Thursday, December 4, 2014


Best Lunch of the Year!! Supporting the Troops and Local Charities at the BC Regiment with Honorary Colonel Ted Hawthorne,Vice-President Gayle Hawthorne & Ray Harris, President of the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board.

Friday, November 14, 2014


All the political campaigning will be over by tomorrow evening, signs will be down and new councillors and Mayors will begin the steep learning curve while the more seasoned municipal politicians will return to finish what they started. It must be such a let down after all the election excitement, then inauguration, to find that public interest goes into a steep decline and the Council chamber becomes a lonely place. Why do most of us only hold our politicians accountable at election time? With all the talk of transparency and public input, we need to do our bit - attend at least some of the meetings, give our input, support and continue to keep our elected politicians accountable. There are lots of committees where ordinary citizens can serve and get involved. With the advent of the Evergreen Line, there will be many changes in the TriCities - we must make sure they are what we want. Too late 2 years from now! So...join me in a New Year's resolution to stay connected and involved with our civic process.
In the meantime, exercise your franchise - GET OUT AND VOTE!! Congratulations to all the courageous citizens who put themselves out there and gave us the luxury of choice.

- Sheila

Friday, October 24, 2014


The Arts really are alive and well in Port Moody, much of it happening at
Gallery Bistro, 2411 Clarke St. Tomorrow is International Artists Day - also Pablo Picasso's birthday - so you are invited to wear your striped tee shirts & black berets to visit the excellent show at Gallery Bistro, featuring the work of artist, Heather Anderson and woodturner, Larry Stevenson.
And....if jazz is your scene, Monday nights (except holiday Mondays) are for you, with jazz jam sessions, where you can hear talented lical musicians perform. These free event nights are open to all - doors opening 7pm and downbeat at 7.30pm. Music goes til 9.30pm. Gypsy Jazz Concert coming up Wed.Nov.19.
For a great lunch or weekend brunch - check out the Bistro - delicious homemade fare & surrounded by wonderful art! See you there! Have a great weekend.

And, remember....for anything in your real estate world, we have you covered! Sheila

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Grants for Home Buyers

If you are wondering about potential grants for upcoming projects or purchases. Have a look at the link below and if you have any further questions please feel free to give us a call.,_may_2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


A crawlspace in a home is a portion that resides under the living area of a property.   There can be many hidden issues inside a crawlspace that can create nightmare situations if not attended properly.
There are two major items that typically occur.  Those two are water ingress, and mold.
The crawlspace typically sits below the grade of the house.  This means that during rain, it can potentially be a spot where water enters.  An easy way to identify if water is moving through concrete is looking for something called efflorescence.

Efflorescence is essentially minerals in the water that have evaporated on the surface.  The efflorescence itself is harmless, but it can indicate moisture moving in.

A little bit of efflorescence around a hairline crack

It is quite common to see some degree of efflorescence, and I typically look for the severity and the location where the water is coming in.  If its near wood structure pieces, you can stand a chance to get rot. 

 More severe efflorescence

To reduce any chance of moisture ingress, the best way is to control the moisture from the outside.  What this means is making sure your drain tile is clean and clear. 
Planter beds right next to the foundation can be another source of moisture penetration.

  Rot has occurred on wood structure
 from moisture ingress inside a crawlspace

Moisture barriers can also be installed on the outside, which typically looks like a corrugated plastic material against the foundation.
The black plastic at the bottom is a moisture barrier installed on the exterior

       This planter is right next to the foundation

In other words there are fixes, and preventative items that can be done.
The second common issue is mold.  This can be due to the fact that a crawlspace, like an attic, requires ventilation to keep air moving.  When the air becomes stale, you stand a chance to create the right environment for mold growth.
What this means is crawlspaces require vents to the outside, and may also include heat registers that heat the space as well.  I get asked if they are done on purpose that way, and the answer is yes, they are.  Never block the vents to the outside.
As long as proper maintenance and effort is taking, crawlspaces can be nightmare free.

The black plastic at the bottom is a moisture barrier installed on the exterior

Aaron Borsch
Certified Master Home Inspector (CMHI)
A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections - Tricities, BC
Inspected Once.  Inspected Right!
License #: 53540
Phone: 604-880-0818


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Living in the lower mainland, there are a lot of trees and shrubs in most places.  They can make a house look very pleasing, almost natural.  However from the home inspection standpoint, plants and trees take maintenance to make sure they don't damage your property.
The most common issue I find is shrubs or tree limbs either covering parts of a house, or resting against the siding itself.   It can be nice to have the shrub garden, but from the house stand point, it can hold moisture against the siding.  A good rule of thumb is to have about 60cm of room between the siding and shrubs, just to make sure that moisture doesn't one day penetrate into the wood frame.
Shrubs against property
Further, large tree limbs can cast a shadow over parts of your property.  While again it may be nice to have the shade, it also doesn't let your house or roof properly dry, which again can hold more moisture against the house.
Overhanging Tree Limbs

Large trees also can have complex root systems.  These root systems can make their way into your house drainage tile.  This can be more common with older properties.   As long as your drainage tile is intact, it can be cleaned out with specialized tools.   Best way to discover this is to get someone specialized in scoping your drain tile.
Roots clog drain tile

And the last most common issue is garden beds.  Some properties build their garden beds that rest against the house.  This can allow moisture to be driven against the property and it will eventually penetration.  An easy way to circumvent this is to have a proper liner separating the garden bed and the property structure. 
Garden Bed

But if it is not a raised bed, and rests against the foundation, its best to make sure there is at least 15cm of the foundation exposed from the grade level of the soil.  This will significantly reduce chances of any rot that may set into your sub floor or sill plate.
Foundation exposure

While the above are suggestions, some people really enjoy the look of having so many trees or plants.  There is nothing wrong with that, but as long as there is awareness on the maintenance that may be required.  It will help your property in the long run. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


It is time to put away the scarves, mitts and boots, and bring out the pastels and sunglasses!!
BLOSSOM and SPRING into the season with some small changes that make a big impact to a home’s look and feel.
Laura’s Spring-inspired tips start by refreshing the entrance to your home; nothing says welcome like a Spring wreath and fresh flowers to add a touch of colour. To add brightness and warmth, bring in some new cushions and throws. Freshen up your bathroom with light and airy colours, giving a bright new feel. Update spaces throughout your home by swapping pictures and replacing with one statement piece. Most importantly, bring Spring inside your home; create a tiny terrarium or an assortment of plant on a tray.
Make your home bloom bright this Spring!

Monday, May 5, 2014


The cost to break your mortgage
Most homeowners should expect to pay a penalty if they want to break their mortgage to get a better rate or for a complete refinance.  Homeowners in 5 year fixed mortgages often look to break their mortgage during their 3rd year for debt consolidation or to accommodate changing life circumstances.
The penalty to break a mortgage is typically the greater of:
  • three months’ interest, or
  • the interest-rate differential (IRD).
With the IRD, your mortgage lender will want you to pay the equivalent of what they will lose by releasing you from your mortgage and lending the money at current rates.  Unfortunately, not all lenders calculate IRD the same way so you should always get the actual penalty from your lender.    If you are in a variable product, the penalty is typically 3 months interest.
If you want to look at breaking your mortgage, we can review the terms and conditions of your mortgage and do an assessment of your situation to determine if your benefit outweighs the cost.There is no cost or obligation.  Often penalties are rolled into the new mortgage so you don’t have to be out of pocket. 
If you are starting to shop, before you work with your current Lender, be sure to speak with me so I can go through the differences in calculations – which can sometimes be a HUGE difference, as in thousands of dollars. 
An expert at  providing the advice, education and resources that homeowners like yourself need. It pays to be informed, I’m here to help!  Call Daniela Serena,  Your Mortgage Expert at 604.889.6750.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Showhomes in developments are so cleverly and temptingly put together that it is just too easy to be impulsive - carried away in the moment!  What happens afterwards can be very happy or have the most stressful consequences.  Before committing yourself to a contract with deadlines and large deposits, check out the saleability and price of your current home.  Perhaps your home is not yet ready to market, perhaps there are negative aspects to your home which require some mitigation or even a large unanticipated discount and finally, perhaps it doesn't sell in time to pay for your new one and you can't get bridge financing from your bank.  This is the type of stress one of our clients is living with right now and has permitted me to share to prevent  another person being in a similar position.  Remember, salespeople in showhomes are not there to give sound advice about the wisdom of buying before selling, or to advise you to check out the value and saleability of your home, or even to ascertain that you qualify for a bridging loan in the event your current home isn't sold in time - they are there only to sell the developer's property at the developer's price and terms. We,at Francis & Hawthorne Team, are not restricted to selling a particular development and our reputation has been built on working in our clients' best interests, always looking for the least risk and stress. We know you sometimes don't want to "bother" us, when you're just tossing around some ideas - please do, and consult with us, so we can come up with the best strategy to get you where you want to go without facing huge financial stress. We are happy to visit the showhomes with you and analyse a time line & value for the sale of your existing home - this is our business and we love it.  The old expression - "act in haste , repent at leisure" still holds true.  
Looking at all the wonderful gardens, Spring  really has sprung and is beautiful.  Have a great week with some sunshine we hope.  Sheila

Monday, April 21, 2014


With today’s historically low rates, many homeowners are looking for advice as to whether they should move their mortgage for a better rate. You can switch to another lender at any time, although renewal is often when homeowners decide to transfer their mortgage.  Some typical questions you may have:

Will I pay a penalty if I transfer my mortgage? There are no fees or payout penalties if you switch at mortgage renewal, otherwise there likely will be a penalty, although often paying the penalty to get a lower rate can save thousands.
If there is a penalty, what will it be?  Generally, you can expect to pay the greater of either a) three months’ interest, or b) the interest-rate differential (IRD). With the IRD, your lender will expect you to pay the equivalent of what they will lose by releasing you from your mortgage and lending the money at current rates.  Often penalties can be rolled into the new mortgage so you don’t have to be out of pocket. 
What happens when I transfer my mortgage?   Once you are qualified, your current mortgage balance and remaining amortization period are transferred to your new lender at the new rate, which your mortgage payment will be based on. 
Can I use this opportunity to increase my mortgage for some needed funds?   Yes. Without incurring fees, our lenders will permit you to add on to the new mortgage as long as you don’t exceed the original mortgage amount.  Although each lender is different, you can typically add $2,000 and in some cases $5,000. You also have the option of a total refinance if you need more, but you will be subject to fees similar to those incurred with registering a new mortgage.
How long before my mortgage renewal date should I start the process?
You should think about switching your mortgage 120 days before your mortgage renewal. Many lenders provide a 120-day rate guarantee.  This also provides ample time to complete the process and avoids any last minute decisions.
A common myth is that switching your mortgage for a better rate is difficult. It’s actually an easy transaction.  Let me show you how and see if it’s in your best interest to switch!  Call Daniela Serena,  Your Mortgage Expert at 604.889.6750.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


 Many times during inspections people will ask me how long their roof will last.  This can be a difficult question to answer because a lot depends on the maintenance, kind of material it is, and what kind of weather there has been. 

 There are 3 main types of roofing material that get used in the lower mainland, each has a very general lifespan.
Asphalt Shingles
                Asphalt shingles are typically the most economical material to install.  They are some sort of fibreglass base, and are covered with a sand.  The sand is what protects the shingles from the sun light.  Without the sand, the shingles would quickly shrink and crack from the sun, and would become useless very quickly.  By saying that, it is usually the sun that is the main factor of wearing out asphalt shingles.  The typical lifespan on this is 15-20 years.
Wood Shingles
                Typically more expensive, but usually chosen because of a characteristic look.  They are typically made of cedar which is resistant to many factors such as rot and insect infestation.  Along with that, the resin inside the wood helps maintain the life of the shingles. 
                Maintenance is usually the most difficult part of having wood shingles roof, and typically wear by cracking and splitting.  They also need to have adequate ventilation inside the attic to allow the shingles to properly dry when they get wet.  The lifespan typically has a large range, from 15-40 years, but on the west coast it tends to be on the shorter end of things due to our wet environment.
Concrete Tile
                This is the most expensive material to install.  This is because the material itself requires special modification to attic spaces to ensure the structure can take the weight.  Many companies install this type of tile with a warranty of 40 years.  While the sun wears the previous 2 materials, it is rain that wears out concrete tile more from weathering. 
                Concrete tile is a newer material that is used in the history of roofing material, and the lifespan is only an estimation of 60 years.
                Now as mentioned above, it is maintenance that helps get the most out of your roof.  Without proper maintenance, there is a good chance that your roof may last even less than the estimated lifespan!
                Part of  maintenance is cleaning your gutters.  Very underestimate part, but what can happen with clogged gutters is the water can wash up underneath your shingles due to overflow, and damage the surrounding area.

And another important forgotten item, is to trim back trees that overhang your roof.  Shedding material can act like sandpaper on your roof, wearing away the material at an accelerated rate.  Roofs also need to dry when it rains property, and a overhanging tree will block the sun leaving the roof wet for extended periods of time.

 It is hard to predict how long your roof may last, but with the right maintenance, you can at least get the most out of it, and save yourself money in the process.
Aaron Borsch
Certified Master Home Inspector (CMHI)
A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections - Tricities, BC
Inspected Once.  Inspected Right!
License #: 53540
Phone: 604-880-0818

Monday, April 14, 2014


Cheapest isn’t always best!   Strangely, we know that’s true when we’re shopping for anything else, but we still tend to believe that lowest rate is the one and only factor in choosing a mortgage. Unfortunately, that low-rate mortgage you keep reading or hearing about, could actually cost you more in the long run...much more!  A cut-rate mortgage could have you locked in to a very rigid contract filled with financial “trip lines” that could work against you down the road.  Sometimes those cut-rate mortgages come with higher fees, penalties, or restrictive terms, which could provemore costly over the long term than a slightly higher-rate mortgage with flexible terms.   I can help you find the right mortgage with the rate, flexibility, and freedom you need to be a happy homeowner and line you up for the best situation in the future.    
But before you even start shopping around for your new home or think about selling your current home, be sure to call me about getting properly pre-approved and understanding what happens with your current mortgage.  Sure, you may own a home now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean if you sell or port, you will automatically qualify.  Chances are your circumstances may have changed since your last mortgage, or your Lender’s rules were not properly explained to you the first time.   I can help answer any questions and give you peace of mind for those very important next steps.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Attic spaces are a critical part of a home.  They help support the roof over our head which keeps the elements out.

With the attic usually at the top of the house, hot air tends to collect in this area.  What this can do if not properly prepared is can create condensation inside the attic space.
How condensation forms is because when the hot air in an attic space meets the cold surface in the attic, it can lower the temperature of the air forcing it to shed its moisture.  Hot air holds more moisture than cold air, and due to the lower amount of moisture that can held, it will collect against the cold surface, and we get condensation.
The danger of condensation is obviously water against the wood, but also this gives the right conditions for mold to form. 

So really the solution is keeping the hot air OUT of the attic.  This is achieved by having sufficient insulation inside the attic to make sure the hot air stays inside the house.  But since this isn't a perfect solution, ventilation is added as well to make sure that the roof air as a way of escaping when it does get there.
Seems easy right?  But its easier said than done.
The reality is many properties in the lower mainland have mold inside the attic.  We live in a very wet environment on the west coast and it can create a lot of humidity in the air.
Doesn't mean it makes mold 'ok'.  Health Canada advises that mold be cleaned, dead or alive.  But when I do an inspection, I always look at what is causing the mold more than the mold itself.  I also consider how severe it is.  Seems that every building has a little bit in it.
A lot of times, it can simply be a lack of ventilation.  One way this happens is when the insulation inside the attic is blocking something called the soffit vents. 
These are the vents at the very edge of the roof, and they allow fresh air in.  Having these blocked is a common way that condensation can form, creating the environment for mold growth.  So that means the obvious, and rather easy fix is, make sure the soffits aren't blocked.

These are some critical things to consider when buying a home, what the issue that is causing the effect, rather than the effect itself.
Aaron Borsch
Certified Master Home Inspector (CMHI)
A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections - Tricities, BC
Inspected Once.  Inspected Right!
License #: 53540
Phone: 604-880-0818

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


New Construction
I always get asked the question that should someone get an inspection for a property that is considered new construction?
And the debate behind NOT getting an inspection is that the property comes with warranty.
This warranty specifically refers to the Homeowners Protection Act, or sometimes referred to 2-5-10 warranty. 
The Homeowner Protection Act came into effect in 1999, requiring most new homes built to carry the warranty. 
Well what does it mean?  Here is a link of what it means from the HPO office.  But the general information is 2 years for major systems such as electrical and plumbing only, 5 years for building envelope, and 10 years for structure.  For everything else, the coverage is only 12 months.
It takes effect for detached homes the date of occupancy permit issued, or occupancy of the property, whichever comes first.  For Strata units, it takes effect on the date of first occupancy.
It also has many exclusions, which include standard normal wear and tear, damage caused by insects, or failure to properly maintain a home.  There are also limits to coverage as well.
And most of all, warranty does not protect you, if the defect is never discovered.
Some examples of things I've seen:
Missing Insulation                                                          Leaking Hot Water Tank

So while in most cases I can say that newly built properties come in the condition you expect, you still never know.  So the answer is YES, I highly recommend getting an inspection for new properties.
If you need more information on a builder's license or warranty, HPO provides some great databases.
New Home Registry tells us when a home or strata complex warranty commenced and who issued it.
Builder Registry will allow you to look up a builder and if their license is in good standing.
Aaron Borsch
Certified Master Home Inspector (CMHI)
A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections - Tricities, BC
Inspected Once.  Inspected Right!
License #: 53540
Phone: 604-880-0818


Saturday, February 1, 2014


Kung Hei Fat Choy.
Happy lunar new year to all our Asian clients, colleagues and friends.  The Year of the Horse is connected to speedy success in China as the horse is a symbol of travelling, competition & victory.  Sounds like the ideal year for all of us - best wishes from our team.  Don't forget that great kick off event for our local dine out week - it's happening February 17 &  tickets are sold out for one loop & selling fast on the other. Eat a signature dish in 3 restaurants, travel by Vancouver Trolley Bus & wind up at Port Moody Galleria for dessert. No better value in town & no better cause than our local hospital! For more info & to buytickets go to Eagleridge Hospital website. Have a super weekend!  As ever, we have you covered.  

Sheila Francis

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Hot water heaters are an essential piece of our households.  They deliver us hot water when we need it.  But when they expire, you can suddenly find yourself without hot water.

But how can we tell if they are about to go?
Generally, the industry recommends replacing a hot water heater anywhere from 8-10 years from the manufacture date.
But how can you tell the manufacture date?  Some companies make it easy, by putting it very obviously on the label.  But many don't.  That is ok though, because it is standard to embed the manufacture date in the serial number.
Each company codes its serial number slightly differently, so it may require a little research to find how it has been done.  A good website to look at is  They have a 'one stop shop' on how to read different kind of serial numbers.

The other danger from hot water is they can cause a lot of damage to the surrounding area.  This is because a common way hot water tanks expire is by springing a leak from some part, then dumping its contents everywhere.  If your hot water tank is located in a finished basement, or a condo unit, this can create a water damage everywhere.
Ideally it is best to change your hot water tank before this happens.  However if you have a drain near your hot water tank, you can take some comfort that the drain can indeed pick up much of the water before it can damage everywhere.  A drain pan can help also direct more of the water towards the drain.

Aaron Borsch
Certified Master Home Inspector (CMHI)
A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections - Tricities, BC
Inspected Once.  Inspected Right!
License #: 53540
Phone: 604-880-0818

Monday, January 13, 2014


We're back to the TGIF blog after the holidays!  Happy New Year to all our friends and clients - wishing you a year of fun, fulfilment and good health.  Talking of which, flu shots seem more necessary than ever this year, and...for every age group.
    The Canadian Real Estate Association just released their 2013 statistics which are all over positive for the first time since the bubble burst - on average across Canada prices increased by 4%.  Remember, this is an average.  If you live in west side Vancouver, this statistic will hold - if you live in our TriCities, the statistic doesn't reflect in our sale prices.  However, our detached market is presently strong with low inventory & showing some surprising multiple offers.  If the inventory didn't increase with the Spring, then this would force prices up - but, if our ringing phone is any indication, inventory will increase and stabilise the market.  Price and presentation still the keys.  Even if a home is priced below market,, it's still a tough sell if there is poor maintenace and no updates.  Townhomes are selling again after a sluggish year last year - but the prices have to be really sharp and the condition first class.  Our condo market is still down - way too many on the market - resales and new builds.  This will take some time to bounce back - it's the perfect lesson in supply and demand.  Again - if a condo presents beautifully with great finish, it will appeal more strongly to the ready, willing and able buyers.  
 Last year all the norms went out of the window - Spring was slow, then come summer we were run off our feet - buyers actually buying and sellers selling.  Pretty much, the mementum kept up and the market just trucked on til now. We are mighty curious to see what the Spring brings.  Our prediction is that our detached market will continue to be active, and that, if the indications of large inventory are correct, prices will hold and the market will stabilise.  Our condo market, specially older buildings , will continue to slide with massive competition from new buildings and the costs of preparing their deficiency reports.  A great time to buy for first time home buyers before the interest rates rise and while prices are down.  
 Thanks to all of you who made our year 2013 so momentous - we enjoyed every minute.  Watch out for our new client loyalty program  - coming to you soon from a real estate team near you.  Call/email us with your questions and comments!  

Till next week, we have you covered!