Blog › December 2013

Recently Sold Listing 5993 HOLLAND ST, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1038082 - 5993 HOLLAND ST, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAI have just recently sold this listing at 5993 HOLLAND ST, Vancouver.

Seven ways to add saleable personality to your condo

Many people think all condos in a building will look the same, and without a few individual touches, they do. When you are considering putting a condo on the market, how do you differentiate from all the other condos on the market? By changing a few minor details, you can make your condo reflect your personality, and really give it the WOW factor for potential buyers. Here's how:

1. Ceiling treatments

They can make rooms feel smaller and more intimate or more expansive. Installing a barrel-vaulted ceiling in a bedroom or living room is an excellent way of giving the impression of greater space.

If you can't do this, create a similar effect by recessing part of the ceiling to form a tray ceiling. In addition to increasing the perception of height, this creates architectural interest and is often highlighted with built-in lighting. Depending on decor, more or fewer architectural details to the tray can contribute to your overall look.

Key spaces for ceiling details or treatments are powder rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. For instance, a tray or other recessed ceiling treatment over your kitchen island can highlight this culinary focal point.

Adding a cove to the ceiling-wall joint is another simple way of adding interest to a room and making it look more finished.

When carefully applied, a cove ceiling draws the gaze to the perimeter of the room, giving a sense of increased space. Again, the level of complexity of the coving needs to be appropriate to the overall level of architectural complexity, and plaster coving is definitely the way to go.

Another ceiling treatment that can have lots of impact is a plaster medallion to highlight your chandelier. This, as well as other plaster detailing, can be off-the-shelf or custom-made.

Remember a small recessed detail with trim or a simple cove application can have a huge effect.

2. Baseboard mouldings

If scaled to a significant size and elegantly executed in wood, baseboards can warm up your space. If your condo is modern, you might decide to pass on mouldings, or at least use simple versions painted to match the walls.

Although good baseboards can be expensive, they are orth it if well executed.

3. Custom doors

Opening or closing a solid mahogany door will continue to delight you for years. Appropriately selected, doors can create a sense of warmth, character and security. To enhance space and reduce noise transfer without disrupting the visual line from room to room, consider French doors. These can be embellished with bevelled glass or etching, if privacy is a concern. When contemplating which door to install, think solid. Also remember that there is no end of possibilities for wood and French doors.

4. Hardware

The better the quality, the greater the user satisfaction. For starters, hinge quality should be matched to that of the doors. A poorly hung door will not feel right year after year.

For an elegant touch, add finials to the hinges. These range in style from simple to ornate and should match the style of the condo's interior.

Since you will be in contact with the handles or knobs, check these out carefully for feel and quality. A door knob that does not fit comfortably in your hand may not be the best option for your bathroom door, for instance, as this is an often-used space.

While some fittings are very expensive, you may be able to find similar quality at lower cost if you shop around online.

Don't ignore knobs and pulls on drawers and cupboards; these can contribute significantly to a condo's character and quality. Remember hardware makes a statement and, although subtle, can be very effective.

5. Glass and mirrors

Glass and mirrors will increase the perceived size of your space. Glass doors or a glass wall can open up a small space and the reflective qualities of mirrors work wonders to create the illusion of a larger space.

Think of different glass textures and match them to your requirements. Seed glass and antique mirrored finishes are stylish options, and antique finishes come in a variety of textures and qualities.

6. Niches and pillars

Wall niches can be created with flat backs to showcase paintings or with curved backs to highlight sculptures. Subtle lighting should be used to show these architectural details to their best advantage and LED lighting is the most current. Foyers often have niches, pillars and columns.

7. Lighting

Nothing changes a space faster than lighting. It can create ambience from utilitarian (house cleaning, routine cooking, getting ready for work) to romantic (getting cosy with a book or relaxing in the bath).

Multiple, lower-level sources of light are better than a few bright lights, as this gives many more moodcreating options.

And every light deserves a dimmer. This will ensure the versatility of a space - from doing work to entertaining.

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Sales Edge Upwards Going Into New Year

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 5,490 residential sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC during November, up 17.3 per cent from November 2012. Total sales dollar volume was 36 per cent higher than a year ago at $3.06 billion. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $557,586, up 15.9 per cent from November 2012.

BC Real Estate Association sales figures for November 2013“While home sales were up year-over-year,
they eased back from October as slow economic growth and anemic job creation negatively impacted consumer demand,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Low mortgage rates, however, continue to remain accommodative to housing demand.”

“Average prices were skewed higher last month as the composition of sales in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley tilted toward single-detached homes,” added Muir. “The MLS® Home Price Index points to relatively stable prices, with the year-over-year change up 1 per cent in Vancouver and down 0.4 per cent in the Fraser Valley.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 10.1 per cent to $36.7 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales were up 6 per cent to 68,510 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 3.8 per cent at $535,411.  

Recently Sold Listing 2978 W 39th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1039173 - 2978 W 39th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAI have just recently sold this listing at 2978 W 39th Ave, Vancouver.

New Listing 2978 W 39th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1039173 - 2978 W 39th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAView my new listing for sale SOLD at 2978 W 39th Ave, Vancouver and currently listed at $2,098,000.SOLD

Sold in less than a week!  78K over asking! Character home in Kerrisdale! Charming family home situated on a large, quiet 49.5x128.75 lot. Main level features a semi-open floor plan w/ adjacent dining & livingrm walkthru. Huge island centred kitchen. Deck off the kitchen overlooking a huge S facing backyard, great for entertaining & terrific kid's play area. Adjacent family rm off kitchen. Mbdrm on main flr & 2-bedrms on upper level + renod bathrm. Lower level is partially finished, currently 2-home offices, good ceiling height, + extra bedrm/storage. Lower lvl offers 2 separate entrances. Family home has been well maintained & updated thru the yrs. Schools - Kerrisdale & Point Grey. 

Housing Market Outlook 2014

2014 is shaping up to be an amazing year for Real Estate in Vancouver. I am so busy this December, which is a fantastic surprise, as December is usually a very quiet month for Real Estate. I love being busy though, so bring it on!

I just received the RE/MAX Western Canada Annual Market Outlook Report for 2014. To read the report online click here and you can watch the video wrap-up below. 

Call me for any questions on how the upcoming 2014 market could affect you. As always, I am happy to help! Contact me anytime at 604-619-0199 or [email protected] 

How a Condo's Age Affects its Price

The Vancouver condo market is now firmly entrenched into the “us” and “them” markets. The “them” market has managed to push Vancouver into the most unaffordable city category and caused much hand wringing amongst civic and other public officials but with little improvement in affordability.

But in the meantime, the “us” market has continued to buy condos in this most unaffordable market. This report has a look at what “us” is actually buying. The tables below show MLS® condo sales over the past three months by age, something that most analysts have not looked at.

MLS High-Rise Condo Sales





















 For most of us, buying a home or a condo is a matter of trade-offs and compromises. Few of us can afford to drop $900,000-plus on a new downtown high-rise, so it’s a matter of either changing location or buying an older unit to buy into the market.

Over the past few years, developers have had to shrink new units in order to keep prices in line. West side Vancouver is an interesting example of this. Over the past three months, brand-new units made up almost one in four MLS high-rise sales in this market; average price $440,000 for 570 square feet. But it’s evident that buyers in this market want more and are willing to pay more. The situation is similar in Vancouver East, but not as dramatic.

In most other markets, buying an affordable high-rise condo means buying an older unit. In Downtown Vancouver, New Westminster and North Vancouver, units built pre-2003 made up close to 50 per cent or more of the MLS high-rise sales over the past three months.

MLS Low-Rise Condo Sales





















Low-rise condos remain the most affordable type of housing in Greater Vancouver. Judging from MLS sales over the past three months, a $250,000 price tag seems to be the limit for most buyers, and in many markets this means buying in a project built before 1993. Units over 20 years old made up over half the low-rise MLS sales in Vancouver West, Richmond and South Surrey White Rock. West side buyers had to pay well over $250,000, but the price of an older unit was still $130,00 less than a new unit.

In all other markets, low-rise units over 10 years old made up the majority of MLS sales over the past three months. In most markets, this meant buyers were getting a 900 or so square foot units for less than $300,000.

MLS Townhouse Sales





















Townhouse condos make up about one-third of MLS condo sales and tend to be more expensive than high-rise and low-rise units. Even if a buyer is looking at a unit built in the last century, prices tend to be well over $300,000 in most markets. The most affordable units are townhouse units over 20 years old in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, North Surrey and Langley. In almost all markets, townhouse condos over 10 years old made up more than half the MLS townhouse sales over the past three months.

Condo/Townhouse Price Calculator here.



Vancouver Real Estate Market Looks Healthy For 2014

In late 2012 after home sales in B.C. fell to the lowest level since the late 1990s, doomsayers were calling for a severe real estate correction. That didn’t happen. In 2013 sales steadily improved and prices stayed relatively flat. Could 2014 be a shakeup year? To find out, The Province interviewed real estate experts to learn the key trends that will influence next year’s market.

1. Looking back to see ahead — what happened in 2013?

The key word to describe real estate in B.C. this year, experts say, is balance.

According to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s CEO and president, Ross McCredie, it was predictable that sales would start slowly in 2013. Buyers were on the sidelines, expecting interest rates to rise.

And there was uncertainty ahead of B.C.’s spring election. The surprise victory of the B.C. Liberals was welcomed by real estate investors, McCredie said, and sales pushed higher through the summer and early fall.

Pent-up demand has been brought into balance now, said Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Association, and sales dropped back below long-term averages in November. Muir said B.C.’s market could soften over the next six months before picking up in the latter half of 2014.

“This is the second year of slow economic growth,” Muir said. “And there was really no employment growth this year, so that has to have some impact.”

2. What’s hot now?

West Vancouver is the hottest market in the Lower Mainland with a nine-per-cent jump in the single-family home benchmark this year, to $1.9-million. And while Vancouver’s west side was down three per cent in the spring, by November the tony market had rocketed back to gain three per cent year-over-year, at nearly $2.1 million for a single-family property.

Areas of Burnaby are also heating up, and Whistler has bounced back by 2.2 per cent year-over-year, as the American economy recovers and foreign buyers re-enter the market, McCredie said.

Among the priciest Lower Mainland markets, Richmond was coolest this year with a 2.7-per-cent drop to $930,000 at the single-family benchmark.

3. Where will it be hot in 2014?

McCredie pointed to immigration from Asia as a bullish factor that will press single-family home prices higher across Vancouver and into Burnaby.

While official data on rates of foreign investment is difficult to track, McCredie believes that in Greater Vancouver foreigners account for about 50 per cent of purchases above the $2-million price range.

McCredie said Vancouver’s market is driven by almost twice the rate of foreign investment as Toronto, the next most popular Canadian market for offshore buyers.

“The reality is that even wealthy Canadians are priced out of Vancouver markets now,” McCredie said. “We see a lot of foreign demand in very specific neighbourhoods like Point Grey. And we think in 2014 you will see continued demand east of Main in Vancouver, and even out to Burnaby.”

4. Why will it be hot?

Some international economists and journalists in the United States recently warned that Canada tops the list of nations with housing markets most likely in dangerous bubble territory.

But McCredie and Muir said the doomsayers are wrong. According to McCredie, Vancouver’s condo market has already corrected and will stabilize at current levels.

And as the city rapidly rezones and densifies, pressure will increase on the remaining single-family home lots, with demand outpacing supply, he said.

As factors that will support Vancouver’s market, McCredie pointed to a relatively strong economy in Canada, ultra-cheap borrowing costs, wealthy baby boomers who are relocating to cities and supporting their children’s’ property purchases, and growing foreign investment.

5. Interest rates — sizzle or fizzle?

B.C.’s real estate market is supported by historically cheap interest rates that are largely tied to economic factors outside the province.

In efforts to stem a financial collapse in 2008, officials in the United States dropped lending rates as low as possible. Because Canada’s economy is linked so intricately with the U.S.’s, the Bank of Canada must follow suit.

There are signs that U.S. officials finally are attempting to curtail extraordinary stimulus efforts, but with cautious steps. That means Canada’s central bank likely won’t raise interest rates until 2015, giving borrowers more fuel to buy real estate.

Muir sees banks raising five-year mortgage rates by 0.5 per cent in 2014. But uncertainty around the U.S.’s unprecedented banking policy could still rile financial markets and impact Canada, he said.

“The big risk I see right now is longer-term interest rates being driven much higher than expected,” Muir said.

McCredie predicted borrowing costs won’t rise meaningfully before 2015 in B.C., and even then, “it would take a three- or four-per-cent” rise to trip up Vancouver’s housing market.

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6 Mistakes to Avoid When Trading Up

Vancouver Dream HomeUnlike the experience of buying a first home, when you're looking to move-up, and already own a home, there are certain factors that can complicate the situation. It's very important for you to consider these issues before you list your home for sale. Not only is there the issue of financing to consider, but you also have to sell your present home at exactly the right time in order to avoid either the financial burden of owning two homes or, just as bad, the dilemma of having no place to live during the gap between closings.

Six Strategies

In this report, we outline the six most common mistakes homeowners make when moving to a larger home. Knowledge of these six mistakes, and the strategies to overcome them, will help you make informed choices before you put your existing home on the market.

  1. Rose-coloured glasses - Most of us dream of improving our lifestyle and moving to a larger home. The problem is that there's sometimes a discrepancy between our hearts and our bank accounts. You drive by a home that you fall in love with only to find that it's already sold or that it's more than what you are willing to pay. Most homeowners get caught in this hit or miss strategy of house hunting when there's a much easier way of going about the process. For example, find out if your agent offers a Buyer Profile System or "House Hunting Service" which takes the guesswork away and helps to put you in the home of your dreams.  This type of program will cross-match your criteria with ALL available homes on the market and supply you with printed information on an on-going basis. A program like this helps homeowners take off their rose-coloured glasses and, affordably, move into the home of their dreams.
  2. Failing to make necessary improvements - If you want to get the best price for the home you're selling, there will certainly be things you can do to enhance it in a prospective buyer's eyes. These fix-ups don't necessarily have to be expensive. But even if you do have to make a minor investment, it will often come back to you ten-fold in the price you are able to get when you sell. It's very important that these improvements be made before you put your home on the market. If cash is tight, investigate an equity loan that you can repay on closing.
  3. Not selling first - You should plan to sell before you buy. This way you will not find yourself at a disadvantage at the negotiating table, feeling pressured to accept an offer that is below-market value because you have to meet a purchase deadline. If you've already sold your home, you can buy your next one with no strings attached. If you do get a tempting offer on your home but haven't made significant headway on finding your next home, you might want to put in a contingency clause in the sale contract which gives you a reasonable time to find a home to buy. If the market is slow and you find your home is not selling as quickly as you anticipated, another option could be renting your home and putting it up on the market later - particularly if you are selling a smaller, starter home. You'll have to investigate the tax rules if you choose this latter option. Better still, find a way to eliminate this situation altogether by getting your agent to guarantee the sale of your present home (see point number 5 below).
  4. Failing to get a preapproved mortgage - Preapproval is a very simple process that many homeowners fail to take advantage of. While it doesn't cost or obligate you to anything, preapproval gives you a significant advantage when you put an offer on the home you want to purchase because you know exactly how much house you can afford, and you already have the green light from your lending institution.  With a preapproved mortgage, your offer will be viewed far more favourably by a seller - sometimes even if it's a little lower than another offer that's contingent on financing. Don't fail to take this important step.
  5. Getting caught in the "Real Estate Catch 22" - Your biggest dilemma when buying and selling is deciding which to do first.  Point number 3 above advises you to sell first. However there are ways to eliminate this dilemma altogether. I'd be happy to discuss with you.
  6. Failing to coordinate closings - With two major transactions to coordinate together with all the people involved such as mortgage experts, appraisers, lawyers, loan officers, Title Company representatives, home inspectors or pest inspectors the chances of mix-ups and miscommunication go up dramatically.   To avoid a logistical nightmare ensure you work closely with your agent.


Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: November 2013

Home sales and prices have remained steady and balanced and consistent and, well … average. Just as they have been since July. You could almost go back to last month’s Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market report, cross out “October” wherever it appears and substitute “November.”

Okay, maybe not. It was November, after all, and sales and listings tend to undergo a seasonal slip. But basically, November was a month of no surprises.

Watch the video.

Sales and Listings

Once again, Greater Vancouver sales closely followed the 10-year average, dropping to 1.2 per cent under.

As you can see from the chart, even these middle-of-the-road sales numbers blow out the dismal 2012 results. That’s been happening all year, so don’t get too excited when you read Tweets and headlines about double-digit y/y sales increases; 2012 was a year of 10-year lows.

November’s MLS home sales in Greater Vancouver stood at 2,321. Of those, 969 were apartments, 926 were detached houses and 426 were attached homes.

At month’s end there were 13,986 Greater Vancouver homes for sale, down 12.8 per cent from October.

What’s Up, What’s Down – At a Glance
 Nov 2013 / Oct 2013 Nov 2013 / Nov 2012
Overall Sales -12.8% +37.7%
- Detached -13.1% +47.2%
- Townhome -14.1% +38.8%
- Apartment -11.7% +29.2%
New Listings -24.8% +17.7%
Current Listings -8.3% -10.9%

New listings dropped, as they generally do in November, but they were still 1.5 per cent above the 10-year average for the month. A total of 3,245 homes hit the market, which is 1,070 fewer than in October, a decline of 24.8 per cent. But sales dropped only 12.8 per cent. With low inventory and okay sales, listings were getting snapped up. In all urban areas within the REBGV region, the sales-to-new-listings ratio saw healthy increases for all housing types from the previous month.

As for the sales-to-active-listings ratio, it stayed above 15 per cent in November, just as it has done since March. At 16.6 per cent, it still indicates a market where supply and demand are in balance.

In December, the number of homes for sale will drop off steeply as the holiday season distracts sellers. New listings plummeted by 50 per cent from the previous month in December of both 2012 and 2011. Despite the entrenched belief that this is not a good time to sell, it has many advantages. With less competition, it’s easier to stand out in the market. Realtors are less busy this time of year as well, so they’ll concentrate on the listings they do have.

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

Benchmark prices held steady in November and now are about 1 per cent higher than a year ago.

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
 Nov 2013Oct  2013Nov 2012
Detached $924,800 +0.2% +1.1%
Townhome $458,000   0.0% +0.8%
Apartment $367,800 +0.6% +0.8%

Affordability is always a concern in the Greater Vancouver market, and with good reason. In its latest Housing Trends and Affordability report, RBC Economics identified what it calls “two-tiered affordability,” i.e., the difference in affordability between the single detached house and the condo:

Even though affordability of all housing categories remains within manageable levels overall in Canada, single-family homes represent more of a stretch for home buyers than they have historically, whereas condo apartment affordability is closer to its historical norm.

The emergence of two-tiered affordability conditions nationally mainly reflects the situation in Canada’s three-largest markets. Strong demand for, relative to the supply of, single-family homes in desirable locations in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, in the past several years, generally applied consistently more upward pressure on prices for these categories than for condos, which represented the fastest-growing source of new housing units. In effect, single-family homes have become more of a luxury in these top markets that proportionally fewer households can afford. Because of their growing availability, condos remain much more within reach for typical households who are looking to own.

Here’s a look at how the divergence has grown.

MLS benchmark prices for single detached houses in the REBGV region range from $461,300 in Maple Ridge to $2,095,500 on 

Vancouver’s west side. If you eliminate the small outlying markets (Sea-to-Sky, Sunshine Coast, Gulf and Bowen Islands, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows), the lowest you’ll pay for a typical house is $550,400 in Port Coquitlam. In Burnaby North, Burnaby South, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond and Vancouver West—you’ll pay over $900,000.

Benchmark condo prices in those same six markets range from $346,700 in Richmond to $581,700 in Vancouver West. 

RBC Economics bases its affordability index on “the proportion of median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and utilities.” For Greater Vancouver homes it calculates that owning a bungalow would require 84.2 per cent of average household income, and a two storey house, 87.4 per cent. A condo takes a much smaller bite of household income: 41.9 per cent. These figures are “significantly above their long-term average” and the highest in Canada by far.

Condos account for 23.2 per cent of all housing in the Vancouver census metropolitan area (all of Metro Vancouver), according to the 2011 Household Survey. And of all new housing built here, 47 per cent is now condos. For many owners a condo is a lifestyle choice because of the urban location and access to amenities and transit. For many others, it’s the only affordable option, so there’s no choice involved. Either way, condos continue to change the face of  Greater Vancouver.