Thursday 30 April 2020

Listing a recreational or remote residential property

Ready to sell a recreational property, or your remote residence? Here are some tips to make both the listing and showing process go smoothly. 

Listing Your Recreational Property
There are many things you as the property owner can do to increase your chances of success with selling your property. Getting it ready for viewing may require a bit of work, but it will pay off with better showings.

1. Accessibility
Is the entrance clearly marked with identifiers? Are the access routes clear for vehicles to drive along? If the access is by water, is the dock/property easily visible from the water with identifiers? Are there tie-ups available?

2. Grounds
While people expect to see some equipment, etc on the grounds, have you cleaned up the extra items? Are they neatly put away, or scattered around the property? A general clean up of the grounds is advised. This includes winter blow-down of branches, etc.

3. Water Supply
Has the water supply and source been clearly marked? Are there directions for turning on and shutting off the water if required? Has the water supply been cleaned or serviced recently (if so, paperwork stating the details should be provided)?

4. Residence
If there is a residence on the property, has it been cleaned? Are there belongings left out or are they put away? The neater it can be left, the better. Do the doors/windows stick? Are there small repairs or projects that can be finished which will enhance the showings?

5. Docks/Piers/Ramps
Are there loose boards? Do they need to be power washed so they aren’t dirty/slippery? Are there simple repairs that can be done to enhance the showing?

6. Outbuildings
Any outbuildings on the property should be accessible and in a reasonable state of cleanliness.

7. Paperwork
If you have done work (or had work/inspections done) on the property, paperwork providing details of that work is always good to have readily available should people ask. 

8. Septic System
If there is a septic system on the property, marking the pipes, tank location, etc is a big help, and having any paperwork related to the system on hand is a benefit.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday 16 April 2020

Forest Service Roads

Anyone who spends time travelling the central and northern parts of Vancouver Island will soon come to realize that as soon as you move away from the eastern shoreline you are off the paved roads. There is an entire network of gravel roads on the island, most of which are Forest Service Roads.

What are Forest Service Roads? According to the BC Government, they are part of the Resource Roads of BC:

Resource roads are typically one- or two-lane gravel roads built for industrial purposes to access natural resources in remote areas. Over 620,000 kilometers of roads on the British Columbia landbase are considered resource roads. Resource roads are a highly valued part of B.C.’s transportation network and are essential to economic development.

The B.C. Government administers about 60,000 kilometers of Forest Service Roads (FSRs). FSRs are maintained by the forest industry under road use permits, or where there is no industrial user responsible for maintenance, by the B.C. Government.  Where there is no industrial maintainer, the B.C. Government carries out maintenance, subject to available funding, where communities, rural residents and high value recreation sites have priority.

Many of the BC Oceanfront listings will say that a property is accessible by limited Forest Service Road access. This is because Forest Service Roads are not guaranteed to be be open and in working condition at all times. However most of the main lines on northern Vancouver Island are generally open year-round, although not always in great condition.

Driving on a Forest Service Road on Vancouver Island is not the same as driving on a private gravel road or farm track. The condition of the roads vary greatly depending on the season and the amount of industrial traffic using them at any given time. In the rainy winter months it is not uncommon for the roads to get very slick, and for parts to be partially washed out. For roads that head towards the mountains snow is more common than on the rest of the island. In the summer the roads can be rutted and dusty, making visibility a challenge. Drivers should be prepared for any conditions and if it is the first time driving on these roads, take it slow. Keep in mind, the large work trucks generally always have the right of way!

There are many maps available showing the forest service road networks. The one used most often in our office is the Backroads Mapbook - an excellent resource for anyone looking to venture beyond the paved roads of Vancouver Island. However spurs and side roads can open and close depending on the logging work in the region, so a sharp eye and good sense of direction helps in navigation.

For many people living on Vancouver Island, the Forest Service Roads provide access to remote communities (eg. Zeballos, Winter Harbour and Tahsis), lakes, hiking trails, rivers, hunting grounds and much more, enhancing our connection to the rich landscape.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday 2 April 2020

Real Estate and Covid-19

Things continue to develop very quickly in the province and across the country with the response to Covid-19. We have been asked where does that leave real estate? Are people still buying or selling properties? The short answer is - yes. However what that looks like and how it is happening is different than a couple of months ago for many.

The Province of BC has declared that real estate is an essential service during their mandated shut down of non-essential services. We know that people still need to sell or buy properties for many reasons, some more than ever now, and the required channels for this are staying available. Additionally Royal LePage Canada has asked agents across Canada to treat real estate as an essential service, unless otherwise directed by authorities (for instance, Quebec has said real estate is non-essential service) and offer as much service as possible, while respecting all health safety protocols and within personal comfort levels. 

What steps are being taken to insure all parties involved follow the correct protocol and keep everyone as safe as possible? The professional associations for real estate agents across the country are providing both their agents and the consumers guidelines and answers. In BC, the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) has created a page for consumers which can be found here. Open houses are no longer being held in person, but in some cases are being done creatively through online and virtual media. Thanks to technology, meetings with clients can happen on line (using video conferencing programs such as zoom or apps such as FaceTime, Whatsapp or Skype) and documents can even be sent and signed electronically while talking on the phone with the agent. Things may happen a little slower, as arrangements need to be made and a lot of phone calls need to happen. But business is still proceeding.

It turns out that here at BCO we've been preparing for such an event and didn't even know it. Because our sellers and buyers often come from all over and are certainly not always both near the actual property in question, we are experienced with and have in place the systems to work remotely with clients. We have done video walk-throughs of a property with our client on Facetime. We regularly send out documents to be signed via electronic means. We often send documents and photos with online storage apps. We are ready to help clients who perhaps are used to doing real estate in the residential markets, face to face, with this new reality of remote and virtual real estate. It is not ideal, but it is possible to do for those who need and/or want to buy or sell real estate now.

We don’t yet know what the impact of Covid-19 will be on the real estate industry. We do know that in the past the recreational and remote markets have reacted differently than the residential markets, in both positive and not so positive ways. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by email or phone. We wish you all health and peace during this unprecedented time of change.