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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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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When shopping for their new house, buyers in the Greater Victoria area are typically sold on two things: the kitchen and the bathroom(s).  Whether you own a small bungalow in Fernwood or a mansion along Dallas road, the presence of an inviting bathroom is critical. 


If you are thinking of selling your home, it is worth taking a look at whether a bathroom reno would invite a more qualified buyers and sellers. Typically a standard bathroom remodel from the studs will run you between $14,000-$20,000. 


So where should you focus your funds and efforts to maximize your remodel?


KEEP IT NEUTRAL

It may be tempting to customize the bathroom with colourful paint and patterned tile to match. Unless you are remodelling for the longterm where you do not plan on selling for a number of years, it is best to stick to a neutral design.  Keep the colours a to a friendly and widely likeable palette. Avoid bright patterns or colours on the floors as well. Instead add personal accents by installing a shower curtain, artwork, towels and accents that reflect your style.


STORAGE AND SPACE

Although there are some styles in magazines these days that show sleek and minimal countertops, you are best to err on the side of traditionalism.  Opt for a clean and spacious look with ample counter space and cabinet space below. A double sink is especially enticing to buyers should the space and budget allow it.


LUXURIOUS TOUCHES

There are some ways you can cut costs, but the one spot to avoid cheaping out on is the hardware. The feeling of rickety and cheap fixtures (think wobbly faucet handles) immediately sets buyer's minds into a tizzy. It makes them wonder what other corners have been cut. Everyone knows the difference between the feeling of sturdy and well built fixtures. Spend a little extra and reap the extra perceived value from buyers.


HIRE PROFESSIONALS

Nothing is as much of a turn off to prospective buyers than the look of a cabinet that has been cut to the wrong size or poorly installed. When it comes to plumbing and electrical, always seek the advice and service of a professional.  When dealing with water, it is best to avoid suffering the consequences of faulty installation. There are so many fantastic service providers in Victoria, BC, that there really is no excuse.


REMODEL TO THE ERA OF THE HOUSE

Always make sure that the design and look of the bathroom is consistent with the design of the rest of the house. For instance, a ultra modern and sleek bathroom likely won't jive with a character home that features hardwood flooring and classic design. Likewise, it would be bizarre to place a vintage style clawfoot tub into a modern build that holds no heritage features.


KNOW YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC

If you live in a youthful neighbourhood and building, then perhaps you could get away with a bathroom that looks like it could be from a New York loft. If you live in an area with a middle aged population, you are likely going to want to install a conservative and sensible bathroom with solid and classic finishings. On the other hand, if you live in an area where more seniors reside, you will find that installing items that are easy to use and keep clean are of a higher value than something that requires high maintenance levels and is not comfortable. Function over fashion.  It is important to know your demographic of who lives in your neighbourhood. Victoria, BC has many different neighbourhoods where the age ranges of buyers and residents wild vary.

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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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So you've saddled up a Realtor® and have narrowed down a selection of properties that you'd like to take a look at.  Depending on whether you are doing a full day of viewings or just one property, trim the list as needed but consider what might be useful to you.

Tape Measure & Dimensions of Special Furniture

Many times when I am out with clients viewing properties, the most common questions seem to center around what furniture will fit where. If you have specific pieces of furniture, i.e. Grandma's Heirloom Hutch, you'll want to pre-measure these pieces and have the dimensions with you. Once in the property, you can use your tape measure to check for sure whether a certain space can accommodate your important pieces.

Bottle of Water & Snacks

This seems basic, but you would be surprised how often people head out for a day of viewings with nothing but themselves. When Realtors schedule multiple viewings in a day, they are limited to each property for a specific period of time. If you stop in between properties to grab snacks and water etc.. you might, in turn, cause yourself to miss out on the window of time your Realtor booked a certain property for. It's easy enough, just toss a granola bar and/or banana in your car with a water bottle just in case.

Camera (or smartphone w/camera)

If you like a property and either see something you really like or something you may want to change, you'll want to snap a couple of pictures to have a visual when you get home. In a lot of cases, buyers normally will only view a property once or twice before the actual move-in date.  If you are the type that likes to plan things, plan ahead to make sure you bring a camera.

Notebook & Pen

Simple enough, just a notebook to jot down thoughts on the properties viewed. It's not uncommon for buyers to feel torn between two properties. If you take quick notes of things you like and things you don't like when viewing a property, you can look back on these to make a pros and cons list if needed. 

Full Tank of Gas

In the golden years of real estate, buyers used to chauffered around by their Realtor from property to property. Nowadays, buyers tend to prefer to drive to the properties themselves. In the event that you have a full day of viewings scheduled, make sure you fill up your tank before heading out for the day as stopping in the middle of the viewing schedule can put you behind on your booked viewing times.

Bonus: Binoculars

The ever prudent buyer may enjoy bringing a pair of binoculars on viewings if they are looking at properties older than 5 - 10 years. A pair of binoculars is a great way to view the general condition of the roof, flashings and exterior details that are too high up to inspect.

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Roof Issues

Sometimes issues with the roof are visible from the ground to prospective buyers, but some things are only uncovered by a professional inspection. Issues that can arise include brittle shingles or improperly installed, missing or damaged flashings.

Problems with the Foundation

Cracks, slopes, and sticking doors and windows are all issues that can be discovered that relate to the foundation. Many issues can be fixed with caulk and epoxy but it is always best to leave the diagnosis to a professional.

Improper Wiring

Overloaded panels, outdated wiring (for example aluminum wiring) and amperage mismatches are examples of issues that can occur with an inspection of the electrical system. There is always a fix for issues, but never underestimate the importance of the electrical system being up to code. If an electrical system is not up to code, it could be a fire hazard and render the property uninsurable.

Faulty gutters 

The best step to keeping your roof long lasting and your foundation dry is by having gutters in good working order. If you have gutters that leak, do not drain properly or are not channeled properly away from the house, you will have issues in the future. They're not too expensive to repair when you consider saving the health of your foundation. So if you do uncover issues, don't skimp and put it off.

Shabby Interior Details

The most common thing that inspector note is the general condition of the carpet, paint, and walls. These are mostly aesthetic things, but it is important that these details are brought up to modern day expectations of style and cleanliness to preserve the highest value of the property possible.

Plumbing annoyances

Poor water pressure, slow draining drains, water stains on ceilings and loose fixtures such as faucets and handles.  These are normally not expensive issues to fix and with a little know how can typically be remedied by the homeowner.

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MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.