Blog › November 2014

Strong Population Growth Bolstering Vancouver Market

Continued population growth in Metro Vancouver is one of the key factors supporting the city’s hot real estate market, according to the Urban Development Institute’s latest State of the Market report for 2014’s third quarter.

The report said: “One of the positive economic highlights last quarter was the continued population growth in Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver’s population has increased by 11,700 residents over the past quarter, which the UDI said was the third-highest recorded total in the past three years and 27 per cent above the three-year average.

The UDI said that the current ratio of 2.6 new residents per housing start is within the range deemed to be healthy for stable market conditions (between two and three). This is down from the 3.2 of the previous quarter, which is considered to be favourable for sellers and landlords.

The report added, “Key economic factors in Metro Vancouver remained positive in Q3 2014 . The most recent Statistics Canada update shows Metro Vancouver’s unemployment rate at 5.8 per cent, which is down from the same period last year (6.8%).

“Year to date, new multifamily home sales (10,535) are up 39 per cent compared to 2013 YTD totals.”

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When is the Best Time to Hire a Home Inspector?

Finding a good home inspector when you need them can be tricky business. It is best to find one early, rather than scrambling at the last minute because you have to close on a deal.

If You’re a Buyer…

Considering all of the details, things to do and plan for, I suggest setting aside enough time to research the best inspector for your needs. The top inspectors will be busy and often booked up to a week or more in advance… especially during the busy season (spring and summer). In short, choose the inspector as soon as you can, long before you submit the offer. This will reduce a lot of stress.

In my opinion, only you should be the one to make the final decision on picking the home inspector. Take suggestions for friends and family, check online, etc. Real estate agents will typically offer a few to choose from as well. These days, mortgage brokers are referring home inspectors as well.

If You’re a Seller…

If you want to sell your home and want to know about the issues with your home before you put it on the market, consider a pre-listing inspection. This inspection gives you the opportunity to learn about and address problems before the home goes on the market. This can be a huge advantage to selling your home. However, do remember that this approach can reveal major issues with the home that you will have to tell the buyers about if you choose not to address them first.

After the inspection, you can disclose the findings with potential buyers. More than likely, the buyers will find their own inspector as well. Hopefully your pre-listing inspector does a good job for you, so the buyers’ inspector does not find too many additional problems. The added bonus? Now you have someone for your own home purchase, well in advance.

What to Consider

Aside from the usual technical questions about their training, areas of expertise experience, fees, etc… consider the following questions as well:

  • What is their policy on shadowing them?
  • Do they communicate clearly and effectively?
  • Are they open to taking calls and sharing advice with you after the inspection?
  • What kind of report do they provide? Is it given to you immediately after the inspection or later on? Do they include photos with their reports?
  • Are they licensed and insured and do they belong to a professional association like CAHPI?
  • Will they provide their standards of practice and contract before the inspection?
  • Do they have a good reputation?
  • Do they have cancellation policy?

Most importantly, find someone who truly cares about protecting you, while providing the best value for their service. You can usually gauge this by how they react to your interview questions. Hopefully the inspector will spend enough time with you over the phone to answer all of your questions.

With home inspectors, as any other service provider, you normally get what you pay for. Anyone with the proper training will learn the skills to be a competent inspector. However, character, ethics and common sense (which can not be taught in any classroom) are the key personality traits that will put any inspector to the test when you really need them. There are a number of good inspectors out there to choose from.

For more information, feel free to contact me about this or anything home inspection related. Good luck on your next home purchase or sale.

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New Listing 2176 W 15th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1094276 - 2176 W 15th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAView my new listing for sale SOLD at 2176 W 15th Ave, Vancouver and currently listed at $1,488,000.SOLD

BEST DEAL ON THE WESTSIDE at $719/sq.ft.! Recent comparable sold $800/sq.ft. Beautifully appointed, spacious side by side half duplex in Kitsilano on 2 levels. Spacious main floor w/large living room, dining room, kitchen & family room. North/South exposure plus formal & informal dining areas. Hardwood floors, lovely stained glass, wrought iron front door & custom milwork. Natural light through ample use of skylights, huge master bedroom w/spa ensuite, 2nd bedroom & 2nd bathroom. Fabulous open ofc/den (easily converted to a 3rd bdrm). 3 year old roof. Brand new washer/dryer. Bring your house sized furniture, lots of storage! This is good! Public Open Nov 29, 1:30-3:30 pm.

Rising Interest Rates Will Cool Vancouver House Prices

The anticipated increase in interest and mortgage rates over the next year or so will result in a house-price reduction in Canada’s most active real estate markets –Toronto and Vancouver, according to BMO Nesbitt Burns.

In a North American Economic Outlook published November 13, senior economist Sal Guatieri writes, “While other regions have steadied or weakened this year, notably Atlantic Canada and Quebec, these three cities have strengthened, with sales well above year-ago levels in response to strong demand from immigrants and millennials. Prices have accelerated faster than family income, further straining affordability.

“Consequently, some correction is anticipated in Toronto and Vancouver when interest rates eventually rise.

Guatieri cites the example of a Toronto property and what could happen to its price with interest rates rising.

“As a rough guide to potential price declines, if interest rates rose two percentage points in the next three years (while income continued to trend higher), the price of a Toronto bungalow would need to decrease 11 per cent to maintain mortgage service costs at current levels for the typical buyer.

The economist concludes, “While supportive demographics and an influx of foreign wealth should cushion the blow, it’s difficult to see prices staying at current lofty levels if interest rates don’t stay at current crisis levels.”

The report follows on the heels of Guatieri’s October outlook, which said, “Vancouver and Toronto are vulnerable to a severe correction in the event of a recession or spike in interest rates—a risk that builds the longer that prices outrun income.” 

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Recently Sold Listing 205 - 8420 Jellicoe Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1090998 - 205 - 8420 Jellicoe Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAI have just recently sold this listing at 205 - 8420 Jellicoe Street, Vancouver.

Vancouver Sales Beat 10-Year Average by 16.6%

Once again, the Vancouver area was cited as Canada's least affordable housing market, in the recent Desjardins Affordability Index. And once again, home buyers didn't seem to care. They just kept on buying.

According to the latest numbers from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, released November 4, home sales beat the 10-year average ay 16.6 per cent, the biggest margin this year, as the chart shows.


REBGV president Ray Harris noted, “We’ve seen strong and consistent demand from home buyers in Metro Vancouver throughout this year. This has led to steady increases in home prices of between four and eight per cent depending on the property.”

Sales and Listings

In all, 3,057 homes sold in October in the area covered by the REBGV, compared to 2,661 in the same month last year. October beat the previous month as well: 4.6 per cent more home sales than September's 2,922.

Of the properties for sale, 1,271 were detached houses, 518 were attached (townhouses or duplexes) and 1,268 were condo apartments.


What’s Up, What’s Down — At a Glance
 Oct / Sept 2014Oct 2014 / Oct 2013
Overall Sales +4.6% +14.9%
- Detached +0.4% +19.1%
- Townhome +11.6% +4.4%
- Apartment +6.7% +15.5%
New Listings -14.7% +4.0%
Current Listings -6.6% -9.2%

In new listings, 4,487 homes were put up for sale in October. That's a drop of 14.7 per cent after a surge of 5,259 homes coming to market in September. However new listings increased slightly over the same time last year, when 4,315 homes went on the market.

Current listings stand at 13,851 homes on the market, which is a decline of 6.6 per cent from September and 9.2 per cent from the previous October. The sales-to-active-listings ratio now stands at 22 per cent, which indicates that sellers had the advantage last month.

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

In general, benchmark prices have been rising bit by bit, month over month, with detached prices rising slightly more than condo or townhouse prices. But all those small rises result in home prices that are 4 to 7 per cent higher than at the same time last year. The result is that every month since June this year, it can be said that Greater Vancouver home prices are the highest they've ever been.

October composite benchmark prices by housing type are as follows:

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
 October 2014Sept 2014Oct 2013
Detached $995,100 +0.5% +7.9%
Townhome $479,500 +0.4% +4.7%
Apartment $380,200 +0.4% +4.0%

Home prices vary widely throughout the REBGV region. To get a good idea of home prices in a specific location, check the detailed MLS Home Price Index that the REBGV publishes.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver covers Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and South Delta.

The board covers only homes being resold through the Multiple Listing Service, and does not record sales of newly built homes unless they are listed with the MLS, so the house prices in the Home Price Index don't reflect all of the residential real estate sold in the area.

Passive House Technology for Super Energy Efficiency

All houses have personalities but passive? It's not a word that is commonly used to describe the places we call home until now.

According to Dr. Guido Wimmers, we are poised on the edge of a revolution that will see the number of passive houses in our neighbourhoods increase dramatically.

"Passive houses were largely developed in Germany in the early 1990s comfortable, compact houses that are better insulated and better oriented to harness the power of the sun," says Wimmers, who is arguably Canada's leading passive house specialist. "Not only do they provide a healthier living environment, they operate on approximately 80 per cent less heating energy. That can translate into a 50 per cent reduction in your energy bill annually."

There are now about 40,000 to 50,000 purpose-built passive residential, commercial and institutional buildings in Europe compared to a handfulperhaps 20 to 30in BC to date. Wimmers started teaching passive-house-building science three years ago at UBC, SFU, and BCIT, and founded the Canadian Passive House Institute to offer training for professionals. He expects to see more passive houses popping up soon.

Passive house example in Whistler BC
Passive house duplex in Whistler, built by Durfeld Constructors.

"Comfort and well-being are the biggest drivers when someone decides to build a passive house," he says, "but cost efficiency is also a deciding factor. It's the most affordable way to build today. Passive houses are better built and more durable. Yes, you have to spend more up front, which means slightly higher financing costs on a monthly mortgage. But from day one, you're saving that or more on energy costs. Over the long run, energy prices are going to go up, so you're better off building a passive house. Its resale value is much higher than an ordinary house."

To meet passive house standards, a building must meet specific energy requirements. The standard is up to 10 times more stringent than levels required in regular construction in North America and generally exceeds the energy savings achieved by LEED Platinum buildings. Passive houses use an efficient building shape, thoughtful solar exposure, superinsulation, advanced windows, air tightness, ventilation with heat recovery, ventilation air preheating, and thermal bridge-free construction. The design results in improved air quality and uniform temperature levels throughout the building.
 Bernhardt passive house in Saanich BC passive house technology 
Bernhardt passive house in Saanich BC has its own Facebook page. Photo Derek Ford[/caption]

Passive house technology, Wimmers notes, is tricky to apply to older buildings undergoing renovations.

"A precondition to renovating a home to passive house standards is that the actual building needs to have a relatively high value," he cautioned. "If this is not the case, it can be difficult to achieve a financial advantage. You would need to have an emotional attachment to the home or it would need to be a heritage house."

Wimmers is one of the directors of the Canadian Passive House Institute, an educational organization that provides information about passive house design, technology and construction. The site's member directory allows viewers to find architects, engineers and contractors who specialize in passive house technology.

Wimmers himself purchased and renovated a Vancouver Special with passive house technology and components a few years ago. He spent about 25 per cent of his renovation budget on energy-efficiency upgrades for the building, which also increased noise reduction and thermal comfort.

"I was curious about how far you can go with passive house technology and an older home," he said. "Vancouver Specials are relatively compactthey're essentially boxes, and much easier to retrofit and achieve meaningful energy reductions than character homes."