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Set up camp at spots near the lake, beach and rivers

 

Just in time to start planning a quick summer getaway, here’s a list of local camping options in and around the Comox Valley. Not exactly roughing it (there’s hiking in Strathcona if you want more of a challenge), this list gives a nice variety of locations from which to choose.

 

So, pack up the chocolate and marshmallows and get ready to hit the road!

 

 

Miracle Beach Provincial Park

Miracle Beach is located about 20 km north of downtown Courtenay and is the perfect campground for families looking to get away. Campers of all ages will enjoy nice facilities and a beautiful sandy beach. More than 200 large family-oriented campsites offer plenty of room for trailers, tents and campervans. As with most provincial campsites, reservations are required and can be done at the provincial government website.

 

For the self-sufficient, Miracle Beach offers drastically reduced rates in the off season. If you’re fully prepared to camp without amenities you may want to check it out.

 

 

Cumberland Lake Park Campground (Comox Lake)

Another family-oriented park, it has 62 sites both with and without hookups. The nice lakeside location offers a concession and boat launch, as well as great swimming with an enclosed swimmers-only area.

 

 

Kin Beach

Located in the Comox Valley and overlooking the Strait of Georgia, Kin Beach Provincial Park offers a large day-use area with picnic facilities and a playground, as well as an 18-site campground. Visit the website to get more information on making reservations.

 

 

Bates Beach Oceanside Resort

Full RV hookups as well as cozy and peaceful tenting sites on a truly unique oceanfront setting, Bates Beach makes for a nice and convenient camping trip. Have a look at their website at www.batesbeach.bc.ca.

 

 

Pacific Playgrounds Resort and Marina

This beautiful Saratoga Beach RV park can accommodate everyone. With 201 fully serviced and spacious sites, there are both family- and adult-oriented areas. Tenting sites are also available with power and water only. Choose from spots that are shaded, sunny and/or on the river.

 

 

Puntledge River RV

Just a five-minute walk from downtown Courtenay, this park is located in the traditional territory of the Comox First Nation and provides a safe, natural family camping experience that incorporates the historic and cultural traditions of the Comox People. Located adjacent to the Puntledge River, the campground includes the Nim Nim Interpretive Centre and I-Hos Gallery Kiosk. Check it out at www.puntledgerv.com.

 

 

Saratoga Beach Resort

This resort is on the lovely sandy Saratoga Beach about halfway between Campbell River and Courtenay. With a store, children’s playground, sandpit, large campfire pit, covered gathering place with fireplace, 31 fully serviced RV sites enjoy both its beauty and comfort.

 

 

Seal Bay RV Park

Offering a choice of 70 natural, spacious sites in a peaceful setting, all Seal Bay sites have full hook-ups, hydro, water, sewer and cable, as well as picnic tables and firepits. And there are now 12 new wilderness tenting sites available from April to October, each with their own water tap. 

 

 

Whether you’re from out of town or just looking to get out of the house for a few days, there’s plenty to choose from on this list. And make sure to share it with your friends and family!

 

Please contact me if you have any questions about other local resources and real estate opportunities within the Valley. Check out my website or visit my Facebook page to keep apprised of all the latest local listings and activities.

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And 6 tips to help you come out on top

 

A sellers’ market can be great when you’re listing a home, but for those trying to buy, it can be a challenging time.

 

Lack of inventory, higher prices and multiple offers can make purchasing a new home a trial in patience and perseverance.

 

The Comox Valley real estate market, like much of the Island, has been a sellers’ market for a couple years now, and multiple-offer situations are fairly common. Here’s some information about what happens in just such a case and a few tips to help ensure readiness and a positive outcome.

 

 

A general course of action when making an offer

Okay, so you and your Realtor have found the right place and are ready to make an offer. What now?

 

Hopefully you’ve discussed the general way that offers and counter-offers are made during a purchase. Depending on the situation, you should have also discussed the possibility of a multi-offer circumstance and had a chance to come up with a strategy.

 

Together with your Realtor, you’ll figure out when the offer will be written and the amount of time the offer will be open for acceptance. Your Realtor will provide guidance, but, as the buyer, you make the final decisions.

 

All offers must be presented to the sellers, and they decide how and when offers will be dealt with and what the counter-offer will be. Potential buyers can choose to accept, reject or counter any counter-offers received.

 

In the case of multiple offers, it’s up to the seller as to whether they share any information about the situation. A listing licensee can’t disclose the terms of an offer or counter-offer from one potential buyer to another potential buyer without the seller’s prior consent. A seller who isn’t bound by a confidentiality agreement with a buyer may decide that a better offer could be obtained by disclosing the terms. Should this occur, the listing licensee is obliged to follow the seller’s instructions.

 

 

Two other things to keep in mind

Sellers are not obligated to accept a full-price offer. When a property is listed, it’s an invitation from a seller for buyers to make offers. The seller isn’t obliged to sell the property even if a buyer makes a full-price, unconditional offer.

 

Offers have no priority. Having the highest or first offer means nothing. It doesn’t bind or otherwise limit a seller to act before considering any other offers.

 

For more information on multiple offers, you can visit this Real Estate Council of BC webpage.

 

 

6 Tips to be on the winning side of a multiple-offer situation

  1. Get pre-approved, not pre-qualified, so you’re good to go upon making an offer. This can save valuable time.
  2. Have a maximum number in mind. Be prepared for counter-offers and deal with them expediently. Know your limits and stick within them.
  3. Limit your contingencies. A shopping list full of terms and conditions can be off-putting. Figure out which are make-or-breakers and which can be removed if necessary.
  4. Have your Realtor do some homework about what the seller’s needs are. Information is power. If you know the seller wants an extra month to sort out things on their end, that can work in your favour. And you’ll be better prepared if you’ve already considered your willingness to change possession dates, etc.
  5. Make a strong offer. Don’t be wishy-washy and don’t offend. Your Realtor will help you decide what’s a good number to start at.
  6. Think about making as significant a deposit and down payment as possible. This will show strength and intent. Sellers like a serious buyer.

 

Regardless of your situation, it’s important to communicate early and often with your real estate professional, so make sure you have an experienced, accessible, knowledgeable agent on your side from the get-go.

 

As always, I’m happy to provide help with any and all aspects of buying and selling in the Comox Valley. Please contact me, check out my website or visit my Facebook page to have your real estate questions answered.

 

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And what Spring and Summer 2018 may hold for Vancouver Island realty

 

So far this year, sales numbers are down slightly from 2017 but housing prices continue to go up due to a shortage of inventory.

 

That being said, this past half year has been another active one for Comox Valley Realtors®. And the same is true for much of the rest of the Island.

 

As the selling season ramps up, here’s a quick look at what’s been keeping realtors busy and what we can expect for the near future.

 

 

Low inventory keep sellers happy

As noted in the most recent Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) release, sales of single-family Island homes, apartments and townhouses all dipped in March, 2018. The feeling is that this is likely due to a combination of government policy changes, stricter mortgage qualification rules and consumer uncertainty.

 

According to VIREB’s recent stats, last month, 399 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 316 in February and 482 one year ago. The number of apartments changing hands in March decreased by 23 per cent while year-over-year townhouse sales remained static.

 

Limited inventory remains an issue for most buyers. There were 979 single-family homes for sale in March compared to 812 in February and 1,023 one year ago. The supply of apartments decreased in March by 12 per cent from the previous year. Interestingly though, townhouse inventory rose by 30 per cent.  

 

 

What’s happening provincially and elsewhere on the Island

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports sales in most B.C. jurisdictions are down compared to last year, likely due to uncertainty surrounding new provincial taxes.

 

While the Foreign Buyer Tax scope has been broadened to include the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), it shouldn’t significantly impact elsewhere on the Island as only 4.4 per cent of 2017 RDN residential real estate transactions involved foreign buyers.

 

However, a new speculation tax targeting homeowners that don’t pay income tax in B.C. may influence out-of-province buyers. The provincial government did introduce exemptions for Parksville, Qualicum Beach and the Gulf Islands, but this tax will still be applied in Nanaimo and Lantzville.

 


And in the Comox Valley . . .

On a local level, as with the rest of the Island, it’s still a sellers’ market. Multiple offers remain the status quo for reasonably priced homes. The benchmark price in the Comox Valley for a single-family home was $475,600, up 17 per cent from last year.

 

For buyers, it can be a challenge to get your offer in quickly and at the right price. And for sellers, it’s still important to keep your pricing realistic, as buyers are wise and overpriced homes take a longer time to sell.

 

With today’s market, working with an experienced Realtor is more important than ever. If you have any further queries regarding the local and Island market, please feel free to get in touch.

 

 

I’m happy to provide help with any aspect of buying, selling or moving in the Comox Valley and beyond. Please contact me, check out my website or visit my Facebook page to have your real estate questions answered.

 

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(Guest article courtesy of the Comox BIA)

 

This seaside community of 14,000 (and growing) is quickly becoming one of the hottest vacation and relocation destinations on Vancouver Island.

 

Comox is characterized by a fresh, spirited energy, an infectious joie de vivre and a modern facelift spurred by millions of new dollars in capital investment. It’s island living at its finest: boutique shopping, quaint cafes, ocean side activities, beach fires after dark and a tantalizing array of award-winning restaurants.

 

It’s true – This is Comox.


Taste This

If wining and dining is part of your ideal vacation, you’ll be glad you chose Comox. Sip award-winning local wines; indulge in fresh from the sea shellfish, farm-to-plate produce and soak up the sun on the Comox Valley’s most spectacular ocean side patios. Whether you’re craving sumptuous meats, impossibly fresh sushi or even just an expertly prepared sandwich or cappuccino, Comox has you covered. For a uniquely Island experience, explore Comox’s own Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can choose fresh-from-the-dock seafood right from the fishers who call these waters home.



Experience This

Stand-up paddleboard the shimmering waters of Comox Harbour, kite surf the wind-whipped waves at Goose Spit or try catamaran sailing amongst the islets and inlets of the Salish Sea. Tee off at our immaculately groomed year-round golf course or lace up your runners and take in the killer ocean views on Comox’s renowned self-guided walking tours.



Discover This

Looking for that special something? You’ll find it in one of Comox’s many independently owned galleries, bookstores and eclectic boutiques. And if you time your visit right you’ll hit festival season in Comox, headlined by Nautical Days and the Filberg Festival on BC Day weekend. They’re just two of the wildly popular summer festivals that keep Comox buzzing with live music, artisan crafts and ocean side adventures.

 

Once you discover Comox and experience its rugged coastal beauty and breathtaking mountain views, spot seals from the marina while the kids cool off at a seaside splash park you’ll understand why Comox has become one of the hottest vacation and oceanfront real estate markets in BC.

 

Start creating your own adventure today at discovercomoxvalley.com.

 

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Where to play, where to stay and some other good stuff

 

As the owner of the best dog in the world (it’s true, just ask me!), one of the things I love about the Comox Valley is that it has plenty of options for dog owners and their faithful friends.

 

With numerous off-leash and on-leash areas, dog-friendly hotels and restaurants, boarding options and training clubs, dog owners can rejoice in knowing that their pals will get the treatment they deserve when they come to the Valley.

 

Want to know about places to play or stay with Fido? Read on!

 

Off leash and on the run

Are you and your dog looking for a place to let loose? The Valley has heaps of spots that fit the bill. Of course, as responsible dog owners, you must use common sense. If your dog is the type to intimidate people or pets, make sure you’re well off the beaten path before you unleash. But if you trust your dog to behave itself, here are some nice options.

 

Nymph Falls Regional Park, Tsolum Spirit, Royston to Cumberland Railway Trail and Eagles Drive: All are off-leash, provided dogs are kept nearby and under control. Most of the trails in these parks are multi-use, so horses and bikes may approach suddenly.

 

Goose Spit Park: Water, stairs and sand – sounds like a recipe for a good night’s sleep for everyone. But pets must stay on-leash between March 1 and May 20 to give migrating Brant geese a break while they rest and have a seaside meal.

 

Seal Bay Park: There’s a mix of off and on in this lush park. Leashing is required around Swamp Loop and on the water-side trails off Bates Road. And it’s all on-leash for the months of April, May and June, as it’s fawning and nesting season. But other than that, you’re good to go.

 

On-leash gems

Again, there are tonnes of places to pick from, and the Regional District has a good listing of various parks on their website as well as maps. My dog Bella and I like to head down to the Courtenay Air Park when we get the chance. Heck, even a walk around downtown Courtenay will result in treats and water from various stores. And in the winter, you can take your pooch up to a couple of “dog-designated” snowshoeing trails at Mount Washington.

 

Dog-friendly hotels and restaurants in the Comox Valley

Why leave your dog at home when you can bring them along? There are a number of local hotels that allow dogs for a small fee. The Old House Hotel, Holiday Inn, Comox Valley Inn & Suites, River Heights Motel and Port Augusta Inn & Suites all have a place for your loyal companion. And, of course, there are many options available when you search AirBnB.

 

Restaurants are a bit trickier but The Atlas, The Wandering Moose and Rawthentic have outdoor options for the summer, so Spot can lie at your feet while you dine al fresco.

 

Dog-boarding options

Sometimes you’ve got to get away and, lovable as they may be, the pets can’t make the trip. In that case, you may want to call upon the fine folks at Poochies, DoggyDo, Wishbone or Pets in the City to lend a hand. 

 

Dog clubs for fun and activity

These great local organizations continually prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks – and their owners, too! Roadsters Agility Club will keep you both fit and active; Forbidden Plateau Obedience and Tracking Club will keep you on the right path; and Comox Valley Kennel Club will have you bragging to friends.

 

 

So many options, so little time! Just know that when you’re in the Valley, you’ll be as happy as a dog with two tails.

 

For more information about life in the Comox Valley, canine or otherwise, please contact me, visit my website or “like” my Facebook page.

 

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And how my SRES® designation can help you

Aging has its benefits.

 

If you’re a senior and you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, you should choose to work with a designated Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®).

 

Truth be told, anyone of any age can work with an SRES® agent. We have all the same qualifications as those without the designation, but we’ve taken extra training to ensure that seniors can rely on us to handle each and every aspect of their move.

 

Whatever the reason for the transition, be it downsizing, finding that perfect rancher or getting closer to the grandkids, you can count on me as an SRES® Realtor to provide the knowledge and experience  necessary to make your move as smooth as possible. 

 

What is an SRES® (Seniors Real Estate Specialist®) and why work with one?

An SRES® agent provides clients with a number of benefits. Every SRES agent must undertake specialized training covering everything from financing and marketing to understanding the emotions involved in making certain life changes.

 

Those with an SRES® designation bring a customized approach to marketing and selling a property. As a designee, I work closely with clients to explore housing options that serve both their current and future needs.

 

Additionally, we all have connections with other professionals who can help with various aspects of the transition. If you need assistance with any facet of the move, I can give it or find the appropriate people who can.

 

I became an SRES® real estate agent because I want to offer my clients peace of mind. Caring for clients has always been my top priority, both as a realtor and as a former registered nurse. So, taking the extra training to further my skills and knowledge just made sense.

 

If you or your friends and family are looking for an agent who understands the Comox Valley market, particularly as it applies to seniors housing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

 

If you have questions, I can provide the answers. Feel free to get in touch with me about any aspect of buying, selling and living in the Comox Valley. And please check out my Comox Valley Real Estate and MLS listings and visit my Facebook page for the latest real estate information.

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Plenty of recreation options, both indoors and out

 

 Spring time in the Comox Valley, what a great time of year to get active!

 

Sure, the Valley may be best known for its beaches and its mountain, but it’s still an awesome place to recreate when the snow is disappearing, and the sun hasn’t yet heated things up.

 

Why look elsewhere for Spring Break options when there’s so much to do around here? Following are just a few suggestions to get you and your friends and family springing into action.

 

 

Hello hiking trails, it’s been a while!

It’s time to get back out on trails with your boots on and dog in tow. Sure, you both may need a soak afterward to get the mud off, but that’s part of the fun.

 

These local Comox Valley trails offer a nice variety of locations and are a good way to start the hiking season slowly. And if you want to avoid the mud, head up the Strathcona Parkway and pop on your snowshoes. The trails around Paradise Meadows will still be snowy until the end of April.

 

 

Get back on your bike and ride

Whether you’re a hard-core downhill mountain biker or a Sunday afternoon cruiser, there are a tonne of options when it comes to biking in the Comox Valley. And there are a good number of bike shops who are always willing to help offer route suggestions or mechanical expertise. Click here to connect with bike trail maps for areas from Hornby to Campbell River, as well as contact info for local shops.

 

 

Is it too early to start golfing? Not in the Comox Valley!

It’s no exaggeration to say it’s always golf season around here, after all, a late snowfall just means more of a challenge. But truthfully, this is the time of year that the local fairways start getting primed. And if you get out now, think of how much ahead of your friends you’ll be by the time June comes around. Here’s a link to contact info for many of the local courses.

 

 

And if the weather is not cooperating, hit the gym(s)

In fact, it might be a good idea to hit the gym before you start going crazy with the hiking and biking, just so your body doesn’t rebel. The Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland recreation centres are an affordable way to prep your body or maintain your edge on those “April showers” days.

 

 

Too cold to kayak? Why not paddle the pool!

Are you a fairweather kayaker but feel like you should work off some of the winter rust? No worries – take your kayak into the CV Aquatic Centre pool and get back into the saddle. Admittedly, the scenery won’t be quite what you’re used to, but it’s an excellent place to work on your rolls, entries and exits without being freezing cold.

 

 

And speaking of indoor training . . .

Get Swung is a new facility near Walmart that allows people to work on their batting, golfing and more any time of year. With indoor batting cages, golf simulators and a multi-sport training centre, there really is no excuse not to get moving.

 

 

Too many options? Sorry about that. But don’t blame me – it’s the Comox Valley’s fault for being so darn awesome. Hope you’re inspired to visit some of these great places and get active. And please feel free to share this list with friends who may be looking for recreation options this Spring.

 

 

As always, please contact me if you have any questions about local resources and real estate opportunities within the Comox Valley. And be sure to check out my website or visit my Facebook page to keep apprised of all the latest listings.

 

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And Mount Washington makes us proud, too!

 

 

If you’re anything like me, you love watching the Winter Olympics every four years. And this year it has been especially enjoyable since we’ve been able to follow the awesome pursuits of a few local athletes.

 

Cassie Sharpe, Carle Brenneman, Spencer O’Brien and Teal Harle are Islanders who have carved a name for themselves on the international scene with their pursuit of excellence on the slopes. As Comox Valley residents, we should always celebrate their accomplishments, but especially this Olympic year!

 

 

Cassie grabs the Gold!

In case you missed it, or just want to watch it again, here is a link to Comox’s Cassie Sharpe in her winning run on the halfpipe:

 

https://olympics.cbc.ca/news/article/canada-cassie-sharpe-wins-women-ski-halfpipe-gold.html

 

What a woman!

 

 

Islanders Carle Brenneman, Teal Harle and Spencer O’Brien compete with heart

Even though she didn’t end up on the podium, Spencer O’Brien showed determination and grit as she competed in the finals of Women’s Slope Style and Big Air, check out her work in this nice CBC feature:

https://olympics.cbc.ca/video/interviews/spencer-brien-get-ride-with-these-women-really-big-honour/index.html

 

 

Carle Brenneman also had a great showing, but just fell short of the final round. The Comox athlete competed in snowboard cross competition and recounted her experience with the Comox Valley Record, click here to read it: https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/sports/carle-brenneman-recounts-olympic-experience/.

 

And Teal Harle finished just out of the medals in fifth position in the Olympic Men’s Slopestyle Skiing. The twenty-one-year-old had a great experience and undoubtedly has a very bright future.

 

 

Mount Washington an excellent training ground

Of course, all these wonderful Island athletes have put in their share of time at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort. Vancouver Island’s largest year-round family resort can be proud of the contributions it made to helping these women succeed and inspire all of us.

 

Way to go, Washy! And way to go, Canada!

 

 

As always, feel free to contact me to find out more about local resources and real estate opportunities. And don’t forget to check out my website or visit my Facebook page.

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Governing board looking to protect consumers

As you may or may not be aware, the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) is implementing some new regulations. Originally slated to start March 15, 2018, but now moved to June 15, Realtors will no longer be able to represent both a buyer and a seller at the same time in a single transaction.

 

The RECBC is the provincial governing board that licenses Realtors and regulates real estate in the public interest. Among their duties is the enforcement of standards of conduct, investigation of complaints and implementation of regulations that ensure the public is well served by BC Realtors.

 

I know there has been some confusion as to what dual agency is and why these rules are being implemented, so I’m passing along this information from the RECBC website that I found useful:

 

 

DUAL AGENCY

The Superintendent of Real Estate has created new Rules that generally prohibit the practice of dual agency, except in the rarest of circumstances. Dual agency refers to when a licensee represents, in a single transaction, two or more clients whose interests are in conflict. For example, a property seller and a prospective buyer for that property.

 

Why has dual agency been restricted?

The practice of limited dual agency raised a number of concerns for consumers, including that:

  • a licensee may not be able to be completely loyal and impartial to two clients with competing interests
  • a licensee may not be able to properly advise those clients without improperly disclosing their confidential information to each other
  • a licensee acting as a dual agent might prioritize his or her own interest in earning the whole commission, rather than acting in the best interest of his or her clients.

For these reasons, an Independent Advisory Group on real estate regulation in BC recommended that limited dual agency be banned in BC. Now, the Superintendent of Real Estate has created a Rule restricting limited dual agency (except in very limited circumstances).

 

 

So, what does this change mean to buyers and sellers?

If you have a Realtor you’ve been working with to buy a home and you notice that they have a listing of a property you’re interested in, they will no longer be able to act as your representative as a buyer.

 

Because of the new prohibition on limited dual agency, the licensee you’ve been working with can’t continue to act for you. However, you can choose a different Realtor to represent you going forward. Your licensee can suggest other licensees who will be able to assist you.

 

In locales where there are several licensed Realtors to choose from, this likely won’t have significant impact on buyers and sellers.

 

As noted, these changes are for the protection of the consumer. And although there may be an adjustment period throughout the province, the goal is to protect the public, which all Realtors can stand behind.

 

If you have any further queries regarding the new regulations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

I’m available to discuss any aspect of buying, selling or moving in the Comox Valley and beyond. Please contact me, check out my website or visit my Facebook page if you want to have your real estate questions answered.

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Live at home longer with these ideas  

 

Living independently for as long as you can is something we all aspire to, but it can take a bit of work to ensure your home accommodates you. Fortunately, there are some great ways to make your house safer and more comfortable.

 

Here are a few ideas that will help ensure you’re able to age at home for as long as possible.

 

 

Small fixes and do-it-yourselfers

Little conveniences can make a significant difference, such as raising electrical boxes, installing better lighting and putting in lever door handles. It’s also important to declutter and get organized. Extra “stuff” can create tripping hazards, so tidy up, remove area rugs and keep walkways and door openings clear. And don’t forget to outsource the yard maintenance.

 

Some bigger jobs

As they say, safety first! So consider installing handrails and grab-bars in hallways, entrances and bathrooms. And speaking of bathrooms, install a walk-in shower (with seat or bench) or walk-in tub. For safety and convenience, you may want to move your master bedroom from the top floor to ground level. And installing motion-detection fall sensors and/or medical alert systems can be a wise move.

 

Hire home support and keep up connections

Depending on your needs, there are plenty of possibilities. Your doctor, senior services and local health authority should be able to suggest suitable options and let you know if any funding is available. Price things out carefully as homecare can add up and it may be less expensive to make a move to a development that offers different integrated living arrangements.

 

Both for safety and socially it’s important to keep connected, and technology and media devices are making that easier than ever. Find someone who can help set you up with a cell phone or tablet and you’ll be able to stay in touch with friends and family at the push of a button. Make sure you stay active by joining groups, going on outings and visiting the library. If mobility is an issue, consider transit options.

 

 

Like many communities on Vancouver Island, the Comox Valley is well suited to the older population both in terms of resources and housing options. For more information on any part of living in and moving to the Comox Valley, please contact me, check out my website or visit my Facebook page

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Some helpful hints to create space and lower stress

Clutter is something that happens to all of us – that accumulation of “stuff” that you don’t necessarily want or need. And it can creep up on you; before you know it, you have a pile of things in the corner or closet that adds to the chaos of a room and, maybe, your life. In fact, it’s been shown that the sense of disorganization from clutter can actually cause stress . . . who knew?

 

The good thing is, clearing away clutter can make you feel better and more in control. Not only that, it creates more space in your home for the things that are important.

 

Whether you’re decluttering for some extra space, purging before a move or just looking to relieve some stress, tidying and tightening is a good idea. And here are some tips to do it in an efficient and organized manner.

 

 

Make a plan

The key to getting organized is being organized. Have a plan and stick to it. Make a list of rooms or areas that need attention, prioritize them in terms of chaos and focus on the neediest first. Tackle one room/area at a time, and try to stick to a realistic timeline. If you’re concentrating on one room, break it into smaller tasks to keep the focus and to enjoy a sense of accomplishment when that task is done, e.g., sorting out a closet, organizing a couple drawers, clearing off a counter top, etc.

 

 

Change your mindset about “stuff”

Think of how great it will be to get organized – it truly is freeing once you commit to letting things go. So take a cold hard look at your clutter, and start by getting over sunk costs. The money has been spent, don’t dwell on that; think instead of the value you’ll get from eliminating “stuff” from your life. If you haven’t used it in a year, do you really need it? If it’s broken, fix it or dump it. Ask yourself, do you love it? If the answer is no, it should be gone. And don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

 

 

Create a sorting system

Have three piles or, better yet, boxes. One is for keepers, one is for getting rid of (through recycling, donating or garbage) and one is for storage – then deal with the boxes! Your space is clean, now you must figure out where the items to be kept will go. Put the things to be recycled or discarded in your car. Label the items that are going into storage clearly on the outside of the box and put it into your storage place.

 

 

Clean flat surfaces

Be it your office desk, kitchen counter or bedside table, flat surfaces tend to get put upon. Keep frequently used small items out, and limit it to five, then find a new spot for the rest – drawers, tidy shelves, storage boxes, whatever it takes.

 

 

Speaking of drawers . . .

Drawers can quickly become a disaster if they’re not attended to. Start by emptying a drawer completely. Before you put something back in it, ask yourself if it’s a necessary item, if it belongs there and whether it has been used in the last six months. Then, put smaller boxes or storage bins in the drawer and keep like items together. 

 

 

Work at preventing clutter

Before you buy something, think about how often you’ll use it and whether it’s better to borrow or rent. Create a time each day or once a week to deal with clutter, and get the family on board. Follow the “one in – one out” rule; if you buy something new, recycle or donate something else.

 

Do your best and you’ll see and feel the difference. If you’re anything like me, your home likely will never look perfect, but it can look better. Good luck!

 

 

For other ideas or more information on any part of buying, selling or moving in the Comox Valley, please contact me, check out my website or visit my Facebook page. If you’re thinking of listing your home, make sure to download my free Seller Guidebook for more tips and advice about getting what your home is worth.  

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Low inventory and levelling of prices mark end of a busy 2017

 

This past year has been another active one, through the province, on the Island and in the Comox Valley. Buyers and sellers were happy and local realtors were busy keeping up.

And, as the year draws to a close, we look back to see how things went and forward to see where we are headed for 2018.

 

Another year of record inventory lows

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB), a lack of inventory continues to drive the housing market. Even though the supply of single-family homes for sale has been rising steadily every month since VIREB hit a historic low of 859 units in December of 2016, inventory dipped in October and once again in November. So, the VIREB area is still a sellers’ market, making it an optimal time to list.   

 

Provincially speaking . . .  

Strong economic fundamentals, such as robust retail sales, as well as job and population growth, mean that BC’s housing market is still doing very well, notes the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA). The province’s economy continues to lead the country, with GDP in 2018 expected to hit 3.8 per cent. That being said, federal government policy decisions, including slightly higher interest rates and the new stress test for mortgages, could affect the housing market in 2018, but it’s too early to say what the effects will be.  

 

What does this mean for the Comox Valley market?

Consumer confidence remains high, as indicated by November statistics that show the Comox Valley’s benchmark price hit $467,200, 21 percent higher than last year. Don McClintock, VIREB President-Elect, reports that there are no apparent signs of buyer fatigue anywhere on the Island. However, multiple offers have decreased slightly in some markets, which could be good news for buyers.

 

Whether you’re thinking of moving in or out of the Comox Valley, work with an experienced Realtor® with specialized knowledge of the community to ensure the best possible outcome.

 

To find out more about our real estate opportunities in our wonderful Valley, contact me any time through my website or by visiting my Facebook page.

 

And, finally, I hope you and your loved ones have a happy and relaxing holiday season!

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The most wonderful time of the year . . . and Christmas is just the beginning!

 

Some people count down the days ‘til Christmas, but that’s just the start of the fun when you live in the Comox Valley. Wintertime in the Valley means never having to say you’re bored. So read on, and get an idea of just some of the things going on in the Valley this “off-season.”

 

 

December: markets, shows and merrymaking

 

Like many areas, Christmas fairs are in great abundance throughout the Valley during late fall and into December, but our spirited, artsy community ensures they’re a step above in terms of quality and quantity. As usual, the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market runs Saturday mornings right up to Christmas at the Native Sons Hall. This year’s Elevate Winter Bazaar is being held December 8 & 9 at the Lower Native Sons Hall. And December 8, 9, and 10, the Touch of Class market takes place in Comox at the Little Red Church. For more info on local markets and other holiday activities, follow this link to the What’s On Digest listings.

 

If entertainment is more your style, check out the seasonal offerings at The Sid Williams Theatre. The Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular, favourites James and Jamesy performing O Christmas Tea and Anne of Green Gables are just some of the selections to choose from. And be sure to take the kids or grandkids to check out the Gingerbread Village at Crown Isle. Speaking of children, the pool and skating rinks always have special events and extra hours for the public during the holidays, so find more details on the CVRD website at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca.

 

 

January: resolve to get active

Obviously, with Mt. Washington Alpine Resort in the neighbourhood, there are plenty of offerings to help keep you moving during winter. Snowshoeing, snowboarding and downhill and cross-country skiing will do the trick up on Vancouver Island’s largest year-round family resort.

 

 

Down in the Valley, there are still lots of other options that we can enjoy year-round, such as golf, hiking, biking, kayaking and walking. Of course, the weather doesn’t always cooperate, so you may want to head indoors and see all the great programs offered through our awesome recreational facilities in Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland.

  

February: food, friends and fun 

Since you’re going to be so busy – not to mention diligent – about getting active, you might as well treat yourself to some of the wonderful things on offer at the various dining establishments around town. Why not take advantage of “Dine Around Comox Valley” a yearly celebration of food that runs from mid-February to mid-March! This annual, month-long event showcases local restaurants, which offer special menus at a special rate, and will leave you feeling satiated and satisfied.

 

And what an opportune time to reacquaint yourself with the local craft breweries and award-winning wineries. Visit them on your own or sign up for tours through the Discover Comox Valley website. Maybe for a special Valentine’s Day outing?

 

 

Yes, winter means fun in so many ways when you live in the Comox Valley. I don’t know about you, but it almost makes me wish winter came more than once a year . . . almost.

 

As always, feel free to contact me to find out more about local real estate opportunities. Please, check out my website or visit my Facebook page. And if you are thinking of listing your home, don’t forget to have a look at my free Seller Guidebook!

 

 

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Find out how to sell your home faster for the price you want

 

It’s still a seller’s market, so this is a prime time to list your home in the Comox Valley. And to help ensure you make the most of it, download my Seller Guidebook.

 

Yes, demand is high and inventory is low, but there are still some things you can do to get you house sold quickly and at the right price. If you’re thinking about listing your Courtenay or Comox home, you’ll want to have a read.

 

Click here to download my new Seller Guidebook.

 

A little bit about my Seller Guide

With more than 25 years of experience as a Comox Valley Realtor, I know what it takes to help sellers close quickly and successfully in any market. So, I decided to put together a downloadable seller’s reference guide that offers numerous tips and suggestions for those entering the Vancouver Island real estate market.

 

In this 11-page document, you’ll learn about how to price your home for the market, which renovations are most likely to realize a higher selling price (and which renos to avoid), as well as home-staging tips that really work.

 

So, if you’re thinking about selling, make sure you get what you deserve and download my Seller Guidebook today!

 

 

Buying? Selling? Both?? Let me help you get what you want. For more information about real estate in the Comox Valley, please get in touch with me through my website or visit my Facebook page.

 

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Pointers from a long-time Comox Valley Realtor®

 

One of the main reasons people love the Comox Valley is its proximity to water – be it lakes, rivers or ocean. And for those who dream of living on waterfront, this beautiful area certainly offers plenty of options.

 

Buying a house is always a fairly involved process that takes research and patience, but when you add in the fact that a property is waterfront, things can get even more intricate. As a long-time Comox Valley Realtor®, I’ve sold my share of waterfront locations and guided numerous clients through the process. So, to help those who are thinking about jumping into waterfront, here’s a list of some of the things to consider when looking for that dream home on the water’s edge.

 

Look into house insurance at the beginning

Waterfront properties have increased exposure to weather-related issues from high tides, storm swells and winds, which can lead to flooded and damaged homes or neighbourhoods. Rivers, too, can swell and cause swamping of low-lying areas. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of these potential issues and assess your need for insurance, what is available to you and at what price.

 

Put more weight on the property than the home

A home can be fixed or up-dated, but when it come to a piece of property, what you see is what you get. If the water is mucky and the property stays in the shade all day, there’s not much that can be done. Love the location and you’ll be set.

 

Be prepared for extra wear and tear

Wind-swept vistas and hot sunny days are what make so many properties on water ideal, but they also come at a cost. Saltwater can play havoc with your home’s siding, roof, fences and pretty much anything else facing the elements. The wear is significantly more than other more sheltered locations. Freshwater properties require less attention typically, but storms, wind and waves can still cause extra work, so be ready to spend more on upkeep.

 

Consider erosion and other environmental factors

Oftentimes, there are specific environmental regulations for waterfront properties or those sitting on bluffs overlooking the water? Check into local bylaws about any restrictions against building improvements near waterways. 

 

Erosion issues, wildlife, septic and underground irrigation systems are all items to be considered and investigated. The seller, your real estate agent, neighbours, local regulatory bodies and maybe even a geotechnical engineer should be called upon to shed light on the location and any particular issues.

 

Find out what your responsibilities are as an owner

Sometimes there are municipal bylaws that state certain responsibilities must be met in terms of maintenance, upkeep, storm surge protection, breakers, etc. Additionally, these bylaws may keep you from making changes to your home or property, so be aware of any such matters.

 

Make sure you’re working with an experienced Realtor®

Your Realtor® should be able to help you navigate all these issues and more. Put your trust into someone who has a good knowledge of the local market and neighbourhoods and you’ll be well cared for.

 

All that being said, you shouldn’t be scared of waterfront. Yes, there are a few more things to think about, but it will all be worth it in the end. As with buying any home, you need to be patient, do your research and listen more to your head than your heart.

 

There is something out there for you, and with the right help you’ll find it.

 

To find out about current waterfront listings for the Comox Valley, please get in touch through my website or Facebook page

 

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Pros and cons of reverse mortgages

 

Free up money from equity that you already have – sounds pretty good, right? And reverse mortgages can be a good thing for some people. But for anyone thinking about going down that road, it’s prudent to take a closer look at their advantages and disadvantages before making any moves.

 

 

What’s a reverse mortgage and who’s eligible for one

A reverse mortgage is a type of loan in which homeowners get money from their home equity without having to actually sell the home. Depending on age, location, existing financing and the type of property, you can get from 20 to 55 per cent of your home's value. In Canada, you (and your spouse, if you have one) must be at least 55 to be eligible.

 

 

Advantages of a reverse mortgage

  • You don't have to make any scheduled loan payments and the money you borrow is a tax-free source of income
  • This income doesn’t affect any Old-Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits
  • You are still the owner of your home
  • You decide how to get the funds, i.e., lump sum, scheduled payments

 

Disadvantages of a reverse mortgage

  •  The interest rates charged are higher than most other mortgages
  • Your home’s equity may go down as your loan’s interest adds up
  • When you die, your estate must repay the loan and interest in full within a set time
  • The time necessary to settle an estate is often longer than the time allowed to repay the reverse mortgage
  • Your estate will likely have less to leave to children or other beneficiaries
  • Reverse mortgage fees and costs are also higher than those of regular mortgages. So, unless you’re sure you’re going to stay in your home until you pass away, it can really add up

 

 

You can visit the Government of Canada website here to find out more details about qualifying for, accessing and repaying the loan.

 

Make sure to talk to your lender about fees and repayment schedule. It may be right for you; then again, maybe you’d be better off downsizing to a condo or townhouse or considering a line of credit.

 

For information about this or other aspects of housing and real estate in the Comox Valley, please get in touch through my website or my Facebook page.

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A Realtor’s perspective on buying real estate that makes a profit

Whether you’re looking to diversify your holdings beyond the usual bonds and stocks or just hoping to cash in on a hot market and low interest rates, there are numerous reasons why you might be thinking about an investment property.

 

And if you happen to be considering making such a purchase, here are a few key things to consider when buying an investment property.

 

 

Buy property that is in demand. This takes some research – speak to a Realtor®, talk to property managers, look at the want ads. Find out what other people want in order to figure out what you might want.

 

Buy something that doesn’t require a bunch of time or management. As they say, time is money. Some properties take too much time or attention to make them good investments. Think long and hard before you commence with a vacation or college rentals, likewise with a low-quality property in a less than desirable location.

 

Buy something that’s central and easily accessible. Don’t underestimate the importance of a convenient location that is near transit.

 

Beware the fixer-upper. It may be worth getting something that you’re willing to put the time, money and effort into when you will be the one living there; however, fixing something up for other people to enjoy is a whole other proposition. And along those lines . . .

 

Don’t get overly attached to an investment property. Yes, it’s something you own, but the reason you bought it is for the rental returns and the eventual growth in capital upon selling. Don’t go overboard with making changes or doing renos. Sure, it should be clean and treated well by tenants, but that’s where the relationship ends.

 

If you’re considering a townhouse or condo, talk to people who live there now and see what they like about the place or what potential problems may be. Check on the parking situation, strata board, rental rates, etc.

 

If the condo is new, look into the developer and builder and do some research into how their previous projects have been received. 

 

 

A few other things to think about

Figure out what you want for a projected income. Of course, you want a good return, but you need to know what your minimum is – likely at little more than what you need to cover the monthly mortgage payment. That then determines what you want to rent something for and if that figure is realistic. Many people go with the “One-Percent Rule” in that case. For example, if you buy a property for $300,000 with a $20,000 downpayment, you should aim for getting around $2,700 to $3,200 a month in rent. Of course, much depends on your location and the local rental availability. It’s also a good idea to talk with your banker or mortgage professional to discuss the purchase of an investment property and run the numbers with them. 

 

Seriously consider whether you’re prepared to be a landlord. There will be issues to address, so think about whether you have the right temperament to deal with the matters that will arise. Good tenants mean less management, and treating them fairly and with respect leads to good relations.

 

Do your research, take your time and make good decisions and you’ll end up with a cash flow-positive property. A decent, plain, well-situated property can be a solid investment. And they’re out there if you know where to look or have an experienced local Realtor in your corner.

 

Please visit my website to look at local listings, or get in touch with questions about the local real estate market through my website or my Facebook page!

 

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SRES® designation stands for expertise and experience

As we get older our needs change. If you look for someone who specializes in later-in-life clients for your health, physical or financial needs, why wouldn’t you do the same when looking for someone to help with your housing needs?

 

Are you 55+ and thinking of buying or selling? Consider working with a designated Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®).

 

An SRES® agent has had specialized training to help you every step of the way, from financing to marketing to understanding emotions involved in making certain life changes. As an SRES® Realtor®, I have both the expertise and experience to help with every aspect of your move.

 

How an SRES® agent differs from a regular agent

While all agents work for their client, those with the SRES designation have specific training in working with seniors and dealing with senior issues in a compassionate, understanding way. You can expect a no-pressure approach and we will take the necessary time to explain the process step by step. As an SRES® agent, I understand there is often an emotional toll when selling a home and will do my utmost to minimize stress and alleviate any anxiety.

 

Additionally, SRES® agents are knowledgeable about local senior housing options and services. In fact, I have a good network of other senior-focused professionals who also specialize in various aspects of later-in-life moves. 

 

Not only that, as an SRES® designee, I bring a customized approach to marketing and selling your property. I will work closely with you to explore housing options that serve your current and future needs.

 

Through my work as a Realtor, and previously as a nurse, I’ve always been committed to helping people. Patience, experience and knowledge – that’s what you can expect from me as your SRES® Realtor.

 

 

Let me help with your later-in-life move. No matter what questions you may have, I will have the answers. If you, your friends or your family are looking for a Realtor® who understands the seniors housing market, please get in touch.

 

For help with this or any aspect of real estate in the Comox Valley, contact me through my website or my Facebook page.

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And why the Comox Valley might be your perfect fit

 

If you talk to people about what makes a place a good spot to retire, you’ll get a variety of answers. (And as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) and long-time Comox Valley Realtor, it’s actually something I’ve done quite a bit of.) But when it comes right down to it, there are a few things that most people agree upon – access to good healthcare and amenities, a strong sense of community and, of course, decent weather.

 

While everyone has a different idea of what their retirement will be like, most people are looking for a place that will meet their financial, physical and social needs. So, if you’re starting to think about making a move for retirement, here are some things to consider and some reasons why the Comox Valley is a wonderful place to be! 

 

Healthcare

The fact is, as we get older, our need for healthcare increases. So, it’s important to find a place that has the facilities and physicians to meet your needs. Before moving to a community, consider stats about doctor availability and physician-to-patient ratios and see what kind of facilities are located within the region.

 

Fortunately for us in the Valley, finding a physician isn’t usually a problem. And the opening of the Comox Valley campus of the North Island Hospital project means we have the latest and greatest in equipment. Coming in at more than $330 million and opening October 1, 2017, the new hospital ensures Valley residents will be well cared for today and into the future.

 

For more information on a range of local healthcare topics, check out my blog entitled: Keeping healthy: Comox Valley health services and resources for retirees.  

 

Amenities

Good transit, walking and biking trails, public libraries and good recreation facilities are all at the top of the list with retirees. While the thought of settling into a rural community may sound good in theory, the practicalities of it all may start to sink in once a move has been made. Think long and hard about what you want to do with the extra time that you now have. If you’re hoping to get out and about, a community of less than 10,000 may not meet your needs.

 

Within the Comox Valley there are plenty of excellent ways to keep busy and getting there isn’t a problem with the help of BC Transit. Have a look at my blog about local recreation and leisure options. Clubs and hobby groups, recreation and volunteering are part of what make the retirement years enjoyable, and this region doesn’t disappoint!

 

Weather

Well, what can you do about the weather? Not much, other than move west.

 

Located on the inner coast of the Island means we enjoy the occasionally wet, yet comfortable, days for which places like Victoria and Vancouver are renowned. Generally speaking, we’re a couple degrees cooler in the winter and a couple degrees hotter in the summer than down-island. Here is a good link that describes what our yearly weather trends tend to be. 

 

Sense of Community

While, admittedly, a “sense of community” is open to interpretation, I think that some of the things that contribute to it include a vibrant and inclusive arts scene and an established downtown core or gathering area. Live in a big city and you can feel lost, live in a rural location and you can feel isolated. Talk to residents to find out about “the feel” of a place before you make any decisions.

 

Even though the Town of Comox, the Village of Cumberland and the City of Courtenay, as well as their various outlying communities, all have their own distinct feel, they come together to create a general warm sense of community. Known for its cultural and recreational opportunities, this region is a welcoming and inviting place to make a home. 

 

 

Interested in seeing what the area presents in terms of housing? Read my blog about local retirement housing options to see how the Comox Valley may suit you. In fact, I encourage you visit my website to look at local listings or to browse more of my blogs to find out more about all the Comox Valley offers and learn about the local real estate market.

 

And make sure to get in touch with any questions for me through my website or my Facebook page!

 

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Is it a good time to join the Comox Valley real estate market?

And just like that, summer is winding down. But what a great season it has been in the Comox Valley, both in terms of weather and the real estate market.

 

Well, the weather may be cooling but the market is just as hot as ever. So if you’re thinking it’s too late to list, think again!

 

People often have the mistaken impression that unless you list in spring, you’re missing the boat. But that’s not the case, and the numbers bear that out.

 

 

It’s still a seller’s market

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB), a continuing lack of inventory means houses are selling faster and for more money.

 

“Consumer demand is high, and buyers are snapping up well-priced properties quickly once they hit the market,” says Don McClintock, 2017 VIREB President-Elect. “Multiple offers are commonplace, which is frustrating for buyers and their agents. In fact, we’re now seeing multiple offers on condominiums and townhouses, which is virtually unprecedented for the VIREB area.”

 

In fact, the BC Real Estate Association notes that the supply of homes for sale in the province has dropped to its lowest level in over a decade.

 

These days, when it comes to listing there is no time like the present. It’s a seller’s market, so why not act now?

 

And if you are thinking of selling, make sure to get a copy of my seller’s guide. Offering useful tips on how to sell your home fast and get what it's really worth, just click here to download it.

 

No matter if you’re buying, selling or both, I can help you get the results that you are looking for. Get information on Comox Valley Real Estate by visiting my website or get in touch through my Facebook page.

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