Thursday 24 August 2023

Low-Cost Staging Ideas for the Outside of your Home

When it comes to selling your home, preparing the exterior can be just as important as preparing the interior. The outside of your home is the first thing potential buyers see, and it can greatly impact their first impression of your property.

Luckily, there are several low-cost outdoor improvements that will make your home more appealing to buyers.

First, consider adding some potted plants or flowers to your front porch or entryway. This can help add some colour and life to your home's exterior, and create a welcoming atmosphere for potential buyers. Even in winter, small potted evergreens can have an impact.

Next, consider cleaning up your landscaping. This can include trimming overgrown bushes and trees, mowing the lawn, and removing any dead plants or debris. By doing so, you can make your home look well-maintained and attractive to potential buyers.

You may also want to consider adding some outdoor lighting to your property. This can include adding some solar-powered lights along your driveway or walkway, or even adding some outdoor string lights to your patio or deck. Outdoor lighting can create an inviting atmosphere, and make your home look more attractive to potential buyers.

Finally, consider giving your front door a fresh coat of paint. Your front door is a focal point of your home's exterior, and painting it will make a big difference. If you’re changing the colour, be sure to pick one that complements the fa├žade.

These outdoor improvements don’t cost much, but will increase your home's curb appeal, which is proven to help sell your property faster and for a better price.

Need more advice on how to create the “wow” factor in your home when you sell? Call today!

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

Thursday 20 July 2023

BCO Coastal Gems: Owen Bay

 Located within the heart of the Discovery Island group and surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and an abundance of wildlife, this Sonora Island area offers all types of outdoor recreation and sport activities - fishing, boating, diving, and wildlife viewing, while seafood such as crab, prawns, clams and oysters are all available within minutes of this region. 

Approaching Owen Bay from the end of Busby
(Springer Point at the south tip of the development
is in the centre of the photo)

Owen Bay is located on the south side of Sonora Island on Okisolo Channel, just above Hole in the Wall rapids. 

The Discovery Islands are rich in First Nations culture and history.

view out from Busby

Owen Bay was first settled by non-indigenous people approximately 100 years ago, at times it was home to a school, church and general store, however the location did not attract a more permanent settlement in the long run. It has evolved into a quiet, coastal vacation and recreation community with a small complement of full-time residents. The Owen Bay development encompasses both a portion of Sonora Island and Busby Island, which is separated from Sonora by only a small channel.

looking across from Sonora to Busby

There are government dock facilities located in Owen Bay. Owen Bay provides excellent protection for both mooring and anchoring your boat and the roadway leading from the Government Dock throughout the area is more than adequate for vehicles if one chooses.

Owen Bay government dock

Owen Bay Rd

There are a few marine parks to enjoy within close proximity, including the Octopus Island Group Marine Park which is only minutes away. Access to Owen Bay is by boat or float plane only. 

aerial approach to Owen Bay

Campbell River is approximately 45 minutes away by boat and provides an excellent centre for supplies and services. During the summer months there is regularly scheduled water taxi service from Campbell River to Owen Bay and Busby Island. There is also regularly scheduled barge service to Owen Bay to bring propane and fuel as well as any arranged deliveries (groceries, building supplies, etc). Other areas such as Browns Bay on Vancouver Island or Heriot Bay on Quadra Island provide even quicker access through primarily protected waters. 

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

Thursday 6 July 2023

Fix it? Or leave it “as is”?

When preparing your property for sale, you want to make it as attractive as possible to buyers. After all, the more buyers like what they see, the higher the probability you’ll get good offers. 

That’s why it’s advisable to clean, declutter, decorate, fix, and improve as much as possible. Of course, when we're talking about a remote or recreational property, this can be difficult. 

The question then becomes how far should you go with fixing and improving? For example, should you tear down the old deck and build a new one? Or, should you leave it as is? Should you paint the main floor? Or is it okay to leave the faded finish and few wall dents just as they are? 

Those can be difficult questions to answer because many factors come into play. 

• What is the traditional return on investment for that home improvement? (In other words, how much will you get back when you sell?) 

• To what degree will the fix or improvement help sell your home faster and/or for a higher price? 

• If you don’t make the fix or improvement, will those deficiencies be likely to dissuade buyers who would otherwise be interested in buying your property? 

• What are the current market conditions? Are there other listings in the area competing with yours? 

• How much will the fix or improvement cost? Is it affordable, given the benefits of having a listing that’s more attractive and move-in ready? 

The answers differ depending on where you property is, what else is for sale around it, and what buyers for those types of properties expect. We can help you find answers by looking at the market and the comparable properties.

Once you have answers to those questions, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether to fix it or leave it as is.

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

Thursday 15 June 2023

Marine Parks

The coast of BC has over 40 designated marine parks. These are parks that include both water and land areas but are generally accessible by float plane or boat only (with some exceptions). Many of them allow wilderness camping but only a few offer even basic services (an outhouse, water, cleared campsites). 

Raft Cove Marine Park, northwest Vancouver Island

These marine parks run along the entire coast of BC and among the numerous islands that dot the coast. They are an attraction for boaters, kayakers, hikers and many others. The largest marine park on the coast is the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park, off the NE coast of Vancouver Island, which consists of dozens of small islands and the waters around them. This park is very popular with kayakers and for whale watching.

Marine parks often provide a welcome refuge for people traveling along the coast, and are common meet-up spots for boaters.  Desolation Sound Marine Park, along the central mainland coast, is very popular with boaters due to its protected waters, easy access to the Discovery Islands and beautiful beaches.
private properties within Desolation Sound Marine Park

Some of the remote and recreational properties we have listed through the BC Oceanfront office either border or are very near to marine parks. A select few are even lucky enough to be private property within a marine park - very rare.
flying over Surge Narrows Marine Park

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

Thursday 1 June 2023

No Zoning Doesn't Always Mean No Rules

 Many rural properties in BC are excluded from zoning bylaws by their respective Regional Districts and are simply referred to as No Zoning areas on maps. However, if you read the fine print, most Regional Districts will inform you that there are still requirements. This example is taken from the Mount Waddington Regional District site:

“While there is no Building Bylaw in effect outside of the communities of Coal Harbour, Hyde Creek, Malcolm Island and Woss, that requires a Building Permit or Site Permit to be applied for and issued for new construction, all construction must meet the requirements of the BC Building Code.”

This may seem to be a bit too much structure for someone who just wants to go build a cabin in a remote location, However there are some good reasons to pay attention, and not just because all buildings built in BC are required to meet the BC Building Code.

While we might want, and plan for, our recreational or remote property to stay in the family for generations, sometimes life happens. If you need to sell a property that you have built on within 10 years of the building being completed, you have to have a Home warranty (Homeowner Protection Act governed by BC Housing) in order to be able to sell. This is becoming more of an issue, and there are properties that cannot be sold right away because they don't have a home warranty or Owner Builder Authorization. Rectifying this, when possible, can take time and cause frustration for someone who needs to sell the property.

Insurance premiums are constantly on the rise and getting insurance for a remote property can be a challenge. Building it to code may help your chances of getting insured.

A lot of the basic Building Code is around safety issues. In remote areas where services such as fire departments and emergency support are minimal or non-existent following the code may help keep both the property and the people using it protected and as safe as possible.

Education and information are key, wherever you want to build in BC.

Resources: (A copy of the BC Building Codes is likely in your local library as well, or at your city/village/regional district office)

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

Thursday 18 May 2023

BCO Coastal Gems: Campbell River

The BC Oceanfront Real Estate Team services a large area of Vancouver Island and the coastal region of BC, and we know that every village, town and city on Vancouver Island offers its own beauty and sense of community.

The BCO office is in Campbell River, which is located almost exactly at the centre of the east coast of Vancouver Island. We all chose to live here, some of us from different communities on Vancouver Island and some from the mainland. Why did we all end up here in Campbell River?

"More access to nature - forest, mountain, lake, river, ocean - than anywhere else on the island." 

We all chose Campbell River because it offered the best of both worlds - the amenities and services of a city with the abundance of natural beauty surrounding it being easily accessible for recreation. Whether we want to fish on the ocean, explore the local forests, ski or hike in the mountains, relax on a beach, or swim at a lake, we can access it all within 30 minutes of Campbell River.

"Campbell River runs entirely along the ocean, yet mountains and Strathcona Park are pretty much in your back yard. There is an abundance of ocean wildlife to view; whales, sealions, birds, dolphins. You can throw a kayak or paddleboard easily into the water or go for a quick dip yourself. There is accessible and incredible hiking, along with some of the most beautiful camping spots. Everything an outdoor enthusiast could hope for."

Campbell River continues to grow as a city, with a new hospital built six years ago and new construction happening regularly. North Island College campus provides post secondary opportunities. While the city has long been and continues to be a central hub for the coastal resource sector it is also diversifying in its economic base.

Along with a diversifying economy comes a diversifying population. Traditionally the population base came mainly from the resource sector and service sector, but in recent years retirees have discovered the beauty of the area and there has also been a growth in the immigrant community. 

The BC Oceanfront slogan is "It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It" and it's no coincidence that we all experience that living in Campbell River. We love to explore and have fun in all the communities on Vancouver Island as well as all the different types of natural surroundings offered, and Campbell River allows us the ease of access to do so.

"You can venture out to the local ocean waters and islands by boat, ride a mountain bike in the Snowden Demonstration Forest, hike the popular Canyon View Trail along the Campbell River, swim at McIvor Lake, or explore miles of beach along Georgia Strait looking at the views across to the mainland."

Perhaps the best example of the access to the outdoors that Campbell River prides itself on is the ability to walk from one end of the city to the other along the oceanfront. With either paved trail or sidewalks running from Tyee Spit to the far end of the Rotary Seawalk, one can walk over 10kms (one way) able to view the water almost the entire way, and most of it provides access to the beachfront itself. There are few communities that provide this type of open access to its shoreline, as many communities have allowed private properties to build up along the shore, blocking access. You don't need a car, or to even leave the city, to experience the natural wonder and beauty that surrounds Campbell River. 

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

Thursday 4 May 2023

50 Years of ALR

 The Agricultural Land Reserve, or ALR, is a land classification that has been around in BC for decades, as it was created 50 years ago (in 1973). Most people know it has something to do with farmland, but what is the ALR exactly? Can you build in the ALR zone? What does it mean to own land in the ALR?

ALR land Haida Gwaii

According to the BC Government: The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial land zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are restricted. ALR land makes up 5% of BC's total land-base.

This does not mean you can't simply live on ALR property. There is no requirement to farm, however there are restrictions on what else you can do on the land. Keep in mind that most ALR land is in an agriculture-rich area, so even if you are not farming your land it is probable that properties around you are being used for agricultural purposes.

ALR land Quadra Island

Properties within the ALR should have it noted on their titles, although the Agriculture Land Commission (who oversees the ALR) warns that this is not definitive. Mapping is a help in determining what land is within the ALR as well, and the ALC website hosts a number of mapping applications.

ALR mapping

The Vancouver Island region has ALR land in a number of areas, including in what might be thought of as rural residential areas close to urban centres, so it is good to do your homework when it comes to owning property in this distinct land class. This is something we research on our listings and provide mapping information for if a property does sit within the ALR.

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

Thursday 6 April 2023

The Waterless Flush

What to do when you don't want to install a full septic system (whether for cost, location, lack of water, or just personal preference) but also want something a little more high tech than a simple pit toilet?

There are three waterless (dry) options for toilets that property owners can consider. These can be inside a cabin or in an outhouse-style building.

Composting Toilets
These toilets use aerobic processing through composting. This is a controlled composting system, usually with added organic materials to aid in decomposition. The benefit over pit toilets is that they are contained, so no soil contamination or site contamination and it allows them to be used indoors. Most models are designed to contain odour so that they are usable in a small space. They require little set up and are easily emptied. Composting toilets are becoming increasingly popular thanks to the van life movement, and readily available in many countries. 
Here is more detail on how they work:

a composting toilet in an outhouse

Incinerating Toilets 
As the name implies these toilets burn waste. This can be done in a few ways depending on the system's design but generally the waste is reduced to an ash in a holding tank and the ash can then can be safely disposed of.  These toilets do require an outside power source, so are not as popular as the composting toilets. But the ash end product can be easier to dispose of and nicer to deal with, making it an option for those with power. 
This information sheet from 1999 created by the EPA in the US is still used as a reference in most online information: 

Evaporating Toilets
These systems actually dry-out the waste and create a sterile, compact waste that can be safely disposed of in the trash system. There are both passive systems that require no outside electricity and systems that do require some energy input. Evaporating toilets are very low maintenance. 
This is a popular model that requires a small amount of electricity to operate:
This is a model that requires no electricity:

These three types of toilets provide the ability to enhance the livability of a cabin or remote residence, without the need for digging pits or installing septic systems. 

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

Thursday 23 March 2023

Foreign Buyers Ban

Several laws came into effect at the beginning of the year which directly affect real estate. One in particular that is getting a lot of discussion is the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians (Foreign Buyers Ban).

As the name implies, this ban does not apply to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. It applies to all non-Canadians wanting to purchase residential property in Canada, and the ban is in place for a period of two years starting January 1, 2023. This is a federal law covering all of Canada.

It is still taking time for the real estate industry to become familiar with the rules of this ban, including lawyers, managing brokers and realtors. As there are financial repercussions for those caught assisting someone in contravention of the ban, making sure it is understood and handled correctly is important.  Now that it has been in place for about three months, there is a better understanding of what the ban does.

In broad strokes, the ban is to prevent a foreign buyer from purchasing a residence in an urban area. The urban areas under the ban are defined by way of the Canada Census. What we have learned at BCO is that most of our properties, regardless of whether or not they have a residence on them, fall outside of those restricted areas.

What this means is that most of our properties are not impacted by the ban (there are restrictions for properties in Campbell River and the Comox Valley).

We know the headlines made this seem like foreign buyers would not be able to purchase at all in Canada for the next two years, but that isn’t the full story. There are still lots of opportunities for non-Canadians to purchase in Canada, if they are willing to look beyond the urban areas.

If you have any questions about how this ban applies to one of our listings, or an area you are interested in buying in, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For more information on this new act, check out these links:

To read the Act itself, visit Justice Laws Website

To read more information, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website


It’s a Coastal Lifestyle … Live It!

Thursday 9 March 2023

BCO Coastal Gems: The Magic of Malcolm Island

 It is common knowledge in the BCO office that Malcolm Island is one of Kate's favourite places to visit. What makes this coastal gem special?

1. The village of Sointula. This picturesque town sits on the eastern shore of a large bay on the southern shore of Malcolm Island. The name means 'place of harmony' in Finnish, named by the Finnish immigrants who arrived there in the early 1900s looking for a better way of life. That history is still reflected in the town and its buildings. It has also been an active fishing centre in the region, as evidenced by the docks and netlofts still seen along the shore. Walking around the vibrant village is a great way to spend the day, taking in the historical sites, colourful homes and many small businesses. Sointula has shopping, fuel services, private and public docks, a library and a medical clinic among other amenities. There is a vibrant community of approx. 800 on the island mostly in Sointula. The residents are an eclectic mix of old-time families, artists, fishermen and those looking for a quieter life. There  is also rich First Nations heritage, as is common along all of the west coast.

2. Whale watching. Malcolm Island is in the heart of the Broughton Archipelago and as such is well placed for wildlife viewing. Orcas and humpback whales frequent the area and can be observed in the waters off the island regularly. Bere Point on Malcolm Island is renowned as well for its rubbing beaches, places where the orcas come and rub along the cobble stones at the sloping edge of the shoreline. Kate was fortunate enough to witness a large group of Orca at Bere Point late in August one year.

3. Hiking and outdoor activities. Malcolm Island is a great base for outdoor activity. There are a number of good hiking trails, including the Beautiful Bay Trail between Bere Point and Malcolm Point. Pulteney Point lighthouse sits on the northeast point of the island and is accessible by a nice beach walk. Boat tours, fishing and kayaking are all popular activities to participate in while staying on the island as well.

There is regular car ferry access to the island from the BC Ferries terminal in Port McNeill on Vancouver Island. There are a few campsites on the island, including Bere Point Regional Park campground as well as a number of B&Bs and guest houses. The main roads along the eastern shore are paved, while the further out roads are gravel.

Malcolm Island sits at the junction of Queen Charlotte Strait, Broughton Strait and Johnstone Strait off the northern end of Vancouver Island. To learn more about visiting Sointula, click here.


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


Thursday 23 February 2023

Power Supply on Recreational and Remote Properties

If you want to turn on lights, run an electric appliance, etc on a remote or recreational property then you need to know how you're going to bring in the power.

lights powered by a solar system

Some properties are close enough to small communities that they can hook into existing BC Hydro power supplies. There are even boat access communities, such as Quatsino on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, that actually have power from BC Hydro. This is then just like obtaining power for any new property - lines need to be accessed and power brought into the property through coordination with BC Hydro, neighbouring properties and local communities.

power poles along Quatsino Rd

For properties beyond the scope of BC Hydro, off-grid options have to be investigated. Many of the older, more established remote properties will have gas generators of some sort, generally using propane. A battery bank is usually used to store power so that the generators aren't running all the time. A system like this requires gas to be brought on to the property, this is frequently done by barge in the island communities and delivery truck if required on some of the ferry-serviced islands or remote road-access areas.

Solar power has become an attractive option for some, and it is not unusual to see a house or cottage with an array of solar panels on the roof, or even standing up on the ground in a particularly sunny location. These solar panel arrays generally supply a battery bank which stores the energy. Some properties will use solar power but keep a gas generator on hand as an emergency back-up system.

battery bank and solar panel array

Even if solar is the main power source, there may still be gas used for kitchen appliances. This will be stored in a tank on the property and piped in to the required areas. Stoves and fridges are the most common, as well as some heaters.

For properties with access to running water such as a creek there is the option of personal use hydro-power. This requires a license for the water use, and on a good, strong water source can be a great power supply. There are a variety of set-ups depending on the amount of power required.

All of the options have pros and cons when it comes to upkeep, initial cost of installation and materials, efficiency, etc. It requires some good research both on the options and the property itself. At BCO we have a good deal of information on alternative energy and are always looking out for new and innovative ideas in power for remote/recreational properties.

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