Sell Your Place and Move During Christmas, a Pandemic and Increased Restrictions?

Are You Crazy? Why? Reflections and Lessons Pt. 1

A snow-capped mountain range on Vancouver Island, with pine trees framing the view.

Reflection:

Living through a pandemic is stressful and requires a ton of pivoting and resilience, then add Christmas plus increased restrictions and goodness the stress heats up! Those were the circumstances we were faced with from mid-November to the lifting of subjects on our Bear Mountain condo and the move to Comox, both of which took place on January 27.

Why? Were we bored? Absolutely NO! Over the past year, given the pandemic, Mark and I had a number of chats about life and the future. We concluded our travel will probably be greatly reduced and most likely be limited to Canada, Hawaii and possibly some of the north western states. Reflecting on where we were living, we were very grateful to be on Bear Mountain enjoying the beauty of the walking trails and Mark’s golf membership. During the first seven months of the various levels of restrictions, we were able to hike, golf and during the summer into the beginning of November use our condo building gym (yes, we had to abide by limited numbers and sanitation guidelines). Life, in Canada’s Hawaii, was as comfortable as it could get given the circumstances.

Then we were introduced to the Comox Valley as our eldest son took a position as the Villa manager at Crown Isle Golf Resort. After making several trips up island, we began to fall in love with the area. We began to compare Comox to Bear Mountain and the city of Langford, slowly the brilliance of Courtney and Comox started to overshadow Bear Mountain. Our son began to look at real estate. In turn, we began to look at listings. As fate would have it, we found this newly built condo in the heart of Comox. On Friday November 13, (13 is a lucky number for us, remember Andrew our youngest was born on a Friday the 13 at 13:13), we booked an appointment and were given the opportunity to be the first to see three of the newly released units. The moment I hopped out of the car there was something magnetic and magical about the area. Across the street I saw a tasteful mall/plaza with an Independent Grocer, Rexall, Dollarstore, BC Liquor store, Vet, Medical clinic, banks, coffee shops and more. Another block away I looked down the main street of downtown Comox lined with restaurants, bookstores, boutiques, bakery and professional services. And a couple of blocks further, I saw the marina and the ocean. A magical feeling descended!

Upon looking at the unit, we were blown away given the construction, location, price and the condo fees were going to be significantly lower. In addition, Mark’s golfing membership would decrease by 30-40%. Overall, we figured our yearly savings could total $7000. People were lined up behind us and we knew this place was going to move fast. We had to make a quick decision. Magic and money prevailed! Our intuition told us that ultimately this property was a better fit for us given our lifestyle and age. It meant financial savings in the long term plus a slower paced community. We took the plunge! And yes, we had to plunge unconditional!

MC Fairy playing with butterflies in a meadow full of flowers, with large mountains as a backdrop.

Lesson Number 1: Keep Mindful Magic at the Forefront.

Don’t make a decision to move based on a whim or boredom. Our financial advisor was sharing that recently someone he knew was thinking of moving but the rationale for the move was greatly motivated by the boredom that has ensued by the pandemic. As he said, this is not the reason to move at any time.

Throughout our 37 years of marriage, intuition is our primary guiding compass used in making decisions. It’s when your gut tells you something feels right. It’s the magic. Follow the magnet magical pull.

Our next step in the layers of decision making, is to analyze that gut feel against the finances and logistics, just to make sure that there is some level of rooting in practicality and that the risk management is reasonable. In addition, we also try to keep a balance between short term and long-term rewards and goals. It’s the mindful moments of reason. It’s the pause before the jump.

Reflection:

The tidy, sort and clean was the first and ongoing step. Before listing and while listed, we packed up as much as possible, leaving no personal items and identifiers. We put away the family photos and as much of the collectibles. Light switches, door handles and the kitchen counters were cleaned before and after the showings. We insisted that everyone wore masks when in our home. The safety extras really weren’t that much of an inconvenience.

After making the decision to purchase unconditional it was important to list our place as soon as possible. We chose a realtor we have never worked with before. Our son was listing his place at the same time and he highly recommended Lewis Ratcliff, a realtor who is a broker and has invested in the community by setting his office on Bear Mountain. Lewis, right from the start appreciated the two deals and responded with generosity. He was relaxed, to the point and was willing to listen to our perspective in setting the price. Right from the get-go, we felt respected.

Then, a layer of stress, two days after we signed the heightened restrictions were in place. We continued to have showings, but they were limited. Did we over price? I sometimes wonder if Lewis felt we overpriced in his heart of hearts, but he listened to us first and foremost. Our building is one of the best in Victoria, but we also knew the condo market was slower that the single detached market. Given our purchase, we had to pivot, we made a decision to reduce the price by $25,000 within ten days to keep the listing active, fresh and let people know we were being reasonable and not going to stay overpriced. Lewis agreed. From that point forward Lewis recommended that we stay at our new price.

In less than a month Matt’s unit sold. Ours still was getting showings but not a lot AND Christmas was approaching. Christmas can be a good time for real estate in Victoria, as often we get a number of people from the mainland and other parts of Canada visiting. This year given the pandemic and travel advisories this wasn’t happening.

Also, a touch annoying, we were told the realtors were instructed not to leave business cards in the interest of not spreading germs. Sorry, I don’t agree. I can easily wipe a business card with a cleaning wipe. As a vendor I wanted to see who was in our home. I guess a point of reassurance especially since stress was increasing. Gulp! Nerves felt frayed. Then I spoke to my brother who was telling me that many people in the Kelowna area were looking to over to the island. Suddenly a wave of calm washed over me, and I thought, “Hmmm, relax, and things will get better.”

It did and we negotiated an offer the third week of January. Lewis was great working with us through the negotiation process as a team player. Mark and I have bought and sold a number of times during our 37 years and we must say that although these negotiations were intense, we always felt like Lewis had our back, counseled us with wisdom and ultimately was working with us and OUR agenda.

Lesson Number 2: Pick Your Agent Wisely, Communicate and Relax (Trust)…Let Go Let God

Recently, I read an article which stated during a pandemic be very careful choosing your agent. During a pandemic they are more important than ever in helping to sell and negotiate. It was suggested that you do not want to choose the person you would go out with to have a beer. You want someone who has your best interests at heart, will work hard, is professional and the emotion of friendship is not creating undue awkward or uncomfortable feelings.

Choose a humble agent. One who is willing to listen, communicate and has an abundant mentality. Given the pandemic you might feel like you want someone holding your hand and reassuring you all the time, but I’d argue rather than someone telling you what you want to hear or spinning feel good drama, you want someone who will be honest, strong and calm. Someone who is spending more time behind the scenes working hard on your behalf with potential buyers or other agents.

On this note you might want to interview a couple of agents before picking the one you want to choose to sell one of your biggest assets. Make a list of questions in advance. Compare their answers and choose the person who you feel not only gave the ‘right’ answers but follow your intuition too.

Communicate with your agent. Ask questions. Listen to what they have to say but also don’t be afraid to speak up. For instance, we made a point of telling our agent we didn’t care what the governing body stated about not leaving business cards, we wanted agents leaving their card.

It does feel creepy given the fears about the pandemic and strangers are walking through your space but try and relax. We trusted the agents were following protocols, hence we tried not to over think of people being in your home. It is what it is and bottom line we made this decision to sell, we had to relax and trust the process.

I know it sounds like a cliché, and it doesn’t seem to mean anything when you feel your financial butt is being held to the fire, BUT every house has a buyer. Sometimes it just takes longer for the right person to come along. Trust!

Reflection:

We started packing immediately. Given the number of times we have moved in our lifetime, and have moved others, (both our parent’s estates and in helping our kids) we have been caught like deer in the headlights, surrounded by mounds of our ‘oh it’s not that much stuff’ and the pressure of the closing clock is dictating you have to get out now!

As we know what it means to divest ourselves of stuff seeing we have moved four times in five years. For instance, when we moved out west, we greatly decluttered and minimalized, only moving 10 x 1 ½ cubic foot boxes, 3 x large boxes and about 9 large suitcases. No, we didn’t move any furniture nor did we move a car. It wasn’t worth it to move either, there are always deals to be found. We could easily replace and rebuild once moved for the most part cheaper if we looked for sales or purchased cheap and cheerful items. Now several moves later and accumulating new stuff, we knew we needed to go through everything with great discernment. In addition, we know how we can fool ourselves into thinking oh, there isn’t really that much and, in a heartbeat, find out that the stuff is like the old fashion kid’s baby bottle that keeps filling every time you turn it over.

So, the purge began. Yes, again. Certainly, we didn’t have as much to reduce as in our move out west, however, what we did find is that a number of our cheap and cheerful items weren’t worth moving but we were happy to share them with neighbours and our youngest son.

We sorted and packed by rooms and themes. More than ever before we spent money on bubble wrap and used small boxes for anything fragile. We figured instead of labelling each box, it was easier to just tell the movers all cardboard holds fragile items. Saved from previous moves, we have 17 large black stackable plastic bins (purchased at Costco) which we used for lighter items, artwork, clothing, bedding, pillows, kitchen items, art supplies etc. We stacked the boxes in the closets and in our storage units, hidden from view.

The packing continued in small spurts for almost two months until we received an offer. Once there was an offer, we went into packing overdrive for two weeks. The advantage of bridge financing is that one doesn’t have to leave the home being sold like a bat out of hell and could save the exceptionally highly delicate items to be picked up a couple weeks after the movers. Our sass turned out somewhat humbling as not only did we have to regularly rent a van to take these items up to Comox, even after this move, we still have items that will fill our VW Beetle when we return to Langford to do the final signing for the closing March 31. So, you see packing can’t start soon enough, and even for those of us who think we have perfected the art of moving, we still have underestimated the stuff.

MC Fairy holding a hand to her chin, appearing to be bashful.

Sell Your Place and Move During Christmas, a Pandemic and Increased Restrictions?

Are You Crazy? Why? Reflections and Lessons Pt. 1

Reflection:

Living through a pandemic is stressful and requires a ton of pivoting and resilience, then add Christmas plus increased restrictions and goodness the stress heats up! Those were the circumstances we were faced with from mid-November to the lifting of subjects on our Bear Mountain condo and the move to Comox, both of which took place on January 27.

Why? Were we bored? Absolutely NO! Over the past year, given the pandemic, Mark and I had a number of chats about life and the future. We concluded our travel will probably be greatly reduced and most likely be limited to Canada, Hawaii and possibly some of the north western states. Reflecting on where we were living, we were very grateful to be on Bear Mountain enjoying the beauty of the walking trails and Mark’s golf membership. During the first seven months of the various levels of restrictions, we were able to hike, golf and during the summer into the beginning of November use our condo building gym (yes, we had to abide by limited numbers and sanitation guidelines). Life, in Canada’s Hawaii, was as comfortable as it could get given the circumstances.

Then we were introduced to the Comox Valley as our eldest son took a position as the Villa manager at Crown Isle Golf Resort. After making several trips up island, we began to fall in love with the area. We began to compare Comox to Bear Mountain and the city of Langford, slowly the brilliance of Courtney and Comox started to overshadow Bear Mountain. Our son began to look at real estate. In turn, we began to look at listings. As fate would have it, we found this newly built condo in the heart of Comox. On Friday November 13, (13 is a lucky number for us, remember Andrew our youngest was born on a Friday the 13 at 13:13), we booked an appointment and were given the opportunity to be the first to see three of the newly released units. The moment I hopped out of the car there was something magnetic and magical about the area. Across the street I saw a tasteful mall/plaza with an Independent Grocer, Rexall, Dollarstore, BC Liquor store, Vet, Medical clinic, banks, coffee shops and more. Another block away I looked down the main street of downtown Comox lined with restaurants, bookstores, boutiques, bakery and professional services. And a couple of blocks further, I saw the marina and the ocean. A magical feeling descended!

Upon looking at the unit, we were blown away given the construction, location, price and the condo fees were going to be significantly lower. In addition, Mark’s golfing membership would decrease by 30-40%. Overall, we figured our yearly savings could total $7000. People were lined up behind us and we knew this place was going to move fast. We had to make a quick decision. Magic and money prevailed! Our intuition told us that ultimately this property was a better fit for us given our lifestyle and age. It meant financial savings in the long term plus a slower paced community. We took the plunge! And yes, we had to plunge unconditional!

A snow-capped mountain range on Vancouver Island, with pine trees framing the view.
MC Fairy playing with butterflies in a meadow full of flowers, with large mountains as a backdrop.

Lesson Number 1: Keep Mindful Magic at the Forefront.

Don’t make a decision to move based on a whim or boredom. Our financial advisor was sharing that recently someone he knew was thinking of moving but the rationale for the move was greatly motivated by the boredom that has ensued by the pandemic. As he said, this is not the reason to move at any time.

Throughout our 37 years of marriage, intuition is our primary guiding compass used in making decisions. It’s when your gut tells you something feels right. It’s the magic. Follow the magnet magical pull.

Our next step in the layers of decision making, is to analyze that gut feel against the finances and logistics, just to make sure that there is some level of rooting in practicality and that the risk management is reasonable. In addition, we also try to keep a balance between short term and long-term rewards and goals. It’s the mindful moments of reason. It’s the pause before the jump.

Reflection:

The tidy, sort and clean was the first and ongoing step. Before listing and while listed, we packed up as much as possible, leaving no personal items and identifiers. We put away the family photos and as much of the collectibles. Light switches, door handles and the kitchen counters were cleaned before and after the showings. We insisted that everyone wore masks when in our home. The safety extras really weren’t that much of an inconvenience.

After making the decision to purchase unconditional it was important to list our place as soon as possible. We chose a realtor we have never worked with before. Our son was listing his place at the same time and he highly recommended Lewis Ratcliff, a realtor who is a broker and has invested in the community by setting his office on Bear Mountain. Lewis, right from the start appreciated the two deals and responded with generosity. He was relaxed, to the point and was willing to listen to our perspective in setting the price. Right from the get-go, we felt respected.

Then, a layer of stress, two days after we signed the heightened restrictions were in place. We continued to have showings, but they were limited. Did we over price? I sometimes wonder if Lewis felt we overpriced in his heart of hearts, but he listened to us first and foremost. Our building is one of the best in Victoria, but we also knew the condo market was slower that the single detached market. Given our purchase, we had to pivot, we made a decision to reduce the price by $25,000 within ten days to keep the listing active, fresh and let people know we were being reasonable and not going to stay overpriced. Lewis agreed. From that point forward Lewis recommended that we stay at our new price.

In less than a month Matt’s unit sold. Ours still was getting showings but not a lot AND Christmas was approaching. Christmas can be a good time for real estate in Victoria, as often we get a number of people from the mainland and other parts of Canada visiting. This year given the pandemic and travel advisories this wasn’t happening.

Also, a touch annoying, we were told the realtors were instructed not to leave business cards in the interest of not spreading germs. Sorry, I don’t agree. I can easily wipe a business card with a cleaning wipe. As a vendor I wanted to see who was in our home. I guess a point of reassurance especially since stress was increasing. Gulp! Nerves felt frayed. Then I spoke to my brother who was telling me that many people in the Kelowna area were looking to over to the island. Suddenly a wave of calm washed over me, and I thought, “Hmmm, relax, and things will get better.”

It did and we negotiated an offer the third week of January. Lewis was great working with us through the negotiation process as a team player. Mark and I have bought and sold a number of times during our 37 years and we must say that although these negotiations were intense, we always felt like Lewis had our back, counseled us with wisdom and ultimately was working with us and OUR agenda.

A figure with the word 'Believe' on it

Lesson Number 2: Pick Your Agent Wisely, Communicate and Relax (Trust)…Let Go Let God

Recently, I read an article which stated during a pandemic be very careful choosing your agent. During a pandemic they are more important than ever in helping to sell and negotiate. It was suggested that you do not want to choose the person you would go out with to have a beer. You want someone who has your best interests at heart, will work hard, is professional and the emotion of friendship is not creating undue awkward or uncomfortable feelings.

Choose a humble agent. One who is willing to listen, communicate and has an abundant mentality. Given the pandemic you might feel like you want someone holding your hand and reassuring you all the time, but I’d argue rather than someone telling you what you want to hear or spinning feel good drama, you want someone who will be honest, strong and calm. Someone who is spending more time behind the scenes working hard on your behalf with potential buyers or other agents.

On this note you might want to interview a couple of agents before picking the one you want to choose to sell one of your biggest assets. Make a list of questions in advance. Compare their answers and choose the person who you feel not only gave the ‘right’ answers but follow your intuition too.

Communicate with your agent. Ask questions. Listen to what they have to say but also don’t be afraid to speak up. For instance, we made a point of telling our agent we didn’t care what the governing body stated about not leaving business cards, we wanted agents leaving their card.

It does feel creepy given the fears about the pandemic and strangers are walking through your space but try and relax. We trusted the agents were following protocols, hence we tried not to over think of people being in your home. It is what it is and bottom line we made this decision to sell, we had to relax and trust the process.

I know it sounds like a cliché, and it doesn’t seem to mean anything when you feel your financial butt is being held to the fire, BUT every house has a buyer. Sometimes it just takes longer for the right person to come along. Trust!

Reflection:

We started packing immediately. Given the number of times we have moved in our lifetime, and have moved others, (both our parent’s estates and in helping our kids) we have been caught like deer in the headlights, surrounded by mounds of our ‘oh it’s not that much stuff’ and the pressure of the closing clock is dictating you have to get out now!

As we know what it means to divest ourselves of stuff seeing we have moved four times in five years. For instance, when we moved out west, we greatly decluttered and minimalized, only moving 10 x 1 ½ cubic foot boxes, 3 x large boxes and about 9 large suitcases. No, we didn’t move any furniture nor did we move a car. It wasn’t worth it to move either, there are always deals to be found. We could easily replace and rebuild once moved for the most part cheaper if we looked for sales or purchased cheap and cheerful items. Now several moves later and accumulating new stuff, we knew we needed to go through everything with great discernment. In addition, we know how we can fool ourselves into thinking oh, there isn’t really that much and, in a heartbeat, find out that the stuff is like the old fashion kid’s baby bottle that keeps filling every time you turn it over.

So, the purge began. Yes, again. Certainly, we didn’t have as much to reduce as in our move out west, however, what we did find is that a number of our cheap and cheerful items weren’t worth moving but we were happy to share them with neighbours and our youngest son.

We sorted and packed by rooms and themes. More than ever before we spent money on bubble wrap and used small boxes for anything fragile. We figured instead of labelling each box, it was easier to just tell the movers all cardboard holds fragile items. Saved from previous moves, we have 17 large black stackable plastic bins (purchased at Costco) which we used for lighter items, artwork, clothing, bedding, pillows, kitchen items, art supplies etc. We stacked the boxes in the closets and in our storage units, hidden from view.

The packing continued in small spurts for almost two months until we received an offer. Once there was an offer, we went into packing overdrive for two weeks. The advantage of bridge financing is that one doesn’t have to leave the home being sold like a bat out of hell and could save the exceptionally highly delicate items to be picked up a couple weeks after the movers. Our sass turned out somewhat humbling as not only did we have to regularly rent a van to take these items up to Comox, even after this move, we still have items that will fill our VW Beetle when we return to Langford to do the final signing for the closing March 31. So, you see packing can’t start soon enough, and even for those of us who think we have perfected the art of moving, we still have underestimated the stuff.

MC Fairy holding a hand to her chin, appearing to be bashful.