Joy Chao and Margaret Wong, Coal Harbour Realtor, Dexter Associates Realty http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php This page contains the blog. Fri, 20 Apr 2018 07:49:08 -0700 http://ubertor.com/?v=1.0 en February Housing Starts in Metro Vancouver http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/february-housing-starts-in-metro-vancouver Thu, 08 Mar 2012 14:52:23 -0800 General http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/february-housing-starts-in-metro-vancouver FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February Housing Starts in Metro Vancouver

VANCOUVER, March 8, 2012 - Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reports 1,870 housing starts in February 2012 in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), compared to 1,414 starts the same month a year ago. Strength in multiple-family construction accounted for the majority of housing starts.

"Nearly 90 per cent of housing starts were multiple-family homes," noted Robyn Adamache, CMHC Senior Market Analyst. "Apartment starts accounted for the year-over-year increase, while starts of other housing types were slightly below levels recorded in February last year." Most home starts were in the cities of: Vancouver, New Westminster, Port Moody, and North Vancouver.

An increase in townhouse starts boosted construction in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA, where 64 housing starts were reported, up from 25 starts recorded in February 2011.

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.

For more information, and to download CMHC's housing reports, please visit CMHC's website at www.cmhc.ca/housingmarketinformation or call 1-800-668-2642.

For further information, please contact:
Robyn Adamache
Senior Market Analyst
Telephone (604) 737-4144
Cell (604) 787-9659
radamach@cmhc.ca

 

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Bathroom Tiles Color = Sales Killer? http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/bathroom-tiles-color-sales-killer Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:03:31 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/bathroom-tiles-color-sales-killer Market Ready

Q. The tile in my bathroom is in good shape, but it’s brightly colored and may not appeal to everyone. Should I replace it before selling?
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A. Although real estate agents and designers often recommend decorating with neutral colors to make a home more appealing to a buyer, it may not make sense to replace your tile if it’s in good condition, since the cost could be difficult to recoup.

“What it boils down to is that the apartment has to be at least clean, including the bathroom,” said Phyllis Pezenik, vice president and managing director for brokerage services at DJK Residential, in New York. Brightly colored tile “probably won’t be in many people’s taste,” she said, but “if the apartment is in good shape and everything is clean and neat, it shows that you’ve maintained it.”

Instead of retiling the bathroom, Ms. Pezenik suggested offsetting the bright tile with a very plain shower curtain and towels. And “if there’s any paint above the tiles, use a very neutral color” there, she added, “like an off-white or a very pale gray.”

DeeDee Gundberg, product development portfolio director at the tile and stone company Ann Sacks, also recommended keeping the tile. “I’ve seen turquoise and black tiles in a bathroom that were just fantastic,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Not for everyone, but the overall look was beautiful and therefore I don’t think would deter a buyer.”

In an extreme case, though, if the tile is an eyesore in an otherwise tastefully renovated home, it might be worth the investment to replace it with something neutral, said Mimi Fong, owner of the interior design firm Luminosus Designs, and a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. “It could be the difference between getting an offer or not,” she said.

Ms. Fong recommended installing large-format ceramic tiles (12-by-24-inch or 4-by-20-inch) for a contemporary look. “Definitely don’t use 4-by-4 tiles,” she said. “That would immediately date your bathroom. It will look like a 1970s or 1980s leftover.”

In terms of color, “you can never go wrong with the classics,” she said.

“Creams, beiges and whites paired with beautiful hardware will sell a bathroom,” she added. Or tiles that mimic the look of natural stone: with that option, she said, “you can get a very good look for little money, and they’ll be much easier to maintain” than real stone.

Her favorite sources include Ann Sacks, Nemo Tile and Walker Zanger.

A more basic option, Ms. Gundberg said, would be to use 3-by-6-inch or 6-by-6-inch tile that could be installed with staggered joints for a traditional look, or in a straight grid for a more modern look.

If you decide to leave the existing tile in place, there’s always the chance you’ll get lucky and find a buyer who likes it, Ms. Pezenik noted: “You might get that one person who says, ‘Wow, I’ve been looking for that tile my whole life.’ ” 

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Upgrading a Small Refrigerator to a Full Size Unit http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/upgrading-a-small-refrigerator-to-a-full-size-unit Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:00:57 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/upgrading-a-small-refrigerator-to-a-full-size-unit Market Ready

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Q. I have a small under-counter refrigerator in my kitchen. Is it worth the investment to replace it with a full-size unit?

A. If you’re marketing your place toward supermodels, a tiny refrigerator is fine. Otherwise, compared with a full-size unit, a small under-counter fridge “is always a negative,” even in the tiniest kitchens, said Shannon Aalai, a vice president with the real estate company Citi Habitats.

In New York, under-counter refrigerators are more common than you think, she added. “There’s this assumption in New York that people eat out all the time, and nobody stays home to cook.” Nevertheless, she said, “even people who are not big cooks still want somewhere to put frozen things.”

“Some of these fridges are so small, you can’t even fit things like water,” she said. “It can feel like dorm living.”

And few adults want to feel as if they are moving into a dorm room.

Replacing an under-counter refrigerator isn’t as simple as swapping it for a full-size unit: the countertop is usually in the way, so a limited kitchen renovation, at the least, is often required to modify the cabinetry and open enough space. That can be an annoyance — and expensive — but it will probably pay off once the apartment is on the market, Ms. Aalai says.

She recalled how one buyer she recently represented balked at an otherwise desirable apartment on the Upper West Side. “It was one of the best kitchens we had seen,” she said, but “they had a mini-fridge. For my guy, it was a deal-breaker. The kitchen was so nice, and he didn’t want to rip out the counters to put in a full-size fridge.”

If tearing out the kitchen counter is too daunting, there is a less laborious solution, says Eve Robinson, a New York interior designer: installing refrigerator and freezer drawers. They fit under the counter, she said, are more convenient than swing-door refrigerators, hold a lot and generally offer a high-end built-in look. “What’s so nice about them is that they come right out and are really easy to access,” she said. “You don’t have to bend and crouch to get into the refrigerator.”

And because the drawers come in various widths, they can fit different sizes of cabinetry, so “you don’t have to do a lot of construction,” said Ms. Robinson, who favors models by Sub-Zero.

“The unit usually comes with two drawers: you could do one that’s refrigerator and one that’s freezer,” she said. “Or you could do two units side by side, so you have four drawers.”

However you achieve it, ample room for refrigeration is a selling feature, particularly in Manhattan, where people are used to small spaces, Ms. Aalai says. “People will say, ‘Oh, my God, full-size appliances,’ ” she said. “Only in New York would you have somebody say that.” 

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Making a Porch Appealing to Buyers http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/making-a-porch-appealing-to-buyers Fri, 17 Feb 2012 21:58:45 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/making-a-porch-appealing-to-buyers Market Ready


Q. How can I make my front porch more appealing to buyers?

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A. It’s worth putting some extra effort into sprucing up the front porch, because potential buyers spend a lot of time there, chatting with real estate agents and waiting to get into the house during showings, says Cindy Shea, a vice president with Sotheby’s International Realty in the Hamptons.

“It’s about first impressions,” she said, noting that an unkempt porch is a poor introduction to your house. “I hate to say that it could kill someone’s interest in going inside the house, but it’s really the portal through which they’re going to enter, so it’s very, very important.”

Kimberly Renner, owner of the Austin, Tex., design and construction company the Renner Project, made a similar observation. “From a marketing standpoint, you know that potential buyers tend to linger outside the house and talk,” she said. “They stand at the curb and stare at the front of the house, talking about what they’ve just seen. You want to take full advantage of that.”

As a first step, Ms. Shea and Ms. Renner stress the importance of getting the front porch as clean as possible.

“One of the first things to consider is power-washing off any dirt or mold,” Ms. Shea said. “You want to have clean surfaces, especially after a long winter or a wet summer.”

If the paint is peeling, touch it up. “Look at the trim and the railings,” she added. “If they’re rotted, you might want to get rid of them.”

Ms. Renner’s list of essential basic maintenance also includes making sure the doorbell works, washing the windows and clearing away unused flowerpots. In addition, “make sure the porch light isn’t full of bugs,” she said. “These things are so familiar, you almost stop seeing them. But to have a nice, bright, sparkly light fixture, sparkly windows and pretty flowerpots is actually really important.”

Sellers should also consider replacing tired hardware, she says, as well as the house numbers and the mailbox. When selecting replacements, she notes, there’s an opportunity to update the look of the house. For a contemporary home, for instance, she suggests Design Within Reach’s crisp Neutra house numbers. For a traditional home, she recommends classic brass numbers from Restoration Hardware.

A fresh coat of high-gloss paint on the front door also goes a long way toward making the whole exterior look better, she says, adding that black is a “classy, safe” color choice in most situations.

To go beyond the basics, Ms. Shea and Ms. Renner recommend thinking about the porch as an outdoor room and adding furniture. For a durable outdoor rug, Ms. Renner suggests a woven floor mat from Chilewich. For seating, she likes Crate & Barrel wicker Summerlin rocking chairs or West Elm outdoor Wood-Slat armchairs.

For the finishing touch, consider a large-scale planter. “One large pot with an abundant arrangement of flowers or one sculptural bush makes a better statement than multiple small ones that clutter up the steps,” Ms. Renner said.

The reward for all the work, Ms. Shea said, is a porch that can help seduce buyers: “As they stand there, it’s creating that first feeling.”

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What to Do with Those Family Photos http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/what-to-do-with-those-family-photos Fri, 17 Feb 2012 21:54:58 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/what-to-do-with-those-family-photos

Market Ready



Q. Should I remove the family photos hanging on my wall before listing my apartment?

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A. Clearing out family photos “should be the very first thing you do when you prepare an apartment for sale,” said Elizabeth Kee, an associate broker with the New York real estate company Core.

It’s important “to depersonalize and declutter,” Ms. Kee said, and “that includes picture frames that are located on mantels and bookshelves.”

The reason, she said, is that “you have a lot of different types of people, from all walks of life, with different customs, cultures and religions,” coming through to look at a home when it’s on the market. “You don’t want the space to feel like it belongs to any one group of people.”

Ms. Kee acknowledged that taking down family photos can be a task fraught with emotion.

“I’ve had a lot of instances where people feel like they should leave their wedding pictures up,” she said. “They think that they’re so beautiful, and they probably spent a fortune on them. They feel that having a picture like that shows what a great home it is. But that can actually be a huge turnoff to buyers, especially in New York, which is a transient city.”

However, David Kassel, the owner of ILevel, a New York art-placement and picture-hanging service, isn’t so quick to dismiss family photos.

“With a family photo wall, it may be a good thing if it’s done really well, so people can imagine their own family there,” said Mr. Kassel, who has worked with interior designers like Jeffrey Bilhuber and Charlotte Moss. “Our experience is that people have a really hard time making these design decisions and can’t fathom how to arrange pictures.” In that case, you might actually be doing the buyers a favor by leaving your photos up.

To create a stylish family photo wall, Mr. Kassel offered a couple of tips. First, use frames that complement one another. “You don’t want to have gold and silver frames together,” he said. “Gold and wood frames together are good; black and white frames together are good.”

Also, make sure the pictures are arranged in a grid or with common spacing — about an inch and a half between the frames — to create an orderly composition.

If your photo wall isn’t that aesthetically appealing and you’d prefer to take the pictures down, Mr. Kassel had some advice for cleaning up the wall.

To remove pencil marks and scuffs left by frames, he said, try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. To fill the holes left by picture hangers, use spackling paste, but be sure to wipe the repair down with a wet sponge before it dries to get a smooth finish that doesn’t require sanding. “You might have to spackle it twice,” he said, and “it’s a lot easier to rub it with a damp sponge as opposed to sanding and creating a big dusty mess.” 


]]> Reupholstering a Built-in Banquette http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/reupholstering-a-built-in-banquette Fri, 17 Feb 2012 21:51:51 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/reupholstering-a-built-in-banquette Market Ready

Q. I have a built-in banquette in my kitchen. Should I reupholster it before trying to sell my home?

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A. If you have a kitchen banquette that’s covered with stained or worn fabric, it may be a good idea to reupholster it before opening your home to potential buyers.

“Oftentimes banquettes have a lot of food stains on them, or kids have been standing on them,” said Gordon Roberts, a managing director at Warburg Realty in New York. “They can just look really beat up. That can be a distraction if the rest of the kitchen is showing well.”

In that case, Mr. Roberts recommended re-covering it, because “it’s a relatively inexpensive thing to do, and it will freshen a kitchen up,” making the whole room look more appealing.

But if the rest of the kitchen is in poor condition as well, he said, reupholstering the banquette might not be such a good investment. “If the kitchen is really old and needs to be gutted,” he said, “then reupholstering the banquette is not going to save the day.”

Philip Gorrivan, a New York interior designer who frequently uses banquettes in his projects, said that they can be a good selling point because they are a very efficient use of space. “I always tell my clients they should have them,” he said.

For a high-traffic area like the kitchen, Mr. Gorrivan said, he almost always has banquettes upholstered in a fabric that’s suitable for indoor and outdoor use. “It’s engineered really well, and any stains come out of the fibers,” he said. “It lasts forever.”

Indoor-outdoor fabrics have come a long way from the stiff, uncomfortable textiles of yesteryear, he added. “You’d be amazed: usually, you can’t even tell that it’s an outdoor fabric,” he said. “They’ve gotten so good and so chic that you can even get indoor-outdoor velvets.” Some of his favorite manufacturers include DeLany & Long, Duralee, Knoll and Perennials.

If you’ve already selected a fabric that isn’t naturally stain-resistant, Mr. Gorrivan said, you could have it treated by a fabric protection service like Fiber-Seal, “but I really think that indoor-outdoor fabric is a better way to go.”

Mr. Gorrivan recommends a fabric with a small-scale pattern or subtle color variations, rather than a solid color. “The more texture or pattern, the more sins you can hide,” he said. “I would go with a tight, textured pattern, like a nice weave.”

You might also want to take a close look at the condition of the upholstery in the rest of your home, even if you’ll be taking most of it with you. If your furniture is dirty, most of it can be steam-cleaned, Mr. Roberts said. “The couch, the chairs and the slipcovers.”

It doesn’t cost much, he said, and it will help give buyers the best impression of your home.TIM McKEOUGH

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Upgrading a Home before a Sale http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/upgrading-a-home-before-a-sale Fri, 17 Feb 2012 21:47:23 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/upgrading-a-home-before-a-sale

Originally Published in New York Times on January 18, 2012:

Q. I’ve inherited a rundown home. Is it better to sell as is or invest in repairs and upgrades?

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A. If the home has serious problems or damage, like a water leak, mold or severely peeling paint, it should be repaired before you list the property, says Elayne Roskin, a senior vice president and managing director at Brown Harris Stevens who frequently handles estate sales.

“If there’s a massive leak, the ceiling is falling down and the floorboards are wet, that has to be fixed before anybody goes in there,” she said. “Those big structural line items, for sure, need to be dealt with before the property ever gets on the market.”

But if the home merely appears outdated because the fixtures, finishes and appliances are decades old, Ms. Roskin recommends selling the property as is. “When it’s an estate sale, which is what we’re talking about, the majority of people know that they will be renovating,” she said. “Every buyer that walks in there is going to expect to have to renovate.”

To prepare such a home for sale, Ms. Roskin suggests clearing all the clutter (but not the furniture, which helps a home show better), cleaning and bringing in fragrant flowers. “We like to make it smell pretty,” she said, noting that many older homes have a musty odor.

Stacey Jacovini Storm, the principal of Ascape Architecture, offered similar advice. “Are there leaks?” asked Ms. Jacovini Storm, who has designed apartments and houses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. “Is the mechanical system not working well or safely? Does the toilet flush? These are the basic questions. You want to make sure that someone could live there, and that there’s nothing unsafe.”

She recommends replacing any appliances, windows and bathroom fixtures that are broken. But if the home is otherwise inhabitable, she says, it should be left more or less untouched.

Most buyers who are planning to renovate prefer to start from scratch, she says, and some might be put off by a seller’s alterations — particularly if the home was “renovated halfway.”

From a buyer’s perspective, she said: “You don’t want people to start making decisions for you. Then it’s like, ‘Gosh, it’s a shame that they just fixed up that bathroom,’ ” which might have to be ripped out.

Ms. Roskin agrees. Many buyers “specifically want something that hasn’t been touched,” she said. “They do not want to pay for someone else’s renovation.”

As an architect who enjoys giving old homes new lives, Ms. Jacovini Storm says she has seen too many disappointing renovations over the years. “I’ve seen houses where I would have paid a contractor to put his hammer down and walk away,” she said, “so that I could have fixed it up before they ruined it.” TIM McKEOUGH


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BC Government Announces New HST/PST Housing Transitional Rules http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/bc-government-announces-new-hst-pst-housing-transitional-rules Fri, 17 Feb 2012 21:42:30 -0800 General http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/bc-government-announces-new-hst-pst-housing-transitional-rules

Government announces new HST/PST housing transitional rules

The government today announced the HST/PST transitional rules on new homes.

As the province transitions back to the PST, which will replace the HST effective April 1, 2013, measures to ease the HST burden on new home buyers include:

HST/PST transition rules will help ensure that whenever purchasers buy a new home they will all pay a consistent and equitable amount of tax, whether the home is built:

The temporary housing transition measures will be in place until March 31, 2015. The tax only applies to homes where construction begins before the transition date and ownership and possession occur after.

REBGV successfully advocated for the following:

The BC Real Estate Association plans to provide Boards with a list of FAQs and draft contract language that REALTORS® can use in their listing agreements and contracts of purchase of sales contracts. We will post these on www.realtorlink.ca and in REALTORLink News.

For more information, visit the BC Ministry of Finance at: www.pstinbc.ca

To read the Ministry of Finance announcement: www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2012/02/transition-measures-support-new-home-buyers-builders.html

If you have questions, please contact Harriet Permut, Manager, Government Relations, at hpermut@rebgv.org

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Not Much Natural Light - Tips to Make Your Place Look Brighter http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/not-much-natural-light-tips-to-make-your-place-look-brighter Mon, 09 Jan 2012 23:18:21 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/not-much-natural-light-tips-to-make-your-place-look-brighter January 4, 2012

Market Ready

Q. My apartment doesn’t get much natural light. What can I do to improve the way it looks to buyers?

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A. “You can’t create exposures or more natural light, but you can enhance the natural light you get,” said Leonard Steinberg, a managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman. The objective, he said, is to “show how you can live in that space comfortably, without it feeling dark.”

Fortunately, Mr. Steinberg said, “Dark spaces aren’t dark only because they don’t get natural light.” In fact, most of the time, he said, “It’s because they’re painted a dark color, or have bad lighting or heavy curtains.” And all of those problems can be fixed fairly easily.

Matthew Tanteri, principal of the daylighting consulting firm Tanteri & Associates and an assistant professor of lighting design at Parsons the New School for Design, said that there are two key ways to enhance natural light: improving interior reflectivity and reducing obstructions from furniture.

With reflectivity, “You want to maximize the amount of times that daylight bounces inside the room,” Mr. Tanteri said. To do so, he suggested using light colors that are “close to white” on ceilings, walls and floors, and avoiding glossy finishes. “Glossy surfaces can actually be a detriment because they can create glare,” he said. “The safest finishes are matte finishes, because they reflect light in all directions.”

Mr. Steinberg also recommends using light hues, and offered specific paints. “Linen White by Benjamin Moore is a very reliable, sell-your-house coat of paint,” he said. He suggested another Benjamin Moore color, Decorators White, for the ceiling and trim.

On a related note, Mr. Tanteri said: “You don’t want to cover the wall with dark hangings. Paintings and posters will absorb light.”

As for reducing light obstructions, “Orient objects in the room to promote the flow of daylight,” he said. “So, things like bookshelves and partitions should be perpendicular to the window wall.”

Mr. Tanteri also says that light from the top of a window will reach the farthest into the apartment, so it is important not to block that part of the window with heavy blinds or drapery.

He favors Venetian blinds because they provide solar control and can also redirect sunlight to the ceiling. “That’s when you get deeper daylight penetration,” he said. Another option: shades that travel from the bottom of the window upward, rather than top down. “That’s something that works for daylight as well as privacy,” he said.

And you can supplement the sunlight with strategically placed light fixtures. “Use indirect lighting, aimed at the ceiling,” Mr. Tanteri said. A torchier floor lamp near the back of the room could “take over where the daylight on the ceiling starts to fade away.”

If some areas of the apartment still appear dark, it may not be as big a problem as you think. “I’ve actually had buyers specifically ask for dark areas of an apartment, because of fine art and photography” that could fade, Mr. Steinberg said. “There’s a silver lining in every cloud.”

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Balanced Real Estate Market Prevailed through much of 2011 http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/balanced-real-estate-market-prevailed-through-much-of-2011 Mon, 09 Jan 2012 10:05:50 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/balanced-real-estate-market-prevailed-through-much-of-2011 News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information please contact:
Craig Munn, Assistant Manager, Communications
Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver
Phone: (604) 730-3146  Fax: (604) 730-3102
E-mail: cmunn@rebgv.org also available at  www.realtylink.org
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The real estate industry is a key economic driver in British Columbia. In 2010, 30,595 homes changed ownership in the Board's area, generating 
$1.28 billion in spin-off activity and 8,567 jobs. The total dollar value of residential sales transacted through the MLS® system in Greater Vancouver totalled $21 billion in 2010. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is an association representing more than 10,000 REALTORS® and 
their companies. The Board provides a variety of member services, including the Multiple Listing Service®. For more information on real estate, 
statistics, and buying or selling a home, contact a local REALTOR® or visit www.rebgv.org. 
Balanced real estate market prevailed through much of 2011
VANCOUVER, B.C. – January 4, 2012 – The 2011 Greater Vancouver housing market began with heightened demand in 
regional hot spots and concluded with greater balance between seller supply and buyer demand.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that total sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in 2011 reached 32,390, a 5.9 per cent increase from the 30,595 sales recorded in 2010, and a 9.2 per cent decrease 
from the 35,669 residential sales in 2009. Last year’s home sale total was 6.3 per cent below the ten-year average for annual 
Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) sales in the region.
The number of residential properties listed for sale on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver increased 2.7 per cent in 2011 to 
59,549 compared to the 58,009 properties listed in 2010. Looking back further, last year’s total represents a 12.8 per cent 
increase compared to the 52,869 residential properties listed in 2009. Last year’s listing total was 11.1 per cent above the tenyear average for annual Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) property listings in the region.
“It was a relatively balanced year for the real estate market in Greater Vancouver with listing totals slightly above historical 
norms and sale numbers slightly below,” Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president said. 
Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,658 in December 2011, a decrease of 12.7 per cent from the 1,899 
sales recorded in December 2010 and a 29.7 per cent decline compared to November 2011 when 2,360 home sales occurred.
More broadly, last month’s residential sales represent a 34.1 per cent decrease over the 2,515 residential sales in December 
2009, a 79.4 per cent increase compared to December 2008’s 924 sales, and a 12.6 per cent decrease compared to the 1,897 
sales in December 2007.
The overall residential benchmark price, as calculated by the MLSLink Housing Price Index®, for Greater Vancouver 
increased 7.6 per cent to $621,674 between Decembers 2010 and 2011. However, prices have decreased 1.5 per cent since 
hitting a peak of $630,921 in June 2011.
“Our market remained in a balanced state for most of the year, although higher levels of demand for detached properties in 
the region’s largest communities caused prices in certain areas to rise higher than others,” Setticasi said. “For example, the 
benchmark price of a single-family detached home experienced double-digit increases in nine areas within the region over 
the last 12 months.”
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,629 in December 2011. This 
represents a 4.1 per cent decline compared to the 1,699 units listed in December 2010 and a 49.4 per cent decline compared 
to November 2011 when 3,222 properties were listed.
Sales of detached properties in December 2011 reached 630, a decrease of 18.1 per cent from the 769 detached sales recorded in December 2010, and a 30.2 per cent decrease from the 902 units sold in December 2009. The benchmark price for 
detached properties increased 11.2 per cent from December 2010 to $887,471.
Sales of apartment properties reached 774 in December 2011, a decline of 4.6 per cent compared to the 811 sales in 
December 2010, and a decrease of 32.9 per cent compared to the 1,154 sales in December 2009.The benchmark price of an 
apartment property increased 3.7 per cent from December 2010 to $401,396.
Attached property sales in December 2011 totalled 254, a decline of 20.4 per cent compared to the 319 sales in December 
2010, and a 44.7 per cent decrease from the 459 attached properties sold in December 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4.2 per cent between December 2010 and 2011 to $511,499.
News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Balanced real estate market prevailed through much of 2011

VANCOUVER, B.C. – January 4, 2012 – The 2011 Greater Vancouver housing market began with heightened demand in regional hot spots and concluded with greater balance between seller supply and buyer demand.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that total sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in 2011 reached 32,390, a 5.9 per cent increase from the 30,595 sales recorded in 2010, and a 9.2 per cent decrease from the 35,669 residential sales in 2009. Last year’s home sale total was 6.3 per cent below the ten-year average for annual Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) sales in the region.

The number of residential properties listed for sale on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver increased 2.7 per cent in 2011 to 59,549 compared to the 58,009 properties listed in 2010. Looking back further, last year’s total represents a 12.8 per cent increase compared to the 52,869 residential properties listed in 2009. Last year’s listing total was 11.1 per cent above the tenyear average for annual Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) property listings in the region.

“It was a relatively balanced year for the real estate market in Greater Vancouver with listing totals slightly above historical norms and sale numbers slightly below,” Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president said. 

Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,658 in December 2011, a decrease of 12.7 per cent from the 1,899 sales recorded in December 2010 and a 29.7 per cent decline compared to November 2011 when 2,360 home sales occurred.

More broadly, last month’s residential sales represent a 34.1 per cent decrease over the 2,515 residential sales in December 2009, a 79.4 per cent increase compared to December 2008’s 924 sales, and a 12.6 per cent decrease compared to the 1,897 sales in December 2007.

The overall residential benchmark price, as calculated by the MLSLink Housing Price Index®, for Greater Vancouver increased 7.6 per cent to $621,674 between Decembers 2010 and 2011. However, prices have decreased 1.5 per cent since hitting a peak of $630,921 in June 2011.

“Our market remained in a balanced state for most of the year, although higher levels of demand for detached properties in the region’s largest communities caused prices in certain areas to rise higher than others,” Setticasi said. “For example, the benchmark price of a single-family detached home experienced double-digit increases in nine areas within the region over the last 12 months.”

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,629 in December 2011. This represents a 4.1 per cent decline compared to the 1,699 units listed in December 2010 and a 49.4 per cent decline compared to November 2011 when 3,222 properties were listed.

Sales of detached properties in December 2011 reached 630, a decrease of 18.1 per cent from the 769 detached sales recorded in December 2010, and a 30.2 per cent decrease from the 902 units sold in December 2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 11.2 per cent from December 2010 to $887,471.

Sales of apartment properties reached 774 in December 2011, a decline of 4.6 per cent compared to the 811 sales in December 2010, and a decrease of 32.9 per cent compared to the 1,154 sales in December 2009.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.7 per cent from December 2010 to $401,396.

Attached property sales in December 2011 totalled 254, a decline of 20.4 per cent compared to the 319 sales in December 2010, and a 44.7 per cent decrease from the 459 attached properties sold in December 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4.2 per cent between December 2010 and 2011 to $511,499.
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Station Helps Put London District on the Right Track http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/station-helps-put-london-district-on-the-right-track Mon, 26 Dec 2011 00:29:07 -0800 General http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/station-helps-put-london-district-on-the-right-track Wish we can get properties with this kind of characters in Vancouver... Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2011

Station Helps Put London District on the Right Track


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LONDON — The English poet John Betjeman described the towering Gothic rail station of St. Pancras in north-central London as “too beautiful and too romantic to survive.” But survive it did, even after being slated for demolition in the 1960s.

And now, as home to London’s Eurostar terminus and a hotel and apartment complex, it has kick-started the regeneration of an entire district, where residential prices are estimated to have risen more than 9 percent in the past year alone.

Although the neighborhood’s focal point is the famous red brick St. Pancras, Londoners usually refer to the area as King’s Cross for the rather prosaic rail terminus of the same name a block away. (There also is a third main rail station, Euston, in the area.)

The soaring hulk of the old station, raised in 1871, is now listed as a Grade 1 building, “of exceptional interest,” by English Heritage . Turning part of it into luxury apartments was “extremely challenging,” said Harry Handelsman, chief executive of Manhattan Loft Corp., the London-based developer of the project.

“But it was also incredibly satisfying to know that we were restoring the building faithfully and accurately from an historical perspective,” said Mr. Handelsman, whose team incorporated railroad ties, the large timbers used as a base for tracks, into the design of some of the apartments.

All 67 units in the project, known as St. Pancras Chambers, were sold in 2005 before construction began at an average of slightly more than £800 per square foot — unprecedented prices for the area at that time and what today would be $1,245 per square foot, or $13,400 per square meter.

The first owners got the keys to their apartments in 2009. There is now a two-bedroom, 1,097-square-foot, or 102-square-meter, unit on sale for £1.25 million through the Knight Frank real estate agency.

Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, calculates that average house and apartment values in the King’s Cross district have risen 41 percent over the past five years, with a 9.1 percent increase in the past 12 months alone.

Stanley Fink, a British hedge fund manager and former chief executive of the Man Group, owns a spacious three-bedroom apartment at St. Pancras Chambers, partly occupying what used to be the station’s water tower.

Lord Fink, who was made a baron for life in January, did not want to disclose the price of the apartment but said that he had bought it as a shell and paid for the completion. The unit retains the water tower’s inspection platforms and some brickwork and has several fireplaces. The railroad ties were sandblasted, revealing a honey-gold color, and look like ship’s timbers in the apartment, the owner said.

While he likes the residence, Lord Fink also praised the location. “This is a neighborhood on the up,” he said. “It’s incredibly good for communications. If you move about London by public transport or by car, you are 15 minutes from the City and Parliament. Paris is literally two hours from my bedroom.”

In real estate terms, the neighborhood between Islington, the fashionable area northeast of King’s Cross, and Bloomsbury, home to the British Museum in the southwest, was long considered one of London’s missed opportunities.

And in some ways it still is: unlovely Pentonville Road, the main artery connecting King’s Cross and Islington, features ramshackle pubs, liquor stores and a string of discount mattress and bedding outlets. Side streets contain long-stay hotels patronized by welfare recipients and backpackers’ hostels.

Crucial to the long-term future of the neighborhood is King’s Cross Central, a 67-acre, or 27-hectare, development north of the train station, straddling Regent’s Canal. It is designed to contain 8 million square feet of mixed-use space, with investment in new infrastructure expected to total £2 billion.

The limited partnership behind the project includes London & Continental Railways, the company responsible for the St. Pancras rail station renovations.

The development is to contain 2,000 new homes, plus student dormitories for the University of the Arts London, which opened on the site in September. The first residential building will be ready at the end of 2012; the rest is scheduled to take at least 10 years to complete.

The developer also promises a focal point, Granary Square, that will be “similar in scale” to Trafalgar Square, according to the developer’s Web site.

While neighborhood prices have continued to rise, Nick Moore of the Islington branch of the Cluttons estate agency noted that a family house in Islington, the area that Tony Blair and his family called home before Mr. Blair became prime minister in 1997, might sell for £1.3 million. A mile away in King’s Cross, it still would only fetch around £750,000.

But, Mr. Moore noted, overseas buyers in particular are starting to take notice of the area: “King’s Cross is very convenient to the City of London. Meanwhile, St. Pancras offers Eurostar connections on the doorstep. This is attracting a lot of interest from French and Italians, who have not up to now had this area on their radar.”

Residential property investment in London generally was bolstered in August by the news that the average monthly rent in the capital had broken through the £1,000 barrier.

For the moment, flats in large terraced houses are a staple of the King’s Cross property market. Turning them back into single-family homes — the aim of many prosperous buyers — requires planning permission that is often difficult to obtain, as the local authorities in London tend to see this type of reconversion as reducing the housing stock.

A four-floor Victorian terraced single-family home on Gifford Street, close to King’s Cross station, and with 1,456 square feet of living space, is available through the Cluttons agency for £795,000. The property has three reception rooms and a modern kitchen and bathroom. One of its two bedrooms opens onto a roof terrace overlooking the property’s rear garden.

It is undoubtedly the kind of house that would command a higher asking price almost anywhere else in central London.

In October, the Lloyds TSB bank reported a revival in the market for properties of £1 million and more, particularly in England’s affluent southeast. It said there were more than 3,300 property sales of £1 million or more in the first half of 2011 in Britain, an increase of 10 percent from the same period last year. Most of these sales were in the capital.

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Soundproofing before selling a home? http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/soundproofing-before-selling-a-home Mon, 26 Dec 2011 00:25:35 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/soundproofing-before-selling-a-home December 21, 2011

Market Ready

Q. The neighboring apartment has a loud dog. Should we add soundproofing along the shared wall?

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A. Effective soundproofing can be expensive, but it may be worth it if potential buyers are going to be put off by noisy neighbors.

Ilsa Vasquez, a sales associate with MNS Real Estate in New York, said: “I’ve had the issue myself, and I’ve also had the issue of selling an apartment with very thin walls. If it was bath time next door, you would know about it. That’s how clearly you could hear.”

Loud noises can be deal breakers. Although many New Yorkers expect to encounter sounds in the city, “There’s a different conversation to be had if it’s a dog or a baby crying next door,” Ms. Vasquez said.

In such cases, she recommends investing in soundproofing along the shared wall.

But sellers should not expect absolute silence. Soundproofing is a game of incremental improvements: the goal is to reduce noise as much as possible.

Devin O’Brien, the owner of Brooklyn Insulation and Soundproofing, said the first step to improving the noise-muffling capabilities of a wall is to add blown-in cellulose insulation, assuming the wall isn’t insulated already. “That would give you about a five-decibel reduction for airborne sound, which is noticeable, but not major,” he said.

The next step up, he said, would be to add a second layer of drywall to the existing wall and to put Green Glue, an elastic damping compound, in between the layers to “cut down on the resonance.” That could reduce sound transmission by about 10 decibels, he said, noting that for every 10-decibel drop, “Sound is perceived as half as loud on the other side.”

A more effective, even extreme, solution, Mr. O’Brien said, is to remove the existing drywall and add insulation and sound isolation clips to the studs (the clips have “a rubber shock absorber” attached, he said). The seller would then install two layers of drywall with Green Glue in between. This assembly, Mr. O’Brien said, could reduce sound transmission about 25 decibels.

While every installation is different, the cost for this type of soundproofing generally starts at about $4,000 per wall, Mr. O’Brien said.

Mason Wyatt, owner of City Soundproofing in Manhattan, offered a similar approach, but noted, “Some buildings prefer that you don’t disturb the existing walls for code and fire rating.”

For that reason, Mr. Wyatt said, “We normally recommend adding an isolated wall next to the existing wall.” A layer of heavy vinyl soundproofing material is applied over the existing wall, followed by thin framing and insulation, and two layers of fire-rated drywall with Green Glue in the middle. This kind of installation, which costs about $35 to $40 a square foot, “takes up about three inches of space altogether,” he said, and can cut neighborly noise substantially.

But even when using such elaborate measures, Mr. Wyatt said, “I never promise that something is going to be soundproof, 100 percent. That’s almost impossible.”

Questions about repairs or redecorating in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.


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Low Borrowing Costs Lure Home Buyers http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/low-borrowing-costs-lure-home-buyers Mon, 19 Dec 2011 23:27:33 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/low-borrowing-costs-lure-home-buyers
Historically normal activity keeps the Greater Vancouver 
housing market in a balanced state
VANCOUVER, B.C. – December 2, 2011 – The Greater Vancouver housing market saw relatively typical home sale 
and listing activity in November.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales of detached, attached 
and apartment properties on the region’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) reached 2,360 in November. This represents a 5.9 per cent decline compared to the 2,509 sales in November 2010 and a 1.9 per cent increase compared to the 
2,317 sales recorded in October 2011.
Looking back further, last month’s residential sales total is 5.8 per cent below the ten-year average for sales in November.
“The pace of home listings entering the market eased slightly in November, compared to recent months, while sale 
levels remained fairly normal for this time of year,” Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president said. “November activity 
helped put our market firmly in balanced territory.”
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,222 in November. 
This represents a 26.3 per cent decline compared to the 4,374 new listings reported in October 2011, but a 6.3 per cent 
increase compared to November 2010 when 3,030 properties were listed for sale on the MLS®. 
Looking back further, last month’s new listing total is 2.1 per cent above the ten-year average for November.
The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® sits at 14,090, a decline of 
9 per cent compared to October 2011 but an increase of 13 per cent when compared to this time last year.
The MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over 
the last 12 months has increased 7.2 per cent to $622,087 in November 2011 from $580,080 in November 2010. 
Since reaching a peak in June of $630,921, the benchmark price for all residential properties in the region has declined 1.4 per cent.
Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in November 2011 reached 916, a decrease of 12.8 per cent from the 
1,050 detached sales recorded in November 2010, and a 21.3 per cent decrease from the 1,164 units sold in November 
2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 11.4 per cent from November 2010 to $890,204.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,000 in November 2011, a 4.9 per cent decrease compared to the 1,052 sales 
in November 2010, and a decrease of 28.4 per cent compared to the 1,396 sales in November 2009. The benchmark 
price of an apartment property increased 2.7 per cent from November 2010 to $399,686.
Attached property sales in November 2011 totalled 444, a 9.1 per cent increase compared to the 407 sales in November 2010, and a 15.1 per cent decrease from the 523 attached properties sold in November 2009. The benchmark 
price of an attached unit increased 4.5 per cent between November 2010 and 2011 to $510,960

Low borrowing costs lure home buyers

 

 
 
 

Existing home sales rose slightly in November as continued low borrowing costs pushed housing closer to seller's market territory, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Thursday.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up 0.5 per cent in November over October -the third straight monthly gain -and were also ahead of last year's levels, though overall sales were in line with the 10-year average, CREA said.

"Despite numerous headwinds - slower job growth, softer consumer confidence, tighter mort-gage rules, elevated household debt and high valuations - buyers simply couldn't resist the lure of cheap borrowing costs - especially given the benign rate out-look," Sal Guatieri, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, said in a note.

While sales rose in about 60 per cent of local markets, the Halifax-Dartmouth region of Nova Scotia accounted for much November's numbers, with sales rising by 41.5 per cent, the largest single monthly gain for the region since February 1992, according to Francis Fong, an economist with TD Economics. Rising sales there more than offset a 3.3-per-cent decline in Toronto.

To November, there were 432,048 houses sold through the Canadian MLS systems in 2011, CREA said, a 2.1-per-cent gain from the same period in 2010. The average sale price in November was $360,396, a year-over-year increase of 4.6 per cent, which CREA says is the smallest increase since January.

November's new listings fell 3.4 per cent from the previous month, down in more than two-thirds of Canada's housing markets, CREA said, led by Toronto, the Hamilton-Burlington area of Ontario and Calgary.

Analysts are expecting the nation-al housing market to moderate in 2012, with a weak first half followed by a stronger six months.

 
 
 
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Should I Store My Messy Collections of Books? http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/should-i-store-my-messy-collections-of-books Fri, 16 Dec 2011 00:56:27 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/should-i-store-my-messy-collections-of-books Books add characters to a property, but too many books look messy. Some beautiful glossy coffee table books can add good visual interest to the property and might help the potential buyer to recall the details of the property later.

November 30, 2011

Market Ready

Q. I have an overflowing wall of books in my living room. Should I store them or reorganize them to make it look less cluttered?

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A. Although real estate agents, home stagers and interior designers often talk about the importance of clearing out clutter to make a home look more appealing, books don’t necessarily need to go. In many cases, they can be an essential part of a room’s decoration, and may actually be advantageous when selling.

“You should hang on to them,” said Confidence Stimpson, a senior vice president at the real estate broker Stribling & Associates. “A lot of books can make a seller look smart, as long as they’re the right books.”

The right books? “Keep the James Joyce, store the James Patterson,” Ms. Stimpson said. “A prospective buyer walks in, sees good books and thinks, ‘Well, this person is smart and they live here, so I could probably live here.’ ”

That kind of impression could be especially valuable in emerging neighborhoods, she said, where strategically placed brainy tomes “could really elevate a property.”

Some interior designers and home stagers buy or rent collections of books purely for their decorative appeal. Companies like Books by the Foot and Juniper Booksand separate services offered by stores like Housing Works Bookstore Café and the Strand cater to such customers and help with design.

But if your problem is that you have too many books and don’t want to get rid of any of them, “you can double layer the books,” said Jenny McKibben, accounts manager for the Strand’s Books by the Foot service, who has helped create collections for private homes as well as sets for television shows and movies like “The Departed,” “Julie & Julia” and “The Devil Wears Prada.”

“I line books up on the very edge of the shelf, so it looks neat and uniform,” she said. “That usually leaves a pretty big gap behind,” where you can hide a second row of titles.

To really make a statement, she suggests organizing books by height or color. On long bookshelves, she said, you could sort books based on size, “like stairs, from high to low. Visually, that looks nice and neat.”

She also frequently mixes rows of books set on end with horizontal stacks. And when she has a particularly impressive book with a handsome cover, she will sometimes turn it face out, she said, “like a bookend.”

In bookcases with square shelves, she suggests grouping covers with similar hues to create solid blocks of color. For instance, “you can do pops of blue next to little white sets,” she said. “I try to put golds and yellows together, and put contrasting colors next to each other to bring a visual pop.”

Whichever approach you take, Ms. McKibben echoed Ms. Stimpson’s comments about quality, and suggested giving center stage to handsome art, history and classic-fiction books.

“I generally recommend getting rid of the cheesy summer paperbacks,” she said. “Or at least putting them out of sight.” 

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.


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Can Green Updates Help a Home's Resale Value? http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/can-green-updates-help-a-home-s-resale-value Fri, 16 Dec 2011 00:45:48 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/can-green-updates-help-a-home-s-resale-value "Green Homes" is a topic on everyone's mind these days. Vancouver is considered one of the greenest cities in North America. But how far a home owner is willing to go for a "green home" is really a personal choice. However, lower energy bills of a property is always an attracitve feature at this economic uncertain time. At minimum, make sure your doors and windows are not drafty.

November 16, 2011

Market Ready

Q. Can green updates increase the value of my home? If so, what are the most cost-effective options?

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A. “If you do just one thing, it’s probably not going to add value,” said Jeffrey Schleider, managing director of Miron Properties, a real estate company specializing in green properties, in New York.

But when a number of environmentally friendly updates are implemented all together, they can help your home stand out from the crowd. “If you do five or six things as a package,” he said, “it really makes your property more appealing.”

That said, he added, “there are some investments where you won’t see a return on your investment, because they’re too expensive relative to the value they add.” So he advises starting with easy low-cost changes that target energy savings, clean water and clean air.

To cut energy consumption, he recommends motion-sensor switches in bathrooms and closets that will automatically turn lights on and off when people come and go. Basic models often cost under $20 at hardware stores.

To improve water quality, he suggests installing an under-counter filtration unit by a company like GE or Kohler, for filtered water at the kitchen sink.

“That’s something that people, both environmentally conscious and not, are interested in,” he said. “It stops the use of bottled water, but it’s also a convenience to have clean water at your tap. Even a very good system can be added for a few hundred dollars, and that adds value.”

To improve air quality, he said, sellers should use paints with low or no volatile organic compounds. “It’s not significantly more expensive,” he said, “but can be a huge appeal to buyers. Certain buyers are especially sensitive and can’t even look at homes that don’t have no-V.O.C. paint.”

Ellen Hanson, a New York interior designer who focuses on sustainability, echoed Mr. Schleider’s advice about using low- or no-V.O.C. paint.

She also suggests adding Energy Star-certified kitchen appliances, low-flow bathroom faucets and showerheads, and dual-flush toilets to the list of possible upgrades.

All these items save energy and water, she said, while giving your home a fresh new look.

“We also like to use multilayered window treatments to control solar gain and heat loss,” Ms. Hanson said. “You end up consuming less energy, but whether a buyer of your home would perceive that or not, I’m not sure.”

Indeed, many of these upgrades may go unnoticed if not spelled out in promotional materials. “A lot of them are choices you don’t see,” Ms. Hanson said. “But you can brag about them when you describe your property.”

Mr. Schleider also stresses the importance of marketing these upgrades, pointing out that they could give sellers an edge on the competition.

“It’s pretty tough to sell in some markets right now,” he said. “So any edge you can have is a positive.”

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.


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Should You Install Stone Countertop Before Selling a House? http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/should-you-install-stone-countertop-before-selling-a-house Fri, 16 Dec 2011 00:31:13 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/should-you-install-stone-countertop-before-selling-a-house Almost all the newer properties these days come with stone coutnertops. However, if your kitchen is really dated, it might not be worth the time and effort to put just a stone countertop in. Again, a neat and clean appreance is likely more appealing to the buyer then spending the money to install a new countertop over an old kitchen.

October 26, 2011

Market Ready

Q. Will installing stone countertops in my kitchen increase the home’s value?

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A. Granite or marble countertops will make a home more appealing to buyers than will older countertops made from materials like laminate or wood. “They do add value, most definitely,” said Mary Lou Currier, a senior vice president at the real estate broker Bond New York. “Beauty sells. A beautiful kitchen, with marble or granite, is all to the good. People hate dingy, dirty, old and things that look like 1982.”

But there are two things to consider before splurging on stone. First, “it’s not just the granite, it’s the entire kitchen,” Ms. Currier said. If your cabinets, tile and appliances are old and grungy, new countertops are likely to have little effect.

Second, stone countertops can be expensive, and it may be difficult to recoup your costs in a sale. “Granite is not a quick fix,” she noted. “It’s more involved because it’s custom-made.” Cabinets, she said, are typically an easier and less expensive part of the kitchen to change because they come in standard sizes and as prefabricated units. Even changing the knobs on the cabinets, she said, can help fine-tune a kitchen’s look.

If you do decide to install stone countertops, Ms. Currier said, granite may be considered timeless at the moment, but it “is probably on its way out in the next few years, because it’s been around for a while, and styles change.”

Evan Nussbaum, a vice president of Stone Source, a stone distribution company, said he has observed the same thing. “I think people have become a little sick of the traditional speckled granite look,” he said, even though the material is an ideal choice for countertops in terms of performance, since it doesn’t react to liquids like coffee, lemon juice or wine in the same way most marble does.

For those who prefer marble, he recommended a finish that is honed, rather than polished, to help disguise any etching that acidic liquids might cause. He also recommended Danby marble, a creamy white stone quarried in Vermont, because it has “tremendously low absorption” and is therefore not as delicate as other marbles.

For cutting-edge looks, Mr. Nussbaum said, many designers now use quartzite, “which tends to give you the drama and character that people are used to seeing in decorative marbles, but doesn’t have the acid sensitivity.”

Basalt and schist have a more subdued look, and are becoming popular, he said. “Those give you more of a monolithic-gray, minimal-looking countertop,” he said. “They typically have a higher absorption than granite or quartzite, but when sealed well, they’re a great kitchen countertop.”

Just spend carefully, Ms. Currier said. “I wouldn’t spend $30,000 renovating a kitchen thinking that you’re going to get that money out, if you’re doing it just to sell,” she said. But “if you’re going to live in it for a few years, it can be wonderful.” 

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.


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Increasing Storage Space http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/increasing-storage-space Fri, 16 Dec 2011 00:20:10 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/increasing-storage-space I put half of my books and clothing into storage before my own place went on the market for sale. This article is also so true for Vancouver - we have such expansive real estate! A crowded and disorganized space looks smaller then it really is. 

October 19, 2011

Market Ready

Q. My apartment has very little closet space. Should I add storage before I put it on the market?

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A. An apartment that’s free of clutter, with carefully organized storage space, can be very appealing. “When you live in New York City apartments, closets are always a problem,” said Monica Podell, an executive vice president at Halstead Property. “So, the more storage space you can have, the better. If you can do anything to maximize storage space before selling, it’s a great idea.”

Even simple changes, Ms. Podell noted, could help make the most of the closet space you have. She recommended emptying existing closets and rethinking the way they’re organized. “Spending a couple of hundred dollars to add a bar and shelves in a closet,” she said, can often have an impact.

The next step up, she said, would be to add built-in shelving or wardrobes that appear to be part of a wall. Spending money on features like that just before selling might seem counterintuitive, but “a little bit of work now can help maximize your profit,” she said.

Melanie Fascitelli, president of the closet design firm Clos-ette, said she frequently encounters homes with limited storage space, “even in the most expensive apartments in New York.” To add more, she recommends three strategies.

“Usually, the best thing to do is to build out a wall of closets and mask them as part of the existing wall,” she said. “They can go flush with a doorway, a soffit or another wall.” With floor-to-ceiling doors hiding them, she said, an addition like that would require a space about 30 to 36 inches deep.

A second option, she said, would be to add a free-standing wall behind your bed. One side serves as a headboard and provides bedside storage, while the other side offers closet space.

Her third suggestion is to build out radiator covers. “You can create bookshelves and media storage just by making the covers a little longer and deeper,” she said. “It’s a very simple way to add just a little bit more storage.”

Ms. Fascitelli’s company specializes in high-end renovations, and costs for these kinds of custom installations can run from $8,000 or so into the tens of thousands of dollars, she said. But she also noted that prefabricated components are readily available for do-it-yourselfers with tight budgets.

“Ikea has amazing headboards that double as armoires,” she said. “For a wall of closets, again, Ikea is good for an affordable solution: they have long, long wardrobes. For radiator covers, you can get prefab ones at lumber and hardware stores.”

Whichever way you choose to increase your apartment’s storage space, it usually makes good sense. As Ms. Fascitelli put it, “It’s unimaginable; in the city that probably offers the least square footage for most people, we also have the most stuff.”

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.

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Renovating Bathrooms before Selling? http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/renovating-bathrooms-before-selling Fri, 16 Dec 2011 00:08:51 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/renovating-bathrooms-before-selling The bathrooms, no matter new or old - should always look neat and clean. A clean and neat bathroom speaks volume about the personal hygiene of the current owner. For us hygiene crazed North Americans, the cleanliness of a property is oh-so-important. And if renovation is necessary - awalys awayls hire a licensed plumber!

October 12, 2011

Market Ready

Q. Is it worth renovating my bathroom before I try to sell my apartment?

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A.Depending on how bad your existing bathroom looks, making a few affordable updates might pay off. “It’s really the grunge factor” that you need to consider, said Clare Donohue, a New York kitchen and bath designer who runs One to One Studio. “If you bring a stranger in off the street and they look at your bathroom and are creeped out, you’d better renovate.”

Also important is the apartment’s asking price. In New York, said Burt Savitsky, a senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens, “if you’re dealing with an apartment that’s under $2 million, you have a better shot” of recouping renovation costs. “At that price point, most buyers are less able or less willing to do major renovations.”

Above that price, he said, many buyers will be planning to do their own renovations. “People come with decorators and want to put their own stamp on a space,” he said. “The one thing they really don’t want to do is pay for someone else’s work. If someone put in beautiful pink-and-gray marble that doesn’t appeal to the buyer, they’re going to have to pay for it and then rip it out.”

If your bathroom seems like a candidate for renovation, it’s important to keep a lid on the cost. “I can’t imagine someone who puts more than $25,000 into a bathroom getting more than their money out of it,” Mr. Savitsky said. “But under that, in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, it may really help you.”

And most buyers negotiate a purchase based on an apartment’s condition, he noted, so a fresh new bathroom can potentially put a seller in a stronger position and boost the selling price. But stick to the basics: install simple fixtures and tile in white or off-white. Don’t splurge on steam showers or radiant floor heating, and don’t replace bathtubs with glass shower stalls.

“A lot of people love stall showers,” he said. “But when you do that in an apartment that only has one bath, you’ve limited your appeal to a couple with older children or no children.”

To keep costs down, Ms. Donohue recommended retaining the location of the existing toilet, sink and bathtub, since rearranging the plumbing requires more-extensive renovation.

Another trick is to install a pedestal sink. “The vanities that you can afford for this kind of renovation tend to look cheap, but a pedestal sink makes the room look bigger and is usually more affordable,” she said. “Also, a good water-saving toilet is essential.”

And if your bathroom has a charming old cast-iron tub that has worn with age, it can be reglazed “to make it look new, white and clean,” she said, for a fraction of the price of a new one, by a company like Porcelain Industries (800-698-4023 or porcelainindustries.com).

“If you put a new faucet in, reglaze the tub, plaster and paint the walls, and get a fresh shower curtain,” Ms. Donohue said. “That’s the kind of fix-up that makes it look like a brand-new bathroom but costs only $2,000 or $3,000.”

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.

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When to Leave the LIghts in? http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/when-to-leave-the-lights-in Thu, 15 Dec 2011 23:50:58 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/when-to-leave-the-lights-in It is the best to remove that special ight fixture or any fixture that's personal to you before you put your property on the market. Replace it with something else if necessary. At minimum, make sure your realtor is aware of your unwillingness to part with it. Locally, stores such as Robinson Lighting & Bath Centre and Lighting Warehouse offers many inexpansive and great looking fixtures to choose from. 

October 5, 2011

Market Ready

Q. I have a number of high-end lighting fixtures. Should I leave them in the apartment as a selling feature, or can I take them with me?

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A. When you’re selling a home, the expectation is that any hardwired lighting fixtures will remain in place as part of the deal. But it is possible to take certain beloved pieces with you. The most important thing is to be clear about your intentions from the outset, said Brendan Aguayo, a real estate agent and developer with Aguayo Realty Group, in Brooklyn.

“If the seller and their broker are upfront about it, it shouldn’t be a surprise,” Mr. Aguayo said, noting that details on the light fixtures you intend to keep can be written into the contract. “But it could certainly be a point of contention or negotiation.”

As an example, Mr. Aguayo cited the elaborate chandeliers created by the New York designer Lindsey Adelman, which sell for thousands of dollars. (The custom-made chandelier pictured here cost $14,700.) “Her fixtures really create an environment,” he said. “And that can certainly increase the value of an apartment.” Potential buyers might be put off if told that the fixtures were not part of the deal.

To avoid potentially troublesome negotiations over a favorite chandelier, you might want to take it down before listing the property, Mr. Aguayo said. (He also pointed out that Ms. Adelman offers do-it-yourself instructions for creating a “Lindsey Adelman-like light fixture” on her Web site, lindseyadelman.com, which could serve as a replacement.)

Neal Beckstedt, an architect and interior designer in New York who has worked on model apartments and private residences, offered similar advice. “The last thing you want to do is list your apartment with your fixtures, and then change them after everyone’s seen it,” he said, because that could alter a buyer’s perception of the space.

“You have to weigh the benefits,” he added. “If it’s an amazing chandelier and it showcases the room better than other things, it might be a wise investment just to leave it. It’s a small price to pay to get that apartment sold.”

For sellers looking for affordable replacements, Mr. Beckstedt offered several ideas. Circa Lighting (877-762-2323 or circalighting.com) “has inexpensive lighting that looks more expensive than it is,” he said. “They’re my bread and butter, and I think that’s the case for a lot of designers.”

But “a paper globe is the easiest, cheapest thing to do, which always looks good,” he said, noting that paper fixtures are sold at Pearl River Mart (800-878-2446 orpearlriver.com). “You can do a single one, or a number of them grouped as a cluster.”

Mr. Beckstedt has even used utilitarian porcelain lamp holders in some homes, pairing with bare silver-tipped or Edison-style bulbs to add some style. “It wouldn’t work in every environment,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend it to my client on the Upper East Side with a five-bedroom apartment, but it would be good in a casual SoHo loft.”

Q. I have an oil furnace. Is it worth converting to natural gas to make my house more appealing to buyers?

A. There are many reasons to convert to natural gas, but it may not make sense as a sales tactic.

“If you do convert your home from fuel oil to natural gas, there is a carbon footprint improvement of around 20 percent,” said Joe Rende, vice president for community and customer management at National Grid, the electricity and gas company. “There’s no soot buildup, and there’s no need to have an oil tank in the basement.”

Natural gas is a versatile fuel and can be used not only for heating your home, but also for cooking, drying clothes, heating water and in fireplaces. Sometimes it also provides cost savings, as it did last winter, when oil prices jumped but natural gas prices remained steady.

Fran Ehrlich, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich, Conn., noted, “In a perfect world, buyers are happier when they walk into a house that’s on gas than a house that’s on oil.” But usually it isn’t a top concern, she said, and it likely wouldn’t have a significant impact on the sale price.

Especially “if you’re in a low-priced house,” she added. “You don’t want to spend those dollars, as long as the tank is inside.”

If you have an underground storage tank that could potentially leak and require an expensive cleanup, however, converting to natural gas might be a good idea. “Lenders typically will not finance if there’s a buried oil tank because it’s an inherent risk,” Ms. Ehrlich said. “We tell our sellers that if they have a buried oil tank, they should take it out” before listing the property, she added. If they don’t, “99 percent of the time” buyers will stipulate that it be removed be as part of the offer.

In that case, if you’re paying a contractor to remove the old tank and install a new one indoors, Ms. Ehrlich said, you might as well convert to natural gas.

But first, make sure there’s a gas main near your property, Mr. Rende said. “In New York State, we have a law: we have to bring 100 feet of main and 100 feet of service free” to connect a home to an existing main. If your property is farther than that from existing services, converting to natural gas could be expensive.

Conversion also requires installing some new heating equipment, and that means hiring a contractor to do the installation. Costs can vary widely, depending on the size of the house and the intricacies of the existing heating system. But “almost every utility has energy efficiency programs,” Mr. Rende said, and they may offer rebates for installing high-efficiency equipment. Ms. Ehrlich concluded, “you have to look at the dollars” required in your particular case, as it might be difficult to recoup the costs.

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.


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Staging an Apartment http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/staging-an-apartment Thu, 15 Dec 2011 23:37:44 -0800 Real Estate http://www.coalharbour.net/Blog.php/staging-an-apartment Staging an empty property is almost always a good idea. Most people cannot visualize how to place furnishing for an empty space. They are a number of local Vancouver staging companies such as Decora, which can help you stage your property. Satging definitely adds value to your property and often speeds up the sale.

September 28, 2011

Market Ready

Q. Our old apartment is sitting empty, and not selling. Is it worth the money to hire someone to stage it?
 
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A. Staging an apartment — adding furniture and accessories to make it look lived in — can be expensive. But you may be able to cover your costs, and then some, by creating a more appealing environment.

“I won’t let people come on the market empty if I can help it,” said Deanna Kory, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group, who has used staging to help sell apartments for more than a decade.

Ms. Kory, who has staged apartments on her own and worked with professional staging companies, said renting a hand-picked selection of furniture and arranging it with accessories will often speed up a sale and generate a higher selling price. Generally, she has found that sellers with empty apartments can increase their selling price by “at least 5 to 10 times the investment you’re going to make” in staging, she said.

For instance, if you put in $10,000, it should yield between $50,000 and $100,000 more in profit than an apartment sold empty, she said.

But, she added, “There are good stagers and not-so-great stagers.”

“You have to get recommendations,” Ms. Kory said. “If they have a good track record, they should be able to tell you stories and show you some photos.”

One stager she has worked with is Sid Pinkerton, who runs a company called From Drab to Fab. Mr. Pinkerton has been in business since 2003, and he estimates that he has staged over a thousand apartments in New York City during that time.

One of the primary reasons for staging, he said, is that potential buyers often have difficulty understanding the proportions of empty rooms.

“Most Americans are what I call ‘visually challenged,’ ” Mr. Pinkerton said. “When rooms have no furniture in them, you have no size spec. It raises the question, ‘Will my furniture fit in here?’ The whole point of staging is to answer those questions before they even arise.”

This is especially true, he noted, when it comes to bedrooms. “They might feel small when they’re empty, when in fact they will very easily hold a queen-size bed, nightstand and dresser.”

While every job is different, Mr. Pinkerton said his services for staging an empty apartment “can be as little as $5,000, but up to $15,000 and more,” depending on factors like size and layout. Those figures include furniture rental; if you add some of your own furniture to the mix, the fee would be lower.

The other option, if you’re confident in your design skills, is to do it yourself. Companies like CORT (888-360-2678 or cort.com) and Churchill Furniture Rental (800-941-7458 or furniturerent.com) carry a range of pieces catering to different tastes, available for short-term rental.

Just remember the goal. “You’re trying to appeal to the baseline needs of the general public,” Mr. Pinkerton said, not create a space that reflects your personal style. “Staging is the complete counterbalance to interior design.”

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.


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