Vancouver Island Real Estate News from Rudi & Trish Widdershoven February 2013   

Hi Paul,

We may see our pets as cute and cuddly but they can often make selling a home a real challenge.  This month's article offers a few tips for pet owners who are thinking about putting their home on the market.

There's also some great advice on how to install and maintain smoke alarms as well as a few precautions to keep in mind when it comes to smartphone apps.

Thanks so much for checking out this month's newsletter.  Please get in touch 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...
Vancouver Island Expects Short Lived Lull in Buying Activity 
Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) sales summary data for January released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) shows housing sales activity across Vancouver Island was down 14 percent compared to last year, while average sale prices dipped four percent.

The average price of a single family home sold within the VIREB region in January was $318,202, down from the January 2012 average price of $332,270.  The number of housing units reported sold last month were down compared to a year ago.  In January 2012 there were 216 single family homes sold, in comparison 185 unit sales were recorded in January 2013.

“Some consumers continued to take a wait and see approach in January,” explained Cameron Muir, Chief Economist with the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA).  “However, this lull in home buying activity will likely be short-lived as the underlying economic fundamentals suggest a more active spring marketplace.”

As of the end of January 2013 there were 2,137 single family homes available on the Multiple Listing Service® within VIREB’s coverage area, down slightly from the 2,168 homes in the system at the end of January 2012.

“It has to be pointed out that our housing inventory is showing signs of shrinking and by the very nature of supply and demand - with fewer properties on the market there is a corresponding increase in sales activity for those reduced number of properties,” said VIREB President Gary Gray.  “We’re on the cusp of some potential improvement in the marketplace. The market appears to be stabilizing and we anticipate sales will trend higher throughout the year.”

Comparing January 2013 to January 2012, the average sale prices across VIREB's six zones saw:  Campbell River decrease eight percent to $274,131; the Comox Valley dipped four percent to $330,947; Nanaimo’s average sales price dropped 12 percent to $316,620 from the January 2012 average price of $360,799; Parksville/Qualicum prices were up one percent to $343,930; Port Alberni/West Coast was up by a dramatic 26 percent to $261,449 while the Cowichan Valley was down four percent to $338,455.

In terms of unit sales year to year a wide disparity continued to occur among the different zones last month.  The Campbell River region recorded a 31 percent decrease in unit sales while Parksville/Qualicum unit sales were up four percent compared to January 2012. Cowichan Valley recorded a 19 percent decrease in unit sales on a year to year basis, Comox Valley sales were down 18 percent, Nanaimo sales declined 11 percent while Port Alberni/West Coast’s sales activity was virtually unchanged from a year ago.

For Pet's Sake, Don't Soil your Sale 
It's critical to give prospective buyers a top notch first impression when selling your home.  If you share your home with pets, you'll have to work extra hard to ensure it looks (and smells) its best.
Although you may consider your pets family, potential buyers will likely view them as a smelly nuisance.  If you own pets, here are a few tips that will help you sell your home:

  1. Deep Clean - Steam clean all carpets, rugs and couches and make sure to vacuum your home every day.

  2. Do the Doo Doo - Don't forget to clean up outside before showings as people exploring your garden will be turned off by seeing or even worse, stepping in doggie doo doo.

  3. Gone to the Dogs - Most people don't want to be greeted by a strange dog when they enter a home.  A whining dog in a crate is also a distraction so take Fido for a walk if you're unable to make other arrangements.

  4. Creepy Critters - Some purchasers may be too scared to tour a room that contains certain pets such as snakes or rodents.  They may even decide to leave your home altogether so try and remove any creepy creatures before putting your home on the market.

  5. Breathe Easy - Few things are as offensive as the smells associated with animals.  Buyers will be exploring the basement so make sure the litter tray is completely clean.  Open up windows and simmer a few cinnamon sticks in water as buyers may be allergic to artificial scents.

  6. Fur Real - Clean pet hair out from under the stove, tables, blinds and all crevices.  Aside from its unsightly appearance, many people suffer from allergies and you don't want them sniffling and sneezing while they're trying to view your home.

  7. Scratch the Surface - You're probably so used to your scratched and chewed up furniture that you don't even notice it, but buyers will.  Inspect your home thoroughly and repair scratched areas including window frames, doors, floors and furniture.

It's essential to de-clutter and depersonalize your home before showings in order to create a great first impression, so don't forget to clear away pet beds, feeding bowls and play toys from both inside and outside your home.  Even animal lovers will be put off by the hair, smell or mess pets can make so take these tips into account to ensure your furry friends don't soil your sale!

Smoke Alarm Smarts 
Countless tragedies are prevented each year by smoke detectors.  Here are a few tips to ensure your smoke detectors are in full working order:

  1. Alarms can be hard wired, battery powered or preferably a combination of both.

  2. Interconnected smoke alarms are best because when one alarm goes off, they all do.

  3. Don't "borrow" the batteries for the TV remote as you'll likely forget to replace them.

  4. Test each alarm regularly by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds.

  5. Blow the dust out of the alarm whenever you check or change the batteries.

  6. Smoke alarms should be replaced at least every ten years to ensure proper working order.

  7. Don't install alarms near windows or doors as drafts could stop smoke from reaching the alarm system.

  8. There should be at least one alarm installed on each floor including the basement and preferably every bedroom.

Having defective smoke alarms can be worse than having none at all as they provide a false sense of security so make sure your smoke detectors are in tip top shape.  It's also important for your family to develop a fire escape plan.  If you ever have any questions, your local fire department will be more than happy to help.

Don't Worry, Be 'Appy! 
Crafty crooks are starting to use innocent looking smartphone apps to perpetrate fraud and mayhem.    Here are a few tips that will help protect both your phone and your wallet:

  • Always check online reviews before downloading apps.

  • Malicious apps drain more power than usual so pay attention to your battery life.

  • Review the terms and conditions before downloading the app or you could unknowingly give permission for developers to read your texts or peruse your photos.

There are a lot of great apps out there so you shouldn't let a few bad apps spoil the bunch :)  It's important to be cautious though, especially when it comes to app happy kids so talk to them about the hidden dangers lurking behind these downloads as it'll likely be you that has to foot the bill!

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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