Friday, 28 September 2018

12 House-Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice

In the hunt for the perfect house, it's easy to get swept away by a home's most charming details (a gracious front porch) and play down the important stuff you'll be kicking yourself for later (the price is over budget). And if you are touring multiple open houses each weekend, keeping everything straight can get complicated. 

Set your priorities and streamline the house-hunting process early on, and you can breathe easier knowing you have a handle on things. It's probably the most important purchase you will ever make, so take a few deep breaths and make a plan before diving in — you'll be glad you did.

These 12 tips can help you stay organized and focused on the important things during your house hunt:

1. Set your priorities

Before taking a look at any houses, sit down and write out everything you want in a home, with input from all members of the household. Then choose your top five, or even top three, must-haves. 

Once you start looking, all sorts of charming features are bound to sway you; keeping your priorities list close at hand can help you stay on track.

2. Make a comparison chart

After you have seen a dozen or more houses, it becomes very difficult to keep track of the features in each one. Make things a little easier by creating your own comparison chart or checklist to bring along to each home, and make notes on it during or immediately after each tour.

Beyond the basics (beds and baths) consider including notes on landscaping, the condition of the roof and exterior, natural light in each room, storage space and cost per square foot. Consider this chart a personal tool — something you can look back on to help guide your decision making, not a substitute for a good home inspection.

3. Walk through once and let yourself soak it all in

When you tour a home for the first time, the excitement can make it difficult to focus on ... well, anything at all. So I say, just go with it. Have fun, wander around and mentally note your first impressions of the space. Once the butterflies have died down, it's time to get to work.

4. Then go back to the beginning and start again

Walk back to the front of the house and literally begin your tour again. This time, pull out your clipboard and pen, take your time and approach the home as if you were an inspector rather then a potential buyer.

5. Bring furniture measurements

Jumping the gun? Maybe. A deal breaker? Probably not. But if every room in the house presents problems with your current furniture situation, you could effectively be adding thousands of dollars to the price if you have to purchase new furniture — something that is probably better to know sooner rather than later.

6. Sketch a floor plan

You do not need to have any real drawing skills to make a super basic floor plan on paper, and having it to refer to later is priceless. Just do your best. Starting at the front door, draw boxes for rooms and mark doors, windows, stairways and openings roughly where they are.

7. Ask to take photos (or even a video)

It's amazing how quickly memory fades. Make sure you have backup by creating a floor plan and taking photos or a short video tour if possible — it will really give you a full picture of what the house looks like. Be sure to ask the Realtor for permission before taking any photos or video. And even then, it is assumed that they are for personal use, so don't post them to your Facebook page or blog ... at least not until you own the house.

8. Open the closets and cupboards

Proper storage is a really important factor in how a home looks and feels when you are living in it. Note the number and size of cupboards and closets throughout the house, and don’t be afraid to peek inside. If the current homeowner has them packed to the gills, that may be a sign that the house doesn’t have enough storage for its size.

9. Lift up the rugs

While this is not something you necessarily want to do during a busy open house, if you are back for a second look and are really considering making an offer, it is important to know what you are getting into. Rugs (and even furniture) can be used to conceal damaged flooring, so you have a right to see what's going on under there. Just let the Realtor know what you want to see, and he or she should accommodate you.

10. Look high and look low

It is important to get a good look at the house that could be your new home, so make a point of focusing on things outside your usual line of vision. Check out the ceilings, walls, floors, trim, windows, roof and under the sinks.

11. Check out the property at different times of day

If you do come back for a second showing, make it during a different time of day from the open house or first tour. In the evening, notice not only the changes in light, but the atmosphere in the neighborhood. Are people out sitting on porches? Are kids playing outside? Is it noisy? You are bound to learn and discover different things about the house each time.

12. Take a moment to envision how you would use the space

Just because the current owner (or staging company) has the second bedroom set up for guests doesn’t mean you can’t use it as an office, a home gym or a nursery. Paint colors, furniture arrangements and window treatments can also all be swapped out, so use your imagination and really put yourself in the home. 

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &

                                        This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Top 10 Things to Know When Selling Your Home

Now that you are ready to sell your home, it is time to prepare the property for sale. The time you take initially to prepare your home for sale will prove invaluable once it hits the market. These are important points to keep in mind when preparing your home for the market:

1. Disassociate Yourself from the Home

Once you have decided to place your home on the market, it’s time for you to remove your personal attachment to the property and think of the sale as a business transaction. Your mindset must change from selling your “home” to selling a house you happen to own and doing what it takes to make it stand out amongst the competition.

2. Select a Realtor

When choosing to work with a REALTOR®, you are choosing to work with someone who is a member of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) with a membership comprising over 14,000 members by a strong Code of Ethics. Realtors are continuously pursuing educational opportunities, attending conferences, as well as taking part in local community groups and events in order to become a more seasoned real estate professional to whom you can turn when deciding to purchase or sell your next home or investment.
Carmen Leal Personal Real Estate Corporation and Macdonald Realty team are respected members of Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). As such, in addition to our expertise and our longstanding relationships with qualified buyers and investors, we can offer you the opportunity to have your property marketed via the multiple listing service making it available to an even broader spectrum of potential buyers.

At Macdonald Realty, we believe that being a leader in the real estate sales and management business since 1944 gives us a tremendous edge in the local real estate market. We have been successfully promoting properties and building longstanding relationships with both buyers and sellers which will make the difference when selling or purchasing your next home or investment.
3. Get your documents in order
It’s important not only to prepare your home for sale but to be prepared yourself for inquiries that might arise regarding the property, as well as, be able to present the necessary documentation that your listing agent, attorney or potential buyers will request.
  • Go through all your paperwork on the property and prepare your documents to be complete and readily available, i.e. deed/mortgage satisfaction letter/copies of rental agreements, utility bills, tax bills, etc./utility company contact info/etc.
  • Make sure all outstanding town/city permits are closed out and building violations cleared.
  • Speak to your accountant regarding the sale of your home with regard to any tax issues you should keep in mind.
4. De-personalize, De-Clutter and Get Organized

Now the real work begins.

  • When selling a house, you want to create an environment whereby buyers can envision themselves in the space. Removing as many personal items and photos keeps potential buyers from being distracted.
  • Getting rid of excess furniture and other items that are not being used on a daily basis makes a living area feel more spacious. Clearing bookshelves, tabletops, and china cabinets of “chachkis” will also help to make the space feel bigger. Begin at your front door and go through the entire house tossing, donating and packing up everything in order to make the house feel less cluttered. Don’t forget the basement, attic and garage.
  • Organize the closets and kitchen cabinets. Sort like items of clothing and shoes together, place things in neat storage boxes and keep hangers facing in the same direction making the most use of closet space. Arrange kitchen cabinets so labels face forward, jars/cans/boxes are in rows, dishware is neatly stacked and everything appears in its place.
5. Remove Your Movables & Lighten Up!

  • Take the time now to remove whatever items you plan to take with you. This includes window treatments, lighting fixtures, packed boxes and any other items you do not plan to include in the sale of the property. Doing so will also help in staging the home for buyers.
  • Get rid of heavy drapery and window coverings that make the space feel dark and heavy. Open up the blinds and shades and let the light in from every window available. Bright, sunny rooms sell houses. Once the house is ready for showing, keep the doors open to the rooms throughout the house, with the exception of bathrooms, providing uninhibited access and traffic flow.
6. Repair it or Replace it

Walk through the house and make a list of all the things which need to be repaired and/or replaced.

  • Paint rooms to freshen things up.
  • Paint the Front door, garage door and any exterior trim to make the house more inviting.
  • Replace house numbers with new, visible and attractive lettering.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs and old/outdated or rusty light fixtures.
  • Replace broken or outdated appliances, leaky faucets and fixtures.
  • Re-caulk/Re-grout tiles in baths and kitchens.
  • Fix any broken locks, doors, sliders, screens and drawers to ensure everything opens easily. 
7. Make The House Sparkle & Shine - Inside and Out
  • Vacuum and clean all carpets, rugs and window coverings.
  • Dust the furniture and mop the floors.
  • Wash the windows and don’t forget the window blinds.
  • Put out fresh kitchen and bath towels, blankets and bedspreads.
  • Air out closed spaces and place lightly scented air fresheners throughout your home.
  • Remember the utility room – clean gas/oil burners and dust free water tanks speak volumes to prospective buyers.
  • Make the front entry inviting by clearing cobwebs and replacing all the welcome mats.
8. Consider the Curb Appeal of the Home
  • Make sure the lawn is mowed, the leaves are raked and the snow is plowed.
  • Trim the hedges and replace overgrown bushes.
  • Plant flowers to make the home more inviting and appealing from the street.
  • Make the front entry picture perfect with lovely planters, a bench, and new mailbox.
9. Final Staging
You are now in the home stretch.
  • Arrange the furniture making sure pathways are clear and rooms feel spacious and defined.
  • Adjust and align window shades and blinds so they are level and let the maximum light into the rooms.
  • Pay close attention to bathrooms ensuring toilet lids are down and private toiletries are not visible.
  • Place fresh flower arrangements in the entry and/or kitchen.
  • Take one final walk through the house and make final adjustments considering the buyers’ perspective.
  • Now that the property is ready to show, call your realtor to arrange for pictures to be taken of the entire property, inside and out.
10. It’s Showtime!
  • Arrange steady convenient times, including both weekdays & weekends, when the house can be shown to buyers.
  • Make your home available for open houses.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of your home, inside and out, on a daily basis.
  • Keep promotional flyers showcasing the house on the kitchen counter for all buyers.
  • To avoid “being put on the spot” as a seller, it is best to take a backseat to your Realtor and allow the listing agent to direct all showings and field all questions from potential buyers. Your realtor will meet with you in a private setting to discuss everything in further detail.
Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &
                                        This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Baker View Estates: Stunning new contemporary duplex Residence

Baker View Estates: Stunning new contemporary duplex residence – one of a kind. This amazing three bedroom town home is exquisitely appointed with the finest quality & detail, the home provides an open concept, bright living spaces, 3 bedrooms & 3 bathrooms with expansive views of Mount Baker. 

Click on Virtual Film below: 


Features include: washer & dryer, Stainless steel appliances: built in dishwasher, microwave & wine cellar, gas range, hood fan, French door refrigerator with twin cooling and chrome fixtures. Caesar Stone Quartz counter tops in kitchen & bathroom, Mix of Engineered laminate, tile & carpet flooring, kitchen & bathroom cabinets with soft closing drawers and adjustable shelving, fireplace, double glazed windows and 2 car garage, onto private lane. South facing backyard professionally landscaped.  

For further information please contact Carmen Leal at 
or 604-218-4846 

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 & 

                                                                 This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

A Home Seller's Perception Vs. The Homebuyer's Reality

Buying or selling a home is one of the most important transactions in a person's life. And at times it is also the most stressful, particularly because the seller’s perceptions often differ greatly from those of the buyer. It is important for each party to try to see both sides of the coin, so that all of the parties are realistic on their path to successful negotiations and, ultimately, a deal.

1. Sellers always think that they can get the highest offer for a home, while buyers always believe that they can pay the lowest price. With this in mind, it is critical for sellers to price their home correctly from the first day, do their due diligence and not overvalue their home. In fact, I often recommend to underprice the property, as this is sure to adjust during the selling process, and more often than not, the seller will obtain multiple offers and ultimately receive above their asking price.
2. Buyers tend to take a more critical approach to buying a home, while sellers will always take a more optimistic approach. A buyer will look very critically at the property before making their offer, requesting concessions for even minor issues. A seller does not always want to see the potential problems with his/her home that could call for a request for a price reduction.
3. Try to look at the selling and buying process objectively. The second you decide on the home for you or make the decision to sell, it is imperative that you remove yourself from the situation and allow your real estate professional to take the reins. This process is consistently difficult, and the more involved you become, the more it can affect your life negatively. This is why it is so important to choose your real estate agent so carefully. This individual is responsible for keeping your best interests in mind during a transaction.
4. When you are looking at sales comparables, costs can go either way. Markets tend to change quickly, especially in a luxury market. There’s no real mathematical equation for selling a home, and that’s why we see such a wide variety of price points throughout the marketplace. Based on this, buyers and sellers tend to have very different perspectives on the mathematics of a comp, and balancing the two is often difficult. While it begins with the mathematics of cost, everything else — from street to style to location — all becomes subjective.
5. Whether they're representing the seller or the buyer dictates the real estate agent’s representation of the exact same house. It is the seller’s job to get as much money as possible, and thus, agents will analyze the data to get the most money out of their client's house. And vice versa for the buyer, who is looking at the data from a perspective of getting the best value in the property.
When all is said and done, the key to a successful sale is for the buyers and sellers to be in tune with one another. Much of the stress can be relieved if we try to understand both parties’ viewpoints.
Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 & 

This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.

Monday, 24 September 2018


Here are 10 features that investors should evaluate and consider when hunting for that perfect real estate investment property:

1. Employment Opportunities

Locations with a growing job market tend to attract more people. More people means more renters, especially if you target an area with a large rent/own ration. You can visit Statistics Canada for reliable and timely data on the labour market for the area you are considering. If you notice a large corporation moving to the area, migration will follow. College towns are now also a viable option as there is the steady flow of students needing off-campus housing, although the demand may only be strong for the September to April school year.

2. Location, Location, Location

The quality of the location will influence the type of renters attracted to your rental property. Look at criteria, such as the Walk Score, proximity to transportation, hospitals, proximity to universities and colleges, major business centres, local restaurants and shopping. The more central the location, the greater the demand.

3. Rent

For income properties, your monthly rent is your staple. Find out what the average rental rates are in the area. Can you achieve above or below the average? At the very least, you are going to want to cover your mortgage payment, taxes and miscellaneous expenses like insurance. If this can be achieved, then you can move on.

4. Safety

No one wants to live in an unsafe neighbourhood. You can inquire about crime rates. Again, Statistics Canada is a great resource, and even the local police department can tell you whether the neighbourhood is safe and secure.

5. Amenities

What attractions are nearby that will both be a draw and requirement for renters? Things that must be considered are shopping malls, parks, movie theatres, gyms and access to public transportation.

6. Schools

 One of the top considerations for your renters may hinge on the school district and specific schools that they want their children attend. Researching the local schools will be a key variable which can increase your renter pool as well as significantly impact the overall appreciation of your investment property.

7. Future Development

What developments are planned for the area which would positively or negatively impact the value of your investment property? Is it a high-growth area or one that is currently in decline? A neighbourhood in the early stages of gentrification might result in a faster and higher appreciation for your investment property.

8. Inventory

Is there a lot of inventory available on the market? Make sure you look at market trends for the last few years as you don’t want to be in a seasonal trend only when making your investment decision. You have to review the vacancy rates that have existed based on inventory levels and how this may impact your monthly rental rates.

9. Property Taxes

These costs affect your bottom line. Review the taxes and the current market value assessments and determine if they are high, and if so, whether there’s a reason.

10. Insurance

These are additional costs that erode your bottom line returns. Of course, you don’t want to invest in areas where you cannot get insurance, like flood plains or possible proximity to natural disasters. You can do your research with your insurance agent to determine the risks of claims that might exist and if you can get coverage at all.

The easiest and possibly best investment properties for beginners are residential single family homes and condominiums. Condos are low maintenance, as generally the condo corporation is responsible for external repairs. You must keep an eye out for high maintenance fees which are generally charged on a cost per square foot per month basis. Do your research and comparative analysis to ensure these costs are in line for the building in question.

When you have the type of property you desire and the neighbourhood narrowed down, look for the best properties that have both appreciation potential and good projected cash flow. You should choose an experienced and seasoned realtor who has a proven track record of helping buyers with the acquisition of investment properties. You’ll want a successful realtor to help and advise you with this exciting opportunity!

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 & 

 This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.