Get outside and enjoy the sunshine.

After spending more time at home than ever before, most of us are eager to get outside and enjoy the sunshine this spring. But, unless you’ve been carefully tending to your yard, there’s a good chance those outdoor spaces could use some TLC.

As it turns out, the key to creating a truly relaxing backyard oasis lies in delighting the five senses, and nearly any homeowner can partake. From the smell of jasmine to the soft glow of string lights, here’s how to level up your backyard this spring.

Prioritize privacy

Of course, you can’t truly relax when the neighbours are too close for comfort. Before tackling anything else, make a point to establish some privacy.

You may not want an extra-tall privacy fence all along with the property, but creating even just a few closed-off nooks promotes relaxation. Consider curtains, climbing plants, trellises, hedges, planters, and more (Better Homes and Gardens, 2021) to section off your space, prevent prying eyes and create a perfectly calm environment. Goodbye, looky-loos!

Set up seating

No outdoor space is complete without a functional seating area. Outdoor daybeds invite lounging, while a picnic table would be perfect for entertaining.

If you’re feeling creative, don’t shy away from swings, hammocks and other unique options, either. Whatever your taste, just ensure plenty of comfortable seating is well within reach.

Tend to the garden

Greenery can make or break an outdoor space. In fact, plants have been shown to have a therapeutic effect, promoting feelings of calmness and cutting down on stress (Forbes, 2020). For added fun, incorporate plants with sweet-smelling flowers, vibrant colours or unique shapes.

Let there be light

While lighting may initially seem a bit insignificant, when used correctly, it can truly transform a space. For example, warm light is often seen as calming and inviting, while cool light feels more invigorating.

Consider hanging string lights over the seating area to add ambiance, or place torches throughout the yard if lawn games are on the agenda. Either way, good lighting (Country Living 2021) ensures your outdoor oasis is fully functional, even after dark.

Install a water feature

Did you know that the sound of running water (Smithsonian, 2021) can actually boost health outcomes and promote feelings of tranquillity? Unless you’re lucky enough to live right on the beach, you may need to do some legwork to incorporate this element of relaxation.

Installations can be as simple as a birdbath or as complex as a full-on fountain. Whatever your preference, a water feature is sure to make a splash in your backyard oasis.

Consider a sound system

If running water isn’t quite cutting it, a soothing playlist might. Pick up a simple Bluetooth speaker or invest in an outdoor speaker system (HGTV). Then, take a note from your favourite day spa and put on something soft and soothing.

Imagine yourself lounging in a hammock under bistro lights, flowering perennials nearby… Now, grab a shovel and make it a reality! Your backyard oasis is waiting.

Raise the discussion of booming real estate in Canada, and the Vancouver, BC housing market will likely be mentioned more than once. While the city has maintained a strong market over the last few decades, another story worth mentioning is the performance of the province as a whole.

In mid-2020, Canadian real estate markets from coast to coast experienced a surge in demand that caused inventory to fall below historical levels. Meantime, prices experienced continuous increases month-over-month, pushing the entire BC housing market into red-hot seller’s territory.

With an influx of new residents coming from overseas and other Canadian provinces, affordability in BC is moving further out of reach. Homes have been flying off the market and prices have been rising well beyond the national average, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of slowing as we welcome the new year.

British Columbia Closing 2021 Strong

While numbers may be decreasing in comparison to the scorching sales of October 2020, October 2021 was still a strong one. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) tallied residential unit sales of 9,593. With a record low number of listings on the market, the average residential price in the province rose 18.9 percent year-over-year, to $964,777. This helped push the total sales volume to a whopping $9.3 billion for the month.

With a 40-per-cent decline in active residential listings at the end of October compared to 2020, the BC real estate market continues to be a hot seller’s market. “The story across the province continues to be the record low number of listings,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Rising mortgage rates should start to temper sales activity next year, but even with a moderation in demand it will take quite some time for the inventory of homes to return to a healthy level.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 69.7 percent to $99.6 billion year-over-year. Unit sales were up 42.8 percent to 108,798 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 18.8 percent to $915,833. With strong numbers in the first month of the 2021’s last quarter, it is anticipated that the market will continue to burn strong as 2021 comes to a close.

BC Market to Continue Simmering into 2022

While things may appear to be slightly cooling in the British Columbia housing market, we aren’t out of the woods just yet. As 2022 inches closer, industry observers expect to see real estate metrics continue strong in the new year.

With the MLS residential sales in BC anticipated to rise to 121,450 units by the end of the year – a 29-per-cent increase over the 94,013 unit sales in 2020 – there could be a welcomed cooling off at the beginning of the new year. According to Ogmundson, “After a frenzied start to the year, activity in BC housing markets has settled back to a level that is broadly in line with long-run trends. The strength of the first half of this year has sales on track to easily break the previous record for annual sales.”

The Board said that MLS residential sales will fall about 15 percent, down to 102,750 units for the entirety of 2022, potentially giving the market some time to relax and moderate. “While we do not anticipate a repeat of the record-setting market of 2021, we do expect housing market activity to remain vigorous in 2022,” added Ogmundson.

With annual sales projected to remain above average, listings are not anticipated to keep pace with demand, which will likely further push the average home price in BC upward approximately three percent compared to 2021. While an increase in price is generally not favourable for buyers, the slight increase is more digestible than the 17-per-cent increase experienced over the course of 2021.

Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association

Most Salmon Arm properties see 2022 assessment jump by more than 30 percent

BC Assessment notes top-priced single-family home in Salmon Arm is valued at 2,528,000

If your Salmon Arm home was assessed around the $400,000 mark in 2020, it’s likely assessed at well over half a million dollars now.

According to BC Assessment, a ‘typical’ Salmon Arm single-family house assessed at $426,000 in 2021, based on its potential selling price on July 1, 2020, would be assessed in 2022 at $574,000, an increase of 34 percent.

In Sicamous, while the potential selling prices are lower, the increase in assessed value is slightly higher.

BC Assessment states that a ‘typical’ Sicamous single-family house assessed at $318,000 in 2021 would be assessed in 2022 at $450,000, a 38 percent increase. The 2022 assessment is based on the potential selling price of the home on July 1, 2021.

In Chase, a ‘typical’ $309,000 home in the 2021 assessment would increase in assessed value in 2022 by 36 percent to $427,000.

Salmon Arm, Sicamous and Chase are listed by BC Assessment in the Thompson Okanagan region. Throughout the region, many communities are seeing increases of more than 30 percent.

Assessor Tracy Wall pointed out that although increases are very high for the region, a number of residents have been affected by wildfires and floods.

“We really really want them to come to our office and speak to our appraiser, so we have accurate information for their assessment,” she said.

Wall recommended that people go to the BC Assessment website at: where they can see their assessment.

The assessment increase for strata residential properties such as condos and townhouses in the Thompson Okanagan region is lower than the increase for single-family houses, running in the 20 to 25 percent mark.

An increased assessment does not necessarily mean a homeowner’s taxes will increase. It’s how your assessment changes relative to the average change in your community that matters. For instance, if the change to your property value is higher than the average change for your property class, your taxes will likely increase.

If you have concerns or questions about your assessment, you’re asked to call your regional assessment office as soon as possible in January.

As for assessed values, the highest out of the 30 communities listed in Lake Country at $662,000 in the 2021 assessment increasing to $886,000 in 2022. Sun Peaks is actually higher, listed at $921,000 in the 2021 assessed value jumping 25 percent to $1,146,000 in the 2022 assessment.

The lowest typical price listed in the Thompson Okanagan region for a single-family house by BC Assessment goes to Clinton.

The 2021 assessment was for $155,000, which rose by 17 percent to the 2022 assessment of $176,000.

BC Assessment also keeps track of the top 25 valued properties in communities.

In Salmon Arm, the top 25 prices listed by BC Assessment range from $1.6 million to $2.5 million.

At the top is a single-family home at 981 Harbourfront Dr. NE priced at $2,528,000. There are only four single-family homes listed in the top 25; the rest are described as acreages.

Sources: Salmon Arm Observer

Let’s talk about how to present and price your house in a seller’s market. A seller’s market means that there is less inventory than buyers. The upside for sellers is that you can usually sell your house quicker and for more money than in a buyer’s market.  BUT you must be careful, if you don’t present your house properly or if you overprice it and it sits too long, it becomes a stinky listing way faster than it would in another kind of market.  Buyers begin to wonder if there is something wrong with it much sooner than they would’ve if it had been a buyer’s market.

With that being said, this is a great time to sell houses that might not be optimal for people in the past.  For example, houses with odd floor plans, located on busier streets, have smaller yards, backing light industrial etc. Because there is less inventory, buyers are somewhat willing to make concessions on features that they may not have had in the past.  What you don’t want to do is miss the boat on cleaning, repairs and staging. Be sure that your house is just as presentable as it would be in a buyer’s market. You want your house to be in great repair and be clean, fresh and in a state that people can envision themselves there… immediately.  Buyers have to decide fast.  If they can’t imagine themselves in your home right away, they will quickly move on!

Sources: Heather Fritz

Beautiful view of the Itaimbezinho Canyons in Cambará do Sul. Brazil. Sunset in Canyons.; Shutterstock ID 1931609639; purchase_order: DailyOM; job: ; client: ; other:

When leaving a home, it’s important to honour the time you have spent within its walls and the life you lived there.

When we move from one residence to another, we often get so caught up in the forward thrust of where we are going that we forget to properly say goodbye to the home we are leaving behind. Yet saying goodbye is an important part of moving forward. It gives us a sense of completion so that we are able to fully inhabit our new space, having left nothing of ourselves in the old one. In this way, we honour the space that has held and nurtured us. At the same time, we cleanse it and empty it of our energy so that the new residents can make the space theirs. 
Plan a walk through your home that begins and ends at the front door. Ideally, you will be alone or accompanied only by a person who shared the space with you. Prepare yourself mentally to be as present as you can during this process. As you enter the house, you might say, “I have come to thank you for being my home and to say goodbye.” You might touch the walls with your hands as you move through the house, or you might burn sage as an offering, as well as an energy cleanser. Spend some time in each room expressing your gratitude and gathering or releasing any lingering energy from the room. As you do this, you are freeing your home to embrace its new occupants. Remember to visit your outside spaces as well. Plants are especially sensitive to the energy around them and will appreciate your consideration. 
As you make your way back to the front door, know that you have completed your final journey through your home and that you have honoured and blessed it with this ritual of farewell. As you close and lock the door behind you, say one last goodbye. Now you can walk freely into your future and fully inhabit the new spaces that will keep you safe and warm.

Sources: Daily Oms