Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This Old Heritage House 101


Hochalaga

One of the most gratifying things I see as a Realtor(TM) is when a old residence is purchased and transformed back into something glorious.  It's then I think "the right buyers bought this property". Such a property is the home of Greg and Lorna Mills.  This week I took a trip there to see what they had done to the old place they bought in June 2000 and to learn what lessons they might be willing to share.

Back in 1909, this two-storey house was built for the newly married Evan and Alice Probert.  Evan was helping run the nearby Bella Vista Hotel in Agassiz and Alice was teaching in the Harrison Mills, Agassiz and Rosedale communities.  An upper middle class dwelling just a little shy of 2100 square feet over two finished floors with a basement beneath it provided a comfortable home reminiscent of the Montreal and Victoria communities they had grown up in.  They would call the house "Hochalaga" a word meaning "Montreal" in the language of the Mohawk.  A stained glass window above the main entry area with this word "Hochalaga" still greets visitors to its doorstep.

Hochalaga 1909
Successive generations of Proberts would live here until 2000 trying to modernize the structure.  The house would be lifted onto a new foundation at some point, low maintenance vinyl siding would be installed, the upper balcony on the front of the house would be eliminated and the front veranda enclosed.  Still this was a house with many problems: aging heating, electrical and plumbing systems, no insulation and an ancient kitchen and mildewy bathroom.  A lot of work.  Back in 2000 I wrote this ad "Built in 1909 to celebrate a new marriage and move to Agassiz, this house is called "Hochalaga". This fine lady features 9' ceilings, original door casings, 8" baseboards, a pantry. Looking for someone to restore her".  Happily Greg and Lorna Mills responded were they wanting to be renovators?

Hochalaga 2000

When I asked Greg and Lorna why they purchased this house.  Their response was "it was the only house we could afford". You have to love their honesty.

Problems began for the Mills almost immediately the plumbing froze and then flooded the main floor from the bathroom above.  When the front porch foundation was inspected carpenter ants were discovered busy at work.  Infestations of flies dive bombed the place.  The lack of insulation meant you cooked in summer and fought drafts all winter. 

The first order of business for the Mills was to fix the plumbing and get an operational bathroom. Next the carpenter ants were dealt with. To do this the vinyl siding was removed, and, much to the delight of the new owners, the original wood shingles were revealed to be in good shape just needed a paint job.  Since that time a new heavy shingle asphalt roof has been installed, the front balcony restored, exterior trim accents added, a modern kitchen installed and room by room the house has been thoughtfully improved.  Here are the stunning results:

Hochalaga 2010

Front Room

Dining Room

Dining Room Interior positioned fireplace


Kitchen




Upstairs Bedroom

Upper Floor Bathroom

Upper Floor Bedroom

You may be wondering about the caption for this post "This Old Heritage House 101" well as it turned out the dwelling is 101 years of age and looking good for the next century.

A follow up article will talk about the lessons learned by Greg and Lorna Mills and perhaps they will help you with your old house.  It will also feature before and after pictures.

All pictures except original photograph of dwelling (cc) copyright Stephen Mullock.

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Picture of the Week - Last Light


The last sunbeams of the day stream between the mountains to catch just a corner of this Agassiz pasture. Long rays such as these are familiar sights here as the sun peaks over hilltop shoulders or finds a way to shine between clouds. 

All Tucked In

This same evening, last Wednesday, I revisited a favourite haunt of mine the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. Now I have to tell you whoever told me to "Jump" is an idiot. Those remarks however could not diminish the beauty that evening of the Fraser River.  Enjoying the best run of Sockeye Salmon in some years and there was plenty of fishing vessels just packing up as I took these shots. 

The Journey Home


Sandbar Emerging
Last Light on the Fraser River

Can you imagine living in an area as special as this one?

Pictures "The Journey Home", "Sandbar Emerging", "Last Light on the Fraser River" and "All Tucked In" (cc) copyright to Stephen Mullock, August 29,2010.

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Picture of the Week - Sunflower Sentry

Sunflower Sentry
These sunflowers standing guard at the edge of a large vegetable and flower garden caught my eye recently or rather they demanded my attention.  Growing over 7 feet (2.1 meters) in height in a single season is a feat that has to be recognized. Sunflowers like these are part of the rich agricultural bounty that is produced in the fertile Fraser Cheam region of the Fraser Valley each year.  Imagine having a garden here.

Picture "Sunflower Sentry" (cc) copyright Stephen Mullock, August 22, 2010

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Real Estate Market Jitters and the Long View


The real estate review and analysis of the Chilliwack market done on August 1, 2010 prompted a number of questions about real estate market cycles and concern for prices.  I have to admit that I do not know a lot about "Cycles"; they have always sounded like hocus pocus to me.

As for real estate prices in the Chilliwack - Fraser Cheam area my experience is that sellers find it easy to ask for more and find it hard to ask for less.  No surprise there.  Prices are "sticky" on the down slope the result being the market takes a long time to adjust to downward pressure on prices as shown in the following chart.


The above 20 year chart shows the average annual price of a Single Family Detached (SFD) house in the Chilliwack area from 1990 ($94,000) to  2010 (up to this date in 2010 - $352,000).  Its' "Step" shape starts with prices increasing in the 1990 to 1994 period and then remaining relatively stable until 2002 when they start to rise again with a peak happening in early 2008.  A dip in 2009 reflects the carnage of the financial market meltdown in the fall of 2008 with an improvement in prices in 2010.

What does this mean for the future?  Should you buy?  You have to decide.  To a large degree it depends upon your financial capability, your job, expectations and family considerations.  A professional real estate agent can help guide you through this decision making process.  Engage them early.  You will need someone that will put your interests first even if that means telling you that you should save more before purchasing.  Look for this type of agent to help you - ask around.  Often engaging a professional member of the Real Estate Institute of British Columbia (RI) is the best way to go.
 
One of my favourite professors Stan Hamilton use to say to us "Buy land they are not making it anymore".  This advice I believe is especially wise here in the eastern Fraser Valley in the face of an increasing Chilliwack population and the land constraints of a border, mountains, water and the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).  When to buy it is really the question.

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Picture of the Week - Harrison Lake Twilight Pull


Harrison Lake Twilight Pull

This Chilliwack Fraser-Cheam area is blessed with two great lakes to enjoy Cultus Lake and Harrison Lake.  During the heat of summer an evening swim in either is a great way to cool off.  Took the above picture earlier this week when it was still blasting hot. There is something about the beauty, wilderness and the solitude that Harrison Lake offers that keeps me coming back. What an area to live in.



Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

45943 Meadowbrook Drive Chilliwack - The Fable



Once upon a time a developer had a great idea to place “Mom” into one of the many new “affordable” houses he building in Chilliwack.  So, he looked at the all the lots and picked one that was deeper than others.  This lot had a view of the breathtaking Mount Cheam.  This lot had a park next to it.  This lot was treed so that a cooling shade would be provided in the summer.  Once it was fenced he thought - she will like this lot. He also deliberated hard on what sort of house mother would like.  She wasn’t getting any younger.  A rancher with everything on one floor seemed to be the best fit.









She would want some extras, not that she was fussy she just liked nice things, so into the expensive oak cabinets he had the cabinet people built an ingenious spice rack and place a wall oven and dishwasher.  Into the kitchen island a range/grill top unit with a down draft fan was built. The developer could imagine himself sitting on a bar stool drinking coffee and eating Mum’s cookies while she puttered away.








Imagine fresh Chocolate Cookies


For a bit more style, after all it was his mother, he added vaulted ceilings they made her home just feel larger and provided wonderful wall space for photographs of her family.  He thought a 2’x3’ picture of him would make a perfect house warming gift for this perfect house.  And so this 2 bedroom 1232 square foot house was built.


Living Room

Family/Media Roon

Hardwood Floors


Sadly, his mother ran off with a carpet layer and they decided to cruise around the world instead.  The tale happily does not end there.

New people moved in and they improved the home with tile, hardwood, laminate and carpet.  Fresh paint added zest to the interior and regular maintenance insured this house remains fit for “mother”. This fable may not be 100% true but the property is – so let’s have a look. This property is located at 45493 Meadowbrook Drive, Chilliwack B.C. and has just been listed for $259,900.  Look for it soon to appear on the Multiple Listing Service TM of Chilliwack BC or give me a call.


Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Real Estate Review and Analysis - Chilliwack August 1, 2010


SINGLE FAMILY HOUSES

"Is there really any reason to complain?" This was a question I poised to myself last month in a review of the Chilliwack real estate sales. Amidst souring Vancouver real estate news stories and belly aching by local agents the June numbers came in with a 12 percent downturn in the number of single family house sales as when compared to May.  NO reason for alarm, there could be a rebound in July I said - it's happened before. Just wait.


I am still waiting.

Meanwhile single family house sales in July 2010 dropped by a THIRD when compared to June 2010 with only 100 sales reported in July.  Their average sale price of $341,000 retreating from the consistent prices of the last three months of nearly $362,000. What is happening?  I looked back on  my 30 years of real estate experience and came to realize that I had seen this pattern before. For lack of a better term I call it a "shock market" but maybe it should be called a "market in shock".

A "shock market" occurs when items such as the introduction of a new tax, changes in lending regulations, political instability or economic upheaval causes the market to step back to the sidelines to wait and see what will happen. Currently, we are faced with HST, new more stringent regulations in mortgage lending and a fragile economy. The result is the worst real estate "July" market in over a DECADE. The average number of "July" sales for the past ten years being a healthy 172. The good news is the market hates being sidelined and will rebound shortly. It always does - just wait.

I should mention that seasonally we do expect fewer and fewer sales after June.  The Chilliwack area has for instance a 10 year sales average in June of 176 compared to a July average of 172.

The median value of a single family detached house for sale as of this date has also dropped $6,000 to $359,000.


Chilliwack* Single Family Detached Housing Sales Report - July 2010

MONTH Sales Average Sale Price Days on Market Active Listings
July 2010 100 $341,000 61 1078
June 2010 151 $362,000 61 1020
July 2009 160 $345,000 74 n/a


Median Price of Active Chilliwack* Single Family Detached Real Estate Listings: Aug 1, 2010 - $359,000 

Is Chilliwack alone?  Have other real estate markets also underperformed?


Yes.


The real estate market in the "Fraser Valley West" of the Vedder Canal did no better, sales, in July, dropped to 616 from the June number of 1039.  The "Fraser Valley* West" average sales price in July being $578,000 and a long ways from the Chilliwack average price of $341,000.  Huh?   Chilliwack what a great place to retire or relocate your plant to.

STRATA HOMES

 

Townhouses and apartments make up the bulk of the strata market and they to took a hit in July registering only 44 sales in the month.  This decade has seen poorer "July" strata sale performances back in 2001 and 2002 but an average "July" strata market should see nearly 75 sales in a month.  Despite this, the average sale price managed to increase to $228,000 perhaps due to a small statistical sample size or maybe a bunch of newer townhouses coming on the market and being absorbed.



Chilliwack* Strata Housing (apartments, townhouses) Sales Report - July 2010
MONTHSalesAverage Sale PriceDays on MarketActive Listings
July 201044$228,00079552
June 201071$213,00083539
July 200992$226,00096n/a


Median Price of Active Chilliwack* Strata Real Estate Listings: Aug 1, 2010 - $224,900*   


The Strata section of the residential housing market remains firmly in "Buyers Market territory" a great time to buy.

*The analysis above is based on my interpretation of information provided through the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and does not include private sales.  The term "Chilliwack" is used quite loosely to refer to an area serviced by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board which includes communities such as Chilliwack, Sardis, Cultus Lake, Yarrow, Rosedale, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Harrison Mills. Hope, Yale and Boston Bar.  The Fraser Valley West embraces the entire Fraser Valley Real Estate Board area from Abbotsford west to Delta.

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.

Copyright (cc) Stephen Mullock August 1,2010