Our Montly Newsletter!

Selecting a Reputable Renovator…

Have you seen the television show where the host – an experienced contractor – comes to a home to fix a bad renovation? Episodes typically feature leaking bathroom showers, fallen decks, creaky flooring, and other examples of shoddy workmanship.

For the homeowners, it’s a nightmare. That’s why it’s so important to select a reputable renovator – one who has the experience and track record to do the job right.

How do you do that? Here are a few tips:

• Make sure the contractor can give you the full name, address and phone number of his company. If he only has a truck and a cell phone, that’s a red flag.
• Ask him to provide you with the names of at least three customers he’s done work for in the area. (Then phone those references!)
• Some specialty contractors, such as kitchen and bath renovators, are certified or licensed by a professional trade association. Ask the contractor for credentials.
• Beware of contractors who offer you a lower price if you pay cash. They’re probably trying to avoid taxes, which suggests that they’re not entirely honest.
• Make sure the renovator has experience with your specific type of project.
• Search for the company on Google.com. If there are any customer complaints online, you’ll find them in the search results.
• Don’t hire the first contractor you meet, regardless of how impressed you are. Speak to at least three. Ask lots of questions. Take your time.
Finally, use your common sense. If you don’t have a good feeling about the contractor or if they don’t give you clear answers to basic questions about pricing, schedule, and warranty, then move on.

We would be happy to provide you with recommendations for any contractors, designers, landscapers and any other “home professionals” you may need… please feel free to give us a call! We are always glad to help!

~Rick & Brad

Okanagan Real Estate: Steady Going into 2012

Kelowna, BC – The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported January 2012 sales activity of all MLS® property types rose marginally over the same month last year as the housing market continues to show moderate but steady improvement.

“January home sales were strong in the Okanagan-Shuswap as most segments in our market remain stable going into 2012, with indications that we are on our way to the 5,000 units forecast for this year – a 4.0% improvement over 2011,” says Rob Shaw, an active REALTOR® in the North Zone and OMREB Vice President. “Province-wide, unit sales are trending at a 15-year average and house prices are staying relatively flat. The differentiation between the Lower Mainland market activity and the rest of BC is beginning to narrow.”

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke): While overall sales in OMREB’s Board area during January rose slightly compared to this time last year (up by 0.6% to 322 from 320), unit sales improved 9.9% from the 293 sold in December. Sales volumes of $112.3 million were down 3.8% for the month compared to $116.7 million in 2011. Inventory (active listings) for January 2012 rose marginally (0.9%) to 7,387 units compared to 7,320 last year, while the 1,366 new listings for the month climbed 2.6% compared to 2011 (1,331).

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country): Overall sales in the Central Zone slipped by 0.9% to 211 units ($74.8 million) compared to 213 ($81.4 million) last January, but improved 15.3% over the 183 units sold in December. While total residential sales dipped by 3.6% to 189 units compared to 196 sold last January, they jumped 14.5% from the 165 in December. Single family home sales of 102 units rose 3.0% compared to 99 last year, and climbed 6.3% compared to December (96). While, January’s inventory of 4,231 units was up 4.0% compared to 4,067 in 2011, the 902 new listings for the month dipped 1.1% from the 912 last year.

Mortgage rates are expected to stay at or near record lows for most of 2012, and continue to positively impact purchasing power and improve affordability for buyers. Home prices are forecast to experience little movement as the supply of homes more closely matches consumer demand moving forward.

“These optimum conditions make now a good time for buyers to take advantage of great residential, recreation, investment and retirement opportunities in the Okanagan-Shuswap while there is good selection of properties available,” Shaw notes.

“Despite ongoing global economic woes and the sluggish American economy limiting consumer confidence and slowing demand, we are optimistic that modest growth in BC and the Prairie provinces will fuel a sure but steady increase in sales activity in our market during the coming year,” he adds. “We are beginning to see growing and renewed interest from potential buyers in Alberta and Saskatchewan as they start to recognize the affordability of homes in our Board area, so there could be more movement as Spring rolls around.”

With serious buyers are motivated by well-priced properties and room to negotiate, Sellers can benefit from working with a professional REALTOR® to price strategically at current values. In this highly competitive market, homes with good curb appeal and listed by sellers with the sharpest pencils are being sold quickly.

The results of OMREB’s Board-wide monthly Buyers Survey profiling who the buyers are, what they are buying and where they are from shows that the majority of buyers are from within the Board area. Move-up buyers and first-time buyers are driving factors, and stimulate the chain of ownership.

If you are looking to make a move, give TEAM HAMER-JACKSON a call today.
We would love to earn your business!!

Your Home Shopping Toolkit!

Ideally, the first property you see when shopping for a new home will be the one you fall in love with and buy. But let’s face it. You’ll probably end up seeing several homes before reaching the decision to make an offer on one.

When you’re viewing homes, you want to make sure that the experience is enjoyable (rather than stressful) and that you get all the information you need to make the right decision.

To help you do that, here are a list of items you should consider
taking with you:

• A notepad. Have something with you so you can take notes – a pad of paper, laptop computer, iPad, even a voice recorder.
• Flashlight. Just in case there is an area in a home that is not well lit, such as the furnace room.
• Maps. Map out your route in advance. This will reduce a lot of potential stress.
• Water and snacks. If you’re viewing more than two properties, take some healthy refreshments with you, rather than relying on fast food restaurants. These will
help keep your energy level up. (This is especially important if you’re taking kids with you.)
• A plan. Don’t just view properties randomly. Work out an itinerary in advance. This will help you make the most of your time.

Want more tips on making your home hunting experience less stressful and more productive? Call Team Hamer-Jackson today… we would love to earn your business!

Busy Travel Season Calls For Advanced Precautions

Spring is a popular season for families and young singles to travel, but it’s important that the prospect of an exciting new destination does not override the need to take precautions for health and safety. If you are travelling to a foreign destination or going on a cruise (where disease can spread rapidly), see your doctor or a travel medicine clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to discuss vaccinations and other forms of protection.

Be sure to order personal medications in advance, and consult your carrier and your destination customs office for packing regulations. Unless you know otherwise,
do not expect your destination to offer easy access to common over-the-counter products, such as hand wipes, sunscreen, insect repellent, and medication for motion sickness, diarrhea, allergies, etc. Also, when away from home, choose only bottled water and never leave your drinks unattended in public places.

Finally, before you go, leave a copy of your medications, passport(s), itinerary and contact information with a friend at home, and consult your telephone service provider for a Smartphone travel plan to reduce or eliminate roaming charges for necessary but unexpected usage.

Have a safe trip… Bon Voyage!!

Should you borrow to renovate?

With interest rates likely to remain low, some homeowners
see borrowed cash as a means to kick-start a major home
improvement. Yet many critics blame easy credit as the cause
of unreasonable consumer debt. If you’re thinking of securing
a loan to improve your home – even at a very low interest
rate – you should consider the following advice to ensure
you do not put yourself at unreasonable financial risk:

• Do not rely on renovations to immediately improve the
resale value of your home.

• Look into alternative means of financing, so that you do not
use your home as collateral for a renovation loan.

• Budget the pace of your payments to contractors,
keeping track of progress (including performance
guarantees and contract obligations) so that you are
not paying out borrowed money for work that is not
yet completed.

Organize Your Storage Space To Improve Your Living Space

More efficient use of available storage areas in your
home will help reduce clutter and create more useful
living space. Here are a few tips to better organize
storage in your home.

• Attack clutter in one room at a time. The kitchen is a
good place to start because we tend to store utensils
and cookware that we rarely use. Start by culling each
drawer, cupboard or closet and moving out-of-season
or seldom-used items away from prime storage areas.
Put the junk aside to sell, give away or trash before a
specified date.

• After sorting, rethink the design of each storage area.
Install bins on rollers in lower cupboards and vertical
racks for flat items like cookie sheets. Put organizer
trays in drawers, racks and shelf bins in pantries, and
pegboards in broom closets (to hang large pots and
other cumbersome items).

• Invest in storage systems for entrance ways, attics
and closets. Many D-I-Y versions are available. Where
clutter seems particularly overwhelming, consider
converting bare walls into storage space by installing
shelving or a cabinet. Be sure not to impede sight lines,
especially between doors and windows. If you’re not
handy, consult with a retail storage advisor or building
centre specialist, or go online for more solutions.

Hopes & Dreams

Welcome to 2012!

I hope it turns out to be a great year for you and your family.
Speaking of hope, this is traditionally the month when people write
down their hopes, dreams, ambitions and goals for the new year –
or, at least, they think about them.

What are some of your hopes and dreams for the coming months?
Do any of them have to do with your home?
As you know, my service to you doesn’t end with a successful
transaction. In fact, an important part of my job is to ensure that you
continue to be happy with your home and that it continues to meet
your changing needs.

So, if you have any questions about the local real estate market,
about the current market value of your property, or about anything
else that is real-estate related, please feel free to give me a call.
Just consider me one of the people who can help make 2012 your
best year ever!

All the best,
Rick & Brad

Team Hamer-Jackson

Should you stay or should you go?

Do you sometimes review the real estate ads in your local
paper? Do you drive by an open house sign and feel the urge to
stop and check it out? Those are common indications that, at
least on some level, you’re thinking about the possibility of
making a move.

But how do you decide if you should actually move?

The first step is to consider whether there are any practical
reasons to consider buying a new home. What’s pushing you in
that direction?
• Is your current home too small for your needs?
• Is the commute to work, for you or your spouse, too long?
(Perhaps longer than you expected when you purchased
the home?)
• Are there property features you would now like to have,
such as a larger backyard or a more spacious kitchen?
• Has the neighborhood changed in an undesirable way?
• Do you have personal reasons for wanting to move, such as
a desire to be closer to relatives in another area?

Carefully consider those things that can’t change unless you
move. For example, if a major highway was recently built near
you, the ongoing sound of traffic isn’t going to go away. It’s now
part of the neighborhood.

If there are no practical reasons for moving, there may still be
other reasons for wanting a new home. You may want to move
your family to a better neighborhood, with better schools or you
may simply want a bigger home, with a larger backyard, more
rooms, and a wider driveway.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply wanting a better
place than the one you have now. In fact, that is a common reason
why many people make a move.

The point is, if you’ve been thinking about a new home for
awhile, perhaps now is the time to take the next step. Give us
a call, we would love to go over the different options!

Call Team Hamer-Jackson today – We would love to earn your business!

Understanding Market Value!

If you were going to sell your car, what would you do? Well, you would probably check the classifieds section of your newspaper to find out how similar vehicles to yours are priced. Then you would set your advertised price within that range. What you would be doing, perhaps without knowing it, is determining the “market value” of your car. Market value is simply what buyers today are willing to pay for a particular product.

When you decide to put your house up for sale, one of the first things you and your REALTOR® will do is determine the market value of your property. That’s important to know because if you price your home too much above its market value, you probably won’t get any offers. Alternatively, if you price your property too low, it might get snapped up quickly but you’ll have left a lot of money on the table. How does a REALTOR® help you determine your home’s current market value?

He or she will look at a variety of factors, such as the desirability of the neighbourhood, the features of your home, how well it has been maintained, renovations and other
improvements you’ve made, and of course, its location. Your REALTOR® will also review what similar homes in your area have sold for recently – which is, perhaps, the strongest
indicator of current market value. Once you know the market value of your home, you can make an informed decision as to how to price it so that it will attract the right type of buyers and the best possible price. Should you price your home high above its market value in the hopes that some unwary buyer will purchase it? Unfortunately,
that rarely works. The good news is your property may be worth more than you
think. One of the best ways to find out is to invite a good REALTOR® to your home to do an assessment. Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call Team Hamer-Jackson today… We would love to earn your business!