Emma Rose

BC Farm and Ranch Realty

Cell 604-614-9825

Office 604-852-1180

Email: emma@bcfarmandranch.com


- Dandruff is a yeast infection of the scalp
- Eczema is a yeast infection of the body
- Athlete's Foot is a yeast infection of the feet
- Psoriasis is a yeast infection of the body
- Tinea versicolor is is a fungal infection of the top layer of the skin, the epidermis
- Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin in the groin
- And many more

Your skin is a mirror of your gut. It is an instant and informative reflection of your inner health. Nagging skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis are typically symptoms of a deeper issue going on in your body.

If you are struggling with skin issues (accompanied with insecurity), trying countless types of soaps, lotions, creams and even antibiotics to help with no success, you are probably not getting to the root of the problem. In fact, you may be making things worse.

The gut-skin connection can be traced back to over 70 years ago when dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury first proposed a relationship between depression, anxiety and skin conditions such as acne. Modern research has now confirmed the significance of this relationship.
Scientific studies show acne sufferers have impaired gut flora (bacteria imbalance). In addition, societies that eat a gut-friendly diet with little or no processed sugars have nearly no acne. Is acne really a disease of Western civilization?

You have many lbs of bacteria living in your body. When the wrong bacteria and yeast dominate your gut microbiome, they start secreting toxins as they digest food. Your body quickly becomes a sewer of toxic waste. With your skin being the largest channel of elimination, blemishes and other skin conditions can be a good indication your detoxification pathways are clogged and your gut is inflamed.

Why do we use topical treatments to suppress symptoms of an internal issue?

Diseases cannot survive in an alkaline, unbalanced environments.
BioCleanse helps to detoxify and cleanse your GI tract and arteries, oxygenates the entire body, energized physically and mentally, and neutralizes acidic conditions that may promote pathogens by balancing pH levels

Yeast overgrowth in your gut can be the cause of weight gain, inability to lose weight despite working out and eating healthy, high blood pressure, edema, acne, eczema, stress/anxiety/depression, migraines, fatigue, infertility, slow metabolism, lack of focus, sugar/carb cravings and so much more.

Ask me more - emma_rose4@outlook.com your body will thank you!

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1. Stop criticizing your spouse to others.

Being critical of your spouse hurts their reputation. It damages whatever respect others have for you too. And it conveys that your marriage is not a safe place for your spouse to be themselves.

2. Stop making your spouse the punch line.

This behavior belittles your spouse and suggests that you don’t care, even if you do. At some point, your spouse and others have to wonder, Are the jokes really jokes?

3. Stop sharing the details of your love life

At social functions, I’ve all too often heard other men talk very negatively about their sexual relationship, and lack thereof, with their wife. When they do so, they are really breaching trust with their wife. Intimacy is built on trust. When you expose your private love life in your marriage, especially in a derogatory fashion, to public scrutiny, you can easily destroy that trust with your spouse.

4. Stop treating your spouse like a child.

I’ve also heard men and women in public instructing and ordering their spouse around like a child. It’s humiliating to your spouse.

5. Stop checking out people who aren’t your spouse.

You may have heard someone say, “I can look at the menu as long as I don’t order.” That’s wrong thinking. Your wandering eyes and careless words may cause your spouse to feel insecure, inadequate, and without value. It’s degrading to your spouse as well.

6. Stop constantly correcting and contradicting your spouse.

When your spouse is telling a story, stop interrupting to inject missing parts or correct mistakes. It demeans them. Instead, look for opportunities to honor your spouse and help them save face in public. Be their hero.

7. Stop flaunting your body to others.

This applies to men and women. Our culture does not value modesty, and when you flaunt your features, it appears you’re advertising yourself or are available to others. Dress like you’re only available to one person, your spouse. Because that’s the only person you should be available to.

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Now that the warm weather is finally here, it’s time to make sure your backyard and pool are ready for your abundance of summer guests. The main goal to accomplish when getting your backyard and pool ready is to make sure they are safe. Every year thousands of adults and children are injured in backyard swimming pools; that could mean either slipping, falling and hurting yourself or unfortunately a child falling in the pool un noticed. There’s nothing worse than watching a child accidentally fall into the deep end of the pool. To help that nightmare disappear the following tips will help you achieve ultimate safety.


Install a self-locking fence around the pool to secure the area. Ensure all the locks and latches are up high and out of reach from curious little hands. Make sure the child can not easily climb over or squeeze through the fence or gate area. This will be your number one safety precaution for children and pets.


Technology to the rescue! A pool alarm will notify you, whether you’re in the house or outside, if the surface of the water has been disturbed. You will instantly know if someone has fallen in.  

Swimming Lessons

Before allowing others in your pool, make sure they can swim. If they are a new swimmer or still don’t know how to swim, you can help keep them safe by making them wear a lifejacket. All new swimmers should always have an adult with them at all times. Never allow them to swim alone.

Remember the Rules

Teach everyone who uses your pool the “Pool Rules”. Whether they’re an adult or a child, everyone should be aware. Walk don’t run, no roughhousing, no drinking and swimming, and no glass around the pool are some great starter rules. Every family will adopt their own rules over time.

Be Prepared

Accidents do happen. In case someone does happen to fall in the pool; ensure that at least one adult from the home has their First Aid course up to date, including CPR. Have an area on your pool deck that is easily accessible with lifesaving equipment. Reaching pole, rescue hook, an extra lifejacket, and a lifesaving ring. All these items are good to have on hand in case of an emergency.

Baby Proof

Pools can come with a lot of maintenance work. To ensure everybody’s safety, keep those harmful pool chemicals locked up in the cupboard away from everyone. Even when your pool isn’t in use, remove any ladders or access to the pool if it is above ground.


Never leave your children unsupervised, especially around water. Drowning can occur in seconds and in centimetres of water. Always keep your eyes on the pool even when you’re having conversations with others. Common sense: Never turn your back on a child while they are in the water.


Always watch children closely when they are playing with inflatable toys. Kids tend to rough house in the water, and those inflatables are fairly easy to tip over which can trap the child under them. Consider limiting the number of toys and inflatables in the pool during the day. Never forget to remove all of the toys from the pool at the end of your day. They can be an easy temptation for that curious toddler who will try and reach them. This precaution will help prevent curious kids from falling in.

Clean Clean Clean

Dirty pools can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. They can also cause infections and sickness if not taken care of properly. Remember to keep up with the maintenance schedule of the pool to avoid these nasty situations. Purchasing a good cover will also help keep any unwanted bugs or debris out of your pool.

Remember, accidents can happen in a blink of an eye. Whether you’re thinking of installing a pool or you have one already, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your pool safety for the summer!

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Abby Grind

Not as steep as the famous Grouse Grind, the Abby grind is still indeed a steep hike that gains around 320 meters in 2km, and will end at a gorgeous scenic viewpoint that looks across south west Abbotsford. This 4km hike is a great workout and popular trail. This trail is rated as moderate as it does have some steep spots but it is also pet friendly as long as they’re kept on leash.

Locations: Abbotsford   Difficulty: Intermediate   Time: 1.5 hours  Round Trip: 4km  Elevation Gain: 330m

Bosumarne Falls

A hidden gem! Located near Chilliwack Lake Road, this hiking trail is easy, almost flat 3km hike for all ages. With multiple waterfalls along the way and a stunning view at the end, this hike is a winner. The trail to the upper falls is a bit rough, so wear your hiking boots! Your ankles will thank you.

Locations: Chilliwack    Difficulty: Easy    Time: 1 hour  Round Trip: 3km    Elevation Gain: 75m

Cascade Falls

Located 30 minutes from the heart of Mission, this hike will be one to remember. With it being a short hike at only .75 km, it’s the perfect trail for all ages. Once you arrive at the top you are greeted with a stunning waterfall, which plummets 30 meters into and emerald pool. To top it all off there is a suspension bridge you can walk across, if you’re brave enough, giving you that jaw dropping view.

Locations: Mission     Difficulty: Easy    Time: .5 hours     Round Trip: .75km   Elevation Gain: 40m

Mount Cheam

The best views in the Fraser Valley! The trail to the peak is not difficult so it’s great for all ages and beginner hikers. Mount Cheam peak offers a 360 degree panoramic view from Chilliwack and communities along the Fraser River, Jones Lake, surrounding peaks and Mount Baker. With a 9.5km round trip this hike would be perfect at sunrise or sunset.

Locations: Chilliwack   Difficulty: Intermediate  Time: 4.5 hours   Round Trip: 9.5km Elevation Gain: 700m

Othello Tunnels

History and a hike all in one. This trail offers stunning views of the Coquihalla River, and the old tunnels are a perfect way to learn a bit about the area and how the track was built. The walking loop is 5.5km and rated as easy. When you walk through the flats and the four tunnels you will see stunning views of the canyon and bridges where the Coquihalla River rages through the canyon below. Once you get to the end of the fourth tunnel you have the option to turn around and return to the parking lot or continue on the hike into Hope.

Locations: Hope     Difficulty: Easy    Time: 1 hour     Round Trip: 3.5km    Elevation Gain: Minimal

Lindeman Lake

This is a terrific day hike location! A quiet scenic hike in Chilliwack Provincial Park. A short hike at 3.4 km but well worth it. If you’re looking for a more intense hike, it does push on adding another 6km on to it for the more experienced hiker. This hike will take you deep in the forest, and over small bridges. You will be greeted with the beautiful turquoise Lindeman Lake, surrounded by dense forest and mountain peaks. The lake will look extremely inviting for a quick dip after your hike, but be warned its freezing cold year round.

Locations: Chilliwack Difficulty: Intermediate    Time: 2 hours     Round Trip: 3.4km    Elevation Gain: 300m

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Photographers who produce images with the wow factor do two things very well. Firstly, they know how to use their camera creatively. Second, they know how to post-process their images.

I know what you’re thinking:

How do you learn to use your camera creatively besides pointing at things and press the shutter release?

Today I’m going to share these 21 insanely awesome photography tips and tricks with you. All you need is your camera (some requires a tripod) and 10 minutes to execute one of these techniques.

1. Use Freelensing To Create Tilt-Shift Effect

Tilt-shift is a technique that utilizes a specialized lens to create selective focus or simulating a miniature scene. A tilt-shift lens is often expensive, but you can create the effect with your non-tilt-shift lens in an unconventional way.

Freelensing works by you holding a detached lens in front of your camera and tilting it at different angles to create selective focusing. This is the same principle as a tilt-shift lens but without the specialized mount to the camera body.

To begin with, you need a lens that has a focal length of 50mm or more, anything less than that creates fuzzy images that may not be usable.

In aperture priority mode, select the widest aperture available. Any other aperture will not work unless your lens has a manual aperture ring (often in old lenses only). You should also switch your lens to manual focus and turn the focusing ring to infinity (with the ∞ sign).

Now, detach your lens while the camera is still switched on (don’t cringe!). Hold your lens and tilt it to one side while maintaining contact with the camera body on the opposite side.

Look in the viewfinder or the LCD screen, you’ll see part of the image is in focus and part is not. Tilt the lens at different direction and angle to change the plane of focus.

For example, when you tilt the lens to the right, the left side of the lens mount is lifted off the camera body while the right side remains in contact.

You’ll soon find that the side of the image in focus is the side where the lens is lifted off the mount. The focused plane shifts to the center of the image with a greater angle of tilt.

You may get many blurry images at first, but I promise you’ll eventually ge

Sounds pretty cool, right? Star trails images often have the power to mesmerize because of its phenomenal visual effect.

To your surprise, you can create the same effect with your camera too!

Normally, a tutorial on star trails with time stack is a long post. But I’m going to give you a super duper crash course here.

Essentially, you need to be at the right place at the right time with the right camera settings. I’ll explain.

Place: You need a location with minimum or no light pollution. This means away from the big cities and major highways. Luckily, you can find these places on the internet easily these days. Start with the International Dark-Sky Association.

Time: Moonlight and weather affect how much you can see in the sky. The presence of moonlight makes the stars appear dimmer. So, ideally, you want to have no moon in the sky (a.k.a. new moon). You can plan with this moon phases calendar. Weather is pretty self-explanatory, you want a clear sky instead of clouds obscuring the stars.

Camera settings: Use a fast lens. In my opinion, widest aperture of at least f/2.8. However, I’ve come across images with f/3.5 or even f/4. In manual mode, set the ISO between 800 to 1600 (experiment to get the best result). Use the 600 rule to get a rough estimation of your shutter speed. Focusing in the dark is tricky. You can manually focus on the brightest star, on an object in the foreground, or use the hyperfocal distance (if there is enough foreground to do so).

The 600 rule: This is to give you an estimation of what your maximum shutter speed should be before star streaks appear. All you need to do is divide 600 by your focal length. For example, if your focal length is 18mm, 600/18=33 seconds (maximum shutter speed). This formula is for full frame cameras, remember to add the crop factor to the focal length if you use a cropped sensor.

Tips: Use a tripod (must) and a remote release (optional). Find the North Pole (for Northern Hemisphere) or the South Pole (for Southern Hemisphere) if you want the stars to circle around a center point. To avoid motion blur, enable mirror lockup in a DSLR. Take at least 50 images to get long, beautiful star trails. The more images you get, the longer the trails. You can get an intervalometer to trigger the shutter release for you. Apply the same technique to clouds during daylight and be surprised by the results! Thanks to Matt Molloy’s tutorial on 500px ISO.

the image you want with A LOT of practice!

2. Create Star Trails With Time Stack

Sounds pretty cool, right? Star trails images often have the power to mesmerize because of its phenomenal visual effect.

To your surprise, you can create the same effect with your camera too!

Normally, a tutorial on star trails with time stack is a long post. But I’m going to give you a super duper crash course here.

Essentially, you need to be at the right place at the right time with the right camera settings. I’ll explain.

Place: You need a location with minimum or no light pollution. This means away from the big cities and major highways. Luckily, you can find these places on the internet easily these days. Start with the International Dark-Sky Association.

Time: Moonlight and weather affect how much you can see in the sky. The presence of moonlight makes the stars appear dimmer. So, ideally, you want to have no moon in the sky (a.k.a. new moon). You can plan with this moon phases calendar. Weather is pretty self-explanatory, you want a clear sky instead of clouds obscuring the stars.

Camera settings: Use a fast lens. In my opinion, widest aperture of at least f/2.8. However, I’ve come across images with f/3.5 or even f/4. In manual mode, set the ISO between 800 to 1600 (experiment to get the best result). Use the 600 rule to get a rough estimation of your shutter speed. Focusing in the dark is tricky. You can manually focus on the brightest star, on an object in the foreground, or use the hyperfocal distance (if there is enough foreground to do so).

The 600 rule: This is to give you an estimation of what your maximum shutter speed should be before star streaks appear. All you need to do is divide 600 by your focal length. For example, if your focal length is 18mm, 600/18=33 seconds (maximum shutter speed). This formula is for full frame cameras, remember to add the crop factor to the focal length if you use a cropped sensor.

Tips: Use a tripod (must) and a remote release (optional). Find the North Pole (for Northern Hemisphere) or the South Pole (for Southern Hemisphere) if you want the stars to circle around a center point. To avoid motion blur, enable mirror lockup in a DSLR. Take at least 50 images to get long, beautiful star trails. The more images you get, the longer the trails. You can get an intervalometer to trigger the shutter release for you. Apply the same technique to clouds during daylight and be surprised by the results! Thanks to Matt Molloy’s tutorial on 500px ISO.

Post-processing: I use Lightroom and Photoshop, so I’m going to explain post-processing with these. In Lightroom, select all the images, right-click and choose Edit In > Open as Layers in Photoshop. Once in Photoshop, go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers to fix any minor inconsistency. Now, make all layers invisible except the first two. Change the blend more of the second layer to lighten (you’ll see the trails starting to build up). Next, make the third layer visible and change the blend mode to lighten. Repeat this step for all layers and fix any light trails from airplane or shooting star as you go along (unless you want to include them). This can be tedious, but you can automate the process with a plugin like this. Have fun!

3. Use Long Exposure For Light Trails, Smoothen Water, Create Light Painting and Ghosting Effect

These are just a few examples of what long exposure can achieve. You can also use this technique to remove people when shooting at a touristy spot. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

You need a tripod to stabilize your camera as any long exposure without it results in motion blur. How slow should the shutter speed be? It depends on how much light is available and what effect you want.

If you want to take an image of traffic light trails, simply compose and shoot like you normally do in aperture priority mode. Because of the limited light available, the shutter speed will be slow anyway. You can also step up the aperture to slow down the shutter speed more.

ghosting effect30 seconds exposure but I ran out from the frame after 10 seconds 

If you want an even slower shutter speed (e.g. 1 minute), you need a neutral density (ND) filter. It’s basically a transparent, dark glass that limits the amount of light passing through it. Place it in front of your lens in a filter holder to slow down the shutter speed considerably. Use this to smoothen water flow, create light painting or ghosting effect.

4. Bracketing Exposure Manually In Extreme Dynamic Range

Yes, we all know what automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) does. Why do we need to do it manually?

Sometimes, the contrast of the scene is so extreme that AEB is not capable of capturing the whole dynamic range. This is when manual bracketing saves the day!

When to bracket exposure manually?

Once you have bracketed with AEB, check the histogram of the brightest and the darkest image. If the graph touches the far right in the brightest image or the far left in the darkest image, then you should re-bracket your exposures manually.

First, take a shot like you would do normally in aperture priority mode. Make a note of the aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Switch your camera to manual mode and dial in the settings (keep your lens in AF). Now, step up the shutter speed by half or one stop (e.g. one stop up from 1/250 second is 1/500 second – just double it) and take another shot. Check the

Now, step up the shutter speed by half or one stop (e.g. one stop up from 1/250 second is 1/500 second – just double it) and take another shot. Check the histogram, repeat this step until there is no highlight clipping (i.e. the graph of the histogram doesn’t touch the vertical line on the right).

Next, set the shutter speed back to the initial value and step down using the same method (but in reverse) until there is no shadow clipping on the histogram (e.g. one stop down from 1/250 second is 1/125 second). Congratulations, you have just shot with your camera in manual mode!

Congratulations, you have just shot with your camera in manual mode!

5. Horizontal Panning For Panorama

long axis

There are times when your camera just couldn’t fit the entire composition you want into an image.

Fear not, create a panorama to fit all in  To shoot for a panorama, you need to use a technique called horizontal panning.

Stand still (don’t ever move while panning!) and hold your camera steadily by supporting the bottom of the camera with one hand while the other on the shutter release.

Use your body as the long axis, twist on your waist to the right (or the left first, either way) and take an image. This would be the scene on the far right of your panorama.

Next, twist slightly back to the left and take another image so that the second image overlaps the first image by at least ⅓. Repeat this step until you have captured the whole scene.

Panoramic images

To keep focus and exposure consistent in all the images, focus in AF and shoot in aperture priority mode. Take note of the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Now switch your camera to manual mode and dial in the settings.

Lastly, switch your lens to manual focus to keep the AF setting.

For the grand finale, stitch the images in software like Photoshop to create an awesome panorama!

6. Create Out of The World Perspective With Vertorama

photography tips and tricks vertoramaA vertorama by Michiel Buijse on Flickr

Vertorama = vertical + panorama. Make sense now?

You can create awesome images with a jaw-dropping perspective, a little bit like using a fisheye lens.

Instead of panning horizontally, you now pan vertically, using the horizon as the axis. Vertorama works well in indoors and places with intricate details on the floor and the ceiling, e.g. in a church!

To begin with, tilt your camera to point at the ground to include the foreground objects. Then, tilt it a bit higher making sure there is at least ⅓ overlapping with the last image. Do this until you have included the ceiling.

Keep your focus and exposure consistent with the method mentioned above in panorama. Stitch the images in post-processing (e.g. Photoshop) to create mind-blowing vertorama!

7. Be Creative With Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

photography tips and tricks icmImage credit: Ulrich Kersting on Flickr

Photography is a creative art. As photographers, we should embrace motion blur as much as we worship sharpness.

With ICM, you intentionally introduce motion blur in your image by moving your camera while the shutter is open.

Sounds weird, right?

The results are often unpredictable yet artistic. To take an image with ICM, move your camera as you press the trigger.

You can move it up and down, left and right, twist it clockwise and anti-clockwise. There is no rule to it!

Try this out: find a scene with plenty of vertical objects or structures (e.g. trees, buildings, etc), take an image the way you normally do. Except this time press the shutter release while moving your camera up and down repeatedly.

Looks cool? Now try moving it at a different speed!

8. Go Time Warp With A Zoom Lens

Have you ever seen Star Trek where the spacecraft was traveling at warp speed? Did you notice the light trails that made you subconsciously know it was moving at ultra-fast speed?

You can create a similar kind of effect with your camera and you don’t need any special equipment. The secret to this is a zoom lens!

There are three steps to this technique:

First, find a moving subject. Second, be either in front or back of the moving subject. This means the subject is either moving away or towards you.

Lastly, hold your camera still and take a shot while zooming in or out with your lens.

There are normally two rings on a zoom lens, one is for focusing and one is for zooming. Make sure you know which is which beforehand.

9. Use Panning To Capture Moving Subject

photography tips and tricks panning

Want to capture the majestic image of a swan in flight? Or maybe a joyful candid of your son riding his bicycle?

If you just point and shoot, you’re going to have your subject blurred. This is because your subject is moving but your camera is still.

Panning is a technique where you move your camera along with your subject. This result in your subject being in focus with a blurred background. Pretty cool, right?

The key is to switch your camera’s focusing mode to auto continuous focusing. This means your camera will track the subject and auto adjust to keep it in focus as it moves. It’s also known as AI Servo for Canon or AF-C for Nikon (check your camera manual).

Hold your camera by supporting the bottom with one hand and the other on the side with the index finger on the shutter release. Compose your image, half-press on the shutter release to focus on your subject. You should hear a beep or a flash on the AF point telling you your subject is now in focus.

Continue to half-press the shutter release and don’t let go. As your subject moves, pan by moving in a steady and fluid motion with your subject, keeping it in the frame. Press in full on the shutter release when the moment is right!

10. Shoot Macro By Reversing Your Lens

photography tips and tricks reverse lens macroShallow depth-of-field with a reversed Canon 50mm f/1.8

If you haven’t heard of this technique before, you are in for a big treat!

Traditionally, you need a macro lens which can cost quite a bit. Investing in a macro lens is often not practical for photographers who shoot macro occasionally or just want to try it out.

Now all you need is a camera with a detachable lens. It works in both DSLR and mirrorless, prime or zoom lens.

Reverse mount your lens with the front of the lens to your camera’s body with a reversing ring, which normally costs just under $20. The only limitation is your reversed lens can only shoot at the widest aperture, which can have a shallow depth of field to keep your subject sharp throughout.

This happens with most modern lenses as there is no manual aperture ring. But if your lens does have a manual aperture ring, you can step it down to increase the depth of field as you get closer to your macro subject.

As with conventional macro photography, you do need a tripod and a flash or a reflective board to light up your tiny subject :))

11. Use Burst Mode To Capture The Perfect Moment

photography tips and tricks burst mode

You can’t always predict when a moment is going to happen. Lucky for us, most modern cameras have burst mode so you can capture multiple images in seconds and choose the best one that you like.

Set your camera from single frame to continuous frame, check your camera’s manual if you are not sure how to do so.

When you think something awesome is going to happen, compose, focus and shoot. The only difference is you don’t let go of the shutter release button. You will hear the shutter curtains going off continuously like a machine gun (sometimes it is fun just to do that!).

After 15 to 20 continuous image (depending on your camera), your camera will slow down because of multiple image processing. Stop to let your camera to catch up and shoot again if needed.

12. Focus At The Hyperfocal Distance To Optimize Sharpness

While focus stacking may seem like the solution for front-to-back sharpness, there is another way.

Don’t be deceived by the big words, hyperfocal distance essentially means the focusing distance that gives your image the greatest depth-of-field, which in return maximize the area of sharpness in your image.

This technique works well if you do not have a subject very close to you in the foreground (if you do, focus stacking may work better).

hyperfocal distanceFocus at hyperfocal distance results in sharpness from 1/2 hyperfocal distance to infinity

How to find the focusing distance for hyperfocal focusing?

There is a reference chart! Use the focal length and the aperture you are shooting to determine the distance you need to focus. This chart is also available as a smartphone app.

The tricky part is to locate the distance that you are going to focus. You can estimate it or use the focusing scale on the lens (mainly on older lenses).

Once you have focused on the hyperfocal distance and taken the image, everything from half the distance of the hyperfocal length to infinity will be within the depth-of-field.

13. Use Custom Shaped Bokeh To Create Memorable Photos

photography tips and tricks shaped bokeh

Bokeh doesn’t always have to be round (or technically, near round). It can be any shape you like and this is how to do it.

Get a piece of card, cut out a shape in the middle of it. It can be any shape you want, be creative! Now trim the card to the size of your lens.

Here’s another idea:

Use a cleaned ice cream tub cover (e.g. Ben & Jerry’s) that can simply fit in front of your lens  You want to cut the shape just enough to fit within the largest aperture of your lens.

How to check the size?

Set the aperture to the widest and look right into your lens!

Now, place the card in front of your lens, hold it in place with your hand or with a tape and you are good to go. Typically, this works well when there are plenty of lights.

Take an image like you normally do and check it out. The bokeh have now taken the shape you cut out on the card!

You can use this technique to create beautiful images or awesome personalized greeting cards that your friends and family will cherish.

14. Get Bokehlicious By Unfocusing Your Lens

photography tips and tricks bokeh

Say what?

If you are into abstract and bokeh, then you have to try this technique. You can create images filled with soft and beautiful bokeh that you can even use it as a background for your desktop or smartphone.

Shooting for bokeh is dead easy, the technical part (not so difficult at all) is finding the right scene. I will explain.

To shoot bokeh, switch your lens to manual focus and use the widest aperture in aperture priority mode. Now, find a scene with lots (the more the better!) of lights. The bigger the light source, the bigger the bokeh is going to be.

Frame your image, manually turn the focusing ring until everything is blurred and take the shot. You can get different kinds of effect by experimenting with different lights and aperture.

15. Master The Art of Illusion With Forced Perspective

forced perspective photography tips and tricksImage credit: Alex Schwab on Flickr

You must have seen photos of tourists trying to balance the Leaning Tower of Pisa with their hands :))

The truth is, they were just holding their hands up in the air with the Tower of Pisa far away in the background. It is an optical illusion that makes your brain thinks otherwise.

Forced perspective is an old camera trick that manipulates the human perception with optical illusion. For example, it makes objects appear larger or smaller, closer or farther than they actually are.

There are really no rules with forced perspective photography. A useful tip is to ask your subject to move closer or farther to alter the perceived size and distance. You can also move your position and tilt your camera to look up or down to change the perspective.

A useful tip is to ask your subject to move closer or farther to alter the perceived size and distance. You can also move your position and tilt your camera to look up or down to change the perspective.

Be creative, think outside the box! I promise you’ll come out with trick photography ideas of your own! Need some inspiration?

16. Level Up Portraits With Levitation Photography

photography tips and tricks levitation

Getting bored with your portrait routine? Spice it up with levitation, it could be your next big thing!

It is often used in creative self-portraits, although you can also work with models to create this effect. The concept is simple, you create an image of people that appears to be floating in the air :))

The easiest way to achieve this is to get the person to jump up from the ground, or jump down from a height while you snap an image when they are in mid-air (or use burst mode). This can be time-consuming and the possibilities are quite limited.

A better idea is to mount your camera on a tripod and take an image after getting your model (or you) into position by lying or sitting on a stool, a chair or something that supports the weight. Take another image, but this time without the model.

Now open up both images in Photoshop with the second image on top of the first one. Apply a black layer mask on the second layer and use a white paint brush to mask out the stool. Without it, your model looks like he is floating in mid-air.

Wingardium Leviosa!

17. Leverage The Golden Hour To Create Cool Silhouette

photography tips and tricks silhouetteSunset at Santa Monica Pier

Silhouettes are among the coolest and easiest image you can take. There is something magical about the combination of a vibrant sky and the outline of the subject in shadow.

It’s the perfect image at the end of a day. The best time to get a nice silhouette image is during sunrise or sunset when the sky is colorful.

The key to capture a nice, strong silhouette is to get the light metering right.

Set the light metering mode to spot metering (check your camera’s manual if you’re unsure). Your camera now calculates the exposure based on the light intensity in the circle at the center of the frame.

This is in contrast with matrix metering (most of us set this as default) where your camera calculates the shutter speed based on the average exposure of the frame.

Now, point the circle at the sky and lock the exposure. All you need to do now is recompose your image and press the shutter release.

18. Revive Retro Effect With A Pinhole Camera

I mean a homemade pinhole camera. You need a camera body cap (costs a few dollars on eBay) and a few things you can easily get from a tool box.

Your mission is to make a hole in the middle of the body cap.

First, use a ruler to measure and locate the center of the cap. This step is extremely important as you’re essentially creating the aperture, which MUST be in the middle.

Then, drill a hole through the center, the size is not important at this stage. You just need a hole.

Now comes the crucial part: cut out a small piece of tinfoil (about 1cm x 3cm) and use a needle to prick a hole in the middle. The smaller the needle, the smaller the aperture.

Position the tinfoil so that the pinhole is in the middle of the hole on the body cap and tape it down with gaffer tape.

Before you attach the cap to your camera, check the inside of the cap to see if it’s shiny. Light reflects on shiny surfaces which will affect the exposure. If it is, cover all up with gaffer tape.

Now you’re ready for some action!

You’ll have to shoot in manual mode. You’ll have to experiment with the ISO and shutter speed to find a setting that gives you the best result. It’s a bit of trial and error really.

Credit to Salvatore Cincotta from Behind The Shutter for the awesome tutorial.

19. Go Abstract With Kinetic Photography

photography tips and tricks kinetic

Are you running out of creative ideas? Why not set yourself free by tossing your camera in the air?

You read it right, TOSS your camera in the air!

Kinetic photography may sound risky for you and your camera. It’s certainly not fun getting hit by a DSLR weight almost 1kg in the face, or worse, dropped on the ground!

It’s definitely not for the fainthearted 

What you do is to set your camera on a longer exposure, toss it in the air and let the motion do the work for you.

To try out this technique, start with a small and lightweight lens such as a 50mm lens or a compact camera. Do it in a low light setting, use any artificial light around you to your advantage.

Whatever you do, make sure safety comes first.

You can focus the scene in aperture priority mode first, note the settings and dial it in manual mode.

Because you’re tossing your camera up in the air, you want the shutter speed to be long enough for it to take off and land back in your hands. Experiment with the exposure to get the results that you like.

20. Emulate Motion Blur With Time Lapse


Want to smoothen the water/clouds or remove people from your image?

You would normally need an ND filter to create the long exposure effect. But what if you don’t have one (an ND filter can be quite pricey)?

Use time-lapse technique! Essentially, you take multiple images of the same frame at short intervals and stack them together in Photoshop to emulate the long exposure effect.

Essentially, you take multiple images of the same frame at short intervals and stack them together in Photoshop.

First, find a suitable scene where the elements you want to smoothen are moving. Clouds, water, people, cars, you name it.

Next, mount your camera on a tripod and set your camera to continuous shooting in aperture priority mode.

Start taking multiple images with the moving element in it. The key to time lapse photography is the interval between each image.

It can be as short as one second in a fast moving element like water or clouds on a windy day. You may need to extend to three or four seconds if you want to remove people.

You should take at least 20 images or more to achieve a smooth motion blur effect.

Once you’re done, upload the images to your computer. Open up Photoshop, go to File > Scripts > Statistics. Browse and select all the images, change the “Stack Mode” to Median and check the box for “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images”.

Hit OK and watch the magic happens!

21. Absolute Front-To-Back Sharpness With Focus Stacking


A common challenge in images with depth (commonly in landscape images) is the impossibility to get good sharpness throughout.

This is more obvious if you focus on an object in the near foreground. The background will always be slightly out of focus even if you use the smallest aperture.

A genius way to tackle this is to manually focus each distance of the scene separately and blend them together in post-processing (hence the name focus stacking).

A tripod (or something to immobilize your camera) is required to keep the frames consistent.

Starting with the foreground, turn the focusing ring on your lens until the foreground elements become sharp, take a shot. I recommend zoom in on your LCD screen while focusing because it’s easier to ensure the focus is sharp.

Review the image on the LCD screen by zooming in the foreground.

Gradually move upwards (into the distance) until you notice the image starts to lose focus. Take a note where this is in your image composition, refocus on this part with your lens and take another shot.

Repeat this step until you finish with the image.

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Nearly half of B.C. baby boomers plan to downsize, and 42 per cent would consider buying a condominium for their next home.

Those are among the highlights of a Royal LePage survey of Canadians born between 1946 and 1964, released Wednesday. The real estate company’s survey found 17 per cent of boomers across the country plan to buy a new home in the next five years.

Michael Trites, a managing broker at Royal LePage Northstar Realty and a boomer himself, said that in B.C. strata units are coming into vogue among older buyers.

And from his experience and those of some of his friends and neighbours, there’s every bit as much boomer interest in townhouses as there is in condos.

“One of the main concerns is where do people go when their house gets too big. They just don’t need the space and they don’t need the bills, so then it leads to something smaller and more suitable,” he said.

“I’ve had many clients that have said you don’t really want to go from, say, a 2,400-square-foot house to a 1,200-square-foot condo. That’s a complete lifestyle change.”

Going from that same house to a 2,000-square-foot townhouse with its own front door and neighbours who tend to keep an eye on things in the area is a much easier transition, Trites said. “There’s a lot of similarities.”

But while there may be interest among boomers, there’s not a lot of product to fit that demand, he said.

“We’ve got a problem (where) there’s townhouse developments going in, but not a lot of them are orientated towards seniors. A lot of them are orientated towards the starter home — the affordability factor.”

For example, down-sizers tend not to want stairs in their homes and they often want side-by-side garages. But that is not what is tending to be built, he said.

About 70 per cent of respondent boomers in B.C. own their home, and of those homeowners, 26 per cent have more than half of their retirement savings tied to real estate, according to the survey. That is higher than any other province, the survey found.

Just 19 per cent of B.C. boomers consider their region’s housing market to be affordable, and 37 per cent of them would be willing to move to a more affordable location, the survey suggested.

“I think what’s wrapped into that is people can say I don’t want my 60-year-old house anymore, I want something bright and shiny and new. But I may have to go to Chilliwack or points east to find it,” Trites said.

Among respondents across the country who have children living at home, 44 per cent expect them to move out between the ages of 21 and 25. Just nine per cent expect them to leave after the age of 35. But in B.C., a whopping 24 per cent of respondents expect their kids won’t have moved out by 35.

The survey included 1,000 Canadian boomers between the ages of 54 and 72. It was conducted between July 12 and 17, and the margin of error is plus or minus three per cent.

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Housing market shows signs of cracking. Here's why

3:20 PM ET Thu, 26 July 2018

The latest numbers in housing aren't pretty at all. Sales of both existing and newly built homes fell in June, the latter to the lowest level since last year. Prices continue to rise, but the gains are slowing. Mortgage applications to purchase both new and existing homes have been falling steadily, and mortgage rates are rising again. Single-family home construction also...

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When it comes to food during a camping trip, your goal is for is to stay cold, organized, dry, and unsquished, with no massive ice melt by day 3. And don't forget that bringing
two coolers—one for food and one for drinks—is ideal if you have the space. Here's how to pack a cooler like a pro, according to the editors of the new book Camp Sunset.


1. Keep everything cold.

Make ice blocks (They last way longer than cubes). At least 24 hours ahead, stash two to three large (8 by 10 inch) refreezable ice packs, like ones made by Arctic Ice, in the freezer. Or fill two soft-sided 96-ounce Nalgene canteens three-quarters full with water (to leave room for expansion) and freeze flat.

Pre-chill food and drinks. This helps ice stay cold. Freeze meat in marinades, and pack seafood frozen. They'll act like extra ice in the cooler and keep longer.

2. Pack like a bag boy—or girl.

Put fragile stuff on top. Think eggs, lettuce, and herbs.

Stash loose items in a plastic tote. This is the spot for yogurts, that spice jar of ketchup, bags of meats and cheeses, and anything you don't want to lose in the ice. Seal the tote with a lid.

Put ice blocks on the bottom of the cooler. Other heavy items, like meats frozen in marinade, and boxes of cut-up fruit, go at the bottom too.

Fill in empty spaces. Dump ice cubes into the cooler to fill in spaces between items.

3. Conserve space.

Remove excess packaging. Cut an egg carton in half if you need only six eggs. Seal bacon in a plastic bag but leave any cardboard behind. Stash a single cube of butter in a small container if that will be enough. Fill an empty spice jar with ketchup so you don't bring the whole bottle. You get the idea.

Pre-prep produce. Rinse lettuce and herbs, then wrap in paper towels and a plastic bag. Peel and chop bulky fruits like pineapple and melon, cut bell peppers into strips, and package them in containers.

4. Keep food organized and dry.

Seal meats, cheeses, and eggs in plastic bags. Foods will stay dry even when ice starts to melt a bit. (But be sure these and all highly perishable foods, like mayo, stay very cold.)

Label everything. Containers marked with masking tape and a Sharpie mean the family can help themselves while you hang out in a hammock.

5. Keep the cooler in the shade.

The ice will last twice as long if you set coolers in the shade once you're at the campground. 

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Cereal comparison
Icon keto friendlyKETO FRIENDLY
Icon gluten freeGLUTEN + GRAIN FREE
Icon nothing artificialNOTHING ARTIFICIAL
Icon vegan100% VEGAN
Icon pea proteinMADE W/ PEA PROTEIN
Icon zero sugarZERO SUGAR


One of the finest Dutch cacao powders on the market lends Catalina Crunch it’s signature dark chocolate taste and mildly nutty undertone, a flavor profile unparalleled in the cereal aisle.

We treat our cereal like a craft brewery treats their hops. It’s not a mass-produced operation. Every batch is tested multiple times to ensure the decadent dark chocolate taste and level of crunchiness is exactly where we want it. We take a lot of pride in our product.

Cereal close up v3
Cereal handheld


Our cereal is made with US-grown, non-GMO yellow peas and a blend of six natural plant fibers.

The combination delivers 24 grams of protein and 21 grams of fiber per bowl. That's more protein than four eggs and half your daily recommended fiber intake.

We also never have and never will use artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors of any kind.


Overeating icon


Crunchy foods take longer to chew, so they slow down eating. This means your stomach has more time to tell you it's full.


Crunching on cereal gets your blood flowing to your jaws and brain, waking you up and boosting your energy.


Crunchy foods that are high in fiber and protein take up more room in your stomach, which means you stay full, longer.


Crunching on cereal takes work, and work takes energy, which burns calories. The more you crunch, the more you burn.

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Data shows that blogging and blogs are on a downward trend and podcasts are gaining popularity. Content consumers are increasingly turning to podcasts for content. Google Trends shows that searches for podcasts have surpassed searches for blogs. The implication is that it may be time to consider how podcasting fits into consumer outreach and whether blogging is still useful.

Google Trends is Google’s keyword tool. It reveals the volume of keyword searches and let’s you compare. A comparison of the word “podcast” with “blog” and “blogs” shows that podcast is in an upward trend.

Google also shows less people are searching with the word “blog” or “blogs” and that this is a downward trend. This means that less and less people are looking for blogs and that more and more people are searching for podcasting content.

Here is a close up of the keyword trends. It shows that the keyword phrase “podcast” is more popular than “blog.”

Podcasts are Increasingly Popular

One way to reveal the upward or downward trend of a keyword phrase is to compare it with something else. The following illustration shows that searches for “podcast” are steadily growing.

The searches for “podcast” show no sign of reaching their maximum. Podcasting is outpacing blogs and still has room for growth. Audio is positioned to assume a greater role in how content is consumed because of the growing use of digital assistants and home AI devices. As these devices become more commonplace in the home and in automobiles.

Search Phrases Associated with Blogs Declining

With a few exceptions (for example, monetization), less and less people are searching with keywords that are associated with blogs. This trend holds true on both the content creator and content consumer side.

There has been a 50% drop in searches for WordPress Plugin

Podcast Search Phrases Rising

Keyword searches related to podcasts from both the podcast creator side and the podcast consumer side are rising. The trend is strong and unmistakable.

Podcast Content Demand

Google Suggest generally shows suggestions based on how popular the suggestions are. That way, Google can show the most popular suggestions to a user first.  If you type the phrase “how to monetize” Google reveals that “how to monetize a blog” is likely the most popular query. But the phrase, “how to monetize a podcast” ranks second.

This is evidence of search queries from the “content creators” side of content production, as opposed to searches by content consumers.

On the content consumer side, podcasts rank number one. On the content creator side podcasts rank number two. This may mean that more content creators are focusing on creating blog content than are creating podcast content.

If true, then this could be a sign that content creation is lagging behind the demand for content consumption.

Want to learn more 


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While a reverse mortgage has been historically thought of as a program for cash strapped seniors needing cash from their home, improvements over the years have made it a great soultion for seniors looking to purchase real estate, or assist family, yet maximize cash flow for retirement. Since there are no payments to make, and the approved amount is based on age, clients can qualify for much more than they would with traditional products.



-70 year old clients sell $700,000 home in Surrey, and clear $325,000 after paying off mortgage, debts, and fees.


-They wanted to free up cash flow, so moved to Abbotsford where they were hoping to buy something for $300,000.


-After looking at many places, they discovered they were going to need to spend about $500,000 to get what they really wanted, but having no mortgage payment was very important to them, plus they only has OAS and CPP for income and counldn’t qualify for a $200,000 mortgage.


-Their broker and realtor knew about reverse mortgages, and suggested this as a way for them to buy the $500,000 home. They were approved for $195,000.


-They put down $305,000, had enough to cover closing costs, and still had some left over. They were able to buy their final home, exactly as they wanted, and they have zero mortgage payment to make for as long as 1 of them lives there.


Call me today to learn more about Reverse Mortgages.


Thank you 
Emma Rose 

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First Time Homebuyers

Make a list of all the features you want in your new home such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, proximity to schools, shopping and workplace.
Be sure you can afford your home. Your monthly housing costs should not be more than 32% of your gross monthly income and your entire monthly debt load (which includes other debts such as car loans and credit card payments) should not be more than 40% of your gross monthly income.
Calculate your other monthly living expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, personals and childcare to ensure you can afford your mortgage payments.
Call a REALTOR in your preferred area. They are trained professionals with knowledge about local conditions and the housing market in general. Through the Multiple Listings Service they have access to virtually every property listed for sale in the province. Your REALTOR can narrow down your search and provide you with information on properties for sale and those that have recently sold. This will allow you to make informed decisions about pricing. Licensed by the province and members of local real estate boards, REALTORS must adhere to high standards of ethical behavior.
Obtain a pre-approved mortgage form the lender of your choice. This will help you determine the price range you should be looking in. With a pre-approved mortgage, your lender will guarantee the interest rate for up to 60 days.
You may wish to have an independent appraisal done of a property before you offer a price. It can keep you from paying more than the market value.
Ask your REALTOR for a copy of the Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This document is completed by the sellers and ensures the buyer gets complete information about the property they are about to purchase, and alerts buyers when they need to do more research on a property.
If buying a new or existing condo, look beyond style and amenities and investigate whether the construction is of good quality. You can ask for a copy of the minutes to Strata Council Meetings to determine what kind of problems the condominium has had in the past, and the expenses.
To assess potential water leakage problems, visit a condominium project immediately after a rainfall and check to see if flat areas such as roof deck and walkways have large pools of standing water on them. All building surfaces except specially designed ponds should drain freely and be immediately clear of water after a rainfall.
It is always a good idea to have the home inspected from a professional home inspector. An inspector's written report should include how well-built the home is and whether any repairs are necessary and the estimated costs.
Don't forget about other costs when you buy your own home such as legal fees (they will most likely be at least $500), property taxes and the GST (if purchasing a new home).
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos identify professional services rendered by REALTOR® members of CREA to effect the purchase, sale and lease of real estate as part of a cooperative selling system. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.
The listing content on this website is protected by copyright and other laws, and is intended solely for the private, non-commercial use by individuals. Any other reproduction, distribution or use of the content, in whole or in part, is specifically forbidden. The prohibited uses include commercial use, "screen scraping", "database scraping" and any other activity intended to collect, store, reorganize or manipulate data on the pages produced by or displayed on this website.
REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are certification marks that are owned by REALTOR® Canada Inc. and licensed exclusively to The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). These certification marks identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA and who must abide by CREA’s By-Laws, Rules, and the REALTOR® Code. The MLS® trademark and the MLS® logo are owned by CREA and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA.

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Neither this assessment document, nor either parties’ emotions, are tied to a current true market value. In fact, provincial property assessments can be significantly too high or too low. Values are determined in July of the previous year, and properties are rarely visited in person by provincial appraisers.


For this reason, provincial property assessments should never be solely relied upon as any sort of relevant indicator of true market value for the purposes of purchase, sale or financing.


Think of the assessed value instead as something akin to a weather forecast, spanning far larger and more diverse areas than the unique ecosystem that is your neighbourhood, your specific street, or your specific property. A weather forecast made the previous July, not the previous week. As this is when assessed values are locked in, a full six months prior to the notices being mailed out.


The BC Assessment Authority does offer some useful tools for a high-level view of the market. Go to http://evaluebc.bcassessment.ca/ and start typing an address. You’ll get a drop-down window where you can click on the address you want. Here’s what you can find out:

Details on single address: These come up on the first screen and include: current and last year’s assessed value; size and rooms; legal description; sales history, and further details if property is a manufactured home or multi-family building. There’s also an interactive map as well as links to information on neighbouring properties and sample comparative sold properties.


Neighbouring properties: Here you can compare the assessed value of houses in the immediate neighbourhood. Clicking on any property brings up further details.


Sample sold properties: Find comparable properties and see what they sold for and how their sold price compares to their assessed value. This is a great research tool for owners, sellers and buyers.


These tools can be a starting point, but if you’re looking to set a selling price on your own property, always enlist a professional. Valuing your property is not a do-it-yourself project. In a buying/selling transaction, it is best to order an appraisal, which is a much more accurate reflection of current market value. It is timely and reflects value for zoning, renovations and/or other features unique to the property. An appraiser is an educated, licensed, and heavily regulated third party offering an unbiased valuation of the property in question.

What’s My Home Really Worth?

Usually, market value is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for a home, and what the seller is willing to accept.


A quick survey of recent sales and their relation to assessed values will often demonstrate no clear relationship between sale price and assessed value. It’s often all over the map. Some properties selling well below assessment, and others well above.


You also want an experienced and local REALTOR® to help you determine the selling price of your home. A (busy, local) agent will have a far better handle on what is happening in your area for prices than does a government document, and in many instances will save you from yourself.


In theory, a comprehensive current market review completed by a real estate agent should not differ radically from the value determined by a professional appraiser.


Professional appraisers spend all day every day appraising properties, and their reports are often seen as less biased. Imagine your reaction, as a buyer, to the following statements…

  1. The seller says their house is worth $500,000.
  2. The sellers’ listing agent says it’s worth $500,000.
  3. This house is listed at $500,000 based on a professional (marketing) appraisal.

Most buyers would consider #3 the most reliable of the above statements. And most buyers requiring financing will have the benefit of the lender ordering their own independent appraisal to confirm fair market value. Sellers rarely order an appraisal in advance, which can create some interesting situations.


In practice, agents are relied upon for listing price estimates. Most buyers don’t care much about what anybody else thinks the house is worth. Buyers care what they think it is worth. This is why we say that market value is ultimately determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for the home, aligned with what is acceptable to the seller.


The Two Kinds of Appraisals

It is important to note that there are two kinds of professional appraisals. There is the marketing appraisal, such as one ordered by a seller. And there is the financing appraisal, which is done so the bank is satisfied the house is worth what the buyer and seller have agreed it’s worth. The financing appraisal is a less in depth review and more a matter of answering the question: Is this property worth the agreed-upon purchase/sale price?


marketing appraisal goes deeper (and costs more), but a lender is not concerned with the actual market value over and above the purchase/sale price. A lender just wants the simple question answered. It is a rare day that the appraisal for financing has a value that differs significantly, if it all, from the sale price. Therefore one should not be surprised if, when buying a home, they find that the appraisal comes in bang on at the purchase price. As they do 99 per cent of the time. The one per cent of the time that the value is off, it is almost always a private transaction where the seller has had no professional guidance at all and has inadvertently set their price below market, by relying on something as inaccurate as their BC Assessment document.

In summary, rather than relying on your out-of-date BC Assessment for your home’s value, you should gather professional opinions from real estate agent(s) and an appraiser – these are the people with their feet on the ground and their heads in the game.

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1. Hold Back 10%

Always hold back at least 10% from your contractor until you’re 100% happy and all deficiencies are taken care of, that way if something has gone wrong or hasn’t been fixed, it will need to be corrected prior to full payment.

2. Warranty Letters

Ask for warranty letters from your contractor and subcontractors for your home renovation, these letters outline how long their workmanship and materials are guaranteed for … if something fails within this period of time, they are required to fix it.

3. Verify your Contractor is Paying your Sub-contractors

Make sure to ask for a Statutory Declaration of Progress Payment Distribution letter. This letter serves as confirmation that your contractor is paying your subcontractors. This is REALLY important because you could pay your contractor in full and they could take off to Mexico and may not pay your subcontractors which would result in them putting a lien on your house and you could end up double paying!

4. Occupancy Letter

Make sure you get an occupancy permit before you move in, you MUST have this to stay there … the city needs to make sure that everything in your home renovation is up to code and that things are working properly BEFORE you move in.

5. Review Your Invoices

I never took the time I should have to do this during our home renovation because I was so busy but I would highly suggest reviewing your invoices every time and look out for any discrepancies, if you find some, make SURE to bring them up BEFORE you pay, it’s very difficult to question something after you pay.

6. Put Up Nest Cams

If you can, I would recommend putting up Cams in your home so you can keep an eye on the property when you’re not there. They also come in handy if there is a problem, you can go back to the footage and review anything you need.

7. Take Photos

Once a day or even as little as once a week, it’s a good idea to walk around the site and take photos of EVERYTHING before your house gets drywalled. Later down the road, if there is a problem, like a leak, you can go back to those photos and see where the issue may be coming from!

8. Ask Your Contractor Lots of Questions

Ever heard of the phrase. there’s no such thing as a stupid question?! Welp. It’s true. Make sure to walk through your home and the site with your contractor and ask as MANY questions as possible, more information is ALWAYS better than not enough!

9. Communicate via Email

Try to communicate via email as MUCH as you can, that way everything is tracked! If something seems wrong with your home renovation or different than you asked, you can always refer to your emails to verify!

10. Invest in Wine

Yup that’s right … you simply can’t pull off a full blown reno without it!

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When the house next door is an eyesore, take measures to upgrade your sellers’ curb appeal and keep the attention on the strengths of their property.
rundown house and yard

It’s a dilemma in which no real estate professional wants to be stuck: snagging the perfect listing in a desirable area—right next door to the neighborhood eyesore. Whether it’s an unkempt property neglected by messy owners or an abandoned home falling into disarray, the ugly house next door can have a real and negative effect on the curb appeal of your listing. Your first instinct might be to ignore it and focus on the home you’re selling. But potential buyers don’t have blinders on, and they’ll see the nearby nuisance right off the bat. So it’s best to address the problem head-on. With a little creative thinking, you can keep potential buyers’ attention on your listing and work through objections to any unsightliness next door. Here’s how.

Find the Silver Lining

Sometimes, you need to reframe the way potential buyers perceive a nearby eyesore. In May, Ryan Wilson, team leader of the Wilson Group at Keller Williams Realty in Newton Center, Mass., landed a listing for a two-bedroom, two-bath home in an established, in-demand neighborhood. “It was storybook suburbia: a mix of cute cottages, farmhouses, and colonials, with friendly neighbors and white picket fences,” Wilson says. But next door to Wilson’s listing, the neighbor’s yard was littered with lawn equipment, including multiple lawnmowers and snow blowers.

“It wasn’t something we shied away from [discussing with buyers],” Wilson says. “We didn’t try to say, ‘The yard’s not that bad.’ We took it head-on and said, ‘We understand it’s messy, but more importantly, the people who live there are nice people, and they’ve actually been very nice neighbors.’”

Wilson highlighted a benefit to having neighbors with such equipment, which may have been convincing to the buyers who ultimately bought his seller’s home. “What we ended up saying to potential buyers was that it was actually quite convenient to have neighbors with those things because there might be occasions when they may need to borrow the neighbor’s equipment,” he says. In fact, his sellers did confirm that they’d borrowed tools from the neighbor on many occasions. Wilson sold the listing for $321,000 within a week, after fielding multiple offers following a packed open house with visits from more than 40 interested buyers.

Create a Buffer

If the neighboring eyesore isn’t something that can be reframed, see if you can take measures to hide or downplay it, suggests Paula Monthofer, ABR, GRI, president of the Arizona Association of REALTORS® and owner of Focus School of Real Estate in Flagstaff, Ariz. She suggests performing a land survey to establish clear boundary lines between your seller’s property and the neighbors, and then erecting a fence or landscape buffer, which can draw attention away from neighboring properties and add to the attributes of your listing.

But don’t pretend that potentially intrusive problems with a neighbor’s property don’t exist. Be honest about them; address the issue in the best way you can and move on, she advises. Monthofer once showed a potential buyer a home with a neighbor whose lawn was littered with rusty vehicles, spoiling an otherwise lovely rural landscape. Rather than ignore the problem, she and the property’s listing agent brainstormed solutions. “My buyer ended up moving in and planted a row of cherry trees to obscure the view. He wound up becoming good friends with his neighbor,” she says.

Remember that the key to selling your listing is highlighting its strengths. If the neighboring property appears poorly maintained, take measures to show that your listing is in better condition. “A well-manicured lawn with an attractive entrance can be all that’s needed to get buyers through the front door,” says Allison Moore, a professional stager and sales associate with Warnock Real Estate in Fort Smith, Ark. If your listing’s front porch is shaded or dark, consider painting the door in a bright color to draw attention to the entrance, Moore suggests. “Little touches can go a long way in letting potential buyers feel that your property has been well-cared-for,” she says. A little staging may be all that’s needed to help your listing’s curb appeal shine through any nearby untidiness.

Investigate the Root Cause of the Mess

Sometimes, in order to develop an effective plan for dealing with the ugly house next door, you must first understand what’s behind the mess. Candice Oleson-Fredrick, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group in Des Moines, Iowa, once had a listing that overlooked what appeared to be a large pile of woodland debris in the neighboring yard. “It was a massive pile of sticks,” she says. “I knew I had to overcome it somehow because it looked bad.”

Rather than panic, Oleson-Fredrick turned to Google for answers. Her seller mentioned that the neighbors were from Nepal. So with a little online research, Oleson-Fredrick discovered that it was customary in Nepalese culture for homeowners to create large-scale, tiered backyard gardens known as “Ghar Bagaincha,” which literally translates to “home garden.” After seeing images of similar gardens online, Olson realized that the homeowners planned to use the sticks they’d gathered to outline the garden and create its layered tiers.

“Rather than make it a negative, I found out what it was about, and we were able to turn it into a positive,” Oleson-Fredrick says. “We told potential buyers, ‘You need to become friends with them because they are eventually going to have a garden with some great vegetables growing there.’” Her listing also sold within a week for $180,000.

Offer Help With Compassion

In other cases, rundown homes and overgrown yards may be a sign that the neighbors could use a little help. Perhaps it’s an older couple who are no longer able to maintain the property; maybe it’s a family who has fallen on hard financial times. Either way, you should be prepared to put on your “part-time investigator hat” to find out what’s going on, says Moore. Because it can be tricky to approach the owners of the eyesore without seeming nosy or accusatory, Moore suggests first asking surrounding neighbors on the street if they can share details about what may be really going on.

If the neighboring home truly needs improvement, extend a hand—but do it with kindness and consideration. “Obviously, this has to be entered into with a lot of heart. You’re not going to walk over and say, ‘Your house is ugly.’ You have to be very compassionate,” Monthofer says.

For unsightly yards, consider offering some lawn care work. It could be as simple as recruiting a few teenagers in the neighborhood for a few hours of cleanup. That’s what Monthofer did for the neighbors of one of her recent listings. Rather than accusing or insulting them, Monthofer and her sellers extended the offer of yard service in a positive light.

“We went over and said, ‘We’re preparing to sell our house and will be having some work done, and we’d like to do this for you, too, as a thank-you since you’ve been such great neighbors,’” Monthofer says. The end result was not only a nicer looking property but a true community-building experience involving other neighbors who pitched in and helped

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Staging a home is essential in a hot real estate market – especially when the home is vacant. However, when a home is owner-occupied, there are still many things you can do to make your home look and feel perfect for when you take photos and the video, and have open houses or private showings.

When you sell a home, you need to show the home in a state that nobody lives in but believes that is how they will live if they buy your home. You’re selling a lifestyle. Remember: “Stage to sell, not to live!”

The first of this three-part series will focus on the heart of the home – kitchens – as well as first impressions – entryways – and some general staging tips. Many of these come from my Feng Shui-certified staging consultant.


• Clean your kitchen top to bottom – make that stainless steel shine and get rid of every last scrap of grease and grime

• Take all magnets, pictures, papers, etc., off your refrigerator

• Store any items stacked on top of refrigerators (ie, completely de-clutter)

• Set up two “stations” – a coffee station and a cooking station (one or two cookbooks and a cutting board, two white coffee cups with coffee maker)

• Fill a white bowl with green apples (the green is important)

• Keep counters as clear as possible other than the above staging/decorative items

• Hide all kitchen hand towels hanging over drawers, fridges etc…

Staging a kitchen is one of the quickest, easiest and one of the most important areas of the home. Everyone thinks they are or will be a chef, so give them the opportunity to feel that in your kitchen. However, we all just end up ordering Foodora now...

More on the “stations” – set up two white coffee cups with spoons in them next to your coffee maker (if your coffee maker is old and dingy, get a new one) and put a fresh coffee bag behind them. Set up a cookbook, cutting board and some olive oil in a “cooking corner.” It always looks great to have a white bowl with green apples on the counter if you have space to spare.


• No mats on the floor (show that tile/hardwood)

• No coats hanging on hooks or coat racks (make the entry feel as large as possible) – even if you have a coat rack, hide all outerwear and shoes away in a closet

• Mirrors/art are great on the wall if there is space 

The easiest tip for entries is keep it clean and simple. You want people to have a feeling of openness and welcoming, not cramped and tight. This is especially important for condos and townhomes as entries can be tight. Start off by clearing everything out, and then deciding what is needed (if anything). 

General tips

• Set your heat or air conditioning to the perfect setting (summer = cool, winter = warm)

• Turn on all lights in the home, aside from any that are too harsh (lightness and ambiance are important)

• Turn on the fireplace, light candles etc… (if it is a hot summer night you can avoid this)

• Turn on some relaxing music before an open house or showing, at low volume (the “Chill Lounge” playlist on your TV is agent-approved!)

• Open all blinds to the same setting (make it consistent throughout the entire home)

• Clean all windows you can access from outside (cities are dusty)

• Clean, clean and clean some more – in fact, hire a cleaner to help get your home showing-ready

Preparing a home to show for sales is plenty of work. However, it will pay off in your time on market and more importantly in your sales price. Even when the market is hot, this is integral to the marketing of your home. Odds are your home is going to sell anyways but staging and putting in the time, effort and money will most certainly help you sell your home for more.

Putting in this effort in preparing your home for sale will show pride of ownership and will rub off on potential buyers.

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