It is one thing to talk about the Island Lifestyle, another to live it. 

Here on Vancouver Island we live in a sailing paradise and I just made my commitment to enjoying the best of it. In November I sold my Crown 23 sailboat and purchased Rain Dancer II, a 1977 Catalina 27 that had been very well maintained by the last owners. I researched a lot of boats before making this decision. Read through my description of the boat and our cruising plans and find out how easy and affordable it is to join me in this amazing Vancouver Island lifestyle.

 

The Catalina 27 is the perfect boat for our East Vancouver Island 

environment. It is a simple boat to take out for a day sail but roomy 

 enough for a couple to spend a week on. In our boat the galley is well laid out and the dinette is right behind it making it easy to prepare and lay out a meal. The boat has berths for up to six people but you had better be very good friends.


Amenities include a head with holding tank and macerator, dual deep cycle marine batteries, propane furnace, barbecue and 3 burner propane range, Marine VHF radio, Sony stereo that connects to my smartphone, depth sounder with fish finder, 9.9 HP Yamaha outboard, a canvas dodger and an assortment of fenders, lines and of course an anchor with lots of chain. The sails are in very good condition and include a mainsail, standard jib and 150 genoa jib. The boat came with a fibreglass sailing dingy with mast, boom and sails. There is also a Raymarine Autohelm but it needs servicing. I already have a GPS navigation program on my smartphone and also on my Blackberry Playbook tablet.


As I mentioned before this boat has been very well maintained and is well
equipped. It is actually a bit of a challenge for me to find projects to work on. Other than polishing, fixing some cosmetic nicks in the fibreglass and customizing the boat to my personal preferences it is completely ready to go.


The first overnight trip in the boat will be to Pirates Cove Marine Park on De Courcy Island, hopefully this winter and soon. Next summer we will begin exploring the Southern Gulf Islands. I have visited most of these over the years and look forward to reacquainting myself with the beautiful parks and anchorages. Conover Cove on Wallace Island and Annette Inlet on Prevost Island are two spots I visited with my daughters around 16 years ago and have always want to return to. I also want to go back to the amazingly beautiful Desolation Sound and the Sunshine Coast.


I purchased Rain Dancer II for $6,000.00 after researching and looking at a lot of boats. It was not the least expensive nor the most expensive boat in its range. I made my decision based on the condition and the way it had been maintained. I also like the fact that the boat had always been outboard powered, which I prefer.


I was lucky enough to get a berth at the Ladysmith Maritime Society Marina, one of the nicest little marinas on the Island. It is also owned by its members and is a non-profit organisation.


If you are interested in learning more about our Vancouver Island lifestyle and how you can join us in living in one of the most beautiful spots on earth then contact me at 250-739-3887 or email me at gbeltgens@gmail.com.

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Do you live in the Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Chemainus, Ladysmith or in the greater Nanaimo area? Thinking about buying or selling property now? Or maybe in the spring?

 

While the property market usually drops in the late fall and winter there is still a lot of activity going on this year. I have more than 30 buyers actively looking for property and 19 of those were in contact in the past week. 308 residential properties sold in the Nanaimo through Duncan area in the past 30 days and there have been 434 new listings. The majority of sales are in the $250,000 to $400,000 range.


If you have a home in that range, in reasonable condition and you price well against comparable properties, you will likely sell your home fairly quickly. Price for value is critical. The increase in price of $339,000 from $319,000 can mean that you are missing more than 100 potentially qualified buyers.


If you want to know more about the value of your home in the present market you can request a price evaluation. If your home has been on the market in the past 10 years then all I need is the address and a note of any changes you have made.


I will prepare an initial Comparative Market Analysis and then contact you to arrange a time that will be convenient to view your property. If you are still interested we can discuss a plan for putting your home or property on the market. No BS, no pressure.


Go to http://vanislelifestyle.ca/thinking-of-listing.html

for the evaluation form.

Or you can just give me a call at 250-739-3887 and lets talk about it. There is no cost and no obligation.

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I CALL BS! After reading a headline from the financial post I just had to respond. Housing in smaller cities and towns is more afforable than ever!
Housing prices in central Vancouver Island have been stable or declining for 4 years. Interest rates are stable and at their lowest ever. A recent variable rate of 1.99% actually set a new low and there no rate increases on the horizon according to the banks.
The average cost of a 3 bedroom single family home hovers around $325,000.00 with brand new 3 bedroom strata and duplex units coming in at around $259,000.00.
Depending on the interest rate, even with only 10% down the 3 bedroom home comes in at between $1,480.00 and $1,650.00 per month. Of course their are taxes and other costs on top of that but it is still well within the reach of a 2 income family.
I know it sells papers but all the BS and hype in the press just keeps the fear and confusion rolling.

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My goal to make the process of buying and selling real estate a positive and rewarding experience for my clients. This year it means working closer to home, closer to clients and using the internet and social media to provide access to information.


In late 2013 I moved my license from back Nanaimo to REMAX Ocean Pointe Realty in my home town. Ladysmith is only a tenth the size of Nanaimo and I can have far richer interactions working in the same town where am involved in community activities and where my family and friends are. Using social media and other tools I have a far greater reach. I am still only 25 minutes from the Cowichan Valley in the South and Nanaimo to the North so I can cover an even larger area than before.


Things have changed dramatically in the real estate industry. So much of the information people need to search for a home is online. Personal contact and referrals will always be a major factor, however most people now use the internet to research properties and the market prior to purchasing or selling. By the time we meet many people have a good idea of their goals. Aside from my role of showing properties, researching, negotiating and ensuring a smooth transaction, how can I add value?


Part of my strategy is to create a channel to promote and market the quality of life in our region and specifically our community. I do this through social media, articles (blogs), online classifieds and newsletters. These all lead back to a comprehensive website promoting local listings and  the "Vancouver Island Lifestyle".


Social Media:

Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram have changed the ways that the world shares information. Does social media sell property? The jury is still out, however it is a good way to stay connected to people and to share information. I try to keep my social media engagement light but relevant and do not focus so much on hard business or kittens. I do not buy “likes” of fake “followers” as has become the custom for many social media promoters. However I do pay a company (cityblast.com) to provide a stream of 4-7 posts a week of relevant content to these sites.

Twitter: @VI_Realinfo

Facebook Page: facebook.com/beltgensproperties

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/gbeltgens

To a lesser degree I also use Instagram and Pinterest.

My social media network has grown organically to around 1,500 "real followers" and has a potential network effect of over 8 million professionals, according to LinkedIn's statistics. Take a look and follow if you are interested.


Craigslist, Kijiji and others:

Something that I am trying to be more consistent with this year is posting listings to online classified advertising sites such as Kijiji, Craigslist and others. I believe that these sites have the potential to generate inquiries which can lead to sales. This is a new approach for me and I am testing the water carefully to make sure that my clients privacy is not compromised and also follow the regulations of the Real Estate Association.


Newsletter:

I recently set up a weekly newsletter called Vancouver Island Lifestyle. http://paper.li/VI_Realinfo/1373163387#

I use an an online site called “paper.li” that gathers information from sources I choose and my social media channels. The paper includes an editorial, links to Island activities, helpful real estate and home maintenance tips and more. While the distribution is not large yet it is growing.  Please take a look and if you like it click the subscribe button.


The Interactive Website:

My "Vancouver Island Lifestyle" website can be reached under multiple search names including

vanislelifestyle.ca

beltgensproperties.ca

beltgensproperties.com

The website now has an average of 1,200 to 1,500 visitors per month and 8,000 to 10,000 hits per month and growing. New features on the site include videos, more detailed property search, bigger featured listings, editorials (blogs) and links back to my social media channels and  to my weekly newsletter.


Migration to the Coast as an escape from the cold:

The cold winter has influenced many people from across North America to consider the West Coast as a destination for holiday and permanent residence. Most of the buyers I am working with are from Alberta and Saskatchewan. Many of these new clients are looking for homes with waterfront or ocean views. For people who are considering selling a home that is attractive to this group it is a good time to sell. These are the people that I am targeting with my promotion of the Vancouver Island Lifestyle.


Summary

I have personally bought and sold several homes and properties over the years. I have worked with good REALTORs and less good ones. I know the difference and employ that knowledge to make sure that my clients have the best real estate experience that I can provide. My knowledge and experience is broad but my method is personal. My references are on the homepage of my website. http://vanislelifestyle.ca

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Recently someone asked me about investing in Real Estate in Sydney Australia. It was a good question so I did a little research and  wrote a reply. I have expanded that reply into a rather longwinded blog. Let me know what you think.


It is tough for me to comment on Sydney real estate when it is so difficult to predict our own real estate future here in Canada. However after reading a couple of articles on property prices and conditions in Sydney it seems that the situation is not much different from Vancouver.


The big issues are home prices vs local income (affordability) and ownership costs vs rental costs. If the home ownership costs, including taxes, maintenance and other related costs are far higher than the cost of renting then renting may be the better if more conservative option. If the price of home ownership is above the affordability of a large percent of the local workforce, like it is in Vancouver and Toronto, that may well be an indicator of a bubble with home prices. If the bubble can be sustained long enough for incomes to catch up then it is no longer a bubble but if it keeps expanding without structural support then it will do what most bubbles do.


Based on many years of experience in construction, property investing and as a real estate agent, I believe there is a correction coming in those hot markets where the affordability index is way out of whack. That being said, real estate is a long term investment and in most cases while prices may dip they usually will catch up again over a 10 to 15 year period. However if a property is not affordable to start with the buyer may not be able to hold on long enough and stands to lose some or possible all of their investment.

 

Some personal examples:

I built a home in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island during the real estate frenzy of the late 70s. My home was going up in value almost as fast as I could build it, I could have sold it for many times what I had invested. By 1981 the bubble burst and my home and others had lost up to 50% of the price compared to the peak. Many people lost their homes, many contractors lost their businesses and it took many years for prices to come back. But today, 34 years later, the home that I sold in 1981 is back on the market for 3 times what it was worth at the 1980 peak and 6 time what it I sold it for in the trough that followed.


In 1998 I bought a foreclosure in Tsawwassen for $273,000.00 and spent about $10,000 in basic updates and cleanup. The market stayed flat 5 years and if I had needed to sell I would have lost money after paying commissions and other costs. However between 2003 and 2010 when I sold, the market for that house doubled and I was able to sell it in one week for $623,000.00.


If I had held on for another year to 2011 I could probably have gotten $700,000.00, however If I had bought that house in 2010 for $623,000 and sold in 2012 I would have lost $80,000.00 (selling price minus commission and other costs) because the price had dropped back to around $645,000.00. This year it is apparently back to $699,000.00! I have no idea what will happen in the next 12 months but the affordability index for Vancouver is very scary.


With the market being as hot as it is in some cities today, purchasing for the short term is more like gambling than investing and in gambling one should only bet as much as one can afford to lose.


On the other hand there are areas in BC such as central Vancouver Island where homes are very affordable again. There was a small bubble that occurred between 2006 and 2010 but that has since deflated back to 2007 prices. The nicely renovated home with great ocean view I bought in Ladysmith in 2010 for $395,000.00 has now dropped to about $350,000.00 but I don’t care because I made out very well on the last home and I have no intention of selling for many years.  As I said, real estate is a long term investment.


A little perspective:


“Land prices are high, it is said, higher than anything would warrant. ’Why, the workingmen cannot afford to pay at the rate demanded for these tiny outside lots,’ asserted one man recently. The same thing was said here twenty years ago, answer the pioneers; others of us know that it was repeated ten years ago and five years ago, and our children and our children’s children will hear the same tale of woe decades hence.”   - RJ McDougal, BC Real Estate, 1911 - See more at: http://thedependent.ca/featured/land-destiny-history-vancouver/#sthash.RgbBnwxm.dpuf

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Everyone knows about Victoria, the capital of BC. It is known for its beautiful gardens, grand hotels and the parliament buildings. But Victoria is the city at the south end of the island, there is much more to this island than just Victoria.


As a kid my world centered on the Cowichan Valley, that may sound like a small world but the Cowichan Regional District spans 3,474 square kilometers or 1,341 square miles. If it was a country it would be the 178 largest. That’s right, our little regional district is larger than 71 internationally recognized countries. Take that Luxembourg and Samoa.


Cowichan is easily one of the most beautiful parts of Canada and in my opinion, with its temperate climate, one of the most livable parts of the world. We have some of the finest boating you will ever find. The Southern Gulf Islands are our front yard and 20 mile long Lake Cowichan is our freshwater backyard. And if you want some serious west coast adventure then hike the West Coast Trail, our western border with the Pacific Ocean. The main theme here is water, water for fishing, boating, surfing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and more, much more.


All of this water makes for some rich and fertile farm lands and some of the finest wine growing areas in Canada. The mid Island area is also known for it excellent local cuisine and great restaurants. Do you like seafood paired with a Pinot Grigio? Do you like tender lamb chops with an herb and goat cheese salad. Perhaps a distinct red wine like Matrix created by Alderlea Vineyards from their hybrid Cab Sav and Cab Franc vines? Fantastic with lamb. Or Merridale Cider, we can’t forget our local apple and pear ciders. How about some of the best vegetarian East Indian cuisine or a West Coast First Nations salmon barbeque? It is all here and it is all local, fresh and delicious.


Take a look at the video on my website and get to know this beautiful part of this beautiful big Island. http://vanislelifestyle.ca/  When you are done, give me a call. You can reach me direct at 250-739-3887. Come and see my beautiful Island and maybe, just maybe you will be lucky enough to find your own little place in our great big paradise.

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Housing experts say progress on Nanaimo’s new conference centre hotel has put the city on the cusp of a real estate revolution.Nanaimo city council recently approved the development permit for a $50-million, 21-storey hotel, featuring retail space, restaurants and walkways.

 

The build – expected to attract 70,000 tourists each year – is considered to be a potential game changer for the Harbour City, not only boosting sales downtown, but providing long-awaited upscale rooms for conference centre delegates.  It’s also expected to have ripple effects on Nanaimo’s real estate market. Housing experts say Nanaimo is well-positioned for growth in any market, with its centralized location, affordable home prices and natural beauty.


But introduce tens of thousands of prospective  and possibly affluent Chinese home buyers to the city each year and Nanaimo is bound to see a spike in commercial and leisure real estate sales, higher home prices and new development. There is also an expectation the new build will trigger interest among retailers and developers to buy up commercial property downtown and ramp up schedules for projects currently on hold, including a new casino building and four-storey multi-family housing project at Port Place.  


Real estate agents, reportedly excited about the opportunities, have already started to investigate office space close to the hotel. Other sellers plan to adjust property descriptions to appeal to the Asian market and contact hotel owner SSS Manhao to offer free tour services. “They are already coming and a lot of properties, especially high-end properties, are being sold to Chinese buyers … but when [there are] 70,000 ... think about it – that’s basically the population of Nanaimo more or less,” said Victor Kiritchenko, a real estate agent with Re/Max Nanaimo. “It will bring your market up enormously.” Kiritchenko believes the hotel is the next stage in the development of the city, likely doing for us what Expo ’86 did for Vancouver – spread the word about Nanaimo and prompt population growth. 

 

New visitors brought in by the hotel owners are effectively ambassadors who will pass on information about their experience to prospective immigrants, he said, adding the increased market demand could lead to higher home prices and new development. “[This hotel] is opening the gate to a huge, huge, huge market, which is China,” Kiritchenko said. “It’s like 70,000 agents will come every year.”  

 

Sophia Chen, a real estate agent with Coast Realty Group in North Nanaimo and former tour guide, is excited to see the project break ground and agrees there could be a real estate upsurge. The Harbour City will be attractive for Chinese families because of affordable house prices, a safe environment, clean water and air, and easy access to the oceanfront, she said. And it’s her experience that if Chinese home buyers purchase property and still have money to spend, they buy commercial real estate knowing it’s not always easy to make the transition into the Canadian job market. She will be calling SSS Manhao and talking about volunteering as a tour guide, so she can sell people on the city.

  

The buzz around the hotel – and attempt to get in on the ground floor – is no surprise to Sasha Angus, CEO of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, who has been fielding calls from realtors interested in commercial space close to the hotel. He said the upscale hotel and its tourists will be a brand-new stimulus from a retail perspective and add to the uptick in purchases from the Asian market already happening in the region.

  

A potential fast ferry could add to the allure of Nanaimo real estate, he said, adding that investors are now in the final  stages of determining finances for the project. It could be running within five or six months of the financial close. “Once we have that new service in place it will be a wonderful opportunity for Chinese visitors and a host of different folks to come over in a 68-minute crossing ... and look at real estate prices,” he said.

  

It would also make Nanaimo a good pick for people working in Vancouver, who can benefit from lower home prices in the Harbour City and the avoidance of white-knuckle traffic.  “[They could] hop on the ferry, have a latte and be in downtown Vancouver in just over an hour,” Angus said. “It’s an attractive option.”

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For many years I trained real estate agents and other sales professionals how to use CRMs such as ACT, Maximiser and Goldmine, to manage their contacts. One day a brokerage manage complained that I had turned some of his best agents into poor techies and their sales were suffering as a result. He was right, some sales people were spending more time in front of their computers sending scripted letters on birthdays and anniversaries and less time actually maintaining their relationships with their clients.


I have never forgotten that conversation and the importance of real touch relationship management. I am now a Realtor myself and I use Twitter regularly, have a business Facebook page, a personal Facebook page, an active profile on LinkedIn and Google+, I post to Instagram and Pinterest and write a Blog. With all of this going on it would be very easy to become lost in the maze.


I use Nimble CRM (nimble.com) to manage my leads, activities and deals and keep in touch with the interactions of my contacts in their own social streams. I use Hootsuite (hootsuite.com) to track and post to my social media apps. These tools are critical but they are not the answer by themselves. I make sure I stay in touch with my clients by telephone, personal emails, and face to face meetings where and whenever possible.


Building and maintaining relationships on social media requires a conscious effort. Writing or finding good content is an art,  reading through the streams of information posted by your contacts can be daunting. Social media is not an easy way to build and maintain a network but it can be a very successful strategy when done in concert with a strong personal touch.


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There has been a strong trend recently for people considering buying a home to get a pre-approval for a mortgage. This is an excellent idea and can be a great help when looking for a home. But what exactly is a pre-approval? It depends a lot upon who you are talking to. Often when a buyer comes to me with a pre-approval in place they feel pretty confident that they no longer need to include a “subject to financing” clause when they make an offer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Some banks consider a pre-approval to be nothing more than a rate-hold, that is, an assurance that if a buyer comes back to them within 60, 90 or sometimes 120 days they are guaranteed a specified interest rate as long as they qualify for a mortgage. Note the “if they qualify for a mortgage” part.

A mortgage broker may go further and take the time to check out a potential buyer’s finances. They may take statements about current debt, assets, income and savings. Using this information the broker will give the potential buyer a good indication of the amount of money they can spend on a house, how much they need for a down payment and explain what monthly payments could be.

A dedicated mortgage specialist for a large bank may do all the same work and even provide a written statement explaining the terms and conditions for a mortgage, how much they are able to spend and what the rate will be for a specified period of time.

In all of these cases the potential buyer has some valuable information to work with, but in none of these cases is the buyer assured of a mortgage. Anyone who would consider writing a subject free offer is taking a huge risk and if their Realtor goes along with it he or she may well be breaching their fiduciary duty to the client.

Most pre-approvals are guides that allow a buyer and their Realtor to have an idea of what price range to look in. They can fall apart at the last moment because someone changed a job, maxed a credit card or the property they are interested does not appraise well.

Getting a proper pre-approval done is worthwhile however. It will educate the buyer to the financial process and the costs involved in buying a house. It will alert the buyers to possible credit issues that may easily be addressed, and of course it will allow the buyer to target the right price range for their new home.

If you are willing to write a subject free offer then make sure you have enough cash in the bank to pay for the whole thing and all the attendant costs. But give me a call first, I’d like to take you shopping for property.

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Nanaimo has the lowest unemployment in the province, high tech industries are attracting talent from other cities because of the low cost of living, the spectacular scenery and some of the most affordable housing in Canada. Nanaimo is a good bet for investment and growth now that Vancouver and Victoria are so expensive.
 
I recently listed a one acre development property on Departure Bay, Nanaimo. It is semi-waterfront, bordered by 2 roads and parks back and front. There are great views of Departure Bay and Newcastle Island. There is a nice home with an unfinished suite in the lower level all, on nicely landscaped grounds.
 
In 2007 there were big plans for a 9 unit luxury townhouse/condo development on the property. Transportation, archaeological and community studies and consultations were completed and a development permit was approved in early 2008. The economic situation later that year ended that. 
 
Now Nanaimo is beginning to take off, cruise ships stop here and a new 18 story hotel funded by Chinese investors is about to get started. The airport has been expanded and Westjet just started direct flights to Calgary. Vancouver Island University has its main campus in Nanaimo and is attracting many international students. 
 
This property is unique. There are no other properties of this size with this zoning and these views left in Departure Bay. 
 
Come over and look for yourself, I will pick you up at the ferry or airport. Show you around, buy you lunch and send you back in time for afternoon coffee.
 
Take a look at http://beltgensproperties.ca/mylistings.html/details-32115249 and make sure to click on the flipbook brochure.
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There are lots of reasons: high prices, low wages, student loan debt, government policies and more. But part of the problem may be that too many people want to live in the expensive parts of the country. The average cost of a home in Vancouver is over $700,000 in Calgary it is over $450,000 and Toronto it is over $500,000. Pretty hard to save a down payment and make mortgage payments in that environment. 


There are lots of great smaller cities where home prices are far more affordable. I live in mid Vancouver Island just outside Nanaimo. Here the average single family detached home sells for around $300,000.00. Fix ups start at around $150,000, nice new homes are available for $325,000.00 and a good 3 bedroom townhouse in a great complex for under $200,000.00. Nanaimo is a beautifully situated city of around 100,000 on the sheltered side of Vancouver Island nestled between the Gulf Islands and the Island mountains. It has a great climate and lots of outdoor opportunities. Besides that small cities like ours tend to be very friendly and welcoming. 

If more young people, especially creative and entrepreneurial ones were to consider locating to a small city like ours, they could still buy their own homes, raise families, find or create jobs, go to university and have a wonderful lifestyle. That would benefit both them and those of us that already live here.

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The federal government is going to keep Canadians mortgage debt down by telling the banks to keep interest rates up, that’s for our own protection, right? Then why are they turning a blind eye to the credit card debt that Canadians are piling up at usurious rates with bait and switch schemes promoted by the same financial companies whose interest rates they are protecting?


When people are taking out a mortgage at 2.89% or better they are getting some value and the opportunity for positive equity on their investment in the future. When people use credit cards to buy cell phones, TV sets and other toys they are paying 18 to 24% interest on disposable items that will have no value long before they are paid off.


Artificially holding mortgage rates high while allowing usurious credit card rates has got to be one of the most ill thought out programs in the history of federal money meddling.


Instead of promoting credit card debt, we should support people to manage their money and buy a home. That is a hell of alot better for our economy, it creates local jobs, encourages financial planning and gives people the pride of ownership. You can live in your home even if the price drops as long as you have a good rate, a longer term and the ability to pay off good chunks without penalties.


Who are the feds protecting? Canadian jobs are not going to be created and people are not going to own their own home when we borrow on credit cards to pay for TVs made in China. If the feds need to meddle in something then they should look at the questionable credit card practices that are really getting people in trouble.


For more information on credit card debt check out “The Dirty Dozen Credit Card Facts” from MonsterMortgage.ca

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Contact management systems (also known as CRMs*) have been around for decades. After accounting and word processing software they were the killer business apps of their time. The computing and business world has changed dramatically since the 90s and the CRMs of that time do not meet the needs of our social media business environment. How will the social CRM (sCRM) of the future address the constantly evolving world of friends, followers, connections and other diverse networks?

First a little bit of background. Around 1989 I was working for a software company selling accounting and equipment management software to heavy construction companies. We were one of the first companies to provide these tools in a PC based environment and business was hot. I needed to keep track of companies and contacts all over North America and I needed to be able to import contact lists from database suppliers. I needed to manage information about all of those contacts and my activities related to the sales process.I needed to schedule new activities and keep notes from meetings. I needed to track the communications that I had with them and what marketing material that I had sent them. I needed to know who the the contacts were in the company and who assisted them. I needed to be able to create reports that I could use in our sales meetings.

I tried using all of the PC based spreadsheets and databases available at the time. I even had our programmer create a database in dBase. It all worked to a certain extent but none of it worked together. I spent far too much time trying to input the data into multiple spreadsheets, databases, word processors and mailing packages.

It was at that time that I came across a new software package called Maximizer. It was a contact management system developed by Richmond Technologies. Maximizer addressed most of what I was looking for and I became committed user. I think I may still have the original box from Version 1.0.

During the 90s I started my own consulting and training company dedicated to helping companies integrate Maximizer’s brand of CRM tools into their business. Eventually we became the Maximizer Training Center, an independent company with close ties to Richmond Technologies. We specialized in helping Realtors come to grip with computer based technology, specifically using a database to keep track of their clients.

The other big players at the time were Act! and Goldmine. There were also several proprietary systems and there were a few good custom systems for Realtors such as Top Producer. Many of these are still around today in one form or another. More recently the big player in the game has been Sales Force.

While Goldmine was popular in larger companies with more sophisticated requirements. Maximiser and Act! captured a huge part of the market back then because they were inexpensive and relatively easy to use. They were relatively complete suites of tools for the small business person in the pre-cloud world.

All of these programs have their strengths but most have not really been able to keep up in the turbulent waters of the present social media phenomenon. Back in the day there was usually a single database and the most important field was for a phone number; today we need to address fields for email, Google Apps, Twitter, Facebook (and Facebook pages), LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, foursquare, About.me, the list goes on, and on, and we haven’t even included webpages yet.

In many ways we are back to the problem I struggled with in 1989 when there was no clear solution that could tie all of the strings related to client management and sales opportunity tracking into one comprehensive package. Today many companies are working hard to deliver the Killer App that will let them become the new gorilla in this patch.

I am convinced that the company that can put together a framework that will address the existing mess of social media and provide a structure that will enable social media integration with cloud based apps will find a huge market, but it will need to be sharply priced to appeal to end users used to $3.99 apps.

* CRM = Customer Relationship Management

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So you have had your house on the market for 3 months and it has not sold. Other houses in your area sold, why not yours. Here are 10 possible reasons your why house is not selling:

  1. There are a lot of houses on the market and your house does not stand out
  2. You need a new roof
  3. Your basement smells like mould
  4. You have no colour sense; Use neutral colours if you decide to repaint
  5. The kitchen and bathrooms are too small, dated and worn out - deadly sins
  6. The renovations are amateurish; if you don’t have the skill, don’t practice on your house.
  7. No curb appeal; Your yard is a mess, your gutters leak and your paint is fading.
  8. You are a smoker, your dog smells and your cat urinates on the carpet. You may not notice it but everyone else does.
  9. The other bedrooms you advertised are in a basement with a 6 foot ceiling; They don’t count
  10. The biggest reason your house is not selling is that it is priced too high for the market. You can overcome all of the items above if your house is priced right for the conditions. How does your house compete with the other homes in your price range? Are the others selling? If they are and yours isn’t then your price is too high. Period, that’s it.

If your REALTOR told you that your house should be priced at X and you tell the REALTOR that you want X plus $25,000.00, don’t blame the REALTOR when your house does not sell.

 

DIY Renovations Kill Home Sales
Almost every time I go on a home tour I come across amateur home renovations.  I am sure that too many people watch reality shows about quick fix-ups and flipping homes. Bad renovations can be deal killers. Bad renovations are often done without permits and are used to hide more serious issues. Experienced REALTORS recognize the signs. When I represent the buyer I will spot those signs and let my client know, then be prepared for a lowball offer if you get one at all.


If your house needs updating or you want to make some renovations then get a pro. If you want to do it yourself then make sure you have the skills or you will pay the price when you try and sell your home. 

Note: Clean your house before the REALTOR brings a buyer, you are in a competition and the other sellers will.

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I am now convinced that we will never hear the end of housing bubble speak. The premise is now as firmly entrenched in popular consciousness as carbon emissions and TMZ. It has taken the form of idolatry in the blogosphere, where any countervailing narrative is demonized. It has catapulted university dropouts into media darlings because of a hackneyed webpage and an opinion. It has been tarted up by so-called experts who predict impending doom year after year, despite being completely wrong every time. 

Now, I’m not wearing tinted glasses. Housing markets go up and they go down. However, my point is that sharp and significant declines in home prices are usually created by massive economic shocks, like the 21 per cent mortgage rates and recession of 1982. Yes, there can be short term speculative bubbles that float back to earth after the circus leaves town, but home prices in Vancouver, for example, have been incongruous with other Canadian markets for decades.  

The big test was 2008. That was the year of the doomsayers, when the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression besieged us and the collateral damage hurled us into a global recession, one from which we still haven’t fully recovered. The airwaves were all abuzz with end of the world prophets and those predicting home prices would be chopped in half, at least. It was going to be the big one! The housing market had gone through a significant inflationary period leading up to 2008. Unlike today, speculation was clearly evident. Accusations abounded that Vancouver was overvalued, unsustainable and frothy. One financial institution even had a publication called Housing Bubble Watch, now defunct, in which Vancouver was always the straw man.

So what happened? Home prices fell 15 per cent from peak to trough, but that was short-lived. Indeed, once the clouds of uncertainty dissipated only a few months later, buyers came back in droves.

The most dramatic turnaround ever recorded occurred in Vancouver during 2009, when
the year began with 1980s level consumer demand and ended with sales tracking near record levels. Prices came right back to where they were before the crisis, and have stayed there, for the most part, for the past three years. If such a severe financial crisis and global recession couldn’t trigger a meltdown of the housing market or pop any asset balloon, what could?


The main misconception about housing markets is that they behave like the stock market. They don’t. Bad news can drive stocks lower in a matter of seconds, whereas homes are relatively illiquid; they take a long time to sell and have higher closing costs. In addition, owner-occupiers typically don’t speculate with the family home. In times of hardship, the home is typically the last thing to go. Instead, they hold off on other expenditures like lattes, movie tickets, new TVs and vacations.

In a market that has a well-diversified economy and expanding population, fire sales are extremely uncommon. Unless there is household financial catastrophe on a large scale, potential home sellers simply wait until market conditions improve.

I write this piece as home sales in Vancouver and many other markets stagnate and homes prices tread water (see the Canadian Real Estate Association’s Multiple Listing Service®
Home Price Index for an accurate reading). I have no doubt that the voices of impending doom will soon renew their bellicose refrain. Perhaps their tea leaves will be right this time and the market will indeed collapse, leaving homes selling for 50 cents on the dollar. I’d put my money on that refrain continuing for a long time to come.


 


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We hear it all the time, “It’s a Buyer’s Market!” But what does that mean? A buyer’s market occurs when there are more homes for sale than there are buyers. Simple as that. In central Vancouver Island there is a large inventory of homes for sale which means there are lots of good deals available.

Why aren’t more potential home buyers taking advantage of this buyer’s market? I think it is the uncertainty. There are so many mixed messages coming from experts, many of whom clearly have no idea what they are talking about.

In Nanaimo there are more than 1,250 single family properties for sale. Less than 10% sell in a given month. In today’s market home buyers are in the driver’s seat and they have an incredible selection of homes to choose from. In a buyer’s market the buyer dictates the price.

Today’s 5 year mortgage rate hovers at around 3% for a fixed 5 year term . 60 years ago the Bank of Canada interest rate for a residential mortgage was 5%, since then it has fluctuated, usually between 8% and 12%. In 1982 it reached an incredible high of 21.46%. The present interest rate is the lowest it has been in my lifetime. If you want to buy then don’t wait for those rates to go back to normal levels.

The question is not whether now is a good time to buy a home, but why are you buying a home? The current economic climate does not favour property flippers but if you are buying a home that you plan to live in for 5 years or more, then the combination of price, availability, and interest rates makes this a great time to buy a home.



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Open Letter to Steven Harper (see contact information at the bottom of the Blog)

Letter of Support for Island Corridor Foundation

Re:  Vancouver Island Rail Service


Dear Prime Minister Harper


Residents of Vancouver Island have been seriously impacted by reductions of traditional employment such as forestry and fishing, the economic downturn has only made this worse. Unemployment in Nanaimo was 12.1 % in 2011. Any opportunity to create or preserve employment should be considered to offset the social and economic impact of such high levels of unemployment.


I was born in Ladysmith BC and my first home was less than 100 metres from the train tracks. As a child the sound of the train passing in the night was comforting, letting me know that everything was still normal in the world. I travelled on the old “Dayliner” many times over the years. My wife and I moved back to Ladysmith in 2010. We were saddened to find the train no longer ran. I miss the sound and the option of taking the train to Victoria to visit family or to go up island for a day trip. I believe that the train is an important link between our communities here on Vancouver Island.


We fully support the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce in their resolution:


“We the Board of Directors of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, wish to express our unqualified and emphatic support for the "7.5 Million Dollar Rail Infrastructure Application" of the Island Corridor Foundation to maintain rail on Vancouver Island. Your administrations support of Island Rail will ensure 10 years of renewed passenger service and the opportunity to aggressively expand freight, commuter, and tourist rail operations well into the future.”

 

We look forward to your support of Vancouver Island residents and business by way of your approval of the ICF application to maintain and improve our rail service.

 

Sincerely,

Gerry and Eileen Beltgens

Ladysmith, BC

 

Visit the website at http://www.islandrail.ca/

Write your own letter to the Prime Minister Harper at pm@pm.gc.ca

and copy to:

Jean Crowder at jean@crowder.ca 
Premier Christy Clark at premier@gov.bc.ca
James Lunney at nanaimo@jameslunneymp.ca
Minister of Transportation Denis Lebel at lebel.d@parl.gc.ca
Island Corridor Foundation at islandrail@shaw.ca



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First impressions are critical for a new MLS listing. Great photos and a video will keep a buyer interested. List with me and you get a Professional REALTOR and a Professional Photographer for no extra charge.Together we will develop a marketing strategy for your home that can include:
  • professional photographs
  • a video showing your property to its best advantage
  • a floor plan that helps buyers visualize their new home
  • comprehensive market analysis to set the best price for your home
  • a property description with details that will attract attention on MLS
  • advice from a professional home stager
  • targeted marketing, featured on my website and social media tools
You will get a REALTOR who will help get the best price when we sell your home. Call me and we will work out a custom sales plan for your property.
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Why would you consider buying a home at this time, in this economy?
The reasons are the same as at any other time.
  • You want to move out of your parent’s basement
  • You pay too much rent
  • Your family is growing
  • You are now an empty nester
  • You are retiring
  • You are relocating
  • You can now afford your dream home
  • You need more room for a shop, boat, garden, chickens, whatever
  • You just need a change
Purchasing and/or selling a home is usually an emotional decision so it sure helps to have facts to back it up. So, is now the time?
  • Home prices are the most reasonable in years and there are great deals to be had
  • A well priced home sells in any market
  • Interest rates are the lowest on record
  • HST is not applicable on older homes
If you are contemplating moving to a home that better suits your needs let me help you find one. Remember a buyers agent works for you and is paid by the seller’s Real Estate company when you find your new home. The buyer does not pay commission to the Realtor.

If you are contemplating selling your home then call me and I will get you the fair market value for your home and design a custom marketing plan to sell it as quickly as possible.
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Purchasing a home is as much (or more) an emotional decision as it is a rational decision. That emotional decision is easily influenced by first impressions. So invest some time in sweat equity.

If you are considering putting your home on the market this fall, take advantage of what good weather we have left to get your home and yard in shape. An untidy or overgrown yard makes a very bad first impression. House sales are slow, it is a buyers market, so do not give a prospective buyer any reason to dismiss your home before they even get in the door.

There are many theories about getting your home ready for selling. Almost all recommend staying away from expensive renovations prior to putting the house up for sale. Very few renos see a good return on the money and time spent and your tastes may not be that of the potential buyer. However a lot can be done to make you home stand out in a crowded field, and it does not have to cost a lot of money to get the best price possible.

A good strong first impression inspires confidence for a potential buyer and may even allow them to overlook some other flaws during the tour. A little hard work is a great investment and pays big dividends in sweat equity. An unkempt yard or peeling paint will attract lower offers for your home or keep your home on the market longer. It is quite possible to lose as much as $20,000.00 of value for what could have been saved for under $1,000.00 in cash and a few days of concentrated work.

Here are some things you can do to prepare your home for sale during the more difficult fall and winter seasons. Most of these tasks will cost little or no money.

  • Tidy up the yard

    • mow the lawn

    • trim hedges

    • rake up leaves

    • cut back shrubbery

    • prune overgrown trees

    • mulch the garden

    • get rid off garden waste

    • remove any clutter or leftovers from other projects

  • Clean up the exterior of the house

    • touch up peeling paint on trim

    • fix any leaky gutters or downspouts

    • maybe even paint the front door

    • Make a dump run

There are lots of things that can make a difference inside as well but the main upgrade inside is usually to de-clutter the home.

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