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Gas Fireplaces

by The Axfords

Nothing is nicer on a cold winter night than curling up beside a warm fire. Gas fireplaces can offer a clean burning option with a convenient click of a button. A recent survey of household energy use found that 23 per cent of Canadian single- and semi-detached and row-housing reported having a gas fireplace and of those, 22 per cent reported using them every day once the temperatures dip. Depending on the size and location of your fireplace, the added warmth can help ease the heating burden on your furnace, causing it to turn on less frequently. But will that save you money? Not necessarily, according to research undertaken at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology (CCHT).

The study tested gas fireplace use and its impact on both furnace use and total gas energy consumption in the CCHT’s R2000 certified research house. Researchers wanted to find out if operating a gas fireplace would reduce total gas consumption. It also looked at whether running the furnace fan continuously had any benefits on heat distribution to rooms away from the fireplace compared to having the fan automatically turn on only when the furnace was required to provide heating for the house.

The results showed that, while the furnace came on less frequently during fireplace use, total gas energy consumption overall actually increased by approximately 10 to 16 per cent. This is because the gas fireplace, which had a measured efficiency of only 76 per cent, was offsetting the operation of the furnace with an efficiency of 94 per cent. The study also found that even when the fireplace was not in use, overall gas energy use was 6 per cent higher compared to the control house because of the gas consumed by the small, but continuously running, pilot light.

While running the furnace fan continuously was expected to distribute heat from the fireplace to other rooms more effectively than when run intermittently, the researchers found that operation of the fan had very little influence on the temperatures in other rooms in either mode. In fact, not only was there no difference in heat distribution, continuously running the furnace fan actually increased daily electrical energy use from 6 kWh to 11 kWh, which can be significant given that typical Canadian homes use a total of 15 to 30 kWh per day.

Gas fireplaces are a wonderful way to enhance the beauty of your home, providing a warm ambience during our cold Canadian winters. However, using your high efficiency furnace as the main method of heating your home will save you energy and money in the long run.      Source: CMHC.

Energy and Water Saving Tips for Your Condo

by The Axfords

Energy costs and growing concerns about the environment are prompting many Canadians to try to reduce the amount of energy and water they use. Cutting down on your energy use can also help you save money, whether you pay your utility bills directly or through your rent or condominium fees.

If you live in an apartment or condo, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips on how you can save energy and water, and make your home more comfortable:

  • Seal any cracks or holes in your walls, ceiling, floors, windows and doors to keep drafts out, and keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • Take advantage of natural heat from the sun by opening your curtains and blinds on sunny winter days, and closing them at night to keep the heat inside. Watch for any water that may form on the windows and wipe it up to prevent damage and mold growth. In the summer, keep your curtains and blinds closed during the day. If security isn’t an issue, try opening windows in the evening and early morning to let the cool air in, and then closing them during the day to keep the heat out.
  • Lower your thermostat to lower your heating bill. During the winter, set the thermostat at 20°C to 22°C when people are home, and turn it down to as low as 13°C to 15.5°C at night and when you’re away during the day.
  • Make sure the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms are clean, dust-free and working efficiently. Keep your refrigerator working efficiently by cleaning the evaporator coils once a year and ensuring the door firmly seals shut.
  • Fix leaky faucets and toilets, and consider installing low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets. A single leaky faucet can waste up to 200 litres of water a week.
  • Use fluorescent tubes or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in your home. CFLs are 75 to 80 per cent more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Make sure you dispose of them properly as they contain small amounts of mercury that can be harmful to the environment.
  • If you’re purchasing appliances or electronic equipment, check the EnerGuide label on large appliances or the ENERGY STAR® ratings for electronics, home office products and small appliances. If you’re purchasing a new clothes washer, consider a front-loading model. Front-loading washers use up to 40 per cent less water and 60 per cent less energy than top-loading machines.
  • If you’re buying an air conditioner, look for a model with an energy efficiency rating (EER) of at least 11 and an ENERGY STAR® symbol on the label. Clean the filters every month and set your thermostat higher or off when you’re not home.
  • Turn off lights, appliances and electrical equipment when you’re not using them. Take the stairs if you live near the ground floor. And try to run only full loads when washing clothes or using the dishwasher.
  • Remember: always consult with your building manager or landlord before undertaking any maintenance, repairs or improvements to your unit. For major repairs, you may also want to hire a contractor or other qualified professional.                                                           Source: CMHC

What Does the Depreciation Report mean for Home Owners

by The Axfords

The Provincial Government introduced mandatory Depreciation Reports to the Strata Property Act with the goal of improving the on-going upgrade, repair, maintenance process in BC by providing transparency and clarity for Strata Lot purchasers and owners alike. The complete scope of effects on the residential resale market will differ from building to building but looking at other provinces that have brought in similar regulations allows BC home owners some insight into what to expect here.


In the early 2000's Alberta introduced Depreciation Reports leading to the realization of many Strata Corporations that they did not have enough money in their contingency reserve funds. This resulted in either strata fees being increased, or more commonly a special levy being assessed to bring the contingency reserve fund up to where the where the Depreciation Report states it ought to be at. This led to a somewhat turbulent time in the condo market until these buildings, and contingency reserve funds were brought up to par. The medium and long term effects of these reports in Alberta and Ontario were that strata properties were being better maintained and purchasers had more clarity as to the health of the building and its' systems.


How these new regulations will effect the value of condos is going to differ from building to building in the short term as individual Strata Corporations adjust the way they conduct their budgeting and planning. In the long run, the introduction of Depreciation Reports in the BC condo market should have a positive impact.  Buildings will be better maintained and purchasers will have more information at their disposal before making a decision.


What is a Depreciation Report?

by The Axfords

By providing the strata corporation with a summary of current deficiencies, future projected capital expenditures, and costs for maintenance of each component Depreciation Reports help Strata Corporations, including bare-land strata corporations, plan for repair, maintenance and replacement of common property, limited common property and common assets over a 30 year period. As well, the depreciation report provides a financial plan for the strata corporation to prepare for these expenditures. The report is to be updated every three years and will be an integral part of the strata corporation's long-term planning.


The Report must contain;

-A physical inventory of the common property and assets

-Anticipated maintenance, repair and replacement costs for common expenses projected over 30 years

-A financial forecasting section with at least three cash flow funding models


Depreciation Reports are also known as reserve fund studies in other jurisdictions and have been a standard requirement in most Canadian provinces.

Stay cool - well at least cooler!

by The Axfords

It's hard to believe right now, but once the sun shows up regularly, we are going to have to find ways to stay cool. If you're not lucky enough to have air conditioning, here's some ways to help that don't require any extra expense. 

- Remember, your appliances all generate heat so if you need to use them (washing machine, dishwasher) try to use them later in the evening or at night when it's a bit cooler.
- Keep lights, computers etc off. The one electrical appliance that will help is a fan to circulate air.
- Close windows and blinds during the day.
- Relax on the deck, BBQ and enjoy a tall, cool, summer drink!


3412 Gislason Photos on Houzz

by The Axfords
Remodeling, decorating, and more ∨

Discover inspring landscaping ideas and find a top local landscape contractor or residential landscape architect to plan your garden landscape.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

Making an Offer to Purchase 

After you have found the home you want to buy with the help of The Axford Team, we will help you prepare an offer in the form of a Contract of Purchase and Sale to present to the seller.  In this contract you will have to include the following information;

  • Your legal name, the name of the seller, and the legal civic address of the property
  • The price you are offering to pay
  • Any items in or around the home that you think are included in the sale should be specifically stated in your offer.  For example, window coverings and appliances.
  • The deposit amount. Typically 5% of the purchase price due to be paid within a day of removing subjects.
  • The date that you want to take possession of the home and start paying taxes and utility bills
  • An expiry date and time that the offer is open for
  • Other conditions may include a satisfactory home inspection report, a property appraisal, and lender approval of mortgage financing.  These subject conditions will be written into the Contract of Purchase and Sale.

If the seller accepts your first offer, you move to the next step, the Subject Removal Period.

The seller may decide to counter your initial offer with one of their own in an effort to satisfy both parties needs.  Our team is confident that we will prepare you with all relevant information that is available to allow you to make an informed purchasing decision.  

Once your offer is accepted our experience will guide you through every step of the Subject Removal Period as well as the Closing and Possession day up until you move in!

First Time Home Buyers Guide Part 7: Customary Costs

by The Axfords

Costs to be paid by the Seller;

  • Lawyer or Notary Fees and Expenses
    • Attending to execution documents
  • Costs of clearing title, including;
    • discharge fees charged by encumbrance holders
    • prepayment penalties 
  • Real Estate Commission
    • GST on the commission NOT the purchase price.

Costs to be paid by the Buyer;

  • Lawyer or Notary Fees and Expenses
    • searching title
    • investigating title
    • drafting documents
  • Land Title Registration fees
  • Survey Certificate (if required)
  • Costs of Mortgage including
    • mortgage company's Lawyer/Notary
    • appraisal (if applicable)
  • Fire Insurance Premium
  • Sales Tax (only on new homes)
  • Property Transfer Tax
    • 2% on the first $100,000 and 1% on the balance of the Purchase Price

February 2013 Update

by The Axfords


Home sales continue at below average pace

Home sale act​ivity has trended below historical averages for a full year in the Greater Vancouver housing market.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,797 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February 2013. This represents a 29.4 per cent decrease compared to the 2,545 sales recorded in February 2012, and a 33 per cent increase compared to the 1,351 sales in January 2012.

Last month’s sales were the second lowest February total in the region since 2001 and 30.9 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.

“Sales in February followed recent trends and were below seasonal averages, though our members tell us they saw more traffic at open houses last month compared to the previous six to eight months, said Eugen Klein, REBGV president.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio currently sits at 12.2 per cent in Greater Vancouver, a two per cent increase from last month. This is the first time this ratio has been above 11 per cent since June 2012.

“With a two-point increase in our sales to active listings ratio and a reduction in the average number of days it’s taking to sell a home, February showed some subtle indications of a changing sentiment in the marketplace compared to recent months,” Klein said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 4,833 in February. This represents a 13 per cent decline compared to the 5,552 new listings reported in February 2012 and a 5.8 per cent decline from the 5,128 new listings in January. Last month’s new listing count was 4 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® is 14,789, a 5.2 per cent increase compared to February 2012 and an 11.6 per cent increase compared to January 2013.

Since reaching a peak in May of $625,100, the MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver has declined 5.6 per cent to $590,400. This represents a 3.3 per cent decline compared to this time last year.

Sales of detached properties in February 2013 reached 704, a decrease of 36.1 per cent from the 1,101 detached sales recorded in February 2012, and a 49.8 per cent decrease from the 1,402 units sold in February 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties decreased 4.5 per cent from February 2012 to $901,500. Since reaching a peak in May 2012, the benchmark price of a detached property has declined 6.8 per cent.

Sales of apartment properties reached 760 in February 2013, a decline of 25.5 per cent compared to the 1,020 sales in February 2012, and a decrease of 37 per cent compared to the 1,206 sales in February 2011. The benchmark price of an apartment property decreased 3 per cent from February 2012 to $360,400. Since reaching a peak in May 2012, the benchmark price of an apartment property has declined 5.1 per cent.

Attached property sales in February 2013 totalled 333, a decline of 21.5 per cent compared to the 424 sales in February 2012, and a 31.9 per cent decrease from the 489 attached properties sold in February 2011. The benchmark price of an attached unit decreased 0.7 per cent between February 2012 and 2013 to $455,500. Since reaching a peak in April 2012, the benchmark price of an attached property has declined 6.5 per cent.


First Time Home Buyers Guide Part 6 - Government Programs

by The Axfords

Research Government Programs

  • First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit
    • The First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit is a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit on a qualifying home.  The credit provides up to $750 in tax relief to assist first-time buyers with purchase costs.  For more information, check the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) website:
  • Home Buyers' Plan
    • The Home Buyers' Plan is a one-time withdrawal up to $25,000 from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) by first-time buyers to help purchase or build a home.  Generally, you have to repay all withdrawals from your RRSP within 15 years.  For more details visit the CRA at
  • CMHC Green Home Program
    • The CMHC Green Home Program is when you use CMHC-Insured financing to buy or build an energy-efficient home or make energy-saving renovations, you may qualify for a premium refund of 10% on your mortgage default insurance and a premium refund for a longer amortization period (if applicable).  Check out the CMHC's website for more information at


As always we will be helping you find any and all applicable rebate and grant programs available to best meet your individual needs. 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 123