Posted by: Heather Clifford | October 16, 2010

You can Find Me at whistlerheatherblog

 

It is time for me to write one blog and make it the best – In the furture you can find me blogging at:

                                    www.whistlerheather.wordpress.com

Posted by: Heather Clifford | October 7, 2010

Alpine Meadows Whistler

Thank you to the many people who have asked me to introduce the neighborhoods in Whistler…this week I will start in my own backyard Alpine Meadows

Alpine Meadows is one of Whistler’s largest neighborhoods with some 856 chalets/townhomes…. located only a 5 minute drive from the village or about 5 km making  an appealing neighborhood for families searching for their next home. Alpine Meadows has been voted number one residential neighborhood in Whistler by locals year after year.

Homes can start around $650,000 up to $3,000,000+ Townhomes $349,000+ .. You can also inquire about local housing at Nineteen Mile Creek through WHA http://www.whistlerhousing.ca/

Meadow Park Sports Centre (MPSC)

Swimming Pool http://bit.ly/bKnqqC

Meadow Park Sports Centre is part of the RMOW and as such is in pristine condition… inside and out! The center has a 25 metre 6 lane lap-pool, steam room, sauna, and hot tub plus a wonderful large kids pool with a lazy river running through it…. The fitness centre is 4500 sq.ft and comes complete with anything your coach requires… in fact if you don’t have a coach you can hire one here. There are squash courts an ice rink, eating area, out-door ball diamonds and a new outdoor stationary exercise facility. Included in all this splendor are numberous picnic tables, nice trees for shading and a children’s play area with water park… bathrooms, water fountain and tennis courts. The park area is absolutely gorgeous with big views of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. You will find plenty of parking or you are welcome to hop on the bus as MPSC is a favorite stop..

Valley Trail

 

Depending the direction you want to go the Valley Trail can take you to Nicklaus North Golf Club or north to Emerald… It also runs behind the sports centre where you can find the River of Golden Dreams and follow the valley trail south to Rainbow Park 4 km away or the Village about 5km. The trail is paved and very scenic.

Our Corner Grocery and Cafe

There is nothing like having the convenience of a local cafe in your neighborhood… Alpine Cafe bakes fresh goods, breakfast, pasta, and freshly brewed coffee of all types…an absolute favorite with the locals…you can also find great little picnic tables outside to enjoy the day and order a frosty mug of beer. The grocery store is perfect for the mornings when you run out of milk or butter…just send the kids.

http://www.alpinecafe.ca/

Whistler Senior Secondary

A big perk is not having to drive the kids to school any longer… Whistler junior and senior combined is located perfectly at the entrance to Alpine.

Bus

Like most areas in Whistler you can find a bus stop every few blocks including a school bus for the children. Most bus shelters are covered protecting you from the rain and snow as well equipped with map routes and schedules.

Conclusion

Next time to find yourself driving around Whistler stop by the neighborhood of Alpine Meadows…enjoy a coffee at Alpine Cafe or grab a sandwich and head to one of our many parks…the locals are very friendly and would love to show you around!

Happy Negotiating

Posted by: Heather Clifford | October 2, 2010

Whistler Real Estate Third Quarter 2010 News

The weather has given us an absolutely beautiful end to our summer… the last week has been gorgeous sunny and in the mid 20’s… It not only was the end of summer but the end of a third quarter in real estate sales… while the year has been full of excitement and tourist from around the globe, economically we have had a few challenges…as has most of North America.

Photo – Francis Chiasson

Stats 3rd Quarter

Sales third quarter have been steady July finished with 31 August 43 and September 33… not a bad quarter over all. This time last year Jan-Sept 30,2009 the total sales for Whistler were at 344 – Same period 2010 – 327 We are holding a stable market year over year.

The buyers who have stepped into the market place are happy with their purchases and are experiencing value for their dollar. The sellers who are motivated are listing their properties at recommended prices from their professional realtor. Today’s marketing strategy is one that is being reviewed on a more regular basis.

Photo – Francis Chiasson

We have found chalets under $1,200,000 to be in higher demand while in the condo market figures show Phase Two properties are back on the radar. Although Phase One properties are still more popular especially those priced between $300,000 – $600,000. Townhomes over-all have been the top-selling product with 101 sales this year and 36 selling this last quarter, the popularity being between $400,000 – $800,000.

On another note: Resident restricted housing at Rainbow saw over 50 people come through the opens with 10 contracts being written in just under two weeks.

We are optimistic about the fourth quarter being steady because of the number of buyers looking around presently and the variety of product available for them to choose. Pemberton has not seen as many sales compared to Whistler but it is a different demographic and for residential sales the buyers are happy with their choice and pricing.Three big holidays between now and Christmas will keep the tourist looking into real estate because of the great value out there and resort properties being an investment in Life Style choice…. Have a great Autumn…

Happy Negotiating!

Posted by: Heather Clifford | September 28, 2010

Fall Home Maintenance Tips from CMHC

Fall Home Maintenance Tips from CMHC

Now that it’s autumn, the weather is changing, the kids are back in school, thoughts are slowly turning to ski season and/or winter vacations in warm tropical areas.

However, before the snow falls, it is extremely important to ensure that your home is prepared for the cold wet months ahead.

Below, you will find the suggested Fall Home Maintenance Schedule, from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s “About Your House” publication series.

 
  • Have furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company every two years for a gas furnace, and every year for an oil furnace, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
 
  • If you have central air conditioning, make sure the drain pan under the cooling coil mounted in the furnace plenum is draining properly and is clean.
 
  • Lubricate circulating pump on hot water heating system.
 
  • Bleed air from hot water radiators.
 
  • Disconnect the power to the furnace and examine the forced-air furnace fan belt, if installed, for wear, looseness or noise; clean fan blades of any dirt buildup.
 
  • Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests.
 
  • Vacuum electric baseboard heaters to remove dust.
 
  • Remove the grilles on forced-air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
 
  • Turn ON gas furnace pilot light (if your furnace has one), set the thermostat to “heat” and test the furnace for proper operation by raising the thermostat setting until the furnace starts to operate. Once you have confirmed proper operation, return the thermostat to the desired setting.
 
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
 
  • Check to see that the ductwork leading to and from the heat recovery ventilator is in good shape, the joints are tightly sealed (aluminum tape or mastic) and any duct insulation and plastic duct wrap is free of tears and holes.
 
  • If the heat recovery ventilator has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and pour water down the condensate drain to test it.
 
  • Check to see that bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods are operating properly. If possible, confirm that you are getting good airflow by observing the outside vent hood (the exterior damper should be held open by the airflow). See the About Your House fact sheet CMHC Garbage Bag Airflow Test for a simple way to estimate the airflow.
 
  • Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries.
 
  • Clean portable humidifier, if one is used.
 
  • Check sump pump and line to ensure proper operation, and to ascertain that there are no line obstructions or visible leaks.
 
  • Replace window screens with storm windows.
 
  • Remove interior insect screens from windows to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass and to allow more free solar energy into your home.
 
  • Ensure windows and skylights close tightly; repair or replace weatherstripping, as needed.
 
  • Ensure all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Replace door weatherstripping if required.
 
  • If there is a door between your house and the garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.
 
  • Cover outside of air-conditioning units and shut off power.
 
  • Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not drain into your basement.
 
  • Clean leaves from eavestroughs and roof, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
 
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close interior valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost-proof hose bibs.
 
  • Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
 
  • If you have a septic tank, measure the sludge and scum to determine if the tank needs to be emptied before the spring. Tanks should be pumped out at least once every three years.
 
  • Winterize landscaping, for example, store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens and, if necessary, protect young trees or bushes for winter.

For more great tips from CMHC, please go to: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/index.cfm

Posted by: Heather Clifford | September 17, 2010

A Rainbow Over the Horizon

 

Stef – Happy home owner at Rainbow

http://www.rainbowatwhistler.ca/

This week the Rainbow Development in Whistler re-opened their doors and invited local Whistler residents to drop by…. As you are aware the real estate market in many places across North America has been less than cooperative.

“We were not expecting it to be a busy weekend…. so when over 30 locals came by to view pricing and plans we were pleasantly surprised and very happy” said Luis Garcia President of the Rainbow Joint Venture.

Whistler still has a pent up demand for affordable housing, but today the playing field has changed…. Buyers are more cautious, the fine details of financing seem to be much more important. Purchasing a home at Rainbow can be a little more complicated than a non-resident restricted property. At Rainbow you buy the land and then sign a separate construction contract with an approved builder. The sales team at Rainbow has dedicated themselves to walking purchasers through the process making it as understandable as possible.

Location Location Location

The property where Rainbow is located was once a ski hill many years ago. It is situated between Alpine Meadows and Emerald overlooking the spectacular beauty of Green Lake and the surrounding mountain tops both Whistler and Blackcomb. Some of the views from Rainbow are the best in Whistler.

Rainbow is a master planned community with a 25,000 square foot commercial centre, condominiums, duplex, detached homes and both resident restricted and market lots. Affordability is the secret to Rainbow.

 Commercial

The commercial buildings at Rainbow will start to break ground early next year. A gas station, daycare and large grocery store are just a few of future buildings planned. This is one of the major features in making this new neighborhood a great place to call home.

At the present time there are over 100 families living at Rainbow and from speaking with many of them there is nothing better than owning their own piece of Whistler. When completed there will be just under 1000 residents calling Rainbow home.

Please take a look at the gallery of pictures below…Gorgeous!

http://www.rainbowatwhistler.ca/gallery.php

Luis Garcia believes this is one of the most beautiful areas in Whistler. He is building a home at Rainbow himself. He has been so busy finishing roads, working with hydro and the many builders at Rainbow he has neglected to enjoy the other fabulous things Whistler offers… Like biking or hiking… Luis is dedicated to the success of Rainbow and you only need to speak with him to hear his passion.

How can I purchase a home in Rainbow?

To be eligible to purchase one of these homes you must have been qualified by the Whistler Housing Authority. You must be a Whistler resident, either employed here or retired. To understand this process in detail please refer to the Whistler Housing Authority directly.

http://www.whistlerhousing.ca/

Happy Negotiating!

Posted by: Heather Clifford | August 31, 2010

Why isn’t my House Selling?

I have written a few blogs close to this subject before – lately however I have been asked to write on the following specific subject.  “Why isn’t my House Selling?”

Most important – Price

If your house has been on the market for more than 4 months I would venture to say your price is too high. I would suggest you have your real estate representative prepare a new market analysis and consider only the most recent subject deals and sales. In a declining market it only takes two months for your property to become stale, you do not want to get into a spiral of following the market down. All homes will sell in any market it comes down to the value a purchaser perceives.

Restart the process

Take another good look at your competition – this would be any homes for sale around you or similar to yours in another area… think of yourself as the buyer and what you would look at if in the market for a home – if those properties still have not sold and you believe they show better than your home, you need to get your home priced below them. If your neighbor sells before you and the buyer picked their home over yours, your price in most cases needs to be below their sale. Unless of course the buyer could not afford your property and your property is bigger and better.

Motivation

While being motivated to sell is very important – I strongly recommend you figure out your needs versus your wants. Having to many homes for sale by sellers who are less than motivated creates a glut of homes and hurts the real estate market. As you know supply and demand determine price. An over abundance of supply sits, stagnates, and can often be used as a negative example of an over priced home in a buyers market. If anything remove your home from the market and seriously consider what improvements you need to make before entering the market again. I find a period of butting heads that goes on when a market change is clear, the buyer is expecting a great buy and the seller is refusing to negotiate. What tends to happen is our ego steps in and all sense and reason go out the window. I can relate as I was considering selling this month as well – and when my representative gave me the price and motivation speech, I was less than willing to listen to the realities of todays’ market.

The perfect “Doll House”

Top Ten Things to Do

  1. A new market analysis (every 30 days)
  2. Review the marketing efforts/ Incorporate Social Media
  3. Have at least 8 pictures / video on MLS
  4. Kitchen and Bathrooms need to be spotless
  5. New paint / carpet
  6. Showhome condition / stage
  7. Open houses
  8. Just reduced/listed cards to neighbors
  9. Get feedback from potential buyers
  10. Make sure you have the right agent!

Whistler Real Estate

I will admit Whistler has its unique differences to residential markets but the over all economy reflects our buyers ability to purchase homes. If our consumer feels worried about their own financial portfolios it takes more time to make a decision and sometimes up to five visits back to the resort to seal the deal. Patience is not always our virtue, nor is time always on one’s side. I still firmly believe that value sells and sometimes it takes more than one persons opinion of what that value is. Such as an investors value of Phase II properties in Whistler, the prices and cash flow make sense today. The abundance of supply on the market in Phase I & the residential market make it a great time to shop for your life style choice. If you’re a buyer – make your decision and move on it. If you’re a seller – price it right the first time.

Happy Negotiating!

Posted by: Heather Clifford | August 25, 2010

When Hell Freezes Over

My mom used that line when I was growing up…I’m sure it is familiar to most of you

Is your second home located in a ski resort? If so I hope you find these tips useful in preparing your property for the up coming cold, snow season… While preparing to write my blog I stopped by http://www.westland-insurance.com/locations/whistler-insurance.htm WestLand Insurance and found out some very interesting information second time home owners need to be aware of.

Your Insurance coverage

It is very important that you read your policy – in its entirety. Note the “However” section of the policy – we do not insure loss or damage unless you have done the following

  • Shut off the water supply and drain all the pipes and appliances or
  • Arrange a competent person to enter “your” unit daily to make sure heating was being maintained or
  • If you have been away from your premises for more than four consecutive days, have someone drop by

To Do List – End of summer Outside

  • Clean all gutters and clear eaves troughs and downspout
  • Clear exterior drains (during snow season keep the snow clear including window wells)
  • Satellite dish – remove if not covered
  • Put all summer furniture away – cover BBQ
  • Check the roof for missing shingles
  • Find those snow shovels
  • Buy a few bags of salt, ice melt and sand
  • Cover or wrap sensitive plants
  • Plant bulbs

Inside the home

Chimney – this is a great time to

  • Call in a chimney sweep
  • Should be cleaned once a year
  • Check the firebox
  • Mortar crown
  • Damper
  • Flue
  • Order your firewood and store with cover
  • Fire alarm batteries should be changed
  • Blackcomb Chimney Repairs LTD. – 604.932.5775
  • http://alpinefirewood.com/

Bathrooms

  • Get your caulking gun loaded
  • Remove moldy caulking from tubs and showers
  • Check hot water tanks or consider the “Tankless” instant hot water
  • Make sure exhaust fans work

The following pertains to WATER and being away

  • Have a plumber come in and drain your pipes/appliances
  • Shut off the water source
  • Your home should always be at 12 degrees celsius or higher
  • Shutting the heating system off in your home is problematic
  • Find your water shut off and label it
  • During the winter season watch for “Ice Dams”

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/outdoor-projects/4293184

  • Turn off water supply to washing machine
  • Have a neighbour or friend drop by the house and check for water pooling

Things that cause water problems

  • Old appliance hoses
  • Clogged drains
  • Frozen pipes
  • Loose fittings or broken pipe fittings

In conclusion I like to remind people to have an emergency kit handy for power outages

  • Water
  • Batteries
  • Gas stove /BBQ and  propane
  • Candles / flashlights
  • Matches
  • Utility company phone numbers on hand

PS. Remember if you are away for a long period let the postal company know, and stop any local papers from being dropped off

Happy Negotiating!

Posted by: Heather Clifford | August 17, 2010

Real Estate in Whistler is like a roller coaster!

The ride of your life

Now we completely expected the market in Whistler to cool during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic period of February and March. We also expected that January would be slow due to infrastructure that still needed to be realized; and of course April to start cleaning up after the party…  May and June are known as the shoulder months so a slight slow down was also expected during this period. That would bring us right through to the third quarter 2010.

However looking at the number of sales year to date we can clearly surmise that January – May & June have been consistant in terms of sales. By the end of June it appeared Whistler was well on its way to a great summer in real estate. Then July finished and our balloon had a slow leak… No pun in tended. Trying to figure out why was not hard….

Tourism

We could not blame it on tourism, because the tourist were definitely in town our village was full,  our walk-in traffic known as floor duty was busy…. The real estate community was out showing properties and in many cases writing offers… the offers however were not coming together and if they did it seemed like a battle to bring the two sides to an agreement.

Sitting on the fence

The majority of buyers for Whistler have not gone away, in fact they’ll tell you they still want to buy here…. the problem being they have no sense of urgency… nothing is propelling them to finish what they started and get on with life. They have the money, financing and in most cases the ability to pull the trigger… but it seems the state of the world economy is affecting their judgment, the media’s message is still unstable and spending a large sum of money isn’t really popular…. but who is it not popular with? The ones that lost their portfolio’s in 2007 – 2009 or the Govt because of their gross debt… If you want a roller coaster ride just look at the stock market…. There is no shortage of people reinventing themselves and coming back up the social ladder.. Everyone is a little more conservative today and without a doubt are expecting a good return on their investment – what I mean by that is VALUE for their hard-earned or saved dollars…. Our buyer is still present, we just need to spend more time with them then we did in the past… Build a base of a trusted advisor or liaison between the parties… Stick to the fight when hardest hit, find the gem they are looking for….as a seller you need to be the gem in the market place by having VALUE attached to your listing… a gem is shiny too… can you outshine the competition?

Sales: Jan – 39 Feb – 22 March – 21 April - 37

 May – 47  June – 54 July – 31 Aug – 20

Remember you need to pull the trigger to have a smoking gun…As for August we are back in the game with over 20 sales in the first two weeks… thank our lucky stars or better yet the team of realtors out there in the market place making it happen and not on the beach somewhere else with their family enjoying this gorgeous weather. Real estate is and has always been a unique opportunity when your decision is based on a lifestyle choice and not your primary residence. It is a choice one makes based on family and dreams; but it is also one that is calculated from a strategy stand point and when the media tells you it is a buyers market…. that is what you’re expecting when you hit the negotiating table…don’t give up, a purchase in Whistler will be one you won’t be disappointed with…I always liked the roller coaster.

Happy Negotiating!

Posted by: Heather Clifford | August 7, 2010

When do you seal the deal in Real Estate?

In a slower market like most of North America is experiencing, when is the right time to make a purchase?  I think it comes down to the question: Is it a residential personal property or a resort property purchase?

Residential:

If it’s a residential property the main focus for the property is not investment but instead shelter and forced savings.  Whether the market is declining or stable we all need a roof over our heads and thus not so dependant on timing.  The important factors are interest rates and income that will factor into the mortgage and affordability.

Resort:

If it’s a resort property, your purchase could be for two reasons – as an investment or a lifestyle choice.  As an investment, using an accountant and having a look at the revenue statements together with purchase price will decide your ROI (rate of return on investment) thus helping you make your decision.

As a lifestyle choice, it’s mostly based on emotion – where you are at in your life and personal enjoyment.  Because we can take our computers and work with us on vacation it is making more sense today to pack up the family and have a place to go to on a more regular basis.  Making a lifestyle choice purchase comes down to having a tangible asset opposed to having your money tied up in something you cannot touch like the stock market.

Timing:

A very important part in purchasing a resort property is timing due to a number of factors.

  • seasonality (ski season, summer season, holidays, low rental season, school, personal holidays)
  • mortgage rates
  • exchange rates
  • economic stability
  • weather patterns
  • your tax year
  • purchase price

We’ve decided to touch on a couple of the above points that relate to Whistler.  First and far most: our ski season.  Most people choose to purchase prior to ski season to maximize their rental revenues during the peak season… i.e. Christmas/New Years is a popular time to bring families together.  Historically this time of year has had phenomenal snow by mid December.  For our American friends, their Thanksgiving falls in late November and this has typically been a popular time to take possession of a property.  For both our local community and investors great consideration needs to be paid to homes with tenants.  There are strict regulations under the BC Tenancy Act in regards to dealing with homes involving tenants… 60 days notice or are the tenants under a locked in lease?  More detailed information can be found at:   http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/         

      

Closing:

Typically a property takes anywhere from 30 -90 days to complete.  Although closings can happen earlier and if the property is under construction it could take a lot longer.  If the property is owned from someone other than a Canadian, a clearance certificate is required and could take up to 8 weeks or longer.  Completion for a quarter share property can be orchestrated towards the next months owner’s usage.

Conclusion:

When it comes to purchasing real estate (especially in a resort) working with a local licensed real estate representative will always be your best choice. Start your search for a home with the end dates in mind, be pre-approved for the financing and make sure your deposit can be liquified within a one week time frame.

Special thank you to Carolyn who help write today’s blog while aboard the BC ferry – Women of Whistler fishing derby!

Happy Negotiating!

Posted by: Heather Clifford | July 28, 2010

Do I need an open house in this market?

 

Good question, and one that is being asked a lot in this particular market. Now I will answer this question with a few suggestions.

Open Houses have been the backbone of real estate since it’s start, you open your home to potential buyers in hopes that an offer will be generated. Statistically the odds are against you ever selling your property this way. Between 2 – 4% of homes sell through an open house. In fact a whopping 86% of homes are sold through real estate representatives. A buyer 90% of the time will look on-line first – before even calling an agent – unless they are just driving around and say – “Hey let’s stop at this open and have a look”

Now here’s what I suggest in a market like today, throw all caution to the wind and get your representative behind an open house… Many agents host open homes because they are looking to meet new clients; an experienced realtor understands the value and skills required to convert the consumer who walks through the door into future business not necessarily selling your home – but the potential is there.

How to host an open

  • Advertise your open house weeks in advance via social media, news print, and the very often overlooked NEIGHBOURS!
  • Invite other homes for sale in the area to join in
  • Have a BBQ – give away ice cream to the kids (once they leave)
  • Stage your home
  • Call your friends – ask your agent to let ALL their sphere of influence know
  • Get excited – give away a bottle of wine through a draw (helps to get names and numbers for follow-up)
  • Make sure your home smells good – cinnamon – baked cookies – vanilla
  • Make sure your price is right – or drop the price and increase your potential number of buyers
  • Make sure your agent knows the neighborhood – sell it first
  • Leave pictures on the table of the different seasons around your yard – prepare a fact sheet on the property and area for your agent
  • Secrets of the neighbourhood

Other activities your agent could do

  • Re-write the ads every couple of weeks
  • take pictures from different angles and switch them up
  • use Facebook “Market Place” or “Events”
  • tweet about it
  • Get feedback from the people coming through the open house (write it down)
  • If your neighbour sells – celebrate – then find out why the buyer never wrote on your home

The important thing here is to create as much activity as you can to get potential buyers interested in your property – communicate with your agent and work together for the common goal. In this challenging market we all need to do as much as we can to stimulate activity… open houses can do this. The more eyes that pass through your doors, the closer you are to a sale.

Happy Negotiating!

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