Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Buying; Uncategorized.
If you can learn to see past this kind of decor you are likely to be rewarded.
I would say that the majority of Buyers gravitate towards properties that are turn key. They will often start of their search saying that they don't mind a place that needs a little work. This being particularly true for first time Buyers. More often than not Buyers will end up choosing a place that has newer flooring, paint, trim, fixtures and so on. Which is totally fine, it's their life and their money. That said, I do like to help people try to figure out how to get better deals for themselves.
I have seen a pretty consistent pattern over the years. As a rule, a Buyer can get a nicer property for less money by choosing a home that has good bones that needs some fairly minor updating and doing some fairly straightforward renovations to it.
This is no great secret. I knew this very early on in my real estate career and the majority of Sellers understand the value of a few licks of paint at very least. The thing that I think Buyers need to be aware of is that quite often the upgrades/renos are done with selling the property in mind. Therefore the work done at that stage is generally not done with the idea of making it last. Cheaper materials and perhaps a quicker DYI job than one would do when keeping the home is common.
An experienced eye, like that of a Builder, Inspector, or (most) Realtors can spot the difference quite quickly but I think that most Buyers are wooed by the feeling of shiny and new even after having the above pointed out to them. If they are happy, then great, then so am I. I do get a certain satisfaction from knowing my clients have gotten a good deal. Part of that involves having my Buyers understand that they are likely to have to pay more for the shiny and new loking property than they would have to pay if they had some of the work done professionally and done some of the easier parts themselves.
Not everyone is handy. Not everyone has the nerve to buy something as expensive as a home and then take the risk of making changes that aren't done right or just having to live uncomfortably while they or someone else does the work under a budget that is not quite predictable. So here are some points to consider if you are wanting to get a nicer home for a bit less and are open to doing a little work on the property to shine up that diamond in the rough.
Does it have good bones? When I walk into an older home that hasn't had any updates since... ever, I don't sigh about the ugly decor. Yes, it's funny that shag carpets, fake wood paneling and naugahyde were once so "nice" and now they're not, but what I'm most interested in is the structural properties of the house. The bones are the expensive fixes. Foundation, studs, joists, trusses and anything else strucural is the most expensive/difficult to fix in most cases and things like paint and trim are the least. Flooring is somewhere in the middle but if you make a good choice on the product and the installation it will be neither dated or short lived. That's not money down the tubes, that's an investment in your biggest asset, your home.
Keep some money on reserve and have a plan. Quotes have a way of being ballpark for a best case scenario. I'm a fan of financially planning with slightly pessimistic numbers so that any surprises are likely to be good surprises rather than bad ones.
How handy are you? I mean, really? I've seen so much DIY that has caused long term issues with properties. In many cases people end up costing themselves money in the long term because they tried to do things the cheap and fast way rather than biting the bullet and doing it right. (I see the same issue when selling the home too. More on that here.) Most work around the home is not complicated but if the details aren't done right it can cause other issues. The worst in our area being issues that have to do with water ingress. If you decide to do some work yourself to make it cheaper, then by all means do so. Just be honest with yourself about what you can do on your own, with the guidance of a more experienced friend or simply leave to the pros
Be able to visualize change. The aforementioned shag carpet and fake wood paneling aren't a big deal to change. Paint on a house is akin to makeup on a lady. If you can visualize how the home will look with these things done, a task that is harder than it sounds, you are likely to be able to see potential other Buyers can't. The same can be said about being able to visualize the home with decor that is different from what the Seller has. Chances are you will like the stuff you choose much better!
Know your limits. Financially, physically, emotionally and timewise.
Balance these concepts and keep them in mind when looking at properties and you're likely to find better opportunities. And if you want the idea in an easy to remember phrase, think "Does it have good bones?"
*Golden tip: For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of "mortgage plus improvements" I suggest you contact your Mortgage Broker and ask how you can get those renos done without having to put it on things like credit cards. You can tag it on to your mortgage as it adds value to your home after all. It's really worth learning about even if you don't use it.
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Nanaimo Profile and Events; Nanaimo's Neighbourhoods; Uncategorized.
In Nanaimo real estate, there are some locations that are better known, better advertised and more highly valued than others. I’m out there daily looking for the best deals for my clients and while doing so I see areas which I think are great but not as celebrated as they may deserve.
This will be the first in an ongoing series where I highlight neighbourhoods across Nanaimo which I think are generally underappreciated. There are pros and cons to every location and the specific list of those pros and cons will change for each person based on tastes, budgets, long term or short term plans. I will, however, cover the broader aspects of each area that I think are important considerations for many people.
I don’t think I will ever finish this series because I can immediately think of dozens, if not hundreds, of locations that are worth illustrating. Each requires mention of specific details that are beyond what can fit into a listing description and each is more specific than describing a broader neighbourhood or section of town that is large enough to be referred to by a convenient name.
Don’t be offended if your area isn’t in this series. I’m quite aware that there are Buyers for your area too and it’s a myth that real estate is all about location and there are many factors that add value to a home. A gem can be found in any neighbourhood, but being in a nice area certainly does make a difference.
I’ve decided to kick the series off with a section of town that I’ve long been a believer in despite what some people say about it. A section of Harewood. I choose this simply because the bad rep that Harewood has among some locals irks me. I think that the way some regard Harewood is outdated and not generally deserved with the exception of a few spots. I’ve written about this before, here.
There are in fact quite a few great, affordable spots in Harewood and the one I’m focusing on today is what I sometimes refer to as the oasis of Hamilton Ave., Stirling Ave. and Winchester Ave.
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I’ve had a handful of clients moving to and from this location over the years and while visiting them, passing through and doing my real estate work I’ve always noticed how quiet it is compared to the areas that immediately surround it. There is a great park (Robin’s Park) nearby with a large field where local softball games are held among other activities and there is green space access behind there as well. Nice place to take your dog, or just yourself, for a walk.
Shopping is easy. There is a recently upgraded mall (University Village) only a couple of blocks away. Up the hill from there is the university and easy access to the parkway which means you can go to other ends of town or outside of Nanaimo without having to deal with as many traffic lights as you would coming from many other areas. Go the other way and downtown isn’t very far. If you’re up for a twenty minute walk to get there you could do that, ride your bike or drive there in five to ten minutes. Walkable or semi-walkable neighbourhoods are becoming more sought after and getting a single family home rather than a condo in such an area is a bonus for many people. Also nearby is access to mountain biking on Mt. Benson (a mountain which many properties in this area have a great view of) as well as the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre and Nanaimo Ice Centre if you choose to have an active lifestyle.
More posts highlighting specific locations around Nanaimo are to come.
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Selling.
Selling your home? Don’t let avoidable mistakes cut into your profits. Most people don’t sell homes for a living. The right Realtor is a vital piece in the selling puzzle but ultimately it’s your home and your profit or your loss. Don’t let these common Sellers mistakes diminish your profits.
This post is one of many in this blog’s category of tips for Selling so read on for more info if you wish.
Mistake #1: Overpricing
Every Seller obviously wants to get the most money for his or her home. Ironically, the best way to do this is not to list your home at an excessively high price. A high listing price will cause many prospective Buyers (and their Realtors) to lose interest before even seeing your property. Also, it may lead other Buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. As a result, overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price than they would have if they were priced accurately in the beginning. Believe it or not, it is more dangerous to your bottom line to overprice than it is to slightly underprice as the latter garners lots of interest and if played right is likely to result in multiple offers (usually driving the price up) or at least a solid offer within a short time frame. You won’t have to dig far into this blog to find more on this. It is so important and so common that I feel the need to bring it up again and again.
Mistake #2: Mistaking Tax Assessments as an Accurate Measurement of Market Value
Tax assessments are basically fiction when it comes to pricing your home. More on that in this post.Your best bet is to ask your Realtor for an estimate the most recent information regarding property sales in your area. This will give you an up-to-date and factually accurate estimate of your property value.
Mistake #3: Failing to “Showcase”
In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread. When attempting to sell your home to prospective buyers, do not forget to make your home look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. Make sure everything functions and looks presentable, well lit and some fresh paint in the right spots doesn’t hurt. When showing time comes, leave the lights on, drapes open and give them as much of a sense of space as possible. A poorly kept home in need of repairs will surely lower the selling price of your property and will even turn away some buyers.
I know that this isn’t that easy since you look at your home every day and breath the air in it. You may have looked at the same stain on the wall for so many years and smelled the same pet odours so many thousands of times that you simply can’t tell it’s there. That’s part of my job as a Realtor, helping you see those things that may turn Buyers off and helping you identify which ones are most likely to be the bigger issue. There is always the concern of offending you with the news so I will say it diplomatically, but it must be done for all of our benefit.
Mistake #4: Being Home for Showings
Buying a house is always an emotional and difficult decision. As a result, you should try to allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property. Following the principles of physical space as mentioned in number 3 and in this recent post creates physical space. Emotional space is equally important and letting them look around with as much of a sense of peace as possible is imp0rtant. It’s not in your best interests as a Seller to stick around and give Buyers tours or actively sell it to them. You want them to be able to envision it as their home. You being there trying to sell just prevents them from relaxing while they look around.
It’s not just about relaxing though. There are many pieces of information that they may want to know about. Some are good to share, some are not really a good idea to share, some absolutely must be shared and others are just a plain bad idea to share. Knowing the difference between those and how to properly present them is something best left to the pros. You may end up costing yourself money without even knowing it. As a Seller you’re paying big money for your Realtor if the sale is successful. There is a long list of knowledge and services that falls under that umbrella, and during the showings stage the main thing is keeping the home looking great and make it easy to show.
Mistake #5: Not understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities
It is extremely important that you are well-informed of the details in your real estate contract(s). Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and they can often be complex and confusing. You won’t look silly to me as a Realtor if you ask me questions about them. I’m not the one making decisions, you are. I am, however, the one who helps you make your decisions informed decisions. In order to make sure we are on the same page communication is key.
Mistake #6: Getting Discount Service, or No Professional Service at All
I could give you a fairly long list of all the websites my listings are displayed on, the things that are standard practice for a full service Realtor like myself and the extra little things I add typically add/do to make a property stand out and ultimately sell for a better price. There are however cheaper options out there that claim to give you the same result because they get your property advertised on the MLS but they simply don’t compare. You get what you pay for in real estate too. There’s more to listing and selling than just getting photos and a description online. Although being included on the MLS is a crucial part of marketing your home properly, it is only a part of the larger picture. Again, I could go on at length, but I will mention a detail or two to give the skeptical something to chew on.
With the discount or list it yourself systems I have generally found that the act of just making an appointment to show a property is more time consuming and cumbersome. While working with the Buyer us Realtors often don’t make enough commission off the sale of a discount brokerage to break even for the month let alone pay our bills. The information provided is often entered directly by the Seller who doesn’t know the ins and outs of how to enter property info into a listing or what the legal requirements for each item is. Getting questions answered by a professional is important for our confidence in the reliabilty of answers. Some of these systems allow Sellers to answer questions themselves which means that they are likely to not necessarily know an answer to something crucial. If they give the wrong answer (on purpose or not), they could easily put themselves in legal hot water or at least kill a deal unecessarily. It’s important for Buyers to know what they are getting into lest there be big bad surprises later which may take the form of lawsuits. On the other hand, there is the one Buyer’s advantage in this situation where a Realtor like me, who is working for the Buyer can use the Seller’s ignorance against them and get info that will the Buyers an advantage in negotiations without the Seller necessarily knowing it because they are not tuned into the negotiations game. To prevent this Sellers often clam up altogether which isn’t good either…. I’ll stop myself there and not labour the point any further.
For further reading on mistakes Sellers commonly make I refer you to a short story I wrote about a fictitious couple who made many of the mistakes I commonly see. I called it “The House That Wouldn’t Sell”
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Buying; Myths Of Real Estate; Nanaimo Real Estate Market; Selling; Uncategorized.
I have quite a few conversations with people about property tax assessments. It is a theme that comes up fairly often, especially around this time of year, and has been frequent enough to make me write posts on this blog about it on more than one occasion. I was going to put up another post about a different topic today but I’m not quite satisfied with it yet and as I have tax assessment information ready and on the minds of so many people who just received them, I’ll refer you to this previous post about Nanaimo property tax assessments.
In case you haven’t guessed what I’m getting at, what they’re not for is getting an accurate idea of what your property is really worth on the market. I go through the ins and outs of that in the post linked to above.
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Buying; Eco Friendly.
There is a great deal of science and potential for great attention to detail on making your home very energy efficient. Net zero is the holy grail of sustainable energy use but for most of us the act of making the most of what we have is an art in itself. Things like passive solar gain, fancy insulation products, clever architectural design and the myriad of possible modifications to an existing property that will help you save money long term are out there. So is the information and a Nanaimo expert on the topic is Ian Gartshore. I would refer you to him if you are looking to figure out how to get as much energy efficiency out of your home as you can.
I do try to keep my advice practical though and as there is so much to consider when choosing a home I don’t want to make it harder than it already is to make a good choice, I want to make it easier. So rather than giving people a checklist of items to make their list of criteria longer and therefore even more difficult to satisfy, I’ll be brief and general.
One of the bigger factors that is easy to satisfy is the age of home. As the years progress, so have the standards of heat retention therefore a newer home will generally be more energy efficient than its older equivalent. I think it is also worthy of note that better thermal insulation has the added effect of better noise insulation so there is the bonus that a bit of traffic nearby or having a handyman neighbour won’t bother you as much as it did in some older home you once lived in.
Quite often Buyers will want to see a copy of the utility bills before putting an offer on a home as they want to get an idea of heating costs. This is a logical request but from what I have seen, and been convinced by inquiries to the energy companies, energy costs can vary wildly in the same place depending on who is living there. You see, different people have different habits, needs and awareness of energy use. To name a few factors you may have more or less people living there who are taking longer or shorter showers; they may be home more or less often at different times of year; older people are more likely to keep the home heated at higher temperatures and stay home more; some people are more or less prone to putting on a sweater instead of turning up the heat or using the air conditioning rather than closing the blinds and cracking a window. These all add up and are just the tip of the iceberg on what can change the energy costs of a given property. Keep in mind that I’m only really talking about heat here and not getting into things like electronics or lights or how the air flows within the home. There is way more going on than I allude to here.
If you do end up falling in love with an older home you may start to think about what kind of heating system it has. The good news is that the old beast of an oil furnace can be replaced with something more eco friendly and affordable in the long term. It’s the initial outlay that puts most people off but if they take the time to look at the long term savings they are generally won over. Changing that oil furnace to a heat pump for example or getting a more energy efficient kind of hot water tank, is likely something that you can get your Mortgage Broker to tag onto your mortgage as cost plus improvements. A concept worth looking into if you’re not familiar with it. The world is getting more open minded about sustainable solutions these days so you may even be able to get approved for a modification that is a deeper shade of green than how most people live. I say talk it out with your Mortgage Broker.
That said, modifications that make meaningful differences aren’t all expensive and need lending, some are dirt cheap. In my home, I have a noren in a hallway to keep heat and drafts where I want them plus it looks nice.
Older homes especially suffer from a lot of air leaks. Houses that are two or three stories tall lose more heat this way. Stucco siding prevents much air infiltration, and homes built from the 80’s on typically used vapour barrier to reduce leaks. An energy audit is inexpensive and can quickly determine how drafty a home is. By the way, a house that is the opposite (doesn’t breathe) can have poor indoor air quality. Not good, either.
Surprisingly, more heat can be lost to a basement or slab than through the attic. Concrete is a very poor insulator. Windows that are clear –whether single or double- lose (and in the summer, gain!) a lot of heat. The newer low-e windows, especially with non-aluminum frames, are far better. The difference in both comfort and heating/cooling costs is considerable.
Having a home that is facing the right direction to allow the sun to do much of the heating work makes a big difference. In our hemisphere the shorthand for this is southern exposure. It’s something that I have mostly been asked for by people who are interested in gardening/plants and a few who like the feeling of sitting in the sun as it inches its way across the living room spreading warmth and a sense of cheeriness. The challenge is that we live in a mountainous area where there are often trees and depending on location other buildings may be blocking the sun. The good news is that I don’t personally think that enough people make this a priority (their minds are mostly focused on space, rooms, location and overall shininess) so even though there aren’t a lot of places that have southern exposure, I don’t think the demand is so strong that it makes a big difference on cost of buying.
In the end, there are many finer points one can explore but keeping some general ideas in mind when buying can help you get a home that is more energy efficient without creating unrealistic standards.
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Buying; Real Estate Online; Uncategorized.
Below I specifically speak about asking for advice on Reddit but it is also a general cautioning about being careful who you ask and what you ask them.
I have recently started to spend time on Reddit. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Reddit is a social network/uberforum where an infinite variety of topics are discussed by a very large number of people. There have been so many forums online over the years but there is something about the society in Reddit that is more well read and level headed than I have seen most anywhere online. Of particular interest to me, has been the real estate section (aka subreddit).
I have been going through the real estate subreddit regularly for about six or eight months now. There are an awful lot of people going to the internet for advice on specific real estate issues/choices they are facing. Reddit is probably the best online place to ask for such advice but there is something that troubles me about seeing people do this. It is natural and sensible to seek input when facing a major decision, but one must be careful where they turn for the advice.
Although there are many Realtors and related professionals, including myself, who are actively commenting on threads of this nature I feel that the people asking for advice would generally be better served by asking their own local professional. (i.e. Their Realtor, Mortgage Broker, Lawyer etc.) than throwing the question out to whoever happens to be online and willing to give a quick word of advice. Even a seasoned professional cannot usually understand the full scope of the individual’s story based upon the summary given on the internet. To get the full story a professional needs to take the time to ask questions about the specific case and understand the broader context of the situation which includes local laws, business practices and of course real estate market. People online will rarely if ever take the time to look into the broader story and it is also unlikely that they will know the specifics of the locale the question is being asked about
In my case, I am a Realtor who lives and works in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. I have found over the years that although similar logic is used in other territories and countries there are differences that can and do cause confusion. For example, in Canada there is only one MLS system but from what I hear about the US there are many and different real estate companies may use different MLS systems despite serving the same area. Another example is that in British Columbia we measure square footage for each floor of the building and add them to a greater total but in other parts of the country they apparently measure the footprint of the building as their square footage. There are also different ways to register ownership depending on which province you are in. As a Canadian Realtor I have never 100% grasped the concept of “escrow” which is a common word in the US which in description doesn’t sound too different from what we do up my way but I still have many questions about the finer points of legalities as to which party has what responsibilities to whom if such and such issue arises.
Those finer points of legalities and common business practice are details that can and do make a very big difference as to what the best decision is for each situation. The uninitiated often believe that what is sensible to them is also sensible to the world at large and that business laws and practice will match that but in reality there are many points of view to consider and each area has its own culture that has evolved to keep things fair for everybody. My own comments in the real estate subreddit usually end up being very general or simply saying that they need to talk to their own Realtor/Lawyer/Home Inspector/Mortgage Broker and not asking the internet.
The answers one is likely to get on the internet are unlikely to address the finer points which will often be crucial in making a safe and beneficial decision. One analogy is to think of visits I have made to website that describe medical conditions. We go to the website wondering about a few symptoms we have, enter them and usually have a line of thought that’s like “Well, I don’t have what I thought I had so that’s good… oh but it does sound like I have that and that’s much worse!” Of course, one should just visit their Doctor and not allow their emotions combined with piles of hard to decipher information get the best of them. Finding information online is very easy these days but there is no substitute for advice from the mind of someone who has seen it all before in many ways and seen how it plays out.
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Buying; Financial.
Short answer: Yes.
My usual more detailed type answer: It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan and know how much wiggle room you have. Being in a position to buy a property outright without a mortgage is a great position to be in but things may change for you before you get into that property.
There is a fairly large period of time from the time you start looking at properties to when you move in. Usually a couple of months. During that time there are many decisions made and information revealed with regards to the property. You may end up deciding that it is worth a tiny mortgage or line of credit to get a certain place that is slightly more expensive than what you had saved up for or perhaps you find a place that you can afford but it needs some renos done to it so that it suits you better. Similarly, the inspection may reveal something that you will want to get done fairly soon . Knowing that you have the backing of a mortgage as a ‘just in case fund’ will make the whole process easier and reduce a sense of restrictions. Better to get the pre approval before the serious house hunting as the good ones tend to sell fast and when you see the right one you want to be able to snatch it without having to second guess your finances.
There are of course life’s other factors like illness in the family or a change in your income or any number of things that may make the bank account wane a little before it’s time to pay that big bill. Best to make sure that if something like this happens it is not going to derail your home buying plans. This is especially important if you have arrived at the stage of negotiations and contracts.
Last but not least is the fact that what you owe in property transfer tax, Lawyer’s fees and other costs may not be quite what you expected. Mortgage Brokers take all these into account as well and you will be able to preview the real cost of a property more accurately before you go shopping.
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Home owner tips.
A home theatre has quickly become a must-have for practically every family. From the simple family room setup to a much more elaborate theatre-seating wonder, today’s home theatres aren’t just for the wealthy anymore.
The decor of a home theatre will eventually influence how well the room functions as an entertainment space as well as how it shows when the lights are turned on. Creating a functional and beautiful home theatre is easy to do on any budget. Here are some ideas for creating a home theatre for all to enjoy.
Start by arranging the space. Choose an easy-to-clean surface or a dark colour carpet for the flooring, and select a dark colour for the walls and ceiling.
A home theatre would not be complete without its supporting cast, the furniture. If you plan on having a couch in your home theatre, get a curved sectional. Since the optimal viewing in a movie theatre is the centre seat, a curved sectional will simulate that effect for everyone viewing your television.
If you have a smaller space or prefer a more intimate area, purchase two recliners in dark leather or other fabric. A simple end table can serve as a shared table between the two chairs. Select comfortable and soft furniture which give luxury while absorbing sound waves to improve audio quality within the room.
Arrange the furniture for best viewing for everyone. If you have an HD television, your seats should be as far back as 3 to 4 times the width of the screen. This provides optimum picture quality and your guests won’t be straining their neck or eye sight to watch the television.
Secondly, consider the lighting. You never want to be in a completely dark room when watching a movie as this can be a hard strain on your eyes. Use wall sconces or other dim background lighting at a very low level while watching the TV.
Another typical visual task in the home theatre is entertaining. So you need to have a layered lighting approach. Add some accent lighting in the room, some general lighting and some decorative lighting. Remember to use separate controls for each of these layers so that you can change the look and the aesthetic feel of the space based on function.
No home theatre is complete without refreshments. If space allows, install a built-in or freestanding bar. A complete home theatre bar should include a microwave and mini refrigerator stocked with water, juices and your preferred drinks.
If your budget allows, consider adding acoustic wall treatments to balance the acoustic properties of a room. You want to be able to turn up the volume while watching your favourite movie without disturbing other people in your home. There are many commercial products available and you can even buy ready to install treatments.
Most wall or ceiling mounted treatments are simply a wooden frame filled with sound absorbing or diffusing material. The material is then wrapped in an attractive sound absorbing fabric of your choice. You can also hang wall treatments from your ceiling to help control floor to ceiling reflections.
Finally, when selecting the focal point of your home theatre: the equipment, keep in mind that you can easily find speakers that are installed into the walls for a clean, less cumbersome appearance. The exteriors of these in-wall speakers can be painted and treated to blend seamlessly. If a drop-down projection screen isn’t in your budget, a large standard television with surround sound will do nicely. Add a tuner and some speakers for maximum sound quality.
A home theatre is a fun, relaxing place for families to spend time together as well as to entertain. The decor of the room should be about comfort and subtly allowing you to enjoy favourite movies or programs in the welcoming retreat of your own home.
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Uncategorized.
Many of us have grown up with the idea that our first home will be a modest house that needs a little TLC. For some of us, this turns out to be true but as populations increase, so do the costs of land and many other resources associated with building a home. There is also the economic climate to consider. Nanaimo still has some houses under 230k, sure, but every one of them is very small and/or in need of lots of work or has some other thing about it that involves a compromise that is too much for most people. Under 260k is where I am currently telling people to expect fixer uppers in a medium/small sized home. For some, swinging this financially in hopes of getting their foot in the door of home ownership is viable for others they have to look at other options to get out of the rut that is long term renting.
Your best first step in Buying whether you’ve done it many times before or not is to speak to a Mortgage Broker. If after speaking to a Mortgage Broker you find out that houses are out of your price range, there are of course other options. There are a few decent small houses under 250k in Nanaimo, but if you have a family, want a quiet location, and are not especially handy, the pickings are slim. The other options are condos, townhomes and mobile homes.
Mobiles have a bad rep for being a neighbourhood of debauchery, but this isn’t typically the case in the Nanaimo area. In fact, most of the mobile home parks in this area are actually pretty pleasant neighbourhoods and the mobiles themselves are typically surprisingly roomy, clean, and comfortable. That said, it is not what I would recommend to most first time Buyers because of pad fee costs and my belief in the concept of building equity. With a mobile you get a low monthly payment for the ownership of the mobile itself but you don’t own the land. You are going to have to pay a pad rent of about $350-400/month. because the land is not yours. The value of the mobile depreciates over time but the land’s value (which you have no stake in) increases . The name of the game is ultimately ‘equity building’ and mobiles are not so good for doing that. Having a stake in land is key.
Remember that you’re probably going to sell or rent your real estate one day. The more your money goes into the mortgage rather than a monthly fee plus the amount the property goes up over time, the more you’ll get back when you sell the place and use that money to buy something else. If you hold on to it long enough it will go up. Real estate is a long term game so be patient and my advice is to expect to hold on to a place for 5-10 years if or more if you can swing it.
With townhomes and condos most people would probably overlook the fact that they come with a stake in the land they are on. The strata fee vary wildly on them depending on a variety of factors, but in terms of the cheaper than a basic house price range, most of the monthly fees are between $150 and $200 per month. The good news about these fees, is that part of that money goes towards maintenance of the exterior of the complex. If the complex is well managed, this makes looking after the property easier for the would be owner as they don’t have to consider the outside maintenance directly but instead it is done via the mini democracy of strata owners, council and usually a management company. The bad news is that once in a while, extra fees are charged when it turns out that the complex has a leak or some other big project that wasn’t foreseen in the budget. Keep in mind that this happens in houses too in its own way. Typically, that extra fee can be gotten back in the resale value once the work has been done.
The world is changing. It always has been. Those who live gracefully in it are the one who are able and willing to change with it whatever direction it may take. Others wait for the world to go their way, which it may, or it may not. In a world that is approaching a population of seven billion people, space is becoming an ever precious thing. And that’s something they say often about real estate, “Land is the one thing they’re not making more of.”
Posted by Ryan Coffey under: Nanaimo Profile and Events; Uncategorized.
Fall has just shown up on our doorstep and winter isn’t far behind. The carefree joys of summer ease their way into a time of richer foods, many hued leaves and more layers of clothing. For most Canadians this is the beginning of an annual journey towards the sort of winter that Canada is famous for. Temperatures of minus ten, twenty and maybe minus thirty aren’t that strange and in some places minus fourty or lower are plausible along with who knows how many months of snow. For most, this is just part of the Canadian experience. If you are from Nanaimo, or anywhere on the west coast, the tales of this sort of winter is not something you can grasp without having experienced it yourself. We are so spoiled that we whimper when we get up on a winter’s morning and find that we have to scrape the ice off our windshield. For those of us on the west coast of British Columbia, winter is mostly a time of rain and as people from east of here will quickly point out “You don’t have to shovel it.”
I see a fairly consistent pattern of who is moving to Nanaimo from elsewhere in the country. For many of them the weather is definitely a factor, but is not the whole picture. I had one client say that living on Vancouver Island is like living in a giant park but you are allowed to live and shop in it. Nanaimo, located at the eastern centre of Vancouver Island, is in such a position that it is a hub of distribution for people and goods for The Island. Vancouver is close and easy to get to yet far enough away so that we don’t feel very connected to daily life there without making a conscious decision to be part of it. You can fly there in twenty minutes or take the ferry and get there in less than two hours or you can just stay on The Island and for the most part forget about that city. If it’s something more natural you crave, you can hop in your car and visit beaches, mountains, lakes or forest in minutes from wherever you are in Nanaimo. In most neighbourhoods you can simply walk or ride your bike to such things and you don’t need to live in a fancy neighbourhood or own a parka to make this easy all year.
I have seen and lived in much of Canada, and a few other countries, and I have noticed that local attitude and culture vary for many reasons that you can discern but also for many reasons that you can’t. One of the things I have noticed about our local culture is that we enjoy a slower pace of life, but most people aren’t aware of it. Rush hour start at around 4pm and at most means a twenty five minute trip from one end of town to the other rather than the usual twenty. When you go out shopping or to use such and such service there isn’t the same intensity in the air that you will see in nearby places like Vancouver or Victoria not to mention most of the other places I have visited aorund the world. But again, they are nearby if that’s what you crave once in a while.
Nanaimo is large enough so that you can easily find the goods and services that you need to make your life comfortable but small enough to that you can feel part of the community. When I go out in public I will usually see at least one familiar face but at the same time I never have the sense that I have met all the people that I want to.
These, and more reasons which I won’t go into for the sake of brevity, are why I think that living in Nanaimo is its own kind of wealth. I have had and continue to have the opportunity to live in many other places but I have chosen Nanaimo as my home as it fits my values and desired lifestyle. I see my reasoning mirrored in so many of the clients that come to me from the rest of Canada and the world. Sharing something with like minded people makes my job easier to appreciate and do.