Comox Valley Realtor

Ocean Pacific Realty

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Comox Valley market update and outlook – May 2020

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:

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.


Spring cleaning around the home

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. 


  • 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 


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • 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


  • 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)


  • 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.


How to save on house insurance

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.


Less is more with minimalist décor

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.


Comox Valley real estate market update and outlook

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.


Some more of our most-loved Christmas recipes

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.


Easy outdoor Christmas decor

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.


Just breathe – Yoga in the Comox Valley

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.


Is it worth listing a home in the fall?

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.  


Eating out in the Comox Valley – Cumby-style

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.


Hiring movers vs doing it yourself

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.


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


  • 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.


  • Less work
  • Less stress
  • Belongings are insured


  • 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.  


Music lessons in the Comox Valley

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 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.


A clean garage: The impossible dream?
Tips to keep your garage organized

Ah, the garage – where things that don’t fit in the house find a home. If clutter could choose a habitat, this is where it would live. And is it just a coincidence that the word garage is only one letter removed from the word garbage?

For many of us, having and keeping an organized garage is just a dream. However, I hear it can be done; and in my experience, it’s a rare and beautiful thing.

But maybe now’s the time to make that dream a reality! With the following tips, perhaps your garage will become that thing of beauty.

Let’s get going!

Start with a plan

Ensure you have the time and necessary supplies available. To do the job right, you’ll need plenty of both.

Start by getting some heavy-duty garbage bags, a shop vac, rags, storage items and helpers. And then set aside at least five hours; that being said, you can break things up into stages.

Begin by cleaning

It’s important to unearth the floors and counters early in the process. A general once-over clean and vacuum/sweep of the floor will help to reacquaint you with what’s actually in the garage, what areas need more attention, items of high use, etc.

During the cleaning process, you can begin the decluttering phase and get rid of things you know that you don’t need. And by getting rid of, I mean, donate, recycle or trash – three distinct piles. Think about the last time you used an item and decide if you still need to hang onto it; if it has been a while, consider getting rid of it.

Some people like to tackle the whole thing at once, whereas other folks like to focus on an area or wall. Whichever way, just do your best to be ruthless and only keep those items that are in high use or “spark joy.”

Organize into zones

Once the cleaning and decluttering have happened, it’s time to start organizing. One good organizational approach is to group like items with like items and break things into zones. Imagine how Canadian Tire does it, i.e., Paint, Tools, Automotive, Sporting Goods, and maybe even incorporate a recycling centre.

Put bigger items, like lawnmowers or garbage cans, in corners. Frequently used things should be near the door and rarely used items tucked away.

Use and create more storage

Get things off the floor by using shelves or cabinets. These will also help you make the most of your vertical space. Open shelving is easy to browse, and a good step stool allows for quick accessibility. Keep chemicals out of reach or in a locked cabinet.

Keep it clean

Now that things are organized into your zones, maintain by doing seasonal cleans. Get a bag of kitty litter to absorb oil or grease spills. Keep a broom and dustpan by the workbench. Hose down the floor regularly. Declutter and reorganize your garage twice a year in October and May. 

There, now that all seems doable, doesn’t it? Good luck!

For other house-y information, visit the blog section of my website. Questions about real estate opportunities in the Valley? Feel free to contact me, browse my Comox Valley real estate and MLS listings on my website or follow me through Facebook.


My favourite Comox Valley beaches

 A bevy of beachy options to choose from

Choosing a favourite beach is like choosing a favourite child – impossible! They’re all so special and wonderful in their own way.

And the things they have in common are all pretty fantastic, too. The smells, the sounds, the scenery . . . aaah, we really are so lucky to have the options we do in the Comox Valley. Here are a few of the beaches I love to spend time at when the opportunity arises.

Goose Spit

Why not start with a classic? The Spit is a great spot any time of year, but it really sparkles in summer. Part of what I love is the chance to relax by its firepits in the late afternoon and evening. I also like the option of climbing the staircase a few times to get good and hot before jumping in the water to cool off. Plus, there are wheelchair-accessible spots, so everyone can get the chance to enjoy its splendor.

Air Force Beach

Around the other side of the Comox Peninsula is the lovely Air Force Beach. Featuring a pavilion and picnic shelter adjacent to the sandy mile-long beach, it offers fantastic views of Georgia Strait and the Coastal Mountains.

Free for the military community, civilians are also welcome as guests or with the purchase of a $25 annual beach pass. There is also a playground, concession and washroom/change facilities with showers if you like to get the sand off before getting back in the car!

Gartley Point

A little off the beaten path, but a nice location down past Royston off the Old Island Highway. The cobble beach is popular for swimming in the summer and for launching canoes/kayaks throughout the year when the tide is high. Not very crowded, there’s a sandy strip along the shoreline that provides a path for walking, sitting or taking in the views towards Texada, the nearby Seal Islets and, farther south, Jáji7em and Kw’ulh Marine Park (also known as Sandy Island Marine Park and Tree Island). 

Tribune Bay – Hornby Island

Talk about your magical destinations! “Trib” is a little piece of paradise boasting sandy white beaches and warm, shallow waters. If it weren’t for the surrounding firs, you’d feel like you’re in the tropics. Enjoy the interesting rock formations along the shoreline or just sit back and let your worries melt away.

Hope you get a chance to spend some quality time at one of these wonderful beaches this summer!

As always, feel free to contact me to find out about real estate opportunities in the Valley, browse my Comox Valley real estate and MLS listings on my website or follow me through Facebook.


What kind of mortgage is best for you?

Open, closed, fixed, variable – check your mortgage options

Buying a home comes with tonnes of questions. And, “What kind of mortgage is the best?” is one of the biggest and most common.

In Canada, the options are plentiful – in fact, almost too plentiful. To help make sense of them all, here’s a list of the most conventional types of mortgages and how they differ from one another.

Traditional or conventional mortgages: these require a 20 percent down payment, and the remaining 80 percent comes from the lender. They are also considered a low loan-to-value ratio, meaning the loan amount is low relative to the property’s value.
High-ratio mortgages: with this mortgage, the borrower has a down payment of less than 20 percent, and the law requires mortgage default insurance. The premiums for that insurance are often rolled into the mortgage loan payments. High-ratio mortgages used to be thought of as undesirable, but with today’s low interest rates and higher housing prices, this is almost becoming the norm.
Fixed-rate mortgages: this mortgage features a “locked-in” interest rate that doesn’t change through the chosen length of the term (typically running between 3 and 10 years). Your payments stay the same throughout the entire time, so it’s easy to budget. And to pay for that stability, the rates for fixed mortgages tend to be slightly higher than other types of mortgages. This can be very beneficial though when rates are low and expected to rise over the term.

Variable-rate mortgage: this type of mortgage sees the loan’s interest rate fluctuate based on the current prime rate. Your monthly payment stays the same, but the amount of payment applied to the mortgage principal changes. If interest rates fall, you benefit; if they rise, not so much. Typically, these mortgages have lower rates than the fixed-rate ones.
Adjustable-rate mortgage: this mortgage is intermittently reviewed and then adjusted depending on what’s happening with the prime rate. This adjustment affects monthly payments and the loan’s interest rate. If you can handle changing payments when these intermittent changes occur, they usually have lower rates of interest.

Convertible mortgage: this mortgage can change from variable to fixed or from short to long term, without penalty at any time. Good for when you expect things to rise but still want to take advantage of a lower rate for a while . . . just make sure not to forget about it if things start going up!

Hybrid (or 50/50) mortgage: a combo of fixed and variable rate mortgages, with both parts being financed at different rates. This offers good stability but can sometimes be hard to transfer or renew and is not offered by all lenders.

Closed mortgages: these mortgages have restrictions about being paid off or renegotiated before the term of the loan is complete. Penalties can occur if they are paid off too early or if they have a prepayment limit that is exceeded.
Open mortgages: flexibility is offered by these loans in that lump sum or accelerated payments can occur without penalty. This means the loan can be paid off before the end of the amortization period. This also means a slightly higher interest rate than those of closed mortgages.
Portable mortgage: moves if you do, essentially. Your current mortgage is applied to another property and without paying penalties. The interest rate stays the same, and you don’t need to do the whole approval process again. Handy if you are planning on moving but still need to renew in the meantime.
Assumable mortgage: someone else can take it over upon approval from the current lender; mortgage terms need to stay the same.
Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): not a mortgage per se, but used in conjunction with one for up to 65 percent of a property’s assessed value. The line of credit’s interest rate is linked to the prime rate and therefore is variable. But you can pay any amount at any time or just cover the interest of the loan.

Collateral mortgage: the lender can give you money as the property’s value increases without the need to refinance. But, it’s not transferrable at the end of term, and overdue payments can get dinged with a rise in the rate.

Of course, all these mortgages are available with different term lengths and mortgage payment schedules, which all come into play as well.

Whatever your situation, there is an option that will work for you – you just need to find it. So, keep doing your research and talk to banks and brokers to get their input before you make any decisions.

As always, please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss real estate related topics and considerations. Don’t forget to visit my Facebook page or website to keep up to date on the latest Comox Valley listings.


How landscaping can help sell your home

A little curb appeal goes a long way

Are you thinking about listing your home?

If so, you’re probably busy primping your living room, decluttering closets and putting a fresh coat of paint on some walls. And those are all good ideas. But, don’t forget about the yard!

Creating curb appeal through some basic landscaping can make the difference between “Meh” and “Me likey!” And if it’s done well, landscaping can increase the value of your home when it comes time to sell.

Whether you want to spend a lot or a little, investing in your yard is something that shouldn’t be overlooked or underdone. 

The basics – clean, weed and pop in some colour

Doing a major landscape makeover isn’t in the cards for most people, but that doesn’t mean things couldn’t be improved upon. Spend some time and money on getting your yard in shape and you’ll be glad you did.

Here are some basic things you can do to spruce up the place:

  • Keep a weed-free garden and lawn
  • Go buy some ready-to-go flowering annuals and potted plants to perk up the area around the front door
  • Mow and water regularly, and mulch the edge of the lawn for a clean, tidy look
  • Power wash decks, stairs and cement work
  • Add some new mulch or dark dirt to improve general contrast

Take it a step further and call in pros

It might be a good idea to get in a lawn maintenance company or even a landscaping business if you have the opportunity. I’m not saying you need to put in a new walkway with lights leading to a gazebo, but some consistent, knowledgeable lawn care, proper pruning of trees and few new shrubs might help your patchy backyard shine. Then again, who knows? A nice little water feature could become your property’s biggest selling point!

Whichever route you take, rest assured that a colourful, tidy yard is an excellent way to make a good – and lasting – first impression.

As always, please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss real estate related topics and considerations. Don’t forget to visit my Facebook page or website to keep up to date on the latest Comox Valley listings.


Go play outside!

Kids’ summer activities in the Comox Valley

June is here and that means summer holidays are right around the corner . . . SQUEAL!!!

Looking to keep your kidlets active this summer? Lucky you – you live in the Comox Valley and that means never having to hear “I’m bo-o-o-ored.” Well, in theory, at any rate.

From day camps and rec programs to hanging at the ocean or lake, there are numerous options to occupy your children, no matter what their ages or interests.

Recreate and relax

The Valley is fortunate to have three different communities with fun-filled recreation centres, and summer time is when they really shine. So many programs and classes are offered, and all feature qualified, friendly staff.

Whether your kids want to cook and create or jump and dance, the variety of offerings is diverse. Visit their various websites to find out what’s on tap this summer by clicking the following links: Courtenay Recreation; Comox Rec; Cumberland Recreation.

Plus, the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island run excellent summer day camp programs in the Valley. Weekly sessions are geared to encourage and inspire.

Go beyond and get outward bound

Of course, the surrounding areas also have outdoor adventure opportunities that should also get some attention.

Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre offers families and individuals the chance to experience adventure with various program offerings throughout the summer.

Likewise, Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre lets youth from 12 to 18 come see what outdoor pursuits in natural settings might appeal.

Not sure your kids will be into a whole week of outdoor activities? Maybe a day up at Horne Lake Caves will get that sense of adventure growing.

Go jump in the lake...or the ocean…or the river

Again, so many options for keeping cool await in this wonderful Valley, from hanging out at the community waterparks and taking lessons at the Courtenay & District Memorial Outdoor Pool to splashing down the Puntledge River.

At Comox Lake, meet up with the folks at West Coast Water Sports for various day camps, lessons and rentals of SUP boards, kayaks and canoes.

Comox’s Compass Adventures offers kids and families the chance to take in lessons and camps as well as renting various sea-faring vessels. Based down by the Comox Marina, these guys offer too much fun!

Take a hike, hit a park or walk for fun

Some days, though, a nice stroll in the park fits the bill perfectly. For those who prefer to hang with animals in a park, the Hands-on Farm over at the Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park has a variety of animals to get up close with after you’ve strolled the grounds.

Looking for something more strenuous? Head up to Mount Washington and start feeling the burn. Plus, the Comox Valley Guide gives a good selection of hike and walk suggestions to check out.

Don’t forget to check in with the Courtenay & District Museum and Paleontology Centre to find out about their Fossil Tours and other summer programs.

And wander up to Miracle Beach Provincial Park and take in their daily learning opportunities for kids through the Nature House environmental education program.

If you have kids and live in the Comox Valley, the world is your oyster this summer. Get out there and enjoy it!

For more info on the Comox Valley or its real estate, please feel free to get in touch with me, have a look at my website or visit my Facebook page.


Hot towns – summer in the Valley!

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.


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.    


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 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.


6 Things to consider before buying an investment property

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.


8 Tips to get your garden blooming beautiful

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.

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.