Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mount Cheam - The View from the Top


Mount Cheam from Agassiz

This post examines primarily in photographs the view from top of Mount Cheam and continues the theme explored in the last post of Cheam as a Wife to distance Mount Baker. There is a need to create a sense of “place” in the communities and Mount Cheam is the most prominent landmark in the eastern Fraser Valley; she deserved to be understood and appreciated.


The word “Cheam,” in Halkomelem, means “wild strawberries” and refers to the ridge comprising of Cheam and Lady (Dog Face) plus the lower slopes around Airplane Creek and Spoon Lake. This explanation, even though Cheam is a pretty sounding name, has always been a bit of a disappointment for me; I always hoped that the name would mean Mother or something like that more in keeping with the legend.



Lady aka Dog Face



Quite a number of years ago, I had a chance to climb to Mount Cheam’s summit and took some panoramic pictures of the trek. I hope you like them they show what you can expect if you ever decide to take the climb.


You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. Rene Daumal



Mount Cheam looks along shoulder to husband Mount Baker






Younger Steve Mullock and Dog Face


Agassiz and Harrison Lake


Seabird Isalnd and Harrison Lake

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.



Copyright November 25, 2009 all pictures and content by Stephen Mullock.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mount Cheam Local Legend




The most beautiful mountain in the eastern Fraser Valley is Mount Cheam. This posting will discuss obsession with Mount Cheam, its legend, directions to climb and how to sound like a local when you pronounce Cheam.


The last first, Cheam is pronounced locally like “Shea-am” say it any other way and you will be giving yourself away as a non-resident. Try to blend in.

Mount Cheam has an elevation of 6929 Feet or 2,112 meters and is part of the Cheam range a subset of the Cascade Mountain Range. Look up from exit 135 on the Trans Canada Highway (Bridal Falls) and all you are seeing is Cheam. On a good day you will see the brightly coloured chutes of Para gliders floating around her shoulders. On poor days, clouds clinging to her forests. Broken cloud patterns spill unexpected light into crevasses as they sweep across the sky. This mountain has a million moods nearly all of them beautiful. A photographer friend of mine, Ian Meissner, says he has over 3900 pictures just of this mountain. That sort of fixation my friend is called an obsession. Ian’s pictures have been picked up by PBS amongst others give yourself a treat and have a look at his gallery.

A number of years ago I joined a group to climb the summit and take in the view. It was quite the journey a deeply rutted dirt road and then a fairly steep trail led to the top.  A more recent blog about the climb was written by John Harvey and has some great photographs. If you are in good health and have an appropriate vehicle it is a trip that I would recommend. Just remember to take plenty of water, good hiking boots and supplies for mishaps; directions to Mt.Cheam.


Legend : The First Nation legend is that Mount Cheam is the wife to a nearby and dormant volcano Mount Baker. Mount Baker is situated in Washington State, United States but can be seen by his wife in nearby Canada. The story I like comes from “Five Corners the Story of Chilliwack” by Bruce Ramsey as set down by Oliver Wells it says that they had three sons, Mount Hood, Mount Shasta and Mount Shuksan and three daughters who are younger than the boys.


Mt. Cheam to extreme left and Mt. Baker to right

Cheam got tired of being away from her people and left so that she could look after the Sto: Lo people “I ‘ll stand and guard the Staw-loh, that no harm comes to my people and no harm comes to the fish that come up to feed them”. With her went her three girls and she holds the smallest one I-oh-wat in her hand. The family dog officially called “Lady” but known by the locals as “Dog Face” followed her back as well. Once again try to blend it and call her “Dog-face”. It does actually look like a dog’s head. A second child east of her is not getting enough attention and her tears form”Bridal Veil” falls; the 6th highest falls in Canada. Isn't this a lovely legend worth knowing? I know it has changed my perspective of this grand "mother mountain".


"Dog Face" Explained

The next post will continue with Mount Cheam, a tragedy that occurred, an angel and a place of wild strawberries.

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright November 19, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CHILLIWACK HOUSE SALES Mid-Month November 1-15, 2009


Harrison Lake with Echo Island

Chilliwack Housing Market remains steady



Sale numbers of Chilliwack single family detached houses in the first 15 days of November are looking relatively good. Of course, if you want to compare them to the first 15 days in November 2008 they would be fantastic. In the November 1-15th period of 2008 there were a mere 18 single family detached sales in all of the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board this year there are 63. That 63 figure is a respectable number, even 2 more than the first two weeks of October 2009.  It is a good sign that the Chilliwack market is continuing to strengthen.


Fraser Valley West Housing Market weakens



The Fraser Valley real estate market (Abbotsford to Delta) has been hot in recent months but a quick look at the numbers for this month shows that it may be slowing down to its seasonal pattern with fewer sales taking place in the fall and winter months. They show 389 sales of single family detached houses for the first two weeks of this month compared to 477 for the first two weeks of October the month before. A decline of about 19%, still plenty of month is left we will have to see if this pattern holds.


The Statistics – November 1-15, 2009



Buyer’s market 15% sales to listing ratio

Number of Houses Sold first 15 days November 2009: 63


Number of Houses Sold first 15 days of October 2009: 61



Average Sale Price Previous Month- October: $348,000


Average List to Average Sale Price ratio: 97 percent


Average Number of Days on Market: 64 days


Houses available for sale October 15th: 806

The best advantage for a buyer or seller is the expertise and knowledge of a real estate agent who is active and works the neighbourhood you are interested in.

The analysis above is based on my interpretation of information provided by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and does not take into account private sales. The term "Chilliwack" is used here quite loosely to refer to an area serviced by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board which includes communities such as Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Yale and Boston Bar.

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright November 16, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2010 Housing Outlook CMHC



“What a difference a year makes” exclaimed Carol Frketich, B.C. Regional Economist, Monday at the 15th Annual CMHC Housing Outlook. Was there ever a bigger understatement to describe the crazy world of  the B.C. Housing market?

A year ago, the financial markets were in a state of shambles bringing the world economy to its knees ending retirement and employment dreams alike. Things have improved but the lasting vestige of an economy racked with high unemployment (8.2%) and underemployment remain.

I was at the Outlook Conference in search of a couple of answers: 1. where are interest rates and hence mortgage rates heading, should my Chilliwack real estate clients look to lock in or not, and 2. in which direction was the market heading, in particular the Chilliwack real estate market, will there be price increases and how large will they be?

The answers are NO and Who Knows.



With enough graphs, charts and numbers to choke an actuarial expert CMHC took to the stage and I dutifully filled my notebook. For you my reader, I have distilled the highlights into this single blog.

Bright Spots

1. The housing market has/will rebounded (but the signals are still mixed) supported by:

• Broad Economic Growth

• Low Mortgage Rates

• Strong Resale Market

• Increased Housing Starts

2. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in B.C. for 2010 is expected to be in the 2 to 3.5% range

3. Mortgage rates will remain low but expect a moderate increase in mid 2010, up .25%

4. Metro Vancouver, Victoria and the western sections of the Fraser Valley all have sellers markets the remainder of the province has a balanced market ( I do not agree with this totally, but okay)

5. Housing prices nationally are increasing but at a modest pace and will stabilize in 2010 particularly after interest rates increase (see point 3)



The Shaky Bits:

1. There is still a negative saving rate in B.C. – what the hell? In contrast to a national savings rate of about 4% the average B.C. resident is dipping into savings or living on credit at -2%. Does this sound sustainable?

2. Did I mention B.C.’s 8.2% unemployment rate?

3. Affordability remains an issue. The average weekly wage rate in British Columbia for British Columbia was $808.81 or an annual income of $42,068. To buy an average valued single family house a buyer with a 25% down payment, taking a conventional 25 year loan having a 5 year term the buyer(s) needs an annual income of:

• Metro Vancouver - $150,000

• Fraser Valley - $92,000

They did not look at Chilliwack real estate but using the same parameters, my best guess is this:

• Chilliwack - $71,000

4. The Canadian dollar is strengthening against the U.S. dollar this will affect exports and jobs. On the bright side, more and more of our production is heading to China.



One of the more interesting parts of the CMHC presentation was the work that they are doing with sustainable housing as presented by Lance Jakubec CMHC researcher. Certainly this work is important but it will need to be tried, tested and then incorporated into the building code to have any lasting significance.

More about CMHC and its many fine services can be found at CMHC.

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.



Copyright November 12, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Assessments how reliable are they?




It isn’t uncommon to be asked when showing buyers real estate in the Chilliwack area “What is the property’s assessed value”. Buyers view assessments as a useful tool but should it be relied upon?

I usually answer this sort of Buyer inquiry that the assessment are made as of July 1st and as a result may be higher or lower depending on a number of factors including: the market strength in Chilliwack, the time since the assessor last looked at the property and the individual characteristics of the real estate.

This month, I decided to have a look even though many Chilliwack real estate properties have not been assessed since 2008 or 2007. This research looks at the October 2009 Multiple Listing Sales (MLS) of single family detached homes in the City of Chilliwack and compares them to their corresponding assessment value.

My thought was that if the assessments were within 5 % of the Chilliwack market that would be a pretty rule of thumb guide – the results were surprising.

Real estate in Chilliwack, and in the rest of the province of British Columbia for that matter, is valued by the BC Assessment which is a provincial Crown corporation governed by a Board of Directors. The job is a massive one given the number of property titles in the province. Personally, I hold the assessment authority in high regard having come to know many assessment people through the Real Estate Institute of British Columbia which confers a professional designation on those dedicated enough to fulfill a demanding UBC education and gaining the necessary experience required.



Note: If you are ever looking for a real estate professional in British Columbia check to see if they have either in the initials RI or RI(B.C.) behind their name. They are the professionals you need. Many assessment people also have an Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) designation.



So what were the results?



The Chilliwack real estate area in the month of October 2009 had 131 single family detached sales as discussed in the last posting. Now, not all of these could be used. First Nation lands and newly built homes are not assessed. I also excluded properties in Hope and homes with acreage large enough to apply for a farmland exemption. This whittled down the sample size to 94. Not a bad sample size.

These 94 Chilliwack single family homes sold for a total of $34,672,791 and were assessed for $34,346,000.

In short, the assessments in aggregate were within

1%

of the total sale price value of Chilliwack single family homes sold in the month of October 2009!


Wow! I was quite surprised and pleased for the BC Assessment as well. This sort of result suggests that the Chilliwack assessors are doing a pretty great job.

Now, this does not mean that all assessments were within 1% of the sale price, to the contrary, there were wild swing on some properties, in particular, those with unique characteristics or located in more rural setting where market evidence is difficult to find. In one case, a property sold for $200,000 more than assessed value and in another for $86,900 less.


Of the 94 sales sampled, 48 properties sold for less than their assessed value, 42 sold for more and 4 were right on the money. The caution is, do not take the assessment value as being anything more than it is a great aggregate valuation process. Hire a local professional real estate person to answer any questions you might have about your specific property value in the Chilliwack area.

If you have any questions about your Chilliwack assessed value I would recommend that you go to the BC Assessment site.

The analysis above is based on my interpretation of information provided by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and does not take into account private sales. The term "Chilliwack" is used here quite loosely to refer to an area serviced by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board which includes communities such as Chilliwack, Agassiz, and Harrison Hot Springs.

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright November 5, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October 2009 CHILLIWACK HOUSE REPORT


Backyard Colour - Maple Tree

Number of Chilliwack Houses Sold in October 2009 : 131

Number of Chilliwack Houses Sold Previous Month, September 2009 :124



Average Chilliwack Sale Price- October 2009 : $348,000

Average Chilliwack Sale Price - September 2009 : $345,000



Average List to Average Sale Price ratio : 97 percent

Average Number of Days on Market : 71 days



Chilliwack Houses available for sale November 1, 2009 :818




Market: Buyer’s market








Graph: Chilliwack's Seasonal House Sale Activity


Comments





The sale surges in Vancouver and the western Fraser Valley continue and at last it seems that Chilliwack market is responding somewhat from this “ripple” effect as sales activity generally flow easterly through the Fraser Valley. This is best demonstrated in the above graph which shows that the number of single family detached sales in October 2009 were the second best in the past four years. Even the seasonal shape of the graph has been defied somewhat; usually we would have expected fewer sales than in the month before. With respect to prices they are holding firm around an average of $348,000.



The Abbotsford to Surrey area continues to post the best sales numbers in 4 years with 900 sales besting the 2007 sales numbers of 798 by quite a margin. There prices are edging upward and currently the average price of a single family detached home is $542,000 quite a difference over the Chilliwack average of $348,000. This almost $200,000 variance should make Chilliwack attractive as a retirement location as people can cash out and maybe even put a few dollars in the bank.

Sellers: The market seems to be improving and prices are holding firm but it is still a buyers market. Lower priced homes are seeing a lot of activity; it is a good time to be a seller if you have a property priced under $300,000.

Buyers: The Buyer market conditions continue to favour your involvement there is plenty of inventory and attractive mortgage rates.



The analysis above is based on my interpretation of information provided by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and does not take into account private sales. The term "Chilliwack" is used here quite loosely to refer to an area serviced by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board which includes communities such as Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Yale and Boston Bar.

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not Subscribe to be notified of the next one?

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.



Copyright November 1, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.