Tips for Garden Improvement – Start Before Selling!

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Tips for Garden Improvement – Start Before Selling


Many home owners spend a lot of energy renovating the inside of their homes before selling, but one room that is constantly neglected or relegated to the bottom of the priority list is actually the biggest room of the house:  the yard. A well-maintained and beautifully landscaped yard can be a big selling feature. Home owners are increasingly aware of the value of landscape and many green thumbs can spot a hasty makeover trying to replace solid design and good plant health. Renovate and improve the health of your yard for really effective curb-appeal, but start soon, so plants have time to grow healthy.


Begin with a garden and plant assessment. This is usually free or very inexpensive. You can ask several lanscaping companies to quote on your garden maintenance; the good ones will tell you what is healthy and what is not – and how to remedy the situation. More often than not, the solution to an ailing garden is to improve soil health.


Don’t scrimp on maintenance. The cheapest quote is not going to get you quality care. The average hourly cost of good landscapers is $40-$45 per hour. If a company is charging much less than this, something is amiss and they are likely not properly insured. Mishaps can reflect back onto you as the home owner. Cheaper services also employ cheaper methods such as overdosing lawns with chemicals, which can adversely impact your health as well as that of the garden and cost more money to repair in the long run. If you don’t do your own garden upkeep, begin a thorough maintenance program and use a reputable contractor. Check their references and make sure their other clients and gardens are happy.  Sometimes proper maintenance of an established garden is all you need to go from ailing to WOW.


Your landscape contractor should be your resource for everything your garden needs, from soil health management to pruning, and from plant choices to irrigation services. The more you know about the ecosystem of your garden, the better you can care for it. If your thumbs are brown, make sure your landscaper is top notch, skilled in aspects of lawn and garden care, and preferably using organic practise.


Maintenance is much more than mowing the lawn, and can, in fact, involve NOT mowing the lawn, at least not as much. The healthiest lawns are thick and lush, with strong root systems. Instead of applying lime, fertilizer, herbicides and scraping the grass with a power rake to within an inch of its life every spring, opt for the organic approach which involves top feeding the lawn with good composted soil, raising the mower blades to leave at least 3” of grass after cutting, and leaving grass clippings on the lawn to feed it. In really shady areas where moss proliferates, grass is always going to be difficult to maintain; why not think about a different kind of ground cover there? By opting for healthier grass, your lawn will be much more resistant to European chafer beetle and cost you less in the long run.


The success of any landscape depends on how well the maintenance practices support the design objectives of the yard. Sometimes there are big problems in a home landscape and it’s better to remedy the situation sooner than later. If you aren’t planning to sell your home in the immediate future, wouldn’t you want to enjoy a beautiful, healthy yard while you have it? By starting proper organic lawn and garden maintenance now, you are guaranteed to have a yard worth showing off when it’s time for the Open House.


For a yard and garden assessment, call Elizabeth or Lesley.



Even More Plants

Elizabeth Earle & Lesley Rawling


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Pinterest – of Interest?

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Update: Reachd Internet Marketing & Social Media Classes in Vancouver, BC

Update: Reachd Internet Marketing & Social Media Classes in Vancouver, BC

Some changes at Reachd we wanted to share:

  1. We've reorganized the 2-day course into a different order of topics so we can add more information and slow the pace down!
    Here's what future students will encounter:
    Day One: Google Adwords + Blogging + Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Day Two: Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) + Plan Implementation
  2. We are now offering a complimentary one-on-one 60-minute session with the instructor (me!) within 3 months of completion of the course. Value: $150+. To take advantage, you must register (and pay) 10 or more days before the course you will be attending.
  3. We are now posting all upcoming course dates so that students can book themselves into a class well in advance.
    Class size is limited to 8 students for a more intimate and personalized learning experience.
    Upcoming dates are: (9am-12pm & 1pm-4pm)
    Wednesday, Feb 15th & Thursday Feb 16th
    Wednesday, March 28th & Thursday March 29th
    Wednesday, April 25th & Thursday April 26th
    Wednesday, May 16th & Thursday May 17th
  4. Past students are now welcome to come "audit" the new class for only $100! If we haven't sold out by the Monday of the week of the class, you are welcome to secure a seat in the class at a past-student discounted rate of only $100! Contact us if interested.
  5. We are hoping to collect testimonials from past students, and will happily provide an inbound link (to your site) using the keywords of your choice on our Testimonials page! Email us with some kind words, and instructions about the link, and we'll update our website. It's a win-win for us both :).

Thanks for taking the time to read through this list of exciting changes.
If you have questions, comments, feedback or referrals, we'd love to hear from you!

All the best,
Dara Sklar
Vancouver Instructor

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Your Vancouver Real Estate Questions – Answered!

Really well said…

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: "Mary Cleaver" <>
Date: Jan 25, 2012 12:40 PM
Subject: Your Vancouver Real Estate Questions – Answered!
To: "Dara" <>

I don't personally know anyone who has made more money investing in the stock market than they have by investing in their own homes.
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Dexter Associates Realty

Q: My question is about real estate as an investment. With the high cost of property in Vancouver, why should I buy a condo when I can rent? I can put the money I would’ve spent on a down payment in the stock market.

To see this question answered on video, click here   

A:  I asked a similar question of my REALTOR® five years ago. I had purchased a two-bedroom condo in Fairview in 2003. In 2006, my then financial advisor suggested that if I sold the property and gave the profit to him to invest on my behalf, that I could do very well. I liked the idea because I knew the value of my home had appreciated substantially in those three years, and it made some sense to me to “lock in those profits.”

I called my REALTOR® to ask his opinion. He reminded me that Vancouver real estate prices rise over time and that if I got out of the market, prices could well increase to the point that I wouldn’t be able to get back in. He advised me to hold onto my investment – my home – and said, “real estate will always stand you in good stead, Mary.” His advice was worth a lot because I would have listed with him. He had nothing to gain by convincing me to stay put. Incidentally, this experience was pivotal in my life because I was inspired by his unselfish counsel to aspire to a career in real estate for myself.

I didn’t sell my apartment at that time. Instead, I sold it three years later. The profit along with the equity realized from paying the mortgage over six years allowed us to purchase a townhome large enough to house our family of three with a baby on the way. Meanwhile, the stock market had been sent for an absolute loop with the financial crisis in late 2008, and while I lost some money, I was glad not to have had all my eggs in that basket.

I had a debate with someone in the banking industry recently who doesn’t share my view that Vancouver real estate is the best investment, given the price increases of the last several years. He believes that the market is over-valued and there is more money to be made in the stock market for savvy investors. He cited the fact that the collective value of the TSX increases over time, just like the value of property does.

Here is why real estate wins. Almost without exception, every property in Vancouver that was purchased five years ago is worth more today – condos, townhouses, and detached homes­ in almost every area. The same cannot be said for individual stocks on the TSX. Some have gone up exponentially and others have gone to zero. Even sophisticated investors make mistakes, and most of us are not sophisticated investors. It is worth noting that for all investments, including real estate, we are wise to invest for the long term.  

There is another factor that tips the scales in favour of property ownership as an investment vehicle. When we buy a home, we commonly come up with the down payment and borrow the rest. Currently, this borrowed money is offered at extremely low interest rates. The upside is that the value of your investment is the entire purchase price, not only the dollar figure that you actually invested, and it is that entire purchase price amount that appreciates over time.

I’ll go back to my experience for an illustration. I purchased my $300,000 strata unit with $30,000 down, plus $5000 in closing costs. My investment of $35,000 made me close to $200,000 in six years because it was the value of the property that was appreciating, not the dollars I put in from my pocket. I don’t include the monthly payments as part of my investment because I consider those payments to be the cost of a roof over my head. I would have paid a similar amount of money in rent had I not owned. The key point here is not the exact dollar figure I made in a relatively short time. We may see slower growth in condo prices in the next few years. I don’t know and neither does anyone else. But whatever the percentage of growth is year over year; that percentage is based on the investment’s entire value. The case becomes more compelling still when you factor in the incentives offered by the federal government for first-time home buyers (which I’ll cover in detail in a future column), as well as the fact that there is no capital gains tax on any profit made from selling your principal residence.

All this investment potential is, of course, in addition to the pride you feel in home ownership, the knowledge that you cannot be evicted, and the stability of your monthly cost of housing if you lock in to a fixed-term mortgage. Home ownership offers incalculable benefits unrelated to property as an investment.

While none of us can predict with certainty the way markets will behave over a given period of time, clearly the past is our best indication of the future. I’ve invested in mutual funds and individual stocks for close to twenty years. I’ve worked with Scotiabank, Sun Life, and Jennings Capital on those investments. I’ve also owned three principal residences over a similar timeframe. I have made more money in real estate than with any of my other investments.  It’s not even a close contest.

My story is only one example. Think about the people in your life and ask them about their experience. I talk to friends, family members, and clients about financial matters frequently and I don’t know anyone who has added more to their net worth by investing in mutual funds or individual stocks than they have by investing in their own homes.

Do you?

Copyright © 2012 Dexter Associates Realty, All rights reserved.
"You are receiving this email because you opted in to my newsletter or asked me a question about real estate in Vancouver."
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Dexter Associates Realty
2094 West 43rd Avenue

Vancouver, BC V6M 2C9

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Vancouver Social Media class photo – January 2012


I am just concluding the Social Media portion of our two-day Internet Marketing class!

The students are saturated with information and I'm trying to show them how simple updating a blog, twitter status and Facebook page can be with one step, using Posterous!

Here is the photo of this lovely crew, two Realtors, a Cruise Specialist, and Electronics Retailer. Having a small class is awesome for everyone involved.

They'd better get a good night's sleep tonight because tomorrow is action-packed with SEO & Google Adwords!

Vancouver Instructor,
Total Marketing and Consulting Inc.

Professional Marketing Services for Realtors®
Professional Photo & Video Tours in the Vancouver area

Small Business Websites & Marketing

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30 Can’t-Miss Home Staging Tips


Grimy bathroom walls are a major red flag to buyers.

Here is an easy way to get rid of surface mold: Mix a spray bottle with one part water and one part bleach. Just spray it on the wall, and watch the mold disappear. Give it a fresh coat of paint, and your grimy bathroom will go from red flag to red-hot.

Don't replace a yucky shower door: Just scour it.

A grimy glass shower door can really wash out your sale. Instead of replacing it, clean it with a mixture of one part muriatic acid and about 10 parts water. Scrub with steel wool. After wiping it down, reinstall the door and you'll have a shower that'll help you clean up at the open house.

Avoid dated tile by painting.

Bathrooms sell houses, but dated tile in a bathroom doesn't. A low-cost alternative to replacing the tile is to use paint. First coat the tiles with a high-adhesion primer. Next, brush on a special ceramic epoxy covering. For a fraction of the cost of new tile, you will have an up-to-date bathroom that brings in big bucks.

Pedestal sinks are a big hit with buyers.

They show off square footage in small bathrooms beautifully. First, your old vanity has to go. Next, just hook up your new sink, and your bathroom will have dramatic appeal that brings in big bucks. Plus, buyers will see how much floor space your bathroom has.

A master bedroom should appeal to both sexes.

When you are selling, your master bedroom should appeal to buyers of both sexes. Get rid of features that seem too gender-specific. Paint the walls a neutral color, and choose bedding that matches. Then accessorize with items that complement the overall color scheme.

Do you have an overpowering brick fireplace that sticks out like a sore thumb?

Here's an easy way to tone it down with paint. Use a rag or brush to rub a light coat of paint on the bricks, one at a time. This will give them a new tone without covering them completely. And, if you use a paint color that matches the walls, your fireplace will go from sticking out to standing out.

Updating an old fireplace screen is a cheap (and quick) fix.

After removing the screen and wiping it down to get rid of the dust, mask off the windows so you won't get paint on them. Then, using a can of heat-resistant spray paint, give the screen a facelift. Hold the can about 18 inches away, and use long, even strokes. For less than $5, you will have a fireplace screen that'll keep your sale from going up in smoke.

Turn an unattractive fireplace into a selling feature.

Need to turn an unattractive fireplace into a selling feature? First, that dated brass screen has got to go. Next, give the fireplace a good cleaning, scrubbing it with soap and water. Then, using a stone color enhancer, polish the bricks to make them shine. In no time you will have a fireplace that will turn your house into the hottest property on the block.

Stain dated kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them.

Dated kitchen cabinets can be a big turnoff to potential buyers. Instead of paying big bucks to replace them, just stain them. First, apply the stain in even strokes, going with the grain of the wood. Add some stylish hardware, and your kitchen will have the up-to-date look that buyers love, for less than $200.

Stainless-steel appliances are definitely in with buyers.

Instead of buying a new dishwasher, here is a low-cost way to resurface an old one: First, remove the front panels, and clean them. Next, apply a stainless-steel stick-on covering, and cut it to size. For just $20 your dishwasher will go from outdated to ultra-modern.

Fill existing hardware holes instead of making new, unsightly ones.

Removing old kitchen hardware can leave your cabinets with stripped-out holes. Here is a trick to reusing the existing ones.

First, dip a toothpick in glue and place it in the stripped hole. Cut off the excess piece. Once the glue dries, you'll be ready to put in the hardware that buyers love.

Save money on granite countertops.

Granite countertops are a huge selling feature, but they can be expensive. Here are a few ways to save on this investment:

First, do the demo yourself. Also, ask the vendor for remnants from previous projects. Remember, any money you spend will definitely be returned in the value these beautiful counters add to your kitchen.

New kitchen appliances bring high returns from sellers.

Studies show that new kitchen appliances bring high returns from sellers, so get rid of old appliances that make the rest of the kitchen look dated. Once you install the new equipment, it will scream "new kitchen," and you will see that spending a little money will make you even more.

Need to dress up a window but don't want to shell out big bucks for window treatments?

Here's a trick: Use place mats. First, apply a hook-and-loop fastener to the place mats and attach them in a row to a basic curtain rod. Now that the place mats are attached to the curtain rods, pin them together at the bottom, and you'll have a stylish valance that costs about $12.

Adding drama to old hardwood flooring is easier than you might think.

First, isolate damaged boards, cut them out and replace them with new pieces. Rent a sander from a local hardware store, and give the floor a good sanding. The last step is to stain the boards with a rich color, and watch your floor go from drab to dramatic in no time.

Buyers love built-in bookshelves.

There's a fine line between filling them with clutter and staging them to sell. The trick is to arrange neutral items in clusters. Make sure that no single accessory stands out too much. That way, you'll show off your attractive built-ins, and not your personal belongings. Curb appeal is vital to attracting buyers.

Here is how to stop traffic using color. First, with two tones of paint, add a faux finish to any corner keystones. Next, bring out the color of walkway pavers using a stone sealer. Plant flowers in bloom, and you'll have buyers swarming like bees to your front door.

A nice outdoor deck can be a big selling feature, but an old one is a major liability.

To give your outdoor space new life, first sand the wood. Cover it with a light-colored stain instead of paint to give it a rustic, grainy look. Furnish it for entertaining, and watch your open house turn into a party.

Breathe new life into a worn patio.

Do you have a red-brick patio surface that needs to be freshened up? Here is an easy way to give it new life with paint. First, roll a light coat of paint onto the bricks. Next, lightly spray them with water and then dab them before they dry to give them an outdoor look. When you are done, you will have a patio that looks fresh and reels in buyers.

Staging rooms to show off their true potential is essential when selling your home.

Clear out clutter or other personal items that will distract buyers. Paint the walls a neutral tone, and furnish the space to show off how functional it is. When buyers come through and imagine themselves there, you can bet an offer isn't far behind.

A shabby wood-panel wall is not a strong selling point.

Instead of ripping it out, cover it up. Use wood filler to carefully fill in all the cracks between the panels. Then, use a sponge to wipe away the excess filler. Once it's dry, paint the room. You'll see an unattractive wall go from standing out to blending in.

Use tape outlines on the floor instead of actually moving furniture around.

Rearranging a room to stage it for your open house? Here is a tip to save time and effort: Instead of lugging the heavy furniture around the room to see what feels best, put outlines on the floor with painter's tape. Arrange the room according to your outlines, and save your energy for counting offers.

Vinyl tile is an inexpensive way to update your home.

Laying vinyl tile is an inexpensive way to update your home, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. You need to avoid laying patterns that look too perfect. Instead, make sure to switch up the direction and placement of the tiles to mix the tones. That way, you end up with a floor that has a natural feel. Let the sun shine in.

Buyers love light and airy living rooms, but dark and dingy isn't on their list. Open up your window shades to let some light in. Cheat some sunshine with a light-colored paint and lots of artificial lighting. You can never have too many lamps. Last, arrange the space with lightly colored furniture, and you'll have a living room that brightens your chances of a sale.

Stage rooms with one purpose so buyers will know what it is.

Potential buyers are confused by extra rooms that have a mishmash of uses. To avoid this problem, first clear away clutter and excess furniture. Paint the walls a neutral tone and then furnish the room with a desk to stage it as a home office in which buyers will want to get down to business.

Unpleasant pet odors won't win over buyers.

We all love our pets, but unpleasant pet odors can make a negative first impression. Be sure to get rid of old carpet that can trap offensive smells. Replace it with fresh new carpet in a neutral color. Plus, if you paint the walls to match, your living room will look bigger. It'll go from designed to smell to designed to sell.

Pack up unnecessary items and furniture before you show the house.

An overpacked living room is a red flag to buyers that your home lacks storage space. Pack up unneccesary items and furniture, and move items to your garage or a nearby storage facility. Clear the way for a sale by letting buyers see your square footage, not your personal belongings.

Storage space sells!

Potential buyers love homes that have lots of storage space. Since they will open your closets, it's a good idea to clear out unnecessary clutter, and organize your shelves to show off how much storage you really have. Plus, it gives you a chance to start packing, as you will definitely be moving once buyers see all that closet space.

Create a nice flow in your rooms.

Buyers are attracted to homes that have a good flow. You can create circulation by replacing square or rectangular dining tables with round ones. Cutting the corners adds room to this maneuver and creates a spinoff effect that adds flow to your home — cash flow, that is.

Create a better flow in the house by starting with the floor.

Want to create better flow in your house? Start with the floor. Join two rooms together by using the most cost-efficient material in the book: vinyl tile. First, use a snap-line to create a center point between the two rooms. Next, the fun part: Peel and stick the new vinyl tile down, and watch your kitchen and dining room go from old to sold!

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