Mike & Bernadine Nielsen

Mike: 604-315-3151 |

Bernadine: 604-619-2063 |

Getting the “Inside Scoop” on a Listing Throughout the history of journalism, reporters would pride themselves on getting the “inside scoop” on a story. In fact, that’s where that expression came from. So imagine you’re shopping for a new home and click on a listing online. Up comes all the property information. But, chances are, there is more to the story of that property than is presented in that listing. For example, you might want to know more about: • The empty field behind the home. • The addition that was added to the house. (Was it professionally done?) • What the neighbourhood is really like. • The age of the roof shingles. (Will they need to be replaced soon?) • Noise levels on weekends. • Upcoming new development that might change the character of the area. Most property information listed on MLS and elsewhere is incomplete. There’s almost always more to the story of a listing than you can find online. And, even after viewing a listed property, you may still have lingering questions or concerns. So, you’ll want to get the “inside scoop” and find out more. But how? To get the inside scoop on a listing, call me. I can get the additional information you need on a property so that you can make a more informed decision.
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Pulling Together the Records you Need when Selling Imagine you’re viewing a home for sale. You venture to the basement, check out the furnace room, and notice the water heater. Is it owned or rented? As a potential buyer, you’d want to know. Now imagine a property you’re viewing has a brand-new gas fireplace. Nice! Is it under warranty? Is that warranty transferrable to you if you buy the home? Again, you’d want to know. So, when you’re selling, it’s important to pull together all the necessary records you will need in order to answer these types of buyer questions. After all, if a particular warranty transfers to the new owner, that’s a selling point. Take the time to find receipts, warranty certificates, and other documents related to: • Renovations (such as a bathroom makeover) • Major repairs or replacements (such as a new air conditioner) • Service prepayments (such as a lawncare service paid annually) • Purchases of major appliances and other items Keep in mind that you may have purchased extended warranties or maintenance agreements at the time of purchase. Those may transfer to the new owner. Also note that some guarantees or service agreements transfer automatically while others require the new owner to initiate that transfer. These documents could potentially add a few more benefits to buying your home. So, it’s worth the time it takes to dig them out!
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Buying the Home Everybody Wants When you’re shopping for a home, you may become interested in a property for sale that someone else is also considering. In fact, there may be several other buyers entertaining the idea of making an offer. In such a competitive situation, what should you do if you really love that home? Obviously, you’ll need to move quickly and make some fast decisions. Start by making certain the property fits within your price range. The last thing you want is to have an offer accepted and find out it is beyond your budget. That’s why it’s a good idea to arrange for financing before you go home shopping. Next, you want to make an offer that is so enticing to the sellers that they’ll put your offer at the top of the pile, if not close to it. So, what makes an offer enticing? Obviously, price is a big factor. You want to go in at a price that’s attractive to the sellers, without overpaying. Imagine finding out later that the nearest offer to yours was $15,000 less. Ouch! Chances are your offer price will need to be at or slightly above asking. Find out what similar homes in the area recently sold for — what real estate agents call “comparables” — and use those as a guide. It’s also important that your offer contains few, if any, issues that may be concerning to the sellers. The ideal offer will feature: • No conditions. • A closing date that’s convenient for the seller. • A deposit amount that shows you’re a serious buyer. • Acceptance of any of the buyer’s “exclusions”. (For example, they want to take the fridge and stove with them.) • Evidence you can get financing. (Many lenders offer a “Mortgage Preapproval Certificate”.) Although a “no conditions” offer is the most attractive, including a condition on passing a professional home inspection is usually not a problem, so long as the inspection is done quickly. Avoid adding other conditions, such as “subject to financing approval” or “subject to the sale of buyer’s existing property”. If you want to increase the likelihood that you’ll find — and, more importantly, get — your next dream home, call today.
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5 Ways to Add Fun to the Selling Process When you think about selling your property, do you dwell on the possible work and stress involved? You're not alone. Many homeowners share the same concerns. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, there are plenty of ways to add some fun, anticipation, and even a sense of adventure to the selling process. Here are just a few ideas: 1. Plan fun things to do when your home is being shown. That can include walks, sports activities, or trying something you and your family have never done before. 2. Declutter for your own benefit. Instead of thinking about decluttering as a chore required for the sale, focus instead on how much more comfortable your home will be after decluttering. Studies consistently show that less clutter reduces stress and increases a sense of wellbeing. 3. Get everyone in your home anticipating the move in a positive way. Put pictures of your next home, including neighbourhood shots, on the fridge door. Sit together on the computer and explore your new neighbourhood's features and amenities. 4. Celebrate milestones in the selling process. For example, when you're finished preparing your property for sale, go out to celebrate. Make a checklist of milestones and how you'll celebrate each one. 5. Get the help you need. A big part of the stress of selling is the anticipated work involved. Remember, you don't have to do it all yourself. Much of what needs to be done can be handled by contractors and other professionals. There are many other ways to make selling your home a positive and turbulentfree experience. Give me a call if you'd like more ideas and suggestions.
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Front Walkway Improvements that Boost Curb Appeal Your front walkway is one of the first sections of real estate a buyer will set foot on when coming to see your home. So, it makes sense to make that pathway to your front door as appealing as possible. The obvious way is to make it as clean and clear as you can. Ensure there are no obstacles in the way, such as overhanging branches, kid's toys, or potted plants. What you want is a clear, unobstructed and pleasant walk to your main entranceway. If your walkway needs deeper cleaning, consider a powerwash. There are special detergents available that are designed specifically for stone, asphalt or cement walkways and other outdoor surfaces. A deep cleaning isn't a major project. In most cases, the job can be done within an hour. Yet, the result can be stunning. If you're selling in the spring or summer, another way to make your walkway look better is to add flowers or other plants along the sides. Don't overdo it. You only need a few flowers or a couple of shrubs to make a big difference. The great thing about adding a few flowers or shrubs is the impact they can have on your entire frontage making it more attractive, and adding to your home's overall curb appeal. Making your walkway look better may seem minor, but keep in mind that when buyers make their way to your front door, they're forming their first and often most important impression of your property. The walkway plays a small but important role in making it a good one. Want more ideas for making your home show better, so it sells quicker and for a higher price? Call me.

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Start the Home Selling Process this Month If you’re thinking about selling in the spring, don’t wait until the new year to start planning. In fact, you’ll save yourself a lot of work and get ahead of the game if you start planning now. What’s that old saying? The early bird gets the worm! In this case, by starting the process this month, you’ll be in excellent shape when you’re ready to list in the spring. Here are just a few examples of what you can do in December to get the process started: • Walk your property and note any maintenance issues that need attention. • Decide which items to stow or sell to declutter your home. • Determine what improvements you’ll need to make in order for your home to look great to buyers (i.e. painting.) • Find out approximately how much your property will likely sell for in the spring market. • Clarify the kind of new home you’d like to move into, including ideal neighbourhoods. • Look into your financing options, so you’ll know the price range you’ll be shopping within. • Connect with any professionals you may need, such as contractors, a mover, and a real estate lawyer. • Take advantage of any December shopping deals for products you may need, such as home improvement project materials, packing supplies, etc. As you can see, the more prepared you are this month, the more stress-free and successful the home selling process will be for you in the spring. And one more tip: contact me to get the conversation started about selling your home in the new year. It’s coming fast!
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Cleaning Tips for Instantly Improving Curb Appeal As you may know, curb appeal refers to how your property looks from the street, where potential buyers first see it. Your home’s curb appeal can have a big impact on the sale of your property. In fact, it's not uncommon for a buyer to drive by a listing, rather than stop, because they don't like what they see. So, how can you improve your home's curb appeal quickly? One way is to do some outside cleaning. Start with the main entryway. Wash down the front door and sweep (or power wash) the front steps. It only takes a few minutes but you'd be surprised by the impact it can have. Sweep or power wash your walkway too and you’ll improve the overall look of your home — sometimes dramatically. Clean your front windows to brighten the look of your home’s facade. It doesn't have to be an arduous chore. In fact, there are washing products available that attach to your garden hose. You don't even need a ladder! Ask your local home improvement retailer for recommendations. If you have hedges and scrubs, give them a trim. To keep your trimming level, use a wide board, or even a piece of cardboard, then cut to the desired height. Pull off any dead leaves or branches. Of course, also mow the lawn! Finally, inspect your property from the street. Can you see anything else you can do to quickly improve the look? Do you notice anything that is unsightly or distracting, such as garbage bins that could be relocated? One final tip: When a viewing is scheduled, remove your vehicles from the driveway. Buyers like to see an empty driveway because it helps them imagine themselves living there. It also gives them a convenient place to park!
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How to Get Front-of-the-Line Access to Desirable Homes for Sale As you've probably noticed, credit card companies regularly offer bonuses to get you to apply for their cards. For example, one such card company offers opportunities to buy tickets to concerts and other events ahead of everyone else. It's their "front of the line" service. When you’re searching for a new home, wouldn't it be great if you could get to the front of the line on desirable properties – before other buyers get the chance? Well, in a way, you can. The first thing you need to do is create a profile for the specific type of home you're looking to buy. That profile will need to include the basics, such as type of home (e.g. detached), size and rooms (e.g. 2000-2,500 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2 baths), and your target neighbourhoods. You'll also want to add any additional features you're looking for, such as a finished basement or in-ground pool. Next, you want to work with a real estate agent like me who understands the local market and can arrange for you to receive immediate alerts for newly listed homes that meet your criteria. It's not uncommon for homes to become available for sale before the listing information gets published on the MLS. In fact, in some circumstances, it could take a couple of days before such listings become available online. So, if you get an alert soon after a listing comes on the market, you get a head-start on seeing that home and making an offer. And, you don't need to apply for a special credit card to make that happen! Just give me a call. I can help you find the right home for you.
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Cutting Down the Time it Takes to Prepare your Home For Sale If you're thinking of listing your property, one thing that might be holding you back is concern about preparing your home for sale. You may be wondering how much work there will be. Is it going to take a couple of months? A couple of weeks? A few days? That, of course, depends on the state of your property. However, regardless of how close your home is to “show time” ready, there is plenty you can do to reduce how long that preparation takes. Consider these ideas: • Sell stuff online. The less cluttered your home seems to buyers, the better it will show. So, make a list of items you want to sell, and then list them on one of the many local online market websites. Price items fairly and, chances are, you'll get rid of everything in a day or two. • Have a repair day. Go through your home and make a list of everything that needs to be fixed. Then, schedule repair people to all come on the same day. Voila! In one day, all needed repairs (or, at least, most of them) are done. • Get staging advice. Instead of guessing at what changes you need to make around your home to make it look its best, get expert staging advice. You’ll find out exactly what the experts suggest you do, and you'll save a lot of time and money. (By the way, I can provide you with that advice too.) • Ask before making big improvements. Are you planning to convert a wood burning fireplace into a gas unit to help sell your home? Before doing any big improvements or renovations like that, talk to me. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on an unnecessary project. • Hire help. You don't have to do everything on your own. Get the help you need. For example, hire a painter, a cleaner, and/or a junk removal service. Those will significantly shorten the time it takes to prepare your home for sale and save you a lot of work. Also, the costs of those professionals may be off-set by the increase in the sale price of your home. Bottomline: Preparing your home doesn't need to be overwhelming and timeconsuming. Contact me for more ideas to help get your home ready for sale,quickly.
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Bathroom Staging Tips from Professional Home Stagers There's a reason why there are "kitchen and bath" stores, and even design magazines devoted to these rooms. A well-staged kitchen and bathroom can make the entire home look better. So, it's no surprise that professional home stagers pay particular attention to these spaces. What do these pros have to say about bathrooms? Professional stagers advise that you start by taking a picture of the room. Looking at that picture will give you a better sense of how others see your bathroom and reveal what needs to be changed. Then, de-personalize it. When you’re showing your home to buyers, you want the bathroom to resemble a guest bathroom. So, no shaving kits, toothbrushes, sticky notes to self on the mirror, etc. Stagers also recommend that anything worn be replaced. This will likely include the shower curtain and mats, which tend to wear and stain quickly. Hang fresh new towels on the rack. (If you’re buying new towels for this purpose, choose white.) Put an unused bar of soap or hand cleaner next to the sink. Make it look like a freshly stocked hotel bathroom. If required, paint the walls. Off-white colours, including beiges and light greys, work well. As you can see, it doesn't take much to stage your bathroom and make it look its best for buyers. Looking for more staging tips? Call today
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Is it Time to Re-Shingle Your Roof? No matter what you think of snakes, you must agree that they have a unique way of dealing with worn-out skin. When the time comes, they simply shed it — like an old jacket — revealing a fresh new skin underneath. Your home's roof doesn't have that advantage! So, when the shingles wear out or become damaged, you need to have them replaced. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to determine whether your shingles need replacement right away, or whether you can hold off for another year. Assuming your home has the most common type of shingles — asphalt — here's what to look for: • Corners upturned on some shingles. • Missing shingles. • Shingles lifting during high winds and not settling back into place (flat) within a day or two. • Heavy accumulation of shingle debris (particles) in the gutters. • Shingle bits and pieces found on the ground around your home. • Spots on your roof that still look wet a day or two after a rainfall. (This could be a sign of water infiltration into the felt or even the roof deck.) If you have any of these signs, be sure to have a roofing contractor take a closer look. Before investing in a new roof, be sure to check with the retailer or contractor who supplied the original materials. Your shingles might still be under warranty. Bottomline: Don't delay. You don't want to wait until you hear drip drip drip before taking action!
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Dealing with Stress when Selling Your Home Let's face it. Planning events, even exciting ones like an overseas vacation, can be stressful. So, it's not surprising that some homeowners — even those thrilled about moving — can slip into "worry mode" when putting their property up for sale. Unfortunately, this anxiety can make the process of selling an unpleasant experience. Who wants that? So here are some things you can do to reduce selling stress and enjoy the adventure. • Understand the selling process. The more you know about the steps involved in selling your home, the less mysterious — and, therefore, less stressful — it will be. • Give yourself the time you need. Feeling rushed and stressed comes from trying to do too much in too little time. Even if you're selling quickly, it's important to block off sufficient time in your calendar for the things you need to do. • Take care of yourself. As television psychologist Dr. Phil often points out, you can't give what you don't have. When it comes to selling your home, that means you need to eat well and stay healthy, so you have the energy you need throughout the process. • Make your home attractive to buyers. That not only means tidying up and doing a little home staging, it also means setting the right listing price. Nothing eliminates the stress of selling more than having flocks of qualified buyers interested in your home. • Get the help you need. You don't have to do everything on your own. That's why working with me is so advantageous. I take care of the many details for my clients so that they can enjoy the journey. Sure, there are going to be a few stressful moments. However, the process of listing and selling your property, while looking for your next dream home, can be an exciting experience. Let me help you. Call today.
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The Latest Options in Outdoor Lighting Outdoor lighting has come a long way from the days of patio lanterns and strings of lightbulbs. These days, there's an exhaustive array of options available to illuminate your outdoor space, and make it more appealing and comfortable, particularly in the evenings. Here are just a few ideas: • Solar garden lights. These lights are on stakes that can be easily inserted throughout the garden. Powered by the sun, they generate enough energy to cast a soft, pleasant glow along walkways or in flower beds in the evenings. • Deck post lights. These are easy to install because they're designed to sit on top of a standard 4x4 wood deck post. Most are solar powered. • Street-style lamps. As the name implies, these look similar to oldfashioned street lamps. Installation is a little more complex, but still DIY-friendly. They're eye-catching and have a dramatic impact on the look of your outdoor space. • Portable lantern lights. These are outdoor lights that are portable and often made to look like a decorative fixture for a coffee table or side table. They can be placed anywhere. • LED walkway lights. These are small lights that fit neatly and almost invisibly under stairs and around walkways. Walkway lights not only look good but also improve safety. Most are battery powered. • Planter lights. This is one of the most interesting options. Each one is both a flower pot and a light in one! The pot itself is translucent which allows the light inside to shine through. Design experts say you should treat your outdoor space as you would any room in your home. Lighting it up for evening comfort and enjoyment is a good place to start.
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One Hour Ideas for Boosting Curb Appeal You've heard of the term "curb appeal". It refers to the initial impression buyers get when they first see your property from the street. If the impression is a good one, it sets the right tone for the rest of the home viewing. How do you boost curb appeal? Here are some proven ideas that you can get done in an hour or so: • Wash both the inside and outside of the front windows. You'll be amazed at the difference that can make. • Sweep the walkway leading up to the front entrance. Add a new welcome mat. Also, wash down the front door. • If possible, remove cars from the driveway. Let buyers imagine their own cars parked there! • Mow the lawn. Lightly trim the hedges. Weed flower beds. • Remove anything from inside window sills that may look unsightly from the outside. Try putting a couple of flowering plants there instead. • Place any trash bins out-of-sight. For example, put them in the garage or neatly at the side of the house. • If the entrance door hardware is old and worn, change it. New hardware can make a bigger difference than you might think. • Make sure the outdoor lights are working, especially if you're showing your home in the evening. • Add some flowering plants to flower beds, or buy a couple of portable potted plants and place them strategically. • Clean your mailbox. If it’s rusted, replace it. • If you have a power washer, give the walkway and driveway a quick blast. Just be sure it will be dry before the buyers arrive. These one-hour improvements may seem minor, but anything that helps buyers form a more positive first impression of your home is worth the effort.
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Setting Your List Price Requires Calculation and Savvy When you're having a garage sale, one of the toughest tasks is pricing your items. If you put a price tag on your old golf clubs that’s too high, no one will buy them. If you make the price too low, they might sell quickly, but you’ll spend the rest of the day wondering if you could have gotten more! It's similar to selling your home — except with your home, the stakes are much higher. You want to price your property to sell, but you don’t want to leave any money on the table. How do you accomplish that? Setting the right list price for your home requires a combination of skilled calculation and industry savvy. Let's start with the "calculation" part... When you work with me, I'll review recently sold properties that are similar to yours in type, size, features and location. Then, using that data, we’ll calculate a range that represents your property's "current market value." For example, consider a spacious 15-year-old bungalow in a nice neighbourhood. If similar homes in the area have sold for $475,000- $550,000 in the last six months, then it's obvious that your home should sell in that range too. A list price above or below that range would be in the danger zone. But skilled calculation is only half the task. Setting your list price also requires expertise in the local market, combined with good old-fashioned gut instinct. That instinct comes from being on the front lines of many property transactions. That's why working with a good real estate salesperson is so important, when you’re deciding on the list price for your home. Want to discuss selling your home? Call me.
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BBQ Maintenance that Will Save Your Life According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 160 people are injured each year in BBQ mishaps. That doesn't sound like a lot considering the thousands of people who flip burgers on their backyard grills each year. But, you certainly don't want to be one of those injured! The best way to prevent fire and injury is maintenance. Remarkably, few people are even aware that BBQ maintenance is necessary. But, it is. Every spring, experts say you should clean out the venturi tubes. Those are the little metal pipes that carry propane or natural gas. Pipe cleaners work well, although hardware stores also carry specialized tools for this purpose. The goal is to clean out any builtup dirt and debris. Don't be surprised if you find spider webs inside a venturi tube! Your BBQ grills should also be cleaned with soap and water each year. Just scraping them before barbequing isn’t enough. Fat and oils from cooking can build up on grills and harden. If you're getting a lot of flare-ups, this may be the cause. Finally, make sure nuts and bolts are tightened regularly, and replace any rusty hardware. Regular use, heat and weather can loosen or weaken bolts, particularly on the frame. Several fires each year are caused by BBQs tipping over or collapsing.
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5 Ways to Make the Selling Process Stress-Free For some homeowners, the process of listing, showing and selling their home can be stressful. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make it much less nerve-racking—and even exciting and enjoyable. Here are some ideas: 1. Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to show your property, search for a new home, view listings, etc. Block out these times in an agenda book or calendar. That way, you and your family can see what’s coming up. 2. Be flexible. Few things go exactly as planned! So, it’s important to build in flexibility. For example, you may plan to see homes for sale on Saturdays, but if an opportunity comes up on a weeknight, give yourself room in your schedule to jump on it. 3. Eat well. There are numerous studies that connect poor nutrition with increased stress. When people are selling and moving, there’s a tendency to rely on quick fixes, such as hot dogs and pizza! Try to plan more nutritious meals that will keep everyone healthy and energized. 4. Get stuff done early. Doing things last minute, such as finding a real estate lawyer or getting rid of clutter, can quickly lead to stress and frustration. Whenever possible, get tasks done early. That way, you won’t have to worry about them. 5. Hire the right professionals. By far, the surest way to a stress-free move is to get the right professionals working for you: everyone from contractors to mortgage brokers to movers. By the way, a big part of what I do for clients is help make every aspect of buying, selling and moving go smoothly. Contact me to learn how I can help you.
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What You Need to Know about “Interest Free” Deals Next to your home and car, home furnishings represent the most expensive product purchases homeowners make. A mid-quality livingroom set, with sofa and two side chairs, can cost thousands of dollars. That’s why most furniture retailers offer “interest free” and “pay much later” deals to soften the blow. These are basically financing options. Say, for example, you want to purchase furniture for the rec room. The cost is $7,200. The furniture retailer may offer you a deal where you “don’t pay a cent” for six months. As long as you pay the balance within that time, no interest is charged. That sounds like a sweet deal. And it is. But, personal finance experts will advise you to tread carefully. If you pay off the balance within the “no interest” timeframe, you’ll benefit from the sweet deal, by having deferred the payment. However, if you fall behind on payments, you’ll be hit with a high interest charge. It’s often 20% or more. That can add hundreds of dollars to what you would have originally paid for the purchase. And, even if you paid down most of the balance within the no interest period, you can still get hit hard. Some “no interest” deals charge interest on the original financed amount — not just the remaining balance. The best advice, according to personal finance experts, is to read the fine print carefully and pay off the balance as promptly as you can.
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Open House Questions Some Buyers Forget to Ask An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party! In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common: • How old is the roof? • How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment? • How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.) • What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.) • What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.) • Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.) • Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.) • Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.) Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked. Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.

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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.