Vancouver Island Real Estate News from Rudi & Trish Widdershoven August 2016   

Hi Paul,

Empty nesters face several challenges when their children leave home.  This month’s feature article discusses some points to consider for those entering this exciting life transition.

There are also some tips on how to set up a fully functional home office as well as a delicious grilled pineapple recipe that'll have your guests demanding seconds!

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...
The Vancouver Island Real Estate Market Report 
Vancouver Island home sales cool off a bit in July.

Home sales in the VIREB area cooled somewhat last month but posted a 19 per cent increase over July 2015.  In July 2016, 608 single-family homes sold on the MLS® System compared to 512 last July.  Month over month, sales decreased by 15 per cent from the 712 sales processed in June 2016.

Last month’s active listings for single-family homes totalled 1,577, down 34 per cent from the 2,391 reported in July 2015 and beating June’s figure of 1,621.  This is a historic low for VIREB, which began tracking inventory levels in 1999.  The last time inventory was this low occurred in 2005 when the number of single-family homes for sale dropped to 1,629.

Economic factors fueling the provincial housing market are strong consumer confidence, robust retail sales, and high employment growth.  With GDP sitting at 3.5 per cent, British Columbia’s economy continues to lead the country.  Concerning the new Foreign Buyer Tax that takes effect today, Muir says it is too early to know whether it will affect home prices on the Lower Mainland or spill over into other parts of the province.

“The housing market is usually slower in the summer months, but we believe that sales might be beginning to normalize,” says Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist.  “If so, that would allow inventory to build up and ease pricing pressure a bit.”

Margo Hoffman, 2016 VIREB President, agrees that the housing market typically cools during the summer, and this trend likely accounts for July’s lower sales figures.  However, limited inventory continues to be a challenge for buyers and REALTORS®.

“Although we’re in a seller’s market, homeowners are holding back because they’re worried they won’t find another home to purchase,” says Hoffman.  “We’re beginning to see more inventory, but buyers snap up available properties quickly.”

Low inventory is also contributing to rising benchmark prices for single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments.  Despite those increases, however, the Vancouver Island housing market continues to be affordable compared to the Lower Mainland and Victoria.

“Home buyers in the VIREB area have a variety of price points as options,” adds Hoffman.  “The benchmark price of a single-family home ranges from a low of $209,600 in Port Alberni to a high of $443,800 in the ParksvilleQualicum area, so there is a price to suit almost everyone.”

Hoffman agrees that at the moment, there is no way to say whether the Foreign Buyer Tax will affect home prices in the VIREB area.  For now, the housing market remains competitive, so connecting with a local REALTOR® is crucial to ensure you develop a winning strategy for buying or selling your home.

In July 2016, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area was $379,900, up just under 12 per cent from one year ago.  The benchmark price of an apartment rose by 9.77 per cent to hit $207,900 while the benchmark price of a townhouse increased to $277,900, up just over 10 per cent from one year ago.  Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.  The average price of a single-family home last month was $409,816, an increase of 12 per cent over July 2015.

The July 2016 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $301,400, an increase of 5.57 per cent over July 2015.  In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $371,000, up 10.68 per cent from 2015.  Duncan reported a benchmark price of $326,700, an increase of just over nine per cent compared to July 2015.  Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 15.46 per cent to $409,700 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price rise by 17 per cent to $443,800.  The price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni was $209,600, up 7.86 per cent from one year ago.

What to do When the Kids Fly the Coop 
Being left at home with an empty nest can be a major adjustment.

When your children finally leave home, you'll be presented with a new found freedom and a variety of unexpected challenges.

Many empty nesters find their homes are too large once their kids move out and therefore opt to buy a smaller home in order to gain capital and reduce maintenance costs.  These days though, some parents are hedging their bets in case their kids decide to move back in.

Deciding to downsize or stay put depends on your unique situation as downsizing isn’t always the right move, pardon the pun.  It pays to closely examine your finances and motivations.  Here are a few tips if you’re thinking of downsizing:

  • be clear about your reasons as it’ll help with your new home search
  • consider a condo if you plan on traveling as there’s very little maintenance
  • plan ahead for the years when stairs will become a challenge
  • make sure your new abode has room for future grandchildren :)

It’s a huge adjustment when the kids fly the coop but it’s also a great opportunity to pursue new hobbies and think about your own needs.  If you're not quite ready to sell up and move on, consider transforming an old bedroom into your very own personal retreat.

Whether you decide to sell or not, it’s a great time to declutter your home when the kids move out so go through every room and get rid of anything you no longer need.  Whatever you do, just make sure you turn your new found freedom into a positive experience by focusing on yourself.

How to Create a Functional Home Office 
Your home office doesn’t have to be a laptop on a couch cushion.

Many people are breaking the chains of the corporate world in order to pursue careers that allow them to work from home.  Here are a few tips that’ll help you get the most out of your home office:

  1. Plan Ahead - Make sure you plan out your space in advance so there’s enough room for a desk, chair and storage and don’t forget about your technology needs.

  2. Get Creative - If you don’t have an office, consider alternatives such as a guest room, sunroom or other unused space that’ll give you a designated area to work uninterrupted.

  3. Stand Up - Consider purchasing a stand up desk as it can increase productivity and it’s much better for your posture.

  4. Lighten Up - Position lighting so there's a nice even flow and if possible, choose a room with lots of natural light.  A few plants will also add to the atmosphere.

  5. Sound Off - Hard surfaces tend to amplify sounds but carpets, rugs and fabric window treatments will help absorb excessive noise.

  6. Boundaries - Choose a private spot and don't use it as a dumping ground for non-business related items.  When you work from home, it’s critical to separate your work from home life.

A well laid out and functional office is key to working effectively from home, but without a specific game plan, you’ll waste a lot of time and money.  Planning ahead means you’ll be able to spend your time taking care of business and being productive!

Grilled Pineapple on the BBQ 
Grilled pineapple is an easy, delicious finale to a backyard BBQ!

Grilling fresh fruit caramelizes its natural sugars and this simple yet scrumptious dessert tastes even better with a side of vanilla ice cream!  Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 pineapple, cored and peeled
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter

Lightly oil the grill and preheat the BBQ to medium.  Cut the pineapple into 1 inch slices.  Combine brown sugar and cinnamon.  Brush pineapple with butter and then pat on sugar mixture.  BBQ for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.  Serve and enjoy!

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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