Tips for Taking a Virtual House Tour in Burnaby

virtual tours in burnaby real estate

Take a look at the Real Estate Board of Vancouver’s home buying statistics and you will see that despite this new normal keeping us all indoors, home buying is peaking pre-pandemic levels. First-time homebuyers in Burnaby have cited several factors that made looking for a new place enticing in these times: record-low mortgage rates, a desire for more space after the fatigue of lockdown, a sense that they have a competitive advantage while the market was quiet, and the freedom, given remote work, to move further away from their offices in Vancouver.

But keeping safe should always be a priority, especially when you’re making that life-changing home purchase in Burnaby. If you’re thinking of looking for a house now, virtual house tours are the way to go. It may not be the same as going to an open house, but it is definitely helpful and way safer. Here are some tips in checking out new spaces while staying in your own home.

Make your dream house bucket list

If you’re looking for a house in Burnaby, you most probably have an idea of what you want to get. A real estate bucket list, so to speak. How many bedrooms? Is having a backyard and a front lawn important? What’s your budget? These details would also be helpful for your HofVan real estate agent, so we can prepare their own list of houses that would fit your criteria. Contact us today to get the process started. 

Review the property listings before the tour

Think of it as reviewing for a major exam – you have to be prepared! It helps to know all the nooks and crannies beforehand so that you can check up on them on the actual virtual house tour. At HofVan, our listings can include photos, videos, and even floor plans of the space for you to study. Feel free to take a look around!

Prepare for the virtual tour

So you’ve made your list, checked it twice, and even did a pre-tour before your real tour. Now, you prep for your call. We’ve all had hundreds by now, but it never hurts to take at least 30 minutes before your schedule to manage potential technical interruptions. Make sure to be in a quiet space where you can easily hear each other, or set up your headset, to make sure that you’re not disturbing anyone. Then, check your internet connection if it’s stable and fast. It won’t hurt to restart the router to ensure the best possible connection.

Take notes and ask questions

Now that you’re on the tour, make sure you give the agent your full attention. Writing things down not only can help you remember them better, but it can also help you focus on the task at hand and not the million other things that might be happening in your house. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, too. This is your potential new home, after all. Every detail is important! Imagine you were there in person, what kind of details are you missing out on due to being behind a screen? I know that I always check the shower pressure whenever I view a new home, you’re more than welcome to ask the real estate agent to do the same! 

Take your time

As well-prepared as you are, it will help to take multiple tours of the space, especially if you’re having a hard time deciding. Seeing things the second or third time around gives you more perspective, and you might discover parts you might have missed. Take as much time as you can, and be patient with yourself and your agent. If you rush into decisions, you might end up regretting your choices in the long run.

Home Trends and Living in Burnaby: With Dekora Home Staging

Home staging with Dekora

Ron Sowden, long time home staging professional, sheds light on what challenges the industry has faced, how our behaviours are changing and shaping the way that we find comfort at home, as well as a great perspective on what it is like to live and do business in the Vancouver/ Burnaby Heights neighbourhood. 

We are so lucky to have been given a really unique perspective by Ron, learning about his business Dekora and taking a look through the inspiring work they have put up throughout 2020. We love working with Ron as he stages our beautiful listings. It is especially insightful to learn from somebody who sees the winds of change and adapts their business approach to it, particularly when sometimes we are riding these winds ourselves and not necessarily looking around to notice how far we have come and why. 

We asked Ron a series of questions about Dekora, home staging, industry trends and life in Burnaby, so let’s get right to it! 

Meet Ron Sowden.

Ron has been in the home staging world since it started in Canada, around 18 years now. His business Dekora Home Staging and Interior Design is right on the edges of the Burnaby/ Vancouver heights neighbourhoods at Bridgeway and Skeena Street. 

“Having worked here for decades, this North Burnaby neighbourhood has become somewhat of a second home for me,” Ron tells us.  

Dekora Home Staging and Interior Design.

Dekora has been in business since 2003 and is now one of the leading home staging businesses in Western Canada. 

“We introduced home staging to the Metro Vancouver market, our success led to the opening of a second branch in Calgary in 2008,” Ron notes. Today, Dekora’s main business remains home staging, but having developed strong eyes for detail and an understanding of what styles people gravitate towards, Dekora now offers interior design and furniture/ decor sales to both consumers (homeowners) and businesses (builders/ developers). 

“As well as private homeowners, we work extensively with home builders and developers furnishing show homes, display suites and custom spec homes.” One such project, described in Dekora’s blog “A Year in Review: Looking Back at 2020,” involved staging the Heritage on West 16th Avenue transformation project. Dekora were a pivotal part of the process in which three heritage homes were transformed into 12 new townhomes and infill coach house units. This required a unique balance between historic architecture and contemporary tastes and needs, a balance that Dekora struck perfectly as seen in the image below. For the full article, click here

We asked Ron which were his favourite projects over the recent years. “Favorite projects? Well, they number in the thousands! Recent local ones to point out could be the presentation centre and show suites for Belford Properties Sun Towers at Metrotown, and the charming Smith + Norfolk townhomes in Burnaby.”  

The impact of COVID on homeowner needs and tastes.

Dramatic effects were felt across multiple industries, for Ron and Dekora, they saw behavioural patterns emerge as a direct result of changing needs which puts them in a unique position.

“Since COVID landed on us all, there was an initial drastic slowdown, but that was followed by a lot of activity in home sales, driven by changing needs of people now working from home and seeing opportunities to initiate change to their lifestyles and living accommodation,” Ron tells us. 

“We witnessed first hand the movement of populations from core-area condos to larger homes or townhomes away from downtown – like Burnaby for instance.” 

Where does home staging fit in the real estate industry?

With so many people now working remotely, Dekora are staging home offices and work spaces at every opportunity to show home buyers the live/work potential, particularly in condos.  

Statistics have for many years demonstrated that well-staged and presented homes sell faster and for more money, than non-staged homes. We work directly with Dekora as they showcase our beautiful listings – and with great results. Builders and developers also recognize the value and upside potential of an investment in staging. 

Ron argues the return on investment can be compelling, and it is easy to see why when looking through their portfolio.

“Our tagline is “Love at first sight,” and that is exactly what we aim to achieve for potential buyers.  We really focus on envisioning the target buyer for each home we stage, and styling an environment to appeal to them – and ideally a home that they can fall in love with.” 

Ron continued to tell us there is a nice range and variety of homes in the Heights – from lowrise to highrise condos, townhomes, beautiful heritage homes and lots of great new homes.  Something for everyone, which contributes to the rich, diverse community known across this area, and Burnaby as a whole.  

New trends in the ways in which we design our home spaces.

The months of COVID have impacted all of our lives, Ron notes that many more people are focussing more on their homes now, considering that they spend so much more time at home, and have had to integrate things like work, fitness, recreation into the home. 

More space has been at the top of many wish lists, and that has driven a lot of activity in the Burnaby real estate market.  Ron has also seen a really interesting increase in our focus and investment in comfort and style.

“When we spend so much more of our time at home, we value it more.”

Why is Burnaby such a great place to live and work?

Ron begins to circle back to comments made at the beginning. 

“There is a diverse variety of housing options, and that makes for an interesting, vibrant community.” 

“The Heights area exemplifies that diversity and Hastings Street is one the lower mainland’s great “high streets” with its wonderful mix of businesses, shops and restaurants.” 

Ron has seen a lot of change over the years with so much new development, but notes that the area has evolved along with the growth and continues to be vibrant and desirable. “In fact, Burnaby Heights was exactly the place that my close family friends  – a young newlywed couple – most wanted to make their home, and they just recently bought a charming older house across from Burnaby Heights Park on Trinity Street! A perfect example!” 

We’d like to thank Ron for introducing us to Dekora Home Staging, and shedding light on his perspective of human behaviour change and the charm of Burnaby. Be sure to check out Dekora’s website for inspiring images, or to learn more about their services. 

If you’ve been inspired to learn more about Burnaby real estate, the unique neighbourhoods in Burnaby, or the diverse community, reach out to us, we would gladly help you out. 

If you have a story you’d like to share about living or doing business in Burnaby, reach out to us!

5 Reasons to Invest in Burnaby Real Estate

Why invest in burnaby real estate

If you are looking for a great place to live, learn, work, and play, set your sights on Burnaby. 

As the third-largest city in British Columbia, Burnaby has developed into a thriving urban centre. The once-rural town evolved into a diverse, multicultural hub with a large chunk of its population originating from Africa, China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

Its cultural, economic, and social diversity is a significant reason why people flock to buy real estate in the city. Burnaby is the perfect place for people of all genders, ages, occupations, and interests. Whether you’re single, starting a family, or an empty-nester, investing in Burnaby real estate would be an excellent move.

Hailed as the “Best Run City” by Maclean’s Magazine in 2009, Burnaby remains a fantastic place to live in. If you are looking to invest in real estate property, you may seriously consider this sustainable and vibrant community.

Here are other reasons why:  

Robust Economy and Quality of Life 

Burnaby is a great place to live in because of its low crime rate, outstanding health care system, and good quality of life.

While Information Technology (IT) is its primary economic driver, commercial firms, industrial corporations, and oil refineries also contribute to the local economy. Film production studios have also set up shop in the city.

The cost of living in Burnaby is also relatively low compared to Vancouver. 

Excellent Educational System

Burnaby also presents fantastic learning opportunities. It has 41 elementary and eight secondary schools that offer a comprehensive educational program from kindergarten to Grade 12. These programs include both English and French immersion and over 200 locally and provincially developed educational programs and services.

Burnaby is also home to two major post-secondary educational institutions — Simon Fraser University (SFU) and The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). A lot of international students also come over to pursue academic and experiential courses in Burnaby.

Amazing Commuting Networks 

Getting around Burnaby is comfortable with its remarkable commuting networks and transportation services. Its commitment to public transportation innovation was recognized by being a recipient of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Project Award in 2011.

Located in the geographical centre of Greater Vancouver, it only takes 25 minutes to drive into downtown Vancouver. Skytrain stations are strategically spread across the city to make it easier for residents and guests to commute within Burnaby or cross to Coquitlam, downtown Vancouver, New Westminster, Richmond, or Surrey.

Numerous Shopping and Recreational Facilities 

Investing in Burnaby real estate property is made even more appealing with all retail and recreational facilities around. Its multicultural demography makes it a perfect place for experiencing global cuisine, as evidenced by various cafes and restaurants in the city.

Shoppers will undoubtedly revel in Burnaby’s shopping malls, including British Columbia’s largest mall (and Canada’s second-largest) – the Metropolis at Metrotown. Art, cultural, and sports centres are also scattered around the area, such as the Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby Village Museum, Kensington Complex, National Nikkei Cultural Centre, and Shadbolt Centre, to name a few.

Those aged 55 and above can also take advantage of the four senior centres in Burnaby.

Loads of Greenspace and Parks 

With 25% of the land designated as parks and open spaces, Burnaby is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Outdoor activities abound, such as boating, biking, golf, and other health and fitness activities. Picnics and concerts in the park can also be enjoyed, especially during summer.

Popular outdoor areas are Deer Park Lake, Burnaby’s Farmer’s Market, Burnaby Mountain Golf Course, Metro Skate Park, and Swanguard Stadium. For young families, Burnaby offers the best of both worlds, with outdoor activities and world-class metropolitan amenities in abundance. 

Reach out to us at HofVan real estate group to learn more about Burnaby! 

Where to buy Vancouver Real Estate when going to UBC?

UBC Vancouver Real Estate

If you are looking to purchase real estate in Vancouver for your child or yourself that will be attending UBC (University of British Columbia), there are a few things to consider. While this article does provide information and guidance buying real estate in Vancouver for UBC. It is in no way a substitute for receiving professional legal advice. Meaning it is important to seek independent legal advice before moving forward on a purchase.

Purchasing a home on University/UBC lands in Vancouver West

When considering purchasing real estate in the UBC/University area of Vancouver West, there are two prominent types of ownership available for purchase. These are leasehold and freehold.

Leasehold vs Freehold

There are three types of leasehold: private, public & first nation. For this article we will be focusing on private. Buying a leasehold property, you purchase the rights to live in the home for a limited period of time. For example, in UBC the period of the lease is usually 99 years.

While a freehold interest, the owner has continuous use of the land subject to local bylaws and other restrictions. Freehold interest is also known as a fee simple interest.

For further reading on different types of homes and ownership, please read RECBC’s article on buying a home.

When does a leasehold start?

As mentioned above, leasehold periods for Vancouver Westside real estate in UBC usually has a period of 99 years. However, that does not mean that the 2nd owner of that home will get the full 99 years. As a buyer of a previously owned leasehold property, you are only buying the remainder of the lease. This means that the original owner may have the longest period of 99 years. But any subsequent owners will have a shorter period.

What happens at the end of a leasehold period?

There are renewal options and/or buyout options that are provided in the lease. Therefore it is always advisable to review the lease with a lawyer prior to purchase. Another option would be to have reviewing the lease as a subject in the offer.

The value of leasehold

Leasehold properties can be considered unwise investments. The reason being as time passes the length of the lease decreases. This can sometimes make leasehold properties less desirable.

For further reading, Pazder Law has written an amazing article in regards to leasehold properties.

Is all Vancouver Westside Real Estate Leasehold in UBC?

Map of the University Area in Vancouver West. Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

While homes in UBC can be leasehold, not all real estate in the University area of Greater Vancouver is leasehold. There are some homes that are freehold. Working with a REALTOR® can help you determine the property’s ownership.

Click here to view active listings in the UBC area.

Vancouver real estate near transit to go to UBC

Understandably, purchasing real estate in UBC is the first option your mind goes to. But Vancouver has amazing transit options that go directly to UBC. This opens more possibilities for finding homes that could work for future and current UBC students.

99 UBC B-Line

One of the more recognizable routes to go to UBC. This direct bus line travels from Lougheed and Boundary along Broadway all the way to UBC’s bus loop. The 99 B-Line travels through Point Grey, Kitsilano, Fairview, Mount Pleasant, Renfrew and Renfrew Heights. Depending on where you start your route, the ride could be around an hour.

33 UBC

Another bus route that goes directly to UBC is the 33. On the Westside of Vancouver, this bus travels through Point Grey, Dunbar, Kitsilano, Shaughnessy, Fairview and Cambie. While on the East Side of Vancouver the route goes through Main, Fraser, Knight, Victoria, Collingwood and Renfrew Heights. Transit time could be less than an hour.

25 UBC

From the statistics provided by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Vancouver prices tend to be higher than Burnaby’s. Burnaby could be a great option if you want to look for something more affordable.

The 25 begins at Brentwood Bay 5 and travels along 22nd and King Edward Ave all the way to UBC. In North Burnaby, the 25 passes through Brentwood Park. In South Burnaby the bus passes through Central Burnaby, Greentree Village and Burnaby Hospital. East Vancouver the route passes through Renfrew Heights, Grandview, Victoria, Collingwood, Knight, Fraser and Main. On the Westside, the route goes through Cambie, Shaughnessy, Quilchena, Arbutus, Mackenzie Heights and Dunbar. Travel time can be longer. The ride may take an hour and fifteen minutes if starting in Burnaby.

The Millenium Line Extension

There are skytrain routes that lead to UBC buses but as of today there aren’t any skytrains that go directly to UBC. The city is planning on adding a train that goes directly to UBC. Although that might not complete for a long time.

Click here to read more about the Millenium line extension.

Buying Vancouver Real Estate for UBC

There are numerous options when buying Vancouver real estate for UBC. Instead of purchasing a leasehold property you may want to consider freehold. Purchasing a home in Vancouver requires a strong team to guide you along the way. You may want to consider hiring a lawyer, mortgage broker and REALTOR®. If you need guidance on where to start, please feel free to contact us! We’re happy to help!

Call 604-719-7684 or email

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Effect on Vancouver’s Housing Market

In short, no one has a concrete answer the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The last few months for Vancouver have seen a huge pick-up in sales but will that continue? There are numerous changes happening in the industry. Only time will tell how the Coronarvirus affects the industry.

What economists are saying about the effects of the Coronavirus?

RBC economics suggest that the hot market from Vancouver may cool down due to the Coronavirus. Despite the Bank of Canada reducing interest rates by 50 basis points.

“The world has changed in March,” Robert Hogue, a senior economist from RBC, writes.

“We are coming to the view now that because of the virus and the meltdown in financial markets… We will mostly likely see a decline in buying activity through at least parts of the spring market, and maybe even going into the summer market.”

Hogue believes that self-isolation and the lack of movement due to the Coronavirus may prevent buyers from the act of shopping for homes. Buyers may be more weary taking on a larger mortgage.

How the Coronavirus creates a new normal

Industries continue to adapt to the changes that the Coronavirus brings.

CIBC will keep it’s locations open but with modified hours. Centers that don’t offer over the counter banking and cash services will be closed until further notice. The bank will also be offering work from home solutions to staff that are not in customer facing roles.

Customers of Central 1 Credit Union are encouraged to use digital platforms. The credit union believes their site will be able to handle the increased traffic.

Canada Guaranty is looking for new solutions for customers that find themselves under financial hardship. The mortgage insurer’s Homeownership Solution Program prior allowed lenders to capitalize up to four monthly mortgage payments but this can be increased to a maximum of six monthly payments, depending on certain conditions.


LTSA, Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia, will be accepting an Affidavit of Execution sworn under section 49 of the Land Title Act. This is due to social distancing caused by the Coronavirus. Documents can be signed by the transferor on one page and witnessed by an officer on a separate page. This will allow both to remain at a safe distance.

Still, the requirements for the Land Title Act require the transferor to be in the presence of an officer. Videoconferencing is not an acceptable alternative.

Vancouver’s Real Estate as it stands

At the moment, it is not uncommon to see some homes sell above listing price and in a week or less. However the effects of this virus are still very new. With changing mortgage rates we will have to see how this may or may not impact the market.

A time to be sensitive

It is important to be sensitive to other needs. Not all sellers may be comfortable allowing people to enter their homes while COVID-19 is in effect. Sellers may be following instructions from the government if they are self-isolating after travelling.

Seniors selling their home must be careful allowing people to enter their homes.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has advised agents to not host open houses. This is to prevent the spreading of the virus.

Earlier this week, REBGV also removed the rule requiring that properties listed on MLS® be made available for showings.

If you are curious about seeing what areas are selling above or below the listing price check out our Real Estate Tools and Maps. By logging in you will have access to our insights. You will be able to see which areas are hot to buy and sell.