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TGIF – IN Celebration of KINDNESS, LOVE & LEGACY

Walking through Suterbrook Square on Wednesday, we came across groups of local students with teachers – all wearing ‘Real Acts of Kindness’ tee shirts – followed by the delightful experience of receiving a chocolate from a smiling young girl.  February 9-15 is Rare Acts of Kindness Week and has evolved from the movement started by District 43 students committed to doing something kind for another expecting nothing in return.  Thanks to our young people who are leaders in so many important ways!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!  This is the day dedicated to all kinds of love – quite different from its origins in 3rd century Rome  celebrating Saint Valentine – a Catholic priest.  Fast forward to that more recent poet Chaucer who was the first to link the saint to romantic love – he would be shocked if he could return today to see all the flowers, chocolates and cards!  Enjoy all your beloved ones – spouses, family and friends – love does make our world go round.

The huge LEGACY left for us by the winter Olympic & Paralympic Games is being celebrated and remembered this week.  Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the opening ceremony in Vancouver with the lighting the Olympic Cauldron. Aside from firmly placing Vancouver on the world map, we have the valuable legacy of significant infrastructure and well used venues.  John Furlong’s Olympic planning team had the foresight to make as a priority to consider how infrastructure could fit into a Community’s long range vision.  

So now we enjoy the vibrant Olympic Village neighborhood, Canada Line SkyTrain, athletic facilities currently valued as community recreation centres and of course, the amazing Sea to Sky Highway, literally paving the way to increased tourism north of the city.  Vancouver’s brand was significantly increased as international events booked our convention centre.  So many host cities have been left with useless empty, crumbling stadiums and buildings while we can be proud of the truly amazing legacy we now take for granted.

Happy FAMILY DAY weekend.  Remember – “All you need is Love”.

Best wishes from our small ‘family business’ to your families – celebrating the decades & generations of families who have made us a part of their significant moves resulting in valued warm relationships.  We are grateful.

Generations Real Estate Partners:-  Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Sheila Francis, Ray Harris and Shane Goutsis.

TGIF – The Stats Are In

Wow!!  The latest stats show a sellers’ market in all categories of housing in the most active (read affordable!) price bands from Burnaby, across the TriCities, through Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. Who would have predicted the return of multiple offers?- oh, I know – the infallible Mr. Ozzie Jurock did predict the 2020 turn around! These magic price bands range from $1 mil – $1.25 mil in Burnaby & Coquitlam to $600,000 – $700,000 in Maple Ridge in detached homes and pretty much between $300,000 and $500,000 in the attached category.  

This surprising  situation is as a result of an unusually low inventory – especially for this time of year.  Also that the present inventory contains many overpriced listings hanging on to the glory days of 2016 – 2017.  The sellers enjoying the new luxury of entertaining multiple offers are those who have adjusted their thinking to price their homes using recent sale prices as a guide.

For buyers – new rules of engagement are in order to make the desired purchase. Financing must be fully in place, inspection preferably already done before offer time, in order to avoid inserting that clause, while still having peace of mind. The secret is to present as “clean” an offer as possible so that sellers can confidently accept it. We have been around this block before and so are happy to advise buyers as well as sellers in these changed circumstances.

Watch this space to see if February brings any more surprises.  Stay warm and dry!  Whatever the climate, we have you covered.

Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Sheila Francis, Ray Harris & Shane Goutsis.

TGIF – Cops for Cancer

With every profession and business, we constantly hear the bad stuff where power becomes the motive for bad or criminal behaviour.  As our front line of defense against the world’s evil, our cops come in for more than their fair share of bad press so we want to toot their horn with a snapshot of just some of the real good they do for our world.

‘Cops for Cancer’ just celebrated their 20th anniversary of the annual ride and tour to raise  funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.  This year’s 9 day, 800k ‘Tour de Coast’ raised a record breaking $800,000 which will be used by the Cancer Society to support high quality childhood cancer research and to provide information, programs and support to children living with cancer, as well as their families and caregivers. 400 British Columbians also took the opportunity offered to attend Camp Goodtimes last summer thanks to these great cops.

To quote them:- “Cops for Cancer is about the caring people who come together each year to make a difference and show their support for families living with cancer and beyond.  From the riders, crew members, community champions, supporters, schools, sponsors and donors, we are grateful to everyone who made this season extra special.”

As your community, we in turn are truly grateful to you guys and girls.

Footnote:

Our own Michelle Hawthorne is “kidnapped” by the cops annually and, while in” jail” at Coquitlam Mall, bails herself out by calling friends, colleagues and clients for donations to Cops for Cancer. So…be ready for the call.  Makes comparative life in real estate look simple! 

Yes we really are ready for anything and will keep you covered in all weathers.

Continuing in the long tradition of trust and caring –

Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Sheila Francis, Ray Harris and Shane Goutsis.

TGIF – Gong Hay Fat Choy!

Happy lunar New Year to our Chinese clients and friends. 

For the non Chinese folk, do you know that Fat Choy is a traditional dish eaten over this, the ultimate holiday?  The dried oysters are stewed with black moss fungus and shiitake mushrooms and form one of the many symbolic dishes reflecting Chinese aspirations and history. The greeting ‘Gong hay fat choy’ means to get rich or make a fortune – just like the traditional Caucasian  greeting – “Have a happy prosperous new year”. 

2020, the Year of the Rat, begins tomorrow, Saturday, 25th and lasts 15 days til February 11th.  Because the rat is the first sign in the 12 animals cycle of Chinese astrology, 2020 is considered to be a year of new beginnings and renewals.  The main zodiac element is metal, so the year of the metal rat promises to be lucky for almost all Chinese zodiak signs.

In China, the celebration marks the largest annual mass migration of humans anywhere in the world as families travel to be together for “Chun Jie” mandarin for “Spring Festival”.  

Here, in Vancouver, we are celebrating with parades and parties this weekend.  Saturday sees the centre of activity at Vancouver Chinatown Millenium Gate,  Sunday at Dr.Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden and all weekend, today thru Sunday, at the International Village Mall.  Some local suburbs will enjoy smaller celebrations.

For all you unmarried Chinese juniors, we wish you lots of red envelopes.  Don’t forget to leave them under the pillow overnight for extra luck!

These holidays are auspicious times to purchase real estate, so we look forward to seeing you in the market place.  In the meantime enjoy the warmth of family and tradition.

We remain the champions of hearth and home and, even in this rain, have you covered.

The Generations Real Estate Partners:-  Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Sheila Francis, Ray Harris and Shane Goutsis.

TGIF – THE RENOVATION DILEMMA

To do or not to do – that is the question.  And these days it is a very serious question.  Gone are the days when “renovation” entailed new kitchen counters and appliances.  

Today, the typical renovation involves removal of wall(s) to create a modern ‘great room’ concept, then adaptations of kitchen and main floor living spaces along with a total gutting of at least one bathroom.  Once the concept is in place then comes the SHOCK – the price tag!  With the significant increase in the cost of today’s materials, the city’s requirement for architectural drawings and permits and finally the labour costs to cover our all time high cost of living, the final projected total price is shocking to the home owner looking at all this for the first time.  Of course, home owners will look at more than one cost estimate and will often find two professional contractors coming in with similar pricing. 

If you are not the handy person able to do some or all of the work yourself, you may want to ask yourself some serious questions.  Why do we want to do this?  Many times the answer is to stay in the neighbourhood, but have a more modern floorplan to fit today’s more easy going lifestyle… Or, to stay on a big lot where you love to garden, but still have an updated home… Or to keep children in the same schools. There are many other reasons, but when looking at the renovation costs, why not examine the alternatives? 

If there is no all encompassing reason to remain in this particular home, begin by looking at other already renovated homes in the same or similar neighbourhoods, where owners have already paid the price and made the mind numbing design decisions.  Their realtor will already have explained that these owners will not reclaim every dollar of renovation and associated costs, and perhaps the renovation was finished 2-5 years ago. Now start comparing the total costs of renovating your existing home or buying another.  Moving is certainly disruptive, but so too is a renovation and, at least a move has a definite end date.  

This advice is not meant for those folk with architectural and design professions and talents, for whom these renos are fun and part of life’s rich pattern – they are meant for  owners trying to achieve a home lifestyle without breaking the bank or cutting so many corners that they will hate the finished product.  

It is always so much easier and wiser to do all the research thoroughly before  embarking on any kind of large project, but when it is the place your family comes home to every day it is essential that you all love the results, whether a renovation or a move.

We are happy to consult whenever you are weighing the options – always with your desired results as the goal.  Whether you opt for a renovation or a move, we are privileged to assist.  We have learned many valuable lessons from the experiences of our clients over the past decades and are happy to share them.

Even on snow days we have you covered and remain your real resource, the Generations Real Estate Partners:

Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Sheila Francis, Ray Harris and Shane Goutsis.

TGIF – Condo Insurance Costs Escalating.

As insurance companies reel from fires and floods they are spreading the load and strata corporations are experiencing the sudden steep increase in both insurance costs and deductibles.  As our once new condo buildings age, need maintenance and simultaneously grow exponentially in value, the costs of insuring them increase accordingly. 

Deductibles have previously been at a low between $2500 and $10,000, which in no way account for the costs of emergency measures, relocation and restoration after a flood of any kind of magnitude.  The shock comes now with deductible increases to $50,000 and $100,000. 

Stratas across the Lower Mainland are meeting to discuss the consequences and how to deal with the sudden, steep increases.  Aside from the strata corporations figuring out how to best pay for their insurance, condo owners have to cover themselves for accidentally finding themselves personally responsible for repaying the deductibles. 

In the event of a flood caused by a specific condo owner, that owner will be required to repay the portion of the deductible not covered by the strata.  If the owner has no insurance to cover all or part of the deductible, he/she is personally responsible.  It behooves every strata owner to carefully check with their own personal insurance company to ensure full coverage – the consequences of not doing that and being the unfortunate owner causing damage could be financially crippling.

This new curve ball should make strata buyers cautious in reading the fine print for a building’s insurance and how it is covering the increases.  There are stratas who are afraid that increasing maintenance fees will detract from salability, yet they should increase to cover increased insurance costs or some other required maintenance will either be shelved or all owners levied for that. So….buyers beware of static, seemingly low maintenance fees – read all of those strata documents before committing to a purchase.  And, current owners – be smart in attending meetings, voting  and being fully aware of the decisions being made. These are your homes and investments.

Stratas are complicated and our mandate is in keeping you as safe as possible – knowledge is power.  If you have any questions and need help in best dealing with these issues in a purchase or sale position, please contact us – this is our business. 

We continue in that longstanding tradition of trust and caring and remain your Generations Real Estate Partners: 

Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Sheila Francis, Ray Harris and Shane Goutsis.

“Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard.

Yes, a fresh start and new opportunities as we reflect on what went right and what went wrong in the past year.  Mistakes give us insight which teaches us how to avoid those mistakes next time, so our time is better spent focusing on how to learn from experience rather than lamenting our errors.

The real estate market has its own momentum created by the forces of economy, government intervention, public confidence and inventory.  For us the focus continues to be doing the right thing by our clients, ensuring that their interests are uppermost and that we give them the best customer experience possible, whatever the market conditions.  We love Mike Ferry’s quote – “Customer service is not a department – it’s an attitude.” No matter the size and value of their homes, all our clients are VIPs and deserve our best attention to the details of their choice and negotiation.  

Our multi generational team is an intrinsic part of the local communities where we live, work and play.  We believe that our role as residents is to make a positive impact in our chosen community.  Our team is a small family business and we believe in supporting our other small local businesses to keep them thriving and maintaining vibrant neighborhoods.

All of the above remain our core values as we move into a new decade with the simple resolve to do it even better.  We wish us all the privilege of reflection and raising the bar on both our personal and business lives.  January is both inspiring  and intimidating as we contemplate doing it all over again, but with improvement.

We look forward to working with many of you again in 2020 in what looks to be a much more balanced market. We are here to guide you through the buying and selling process, answer all your questions and start ahead of your schedule so that you are well prepared.  Consulting well ahead of time is what we like to do – making it a much simpler, more comfortable process when the appointed time arrives.  Yes…we keep you covered.

Sincerely wishing you all a happy, healthy, interesting & prosperous New Year. 

from all our team:- Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Shane Goutsis, Sheila Francis and Ray Harris

TGIF: Happy Fall!

Happy Fall! Hope all your activities – new and old – going well and that students and teachers alike are settling back into the school routine.

As I was attending a first Council meeting after the summer in Port Moody recently, it struck me on looking at development applications, that this is the only city of our TriCities that does not have an independent living or assisted living facility. Those older Port Moody residents who need that next level of living find themselves in Coquitlam or Port Coquitlam – no longer walking to their familiar shops, coffee places and to visit their friends. It may not seem far away, but without a car it is, and isolates older people. Old friends are the best friends! Continue reading