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Upcoming summer events to mark on your 2019 calendar


I know, it’s only May – but there is no time like the present to start planning for summer, especially when you live in the Comox Valley.


After all, there are so many things to do in this spectacular part of Vancouver Island, you need to draft a strategy early! Here are a bunch of events that you’ll want to take into consideration.


June

What better way to kick things off than with the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, held for 10 days in the middle of June and starting on the 7th this year. You’ll want to catch some part of Western Canada’s largest seafood festival.


Celebrate National Aboriginal Day on Friday, June 21st with the K’omoks First Nation at 3320 Comox Road. Traditional food, dance, song, arts and more will be showcased at this free event.    


July

Canada Day is always tonnes of fun in the Valley with the parade down Fifth Street and day-long activities at Lewis Park. Free entertainment and concerts are around almost every corner.


And, of course, Vancouver Island MusicFest takes centre stage on the second weekend of July; this year’s dates are the 12th to 14th. This three-day music festival is still going strong two decades later and promises to deliver an electric, eclectic line-up yet again.


The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival takes place July 19-21. Known for its intimate scale and warm hospitality, the festival brings together the best BC writers with their devoted readers in a beautiful, natural setting.


August

August long weekend in the Valley means the Filberg Festival and Comox Nautical Days. So much happening along Comox’s sea-side setting – fun, fun, fun for the whole family.


On-going activities

Not sure you can plan out your dates yet? There are plenty of on-going activities through the summer, too, such as the Valley’s galleries, museums and local charters and tours. Plus, the award-winning Comox Valley Farmers’ Market runs on Saturdays at the Exhibition Grounds, Wednesdays in Downtown Courtenay and on Sundays in Cumberland through the summer.


Looking for more info on the Comox Valley or its real estate? Please feel free to contact me, have a look at my website or visit my Facebook page.

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Get informed and make smart choices


Ongoing income and a secure future – that’s part of what makes an investment property such a great idea. But it’s also a huge commitment in terms of finances. And it’s anything but quick and easy.


However, for those who are willing to do their research and put in the time, investment properties are a good long-term approach to supplementing your income or working for retirement.


Before you jump into the investment property arena, the following is a list of some of the things you need to consider.



6 things to think about before you buy an investment property

What’s your overall goal?
Once you figure out what you want to achieve financially, you can decide whether buying a rental property is the way to do that. Make a list of what you have going in, what you’re hoping to get out of it and what it will take to make those two things mesh. Investing in property is a long-term commitment that requires money at the outset and money all the way along. The results can be very good, but it’s not a get-rich-quick scenario by any means.
 
 
How will you finance and what’s your down payment?
Typically, properties are financed through mortgage loans, so speaking with a mortgage broker is also a good early step. They’ll let you know what you are working with and how much of a down payment is necessary. And when it comes to down payments, greater is better. Not only will it be easier to finance, but often sellers are more likely to go with a buyer who has a good chunk of cash ready to go. Can’t save for a good down payment? Maybe an investment property isn’t for you right now.
 
 
What kind of property are you considering?
There are so many options: condos, townhouses, single-family homes, duplexes, vacation properties, etc. Depending on your budget and target tenants, you’ll have plenty to think about. Generally, a smaller, lower cost option, such as a condo, is best for those just getting into the market.
 
 
What area will you buy in?
Location, location, location, right? Where you buy is a big factor in return on investment. Just because a house is a great deal doesn’t mean it will pan out – maybe those sellers are listing for a reason! A market analysis is a good idea. Is there high or low vacancy in the region? That will tell you what you can expect to get for your place. Is there a college or university nearby? You might have to deal with occupancy issues and frequent changeover. What are the growth indicators like in a specific area – is the population growing and the economy stable? Are there job opportunities? All these variables will influence both your short-term tenant decisions and long-term re-sale options.
 
 
Have you done a property assessment?
If you’ve narrowed down your options, then you’ll want to analyze and assess the property before making any commitment. In addition to looking at purchase price, you’ll need to evaluate any property management fees; municipal property taxes; insurances; mortgage and financing payments; repairs and maintenance. At that point, you can compare the monthly expenses to the rental income and have a better idea if the property will generate positive cash flow.
 


Do you have an exit strategy?
Hopefully, things will go super smoothly from this point forward, but what if things go wrong or you’re in quick need of cash? What’s the plan then? Best-case scenario, you get out of the situation while still making a profit. Selling and refinancing are both options, but it’s good to have a plan going in. Talk with your real estate agent and mortgage broker to discuss what may work best for you down the line.
 


Obviously, numerous factors come into play and must be considered before investing in real estate, so it’s prudent to ask lots of questions and do plenty of research. Investment properties can be very rewarding, but they do require adequate planning.


Talk to your real estate professional to see what opportunities are available to you!



Please reach out if you want to discuss real estate considerations in the Comox Valley. And visit my Facebook page or website to keep up to date on the latest listings.

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What are you waiting for? Get growing!


It’s spring . . . YAY! Time to get outside and, for many of us, get in the garden.


Even if you haven’t the greenest of thumbs, there are plenty of things that you can do to get your garden ready for summer. Following are some tips to help you get started.


8 ways to help your garden grow

Make a plan. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the garden centre’s selection, but a plan helps from getting too few or too many seeds. Veggies or flowers, perennials or annuals, doesn’t matter – just come up with a course of action. Grab your pen and paper and start plotting things out.


Prep your soil. If you’re a seasoned veteran, your gardening area may be well prepped already, but if you’re just starting, it’s likely you’ll have to work it a bit. Organically rich soil is usually dark brown. Some good compost and/or aged mushroom manure added into your own soil will do wonders. Mixing it in will also help loosen the ground, creating space for roots.


Trim branches in the early spring. And shape shade trees then, too. This will allow them to heal over the coming season.


Weed your beds early and often. Get ahead of the game when the seedlings of weedy plants are just getting established. Hopefully, this prep work will make summer care easier as fewer of the weed seedlings will get established.


Establish a good cover of mulch on garden beds. This will work to conserve moisture, reduce weeds and keep the soil cooler during summer’s heat.


Attract helpful critters. Think about adding “bee hotels,” and hummingbird and butterfly feeders to attract these helpful pollinators to your garden.


Prune or deadhead those early flowering shrubs. Late spring is a good time to tidy up shrubs once they have finished flowering. When pruning, thin out older wood to improve the plant’s form and vigour. 


Set up a deep-watering schedule for summer. This can help promote good root development so plants can better withstand dry spells. Water early in the morning with a deep soaking of two to three centimetres of water once a week.


Now get out there and grow!


Please reach out if you want to discuss real estate considerations. And visit my Facebook page or website to keep up to date on the latest Comox Valley listings.

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Here’s a handy seller’s guideline!


Whether you are contemplating a bigger home for your growing family or considering downsizing to a nice new condo by the water, there are plenty of things to think about – before, during and after – when listing your home.

Of course, your realtor will help guide you through the entire process, but there are some steps that you can take to ensure you keep from being overwhelmed. No matter what your reason for moving, following is a general outline of things that you should take into account along the way.


Before listing . . .

Most importantly, find the right realtor for you. You want to work with someone you can trust who has experience, knows the area and will be able to provide the attention to detail that you expect and deserve. Don’t have someone in mind? Talk to friends, relatives and neighbours to ensure you get the right professional.


Figure out what your existing home is worth. A home evaluation is key. Know what you’re working with and whether there are things to do that will help it sell more quickly.


Clean, clean and clean again! There’s no getting around it – you need to tidy, de-clutter and de-personalize. Put yourself in the potential buyer’s place. Do you think they want to look at your overflowing junk drawers and crowded closets? If the thought of de-cluttering doesn’t spark joy, bring in some help. You’ll be glad you did.

 

When your home is listed . . .

Above all, be available. If you aren’t able to allow access to potential buyers, you’re losing opportunities to sell. Requiring people to book way in advance or having very restrictive timeframes for viewings makes it difficult to get people through the door, and that’s what it takes to get things sold. Yes, it sometimes means heading out on short notice, but hopefully that will lead to a shorter listing time.

 

Keep it clean. And because of your excellent availability, you’ll want to have your home in ship-shape form so that you can allow those showings on short notice. Stay on top of laundry and the lawn, and get the family used to picking up after themselves – it may take bribery, but it’s a small price to pay. In fact, this is a great time to start packing up family pictures and winter clothes – items that won’t be needed in the near future can be kept in storage or at least out of sight.

  

Once an offer arrives . . .

Rely on your realtor to let you know the process. As a professional licensee, your realtor is obliged to show you all written offers. Your realtor will tell you what you need to know during the process of receiving and reviewing offers. Together you will decide whether you want to accept the offer as it stands, make a counteroffer or reject the offer.

Obviously, this is crunch time. It’s important to review any and all offers carefully. Look at “subject” clauses surrounding the offer to see whether these specific conditions can be fulfilled. Because you’ve chosen a reliable, experienced professional, they’ll help you understand and navigate this part of the selling process.


Have a lawyer or notary in mind. Typically, the buyer’s legal representatives prepare the various necessary documents for transferring ownership, but you’ll also need legal counsel acting solely on your behalf to ensure your interests are being protected. They will do a number of things for you, such as checking the buyer’s documents, ensuring your mortgage has been properly discharged and that no further obligations remain, arranging for signing transfer documents and outlining where purchase money should be disbursed.


Get ready to move . . .

And the sooner, the better. Whether it’s packing up or notifying the post office and utilities, don’t leave things to the last minute. A quick Google search about packing and moving checklists and tips will help you get things rolling or, if you need it, connect you with professional movers.


Selling is an exciting time, but it can be daunting. Follow these guidelines and keep your cool while your realtor gets things heating up.


For more information on buying, selling and everything in between in Comox Valley real estate, get in touch. And please visit my website or my Facebook page to see all the latest local listings.

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Too much of a good thing? Almost!


Finding a great place to eat in Comox? Easy!


Having to actually decide where to go? Hard!


Truly, one of the toughest things about going out to dine in Comox is trying to figure out which awesome establishment to visit. And, at the risk of making things even more difficult, here are just a few of my favourites. But at least I’ll give you some info about the type of food they serve, then maybe your partner will tell you what he or she is in the mood for and we’ll let them do the hard part.


Black Fin Pub – looking for sumptuous food with a spectacular view? Black Fin has both. Featuring a fresh West Coast menu that offers classics like steak, pastas, seafood and more, you’ll find there is something for every taste here.


Toscano’s – in the mood for pasta or something else Mediterranean? Tuck in at Toscano’s. Italian cuisine with a taste of BC mixed in make this a splendid choice. Get the feel of Tuscany without having to leave the Valley. 


Sushi Wara and the Spice Hut – got a hankering for takeout? Both these eateries will fill the bill when you’re thinking International. Less formal but just as full of flavour!


Avenue Bistro – get an “upscale, casual” dining experience and enjoy bistro classics in this welcoming restaurant setting featuring locally sourced, house-made fresh and light fare. Warning: the gourmet pizzas are addictive.


The Social Room – a new kid on the block, you’ll enjoy tapas and premium drink selections at this hip and happening establishment. Weekends feature events and one-of-a-kind entrees. Check them out!


Martine’s Bistro – ready to go out for a special occasion? This is the place to be. Known as one of the Island’s top dining experiences, their “locally provisioned, internationally inspired” menu will delight. Works from local artists and Sunday night music will also entertain.


As you can see, when it comes to menus there’s plenty to choose from in the Town of Comox…good luck and bon appetit!


For more information on both real estate and living in the Comox Valley, get in touch! Please visit my website or my Facebook page to see all the latest local listings.

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Is one better than the other? Things to think about


Do you like the character and charm of an older house or the clean lines and openness of a new one?


There’s nothing like being the first owner of a brand-new home – everything is in pristine condition and you’re the one breaking things in. Then again, some homes get better with age or allow for the opportunity to do some renos and get things exactly how you want them – maybe at a lower price.


Making the decision to buy a new or older home can involve numerous factors. Of course, if you’re looking for a specific location or in a seller’s market you often don’t have much of a choice.


But for those who are getting ready to look at potential homes, here are some things you may want to consider as you try to decide what’s the best fit for you.



Buying a previously owned home


Older homes have a lot going for them, not least of which is their quality construction and character. They’ve proven through the years that they can stand up to time, and the craftsmen who made them not only paid attention to detail but also likely inserted some unique character and even interesting architectural features, such as archways or stained-glass windows.


While the houses themselves can be smaller, often the size of the lot is larger than newer ones and the vegetation is matured – no waiting for five years for that hedge to grow! As well, the neighbours and neighbourhood are established, so amenities are nearby, and zoning changes are less likely.


But it’s not all roses and sunshine. Older houses might have been constructed when one garage was plenty, and people tended to have less “stuff,” therefore storage could be an issue. Wear-and-tear happen to all of us, so typically there is more maintenance and upkeep. Because of their often-excellent location, a “vintage home” may actually be pricier than a new one farther afield.



New house on the block

Imagine not having to think about roofs for fifteen years and water heaters for seven – there’s something to be said for that! The latest energy-efficient heating systems and windows will undoubtedly save you money. And often there is a builder’s warranty that comes into play, which adds peace of mind.


But new houses settle, no matter what type of soil they are built upon, and that settling can cause cracks in foundations, walls and door frames. Hopefully, your builder is quick to respond to warranty repair requests. Plus, your house may look just like your neighbour’s, which looks just like their neighbour’s . . . Additionally, your new home may be located farther from “downtown.” New homes also mean more taxes charged on the sales price, which can really add up. But, hopefully, maintenance fees will be less for quite a few years, and that can help balance things out.



Other things to think about

Move in dates tend to be more flexible with older homes, after all, a delay in construction isn’t going to happen. Moving into a new neighbourhood may also mean a certain amount of other construction occurring around you.


Fortunately, in the Comox Valley, there is good opportunity to buy either new or old. Talk to your realtor to see the latest listings and start thinking about what matters to you.



Please get in touch if you want to discuss this or other real estate consideration. And visit my Facebook page or website to keep up to date on the latest Comox Valley listings.

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What’s going on and where’s it happening?!


I know, I know . . . you ‘re thinking “Comox Valley nightlife? Is that an oxymoron?”


And maybe if you were here in the 1990s, you might be forgiven for thinking that way. But these days, there are plenty of things to do after dinner.


After all, we can’t all stay in our cozy Comox Valley homes all the time, right? So here is a collection of suggestions for when you feel the need to get out and about.



Musical options

Whether you like to listen to music or perhaps prefer to make it, this Valley has got you covered. Numerous establishments offer entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, such as Cornerstone Taphouse; the Waverley; the Griffin Pub; The Whistle Stop; Roy’s Towne Pub; and The Flying Canoe. Most of those places offer karaoke evenings and many also host drop-in jam nights. And where there is music, there’s often dancing, so feel free to get up and boogie!



Theatrical productions

If theatrical entertainment is more your style, check out the offerings at the Sid Williams Theatre. “The Sid” has been keeping us all entertained for years. Dedicated to the stimulation and enhancement of artistic, cultural and recreational activities in the Comox Valley and surrounding regions, the theatre hosts everything from local dance groups and choirs to international films and entertainers. Have a look at their schedule of events and you’ll find something that suits.



Start recreating

Of course, some of us enjoy getting out and getting active in the evenings. For the physically inclined, the local recreation options are plentiful. The pools and skating rinks always have lots to do and details are on the CVRD website at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca. Plus, there is a wide assortment of great programs offered through the awesome recreational facilities in Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland.



If you want more info for events on specific dates, the What’s On Digest listings are a great resource.


As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in the evening if you go out looking for it. Have fun!


As always, feel free to contact me to find out more about living in the Comox Valley as well as local real estate opportunities. And please check out my website or visit my Facebook page

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Consider these 5 factors


We all know that location, location, location is a big part of real estate success, but you’ll find that timing comes into the mix fairly regularly, too.


Generally, it’s thought that late spring/early summer is the best time to put your home on the market. And certainly, for many parts of Canada, the thought of heading out into a blizzard or onto frozen roads is more than many can handle.


But there is something to be said about getting your place listed before the competition gets out of hibernation, such as it is on the balmy West Coast.


So, when you’re thinking of listing in the Comox Valley, you may want to consider a few more factors than just the weather outside and talk to your experienced realtor to get the inside scoop on when to list.


5 things to think about if deciding when to list

Mortgage rates and economic trends: This one isn’t a huge determinant unless there has been a significant stock market or economic disruption. Truthfully, month to month, housing prices don’t tend to vary significantly, that is more a trend that happens over the long term. Yes, an indication that changes in mortgage rates may spark a light under some, but most people don’t list it as a make-or-breaker.  


Market supply and demand: Again, generally, this is another longer-term trend, but it’s good to keep an eye on it. Your realtor can keep you apprised of whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market and suggest price and listing advice accordingly. That being said, it’s likely better to get your home listed before the competition gets too stiff, so listing in January and February may be a good strategy.


The dead grass factor: Obviously, it’s much easier to create some curb appeal when the lawn isn’t soggy and the trees have some leaves, but when your yard is looking great, so is everyone else’s. After all, we are still comparing apples to apples, no matter the time of year.


Buyers’ attitude: Even though interest in homes does increase in the spring and summer, those looking in the earlier part of the year are often ready to make a change and make it now! If you are looking for a focused and committed buyer, the ones you see in the early part of the year often fit the bill.


Location, location, location: Depending on where you live, selling times can fluctuate . . . or not. For example, cities known for their retirement populations don’t see as much end-of-school activity as other areas. And sunnier climates face less variation in selling times. For us in the Valley, our relatively temperate weather and year-round recreation opportunities mean we aren’t impacted as much by climate trends as other areas of the province and the country. 


Is now the time to list your home in the Comox Valley?

Even though the indications are that the Valley is heading into a more balanced real estate market than we have seen for several years, I have been in and heard of multiple offers already this year! I personally have quite a few buyers ready to go and not enough homes coming on the market to give them a good choice.


Although the spring market is the time of year when the highest number of sales occur in the Valley, it’s also the time that the majority of homes come on the market. I always feel it can be beneficial to list before the spring rush when the listings are not in abundance and the competition is less. Chances are, you can sell your home relatively quickly if priced at fair market value.



I’m always happy to discuss any of the mentioned factors and local trends, so please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about listing your home.


For more information on this and other house-related topics, please get in touch. And don’t forget to visit my Facebook page to see the latest Comox Valley listings.

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Resolve to get involved this new year


Are you one of the British Columbians who contributes more than 100 million hours toward volunteering for countless causes each year? If you are, way to go!


If you’re not a volunteer, then maybe this is the year to get out there and give it a try. Sometimes it can be tricky to find the right fit because of your work schedule or family obligations, but here in the Comox Valley there are plenty of chances to get involved and lend a hand.


Not only will your community benefit when you help out with worthwhile projects and organizations that need it, but you’ll get rewarded, too.


Here are a few good reasons to get involved with volunteering, as well as some ideas about where to start.



The upside of volunteering . . . not that there’s a downside!

If you’re new to the Valley, there’s no better way to meet people and make connections in the community than by volunteering. Not only that, volunteerism has been shown to improve overall health, especially outdoor activities that involve physical movement, and it can be helpful in battling depression and decreasing social anxiety. You can learn new skills, add to the local economy, keep physically and mentally fit, and enjoy a sense of empowerment and fulfillment.


What’s not to love about all that?



Volunteering in the Valley

No matter where in the Comox Valley you live, there are regional, provincial, national and international organizations that would love to make the most of your skills and knowledge.


Get involved and get active with Special Needs Recreation and Courtenay Recreation.  They happily welcome volunteers for their numerous programs. Like the snow? The Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports appreciate skiers who can help folks facing challenges hit the slopes. But if you’re more comfortable in the garden, get in touch with the people at the Gardens on Anderton


If you like animals, there are several options. Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding works well for people interested in helping others and working with horses. Some physical ability is required, but experience isn’t necessary. If you prefer smaller animals, maybe the Valley SPCA and KittyCat Pals would be a good fit. The nice people at MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre always like having help with special events and public education – and they provide the training!


For those who aren’t sure they can make a regular commitment, the summer festivals are a good place to begin. Nautical Days, the Filberg Festival and MusicFest all rely on volunteers to help keep things running smoothly.


And any of the numerous associations that hold runs and walks typically can always use marshals along the routes, so you may want to get in touch with an organization that you feel a connection to and give them your contact info.



Like all communities, those that make up the Comox Valley have many wonderful events and associations that count on volunteers to succeed – so get out there, get involved and get growing your community.


Questions about any aspects of housing and living in the Comox Valley? Get in touch through my website or my Facebook page. For specific real estate inquiries, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

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Décor designs and styles coming your way this year


In an effort to keep up with the latest home décor styles, my wonderful assistant Jean and I scoured the European fairs this past fall so we could bring you all the latest buzz.


No, not really. But, wouldn’t that be fun?


Instead, we’ve scoured the worldwide web and done a little research on what the latest and greatest things are in interiors. And we’ve come up with some of the larger themes to be hitting the magazines and wholesalers this year.


Following are a few of the design highlights that you can expect to see in 2019.


Natural woods add finish

I’ve always loved the look of natural woods, whether raw and heavy or light and airy, and they seem to be making an impression again. In the kitchen, their light surfaces give a clean, relaxed feel as opposed to more sterile steel or white. In the rest of the home, they provide a sense of warmth, both in terms of colour and feel. The Scandinavian influence is noticeable, so time to show off that teak furniture again.


Colour me pretty – and naturally

Earthy colors, especially reds, yellows and tans have been hot for a while, but things get a little more autumnal with dusky pinks and burnt terra-cottas getting increased attention. And sage green also sees some time in the spotlight, particularly in the powder room, as do indoor plants and herbal motifs on pillows, walls, tiles and more. Fake or real, you’ll want to get more greenery going.


Keeping it real

That sense of authenticity behind real wood and greenery also shows up in other pieces of décor. Hand-woven textiles, hand-made ceramics, hand-blown bottles all emphasize a crafty feel.


And many of those finishing pieces will have an international touch. East Asian, South American and West African designs will offer inspiration in 2019.


Comfort mixed with some glamour

Large, padded couches are making a comeback on some fronts, because who doesn’t like to be comfortable? But to dress things up a bit, velvet is back on the scene. While you don’t want to go overboard, one or two pieces offer a vivid contrast to some of the other more natural elements.


Look up, way up

Apparently textured or tiled ceilings are a thing. Not exactly convenient to get at, but, hey, what the heck? And on the way there, you might as well put up a nice wall hanging featuring geometric colour blocking.


One last thought . . .

In my opinion, the most important thing to remember when looking at design trends is function. If you have a white cat, forget about the royal blue velvet couch. Have toddlers? Don’t invest in marble floors. Unstable on your feet? Less furniture and fewer area rugs might be a good idea.


Sure, it’s fun to buy new things, but make sure you really like it or need it – a couple years from now it may slip out of style, but functionality is always in.



For more information on other house-related topics and living in the Comox Valley, please get in touch. And don’t forget to visit my Facebook page to see all the latest listings.

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Vancouver Island real estate for 2019


It seems like I say this annually, but the past year has been another busy one on the Island and in the Comox Valley. Local realtors were kept very active, buyers were on their toes and a little stressed at times with multiple offers and sellers, for the most part, were happy.


With 2018 coming to a close, let’s take a closer examination of how things are looking heading into the new year.


Moving to a more balanced market

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB), this past year behaved as expected with some moderation coming into play, as opposed to the record-setting paces of 2016 and 2017. Generally, there is a slight decrease in demand; that, plus modest inventory increases, are helping the Island’s housing market transition from one favouring sellers to a near-balanced market.


It seems that increasing interest rates and governmental cooling measures, such as the mortgage stress test, have started making an impact.


Prices steady and slightly up around the Island this past year

Even with the lower demand, compared to this time last year the benchmark prices of single-family homes continued to rise, up about 12 per cent Island-wide and 9 per cent in the Comox Valley. However, slight price reductions from October to November were posted in the Comox Valley.


Multiple offers are slowing down

Island Realtors® are starting to report a slow in the occurrence of multiple offers, which is good news for those looking to buy. According to VIREB, sellers may need to curb their expectations.


“Realistically pricing your home is important in any market, but when fewer buyers are competing for a property, sellers need to be far more strategic,” says Don McClintock, 2018 VIREB President. “Overpriced homes take longer to sell, so it’s a good idea to consult a local REALTOR® who can help determine the optimal price for your property.”


Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling, in or out of the Comox Valley, working with an experienced Realtor® will ensure you’re making the most of your real estate opportunities.


I hope you and your loved ones have a happy and relaxing holiday season and all the best for 2019!


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

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Decadent, delightful and downright delicious


Just in time for December, my wonderful assistant Jean and I are sharing some of our favourite seasonal recipes – think of it as our gift to you!   


Nanaimo Truffles

These bite-sized Nanaimo bars made into truffles will disappear very quickly. Fortunately, this recipe makes about forty, so you can hide a few for yourself. A little fiddly but this three-step process is well worth it, and they make a great hostess gift.


Truffle centre:

6 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp milk

4 Tbsp vanilla custard powder

2 ¼ cups sifted icing sugar


Cream butter, then combine milk and custard powder and add to butter. Mix in icing sugar. Mixture should be fairly stiff. Refrigerate half an hour. Then roll into small balls about the size of a large grape.  Place on a foil-lined cookie tray and refrigerate.


Biscuit layer:

2/3 cup butter

5 Tbsp white sugar

½ tsp vanilla

1 egg                    

5 Tbsp cocoa

2 cups graham wafer crumbs

1 cup coconut                   

½ cup chopped nuts


Place softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg in a bowl. Set bowl in pan of boiling water. Stir mixture until butter has melted and is the consistency of custard. Mix wafer crumbs, coconut and nuts together. Add to the cocoa mixture.

Take a level teaspoon (5ml) of crumb mixture, press flat in the palm of your hand and wrap around the truffle centres. Put in the freezer for 1-2 hours (or overnight).


Chocolate layer:

1lb (500 g) good quality chocolate


Melt chocolate in a double boiler over hot water. Be careful to stir and watch that water doesn’t boil, as chocolate should not be really hot. If you do this chocolate will stay smooth and glossy.

Dip each truffle in chocolate. Using a slotted spoon or a seafood cocktail fork, lift truffle out of chocolate. Tap gently to remove excess chocolate and place on foil- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate until set.


Cranberry Blackberry Sauce

Sweet and sour and so, so pretty!


3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup blackberry jam (or jelly)

½ cup apple juice

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves


Place all ingredients in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to incorporate the melting jam with the other ingredients. Gently simmer for 20 minutes or until the cranberries are tender and just beginning to fall apart. Cool to room temperature, cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta in Balsamic Vinegar

This is another family favourite that makes it to our Christmas table every year; the recipe serves about 4 to 6 people.


1 lb Brussels sprouts

2 slices pancetta, quarter-inch thick and diced into half-inch pieces

2 tsp butter

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

½ tsp sugar

salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste


Remove tough stems and any wilted outer leaves from sprouts. Cut in half lengthwise and steam until just tender. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced pancetta and sauté until just crisp. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add sprouts and toss until well-coated with pancetta-vinegar mixture. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


Bon appétit and the happiest of holidays to you and yours!

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‘Tis the season for markets and fairs


No matter where you go, November and early December mark the time of year when the Christmas craft markets start popping up. And while fairs and markets aren’t exactly exclusive to the Valley, our active, artsy community ensures they’re a step above in terms of quantity and quality.


It’s not hard to find plenty of options for the coming weekends, but here are a few unique ones to choose from.



Fiesta World Craft Bazaar

Make sure to check out this Valley favourite! Held annually at Courtenay’s Filberg Centre, this year’s market takes place November 17th & 18th. For just a $2 admission, you can support more than 50 local and global organizations and businesses that are selling fair-trade products. These vendors work directly with the artisans in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. There truly is something for everyone – from Christmas ornaments to Tibetan carpets, books and posters, games and toys, clothing and jewellery. Not to mention the chance to enjoy some delicious ethnic food cooked by local immigrants. It’s a lot of fun!



Stagnhare

And while you’re in town on November 18th, head over to the Native Sons Hall and take in this favourite. It runs from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and is $5 at the door, but kids 12 and under are free. Word has it that Santa will be making an appearance – I guess he likes to shop local, too!



Gnarly Little Christmas Craft Fair

Speaking of fun, this market gets more popular every year. Lewis Centre will be the place to be on December 1 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Featuring youth crafters aged 9-19, over 30 vendors will be showcasing wares that include baking, crafts, woodwork, jewellery, stocking stuffers and more. You can even time your market visit with Courtenay Rec’s Children’s Christmas Party (ages 9 years & under) that starts at 2:00 pm and features Captain Thunderpants and, of course, Santa! 



Elevate Winter Bazaar

The seventh annual fair is being held at the Courtenay Legion Hall on December 7th & 8th. Looking for something different, such as quirky broaches and buttons, Indigenous designed and screen-printed clothing, succulents art, wood carvings and Day of the Dead glass-beaded bracelets? This is the place. Forty carefully selected local makers, artists and artisans will be there from 4:30 to 9:00 pm on Friday and 10:00 am - 4:30 pm on Saturday.



Merville Hall Christmas Craft Fair

This year the annual Merville Craft Fair will be held on December 1 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Big Yellow Hall. Chocked full of delightful crafts for everyone’s shopping pleasure, just head up the old Island Highway and take in a nice selection of Christmas chattels.



Denman Island Christmas Craft Fair

This classic market happens December 1 and 2 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Hop on the ferry and make a day of it. Two halls, more than 80 vendors and a shuttle service make this one a worthwhile endeavor.


  

And, as always, the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market happens on Saturday mornings right up to Christmas.


Wherever you go, you’ll be sure to get in the spirit, so get out there and have fun!


For more information about all aspects of living in the Comox Valley, visit my website or my Facebook page. And for specific real estate questions, please feel free to get in touch!

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Save money and stay warm!


With those long, dark winter nights and colder days on the horizon, it’s a good time to start thinking about staying warm and conserving energy. Not only is it better for the planet, it’s better for your hydro bill, too.


Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, it pays to save energy. So here are some tips to keep in mind as we all start to prepare for another winter.



Take your home’s temperature

Aside from putting on a sweater and slippers and turning down the heat a notch, there are a few more things you can do with the thermostat and furnace. Before going to bed or leaving the house, turn your thermostat back to about 16°C. A smart or programmable one makes it simple to adjust temperatures through a 24-hour period. Also, keep air vents and baseboard heaters clear of furniture and appliances so things work more effectively. And keep your furnace tuned-up and filters clean to improve efficiency.


Avoid heating unused rooms by shutting doors and any warm-air supply registers. And don’t waste energy by heating uninsulated areas like garages, attics and crawlspaces.



Work the windows

Start by opening and closing the curtains. When the sun is out, take advantage of its rays. Then shut the blinds as the sun sets and things begin to cool to reduce the chill you may feel off them.

If your windows are drafty, use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on the outer frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window. A tight seal will reduce drafts.



Start a fire, then close things up

Fireplaces and stoves can be great sources of heat, but when not in use a chimney can act like an open window, so make sure the damper is closed. If you can, check to see if the flue damper seal is snug.


If you don’t use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. If you do use it, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.



Speaking of air . . .

Make sure you change your ceiling fan’s airflow direction. In winter, use the fan to push warm air down toward the floor.


And seal air leaks by applying caulk or weather-stripping around doors and windows. While you’re at it, take a good look around the house for other leaky areas, such as gaps around pipes, chimneys and recessed lights, as well as any unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.



A couple other things to think about

  • If you throw down an area rug, that will both help to insulate your floors and cut down on noise.
  • By turning down your water heater temperature to the warm setting (120°F), you’ll save energy and avoid scalds.
  • If your heating system allows, adding a humidifier may let you to turn your thermostat down and be comfortable at lower temperatures. (Aquariums and houseplants naturally add some humidity.)
  • And, finally, if your house is cold, don’t crank the heat up to high to get things going. The house will warm up at the same rate regardless of the temperature setting, so just set it to where it’s supposed to be and perhaps get close with a hot water bottle for a while.


Hope this helps you to stay cozy this winter!


For more information about all aspects of housing and living in the Comox Valley, visit my website or my Facebook page. For specific real estate questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Have you visited these new(ish) Courtenay restaurants?


I don’t know about you, but I think enjoying good food is one of the best parts of life. And the great thing about living in the Valley is that it makes it so darn easy to do just that.


With scores of restaurants in the region, serving everything from the exotic to pub fare, you know you’ll find something to suit your taste.


Just in Downtown Courtenay alone, there are numerous eateries, a handful of which are relatively new kids on the block. Check out these fresh spots where you can tuck in and chow down.



Pizzeria Guerilla and Taqueria Guerilla are the offspring of the well-loved Guerilla Food Co. The taqueria is located next to Gladstone Brewing at Cliffe and Fourth and offers mouth-watering creations that you’d never imagine on your own. It took over that prime location from the Pizzeria, which is now located on 5th Street near England Ave. Whichever one you visit, you’ll be glad you did!


For something completely different, go up 5th and around the corner onto Fitzgerald to a new Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 54. Delicious spring rolls, noodle soups and sesame balls await you. You can even sit outside, when the weather allows, and enjoy the savoury flavours.


Bisque restaurant has actually been around for quite a while but just moved to the corner of Cliffe and 6th this past summer. Their fresh West Coast menu has many faithful followers. Though their locale is new, you’ll still get the same great food and service.


Il Falcone took over the old Tita’s location on 6th Street off of Fitzgerald about a year ago, and it has received much well-deserved attention and praise. Sumptuous Italian dishes rely on local ingredients to truly shine – and they do!



Wherever you go, you’ll be in good hands. Have fun and don’t forget to save room for dessert! 



For answers to all your questions about life in the Comox Valley, get in touch! And please visit my website or my Facebook page to see all the latest local listings.

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Fire prevention for homeowners and renters


Did you know that Fire Prevention Week occurs every October?


Each year in the second week of that month, fire departments across Canada and the US get the word out in an effort to bring awareness to fire prevention and safety. They know that knowledge and understanding are key to keeping families safe.


Of course, we all need to do our part, too. So here is a list of some basic things each of us can do to ensure we prevent fires from impacting our lives and our loved ones.



  1. Have a plan. Home fires can spread quickly and engulf a small home in minutes. Having an escape plan is vital. Ensure each room has an escape option, particularly bedrooms. Make sure you have a meeting place and that every member of the family knows how to get out and where to assemble. Then practice your plan every month or two. 
  2. Install and check smoke alarms. This is an easy and efficient way to keep your family safe. Put alarms on every floor, in hallways and every room. Test the alarms each month. If possible, use interconnected smoke alarms because if one sounds, they all sound.
  3. Get a fire extinguisher and know how to use it. There are many different types of extinguishers. It should be light enough that all family members can use it and good for different fire types, including electrical and grease fires. You should have extinguishers for the kitchen and the garage, at least. To use, remember the word “PASS”: Pull the pin; Aim low; Squeeze the lever slowly; Sweep from side to side.
  4. Know how to put out a grease fire. Kitchens are the site of many home fires. If a grease fire starts, never douse it with water or other liquid, as this can create steam explosions and cause the fire to spread. If the fire is contained to a pan, throw baking soda or salt on it from above, not the side. You can also cover the pan with a metal lid or a baking sheet. If neither work, get out of the home and call 9-1-1.
  5. Use caution with candles. Never leave a candle unattended. They should be kept at least 25 centimetres from anything that could catch on fire, such as curtains, blankets or furniture. Use sturdy holders that won’t tip easily.
  6. Practice electrical safety. Ensure any electrical work is done by a licensed electrician. Don’t plug major appliances, e.g., refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers, into an extension cord. Don’t put electrical cords under doorways or carpets. Any area where electricity could come in contact with water, such as the laundry room or garage, should have fire safety GFCI outlets. 
  7. Use fireplaces and woodstoves safely. Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year to remove soot and debris that could become a fire hazard. Keep any flammable materials, such as blankets and rugs away from the fireplace. And never leave kids alone near a working fireplace or woodstove.
  8. Use space heaters safely. As with stoves and fireplaces, ensure there aren’t flammable items nearby and that kids and animals aren’t unattended near the heaters. Also, check the cord for cracks or frays.
  9. Close your door. Closed doors can slow the spread of fire, heat and smoke.
  10. And if there is a fire in your home? Leave your things and get out. Yell “Fire!” several times and call 9-1-1. If there is smoke, stay low. Check doors and door handles for heat, and if there is heat, look for an alternate exit. If you are stuck in the room keep the door closed and put a wet towel at the bottom edge. Open a window and try to signal for help. 


If you have questions about fire alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors or fire extinguishers, I encourage you to visit your local fire department.


Stay safe!



As always, feel free to find out more about any aspect Comox Valley living by getting in touch. Visit my website or my Facebook page to keep track of all the latest listings.

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And our community has some great options!


We all know that being active is a great way to stay healthy.


Aside from the obvious physical benefits, such as stronger bones and muscles, it can also help you mentally and cognitively by reducing stress and improving concentration, mood and self-esteem.


In the summertime it’s easy to exercise, but as the darker, wetter days approach, scheduling enough activity through the week can be more of a challenge.


Fortunately, in the Comox Valley we have some excellent facilities that offer a multitude of options for people looking to keep moving. And, even better, they all offer a great chance to socialize and get to know others in the community.



Comox Valley Recreation Centres

Not only is the Valley blessed with a plethora of outdoor activities to take pleasure in, we get to enjoy great recreational facilities and programs in Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland. Click the links to check out all their awesome offerings. From excellent gym facilities (even a climbing wall out in Cumby!) to amazingly diverse group activities (Cha cha, anyone?), there are sooo many ways to get moving.

Not to be forgotten, the Black Creek Community Centre also has a new gym facility. Now people in North Courtenay, Merville, Black Creek and beyond can get easy access to cardio and strength-building machines, weights, a cross-box system and more without having to venture into town! 



Plus, there are the pools and arenas!

The CV Aquatic Centre pool and the Sports Centre pool offer lessons, open swims and aquacize classes at various times, but did you know you can even take your kayak into the pool? It’s a great place to work on your rolls, exits and entries! And there are the occasional introductory scuba diving lessons. You’ll have to contact the pools to confirm dates and times as the schedules do change occasionally.


The Sports Centre also has two full-size ice rinks, so lessons and open skates, as well as drop-in hockey, will keep you winter sport folk happy – and busy!



Well, I guess there are no more excuses not to head out and get moving this fall and winter. Have fun!


For more info on the Comox Valley and all it has to offer, get in touch! And don’t forget to check out my website or my Facebook page to keep up on all the local goings-on.

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9 Simple tips to help your home show better


You never get a second chance to make a first impression.


While that may or may not be true of meeting new people, it’s definitely true of selling your home.


Even in today’s seller's market, there are some basic and simple things that you really should do in order to make the most of any potential opportunities that come knocking on your door.


Here are nine easy ideas to try when you’re ready to start showing your home.


  1. De-personalize: We all know that you have a beautiful family and talented youngsters in your midst, but the fact is, buyers don’t want to feel like their stepping into someone else’s life. They want to picture their own reunions and beautiful grandkids. So, take down your treasured heirlooms and albums for now and avoid having house-hunters be distracted by your family’s awesomeness.
  2. Improve your curb appeal: The first part of that first impression is the approach to your home. If your porch paint is peeling, the grass is overgrown and driveway is cluttered, people may just drive on past without bothering to set foot inside. Take a little time to tidy, power wash and paint. Invest in some flowers and a new doormat and get them feeling warm fuzzies before they step across the threshold. 
  3.  Fake more storage: You know how when you were a kid and your mom said to clean your room and you’d shove everything in the closet? Don’t DO that! Storage space is important, so create a look of more space by emptying your closets. Rent storage elsewhere, if necessary. You should try to have 20 to 30 percent open space in your closets before holding showings.  
  4.  Let the sun shine in: Nothing beats natural light. Not only does it flatter any area, it also creates a sense of openness that gives the illusion of a larger room. So, open those curtains and clean those windows!
  5.  Appeal to the senses: Use comfy textures, chemical-free smells and relaxing sounds to create a nice atmosphere. A soothing fountain, cozy blankets and pillows and fresh-brewed coffee will do the trick. Avoid going overboard with scented candles and schmaltzy music.
  6.  Fix the quick fixes: Tighten that doorknob you’ve been avoiding. Paint the baseboard and cover scuff marks. Check for drippy faucets and re-caulk the tub. All those little things can start to add up, and people don’t want to think about a long to-do list when they have just got over a big move.
  7.  Focus on the bathroom and kitchen: Kitchens and main bathrooms see a lot of traffic and get a lot of attention from potential buyers. If you’re going to focus on one or two areas, these are them. Now is not the time to do a reno, but some paint and new light fixtures are relatively inexpensive and easy.
  8.  Rearrange your furniture: If your room is small, pull the furniture away from the walls to give a more spacious look. Consider putting a piece or two in storage. That recliner may be comfy, but it’s big! In living rooms, symmetrical arrangements (two lamps, two chairs, etc.) can be appealing to the eye.
  9.  Clean, clean, clean: Most importantly, you should have a clean, tidy home. Reduce clutter and put a shine on everything you can. Do it yourself or bring in the pros, and then keep it that way. It truly will pay off in the end.


More questions about selling or buying in or out of the Comox Valley? Get in touch! And make sure to visit my website or my Facebook page to see all the latest listings.

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Head out and about to enjoy local critters


With the recent appearance of a transient orca in the Comox Bay, it got me thinking about how lucky we are to live on this beautiful coast full of amazing wildlife.


From the majestic grandeur of whales to the fascinating lifeforms that populate the local tidal pools, there’s so much life going on throughout our wonderful Comox Valley.


Following are a few of my favourite spots and a quick rundown of the interesting creatures that inhabit them.



Paradise Meadows

Okay, so I know I’m supposed to be talking fauna, not flora, but lovely, lush, low-growing bushes and beautiful wildflowers make this area a perfect place to spend an afternoon. Of course, squirrels, chipmunks, whiskey jacks and other critters also appreciate the vegetation.


Bring along your binocs and scour the alpine hillside for the elusive Vancouver Island marmot. Chances are you won’t see any, they’re on the critically endangered species list after all, but you may see signs of their main predators – golden eagles, coyotes, wolves and cougars. 



Courtenay River Estuary

This gorgeous area is home to a nice collection of animals, too. Seals, herons, geese, red-wing blackbirds, various ducks and cormorants, eagles, and the occasional bear and cougar all spend time down here. With a couple different viewing areas off Comox Avenue and throughout the Courtenay Air Park, it’s easy to catch a glimpse of waterfowl and mammals as they nibble on a smorgasbord of sea grasses, fish and marine invertebrates.



Intertidal life

Some of the best viewing of intertidal life is down near Point Holmes around the time of summer solstice. With acres of shore to explore, you’ll have a chance to view all sorts of urchins and cucumbers, sea stars and dollars, limpets, crabs, barnacles, mussels and more. Bring a camera, but tread lightly and leave things where you find them, please. You’ll be astonished at the variety and amount of sea life living amongst the rocks.



More marine adventures

For larger marine life, such as grey whales, orcas, seals, sea lions and dolphins, you’ll usually have to head off-shore. There are a few local marine adventure tour businesses that know just where and when to take you.


No doubt about it, when it comes to wildlife, this is the land (and sea) of plenty.



More questions about the Valley? Get in touch! And if you want to keep up to speed on the local real estate opportunities, make sure to visit my website or my Facebook page to see all the latest listings.

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There are races afoot all year long



I know, I know . . . the thought of pulling on the old runners and pounding the pavement in these dog days of summer is more than many of us can handle.


So, okay, take this month off.


But you won’t want to get too far from the track because when you live in the Comox Valley, running is a year-round endeavour. And there’s always something to train for – as you can see from this collection of upcoming local races and events.


Fun fall footraces

You know how I said take this month off? You might want to reconsider that because this September sees the launch of a new off-road triathlon in Cumberland.


Touted as Canada’s toughest cross triathlon, the Dodge City X features a lake swim, mountain biking and trail run with standard, sprint and relay options. Taking place September 9th in the hills and forests of Cumberland, this event is already creating a buzz and, undoubtedly, a soon-to-be loyal following. In fact, I think it’s going to be so awesome that I hopped on board as a Community Sponsor!


And speaking of Cumberland, the Perseverance Run also takes advantage of the area’s pristine single-track, winding cross-country trails. A fundraiser for the Cumberland Community Forest Society, this is a good race for a good cause in the 12-kilometre range. This year’s race goes October 28th.  


The Comox Valley Road Runners (CVRR) offer a number of runs throughout the year, and typically hold the Memorial Run in late November. Keep tabs on their website for further details. 


Other annual Comox Valley running highlights

If you’ve been away from running for a while or are thinking of taking it up, keep your eyes out for the CVRR Learn to Run 5K clinic. It usually starts in the middle of January, goes for about 10 weeks and culminates in a 5K Fun Run.


The start of Spring sees the return of the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon. This rural out-and-back race happens at the end of March. Runners stay on the roads but get to enjoy nice views of mountains, fields and rivers.


As the name suggests, The Cumby offers people another chance to stretch their legs in Cumberland while covering 25 kilometres of mountain trails in May.


Shorter distances more your style? The Fifth Street Mile in Courtenay on Canada Day and the Nautical Days 4 Miler in Comox on BC Day are fun family-friendly events.

 

Island-wide running series

For those who are looking to move beyond the Valley, the Vancouver Island Runners’ Association has a road racing series that goes pretty much all year long with races in numerous communities. Distances range from five kilometres to half marathon.


And the Vancouver Island Trail Running Series offers, well, trail runs from April to October.



Phew, I’m tired just talking about all these races. Happy trails!


As always, please get in touch if you have any questions about local resources and real estate opportunities around the Comox Valley. Visit my website or check out my Facebook page to keep up-to-date with all the latest listings.

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