Victoria’s real estate market is changing.

We are in the 4th year of a rising market. Last year prices took off like a rocket. 

Today, things have cooled off a bit. What do I mean by that? Buyers don’t feel as frantic. Competing offers are less common. The premiums buyers are willing to pay above List Price aren’t as great as they had been. Some listings are taking longer to sell. As is typical each spring, there are more listings on the market each month.

What does all this mean?

Without Governmental intervention, it would take quite a while for our real estate market to ‘turn’ from a rising market to a falling market. Sellers (and buyers) would have time to react. But with governmental intervention, that change can happen quickly.

Every day we are reading about concerns many have with the ‘hot’ real estate market areas of Canada. The Federal and Provincial Governments and some cites are focusing on and taking action to halt housing price escalation. As they succeed, our real estate market will change.

So let’s look at the positive side….

Comparing Greater Victoria annual 2013 averages with May 2017 averages:
a) house prices have risen $249,023 (or +41.6%)

b) townhouse prices have risen $117,038 (or +19.5%)

c) condo prices have risen $99,080 (or +32.6%)

This is who so many seniors are thinking about selling now, before the market changes.

 Will it change? Yes, at some point, it definitely will change.

 When will it change? No one knows.

 Where to move to? Lots of options there. We can help with this.

 What should you fix up or replace? Who can do this work? We can help with expert advice.

 Where to start? We are experts at this. If you’d like to arrange a free consultation with Rick, call or e-mail him today.

Spring is on the way!

Now that the snow is gone, buyers and sellers are getting ready.

Financing rule changes are making what used to be easy financing approvals become last minute surprise turn-downs. We have had a few buyer clients find out at the very last minute that their lender of choice cannot approve them under the new rules.

Thank goodness we know one of Victoria’s best mortgage brokers. She has been able to ‘pull a rabbit out of her hat’ and obtain financing when others cannot.

Each lender has different policies, rules and procedures. What one lender must decline, another may approve. How are you to know which lender can best accommodate your needs? A good mortgage broker is familiar with the different lenders and their different policies and procedures. They know where to go for quick and easy approvals.

For our clients thinking about a real estate change this year who may need interim or bridge financing, we are happy to arrange a free, no-obligation, mortgage pre-approval meeting with this experienced broker.

Please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help!

Buyer’s Struggle

With low inventory and high demand, many properties are receiving lots of offers at the same time. If you’ve been searching for a property, chances are you’ve come across this hectic multiple-offer scenario.

The real estate market has changed…a lot! The old ways of offering on a property aren’t working like they used to. How are the best buyers adapting?

There are many ways a buyer can improve their chances of winning when competing for a property. It’s not always about price. If you are wanting to purchase in this challenging market, this seminar is a must-attend.

The upcoming free seminar, How To Win In This Hot Market, being held April 22 at U-Vic, provides buyers with the tips and advantages they need to be successful in Victoria’s hot real estate market.

Topics include:

  • How do you know what price to offer when competing?
  • What can you do to improve your chances of winning?
  • Tips to knowing what the sellers want?
  • Is a large deposit critical?
  • What can you do to ensure your offer is the best?
  • The highest price doesn’t always win. Why is that?
  • Offer scenarios
  • What mistakes to avoid?
  • How you can make a no-subjects offer with little risk?
  • How do you know your offer was presented to the sellers?
  • How do you know there are other offers?

For those without a Realtor®, call 250-477-0921 for details and to reserve a seat.

Can’t Wait?

For anyone who needs professional help to create a winning offer before this seminar, call Rick or Kerry Couvelier for a free confidential consultation: 250-477-0921.

2017 Tax Assessments: Appeal?

Many are wondering, is your new higher property assessed value a good thing or a bad thing? Will your taxes go up as a result?

Should you register an appeal to dispute the value increase?

My suspicion is that your 2017 taxes will probably go up. The costs to operate your municipality have probably gone up so the mill rate will probably increase…resulting in an increase in your taxes. But that’s just my guess.

For those thinking of selling this year, will a higher assessed value help convince buyers that your home is worth more? Assuming your 2017 taxes rise, by the time you sell, how much will a tax increase really cost you?

If you’re thinking of staying put for another year or more, if you were to appeal your higher assessment, what are the chances you’d win and even if you did win, how much would your taxes go down based on a lower assessed value? With any appeal there is the risk that you won’t win and that the review actually ends up causing the authority to increase your property value! How much would your appeal experts cost? Do you understand the implications of ‘appraisal tolerance’ and ‘roll quality measures’? Assessments may be deemed acceptable if they are within a reasonable range.

If you’d like to know the actual current market value of your property (what it may be able to sell for in today’s market), juts give us a call. That’s one of the free services we offer our clients.

Now let’s wish for a bit of warmth out there!

Is your in-ground oil tank really inert?

Homeowners who thought their in-ground oil tank was ‘rendered inert’, a process that involves emptying, checking, cleaning, inspecting and then filling the tank with sand and backfilling over are disappointed to now find they have contaminated soils they are responsible for remediating.

Wittich Envornmental Services Ltd. of Victoria is finding that approximately 95% of the in ground oil tank ‘nests’ they scan have contaminated soils requiring remediation. These ‘nests’ are the cavities these tanks were placed in. The tanks are referred to as Underground Fuel Storage Tanks or UST’s.

For approximately $275 + GST, Whittich will use their non-intrusive remote sensing technology to prepare a certified and insured property scan report. Nowadays some lenders are requiring these reports so sellers and buyers may find they will need to have a GPR scan done before a sale can be consummated.

A bit about home/building inspectors

When buying any property, new or old, a prudent part of your due diligence should be an independent professional home inspection.

With competing offers more common in Victoria’s current real estate market, many buyers are choosing to ‘buy blind’ without the typical subject condition protections of building inspections, mortgage financing, title reviews and approvals, insurability confirmations, property disclosure approvals and strata records approvals. Buyers know that many sellers prefer an unconditional (no subject conditions) offer over one that is a bit more money but has buyer subject conditions. Buyer subject conditions may allow buyers to opt-out of their offer within the next 7 days, depending on how the offer is worded.

A typical home inspection does not eliminate the potential for problems with the property, it only reduces the risk. Home inspectors are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of major problems, even though they are not trained professionals in all fields. As a buyer, it would be a good idea to have a qualified inspector in mind ahead of time, and be familiar with their standards of inspection, experience in the field and costs. Speaking with some of their past clients would be a good idea to establish confidence in your chosen home inspector in order to make an educated decision when it comes to purchasing a home. First and foremost though, make sure they carry a valid license.

According to Consumer Protection BC, a home inspector must meet the requirements of at least one professional home inspector association in order to become licensed. Here are a couple of important questions and answers addressed by Consumer Protection BC.

Q. How do you know if a building inspector is licensed?

A. You should ask a home inspector to show you a current licence issued by Consumer Protection BC. You can also submit an inquiry online under the tab “Confirm a Home Inspector’s License”, or call to verify that your home inspector is licensed. The home inspector’s licence number must be shown in all advertisements, on the contract and on the written report.

Q. How does the law relating to building inspectors protect consumers?

A. Home inspectors must keep your home inspection report confidential – not share it with another home buyer or real estate agent without your permission. The law also prohibits conflict of interest, so your home inspection report will be unbiased.  Because a home inspector provides vital information that can be critical to the decision to purchase a home, and because these individuals have access to a home and the homeowner’s belongings, Consumer Protection BC will require home inspectors to have criminal record checks. Home inspectors will also be required to have insurance to cover damage or serious errors and omissions.

For more information, visit the Consumer Protection BC website at and follow the links regarding home inspectors. They also have valuable information on where to make a complaint, along with some great consumer tips to assist you.


In my experience as an independent home inspector, most of the improvements I came upon were done without permits or related municipal inspections. Most were done by qualified tradesmen, but some were done by homeowners with varying degrees of skill and technical knowledge. In some cases, I found the work completed without a permit was simply unsafe.
The process for obtaining the proper permit, whether it be building, plumbing, electrical, or other permit, can appear daunting to many homeowners and some tradesmen. In many cases, both homeowners and tradesmen feel they would rather attempt their improvements without taking out the necessary permits in order to save time and money. Application and permit fees vary depending on the scope of the project, and in Saanich for example, vary anywhere from $10 to $100+. A typical building permit fee in Saanich, for permits $1,000 or less in value is $50, and is based on the value of construction as determined by the Manager of Inspection Services, on top of the application fee (which varies from $30-$100). The time it takes to process an application can be approximately 3-4 weeks.
In undertaking work without the necessary permits, owners face many risks, some of which include: corrections for any unsafe or inadequate work, ‘stop work’ orders, removal of any unauthorized encroachment, cessation of any occupancy in contravention of a bylaw, and fines. In Saanich, a homeowner found in contravention of the bylaw will be given a specified timeframe to comply by the Manager of Inspection Services, and will be subject to any additional re-inspection fees, on top of a minimum fine of $150 for non-compliance as well as any fees required to correct the work. In most instances, where work has either been started or completed without a permit, it comes to the attention of the municipal office through neighbour complaints.
Not obtaining a proper work permit exposes an owner to the risk of possible law-suits later on. When selling a property on the Multiple Listing Service for example, Victoria owners are asked to complete a Property Disclosure Statement which asks “Are you aware of any additions or alterations made without a required permit and final inspection: eg: building, electrical, gas, etc?”. Sellers are legally responsible for their answers. Yet few really know what work requires a permit or whether their tradesmen even took out permits for work done. As a homeowner, even if you have hired a qualified professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that any tradesmen you have hired obtained the appropriate permits, and carried out the work in compliance with the bylaw. You may wish to include “all applicable permits and fees” in the specifications of the work quoted on and in the renovation contract, and request a copy of the permits before work commences, after work is completed and before you make final payment, just to be safe.
It is always a good idea to contact your own municipal office to confirm whether the work you are contemplating requires a permit, as each district varies slightly in what work does and does not require a permit. For instance, the District of Oak Bay requires a homeowner to get a permit when replacing any windows, however, the District of Central Saanich does not. In Saanich, for instance, a building permit is not required for maintenance work such as painting, re-siding or re-roofing with similar products, however, there are also 2 broad categories and many sub categories to consider:
a) are you replacing an item? If you replace an old toilet with a new more efficient one, you do not need a permit.
b) are you moving or adding an item? If you relocate a toilet, a permit is required.
Each district has their own building permit bylaw which is available for download from most district websites. The bylaw outlines the permit application process, what work does and does not require permit for that district, and includes any fees that are involved pertaining to the scale of work. The time and money it costs to obtain any necessary permits, far outweigh the possible time delays, potential costs and risks due to improper or unsafe work. For structures built before 1990, an environmental assessment may also be required before renovation or addition work can commence.
For some work, other jurisdictions have authority. For instance Saanich Municipality does not issue the following permits:
  • Electrical Permits: contact the BC Safety Authority at 1-866-566-7233
  • Gas Permits: contact the BC Safety Authority at 1-866-566-7233
  • Septic Field Information: contact VIHA at 250-519-3401
  • Potable Water Supply: contact VIHA at 250-519-3401

Tips from a home inspector

Water damage is now the leading cause of property damage in Canada. Steps you can take to reduce the risks:

#1: install a sewer backwater valve to prevent backflow of sewage in to the house and free flow of air and outflow of sewage.

#2: locate laundry room in the basement

#3: extend downpipes away from the home

#4: slope lot so it drains water away from the foundation

#5: install rain water barrels to collect water run- off

*Source: Canadian Association of Property Inspectors

Smartest Renovations

For Canadians interested in the “smartest’ household renovations for a good return on  investment, the Appraisal Institute Of Canada suggests:

  1. Choose improvements with long life expectancy: roofing, energy-efficient heating/cooling & windows can provide worry-free improvements for 10-15 years
  2. Invest in modern updates in high traffic areas: update the kitchen & bathroom core rooms with new door handles, counter tops, fixtures and resurfaced cabinets
  3. Don’t underestimate the value of inexpensive updates: fresh coat of paint, modern light fixtures, light landscaping & new door handles give an updated look at low cost
  4. Consider energy efficient renovations that have high paybacks relative to cost
  5. Don’t over-improve. Consider your neighbourhood & buyer expectations

Market Update March 2014

What do we know?

Average house, townhouse & condominium MLS sale prices in Greater Victoria are down from their 2010 peaks.

Compared to February last year, house, townhouse and condominium median MLS sale prices are up slightly.

While still a ‘buyer’s market’, if the current trend continues, Victoria’s real estate market may reach a ‘balanced’ position within the next month.

The number of active MLS listings will grow in leaps and bounds from now until the end of June. While this is great for buyers, this increasing competition will keep pressure on seller’s prices.

What we suspect?

Given the number of properties that are not able to sell (86.3% last month) and so many listings expiring then re-listing and still not selling, it appears that most sellers are having difficulty getting accurate opinions of value and good marketing skills.

Every Penny Counts!

So far this year we’ve sold 83% of our listings at or above full list price.

Using our unique marketing methods, we have been able to sell listings this year at $25,100 and $29,999 above the full list prices our sellers chose.

If you’d are serious about wanting to sell and want the very best price possible, call Rick today for a free market evaluation and ask about his unique marketing plan.