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Getting started, choice perennials and a to-do list

No doubt about it, spring has sprung. The chill is gone, and the grass is growing! It’s even warm enough to get the seedlings out into the garden. Whether you are a newbie to gardening or have two green thumbs, there is always plenty to do and say about gardening.


Not quite ready to rototill? This blog will get you inspired to pull on your gardening gloves and start digging in. Let’s get growing!


Gardening tips for beginners

If you are not so much a gardener as an observer, knowing how to get going is often the hardest part. Following are a few tips to keep in mind should you be looking to turn over a new leaf and get into the gardening game:

  • Location, location, location! Just like with real estate, you need to think about where you want to be and do a little research. If you’re lucky enough to have a nice-sized yard, hopefully, you can find a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, preferably that early morning kind. Next, take a shovel and check out the soil. If it is full of rocks and roots, you’ll want to keep looking. Of course, raised beds and containers are an option if you’d prefer to stay where you are. It’s also a good idea to stay close to a water source.
  • Begin with good soil: Nutrient-rich soil that drains well will lead to success. Muddy, rocky or clay-filled soil will need some work, but with the right mix of compost, sand, mulch, seaweed and other options, things will improve. It might be an idea to take a sample to your local garden centre and get some advice.
  • Start small: You know how sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach when it comes to food? Same with gardening. The bigger the garden, the greater the yield and, well, the greater the work. While the thought of freezing 20 pounds of tomatoes might be appealing, think about the weeds that will also come your way.
  • Choose the right plants and learn your frost dates: Again, asking your local growers what works for them and is well suited to this climate will save you time and effort. While artichokes and almond trees aren’t a possibility around here, plenty of good West Coast options are available. But make sure you know your frost dates because there is nothing more disappointing to see your efforts shrivelled up due to an unexpected cold snap.


5 Perennials suited for the West Coast

Most of us want a nice-looking yard – and the less work involved, the better! These perennials are not only easy to grow but also suited for the West Coast. Pop ’em in this spring and you’re good to go for many years to come!

  1. Shasta daisy: This happy flower features a sunny yellow centre surrounded by white petals. It looks pretty and bright in the garden, attracts butterflies and is a great cut flower to add some cheer to your home. It prefers full sun or part shade and well-drained soil; shastas will grow up to three feet tall and a foot wide.
  2. Daffodils and tulips: Looking for variety? Daffs and tulips come in an array of colours and size varieties. These beauties look great outside at the start of spring and can also be cut and brought into the home for a week or so. Full sun and moist, well-drained soil make them happiest, but they are adaptable to less-than-ideal conditions.
  3. Lupine: Known for its upright spires of flowers, lupine adds an architectural look to the garden. Often seen in shades of purple and blue, you can also find them in pinks, reds, oranges, yellows and white – something for every yard. Their preferred growing conditions include moderately fertile, light, slightly acidic soil in full sun or partial sun. They can reach up to three feet tall and a foot wide.
  4. Sword ferns: These plants are perfect for a shade garden; arching fronds add interesting architectural impact and unique texture to any yard. Evergreen, the rich colour shows all year long. Plant in fertile, rich, well-drained soil; and shady conditions. They can reach three feet in diameter.
  5. Hosta plants: Another lush foliage that is ideal for a low-maintenance garden.  Touted as shade lovers, they do have a need for some sun, but it depends on the colour of their leaves. A general rule is the lighter the foliage, the brighter the sun. The darker foliage retains colour best in moderate shade, while variegated varieties need more sunlight to keep their stripes. That said, all hostas need some shade as few, if any, thrive in strong, direct sun. They fully mature in four to eight years and can grow to three feet in diameter.

 

May gardening to-do list

May is when the action really starts to crank up. Here are some things that need to happen, both in the yard and in the garden:

In the Yard:

  • Fertilize azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias after they bloom with something appropriate for acid-loving plants.
  • Feed your roses with fertilizer and watch for fungus or disease.
  • Transplant trees and shrubs before any hot weather hits and keep them well watered.
  • Prune back any damage from winter.
  • Apply mulch to shrubs with shallow roots (such as camellias and azaleas) as protection from coming heat and weeds.
  • Let foliage from spring bulbs die back naturally on its own (cutting it back can risk the health of next year’s flowers). But deadhead perennials and bulbs throughout the blooming season.
  • Fertilize bulbs after blooming.
  • Plant perennials before the heat of summer and keep the water constant through the season.
  • For the lawn, set mower blades at two to three inches; mow often but don’t cut more than half the blade at a time.

In the Garden:

  • Start enjoying the cool-season vegetables (such as spinach, carrots, and lettuce) that you planted in March or get them in again.
  • Direct sow the seeds of your other annuals when night temperatures reach 9 Celsius regularly.
  • Harden off members of the nightshade (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant) family. Once nighttime temperatures stay reliably above about 9 Celsius, plant them outdoors.
  • Plant successive crops of veggies every few weeks to extend your harvest.
  • Control weeds to reduce competition for water and nutrients. Add mulch to keep things wetter as the heat turns up.


Inspired (or maybe a bit tired) thinking about it? Whatever you get up to, enjoy your time outside!


As always, feel free to get in touch should you want information on any aspects of buying and selling real estate in the Comox Valley; contact me, visit my website or check out my Facebook page.

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Housing trends on Vancouver Island

And we thought last year was interesting…


Recent months have seen record-low supply across the Island, including the Comox Valley, and that trend is continuing. This has resulted in an uptick in the number of multiple offers and unprecedented above-asking price sales – great for sellers, frustrating for buyers and a crazy time for realtors!


Following are Island stats from the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) for February 2021.

 

The past couple of months in the Comox Valley market

As noted in my last market update, record-low inventory ended the year. And as we head into spring, that continues to be the trend. This low supply and high demand have resulted in significant increases from last year. In January, the benchmark price of a single-family home was $620,100, up 11 per cent from a year ago. In February, the benchmark price sat at $631,400, up by 15 per cent from the previous year. Sellers are getting more than they ask, some even into six figures – unheard of!


Other Island markets this year

The entire Island is seeing a significant increase in pricing. According to the latest VIREB statistics, single-family homes in Campbell River hit $547,700 in February, up 18 per cent from last year. Duncan saw an increase of 17 per cent from this time in 2020. Nanaimo’s benchmark rose by 12 per cent, and Parksville-Qualicum area saw increases of 13 per cent to $695,600. Port Alberni and the North Island had 16 and 12 per cent year-over-year increases respectively.


What’s next?

While low interest rates have played a part, the major factor in the Island’s markets is the lack of supply. And that’s a hard one to do anything about, as 2012 VIREB President Ian Mackay explains.


“The federal and provincial governments tend to focus on demand-side policies instead of addressing the supply issue. Taxes and tighter mortgage restrictions are stopgap measures that don’t resolve the underlying problem.”


According to VIREB, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) doesn’t expect the inventory situation to improve until more supply comes online later in the year. Meanwhile, BCREA and local real estate boards are encouraging provincial and regional-level policymakers to promote streamlining development processes in order to allow municipalities to expand supply more quickly in an attempt to meet demands.


If you’re looking to buy, in or out of the Comox Valley, working with an experienced local realtor is essential during times of multiple offers.


And if you are selling…lucky you!


To find out more about Comox Valley real estate, please feel free to contact me any time through my website or by visiting my Facebook page.

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(And what exactly is a seller’s market?)


Whether it’s due to pent-up demand, low-interest mortgage rates or the desire to move from COVID hotspots, interest in Vancouver Island and Comox Valley housing markets is at a high. Unfortunately, supply is at a record low. (Read about it in my recent blog!)


All this adds up to a seller’s market.


Even though late spring/early summer is typically regarded as the time to buy and sell, when the market is like it is now, time of year doesn’t make a difference. It comes down to supply and demand. Now – and for the foreseeable future – supply is low and everything is in demand. From condos and patio homes to acreages and standard family homes, the buyers are there but the listings are not. Listing now before the spring rush will help ensure you get the attention (and price) you want.


What makes a seller’s market?

Simply put, a seller’s market occurs due to a shortage in housing or an excess of potential buyers. In today’s circumstances, both are occurring. During this type of market, prices tend to be higher and homes sell more quickly. Multiple offers on a home are also more likely to occur, which gives sellers negotiating power, meaning conditional offers may be rejected.


Tips for listing in a seller’s market

Selling in this market is generally easy and quick. Even so, there are things to keep in mind when you are getting ready to list:

  • Work with an experienced local real estate agent to ensure you have a good understanding of the market and your competition.
  • Price your home right for the area. Overpriced homes will still be overlooked, so don’t go crazy!
  • Make sure your home is clean, clutter-free and ready to be shown at all times.
  • COVID has made scheduling a bit trickier, so it has never been more important to be accommodating to your real estate agent's/prospective buyer’s schedules. (And make sure to visit my website for updates and explanations of our COVID-19 protocols.)
  • Ensure your home has sufficient market exposure, don’t count on demand to do ALL the work for you.
  • Be patient . . . remember you’re in the driver’s seat.


Tips for buying in a seller’s market

For buyers, a seller’s market means multiple offers are to be expected. Some of the things you can do to improve your likelihood of success are as follows:

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage and know how much you can afford.
  • Make your offer stronger with a significant deposit amount.
  • Be proactive and aggressive without being annoying. And be responsive.
  • Make your offer as simple as possible. Don’t have a long list of contingencies.
  • Be flexible with your move-in date.
  • Consider appealling to the seller with a personal letter.

Whether buying or listing, this is an exciting time to get into the market. Why wait until spring?


Please feel free to get in touch with me any time through my website or by visiting my Facebook page.

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Comox Valley market update and outlook – January 2021


In a year like no other, the Vancouver Island real estate market saw the lowest inventory on record to close out 2020.

While interest and prices continued to increase, November and December posted weaker sales because of fewer listings. As noted in the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board January news release, “The buyers are there, but the listings are not.”


In December, active Island listings of single-family detached properties numbered 421, compared to 541 in November, a 22 per cent decrease and the lowest number on record. Condo apartments and townhouse listings dropped 24 and 17 per cent, respectively, from November.

 

Pricing trends in the Vancouver Island and Comox Valley real estate markets

In terms of benchmark pricing, the Island average for a single-family home hit $546,900 in December, up 5 per cent from 2019. The apartment benchmark price reached $312,000, up 4 per cent; townhouse prices rose by 10 per cent to hit $450,100. The Comox Valley benchmark price reached $550,800, an increase of 4 per cent from last year. Campbell River saw a 12 per cent gain; Duncan was up 5 per cent; Nanaimo was up 1 per cent; Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 9 per cent and Port Alberni saw a 2 per cent year-over-year increase.


Vancouver Island housing sales projections for 2021

Despite tough economic times for many, record-low mortgage rates, pent-up demand and a lack of supply indicate a market that will continue to see stable and/or rising prices. It is a seller’s market and buyers are eager. Now is a great time to list your home (and get a jump on the usual spring listing time).


“Consumer demand is high, and buyers are snapping up well-priced properties quickly once they hit the market,” says VIREB president Kevin Reid. “Multiple offers are commonplace.”


Nonetheless, he notes that overpriced homes tend to linger despite prevailing market conditions. “Connecting with a local realtor is especially crucial in a competitive housing market.”


Question about the current market? Reach out to contact me any time through my website or by visiting my Facebook page.

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Q&As about the Registry set to launch November 30


BC’s Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) comes into effect on November 30 of this year. The first act of its kind in Canada, LOTA allows for the creation of a publicly searchable registry of information on individuals that hold interests in land – directly or indirectly – through corporations, trusts and partnerships.

The Act is part of the government’s plan to address concerns about housing affordability in BC. Introduced in the 2018 budget, it received royal assent in May of 2019 and comes into effect this year. The Act was implemented as part of an initiative to end the hidden ownership of land. It is expected that LOTA and its Registry (LOTR) will help to combat the use of these entities for money laundering, tax fraud and tax evasion purposes.


So how does this differ from Land Title Office records?

The Land Title Office records registered ownership of real property interests. The Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR) will record indirect ownership of interests in land (such as shareholdings in a corporation, rights/interests in a partnership and beneficial interests of trust beneficiaries). Essentially the Registry is a second database of land ownership records that will operate parallel to, but separate from, Land Title.


Who will operate this database and who can access the information?

The British Columbia Land Title and Survey Authority will oversee the database.

As of April 30, 2021, the public can search the Registry and get partial information about ownership interests in land. Birth dates and social insurance numbers will not be publicly accessible. Only those defined as a regulator, a taxing authority or a law enforcement entity will have access to complete information about reporting bodies and interest holders. To see who makes up those entities, visit landtransparency.ca.


How does this affect realtors and their clients?

Starting November 30, buyer clients must be made aware of the extra reporting requirements. The actual filing is something for which legal professionals will be responsible.

For transactions closing after November 30, realtors will need to:

  • Advise clients to speak to a legal professional about these requirements early on to ensure ample time for the necessary information to be gathered and filed. (If a buyer is a corporation, partnership or trust with shareholders outside of the country, this period could take as long as a month.)
  • Plan for closing periods that allow for legal professionals to fulfill the transparency declaration and determine if a transparency report must be filed.
  • Tell clients who require transparency reports to speak to their legal professionals to understand the timelines and what can be expected.
 

When does one need to file under LOTA?

Three main situations cause an obligation to file under LOTA: 1) the registration of a new interest in land at a land title office; 2) pre-existing interests in land; 3) changes in interest holdings in land. 


What are the penalties for noncompliance?

Not complying can have significant consequences. Improper or failed submission of appropriate documents means the LTO has the authority to refuse registration of an interest in land and financial penalties would incur.



To find out more about the new Act, including filing, searching and its enforcement, visit landtransparency.ca.

For more information on any aspect of selling and/or buying Comox Valley real estate, please feel free to contact me, visit my website or check out my Facebook page.

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Atypical trends lead to a busy year despite uncertainties

Who could have imagined the changes we’ve all experienced in the past half year?


Around the globe, the coronavirus has infected hundreds of thousands of people; economies are faltering; our normal way of life has transformed.


Here in BC, we’re still all pulling together to keep flattening that curve – even though our initial excellent response has been tested of late. Four months into the restart, the economy is improving slowly, yet many sectors remain teetering on the brink of financial peril.  


So why is BC’s housing market strong and busy?


A recent report by British Columbia Real Estate Association’s (BCREA) chief economist, Brendon Ogmundson, cites several reasons for this unprecedented trend.


Not your standard recession…

“In a typical recession, housing sales decline as job losses and heightened uncertainty prompt potential buyers to pull back from the market. At the same time, the supply of listings accumulates as some households are forced to sell due to rising unemployment and falling incomes,” says Ogmundson. “The COVID-19 recession, however, has been anything but typical.”


He notes past recessions have seen provincial home sales post an initial steep decline before bouncing back with the wider economy over more than a year’s time. In contrast, the COVID-19 recession has seen “a remarkably swift rebound” to multi-year highs.


Part of this discrepancy could be due to low-wage sectors of the labour force feeling much of the impact, particularly the hospitality and trade industries. Past recessions in BC have seen relatively uniform job losses across all sectors.

Another unusual trend is a rise in household savings rates and disposable income during the pandemic. Vacationing, shopping and dining out have all taken a hit resulting in decreased spending and increased savings.


Quick response from government and financial institutions

It seems the 2008-09 recession taught policymakers to respond swiftly. Through the rapid implementation of government programs, such as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the feds helped temper financial vulnerability. The Bank of Canada lowered its overnight rates almost, well, overnight. Mortgage rates are at record lows. These moves, in conjunction with pent-up demand due to a couple of months of isolation, saw impressive real estate figures as summer started.


Not enough supply for demand

Social distancing measures caused the total supply of active listings to decline, particularly at the start of the pandemic. Even though the sector adapted without delay by introducing virtual tours and other solutions to ensure safe transactions, supply did not accumulate as in past recessions. The six-month mortgage deferral program enacted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) also likely dampened potential supply.


The combination of an under-supplied market and pent-up demand has produced upward pressure on housing prices across the country.  


So, what’s the forecast?

Predicting the future often involves looking at the past. But in a world that hasn’t seen anything like this in modern times, there’s nothing to compare it against. That’s why Ogmundson shies away from any specific projections.

“Significant uncertainty remains, including the end or transition of key government supports and mortgage deferral programs, and a concerning rise in provincial COVID-19 cases,” says Ogmundson.


“However, the unexpectedly swift rebound in the market means that BC home sales will almost certainly finish 2020 higher than 2019. Moreover, the extended low-interest-rate environment combined with an expected strong recovery in the BC economy points to a continuation of strong demand in 2021.”



As always, please reach out should you have any questions about buying and selling homes and real estate in the Comox Valley. Feel free to contact me, visit my website or check out my Facebook page.

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Private insurance providers have not followed suit


In a year that has seen unprecedented changes to the world’s economy and way of life, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) announced changes to eligibility rules for mortgage insurance. The government-backed federal housing agency announced its new rules on June 4, 2020, and they took effect on July 1.


As a provider of insurance that protects lenders if homeowners default on their mortgage, the move was designed to support housing market stability during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The rules apply to high-ratio mortgage qualification (when the buyer’s down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price) and will mostly affect first-time buyers and those looking to move to a larger home.


The changes (and how the new rules differ from the old)

# 1. Reduction in debt as a percentage of gross income

Buyers are limited to spending up to 35% of their gross income on housing, which includes mortgage, property tax, heating bill and half of condo fees, and can only borrow up to 42% of gross income once other loans, e.g., credit cards, car loans, etc., are included. 


The old rule allowed buyers with appropriate credit scores and reliable income to spend up to 39% of their gross income on housing and could borrow up to 44% of gross income.  


#2. Higher minimum credit score

At least one of the borrowers needs a “good” credit score of 680. The previous minimum score was 620. 


#3. No more borrowing for down payments

According to the CMHC, the borrower(s) must get the down payment “from their own resources.” This includes savings, property sale equity, a non-repayable financial gift from a relative, a government grant or funds borrowed from other liquid financial assets or against other real property.


Previously, borrowers could use unsecured personal loans and unsecured lines of credit and even credit cards.


What about other mortgage insurers?

Canada has two other (non-government) providers of mortgage default insurance: Genworth and Canada Guaranty. As private lenders, they don’t need to adopt these changes, and neither has indicated it plans to do so.


All three providers generally have similar products and qualification criteria and charge the same fees for the insurance provided.  But these new changes from CMHC means that for the first time in decades, borrowers will be able to qualify for substantially higher mortgages using Genworth and Canada Guaranty.


CMHC is typically the most popular because it’s backed by the federal government. However, CMHC-insured mortgages have been dropping in recent years. For instance, CMHC provided 100,000 insured mortgages in 2019 compared to double that number in 2017.


Why now and what’s next?

The changes came about because the CMHC is predicting a drop in average housing prices of between 9% and 18% over the next 12 months. Interestingly, in most of BC, while an initial drop in sales did occur, things have picked up of late and housing prices generally haven’t been greatly affected.


The CMHC also pays close attention to the Bank of Canada, which moved to lower target interest rates three times in March.


According to CMHC head Evan Siddall, the new rules “will protect homebuyers, reduce government and taxpayer risk and support the stability of housing markets while curtailing excessive demand and unsustainable house price growth.”



Regardless of when the pandemic ends, chances are the next few years will be ones of uncertainty for many Canadians. These changes are a reflection of the times.


For more information on any aspect of buying and selling homes and real estate in the Comox Valley, please feel free to contact me, visit my website or check out my Facebook page.

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Real estate trends and statistics for Vancouver Island


While we entered the first part of 2020 in a generally stabilizing trend, the economic shutdown since the middle of March due to the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on housing sales throughout the province. Nonetheless, realtors, like so many other service providers, are adapting to support clients during these unprecedented times.


Following are some local and provincial statistics for April, adjustments that have been made in the real estate sector as well as projections for the future.

 

Where things stand on the Island and Comox Valley markets

The reality of the pandemic hit home in terms of housing sales in April throughout the province. As noted in the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) May release, Island sales of single-family homes dropped by 54 per cent compared to last year’s figures. Inventory has dropped significantly for houses and townhouses and active listings for apartments increased by more than 30 per cent.


In terms of benchmark pricing, April saw single-family homes drop three per cent for the Island average compared to last year to land at $523,700, which was actually marginally higher than in March. Interestingly, in the Comox Valley the benchmark price reached $521,300, which is up by two per cent compared to last year. Nanaimo and Parksville-Qualicum also saw 2 per cent increases from 2019.


How the real estate sector is adapting to COVID-19

In March, the provincial government designated real estate as an essential service. Since that time, all realtors have been working hard to ensure they follow health and safety directives laid out by the province’s health officer. Technology has allowed for adaptations to be made as we all work to flatten the curve through social distancing and respond to the ever-evolving “new normal.” Virtual open houses, electronic files and more allow us to continue assisting clients.


“Being declared an essential service recognizes that many British Columbians are currently involved in real estate transactions that began before the pandemic was declared or may need to be involved in one in the coming weeks and months,” says 2020 VIREB president Kevin Reid. “However, our priority is public health. Real estate transactions can continue as long as everyone involved is protected.”


For detailed information on how I, personally, am working with sellers and buyers to keep everyone healthy and safe, click on this link: https://leahreichelt.com/COVID-19.html.


Projections for the future

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) predicts the 2020 coronavirus-driven recession will be profound but that its duration may be shorter than past downturns. While social distancing has proven to make a huge difference in slowing the spread of the virus, it has resulted in declines in the real estate sector. However, as restrictions gradually ease and measures are lifted, BCREA anticipates low interest rates and pent-up demand will translate to a significant recovery in home sales and prices.


My assistant Jean and I sincerely hope that you and your families stay healthy and strong during these challenging times. Things will get better. By working together to support one another, we will get through this.


Please feel free to contact me any time through my website or by visiting my Facebook page should you have any questions about the current situation or Comox Valley real estate in general. Take good care.

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Time to spruce up the house and yard


No matter what else is going on in the world, we can all feel a little bit better when winter turns to spring. Longer days, more sunshine, warmer weather, flowers starting to bloom and a sense of renewal all around us.


For many of us, it’s a time to get the home and yard organized after a few months of hibernation. And this year you’re likely spending more time around the house than usual. So why not make the most of staying close to home by tackling all those chores that may have been overlooked during the winter months.


Not only does giving your home and yard a good once over keep your hands and mind busy, but you’ll also feel a true sense of accomplishment as you cross tasks off your list.


The following are suggestions for tackling different areas of your house and yard. Don’t worry if you don’t get to them all or if it takes two months to finish them. Do what you can, when you can, and feel good about it. 



KITCHEN

  • Deep clean oven and racks; clean burners and knobs
  • Clean out and wipe down cupboards
  • Discard old spices and other staples that have been hanging around too long
  • Give trashcan a thorough cleansing
  • Run the dishwasher’s cleaning cycle
  • Disinfect in, under and on top of fridge 


BEDROOM

  • Vacuum/wash floors and wipe walls and corners of ceiling
  • Rotate mattress and wash all the bedding not just cases and covers
  • Dust lampshades (inside and outside)
  • Go through closet and switch out seasonal clothes
  • Thoroughly dust all surfaces, including closet


BATHROOM

  • Replace dirty shower curtain liner; wash decorative shower curtain
  • Empty and clean medicine cabinet; take any old medication back to pharmacy
  • Scrub down toothbrush holder, soap dish/dispensers
  • Soak bathmat in warm water and white vinegar and throw it in washing machine


LIVINGROOM/TV ROOM

  • Vacuum couches and fabric chairs with handheld upholstery attachment
  • Wash or vacuum curtains and dust blinds
  • Disinfect remote controls for TV, stereo system, etc.


BASEMENT/LAUNDRY ROOM

  • Clean dehumidifier (use manufacturer’s instructions)
  • Look for mildew on floors or walls, wipe with bleach
  • Run washing machine’s cleaning cycle, remove and clean lint plate
  • Change air filters


GENERAL

  • Inspect fire extinguishers and alarms; replace batteries
  • Dust or wipe down ceiling fans and light fixtures
  • Wash windows and screens
  • Wipe down baseboards, door and window frames, other woodwork
  • Disinfect light switches, phones and doorknobs
  • Wash or beat rugs
  • Throw pet toys in washing machine on gentle cycle
  • Wash cleaning supplies (broom, toilet brush, mop, and dusters)


OUTSIDE

  • Pick up branches, plant debris, litter, dog waste
  • Rake up twigs, pinecones, leaves
  • Inspect, clean and oil tools
  • Prune dead branches from shrubs and trees and trim others, but not too late in the season as to interfere with buds
  • Tidy any sheds or outbuildings
  • Start reviving the garden and plant early veggies



Approach one item at a time and before you know it, you’ll be done and dusted.


For other home ideas or information on any aspects of buying and selling real estate in the Comox Valley, please feel free to contact me, visit my website or check out my Facebook page.

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6 great tips to lower your home insurance costs


Owning a home is great but it can be expensive. Between the up-keep, mortgage rates, property taxes and so on, the money going out can all start to add up.


While some of those expenses are non-negotiable or unavoidable – if you need a new water heater, you need a new water heater – others, such as house insurance, do have a little wiggle room.


Following are some suggestions on lowering your yearly home insurance rates.


Be a wise consumer and shop around.

As with so many aspects of home ownership, you need to do your research and shop around. Yes, you may have been with the same people for 10 years, and they may even be giving you a small discount for that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do better. Talk to friends, neighbours or even your realtor to see who is out there. Plus, now comparing rates is super easy with online quote options.



Raise your deductible.

The deductible is the money you must pay out of pocket before your insurance company begins to pay a claim. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premiums; of course, it also means the more you’re paying if something happens to go wrong. But raising your deductible from $500 to $1,000 can save you up to 25 percent on your rates. Different areas may have different or separate deductibles for specific issues, such as floods or earthquakes, so you’ll want to investigate that further.



Insure your car, while you’re at it.

When you insure your home and vehicles with one company, it means more business for them, which is why they often offer a 5 or 10 percent savings incentive for people who can bundle up a few different items.



Save up and pay once annually.

While a monthly payment plan is easier to deal with financially, there will be extra administrative charges typically. So start planning ahead, start saving up and do one lump-sum payment.



Improve your home’s security.

Some companies offer small discounts for smoke detectors, burglar alarms or even dead-bolt locks. A fancy sprinkler system or a fire/burglar alarm that rings at a monitoring station can result in even better savings with most insurers. But before you start spending money on them, check with your agent for qualifications and recommendations.



Weigh the costs before making a claim.

A claims-free discount on home insurance can be significant. Even though you may have a broken window or stolen bike, it could less expensive in the long run just to deal with it on your own rather than file a claim.



As always, to find out more about this or any other aspects of buying, selling and living in the Comox Valley, please contact me, visit my website or check out and like my Facebook page.

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Why and how to create space


Have you ever looked at your busy and full home and felt a bit overwhelmed? Does the jumble of your kids’ rooms or closets feel chaotic? Maybe it’s time to take a page from the minimalists and clear away that excess stuff from your house.


Of course, minimalism is about more than throwing things out and painting everything white. The minimalist approach is about creating the necessary space, both physically and mentally, to enable you to focus on what is truly important to you.


By minimalizing your home, or certain aspects of it such as a master bedroom, you can create a space that is organized, calm and contains only things that are relevant to you.


Doesn’t that sound peaceful? That’s because it is. Studies show that getting rid of excess “stuff,” helps us be more creative and gain a sense of freedom.


Admittedly, maybe it’s not realistic to change our philosophical approach to living, but here are a few things we can all do to make our homes feel less cluttered and confining.


Start at the beginning

The first step is to decide what areas of your home you want to focus on. Maybe you want to attack the biggest room or perhaps the messiest; it could be that you need to create a better sanctuary for yourself. Whatever the case, taking it one room at a time can feel less overwhelming. 


Make room for change by decluttering

It goes without saying that reducing clutter is the most important and most difficult part of the process. But once you have made that decision, it can be freeing. Focus on what you’ll get out of it and not what you are saying goodbye to. Listen to your emotions but also be practical. If you haven’t used an item for a year, do you really need it? Do you love it? Does it hold a special place in your heart or are you just concerned that you paid good money for it? Be strong and think about your clutter-free future.


Once you’ve decided what to retain, figure out where it will go. Keep counters and tables clean; keep cupboards organized and orderly. Frequently used items can stay out, such as certain utensils in the kitchen, but limit the numbers and space they take up to maintain tidiness.


Limit colours and let the light in

It doesn’t have to be all white – light blues, creams, beiges and greys can create that calm and understated environment. Then when you do add a flash of colour, such as a cushion, it really pops. If you’re adding those brighter shades, stick with one or two and limit the dosage. Also, keep the windows bare and let the light shine in. Heavy curtains are a drag, so if privacy is an issue, try to go with lighter sheer options or streamlined blinds.


Use empty spaces to create focal points

Creating a sense of space is a key aspect of minimalist décor, as the space interacts with the objects that remain and helps define a room’s look. Create balance within that new space by having a focal point – so maybe a coffee table with one unique, colourful item or an eye-catching piece of art over a couch.


Avoid too many patterns and focus on textures

A busy carpet near a floral couch by some patterned curtains is a lot to take in. A minimalist approach typically limits the number of patterns or opts to avoid them altogether. If you are using prints, make them a somewhat unobtrusive pattern or tone-on-tone. Essentially a print should be used as the accent piece for a room. The bigger the room and the larger the space, the more you can get away with. Even a patterned rug can work if the rest of the room is fairly muted.


Textures can add that spark that you might be seeking from a pattern. A fuzzy blanket and a velvet chair can certainly mix things up. In a bedroom, you might try an upholstered headboard or some textured wallpaper for a little bit of refreshing appeal.



One of the best parts about creating a more minimal space is that it’s easier to clean. Because you’ll be more intentional about what you are bringing into your streamlined space, you won’t be buying so much “stuff,” which will be easier on your wallet – and the planet! If you do buy something new, replace something else that’s already there by donating, selling or recycling it and keep the clutter at bay.



For other home 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.

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Housing trends on Vancouver Island and beyond


As 2019 comes to a close, the year has seen a general stabilizing trend, both in the Comox Valley and throughout the province. On the whole, it has been another positive year, with steady sales and fewer multiple offer situations than in the previous couple years.


Let’s have a look at where things are at and where they may be going as we enter 2020.


The past year in the BC market

As noted in the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) December release, the British Columbia Real Estate Association reported that even though the start to 2019 was slow, MLS® home sales in the province embarked on a sustained upward climb as we headed into spring, with a return to trend after adjusting to changes in the market following the previous year’s federal mortgage rules and provincial tax policies amendments. In November 2019, the benchmark price of a single-family home across the board was $517,100, which is a 3 per cent increase from a year ago and down slightly from October.


The Island this past year

Regionally, the benchmark price for a single-family home in Campbell River region last month was $440,200; that’s an increase of five per cent over the month’s numbers in 2018. The Comox Valley was also up 5 per cent from November 2018, as the benchmark price reached $530,200. Duncan reported a benchmark of $479,500, up two per cent from 2018. Nanaimo rose by less than one per cent to $558,400 in November, while the Parksville-Qualicum region saw prices increase by around two per cent to a benchmark of $576,500. Port Alberni had the largest increase from this time last year, up 6 per cent to a benchmark of $329,000 in November. Overall, home sales and listing activities are at typical levels for the region.


General trends

Trend-wise, VIREB’s housing market is for the most part balanced and even inching toward a buyers’ market in a few of the zones. Island realtors report interest among buyers, but they’re price-savvy, in no rush and willing to walk away from deals. Some sellers and buyers are also choosing to wait until spring to see what the conditions bring.

“Accurate pricing continues to be the key to a quick sale,” says VIREB president Kaye Broens. “Overpriced properties tend to linger.”


Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling, in or out of the Comox Valley, Broens notes that working with an experienced local realtor is always the smartest move. “(They) have access to tools and market analytics that will help determine an optimal selling price for your home and find a property that fits your budget.”


My lovely assistant Jean and I hope that this coming year brings you all the joy and happiness you deserve – all the best for 2020!


To find out more about Comox Valley real estate, please feel free to contact me any time through my website or by visiting my Facebook page.

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Sumptuous, seasonal and so, so tasty


My lovely assistant Jean and I have a few more holiday recipes to share for your baking and eating pleasure this season. Make sure to check out last year’s recipes, too.

 

Christmas fruitcake

Certain to be a family favourite, this recipe makes four large loaf pans or about twelve small ones.


1 lb butter

1 lb brown sugar

10 eggs

2 lbs raisins

2 lbs currants

1 lb dates

1 lb mixed peel

½ lb cherries

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp allspice

1 tsp mace

1 tsp mixed spices

pinch salt

1 tsp soda

5 cups flour

1 cup brandy


Wash raisins and currants, chop dates, cut up any of the too-big pieces of mixed peel. Mix together fruits, spices, flour, soda and salt – ensure it’s well mixed! Cream butter and sugar then add eggs one at a time. Add brandy & fruit mixture alternately to the creamed butter mixture.


Grease cake pans and bake in oven, not more than 300°F. Large cakes take two to three hours, medium takes one and a half, small pans take one hour. Leave cake in the pans until cool.


For storing, there are two different methods: 1.) Wrap with a brandy-soaked cheesecloth then wrap with foil; or, 2.) Wrap with saran wrap then foil, store in covered container or Ziploc freezer bag; then remove covering every 30 days, brush with brandy and rewrap.


Holiday snack mix

Careful, this one is as addictive as it is easy. It’s simple to buy gluten-free options for the pretzels and cereals, if that’s a consideration. And if you’re feeling really crazy, add in some popped corn halfway through the baking time.


1 cup of salted butter

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

A few drops of hot sauce (optional)

5 cups pretzel sticks

5 cups toasted oat cereal (Cheerios)

4 cups of corn or wheat square cereal (Shreddies)

4 cups of rice square cereal (Chex)

2 cups of nuts or roasted pumpkin seeds for a nut-free option


Preheat your oven to 275°F. In a very large roaster pan, combine the cereals, nuts and pretzels. In the microwave (or on the stove) melt butter and mix in spices and Worcestershire. Pour over dry ingredients and stir gently to mix thoroughly.


Bake for about an hour, stirring gently with a spoon every 15 minutes or so. The mix will be done when you can see that all the butter mixture has been absorbed and is dry. Spread on a large piece of foil to cool, then store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.


Brie-cranberry bites

Quick and appetizing – with just three ingredients, these couldn’t be more straightforward.


1 package frozen-puff pastry, thawed

½ lb brie cheese

1 cup cranberry sauce


Preheat oven to 375°F; cut the puff pastry sheets into approximately 3-inch squares. Press each square into a muffin cavity. Cut brie into ¾-inch cubes and place a cube of cheese in the center of each puff-pastry square. Top the cheese with about 2 teaspoons of cranberry sauce. As an option, top with chopped pecans and a sprig of rosemary. Bake for about 10 minutes until pastry corners are toasted lightly brown; cool 5 minutes before serving.

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Get ready for the holiday season with these decorating ideas



There’s nothing like some colourful and fun Christmas decorations to get in the holiday spirit. So, is this the year that you add to your regular light display with some extra touches? Why not welcome visitors and the season with some simple decorating ideas for your yard and porch.


The following are some fairly easy and inexpensive ways to capture a bit of the season with a smidgen of festive outdoor décor.



Start with a wreath: Wreaths are great because they offer so many variations. From greenery to tree decorations to pictures and other artifacts, there is a lot to choose from. Most wreaths start with a metal frame, that can be purchased or made from coat hangers, or the frames can be fashioned from cardboard or foam. You can even use branches or grapevines to form a circular base. Attaching things to the frame can be done with thin wire or a hot-glue gun. Metal frames tend to be sturdy, perfect for attaching greenery; foam frames are lighter and can be a little less awkward. From baubles and pinecones to photos, ribbons and painted leaves, a wreath adds spark and colour to any entryway. 


Front porch planter: Gather some greenery and red ribbons and berries and you’re halfway there. Pull the summer pots out of storage, fill with new dirt, give a little watering then poke twigs and branches in. Drape some little lights around or over the creation and you’re good to go!


Mason jar luminaries: Easy-peasy and so very pretty. Collect some jars and fill with strings of LED fairy lights. Or fill varying sizes with some with white sand, a sprig of holly and flickering LED tealights. If you’re feeling really crafty, paint some jars different colours, pop in a tealight and place them along your porch stairs or walkway. The only limit is your imagination.


Window decorations: Approach from inside or out and have some fun! Hang decorations from a string, attach stickers, decals or snowflake cut-outs, drape with boughs of cedar and holly. Why not hang a string of holiday cards for all to enjoy looking at?


Decorate your outdoor trees and shrubs: Who says ornaments need to stay on trees in the house – why not include your shrubs and bushes in the fun? But leave the tinsel inside in case birds mistake it for food!


A few other ideas: Use everyday items for colour and interest, such as a string of mittens and toques; old skis and sled. Wrap some empty boxes, and don’t forget to put ribbons on everything. You may even want to make some seasonal pillowcases for your outdoor summer cushions and toss them around the entryway.


Get creative, involve the kids and grandkids and have fun!


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

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Get your calendar out and start planning


I know, it’s hard to believe it’s that time of year already! But don’t worry, with all the wonderful Christmas craft markets in the Valley, at least shopping for gifts will be a breeze.


Numerous options exist – so let’s start listing them, so that you can start planning!



Christmas at the Lodge and Holiday Market

Go back in time and join the folks at the Filberg Lodge for a classic Christmas in the Park. Your seasonal shopping will be done in a jiff as you check out a host of fine artists and plenty of gourmet gift ideas. The event takes place over the last weekend of November on the 30th and December 1st, and entrance is FREE. Enjoy festive treats, baking, music and Christmas tree decorating. Fun for all ages, kids’ activities will be available each day and Santa may even be stopping by. There is light lunch fare, seasonal treats along with wine and beer will be available in the “Summer Kitchen.” With more than 30 vendors, food and entertainment, there is sure to be something to please everyone.


Stagnhare

As one of the only juried markets in the Comox Valley, they take great pride in having a fabulous array of artisans. In fact, there are 50 of them! The Stagnhare Christmas Market is a boutique curated market full of amazing local artists and crafters. This year, there is a ticketed VIP event on Saturday, Nov. 23 evening featuring a glass of champagne/mulled wine, charcuterie from Tria Fine Catering, cupcakes and a market tote bag for all your shopping goods! Tickets are $20 and available at www.stagnhare.com. Sunday the 24th, hours are 10-4 for the public market, which includes a drink ticket for Coffee/tea/or hot cocoa. Kids 12 and under are free. 


Gnarly Little Christmas Craft Fair

Come see the great stuff youth are making and selling! Tackle your Christmas shopping Sunday, December 1 at the 11th Annual Gnarly Little Christmas Craft Fair. Courtenay Recreation’s LINC Youth Centre is hosting the fair at the Native Sons Hall from 10 am - 2 pm. Every year the craft fair showcases talented youth aged 9 -19 years. Many vendors will be selling their wares including baking, art, crafts, woodwork, jewellery, stocking stuffers and more. For more information, or to register a table (ages 9-19 years), call the Courtenay Recreation Lewis Centre at 250-338-5371.


Fiesta World Craft Bazaar

This is a Valley favourite! Held at Courtenay’s Filberg Centre, this year’s annual market takes place on November 16th & 17th from 10 am to 4 pm both days. For only $2 admission, you can support more than 50 local and global organizations and businesses selling fair-trade products. These vendors work directly with artisans in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. From Christmas ornaments to Tibetan carpets, books and posters, games and toys, clothing and jewellery, plus the opportunity to eat some delicious ethnic food, there is plenty to enjoy!


Country Craft Market Trail

Occurring on Saturday, November 30th, head up Highway 19A and follow the country trail and hit four markets along the way. With so many delightful crafts from numerous vendors, your Christmas shopping will be done in a day!

Big Yellow Merville Hall Christmas Craft Fair at 1245 Fenwick Road from 9 am to 2 pm.

Grantham Hall Yuletide Craft Faire at 6040 N Island Hwy, 10 am to 2 pm.

Black Creek Winter Market at 2001 Black Creek Rd, 10 am to 4 pm.

Halbe Hall Christmas Bazaar 8369 N Island Hwy, 9 am to 2 pm.


Denman Island Christmas Craft Fair

Another crowd-pleaser, this market happens November 30 and December 1 from 10 am to 4 pm. Free admission plus a free shuttle make this worth the effort. Over 75 vendors will be taking up space in two halls. Enjoy this feast for the senses that celebrates community and offers a proud alternative to mass production. Innovative newcomers mix with world-class artists, including some of the original founders, now seasoned artisans who inspire, teach and mentor the up-and-coming generation. 


Oh, and then there is the regular Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, which takes place at the Native Sons Hall on Saturday mornings up to Christmas.


So many places to choose from! Why decide? Hit them all!


For more info on living life 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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Plenty of options to get your flow on

Oh my. Thanksgiving is over, Halloween is around the corner and then we all know what comes next . . .


But let’s not go there quite yet. In fact, let’s go somewhere else entirely – say a nice, quiet space where we can just breeeaathe. Maybe a place where we will feel welcome and our stress and worries melt away with some gentle movement and soothing music. Doesn’t yoga sound good right about now?


And in the Comox Valley, we’re blessed to have so many possibilities from which to choose. Following are just some of the options open to those who are ready to relax, strengthen, unwind or get flexible. I haven’t had the opportunity to try them all, but it’s a handy reference for options around the Valley. Simply click on the links to get to info on the various studio locations and classes.


Yoga in Courtenay

Holy Cow Yoga Studio: So convenient and so much to choose from – this studio is located on Cliffe Ave at the corner of Fifth Street. Drop-in or buy a pass.

Eden Therapy Clinic and Studio: This massage clinic also offers yoga classes designed with gentle and restorative movements in mind; anyone is welcome to register.

In-Yoga: Based out of Ki Fitness and Health in Tin Town, In-Yoga welcomes everyone and anyone to their studio to enjoy their variety of classes.

Studio IPF: Down near Cliffe and 13th, these folks have many options for all levels. Their qualified instructors will help you reach bliss no matter where you are on your yoga journey.

Bee Yoga: What a great space! Located out on Piercy, this yoga centre offers classes in a meditation and yoga barn. Definitely a special spot to unwind.


Comox yoga studios

Core Exercise Studio: These beautiful people just want you to stay happy, healthy and moving. No matter where you are physically, there are exercise and movement options here.

Nourish Wellness: Located in central Comox, in addition to yoga classes, Nourish offers meditation and other mindfulness-based practices, including speakers and workshops.


Cumberland/Royston yoga options

Starfish Studio: Part of the fabulous Kingfisher Resort, this studio is beautiful and offers a full gamut of classes for all levels and interests. 

Cumberland Yoga and Physio: While the schedule is a little thin this fall due to the owner’s recent maternity leave, there are occasional classes and more will inevitably come along, so get in touch to find out details.

Mocean Yoga: Located in Royston, these lovely ladies offer retreats, training, private and group lessons.


Plus, most of the local recreation centres and many of the gyms also have classes catered to various levels and abilities.


Now there’s no reason to feel tight and tense this holiday season. Namaste!


For more info about living in the Comox Valley, please visit my website. And check out my Facebook page to see all the latest local listings.

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Yes, and here’s why! Plus, tips to sell your home this fall

 

Maybe late spring/early summer is the most popular time of year to list, but that doesn’t mean listing at other times is a bad idea.


Sure, those longer days and nice weather do make house-hunting more appealing, but other things also come into play.


So, is this fall a good time to list your Comox Valley home? Short answer: yes, it is!


Advantages of a fall listing

You’re trying to sell in the fall because you are serious. People who are looking in the fall are also serious. And serious buyers are typically motivated to purchase quickly in the autumn before the busy holiday season and even more inclement weather sets in. Plus, the cooler, darker seasonal atmosphere helps to make your home feel that much warmer and more welcoming.


Despite the common notion that most buyers are shopping to fit with their kids’ school-year schedules, more than half of buyers don’t even have children under 18 at home. Therefore, fall works as well as any other time of year for them. Not to mention that the internet has no seasons. People can browse to their hearts’ content anywhere, anytime.


In terms of showing, in early fall there is still enough light to do weeknight showings, in addition to weekend open houses. And curb appeal is less “in your face” and more laid back than other times of the year. Even though the falling leaves can get messy, it’s the same issue for everyone who is trying to sell at this time of year. Just keep things tidy and buy a potted plant or wreath for the front entry.


Finally, because there are fewer listings in the fall, the competition isn’t as great, which can make selling easier.


Tips to help sell your home this fall

The sooner the better. It’s easier to sell in the fall than in December and January, when weather and holidays really come into play and can limit availability of buyers, agents and lenders. Once you’ve decided to sell, it’s a good idea to get prepared for listing as soon as possible.


Photograph while you still have some leaves. Again, the sooner, the better to have your professional real estate pics done. The natural light is stronger earlier in the season, and the yard typically is neater and more interesting with better colour variation.


Work with a proven professional. An established agent with good contacts will be at an advantage during this slower time of year. Ensure they have some experience and knowledge about selling off-peak.


Ensure the price is right. Use neighborhood comparisons and your agent to find the right price. Don’t expect multiple-offer situations that’ll drive up the price. Just as importantly, don’t feel obligated to accept low-ball offers.


Market outside the box. Focus on the area and the neighbourhood not just the house. What is it that makes your home unique all year round?


The take-away for listing in fall

Most importantly, talk to your realtor about where things are at in the market and where they are going.  Your realtor will let you know how things are doing in terms of specific trends and the local supply and demand. Realistically, season-to-season housing prices don’t tend to increase or decrease significantly – that’s more of a longer-term trend.


In the Comox Valley, regardless of the time of year, there is always plenty to do from skiing and hiking to golfing and hanging at the beach. And because of our relatively temperate weather compared to the rest of the country, plus decent demand from older buyers who don’t need to wait for the end of the school year before buying, it’s always a good time to list.


As always, if you have any questions about moving in or out of the Comox Valley, feel free to contact me  or visit the blog section of my website. To find out more about Comox Valley real estate opportunities, view MLS listings on my website or follow me through Facebook.  

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When was the last time you went dining in Cumberland?


Whether you are looking for something a little fancy or more along the lines of cozy and casual, the Village of Cumberland restaurants will treat you right. A nice assortment of options awaits on, or just off, Dunsmuir Avenue. So, figure out what you have a hankering for and head west.



4 Quarters Restaurant opened in Summer 2017 and has established a reputation for quality food and good service. Offering a mix of classic and contemporary Italian, Greek, Finnish and Indian cuisine prepared to the highest standards, they’re also fully licensed.


Biblio Taco is a crowd-pleaser. Injecting a West Coast influence into Mexican favourites, food is made from scratch, using local meats, fish and fresh produce. Even the hot sauces are made fresh in house. Simple and so, so good!


Riders Pizza knows how to do pizza right. As they say, they offer a “blend of Old-World craft and New-World flavours.” Hand-shaped, hand-tossed dough loaded with both classic and innovative toppings, baked for a full 20 minutes. Perfection!


The Waverly Hotel provides pub fare with attitude. Lots of things to choose from and plenty of healthy options. People have ridden their bikes a long way just to have some of their Thai curry, not to mention Wednesday’s burger specials.


Cumberland Brewing Company always has a good vibe – and they have good vittles, too. Chili, pork tacos and falafels are some of the favourites. Plus, the beers are like a meal in themselves.


Not planning a dinner out but thinking more lunch, tea or coffee? The hits just keep coming with The Wandering Moose, Tarbells Deli and others.


One thing – some places are closed on Monday, some on Tuesday and some on Wednesday (and some close at 4:00 p.m.), so you may want to call ahead or check websites if you are going on a weekday.


But wherever you go, know that you’ll be satiated and satisfied.


For answers to all your questions about living in the Comox Valley, please visit my website. And check out my Facebook page to see all the latest local listings.

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What’s better? Pros and cons

You sold your house and bought a new home! Yay!


Now you have to actually move your stuff. Boo.


There’s no way around it, part of buying and selling a home is the whole “moving thing.” It costs money, takes time and, frankly, is a lot of work. But it has to happen. And one of the first decisions you need to make is whether you should hire movers or do it yourself.


It seems everyone has a “moving disaster” story as well as an opinion on how to do it. But the reality is, the decision to DIY or not is unique to every situation and depends on numerous factors, including the distance and timing of the move, the number of belongings involved, safety, costs and availability of help.


So, if you’re thinking of making a move and not sure how to approach it, following are some pros and cons to consider.


The do-it-yourself move

Typically, when you move this way, you’ll gather boxes, pack them up yourself, load them into your own vehicles or rented truck and then unload and put away everything at the other end. It’s the least expensive option and straightforward but can get more complicated if distance and lack of free help are issues.


Pros:

  • You’re in charge of everything
  • Costs less than other options
  • You control the timeline

Cons:

  • You’re in charge of everything
  • It’s a lot of work
  • Rental costs and time invested can add up
  • Large items can be a challenge


If you’re leaning towards this option, ensure you have the right equipment and necessary help. Invest in good packing materials like duct tape, bubble wrap and wardrobe boxes. Does the rental truck come with a dolly and a ramp? And line up helpers well in advance, calling upon different people for different stages. Your mom is probably better suited to wrapping the teacups a few weeks prior to moving than lifting the boxes of records on the day. Factor in additional costs like insurance, gas and pizza and beer. Come up with a realistic plan and timeline.


Hiring a moving company

Professional movers can do everything from packing boxes and transporting items to unpacking belongings and getting your TV working at your new home. Of course, you pay for the convenience.


Pros:

  • Less work
  • Less stress
  • Belongings are insured

Cons:

  • Their timeline
  • They are in control
  • More costly


If outsourcing is starting to sound good, make sure you start by asking for referrals from friends, family and your realtor. You may even want to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any companies should be avoided. Get detailed quotes from two or three movers, ensuring to ask about insurance and minimum charges. Find out whether packing materials cost extra or if you can do the packing part yourself? What about big or specialty items like pianos, electronics and appliances – how are they handled?


No matter which route you take, the day will come, and it will get done.


Even though cost is a big determinant, remember that your family’s safety and well-being is most important, so don’t push yourself too hard.


As always, if you have any questions about moving in or out of the Comox Valley, feel free to contact me or visit the blog section of my website. To find out more about Comox Valley real estate opportunities, view MLS listings on my website or follow me through Facebook.  

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Options for every age and skill level


Music is a big part of life for many of us – it allows us to create, explore and experience different emotions.

And playing an instrument engages us even further.


From stimulating and strengthening our brains, improving memory and reading skills, to building social connections, self-discipline and patience, the benefits of music education – at any age – are undeniable.


The Comox Valley is fortunate to have many excellent music educators. Following are some of the local options for those looking to add a little rhythm and harmony to their life.



Motif Music Centre – located in the Tin Town area of Courtenay, Motif offers piano, violin, cello, voice and theory as well as the Kindermusik program for young children. Their wonderful teachers create an environment that is both nurturing and inspiring.



All Keyed Up Music Lessons – offering private, semi-private and group lessons, the folks at All Keyed Up work with all ages and skill levels. Piano, recorder, theory, ukulele, drums, voice and Spanish & classical guitar lessons are available at the Minto Road site.



Long & McQuade – all moved into the fancy new location at England and 10th in Courtenay, Long & McQuade has plenty of room and instructors. Offering lessons in piano, theory, banjo, bass, guitar, voice, drums, flute, ukulele, clarinet, sax and percussion, they can help you start your own one-man band!



Plus, if you look online, you can find numerous teachers through MusicTeachersDirectory.org when you enter your pertinent information.


And, of course, the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra and Comox Valley Concert Band are always looking for new members with experience.


Now, get out there and get musical!



For other information about life in the Comox Valley, visit the blog section of my website. Questions about real estate opportunities in the Valley? Contact me, check out Comox Valley real estate and MLS listings on my website or follow me through Facebook.

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Leah Reichelt
Cell: 250-338-3888
Office: 250-339-2021
Toll Free: 1-888-829-7205
MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.