Are You A Spender or A Saver?

In my 15 years as a Realtor I have ​sure seen a lot! I am by no means a financial expert, ​however I have learned a lot by simply observing and listening to the stories of success (and sometimes mistakes) people make in the real estate world. There is one simple thing I want to share with all of you. It really doesn’t matter how much money you ​bring in that is most important, it is what you DO with that money that really matters.​ I love examples, so I’ve shared one with you below.

FAMILY A  makes roughly $50,000 a year. They own a nice, affordable house and pay it down every month. They save a little and live just within their means. They may​ ​save where others might not. They could have chosen to not eat out or changed their grocery shopping habits. Their hobbies luckily might include a lot of FREE things (camping, hiking or other outdoorsy free stuff). They may drive older vehicles that are paid for and try to avoid spending a lot on luxury items. This family might deal with little financial stress when it comes to the day to day expenses and find that they are quickly building equity in their home.

Now let’s talk about ​FAMILY B
FAMILY B in this example brings in ​$250,000 a year. Their home is quite a bit bigger and the mortgage matches. They appear to have a lot more toys (which may be financed). They have a lot more disposable income and will likely spend a lot more on things like dinners out or those luxury items. These income scenarios can sometimes lead to more money leaving the bank account than what’s coming in.
At some point in our lives we have all asked the question, “How do my neighbours afford all those toys?” Well they may very well not be able to afford them. Our low interest rates have made borrowing money a little too easy. Studies show Canadians household debt increasing at a rapid rate over the past few years.

Whether you fit into FAMILY A or FAMILY B (or somewhere in between) its not always a matter of making more money to get where you want to be. Whether its a vacation or a down payment for a house, sometimes its looking at where you are spending. I have found it doesn’t matter if you are FAMILY A or FAMILY B. There will be those in either category (or the inbetweeners) that are able to afford the down payment or that trip and there are those that cannot. It usually comes down to the money going out not the money coming in that can make all the difference.

Our next financial post is going to focus on the differences between Good and Bad Debt. Stay tuned for that!

Are You Landlord Material?

With the Real Estate Market making a comeback, people are starting to think about the possibility of investing in rental property. Prices are still affordable and lending rates are  extremely low. There is a buzz in the air that the rental market is going to be growing stronger in the years to come. But before you jump right in you need to know what you’re getting into.
Let me start by reiterating that I am not a mortgage or investment expert. I do, however, have a few years of being a landlord myself under my belt. I’ve also committed to watching and learning from other landlord’s successes and mistakes. Before we get into the financial conversation, I’ll share some answers with you to the most common questions and concerns that I hear from potential landlords.
Should I allow my tenants to have pets? 
I have found personally that some of the best tenants had a pet and they had sometimes taken better care of my house than people with kids (seriously)!
How do I find and properly check out potential renters?
There are two common ways to go here. The first is to hire a property manager. A property manager will handle the initial meeting of potential tenants as well as any credit checks and applications. They can also act as the rental collection and hold a fund for minor repairs to your property. They also act as the go between for you and your tenant. Property Managers usually charge a monthly fee, but they are well worth it! If you are ok doing the work yourself, your second option is to use social media/craigslist. Just be prepared for 30 calls the first day from your Craigslist ad…its happened!
What about the maintenance?
Older homes may be a cost effective investment but they quite often also mean lots of maintenance and lots of calls from tenants with things like a leaky toilet!
If you are not available or handy you need to have a maintence person you can call up.
Who deals with the landscaping/gardening?
Don’t rent out a house you are emotionally attached to unless you plan to put the time and or money in to keep up the landscaping.  99% of tenants are not into landscaping and gardening.  Lawn mowing is usually expected but if you have elaborate landscaping and no one tends to it for a year you may be disappointed with the outcome.
How do I maintain a good relationship with my tenants?
In this case, the Golden Rule definitely applies. Make sure you treat the tenants like you would want to be treated. Go that extra mile.  Buy them some paint if they want to paint a room.  Reimburse them right away if they replace a fixture.  They are looking after a huge investment for you so you want to have a good relationship with them.
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Now on to the nitty gritty…The Financials.
Unless you are a cash buyer ( no mortgage needed) you cannot expect instant cash flow. This is a long term investment.  Do the math first and figure out if the rental income will cover your mortgage payments and costs. You may want a $200 cash flow each month, or you may be okay having to contribute to the mortgage payments each month.
I like examples, so here we go..
In Campbell River you have a lot of options for potential rental properties.
You could buy an older home in the downtown core for under $200,000 but be prepared for yearly costs for maintenance and repairs, updating appliances etc. 
You can invest in a  brand new home in the high $200’s and open yourself up to many different neighbourhoods. You’ve got a higher possibility of getting top rental income but now you have a shiny new house that may get a lot of wear and tear in a quick amount of time. 
Let’s use an example of what I gravitate to, a basic 3 bedroom rancher. We’ll price it at $240,000 for this example. If you put a 10% down payment at 2.9% interest you would have monthly payments of approximately $1000 with the addition of property taxes at around $200 a month
Your rental income potential would be $1100-$1300 per month
Remember that this is a long term investment! Unless you get lucky and the market goes up 25% in 2 years, don’t expect to flip the house in a year and make money. If you look at it as a 10 year investment than that $240,000 house rented at $1250 a month (which covers that monthly mortgage payment) has helped pay down your mortgage to about $150,000. Statistically speaking the house is now potentially worth between $400,000-$450,000. You are now sitting on around $300,000 equity available to you!!! I’ll cover more about this in a future post about one of my favourite words, Leverage!
Here are some resources for you to look over:
BC residential tenancy branch link this is a must read before you even think about becoming a landlord! http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/
As always, if you have more questions call or email me anytime. I love helping people become landlords!

Bedrooms Kids (and Parents) Will Love!

Kids room design has really evolved in the last few years. Kids rooms have become a place for parents to showcase their children’s interests as well as matching the vibe of the whole home. You can take the simplest of kids rooms and turn them into functional and fun sanctuaries for your little ones. From bright and bold wall decals to cozy little reading nooks, we’ve gathered some great ideas to inspire your creativity. We’ve also found some awesome shared bedroom ideas that will make your kiddos more than happy to have a roommate!

This first link showcases some AMAZING Toddler Room Ideas:

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http://www.babble.com/toddler/20-sweet-toddler-rooms/

These links will show you some really neat DIY ideas to transform your kiddo’s room into a unique little hang out.

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http://www.hometalk.com/b/838730/diy-kids-room-decor

 

Next up are some ideas for a reading area for some quiet book time for your littles.

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http://www.decoratingroom.net/20-examples-of-cozy-reading-nook-for-kids

 

These are some excellent options we found if your wee people will be sharing a room.

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http://www.bobvila.com/hanging-bunk-bed

 

And lastly, here is one really awesome space to inspire you to pass your love for Star Wars onto your kids. They’ll thank you one day.

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http://www.designdazzle.com/2013/01/star-wars-kids-rooms/

DIY Chalk Paint Furniture Make Over

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This old chaise lounge has sat rotting on my back deck for 2 years so I decided to give it a make over. I love chalk paint because it fits my painting style perfectly. NO prepping, quick drying, no rules, and very forgiving to work with! I bought a few colors at Red Living in Courtenay. I know that the cans are fairly pricey but a little goes a long way here! You can use this paint both indoors and out. Below I have provided the step-by-step instructions of this great DIY project.
 
Step #1- Prep! A quick hose and wipe of the major cobwebs and dirt. That’s about all the prepping I can
handle. I HATE prep work!
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Step #2- I watered down the paint a bit to give it more of a beachy, distressed washed look. This paint is non toxic and so easy to work with that my 5 year old helps me with projects! 
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The paint drys within minutes and you are done!
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In this case I rubbed on Annie Sloan Dark Wax to give it a darker finish that would complement the surrounding outdoors. 
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And in LESS THAN AN HOUR, the cushions are on an the chaise is ready to enjoy!
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If you like this look but are not into the DIY thing, check out Joanna Winter Watson’s work at: https://www.facebook.com/RevivedByJoanna 
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How To Pretty Up Your Clutter…

 

Is it just us, or does it seem like no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to contain all your stuff. Towels are spilling out closets, papers are sticking up out of overstuffed filing cabinets. And your junk drawer has gone from one to four. 

Thankfully, there are lots of beautiful ways to store your belongings! Check out the links below for some creative ideas to tidy up.

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Pretty Bathroom Storage

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Pantry Storage Ideas

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Laundry Room Storage

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Organizing Files

Now you can take some of these ideas and hopefully implement them in your home to make your storage both functional and pretty!

How To Get Your Home Show Ready

 Show Ready
First impressions count, especially when you are selling your home. Getting your house “show ready” doesn’t have to break the bank.
 One of the best (and free!) things you can do is DE-CLUTTER! And when I say de- clutter I mean get serious and get ruthless.  Take down the fridge pictures, hide knick-nacks, and clear the kitchen counters of everything! Get rid of carpet runners, area rugs, bulky curtains, even furniture.
Take a few chairs, an ottoman, or side table out of your entrance or living room and put them in storage or even in your garage. Freeing up some space will show off your homes true square footage and open up the space. Remember when a realtor brings a family in to see your house there may be 5 people crammed in your entrance. Make sure to move that plant and give them some space!
Washing walls and adding a fresh coat of paint where needed is also a great way to freshen up a house.  New light fixtures and simple things like kitchen and bathroom cabinet knobs can really update a room.
When the day arrives that you have buyers coming to view your home, make your home feel like a home. Be sure to leave all the lights on and curtains open. Light a fire in the winter and open the windows and curtains if its summer.
Lastly, LEAVE THE HOUSE! Buyers will spend more time in your home if its empty and they don’t feel as though they are intruding.
If you have any other questions about staging or are looking for suggestions, please contact us! We’d love to help you get your home “show ready”!

Meet Tiffany!

I would love to introduce Tiffany McFadden who I originally met as a new client, but now am fortunate to call one of my good friends. She is a Registered Dietitian with a great blog chock full of recipes I refer to time and time again. If you are not already, you should probably start following her Facebook and Blog.
I always look forward to her posts, the recipes are always great and her stories and writing can be pretty hilarious too! Here is one of our favourite recipes:
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Zucchini Fritters:

Yield: About 10 2 1/2 inch fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Oil of your choice, for frying (I used canola)

To serve 
1 cup plain, Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinches of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic

Directions:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor.

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini by squeezing out small handfuls at a time. Get out as much liquid as possible to prevent soggy fritters.

Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most gets lost when squeezing), add a little bit more; we found 1/4 teaspoon more just right. Stir in green onions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet a few at a time so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned again. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter. I like to make sure that the fritters have at least 10 minutes in the oven to finish setting and getting extra crisp.

For the topping, if using, stir together the yogurt, lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and adjust the flavors to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving.

Adapted slightly from here.

Check out Tiffany’s website and blog for more AMAZING and DELICIOUS recipe ideas!

What to Do With All Those Photos…

We are so very lucky to have some great photographer friends in our lives who have been able to capture beautiful family photos for us. And as you know (because we mention it a lot so you should), our town is beautiful and we love to take lots of pictures while we’re out enjoying it!

But, what do you do with all of these amazing photos? You want to showcase them all, but you don’t want to clutter your space right? We hear you! So we’ve done some Pinterest Research and found some really cool ways to show off your beautiful images. Check out the links below to get some great ideas.

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Photo Gallery Ideas

 

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 Graphic Wall Displays

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  A Beachy Themed Photo Wall

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 Turning Photos Into Canvas Art

 

We hope these gave you some inspiration to turn your beloved photos into works of art!

Hey Deer, Please Don’t Eat my Garden….

deerThey’re so cute. Until they’re eating your prized rhododendron or the rose bush that you brought back to life this spring. It’s not an easy feat to keep these beautiful little plant eaters out of your garden, but we’ve found some tips that will hopefully help.

1) Keep The Amount of Tasty Buffet Style Plants at a Minimum–  Does are nursing their fawns, and anxious to gain back weight lost during the winter’s freeze, every deer is looking to gorge on high-protein, moisture-rich plants. Think twice about growing large amounts of English ivy, lettuces, beans, peas, hostas, impatients, and pansies. Fruit trees are prime targets too. As Rhonda Massingham Hart points out in her book Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden (Storey), “The sweetness and flavor of strawberries and peaches make them as attractive to deer as they are to people.”apple tees that grow well in calgary

2) Keep the Prime Deer Plants Close to the House- This will ensure you can keep a closer eye on the plant. As a general rule, deer love to dine on anything that’s smooth, tender, and flavorful, including chrysanthemum, clematis, roses, azalea bushes, and various berries.

3) Plant pungent perennials as a natural barrier–  Deer rely heavily on their sense of smell for feeding, so adding patches of strongly scented herbs—from garlic and chives, to mint and lavender (left)—can mask the appealing aroma of nearby annuals.

 4) Plant thorny, hairy, or prickly foliage- incorporating fuzzy lamb’s ear, barberries, and cleome near the plants you want to protect—and where deer might find entrance into your garden in the first place. See Plants Deer Dislike for a more comprehensive list.

5) Make deer-resistant substitutions– Substitute tulips for daffodils, which is on the no fly list for deer foods. Pick roses that are particularly thorny, including Scotch or rugosa roses. And if you’re looking for flowers that’ll add a certain color or provide a certain function in your outdoor space, consult this list of deer resistant plants from Rutgers University to see what swaps you can make in your garden.daffodil-01

6) Create levels– Deer aren’t avid climbers so adding terraces or sunken beds can discourage them from coming into the yard. If your property is particularly woodsy and sprawling, consider stacking pallets around your property, which deer are afraid to walk or jump on.

7) Don’t underestimate the power of scare tactics– As neophobes, deer fear new, unfamiliar objects. Though they aren’t always attractive, scarecrows, sundials, and other garden ornaments—especially those with movable parts—make deer skittish. Use them in combination with wind chimes or bright lights for added effect.

8) Wrap new plantings– Placing netting over fruit, bulbs, and bushes. Use garden nets from Vexar, tree protectors from Tubex, or plastic tree wrap to physically bar deer from feasting on your firs.

9) Use a lot of homespun repellents to keep deer guessing– Some gardeners swear by hanging fabric softener strips and/or wrapped bars of soap from trees, both of which can confuse a deer’s sense of smell. Others point to using hot pepper sprays, garlic and rotten egg mixtures, ammonia-soaked rags, and bags of hair and/or blood meal around the garden for the same reason. As with commercial repellents, the trick is to switch things up, learning by trial and error, for maximum efficiency. Check out this tutorial on deer-proofing shrubs with Roger Cook. And experiment with deer juice, a tried-and-true recipe shared by TOH design director Amy Rosenfeld.garlic_310_0

10) String fishing line around prized plants– Relatively cheap and easy when compared to putting up a fence, string a line of monofilament around your beds within the deer feeding zone—ideally two to three feet above ground. Just as deer can’t comprehend the concept of glass, this clear, taut barrier also confuses deer, ultimately causing them to flee.

This list was adapted from a much larger one posted here: How To Keep Your Deer Out Of The Garden