A Homebuyers’ Story

In the gloomy winter months we often find ourselves dreaming of new hopes, dreams, and resolutions.

For some of you, all three of these things might revolve around purchasing your very first home. In the hope to inspire and encourage you, here’s the story of my husband Brandon and I buying our first home.

It’s a story of two adults being hit hard by rent increases and the fast-paced real estate world in Kelowna. It’s also a story of how we happened to meet Danielle and how she fought every step of the way so we could move into our home, all while on a budget of $375k and just a little over two months to find a new place to live.

From Renters to Owners

Our house in the Mission

Our story begins seven years ago when Brandon, our friend, and I began to rent a 3-bedroom suite in a house in the Mission for $1200/month. We paid this amount for five years, until our rent was bumped up by $100. By the beginning of 2017, our landlord shared her plans to renovate the place and begin leasing it for $1700/month; couple weeks later we got a notice that our rent would go up another $200.

Brandon and I then first seriously spoke about buying a house. We had enough for a down payment and our credit was good. We put our numbers together and realized that for a bit over $1500/month we could, and should, afford to own a house.

This is where Danielle came into the picture. We had met a couple months earlier through Grindstone Award Foundation and I asked if she could be our realtor. As per Danielle’s recommendation, we got a mortgage through a broker, got a great interest rate, and got in touch with a lawyer.

Then the search began.

What Can 375k Get You in Kelowna?

We brought a Kelowna map to our house-hunting. No cell phones needed

Our first limit—finding a house under $400k, all while having grand expectations of what our first home should be like. Even though Danielle explained what our budget will give us in Kelowna, it took us about a week of looking at listings and crunching numbers to realize she actually does know what she’s talking about.

Owning our own single-family home was soon a dream Brandon and I decided to leave for the future. It was townhouses and duplexes that didn’t require any major renovations for at least the first few years.

So, what’s out there in Kelowna?

Lots, as we soon discovered, until you see how many properties are run down by careless renters and owners, and how many are court sales and former grow ops.

Crunching Numbers and Running Out of Time

Brandon and I

We placed our first offer on a beautiful townhouse in Rutland, within our price range, and didn’t get it.

We placed our second offer on another townhouse, this time just off Springfield. At an offer of $381k we knew we were over our initial budget and would have to be smart with our expenses if we got the place, but we felt we had to act quickly before the end of our lease at the Mission house. Our offer got accepted.

The catcha strata fee of almost $400 a month, which bumped up our mortgage and had us apply for the First Time Home Buyers Loan. Long story short, we couldn’t get all the paperwork together on time before the closing and a few other things happened that led us to believe this was not the place for us.

We called Danielle, explained what was happening and how we felt, and asked her to withdraw our offer.

Danielle had put in a good word for Brandon and I to get our offer ahead of two other offers. For days, she had worked with us until as late as 11 PM, calling back and forth arranging legal and financial matters. For Brandon and I it felt like a defeat, but also like disrespecting all the work Danielle had put into this.  

Danielle’s reply?

She laughed and said, “This is how real estate works. It’s a game and you have to play it fast.” She then promised we would find our dream home before our lease ended.

Our New Home

We have a new home!

Brandon and I revisited all listings and found a place in Glenrosa we had previously overlooked because we thought it was too far of a drive to work, our friends, and activities we had gotten used to while living in the Mission. But we decided to give it a shot.

The place was half a duplex at the end of a cul-de-sac, $325k, just a hair over $1500/month in mortgage payments.

We got there and were blown away.

It was quiet, the air was cool and smelled of trees. The duplex had a little bit of everything we were looking for: a spacious kitchen, a deck, back yard with the potential to become a beautiful garden and a place to relax, four bedrooms, enough parking for us and people who visit.

Because the place needed a little bit of work, we placed an offer under the asking price. Danielle coordinated all the back and forth negotiations, and a few days later we signed the paperwork and became the proud owners of our first home. FIY, we got the place for $5k less and got a new water heater put in.

But this is not where the story ends, yet.

The Final Hurdle Before Moving In

On the day we got the keys, we met Danielle at our new home. When we arrived, she had an odd expression on her face. The place was a bit messy at our first viewing, so a part of our contract was to have the place professionally cleaned prior to us getting the keys. This was not done.

We were left with a pile of garbage and a quick this-will-do cleanup.

Danielle did not hesitate to put her game face on and make as many phone calls and arrangements as necessary with the seller’s realtor to get the house clean for us. Our move was delayed by a few days, but when we did finally step into our new home, it literally smelled like a fresh start and a new chapter in our lives.

Since we moved into our new home in the summer of 2017, we’ve done a lot of work both inside and outside the house. Every time we paint a wall, do yard work, or change a light bulb we feel like building our first home and we take pride in it. In the spring of 2018 we welcomed our daughter, and we couldn’t be happier to have a wonderful, quiet, and safe place for her to call home, too.

Why Share Our Story?

First, if you are looking for a home and need to get stuff done in a timely and professional manner, get a hold of Danielle.

Second, buying a house for the first time is a scary experience. To have someone experienced by your side, who is also passionate to fight for you, makes the process easier.

Third, living in Kelowna on a budget is tough but doable if you’re willing to recognize that sometimes your grand plans of a home have to start with smaller beginnings.

I hope that by sharing our story, others would be encouraged to not give up on their search.

Thank you for reading!

Thank you, Danielle, for being our realtor!

Written by Elina Briezkalne

Selling in Kelowna in the Winter!?

Unlike the common misconception that you must be crazy to think your house will sell in the winter, I’m here to tell you it can be done.

I have a huge whiteboard in my office, and when I say huge, I mean it almost covers an entire wall. During spring, summer, and fall, the board is covered in client information. I write down how many listings I’m showing my clients, which sale is about to close, and any additional notes to help me stay on track of the large amount of buying and selling. By the time it’s November, you’ll find my board covered in pie charts as I’m trying to map out a business strategy. The Okanagan is a famous summer destination and it’s true that most home sales happen during the warmer months, however people still buy in the Winter months. For the non-believers out there, here are a few things that can help land a sale in the winter.

High Motivation To Buy

There are buyers out there who either wait for the colder months in the hopes to get a better deal on a Kelowna property, or they have no choice but to buy in the winter (relocation due to work, unforeseen circumstances, or perhaps their home got sold and they’re looking to buy).

These buyers don’t care if it’s cold and gloomy outside. They’ve most likely done their homework, know what they’re looking for and are highly motivated to buy at or close to the listing price. In fact, I have a couple that just received an accepted offer on their home in Kamloops and will be coming up to Kelowna this weekend to buy. They need to find a place and move in before Jan 15th. Point and case… 

Low Inventory, but Also Less Competition

The winter housing market in Kelowna is not oversaturated with listings. Less inventory means less fighting for buyers’ attention, less window shoppers, and more serious buyers. Another gain for you are other sellers who take their homes off the market during the winter months, thinking it won’t sell.

The Right Asking Price

Less inventory means you have to be smart about the price. A bidding war to make more money from your listing sounds like the perfect scenario. This is not to say it couldn’t happen in the winter, but it’s less likely. Another real world example from 2 weeks ago; I was in a bidding war with a property that came on the market in West Kelowna. It was completely renovated, had a great detached garage in the backyard and priced to sell. By the time we showed it, the Sellers had already received another offer … however, we came in strong with a better price and terms, and won. Winter bidding war… 

So in the winter, list your property at market value. If you list too high and your home doesn’t sell, come spring you might end up listing for under market value and any bidding war would only be an attempt to sell your home for what it’s worth.

The Characteristics of Your Home

Take into consideration the characteristics of your home.

Do you have a steep driveway that can be treacherous when ice builds on it? How about old windows you’ve been wanting to replace? Perhaps your house is freezing or has condensation buildup inside?

Potential buyers are more likely to pay attention to window seals, drafts, the furnace, and ask questions about how energy efficient and well maintained your home is. Add insulation where needed and have your heating system maintained.

Worrying About Landscaping

Less landscaping in the winter allows for more time and resources to be spent staging your home.

You can still show the beauty of your home in the spring and summer by displaying photos of the garden and patio throughout the house. These photos can curb the buyers’ imagination and give them a chance to dream about being the new homeowners. Clean a pathway to the house if there’s snow, decorate the outside and add outdoor lighting, remove dirt, shovel the deck to allow the potential buyers experience what the outdoors feel like.

Showcasing the Beauty of Your Home

Winter staging brings out the beauty of your home and if your house is on the market around Christmas holidays, that’s an added bonus. Because winter festivities is a special time for most individuals and families, you can tap into the feelings of being in a warm and welcoming place that’s perfect to celebrate the season.

To counteract the dark days, brighten your home with light coloured walls, turn on all lights and open all windows.

Add a touch of soft music, but be careful with scents. Instead of lighting scented candles, bake some treats right before the showing and offer these to the potential buyers.

Make your home feel and look cozy by decluttering and adding neutral but coordinated accents (throws, pillows, stand up lamps, and so on).

An Added Bonus

If you’ve done your best to prepare your home for sale and it doesn’t sell, you are a step ahead of other sellers. You’ve have added upgrades, decluttered and painted your house, and are ready to sell in the spring or summer.

Winter can highlight the worst of your home, but an experienced realtor can help you with that. If you’re ready to sell your Kelowna home but have more questions or doubts, get in touch, I’m here to answer your questions.

“Life is short. Live somewhere awesome.” – Grundy 

 

The Changes to the BC Real Estate Industry are here

Real EstateIf you’re reading this you have probably heard about the rule changes to the real estate industry as of June 15, 2018? Well if so, you are probably confused – like most in the industry, Real Estate Agents and Clients alike. It seems as though everyone is trying to understand the new changes and how it impacts their daily lives. I will try to simplify it for you.

At the heart of all these changes; the Council is trying to better protect consumers … you. Which, frankly is probably a really good thing. Real estate consumers need to be better informed, protected and educated, so they can make the best real estate decisions possible.

Below are the coles notes of the changes:

Agency

The way Real Estate Agents interact with consumers has now changed. The good ole trusty “Working with a Realtor brochure” has now been replaced with “Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services” form. Essentially, before agreeing to a particular relationship with a Real Estate Agent, a consumer needs to understand the essential components of the relationship. There are 3 relationships consumers can choose from:

  1. Sole Agency (represented)
  2. No Agency (unrepresented party)
  3. Dual Agency

The choice can only be made when the consumer is fully informed and understands the benefits and risks of the different types of relationships. What is interesting in my opinion, is that it is actually not required that this form be signed by the client. It is “optional”. Hmm.

There are certain times where consumers will choose to be “unrepresented” – if this occurs, licensees are only allowed to provide very limited trading services in a no agency relationship. There is an additional disclosure required that now has to be signed called “Disclosure to Unrepresented Parties” form. What are the risks of being an “unrepresented party”? Well as the consumer, you are not entitled to special legal duties such as:

  1. Loyalty: the real estate professionals involved in a transaction are representing clients with competing interests to yours. They must be loyal to their clients, not you.
  2. No duty to avoid conflicts: no real estate professional is acting in your interests.
  3. No full disclosure: real estate professionals involved do not have a duty to give you all relevant information.
  4. No confidentiality: the real estate professionals must share any information you tell them with their client.

Disclosure to Sellers of Expected Remuneration

How much does commission really add up to? Real EstateI know, it can be confusing at times when you are looking at large property prices and various percentages. In short, the new rules state that the real estate professional needs to fully inform and educate the Seller of the remuneration payable so they know, in simple terms how much it will costs for the transaction.

New disclosure requirements require real estate professionals to include remuneration payable to a cooperating brokerage in the service agreement with the Seller and to disclosure remuneration details for reach offer presented to the Seller, at the time of offer.

SO, think about the last time you sold your house. It probably happened very quickly, you may have even Docusigned the contract without even really thinking about it. Well, these new changes will slow down this process and force agents to ensure their clients are fully informed.

Ban of Dual Agency

The main change is that licensees should no longer be permitted to engage in dual agency. Two key changes have been implemented:

  1. A ban on dual agency, with an extremely narrow exception.
  2. A new disclosure requirement if dual agency is practiced.

So a single licensee cannot act for more than one agency in a real estate transaction.

What do these changes mean for you?

Real Estate

These changes mean that certain services will need to be handled slightly differently from what was common in the past. It also means that certain services may not be able to be provided that were provided before. It also means that you will be asked to sign forms that confirm that you have read and understand them.

In the end, these fundamental changes will better protect consumers when purchasing or selling real estate and overall can be viewed as a positive move forward for our industry. I believe this will elevate the professionalism of the real estate industry and hopefully curb the handful of real estate agents out there that you have read about in news (that don’t have their clients best interest in mind). Of course, there are additional changes as of June 15, 2018 that I haven’t gone over, but those are the major ones.

If you are looking for more information or of course, interested in any real estate related investments – please don’t hesitate. We can sit down and sign “Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services” form before we do business 🙂

Kelowna Realtor Recognized as Leader in Canadian Real Estate

Sitting alone in her home office, a space where she spends many of her waking hours, Kelowna real estate agent Danielle Grundy works by the faint glow of her favourite vintage desk lamp, the one that shines just enough light to illuminate the large but organized stack of documents spread across her desk. Combined with the bright glow of a full moon, it offers the perfect lighting to assist her in completing the last minute details of her final home sales of 2017.

It’s a late night ritual that has become common place for the Kelowna real estate agent over the past 4 years as she’s worked to become one of the top agents with Century 21 Assurance Realty.

Her success in the industry hasn’t come easy, it’s meant long hours, with most days starting at 7am and lasting into the wee hours of the night, but it’s one she wouldn’t trade for anything.

“When I started my career in real estate I had clear goals, I knew what I wanted and how I was going to accomplish it. It hasn’t been easy, but I love what I do and that passion drives me each and every day to do whatever it takes to be successful.” she says.

Her success comes as no surprise to those who know the West Kelowna native, with a familiar sentiment being “don’t get in Danielle’s way”. It’s a drive and determination that has burned deep within for as long as she can remember and it’s taken her to places she only dreamed of as a youngster. From playing University and professional hockey, to earning both an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology and Brain Sciences and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), she’s achieved success in every personal and professional quest she’s taken on.

“They’re numbers that have led her to the top 1% of agents within Century 21 across Canada”

How has this conviction towards success benefited the 34 year old when it comes to the world of real estate? For one, it’s driven her to become one of the top young agents in Canada, closing nearly 50 deals (that’s almost one per week) in each of the last two years. They’re numbers that have led her to the top 1% of agents within Century 21 across Canada and has earned her Centurian Status the last 3 straight years. She was also named one of the top 40 under 40 business people in Kelowna by the Chamber of Commerce in 2017. Finally it’s earned her recognition as one of the top 100 real estate agents in Canada under 35 by Real Estate Professional magazine as part of their 2017 young guns report.

As one of only 14 agents from British Columbia and 2 from Kelowna chosen as part of the yearly report, Grundy was thrilled to be recognized for her continued commitment to not only the industry, but also the great clients she has the chance to work with on a daily basis.

“The best part of my job is the feeling I get when I hand over the keys to my clients for the first time. It’s an extremely fulfilling moment knowing I’ve helped them find the perfect home that they’ll enjoy for years to come.” she says.

“If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to be successful, real estate is an amazing career”

The accomplishments of Danielle and the others on the list are impressive, especially considering a majority of agents in Canada leave the profession after only 2 years. Equally impressive is the realization that after only 4 years in the industry she’s moved more real estate than most agents will manage to move in their entire career. It all showcases what makes her a leader in helping drive the future of the real estate industry forward in Kelowna and across Canada.

“If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to be successful, real estate is an amazing career. It’s not easy, but if you give it everything you have and commit 100% of your energy towards your clients, you can be very successful and have a fulfilling career.” she says.

As she focuses on growing within the industry, Danielle is not only driven towards her own continued success but also helping create a positive movement within the industry, especially within the realm of digital media. (link to Realty Labs blog post) As a digital marketing entrepreneur she operates a website design and marketing company, Realty Labs, on-top of her successful real estate business.

“I see digital marketing as the way of the future for real estate agents. I’ve learned a lot over the past 4 years that has helped contribute to my success and I want to now pass that along to other realtors who are looking for support.” she says.

With a drive to not only achieve personal success but also help others advance within the industry, it appears there’s no stopping the 34 year-old from reaching whatever goals she sets out to achieve. At the end of the day many would say this means “don’t get in Danielle’s way”.

Written by Brendan Osborne

Why Maintaining your House is Important for a Successful Sale

Why Maintaining your House is Important for a Successful Sale

Household problems that need fixing can be enough to make a homeowner cringe. But how about when you’re preparing to sell your house and the inspection revealed issues with your roof, HVAC, or windows? Now on top of listing the property, you’re also dealing with shingles falling off or a giant hole in the roof, drafty windows, a leaking toilet, or a broken furnace no longer blowing hot air. It might be easy to shrug it off thinking it’s not worth it to spend money on household repairs before selling because “you won’t be there long anyway” and if that’s the case, it’s time to shift your thought process. Yes, you may have to fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars to tend to these issues but in the end, it IS worth it.

Sell your Home Faster

When you’re browsing through real estate listings, pay attention and you’ll notice something that appears in nearly every one: it’s almost always mentioned if the roof was recently replaced, when the furnace was installed, and whether or not there’s new windows in the home. A huge selling factor in real estate is ensuring big ticket items are updated. Why? Because it’ll ensure the new home-owner is saving money.

When someone is on the market for a new house, remember they aren’t only looking at yours. Before making an investment, they are considering plenty of options and researching what will be the best bang for their buck. Real estate seekers are looking for places that will save them money, typically through energy-efficient components in the home. When deciding on a property option, if the house has dated windows or an ancient furnace, they’ll be spending more money on heating costs in the winter. Even worse, if a big ticket item needs to be repaired or replaced (and you didn’t do that before listing the property) they’ll likely move on to the next one and say good riddance to yours.

It’s risky to wait for someone looking for a “fixer upper”, especially when the pieces that need fixing are extremely costly. Want to sell your home faster? Fork over the cash and repair or replace what needs to be fixed.

Increases Value

This one is simple. Existing home-owners who took the time to replace their big ticket items generally saw an increase in value. Property hunters see that your listing has a brand new roof and they know they won’t need to worry about it for years to come, saving them money. If you installed a new furnace last year, your home now becomes an energy efficient option, a HUGE benefit to closing the sale. In this competitive market, when you’ve recently updated cash-saving items in your home, your house becomes a desirable option and this is good news for you. Buyers generally won’t simply offer the asking price, they’ll increase it.

If you’ve noticed a problem with expensive items like your roof, it’s best to just get it fixed by a certified company you can trust. By repairing the issue, potential home-owners won’t deem your listing as a risky purchase and you’ll have a better chance of being offered your asking price. By replacing the item, you’ve increased the value of your home and you’ll likely see a higher offer. Leave broken items alone and you’ll be waiting a long time before successfully selling or experience a decrease in value.

If you’d like to know more on how maintaining big ticket items can help you sell your house faster and/or increase your property value, contact Danielle! She’d be happy to go over the many beneficial reasons with you along with other tips on how you can successfully sell your property.

How you can Successfully Improve the Value of your Home

As a home-owner, it’s important for you to understand the responsibility is about more than simply living inside four walls. You must take care of your investment so you can successfully improve the home’s value. Remembering that putting in the hard work now by upgrading, maintaining and repairing will help you in earning you a generous profit when it comes time to sell.

Upgrade Fixtures and Faucets

Giving your house a modern look often starts with upgrading your fixtures and faucets. When potential buyers are searching for a place that doesn’t constitute as a fixer-upper, they typically are looking for fresh features that will help save money and provides a contemporary and fresh look and feel to each room. Think about it: If you walk into someone’s bathroom, and you see that the sink has rusted faucets or the lights are outdated, it makes for an unattractive room. You’d be surprised as to how much fixtures and faucet upgrades can increase your property value, both financially and cosmetically.

Freshen up the Paint Job

Unless a property seeker wants to invest in real estate with the purpose of flipping the house, not many people will consider a place that has an out of date paint job. People definitely judge a book by its cover, so you need to make sure every room in your house makes a good impression. Have chipped paint in your living-room? A bathroom wall colour that looks like it’s been there since the 1940s? Then it’s absolutely necessary to freshen up the paint job. To increase the likelihood that you’ll generate a better profit, try for a neutral colour. Light greys and whites are usually your best bet! To add a flare of personality, add a statement colour to one wall!

Renovate the Floors

Ugly or outdated flooring is sometimes a make or break for potential buyers. If you have 1970s shag carpet in your living room or bright orange tile in your kitchen, it’s time to get rid of it immediately! Don’t be intimidated by cost – oftentimes you can find affordable flooring options that still offer great quality. A nice laminate is usually a great bet! You’ll feel relieved when you realize what a difference nice flooring makes to the worth of the house.

Open up the Space

Nowadays, almost everyone wants an open concept living space. People want a kitchen where they’re not isolated when entertaining or they can keep a closer eye on their kids while cooking dinner. Have a wall separating your living room from your kitchen? Research your options on knocking down that pesky barrier and watch the dollar signs appear in terms of property value.

Ensuring you’re keeping up with what makes a home valuable is important for your real estate sale. If you’d like to know more about protecting and improving your investment, contact Danielle. She has effective tips, tricks and advice on increasing the value of your home to ensure when it comes time to put the house up on the market, you’re making a generous profit.