Smells Like Sold!

Posted by on February 28, 2012 | No Comments

We just finished the REMAX office tour where we went and previewed a lot of new listings this morning. I was inspired to blog about the importance of smell in the sale of a home. In life, whether you are meeting a person for the first time, or a home, so much depends on that first impression. When a home smells clean it gives you the sense that it’s well taken care of and inviting. When a home has cooking, pet or other odors it can be a major turn off.

Some of the properties we viewed this morning smelled wonderful: like fresh bread or lemony clean… and there were a few that smelled… well NOT FRESH. In this hyper-competitive market buyers have many different options to choose from. If your home is for sale, make sure it smells great!

Here are some tips:

1) keep a package of ready-to-bake croissants or cookies in your fridge and pop them in the oven 30 mins before you have a showing.

2) A small dish of vinegar does an incredible job of absorbing odors – tuck one where it won’t be seen.

3) Avoid the highly scented plug in air fresheners as they are often overpowering and tend to cause the buyer to wonder what you are covering up.

4) Our Dad taught us a great trick: drop a few drops of vanilla extract onto your stove burner and turn it on low for a few minutes – smells just like fresh baking.

Happy Selling! If the Stone Sisters can help with your Kelowna Real Estate needs, just let us know!

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Finding the Right Neighbourhood

Posted by on February 26, 2012 | No Comments

Where you live within a community is a very important decision. Many people move to Kelowna for the lifestyle and the quality of life.  We are fortunate to have an incredible city with diverse interests and activities. But it can be a challenge to choose between all our different areas.  Do you pick Magic Estates? Or is Crawford a better fit? Downtown or Kelowna South? Kettle Valley or Wilden? Lake Country or West Kelowna?  Price is of course the major determining factor, but  there are other considerations.

We suggest that people spend some time driving around the different areas and visiting the local grocery stores/coffee shops for that neighbourhood. It’s a great way to get a sense of who the neighbours are and where you’ll fit in best. Local coffee shops often have a message board promoting upcoming events in the area along with social clubs, babysitters etc. 

Buying a home in Kelowna is a big decision and you want to make sure that you will love where you choose, and stay for a long time.

The Stone Sisters Group would love to help you find the right home in Kelowna and the right neighbourhood is part of that.

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How to Improve Your Credit Rating

Posted by on February 21, 2012 | No Comments

Here are some excellent tips provided to us by John Antle of TD Mortgage (john.antle@td.com) on how to improve your credit rating:

There is no single or fast way to improve your credit rating. Watch out for companies that offer to improve your credit history quickly, for a fee. Before you sign a contract with them, you should contact your provincial or territorial government to obtain information about the rules that govern these types of companies. Instead, you should contact one of the credit-reporting agencies to check if the information in your credit file is accurate.

Here are some tips for improving your credit score:

  • Always pay your bills on time. Although the payment of your utility bills — such as phone, cable and electricity — is not recorded in your credit report, some cellular phone companies may report late payments to the credit-reporting agencies, which could have a negative effect on your credit score.
  • Try to pay your bills in full, by the due date. If you aren’t able to do this, pay at least the required minimum amount shown on your monthly credit card statement.
  • Try to pay your debts as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t go over the credit limit on your credit card. Try to keep your balance well below the limit. The higher your balance, the greater the impact on your credit score.
  • Reduce the number of credit applications you make. If too many potential lenders ask about your credit in a short period of time, this may have a negative effect on your score. However, your score does not change when you ask for information about your own credit report.
  • Make sure you have a credit history. You can build a credit history by using a credit card. You may have a low score if you don’t have any record of owing money and paying it back.
  • Try to re-establish your credit rating by applying for a “secured credit card”. A secured card is a card that you obtain by depositing a sum of money with the credit card issuer. Your credit limit is usually a percentage of the amount you deposit. You can build a credit history by making all of your secured credit card payments on time.

Resource(s):

       Understanding Your Credit Report and Score

       Credit Counselling Canada

 

 

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HST Changes Coming

Posted by on February 20, 2012 | No Comments

We were very happy with the news released on Friday by the BC Finance Minister Kevin Falcon.

The threshold on new homes being eligible for the HST rebate has gone up to $850,000 from $525,000. This means that more than 90% of new homes will now be eligible for the rebate. Additionally, the threshold is now also available for recreational and secondary homes.

This is great news for houses in Kelowna and if the Stone Sisters Group can help find you a dream home, please give us a call.

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Number of foreclosures rising in Central Okanagan

Posted by on February 16, 2012 | No Comments

By Alistair Waters – Kelowna Capital News
Published: February 15, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: February 15, 2012 4:10 PM

It’s a sign of the economic times, say local realtors.

Since 2008 — the peak of the local property market — the number of residential property sales sold through foreclosure in the Central Okanagan has risen sharply, jumping to 165 last year from just 11 three years ago. Currently there are 173 foreclosure properties listed for sale in the Central Okanagan.

But unlike many economically hard hit cities in the United States, where foreclosures currently account for as much as 40 per cent of residential property sales in some cities, here the rate is much lower at just 4.9 per cent of sales. 

(The B.C. Real Estate Board did not have comparative figures for foreclosures from other areas of the province.)

“It’s definitely a number we are starting to take notice of,” said Kelowna realtor and Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board director Kent Jorgenson.

But he said he did not feel it is currently affecting the local property market in an adverse way because of differences between the U.S. and Canadian legal systems.

Unlike in the United States, banks i Canada have a greater responsibility to the people who are being foreclosed on to try and get much for the property as possible, not just pay off the amount owed to the bank. Because of that, most foreclosure properties are listed at current market values.

All foreclosure properties have to be appraised and the realtor involved in the sale writes a report stating how much the property can realistically be expected to fetch. It is then up to a judge to accept any sale offer for the property.

As a result, banks dealing with foreclosures here list properties at market value and, in many cases, the selling price is “bid up” even after initial offers are made and accepted by the bank because unlike conventional sales, no foreclosure sale is final until the court approves it and other, higher, offers can be made right up until then.

Still, Jorgenson conceded, the current real estate market is not the hotbed of activity it was three years ago, prior current economic downturn.

The number of properties selling these days in the Central Okanagan is down, prices are down and properties are taking longer to sell, according to figures released by the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board.

“We are now going into the fourth year of a real estate slowdown,” said Jorgenson. “And equity in many people’s homes is diminishing.”

But he does not agree with some realtors who feel it is mainly real estate speculators who are getting burned by the high number of foreclosures. Jorgenson said it appears the tough times are affecting home owners across the board.

Because prices jumped so quickly here, and went to high prior to 2008, many people who bought in the last few years have lost equity in their properties.

Jorgenson said what he will watch for is to see if the number of properties foreclosed on continues to rise and starts to account for an even bigger percentage of the residential sales.

In 2010, the total number of properties in foreclosure listed for sale was 135, a number that accounted for 4.1 per cent of all residential sales here that year.

Last month, 44 new listings that went on the market were foreclosure properties, according to OMREB, 22 single family houses, 20 strata units, and tow lots.

Of the 173 currently on the market, 80 are single family houses and 87 are strata properties.

“In the end, I think it’s more reflective of the overall economic picture right now,”  said local ReMax realtor.

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How to Prep Your Home for a Winter Showing

Posted by on February 16, 2012 | No Comments

Selling your home in Winter wonderland

If you are like many of our clients you may have felt frustrated at the site of snow this morning; especially if you have a showing booked for later today. How can your home show its best in our Winter Okanagan when its covered in snow? Here are a few tips that may help:

1. Summer pictures displayed. Have your computer running with pictures of your yard in the Okanagan Sun. If you don’t have a computer in a visible location even leave a few of the pictures printed on the kitchen table. And if you are fairly technical the best is to have a digital picture frame displayed in a prominent location of your home.

2. Leave the lights on! I know this sounds simple but many people forget to leave the lights on when they are having a showing. This is really important especially on snowy days. Often the most inviting light comes from small lamps that can be tucked in little corners. This creates a welcoming and warm atmosphere. If your looking to buy a little lamp be sure to check out Home sense or even MTF on Spall. Both these stores offer inexpensive options.

3. Fresh flowers. Spring like flowers are always a great way to brighten any room. Our favourite kind are Gerber Daisy’s and a great selection is always available at Art Knapps on Springfield.

4. Shovel the snow away. Always be sure to shovel your driveway but also your decks and walking paths making it easy for potential buyers to explore.

5. Bake away. I don’t think there is anything better then the smell of Apple pie or cookies fresh from the oven. This smell is even better on a cold snowy day. If you don’t have time to bake, pick up some already made cookies at your local grocery store (Coopers and Lakeview Market are great choices) and reheat them in the oven. Buyers will think you have been slaving away.
Be sure to leave a few for them to try on a dish.

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Why Use A Realtor to Buy?

Posted by on February 14, 2012 | No Comments

Not everybody understands the importance of having a good real estate agent when buying a home and we wanted to give a few reasons why your choice matters.

1) The listing agent has an obligation to work for the seller and to get the seller the highest price possible. If you have that agent write your offer, how is it possible for them to work 100% for you to get you the best buy possible when they also work for the seller?

2) There are important considerations when buying a home such as future plans for the area (check the OCP at the City), recent sale prices for comparable homes in the area and history of the home you are looking at. Your real estate agent should provide you with as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision.

3) A skilled negotiater will be able to obtain the lowest price possible for you. Many good agents have taken extensive training on negotiation skills to ensure that they have happy clients every time!

A common thought is that you may be able to get the Realtor to lower their commission if they are “double ending” the property. While this can and does happen, the money you may think you are saving is often far less than what you would save by having someone skilled working only for you.

If the Stone Sisters Group can assist with finding you the best buy possible in Kelowna Real Estate or answer any questions you may have, please feel free to give us a call or email.

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REMAX of Western Canada is in Victoria

Posted by on February 9, 2012 | No Comments

REMAX of Western Canada is in Victoria hosting the 29th annual Western Canadian Conference and awards. We love connecting with bright minds of top agents across the country and learning new tips and ideas. Ken Eddy (of REMAX Central in Calgary) is kicking things off today at 1 pm with a talk about the Secrets of Success then there are a number of short informative sessions (the IPAD talk will be very interesting). Thank you to TD Canada Trust for their sponsorship of the festivities tonight. While we are here, we will be sure to promote the Okanagan Valley and our incredible Kelowna real estate listings to agents from across the country!

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Interest rates Going Up

Posted by on February 7, 2012 | No Comments

We just heard that the mortgage rates in Canada are going up effective immediately. Royal Bank of Canada announced today that their 5 year rate is no longer 2.9%. We anticipate that the other banks will follow suit shortly.

There are a few lenders who can still offer the 2.9% rate, please let the Stone Sisters know if you’d like to get in touch with them.

The federal government is wanting to contract the real estate market in Canada (particularily Toronto and Vancouver) and avoid inflation.

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Kelowna Weather

Posted by on February 6, 2012 | No Comments

We are in the midst of what they call a temperature inversion here in Kelowna. The valley is warm but cloudy. When you leave the valley bottom and head to the hills the clouds are left behind and you get into the glorious sunshine. This past weekend was spectacular at Big White ski hill with not a cloud in the sky.

The forecast for the coming days does say the sunshine will return to Kelowna… in the meantime it’s a great day to check out some of the incredible buys available at one of our nearby ski resorts.

The Stone Sisters Group would love to send you a list of what’s available at Big White, just let us know!

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