Fixture or Chattel? Does it Stay, or Does it Go?

As a REALTOR®, the question of Does it Stay or Does it Go comes up with every transaction. The technical terms; fixture or chattel, are how they are described. As a buyer or a seller, it is important to know what is really included in the sale. I’ve asked my law student Ghost Writer, B. Sacamano,  to help answer this question and the following is his article. B’s experience includes being a REALTOR® so the fixture chattel debate is discussed in an understandable way.

Fuzzy Dice

Have you ever bought a used car? What was included in your purchase? Were the tires included? How about the seats? Of course they were, they are after all, part of what makes it a car. The half used container of engine oil in the trunk was probably removed prior to the sale. As was the emergency road side assistance kit, and any other personal belongings not essential to the operation of the car in its capacity as a drivable car. The fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror for example, the atlas in the glove box (younger readers feel free to google what that is), and the stack of cd’s under the front seat, all disappeared prior to you driving away in your new ride.

I’m hoping that this analogy will provide a bit of clarity regarding what’s included, and not included in a house sale. At the very least it should get you thinking so you can ask the right questions at the appropriate time of the sale. All too often the REALTOR® gets a frantic call after possession day regarding something that has been taken or switched out for something different. And the best way to deal with this issue is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This pre-emptive attitude will require knowledge of fixture’s and chattels.

Chattels can simply be described as personal property, and would not be included in any sale unless specified in writing. From our car analogy, this would be the half-used oil in the trunk, the atlas and the fuzzy dice. Conversely, a fixture is attached to the land (or home) in some way, and as such would by default be included in the sale. From our car analogy, this would include the tires and the seats. They are essential to what makes the car a car.

This seems simple enough, if it’s attached it stays, and if it’s not it goes, right? Not quite. Confusion arises when chattels become fixtures, either intentionally or unintentionally. You see, there is a legal principle that says whatever is attached to the soil becomes part of it. In other words, if an item of personal property is attached in some fashion to the land or the house, it will become a fixture and henceforth transfer ownership with the land.

This is of course the difficulty in answering the fixture or chattel question. The seller may have never intended an item of personal property to become a fixture in the first place, whereas the buyer may have assumed the item is included as it appears to be a fixture.  Unfortunately the courts have decided the issue both ways; they have on one hand said that the physical attachment of a chattel is enough to indicate that chattel is actually a fixture, [1] and they have also conversely said physical attachment is not enough.[2] Essentially it comes down to the particular set of circumstances.

So what’s the simple solution here? Basically, if you want the container of oil, or the fuzzy dice, make sure to ask for them. Don’t assume they are included in the deal just because they were in the car when you looked at it. And likewise, if you’re going to put the original wheels back on the car before possession, make sure to stipulate that at the outset. When in doubt, you have to write it out.

[1] Holland v Hodgson (1872) LR 7 CP 328

[2] Monical –v- 0793545 BC Limited, 2013 BCSE 25

If you have any further questions, please contact us or feel free to leave a comment or a like and check out our Facebook and twitter feeds.

Condominium – What does that really mean?

We often hear the word condominium shortened to condo. And for many it has become synonymous with Apartment style housing. In this post we will unpack what Condominium really means.

Commercial Condominium Project

Terminology in Real Estate can sometimes be a bit confusing so when selling or purchasing a property you need to understand what it is you are buying or selling. Condominium is defined as per the Oxford dictionaries as:

a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses.

In British Columbia it also means any property that is part of a strata titled group of properties. This can include; Apartment style, Townhome’s, Duplex’s, Bare Land Strata’s, Commercial Properties and Mixed use Properties. You may not even know what category you are buying!
In British Columbia, these types of properties used to be governed by the Condominium Act.  This was replaced with the Strata Property Act and it is the governing authority. You will recall in my previous post  we discussed different types of ownership. It was mentioned that strata ownership represents approximately 50% of all ownership types. This will vary depending on community but it is significant to note that a strata (condominium) transaction is typically the most complicated type of transaction you might ever enter into.
Every Condominium is subject to the strata title act which outlines the responsibilities of the owner as well as the strata corporation. Now the term strata corporation itself needs some defining.
By default, the owners of the condominium are also joint owners of any common property (Assets) of the development. This joint ownership is what is called the strata corporation. The strata corporation is managed by a strata council which acts for the benefit of the owners as whole. It is a common practise for the strata corporation to hire a Property Management company to assist them in ensuring the corporation is run correctly.

Key Areas of Condominium Ownership:

  • ByLaws – Every Strata is governed by a set of bylaws. These bylaws are either established by the strata corporation or they are by default the bylaws specified within the Strata Property Act

A common error when buying bare land strata is not recognizing these still apply.

  • Strata Plan – The strata plan shows you what type of strata you are involved in and what you actually own.

the ad said your unit came with 2 parking stalls. Do you really own them?

  •  Engineers Reports & Depreciation Reports – These reports, if available, can be key to making a good decision on whether or not you should buy a particular unit. They are also valuable tools for the Owners in making good decisions on managing their assets.

Knowing when a major asset like a roof or heating system needs replacing is key in budgeting for a strata. Also important as a buyer to know if something major is upcoming and how it will be paid for.

  • Financial Statements – Gives you a clear picture of the Financial health of the development and where they are spending money.

A key thing to look for is whether or not the expenditures match the budget. If the maintenance budget is not being spent, are there going to be deferred maintenance issues?

  • Minutes of Strata Meetings – These minutes are the records of any Strata Council, Annual General Meetings and Special Meetings. As a buyer you will want to see a minimum of the previous 2 years on record.

Reviewing these documents will help give you a sense of the management of the strata corporation. Does the council overstep their level of authority? Do they deal with things in a timely manner? Are their changes to the bylaws moving forward? Special assessments?

This brief explanation of a condominium and what it means is only meant to alert you to some of the key areas to look at. As mentioned earlier, it is a complicated transaction and you are best advised to seek expert advice.

As a real estate professional I am qualified through education and experience to help you in one of two ways.

  1. Buying or Selling a Condominium: Able to help you navigate the entire process as your agent.
  2. Strata Property Review service; A comprehensive evaluation of the key areas identified above. As a Buyer this is important before you make your deal firm. (If we are acting on your behalf as in option 1, this service is included).

Please feel free to contact me at any time should you need any help. And please feel free to comment or share this post.


Home Ownership – Is it Right for You?

And what type .......

Of course you want to own your own home! This is Canada. Home ownership is the Great Canadian dream! And what do you mean what type? Aren’t they all the same?

Home Ownership

Let’s take this one step at a time. Home ownership has several different aspects that can affect your decision. Some advantages and some disadvantages. Click here for 6 mistakes Home Buyers Make.

Advantages of Home Ownership

  1. It is the place you call home. You might say the place you rent is also home but when your landlord decides it is time to sell, you are forced to move. Owning your own home gives you the choice.
  2. It is a great investment. With Real Estate you are likely going to see your investment grow over the longer term. Sure their might be some ups and downs but the majority of wealth is built through wise investments.
  3. It is a way you can establish memories of your family. Your kids will grow up and leave but they will always remember where home was.
  4. It is where you can demonstrate your ‘pride of ownership’. Paint your home and its walls any color you like. Decorate it with your style. Show it off. Your earned it.

Disadvantages of Home Ownership

  1. Home ownership has a cost to it. Acquisition cost and maintenance cost.
  2. Home ownership takes an investment of Time as well as money.
  3. Home ownership is not a liquid investment.

Types of Home Ownership

  1. Single Family Detached – 59% of residential properties sold this year on the MLS were Detached houses of some form or another.
  2. Attached Strata Properties – Commonly known as Condo’s or Townhomes. They represent about 41% of the MLS sales this year.
  3. Co – operatives – Usually town homes or condos owned by a corporation that sells shares in the corporation to the residents. Quite often a lower cost form of housing and great for young families.
  4. Lease-hold properties – Resemble strata with the main difference being the existence of an underlying lease on the land so ownership is subject to the lease. Not to common in Abbotsford but Chilliwack is another story.

Rental properties is kind of a form of ownership because as with all of the above, your payment affords you a bundle of rights to use the property. Knowing which rights you are purchasing is important.

Home ownership of a strata property has become somewhat of a hot commodity lately as the price of the detached house slipped out of reach of many. And it is good to have this as a choice. When looking at Strata Properties, there are a number of technical issues that come up and will be the topic of an upcoming post.

Home Ownership is a good thing to consider. When looking into it make sure you go in with your eyes open. You need to know:

  1. Your budget – Remember having a life is good too. Don’t become house rich.
  2. Size of your family – Is it going to change soon?
  3. Location you like. Schools close, Shopping, Parks, Entertainment, Transit, Church’s. These all make for more sustainable living.
  4. List of must have’s and wants. Prioritize.

Navigating the waters of home ownership is full of technicalities, legalities and personalities. My best advice to you is to get a guide you TRUST. Your best interests are the required priority. Please feel free to contact me should you need any answers to your questions.

Feel free to like, share or post comments



Will Our Real Estate Market Change Soon?

There is certainly lots of talk about the possibility of change to our real estate market and to our industry. Our Government seems to be intent on doing their part with the implementation of a new property transfer tax. Others have posted our industry should change because of perceived conflicts of interest and what could be referred to as “An Old Boys Club” mentality. I believe the term “incestuous relationship” was used.

Change happens

This conversation for me is deeply disturbing. In over 30 years of being an Agent, Manager and a Broker Owner, I have always tried to adhere to what my Dad taught me. Treat people right and the business will come. Have I been perfect at this? Nope! Do I always try? Yup! Can I get better? You Betcha! Getting better everyday should be what it is about. Looking out for my clients interest must always be my number 1 priority.

I know there are many others like me in this industry and I would have no problem naming many without hesitation should you ever want a list.

There has been ton’s of change over these years. Technology, regulations, Legal issues have all driven their own change.  I remember the computer terminal we first had. It was about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long. Reams and reams of paper were used as we would print out listings and other info. Any one remember Dial Up modems? Do you know how slow 300 baud is compared to today’s high speed connections? Our first Fax machine cost over $3,000.00 and used thermal paper. After about a year you couldn’t read what it said!

Of course for many, I am speaking a different language. You likely don’t know what a baud rate is or even a fax machine. Well, we could talk about a bunch of stuff here but the reality is “Sure things will change.”

Is this new tax a good thing? I don’t know. Maybe in the long run but what about those people caught with a deal that might not close because someone won’t pay the added tax? What about the person who might be depending on that sale to complete so they can move forward on their commitments. Seems to me some innocents could get burned in this process. It isn’t to be applied east of Langley but will it drive foreign investors here? Could that be good?

Will our market crash? I don’t know. Maybe it will do like it usually does. Level off, and then decline 5 – 10% over the next 4 – 8 years. The factors driving this market are different than any other experienced during my time.

Change is a given. Our market and our industry will always change. Sometimes for the good and sometimes not so good. The more important question is “How will I navigate what is to come?”

So Here is Some Advice for Change:

  1. Don’t be part of the herd. Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean it is a smart thing to do. Use your head.
  2. Choose to be represented by someone who has experience and familiarity with all aspects of the transaction. The legal issues and complexity of today’s transactions need to be considered.
  3. Know your limits. Yes, a level of risk is sometimes good but not everyone is comfortable at the same level.
  4. Be clear on your objectives. What is it you are trying to accomplish.
  5. Most important of all. Work with someone you trust.

The real estate market adds a significant amount to our economy so a discussion of what affects it is worthy to take place. Please feel free to leave your comments or likes. If you have any questions about real estate please feel free to ask. I will do my best to answer them.

When Should I Sell My Home?

Knowing the answer to  “when should I sell” is possibly something you might want to know. Especially after the torrid marketplace we had this spring. With house values increasing 37% in the last year could now be the time?

If you are asking yourself this question you should consider the following:

  • Does our current home meet all of our needs?

    • This will vary depending on what stage of life you are at. Maybe your family has grown and you need more room. Perhaps your family is smaller and it is time to downsize.
  • Could we improve on our current equity position?

    • Generally speaking, if your move into a bigger more expensive property, the affect of a change in value will be greater. If your current property is worth $500,000 and property values increase on average 3% per year, in 5 years its value could be $579,637.04. Moving up to a property with a value of 750,000 you might expect an increase of $119,455.56. $39,818.52 more than by staying where you are. Of course you should always factor in the cost of your move. If using this reason to move, then plan on staying in the new property for 5 years or more to capitalize on the increase. Historically Real Estate is best as a long term investment.
  • Where would we rather live?

    • Maybe you live on a busy street or have a steep driveway. Maybe there is something else about your current property that is not desirable. The best time to sell a property with unattractive features is in an active market.
  • What does our budget allow?

    • It is important to know what your budget will allow in comparison to your lifestyle. Don’t plan on becoming house poor by buying a property beyond what is comfortable. Knowing when to sell is greatly affected by knowing the answer to what your budget will allow. Timing is important to consider here as well.

In times when property values increase dramatically, people will sometimes think it is a good time to refinance and take out equity. If you are considering that as an option, I would still recommend you ask the same questions that relate to selling your property. Removing equity is essentially a similar action as deciding to sell your home. Using your home equity as a bank account might not be in your best interest for non home-improvement type expenses.

These questions are not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather a starting place for you as you consider your Real Estate options. Your situation is unique and to truly determine your course of action should include a consultation with your Real Estate Professional. If you currently don’t have one, we would like to offer our expertise. An Initial Consultation is at no cost or obligation. Please feel free to call, text or email at your convenience.

Please leave any questions or comments in our comment section. If you enjoyed this post, please like or share on FACEBOOK or Twitter.

The V3G FSA Housing Market Report

The Real Estate market really seems to be on top of everyones mind these days. What with stories out of crazy things happening and prices going nuts it is sometimes tough to tell what is really happening. Like what is happening in your neighbourhood?  If you live in the V3G FSA area of Abbotsford, this Housing Market Report is specific to your area.

2015 was definitely an uncommon year in the housing market. We generally saw house values increase by about 11% from December 2014 to December 2015. There were instances of multiple offers as our inventory levels dropped and demand continued.  It was becoming more difficult to find the property of your choice that ticked all of your criteria.

Housing Market Summary V3G 2015

Total Houses brought to market – 504

Number of Houses Sold in 2015 – 379

Number of Houses that Remain still for sale – 65

Number of Houses that did not sell – 60

List prices ranged from a low of $268,000 to a high of $3,590,000. The average list price was $643,879 and the median price $585,000.

Sale prices were between $260,000 and $3,300,000 with and average of $596,021 and the median at $561,500.

The average Days on Market or the time it took to sell was down from previous years and is best described by the mean at 27 days.

Projections for 2016

My cracked crystal ball might not be as accurate as I would like these days but when I look at what the BC Real Estate Association predicts for our Housing Market in 2016 I tend to lean toward thinking our market will continue to be active but without the frenetic activity. Their words are “Housing Demand to Remain Elevated through 2016” You can read all about it here.  And if you would like an update on the value of your home its easy. Go to and a free no obligation market update will be delivered to your email inbox.

If you have any comments please feel free to share them in our comment section or Facebook.

October’s Abbotsford Real Estate Stats

What's the real estate market doing these days?

October real estate stats are out and they tell an interesting tale. The FVREB says “No sign of slowdown for the Fraser Valley….” Get the complete report by clicking here or you can follow this post to get my take and point of view.

This Chart is a look at the real estate market Stats for the month of October over the past 8 years. I’m not a statistician but I thought this could give us an interesting perspective of where we are in relation to other years. We will take a look at the three main areas of activity. Namely; Detached Housing, Townhouse’s and Apartment’s.

  1. Detached Housing Highlights.

    1. Inventory levels are at very low levels.
    2. Currently less than a 3 month supply of houses.
    3. Sales to Active Listing Ratio is high at 39%. (Sellers Market)
    4. Sales are up 46% from one year ago
  2. Townhouse Highlights

    1. Inventory levels have remained relatively constant compared to Detached and Apt.
    2. Currently 4 month supply.
    3. Sales to Active Listing Ratio is at an 8 year high of 24%. (Sellers Market)
    4. Sales are up 28% from one year ago
  3. Apartment Highlights

    1. Inventory levels are down almost 200 units from the high in 2010.
    2. Currently a 4.5 month supply. A signifcant change from 2010 where there was over 8 months supply.
    3. Sales to Active Listing Ratio is currently at 22% (Sellers market)
    4. Sales are up 19% from one year ago.

We can interpret from these real estate stats the following

  1. There will remain upward pressure on the price of Detached housing as long as inventory levels remain low and the demand remains high. People may hesitate to put their home on the market without being comfortable knowing they will find what they are looking for.
  2. The townhouse market will continue to remain steady. A more in-depth analysis would also take into consideration the type of units these are. An example of this would be whether or not they are age restricted.
  3. The apartment market would seem to be heading for a bit of a resurgance if the inventory levels continue to drop. After a number of years of poor performance, I believe we could begin to see a return to some appreciation in the value of some of the used apartment units with continued lowering of inventory. That would mean an apartment may make for a pretty good investment for your retirement portfolio given the right circumstances.

We often think of real estate as an investment and for most of us it is usually our single largest investment. This makes it important to understand what is affecting it. It is also a place where we call home. The place where memories are made. Relationships forged. So we can’t just look at it from a statistical point of view. But we need to be certain we are aware of what is happening so we can make informed decisions.

I hope this give you some insight into the real estate market conditions in Abbotsford. If you are interested in learning how they might affect your decisions regarding your property, please feel free to contact me at your convenience for “Friendly Service all the Time” 


Real Estate – 5 Most Important Things

Your House - Your Home

There’s the old joke in Real Estate, “What are the three most important things about Real Estate? The Answer: Location Location Location…. Ha Ha Ha.

The importance of where your property is located is very real but we also should look at the other aspects of your home. You are going to have design, layout and decorating things to look at and also what it is actually made of. Bricks, morter, wood, vinyl. The options are endless. But your home is more than these things.

Home is About Your Family

Measure Me Grandpa!
Measure Me Grandpa!

Home for Sonya and I for the past 16 years has been a condo. I can not think of a better location to live. I can walk just about anywhere I need to go. But what is really important to me is having my family come to visit. We now have 8 grandchildren and there is one door in the condo that if we ever decide to move, that door will be coming with us. As you can see by the picture, we have measured everyone on this door. At our previous home, our children grew up and that was home.

Home is About Making Memories

No matter where we have live, we create memories. Sonya and I have been blessed to have just good memories from where we have lived. At the house in McMillan it was about the ball games the boys were playing and being close to the schoools for the special meetings or presentations. But one time we had a visit from the police. It would seem someone was shooting what appeared to be a rifle from our deck. Good thing it was only a pellet gun but we had some pretty scared boys while the police officer was talking to them. That is a memory!

Home is About New Relationships and Long ones

Every place we have lived, we meet new people. They become more than neighbors sometimes and we develop friendships. The kids had friends they met at the McMillan house they still call friends. People they may share part of their life with for many more years.

Home is About Living in Community

As you spend time in your area, hopefully you will be developing a feel for the community. The community we are in now is primarily adult but our previous properties were geared more for families. As your property requirements change, community is an important thing to consider when you are getting ready to move.

Home is About Security

Most people have a feeling of safety when they are home. They are in familiar surroundings. Hopefully with people they love and who care for them. For each of us it will mean something different. Women tend to feel a loss of security when the for sale sign goes up. They are concerned about where the next home is going to be. Men are quite likely to not be nearly as concerned. They could just as well live in a tent for a month or two.

I remember when Mom and Dad decided it was time for us to move into a bigger home and they put the little house on Mayfair up for sale. Along with Bev and Sharon, we would routinely take the for sale sign down because that was our place. I remember thinking it kind of funny when Dad would get annoyed at what we had done. Well we did move and I’m happy to report I survived that one and a few others as well. Amazing as it may seem, I found some new friends at the new place too.

Your Abbotsford Home Value

Your Abbotsford Home Value

Navigating the process of moving a family is more complicated today than 50 years ago when we moved from Mayfair to Sheffield Way. Moving across a much smaller town really wasn’t a big deal back then as it might be today. It is important we survive those moves and for them to be smooth.

Each person involved in the move will be concerned about something different but very relevent to them. Not everything we talked about could concern you but I bet each one involved in your move will be thinking of a few of those things.

Helping your move go smoothly is what we are all about. It is important to get the right price and to pay the right price but it is also important for you to be in the right place.

Please let me know if there is any way I might help you now.

If you have any question about moving or property values please feel free to leave a comment or post something on our Facebook page. We specialize in providing “Friendly Service all the Time” 

Abbotsford May 2015 Real Estate Market Stats

What is happening in your Neighbourhood?

The Abbotsford Real Estate Market remains very active and we are now experiencing a strong sellers market in many areas.  Inventory in single family houses has dropped 20% from one year ago but remains relatively unchanged from April of this Year.

Get all the Stats – Click the Pic to Get Your Real Estate Market Stats Report!

Real Estate Market Report Cover


How does this affect your property? Click the Pic to get an up to date Market Evaluation of your Home!

What will happen when you do?

You will be asked for information about your property. I will receive a notification you are interested in knowing more about your property value.  The more information you provide will help make the evaluation more accurate. A complete CMA will be provided to you in a timely fashion. I will personally follow up with you to make sure that we have answered all of your questions. If you would like more information we can discuss it at that time. If you don’t need any thing else then that will be the end of it. Please understand this in no way obligates you to use my services as a REALTOR.

Your Abbotsford Home Value

Your Abbotsford Home Value

If you have a question about Real Estate and the Abbotsford Market, just leave a comment or let us know on Facebook or our twitter feed.