Vancouver Island Real Estate News from Rudi & Trish Widdershoven May 2012   

Hi Paul,

If you're thinking about buying a condo, there are various personal and financial factors you'll want to consider.  This month we examine some of the condos and condon'ts.

We also discuss a few security precautions to help make sure your Facebook account never gets hacked as well as some tips on how to keep fresh cut flowers strong and healthy.

Thanks so much for checking out this month's newsletter.  Please let us know if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles or real estate in general -- it'd be great to hear from you!

Your friends in Real Estate
Rudi & Trish W.

In this issue...
Long-term Stability Viewed for Island Housing Market 
Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) sales summary data released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) shows continued stability in the housing sales market throughout the Vancouver Island region. Across VIREB’s coverage area last month average sales prices dipped a minimal 3 per cent over what they were in April 2011.
The average sales price for a single family home sold within the VIREB region in April was $343,331 down from the April 2011 average price of $353,613. The number of unit sales (on a year to year basis) increased 9 per cent. In April 2011 354 single family homes were sold, in comparison 385 unit sales were recorded in April 2012. A gradual increase in housing sales on a month to month basis is indicated across VIREB’s overall market area. In March there were 298 single family home sales reported compared to the 385 home sales reported in April.
“This is definitely a balanced market without any unpleasant surprises down the road,” said VIREB President Guy Bezeau. “There is a solid inventory of homes that buyers have access to. When the market is level there is time for home buyers to do their due diligence and conduct property inspections, search for the right mortgage and carry out all the other tasks they may not feel they have time for when there are fewer homes available. I like this type of housing market; buyers have choices and thanks to the increase in sales sellers become buyers.”
As of the end of April 2012 there were 3,025 single family homes available on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) within VIREB’s coverage area, up marginally from the 2,937 homes in the system at the end of April 2011. In April there were 968 homes listed on the MLS® system, up 12 per cent from the 865 homes listed during April 2011, an indicator of the increased level of confidence on the part of home sellers.
“I think this is going to be a busy season, the winter’s finally over and everybody’s getting ready to make their homes presentable so they can put them on the market,” explained VIREB Past-President Jim Stewart. “This isn’t just a VIREB perspective, Cameron Muir the Chief Economist for the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) has indicated that a balanced, stable market exists throughout much of the province. Mortgage rates are not expected to change dramatically, and there is a renewed sense of optimism. There can be localized bumps in the market so it’s always best to talk with your local REALTOR® to learn about the marketplace in your neighborhood.”
Comparing April 2012 to April 2011, the average sale prices across VIREB's six zones saw: Campbell River decrease five per cent (to $277,081), the Comox Valley edged upward one per cent to $361,023, Nanaimo’s average sales price decreased two per cent (to $368,181), Parksville/Qualicum recorded a five per cent decline (to $388,732), Port Alberni/West Coast dropped 17 per cent to $244,850 and the Cowichan Valley decreased three per cent (to $349,454). As is often the case within individual markets small shifts in sales activity can skew the cumulative totals when comparing on a monthly basis, such as with Port Alberni/West Coast. Contact a REALTOR® for interpretation of trends in your area.

Condo Conundrum -- Freedom vs. Freedom 
Condos appeal to virtually everyone from young urbanites who want to be in the heart of the action to seniors who just want to relax and enjoy their golden years playing tennis and relaxing by the pool.
Condos are very low maintenance which means you don't have to spend your weekends cutting the grass and cleaning the gutters.  They also offer enhanced security features which is perfect for those who like to travel.
Living in a condo is a lot like living on a resort.  Some condos even offer room service!  Convenience comes at a price though in the form of condos fees which can be costly depending on the amenities offered by the complex.  That said, condos are often very affordable compared to single family homes.
When you buy a condo, you don't own the land beneath you.  You instead share a common interest with others in the complex which means you'll be subject to rules and regulations which can dictate anything from the type of planters you’re allowed to display to the kinds of blinds you can hang.
Joint ownership also means you'll be in close contact with your fellow condo owners.  Some people love the sense of community condos offer but for those who value their privacy, condo living can be a difficult adjustment.  Pets are another key consideration as Fido may not be welcome in some buildings.
If your real estate vision includes extensive renovations, condo living may not be for you as your options may be limited.  If however you'd rather spend your time chilling by the pool instead of painting shutters, the low maintenance factor may be just what you're after.  It's really a choice of freedom vs. freedom.

Friends, Foes and Facebook Woes 
Imagine if someone hacked into your Facebook account, changed your password and started posting inappropriate comments and obscene images.  You'd be forced to sit and watch your reputation go down the drain.  Here are a few ways to avoid social media suicide:

  1. ix38wqPc - Make sure you have a really strong password that's at least 8 characters long with a mix of numbers and letters that are both upper and lower case.

  2. https: - It's important to encrypt your connection if you access your account via public Wi-Fi hotspots.  Just click on "Account Settings", "Security" and then enable "Secure Browsing".

  3. Play Hard to Get - Information such as your date of birth and your mother's maiden name make it easy for thieves to steal your identity.  Select "Privacy Settings" to limit who's able to view your details.

  4. Trust Your Gut - Phishing scams that reveal your personal details to hackers are rife on Facebook so always be aware of what you're clicking on no matter how tempting it is.  If in doubt, Google it!

Social media sites are virtual candy stores for hackers and thieves.  It's easy to let your guard down when you're in the company of "Friends" who are eager to share their personal details but if you use common sense (and a strong password) you'll avoid what could be a very socially awkward experience.

Fresh Cut Flowers Forever 
If you're fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of fresh cut flowers, you'll want to make sure they stay healthy for as long as possible.  Here are a few tips that will extend their life expectancy:

  • don’t display them in direct sunlight or near drafts

  • move them to a cool spot when you’re not around

  • cut the stems on an angle and remove excess foliage

  • change the water each day and add a splash of lemon juice

These are just a few ideas to help keep your flowers strong and healthy.  There are other more controversial methods such as adding bleach, vodka, and aspirin to the water but if you follow the tips above, your flowers will enjoy an extended lease on life.

PS Oh by the way, we always appreciate any of your introductions.  If you know of anyone that may benefit from our individualised help please contact us with their name and number and let them know that we will be in touch.  We would be privileged to assist them!
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