When it comes time to sell your home, taking the time to understand why buyers make their decision to buy can put you one step ahead of your competition.


There are 2 fundamental parts to the buying process.  The scale starts at emotion and ends at justification.  Every Buyer makes buying decisions based on these 2 factors, or a combination of both, and when it comes to buying big ticket items like real estate, these factors are generally amplified.  


Buyers will tend to lean to one side of the scale or the other rather than in the middle depending on their personality. To one extreme, Buyer’s will make their decision based on a feeling. Often we will hear the words “it just feels right”. On the other end of the scale a Buyer will only make the decision to buy if their spread sheet says that they should.


Knowing how Buyers make these decisions is key to having the best possible outcome for a Seller. It is highly recommended that you measure each decision you make during the sales process against this scale. Will your home appeal to a Buyer’s emotions?  Can the price be justified in comparison to the competition? If you can accomplish both well, you will attract the greatest amount of potential Buyers to the table.


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What’s my home worth? This tends to be on most people’s mind if you own Real Estate. You may have a good idea based on your observations of the market but truth be told the only real way to know what something is worth is to sell it. The definition of market value is; ~The price range for an item within which both a buyer under no unreasonable duress will buy and a seller under no unreasonable duress will sell.~ I am not suggesting that you hang a for sale sign on your lawn and say to the market “tell me what it’s worth” it is a bit more scientific than that. We use an appraisal technique called a  Comparative Market Analysis.  The ‘CMA’, is an analysis and comparison of listed and sold properties comparable to your property that is conducted for the purpose of identifying its expected market value. So by looking at similar properties to yours that have recently sold we can come up with a probable outcome of what your property is worth today.


We have found that the best way for us to conduct an accurate evaluation on your home is to break the CMA into two steps.


Step 1 (The Tour)

Our first meeting will be at the property where you will take us on a tour of your home so that we familiarize ourselves with it and get to know each other. The goal of this meeting is to get to know the property and its condition so that we are making an accurate comparison to the recent sales. Apples to apples so to speak. We will discuss your willingness to make improvements that may increase the value and/or saleability of the property as well as your short and long term real estate goals. With all of this information in mind we can now go off and create the most accurate and comprehensive CMA on your home. This meeting usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes.


Step 2 (The CMA)

On our second visit we will have done all of our work and prepared a comprehensive CMA tailored to your specific home and real estate goals.


Goals of this Presentation


•                         Discuss and review your immediate and long term real estate goals.

•                         Review current market conditions and projected market trends.

•                         Review the 3 fundamentals of a successful sale.

•                         Establish your home’s unique features and benefits as well as its challenges.

•                         Discuss any improvements that may increase the value and/or saleability of the property.

•                         Establish who the target market is for the home.

•                         Review similar properties that are listed on the market and recently sold.

•                         Review and discuss a suggested list price range for your home.

•                         Establish a realistic price range that you can expect your home to sell within.

•                         Discuss price strategy options.

•                         Review all costs associated with the sale of the home.

•                         Review your home’s unique marketing plan.

•                         Discuss strategy and timing for putting your home on the market.

•                         Present our Service Guarantee.


Thanks for taking the time to read and fill in the market evaluation request form. We look forward to meeting with you.


Best regards,

Bret and Dana


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It was a typical Saturday afternoon and I am hosting an open house. There is a knock at the door and in walks a couple. I greeted them with a welcoming hello and handed them a brochure on the property.  They spend quite some time looking around. We had the usual conversation about the market and I answered a few questions they had about the property. As there were making their way to the door the gentleman said “I have a question for you, I was told by a friend of mine that if I work directly with the listing realtor when I buy a property I can get a better deal than if I have my own realtor. How does that work?” It was a great question and one that I have heard before so I thought I would explore this with you so that you can make up your own mind as to what way you think is best.


First off, I will explain how this all works. We have a great document that is provided from our Real Estate Board call “Working with a Realtor”.   It is a few pages long so I will paraphrase it to make this a bit easier to read. Click here to see the full document.


There are 3 types of professional relationships a buyer can have with a realtor. Designated Agent, Limited Dual Agency and Customer Relationship.


A Designated Agent is a realtor that works for you and only you. They provide undivided loyalty to you by negotiating in your best interests and protecting your negotiating position at all times, disclosing to you all known facts which may affect or influence your decisions. Such as:

  • Building condition
  • Market value
  • Neighborhood information
  • Contracts

Limited Dual Agency occurs when the Designated Agent (the Realtor) represents both the buyer and seller in the same transaction. The realtor cannot be concerned exclusively with your interests in the transaction, since they are acting on behalf of the other party and must deal with both the buyer and seller impartially. The realtor must do the following;

  • Must not disclose what the buyer is willing to pay other than what is written in the offer, nor disclose what the seller is willing to accept other than what is contained in the listing;
  • Must not disclose the motivation of one Client to the other Client, unless one of the Clients has authorized such disclosure themselves;
  • Must disclose to the buyer any defects about the physical condition of the property that are known to the realtor.



The Customer Relationship is where the buyer is not represented at all by a realtor. They represent themselves. In this situation, the realtor is not permitted to recommend or suggest a price, negotiate on your behalf, inform you of their client’s bottom line price. However, the REALTOR® can provide you with other services, such as:

  • Explaining real estate terms, practices and forms
  • Assist in screening or viewing properties
  • Prepare and present all offers and counter offers at your direction


Now back to the question. Can you save a few bucks by going directly to a realtor to buy? I would say that it’s possible but at what cost.

If you hire your own realtor you have the highest likelihood that you will not pay too much, have an expert negotiate in your best interests and have a clear line as to who is on your team.


If you opt for working with the listing realtor under a Dual Agency Relationship then you are being represented by a realtor that has to be impartial to both the buyer and seller and who I must point out will more than likely have a stronger relationship with the seller as they have only just met you.


For all of you gunslingers out there who feel that they know as much about real estate as a professional realtor the Customer Relationship will be the route to choose.  All I can say is buyer beware and best of luck.


Before I finish this up I will give you an interesting statistic. The majority of the complaints and lawsuits that come in against realtors are a direct result of the realtor representing both a buyer and a seller in a Dual Agency Relationship. It would seem that both buyers and sellers don’t feel that they are being represented properly under these circumstances. The trend for realtors these days is to make every effort to not represent anyone under dual agency. They are choosing to either have the buyer find their own representation or to work with the buyer under a customer relationship.


At the end of the day you as the buyer can decide the scenario that works best for you. Do you want to be fully represented, partially represented or not represented at all? The cost of each decision is difficult to put an exact number on but it is very clear that some choices are risker than others and when we are working in hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions you should really give it some thought as to whether your decision will add up to perceived savings or actual savings.

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Location (location, location…)
There are not a lot of true beach communities within a five minute drive from downtown Vancouver (or a five minute drive from any city center anywhere in the world for that matter). Kits offers just that. In the summer, people from all around the city flock to the joys of the beach, swimming pool, cafes, etc. and infuse energy and a life-is-good vibe into the neighbourhood. As the summer fades, the locals quietly rejoice as they take back the jewels in their backyard and Kits once again finds its trendy and laid-back attitude.

Since the late 1960’s, Kits have put Vancouver on the world map, initially as the flower-power hub of Canada. The hippies found a heaven here where mother nature showed what Vancouver was, and is, all about; ocean, beach, mountain views, tree lined streets with heritage homes - a neighbourhood with character and soul (or good energy as they would have said…)
This Kits counter-culture fostered Greenpeace, probably one of the most famous movements to come out of Vancouver and an important contributor to the DNA of Kits today; the co-existence with the great outdoors, the praise of organic foods and a healthy lifestyle, and, not at least, the grassroots idea that real change comes from the individual fighting “the man” - an example being the recent successful overthrow of the city plans to carve a bicycle path through the Kits Beach area.
In recent history, the healthy lifestyle focus has produced the yoga powerhouse of Lululemon whose global head office welcomes visitors coming off the Burrard St. Bridge (and also produced Canada’s most expensive residential home owned by Lululemon founder Chip Wilson located on the “Golden Mile” of Point Grey Road in Kits).

Given Kits top-notch location with easy access to the downtown core, yet offering some of the best outdoor scenery of Vancouver, it is not a surprise that real estate prices are among the most expensive in the country. But, as opposed to other upscale neighbourhoods on the Westside, Kits has maintained a very diverse mix of residents brings a genuine community feel. One of the reasons is that the real estate stock is mixed. The multi-million dollar home sits next to the $900/month rental condo building. The residents might have different financial profiles but because Kits attracts a lot of young families with kids, either as home owners or home renters, the streets are alive with street hockey, neighbour projects and familiar faces. Block parties are a big deal around here.

Location, history and diversity. A formula that is difficult to duplicate for any neighbourhood and the reason why Kitsilano is such a coveted and famous part of Vancouver.

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July 30, 2014

Buy a Home vs. Rent & Invest

There was an interesting article recently in the Globe and Mail. What is the best financial decision - to buy or rent a home?

It used the following scenario; save up for five years for either a down payment on a home or take the money and invest in stocks and then continue to buy stocks every month as you save money being a tenant. The finer details can be found in the article itself (see link below), but the conclusion was that it is financially more prudent to rent than to buy. Yes. This might surprise quite a few, including us realtors who tend to rave about the financial benefits of owning your own home. So, are we all idiots having bought our home? Well, not so fast. Here’s why:

- Theory vs. reality. The assumption in the rent & invest scenario is that you take the money saved by renting and add that to the stock portfolio. Great in theory, but how many have the opportunity and discipline to do that? The vast majority of renters we come across do not put money aside every month based on theoretical savings compared to “if-I-owned-my-home”. Paying into your home is almost a forced savings plan that continuously builds your equity base and thereby improves your financial situation.

- Leverage. One of the financial advantages of owning your home is that it gives you access to equity and at the same time preserves the asset itself. An example; You buy a car with a line-of-credit on your home as opposed to selling stocks in the same amount (if you were renting). The long term appreciation on your home will continue to be on the full market value, not affected by the line-of-credit, or mortgage for that matter, but had you sold the same amount in stocks, the future dividends would have been negatively affected by the diminished stock portfolio.

- Feel good factor. It just feels better to sit in your own living room. It’s a very subjective and emotional factor, but based on the conversations we have with our clients contemplating to buy a home, its significance cannot be ignored.

Besides that, life as a tenant comes with the uncertainty of not knowing how long you can stay in your rental home. Your landlord is in control and most likely cares more about the profitability of his or her income property than your peace of mind. So, in relation to the comparison of buying vs. renting a home, this might help to explain why people become homeowners despite the financial conclusions in the mentioned article.



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The reality of buying real estate in Vancouver has changed over the past couple of years. The perception in Vancouver for the past 10 or so years has been that you are going to make money on anything to do with real estate, whether pre-sale or resale.


In most cities in the world, people haven’t been “trading up” every few years. Historically purchasers would buy a property and keep it long term. In Vancouver, that changed when real estate started to appreciate rapidly and our city saw an abundance of smaller homes become available (bachelor pads and one bedrooms), with the big push for densification.


It used to be that you would make money on real estate twofold. Not only were you reducing your debt by paying down your mortgage, but you were also seeing a substantial increase in the value of your property.


These days, some sellers can’t quite wrap their head around that what they paid for their property two years ago, is what they are selling it for now. In fact, with transaction and moving costs, they aren’t recognizing the profits that they have grown accustomed to.


If you are looking at purchasing a strata property now, your goal should be to hold onto it for 3 to 5 years, more if possible. If this is the difference between stretching yourself a bit now in order to acquire a home that will suit your needs for a longer period of time, it can mean the difference between realizing a profit or not.


Buying a strata property now is still a winning proposition in terms of building your equity by paying down your mortgage.


Just remember to think long term. Gone are the days of the fast flip for profit.

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Realtors have the key. The key belongs to a little club called the Multiple Listing Service or more commonly referred to as the MLS. This coveted database of valuable information has grown over the years to the point that the information and services of its members is the only good market data option for the public when it comes to buying and selling real estate.  As we all know, when one entity controls a whole industry, we like to call it a monopoly.

The public has long been concerned about this monopoly and the government has started to listen. The Competition Bureau showed up at the door of the real estate industry and asked that the club be more inclusive. The real estate industry put up a valiant fight at the gates but ultimately through negotiations they had to open up the doors and start to share.

What does this mean for Realtors in the years to come now that they are not the gatekeepers of all of the information and the public has inexpensive, easy access to the same information? The bottom line is that things are going to change.

The real estate industry will change much in the way that many industries have changed in the last 15 years with the advent of easily accessible information and technology. We will start to see a polarization of the real estate industry. On one end, the market will be filled with real estate firms that will provide real estate services a la carte. The consumer will be able to choose the products and services they want and nothing more. For example, if you want to sell your home, you can pay a fee to list it on the MLS, another fee for professional pictures and another fee if you want a realtor to negotiate the contract and so on.  The benefit to the consumer is that they have the choice to pay for services that they see value in and opt out of services that they don’t.

On the other side, you will see real estate firms enter the market place that will provide industry leading services implemented by the most productive, knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the industry. The key here is the realtors ability to add knowledge to the, easy available, market information. What does the specific data mean? The benefit to the consumer on this side of the equation will be that they are working with a real estate consultant that will, through his or her knowledge and experience, be able to provide a service that will produce the best possible outcome. The consumer will pay for the best and get the best. Over time, these firms will hopefully earn the respect that is so lacking in the perception of the real estate industry today.

It is inevitable that with this polarization of the industry, the service providers that try to appeal to everyone, will not have a place. It has happened time and time again with industries.  If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one.  Consumers of real estate services will need to choose between an elite group of knowledgeable, experienced professionals that can provide the highest level of service, or a firm that provides real estate service a la carte.

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The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) does not work with a specific timeline; there is no specific period of time you have to have lived in your primary residence before you are tax exempt from any profit from a sale. It is a case by case assessment by the CRA based on factors like motivation (is there a good reason to sell relatively shortly after buying?), history (is there a pattern of selling shortly after buying?, i.e. flipping properties), size of profit (is it above what can the expected based on the current market conditions?), time (obviously, if a property is sold three weeks after the purchase is completed, it will draw the attention from the CRA).
So, as long as your motivation/reason, history and profit doesn’t raise a red flag with the Canadian Revenue Agency, and you have lived in your home for a reasonable amount of time, you should not expect to pay tax on any sales profit.  As mentioned, tax exemption is only granted as long as you are selling your primary residence.

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No, the PDS is not a mandatory form. The seller may choose to fill in some of it, all of it or leave it blank. It all depends on the situation. In many cases Sellers will not fill it in if the property is a rental and they have not lived in the home. This is generally accepted in the industry as the Seller does not have firsthand knowledge of the property and any disclosure would be more of an estimated guess rather than knowledge. On the other hand, a Seller that has occupied the property will more than likely be able to answer the questions with the confidence of making the correct disclosure. The PDS is a document that can help build trust between the Buyer and Seller, therefore if the Seller has the ability to fill it in but does not it may put an obstacle in the way of a successful transaction.  At the end of the day the Seller can make the decision on whether they will fill in the PDS and they should consult their lawyer or trusted real estate professional on their unique situation.

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January 21, 2014


Did you ever think that you could get excited about your thermostat? We have to admit, we did and either we need to get out more, or a company has come along and finally made this mundane everyday household item something worth talking about. They have.

We really feel that the implementation of technology in our homes is in its infancy. Don’t get us wrong, there is plenty of fantastic technology out there for our homes, but the mass appeal has been stifled by the lack of infrastructure and high cost.

It’s interesting for us to look at the landscape today and see what technologies have been successful and why. Why is other technology unsuccessful, or slow to be adopted? On the success side, obviously, is the Smart Phone. Why did this catch on so fast?  Simple, it’s subsidized.  You go in to your local mobile phone store, sign a piece of paper, and get a new phone that costs $800 for a mere $100. Some may call this selling your soul to the devil but technology would not be where it is today if things were different. Other technologies have not been so lucky, and fall into the slow to be adopted category. The first plasma screen TV we saw in a store back in 1998 cost $30,000 and we all know how that turned out.  Sixteen long years later and we just got one for free with our new bed. Like it or not, the subsidization of mobile phones by the service providers has catapulted the technology 10 years into the future from where it would have been if we had to pay full price for our beloved phones. 

What does my mobile phone have to do with technology in the home you may ask? A lot! Now we have a common user interface that everyone can work from. Think of it this way... remember back in the day when you had a remote for your TV, VCR, Amplifier and DVD and CD player? Each remote or user interface did only one task. Very helpful, as you did not have to get up to change the channel, but a bit confusing when the grandparents came over to house-sit for you. Then a company came out with the universal remote. One user interface for a multitude of tasks. Genius! This is what the Smart Phone has done, but in a big way. A really big way.

Now that we have control, what do we control?  The market is being filled with start-ups trying to answer this question for you. We are going to start to see everyday mundane objects like thermostats be much more than a dial on the wall. These things will now be interactive. You might say really? How on earth can I interact with my thermostat and why would I want to? 

All good questions. In the months to come we will be featuring useful technology for your home that can be easily integrated into your everyday life. Get ready to have a conversation with your dishwasher!

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We get this question a lot. Buying and selling real estate in Vancouver has been a hobby for a lot of people for the past 10 years.  The trend has been driven by speculation that prices will continue to rise and they did. Up, up, up!  Oh the good old days,  what fun. The disheartening thing is, that I am still meeting with buyers and sellers that have not adjusted their mindset to the reality of today's market.  Those great times have come and gone, so if you are buying a rental property based on holding it for a couple of years and then flipping it for a profit, I would say no it’s not a good time to buy a rental property.  


The reality of buying a rental property in today’s market is that the prices are stable or as we like to say in the business “it is a balanced market.”  All indicators show that it will be extremely unlikely for prices to go up anytime in the near future. So, this only leaves two options; prices will stay the same, or prices will go down. There are plenty of people that say the latter but in my opinion I think we will see things stay pretty much the way they are for the next 3 to 5 years. The demand for housing in the lower mainland will still continue to be high, but this will be offset by rising interest rates and more density.  With this in mind, you really need to make sure you are getting into real estate as an investment with both eyes open.  


No one can argue that owning real estate over the past 50 years hasn't been a good investment.  Over the long term, it’s a fantastic stable investment.  I’m not suggesting that you should plan on owning your investment property for 50 years, but I will say that a long term vision is what you will need in order for it to be a good investment.  Rather than looking at a rental property as a means of immediate pay out when you sell it,  your formula should be based on paying down the mortgage and creating cash flow with long term rental income. Over the long term, you should calculate the value of the property to increase by the rate of inflation.  


So in conclusion, it can be a good time to buy a rental property, but you need to look at your expectations.  If you are interested in a long term investment it might be right for you.  If you are looking for a quick and easy way to make some money, it is not.

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December 18, 2013

Vancouver Real Estate: The 5 Most Important Events in 2013

 1.New Mortgage Rules

Since 2008, the federal government has made several changes to the rules for mortgages insured through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other private sector mortgage insurance providers - this was also the case in 2013. Let’s sum up the biggest changes over the last five years. These rules affect home buyers with less than a 20 per cent down payment:


  • The maximum amortization period has been reduced to 25 years from 40 years. Home buyers must have a down payment of at least five per cent of the home purchase price where previously no down payment was required. For non-owner occupied properties, a minimum down payment of at least 20 per cent is now mandatory.
  • Canadians can now borrow to a maximum of 80 per cent of the value of their homes when refinancing, a drop from 95 per cent.
  • Limiting the maximum gross debt service (GDS) ratio to 39 per cent and the maximum total debt service (TDS) ratio to 44 per cent. These two important   ratios are used when calculating a person’s ability to pay down debt. GDS is the share of a borrower’s gross household income needed to pay for home-related expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes and heating expenses. TDS is the share of a borrower’s gross income needed to pay for all debts, including those relating to home ownership.
  • Government-backed mortgage insurance is now available only for homes with a purchase price of less than $1 million. Borrowers buying homes at or above this amount will need a down payment of at least 20 per cent if their financing is from a federally-regulated financial institution.

    2. Depreciation Reports
    2013 was the year that we saw the introduction of depreciation reports. Every strata in BC with more than five units, had to decide to have a report done that combines a comprehensive building assessment with a 30-year capital plan. In other words, a great document for owners and potential buyers who want to assess the health of a building, its mechanical systems and the expected life span and maintenance costs. For buyers, this will be one of the most important documents to read before deciding to purchase. It’s important to note that a strata can, with 75% majority, vote to reject or defer the initiation of such a depreciation report. In our experience so far, many strata’s seem to have taken this route. There can be good reasons to defer, e.g. the building is relatively new, still within its 2/5/10 warranty plan, etc. - and not so good reasons like kicking the can down the road fearing that substantial building renovations are needed in a foreseeable future.
    For now the launch of the depreciation report is in the early phase but we believe it will gradually be adopted by all strata’s in BC, at the very least because the banks and insurance companies most likely will decide to demand a depreciation report before they will provide funding and insurance. It will be a much welcomed piece of documentation.

    3. Market Finding its Balance
    After more than a decade of a mostly rising and turbulent market, the last 12 months was characterized by a remarkably balanced market (defined as a sales-to-active-listings ratio between 10% and 20%). Realistic sellers and prudent buyers were finding each other on an even playing field. All indications show that this trend will not continue in the year(s) to come.

    4. Continued Movement to Multi-Dwellings
    Over the recent decades new real estate construction has significantly moved towards multi-family developments. For instance, in 1991 51% of all new construction was condos and townhomes, this year it was 79%. The transition continues and is gaining momentum. The rationale is both that land is limited but certainly also because of housing costs in Vancouver, which pushes the demand into the condo/townhouse segment. A trend we expect to see continue in a foreseeable future.

    5. A Buyer’s Market for Condos, but Continued Demand for Single Family Homes
    Because, as mentioned above, new construction is dominated by multi-dwelling developments, the supply is ample (for example in the South-East corner of False Creek) and thousands of new units will hit the market in the near future. The impact is that the buyer’s market for condos we’ve seen recently will continue as long as supply outnumbers the demand and puts a pressure on prices in this segment.
    It’s a different story when it comes to single family homes. This is not where the high-volume supply and sales are but it’s where buyers are able, willing and ready to act. It’s also a market where the demand is fuelled by local savings and overseas equity and as long as the local market maintains its footing and these specific overseas national economies are stable and growing, we will continue to see a steady stream of buyers coming into this top-of-the-pyramid single family home market.

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This depends on your motivations and scenario. Read on...

  • Existing house, for rental income: not likely a great investment. The cost to build will mean that generating a ROI will take many, many years.
  • Existing house, to increase market value for a sale in the near future: almost definitely not a good investment due to build cost not equaling any commensurate increase in overall value of the property within the same market.
  • Existing house, for family or in-law accommodation: very subjective and only probably worth it if intention is to hold the property for a long time.  However, it's likely a decent long-term investment as market value relative to the addition rises slowly over the years.
  • New house, as part of overall building plan: likely to be a great investment. With being able to amortize the building cost with the rest of the build, this will likely be a win whether the builder will be the resident owner of the main house (either renting out the laneway house or moving in-laws into it), or is planning to sell the property upon completion.

Hope that helps! Your RRG Realtor is well-informed on the costing and planning/building process for laneway houses, so if you have further questions, please contact us.

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With the advent of Depreciation Reports, along came a requirement for Strata Corporations to provide confirmation details regarding identification of correct storage locker and parking stall designations: their numbers/location, and whether they are Common Property (CP), Limited Common Property (LCP), or on some sort of sub-lease (increasingly common with newer buildings).  Issues relating to storage and parking are probably the most common problems we deal with as realtors, and this added transparency and ease-of-diligence enables us to much better protect our clients' interests in these matters.  We at RRG are very well-informed regarding these new regulations as well as the impact of Depreciation Reports, so don't hesitate to contact us if you have more questions.

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This is a broad question but in short, you need expert opinions and it really depends on what you're considering doing, the current state of what you're considering changing and market conditions.  What's happening with market activity for homes similar to your home now? What's happening with homes similar to what your home will be like when the renovations are completed? Paint will almost always generate a return particularly when using contemporary conservative colours and making sure the trim looks sharp.  Flooring can also be an easy generator of good return particularly if the current flooring is mis-matched, tired or damaged.  Buyers have a hard time seeing past this relatively easy thing to change so if your current flooring and paint is not appealing, it can be a relatively inexpensive no-brainer.  With larger projects like kitchens and bathrooms or moving walls, etc., you need to do your homework.  An experienced, very active local realtor will usually be able to give you very relevant input regarding whether a $20,000 kitchen or adding that basement suite makes sense in a home like yours or whether you should spend money on replacing the flooring or should simply discount the asking price and let a potential buyer do this.  Opinions from busy local contractors may be a bit biased but are also quite relevant.  

Bottom line, any money that your putting into a reno before listing is far from guaranteed to come back in the sales price but the reno will help your property stand out among the competition, i.e other similar listings. You're hoping to earn at least a few thousand dollars, and definitely NOT hoping to lose the same so put significant time into building your frame of reference before making any decisions.  Get the opinions of at least two local realtors and at least two contractors.  After that, you should have an idea of what to do (or not to do) next.  All of us at RRG have significant experience exploring and guiding clients through such adventures.

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We support buyers’ agents’ contracts- however, our industry is only slowly adopting this practice,  and many buyers still work under a verbal ‘handshake’, or a set of presumed expectations.  As they do for sellers, contracts greatly protect the buyer’s best interests, and clarify exactly what a buyer should expect from their representative.  They also clarify and control the fees, ensuring the agent’s compensation is set out clearly. This provides transparency between the buyer and the professionals being paid via the sale proceeds that are ultimately paid by them.  The buyer can control and/or negotiate how, and how much, their agent is getting paid, instead of letting the seller and selling agent influence or control this. There is a commitment and engagement benefit that is mutual between client and agent as well.  We recommend working under contract, but being very careful choosing your agent.  Interview a few, and choose based on both professional qualifications and personal ‘fit’.  Read on for further explanation…


Buying a home is a major undertaking, and some of your money will go into a realtor’s pocket.  In just about any other professional services industry, you would directly pay the professional providing you with services, particularly if any sort of ‘representation’ is involved.  You would expect to understand, be comfortable with, and perhaps even negotiate, the fees and how they are paid to the professional providing you with services and/or representation.  The compensation model in our industry is NOT like this, at least for buyers. Some context is needed here: as in any professional services market, there's a pretty clear 'typical' range for fees. Currently, the seller's agent and the seller negotiate a fee in a listing contract, with a portion of that fee (approximately 47%) being designated, within the listing contract, to be offered to an agent that represents the buyer.  This portion is then posted on the 'realtor only' side of MLS for all agents representing buyers to see when selecting properties for their clients to view.  So, when a selling agent offers a reduced buyer's agent commission or a bonus on a buyer's agent commission, there is an opportunity for bias based on compensation that is not in a buyer’s best interest.  The commission being paid to the buyer's agent is disclosed to the buyer at some point in the process... but it can easily be glossed over as just another initial in a myriad of contract-related documents.  It is not uncommon for a buyer to be unaware of how, or how much, their representation got paid.
Why and how the industry developed this process of agents who are representing buyers having their fees defined or greatly influenced by the seller and agent of the seller is beside the point here. In any mediation or negotiation of any legal or financial importance, why on earth would one want the other side controlling or influencing how their own representation was compensated?

Buyers should directly negotiate and control how, and how much, their agent gets paid, and this should be discussed at the beginning of the relationship.  Agents should be completely comfortable demonstrating their value. The home buying process should ideally begin with a fair and contractual expectation of fees for services and services for fees... just as with any other professional service... just as the seller of the eventual home purchased will have done!

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This really depends on what type of property and price range is being focussed on, as well as how dramatically or why the rates rise.  In general, a rise in rates will affect those segments of the market that tend to be more leveraged.  Investor class product and first time buyer product will certainly be affected, as well as more moderately priced homes in most segments other than expensive detached homes.  IE, those segments wherein buyers typically have large amounts of capital and/or income are far less affected.  Generally speaking in today's heavily government-influenced rate environment, the raising of rates would indicate an increased general confidence in the economy, which in turn creates a bit more confidence in home values, so these two factors can somewhat mitigate each other and cause values to stay stable or slowly appreciating, despite moderate rate increases.  However, if rates were to increase drastically and/or suddenly, and not in some sort of lock-step with local economic conditions and market confidence, this would certainly negatively affect affordability and therefore prices.  So to nutshell, volatile increases bad, steady/slow increases not so bad.  And keep buying stock in crystal balls!

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There is, truly, a great deal of professionalism and 'client-first' practitioners in my industry.  This person is, however, a blunt and obvious example of an opposite element that smears us all at times like this (see below for link to CTV article).

The conditions that created the opportunity this individual acted on are a perfect symptom of one of the industry's biggest challenges. His actions are fraudulent, and opinions expressed in the public domain to date opining that the consequences do not fit the action are completely understandable, and totally valid, in my own opinion.

The conditions I refer to have to do with the long-standing, contractually-based process for how agent's representing buyers are typically paid.  Some context is needed here: as in any professional services market, there's a pretty clear 'typical' range for fees. Currently, the seller's agent and the seller negotiate a fee in a listing contract, with a portion of that fee (approximately 46%) being designated, within the listing contract, to be offered to an agent that represents the buyer.  This portion is then posted on the 'realtor only' side of MLS for all agents representing buyers to see when selecting properties for their clients to view.  So, when a selling agent offers a reduced buyer's agent commission or a bonus on a buyer's agent commission, agents with little or no moral/ethical compass can avoid or promote said listing as it suits their best interests.  The commission being paid to the buyer's agent is disclosed to the buyer at some point in the process... but it can easily be glossed over as just another initial in a myriad of contract-related documents.  It is not uncommon for a buyer to be unaware of how, or how much, their representation got paid.
Why and how the industry developed this obtuse, but ingrained, process of agents who are representing buyers having their fees defined or greatly influenced by the seller and agent of the seller is confounding, and besides the point here. In any mediation or negotiation of any legal or financial importance, why on earth would one want the other side controlling or influencing how their own representation was compensated?
Buyers should directly negotiate and control how, and how much, their agent gets paid, and this should be discussed at the beginning of the relationship.  Agents should be completely comfortable demonstrating their value. The home buying process should begin with a fair and contractual expectation of fees for services and services for fees... just as with any other professional service... just as the seller of the eventual home purchased will have done!



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The common perception seems to be that a buyer's agent works for free for their client, or is paid from the fees paid by the seller to their agent; ie, at no ‘expense' to the buyer. This view is somewhat semantic; usually, at the end of the day, the buyer pays one amount, and the seller nets a lower amount, with the difference going towards realtor services. If you pay $400,000 for a property, and the seller will net $386,ooo, this means $14,000 is paid for real estate fees; feeling that this money is well-spent should be as important to a buyer as it will be to a seller. To that end, a buyer should interview at least two buyer's agents before choosing one to represent them. A good buyer's agent will be able to convey value for their services, should instill confidence in you that you will be advised competently, and should demonstrate strong market knowledge.


*Note; currently, buyers do have the choice to negotiate with and hire directly a buyer's agent, cutting the seller and/or seller's agent out of how much they pay their professional representative. In the future, it's our belief that this will be commonplace; it's become mandatory in a few regions of North America. Today in BC, buyer's agents have legal/fudiciary obligations to disclose their fees from the seller/seller's agent, protect their clients best interests at all times, etc..

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May 15, 2013


Pundits be darned, it's the Libs again!  What does last night's election mean for Vancouver's housing market...?  Our opinion....

Had the pollsters been correct and we awoke today with a majority NDP government, we believe we would likely have seen a lot of tentativeness and perhaps a further softening as BC's biggest city waited months or longer to gain, or lose, confidence in the NDP's handling of the economy.  History has simply so stigmatized this party's ability to effectively handle our economy that it would take months for confidence to build more broadly, and this would almost certainly have a dampening effect on sales activity. 

The electorate's surprising, but emphatic, choice for a renewed and even stronger Liberal mandate points to what will likely be a slight uptick in buyer confidence and activity, though impact will be minimal.  Employees or prospective employees of industry and big business will certainly become more active and confident in making buying/move-up decisions.  

However, overall economic conditions and factors affecting real estate remain unpredictable going forward, and stagnant to very mildly optimistic at the moment. 

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