Rising Home Prices, Building Setback, Offers with Listing Agents
Kitchen with two chairs around an island


Dear David,

Local house prices are rising quickly. Should we sell and rent for the short term until the market corrects, then purchase a home when it becomes a buyer’s market again? Or should we hang on to our home for the next 10 years? — Uncertain

Dear Uncertain: The real estate news coming out of Toronto and Vancouver can make the “sell high now, buy low later” idea seem plausible, but the real estate market in K-W is unique. Our status as “Silicon Valley North”, along with limited inventory and a growing population has kept home values remarkably stable over the years. While some market fluctuation is normal, I don’t expect prices to be subject to the kind of crash that would net you significant gains using this strategy. But even if I’m wrong, consider this: you would need to sell your home at the exact peak of the market, buy again at the exact bottom of the market, and experience a timely rebound of home values in the meantime. I consider myself an expert in the field, but even so, couldn’t predict these variables in advance. I would suggest that you move if you want to, but if you are happy in your home, stick with your investment over the long term.

Dear David,
What is a “building setback”? – Boundary Issues

Dear Boundary: Every piece of property has property lines, and each property line has a setback — the area measured in from that line on which you are not allowed to build. As homes get larger and lots get smaller, setbacks are increasingly important as they protect homeowners from having neighbours encroach on their property with fences, garages and landscaping elements. If you’re putting up a fence for example, it can’t be placed on the property line, but must fall inside of it. Everything down to the concrete footings needs to fall within your own property unless you and your neighbour agree on it in advance (and it’s wise to get that in writing…good contracts make good neighbours). Setbacks vary, but structures that do not adhere to them are illegal and you may be forced to remove them.

Dear David,
I attended an open house over the weekend. I really liked the home, and the listing agent. Can I have them write up an offer for me? — Unrepresented

Dear Unrepresented: Having the listing agent submit an offer for you might seem convenient if you don’t have a Realtor of your own, but take a step back. The Realtor who listed this property is already representing the seller. I won’t be surprised if I get some push back from my fellow Realtors on this, but if my mother, brother or best friend was in your position, I would tell them to get a Realtor of their own. While dual agency is not uncommon (it happens in my practice on rare occasion), having the listing agent represent you is a bit like relying on your opponent’s lawyer in a court case. Don’t feel pressured to go this route. If your need a Realtor in a hurry, ask friends or co-workers for a referral.