It is a well known fact that moving rates among the most stressful tasks that we face in our day to day lives. After all the boxes are move and the previous house is scrubbed to perfection, it feels like all the hard work is over. That is, until your pooch starts barking at everything and marking in undesirable spots in your new home.

Dogs are not immune to the stress of moving. Often after picking up on their owner's anxiety, they are unsure of their new territory and how to relax in their new space.


Here are 5 ways to help your pooch familiarize with their new domain:


KEEP THE ROUTINE


We often find our daily schedules askew after moving as we are still tripping over boxes while trying to keep working. Make it a point to keep your dog's feeding, walking and rest break schedule the same. Dogs find comfort in routine as it helps them feel like they know what to expect. This simple gesture will help keep your dog in the same day to day routine.


BRING THE STANDBYS


It is so tempting to go out and buy cute new dog dishes, a new clean bed and a different crate to suit the new house. Resist the temptation for at least the first few months. Bring all of your dog's favourite items to the new house and locate them in relatively the same spot as they were in your previous home. Familiar smells and feelings will help your pooch settle in all the more quickly.


BE MELLOW


If you've ever had a stressful or angry moment in front of your dog, you may have noticed that they tend to run and hide under a bed. Pets are extremely perceptive with emotions. In the first few weeks of the move, do your best to avoid stressful situations. Make the time to unwind. Crack a bottle of wine or veg with Netflix. Seeing you relax in your new home is beneficial for not only your dog but for yourself as well.


SHOW A LITTLE GRACE


Potty mistakes are bound to happen in the first little while after moving. This is natural and is in no case a reason to punish your dog. If you catch them in the act, simply leash them and guide them to where you prefer them to go.  Make sure if you are busy with unpacking that you take the time to provide them with plenty of breaks to relive themselves.


LET THEM BARK IT OUT


Barking is bound to happen. When a dog is familiarizing with the boundaries of their new territory, they are likely to bark at anyone and everyone who steps foot on their 'land'. Correct the behaviour in a firm verbal manner and remove the dog from the sightline of the window. Eventually the your dog will get to know common faces and it won't be such an issue. This will happen, so expect it and try not to get too upset.


*BONUS*


TREAT THEM!


After you give them a chance to run the house and get their fill of sniffing, give them a big juicy treat. When I recently moved, I bought a special bone filled with marrow for my puppy to sink her teeth into.  Take them to their cozy familiar bed and lay them down with their treat. This is almost guaranteed to give you a couple solid hours of peace.

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If you are looking for a fixer upper, you are likely:


 1. On a budget.

2. Looking for the deal of the century.

3. A handyman looking to flip for profit.

4. Have been watching HGTV reno reality TV shows.


With so many TV shows depicting the average Joe couples flipping properties after fixing them up, it's hard not to want to jump on the bandwagon. 


When buying a fixer upper, there can be a fine line before crossing over into teardown territory.  Here are a few tips and items to look out for when you are shopping for a place that needs a facelift vs a demo ball.



HERE ARE THE TYPES OF FIXER UPPERS TO LOOK FOR

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THE PROFITABLE FIXER UPPER


Perhaps the kitchen is so outdated that it looks like Florence Henderson should be roasting a pineapple ham in the oven. The carpets are shaggy and an avocado hue which is perfectly paired with the brown and orange floral wallpaper.  Looking beyond this, the building is structurally sound, the plumbing is in working order and the electricity has been updated.  This is a property that would have good bones and only needs cosmetic upgrades to get the attention of homebuyers.  Strongly consider this type of property for a quick and profitable flip. Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms.



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SOLID STRUCTURE BUT DISGUSTING (READ: FORECLOSURE)


Periodically, landlords have a very bad set of tenants who absolutely destroy the interior of a property with dirty habits, parties and too many animals. It may be revolting to walk through. You may have to pull your shirt over your nose when you walk through, but keep your eyes open.  If you can handle the yuck factor and are able to clean out the garbage, replace the carpets and paint the walls, you may be in for a profitable flip. Do be sure to do due diligence on whether the property had ever been used as a space to grow or manufacture drugs. In this case, proceed with caution.



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OLD FASHIONED SPACE WITH LOTS OF MINIATURE ROOMS


Many older properties feature a bevy of tiny rooms to inhabit. While one could dismiss a property with 6 rooms under 150 sqft, but there can be opportunity to be had. Many times, walls can be removed to create a large and open space. If you are looking for a property to remodel by removing walls, you may want to bring your contractor or whomever will be doing the work to verify which walls would be load bearing. Do watch out for old wiring and asbestos in these properties.



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STRUCTURAL & FOUNDATION ISSUES
 

If you drive up to a property that is leaning like the tower of Pisa, I would strongly consider you keep driving. Unless you are a developer planning on tearing it down and rebuilding, this is not a property that will be likely to bring you a profit. Problems within in foundation and 'bones' of the house are redflags that should not be ignored. On all properties that you're considering buying for fixing up, a thorough property inspection is paramount. Be sure to assess whether this property is priced beyond just land value. 

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So you've moved into your new place and are just settling into your new space.  Here's a list of 10 ways to bring good vibes into your new place and make it feel like home:


1. ORGANIZE

When you know where everything is, you eliminate the frustration of feeling discombobulated with your own belongings.


2. SET UP YOUR KITCHEN AND BATHROOM

Immediately put up your shower curtain, put away your towels, set up your coffee machine and the rest of the essentials. If you do this as soon as you move in, you will be set up to continue your daily routine in your new home.


3. PUMP THE TUNES

Put on your favourite artists and just enjoy your space. There's no better way to get the good vibes going than to chill with your favourite tunes in your new home.


4. LIGHT CANDLES

In Swedish culture, there is a word called 'Hygge' which is essentially the Danish obsession with getting cozy.  Think woolly socks, curled up with a good book by the fire with a hot chocolate in hand kind of cozy. Having candles light around your space brings a similar type of warmth to a space akin to a fireplace.


5. GO TO A LOCAL EATERY

Walk your neighbourhood, get to know your street and local spots to grab coffee and food.  Find your new go to spots and get to know your favourites on their menus. This will be handy when you invite friends over to your new neck of the woods.


6. PUT UP YOUR CURTAINS

Nothing says "I just moved in" like bare windows. Do yourself favour and get those curtains up. It looks nice and it saves you from doing the naked dash after getting out of the shower. 


7. HANG THOSE PHOTOS & ART

When people purchase art, it is usually based on an emotional connection to the imagery. People buy what speaks to them and makes them happy. Nothing warms up the walls of an unfamiliar place like your handpicked art work and photos of good times and loved ones.


8. SPRINKLE SOME PLANTS AROUND

Having fresh greenery around is the perfect antidote to a drab new place full of boxes. Line your window sills with your favourite types of plants to brighten the space. Get bonus points if you pick plants that have air purifying qualities.


9. MAKE PLANS TO HAVE FRIENDS OVER

Setting a date to show off your new digs is a great way to give yourself a subtle deadline to have your stuff straightened out. You'll find there's a fire under your feet the second that you set a date.


10. PAINT THE WALLS

Still living in the mind space of the previous owners? Freshen up the space with your own hues. Nobody can relax in a lime green room or enjoy dark brown walls when they are a fresh white type of person. Find a shade that fits your needs and go for it. 

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Getting married is one of the most exciting times in one's life. Typically once newlyweds have arrived back home from their honeymoon, the next question is "should we buy a house?".


In most cases, purchasing a home and getting out of the cycle of renting is so amazing for helping young people build wealth.  That being said, most newly married couples are still fairly young and should consider/discuss a few things before beginning their house hunt.

Question #1

HOW SOON DO WE INTEND ON HAVING CHILDREN?

It can be a difficult question to tackle if both parties aren't 100% ready to broach the subject, but it is essential. With the market in Victoria, BC being as hot as it is, many newlyweds are finding that their money will only buy them a condo.  In this case, it is important to discuss whether or not you intend on having children within the next 4-5 years. If you want to start your family a couple years down the road, you will want to purchase something with the space to accommodate a nursery and play space. Purchasing a property only to have to sell it 2 years down the road will likely lose you money on realtor fees and property transfer tax. When buying, always try to plan on staying in one spot for 5-10 years to maximize your return.

QUESTION #2

CAN WE AFFORD THIS PROPERTY IF ONE OF US LOSES OUR JOB?

This question is important because it ties into question #1.  In the event of a maternity leave or extended injury, are you going to be able to make the monthly payments? The point is not to limit yourself to buying something that one income can support. What you need to look at is how much give is there in your budget. If you buy something at the top of your range when you are both well and working, it will be disastrous when one of those income temporarily disappears. You want to try to keep your housing costs (including hydro, water, mortgage, strata, property taxes) under 40% of your income. The lower the number the better. When you start going higher than this, you should be looking to reduce this.

QUESTION #3

HOW MUCH DO WE HAVE SAVED FOR A DOWNPAYMENT? DO WE HAVE GOOD CREDIT?

It goes without saying that by the time you walk down the aisle, you should have had a talk about what personal debt/finance history is being married as well. Once you are married, you are bound together financially whether you like it or not. Have you both been well behaved financially? Obtaining a mortgage requires good credit. Do you both know where your credit scores stand? (there are online services/apps that can provide this). How much debt do you have VS savings? On a purchase of $300,000 for example, you need to have a minimum of 5% down.  That is $15,000. On anything above $500,000 you need 10% cash down. This does not include closing costs such as legal fees, property transfer taxes, etc... 

Sit down and have an honest conversation about where you stand financially. If you think you have enough saved up, speak with a mortgage broker. They can tell you what you are approved for and at what rate. This is an essential step before you even begin to look on realtor.ca.

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During the past three years, we have seen one of the most heated and fast paced markets in the past two and a half decades. It seems that no matter where you are, whether in your car listening to the radio or sipping a latte in Starbucks…Everyone is talking about real estate. Will it go up? Will it go down? Is it a bubble? Is it not a bubble?


The most common thread that I am finding is that there is come dissonance between what people are reading in newspapers and how they actually feel about the market.  Many times consumers are leary of articles written about real estate as they are commonly written by realtors.


Having always been a huge fan of people doing their own research, I just thought I would put together a few suggestions as to the ways consumers can stay in touch with the local market.  A lot of what you read or what people say is opinion.  I feel it is important to look to a diverse array of sources when gathering info and forming an opinion.

I prefer not to make predictions about the market.


I don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future. While I don’t offer ‘predictions’, I will say that I believe real estate is cyclical. Once you learn about the cycles of real estate and what causes them, it will be easier for you to determine the likelihood of the market going up or down.


SOURCES OF MEDIA THAT CAN HELP YOU IN STAYING IN TOUCH WITH THE VICTORIA, BC REAL ESTATE MARKET

THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS

I know! I just said don’t trust everything that you read! That being said, it is important to read articles as they are often predictors of what regulations will be coming into play, what mortgage rates are doing, etc… Take everything with a grain of salt and remember to look to different sources and voices to either supplement or contradict these articles.


YOUTUBE

Ok, so YouTube is full of cute cat videos and old ice bucket challenge videos but it is also full of valuable contributors. I personally have 20-30 channels that I follow that pertain to real estate markets, global finance and current events.  I watch everything from what’s going on in the US, London, Australian and Canadian markets.  When you have a sense of what’s going on around outside Vancouver Island, it can give insight into the effects of regulations and rules being implemented in other markets.


BOOKS, BOOKS & MORE BOOKS

Put down the fiction once in a while and settle down with a cup of tea and a real estate book. A simple search around amazon will present you with many options that touch on topics such as real estate investing (these will talk about cycles), how to purchase real estate or books on the economy at large as this plays a huge role as well.


TALK TO A REALTOR… ER, ONE YOU TRUST

I hear ya, before I was a realtor I saw many Realtors driving around in their flashy sports cars looking like overpaid salesmen. I get it. It doesn’t exactly ignite the desire to sit down and get an honest discussion about real estate. On the otherhand, there are other realtors (myself included) that are in the business for the long run and have the desire to help people. Once you find a realtor who shoots from the hip and isn’t afraid of having honest discussions about the market…Hold onto them! Make friends with them and go for coffee periodically. Realtors love talking about real estate and many of them are social creatures as well.

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It would be easy to write an article with standard questions you could ask prospective Realtors before committing to work with them. For example “how many years have you been a Realtor?” or “how many listings do you have”. Etc, Etc…


After my time working with and serving clients, I have found that it really beings with the buyer or seller themselves. Many times when I hear of someone not satisfied with their Realtor, it is because of a personality or expectation clash.

So in an effort to help you understand what might make your life easier when picking a Realtor to work with, here is a group of questions that will help you identify what you are looking for.


What is your personality like?

Am I quiet and cautious or am I energetic and bold? The ideal way to match yourself to a Realtor is to look at yourself and figure out how you would prefer your buying or selling experience to be. If you are the quiet and conservative type, you probably won’t be very comfortable with a slick, fast-talking salesman.

It can be difficult to judge a Realtor ’s personality from advertisements or headshots. This is why many people will ‘interview Realtors’ to find a good fit. If you don’t have the time or this process seems daunting, you can always call a brokerage.


Find a reputable brokerage in your town or city and give them a call.  Typically you will reach the reception desk.  The receptionists are the front line of the brokerage. They know all the Realtors that come and go throughout the office and they tend to get a sense of the  Realtors personalities. Don’t be shy to ask them for a recommendation. They are normally very happy to do so.


Do you need extra support and care during the buying/selling experience?

If you have bought and sold multiple times and you know the ins and outs of the real estate process, you will likely be more prepared to use a well known, high volume Realtor. These Realtors will have a large network and great resources, but they will not have the time to do any handholding. They normally will carry a large roster of clients and tend to have assistants handle clients at certain stages of the process.


If you are an inexperienced home buyer or seller, you will likely not find it useful to employ a hotshot Realtor. It would be in your favor to choose a Realtor that is either in their twilight years and have slowed the pace of their business or a newer Realtor.  Newer Realtors often get cast in a bad light due to having less experience.

Fortunately, this is not the case. New Realtors these days actually receive a lot more education and difficult testing before they can be licensed.  Often times, the important legal information that keeps you safe is still fresh in their mind. In addition to this, new Realtors tend to have future clients. Newer Realtors are normally happy to take the time to sit and explain the process to you.


At the end of the day, it matters that you get along with your Realtor. If you dread seeing their number on your caller ID, you will likely find the buying/selling process stressful and unpleasant.

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