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David's thoughts on anything real estate related


In a hot market, where pretty much everything sells immediately with multiple offers, real estate agents may become complacent when marketing and negotiating your home sale.

Seems easy enough - throw a few photos up on the internet, write up a quick description of the property and call it a day. Right? 

Wrong!

Realtors have their “marketing systems” and rarely take the opportunity to think outside the box. But what if there was a better way? A better way that leads to a higher selling price with the best terms for you, the seller.

Marketing a home may seem simple, but it’s not necessarily easy to get the best price, and it’s hard to prove that your Realtor has found the highest price. The simple part: create an emotional response with potential buyers by decluttering, staging, taking great photos and videos, and providing a floor plan with an online virtual tour. 

But what else can be done to really create value? The part that isn’t so “easy” to see?

This is where experience, a realtor's background and creative marketing make a difference. Older homes can sometimes be a challenge to sell at the highest price because that value may not be what is visible, but rather, what is possible. 

Over the last 15 years as a real estate agent and a previous real estate developer, I have had the privilege of helping many of my clients sell older homes. In one scenario, I was selling an older home on a pie-shaped building lot hemmed in by telephone pole supports. Most potential buyers had no idea how to build a new home here. It required many trips to the city’s planning department and close coordination with an architect to show prospective buyers what was possible. I literally had renderings drawn up! The exciting part was to sell the property and years later come back and see that the buyer had built the home that was conceptually the same as the one that I marketed! I felt like I really added value to both the seller and the new home buyer.

So what else can be done to get the highest price and best terms for your home? This is a tough one to quantify, but a realtor's negotiation style has a huge impact on the outcome of the sale of your home. Does your agent look for creative solutions when negotiating? To be creative means your agent is curious about what you AND the buyer truly wants. This involves knowing the right questions to ask you, the seller, as well as working closely with the buyer’s agent. A win / win negotiation style in my mind always supersedes a win / lose. 

The above are examples of the kind of creative marketing and negotiation techniques that not only sells a home, but sells it for more than if the property had been sold with traditional marketing and average communication.


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The quick answer is it depends. Some Realtors rely on referrals and word of mouth while others invest heavily into marketing themselves. 

For myself I tried heavy marketing early in my career and found it to be very difficult to out-market the agents that had been in the business for decades. I still market my recent sales via direct mail (at a cost of around $250 per sale), but the majority of my listings and buyer clients come from referrals and word of mouth. 

My office overhead is around $800 per month. This covers my brokerage fee, insurance and board fees. 

Other monthly costs related to marketing include website hosting, my email campaign program and a company that I pay monthly for statistics (SnapStats). These costs amount to around $300 per month.

I also have ongoing education at around $500 per year. The real estate council and real estate board requires that all agents take a certain amount of professional courses every 2 years.

As I mentioned above, most realtors invest in marketing themselves.  I prefer to redirect these costs into each of my listings. For every listing whether it is valued at $500,000 or $5,000,000, I spend around $2,000 on brochures like this one, photography, videography, floor plan and 3D plan (Matterport). 

For every sale, whether it is a listing or a sale representing a buyer, my brokerage charges me a fee of around $350. 

Of course there are other costs just to get set up as an agent. A professional biography video (like this one) can cost up to $5,000 and to have your logo, branding and website designed can cost another $5,000. These costs can come up every 4 or 5 years to keep the marketing current. You will also have costs related to getting licensed. It will cost you around $1,000, assuming that you don't need to take a class and you are self taught. 

You will also need to buy / lease, insure, fuel and maintain a car. You see many real estate agents driving around in $100,000 cars. For myself I drive a Mini Cooper which is pretty economical.

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David Eby, the attorney general for British Columbia, is proposing that local housing permit approvals be taken out of the hands of local governments.

Although there are many potential pitfalls with this idea, it is clear that the current housing approval process is no longer working. Currently it can take over a year for the City of Vancouver to approve a permit for a single family home. Larger housing developments can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years. 

With 55,000 people estimated to move to Greater Vancouver in 2022 we are continuously in catch up mode and this year we will be short around 10,000 homes.  This is great for those that already own a home, as it's an investment guaranteed to go up, if this gap can't be closed. 

The time it takes to approve a residential project adds cost to the development. Remember that developers finance the purchase of land. With the cost of land also on the rise, this component of the project can easily amount to 40% of the overall project cost. Developers must “carry” the cost to finance the land. The longer the approval takes the more it costs the developer.  This carry cost is passed directly on to the end buyer of the home(s). Imagine holding millions of dollars worth of land for 3-5 years while you wait to start construction. To me it is ridiculous. 

During the waiting period, the developer is also required to hire consultants to conduct “studies” (many of which are completely unnecessary). It is during this time that many, many community public information meetings are held. On top of all this the developer must negotiate with the city for public amenity packages (another huge fee paid to the city). The city uses these funds (sometimes very inefficiently) to fund the construction of public amenities that could most likely be built much more cost efficiently in the private sector. This “public amenity package” is on top of the Development Cost Charges (DCC’s) that were already in effect to fund infrastructure projects. 

After all this time and effort (remember the developer has been waiting up to 5 years at this point), there is no way to appeal zoning decisions made by the city to any authority. The entire process can be very opaque with many unknown costs along the way.

Bottom line is, if we are going to continue to embrace immigration, which is inevitable, to our beautiful city, we need more housing and we need a more efficient and flexible approval and permitting process. We need different forms of housing - not just more condos. We need housing for families, other than the now almost untouchable detached home.

What do you think would solve our housing crisis?

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Have you ever wondered how the same real estate listing ends up on so many different websites? 


Realtors sign an agreement with their real estate board that allows their listings to be shared and propagated across the internet. This agreement also allows realtors to pull in other agents listings into their own personal website. Whether it is REW.ca, Realtor.ca or Zoocasa.com, they all pull information from the same source and get the information at the same time.


The next question becomes which is the best website to search for listings? This is a tough question to answer because there are so many different websites. Some websites give very little information about the property and some provide lots of information, but it is arranged in a confusing and convoluted way.


There are a few websites and companies out there that I believe give you the best information. Surprisingly they are not the most popular websites. Any real estate agent that is using My Real Page as a search engine (like myself at https://davidsetton.com/recip.html) is miles ahead of the game when it comes to both searching for properties and the presentation of properties when found. 


With My Real Page you get all the details including room dimensions, property taxes, floor area and lot area. You can even share and mark your favourites. Calculate the mortgage, view the map location, walkscore, and street view all from the listing. New listings that meet your own personal criteria will be sent to your email.

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Buying a home in Vancouver is more challenging than it has ever been. There is limited inventory and homes are consistently selling with competing, multiple offers. Is the inherent value of living in Vancouver rising this rapidly, or is FOMO (fear of missing out) a factor?

To be a successful buyer, the offer cannot contain one subject condition. Remember, a subject condition is a safety-net clause in your legal offer to buy, that protects you in case anything comes up during the due diligence process. 

Still homes oftentimes sell for as much as 10 to 20% over the asking price. This is alarming to say the least.

In this type of market condition it is very difficult to advise your buyer client. The last thing I want as a real estate professional is to have my buyer overpay for a property or to buy a lemon. 

Here is the process I have been seeing with some of my clients:

  1. 1 Make an offer on home

  2. 2 Get outbid on price

  3. 3 Make another offer on a home (only this time the market is even stronger)

  4. 4 Get out bid AGAIN!

This “write an offer / get out bid” process can go on for 5 or six offers over a few months until they are finally successful in purchasing a home. It is not that the buyer is doing anything wrong either. 

Sometimes they honestly just reach the threshold and upper limit on what they can afford to pay and the bank is willing to lend. 

Other times they just don’t see the value past a certain point. I can hardly blame them. It is difficult to put a value on a home when values are escalating so quickly. 

The worst part is when a buyer misses out and gets outbid by $5,000 on a $700,000 or $800,000 condo. My heart breaks for them because the next time up to bat the market is even stronger with more competition and higher prices.

The frustration builds and builds for buyers in this type of market. Eventually, when they are finally successful with the “winning offer” (sounds ridiculous because are they really winning?) they are so beaten down by the process. 

So, what do you think? Is FOMO driving our market?


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Vancouver’s Mayor Kennedy Stewart has been pushing for a way to bring housing to the middle class in Vancouver, by converting single family homes into 6 strata lots. A covenant would be placed on one or two of the six units in perpetuity to prevent them from being sold at market value, by keeping them affordable to a household earning $80,000 to $100,000 per year. Alternatively, the developer of the six strata lots could pay a fee to the city to provide the affordable units based on square footage.

What do I think of this plan? 

I think it is severely flawed. I don’t believe that it goes far enough. It is purely a political move by the mayor by ignoring the real problem - the broken planning and approval process.

What do I mean by this?

Well, with construction costs and land costs at all time highs, the end cost to the developer will be too high to make the project feasible. By the time the developer gives up one or two of the units to “affordable” housing, the remaining 4 will just be too expensive. Not to mention given the "City of Vancouver's notorious delays with processing, reviewing, and approving development permits," (BC Minister of Housing) the time to get the approval on such a project will be so drawn out it will eat away any potential for profit. Remember, time is money.

Here is what I think needs to be done:

  • Cut red tape and the time to approve development applications
  • Allow for row townhomes or even 4 story buildings in single family areas
  • Waive or cut Community Amenity Contribution fees
  • Allow the free market to value land and provide housing

What do you think of this policy change? Do you think it has merit? Feel free to comment below.

To learn about the value of your home, feel free to call me anytime. For tips for sellers visit this page.

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Please visit our Open House at 3 1350 6TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, February 5, 2022 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Incredibly located, on the QUIET SECTION OF WEST 6TH AVENUE, this 2 bedroom townhome is ideally situated in one of Vancouver's most desirable neighbourhoods. You will feel a true sense of community in this well maintained, RAIN SCREENED BUILDING. This home has been COMPLETELY RENOVATED, with generous room sizes, front & back entrances, 2 large patios and 2 storage lockers. You even have your own private direct access to a secured parking garage for that real house feel. The private 2nd bedroom with 'loft-bed' has potential to be enlarged & is perfectly suited for guests or a growing family. Interior renovations include a Cape Cod-inspired entertainer's kitchen, updated bathroom & hardwood floors. The locally owned shops, restaurants, & cafes of South Granville are steps from your door.
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Please visit our Open House at 3 1350 6TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, February 6, 2022 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Incredibly located, on the QUIET SECTION OF WEST 6TH AVENUE, this 2 bedroom townhome is ideally situated in one of Vancouver's most desirable neighbourhoods. You will feel a true sense of community in this well maintained, RAIN SCREENED BUILDING. This home has been COMPLETELY RENOVATED, with generous room sizes, front & back entrances, 2 large patios and 2 storage lockers. You even have your own private direct access to a secured parking garage for that real house feel. The private 2nd bedroom with 'loft-bed' has potential to be enlarged & is perfectly suited for guests or a growing family. Interior renovations include a Cape Cod-inspired entertainer's kitchen, updated bathroom & hardwood floors. The locally owned shops, restaurants, & cafes of South Granville are steps from your door.
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As a landlord, you may run into problems with your tenants.  Therefore, it’s important to know the BC laws around tenancy and eviction. 


The first kind of eviction you may be eligible to impose upon your tenant is a 10 day eviction.  You may provide your tenant with a notice of this kind if they do not pay rent on time, or in full. Upon receiving a 10 day eviction notice, your tenant has 5 days to pay.  If your tenant neglects to pay utility fees, you may impose a 10-day eviction notice, ONLY after giving them 30 days of written notice demanding payment. 


The next, and less urgent form of eviction notice is a 30 day notice.  You may provide your tenants with a notice of this kind for many reasons.  A few of the most common are as follows. 

  • they are unreasonably disturbing you

  • Repeatedly pay their rent late

  • Seriously damage the property

  • Have too many occupants - *I want to point out here that  if your tenancy agreement does NOT specify how people can live in the unit, you are entitled to impose an eviction notice if you feel as though your tenants have moved in an unreasonable number of roommates. 


If your tenant feels as though they have received a one month eviction notice unlawfully, they have 10 days to dispute the eviction.  


By the same token, if you feel as though your tenants are causing serious problems, you may ask the RTB for permission to evict individuals before the one-month notice is set to take effect - and you are NOT required to warn them.  If you decide to go down this route, you are required to provide your tenants with a notice of the hearing so they can prepare evidence for their defense. 


Moving along, you can provide your tenants with a two month eviction notice. According to sections 49 and 49.1 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), you may impose a two month eviction notice if you or a close family member wants to occupy the rental unit, the unit was sold to the purchaser, or your tenant no longer qualifies. Your tenant has 15 days to dispute this notice. 


Finally, it may be the case that you impose an eviction of four months. This may be done if you decide to demolish the unit, convert the property to strata lots, convert the residential property into cooperative housing, convert the unit for use by a caretaker, manager, or superintendent of the residential property, or convert the unit to non-residential use. Your tenant is entitled to 30 days if they would like to apply for a dispute resolution hearing.


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The majority of strata Annual General Meetings are coming up over the next few months presenting an ideal opportunity for strata lot owners to verify that their home owner insurance policy water deductible coverage matches that of the strata corporation's master building policy and if not advise their insurance broker immediately. 


The BC Strata Property Act requires that any AGM Notice includes a copy of the strata corporation's insurance policy summary. This summary page will include a notation on what the building’s current water deductible amount is. Depending on any resultant water damage claims filed in the past policy year and the extent of damage, this deductible amount can increase to a staggering amount from the previous year. It is not uncommon for strata's today to have a deductible in the $50,000 to $100,000 range from the days of when they were $5,000 to $25,000. 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A STRATA OWNER?

Deductible assessment coverage is an additional coverage that has become increasingly important in light of the increasing cost and frequency of resultant water damage claims. For example, if the building is damaged due to a water leak, the strata corporation would generally file a water damage claim with its own insurance company. Section 158 of the Strata Property Act states that the insurance deductible in respect of a claim is a common expense, but the strata corporation may sue an owner in order to recover the deductible portion of an insurance claim if the owner is responsible for the loss or damage that gave rise to the claim. Two landmark BC court decisions in 2007 determined that the strata corporation need not prove negligence in order to determine owners' responsibility. A strata corporation may sue a strata lot owner to recover the insurance deductible even though the owner was not negligent and merely caused or brought about the events that resulted in the damage.


To remove ambiguity and potentially save on future legal expenses, some strata corporations have passed bylaws that clarify that owners are strictly liable for damage to common property that originates in their units.

CONCLUSION

It is therefore important that all strata owners review the building policy and advise their insurance broker of the building deductible amounts to ensure their unit policy includes sufficient coverage for all building deductibles including water damage. This information is included in the insurance summary report within the NOTICE of Annual General Meeting that strata corporations are required to provide strata lot owners prior to the Annual General Meeting. Some strata buildings due to frequent or a single extensive resultant water damage claim are now facing water damage deductibles of $50,000 to $100,000.

ADDITIONAL COVERAGE FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

Additional coverage riders available to strata unit owners that are well worth considering are:


  - Increased unit improvements and betterments coverage insures upgrades to the unit a

  - Loss assessment coverage typically pays the owner's share to cover major property and liability losses on common property that may exceed the strata corporation's policy limits.

  - Request your insurance broker to advise you of any other additional riders that you should consider.


SOURCE: Insurance Brokers Association of BC

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