Newsletter

WARNING! SCARY STORY AHEAD

Last month I described a story of a purchaser who shared too much information with potential sellers which would undoubtedly put the purchaser at a disadvantage in a negotiation.  This month, I’d like to touch on a larger and potentially much scarier situation: insurance for strata-titled properties in BC. The year is just beginning, so perhaps news rumblings of significant insurance premium increases have not landed on your radar, but if you are the owner of a strata-titled property or are interested in purchasing strata-titled property, this will certainly be something to which you will want to pay close attention.  

Let’s start with some introductions.  Insurance is essentially compensation for loss.  As it relates to homes, every home owner is either required or well advised to insure their property against potential loss arising from a variety of circumstances.  When we purchase insurance from an insurance provider, it’s called a premium. Each person’s premium (the cost of the insurance) will vary depending on a number of factors which could include the homes replacement value, where it’s located, the plumbing, the electrical, the age or other aspects of the property like the roof, etc… as well the type and extent of coverages selected, and many other factors.  Once paid, these premiums are placed in an account available to be drawn from if a claim against the insurance is made.

It is my understanding, at least at this point, that the replacement cost and risk associated with insuring certain strata properties is so high that it has some insurers concerned and has already resulted in drastic increases in insurance premiums for a number of strata corporations including this one in Langley which you may recognize: https://globalnews.ca/news/6363104/langley-condo-owners-strata-insurance-deductible/

According to the Government of BC’s website 

“A strata corporation is a legal entity with all of the powers of a natural person who has full capacity. This means that it can sue or be sued, enter into contracts and hire employees.”

There are many different kinds of strata corporations including residential strata corporations.  Residential strata corporations are comprised of owners of individual strata lots. These strata corporations are required to have insurance that typically covers buildings on the strata plan, common property such as roof, driveway, etc… and other assets.  Each year, strata corporations hold Annual General Meetings (AGMs) at which numerous items are discussed and dealt with including insurance renewal. Each strata lot owner is then required to contribute to the strata corporation’s insurance typically through their payment of a monthly strata fee.  The time of year a strata corporation will hold its AGM varies from strata corporation to strata corporation, so perhaps the reason why this is not a bigger story yet is because it is still early in the year and not every strata corporation will have held its AGM, and, therefore, not every strata lot owner may be aware of this emerging concern.

So, if this story is not currently on your radar, it may be something you will want to monitor.

I’ve included a link to a recent Vancouver Sun article below as well as a link to more information about Strata Insurance.

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-stratas-on-edge-after-reports-of-soaring-insurance-premiums

http://assets.ibc.ca/Documents/Brochures/Condominium-Insurance-in-British-Columbia-BC.pdf

If you would like to know more about how this may affect you as a property owner or tenant, please click the following link: https://caseyduncan.ca/contact-us/ to select a time for us to chat.  Alternatively, you can give me a text or email and I will respond to you at the earliest opportunity.  In addition, you may want to also reach out to your preferred insurance provider to make your own inquiries as to whether you have the correct coverages in place.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Huge thank you to the many individuals, families, and corporations who supported my business this past year.  I am thrilled to say that once again I received the company’s Sales Achievement award. Due to other commitments I was unable to attend the award’s presentation, and the above picture was taken days later at my office.  The award itself, while a nice gesture, is not particularly important to me. What this award represents, however, is very important. I believe that receiving this award each year represents my continual commitment to providing high quality service to all those who have put their trust and confidence in me.  The award also represents the loyalty of those who have worked with me – who have kindly referred me to their friends and family because they know that with me, their loved ones will be well served. And it is this high praise, testimonial, and recommendation of those who have experienced my work ethic and commitment to their home buying or selling objectives first hand that means the most to me.  I value these connections considerably and I’m deeply grateful. Anyone who chooses to work with me is making a great decision and can expect my absolute best because that high standard is what I would expect for myself and my family.

MARKET NEWS: IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME TO BUY OR SELL?

How does one know whether it’s the right time to buy or sell?

Full disclosure, my response below certainly does not fall into the classification of “short,” but I believe it is well worth the read.  

Even though I’m in real estate, I’m not impervious to real estate marketing from other agents.  Last year I received flyers on my doorstep indicating that it’s a great time to buy while others stated it’s a great time to sell.  This year I’ve received a flyer indicating that it’s a great time to sell while another indicated that it’s a great time to buy. With so many different opinions from so many different sources, it’s difficult to know what to believe.  So, is now the right time to buy or sell? Let me park that question for a second after I’ve provided a little context.

It’s funny the difference a year can make and this sentiment certainly holds true in real estate.  Last year at this time, buyers were firmly in the driver’s seat. Housing prices were dropping and inventory levels and days on market averages were piling up.  Buyers were able to view a property multiple times, negotiate from a position of strength, include an abundance of subjects including that of inspection, sale, and others with confidence in knowing that sellers, some out of circumstantial desperation were willing to adjust even their floor price (the lowest price they’d originally been willing to accept) to achieve a firm sale.  With interest rates at this time being incredibly low historically speaking, it was, on paper, an opportune time for first time buyers to step into the market and for savvy investors to shrewdly scoop up property while the majority of the population waited for prices to hit the bottom (which, by the way, can’t possibly be known until the market is already on the way back up). If you’re reading this and feeling like “whoops I was playing the waiting game” and may have missed a great opportunity, read on.

Flash forward to this year where inventory levels have dried up, interest rates remain low, and buyer demand has seemingly increased.  Buyers are now seeing, for the first time in nearly two years, some sellers setting presentation of offer dates. What does this mean? This means that a seller has directed their agent not to present any offers to him or her until a certain date.  Well, why do this? Holding offers until a specific presentation date may give rise to a competitive multiple offer situation and a potentially higher sale price for the seller. And, as always, let’s be honest: what seller would not want as much money as he or she could get for their property?  If this news peeks your interest and you’re now thinking “wow should I be selling,” not so fast, read on.

Based on the above context, one may assume that clearly 2019 was the right time to buy and 2020 is looking like the right time to sell, correct?  And this is where we begin to un-park that earlier question: is now the right time to buy or sell?  The answer is annoyingly simple and yet quite complex.  The answer is (drumroll please) “it depends.”

Now, before you throw your phone or computer, let me explain.

Market conditions, such as the ones shared above, certainly create more favourable conditions for buyers or sellers depending on their objectives, but these conditions do not factor in personal circumstances.  For example, if you were entering the market as a first time buyer, most of 2019 represented a wonderful opportunity for you. However, if you lacked the necessary funds for a down payment, or you’d just started a new job, or were entering or exiting a relationship, etc… your personal circumstances may have been such that it was an inopportune time to make a move.  Conversely, if you are someone who is exiting the market to re-locate elsewhere, market conditions are currently more favourable to you as a seller, but just like the buying scenario, there could be a variety of personal circumstances that give you pause.

So, market conditions, while an important consideration for those entering or exiting the market, it is not the only nor is it the most important factor in many cases.

What if you’re someone who is currently in the market and have plans to move up or down the property ladder; is now the right time for those people to buy or sell? 

To answer this question, I’d like to share with you a little story…

The first property I ever personally purchased was a 1 bedroom condo between Oak and Granville Street in Vancouver West.  I was in my twenties. I had no children. I enjoyed the Vancouver amenities and lifestyle: the seawall, the food, and the entertainment.  And I’m quite certain that I had family and friends that enjoyed me having a condo in that location as well. This certainty stems from the fact that I’d never been more popular in terms of people coming through town needing a place to stay.

After a few years I grew tired of the commute, desired a slower pace, and wanted a space that would better accommodate kids because that’s the direction things were headed, so I sold my condo and purchased a 2 bedroom townhouse in Clayton Heights.  In case you’re curious, I suddenly became less popular and had far fewer requests to stay.

As the number of children in my life grew to 4, so did the need for more and more space.  The desire to be close to Vancouver’s food and entertainment was replaced by the need to be close to parks, rec centers, and schools and the two-door car was replaced by a minivan.

Life moved along for me and I needed to move along with it.  What was I going to do – stay put in my 1 bedroom condo and say to 4 kids, “hey I know we’re a bit cramped in here fellas and I can afford to move, but I’m waiting for the market to be exactly what I want it to be, so just stop growing and hang tight.”

Playing the wait game was not what I considered to the best decision, so I moved, and moved again.

For anyone who is in the market currently, it is important to recognize that neither you nor I can control market conditions, and market conditions will never be ideal.

Market conditions were to a large degree irrelevant in my decisions to buy or sell because from a needs perspective I needed more space and from a price perspective, the market is largely relative meaning that if you sell at a higher price you will likely buy at a higher price and if you sell at a lower price you will likely buy at a lower price.

So, if you are upsizing or downsizing what is more critical to consider is not whether market conditions are more favourable to buyers or sellers, but instead focus on your own personal needs.

Market conditions became relevant to me once I decided to move.  Let me repeat this for emphasis. Market conditions became relevant to me once I decided to move.  For example, now that I’ve decided to move are market conditions such that I should sell first and buy second, or that I buy first and sell second – each of which has their own pros and cons and risks and rewards.  Another more critical consideration after the decision to buy or sell has been made is how market conditions will impact the marketing of the property because how a property is positioned in the market can be critical depending on conditions.  I would suggest to sellers to market very differently in a buyer’s market versus a seller’s market, or balanced market.

So, putting market conditions aside for a minute, it may be worthwhile to simply ask yourself two questions:  

  1. Am I happy living where I am?
  2. Is my current home meeting my needs?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then barring some unforeseen changes, you’re likely not going anywhere any time soon.  But if the answer to these questions is no, then what?

If you’d like to explore the answer to that question a little bit further, click this link: https://caseyduncan.ca/contact-us/.

Now before you come up with a plethora of reasons why you shouldn’t connect with me such as you don’t have the time, or yadda yadda…, instead think of what could be gained.  A conversation now, even if a move is not in your immediate future, will provide clearer insight into the steps you can take to better position yourself to meet your objectives when you decide it is the right time to make a move.  It will also affirm whether or not I am someone that you’d be interested in connecting with regarding real estate related matters in the future.  I’m quite confident that there will be value for you in that conversation.

So, go ahead and click that link.  Let’s get together, face to face, for a casual conversation in which we can partner to chat about your objectives, explore different options available to you, and strategize a short or long range plan for you to meet those objectives in the most efficient, enjoyable and rewarding way possible.  No obligation. No commitment. Just valuable conversation and a free coffee or lunch. My treat.

By the way, thanks for reading this response all the way through to the end.  I said, it’d be worth it and I meant it: be one of the first 3 people to email me with the subject line “my treat” to receive a $5 DQ gift card in the mail.

UPCOMING EVENTS

EVENT DETAILS:

DATE: Saturday, March 28th, 2020 

TIME: 15-minute time slots between 10 am and 2 pm

LOCATION: Lelem Café (amenity room) in Fort Langley

Natalie Dollman is an incredibly gifted photographer based in Kamloops, BC and I’m thrilled that she has agreed to share her time and talent with us Saturday, March 28th.  All e-newsletter subscribers are invited to attend; however, in thanks and appreciation for their continued connection to me and support of my business priority access to this event will be given to current and past clients and those who’ve referred business to me.  Space at this event is limited, so RSVP to caseyduncan@macreatly.com to reserve your spot.  In your email, please include what time you’d prefer to have your photo shoot and I will do my best to accommodate your request.  I will respond via email to confirm all requests and will create a wait list in the event it is needed. This photo session will happen rain or shine and each family will receive a 10-15 minute photo session and one complimentary photo as well as access to an online gallery where additional photos from the session may be purchased.  To view Natalie Dollman’s portfolio, please visit www.nataliedollmanphotography.com.  Please note, family size is limited to 4 persons.  Guests are asked to arrive a minimum of 15 minutes prior to their scheduled photo shoot.  This event will fill up fast so don’t delay! Happy Family Day!

NEED TO GET RID OF A FEW THINGS…FOR FREE?

As I drove home along Telegraph Trail the other day, I saw an abandoned couch that had been tossed into a ditch at the side of the road.  So, I thought I’d just send a quick reminder out to everyone that there’s a better way of discarding of unwanted household items. 

I will be organizing and hosting a clean-up at Topham Elementary School in Walnut Grove on April 25th from 9 am until 2 pm as part of the Township of Langley’s annual Clean Up Langley Day.  The Township of Langley will be supplying the garbage pickers and bags. On site, exclusive to all my current and past clients and those who’ve referred business to me, there will be a large disposal bin that I’ve rented which you can use to discard a number of larger household items.  Please reach out to me in advance of the event if you plan on attending. If you’re not a current or past client or have not referred business to me in the past, but would still like to dispose of some unwanted items, please call me at 778.847.7653 or email me at caseyduncan@macrealty.com

Thanks in advance for supporting this event and our community!

HOUSE WANTED!

My wife and I have very close friends that are needing a home for their family of 6 for the months of June, July, August, and September.  They are incredible people who are returning from some life changing International work in Africa and their home here is currently being rented.  If you know of anyone who has a rental space that will be vacant for those months or perhaps a house that needs sitting, please send me an email: caseyduncan@macrealty.com.

NEED A HOME EVALUATION?

Property assessments were received last month, but as mentioned these are rarely accurate in terms of market value.  If you’re looking for a more accurate update and insight into what your property would sell for on the market today, give me a call and I’d be happy to schedule a time to visit with you and tour your property.