Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

Did you know that if a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape? During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. Learn what else to do to keep your loved ones safe!

1. Make sure you have adequate insurance 
First you need to realize that nothing you can do will possibly reduce the risk of a fire to zero, so you will need to purchase adequate insurance to cover your home. This will help you, in the disastrous event of a fire at your house, cover the costs of the damage and help you get back on track. If you do not have fire protection you may find yourself in a tough situation. 

After you have insured your home and belongings, you should begin taking measures to reduce the risk of fire as much as you can.

2. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 
The number one cause of total loss and death by fire is the lack of working smoke detectors in the home. Smoke detectors are not expensive. Install good quality smoke detectors in your home and check the batteries at least twice each year.

At a minimum, there should be one smoke detector on each floor including the basement. Ideally there should be one detector in each bedroom as well as common areas like hallways. Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors should be placed by the furnace. A properly installed and working smoke detector can save lives and might save your home.

3. Prevent careless fires 
While smoke detectors provide the safety and security of early warning in case of fire, preventing a careless fire from ever starting is another important safety measure you can take. You can easily take fire prevention measures by looking at your house room by room and practicing basic safety rules.

In the kitchen, always double check appliances like stoves, ovens, toasters and coffee pots. Make sure they are turned off when not in use, and unplug small appliances after each use.

Never leave cooking food — whether on the stove top, in the oven, microwave or on your barbecue — unattended. Always keep an eye on food that you are cooking, and keep items that can catch fire away from the stove top.

Keep flammables, such as drapes and furniture, away from portable heaters or open flame candles. Keep matches away from small children’s reach.

If you need to store combustible materials, carefully read the packaging instructions on how to do so, and follow it! Keep combustible materials away from areas exposed to high heat.

4. Use electrical outlets properly 
Do not overload electrical outlets which could cause a fire. If you need additional power from an outlet, either use a power strip with a surge protector or hire a licensed electrician to run additional power to the outlet.

Set up a routine of checking appliance cords every month or so. This should be done for lamps, TVs, toasters, etc. Check the cords for fraying or open areas. If you notice any problem either replace the item, have the cord replaced or cover it with electrical tape.

5. Have at least one fire extinguisher
Always keep a small fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen area in case of accidental grease or electrical fires. Don’t just keep the fire extinguisher handy; make sure you know how to use it.

You should have at least one fire extinguisher in your home. It should be in the kitchen or close by the kitchen. You might also want to keep additional fire extinguishers in the basement, garage and on the second floor if you have one.

6. Plan and practice a fire escape route
Planning an escape route is crucial in being prepared for an emergency and can save you valuable time in the event of a fire. Make sure everyone knows how to escape and keep all exits clear. Always keep keys for doors and windows where everyone can find them.

Be sure to practice your escape plan during the day and at night. Assign an adult to wake and assist each child in the house. Also consider lending extra help to family members who are physically challenged or elderly. Identify a meeting place outside the home. Practice, practice, practice—at least twice every year.

If there is a fire, get everyone out of the house as soon as possible and call 911.

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

With energy costs eating up a larger portion of our income more than ever before, it is very important to take all possible measure to conserve energy.  Here are some tips to help you save energy, save money, and do your part for the environment.

Heating and Cooling
About 60% of energy costs in a typical home are tied up in heating and cooling and 20% in hot water. So, these are the first places to look when it comes to saving energy.

Consider installing a programmable thermostat. In summer set the thermostat at 24°C while you are at home, and 28°C when you are away. Every degree you raise can reduce your cooling bill by about 2.5%.

In winter, set the thermostat to 21ºC during the day and to 18ºC when you are sleeping and 15ºC when you are out.

Wrap your electric water heater in an insulation wrap. This reduces 8-10% of hot water heater energy usage.

Apply caulking and weather stripping around drafty doors and windows to keep the cold air out in the winter (or hot air out in the summer). Proper weather-stripping, caulking, and insulation can save 5 to 15% of that heat loss.

Shade your outdoor central air conditioning unit with trees or shrubs making sure you do not block air flow around the unit. This can reduce 10% of your electricity use.

Clean the furnace filter monthly and replace it every three months. Check air vents regularly to ensure nothing is preventing the air from circulating freely.

It's a simple scientific fact: heat moves toward cold. In winter, heat moves toward the windows and doors and if your home windows are not insulated properly, up to 50% of all heat inside a home could be lost. Having thermally-isolated windows and a thick window covering will help reduce heat loss considerably.

Keep fixtures and bulbs clean. Dirt can absorb as much as 50% of the light. Always turn off the lights when leaving a room, even if it’s only for a few minutes. It’s just a myth that it takes more energy to turn a light on than to leave it on.

Try to position floor or table lamps in a corner. This allows light to reflect from the walls, making the room brighter without turning on more lights.

Replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). CFLs use up to 75% less energy than comparable standard light bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.

Kitchen and Bathrooms
Switch non-essential chores from the peak times to earlier in the day or even overnight when electricity demand and rate is less.

Install water efficient low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators and install an ultra low-flow toilet or an early closure valve. Take showers instead of baths – they use less water.

Keep refrigerators and freezers out of direct sunlight, and allow at least 5 centimeters all around (or as recommended by the manufacturer) to allow heat to escape from the compressor and condensing coil. Allow hot foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator.

The stove is another big energy guzzler. If you put aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch drippings, make sure the foil does not block any of the oven’s circulation holes and don’t put foil on the oven racks.

Use an electric kettle to boil water – not the stove, which is less efficient. Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking, unless the label says otherwise.

Turn off the oven just before finishing – the oven will remain hot long enough to complete the job.

Don’t use a bigger pot than you need, and match it to the right size element.

Home Office and Living Room
Even when appliances are turned off, they continue to draw electricity. Unplug them when not in use. Turn off unnecessary lights in the house (they produce a lot of heat which works against the air conditioning.)

Using screen savers doesn't save any energy. Activate energy saving settings on your computer or turn off your monitor when you are away from the computer.

Use area rugs on cold floors. If your feet are cold, your body will feel cold so rather than turning up the thermostat, put on a sweater.
Open draperies during the day on south-facing windows and let the sun heat your rooms naturally. Close your drapes and blinds during the night to reduce heat loss.

Installing ceiling fans can help to lower energy use in both the summer and winter. In summer, set your fan counter-clockwise to produce a cooling breeze. In the winter, set it clockwise to push warm air accumulated near the ceiling down back into the room.

Dishwashers and Washing Machines
If your dishwasher has the option, choose air drying rather than heat drying. If not, stop the machine before the drying cycle starts and open the door to let dishes air dry. By doing so, you can reduce the dishwasher’s energy use by 10%.

Avoid running small loads in your washing machine. You can save 1% on your energy costs by loading your washing machine to capacity before running the cycle.

Wash laundry in cold water whenever possible. Rinsing your clothes in hot or warm water won’t make your laundry any cleaner. Select your washing machine’s cold water rinse and save 4% in energy costs.

Energy saving is a hot topic! Talk about it with your friends and family. Discuss and share ideas and learn about how each of you can do better. Most likely you will come up with some creative ideas that are fun and can save you up to hundreds of dollars each year. Learn about how this topic fits into broader scale environmental initiatives and the role we as energy consumers could play to save mother earth.

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

We generally see activity in the housing market start to increase at this time of year Buyers can look forward to more inventory to choose from and sellers can count on more buyers in the marketplace.

A shortage of residential property listings coupled with strong demand, particularly for condos and townhomes, continued to impact the housing market in March. It’s still important to emphasize that price and conditions vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

British Columbia –  - Demand for homes continues to outpace supply in Metro Vancouver

A shortage of residential property listings coupled with strong demand, particularly for condos and townhomes, continued to impact Metro Vancouver’s housing market in March.

 Residential property sales in the region totalled 3,579 in March 2017, a decrease of 30.8% from the 5,173 sales recorded in record-breaking March 2016 and an increase of 47.6% compared to February 2017 when 2,425 homes sold.

Last month’s sales were 7.9% above the 10-year sales average for the month.

“While demand in March was below the record high of last year, we saw demand increase month-to-month for condos and townhomes,” Jill Oudil, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) president said. “Sellers still seem reluctant to put their homes on the market, making for stiff competition among home buyers.”

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 4,762 in March 2017. This represents a decrease of 24.1% compared to the 6,278 units listed in March 2016 and a 29.9% increase compared to February 2017 when 3,666 properties were listed.

This is the lowest number of new listings in March since 2009.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 7,586, a 3.1% increase compared to March 2016 (7,358) and a 0.1% decrease compared to February 2017 (7,594).

The sales-to-active listings ratio for March 2017 is 47.2%, a 15-point increase over February. Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12% mark for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20% over several months.

“Home prices will likely continue to increase until we see more housing supply coming on to the market,” Oudil said.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $919,300. This represents a 0.8% decrease over the past six months and a 1.4% increase compared to February 2017.

Sales of detached properties in March 2017 reached 1,150, a decrease of 46.1% from the 2,135 detached sales recorded in March 2016. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,489,400. This represents a 5.0% decrease over the past six months and a one% increase compared to February 2017.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,841 in March 2017, a decrease of 18.3% compared to the 2,252 sales in March 2016.The benchmark price of an apartment property is $537,400. This represents a 5.2% increase over the past six months and a 2.1% increase compared to February 2017.

Attached property sales in March 2017 totalled 588, a decrease of 25.2% compared to the 786 sales in March 2016. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $685,100. This represents a 1.3% increase over the past six months and a 1.4% increase compared to February 2017.