Thursday, February 15, 2018

Agassiz, Pretty in White

Agassiz, BC February 2018 ©


Agassiz looks pretty under a recent and rare February snow. Already the melt is on, the streets and sidewalks bare. Just the yards remain covered, for now. Soon the sun will complete its work but for the moment the snow serves to accentuate the beauty of this place.

Located on the north side of the Fraser River some 125km east of the Port of Vancouver, Agassiz is a sleepy little spot of some 5000 souls. It like many towns it was built along a railway line. On summer days you might be lucky enough to see a CPR Rocky Mountaineer speeding past on its way to the far off Rockies. If you give it a small town wave of friendliness sometimes a watchful passenger will respond in kind. It's a nice moment shared with a stranger. Hello. Goodbye.

Overlooking Agassiz in her magnificence is Mount Cheam. She is a beauty. The stuff of stories and legend. A few of these can be discovered in this blog. If you are interested just type “Mount Cheam” into the search box.

The houses in the picture are not for sale but many elsewhere are. As a local area real estate agent I am willing to help you find these gems and give you a feel for the place.

Imagine living here....



Thinking of selling your local property, I offer competitive rates and local service.

Let’s get started.


Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 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) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Steller's Jay and the Bering Strait


"This bird alone," Steller wrote in 1741 "proved to me that we were really in America." 

Steller's Jay is a remarkable bird, similar to the eastern Blue Jay in form but the body of Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri,  is a silvery blue and it's head darker, around here, the eastern Fraser Valley, the head is black.  It has longer legs and a finer beak than the Blue Jay.  It is only crested jay west of the Rockies and is the provincial bird of British Columbia. 

I wish I could tell you that it is a wonderful songbird but its voice is more of a squawk, a threatening scold rather than a thrill.  It flies around with an attitude much like the man for whom they are named.




Steller's Jay is named for naturalist, Georg Wilhelm Steller.  Steller was part of a great Russian endeavour, in 1741, under the leadership of Vitus Jonassen Bering to, in part, map and discover a route from Russia to America. 

Georg Wilhelm Steller was a great naturalist but he was also, apparently, overbearing, arrogant, insensitive to the feelings of others and hypersensitive to any slight that might be directed towards him. Although often correct, his shrill, demanding delivery ensured his views were regularly ignored. Much like how we endure the squawk of our Steller's Jays as they fly about. How ironic. In the end, he was neither loved or respected.

The Bering expedition did find America but it proved to be a horrific journey forcing the survivors to the edge of human endurance.  Bering and many others never make it home.  


Some fifty year later, British mariner, Captain James Cook named the strait between Russia and Alaska - the Bering Strait.

I previously wrote about the Bering expedition in a post called "Steller's Jay and the Tragic Bering Landing".

Recommended reading is the new book "Island of the Blue Foxes" by Stephen R. Bowen, 2017 Douglas & McIntyre Publishing.

Steller's Jay is also known as Mountain Jay, Pine Jay and as a Long - Crested Jay. For me, I wish it could be renamed, that exciting movement of colour from silvery blue to black invites to my imagination a more appropriate name the "Stellar Jay". 



Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 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) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Interest rates raised by Bank of Canada



This just in from The British Columbia Real Estate Association....

January 17, 2018

The Bank of Canada opted to raise the target for its overnight interest rate this morning 25 basis points  to 1.25 per cent.  

While today's rate increase was widely anticipated, it did come earlier in the year than previously expected and likely signals further rate increases to come in 2018.


Canadian mortgage rates have already moved higher in anticipation of Bank of Canada tightening, which means a much tighter borrowing environment in 2018, particularly given newly implemented mortgage qualifying rules for low-ratio buyers.


Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 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) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

BC Assessments - Don't Panic Yet - Values are Up





Last week I received my 2018 Property Assessment Notice from the BC Assessment and read with interest that my property value had increased 14% percent since 2017.  

For some people an increased property value can mean an unwanted increased tax burden, for others it is simply a nice reassurance that their single largest investment remains a good one. Whatever camp you find yourself, don't panic, there are ways to appeal your property assessment value and this article will provide you with important tools to begin that process.


Deadline For Filing A Notice of Complaint (Appeal) is
January 31, 2018


Garbage In, Garbage Out - Taxes Up

Why is it important to make sure that the Assessment Authority has up to date information on your property? 

Several years ago I listed a farm for sale and discovered that the empty house assessed at $100,000 or more was totally uninhabitable.  To make matters worse the elderly lady owner was "land rich" but "cash poor" so paying more taxes than was needed posed an economic hardship. The house had open holes in the roof and several floors were rotten. For the safety of my client and prospective buyers, no access to the house was allowed.  Fortunately, assessment people were very understanding and within a week had made the necessary adjustments to prevent a nasty tax bill. The house has since been removed but sadly this lady can never recover the excess taxes she paid through the years.

Does the assessment authority have the right information on your property?  The way to check that is to go to http://www.bcassessment.ca/ and type in your address. It is that simple. Then compare the details of the residence with your own knowledge.

I checked our home a few years back and found significant errors. We had 5 bedrooms and not 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and not 3, plus the square footage of the main floor of the house was 124 square feet larger than it should be. I decided to call the Assessment Authority. Eventually, they sent an assessor to measure the house and the size of our house was amended, the number of bathrooms reduced to 3, but the number of bedrooms remains at 5.

How do your assessments compare to my neighbours? 

I have great respect and confidence in the BC Assessment Authority but they do have 2,044,482 properties across British Columbia to value. Errors can be made.

If you are concerned that your property assessment value is wrong check out what neighbouring properties have been selling for.

This can be done at the BC Assessment site. Type in your address and scroll down to the map and right above it is a menu entitled “Sample Sold Properties” give it a click. Comparable sales in your neighbourhood will populate the screen. Click “view details” to get the pictures. 

This will give you a better idea as to how well your property is valued in comparison to others and whether you should appeal.

The What To Do

If you are unhappy with the assessment information what should you do?  First call BC Assessment Authority at 1-877-356-2108, you need to make a filing before January 31, 2018 but many times things can be sorted out before that is needed.

If you cannot come to an agreement you need to ask yourself “Is this worth all the time and trouble I would have to go through in an appeal”?  If yes, it will be time to talk to a professional or collect enough information about comparable sale properties to make your own case. 

Here is a warning - be well prepared - the professionals at the BC Assessment Authority will be.

Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 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) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.