Blog › October 2013

New Listing 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia


V1056490 - 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAView my new listing for sale at 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver and currently listed at $2,838,000.

Great Westside Value!! Shows like New. Quality built/well priced Kerrisdale family home with 4 bedrooms up, including a lovely master suite with ensuite, closet plus walk-in closet. A great layout including a spacious main level with living /dining area, large well-appointed kitchen with informal eating area and attached family room. Hardwood floor on main and basement, granite countertops, air conditioning, wok kitchen, steam shower, 10 ft high ceiling on main floor. Lower level features a great recreation room with wet bar, 2 guest bedrooms/offices and bathroom and laundry room with suite potential. Walking distance to parks, shopping, school catchment -Maggie Secondary School and Maple Grove. Open House Saturday June 21th 1-3pm.

New Listing 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia


V1040624 - 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAView my new listing for sale at 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver and currently listed at 2888000.

Great Westside Value!! Shows like New. Quality built/well priced Kerrisdale family home with 4 bedrooms up, including a lovely master suite with ensuite, closet plus walk-in closet. A great layout including a spacious main level with livin g/dining area, large well-appointed kitchen with informal eating area and attached family room. Hardwood floor on main, granite countertops, air conditioning, wok kitchen, steam shower, 10 ft high ceiling on main floor. Lower level features a great recreation room with wet bar, 2 guest bedrooms/offices and bathroom and laundry room with suite potential. Walking distance to parks, shopping, school catchment - Maggie Secondary School and Maple Grove. Open House Sunday April 6th, 2-4pm.

New Listing 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia


V1034394 - 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAView my new listing for sale at 2083 W 43rd Ave, Vancouver and currently listed at 2888000.

Quality built/well priced Kerrisdale family home with 4 bedrooms up, including a lovely master suite with ensuite, closet plus walk-in closet. A great layout including a spacious main level with living/dining area, large well-appointed kitc hen with informal eating area and attached family room. Hardwood floor on main and basement, granite countertops, air conditioning, wok kitchen, steam shower, 10 ft high ceiling on main floor. The lower level features a great recreation room with wet bar, 2 guest bedrooms/offices and bathroom and laundry room with suite potential. Walking distance to parks, shopping, school catchment - Maggie Secondary School and Maple Grove.

Recently Sold Listing # 703 2108 W 38TH AV, Vancouver, British Columbia


V994515 - # 703 2108 W 38TH AV, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAI have just recently sold this listing at # 703 2108 W 38TH AV, Vancouver.

Why It's Tougher to Get Financing


If you're finding it hard to secure a mortgage, you're not alone. Ottawa's tougher rules on lending have hit home, particularly with young, first-time buyers, self-employed buyers, real estate investors and buyers who have made pre-construction purchases.

Changes to mortgage rules sign

The federal government has changed mortgage requirements four times since 2008. Lenders have taken these new rules to heart, preventing many buyers from qualifying for a government-backed insured mortgage. Home buyers with less than a 20 per cent down payment require this insurance, usually supplied by the CMHC.

The biggest change was announced by finance minister Jim Flaherty in July, 2012 and it affects the length of the amortization period-the time it takes to pay off a mortgage in full. (This is not the same as a mortgage term, which is the length of time a mortgage agreement is in effect.)

Historically, amortization periods were available for up to 35 years. The biggest change, made in 2012, was to reduce this to 25 years or less for government-backed mortgages.

With a shorter time to pay the mortgage in full, buyers save thousands of dollars over the long run. On the other hand, they must make higher payments. These cut down a family's ability to pay for other immediate necessities.

It closes certain people out of the market, but the upside is that it's also averting too much household debt and a possible crash in the housing market, which is what happened in the United States. Today, you have to demonstrate to your lender that you can support the mortgage with your job or any other sources of income you may have.

Another change made by the federal government affects refinancing-which is what you do when you renew your mortgage. Lenders no longer offer refinancing to home owners who still owe more than 80 per cent of the value of their property.

Who is affected most?

The current rules are affecting anyone who has a down payment of only 5-to-20 per cent. For one thing, they must qualify for their mortgage at the posted 5-year fixed rate, which is probably higher than what they will actually be paying if they get a variable rate or a shorter-term rate.

But other factors add up to make young, first-time buyers a greater risk in the eyes of lenders.

first time buyerIt’s tough for first-time buyers who tend to be young people. They often don't have high incomes, large down payments or a long employment history. The cost of living is up across the board and many young people are living paycheque to paycheque.

Many of these first-time buyers are seeking homes in the Fraser Valley as it is more affordable than other parts of Metro Vancouver. Sales in the Fraser Valley declined a couple of months after the new rules were introduced, and only started to recover this July.

Self-employed buyers are another vulnerable group, because they have to prove that they have the ongoing income to pay. Lenders require a great deal of paperwork before they will consider self-employed mortgage applicants.self employed

The stricter lending rules have also taken a toll on pre-construction buyers: people who purchased homes before they were built. There have been many stories of buyers who qualified for mortgages before July 2012 and made down payments during pre-construction periods. However, with the buildings now completing, some home buyers are finding they no longer qualify for mortgages.

When they come to actually pay for their homes, the guidelines have changed and all of a sudden they can’t find a lender. In some cases they are forced to sell and likely at a lower price than what they initially purchased for.

InvestorInvestors have also been feeling the pinch of tougher mortgage rules. Because they may have mortgages on more than one property at a time, investors often make minimum payments on their mortgages. If an investor still owes more than 80 per cent of the value of the home-a perfectly legitimate business practice up until April, 2011-this can cause problems at refinancing time.

There are whispers that Canada's banking regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions or OSFI, is looking to tighten mortgage rules even further based on concerns that consumers are taking on too much debt and house prices have gone up too much. Banks are still able to sell uninsured 30-year mortgages to home buyers with down payments of 20 per cent or more. OSFI could, if it so chooses, change the rules regarding uninsured portions of mortgages. Mortgage professionals are urging the bank watchdog to leave this rule alone.

Words of advice

This is still a good time to buy. Interest rates continue to be at close to record low levels and the housing market appears to be back on track following the recession. 

Save as much money as you can for your down payment and eliminate as much debt as you possibly can on your taxes and your credit cards. When you do find a home you want to purchase, make sure you’re not overextending yourself. Rising interest rates can make it very difficult to make payments if you’re living close to debt. And, there are several extra costs when purchasing real estate like the Property Transfer Tax. You need to make sure you're aware of all the costs and have a true understanding of what you’re taking on. In the end, I think the best advice to anyone out there is to discuss their options with a mortgage broker.



New Listing 1 - 138 W 13th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia


V1033365 - 2 - 138 W 13th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAView my new listing for sale at 2 - 138 W 13th Ave, Vancouver and currently listed at 1195000.

Magnolia at City Hall!! 4 Brand new townhomes by Vandwell Living - stunning interior design finishings by Kenzi Design. Open plan living/dining chef's kitchen with Wolf range, s/s appliances, gas cooktop, quartz countertop, engineered H/W flooring, clean lines, flat panel cabinetry, 'Kohler' plumbing fixtures, satin finished levers and pulls, 9 ft ceilings, radiant heat, dual flush toilets, rainscreened exterior with 2/5/10 yr warranty, 3 bdrms up. Prime City Hall area!! Still time to choose finishings & colors. Estimated completion April 2014. Tree-lined street just blocks from Skytrain, City Hall, VGH and shopping.

The 10 Scariest Things a Home Inspector Can Find


A home inspector can encounter a lot of horrors in a day’s work. The job entails:
  • conducting a visual, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, most often in connection with the sale of that home
  • inspecting all the accessible major components which include the roof, exterior, structure, electrical, heating, air conditioning and heat pumps, insulation, plumbing and interior
  • preparing and delivering to the client a written report of findings

These are a home inspector’s 10 worst nightmares…

10. Major Defects in New Construction

Home inspection nightmares--water in new basement Water in a crawlspace in a new home, now that’s scary. Potentially, this leakage can reoccur in the future if not repaired correctly.
This water, as it evaporates, creates ongoing high humidity in the home and it can support mould growth in attics and roof spaces when it condenses.

9. Do It Yourself Structural Modifications

Home inspection nightmares--bad structural modifications in attic In order to create more storage in the attic, a home owner has cut engineered roof trusses, without a permit… and without adding any reinforcement.
Likely, the roof will sag in time, and possibly collapse during heavy snow or wind loads.

8. Raw Sewage

Home inspection nightmares--Raw sewage dripping in crawl space Every time the toilet flushed, sewage entered the crawlspace through the missing clean-out cap. Nasty for the poor home inspector, never mind the new buyer.
Multiple issues for the home owner: health, sanitation, odour and moisture.

7. Abandoned Buried Oil Tanks

Home inspection nightmares--buried oil tank When home owners converted from oil to natural gas furnaces, they simply left the buried oil tank in the ground. Problem is, some home owners did not pump the oil out of the tank.
These metal tanks eventually corrode and the oil leaks out, contaminating the surrounding soil.We’ve all heard about the $150,000 clean-up bill.  Scary to the pocketbook.

6. Leaky Condo Syndrome

Home inspection nightmares--leaky condo syndrome Most Lower Mainlanders have heard this term or have had first-hand experience with their condos leaking. It’s cost many people a lot of money. The causes?
  • Greater wall wetting from buildings designed without roof overhangs plus exposed decks over living spaces,
  • “Tighter” building envelopes in the name of energy efficiency,
  • Poorly standardized construction details with poor workmanship,

The scary part is that rainscreen technology, which is mandatory on newly constructed and remediated buildings, has been part of building science since the 1960s, but never adopted into the Canadian National Building Code.

5. Mould

Home inspector nightmares--mould on ceiling This photo is of ceiling mould in a bedroom closet. There was zero attic insulation above this area, so warm, moist air from the home’s interior was condensing on the cooler drywall ceiling, creating the moisture the mould needed.
The scary part: children and the elderly are most susceptible to continual exposure and possible long-term health effects. In extreme cases, mould can be toxic.

4. Marijuana Grow-Ops

Home inspector nightmare--marijuana grow op This photo shows grow-op ventilation ducting into the basement toilet drain.
Home inspectors see three types of grow-ops:
  • Busted by the police, where full disclosure is available to all parties
  • Busted by landlords, with a superficial cover-up, not necessarily disclosed before selling
  • Owners have operated and removed the grow-op, doing superficial cover-up and not necessarily disclosing before selling

The physical damage from a grow-op can be substantial and, if not correctly remediated, can have health, structural and moisture-related issues. Obtaining home insurance can be difficult and may include additional costs.

3. Substandard Home Owner or DIY Upgrades

Home inspection nightmares-bad addition Most people looking at this addition know this is wrong. Where is it going to leak?
Home inspectors see additions, basement suites and general renovations with the associated unprofessional and often scary (i.e., dangerous) roofing, structural, electrical, plumbing and heating modifications.
In extreme cases, the upgrades need to be partially or totally removed and redone.

2. Rodents

Home inspection nightmare--dead rodents This mouse got stuck between the fan blade and the fan housing. You would think the home owner would have checked why his fan blades weren’t turning.
I often see signs of rodents in attics and crawlspaces. It’s scary thinking this carcass is decomposing so close to your food. Yuck!!
Upon seeing this, some people would have continual nightmares. Is this the only mouse in the house?? Perhaps that’s why this home is for sale!

1. Large Animals, Dead or Alive

Home inspector nightmare--raccoons in attic I won’t show you the ghostly picture of the dead cat in a crawlspace. Not a serious matter, but scary and disturbing for the home inspector (me). BTW, the owner had no knowledge of it.
Live baby raccoons in a house attic can be a very serious matter. For one thing, they did some roof damage to enter the attic. On top of that, they’re using the attic as their toilet. Significant repairs and clean-up after they move out.

Happy Hallowe’eeeeeeeen



Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: September 2013


You'd be hard pressed to pick any one of the last 10 years in the Greater Vancouver real estate market and call it average. We've had dizzying price hikes, a breathtaking sales and price drop, an even more remarkable recovery, rampant speculation, topped (or bottomed) off with a really lousy 2012 for sales, even though prices didn't reflect it.

So what do we get excited about? We compare this years MLS sales to last years (see: “really lousy,” above). A 63.8 per cent increase! Wow! The market is booming! Its surging!

No, it's not. If you look past the headlines and Tweets, you get a different picture. What the Greater Vancouver real estate market is actually doing right now is hovering around 10-year statistical averages. Its recovering well from 2012 and acting stable. And that's good!

Watch the video.

“Home sale and listing activity this September were in line with the 10-year average for the month,” says Sandra Wyant, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. REBGV stats show that the sales-to-listings ratio has been in balanced territory since March, and prices have barely budged all year.

Not bombastic, perhaps, but a nice, sane atmosphere for buyers and sellers.

Greater Vancouver MLS

Sales and Listings

A total of 2,483 homes sold on the MLS in September. That was down 1.2 per cent from 2,514 in August and down 15.8 per cent from Julys unexpected peak of 2,946. September often sees an extra flurry of sales before the winter lull, so last month was slightly unusual in that respect.

But as you can see from the table, sales of all kinds far outshone those of 2012, when prices were widely expected to plummet, and buyers and sellers stayed out of the market. September 2012 was tied with September 2008 (beginning of the recession) for lowest sales in the last 10 years, and Sandra Wyant notes that those were among the lowest sales in thirty years. So all those big year-over-year gains indicate a good recovery, but not much else.

What's Up, What's Down – At a Glance

 

Sept 2013 / Aug 2013

 Sept 2013 / Sept 2012

Overall Sales

-1.2%

+63.8%

- Detached

-3.2%

+72.2%

- Townhome

-0.5%

+79.7%

- Apartment

-0.0%

+50.6%

New Listings

+20.2%

-5.5%

Current Listings

+0.5%

-12.2%

More homes were listed on the MLS in September as sellers anticipated a typical fall pick up in sales. New listings were up by 20.2 per cent over August. This is no cause for alarm. Its right in line with the month-over-month increases in 2011 (21.2 per cent) and 2010 (20.8 per cent). And it's less than the difference between August and September new listings last year (31.6 per cent).

Despite the increase in new listings, total active listings stayed about the same as August. This can't be explained by an increase in sales—sales were actually down from August. Therefore, a number of listings must have expired or been taken off the market. The takeaway is that a sale is not a slam-dunk in this market. Sellers have to be realistic about their prices. Buyers are not feeling forced into anything, and they have time to be choosy.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio dropped slightly to 15.4 per cent. That means the market is still considered to be balanced, neither a sellers market nor a buyers market.

Sales to Listings

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

There's not much to talk about when it comes to home prices. In all but the smallest markets—Bowen Island, Squamish, Sunshine Coast and Whistler—any movement in the benchmark price was within 1 per cent of zero from August to September.

For benchmark price changes by city and housing type, see the REBGVs detailed stats package.

Greater Vancouver MLS Benchmark Prices % Change

 

Sept 2013

Aug 2013

Sept 2012

Detached

$922,600

-0.1%

-1.4%

Townhome

$458,300

+0.3%

-0.1%

Apartment

$366,600

+0.1%

-0.5%

If you're casting about for some excitement in home prices, look south. The announcement of a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel could cause some price movement in Ladner and Tsawwassen. Both currently offer some of the best housing values in Greater Vancouver, along with a small-town atmosphere. Benchmark for a single-family home in Ladner is $622,000 and in Tsawwassen, $714,300.

The tunnel has often been credited with—or blamed for—keeping land values in check. In a few years that bottleneck will be gone.

 For a video wrap-up of the September Greater Vancouver real estate market, here's Ray Harris, president-elect of the REBGV.

 



7 Tips to Keep Your Appliances Beautiful


You've finally splurged on gorgeous new stainless steel appliances. No more mismatched fridge and stove! Everything works! No leaks from the dishwasher, no questionable items getting frozen in the back of an old fridge. But with a new suite of kitchen appliances costing anywhere from $2000 to $5000+, you will want to make sure that they stay in good working order for a long time. It’s a great investment too; a kitchen renovation averages a 66% return on investment, and kitchens are often the first place buyers look when you sell your home in the future. 

You can keep your appliances in good condition and avoid costly repairs with basic maintenance. Steps to take include:

  1. Clean the filter and screens in your dishwasher periodically, and check for clogs, broken glass or food at the bottom of the unit.
  2. Check hoses and connections to be sure they are in good condition.
  3. Vacuum the condenser coils on your refrigerator at least twice per year.
  4. Don’t use more detergent than recommended in your washer.
  5. Wipe up spills in the refrigerator immediately, and clean twice a year. 
  6. Only use recommended cleaners on the exteriors of your appliances and never use abrasive cleansers.
  7. Deodorize your refrigerator with a dish of activated charcoal (available at pet stores) to keep it smelling new.


Being on the Watch for Household Dampness


One good way to investigate dampness is by walking around the home during a rain storm. Check the following:

  • Gutters should be clear and draining properly. Overflowing gutters are a common problem.
  • Downspouts should not flood water next to the house. Add an extension (leader) to discharge the water well away from the home.
  • Downspouts that discharge below grade should be checked very carefully. Make sure water is not leaking into the soil or backing up into the basement through the floor drain. In some cases it is prudent to disconnect downspouts that discharge below grade and redirect the water away from the house instead. 
  • Land around the house should shed water away from the house for at least six feet.

How do I know if my home is damp?

Signs of high levels of internal moisture are:

  • Mildew
  • Condensation on hard surfaces
  • Water stains.
  • Swelling and rotting wood or wood-based materials.
  • Rotting carpet
  • Bubbling wall linings and vinyl floor coverings.
  • Musty smells.

Mould

Mould is known to cause inflammation, allergies and infections.

It is a relatively straightforward process to remove mould from hard non-porous surfaces such as glass or ceramic tile. Removing mould from porous substances such as wallboard, wood and carpets is more difficult and more hazardous. This is because spores can be released when disturbing rotten material and these can cause inflammation, allergies and infections.

New Homes

In new buildings, some moisture is trapped during the construction process. Wet timber may also have been used. This will dry out eventually over the first year of the building’s life, as long as the house is properly heated, ventilated and insulated.

Condensation

Showers, cooking, especially on the stovetop, flueless gas heaters, and indoor drying of clothes all create large amounts of water vapour leading to condensation.

The best remedies are to reduce the amount of moisture or extract moisture as close to its source as possible. Some good ways to reduce condensation include:

  • Not drying clothes indoors.
  • Putting lids on pans when cooking.
  • Using extractor fans when cooking or showering.
  • Keeping your showers short.
  • Cover fish tanks.
  • Choosing household plants that don’t require a lot of water – for example, yuccas, succulents and dracaenas.

 

 



Get the Selling Price You Want, and More!


If you’re thinking about selling your home, I’d bet you’re thinking about which changes you should make to get the bet selling price possible. Be careful before calling in those contractors and busting out the chequebook though – not all home renovations are created equal if your goal is to increase resale value.

If it’s Return On Investment that you want, here’s your wish list:

A modern kitchen 16 - 9688 Keefer Ave Kitchen

Buyers fall in love with the kitchen first. If you spend in the kitchen, you’ll see the ROI – simple as that. So if you can, invest in a granite countertop, a fresh coat of paint on the cupboards, and modern natural stone or a untique tile backsplash. When your potential buyers come walk in, they’ll have their breath taken away! Even if they aren’t much of a cook, they’ll be fantasizing about all the great dinners and parties they can host with the kitchen. It's part of the crucial component of getting the buyer to visualize themself living in your home.

 

A finished basement 3108 W 35th Ave Basement

Even in a seller’s market, differentiating yourself from other homes on the market is critical because every additional bid is money in your pocket. One of my favourite ways to help clients set themselves apart is to finish their basement. It creates an entire floor of useable space that can suit whatever purpose the buyer has in mind. For them, it’s an office, a man-cave, or a yoga studio.

 

A bathroom to envy 3088 Trimble Street Bathroom

We shouldn’t get as excited about amazing bathrooms as we do. But I’ve seen it over and over – buyers that seem generally uninterested in a house until they see the master bath. There is something about subway tiles, soaker tubs, glass showers and tiny soaps that starts bidding wars like nothing else in the home. If you’ve ever been to a great spa, you know how welcoming and relaxing that feels, right? That’s what you need to go for in your bathroom, and don’t stop until you get it.



What Does It Really Cost to Buy a Home?


buyingYou've attended some open houses, done lots of looking at properties online, and you think you're ready to buy a property. You've already been prequalified by a mortage broker, you know your budget, and you're shopping with in it. But is the cost of the property going to be your only cost? unfortunately not. There are a few ot


GST
- If you buy a newly constructed home, you must pay the 5% GST. However, if your house is less than $450,000 you may be eligible for a rebate. For more information, please visit www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tax/business/topics/gst/construction/menu-e.htmlher cost to take into consideration when you make the big decition the get into the real estate market. Just like saving for your down payment, you should be ready with some savings for the following completion costs. 

Property Transfer Tax - When a residence is purchased a Property Transfer Tax (PTT) is applied. The tax is calculated at 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder. The First-Time Home Buyers' Program offers an exemption to the PTT if the fair market value of the residence is $425,000 or less. In all regions there is also a proportional exemption for first-time buyers of homes with a fair market value up to $25,000 above the thresholds. That means in the Greater Vancouver area, homes valued up to $350,000 ($325,000 threshold + $25,000 proportional exemption) will be charged a pro-rated PTT. For more information please visit: www.rev.gov.bc.ca/rpt/ptt/ptt.htm

Mortgage loan insurance and application fee - If you get a high-ratio mortgage (a mortgage where you pay less than a 20% down payment) you will have to buy mortgage loan insurance from CMHC or a private company. If you qualify for a 5% down payment, CMHC charges an insurance fee that equals 3.25% of the mortgage. If you put 10% or 15% down, your insurance fees will decrease to 2% and 1.75% respectively. The insurance premium usually gets added to your mortgage. You will also have to pay an application fee. CMHC's standard fee is $235. CMHC also offers a basic service for a $75 fee but it must be accompanied by an appraisal.

Appraisal - Before your lender approves your mortgage, you may be required to have an appraisal done. Sometimes your lender covers the cost otherwise you are responsible for covering the cost. The fee ranges from $150 to $350.

Survey fee - Your lender may require an up-to-date survey of the property. If the seller did not provide you with one, you will have to pay to have one done. The fee ranges from $150 to $350.

Home Inspection fee - Most REALTORS® recommend that you get a home inspection by a certified home inspector. It will cost you from $150 to $350 for a smaller house. Large houses may cost more.

Legal fees - Lawyers/Notaries fees for closing the sale range according to the complexity of the deal but they should range from $600 - $1500. As an example;

 

Purchase Of Property

Fee Including Tax

Under $1 million with 1 mortgage

$1000

$1 million - $2 million with 1 mortgage

$1100

Under $1 million, no mortgage, cash

$795

$1 million-$2 million, no mortgage, cash

$895

New Home and new strata purchase

+$120 to above

Over $2 million

Enquire

 

Disbursements to Land Titles Office - These fees are approximately $300. Your lawyer/notary will arrange the payment.