Spring is synonymous with renewal, and now that the season is finally here, it’s the perfect time to try new things. Why not rearrange your living space and enhance your sense of wellbeing? One popular decor style is inspired by Feng Shui, a Chinese philosophy that has taken the west by storm and focuses on the free flow of energy, or Chi, from one room to the next.
With a few pointers from this Chinese art of living, you can create a harmonious atmosphere in your own home.
The first step in creating a restful space is clearing away clutter. Put away all the things around your home that you don’t use or are just in the way. According to Feng Shui philosophy, when positive energy is unable to flow freely, the result can be blockages, frustration and stress. So sort through, throw away or donate the things you no longer use.
Choose suitable colours
Colour has a big impact on mood, which affects the quality of the energy flowing through a space. Cool, pastel colours, such as grey, blue and green, are known as Yin colours. They invite relaxation and are the colours of choice for your bedroom, bathroom and living room. Yang colours, like yellow, orange and red, are warm and vibrant. They energize a room and are commonly used in the kitchen, rec room and front hall.
Your home’s orientation and the amount of light in each room will also affect colour choices. A Feng Shui consultant can help you choose the best colours for your interior.
Rearrange your furniture
Try to arrange your furniture to facilitate conversation, relaxation and hospitality. If you have large pieces, like a substantial sofa or wardrobe, try to place them so they don’t block the flow of energy in your living space and are not too visually overpowering.
Include natural materials
The five elements—wood, water, earth, fire and metal—can have a positive impact on your wellbeing. Use natural decor such as plants, stones, candles and fountains to create a harmonious atmosphere and bring positive energy to your space. Plants, for example, are a great way to add vitality to a room, and they improve air quality too. According to some schools of thought, stones and crystals bring stability and serenity to a space, while candles create a warm, welcoming ambiance. Fountains can contribute a tranquil and rejuvenating energy and provide a soothing soundscape.
Avoid sharp angles
Opt for soft and curved shapes in your decor, such as round or oval tables, plush cushions and soft carpets, to enhance positive energy. If you have furniture or objects with sharp angles, you can soften their appearance by covering them with fabric or adding rounded cushions or accessories.
Create a meditation space
In Feng Shui philosophy, meditation and relaxation are essential practices for calming the mind and enhancing wellbeing. The best way to accomplish this is to create a space in your home used only for meditation and relaxation. The space could be an entire room or just a quiet corner in your living room or bedroom. The key is to choose a calm, peaceful area where you can relax without distractions.
You can add decorative elements to this space to enhance relaxation and meditation, such as comfortable cushions, soft rugs, scented candles, incense and plants. You can also add items specifically designed for meditation, like a meditation cushion or bench. What’s important is to create a space that promotes relaxation and is a reflection of you.
Whether you’ve just moved to your dream apartment or you’re simply rearranging your living space, the key is to feel zen and serene in your home. For even more peace of mind, don’t forget about home insurance. If you need to make a claim, your home will be covered and your sense of serenity will be complete. Apply for an insurance policy online with just a few clicks and spend more time enjoying your Feng Shui space.
Try the Feng Shui method now and rediscover your inner peace!
Prices continue rising across Metro Vancouver as home buyer confidence returns
With listing activity remaining below historical norms, home sales in Metro Vancouver have mounted a surprising comeback, rising near levels seen last spring, before eight consecutive interest rate hikes eroded borrowing power and brought home sales activity down along with it.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 2,741 in April 2023, a 16.5 per cent decrease from the 3,281 sales recorded in April 2022, and 15.6 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (3,249).
“The fact we are seeing prices rising and sales rebounding this spring tells us home buyers are returning with confidence after a challenging year for our market, with mortgage rates roughly doubling,” Lis said. “The latest MLS HPI® data show home prices have increased about five per cent year-to-date, which already outpaces our forecast of one to two per cent by year-end. The year is far from over, however, and it remains to be seen if these price increases will be sustained into 2024.”
There were 4,307 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in April 2023. This represents a 29.7 per cent decrease compared to the 6,128 homes listed in April 2022, and was 22 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (5,525).
The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 8,790, a 4.2 per cent decrease compared to April 2022 (9,176), and 20.9 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (11,117).
Across all detached, attached and apartment property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for April 2023 is 32.7 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 24.4 per cent for detached homes, 40.1 per cent for townhomes, and 37.4 per cent for apartments.
Analysis of the historical data suggests downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.
“When we released our market forecast in January, we were one of the only organizations taking the contrarian view that prices were likely to appreciate in 2023,” Lis said. “And what we’re seeing unfold so far this year is consistent with our prediction that near record-low inventory levels would create competitive conditions where almost any resurgence in demand would translate to price escalation, despite the elevated borrowing cost environment. At the crux of it, the issue remains a matter of far too little resale supply available relative to the pool of active buyers in our market.”
The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,170,700. This represents a 7.4 per cent decrease over April 2022 and a 2.4 per cent increase compared to March 2023.
Sales of detached homes in April 2023 reached 808, a 16.3 per cent decrease from the 965 detached sales recorded in April 2022. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,915,800. This represents an 8.8 per cent decrease from April 2022 and a 2.9 per cent increase compared to March 2023.
Sales of apartment homes reached 1,413 in April 2023, a 16.5 per cent decrease compared to the 1,693 sales in April 2022. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $752,300. This represents a 3.1 per cent decrease from April 2022 and a two per cent increase compared to March 2023.
Attached home sales in April 2023 totalled 500, a 13.5 per cent decrease compared to the 578 sales in April 2022. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $1,078,400. This represents a 6.1 per cent decrease from April 2022 and a 2.1 per cent increase compared to March 2023.
Royal LePage professionals understand that a house is only a home if the people who live there feel safe.
25 years ago, Royal LePagers unanimously agreed that helping women and children find safety from domestic abuse should be where they channeled their big hearts and charitable efforts. Since its founding on August 26, 1998, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation has grown to become the largest public foundation in Canada dedicated exclusively to this important cause.
In order to fund this life-saving and life-changing work, many Royal LePagers have made generous donations from their commissions each time they've helped a client buy or sell. They have also hosted and attended local fundraising events of all shapes and sizes, hiked hundreds of kilometers as part of the ‘Challenge for Shelter’ series, purchased thousands of ‘Shelter Blooms’ tulip bulbs, and donated and bid on countless Shelter Auction items - including our very famous Faux Fur Coat!
As fundraising revenues and personal donations have grown over the past two and half decades, so too has our collective understanding of the complexities of domestic violence. Following closely the work of experts, educators, and front-line shelter workers, we now know that:
Intimate partner violence doesn’t always show up as bruises or physical injuries. Psychological, emotional and financial abuse can be just as harmful.
While violence and abuse can happen to any woman, some are at much greater risk and have less access to helpful services, including Indigenous women, Black and racialized women, 2SLGBTQIA people, young women, women with disabilities, and women living in rural or remote communities.
There are complex reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, as well as significant barriers and risks of seeking help.
Children cannot be shielded from violence in their homes – even that which takes place behind closed doors – and the impacts to their mental and physical health and development can be devastating.
A safe and secure bed in a shelter is only the first of many important steps for a woman fleeing abuse. Job training, financial literacy, affordable transitional housing, legal services, and therapy are all essential, longer-term supports that help women thrive after experiencing domestic violence.
In the face of rising rates of violence over the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing incidence of women killed each year by current or former partners, Royal LePage Shelter Foundation supporters look ahead with determination. We know that, together, we have made a difference in the lives of so many women and children. We know that with continued investment in today’s youth, the tide can be turned for many of their future dating and intimate relationships. We can envision a world where our Shelter Foundation is no longer needed because women and children are safe in their homes. And so, as we mark 25 years of progress, we look with purpose at the work that remains.
This spring season, I'm feeling so much pride in our collective accomplishments for 2022, and excitement for what’s ahead at the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation in 2023. Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we were delighted to announce $3.25 million raised last year. Well into our milestone 25th year, we have now raised more than $41 million!
Looking ahead, we will soon be unveiling two new fundraising programs (stay tuned!) and we are eagerly anticipating our Ecuador Challenge for Shelter, which will see 120 adventurous Royal LePage professionals trek for 5 days towards one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. My heartfelt thanks go out to all those who have already helped our trekkers raise more than $340,000 for women's shelters across the country.
Then, there’s the context for why we do what we do, and that’s never been more important. We were sadly reminded of this as recently as March 31, 2023. On that day, the Mass Casualty Commission’s Final Report was released, arising from the devastating mass murders of April 2020 in Portapique, NS. The Commission declared gender-based violence to be an epidemic. In the words of Lise Martin, executive director of Women’s Shelters Canada (supported since inception by the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation), “The idea that domestic violence is a private matter is flawed and dangerous. We know that most mass casualty events are preceded by gender-based violence, and if we deal effectively with that issue, we can prevent violence both within and outside the home.”
Past, present and future, thank you for taking pride in the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation and making it the charity of choice for Royal LePage agents and their community of supporters who believe that home should be a safe place for everyone.
Jerry Aulenbach (front right) and guests prepare to cook a delicious Thai meal at ‘Cooking for a Cause’ in Langley, BC
Jerry Aulenbach with Royal LePage Noralta Real Estate in Edmonton, AB knows how to get creative in support of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. Over a decade ago, he organized a series of tweet-ups in support of Shelter. Then, he climbed British Columbia’s famed Grouse Grind in a bacon costume in exchange for donations. Next, he criss-crossed the country for five straight winters to host skating events in all weather conditions (including -40°C in Moose Jaw) that raised more than $42,000 for domestic violence prevention. Then, there was the underground pizza party at the Royal LePage National Sales conference in Winnipeg which helped contribute to record-breaking fundraising for the Shelter Foundation.
Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, Aulenbach wanted to find a way to rebuild the connections many were craving while living by his personal motto to “never eat alone”. And so, ‘Cooking for a Cause’ was born. In total, Aulenbach hosted five hands-on, interactive cooking classes, all led by professional local chefs. Guests in New Minas learned to cook an elegant salmon en papillote, and in Victoria, the meal centered around seafood and cider. Attendees in Langley learned the ins-and-outs of Thai cuisine, those in Whitby perfected Southern fried chicken, and it was a Korean feast for participants in Toronto.
At each event, attendees separated into groups and worked on one portion of the meal which was then shared at a communal table of old and new friends, all keen to show their support for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. In total, more than $2,000 was raised, which will fund programs that help teach teens how to build healthy relationships and avoid violence in their lives.
“For me, a great food experience cannot happen without the right group of people and all of my Cooking for a Cause events delivered,” said Aulenbach. “It was very rewarding to learn new skills alongside good friends, enjoy delicious dishes, and know that our gathering was also helping support the critical work of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.”
Aulenbach looks forward to hosting more ‘Cooking for a Cause’ events in 2023. Cities are expected to include Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Spring has sprung, and it's time to fill your planters with beautiful blooms! Hyacinths bring vibrant colours and lovely fragrance, while Primulas add a pop of colour to any space. Don't forget about Ranunculus, with their delicate petals and striking hues. Which one will you choose for your spring planters?
Moving into a new home should be an exciting time, but without proper planning and organization, the whole experience can quickly turn into an overwhelming ordeal.
To help ease the anxieties of moving day, here’s a handy to-do list to keep you organized and on-track:
1. Plan ahead
This may seem obvious, but many people find themselves rushing to hire movers and pack their belongings in the final frantic days leading up to their big move. To avoid the stress this can cause, and to ensure moving day flows smoothly, be sure to start packing at least one month in advance. Focus on one room or closet at a time, and use this as an opportunity to purge items you no longer need. Moving into a new place means starting fresh – donate, rehome or recycle those belongings that won’t serve a purpose in your new home. Remember, the first and last days of the month are popular moving days, so don’t put off booking your professional movers in advance.
2. Optimize your packing process
For safe travels and storage, pack your belongings in durable moving boxes, ideally new or ones that have little wear-and-tear. There’s also the option to rent reusable moving crates that can be returned once your move is complete. You can even hire professional packers to do it for you! To avoid sensitive items getting wet or damaged, use plastic, sealable bags and bins to protect clothing, books and important documents. And, be sure to bubble wrap glassware and fragile items to keep them from shattering in transit.
Label each moving box with the room it belongs in (ie. kitchen, bathroom, bedroom #1). Take it a step further by numbering each box and creating a tracking document to specify which boxes should go in each room. This not only makes it easier for your movers to know where to place your items, but it also helps you to keep track of all your boxes.
4. Make those small repairs before moving in
If time allows, paint the walls, deep clean the appliances, and complete any minor repairs before moving into your new place. Unsurprisingly, it is a lot better to have a fully-functioning home before you start to unpack and assemble furniture. If this is not an option for you, consider placing all your items in the garage or basement at first, or simply in the centre of a room, to allow you a few days to clean thoroughly and complete any small jobs necessary before settling into your new space.
5. Update your services and accounts
It can take time for some utilities to get up and running. Set a reminder to take your name off your current utility bills and set up accounts for services at your new place in advance of moving in. Remember to also change the mailing address on your subscriptions, delivery services, and most importantly government and banking documents.
6. Make a plan for your first night
Moving day can be a long and tiring process, so you’ll want to plan ahead for that first night. You may not have the time or energy to set up your bedroom right away, or perhaps you are having a new mattress delivered in the coming week. Book a hotel or arrange to stay with family or friends until you are ready to sleep comfortably in your new home.
Let's face it: Unless you're a minimalist, moving is one of the biggest household tasks there is and it can be extremely overwhelming. But if you can get a head start and stay organized, you should make it through this mammoth process unscathed and ready to enjoy your new abode. Here are 21 tips to help you avoid moving day chaos.
1 GET ORGANIZED EARLY
Avoid leaving anything until the last minute. Unless you have to pack up and leave in a hurry, chances are you have between 30 and 60 days to make a plan and ensure that moving day runs smoothly. Create a countdown list and itemize everything you need to accomplish week by week.
How are you going to get from point A to point B on moving day? For shorter moves, you'll either need to assemble some very nice friends with trucks or consider renting a truck for the day. If you have a big family to move or you'll be moving a long distance, you'll want to price out moving companies.
3 KEEP YOUR MOVERS IN THE LOOP
Boxes are one thing, but when you get to the big, heavy stuff, it's important to let your movers know what to expect. "Communicate with your moving company and explain all the requirements and expectations prior to booking," advises Andrew Ludzeneks, founder and current president of iMove Canada Ltd. "Your mover has to be aware of all those minor details in order to estimate your total move time and cost, and have proper equipment available." That includes informing the company about any overweight items (i.e. a piano or fridge), access restrictions (small elevator, walk-up only, narrow driveway) and whether you’ll need help with disassembly or assembly of furniture.
4 PICK THE RIGHT TRANSPORTATION
If you're moving a short distance, you may be able to get away with making more than one trip. But if you don't have that luxury, you'll need to make sure you have the right size of truck to cart your belongings in one go. "Choosing the right size is particularly important when moving farther away, as making several trips could be a problem," says Andrew, who recommends using the following guidelines when determining the size of your truck:
• In general, the contents of bachelor and one-bedroom apartments will fit in a 16' cube truck available at your local rental company. • Two to three fully furnished bedrooms will require a 24'-26' truck to ensure your move is completed in one load. • The contents of most houses can be moved in the same 24' truck with one or two trips.
5 SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PURGE
Moving is a great chance to organize your belongings and get rid of items you no longer use. If the time of year permits, hold a yard sale. Or, take the time to sort and donate gently worn clothing to Goodwill, put furniture up for sale on a site like craigslist.org, recycle old magazines and catalogues and shred old documents.
6 PUT TOGETHER A PACKING KIT
If more than one person is packing, stay organized by establishing a system. Have blank inventory sheets prepared so one person can tackle each area or room. Arm each packer with a pen, black marker, and packing materials, like newspaper, a packing tape dispenser and boxes.
7 GREEN YOUR MOVE
Moving day can generate a great deal of waste like cardboard, bubble wrap and newspaper. For items you’ll be storing even once you’ve moved in, opt for the reusable plastic bins you can purchase at stores like Home Depot or Solutions. These can be labeled to go directly into closets until you’re ready to deal with the contents. You can avoid cardboard for the rest of your belongings, too, by renting plastic bins from a company like Blue Bins Unlimited. You might also consider using older linens to wrap breakables.
8 REUSE BOXES
You may still need a few cardboard boxes to round out your moving kit. A few weeks before you start packing, grab a few each time you visit the grocery store. Keep in mind that smaller boxes are easier to carry when facing stairs and narrow pathways, says Andrew.
9 TAKE INVENTORY
This is especially necessary if you’re hiring a moving company. Having a record of your household items is useful if something goes missing. Consider keeping a spreadsheet of the contents of each box. Then, assign each box a number and all you have to do is write that number on each side (maybe with the appropriate room listed, as well).
10 LABEL EVERYTHING!
Label all sides of the box (avoid the top). Whoever is carrying in your boxes might not make sure all labels are facing one way for your easy retrieval. Try labeling each side in marker so you can easily find what you need in a stack.
11 FIND OUT YOUR CONDO RULES
Moving into a condo isn’t as easy as pulling up to the front door and loading your boxes onto an elevator. Be sure to check the moving policy before scheduling your moving day. For example, some condos don’t allow move-ins on Sunday. According to Andrew, you may need to book a service elevator and a time frame for moving in. “On most occasions, your condo will ask for a security deposit in order to book a service elevator. That can range from $100 to $500 depending on your condo rules.”
12 PACK IN THINGS YOU NEED TO PACK
You need to take your luggage with you. Why not use it as a box? The same goes for dresser drawers. You may need to remove them for transport, but if you don’t have too far to go, they can be helpful for light items. “For delicate apparel that you don't want to fold, using a portable wardrobe box is the way to go,” recommends Andrew.
13 PREPARE A MOVING DAY KIT
Keep one box aside of “essentials” that you’ll need on moving day: cleaning supplies, light bulbs, toilet paper, garbage bags, a change of clothes, your toiletry bag, etc.
14 BE READY FOR YOUR MOVERS, WHETHER HIRED OR FRIENDS
Whether you have family or professional movers showing up at your door, be ready for them when they arrive. With a moving company, unless you hire packers, be ready and packed before the crew arrives, advises Andrew. “Scrambling for boxes will delay your move and increase your cost.”
15 PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES
Find a safe place to store your valuables on moving day. Insure anything that’s valuable or breakable if you’re using a moving company. And if you’re moving a computer, do a quick backup of important files just in case something happens in transit.
16 DELAY DELIVERIES
If you’ve made some new purchases, such as a couch or dining room suite, schedule the delivery after moving day. That will help you focus your attention on moving day itself and will avoid any congestion between delivery people and the movers.
17 DON’T MISTAKE BELONGINGS FOR TRASH
Try to avoid packing things in garbage bags. Well-meaning friends or family could accidentally throw them out on moving day.
18 HOOK UP ESSENTIAL SERVICES
Make sure you understand how utility bills (gas, water, electricity) will be transferred over to you from a previous owner. Also, arrange to have your phone line, cable and Internet working if necessary.
19 FIND A PET SITTER FOR THE DAY
If you have a pet that could be traumatized by a move, arrange to have them stay somewhere during moving day. If you’re hiring movers for a long-distance move, be sure to arrange your pet’s safe transport to your new home.
20 MAKE NICE WITH YOUR NEW NEIGHBOURS
Start off on the right foot by informing your immediate neighbours that you’ll be moving in and what kind of moving vehicles you’re using. If you’re moving on a weekday, make sure your truck isn’t blocking anyone’s exit. If it’s wintertime, clear your driveway of snow and ice, says Andrew. “Make sure there’s plenty of room to park the moving truck. That’s essential on busy streets otherwise you could slow down your move … increasing your total cost.”
21 TREAT YOUR MOVERS
Whether hired movers or friends and family, be sure to have food and drinks readily available for everyone. “On a hot summer day, your crew will appreciate a cold drink,” says Andrew.
Spring has officially sprung, and with the arrival of warmer weather, now is an opportune time to give your home a post-winter deep clean. A thorough spring cleaning goes beyond everyday surfaces and tackles the nooks and crannies of your living space. It’s a great time to start fresh by purging old and underused items in your garage, closets and cabinets. It’s also the perfect opportunity to perform a maintenance checkup on major household appliances, like your washing machine, stove and fridge.
Conducting a yearly maintenance checkup is not only beneficial in extending the lifespan of your appliances, but also ensures that they will be running optimally when you need them the most. Is there anything worse than your dryer breaking down before an important job interview, or the oven giving out just as your guests are set to arrive for a dinner party, or your air conditioner malfunctioning in the dead of summer?
Here’s a maintenance checklist to help ensure your large home appliances are in top shape this spring:
Coils: To clean your coils, locate where they are on your fridge – whether they’re at the bottom or at the back of the appliance – and remove the access panel. Gently remove any debris and dirt with a vacuum or brush before replacing the panel. Cleaning your fridge coils annually can actually help to reduce your electricity bill, as dirtier coils require more time and energy to chill food.
Water filter: If your fridge has a water filter, clean or replace this every five to six months to avoid impurities and contaminants in the water.
Door seals: If the door seals are leaking or don’t seem tight enough, replacing these will ensure your refrigerator is running in an energy efficient manner.
Oven and stove maintenance
Stovetop: While it’s important to give your stovetop a regular clean, a deeper scrub down is vital for preventing overheating and potential fire hazards from baked-on food particles. For electric stovetops, wipe down the cooking surface with warm, soapy water before applying a layer of glass cooktop cleaner or baking soda paste and leaving to dry. Once fully hardened, remove the paste with a scrubber or non-abrasive tool to remove baked-on food and stains. If you have a coil stove top, carefully remove each coil by hand and wash down without fully submerging in water before reassembling. For gas cooktops, be sure to remove the grates and burner caps, and wash with hot water and soap. Carefully wipe down the surface of the stove without getting the igniters or electrical components wet.
Range hood: Oven range hood filters must be cleaned or replaced to ensure proper functioning of the appliance. You can clean your filter by letting it soak in hot water and degreasing dish soap before scrubbing off the remaining debris. Allow the filters to dry completely before reinserting.
Oven door seals: Similar to refrigerator door seals, these are required to ensure ovens can heat efficiently, and should be regularly cleaned with warm water and soap, and replaced if/when necessary.
Oven drip pans and racks: Ensure oven drip pans and racks are routinely cleaned to avoid potential fire hazards. Soak greasy items in hot water with degreasing dish soap or cleaning vinegar to remove splatters, stains and food particles.
Rust removal: Remove any visible rust from your dishwasher by running an empty cycle with a calcium, lime and rust remover solution. A water and baking soda paste or a combination of water and vinegar can also be effective against rust.
Spray/pump area: Clean around this area in the base of your dishwasher to promote seamless drainage.
Filter: Hard water and leftover food can build up in your dishwasher. Cleaning the filter will extend the life of your appliance and ensure this build-up is not continually being released onto your dishes during the cleaning cycle. To clean, simply pull the cylindrical filter from the base of your dishwasher and gently wash it with a brush under warm running water.
Washing machine maintenance
Hose lines: Prevent flooding in your home by ensuring no cracks or breakage are present in your washer’s hose lines. Perform a thorough check once per year, and replace them every five years.
Washer drum: Prevent build up in the drum of your washing machine by regularly running a cleaning cycle with a dedicated cleaner or water and bleach every few months. Using a damp rag, thoroughly wipe the rubber liner and inside of the door.
Dryer vent: In addition to clearing out your dryer’s lint trap after each load, the dryer vent should be cleaned at least once per year to clear out lint build up and to prevent fire hazards. Disconnect the dryer before pulling it away from the wall and removing the dryer duct. Use your vacuum cleaner inside and around the vent to catch leftover lint. Remember to clean the exterior vent too by removing the cover and removing any debris.
Dryer drum: Using a damp rag, clean the inside of your dryer drum, the rubber liner and the door. If necessary, soak and wash the lint trap, but ensure it is completely dry before replacing it.
Air Conditioner maintenance (outdoor unit)
Condenser unit: Spring is the best time to run maintenance on your HVAC A/C unit. The weather is warm enough to run a cooling test cycle, yet not cool enough to withstand a few days with no air conditioning if your unit requires major repairs. Begin by turning off the power and removing the winter cover from your outdoor unit. Remove the cage and pull out any leaves and debris that may have accumulated on the bottom.
Fins and fan: Using a paint brush or other long bristled brush, carefully brush away any trapped dirt and debris that may be caught in the air conditioning unit’s fins and condenser fan. If necessary, vacuum the fins to pick up fine dust. It is safe to use a garden hose to wash the inside and outside of your unit, but avoid using a pressure washer as this can damage the fins. Reassemble the unit before turning the power back on.
Filters and vents: Replace filters and clean out vents on a regular basis (every one to two months) to ensure clean air is circulating through your home.
Be sure to run through this appliance maintenance checklist every spring to keep your appliances operating safely and optimally, and save you money in the long run.
Royal LePage is updating its price forecast for 2023 following a stronger-than-expected start to the year.
In a report released Thursday, Royal LePage is forecasting home prices in Canada will increase 4.5 per cent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2023, a steep increase from the company’s December prediction that the national aggregate home price would end the year one per cent below Q4 2022.
On a quarter-over-quarter basis, Royal LePage expects prices to continue rising modestly but steadily over the next nine months.
“Coming out of a correction, it is common to underestimate the speed at which the market will turn itself around. As market activity is rebounding quicker than anticipated, we are looking ahead with a sense of cautious optimism,” noted Phil Soper, CEO, Royal LePage.
“While we do not expect huge price gains this year, some sense of normalcy is returning to the market.”
Source: Royal LePage
Canadian market begins to recover after downturn
The Royal LePage House Price Survey showed that home prices in Canada decreased by 9.2 per cent year-over-year to $778,300 in Q1 2023.
However, there has been a 2.8 per cent quarter-over-quarter increase following the Bank of Canada’s decision to pause interest rate hikes, which prompted many buyers to return to the market.
“We have turned the corner, and the housing economy is growing again; none too soon for many buyers, who have been waiting patiently for prices to bottom out,” says Soper.
The national median price of a single-family detached home fell 10.7 per cent year-over-year to $808,700, while the median price of a condominium fell 6.7 per cent year-over-year to $571,700. Quarter-over-quarter, median prices rose for these two property segments by 3.4 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.
“Sanity is slowly returning to the housing market,” added Soper. “While some buyer hopefuls will remain sidelined by a reduced capacity to borrow in this higher rate environment, our market data shows that many of those who chose to pause their search to see where prices and interest rates would land have resumed their home buying plans.”
While sales have been trending upward since the start of the year, the number of listings remains too low to satisfy demand.
Source: Royal LePage
Soper explains that the challenge now is the severe supply shortage: “We are grappling with a growing problem here that once was the burden of our largest cities but is increasingly being felt in secondary markets as well.”
He adds, “Yes, governments are adopting policies intended to address the problem, yet the pace of progress is far from encouraging. And challenges facing developers—such as the increased cost of materials and labour, and a shortage of skilled tradespeople— persist.”
The report notes the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ (OSFI) proposed changes to Canada’s mortgage stress test that would impose more restrictive access to mortgage financing in an effort to mitigate risk for major banks against potential consumer default.
However, Soper warns against tightening restrictions in an environment where rates are high and likely to fall. He believes such a move could do more harm than good, forcing families into the unregulated B-lender market.
“Despite a year of rapidly-rising interest rates, we see that the number of Canadian homeowners who have failed to meet obligations to their financial institution remains exceptionally low,” Soper says. “Our banks have managed their mortgage portfolios well, and it helps that unemployment is very low.”
B.C.’s Home Buyer Rescission Period
Royal LePage says British Columbia’s newly-implemented Home Buyer Recission Period (a cooling-off period that allows buyers to rescind an offer within three business days of fan APS being signed) has not “proven to be useful.”
“Few B.C. buyers are exercising their right to use the cooling-off period the way it was intended—to allow them an ‘out’ after a rash decision to purchase a property.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing people blatantly abusing the program by making offers on multiple homes as they shop around, locking up scant housing inventory as if clothing in a retail store. The legislation is harmful, not helpful, and should be amended or scrapped.”
The Bank of Canada’s made the decision Wednesday to maintain its overnight lending rate at 4.5 per cent and has indicated it will continue to main the rate if inflation continues to come down.
“This was the signal that so many Canadians were waiting for. The Bank of Canada’s rate hold was the green light that stability is returning to the market, and it has had a swift and significant impact on buyer demand,” said Soper.
According to a recent survey by Royal LePage, found that one in four Canadians was in the market for a new home over the last year, and rising interest rates caused 63 per cent of them to postpone their plans, but 26 per cent of those planned to resume their search this spring and another 36 per cent said they would return to the market in the near future once the central bank paused rate hikes for several consecutive months.
Read the full report from Royal LePage, including regional breakdowns, here.
The Royal LePage Home Price Update and Market Forecast was distributed to the media early this morning. The release, distributed each quarter, includes price data and insights from experts in 62 real estate markets across the country, as well as national and regional forecasts.
Vancouver, BC – April 13, 2023. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,118 residential unit sales were recorded in Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) systems in March 2023, a decrease of 38.3 per cent from March 2022. The average MLS® residential price in BC was 961,451 down 11.6 per cent compared to the average price of close to $1.1 million in March 2022, recorded near the market's peak. The total sales dollar volume was $6.8 billion, representing a 45.5 per cent decrease from the same time last year.
“The BC housing market is currently characterized by slow sales but also still very low levels of listings,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Consequently, even though home sales remain about 20 per cent below normal levels for this time of year, the average home price in BC has now risen two months in a row, reaching its highest level since May 2022 as markets tighten due to a lack of supply.”
Active listings in the province are up 25 per cent compared to this time last year but have fallen for the second straight month in the wake of a modest recovery in home sales and continued weak new listings activity.
The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 4.5 per cent this morning. In the statement accompanying the decision the Bank noted that demand in Canada still exceeds supply and labour markets remain tight and that first quarter economic growth looks stronger than expected. However, the bank expects consumption growth to slow this year as households renew mortgages at higher rates and growth in exports and investment will decline as the US economy slows substantially in coming months. On inflation, the Bank expects headline CPI inflation to fall to 3 per cent in the middle of this year before declining gradually to 2 per cent by the end of 2024. However, the Bank warned getting inflation back to 2 per cent will be challenging given still high inflation expectations, elevated service sector prices and strong wage growth.
The Bank of Canada has moved to the sidelines while it judges the past year's impact of rate increases on inflation. Several factors point to inflation beginning to normalize this year. Barring a significant shift, gas prices are starting to subtract from year-over-year CPI inflation and raw materials and shipping costs should benefit from a downtrend in global commodity prices and a normalization of supply chains. The open question for the economy remains whether a recession is likely to occur this year. Given the pace and magnitude of tightening by the Bank of Canada, and signals from traditional recession warning tools like the slope of the yield curve, the recession probability remains elevated, particularly given added uncertainty stemming from failures in the US banking sector. However, growth has remained firmer than expected and the economy continues to create jobs at a robust pace. Still, high interest rates will start to drag on the broader economy this year and slower growth and significant progress on inflation should keep the Bank sidelined with the possibility of a rate cut in early 2024.
When it comes to putting money away to buy their first home, the federal government’s ‘tax-free in, tax-free out’ First Home Savings Account aims to give Canadians a helping hand.
As of April 1st, Canadians aged 18 or older who are purchasing their first home are eligible to enroll in a tax-free First Home Savings Account (FHSA). Introduced in the 2022 federal budget, the FHSA combines elements of a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), allowing users to make tax-deductible contributions and tax-free withdrawals from the account for the purposes of saving for a home.
Am I eligible for the FHSA?
In order to open an FHSA, users must be at least 18 years old and a Canadian resident. Account holders must also be a first-time homebuyer — someone who has not owned a home and lived in it during the calendar year before the account is opened, or at any time during the prior four calendar years.
An FHSA can be used for a maximum of 15 years, and stay open until December 31st in the year that the account holder turns 71 years old. Users cannot contribute to their spouse or common-law partner’s FHSA.
How much can I contribute to my FHSA?
FHSA holders can contribute an annual maximum of $8,000 into their account, with a lifetime contribution limit of $40,000. Unused contribution room can be carried over to the next year up to a maximum of $8,000. Carry-forward amounts start accumulating after the user opens the FHSA for the first time. Only the account holder can claim an income tax deduction for contributions made in a particular taxation year.
It is possible to have more than one FHSA open at a time, but the total amount that an individual can contribute to all of their FHSAs cannot exceed their annual and lifetime contribution limits. Similar to a TFSA, a 1% tax is applied on over-contributions to an FHSA for each month that the excess amount exists in the account.
What are the benefits of the FHSA?
An FHSA marries together the concepts of a TFSA and an RRSP in one account.
Contributions to an FHSA, like an RRSP, are tax-deductible. Additionally, any withdrawals made for the sake of purchasing a home are non-taxable, similar to a TFSA, including any investment growth. Users can take advantage of a series of qualified investments in their FHSA, including mutual funds and publicly-traded securities, plus government and corporate bonds. Users can also set up a self-directed FHSA to manage their own portfolio.
What happens when I want to take money out of my FHSA?
If a user wants to withdraw funds from their account, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The account holder must be a first-time homebuyer at the time a withdrawal is made. The qualifying home must be acquired (or construction must be completed) no more than 30 days prior to the withdrawal, and before October 1st of the following year, with the intention of occupying the property as their principal residence within one year after acquiring it. Be sure to read carefully the definitions of a first-time homebuyer and a qualifying home.
If you wish to transfer money out of your FHSA to another account, you can do so to another FHSA, an RRSP or a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF). Be sure to close your FHSA on or before December 31st of the year following your first qualifying withdrawal, when your participation period concludes.
To learn more about the First-Home Savings Account, visit Canada.ca.
On April 3, Premier David Eby and Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon released their housing action plan, “Homes For People.” While much of the plan involves many previously announced commitments and plans, there are also new areas of commitment for the provincial government. Below is a summary of new policies announced in the plan.
There are three significant announcements impacting housing supply, outlined below.
Firstly, in the fall, the province will introduce legislation that will apply to many areas of the province and will allow more Missing Middle (three or four units) on a traditional single-family detached lot, depending on the size or type of lot. The legislation will also allow for additional density permitted near large transit centres. The BC Government will work with municipalities and stakeholders on these inclusionary zoning processes.
Secondly, in addition to the Missing Middle legislation, legislation will be introduced later this year to make secondary suites allowed in every community in BC. Beginning in early 2024, homeowners will be able to access a forgivable loan of 50 per cent of the cost of renovations, up to a maximum of $40,000 over five years. The loan can be forgiven if the homeowner meets all conditions laid out in the program, including renting their unit out at below market rates for a minimum of five years. The pilot is expected to be open to at least 3,000 homeowners for the first three years.
The third significant announcement impacting housing supply is implementation of the Housing Supply Act, which was brought into force in fall 2022. This Act allows the province to set housing targets and support engagement with select municipalities. By mid-2023, housing targets will be established in approximately eight to ten municipalities that are identified as having the greatest housing need and highest projected growth, building on existing requirements for local governments to create Housing Needs Reports that identify housing demands and supply factors.
These three announcements have the potential to be important changes that could add significantly to housing supply. BCREA has been advocating for more Missing Middle housing options across the province for a long time and we will continue to ask for adequate consultation and a permanent housing roundtable to ensure that this policy is well-implemented.
Development Process, Permitting and Approvals
In 2023, a newly dedicated single window application process will be launched for all housing-related permits overseen by the province. This is intended to speed up the process and eliminate the need for multiple applications across ministries. The new permitting model will focus on prioritizing housing projects that we need built urgently, such as Indigenous-led projects, BC Housing applications, and multiple-unit developments. These improvements will complement recommendations in the Development Approvals Process Review.
The BC Government will introduce a tax on the proceeds of property sales based on how soon they happen after the initial purchase. We do not have any more details about the tax at this time, but the Flipping Tax is likely to be redundant with the pre-existing federal anti-flipping tax rule implemented as of January 1, 2023 that treats the proceeds of homes sold in under one year as business income. BCREA will continue to advocate to ensure that the Flipping Tax has exemptions for additions to the household such as birth or adoption, the breakdown of marriage or common-law partnerships, illnesses or disabilities, work relocation, insolvency, and other necessary reasons for families to move.
The province will also consider expanding the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT) to more areas with low vacancy rates and stepping up efforts to improve compliance. Expanding the SVT is unlikely to have an impact on affordability. BCREA’s Market Intelligence report from 2020 estimated the impacts of the tax. The SVT had negative impacts on home sales and prices but the impacts were temporary and appeared to be limited to Metro Vancouver. Within Metro Vancouver, it is difficult to disentangle impacts of the SVT on the rental market with impacts from the Empty Homes Tax and short-term rental regulations that were implemented around the same time. In January 2023, the SVT was expanded to include North Cowichan, Duncan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, Lions Bay and Squamish. We do not expect that expanding the SVT to those communities or to additional communities will have a meaningful impact on housing attainability.
No specifics were announced on anti-money laundering measures, apart from general commitments to combatting criminal activity in the real estate market with a number of measures, including through unexplained wealth orders and new partnerships with the federal government.
The province will create a Future Ready Plan, to be released in spring 2023, to connect more people to the relevant skills and training they need to quickly find and advance their careers in the construction sector.
The province announced several new policies to impact rental housing including:
exploring new opportunities and ways to build new rental buildings, as well as expanding and maintaining existing purpose-built rental buildings,
making the renter’s tax credit permanent. This annual $400 income-tested tax credit for a renter household that makes less than $60,000 per year. Renter households that earn between $60,000 and $80,000 annually will receive an income-tested amount,
increasing funding for the BC Rent Bank that provides interest-free loans and grants to renters in BC with low to moderate incomes, and
mandating more data-sharing by short-term rental platforms.
New affordable housing announcements include:
$394 million as an initial investment to help deliver up to 10,000 units at or near transit over the next 10-15 years,
Creating more subsidized rental homes through an expansion of the Community Housing Fund,
Doubling the number of homes delivered through the Indigenous Housing Fund,
Doubling the number of homes delivered through the Women’s Transition Housing Fund,
More on-campus rooms for post-secondary students,
Work with co-op stakeholders and other partners to re-invigorate the co-op housing sector, including leveraging federal and provincial funding streams, addressing the issue of upcoming lease expirations, and examining new ways to grow the sector, and
Spring brings renewed price growth across Metro Vancouver’s housing market while new listings remain dormant
Home prices across Metro Vancouver’s housing market showed modest increases in March, while new listings remained below long-term historical averages.
March data also indicates home sales are making a stronger than expected spring showing so far, despite elevated borrowing costs.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 2,535 in March 2023, a 42.5 per cent decrease from the 4,405 sales recorded in March 2022, and 28.4 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (3,540).
The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,143,900. This represents a 9.5 per cent decrease over March 2022 and a 1.8 per cent increase compared to February 2023.
“On the pricing side, the spring market is already on track to outpace our 2023 forecast, which anticipated modest price increases of about one to two per cent across all product types,” Andrew Lis, REBGV’s director of economics and data analytics said. “The surprising part of this recent activity is that these price increases are occurring against a backdrop of elevated borrowing costs, below-average sales, and new listing activity that continues to suggest that sellers are awaiting more favorable market conditions.”
There were 4,317 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in March 2023. This represents a 35.5 per cent decrease compared to the 6,690 homes listed in March 2022, and was 22.3 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (5,553).
The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 8,617, an 8.1 per cent increase compared to March 2022 (7,970), and 17.3 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (10,421).
Across all detached, attached and apartment property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for March 2023 is 30.7 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 23.3 per cent for detached homes, 36.7 per cent for townhomes, and 34.9 per cent for apartments.
Analysis of historical data suggests downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.
“If home sellers remain on the sidelines, monthly MLS® sales figures will continue to appear lower than historical averages as we move toward summer,” Lis said. “But it’s important to recognize the chicken-and-egg nature of these statistics. The number of sales in any given month is partially determined by the number of homes that come to market that month, along with the inventory of unsold homes listed in previous months. With fewer homes coming on the market, homes sales will remain lower than we’re accustomed to seeing at this point in the year, almost entirely by definition.”
Sales of detached homes in March 2023 reached 734, a 43.6 per cent decrease from the 1,302 detached sales recorded in March 2022. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,861,800. This represents an 11.2 per cent decrease from March 2022 and a 2.7 per cent increase compared to February 2023.
Sales of apartment homes reached 1,311 in March 2023, a 43.2 per cent decrease compared to the 2,310 sales in March 2022. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $737,400. This represents a 4.6 per cent decrease from March 2022 and a 0.7 per cent increase compared to February 2023.
Attached home sales in March 2023 totalled 466, a 37.3 per cent decrease compared to the 743 sales in March 2022. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $1,056,400. This represents a 7.8 per cent decrease from March 2022 and a 1.7 per cent increase compared to February 2023.
From chocolate eggs to fruit-filled pie to carrot cake, we've curated a list of delicious festive desserts that'll make the perfect ending (or beginning?) to your Easter celebrations.
CHOCOLATE CREAM EGGS
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Image by: Joe Kim By: Eryn Chesney
Pay tribute to the classic childhood tradition of the Easter egg hunt by feathering your nest with these delicate handmade confections. They’re pretty, perfectly sweet and straight from the Easter Bunny’s basket.
Image by: Maya Visnyei / Prop styling: Ann Marie Favot / Food styling: Claire Stubbs By: Claire Stubbs
Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, this flavourful dessert made with sweet figs and toasted almonds provides a delicious melt-in-your-mouth experience with every bite. This Easter: Have your cake and eat it, too.
Image by: Lisa Warninger By: Kir Jensen with Danielle Centoni
Notice how raspberry is the first word in the title? That’s because this tart recipe is all about the fruit. Yes, there’s a rich tart dough made with egg yolk and cream. And yes, it’s slathered with an amazing filling of vanilla browned butter and crème fraîche. But the filling is more of a flavourful base to support and contrast with all the bright fruit.
Generate excitement from the whole table by presenting this impressive rhubarb frangipane tart at the end of the meal. Its creamy almond filling is fragrant and complex, and we love the idea of using in-season rhubarb for something other than a pie. The good news for you is that, with only 10 ingredients, it's actually an easy-to-achieve dessert that looks like the work of a masterful pastry chef.
If your idea of the perfect dessert is an old-fashioned freshly-baked fruit pie cooling on the windowsill, its fragrant aroma drifting on the warm breeze, this free-form modern version, with its berries and smooth lemony cream, could be your new favourite.
During the winter thaw, indoor upkeep is as important as prepping your garden for spring. Freshen rooms, remove allergens, and brighten the look of these five areas:
Windows and treatments: While cleaning glass, wipe grime from sills and frames. Take this opportunity to wash drapes and remove dust from blinds.
HVAC vents: Thoroughly vacuum and dust these areas. If anyone in your household has severe allergies or asthma, consider hiring a professional duct cleaning service to remove buildup that can encourage mould growth and dust mites.
Furniture and walls: Wipe down walls and use a small brush to clean accent areas where dirt hides. Spot clean hard-to-reach places and previously unseen splatters, crayon markings, and grease marks.
Carpets and upholstery: Floor coverings need regular attention from your vacuum – sweep up “dust bunnies” and cobwebs from every corner and mop any exposed flooring. Carefully apply sprays or cleaning products to remove stains (after testing in an inconspicuous area). It may also be time for a thorough shampooing – rent a professional machine to sanitize the padding underneath and remove moisture.
Ceiling Fans: Dust blades before turning them on – otherwise, you might undo all the work you’ve done cleaning the rest of the room! Unseen allergy irritants and mould can reduce a home’s value. Make an annual date to “detail” your house; you’ll keep it in prime condition for years to come.
The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.