August 29, 2015
Surrey and White Rock Hit Hard by Freak Summer Storm
My wife called me Saturday morning to tell me our Surrey home's windows and doors were shaking quite violently and our dogs were cowering in the closets. I was with a real estate client in Mission, BC in a sheltered area and was completely unaware of what was happening back home. The call was a precursor to what I would face trying to view the South Surrey property I was heading to next. Traveling on 0 Avenue in South Surrey, I was forced to turn back by a fallen tree just a hundred feet short of my destination. In this image you can see the Homelife Benchmark real estate listing sign for the South Surrey property for sale just on the other side of the fallen tree.
Just last week I was teasing a friend from Calgary, asking if they had been skiing, given they had a freak August snowstorm. Personally, I think old man winter is have a great time messing with people's minds as he hit Surrey with 80 km winds that wreaked havoc less than a week after tormenting Calgarians. The last windstorm in the Lower Mainland of similar magnitude was in 2006, but that storm happened in the heart of winter. That devasting storm 9 years ago was the stuff of weather legend as it destroyed so many beautiful trees in Stanley Park.
I decided to not tempt fate climbing over branches to view the home. I was told emergency road crews were on the way and it was still pretty windy. I headed home. The winds had died down and I was able to ease the dogs back out to the yard. As I write this blog, our Surrey home is still without power. We've been about 30 hours "powerless". Normally, with no power, I'd say I'm glad it's August, but soon we will be throwing out everything in our freezer. That's so minor a problem considering a Surrey woman was seriously injured by a fallen tree. There are also considerable danger presented by downed power lines. On my own street, BC Hydro has set up a 30 metre safety perimeter around down lines. I'm also concerned with all the traffic lights out. Busy Highway 10 has at least 2 intersections near my Surrey home with no traffic lights. I observed a couple of near miss incidents when I passed through. Drivers are confused on this busy thoroughfare by the "four way" stop procedures in place.
My mother-in-law lives near Scottsdale mall and has kindly invited her children without power for dinner. I'm on my way out the door, and hope that others are staying safe until Surrey streets return to normal.
November 23, 2014
Draft Proof Your Home for Winter
Old man winter will be in town soon, and that can be a bit of a headache for homeowners. The single biggest utility expense in South Surrey and White Rock homes is heating and cooling. These homes are particularly problematic because of the proximity to the ocean, rain and winter storms. Usually heating and cooling account for about 60-70% of household utilities. This expense can be reduced by up to 25% if a homeowners draft proofs. As an added benefit draft proofing helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions (your footprint).
Save money and help the envirnonment, that makes the draft proofing decision easy. Let's get started!
First you will need to find and assess the draft leaks. One tried and true way is to burn incense. The lit part will illuminate red when close to a leak and also smoke will trail towards the leak. If you are anxious to get started and don't have incense then a candle will work. Hold the candle near a suspected draft source, if the flame swirls (dances), you have a leak. Another simple way is to run your hand over suspected leak areas and feel for the temperature change.
Good news. Draft proofing materials are relatively cheap. A quick trip to the hardware store (or shopping online) will do the trick. You will need:
- caulking matrial or weather stripping
- window insulation film
- window coverings (blinds or curtains)
- door sweeps
- electrical outlet gaskets
- door snakes (which are also relatively easy to make for DIY'ers)
Roll up your sleeves, and get started:
- Remove any old weather stripping or caulking materials from windows and doors. Install the new weather stripping or caulking according to material instructions
- Baseboards on the inside of exterior walls are often leak culprits as well, use paintable caulking on these. If you are ambitious or worried about caulking showing, take the baseboard off and caulk behind it, then replace the baseboard.
- Do you have an attic hatch? If so, caulk it.
- Install window insulation film (shrink wrapping) on the inside of any single pain windows (have your blow dryer at the ready - this is a project for two and you want to be styling) --- kidding --- you truly do need two people, and you need the blow dryer but it's for the shrink wrapping of the windows.
- In winter the temperature between a heavy curtain and the window is fairly cool or even cold. This is because curtains are a form an insulation. Installing curtains or blinds will significantly reduce the heat loss through winters. Better still, hang curtains with a roller blind behind them.
- Door sweeps can be installed on both interior and interior doors. They are likely only warranted on interior rooms that you close off during winter. So, more important to your heating costs, install on outside doors
- Install electrical outlet gaskets behind all electrical sockets and light switches.
- The easiest of all to implement are door snakes. Just lie them down and snug them up against the bottom of the door. You can even make door snakes yourself. These are predominantly on the inside of doors so are of limited value when no one is home to ensure they are in place.
If you are planning on renovating and making significant permanent changes to your BC home then there are rebates available that you need to become familiar with before you start. That's a more expensive and more permanent fix and I'll write a blog about that in early December.
The good news is that doing some or all of the draftproofing ideas above will save you money. Once you have done as many of the above draftproofing steps as are needed for gaps and cracks, you will stop that sneaky cold air from coming in and your precious warm air from wafting out.
Mike Alleyne604-785-7066Homelife Benchmark Realty, Surrey
Friends to Lead, Friends in "Deed"
October 5, 2014
Surrey Real Estate Agents doing the WIFI Happy Dance
The City of Surrey has one upped Vancouver. We will soon have 40 free WIFI hotspots located throughout the city. Vancouver has been working on a similar deal for over 10 years but has still not inked it.
Surrey carved out the deal in only six months and is the first city in the Lower Mainland to get it. Best of all it's free to the City of Surrey and to those connecting to the service. OK, I know, there's no such thing as free, it's just kind of free. The City of Surrey gave Shaw the right to install WIFI equipment in city buildings as a trade off.
As a Surrey and South Surrey real estate agent, I'm curious as to the breadth of coverage the 40 hotspots will provide in the vast City of Surrey. I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth; 40 locations will suit me just fine. The hot spots will be community centres.
Realtors in Surrey, South Surrey and White Rock, find themselves doing a lot of work on their phones and tablets. Zooming from our home offices to our brokerage offices and then on to see clients. We are often asked to provide information on Surrey and White Rock homes for sale to clients and time is of the essence. Many real estate agents are fairly paperless these days, but we are very dependent on a strong wifi signal. Sometimes we battle with unstable internet connections. These back up hot spots will definitely be handy, particularly in South Surrey and nearer to White Rock, where cellphone and internet reception is sometimes intermittent.
White Rock, Surrey and South Surrey real estate agents will be able to get a map of the hot spot locations and just pull over to do work for their clients. My crystal ball shows real estate agents saving a little fuel, having better wifi reception (the deal includes good bandwidth), and being able to serve our clients even faster. How great is that? I won't fight City Hall on this one. Thank you City of Surrey, I appreciate the efficiency.
Mike Alleyne604-785-7066Homelife Benchmark Realty, South Surrey Real Estate
Friends to Lead, Friends in "Deed"
October 1, 2014
The Path to a Catchy Real Estate Slogan
We are revamping the www.alleyneteam.com real estate website this month and needed to have a slogan or tagline that represented us. We wanted to develop our own slogan so it would be more meaningful. The slogan needed to portray us as realtors.
A real estate slogan needs to be short, original, and meaningful. We want to convey that we love working in real estate, that we act as advisors, and that we are skilled negotiators. We also wanted to express the importance of the friends we have made along the way. That's alot to pack in to a tagline. So, what do the marketers really mean by "taglines should be short" --- experts recommend a tagline be eight words or less. Are you kidding us?
We needed time to think, to create, to toss slogan ideas around. Luckily my wife, Janet, and I had lots of time on our hands on a recent road trip to Yellowstone Park. Driving through the rolling countryside, beautiful properties, and big skies of Montana gave us that time. For inspiration we picked up real estate magazines at gas stations, read real estate signs along the roadside and perused realtor websites when we could get wifi. We saw these slogans:
Outstanding agents, outstanding results
Real Estate is our Life
Real Estate for Your World
Service you deserve, People you Trust
Nobody Does It Better
Now we like these, but they are a little vanilla and definitely not very memorable. These are from major real estate companies and people would likely not know which slogan was from ReMax and which was from Century 21 and so on. Imagine not knowing which company was "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz", or "Just do it" or "Where's the beef". In all our real estate slogan searching, the only one that stood out was the Brel Team in Toronto. Their real estate slogan was "No BS, no fridge magnets, no broken promises". It's unique, it's funny, and youthful. As much as we liked it though, we needed something original for us (remember the rules, no copycatting).
Lucky our road trip was long. We were able to develop a slogan that really worked for us, one that incorporated friendship, guidance and property transactions AND was eight words or less.
Friends to lead, friends "in Deed"
Just six words, Phew! We hope you like it!
September 5, 2012
New More Affordable Housing Concept in Surrey
I often wonder how my children will be able to afford a home in the Lower Mainland if they chose to live here. More and more our adult children are either moving away from the lower mainland or living at home longer because they just can't afford accommodation here. My daughter recently rented a room in Yaletown which was actually a kitchen pantry converted to a bedroom. There was no window, no closet, and definitely not big enough for even a single bed ... just a cot. I won't even get into how much the monthly rent was.
Surrey's Quattro is tackling the issue of affordability of Surrey condos and townhouses. They have chosen Surrey, BC's most rapidly growing community for this ambitious project. You likely heard that Quattro 1 and 2 sold out in record time. The real estate market has certainly cooled since then, but Quattro is still a very good option for 1st time buyers and downsizing couples or others who are deciding to be a part of the up and coming area at Whalley Boulevard and 108th in Surrey. The proximity of healthcare of Surrey Memorial and the Jimmy Pattison Pavillion are also very attractive to individuals desiring the convenience of this proximity.
The Quattro area is becoming a new "city centre" area, with significant long term plans for infrastructure, including quaint neighbourhood restaurants, a live performance theatre, a new $86 million civic centre with its crowning glory being "Celebration Plaza" which will accommodate 5,000 people. Quattro is also walking distance (less than 10 minutes) to Skytrain and close to SFU's Surrey campus.
Given construction is complete Surrey's new Quattro 3 condo and townhouse development re-opened its Discovery Centre over the Labour Day Weekend. This condo development is the first six story wood frame residential commercial mixed building in Surrey. It includes studio apartments, 1 and 2 bedrooms, and live work studios - imagine that.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts who supports the new construction stated "National business and real estate organizations continue to recognize Surrey as having one of the strongest investment climates in the country, and we've been able to attract over $1 billion in new residential development to City Centre. As we continue to shape growth in our city, we are encouraging new forms of housing stock to meet the needs of our community and are excited to see Quattro pioneering six storey wood-frame construction in Surrey."
The long awaited revitalization of Whalley has begun.
Mike Alleyne, Real Estate AgentHomeLife Benchmark604-785-7066
August 3, 2012
The Perfect Place for Outdoorsy Folks, Panorama Ridge!
For people who love the outdoors like me, Panorama Ridge in Surrey is a great location to consider for your new home. The laidback atmosphere offers a relaxing refuge after a long day at work. Whether you have a family of your own or you are living on your own, consider Panorama Ridge as a great location for your overall wellbeing and of course, comfortable living. Given Surrey is such a large city, there are many houses for sale in Surrey. It you are focused on a house for sale in Panorama Ridge, zoom in on the Surrey map www.alleyneteam.com/recip.html.
Things to enjoy at Panorama Ridge include the Joe Brown Park www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/2032.aspx wherein singles and families can both enjoy a gamut of outdoor activities starting with bike riding, playing slow pitch baseball, horseback riding, and hiking as it is close to the well-known Canada Trail.
Just imagine enjoying the clean air, the lush greens, and the friendly neighborhood setup, Panorama Ridge is definitely the perfect place for parents to raise their kids as well. Aside from recreational facilities such as the aforementioned Joe Brown Park, you can also find great educational institutions in Panorama Ridge such as Colebrook Elementary School and Ecole Panorama Ridge, an excellent high school in this community.
Given that this is a wonderful community, you can expect a lot of great, large-sized lots available here. Take your pick among the various options available! This is definitely the perfect place for those who are dreaming of either totally getting a break from hectic city life by relocating or at least having a great country house that offers various conveniences.
Panorama Ridge is part of a continuously developing city that never runs short of recreational facilities that encourages its residents to enjoy a more active and healthy lifestyle. Aside from those mentioned above, here you can also find art centers, batting cages, bike parks, dog off-leash areas, outdoor pools, pavilions, sports courts, skate parks, soccer fields, picnic shelters, and so much more.
Even if you are not the outdoorsy type, Panorama Ridge is sure to make one out of you.
As the city always espouses on promoting a healthy community, they also have this “Be Active Surrey” campaign which encourages people to, well, be active and look after of their health. But this change of pace is not just great for your health, as it will even help improve your overall mood, so how can you lose?
Having lived in Surrey, I can attest to the wonderful atmosphere that this place offers. The simple country life does have its perks, and Panorama Ridge in Surrey is no exception.
It is wonderful location wherein its residents live harmoniously and enjoy their diversity. In fact, diversity is much welcome in Surrey, assuring potential homeowners of being able to enjoy a peaceful, happy life with people that they can trust and in a neighborhood where they and their children can always feel safe.
Panorama Ridge has a very active community group call the Panorama Ridge Ratepayers Association www.panoramaridge.org. They send out regular newsletters, organize a crime watch, and take an active involvement in community development plans.
Should you wish to see the different properties available in Panorama Ridge, don’t hesitate to contact me!