons. When a homeowner passes away, something must be done with their home and often their heirs decide to sell it.
There is a process of transferring title (ownership rights) of a property that is part of a broader legal process known as “probate”. Probate, being the process of transferring the various kinds of the deceased’s property to their heirs. The part of probate that concerns us in real estate is that the person who is trying to sell it has the right to do so and is therefore on the title search. (See the link above.)
The thing about probate is that it can be a real curveball. I have seen it take two months to complete and I have also seen it take two years. It can sometime get very convoluted if the heirs start to dispute the validity of the will. As the subject property is just one part of what is potentially a large and complicated estate there is simply no way to know for sure how long things will take. Sometimes the Lawyers will tell us a general idea but more often than not, even they don’t really know how long it will take.
So, when Buying an estate sale it is important to know if the probate process is finished. Most people are planning on moving fairly soon by the time they start house hunting so this is important to know. If it’s not done, this may or may not be a bad thing for you. You see, for most people, not having a definite timeline for taking ownership of a property is unnerving at the very least or not possible in most cases. This means that it is likely that there aren’t as many other Buyers considering the property which means less demand and will hopefully, for the Buyer, translate into a lower price. This may be coupled with a grieving family that is more interested in letting go and moving on than they are in getting every last penny out of it. So you may be able to find a good deal as a Buyer if you can arrange your life accordingly and are willing and able to wait more than other Buyers are. That said, not all estate sales are good deals, sometimes the heirs cling to high hopes of cashing in for a very long time before accepting market reality.
As always, having looked around with the guidance of your Realtor is the best way to find the best deal that suits your personal situation in whatever kind of market we are in.
Every single Buyer has the same worst fear: Buying a place and then realizing that they could have gotten a better deal somewhere else. Knowing what to expect from a given price point and type(s) of home is a big part of the services Buyers are coming to Realtors for, particularly in the house hunting stage of the process.
I keep a long mental list of price points where once would expect to find certain types and standards of homes. It is something that I am constantly updating to keep up trends both current and likely to come. One price point that I bring up a lot when talking to Buyers, especially first time Buyers, is the lowest price point where a typical person with typical standards is going to no longer be likely to find something that suits them.
I don’t go into detail about why I consider the price point to be this certain price and not another. I sum it up as “most places under $xxx,xxx are fixer uppers” and if I can get their ears open enough I will also mention that one or some combination of factors like size, location, noise, small or slanted lots tend to be too extreme for most people. But here I will explore it a bit in hopes of clarifying things somewhat. I suppose this is an echo of a post I wrote a few years back called “What Creates Value in a Home?”
Most Buyers are not handy. To be clear, I am a huge advocate of buying a home that needs some work and making it suit your own tastes. (More on that here and here.) But most buyers don’t have the vision, the time, the patience, the know how. They also tend to feel they don’t have the budget to go beyond a little painting, some light fixtures and maybe some flooring. Everyone is different but from showing many people so very many houses I have gotten a pretty good radar for what people as a group and as individuals are willing to put up with in a home. I usually have a pretty good idea from talking to them but I have a much better idea once I have shown them a few places and how they talk about the property while we are there.
Below a certain point, places can of course become money pits and no matter how handy or ambitious you are it’s simply not a good idea. This is most epitomized by structural issues (which I have seen in all sorts of price ranges by the way). Not to worry though, when I spot those I’ll steer you clear real fast and the Property Inspector is there to look at it more deeply regardless. I don’t want to see you get hurt financially. Believe it or not, not all of us Realtors are evil.
Pro tip: If you have worked as a builder professionally for a number of years just tell me and I won’t be afraid to jump into the deep end with you. I won’t be worried about, getting you in over your head, wasting your time or mine or generally freaking you out by showing you ugly places.
Size of house, lot and number of beds and baths:
I think everyone can appreciate how having higher numbers in these areas adds to the property’s enjoyability and therefore price. The lower you go price wise, the more you will have to compromise in these areas. You might have a tiny bedroom, for example, and it might even get to the point of “Are you sure this qualifies as a bedroom? Should this place really be listed as having just one bedroom instead of two?”
Also pretty self explanatory. That house that has all the things you could possibly want with regards to the criteria above and is available at an unbelievable price is as a rule priced that way for a reason. One of the things that isn’t immediately apparent to people who don’t know the location is it’s proximity to something noisy like a busy road, or perhaps being in the backyard makes you feel like your life is centre stage for all your neighbours to see.
Arduous/risky transaction processes:
The bottom of the market has a lot of foreclosures which is something I’ve written about in detail here and I recommend that everyone who has ever considered a foreclosure read it. They have a tendency to look like great deals on the MLS but once people know the bigger picture, most will realize it’s not the right route for them. Estate sales can also drive people away as well if the probate is not yet done, the flipside of those is that they can often turn into great deals if you can deal with the timeline, or in many cases, lack of a known timeline.
There are many reasons why the cheapest properties on the market are priced that way. If you are okay with making such compromises, and perhaps have no choice due to budget then looking below the usual threshold will make sense for you.
I haven’t seen the trend start just yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. When the market goes through a strong upswing in value, as it has started doing this year, a situation is created where flipping houses starts to become a viable money making plan…
Nearly everyone has spent some time watching those house flipping shows on TV so some feel they have gained useful knowledge from it. I’m not going to say that learning useful things from such shows isn’t possible, but I will say that it’s really hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is some good info there but also a lot of fluff that is there for the purpose of creating an entertaining narrative with the goal of good ratings. These shows are there to get people to watch them, period. It is easy to forget that they are not getting more viewers by presenting honest, thoughtful, realistic perspectives and advice, but by being entertaining first and foremost. If there is a reality TV show about whatever your profession might be, perhaps you get where I am coming from.
Speaking as someone who has seen success and failure and the grey areas in between with regards to house flips, I believe I have managed to identify key areas of knowledge that should be covered to maximize your chances of success. It goes without saying, or at least it should, that there is a pretty big financial risk taken when flipping a home and there are a lot of things to take into account and balance in order to make it work. If it does work, however, you might just end up retiring early.
The way I see it, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid grasp of all three of the following areas in addition to having professional level knowledge, or close to it, in one of them.
Guidance in the other areas you are less familiar with can be gained by choosing the right professionals:
Financial: People such as Mortgage Brokers and Financial Advisors are the ones to talk to. If you are not some sort of financial professional you should be talking to those who are to make sure all your ducks are in a row financially before getting started. Were I to try a flip, I would be talking to these professionals too. As a Realtor, I have a solid grounding in the basics but the financial pros have a way of surprising me with clever, useful, tricks no matter how much I think I have already learned from them.
Real Estate Markets: Yours truly would be the one to talk to about whether the market timing is right for this. Understand that there are no guarantees exactly how long prices will go up and how much they will go up by. Anyone telling you that there is a guarantee of either up or down on the way, is someone you should stay far, far away from. On one end of the spectrum we have that kind of Realtor who will say whatever nonsense to push you to buy or sell a property, and on the other we have the constant prediction of an apocalyptic real estate market crash coming from a media outlet. They know drama sells papers and gets viewers. Stay away from both.
There is some solace in knowing what the historical pattern has been though. You get about 6 or 7 years or up and about 6 or 7 years of down/not going much anywhere.
The good news is that if you don’t get the flip done before the markets stop going up there is a plan b that should work if you haven’t already over extended yourself financially. That being, rent it out until things start to go up again or better yet, rent it out for longer and make more money. My general recommendation is that you plan to be able to hold on to a property for 5-10 years as your plan B, and in this case we are likely talking about renting it utnil market conditions come back. It’s a pretty safe bet if you are patient and have done your financial homework.
But it’s not all just about timing. You’ll also want to know about what’s popular in the market these days, what are some good ways to easily add value to a given property, knowing which properties are being overlooked by the market and why which could turn out to be a big money maker for you. There is much more to explore here but you get the idea. All of these things combine to tell you what kind of property to be looking for at what price and how you should renovate it to maximize your payback.
Building/renovation: It’s one thing to know that something needs to be fixed, repaired or updated. It’s another thing to know what is involved in doing it. It’s yet another thing to be able to do that work properly. And oh boy, have I seen a lot of people cost themselves a lot of money by cutting corners on this stuff.
As a Realtor, I would say I am pretty comfortable with the knowing what needs to be fixed and what is involved in doing it. I spend my looking at houses every day and deciding what their value is and what would be required to bring out their potential. However, I am not going to pretend, even for one minute that this is the same thing as being able to actually do all that work myself. There are finer details in any job that, although typically simple, only someone with hands on experience knows about. I would suggest that if you are working on the property yourself that you have more handyman knowledge than I or at least are honest with yourself about what your limits are in terms of skill and what the costs are going to be.
If I had to pick one of the three areas of knowledge as the best bet for making money off of a flip, it’s going to be reno/building knowledge. The reason being that it’s the one that allows you to cut costs the most without raising much extra risk. By doing much or most of that work yourself, you’re saving on the most expensive part of the process, which is labour. You can also make sure that the work is done properly assuming your knowledge level is high enough.
And that my my starter kit for house flipping. For the full package and walkthrough you’ll of course have to contact myself and whichever of the other kinds of professionals mentioned above that you’ll need services from. If you don’t have any in mind, I certainly have connections and can give you some leads on people who might just be the right fit.
It was announced this morning that Coast Realty has been bought by Royal LePage and that myself and whichever other Realtors who wish to stay will be flying the red and white banner of Royal Lepage instead of the blue and green of Coast Realty. For my clients, the only noticeable difference will be that my signs, websites and business cards will soon have a different logo on them.
For me, it will mean that I talk to a new manager when I need to and I have to change my advertising to match the new company name. I’ll still be sitting at the same desk, in the same building, selling properties in the same neighbourhoods in the same way as I always have. Apparently being part of a larger national network gives me access to some larger networking and technical resources, but none of this is the sort of thing that would be noticed by the client. I merely mention it because I want my clients to understand that I am the same Realtor I have always been and my business style will remain the same transparent, honest and diligent style it has always been. The change of company is mainly a change of colours like new paint on a home.
Being someone who grew up on a relatively small, 5 acre, hobby farm, I have a certain affinity with rural properties. Unlike most neighbourhoods rural properties generally allow you to make as much noise as you want and indulge in whatever crazy hobby you have without annoying neighbours. The trade off is that you end up being a bit farther away from amenities.
Nanaimo isn’t really all that big. You can get a rural property without having to drive insane distances to get to work, friends places or shopping like you would living in a rural area outside a city. I’ve yet to find one part of town that is more than twenty minutes from any other part of the broader Nanaimo area. If, for example, I am coming from somewhere in Cedar and need to go to the north end of town it’s still going to fit in that time frame because the parkway lets me bypass enough lights and traffic so that it’s doable. Shopping is dispersed throughout the area so even ten minutes would be a long drive for groceries. One can generally expect closer to five.
Although there are varying densities of neighbourhoods within the ‘sub areas’ on the Nanaimo MLS map there are certainly sub areas which are my go to if I have a client looking for rural properties. Cedar, Extension, Chase River, and Upper Lantzville are first to check but I may also look at lot sized and other factors. It’s not cut and dried where they are. This is why although the computer is a great tool for searching, a human mind that knows the ins and outs (like this Realtor guy named Ryan Coffey) can help you hone in on what you are looking for.
A house on a rural lot is in most ways the same as a house that is located in town. Some differences are obvious like the location and lot size. There’s also the more subtle things that you probably won’t notice right away because they don’t affect how you go about your daily life. Those things being wells and septic. They are worth considering because they do affect how you maintain the property and plan your finances. Rural properties will typically be on a septic system and might also be on a well. Both should be inspected and need specialized inspectors in addition to the home inspector you will want to have inspecting any home you buy. Septic systems have a long life of about 25 years but they are an expensive replacement at $20-30k. (There are cheaper quotes sometimes but I like to work with slightly pessimistic numbers.) They also need to be pumped out/maintained every three years or so. My observation has been that taxes on properties that don’t have the public sewage service is lower and to the point that if someone is forward thinking they can put the money they save on taxes away and save up for that new septic system that will need to be replaced someday. Wells are cheaper to maintain but need to have an eye kept on them for water quality/sanitation and to make sure there is adequate supply.
Rural areas have very different building codes/zoning bylaws from in the city. You’ll have to of course abide by whatever bylaws are in place but from what I have seen there is typically more freedom than within city limits in terms of what sort of home/buildings you want to erect.
If you want a big hunk of land for less, a good trick is to look for ALR land (Agricultural
Land Reserve). This is because it cannot be subdivided as it is set aside by the provincial government so that if needed it can be used for farming someday. This is the result of a program that was set up in the 70’s when there were big scares about world food supply. There aren’t many at a time but once in a while I see big acreages at prices that are unobtainable without the ALR restriction.
I’ve not been putting posts up lately because the market has kept me busy and I’m currently writing all the content for my Nanaimo real estate website which will soon be revamped. After that, this website will get a facelift as well.
I just came across this great video that explains why Japanese bathrooms are so awesome. As someone who lived in Japan for four years and as a Realtor this strikes a chord with me. The Japanese way of bathing is one of the main things I miss while I am in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, I’m way happier here and that’s way I came back but I hope to make a bathroom like this in my own home one day as I find this way so much more convenient and comfortable. Only, as we have so much more space in Nanaimo, it will be more roomy.
She doesn’t mention quite everything is this video though. A lot of the mirrors have a heating system that prevents them from fogging and then there’s the toilet seats which look like they’re made by NASA. But those are probably worth a video on their own. This girl does a variety of videos on daily life in Japan if you have further interest.
The west coast, especially Vancouver Island, has long been a favourite place for Canadians to retire. The natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle and the mild winters are a big draw for people across the country who have reached the retirement stage of their lives. Here are some of the points which experience has taught me to believe is of interest to those who are considering retiring to Nanaimo:
I would imagine this is the first thing people from elsewhere in Canada hear about that piques their interest. I was born and raised out this way but have spent a handful of winters in places like Alberta and Nova Scotia. During my travels I was quite surprised that so few people had any idea what it was like in my end of the country. I kept telling them tales of winters where most people didn’t change their tires, or own chains or have any idea how to operate a snow blower. I also talked of mountains covered with giant trees that lie next to oceans full of giant salmon. A multicultural part of the nation that is not Toronto. From the looks I often got, you would think I was from some far of exotic country and not from the same nation as they.
As for the anecdotes that describe the real experience, well saying “At least you don’t have to shovel it.” is only the beginning. You don’t have to dig your car out, worry about frostbite, use remote start to warm up your car, have exorbitant heating costs, put on and take off layers upon layers of clothing every time you go in or out and you are very unlikely to get soaked socks from pools of melted snow that lie next to the front door where you take your boots off. To be succinct, it’s as if it becomes a rainy fall that is still quite green due to all the conifers. The weather gets stuck in that mode, with only the odd snowy or icy day until the spring arrives. Then, our summers are great because it’s neither super hot or very humid, just pleasant.
Easy access to everything:
Nanaimo is plenty big enough to have everything you need for your daily life, it’s not so big however that you feel like you are in a city that is too large to feel part of a community. Due to its central location, it is a shopping destination for people all over Vancouver Island and the main gateway to the mainland via the ferries. There is also the airport and float planes which will quickly take you to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Seattle via direct flights. From those places you might want to transfer to another plane which will take you anywhere you might want to go.
If it’s bright lights and big city you crave once in a while, Vancouver is just across the water but the advantages are that our real estate prices and commute times are a fraction of what is over there and the social ills associated with that reality are toned down. Conversely, living on Vancouver Island is quieter and comes with a slower pace of life. If you want nature, it’s never far. There are plenty of beautiful parks within Nanaimo and wilderness is just beyond.
Caters to Seniors:
One of the benefits of being in an area where seniors have long been around in numbers is that there are many services, social groups and activities that cater to them. Strata complexes that have an age restriction of 55+ are fairly common and tend to be in good areas.
Access to Natural Beauty:
I once had a retiree client who referred to living on Vancouver Island as like “being in a giant park, except you get you live in it.” Whether it’s boating in the ocean, looking at the ocean, walking in the forest, seeing vistas of the forest, or having wildlife in the background of your daily life Nanaimo has it locally. In fact it’s possible to have them right on your door step if you so choose.