Empowering Women On and Off the Ice

Recently I had the opportunity to be featured in this article by The Squamish Chief with several other women-led businesses in honour of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month! I’m proud to be part of this community through my two passions: real estate and empowering women through sport.

As the daughter of one of Squamish's pioneering physicians, Dr. Ken Schellenberg, I've always felt a deep connection to this community. It's a place where roots run deep, where every corner holds a story, and where opportunities abound for those with the vision to seize them.

With over 25 years of marketing expertise and an intimate knowledge of the local landscape, I've found my calling as a real estate agent. From the towering peaks of the Stawamus Chief to the tranquil shores of Howe Sound, I've made it my mission to showcase the beauty and potential of Squamish to buyers near and far. Some might say it's in my blood—to sell Squamish is to share a piece of my heart with the world.

But my journey doesn't end with real estate. Far from it. As the founder and owner of the Squamish Women's Hockey Academy, I've embarked on a mission to break down barriers and redefine what it means to be a woman in sport. It's a vision rooted in inclusivity, in creating a space where girls and women of all backgrounds can come together, lace up their skates, and pursue their passion for hockey without fear or judgment.

At the heart of the academy lies a simple yet powerful belief: that every woman has the right to step onto the ice with confidence, regardless of her skill level or previous experience. I've seen it firsthand—the transformation that occurs when women are given the opportunity to push beyond their comfort zones, to challenge themselves in ways they never thought possible. Many of the local women who have joined the academy started with never having worn skates before, and now they're competing against teams from across the Lower Mainland.

Of course, the road hasn't always been easy. I've faced my fair share of skepticism and pushback, especially when it came to establishing the hockey academy here in Squamish. But I refused to let doubt dictate my destiny. Six years have passed since the academy's inception, and the demand only continues to grow. That's why I'm thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of a women's hockey academy in Whistler—a testament to the power of perseverance and the enduring spirit of our community.

Whether you're a budding athlete looking to hone your skills on the ice or a prospective homebuyer eager to explore all that Squamish has to offer, I invite you to join me on this journey of empowerment. Together, let's rewrite the rules, challenge the status quo, and create a world where every woman feels seen, heard, and valued.

Contact me to learn more about the Squamish Women's Hockey Academy or explore the local real estate market, I’m always happy to answer your questions!


What the Bank of Canada’s Interest Rate Hikes Mean for Homeowners

The Bank of Canada (BoC) has been raising interest rates at the fastest and most significant pace since 1998. Here’s what the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes mean for homeowners.

The central bank started an aggressive campaign of interest rate increases in 2022, with the objective of cooling the inflation rate. While inflation has eased from its peak last summer, still sits above the Bank’s two-per-cent target, driven by a wide range of factors, from expansionary pandemic-era fiscal policy to surging commodity prices. Costs remain elevated across the board, from food and household goods to services. Can the institution achieve its objective of busting inflation and navigating the economy to a soft landing? Time will tell.

What is becoming evident, however, is that higher interest rates are weighing on the Canadian real estate market, impacting demand volumes and moderating price growth.

What the Bank of Canada’s Interest Rate Hikes Mean for Homeowners

In a survey of Canadians about the 2023 housing market, 45 per cent said they are concerned that interest rate increases will impact their ability to buy or sell a home this year.

Suffice it to say, borrowers are being affected by higher interest rates.

Indeed, a rising-rate environment reduces the purchasing power of prospective homeowners and increases the financial burden of current homeowners who have a mortgage. Add to this more stringent mortgage stress tests, and the number of homebuyers in the marketplace drops.

At the same time, homeowners who may have bought a home might have entered into a fixed-rate mortgage, which means they may not need to worry until about rising rates until their mortgage comes up for renewal in a few years.

“Homebuyers can often negotiate the interest rate for mortgage financing based on their creditworthiness and the degree to which they do other banking business with the mortgage lender,” the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) wrote.

It is estimated that a one-per-cent hike in rates will add hundreds of dollars to mortgage payments each month. However, for a considerable number of Canadians who are contending with soaring inflation and a slowing economy, even an extra $150 a month in mortgage payments can be unaffordable and affect their overall personal finances.

And this could have been the unintended consequence of near-zero interest rates that allowed homebuyers to borrow more than they could afford down the road.

“Some Canadians made decisions to take their mortgages out based on what they could be approved for and maybe didn’t get some financial advice to say, well, ‘I know I can get approved for a mortgage at this particular level, but what can I actually afford?’” said Lysa Fitzgerald, vice-president of sales at Manulife, in an interview with CBC.

Put simply, rising interest rates will impact mortgages across the country and weigh on the Canadian real estate market.

How Might Canadians Respond?

Many trends could form with anticipated interest rate increases.

The first is that homeowners may rush to sell their residential properties because they can no longer afford to carry the debt, especially if they were purchased at or near the top of the pandemic-era housing boom.

The second is that homeowners may be forced to refinance their mortgages.

Lastly, it could also lead to broader consequences for household budgets, such as spending less on groceries, leisure and entertainment, or the requirement to increase or supplement their income to help cover the higher mortgage costs.

If you’re planning to engage in the housing market, connect with a RE/MAX agent to help guide you through the ups, downs and uncertainties of the market.


5 Common Reasons Home Sales Fall Through

Wouldn’t it be great if every home sale breezed through without a hitch? The offer is made, accepted, and you’re moved in within 30 days—perfect! Well, that’s sometimes not the case. Home sales can fall through for a number of reasons, which is why having a REALTOR® on your side is crucial to help you navigate them. Pete Shpak, an associate broker with Oakwyn Realty’s Lee and Pete Real Estate Team in Vancouver, British Columbia, walked us through five common reasons home sales can fall through. 

1. The home inspection exposes major issues

Whether you’re purchasing a brand-new build or an older property, getting a home inspection helps uncover defects or repairs that need doing. Minor issues can usually be solved between the buyer and seller, but if an inspector finds large cracks in the foundation or a leaky roof, that could be problematic. 

“That can definitely kill a deal or bring it back to the table for further negotiations or more exploratory work involving a structural engineer,” says Shpak. “Sellers can potentially avoid those problems by having their home pre-inspected before going to market so you can fix minor issues, and if you come across a major one, you could think about how you’re going to tackle it when it comes to the table.” 

The seller’s REALTOR® might suggest disclosing a major issue in the listing and pricing the home accordingly, for example. 

2. Documents reveal red flags 

If you’re purchasing a condominium, you and your REALTOR® should first review documents pertaining to the building, says Shpak. 

“These include depreciation reports, meeting minutes, engineering reports, and financial summaries, and sometimes, depreciation reports can read very poorly,” he explains.

“For example, if you’re looking at a condo in a 10-unit building, you could find out the roof soon needs replacing at a cost of $100,000, but the building’s funding reserve is empty. That means everybody would owe $10,000 for the roof. Depreciation reports can show other expensive items that need replacing, like windows or elevators. This can kill a deal if the costs become too onerous for people to take on.”

3. Financing isn’t approved or a home appraisal doesn’t match the sale price

If you’re not pre-approved for a mortgage, you may not get financing in place—which could tank the sale. Even if you’ve been pre-approved, your bank will need to appraise the home you’re buying before finalizing your mortgage. 

“In competitive offer situations where people’s emotions might get the best of them, the price gets higher and higher and the bank might disagree with the value,” explains Shpak. “That means it’s a shortfall from the agreed-to price, so you can still finance a large portion of it, but to make this sale work now, you’d have to bring more money to the table.”

Buyers unable to afford a larger down payment may back out of the deal.

4. Small details can cause big problems

Sometimes, buyers and sellers agree on a purchase price but then get bogged down on other points like occupancy dates or what’s included with the home. For example, a buyer may want to move into the home quickly, but the seller needs more time. 

“Usually there’s a creative solution to make it work—like the seller does a rent back for a month or longer—but it can spill over to other facets of the negotiation and sour the whole deal,” says Shpak. “Sometimes buyers say, ‘I want all your furniture included’. I always tell clients to leave that off the table and make a good deal happen. Then, after the deal’s done, we can make them an offer for furniture, but keep it separate from the home.”

5. Buyers get cold feet 

Until all conditions are met—a home appraisal and inspection have been done, financing is in place—and a buyer has brought in a deposit that’s at least 5% of the purchase price, a deal is not done and buyers can walk away if they have a reason for doing so.

Get peace of mind by working with a REALTOR® 

With so many steps involved, working with a REALTOR® is extremely beneficial. 

If you’re buying or selling your home soon, connect with me to make sure you’re taken care of through the entire process—from the expected highs to the unexpected lows. 


What Qualifies as a First-Time Homebuyer in Canada?

To qualify as a first-time homebuyer in Canada: You cannot have previously owned a property in Canada or abroad.

However, there are exceptions!

It is possible to qualify as a first-time home buyer again after owning a home under the following circumstances:

  1. If you have separated from and no longer live with a spouse or partner.

  2. If you purchased your first home more than four years ago, you may be able to make use of government programs to buy for a second time.

It’s important to note that the above criteria may vary depending on the program or incentive you want to access as a first-time homebuyer. For example, some programs may have additional eligibility requirements or different definitions of what qualifies as a first-time homebuyer.

For instance, the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) defines a first-time home buyer as this: “You are considered a first-time home buyer if, in the four year period, you did not occupy a home that you owned, or one that your current spouse or common-law partner owned.”

Want to learn more? Reach out to me anytime!

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