Blog › August 2015

Vancouver House Owners Rent Out Suites at Triple National Average

Some 43 per cent of local house owners rent out their mortgage-helper suites, more than three times Canadian average, finds poll

House with basement suite separate entrance

It’s no surprise that Metro Vancouver house owners are paying off huge mortgages – but a new survey, published by Vancouver-based Square One Insurance, reveals how many of them are using mortgage helpers to do so.

The survey, carried out over the past six months and released August 24, found that 43 per cent of local residents who own a house are currently renting out basement suites, laneway homes or other suites in or on their properties.

The nationwide survey found that Vancouver had by far the highest rate of suite rentals of all the key cities surveyed, with a rate of more than twice that of second-placed Toronto (20 per cent).

Of the provinces, BC had the highest rate at 25 per cent, while the Prairie Provinces had the lowest at 5 per cent.

Vancouver’s suite rentals were more than triple the national average percentage, which was cited as 14 per cent – and all these figures could be even higher than the survey suggests, according to the insurance provider.

“The high percentage of people renting out a portion of their houses is understandable given today's economy and the rising price of real estate across the province,” said Daniel Mirkovic, Square One president and CEO.

“In fact, we suspect the actual percentage is considerably higher. Some people may be reluctant to disclose this information to their home insurance provider if they haven’t secured necessary municipal approvals and permits.”

The company also advised homeowners renting out their mortgage-helper suites to declare such use, and any changes in use, to their home insurance provider to ensure their policy isn’t voided.


Recently Sold Listing 1428 Devonshire Crescent, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1129728 - 1428 Devonshire Crescent, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAI have just recently sold this listing at 1428 Devonshire Crescent, Vancouver.

New Listing 3479 W 19th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1140874 - 3479 W 19th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, CANADAView my new listing for sale at 3479 W 19th Avenue, Vancouver and currently listed at $2,688,000.

Prime Dunbar-VIEWS! Lovely 3 story home- rare LEVEL 44x122 lot. 4 bedrm (could be 5) fully renovated. Perfect for families, hold and build taking advantage of stunning views! New-drain tiles, roof, bathrms, upda ted gourmet kitchen, s/s appliances, granite countertops, landscaped lighting, 1 bedrm suite down (could easily be 2 bedrm suite). Wine cellar, A/C, landscape lighting, fresh paint interior. Catchment -Kitchener and Lord Byng.

House Prices in BC to Keep Rising Over 2015 and 2016

Sales across the province will be up 20 per cent by end of this year but fall next year, slowing price growth rate, says bank 

Home for sale

Home prices in British Columbia will keep rising this year and next, but the rate of price growth will start to slow in 2016, according to an RBC forecast released August 19.

The report said that average BC resale home prices in 2015 would be 7.8 per cent higher than 2014's average, and in 2016 would be 4.9 per cent higher still. This prediction aligns with a forecast made by TD Bank July 30, which said Vancouver home prices were likely to see a "soft landing".

The bank predicted sales of homes on the MLS across the province will be up 20 per cent by end of 2015 but will fall 4.8 per cent in 2016, contributing to the slower price growth rate.

“Our forecast shows a very strong gain in British Columbia (up 20.5 per cent)… thanks to low interest rates and improved labour markets,” said the report.

Housing starts in BC are forecast to follow a similar pattern, rising 16.7 per cent in 2015 but dropping 6.3 per cent year over year in 2016 as demand eases.

Prices across Canada are also forecast to increase over this year and next year, rising 4.6 per cent in 2015 and 3.2 per cent in 2016. RBC said the slowing in price growth could be driven by an increase in interest rates in that time.

The report said, “Our base case scenario is that the Bank of Canada will begin to remove monetary stimulus by the middle of 2016 and raise the overnight rate by 75 basis points to 1.25% during the second half of next year.”

RBC added, “The affordability stresses found at the national level almost entirely reflect the situation in two major markets: Vancouver and Toronto.

“Valuation concerns in Canada in effect are primarily about the elevated prices of single-detached homes in Vancouver and Toronto.”

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New Home Prices in Vancouver Continue Upward Streak

Vancouver and BC record increases in new housing price index in June, but Victoria’s prices stay down, says national statistics agency 

Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) new home prices continued their rising streak in June, having turned around in April following many months of declines, says a Statistics Canada report released August 13.

The new housing price index in the CMA rose 1 per cent year over year in June, and across the whole of BC it increase 0.8 per cent.

New home prices in both Vancouver rose 0.3 per cent month over month, and the whole province increased 0.2 per cent compared with May 2015’s figures.

Vancouver and BC’s annual price rises were slightly lower than that of Canada as a whole, with new housing across the nation increasing its price index in June by 1.3 per cent year over year and 0.3 per cent month over month.

New house price rises often do not reflect those seen in the resale market, as the price paid for a new home is only measured when the transaction is completed and registered with the Land Registry, rather than when the home is originally purchased off-plan. Because of long lead times on home construction, the new home prices registered today are those homes sold many months or even years ago – whereas MLS resale home prices are much more up to date.

Victoria’s new home prices continued to fall in June, again down 1.5 per cent compared with the same month last year but remaining flat compared with the previous month.

The combined metropolitan region of Toronto and Oshawa recorded the largest annual price increase in June, with prices up 3 per cent over the same month last year. Other notable year-over-year increases were observed in Hamilton (up 2.8 per cent) and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (up 2.2 per cent).

To see Statistics Canada's full report and interactive tables, click here.

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SOLD! 6051 Selkirk Street

Even in Vancouver’s current red hot housing market, having the right Realtor can make all the difference. Jamie Stewart helped the owners of 6051 Selkirk Street sell their luxury home for $150,000 over the asking price, after it had been on the market for nearly a year with another realtor.

Despite excellent European construction and a modern interior design, the home sat for almost a full year -- 322 days -- with APPROXIMATELY 70 people coming through to view it.

When other homes were selling in a matter of days, and with no acceptable offers coming in for theirs, the owners decided to switch realtors. They initially thought all realtors were the same, and they went through multiple realtors before a friend told them about Jamie, whose marketing strategy was super-efficient, and who was able to have their listing up and running within a few days.

After an in-depth market analysis, Jamie called in her stagers -- so the design and decoration of the home would appeal to homebuyers -- and her photographer, for professional photos and a fully-customized video to attract as much interest as possible -- a dynamic marketing package perfect for the home and target audience.

The result was swift and positive. Buyers came through for a first time, second time, and even third time, connecting to the property in a way they hadn’t before. Two offers came in at the same time, and Jamie and the sellers worked until 1:30am that night negotiating the transaction.

After a year of idling on the market with another agent, the home sold in 14 days, for $150,000 above the list price with Jamie Stewart.

New Listing 6250 Blenheim Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1138907 - 6250 Blenheim Street, Vancouver, BC, CANADAView my new listing for sale at 6250 Blenheim Street, Vancouver and currently listed at $4,388,000.

Elegant,BRAND NEW Georgian home, 9,400 sf lot! QUIET side of Blenhiem. Spacious 4 bdrms, 3 bathrms up w/ a flex space. Master bedrm is a private retreat, a walk-in closet, spa ensuite bathrm, double vanity, deep-soaker tub & separate glass shower w/ body jets. Gourmet kitchen central island w/ bar seating, granite counters, s/s appliances, incl a Wolf 6-burner gas range, Sub Zero fridge, & built-in Miele espresso machine . Traditional exterior, this family room has 3 sets of French doors that open onto the entertaining sized patio. Control 4 sound system plus outdoor speakers. Spacious rec rm, full bathrm & LEGAL 1-bedrm suite - for nanny or income helper. Detached 3 car garage.

Recently Sold Listing 2828 W 33rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1134591 - 2828 W 33rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADAI have just recently sold this listing at 2828 W 33rd Ave, Vancouver.

New Listing 506 - 139 W 22nd Street, North Vancouver, British Columbia

V1138627 - 506 - 139 W 22nd Street, North Vancouver, BC, CANADAView my new listing for sale at 506 - 139 W 22nd Street, North Vancouver and currently listed at $499,000.

Corner, top floor, SE facing unit in Polygon's Anderson Walk complex (with 2-5-10 Home Warranty) has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, master bath has double sinks. Gourmet kitchen with high-end SS appliances and gas cook-top,halogen lights & granite counter-tops. Walk-in closet, heated flrs, guest for $50 a night & in-suite laundry. Amenities include a fully-equipped fitness studio, guest suite, and social room. The pet-friendly Anderson Walk complex is 1 block from vibrant Lonsdale & great restaurants, nearby shopping, with easy access to transit. 1 parking and 1 locker. Fully equipped gym. Buyer to verify measurements.

New Listing 2775 W 22nd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

V1138430 - 2775 W 22nd Avenue, Vancouver, BC, CANADAView my new listing for sale SOLD at 2775 W 22nd Avenue, Vancouver and currently listed at $2,298,000.SOLD

Builder or investor ALERT!! 38 x 122 lot. Hold or build on this flat, quiet Arbutus lot. One of the most desirable neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Great location on a great street. Private schools: Crofton, York House & St George's & just minutes to UBC. Close to bus, parks, shops & dwtn.

Greater Vancouver Real Estate, July 2015

Greater Vancouver home sales and prices soared again in July, showing little seasonal slowdown. Our monthly infographic highlights the key numbers


Greater Vancouver real estate sales were up 30 per cent annually and prices up 11.2 per cent in July, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) figures released August 5.

This puts sales activity for the month 33.5 per cent above the 10-year average.

But how do the figures break down by property type and neighbourhood?

Below is our useful infographic to help you make sense of the numbers. To read the full story and analysis, click here.

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Top Ten Home Renovations that will Boost Your Property’s Value

What changes to your home will make the biggest impact on your property value and get the best return on investment? 

Whether you’re looking to sell your home or just want to increase its livability and value, renovations are always a great investment – when they are done right. And with today’s high prices for detached homes, more and more people are choosing to renovate to make their home work better for them, rather than try to move up.

But what exactly does it mean to do renovations “right”? What changes to your home will make the biggest impact on your property value and get the best return on investment? And then, how do you pay for it all? We spoke to some experts for advice and came up with this chart of top 10 renovations to boost your home’s value.

10) A Fresh Coat of Paint

It might seem obvious, but don't underestimate the power of a little paint to transform your space. This is an especially good trick if your budget is small but you need a big impact. A fresh coat of paint in key rooms, such as the entryway, living room, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom, will pay big dividends, says builder Todd Best, owner of the multiple-award-winning Best Builders, a home renovation and home builder for nearly 30 years.

Best advises that you choose universally appealing neutral shades (think off-white, taupe and soft yellows, and don’t forget super-trendy greys and pale blues) and stay away from dark colours, which tend to make a room look smaller and are a more personal choice.

9) Shiny New Faucets and Hardware

Replacing outdated items like faucets, sinks, toilets, door handles and drawer pulls is another relatively inexpensive and easy change that can make a big impact.You can do it cheaply by, for example, just updating old switchplates with modern stainless-steel ones, or you can go a step further and considerably improve the look of the room by adding modern elements.

So what’s the right choice? Although chrome still dominates the market, gold-coloured finishes and brass are back. There’s a resurgence of brass, but it’s a champagne, brushed brass that is elegant.

However, silver colours and modern shapes are still the most popular. When it comes to lever handles, the most requested are those with square back plate, polished chrome, satin nickel, stainless steel.

For a clean, uniform look, Gray suggests home owners have matching door hardware throughout the home.

8) Inviting (But No-Mess) Fireplace

A gas fireplace is one of the most desirable assets a home can have, both for resale value and for setting the tone and ambience. Besides the esthetics of a gas fireplace, it’s a lot less maintenance [than wood-burning] and can increase the value of your home. West Coast home owners are going for the contemporary, often linear, gas fireplaces.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s worth converting it to a gas fireplace. Fireplace insertsare a great option. According to Robert Koby, owner of Vancouver Gas Fireplaces, gas fireplace inserts increase a fireplace's efficiency.

“They are installed in existing masonry fireplaces or approved metal fireboxes,” adds Koby. “Most inserts are efficient heaters and are available with a number of features such as fans, thermostatic control, ceramic fiber logs for a realistic glowing effect, and a variety of trim options.”

7) Energy-Saving Windows

Is your home equipped with aluminum-framed, single -glazed windows? If so, it’s worth replacing them as they are costing you money every day in lost heat – and a savvy buyer will know this, which will also knock money off the resale value of your home. Even though this is not a cheap renovation, it should ultimately pay for itself.

Energy Star-rated windows can save the occupant lots of money and will add brightness to your home. The number one choice is vinyl windows because they are durable, energy efficient, strong and require little maintenance. There is also a wide selection of beautiful windows to choose from.

6) Modern and Clean Flooring                                                   

Another fairly costly but totally worthwhile renovation is putting down new flooring. Nobody wants to be treading on tatty old carpeting, whether that’s you as the owner or a future buyer. But selecting flooring that is durable, attractive, easy to maintain and healthy can be overwhelming because of the endless choices available today.

Most buyers do not like carpet, especially on the main floor. Replace aging carpeting with hardwood, laminate or tile. For the eco-conscious homeowner, go for bamboo and cork, which are really in vogue. That said, hardwood has the widest appeal, is one of the best flooring investments and works for both contemporary and traditional décor.

Adhere to the rule of threes when it comes to flooring options: never more than three different flooring materials in your home, otherwise it will look too busy and choppy. It’s all about flow. If you think of your flooring as the canvas for the rest of your décor, then imagine a seamless flow from room to room.. And don't neglect replacing the stair covering if it is old and passé.

5) Immaculate Bathrooms

Best guarantees that one of the first things a woman looks at in a home, besides the kitchen, is the bathrooms. Updating the fixtures, putting in a new vanity or mirror, new countertops and cabinetry are all simple changes that will make your bathrooms much more pleasant to use and, when it comes to reselling, will leave a good impression with buyers.

Get rid of those old bar light fixtures. In addition, if it's in your budget, replace dated flooring per the advice above.

4) Knock Down Walls for a Great Room

Rather than segmented rooms or a formal dining room, many West Coast home owners increasingly want one big living-dining room, or even a great room with the kitchen integrated too. It's all about flow, connectivity and spending time together as a family. If your rooms are separated, many potential buyers will be mentally adding up the cost of having to do that work themselves.

However, a word of caution: tearing down walls means dealing with plumbing, electrical and structural work, which can be very costly, so calculate your ROI carefully.

3) Heart-of-the-Home Kitchen

The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home. It may seem like a big expense, but an upgraded, attractive kitchen can increase the value of your home by 10 per cent, says Best. So if you're spending $40,000 on upgrading a kitchen in an $800,000 home, you could boost your asking price by $80,000 and come out $40,000 richer.

Today's home buyer wants a big, open, modern kitchen with high-quality stainless steel appliances, functional features such as soft-close cabinetry, pantry drawers, nice hardware and lots of windows to let natural light pour in. Adding a breakfast bay is also extremely popular right now and is one of the most desired additions to a kitchen.

2) An Exterior with Curb Appeal

Even if your home is fabulous on the inside, it’ll never gain its full potential in value if the exterior (especially the front) is shabby. Sarah Gallop, award-winning designer at Sarah Gallop Design Inc., says there are numerous ways to boost your curb appeal without breaking the bank or without taking days and days of work.

She suggests a fresh coat of exterior paint (it’s very trendy to do the trim in a contrasting colour, especially in character homes), lots of containers of plants and flowers, a well-tended front and back yard with trim hedges and plants, a tidy and smart garage and, if you’re up for spending a bit more, some cool exterior lighting on entrances and pathways to really impress people at night.

1) A Mortgage-Helper Suite

Here in Greater Vancouver, many single-family homes have a basement that is perfect for a mortgage helper suite – and there is no renovation that will make you more money than a finished, tenant-ready suite. Mortgage helpers are a very attractive option for homebuyers who want to step up into a nicer property that they couldn’t otherwise afford, or are looking to take a big bite out of their monthly mortgage payments, so the value of a home with such a suite will immediately be way higher than one without.

It’s a big job, but if you have an unfinished basement and really want to boost your home’s value, it’s worth getting the necessary permits and transforming the space into a practical, usable space. Make sure it’s as light and bright as possible and that it has a smart, clean bathroom and modern kitchen. Redesign the common entrances if necessary and make sure that the unit is blocked off sufficiently from the main residence for privacy. Turn it into a liveable space that you would be happy to live in or host guests, and it’ll be snapped up by tenants and future buyers.