Lou Cruz RE/MAX Crest Westside (vanw7)

Cell 604-345-3824 | EMAIL loucruzrealestate@gmail.com |

Chilly fall temperatures serve as a polite reminder that when winter arrives it can be sudden, often leaving homeowners unprepared for the troubles associated with extreme cold.  A few simple plumbing preparations now will help prevent headaches and costly repairs thorughout the winter months:


-   Disconnect outside water hoses.  If left connected, water in the hoses can freeze and expand causing faucets and connecting pipes inside your home to freeze and break.


- Make sure outside faucets aren't dripping or leaking.  Make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before freezing temperatures arrive.  Be aware that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds causing cracks - no matter if the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel.  Even a tiny crack can unleash enough water to cause serious damage or flooding.


-  If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from outside lines.


-  Cover outside faucets using a Styrofoan faucet insulation kit available at home centers.


-  Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces.  Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.


-  Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.


-  Your water heater works harder during winter months.  Flush it out and remove sediment buildup, which causes corrosion, shortens life span and reduces heating efficiency.  Drain several gallons from the faucet near the bottom of the tank.  Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain.  Check your water heater manufacturer's website for specific instructions concerning your make and model.


- Carefully test the water heater's pressure relief valve ( Danger: water is very hot) by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back.  The valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drainpipe.  If not, call a professional to have a new valve installed.  Caution:  If your water heater is more than five years old and the pressure relief valve has never been tested, you can actually cause a leak by testing older valves that have corroded or stuck seals.  A plumber should be consulted. 


-  Check the temperature setting on your water heater's thermostate.  St at 120F for optimum performance.


-  Clear leaves and debris from outside gutters and downspouts to ensure easy drainage when water freezes and thaws throughout the winter season.


-  Inspect and clean sump pump and pit.  Pumps exposed to extreme cold can freeze, preventing the pump from operating.


-  When leaving home for extended periods, shut off the main water valve and drain the system by opening faucets at the highest and lowest points of the house.  Make sure the heat is left on and set no lower than 55F.


CAUTION:  These plumbing tips are intended for homes that will be inhabited throughout the winter months.  Many additional steps should be taken to winterize vacation properties that will be left unattended for weeks or months at a time.  Seek professional help for winterizing such properties. 


***  This information has been provided by Roto-Rooter Plumbers. 


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Effective December 13, 2013, all strata corporations of five units or more in British Columbia, must complete a depreciation report as required by the Strata Property Act, unless they have passed a three-quarters vote each year they wish to be exempt from the requirements.
Over the life of every building, owners are required to periodically make decisions, and take action, to maintain and renew the various physical components of their buildings.  Each of these decisions and actions can impact the lifespan of the building components. 
The degree to which maintenance impacts the service life of the building assets will depend on their durability and exposure conditions, as well as the quality of the maintenance program.  It is important to be proactive rather than reactive in the maintenance and care of buildings.  Proactively maintaining building assests, such as common property and the property that a strata corporation has to maintain and repair under their by-laws, will result in lower long-term costs, protection of property and asset value,  minimized disruptions to residents, and lower risks for all property owners.
The Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C.is a non -profit association serving strata owners since 1976.  You can get all the information on Depreciation Reports from this association by visiting their website, or follow this link:



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By now, many homeowners have probably replaced most of their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, and no doubt have noticed how long these newer, energy-efficient bulbs last. Now, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is the latest trend on the scene. Once used primarily for industrial and commercial applications, LED lighting is gaining ground at home - and there are many good reasons for that.

LED bulbs work in a unique way. Instead of emitting light and heat in all directions, an LED lights move electrons through a semiconductor material, creating light that shines in a specific direction. In LED bulbs used to replace standard bulbs, multiple diodes are used to create bright light while generating very little heat. While quite expensive compared to the older bulbs they replace, high power LED bulbs are more than twice as efficient as CFLs and eight times as efficient as incandescent bulbs, and can last as long as 20 years.

LEDs are often associated with cold, white light - and that was a fair assessment until not long ago. Now LED bulbs are available in warmer tones that are easier on the eyes (and more flattering). Like incandescent and CFL bulbs, there are LEDs made to fit standard light fixtures, recessed lighting fixtures, candelabra bases, dimmable fixtures, and even some landscape lighting. LED floodlights and spotlights are becoming more popular, particularly because they need replacement so infrequently. Other advantages of LEDs are that they contain no mercury or other toxic materials, are very unlikely to break if dropped, and reach full brightness as soon as they are switched on.

Homeowners should look for Energy Star rated LED bulbs, which have been tested to meet EPA standards of color quality and consistency, energy efficiency, and stable performance. Inferior products may make a lot of promises but may not deliver. By replacing the bulbs in their most-used and hard-to-reach fixtures, homeowners can start saving energy - and money - right now.

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Big holiday meal preparation and clean up can lead to a lot of waste in the kitchen drain and garbage disposal.  Also, a house full of guests equates to additional toilet flushes, dishwashing, laundry and showers, all of which put a strain on a home's plumbing system.


Avoid a visit from your plumber this holiday season by following these clog-prevention tips:


1.  Never pour fats or cooking oils down drains as they solidify in pipes.  Instead, wipe grease from pots with paper towels and discard in the trasn.


2.  Avoid putting stringy, fibrous or starchy waste in the garbage disposal.  Poultry skins, celery, fruit and potato peels, for example, cannot be sufficiently ground up.


3.  When hosting guests, it's a good idea to wait ten minutes between showers so slow drains have time to do their job and water has the time to reheat.



Check out the illustration of how to dispose of food properly at:




This information was provided by ROTO-ROOTER Plumbing and Drain Service.  As always, if you are in need of assistance with any plumbing or drain problem, professional Roto-Rooter plumbers are available 24/7!  You can call them at 604-736-1323

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Many people suffer from post New Year's hangovers as their holiday spending account statements begin to arrive in the mail/inbox.  This year, start the year off with a plan to minimize your monthly expenses and your interest carrying cost.  Your mortage broker can assist you by conducting a no-cost, no obligation financial check-up and evaluate your multiple options.


Having access to all major institutions, mortgage brokers can provide you with the right product, mortgage or line of credit to assist you with your plan for 2013.


As an example, please see the before and after scenarios for people that took steps to rid themselves of their high interest debt.  The result is staggering -  a monthly savings of $1670 and the ability to reduce their amortization by 10 years if they contribute the initial payments towards their mortgage.


BEFORE         BALANCE              PAYMENTS             AFTER       BALANCE            PAYMENTS


Mortgage         $250,000.              $1,390.00                                   $300,000.            $1,434.00


Car Loan           $15,000.                 $ 439.00                                          $0                       $0


Credit cards      $25,000.                  $750.00                                          $0                       $0


RSP Loan          $10,000.                  $525.00                                          $0                       $0


TOTAL               $300,000.               $3,104.00                                  $300,000.            $1,434.00


A mortgage broker's goal is to provide their clients with expert advice ensuring they have access to the right information and the best solution in the industry.  Speak with your mortgage broker, you will be pleasantly surprised.


This information was provided by Maria Yazadjian of Dominion Lending Centres.  You can contact Maria directly at 778-321-3448 or by Email at:  maria@my-mortgages.ca   Make sure to let her know you read this on my blog!!

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The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) provides a number of different resources to help you buy a home.  It provides helpful advice on the basic knowledge you need before buying a home, plus useful advice to guide you throughout the process.  Topics covered are:


1.  Assess Financial Readiness


Assess your present household budget and your annual income to determine if you are eligible for a mortgage and how much you can comfortably afford.


2.  Consider Mortgage Options


A mortgage is a loan, generally used to buy a property.  How much you pay depends on how much you borrow (the principal), the loan's interest rate, and how long you take to pay it back (the amortization period).  Do not be afraid to negotiate interest rates and mortgage terms with different lenders.  They are offering you a product and talking to more than one lender helps you make an informed decision.


3.  Mortgage Default Insurance


When you buy a home with less than a 20% downpayment, the mortgage needs to be insured against default.  This type of insurance protects the mortgage lender in case you are not able to make your mortgage payments.  It does not protect you.


4.  Research Government Programs


The federal government has assistance programs to help homebuyers.  Research government program requirements to see if you are eligible for things such as First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit, Home Buyers' Plan (withdrawing from your RRSP), etc.  The provincial government also offers incentives to First-Time buyers.


5.  Finding a Home


Finding your perfect home can be a long process.  Your REALTOR will help identify the right type of home for you and continually research new listings in neighbourhoods that meet your needs.  Your REALTOR will assist with questions such as: Where Do You Want to Live, What Type Of Home Do You Prefer, What Type of Ownership Are You Looking For, etc.


6.  Making an Offer


After seeing many different homes, you have finally found one worth of an offer! What are the next steps?



7.  Closing and Related Costs


Closing costs are the legal, administrative and disbursement fees associated with buying a home.  Understanding these fees will help you budget more accurately.  Remember these are additional costs over and  above the price of the home.


For the entire article, please check out CRAS's website at: 






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The leaves ae falling, the air is cooling off - autumn is here at last.  Now is the perfect time to get your home in shape before winter starts to take its toll, and while the weather is still pleasant enough to spend time outdoors.


Seal it up:  Caulk and seal around exterior door and window frames.  Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well.  No only does heat escape from these openings, but water can enter and cause structural damage and mold problems.


Look up:  Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles.  Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further damage inside the home.  It's best to have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof, but you can do a preliminary survey from the ground using binoculars.


Clear it out:  Clear gutters and eaves troughs of leaves, sticks, and other debris.  Consider installing leaf guards if your gutters can accommodate them - they are real time-savers and can prevent damage from clogged gutters.  Check the joints between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary adjustments to tighten them.


No Hose:  In climates with freezing weather, drain garden hoses and store indoors to protect them from the elements.  Shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water.  Faucets and pipes can easily freeze and burst, causing leaks and water damage.


Warm up time:  Have the furnace inspected to ensure it's safe and in good working order.  Most utility companies will provide no-cost inspections, but there can often be a long waiting list come fall and winter.  Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Using a clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving you money and energy.


Light that fire:  If you enjoy the crackle of the fireplace on a chilly fall evening, have the firebox and chimney cleaned before using it this season.  Cresote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a serious chimney fire if not removed. 


** All information provided by Pillar to Post Home Inspections

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When faced with a co-op condo, most people shy away from even looking at them.  That is because of the uncertainty of what a co-op building is in the first place. Before you write-off even considering a co-op, here is some information you will find helpful.  Please note that I am referring to an "equity" co-op NOT a govenment-subsidized one.


So, what exactly are you getting when purchasing an equity co-op?  You are purchasing shares in the building, just like you would purchase shares in andy company, and those shares allow you to "lease" a certain unit in the building.  The building is a registered company and all residents are "shareholders".  This is not to be confused with a "leasehold", where the property is located on land that is only leased.  A co-op building actually owns the land on which it is built.  Co-op properties exist because they were built before "Strata" properties came into existence.


What are the advantages of purchasing a co-op?  The main advantage is location - these buildings are usually located in premium areas and there is not much chance that new buildings will be built around them.  In the West End, for example, you will probably find co-ops very close to Stanley Park and Englixh Bay with wonderful water and park views.  These buildings tend to be older because they were built when desirable properties were more available.  Because they are older buildings, you must also be prepared to share laundry facilities.


You should always check to see what the rules and restrictions of each co-op are, but expect that the majority of them will not allow rentals.  While not as appealing to investors, this creates a feeling of community since all residents tend to stay much longer and get to know and look out for each other.  Some will also not allow pets, are adult orinted only and others will also prohibit smoking anywhere in and around the building.  Make sure to read the "House Rules" and find out exactly what the rules are.  Parking and storage lokcers are usually assigned on a seniority basis.


Any prospective purchasers have to be approved by the Board of Directors before they can actually purchase in the building and this must be specified as one of the subjects in your "Contract of Purchase and Sale".  Why do I think of this as an advantage?  All residents will feel secure that the new purchasers are aware of what they are purchasing and will abide by the rules and regulations of the co-op.  Just to clarify, the interview is NOT about finding out personal information from the purchaser or "screening" a purchaser to see if they fit in.  It is more about ensuring that the purchaser has read the "House Rules", is aware of the restrictions, understands how the parking works, understands how the laundry works and so on. 


Yet another advantage of purchasing in a co-op is that, in most cases, property transfer tax will not apply.  You should always verity with your notary or lawyer, but if the shares are not registered at Land Title chances are you will be saving yourself some fees since you are only purchasing shares and not "land".  Your offer must specify the amount of shares you are purchasing.  Property taxes are usually included in your maintenance fee but you can still claim your Homeowner's Grant if you qualify for it.  Ass assessments, levies, taxes, etc. are based on the co-efficient of each suite - the percentage of the entire building that each suite represents.  Again, these numbers are available from the "Articles of Association".


Most financial institutions will require at least 35% down if you are looking to finance a co-op purchase.  Van-City seems to be the institution of preference since their requirements for hypothecation are acceptable by the Board of Directors.


Co-op's are run in a very similar fashion to Strata properties, except that they are not covered by the Strata Property Act.  They have meetings, they have a Board of Directors and someone has to look after the maintenance.  The authority that the Board of Directors has is given to them through the "articles of Association, so it is important to read those as well.  The Board of Directors will establish the "House Rules" and they can also change them.  When purchasing a co-op, there is no "Form B" or "Strata Plan" - these are forms that are associated with strata buildings.  However, there will be minutes, special meetings and information on any special levies that you should request as well as the Rules and Regulations, the Momorandum and Articles of Association, any lease docmentation , a copy of the share certificate and any financial obligations.


Once all approvals have been met and subjects have been removed, the Board will cancel the share certificate and lease agreement owned by the previous shareholder and issue new ones in the name of the new purchaser.  All other documentation is prepared by your lawyer or notary just like any real estate purchase.  Make sure to contact a lawyer or notary that is familiar in dealing with co-op purchases as well.


In conclusion, a co-op purchase should not be viewed as intimidating.  It is a purchase like any other, but because of the restrictions it may appeal to a smaller group of people.  On the other hand, I had a lady that came through and gave me her name so that I can call her as soon as there is a unit with a water view in a particular building that she really likes.  As she said  -  "this is a classic - I don't want to live anywhere else".

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Have you ever noticed water droplets on your window or black staining on the drywall of your walls?


Have you ever wondered why the moisture returns around your windows after you have wiped it away?


This type of moisture is from the interior air and is commonly referred to as "condensation".


Chances are, this will not create a problem during the summer months when your windows are open and the outside air temperature is warm.  However, when the falls begins and we close our windows that is when the problems begin.


The Homeowner Protection Office offers information on what condensation is and how to prevent it from happening in your home.  Get answers to questions such as:


-  what is condensation and how does it form in my home?


-  what are the sources of moisture in my home?


-  why must I avoid condensation problems?


-  what should the indoor temperature and humidity levels be?


-  how do I avoid condensation problems?


-  how do I deal with presistent condensation problems?


Get more information from Homeowner Protection Office on this subject at:



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