BrokerSmart – Langley Times Article

Perfect Situation’ for Mother/Son Team

By Miranda Gathercole – Langley Times

Running a business with your son may be next to impossible for some mothers, but for Cindy Faulkner it is the perfect situation.

She and her son Mike Donovan have collaborated together to create an all-in-one mortgage broker and real estate office, BrokerSmart.

Located in the Jeske Building on the corner of 200 Street and 72 Avenue, both Faulkner and Donovan are dual licensed realtors and mortgage brokers, and have created a network within the corporate building to provide clients with legal, life and home insurance services all under one roof.

They also run a sister company in the same office, Coastal Mortgages, to work with clients looking for mortgage broker services.

“It’s more convenient for our clients, they don’t have to drive around to all different places,” Faulkner said. “We do everything, which makes it so much easier.”

Instead of home buyers and sellers having to deal with a separate real estate agent, mortgage broker, lawyer, insurance agent and more, at BrokerSmart they only have to deal with one person.

“Lots of people find it really overwhelming,” said Donovan. “It can be pretty stressful trying to pull everything together, but we make the process much simpler. We are like the project managers for real estate.”

The two Walnut Grove residents also make the perfect team, balancing each other out through Donovan’s educational background and Faulkner’s experience working in the industry for more than 20 years.

Though sometimes it’s hard to put work aside when at Sunday family dinner, Faulkner says watching her son grow in business is a very rewarding experience.

“It’s family, I raised him so I know his ethics,” Faulkner said. “I know how he would handle certain situations and it gives me comfort because I know I can rely on him. I know I can trust him and the trust factor is huge.”

“If you can make it work, it’s the better way to go,” Donovan added.

3 Easy Projects That Can Add Value to your Townhouse

It’s no secret that there are an abundance of townhouses for sale in Langley and surrounding areas. For anyone who might be planning to sell, something you’re going to want to consider is how to add value to your townhouse so you can make more from your sale and help sell it faster even with competition. To help you get started, we have come up with a list of 3 easy projects that will not only help you add value to your townhouse, but will also help your sale along so that you can get it sold faster when the time comes.

1.  Add or Re-Do Your Backsplash

The kitchen backsplash is an upgrade that many overlook when they purchase a townhome and one that many builders don’t bother with either. A tasteful and well-done backsplash instantly updates your kitchen and it’s a project that’s easy to do yourself or that’s inexpensive enough labour-wise to hire someone to do. Check home improvement store flyers for sales so you get the best price for your materials, many of which you can find especially discounted during long weekend sales.

2. Painting

Take advantage of paint sales at home improvement stores and give your home a fresh new look for next to nothing by painting rooms and hallways. Choose colours that are known to have a general appeal and aim to make large rooms look cozy instead of closed in and small rooms look bright and airy. An experienced Langley real estate agent can offer suggestions on colours that are more likely to appeal to your particular target market, so ask before you buy paint if you’re not sure what to choose.

3. Paint or Replace Baseboards and Moulding

Baseboards and crown moulding offer architectural interest to a room and add value to a home. If your existing moulding and trims are looking tattered, then use wood filler or plaster to repair any chips and deep scratches and paint them out so they look new again. If adding crown moulding and trim to a room, opt for a style that’s somewhat contemporary but still classic as anything too ornate could put off some buyers and date a home. If doing it yourself, remember to buy extra for any miscalculations and always measure, measure, and then measure again before cutting to save yourself time and money.

5 Quick Bathroom Updates that will Help You Sell Your Home for More

It’s no secret that bathrooms can make or break a sale and dictate how much or how little you get for your home. Most people want to walk into a home and see and an updated bathroom that doesn’t look like it requires any extra work or expense. Fortunately, there are easy ways to make your outdated bathroom look just that way.

Use these 5 quick bathroom updates for next to nothing before putting your home up for sale.

1. Change Your Shower Curtain

Such an easy fix yet one that people often overlook when putting a house for sale! Choose something tasteful and for a smaller bathroom or one that tends to be dark, look for light colored or even sheer shower curtains. Don’t skimp and opt for a clear cheap plastic liner! Look for a quality shower curtain that doesn’t weigh down or enclose the room making it appear dark and cramped.

2.  Paint those walls

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to make a room look fresh and clean. Choose a color that’s calm and soothing that will appeal to most.

3. Paint Your Vanity Cabinet

A small can of paint can transform and old and dated bathroom vanity into something that looks new and modern. Paint out 80’s oak in a dark espresso that’s perfect for the executive buyer or opt for a soft white if you want to go for a spa-like effect that is a little more traditional without looking dated.

4. Change Your Hardware and Fixtures

Swap out your cabinet handles and knobs for something that looks more contemporary and if budget allows, do the same with your faucets and light fixtures. Try to stick to a matching finish, such as satin nickel or chrome, as matching it all instantly makes for a more uniform and high-end look.

5. Frame Your Typical Builder’s Mirror

Nothing makes a bathroom look more generic and well, cheap, than the basic builder’s mirror over the vanity. Since replacing it may mean having to deal with wall repairs depending on how it was hung; framing it is a simple solution that’ll make it look instantly chic. Head to a home improvement store and pick up some moulding. If you measure in advance you can have the pieces cut for you at the store. Paint it to complement your vanity, mount it using construction adhesive or screws and then fill and paint any seams. Voila—a new bathroom mirror!

5 Ways to Increase Value to Your Home this Weekend

Increase Value to Your Home: As much as we may love to reserve the weekends for sleeping in and spending time with family; if you set aside a weekend or two for a few simple projects, you could increase the value of your home so that you can get the most from your sale.

1. Paint Your Front Door

Painting your front door is a quick and easy way to instantly improve your home’s curb appeal and make it stand out. Choose a color that complements the color of the brick or siding and look for a glossy finish that is low maintenance and looks high end. If your door has windows or a storm door, then give them a good cleaning as well to better show off your new door color and your exterior.

2. De-clutter

Most of us are guilty of having too much stuff and when it comes time to sell, all of that stuff can really put off potential buyers. Make it a family affair and spend the weekend getting rid of any unnecessary stuff. Clear out closets and storage areas so that not only are your things better organized and easier to find, but so that potential buyers can see your homes true space and potential. Less is more after all and scaling back lets your home feel clean, open and airy—just what buyers want.

3. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

Whether you use one of the DIY cabinet painting kits on the market or paint recommended by your favorite decorating blog; painting your kitchen cabinets can make your tired and dated kitchen look new, which always results in more money when you sell.

4. Replace Doorknobs, Handles, and other Hardware

Replacing doorknobs, cabinet and drawer handles and pulls, along with other hardware and fixtures like faucets helps to create a cohesive look for a high-end appearance even if you purchase your new hardware and fixtures at Wal-Mart or some other discount store! Try to stick to a similar finish on all to bring the look together.

5. Give Rooms Purpose

If you have rooms that are doing double duty and being used for multiple purposes or even just sitting empty and playing the part of a catch-all for your junk; it could confuse buyers and make it hard for them to imagine what they would use the space for. Take a weekend to tackle these rooms so that your spare room looks like a functional home office/guest bedroom and your dining room as an actual dining room instead of your makeshift craft room or office.

New Kitchens Sell Houses – Make Your Kitchen New Again

As much living as we may do in the living room, chances are that the kitchen is the real heart of the home and the place that most gravitate to when they come over. The kitchen also happens to be one of the most important rooms in a house for sale, not only because of its meaning to a family but also because they are the most expensive to remodel—something most buyer’s don’t want to take on when they buy a home.

The state of your kitchen could make or break a sale with even something as seemingly insignificant as some chips and scratches being enough to deter a potential buyer. A small nick to you could look like a lot of work and expense to someone else which is why a new kitchen will always help sell a home faster and for more money. No need to invest in an expensive kitchen reno to reap those rewards though—you can do many things to give the look of a brand new kitchen for very little.

Have a look around your kitchen and take an honest and objective look at what could be better. If your kitchen cabinets are tattered or outdated, then look into painting them or even having them refaced—both options, even done professionally, are cheaper than new cabinets. The same goes for your counter tops, which when scratched or in an outdated color can make your entire kitchen look outdated and put off potential buyers. Replacing countertops are an inexpensive and easy way to bring your kitchen up-to-date and have it looking new. Cut costs by asking local big box home improvement stores about upcoming sales or have a look through their section of precut and “leftover” countertops for great deals.

Sometimes the only thing stopping your kitchen from looking modern is the hardware. Fortunately that’s a cheap and easy fix that anyone can do themselves! Change out handles, drawer pulls and knobs for something simple and sleek for an instant update. Same goes for your faucet. Splurge—but not too much—on a new faucet that looks modern for a bigger impact than you may even realize! The same goes for appliances. If your appliances give away your home’s old age, then it’s time to look into package deals and replacing them.

Finally, you’d be surprised how much difference a good cleaning and de-cluttering can make in a kitchen. Keep your countertops as clear as possible, wipe down greasy cabinets and other surfaces as well as walls. Get rid of knick-knacks, ratty floor mats and any accessories that look dated. And when in doubt, ask your Langley real estate agent for their thoughts since their goal is the same as yours: a quick sale for top dollar.

Langley Real Estate – Selling your Townhouse?

Let’s face it; most couples who buy townhouses usually go on to outgrow them at some point and find themselves looking to upgrade to a bigger home. The key to getting the most from the sale of your townhouse so that you can afford to up-size is making sure that you make it more appealing to your target market, which is people who were where you were when you first bought it: singles or couples without kids.

Speaking with an experienced Langley real estate agent about your target market is a good place to start so that you have a better understanding of who you should be trying to impress, so to speak, when getting your townhome ready for sale. Along with insight from a real estate agent who knows the area, the trends and what people are looking, you can also use the following information to make your home more appealing to singles and couples looking for a townhouse for sale in Langley.

Executive Home vs. A Family Home

Young home buyers are looking for a home that works for their lifestyle, which for most doesn’t include kids. They want stylish and easy spaces that they can see themselves in relaxing, entertaining and often even working. This means removing toys and extra clutter that tends to accumulate when you have children, such as playpens, playhouses, etc.

Potential buyers should be able to walk into a space and envision their life happening there. If your only other bedroom has been decked out for a child, then removing wall decals and toning down paint is a good idea. The perfect second bedroom for appealing to your typical Langley townhouse buyer is one that works as a spare bedroom and office space. This doesn’t mean that you need to send your child to grandmas or move them into the basement. Paint out the room in a stylish and somewhat neutral color and stage it with a simple and uncluttered desk and a bed or foldout couch if space doesn’t allow for a full-size bed. This means that your child can still sleep in the room while the home is on the market—just be mindful to pick up toys and check for any hidden messes before showings.

Go through your home and pack up any knick-knacks, family photos and other memorabilia that isn’t in keeping with what your target market is looking for.  They need to be able to envision themselves in the home and that’ll be a lot easier to do if they aren’t bombarded with photos of your family trip to Disney or your child’s drawings and report cards on the fridge.

Talk to an experienced Langley real estate agent for other suggestions on how to sell your townhouse for more so that you can afford to upgrade to a family home.

Credit Score – What does that mean!

If your mailbox is full of credit card bills, make sure you deal with them right away. Ignoring them could have long-term effects on your credit score.

A credit score is a number that lenders use to estimate risk. While each lender may have their own way of dealing with your credit score, in general, the higher your score, the lower the risk and therefore the more likely the lender will extend a loan to you at a favourable rate.

You can get an idea of your credit score from Canadian credit reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion. The answers to the following questions can influence your score:

• How long have you had credit, and what types of credit are you using?

• What’s your history of making payments? Do you carry a balance on your credit cards? Have you missed any payments?

• Do you have outstanding debts? Are you close to your credit limit?

• Have there been a number of recent inquiries about your credit history? (This will suggest you are trying to get more credit.)

• Do you have any record of bankruptcy? Have any of your debts been sent to a collection agency?

A good rule of thumb is if you do have to carry a balance from month to month, make sure to pay down the outstanding balance below 75% of the limit amount (ie. if you have a credit card with a $1000 limit, make sure the balance is below $750).

While a good credit score typically allows the borrower more financing options and better interest rates, a lower credit score doesn’t mean a borrower has no options – it just means the borrower needs to be open to investigating alternate borrowing options with their mortgage broker.

Give us a call with any questions you may have on credit scores, or any other mortgage related inquiries.

For other recent blog posts and market insight, click on Blog in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Selling a home might take longer than you think

Selling a home? Might want to adjust your expectations on how long it will take. Below is a video from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver regarding the 2012 housing market statistics. Overall sales are down along with the price of homes and its taking an average of 73 days to sell a property.

For other recent blog posts and market insight on the Vancouver housing market, click on Blog in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Have a great day!

Fraser Valley Buyers Looking for Affordable Homes

Property sales through the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®)  decreased by 19 per cent in November compared to the same month last year, moving from 1,120 to 905. Sales also decreased 14 per cent month-over-month compared to October 2012.

Scott Olson, president of the Board says, “Buyers can’t borrow as much as what they could prior to the mortgage rule changes, so we’re seeing our pool of prospective buyers shrink and we’re seeing a change in the price range they’re looking for.

“For three months in a row, we’ve seen a decrease in sales of detached homes $700,000 and up and greater demand for those $400,000 to half a million. Tighter credit conditions are having an impact on the market.”

In addition to the drop in sales in November, the number of new listings posted on the MLS® decreased by 11 per cent compared to last year and by 32 per cent compared to October. Olson observes, “This was a significant drop with last month ranking alongside November 2003 as the slowest for new listings in the last decade.

“It means that sellers are adjusting to conditions that favour buyers; great selection, houses are on the market longer and prices are lowering. If sellers don’t have to sell, they’re taking their home off the market.”

In the last six months, prices for all three residential property types combined have decreased by 1.4 per cent while year over year they’ve increased by 1.3 per cent.  For single family detached homes, the benchmark price increased by 2 per cent in one year, going from $533,800 in November 2011 to $544,700 last month.

For townhouses, the benchmark price in November was $298,900, a decrease of 1.5 per cent compared to $303,600 during the same month last year. The benchmark price of apartments in Fraser Valley in November was $202,800, an increase of 2.6 per cent compared to $197,700 in November 2011.

The Board received 1,723 new listings in November compared to 1,926 during the same month last year, taking the number of active listings to 9,478, on par with November 2011.

For a detached home in the Fraser Valley, the average number of days to sell in November was 59, up five days from the same month last year. For townhomes, it was 70 days and apartments 74 compared to 52 and 72 in November 2011.

See the full statistics package for November here

Published: December, 04 2012 10:41:13 am, by FVREB

Tips for moving your family

Thinking about moving your family? At BrokerSmart, we are family focused in the city of Langley and are very aware of what it takes to sell and buy a home. From mortgages to movers, there is a lot to consider when buying which can be very overwhelming for people with kids. These home-buyers need to think about what is in the area, like schools, day-cares, libraries, parks, recreation, and if their desired location is family friendly.

The following are just a few tips to keep in mind when moving your family:

  • To create excitement about a move,  include your kids in the home buying process by having them look at listings for homes and ask them to make a wish list of must-haves for the new home and neighbourhood.
  • Visit local parks and recreation centres in your new area to give kids an opportunity to meet new friends.
  • Stick to a normal routine as much as possible on days leading up to and following the move.
  • Unpack the kids’ rooms first.
  • Talk to the kids about their feelings on the move and help them collect email addresses/phone numbers from friends in their old neighbourhood so they can stay in touch.
  • Take lots of photos of your old house and neighbourhood and plan a goodbye party with all of your old friends.

BrokerSmart’s collective service are here to help, just give us a call!