How Do You Buy A Home in a Seller’s Market?

In our annual Housing Market Outlook Report, in which RE/MAX analyzes Canadian real estate trends from the past 12 months and forecasts activity for the upcoming year, RE/MAX determined that 32 of the total 39 Canadian housing markets examined are seller’s markets. Only five markets were identified as being in balanced territory, and just two markets – West Vancouver, BC and St. John’s, Newfoundland – are buyer’s markets.

This means the majority of Canadian homebuyers in 2021 who plan to purchase in any of these cities will likely be up against limited housing supply, lots of competition, and the same question on their lips: how do you buy a home in a seller’s market, with the cards stacked against you?

There are some definitely some buying strategies to employ, but before we get into the nitty-gritty of that, let’s define seller’s market conditions.


Victoria, BC
Nanaimo, BC
Vancouver, BC

Tri-City (Greater Vancouver), BC 
Fraser Valley, BC
Kelowna, BC

What is a seller’s market, anyway?

In a seller’s market, there are more buyers than there are homes for sale. With fewer listings to choose from and more competition, homes typically sell quickly, often seeing multiple offers or even bidding wars, and selling over asking price. In a seller’s market, the seller has the upper hand. This is not the time to test your low-ball offer skills.

In a buyer’s market, there are more homes for sale than there are buyers. Since there is less competition, buyers can take their time shopping the market and have more negotiating power. The price of homes listed for sale can be stable or falling.

In a balanced market, there is an equal number of buyers and sellers, resulting in reasonable offers and average days on market. Less tension between buyers and sellers results in stable home prices.

How do you buy a home in a seller’s market?

BE INFORMED. Having a handle on market conditions is a key first step in a successful transaction. This is the case regardless of market conditions, but especially if you’re trying to buy a home in a seller’s market. Remember, real estate is very local, so what is happening in one neighbourhood may not be the case in another. Here’s where it helps to tap into a professional, experienced real estate agent.


KNOW YOUR BUDGET. How much can you afford to spend on a home? This is different from a mortgage pre-approval. Take into consideration your lifestyle, and what sacrifices you’re willing to make. If you’re planning to buy more home, you might have to curb your spending elsewhere. If you won’t be making any lifestyle changes in interest of home ownership, you may have to lower your home-buying budget or make some other concessions, such as the size of the home or the neighbourhood.

TIP: Get pre-approved for a mortgage. This gives you an idea of how much a lender is willing to finance, and how much you can spend. A pre-approval also locks in the current interest rate for up to 120 days, so you can shop with the peace of mind that you’re insulated from rate hikes in the near future. If the rate drops, your lender should honour the new lower mortgage rate when you’re ready to make your purchase.


BE PREPARED TO ACT FAST. If you’re hoping to buy a home in a seller’s market, you’ll need to take quick and decisive action when you find a property that interest you. This is where all your prep work (see above!) will pay off.

MAKE A STRONG OFFER. In a seller’s market, you may only get one chance – and it’s not always about the money. A real estate transaction can be complicated with a lot of moving parts. With all other things being equal between your offer and someone else’s, one that’s tailored to the seller’s needs (such as a short or long closing) can tip the scales in your favour. Aside from conceding to the seller’s wishes, an offer in a seller’s market should have as few conditions as possible.

A conditional offer means that certain terms must be met in order for the offer to be valid. Some common conditions include:

  • Conditional on financing: This is a common condition for first-time homebuyers, which requires the mortgage lender to sign-off before the deal can go through. The buyer has a few days to get this, and the process will include a home appraisal. If the lender does not agree to finance the property, the buyer will notify the seller and the offer becomes null and void.
  • Conditional on home inspection: A home is the biggest purchase most people make in their lifetime, so a satisfactory home inspection is generally recommended. This ensures the house is in good condition before the deal can go through. If it isn’t up to par, the buyer to return to the seller and request repairs, a reduction in the price, or can rescind the offer entirely.
  • Conditional on the sale of a home: If a prospective homebuyer already owns a home, he or she may want to ensure that it is sold before agreeing to purchase a new property.

Offer conditions aren’t ideal for the seller, as each one has a potential domino effect. But buyer beware! You may be tempted to remove the “conditional on financing” or home inspection condition in an effort to beat the competition. For your own protection, we recommend keeping these as part of your offer.

BE PREPARED TO PIVOT. You’re likely already accustomed to this as a key 2020 survival strategy. And if you’re hoping to buy a home in a seller’s market, you’ll need to keep it up. As we all know, market conditions can change on a dime. Have a back-up plan in place, in case you need to delay the purchase – or need to jump on an opportunity sooner than expected!

WORK WITH A PRO. Homebuyers always have the option to handle their transaction on their own, or to work with a professional real estate agent. Working with an experienced agent can ease much of the stress associated with finding and buying a home in seller’s market. Some advantages include:

  • better access to homes in and out of the local market.
  • knowledge of neighbourhoods and market conditions.
  • negotiating skills (not usually a factor in a seller’s market, but good to have in your back pocket!)
  • they handle the paperwork – enough said.
  • guidance and support in the biggest buying decision of your life.

HAVE THICK SKIN. Last but not least, don’t take rejection personally. Instead, learn from the experience and keep trying. Homebuyers who have been living in persistent seller’s markets know the pain of rejected offers and being “beat” by another buyer. Working with the right real estate agent helps buyers see new listings as soon as they hit the market, so you can jump on “the one” when you find it.


What’s Going on in the Fraser Valley Real Estate Market?

Is the Fraser Valley real estate market about to experience “fading momentum” and “some cooling” in the second half of 2021? After posting record gains over the last 15 months, including in May, it is widely anticipated that the housing sector in Fraser Valley and outside the Metro Vancouver area will begin to witness a decrease in sales activity and a slowdown in price growth.

While demand has not diminished, new housing inventories are popping up across Fraser Valley. In fact, homebuyers have witnessed a dramatic increase in new real estate supply this spring; welcome news in this competitive market.

Despite this easing of tight supply levels, valuations and transactions ballooned over the month of May in the Fraser Valley real estate market, suggesting that the momentum only seems to be growing stronger! Hardly the “cooling” that homebuyers hoped for.

Let’s take a peek at what happened to close out the typically busy spring real estate season.

What’s Going on in the Fraser Valley Real Estate Market?

According to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB), residential sales soared at an annualised rate of 267 per cent in May to 2,951. This represented the ninth consecutive month of gains and a record high for the month of May. Month-over-month, housing transactions slipped two per cent.

Fraser Valley real estate prices continued to balloon both year-over-year and month-over-month in May:

Single Family Detached: $1,323,300

  • YoY: +33.6 per cent
  • MoM: +2.3 per cent

Townhomes: $670,000

  • YoY: +20.7 per cent
  • MoM: +2.7 per cent

Apartments / Condos: $488,500

  • YoY: +12.6 per cent
  • MoM: +2.0 per cent

The housing industry in the Fraser Valley has endured the same developments as other places in the province of British Columbia and across other Canadian real estate marketslimited supply and strong demand.

New residential listings in Fraser Valley advanced 78 per cent year-over-year to 3,926, while active listings tumbled nine per cent to 5,868. The average number of days it took to sell a single-family detached home was 14. Townhomes took 12 days, while apartments took 20 days to sell.

“Demand hasn’t changed. What’s changed is supply. In the last three months, buyers have 40 per cent more inventory to look at in the Fraser Valley and it’s allowed them to take back a little control,” said Larry Anderson, president of the FVREB, in a news release. “We’re seeing resistance to multiple offers and buyers adjusting their offers, or even waiting, because they have more selection. We’re a long way from a balanced market, but supply is helping us to head in the right direction.

Could fresh housing stocks be coming to the region? In Chilliwack, the principal municipality in Fraser Valley, housing starts rose 122 in May, up from 98 at the same time a year ago, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). In the first five months of 2021, housing starts have surged 651, more than double from 2020.

Vancouver Real Estate Fire Spreads Across British Columbia

Across British Columbia, housing markets are trending at levels unseen in many years. A substantial number of these places are indeed experiencing the same fundamentals of shrinking supplies and growing demand. But where is the demand coming from? Vancouver.

It turns out that the province’s real estate market is attracting homebuyers who were unable to tap into the Metro Vancouver area, whether it is because properties became too expensive or young families no longer wish to reside in an ultra-dense municipality (instead craving the larger living space found in suburban and rural properties). Whatever the reason is, households are setting homebuying sights upon communities outside Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Area. From Okanagan Valley to Victoria to Fraser Valley, the entire British Columbia real estate sector has turned into an attractive alternative for Canadians attempting to turn their dreams of homeownership into a reality.

For example, an FVREB survey conducted between December 2020 and February 2021 found that nearly 13 per cent of recent homebuyers say they were originally from Vancouver. This is up from 9.16 per cent the same time the previous year.

“Anecdotally, what I’m hearing from my colleagues is, yes, not only are they seeing buyers move from Vancouver out to the Fraser Valley, but if they have listings in the valley, and [they have] multiple offers, they’re seeing a lot of those offers are coming from Vancouver realtors,” said Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) president Chris Shields in an interview with Business in Vancouver.

But with reports that the Vancouver real estate market is beginning to slow down, with some properties selling below asking price, will this trend start to reverse as we approach the fall of 2021? Industry observers are keeping a close eye on homebuyer movement to better predict the fate of the Vancouver housing market.

For now, whichever ultra-hot BC housing market you’re navigating, make sure that you have a trusted, experienced REALTOR® by your side, because trust us, it’ll be a scorching summer for Canadian real estate!


Could Tighter Mortgage Rules Cool the Canadian Housing Market?

Could changes to mortgage qualification rules be enough to cool the hotter-than-hot Canadian housing market? We’ll find out soon enough, with the changes taking effect on Tuesday, June 1.

new study by Ipsos Reid-TD Bank revealed that most young Canadians are prepared to engage in bidding wars and pay over the asking price. About one-fifth of homebuyers would be willing to offer $50,000 above the asking price, while 13 per cent would be willing to offer as much as $100,000 over the asking price. Overall, most survey participants admitted that it is challenging to find a home they can afford. And, thus, this is the state of the Canadian real estate market.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), residential sales declined 12.5 per cent in April, but the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), which is considered more of an accurate representation than average and median pricing, climbed 2.4 per cent to a little more than $700,000. But while borrowing has never been cheaper, saving for a down payment can be difficult.

Over the last 12 months, the red-hot Canadian housing market has triggered an affordability crisis.

Before the coronavirus pandemic turned the Canadian economy upside down, it was typically the major urban housing markets, such as Toronto and Vancouver, that priced out most first-time homebuyers and young families. Today, nearly every housing market in Canada has become too expensive for many hopeful homebuyers, leading to calls for government intervention and monetary policy action.

But could public policy serve as a panacea for the current housing boom? Or would other market-based factors, such as more supply, be more effective in dousing the flames of this red-hot national market?

Could Tighter Mortgage Rules Cool the Canadian Housing Market?

Mortgage rates have been steadily declining for the last 40 years, falling from more than 20 per cent in the early 1980s. This has allowed borrowers to take out larger mortgages, garner more housing options, and participate in cutthroat bidding wars.

In April, Canada’s top banking regulator proposed increasing the mortgage stress test level to 5.25 per cent, or roughly two percentage points above the market rate. This is up from the current 4.79 per cent. The purpose of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) adjustment is to ensure borrowers have the finances to pay for the loan at a higher rate, no matter what the lender is charging.

“The current Canadian housing market conditions have the potential to put lenders at increased financial risk,” OSFI said in a statement, adding that it wants borrowers to ensure they are financially secure five years from now. “OSFI is taking proactive action at this time so that banks will continue to be resilient.”

A 25-year mortgage of $700,000 at a five-year fixed-rate of 4.79 per cent would result in monthly payments of $4,006. If the rate were raised to 5.25 per cent, the monthly payment would be $4,194. It might not seem like much on paper, but for families that are house-rich and cash-poor, it can be a lot of money. Overall, it would make it harder to qualify for a mortgage, potentially reducing the number of qualified borrowers. If enacted, the idea is that it would ease the upward pressure on housing prices.

The new rules are scheduled to go into effect as of June 1 for uninsured loans. In the past, policy changes such as these created a stampede of homebuyers, rushing into the market to lock in a lower mortgage rate. There has not been any evidence of this yet, ahead of Tuesday’s kick-off.

Will the Canadian Real Estate Market Face Other Regulations?

What else could be done to rein in the Canadian real estate market? The National Bank of Canada suggests that the government could institute a ban on blind bidding. This consists of submitting bids on a property without knowing the value of competing offers. Proponents say this would effectively slow down the growth of real estate prices.

Others believe that raising interest rates would be a successful strategy to putting a cap on price growth. Since it would cost more to borrow, homebuyers would not be incentivized to take out a larger loan than they initially wanted so they could bid for a bigger home.

So far, the Bank of Canada (BoC) has not signalled that it will pull the trigger on a rate hike, although it reduces its monthly bond purchases. Speaking to reporters in March, BoC Governor Tiff Macklem expressed concern with the significant increases in the level of debt homebuyers are taking on to chase rising valuations across the Canadian real estate market.

“With so many households working and studying at home, we see many people want more space and interest rates have been unusually low, making borrowing more affordable. While the resulting house price increases are rooted in fundamentals, we are seeing signs of extrapolative expectations and speculative behaviour,” Macklem told the press.

“Given elevated levels of household debt and the risk that households may overstretch in the face of rising housing prices, we welcome the recent proposal by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to introduce a fixed floor to the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages. New measures just announced in the federal budget will also be helpful.”

But while taxes and public policy pursuits might achieve some short-term gain, they might not produce a long-term solution.

New Housing Supply Might be the Only Answer

Christopher Alexander, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President at RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, and Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President at RE/MAX of Western Canada, are urging the government to be cautious with considering cooling measures. The most critical factor in explaining the housing boom is strong demand and low inventory.

As a result, these industry leaders put forth three recommendations that will be most effective in cooling the real estate market:

  • Add a mandatory condition to every offer to ensure the purchase is conditional on financing.
  • Institute an industry watchdog to monitor transactions where homes are sold well over the asking price.
  • Create more supply.

The final option is something that federal policymakers may have heeded, but arguably not to the degree required. In the 2021 Federal Budget, the Liberal government proposed $3.8 billion in funding for the construction, repair and support of approximately 35,000 additional housing units. Whether this is enough to curb the spike in prices or not remains to be seen, but at least it adds to the staggeringly low levels of stocks.

However, the concerning trend is that the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts tumbled 19.8 per cent in April to 268,631 units, falling short of the median estimate of 280,000 unit starts, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Homebuyers Still Struggle to Access Canadian Real Estate Markets

Many housing areas, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, are struggling through an affordability crisisStatistics Canada reports that the median after-tax income of Canadian families of two or more people sits at $63,000, which may not be enough to purchase a property in many parts of the country. With or without regulations, it is becoming increasingly more complicated for households to buy a home, relying on generational financing to purchase a property.

This is why it is critical to work with a trusted and experience REALTOR® to ensure you find a home that matches your needs and budget. In this type of market, you never want to go into it alone – you need an ally!


What your buyers need to know about radon exposure

Concern regarding radon levels in houses has received renewed interest in the media lately because people are working from home and attending school virtually. This presents a perfect opportunity for you to offer value-added information on this important topic to your buyers.

Radon is an invisible and odourless radioactive gas that’s released from the ground by radium (which comes from uranium). The second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, radon kills more than 3,000 people annually, according to the Government of Canada.

Perhaps what makes radon exposure extra frightening is that build-up can occur in any home, regardless of age or how well it’s maintained – although higher levels are typically found in areas that have a higher concentration of uranium naturally occurring in the soil. Virtually every home in Canada has some radon, but the levels vary from house to house, even if they’re situated next door to one another.

How does radon enter a home?

Radon can build up over time to the point when it becomes a serious problem. A home’s radon levels depend on three main factors: 1) The amount of uranium in the ground; 2) The number of entry points into the home; and 3) How well the home is ventilated.

Possible points of entry for radon include:

  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in foundation walls and floor slabs
  • Dirt floors
  • Floor drains
  • Window casements
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Sumps or cavities inside walls
  • Support posts

Radon testing

It’s impossible to know the levels of radon in any home unless testing is performed. Since you can’t see or smell it, you can be exposed without even knowing. Radon can build up over time to the point where it becomes a serious problem.

A study by the University of Calgary found one in five Canadian homes have radon levels above the Health Canada acceptable limit of 200 becquerels per metre cubed (Bq/m³). Levels are on the rise across the country, but particularly in Southern Ontario due to a broad range of reasons, including weather changes, atmospheric pressures and construction.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada where the builder’s warranty on new homes includes radon remediation coverage.

Testing for radon is recommended in homes about every two years as a proactive measure to ensure that levels are safe and the health of occupants won’t be compromised. A radon test is an inexpensive and simple way to bring your homebuyers peace of mind – for both an existing home and a prospective purchase.

There are two common types of radon tests – a presence test and a more comprehensive 90-day test.

Presence tests used to be conducted over 48 hours, but new technology provides initial results in 10 minutes, and then numerous times over the next two to three hours as we’re conducting a standard inspection. So, by the time we finish an inspection, we can give a homebuyer or seller a good idea of whether they’ll want to follow up with the more costly 90-day testing, which will likely lead to some remediation.

Action should be taken immediately if radon levels are higher than the Canadian Guideline of 200 Bq/m³.

Mitigating radon inside a home

Radon levels in most homes can be reduced by more than 80 per cent for about the same cost as other common home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner.

If radon levels in a home are above the Canadian guideline, Health Canada recommends that a professional certified under the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) be hired. Lowering radon levels in a home requires specific technical knowledge and skills to ensure the job is completed properly.

When selecting a radon reduction method for a home, a contractor will consider several things, including:

  • Radon levels in the home
  • Costs of installation and system operation
  • Home size and foundation type

The effectiveness of any one radon-reduction method will depend on the unique characteristics of the home, the level of radon, how it’s getting into the house and how thoroughly the job is done. A single method may work, but sometimes a combination of several techniques must be used.

A radon professional will likely perform one or more diagnostic test to help determine the best radon-reduction system for the home. For example, a contractor may use chemical smoke to see the air flow sources and radon entry points by watching a small amount of smoke that has been placed into holes, drains, sumps or along cracks. Another type of diagnostic test is a Pressure Field Extension Test (or communication test). This test uses a vacuum cleaner to measure how easily air can move from one point to another under the foundation and estimate the number of suction points and fan size needed for an active radon-reduction system.

Once diagnostic testing has been completed, there are several mitigation options available that are effective in reducing radon to safe levels in a home and keeping it there long term, although regular testing is always recommended.


Are Foreign Buyers Still Purchasing Vancouver Real Estate?

For years, one of the main discussions among Canadian real estate experts had been the influence foreign buyers had on housing prices, particularly in a city like Vancouver. Critics warned that foreign buyers would scoop up condominiums and semi-detached homes and leave these properties empty or market the units on Airbnb. If any jurisdiction combated this trend, valuations could drop, helping to make housing more affordable. So, what happened?

In 2016, the British Columbia government introduced a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax, which was later raised to 20 per cent by the province. But now, the federal government has established a new one per cent speculation tax on foreign buyers if homes sit empty. The new levy from Ottawa will go into effect next year, promising that this money will go back into the housing industry. The government made it clear: “Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians.”

Will these measures be effective in curbing unsustainable price hikes? Did previous measures improve the Vancouver real estate market for first-time homebuyers? The consensus among market observers was that it was a band-aid solution with very little effect on affordability. Even when BC raised the tax by a hefty amount a few years ago, benchmark prices of homes in Metro Vancouver still advanced. But now some time has passed, and market conditions are vastly different; are foreign homebuyers still scooping up Vancouver real estate?

Are Foreign Buyers Still Purchasing Vancouver Real Estate?

In 2020, foreign homebuyers accounted for 1.4 per cent of the British Columbia real estate market.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Ottawa imposed travel and border restrictions to curb the spread of the highly infectious respiratory illness. This substantially reduced the number of foreign students, limited outside investment, and discouraged foreign buyers from acquiring Canadian real estate.

In North and West Vancouver, there has been close to zero foreign buyers. Did the vanishing act lead to lower prices? Quite the opposite: 60 homes sold for at least $5 million in the area. It continues to be a supply-side issue for the housing industry, in addition to historically low interest rates and pent-up demand unbalancing the market. Until inventories improve, Vancouver real estate will continue to burn red-hot.

To be fair, the trend of foreign homebuyers had been on the decline before the COVID-19 public health crisis. According to BC Ministry of Housing data, foreign buyers as a representation of property purchases had fallen to around one per cent, down from three per cent in 2018. However, once again, as the post-coronavirus global economy returns to some semblance of normalcy, analysts say that there could be a return of foreign buyers since international demand never really disappeared.

It is unclear when Ottawa will lax restrictions at the border and resume travel and immigration. When it does, it could add further pressure on strained supplies. As investors became wealthier during the pandemic, they could be able to afford and absorb a one per cent federal tax and potentially shift their interest from British Columbia to Ontario, Quebec, or even Atlantic Canada.

Whatever the case may be, Brendon Ogmundson, the chief economist of the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA), believes these types of taxes only buy time rather than address the heart of the matter. The world is vastly different in 2021 than it was in 2016, so new trends could form in this day and age.

“We keep enacting these policies that buy us time, and then we don’t do anything with that time. The problem is that every time demand is on an upswing, it’s hitting a very undersupplied market,” he said, adding that a tiny sample drove public discourse.

Lawmakers Still Want Higher Foreign Buyers Tax

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh promised a 20 per cent foreign home buyers tax, projecting that the revenues would be used to spend $14 billion on housing construction. It is unclear if this would complement certain jurisdictions’ penalties on outside buyers.

“Let’s massively invest in housing as a way to create jobs locally in communities and as a way to ensure people have a place to call home,” Singh said during a virtual news conference in early May. “We know that people are treating Canada like a stock market when it comes to housing and just plopping their money into the housing market, hoping it will continue to grow.”

The NDP ostensibly does not believe that the Liberals’ one per cent goes far enough. A recent study from TD Economics concluded that the speculative levy would be “unlikely to significantly dent current activity.”

Moving forward, the objective is clear: add fresh supply to ease sky-high prices. But is penalizing foreign buyers the way to go? Many industry observers have asserted that this is a feel-good tool that might look like it will improve the situation but will hardly achieve much of anything. Until new supply comes to the market, property prices across Canada will continue to escalate – with or without the involvement of out-of-country buyers.


How Much Does It Cost to Build a House in Canada (2021)?
cost to build a house

The average cost to build a house in Canada ranges from $120 to $195 per square foot for a detached home. For many Canadians, the dream of building a home is more appealing than just buying one. Building a home comes with many benefits, and if we’re being perfectly honest, some headaches.

What is the cost to build a house in major Canadian cities?

When it comes to the average cost to build a home in Canada, according to Altus Group’s 2021 Canadian Cost Guide, the price per square foot for a detached home in major Canadian cities is as follows:

  • Vancouver: $145 – $265
  • Calgary: $125 – $195
  • Edmonton: $125 – $195
  • Winnipeg: $120 – $185
  • Greater Toronto Area: $140 – $240
  • Ottawa: $120 – $200
  • Montreal: $105 – $175
  • Halifax: $90 – $150
  • St. John’s: $115 – $150


Can I get a Loan to Build a House?

There are Home Construction and Self-Build Mortgages available when building a house. You need a separate loan to buy the vacant land, which usually comes with higher interest rates than a traditional mortgage.

You are usually expected to have a larger down payment that can range between 25–30%. Your construction mortgage is then used to cover the building costs. These vary in interest rates and terms from lender to lender.

There are basically two types of construction mortgages:

  1. Completion mortgage: In this case, the loan isn’t transferred until construction is complete.
  1. Draw or a progress-draw mortgage: The builder draws money in increments as the home is built.

They can get complicated, so speak to a mortgage broker or your bank to discuss your options so that you make the right choice for your needs.

How Long Does It Take to Build a House?

Time is tricky to call as there are so many working parts. However, on average it takes from 10 to 16 months to build a house, assuming everything goes as planned. That doesn’t include clearing the land or tearing down an existing home on the land. It also does not consider the many issues that can arise from bad weather to lack of manpower and delays on materials to challenges with you being able to make decisions in a timely manner.

How to Reduce the Cost of Building a House?

The best thing about building a house is that you can control the budget to save on overall costs – or at least try. Here are some pro tips on how you can save money:

Take Bids

Consider several contractors to bid on the project. Keep in mind that the cheapest builder is not always the best. There’s often a reason that a contractor is coming in low, and it’s typically that they sacrifice deadlines or cut corners on quality. Do your research and make sure you approach contractors with experience and outstanding reviews and ratings.

Choose Existing Home Designs

Consider going with pre-designed choices from a library of designs offered by experienced home builders.

Design a Smaller Home

This one seems obvious, but the smaller the home, the less it will cost. Editor’s note: a reader pointed out that smaller homes can actually most more per square foot! According to him, “The larger the square footage, we still need the same items for the home, but they are now stretched out over a larger square footage.” Makes perfect sense! Consider what you need and what you can afford to set a realistic budget. Once you get estimates, you can then see if there’s any wiggle room to upgrade in square footage, the number of bathrooms, and so on. Open floor plans make the most of small spaces. They also save a ton on materials that affect the cost, with fewer walls, electrical, plumbing, doors and other features.

Consider Lifestyle

Your lifestyle will play a role in the home you plan to build. Do you entertain often? Do you have kids, or are you planning a family? Do you have overnight guests? Do you work from home? Do you work out at home? Do you love cooking? How many cars do you have? How much storage space do you need to accommodate your hobbies? All of these questions help you determine where you need to invest extra money and where you can save.

Save on Aesthetics

The style of home you choose will impact the cost in a major way. If you’re not married to a particular style, consider going industrial or rustic as these looks are more forgiving. You can get away with lower costs on the interior finishes without sacrificing the look of your home.

Lend a Hand

Great savings on labour costs can be found by doing some of the work yourself. Some of the easiest things to take on are painting and installing light fixtures. Handier people will often install their flooring or kitchen cabinets once all the plumbing and drywall is complete.

Get Quotes

There are some areas where you might get better deals than your contractor can give. Those can include things such as HVAC systems and water heaters, so don’t be afraid to tell your contractor you want to shop around.

Reclaim and Recycle

There’s a lot to be said for reclaimed and recycled items. They are eco-friendly, add character and can also save a lot of money. There are many salvage yards and shops as well as charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity Restore where you can hunt for everything from doors and windows to kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities.

Don’t Skimp on Important Details

Make sure you don’t sacrifice on the important details that will save you money down the road, such as proper insulation, windows, doors, and roofing.

Are There Other Options to Custom-Built Homes?

A home renovation is always an option when it comes to getting your dream home. In most cases, you can reduce construction costs as this is not a complete re-build. When you build a new house, you can also look for smaller homes on large plots of land and use them as your base to build your dream home. The large land allows you to increase the square footage. Of course, you can also tear the existing home down and opt to build a new house.

There’s always the new-build route in a subdivision. You are looking at a cookie-cutter design and high prices when you want to make any upgrades for a more customized look.

Although building a home can prove to be affordable, it does also come with its fair share of challenges.


Whether you want a small project or a new challenge, these improvements can enhance your home and may boost its value.

Like many homeowners, you may have eyed a home improvement project in the past only to come up short on time or inspiration.

Don’t feel bad. Nearly half (43%) of all homeowners say their biggest challenge around home improvement decisions is finding DIY time, which also may explain why the same percentage of people say they have unfinished home improvement projects — typically two.

Since many of us are spending much or all of our time at home, now might be a good time to channel some of that cabin fever into a project that could add value to your home or infuse it with new energy.

Here’s a sampling of projects you can tackle alone — or with a pint-sized assistant in need of a play date.

Beginner projects

New faucets

Attention to detail is key for this project — you don’t want to flood your kitchen because you forgot to turn off the water valve — but no previous plumbing skills are required, and a shiny new faucet can generate a lot of day-to-day pleasure for a little effort. These instructions walk you through the steps to install a kitchen faucet (and the process is just the same for a bathroom sink).

Light fixtures and switches

Few things can change the atmosphere of a room as quickly as lighting. Swapping out an old fixture for a new one — or an on-off switch for a dimmer — can provide a mood for any occasion.  Here’s an easy guide to change a light fixture. Switches use the same types of wires, so if you can swap a fixture, you can handle a switch.

Fire pit

This is a great one to tackle with kids. Celebrate the finished product with a s’mores party. Plus, the sales price premium on homes with fire pits is 2.8%, according to a Zillow analysis of thousands of home listings and sales prices.* Build you own backyard fire pit in 7 easy steps.

Smart tech upgrade

There are countless smart home products you can choose from, and some require little more than changing a light bulb or plugging in a device. A few to consider:

Smart doorbell/camera: Installing one is similar to changing out a light switch. The process involves removing your old doorbell and connecting the device to your Wi-Fi.

Smart locks: Do you have a family member who is always losing their house key? Replacing a traditional door lock with a keyless entry you access using a touch pad or smartphone app is an easy solution.

Smart home hub: Amazon, Google, Apple, Nest, Samsung and others offer smart home hubs, which allow you to interact with compatible devices through a central system. The hub itself is typically “plug and play” and easy to set up. But you may need to do some initial troubleshooting to get all of your devices connected.

Smart lights: This project is as simple as buying and installing light bulbs. However, the upgrade requires coordination with a smart home system because each one has its own requirements and controls. If you already have a home system, be sure the lights you choose are compatible. If you’re thinking of buying a new system, keep in mind that it needs to work harmoniously with the products you already have.

Intermediate projects

Cabinet refresh

Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to involve major renovations. You can create a whole new look by changing out the door and drawer pulls, painting your cabinets or removing cabinet doors to create an open-shelving effect. Or, if you have too much wall space and too few cabinets, you can easily install open shelving from scratch. An added bonus: Homes with open shelving sell for 4.2% more than expected. For cabinet tips and other ideas, here are seven ways to upgrade your kitchen without remodeling.

Barn door

Switching out a traditional swinging door or a closet slider for a barn door that glides on a rail can give your room a striking look, as well as open up space and change the furniture arranging possibilities. And your effort might pay off in other ways: Barn doors are associated with a 5% price premium. You’ll need a few tools, another pair of hands, and these step-by-step instructions which cover all the details of how to build and install your own sliding barn door.

Advanced projects

Board & batten

You may not be familiar with the term, but you’ve probably seen this classic design feature in a number of homes. Precision is required for this one, and that means you need the right tools, namely a measuring tape, a level and a miter saw. Also patience. But if you can imagine a 3D element atop your drywall, you’re ready to go, and this guide will walk you through each step of the process.

Garden shed

If you have the know-how to build a garden shed, you can find any number of plans and tutorials online to suit your taste. And if you’re not quite up for that challenge, you can still improve the one you’ve got or buy a garden-variety one and make it your own. Start by imagining whether you need it for storage or extra work or living space, and go from there. Homes with a “she shed” are associated with a 3.6% price premium. Here’s some inspiration to create your own custom garden workspace.

Heated floors

This is the kind of project you can tackle if you missed out on your real vocation and ended up in a desk job. Labor-intensive and requiring the confidence of an accomplished tradesperson (and some math skills), your success in warming your dwelling from the bottom up will make you a hero or heroine in your own home. This project is ideal if you already planned to replace the flooring in a room and have the opportunity to add a heating element in the process. Learn about the different types of radiant flooring and tips for DIY success. Homes with this feature sell for 4.9% more than expected.

Whatever you decide to do, measure twice and have fun!


Creating a Home(work) Station That Gets Top Marks

Good study habits are easier to build when you have a dedicated and attractive spot to hit the books.

When was the last time your home workspace or study station inspired you? For most people, the answer is, “Not recently.”

Whether you’re prepping an area for your work-from-home days or setting up a spot for young scholars to study , you can kick inspiration into high gear with home office solutions that will get your creative juices flowing again.

Window wonder

It’s no secret that sunshine does the body good. Fix up a space near the window so you can soak up plenty of vitamin D while pumping out price lists or writing that term paper.

Greenery looks great near a bright area, so a potted plant or two might help naturally bring your space to life.

Arts and crafts

The age of DIY is upon us. Embrace the casual-cool vibes and create your very own home desk area.

Need a semipermanent to-do list? Try using chalkboard paint to make yourself a giant notepad on a nearby cabinet or a framed chalkboard. Tired of the overdone corkboard for your sticky notes? Framed chicken wire with clothespins makes a more shabby-chic memo board.

The possibilities really are endless for this type of style. Just don’t let your DIYing get in the way of the tasks you originally sat down to do!

Collaboration is key

For those less focus-intensive projects, investigate a collaborative workstation with several small spaces or a giant community table. This type of work environment has been popular among small companies and creative agencies for the purpose of bouncing around ideas.

If you still want your own personal space, put a divider between you and the other desks for some extra privacy, and take it down when it’s time to meet and discuss. You know what they say: Teamwork makes the dream work.

A clear mind

While many of us would like to think we have complete control of our habit of logging onto Facebook or checking what else our calendar has in store for us, most of us really don’t. And the greatest enabler of this sidetracked behavior is a cluttered workspace.

Set the stage for a clean slate with a bright white desk and matching chair, a simple light fixture and an inspiring element. Keeping your workstation simple and clutter-free ensures you have a productive day — even if your homework is less than exhilarating.

Whether you’re up all night cramming for exams or prepping for a work presentation due first thing in the morning, you’ll feel more focused and productive by incorporating any of these tips into your workstation.


5 Easy Improvements to Get Your Home Guest-Ready for the Holidays

This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration.

Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.

Chances are, you’re busy enough get ready for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.

Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.

Light the way

The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit.

If you have a large front yard, focus on the entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights or replace the bulbs if needed. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.

On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.

Pro tip: The easiest way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!

Take care of the bottom line

Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.

Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, make sure your floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.

Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair so they have time to dry fully.

Brighten up your bathroom

If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That’s it!

Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.

Pro tip: Get the buildup out of a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs — all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.

Tune up kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a big family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.

Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven’t done that for a while.

Clean out the refrigerator, and check to see that the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.

Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.

Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.

Make your space kid-friendly

If you make your home welcoming for children, you’ll ensure their parents have a great time as well.

If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, think about adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable and alleviate kid boredom.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
  • Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons and some comfy pillows or throws.
  • One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.

Pro tip: If you don’t have children, or if yours are older, don’t forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.


Real Estate Board Market Data: May 2021

Near record-breaking new listings in the Fraser Valley not enough to match insatiable buyer demand 

Fraser Valley’s extraordinary pandemic real estate market continued to break sales records – for the ninth consecutive month – while at the same time, reaching near-historic levels of new listings in May.   

In May, the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) processed 2,951 sales on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), an increase of 267 per cent compared to May 2020 and a 2 per cent decrease compared to April. (Note that last year, the market was significantly restricted due to the lockdown.) The previous record high for sales in May for the Fraser Valley region was 2,911 in 2016.     

Larry Anderson, President of the Board, said, “Demand hasn’t changed. What’s changed is supply. In the last three months, buyers have 40 per cent more inventory to look at in the Fraser Valley and it’s allowed them to take back a little control. 

“We’re seeing resistance to multiple offers and buyers adjusting their offers, or even waiting, because they have more selection. We’re a long way from a balanced market, but supply is helping us to head in the right direction.”

In May, the Board received the second-highest volume of new listings ever; approaching May 2018 levels. The Board received 3,926 new listings in May, an increase of 78 per cent compared to last year, and a decrease of 22 per cent compared to April 2021. The month ended with total active inventory sitting at 5,868, a 3 per cent decrease compared to April, and 9 per cent less than May of last year.   

Baldev Gill, Chief Executive Officer of the Board, added, “In the context of BC’s Restart Plan, it’s important to remind consumers that for now, when it comes to working with a real estate professional or booking a private showing, it’s status quo. Currently, there is no easing of pandemic restrictions in the real estate sector and our Board does not anticipate new guidelines for several weeks. Your REALTOR® will continue to guide you safely through the buying and selling process, following all public safety protocols, for as long as necessary.”

Across Fraser Valley, in May, the average number of days to sell a single-family detached home was 14 and a townhome was 12 days. Apartments took, on average, 20 days to sell.

MLS® HPI Benchmark Price Activity

  • Single Family Detached: At $1,323,300, the Benchmark price for an FVREB single-family detached home increased 2.3 per cent compared to April 2021 and increased 33.6 per cent compared to May 2020.
  • Townhomes: At $670,000, the Benchmark price for an FVREB townhome increased 2.7 per cent compared to April 2021 and increased 20.7 per cent compared to May 2020.
  • Apartments: At $488,500, the Benchmark price for an FVREB apartment/condo increased 2.0 per cent compared to April 2021 and increased 12.6 per cent compared to May 2020.
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