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How to Price Your Home Correctly


The single most important thing when marketing your home is pricing it correctly. There are actually even dangers to pricing it incorrectly.

You can have the right realtor, the right staging, marketing plan. The best house in the neighbourhood, but if you price it too high, no one is going to come look at it!

For example, if your house is worth 1.3M and you put your house at 1.5M, the people that are going to come your home; they will have seen everything else on the market worth 1.5 million, so by the time they get to your home, your home might not measure up since it's only worth 1.3M. And on the other end, the people that can afford the 1.3M aren't going to come into the home, thinking they can’t afford it.

So the single most important thing you have to do, is price your home correctly.

Look at the market. Look at comparable sales, what sold recently for the same price and market it correctly according to those sales comparables.

If you want more information or would like to discuss this information further, in person or on the telephone, please give me a call at 604-619-0199.

Watch the video below and check out my YouTube page for more great tips on how to sell your home.



Purchasing Real Estate Outside of BC


The Vancouver real estate market has seen major growth over the past years, and we’re now seeing many people moving elsewhere so they can take advantage of the growth in their homes.

People are either downsizing from a house to a condominium or moving to a new region so that they can cash out of the current market to help set themselves up for retirement.

For example, if you purchased a home in Vancouver in the 1980’s for $200,000 and it’s now worth $2 Million, you could purchase a home in a new community for $1 Million and have another $1 Million leftover to live off of and retire on.

As people are moving to smaller communities, we’re seeing the price in those communities increase as well. At RE/MAX, we have a great referral system and we can help find you a great agent that specializes in your area. They’ll guide you through the purchasing process to ensure you find something that’s structurally sound, keeping your money safe.

Watch my video below to learn more, and be sure to contact me if you’re considering making a move like this.

 



How to Write a Winning Offer in a Multiple Offer Situation


With the competitve real estate market we're experiencing today, there are many things you can do to help ensure you write a winning offer.

  1. Make the highest offer you're prepared to go to the table with.
  2. Have your deposit cheque ready.
  3. Do as much research and preparation ahead of time so that you can write a clean offer with the least amount of subjects.
  4. Find out the seller's preferred closing dates.

Watch the full video below to learn more about each of these tips so that you can best prepare yourself for the current market.



799 Units of Housing Planned on Top of Vancouvers Canada Post Building


Rezoning application proposes 17-storey office two and 18- and 20-storey stepped residential towers on top of retained heritage building on West Georgia Street

Under Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership's proposed redevelopment, the 1958-built former Canada Post building on West Georgia Street would be retained and revitalized

Vancouver architectural firm Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership has submitted to the City of Vancouver its plans for the massive redevelopment of the Canada Post building in downtown Vancouver.
 

The application proposes retaining the huge, iconic Modernist building as, situated in the block between West Georgia, Homer, Dunsmuir and Hamilton streets, and updating it largely for commercial and office use.

The architects also propose using the seven-storey building as a podium, on top of which would be built three stepped towers – one for office use rising up to 17 storeys, and two residential towers rising up to 18 and 20 storeys.

The two towers would create 606,000+ square feet of residential space, which added to nearly 100,000 square feet of residential space in the podium building would total nearly 706,000 square feet of housing.

Under the proposal, there would be 427 market rental units (270 one-beds, 133 two-beds and 24 three-beds) as well as 372 condo units for sale (183 one-beds, 146 two-beds and 43 three-beds) – totalling 799 residential units.

The proposal includes six levels of parking, including 1,168 bicycle spaces, and a 49-space childcare facility. It also imagines the current parking strip along West Georgia at the front of the building becoming a public plaza served by the cafes and stores of the new podium building (see images above).

A community open house is scheduled for 5-8 pm on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia Street.The public is invited to provide comments by filling out the online feedback form – ideally before January 2, 2017 to allow staff to consider changes to the proposal and to represent comments in the report to Council.



Infographic: Greater Vancouver Real Estate, September 2016


Home sales down, prices wavering... What's going on with Vancouver's housing market? Our handy infographic explains and offers a breakdown of prices

Greater Vancouver home sales continued their slide since summer, with transactions dropping 32.9 per cent in September in an anticipated slowdown, and sales versus listings moving towards a more balanced market, reported the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver October 4.

Typical home prices fell slightly compared with the previous month but were still way up over last year’s figures. But when broken down by city and neighbourhood, the wide variations become clear.

Check out our infographic below for a fuller picture on the current state of the market.

For the full story and analysis, click here.

REBGV stats infographic September 2016

 

 

 



AirBnB and Other Short-Term Rentals to Require Business Licence


Vancouver condos and apartments

Home owners renting out their units through AirBnB, VRBO or other short-term rental platforms will be required to get a business licence first – and will only be granted one if the property is their primary residence, according to a proposed City of Vancouver policy announced September 28.

The move is intended to encourage the kind of AirBnB use that is considered vital to the “sharing economy” – such as renting out your home while you’re on vacation, or staying elsewhere – without allowing short-term stays to dominate the rental market and price out local long-term renters.

Investment properties and secondary residences in the city, which are subject to the new empty homes tax that aims to encourage those properties to be put into the long-term rental market, will not be granted a short-term rental licence.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said that the proposed short-term rental licence could force up to 1,000 Vancouver homes back into the long-term rental pool.



Dodging Vancouver’s Vacant Home Tax Could Result in $10K Fine


Vancouver condos
More details of Vancouver’s proposed vacant home tax came to light September 20, as staff presented their report to City Council and requested approval for their public consultation budget.
The presented report, which is available online, confirmed that the “Empty Homes Tax” will operate using a self-reporting process – just like income tax – and will be audited by the City on a random basis and in response to complaints made to the City by neighbours and other residents.
Staff told council that the penalties for those found to be avoiding the tax should be stiff – as much as $10,000, which is the maximum fine the city can issue.
Staff are also asking council to approve the $220,000 budget needed for the public consultation process on the tax, to be held this fall – some $210,000 of which will pay for letters to the public informing them of the consultation process, with $7,500 paying for open-house discussions and workshops, and $2,500 for the final report to be presented to council.
The proposal report outlines scenarios in which home owners would be exempt from the tax, such as those using it as a primary residence, those who have tenants or family members living in the property full time, those who live in the property for part of each week on a commuting basis, and where homes are awaiting demolition or renovation, with permits.
However, the public consultation will be used to determine whether certain grey-area scenarios should be exempt from the tax or not – such as where the home is used for just a few months of the year by the owner, whose primary residence is elsewhere.
The process will also help staff determine the amount of the tax that will be levied, which the report says could be as low as 0.5 per cent or as high as two per cent of the assessed value of the home, payable on an annual basis.
On an empty home worth $1 million, that would come to between $5,000 and $20,000 a year in additional taxes, on top of regular property tax.
Arnon Dachner, partner at Dentons LLP, was jokingly asked at an Urban Development Institute luncheon September 16 whether he would complain to the City if he thought a neighbouring home was left vacant. He said, “I’m not really a snitcher – as long as they don’t park in front of my house while leaving their house vacant, I don’t mind! I don’t really hold with the ‘snitching on your neighbours’ process. But a lot of our taxation systems, like income tax, are based on self-reporting. And yes, there will be audits. But I don’t relish the idea of people knocking on each other’s doors to try to ascertain whether the home is vacant.”
He added, “I think it will make for a great new business – the guy who mows the lawn, who drops off the fake grocery bags, who takes out fake garbage bags…”


Canadian Home Sales Take a Vacation in August


Sales activity down month-over-month in 60 per cent of Canadian markets – an anticipated August lull for many, with the Lower Mainland a national anomaly

house for sale sign

The number of home sales in Canada fell by 3.1 per cent compared with the month before, which was the largest monthly drop since December 2014, according to statistics released September 15 by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

This was led by a steep decline in Greater Vancouver following the introduction of a new property transfer tax on homes purchased by foreign buyers, said the association. CREA pointed out that August marked the sixth consecutive monthly decline for home sales in the Lower Mainland, as transactions in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley had already been falling from their peak of spring 2016.

Much of the monthly declines in national sales in recent months reflect slowing activity in the Lower Mainland, added the report.

home sales Canada vs Greater Vancouver August 2016

However, when home transactions are examined year-over-year, sales activity (not seasonally adjusted) was up 10.2 per cent across the country compared with August 2015. Sales were up from year-ago levels in about three-quarters of all Canadian markets, led by Greater Toronto. Greater Vancouver was not one of those markets, however, posting the largest year-over-year sales decline.

“The sudden introduction of the new property transfer tax on homes purchased by foreign buyers in Metro Vancouver has created a cloud of uncertainty among home buyers and sellers,” said Cliff Iverson, CREA president.

“That the tax applies to sales that had not yet closed shows how the details for a new tax policy can unnecessarily destabilize housing markets. More broadly, it speaks to the importance of evidence-based decision making to ensure that unintended consequences and collateral damage are minimized when new policies or tighter regulations affecting housing markets are being actively considered.”

Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, pointed out, “Single family homes sales were already cooling before the new land transfer tax on foreign home buyers in Metro Vancouver came into effect. The surprise announcement of the new tax caused sales to brake hard.”

The national average price for homes sold in August 2016 was $456,722, up 5.4 per cent compared with the same month last year, which is the smallest annual increase since January 2015. CREA said that the national average price “continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canada’s tightest, most active and expensive housing markets.”

home prices Canada vs Greater Vancouver August 2016

The report said that if Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto are excluded from calculations, the average price is reduced by nearly $100,000 to $357,033.

However, the report added, “Greater Vancouver’s share of national sales activity has diminished, causing it to have less upward influence on the national average price.”

The slowing activity in the Lower Mainland was a driver in the CREA’s updated housing forecast for 2016, which was also issued September 15.

Home sales across Canada are forecast to rise by 6.0 per cent year over year to a record 535,900 units in 2016, which is just slightly down from CREA’s previously predicted sales increase of 6.1 per cent to 536,400 units this year. Strong gains in Ontario are expected to be offset by a slight decline in anticipated whole-year activity for BC.

Despite this, among the larger provinces, British Columbia is still forecast to post the largest annual increase in activity this year (up 14.6 per cent), even though "much of that strength is in the rearview mirror at this point,” according to the CREA.



Fraser Valley Real Estate, August 2016


Fraser Valley real estate sales dropped slightly year-over-year in August and by a significant margin compared with July, according to Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) figures released September 2.

The decline was driven by a fall in detached home sales, with condo sales continuing to rise both month-over-month and year-over-year, and benchmark prices for all property types also increasing.

However, those benchmark prices varied wildly between different neighbourhoods, as our infographic below reveals.

To read the full story and analysis of FVREB’s August statistics, click here

FVREB Statistics August 2016



Vancouver Home Sales Down in August – But Not by as Much as Predicted


Real estate transactions drop 26 per cent, far less than early August figures suggested, as benchmark prices hold steady 

Vancouver from West Van Lions Gate bridge

Metro Vancouver home sales in August fell by 26 per cent year over year and by nearly 23 per cent compared with July, according to a Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) report published September 2.

However, the overall sales decline in August is markedly less dramatic than suggested by early August figures, which showed transactions for those two weeks were down by as much as 63 per cent year over year. The new figures suggest that the first two weeks of August saw a brief hiatus in activity following the introduction of the new overseas buyer tax, which then recovered towards the end of the month.

Nevertheless, sales were still low for August, with the number of transactions falling below August's 10-year average for the first time in many months.

“The record-breaking sales we saw earlier this year were replaced by more historically normal activity throughout July and August,” said Dan Morrison, REBGV president. "Sales have been trending downward in Metro Vancouver for a few months. The new foreign buyer tax appears to have added to this trend by reducing foreign buyer activity and causing some uncertainty amongst local home buyers and sellers.

“It’ll take some months before we can really understand the impact of the new tax. We'll be interested to see the government's next round of foreign buyer data."

Despite the slowdown in sales, the board’s benchmark home price (the price of a typical home, based on its features, in a given area) continued to rise. The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver increased to $933,100 in August – a 31.4 per cent rise compared with August 2015 and a 4.9 per cent increase over the last three months.

“In aggregate, we continue to see an imbalance between supply and demand in most communities. However, we’re also seeing fewer detached sales in the highest price points and fewer detached home sales relative to all residential sales,” said Morrison.

“This is causing average sale prices to show a decline in recent months, while benchmark home prices remain virtually unchanged from July.”

The board explained that the average price of a home is the simplest home price measure but is not the most accurate since it may be skewed by the mix of properties. More high-end or low-end sales will skew the number up or down. Based on the Consumer Price Index, MLS HPI® benchmark prices are a more reliable and stable indicator of typical home prices across regions over time, said the board.

Sales and Listings

Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,489 in August 2016, a decline of 26 per cent compared with the 3,362 sales in August 2015, and a decline of 22.8 per cent compared with July this year. August's sales were 3.5 per cent below the 10-year sales average for August, which is the first time it has dipped below that measure in many months.

 

Looking at August’s figures by property type reveals huge variations. Once again, single-family home sales saw the biggest drop with only 715 sales last month, a decrease of 44.6 per cent from the 1,290 detached sales recorded in August 2015.

Sales of attached properties such as townhouses and duplexes in August totalled 431, a decrease of 25.4 per cent compared with the 578 sales in August 2015.

There were 1,343 condo-apartment sales in the region in August 2016, a decrease of 10.1 per cent compared with the 1,494 sales in August 2015.

New home listings on the Greater Vancouver MLS® increased by 0.3 per cent year over year to 4,293 in August 2016. However, this is an 18.1 per cent decrease compared with July this year when 5,241 properties were listed, as ever-fewer sellers listed their homes during the summer months.

Total listings on the MLS® in Metro Vancouver as of the end of August stood at 8,506 homes, a 21.9 per cent drop compared with August 2015’s 10,897 listings, and a 1.9 per cent increase from July 2016 (8,351).

The sales-to-active-listings ratio for August stood at 29.3 per cent. Although this ratio continues to put the region firmly in a seller’s market, this figure is currently falling after a sustained period of 50 per cent or more.

Benchmark Prices

Even with the fall in home sales over the past two months, the board set another record benchmark composite home price in August at $933,100, slightly over that of July ($930,400) and a 31.4 per cent increase compared with August 2015.

However, breaking this down by property type reveals that detached home prices took a slight hit in August, with the benchmark price falling compared with the previous month, now at $1,577,300 compared with July’s $1,578,300. However the August figure is still 38 per cent up over August 2015.

The August benchmark price of a townhome or other attached unit in Greater Vancouver rose by 31.1 per cent compared with August 2015 to $677,600, up from July’s $669,000.

Condo-apartment benchmark price in August rose 26.9 per cent from August 2015 to $514,300, a slight rise over July’s typical condo price of $510,600.

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 in the REBGV full statistics package.



Royal Bank Keeping a Close Eye on Vancouver Real Estate Market


Vancouver homes downtown and port

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is keeping a careful watch over home prices in both Vancouver and Toronto, according to media reports of an August 24 conference call to discuss RBC’s quarterly results.

The news comes at a time when Canada’s biggest banks are under pressure from the federal government over mortgage underwriting, with nervousness increasing over a possible price correction in either or both cities. The Office of the Superintendent for Financial Institutions tightened mortgage underwriting rules in July, and has told banks to "stress-test" to imagine a price correction scenario of up to 50 per cent.

RBC chief executive officer Dave McKay told journalists and analysts that the bank was closely monitoring the Vancouver and Toronto markets, although he added that RBC has less exposure to Vancouver than some of its competitors and that the bank's underwriting policies were robust.

His statement follows reports of Greater Vancouver home sales dropping in July, although the real estate board reported that prices were still rising. Sales data for August so far has revealed a further slowing in sales, which experts say is likely due to a combination of a wait-and-see reaction to the overseas buyer tax, and a natural summer lull.

McKay told media that the bank supported the federal government's move to set up a working group to help with housing issues.



Unfortunate Tales of Foreign Buyer Tax Fallout


Since August 2, there has been a stream of reports of undeserving people getting hit by crossfire from the new foreign buyer tax. Here’s a look at some of the sorriest stories so far

Stressed home buyers

August 2 saw the implementation onew 15 per cent increase in Property Transfer Tax for overseas buyers of Greater Vancouver real estate, which outraged the real estate industry and much of the wider public by being applied to existing purchase contracts. Since then, there has been a range of media articles about those caught unexpectedly in the fallout of the new tax.

Here’s a selection of some of the biggest – and sorriest – stories.

Real Estate Deals Collapse as Foreign Buyer Tax Takes Effect – REW.ca

Immediately after the August 2 implementation of the 15 per cent overseas buyer tax, the real estate industry was up in arms about the previous rules not being grandfathered for purchases agreed before August 2 but closing after that date. Deals started to collapse, although at that early stage there were few concrete examples to get hold of.

However, lawyer Richard Bell of Bell Alliance has since told REW.ca of an unnamed 80-year-old Vancouver woman client of his, whose home sale to an overseas buyer has fallen through because of the new tax. Bell said that his client had to walk away from her own onward home purchase, losing her $100,000 deposit in the process – but that the deposit forfeited by her own buyers has covered this loss. He added that the collapse of the sale has caused enormous stress to his client, who is now worried about being able to sell her home again for as good a price.

Bell also told REW.ca of an unnamed local construction company that is recruiting a new VP from the US, who had been planning to buy a Vancouver home after taking the job. However, the recruit, who is already living in Vancouver and has a work permit and a family in the city, is now renegotiating his salary with the company as his housing costs have just increased dramatically.

Foreign Buyer Tax to Cost Iranian Immigrant Thousands on First Home – CBC.ca

The new tax blindsided a Vancouver man waiting for his permanent resident status to be processed, according to this August 3 story by the CBC.

Iranian-born Hamed Ahmadi, who has been living and working in Vancouver for four years, and is a BC Hydro engineer with a work permit, says he's facing thousands in unexpected costs on the $360,000 home he is buying in Coquitlam. As his permanent residency visa is not quite processed, he has suddenly become liable for an extra $54,000 tax on the property – unless he walks away from his hard-saved $18,000 deposit.

“Any way I go, I lose,” said Ahmadi.

Coquitlam Family’s Home Sale Jeopardized Because of Foreign Buyers’ Tax – Canadian Press

A local couple are on tenterhooks as they wait to see if their home sale, made earlier this year but due to close in September, will fall through as their overseas buyers may back out because of the new tax, according to this Canadian Press story on August 16.

Heather Nyberg and Dan Zimmerman are relying on the sale of the property to complete their own purchase of a nearby duplex – otherwise they will have to walk away and lose the $80,000 deposit that they put down on the home.

University Grad Faces $84K Foreign Buyers Tax on Langley Townhome – CBC.ca

Also published August 16, perhaps the sorriest tale of overseas buyer tax fallout could be this CBC story about a 29-year-old woman who graduated last year from the University of Saskatchewan and then moved to Burnaby to continue her life in Canada.

Hoping to put down roots, Jing Li said that she borrowed from her parents in China a 10 per cent deposit to buy a $560,000 Langley townhome. She said her parents in turn borrowed money from friends and family. But 12 days after Jing signed the contract, the new tax was implemented, adding $84,000 to the home's cost, something Jing said she can't possibly afford. But if she backs out of the deal, she will lose her deposit of about $56,000.

"Now, I can't go forward and also can't go back," she told CBC, adding that her mother cried when Jing called her parents in China to tell them. She that she feels guilty for trying to make a life in Canada, because if she had not done so, “this disaster would not happen to my family.”



Greater Vancouver Real Estate, July 2016


The number of residential properties changing hands in Greater Vancouver returned to “more historically normal” July levels, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver – which is to say that home sales were down nearly 20 per cent year over year. But that didn't stop home prices setting fresh records last month.

So how do the numbers shake down? This infographic below takes a look at the wider stats behind the headline figures.

To read the full story and analysis, click here.

REBGV Stats July 2016 infographic



Real Estate Deals Collapse as Foreign Buyer Tax Takes Effect


home buyer stress condos apartmentsWith the new 15 per cent additional Property Transfer Tax for overseas buyers of Metro Vancouver homes taking effect today (August 2), local agents are starting to report collapsing deals, according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB). 

The new tax, passed July 28 under Bill 28, which applies to current and future home purchases closing from today onwards, has caused much concern in the real estate industry over its retroactive nature and lack of exemptions.

The FVREB announced Tuesday morning that it is receiving numerous complaints from local REALTORS® whose overseas buyers are backing out of signed deals, choosing to walk away from their deposits over having to pay an unexpected tax bill of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is leaving local home sellers, often in purchase agreements themselves, without a buyer – potentially being forced to walk away from their own purchases and deposits if their buyer cannot be immediately replaced.

Charles Wiebe, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, stated August 2, “Consider the local seller who has proceeded with a deal involving a foreign buyer, turning down other offers and putting the work in, now being left out to dry after their arranged buyer backs out due to the tax. This impacts their next home purchase, and those buyers and sellers along the line.”



Audio of CKNW interview


Real estate agencies are scrambling to close deals in Metro Vancouver before the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax, which came into effect today. I gave an interveiw for CKNW Radio with a few of my thoughts on the matter. Click HERE to Listen. 

 

REALTORS SCRAMBLED TO CLOSE DEALS BEFORE 15% TAX DEADLINE ON METRO VANCOUVER HOMES



The Best Flooring Choices for Condos


You’ve decided to install new flooring in your condominium, or update the flooring before you move in. But what to buy?

With condos you have to take a lot more into consideration than simply how the floor will look. First and foremost, there are the neighbours, and it’s not just how much they might hear you, but how much you might hear them.

Before you start shopping for flooring, says Ashley Kitchen, interior designer at reVISION Renovations, check into your condominium bylaws.

“With older condominiums, many strata councils will absolutely say no to hardwood floors,” she says. “You really need to speak to the strata members before you do anything else.”

Soundproofing

The next consideration is noise control. No one likes listening to their neighbours pace across a room in high heels or listen to their pounding music. The type of floor and underlay you choose can greatly reduce the sound that travels through the floor.

“The key to soundproofing is in the underlay,” says Kitchen. “Talk to your installer to get their recommendations.”

If you are in the market to buy a new condo, ask the sales team or your realtor to inquire about how soundproof the flooring is and, more importantly, “don’t be afraid to ask for the specifics of the underlay.”

Kitchen went on to speak about a product her installers are raving about.

“I haven’t worked with Flexilastic yet, but it is a peel-and-stick sheet coating that reduces impact and airborne sound transmissions. It works great with ceramic, porcelain and natural stone tile where sound absorption is really needed.”

In addition, the way to ensure maximum soundproofing is combining the best underlay with carpet.

“The prices [for underlay] really depend on the model and square feet you need to cover, so the best thing to do is call your installer to suit your specific needs.”

Carpets

Although carpeting will provide your condo with the best soundproofing, Kitchen admits she hasn’t had any clients in recent memory who have asked for it. As much as baby boomers have become accustomed to carpet for its warmth and soft feel underfoot, many are turned off by its staining and the crushed, matted traffic areas.

“Millennials do not want carpeting anywhere, period,” she says. “However, when customers request carpeting, they are going for a tightly woven wool carpet.”

Although on the pricier side of carpeting, wool actually retains its shape much better, is durable, naturally soil resistant, non-allergenic, and eco-friendly.

Manufacturers are also creating synthetic carpeting that is more environmentally friendly and a few are actually producing fibre combinations that take softness to a whole new level.

The seasoned designer says there’s no question that carpeting is quiet. And, when a high-density pad is used, a beautiful wool carpet can look stunning and feel comfortable to walk on.

As far as carpet colour is concerned, condo owners are sticking to the organic neutrals – greys and whites but no beige, which “is passé.”

Laminates vs. Hardwood

The biggest craze in condo flooring, hands down, says Kitchen, is laminate. Today’s laminate looks so much like hardwood, many people would be hard-pressed to know the difference.

“There are faux-wood laminates, produced in Europe and in China, that you can’t even tell they aren’t hardwood,” she adds. “They look amazing. Most clients are going for the long, wide planks.”

The faux hardwood laminates come in a huge selection of colours and options.

The great advantage of laminate flooring is that not only does it have the look and feel of hardwood but it costs a fraction of the price.

“In newer condos, engineered hardwood is not the driving force anymore,” says Kitchen, adding hardwood will always require a lot more maintenance. “I’ve had clients who say their first and only choice is hardwood but, when I show them the laminates, they can be swayed.”

However, some homeowners will never be convinced away from hardwood. Kitchen concedes that, for some clients, the beauty and feel of hardwood is hard to beat.

Tiling

Tiles that look like concrete are super-hot right now in Europe and gaining momentum here in BC.

“Again, these tiles look great and they feature minimal grout joints, so they are easy to clean and almost seamless,” Kitchen adds.

She goes on to say that there are tiles coming out of Spain and Italy that look like hardwood as well.

“We’re also seeing lots of tile that looks like fabric,” she says.

Another hot trend is decorative tiles for accents with a nod to the old hydraulic tiles.

“They look stunning in larger bathrooms and kitchens... the factories are producing them differently now but with similar patterns,” says Kitchen.

As far as tile size goes, small is definitely not better. What is vogue right now is moving toward “modular” sizes – rectangular tiles or 12-by-24-inch sizes. 

“Twelve-by-12 tiles are out, we are following the European trend of bigger is better, going as big as 24 by 24,” she adds.

As a condo owner you are probably thinking that is way too big for small spaces. Not true. If you avoid dark colours, large tiles can actually make a room look bigger.

“A side benefit is that with bigger tiles there are less grout joints, so less cleaning,” she adds.

Vinyl

Vinyl… the word alone conjures up 1950s cheap flooring. Well, not anymore. Today’s vinyl is gorgeous and can be pretty pricey.

Although some vinyl flooring choices are quite affordable and look great, Kitchen says others can cost from $18 to $22 per square foot or more.

“It’s a tough sell – because it's expensive but it is a really good quality product,” says Kitchen. “It comes in a variety of options… it can have the look of stone, slate and even hardwood.”

Vinyl is easy to install and maintain and Kitchen recommends it for recreation rooms, offices, gyms or play rooms.

Cork: Yes or No?

In an eco-conscious province like BC, there’s been a lot of buzz about cork flooring. Made from tree bark, it’s a natural and renewable resource, so it’s environmentally friendly. But is it trendy?

When asked, Kitchen says: “It's not durable at all, and the style is a little outdated.”



The Pros and Cons of Leasehold


What if you could shave a hundred thousand or more off the typical asking price of the home you want? What if you could do this in a central neighbourhood, in a more spacious unit, perhaps one with a view?

It's possible. The only catch? You won't own the land your home is sitting on.

There are pockets of land throughout Metro Vancouver - many in prime locations - that have been rented out to developers for a set amount of time, usually between 50 and 99 years. The developers or "leasehold landlords" build on and make improvements to the land, then sell or rent out portions of the buildings.

This lease land is often city-owned, but the federal government, First Nations bands, Universities and even private individuals also own and rent out land. The types of developments vary, from condos to townhouses to detached houses and duplexes to mobile or even float homes. But all share one thing in common: unlike a traditional freehold unit, you own your share of the structure and any common property, but only rent the land beneath it.

Leasehold units are usually more attractively priced, more spacious, and in better neighbourhoods than their freehold counterparts. A quick search on REW.ca revealed these two 1-bedroom condos in the West End.

Freeehold condo in Vancouver's West EndLeasehold condo in Vancouver's West End

That's a difference of $160,000 between two comparable 600 sq. ft. units, one freehold and one leasehold.

Basically you are buying a "right of exclusive possession" until the end of the lease period, or until you sell that right to another person.

Often, leases are prepaid by the developer and incorporated in the selling price. If the lease is not prepaid, you will have to fork over rent for the land on top of any strata fees, taxes, and mortgage payments you're already paying.

However, you're often buying into a better lifestyle (at the cost of a better investment). And in some areas, you are buying the right to live somewhere you otherwise couldn't, such as the UBC endowment land with its pristine forests and majestic ocean views.

What you won't get is a share of the rising land value. In fact, rising land values can cost you.

The lease agreement, called a "ground lease," sets out the terms and conditions upon which the developer has leased the property. If lease payments haven't been prepaid, the agreement will usually allow for annual lease payments to be raised periodically to reflect current land valuesometimes dramatically.

In 2006, some False Creek condo owners saw their annual lease payments skyrocket by up to 700% when the City adjusted for the then-current land value. Subject to arbitration, the lease payments were later lowered by several hundred dollars per month because the recent sale of the Olympic Village site had dramatically skewed the land value.

If the lease on your unit is soon coming to an end, you won't be able to say with any certainty whether it will be renewed, and if so, at what cost once rising land values have been factored in.

And if the lease is not renewed, most lease agreements give the landowner the right to buy out the buildings at fair market value, then do with the land what they wisheven if that means tearing down existing buildings, rezoning, or selling for redevelopment. You might have to move.

It's uncertainties like these that make some leasehold properties less than ideal investments. They don't increase in value as quickly as a freehold. They generally take longer to sell. And as the lease counts down to expiry, the property value can actually be negatively affected.

Banks don't like the uncertainty surrounding certain leaseholds either. That's why most lenders will ask for a hefty 25-30 per cent down payment. Lenders also use the expiry date of the lease as a guideline for loan amortization periods, lending only for five years fewer than the remaining lease. So if a lease expires in 20 years, for example, you would only be able to get a 15-year amortization period for that loan. Reverse mortgages for retirees can be next to impossible to get for most leasehold properties.

That depends. If lifestyle factors like being close to work or living in a beautiful area are most important, it could be the right choice for you. Look for long leases - 25 years or longer - and preferably for a length of time that far exceeds the time you plan to live there. Prepaid 99-year leases are the most secure, but they also cost almost as much as freehold.

And, most important, find a Real Estate Agent and mortgage broker who have experience in leasehold properties.

So where can you find leasehold gems? Start by doing contacting me to set up an automatic search, and I'll send you the newest listings as soon as they come on the market.



Hottest June On Record For BC Real Estate


June 2016 Sales to Listings ratioBC residential home sales dipped slightly in June from May's all-time high, but it was still the hottest June on record

After all-time record-breaking home sale numbers three months in a row, BC residential home sales dipped just slightly in June to 12,906 unit sales from May’s high of 13,438, according to BC Real Estate Association figures released July 14. Still, that’s the hottest June ever recorded for home sales in the province, up 14.3 per cent from the previous June record of 11,294 in 2015.

“Robust housing demand in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan drove sales growth in June,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Economist. “At the same time, the inventory of homes for sale continues to slide lower, creating very tight market conditions around the province.”

Sales-to-active listings ratios remain tight throughout much of the province, with only the BC Northern (16.2%), Kamloops (19.7%), Kootenay (12.1%) and Northern Lights (5.1%) boards reporting ratios below 20 per cent. Greater Vancouver’s sales-to-active listings ratio was 52.7 per cent in June, compared to 33.6 per cent a year ago. In Victoria (68.7%) and the Fraser Valley (64.2%), the sales-to-active listings ratios now correspond to less than two months of supply given current demand in those markets.

The average MLS® residential price in the province was up 10 per cent year-over-year to $694,925, and total sales dollar volume was up 25.7 per cent year-over-year to $8.97 billion. Powell River saw the greatest year-over-year increase, up 31.3 per cent to $302,986, followed by the Fraser Valley (+23% to $572,888) and Chilliwack (+20.2% to $343,367). In Greater Vancouver, the average price was $1,026,207 in June, up 11.3 per cent year-over-year.

Year-to-date BC residential sales dollar volume increased 53.2 per cent compared to the same period last year to $49.9 billion. Year-to-date residential unit sales climbed by 30.6 per cent to 67,361 units.

To read the full BCREA report including statistics broken down by region, click here.



How To Improve Your Credit Score For Mortgage Brokers


There are many factors that lenders will take into account before they will offer you a good mortgage rate. Mortgage broker Atrina Kouroshnia of Lava Rates explains

Lenders consider several factors when determining your eligibility for a mortgage and the interest rate they’ll offer. In addition to your employment history and debt-to-income ratio, they’ll want to check your credit score.

Credit report

Credit scores can range between 400 and 900. Generally, lenders like to see a score of 700 or above. A high credit score can help you qualify for better interest rates than someone with low or no credit. However, there’s a cap on this, so someone with a credit score of 760 would likely qualify for the same interest rate as someone with a 800, assuming they had comparable financial details.

Canada’s two credit bureaus are TransUnion Canada and Equifax, and they track the credit histories of millions of Canadians. Both will give you a free credit report by mail. Click for instructions on requesting your credit report from TransUnion and Equifax.

If you’re borrowing more than 80 per cent of the home’s value, then you need what’s called an insured mortgage and your credit score is extra important, because lenders view this as a riskier loan. If it’s a conventional mortgage (meaning you’ve put down 20 per cent or more), some banks will look past a less-than-stellar credit score (in even the 600s with a strong application).

If you want a low rate on an insured mortgage, you’ll typically need a minimum credit score of 680. If your score is right at 680, lenders may want you to explain why your credit score isn’t higher (maybe you missed a few bills due to an illness or divorce, or maybe you were out of the country for work). Some lenders do extend mortgages to borrowers with low credit scores, but they’ll typically charge a rate premium and a fee to cover the higher risk associated with the loan.

Even if you already have a mortgage, you’ll want to maintain good credit renewals or refinances. In the case of a refinance, the lender will look at all aspects of your application similar to when you originally applied for a mortgage. For renewals with your current lender, you will usually get offered their renewal rate if you have been paying your mortgage on time. However, if your credit takes a nosedive, your current lender may decide not to renew your mortgage.

Errors do sometimes pop up on your credit report (say you have a common name or you’re the victim of credit identity theft), so I recommend checking your credit report at least twice a year so that you can monitor your accounts, clear up any errors and work on improving your score if you need to.

Here are some tips for raising your credit score before you apply for a mortgage:

  • Always pay your credit card bills and loans on time. Late payments can lower your score, so set up auto-payment or put reminders on your calendar if you need those triggers to keep you on track. Excuses like “I never got a bill” or “My cheque must have gotten lost in the mail” generally don’t work with creditors.

  • Avoid using more than 75 per cent of your available credit. Using most of your credit limit makes lenders nervous. For instance, if you had a $10,000 credit limit with an outstanding balance of $8,000, it would mean you had charged up 80 per cent of your available credit and lenders might worry that you weren’t managing money responsibly (in that scenario, you would want to keep your balance below $7,500). Even if you pay off the balance every month before payment is due, the balance can still show up on your credit report depending on when the information is gathered.

  • Limit your credit applications. Each hard inquiry on your credit (for instance, when you apply for a credit card or an auto loan, or for a mortgage direct through the lender) temporarily lowers your score. However, if you have a mortgage broker checking your file you would only see one hit, even if they’re inquiring on behalf of multiple lenders.

  • Pay off any collections actions and send the remediated letter to both credit bureaus. Make sure your credit report is updated and keep a copy of the letter for yourself in case lenders want to see proof that the debt was paid.



Moving Tips For Cat Owners


If you think moving is stressfull for you, just think about how stressfull it can be for your pets! For felines especially, they can have a tendancy after a move to throw a tantrum, wander away, and get themselves lost in your new neighbourhood. Here are some tips from Uk Staging company FlexiSpace.com on how to minimise the stress on you, and your fur babies. 

 

Moving With Cats



5 Dream Float Homes For Sale in Metro Vancouver


If you have been watching HGTV recently, you've no doubt caught the new show My Floating Home. Float homes are having a bit of a moment, and there is no better place to buy your dream float home that Vancouver! Float homes come with a unique lifestyle, amazing views, and peace and quiet that that you just can't get in the typical detached house. They are also priced WAY LOWER than your typical Vancouver detached house, so they can be a great way for someone with a lower budget to get the feel of a detached house. The only caveat: float homes come with much higher utilities than your average detached house because you are not nessesarily directly connected to electical, sewer, cable, etc. Still, it's absolutly worth a look at these properties, they are just incredible.

As these properties are sold, the online listings may no longer be available. Call me at 604-619-0199 or email me at [email protected] for the most up to date float home new listings.

Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver

$649,000

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom

1,120 square feet

Cost per square foot: $579

Float Home_North Van1.png

Float Home_North Van2.png

Live in this North Shore city centre marina in this fully renovated, 1,120-square-foot two-bedroom float home. Enjoy the a gorgeous, state-of-the-art kitchen, oversized solid glass shower with Italian tile and new roof, wiring, fixtures, drywall and paint. This lovely float home has a large south-east-facing deck bathed in sunshine, and spectacular water and city views. Walk to the Seabus in just seven minutes!

Westham Island, Delta

$319,000

Two-bedrooms, one-bathroom

1,250 square feet

Cost per square foot: $255

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Float Home_DeltaA_2.png

This beautiful 1,250-square-foot, two-bedroom home has stunning views from every room. The lower floor houses two spacious bedrooms and patio access, while upstairs boasts an open-concept, modern kitchen, living room and eating area. The spa-like bathroom has marble tile, a rain shower and soaker tub.

Brighouse, Richmond

$299,900

Three-bedroom, two-bathroom

1,345 square feet

Cost per square foot: $223

Float Home_Richmond1.png

Float Home_Richmond2.png

This charming seaside home is the largest on our list at 1,345 square feet. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom float home even includes a one-bedroom suite downstairs that could be rented as a mortgage helper. The two upper bedrooms are light-filled and have been renovated and there are spacious decks up and down. Close to transit, retail, restaurants and YVR.

Ladner Rural, Delta

$279,000

Two-bedroom, one-bathroom

1,095 square feet

Cost per square foot: $255

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Float Home_DeltaB_2.JPG

This unbelievably gorgeous, two-bedroom, 1,095-square-foot float home was custom built by a local Vancouver artist. Decorative French windows, refinished timber floors, stained glass and a wood burning stove are just a few of the features of this very special home. Natural light and breathtaking views abound from the many windows. The home is located right on the Fraser River with unobstructed North Shore mountain views. The well-run marina even offers a communal garden.

Coal Harbour, Vancouver

$229,000

One-bedroom, one-bathroom 

300 square feet

Cost per square foot: $763

Float Home_Van1.png

Float Home_Van2.png

Live downtown in Vancouver’s posh Coal Harbour neighbourhood. At just 300 square feet, this tiny but sweet float home is both the smallest and the least expensive of the five homes featured (not including the $10K+ annual moorage fees). The open-concept living area has clever design that includes a sleeping loft to maximize space. The location is close to Stanley Park and all the conveniences of downtown living. 

 

 
 

 



BC Residents Support Vacant Home Tax


Levy on absentee homeowners is a good idea, say 82 per cent of Vancouverites – with more Asian respondents than European in support

Vancouver condos

The majority of British Columbians are unhappy with how the provincial government is dealing with housing issues, saying not enough is being done, reports Business in Vancouver.

Eighty three per cent of BC residents and 82 per cent of those in Metro Vancouver say a tax on absentee homeowners — those who buy homes in a city but don’t live in them — is a “good” or “very good” idea, according to the results of an Insights West poll released June 10.

Ethnicity did not play much of a role in how respondents answered; 79 per cent of those of European descent and 83 per cent of those of South Asian descent supported a tax.

To read the full Business in Vancouver story, click here.

To view Insights West's interactive chart breaking down the results of the poll, including by age, income, ethnicity and home ownership status, click here.



“FOMO” Partly Driving Vancouver’s Hot Market


Buyers snapping up all new Metro Vancouver homes, resulting in “frenzied sales activity,” according to Q1 2016 State of the Market report 

The “fear of missing out” is one of the key factors driving buyers to snap up all available listings, resulting in the “frenzied” real estate market so far this year, according to a quarterly report by Urban Analytics on behalf of the Urban Development Institute.

UDI’s Q1 2016 State of the Market  report, released this week, said, “While the current local economic factors seem reasonably strong, anecdotal analysis would suggest that the robust sales activity in the real estate sector of late can also be attributed to a ‘fear of missing out’ sentiment among prospective buyers in the marketplace.”

The report, which examines new home sales and housing starts in Metro Vancouver, observed that the local new home market set new records in 2016’s first quarter.

“A combined total of 6,231 newly built multi-family home sales were recorded in Q1 2016, up 18 per cent from the previous six-year record set last quarter. Frenzied home sales activity across the region has resulted in new lows for released new home inventory. At the end of the quarter, there were only 3,010 new multi-family homes available to purchase, down 64 per cent from the released 8,260 units recorded in Q1 2015.”

It added, “The townhome sector continues to impress, with a record 1,268 sales reported in Q1 2016. Based on the 227 released and unsold new townhome units reported at the end of the quarter, there is an estimated two weeks’ supply of this product type in the market. Strong townhome sales can be attributed to a growing number of prospective purchasers seeking a family-oriented housing form and can no longer afford a single family home in the neighbourhood of their choice.”

The authors pointed to an overall increase in Metro Vancouver’s net population in 2016’s first quarter, up 7,200 people – although it noted that this is a slower rate of growth than the same period in 2015. It said this overall increase was attributable to a rise in interprovincial migrants, since international migration was negative in the quarter.

The report added that housing starts in the quarter were up 13 per cent year over year, resulting in the current ratio of 1.9 new Metro Vancouver residents per housing start, down from the 2.3 recorded in Q4 2015. “While this ratio is still considered to be healthy, it matches the previous four-year low and should be monitored closely to see if a potential trend is establishing,” reported the authors.

To read the full report, which includes detailed breakdowns of the Metro Vancouver housing market by property type and sector, click here



Infographic: Staging Your Home For Sale, Room by Room


Thinking of cashing in on our hot spring market and selling your home? This awesome infographic will help you get the best price for it by staging it properly

If you're thinking of cashing in on our hot spring market and selling your home, you'll get the best price for it by staging it properly.

We found this super-cool infographic, below from UK furnishings company The Rug Seller to guide you through what you need to do in each room. Also, check out our series of articles on home staging, in "Related to this story" at the bottom of the page.

 home-staging
Home Staging Infographic by The Rug Seller

 

 



Reports – April 2016 – Vancouver East, Vancouver West


Looking for some clear, up to date info on the Vancouver Real Estate Market? I have links below for the April 2016 Stats Centre Reports. Take a look!


Click here
to view the latest Stats Centre Report for Vancouver East.

Click here
to view the latest Stats Centre Report for Vancouver West.




Infographic: The Cost of Taking Your Home Off the Grid


Ever thought about living off the grid – or at least in a highly energy-efficient home? This super-cool infographic has ideas for budgets large and small 

 



Spend a Little Get a Lot


  • Your house should be comparable to others in the neighborhood. For example, if most of your neighbors have granite counter tops or tiled floors, consider upgrading yours.

  • Begin the repair process by making your own home inspection. Walk around the yard and through the house and take notes about the problem areas, needed repairs, items to discard or store, and things to replace.

  • Crayon and marker on walls require treatment before painting the room. Sand the marked area with sandpaper; seal it with shellac and then paint over the spot. This will enable the paint to stick and cover the marks.

  • As you self-inspect your home, make notations on Post-it Notes and stick them in the area that needs attention. This gives an instant visual reminder of what needs to be done in each room.



5 Questions That Buyers Will Ask Themselves About Your Home


Before you list your home, think about the five questions that homebuyers will ask themselves about your house - and be prepared to answer them. If your house measures up the best against others when these questions are asked, yours will be the quickest to sell.

Is this a good location?

We've all heard the adage, "location, location, location." There's a reason for that. No one wants to live in a bad neighborhood. They'll even drive a little further to get to work if they love the neighborhood and/or their kids can go to better schools. Think about how many people live in Greenwich, Connecticut and commute into New York City. Why would they do this? The perception of better schools, cleaner air, more house for less money, more space, and people like themselves, among other things.

You have to create the perception of a great neighborhood - that you're "next to" the ritziest area of town, or near a great park or museum, or in the best school district, or have great access to the highway or metro for commuters, or that it's the "new hot place to live." Think of the benefits and create a "headline" of the benefits.

What does it cost?

Be realistic. You're competing with other people who have a three-bedroom, two-bath home to sell. If you ask much more than the market will bear, it will take longer to sell your home.

When you sit down with a Realtor to list your home, you should ask what other homes have sold for in your neighborhood - and what homes in similar condition, with similar features, are selling for in your area.

How does it look?

Make your home the jewel of the neighborhood - the place that everyone wants to be. Assuming nothing is majorly wrong, here are a few things that you can do to give a great first impression.

Fix the driveway. It's the first thing they see close-up, and sets the tone for how the buyer will see the rest of your home. If it's cracked or stained, they'll look for similar problems inside your home.

Mow the yard, trim the shrubs and plant some flowers - this gives a warm, inviting feeling. Think about how new homes are always so perfectly landscaped and strive to be the same.

Paint the front of the house - or at least the front door. This is the first actual contact that a buyer has with your home; give it the feel of a well-tended home

Lastly, unclutter the place. Start packing the knick-knacks and moving your furniture into storage. This gives you a head start on moving, and gives the buyer a chance to imagine their own "stuff' in the house, leading them one step closer to making it their own.

How will I pay for it?

Many homebuyers are frankly afraid of having someone reviewing their finances and opening themselves up to rejection - by a bank or mortgage lender; particularly when those people are strangers. This can delay them making offer for your home.

If you, as someone they've already met, can afford to offer them financing, you'll be more competitive than the seller who forces every buyer to go through a bank or mortgage company.

When can I move in?

Many people are looking for a home because they're transferring into the area or are tired of apartment living NOW! For these people, the ability to move in quickly is an added incentive to buy your home. You're moving anyway; why not speed up the process? On the other hand, some buyers need to sell their home before they can buy yours. This doesn't make for a quick sale, but it gives you time to get your own move planned and executed.

Let me close with this story. I know a young couple who looked at a home twice, with two very different impressions. For a background, they had been looking for a home in this particular neighborhood for some time. They didn't have an urgent need to move, but were getting tired of apartment living, so a quick move was preferable. They'd contacted a Lender and pre-qualified themselves for financing, and knew the general amount they wanted to spend.

The first time they saw the home it was decorated very tastefully, but in a very formal manner. For some reason it gave them the impression that a lot of work would have to be done to make it their own. So they decided to wait until something else came along in the neighborhood.

Several months later, another home came on the market in the very same neighborhood. Because this first house was still on the market, and the seller had already moved out, the couple stopped in to have another look. Without the furniture and decor of the seller, the house took on a wholly different feel. In each room, the couple discussed what would fit where, and had already named their offices. Within 24 hours they'd made an offer. Within a month, they'd moved in.

Every time I talk to them, they tell me how happy they are in their home, which suits their needs perfectly.



Total BC Home Sales in March Eclipse Previous All-Time Record


Unprecedented demand for West Coast property far outstripping supply, with major regions seeing decades-low inventory, says association

Home for sale sold

An unprecedented demand for West Coast property led to a record number of home sales across BC in March, according to BC Real Estate Association figured released April 15.

Across the province, 12,560 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), a rise of 38 per cent over March 2015.

This follows – and is largely driven by – record-breaking figures released by the real estate boards in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. As in those regions, the overall BC figure was the highest sales figure ever recorded in any month, smashing the previous BC record of 11,683 unit sales posted in May 2007.

BC’s total home sales dollar volume in March was inevitably also a record, at $9.69 billion, up 66.9 per cent compared with the same month last year. Although this a high rate of increase, it is not quite the 76 per cent year-over-year surge seen in February.

The record dollar volume is indicative of both increasing total transactions and the average MLS® BC home price in March rising 20.2 per cent year-over-year, to $771,620.

“Housing demand has never been stronger in the province,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist. “Strong employment growth, rising wages and a marked increase in net interprovincial migration is fueling consumer confidence."

As is ever the case, the overall figures for the province obscure significant differences between various real estate markets across BC, although many previously poorly performing northern and interior markets turned around their declines last month.

Of the larger markets, the largest percentage rise in total unit sales was again recorded in the Fraser Valley, where home sales climbed 65 per cent compared with March 2015. As with last month, Victoria and Vancouver Island both posted even steeper rises than Greater Vancouver’s 28 per cent sales jump, increasing 51 per cent and nearly 30 per cent, respectively.

Greater Vancouver, however, re-emerged as the region suffering from the most acute shortage of inventory, having been beaten out in that ranking by the Fraser Valley in recent months. Greater Vancouver reported a sales-to-active-listings ratio of nearly 31 per cent, the province’s highest, meaning that is the region that is the strongest sellers’ market. The Fraser Valley’s ratio eased to 26.7 per cent – still very firmly in sellers’ market territory, but a great improvement over February’s near-60 per cent ratio, due to a host of new spring home listings in March.

At the other end of the scale, the Northern Lights region saw sales drop 40 per cent year over year, although this area’s sales volumes are so small (totalling 20 units in March) that its percentage figures are highly volatile. Another small region, Powell River was the other board to post an annual decline in sales, down 13.3 per cent.

Northern Lights was also one of two boards to see a year-over-year average price drop, of nearly 22 per cent – the other being the Kootenay region, where prices were down five per cent.

The Fraser Valley was the region to see the steepest average price increase, up 29 per cent, followed by Greater Vancouver, at nearly 23 per cent, then Chilliwack, at just over 20 per cent.

To read the full BCREA report, click here.

 



East Vs. West #1: What the Benchmark Condo Price Will Buy You


With the benchmark price of a Greater Vancouver condo now at $454,600, we took a look at current listings to see what you can get for that in East Van versus the West Side 

East vs West 1 Condos around $450K main image

As the real estate landscape in Vancouver shifts and more people move farther east in search of affordable homes, we want to see how the east and west really stack up. Using the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's current Lower Mainland condo benchmark price of $454,600(see our handy infographic breaking down all the numbers) we’ve compared units in three popular East Vancouver neighbourhoods to their counterparts in three desirable West Side locations.

Our findings? While you may find a little more space and newer buildings on the East Side, prices weren’t that far apart. Stay tuned for the next part in our series where we look at townhomes.

Click through the links to find more details on each property. As the properties are sold, the listings may no longer be available.

Fraser, East Vancouver

$429,000

One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo

706 Square feet

Price per square foot: $607

Year built: 2011

East vs West 1_Fraser

This one-bedroom condo has a large office, perfect for working from home or converting into a nursery.  The bright and sunny penthouse suite, with mountain and courtyard views, features a huge walk-in California Closet, 160-square foot deck and high-end finishes throughout. Steps away from popular cafes.

Main, East Vancouver

$439,900

One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo

621 Square feet

Price per square foot: $708

Year built: 2011

East vs West 1_Main

This one-bedroom and den has stunning panoramic views of the mountains and Queen Elizabeth Park. Spacious and bright, the unit has heated bathroom floors, retractable screens, designer lighting throughout, and a high-end kitchen. Close to popular Main Street shops, restaurants, community centre and transit.

Hastings, East Vancouver

$449,000

Two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo

736 Square feet

Price per square foot: $610

Year built: 2012

East vs West 1_Hastings

Steps from Commercial Drive, this modern two-bedroom corner suite has a practical, open layout and floor to ceiling windows, laminate floors, stainless steel appliances, quartz counter tops, custom roller blinds and in-suite storage. The east facing balcony is bright and sunny. The boutique building’s fantastic rooftop deck has incredible views. One parking spot is included; pets and rentals welcome.

UBC, West Side, Vancouver

$428,000

One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo

715 Square feet

Price per square foot: $599

Year built: 1993

East vs West 1_UBC

About as far west as someone can live in Vancouver is this lovely garden apartment. The huge patio is surrounded by an expansive lawn and garden, with a high privacy hedge. The unit has a spacious living room, large kitchen and gas fireplace, while the building features a fitness centre, hot tub, two guest suites and a resident manager.

Kitsilano, West Side Vancouver

$439,000

0-bedroom, one-bathroom studio condo

464 Square feet

Price per square foot: $946

Year built: 2014

East vs West 1_Kits

This penthouse suite in an almost-new boutique building boasts North Shore and city views, as well as nine-foot ceilings, wide-plank engineered hardwood flooring, high-end appliances and a fully stone-clad bathroom. Located right on 4th Avenue, in the heart of Kits close to shops, restaurants, transit and the beach. One parking spot is included.

Southlands, West Side Vancouver

$449,900

One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo

705 Square feet

Price per square foot: $638

Year built: 2001

East vs West 1_Dunbar

The smartly designed and spacious condo features one-bedroom and two dens. The unit has an open kitchen, extra pantry and new white oak flooring throughout. One parking spot and a storage locker are included in this condo. This rainscreened building is close to desirable schools, UBC, and Dunbar and Kerrisdale shopping areas. 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/east-vs-west-1-what-the-benchmark-condo-price-will-buy-you-1.2219474#sthash.zqjfICUL.dpuf



How To Avoid The Most Expensive Mistakes Smart People Make When They Sell A Home


Mistaking refinance appraisals for the market value

Unfortunately, a refinance appraisal may have been stated at an untruthfully high price. Often, Lenders estimate the value of your property to be higher than it actually is in order to encourage refinancing. The market value of your home could actually be lower. Your best bet is to set a price based on the most recent information regarding property sales in your community. This will give you an up to date and factually accurate estimate of your property value.



BC’s Early Spring Real Estate Market Accelerating at “Breakneck Pace”


Home sales across province smash previous February records from 24 years ago, rising 44.7 per cent over last year, reports association

Home for sale sold sign

Demand for residential real estate in BC has now hit “breakneck pace”, according to the BC Real Estate Association, which published a report on February’s market statistics March 14.

There were a total of 9,637 residential unit sales recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC, a rise of 44.7 per cent over February 2015. Like Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, this was the highest sales figure on record for a February, smashing the previous record set in February 1992.

BC’s total home sales dollar volume in February was $7.51 billion in February, up a staggering 76.4 per cent compared with the same month last year – a rate of growth that has been accelerating for many months. This snowballing growth rate reflects the combination of both increasing total transactions and the average MLS® home price in BC rising in February to $779,419, up 21.9 per cent from February 2015.

“Housing demand is now at a breakneck pace,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist. “Home sales last month were not only a record for the month of February, but on a seasonally adjusted basis, demand has never been stronger in the province.”

As usual, the overall figures for the province hide the enormous variations between home sales and price movement in different markets across BC. Major southern regions continued to see huge increases in sales and dollar volumes, with some of the smaller regions posting only small increases, although this is an improvement on the declines of the previous months.

Of the larger markets, the largest increase in sales was again recorded in the Fraser Valley, where home sales climbed more than 83 per cent from February 2015. Vancouver Island and Victoria once more saw even more rapid growth than Greater Vancouver’s 37 per cent increase, rising 45.4 and 41.5 per cent respectively.

The Fraser Valley continues to be the region suffering from the most acute shortage of inventory, again beating Greater Vancouver’s sales-to-active-listings ratio as the province’s highest, at nearly 60 per cent, meaning that is the region that is by far the strongest sellers’ market.

“Downward pressure on active listings has created significant upward pressure on home prices in some regions, particularly in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley,” added Muir. “While home builders have responded with a record pace of housing starts for BC last month, the supply isn’t expected alleviate the imbalance in these markets in the near term."

The Northern Lights region reversed its annual decline in unit sales, with transactions in February up nearly 12 per cent year over year. The South Okanagan was the only region to post no increase in sales, its figures flat over last year.

However, BC Northern, Kamloops and Powell River all recorded year-over-year price declines, the largest posted by the Powell River board at nearly 18 per cent. Greater Vancouver was the region to see the biggest average price increase, up 25.6 per cent.



Vancouver’s Home Vacancy Rate is Less Than 5%


Vacant homes report makes no inroads into City’s efforts to find reason for Vancouver’s soaring house prices

Condos in Coal Harbour downtown Vancouver

The proportion of vacant homes in the City of Vancouver is stable at only 4.8 per cent, according to BC Hydro usage data compiled on behalf of the City of Vancouver and presented in a report to council March 8.

This is slightly less than the 4.9 per cent of homes in the city that were unoccupied in 2002, according to Ecotagious, the company that compiled Empty Homes Research Study.

The report said that the city’s “non-occupancy rate is consistent with and tracks the non-occupancy rate for the rest of the Greater Vancouver Regional District.”

It added, “The number of non-occupied housing units [in the City of Vancouver (CoV)] has grown from 8,400 in 2002 to 10,800 in 2014. This increase has been driven entirely from the growth in the overall housing stock.”

The new report lends weight to the Urban Futures report issued in September 2014, which described fears over Vancouver home vacancies as "much ado about nothing."

Ecotagious found that multi-family units were much more likely than detached homes and townhomes to be left unoccupied, and 90 per cent of the empty homes were condos and apartments. It said, “Apartments, which represent 60 per cent of CoV’s residential housing mix, are driving non-occupancy in the city, at 7.2 per cent in 2014.” This was broken down further, with condo non-occupancy rates at 12.5 per cent while rental apartment vacancies were around 0.5 per cent.

The report went on to say, “Single-family and duplex housing units show low and relatively stable non-occupancy rates of 1 per cent between 2002 and 2014.”

A property was classified as not occupied in any given month if its hydro use showed little variability for 25 or more days that month. If a home was unoccupied for four months during the “non-heating season” of August and September and the following June and July in the study period, it was deemed empty for a full year.

Ecotagious broke down the results by different home types and five City of Vancouver neighbourhoods: Downtown peninsula, North-West Vancouver (essentially the West Side); South-West Vancouver; South-East Vancouver; and North-East Vancouver.

The highest non-occupancy rate was found to be on Vancouver’s West Side at 7.4 per cent. This was made up of condo-apartment vacancies of 9.4 per cent, and single-family home vacancies of 1.4 per cent. The next highest neighbourhood was the Downtown peninsula at 6 per cent, almost entirely made up of multi-family unit vacancies.

The report added, “All five of the city geographic sectors analyzed show similar rates of non-occupancy by housing type, with no significant divergence over time, with the exception of the Downtown Peninsula, which has seen a drop in non-occupancy from 6.9 per cent in 2002 to 6.0 per cent in 2014.”

In his presentation to the City of Vancouver at its March 8 meeting, housing planner Matthew Bourke pointed out that although the proportion of vacant homes remains flat, the number of units is rising, and that these homes could be rented out to help boost the limited rental stock.

Bourke added that the City will continue to monitor vacant homes, repeating the study every three years. 

To read the full report, click here



Vancouver’s Home Sales See Another Leap in February


Sales break February records, up 36.3 per cent; prices up 22 per cent over last year – but condo prices tell a different story, says board

Vancouver False Creek

February 2016 may have had an extra day this year, but that doesn’t begin to account for the leap in Greater Vancouver home sales over the month, which rose more than 36 per cent year over year, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported March 2.

Like January’s figures, and like the Fraser Valley, the residential unit sales volume is the highest ever recorded for the month of February, said the board.

February’s sales were 56.3 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month and were also 65.6 per cent higher than January’s figures, as the spring market got under way early.

The benchmark price of a home (composite property types) in the region raised the bar again in February, at $795,500. This is a bump of 22.2 per cent per cent over February 2015’s typical home price, but that figure masks a month-over-month drop in condo prices.

The number of homes newly listed on the Greater Vancouver market rose 7.1 per cent compared with the 5,425 units listed in February 2015, up 30.8 per cent with January 2016, as sellers took advantage of the hot market.

Sales and Listings

Greater Vancouver home sales in February totalled 4,172, a 36.3 per cent rise compared with the 3,061 sales recorded in February 2015 and an increase of 65.6 per cent versus January 2016, when 2,519 homes sold.

Split by property type, there were 1,778 detached home sales in the region in February, a rise of 37.2 per cent from the 1,296 detached sales recorded in February 2015, and an increase of 69.8 per cent month over month..

Townhome and other attached property sales continued to grow, although they further slowed their rate of annual sales growth in February. The total of 604 sales was an increase of 15.9 over the 521 transactions in February 2015. This was also a jump of nearly 61 per cent over January.

Sales of condominium-apartments totalled 1,790 in February 2016, an increase of 43.9 per cent compared with the 1,244 sales in February 2015. This was once more the fastest annual sales growth of the three types, and again the property type with the highest total sales. It was also a 63 per cent leap over January’s figures.

What's Up, What's Down - At a Glance
 Jan/Feb 2016Feb 2015/2016
Overall Sales +65.6% +36.3%
- Detached +69.8% +37.2%
- Attached +60.6% +15.9%
- Apartment +63.3% +43.9%
New Listings +30.8% +7.1%
Current Listings +10.0% -38.7%

 

Property inventory was still tight in February, although it continued its recovery compared with recent months. New listings for all home types in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,812 in February 2016, an increase of 7.1 per cent compared with the 5,425 units listed in February 2015, and a strong boost of 30.8 per cent compared with January 2016 when 4,442 properties were listed.

The total number of properties currently available for sale on Metro Vancouver’s MLS® as of the end of February is 7,299. This is a 38.7 per cent drop compared with February 2015 (11,898) but an 8.9 per cent increase compared to January 2016 (6,635).

Greater Vancouver’s sales-to-active listings ratio for February 2016 is 57.2 per cent, making it the 12th consecutive month that the sales-to-active-listings ratio has been above 30 per cent in Metro Vancouver, as the strong sellers’ market retains its firm grip.

Benchmark Prices

Metro Vancouver’s combined residential property type benchmark price predictably set another new record in February, at $795,500, a rise of 22.2 per cent compared with February 2015 and a 0.7 per cent rise over the previous month’s price.

The area’s typical detached home is now priced at $1,305,600, a rise of 27 per cent compared with the same month last year, and once more the sharpest rise in prices of all the property types. This was a rise of 0.9 per cent over January’s $1,293,700.

The benchmark price of a townhome or other attached unit in Greater Vancouver increased 17 per cent over February 2015 to $569,600, up 1 per cent compared with January.

Condo-apartment benchmark prices continued to be the most volatile, in February slowing their annual growth somewhat, up 17.7 per cent from February 2015 to $454,600. This property type was the only one to record a month-over-month decline in benchmark price, down 0.4 per cent compared with January’s $456,600, as high levels of new inventory eased demand and pressure on prices.

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
 Feb 2016Jan 2016Feb 2015
Detached $1,305,600 +0.9% +27%
Townhome $569,600 +1.0% +17%
Apartment $454,600 -0.4% +18%
 

 

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 in the REBGV full statistics package. 

 
 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/vancouver-s-home-sales-see-another-leap-in-february-rebgv-1.2188789#sthash.8n8kElLH.dpuf



Low Loonie, Interprovincial Migration Key to Hot Metro Vancouver Market


Local and global economic factors at play in pushing region’s new home sales to a five-year high, according to Urban Development Institute’s quarterly report

A low loonie and interprovincial migration are two key factors propping up the city’s hot real estate market, according to the Urban Development Institute’s latest State of the Market report for 2015’s fourth quarter.

The report, compiled by Urban Analytics and issued February 19, said that “Metro Vancouver’s new home market experienced an exceptional quarter in Q4-2015. A combined total of 5,274 new multi-family home sales were recorded in Q4-2015, which is up 45 per cent from the same quarter last year and represents a five-year high. Current levels of standing inventory for all new home product sectors are also at five-year lows.”

Metro Vancouver’s net population change was up 10,000 compared with the previous quarter and was up nine per cent compared with the same quarter last year, said the report, with interprovincial migration at a 10-year high.

“Continued weakness in Alberta’s economy is assumed to be a primary reason that can explain the recent high levels of interprovincial migration to BC,” added the report.

The UDI added that the current ratio of 2.3 new residents per housing start is down from the 2.6 recorded in Q3-2015 but is still deemed to be in a healthy range for the overall housing market.

The report also looked at the effect of the Canadian dollar being at a 10-year low against the US dollar.

“The short-term impact of this has been twofold; an increase in global demand for Canadian real estate due to an increase in purchasing power for international buyers, and an increase in construction costs for new home developments.”

To read the full report, which is sponsored by REW.ca and its parent company Glacier Media Group, click here



The Difference Between Price and Worth in Vancouver Real Estate


Seeing a rundown house listed for a multimillion-dollar price is alarming. But for some, such properties are absolutely worth the money

Point Grey 2-4m teardownA rundown three-bedroom property in West Point Grey was listed in January 2016 for $2.4 million - and hit the national headlines in the process

Most of you have no doubt seen the images a rundown three-bedroom home in West Point Grey, listed recently at $2.4 million, which has taken the internet by storm over the past couple of weeks. For those of you who have not, here’s the listing on REW.ca, and here’s what the Huffington Post and The Province had to say about it, to pick just two local examples. The story also made headlines in newspapers and TV news broadcasts across Canada. 

Cue gasps of disbelief all round, with social media users and online commenters across the country dubbing the price “crazy,” “outrageous” and “disgusting,” among other words. The commenters on the Province blog descended into a full-scale, name-calling argument over it. On my own Facebook feed, friends exclaimed their outrage and shared links to some huge mansions that you could buy for the same money, in places ranging from Winnipeg to small-town Pennslyvania.

The sentiment was the same all round: “Nobody in their right mind would pay that kind of money for that house!”

The CBC was perhaps the most measured in its coverage of the story, with the headline: “Rundown Vancouver house for $2.4m: Ridiculous or a bargain?” 

It certainly seems some people think that it’s more bargain than ridiculous. The listing agent told the Huffington Post that the property has been getting a lot of interest, and she even expects it to sell for over asking price. So how can this be?

The problem is, most people (wrongly) think that the issue is about the actual price, and about the house itself. In that case, it certainly would seem ridiculous. But it’s not about either.

It’s about inherent worth, and it’s about land. Ignore the price number in the listing, and ignore the structure on the lot (which will get torn down instantly anyways).

It’s simple math. If you could buy a car for $2,400, pay someone $1,000 to get it up and running and looking shiny (with zero work needed from you), and you could sell it on for $4,500 – would you do it? There’s nothing ridiculous about that. All you need is the $3,400 capital and it's a sound strategy to net you over a grand in profit.

Apply the same principle to this property. As long as the buyer has, say, an extra million bucks to spend on building a shiny new house on the lot, they’ll sell it on for $4 or 5 million easily, making an easy million dollars. And there are plenty of buyers with deep pockets. Some overseas, some local.

So now we’ve proven that it’s a sound investment for someone. But still it doesn’t explain why the prices are just so high. That all comes down to what the property – what anything, in fact – is worth.

The true value of anything is the exact price that somebody is willing to pay for it. And the more in demand and rare a thing is, the more that price will be. That’s true of diamonds, luxury cars, designer clothing – and real estate. When you look at the thing itself, it’s just a lump of compressed carbon, a hunk of shiny metal, some sewn-up fabric, or a wood-framed shack on a plot of dirt. But if that thing is rare, desirable, unusually beautiful and/or a status symbol, it will fetch a huge price. That’s just how our free capitalist market works – for better or worse.

Now, a rundown three-bed on a narrow lot may not seem to you especially beautiful or desirable or rare, but that’s where you’d be wrong.

What’s beautiful about it is the city in which it is located – arguably one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the world. Plus this particular listing is in a gorgeous neighbourhood, on a cherry-tree-lined street, with views of snowcapped mountains, all a stone’s throw from an incredible forested park. What’s desirable about it is that it is in Vancouver, a real estate investor’s paradise, a global financial safe haven and a city of world-class lifestyle. And what’s rare about it is that there is a desperate shortage of single-family plots available in our geographically constrained region, all of which are greatly coveted by potential buyers from inside and outside the city.

So it could be argued that this property is a big old diamond that just needs some polishing. And, as much as we may wish this was not the case, none of us is inherently entitled to be able to buy diamonds.

Fortunately for those who want to buy Vancouver real estate, considering the blistering demand, there are still a remarkable number of relatively well-priced options out there – just take a look on REW.ca, plug in what you're able to pay, and see.



New Property Transfer Tax Legislation


There have been some changed to Property Transfer Tax just announced by the Finance Minister. If you are about to purchase a new build home, or are NOT a Canadian Citizen or Perment Resident,  these changes effect you. 

  1. Newly built homes priced up to $750,000 will be fully exempt from the property transfer tax when bought by Canadian citizens or permanent residents as a principal residence and lived-in for a full year. The measure aims to assist purchasers and help stimulate the construction of moderately priced homes. The exemption will save a purchaser up to $13,000, and provide an estimated $75 million in property transfer tax relief for new construction in 2016-17. Partial exemptions are available for new housing valued up to $800,000. Newly constructed housing eligible for the exemption includes the first purchase of a new housing unit or a newly subdivided unit.
  2. Those who buy land and build homes to be used as their principal residence can also apply to receive a refund of property transfer tax rather than an exemption at the time of registration, if they complete construction and move in within a year of purchase. The program will'be available to buyers regardless of how long they have lived in British Columbia, meaning those who move to B.C. to take jobs, start companies and build their lives here will also benefit. The exemption will be available to first-time buyers and previous property owners alike.
  3. The New Housing exemption will be largely funded by increasing the property transfer tax rate to 3% on the portion of fair market value over $2 million. The 1% rate on the first $200,000 of property value and the 2% rate on the value of a property between $200,000 and $2 million continue to apply. The new higher rate is expected to raise an additional $75 million each year.

Creating new housing supply is critical to improving housing affordability in B.C.'s real estate market. Relatively high housing prices in B.C., and particularly in the Lower Mainland, are driven by increased demand that has resulted from B.C.'s economic and population growth, as well as constrained geography and a lack of available land. The New Housing exemption is expected to benefit owners of about 22,000 new homes in 2016, many of which will be constructed in the Vancouver area.

As well, Purchases will be required to identify themselves as Canadian Citizens or permanent residents. New citizenship disclosure requirements will come into effect in Spring 2016.

Individual transferres who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will be required to disclose their citizenship and Corporations will be required to disclose their directors citizenship.

 

Thanks to Pauline Fong-Leung, M.B.A. Notary Public for this info. If you have questions for a Nortay Public, call her at 604-879-7812, or visit her website www.pflnotary.com



“Blistering Start” to 2016


Sales across province rise 33 per cent in January as sales dollar volume soars 69 per cent, reports association

 
Home for sale - sold

BC home sales in 2016 got off to a “blistering start”, according to a BC Real Estate Association report on January’s statistics, issued February 12.

There were a total of 5,831 residential unit sales recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province last month, a rise of 33.2 per cent over January 2015.

BC’s total home sales dollar volume in January was $$4.39 billion in January, up 69.1 per cent compared with the same month last year – a rate of growth that has been accelerating for many months. This increasing growth rate reflects the combination of both growing total transactions and the average MLS® home price in BC rising in January to $752,906, up 26.9 per cent from January 2015.

“The BC housing market continues to build on momentum from a very strong 2015,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA economist. “Heightened demand is being met with the lowest level of supply in a decade, resulting in increased pressure on prices in much of the province.”

However, just like in previous months, the BC figures mask the massive variations between home sales and price movement in different markets across the province, with the major southern regions seeing huge increases in sales and dollar volumes, and some of the smaller regions declining, particularly in the north and Interior of the province.

Of the larger markets, the largest increase in sales was again recorded in the Fraser Valley, where home sales climbed more than 58 per cent from January 2015. However, unlike previous months, Greater Vancouver and Chilliwack were both beaten by strong transaction increases recorded by Victoria and Vancouver Island, rising 52.9 and 34.7 per cent respectively.

The Fraser Valley for the first time in many months over took Greater Vancouver’s sales-to-active-listings ratio as the province’s highest, at 35.1 per cent, meaning that is the region that is deepest into sellers’ market territory.

The Northern Lights region yet again recorded the biggest annual decline in unit sales, down nearly 28 per cent year over year, with dollar volumes falling even more as prices drop. The BC Northern and Kootenay real estate boards all also posted declines in sales and dollar volumes.

BC Northern, Kamloops, Kootenay, South Okanagan and Northern Lights all recorded year-over-year price declines, the largest in the Northern Lights region at 11 per cent. Greater Vancouver was the region to see the biggest price increase, at 30.9 per cent.

To read the full BCREA report, click here.



Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market January 2016


Sales of residential real estate in Greater Vancouver rose nearly 32 per cent last month compared with those recorded in January 2015, as condo prices continue their recent surge, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) data released February 2.

The sales figure was 46 per cent above the 10-year average for the month, in the second-busiest January on record, reported the board.

So how do the sales and prices break down by property type and area? Our infographic below pulls out the key highlights of the board's report.

To read the full story and analysis, click here.

rebgvNeighbourhood Focus Infographic: Fleetwood Tynehead_2

 



Five New Listings with Gorgeous Gourmet Kitchens


Five Listed Homes with Gorgeous Gourmet Kitchens

These spectacular kitchens, found in current Metro Vancouver property listings, are almost too pretty to cook in

 

kitchenlistings

The Pacific West Coast has a reputation for some of the best food in the world, so it’s no surprise that in Metro Vancouver we love our kitchens. Here are five of our favourites from current listings on REW.ca

Click through the links for the full listing, where you can see more awe-inspiring photos and details of each property. 

As the properties are sold and the listings removed, you will be redirected to see other fabulous homes in these neighbourhoods on REW.ca

 

White Rock, Surrey

$669,900

Two-bedroom, three-bathroom condo

1,289 square feet

Price per square foot: $520

 

surreykitchen

 

The stunning views in this White Rock two-bedroom condo are matched only by this exquisite kitchen. Highlights include gorgeous marble countertops and backsplashes, and built in Jenn-Air appliances that all but disappear into the background. The high-end finishes are carried throughout this fabulous unit. 

 

Abbotsford East, Abbotsford

$2,675,000

Four-bedroom, four-bathroom detached house

6,410 square feet

Price per square foot: $417

 

Kitchens_Abbotsford.png

 

This fantastic Abbotsford home has a beautiful and spacious kitchen. Flooded with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, you can take in the panoramic views of sunrise over Mount Baker and sunsets over the San Juan Islands. Two oversize kitchen islands, and separate pantry and wetbar give even more space in this enormous kitchen.

 

Mount Pleasant, East Vancouver

$499,000

One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo

754 square feet

Price per square foot: $662

 

Kitchens_Mount Pleasant.png

 

This ultramodern Vancouver loft comes in at the lowest price point on our kitchens list. Enjoy your stylish, stark white chef’s kitchen in a two-level, top floor corner unit in the hot Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Fully renovated, this home features hardwood floors, custom millwork and 16-foot ceilings.

 

West End New Westminster, New Westminster

$1,600,000

Six-bedroom, four-bathroom detached house

3,950 square feet

Price per square foot: $405

 

newwest-kitchen


Built for a chef with taste, this kitchen is spectacular. White shaker cabinets and hardwood floors dazzle in this executive home. The open kitchen and eating area backs onto a magnificently landscaped backyard, extending your entertaining area. With a kitchen this pretty you’ll never want to leave it, but if sleep does call you can claim any one of the six bedrooms in this incredible house. 

 

 

Killarney, Vancouver

$2,090,000

Six-bedroom, seven-bathroom detached house

3,383 square feet

Price per square foot: $618

 

Kitchens_Killarney.png

 

Step into the kitchen of your dreams! This brand new East Van home features a huge gourmet kitchen, including a separate wok kitchen. High-end appliances and detailed finishes add to this striking space.

 

 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/five-listed-homes-with-gorgeous-gourmet-kitchens-1.2159395#sthash.V8fUJVz0.dpuf



Editorial: To Buy or to Rent? That is the Question


What’s more expensive than buying into Vancouver real estate? Not buying into Vancouver real estate

Buy-vs-Rent-weighing.jpgAh, the age-old debate of buy vs rent. It never gets tiresome, and there are countless opinions on the topic. So I thought it was time to add mine.

There has been a big media hoo-ha on the topic this week, following the release of RentSeeker.ca’s list of rental versus purchase prices across Canada. Huffington Post followed it up with an article on whether it’s generally better to buy or to rent, based on these figures. The article seemed to come down in favour of generally renting, which I suppose is meant to appeal to its hip young readership. Or something. I was even invited into the Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM studios, on which I host a Saturday morning call-in real estate show, to be a guest and discuss this very topic, and I’ll be addressing it myself this Saturday morning on air. So there’s been a lot of debate this week on what’s right and what’s wrong.

But to me, it’s a no-brainer. At least, usually.

Here’s the thing: we all know that when we rent a home in the long term, we’re paying off a landlord’s mortgage when we could be paying off our own – that you’re essentially flushing money down the can. But obviously, buying a home in one’s chosen area is not an option for a lot of people, so many people feel that there’s no choice in that. However, they’re wrong.

Vancouver is a really expensive city, for a lot of reasons I won’t go into now, and there are an awful lot of people that choose to live in a really great area of this really expensive city. And they don’t earn enough to buy a home in that neighbourhood, so they rent their homes. And they get used to that great lifestyle and never end up buying a property – which is fine... for a while. But eventually, one of five bad things is going to happen. I guarantee it.

  • Here’s possible scenario one: they get evicted and, with the rental vacancies in Vancouver at less than one per cent and rents skyrocketing, it’s really hard to find another place. So they have to either pay increasingly high rent or otherwise move to increasingly cheap neighbourhoods.

  • Or two: their rents are jacked up, and ditto, it’s either pay more or move further out or to a smaller home.

  • Three: neither happens and they rent happily for decades. But eventually they retire and can’t afford the rent into their old age on their pension.

  • Or four: even if they can pay their rent in their retirement, they’ve no home to sell in order to pay for huge care home bills at end of life.

  • Or, finally, five: they die in their rental homes with nothing to bequeath their own family, so the younger generations can’t afford to buy either and any one of those scenarios happens to them.

It can be a pretty bleak reality for permanent renters.

And, yes, it may be initially more expensive to buy a home, and you might have to save a long time for a down payment, and you might have to initially live in a slightly lower grade of home or area to afford it (I know I did). But financially it’s like taking one step back in order to end up 10 steps forward. Never mind the additional joy, contentment and sense of pride that one can enjoy by owning their own home.

So then, people ask me, what about if you just can’t bear to live in an area that you could afford to buy in, or it’s just not possible for your commute, or your kids’ schools? Here’s a solution for you.

If you get into a position where you have enough cash for a down payment, you can buy an investment property that you don’t even need to live in yourself – rent it out to someone else and continue living in a rented place in your chosen area. (Full article on this approach here.) That way you still get to live where you want, but now you are one of those landlords making stacks of cash from this mad rental market. There’s the added bonus that you have no risk if you ever get evicted and can’t find another rental place, as you’ve got your own home you can move into, at least temporarily. That’s especially important for families who are long-term renting – unless you fancy couch-surfing with your partner and kids.

To me there’s only one demographic group that can get away with renting long-term without it damaging them financially, and that’s those people who are wealthy enough to buy if they wanted to, they just choose not to because of convenience and flexibility. If you are renting a home that enables you to invest for your future all the money that you could’ve spent on buying a home, including higher monthly payments, maintenance, taxes and everything, it can be just as financially stable as actually buying a house. As long as you’re doing that, you’ll have a great retirement income and then you can afford to still pay rent in retirement and support your family. And you’ve got a financial buffer if you get evicted or rents rise.

But the problem is that most long-term renters aren’t doing that. Most of them are paying a rental price because they simply don’t have the money for the purchase price. If that’s you, then you need to consider that you are living in an area that is too expensive for your income, and you need to take responsibility for your financial wellbeing. The lifestyle and convenience that you are paying for now is great for a while, but as rents rise and vacancies tighten further, it’s going to come back to haunt you eventually. Move somewhere cheaper, and start investing in your future.

When I hear people tell me they can’t afford to buy a home, I do hear them, but I have to say, “Sure, but what you really can’t afford is not to buy.” If that’s you, speak to a mortgage professional and a real estate agent about what your options are. It’ll be free advice and you might be pleasantly surprised with what you could do.

You can catch Joannah Connolly dispensing advice as the Real Estate Therapist every Saturday morning from 9am-10am on Roundhouse Radio 983.FM and streaming live on roundhouseradio.com 

 



BC Homes Sales Smash All December Records as Prices Breach $700K


Province posts highest number of residential unit transactions ever recorded for the month of December, propping up weaker Canadian markets

Home for sale sold winter December holidays

Home sales across BC smashed all December records, according to BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) figures issued January 15.

There was a total of 6,590 residential unit sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in December 2015 – a rise of 29.8 per cent from December the previous year.

BC’s total home sales dollar volume in December hit a record $4.62 billion for the month of December, up 55.4 per cent compared to the previous year.

This is attributable to both rising transaction volumes and the average price in the province climbing above the $700,000 threshold for the first time in BC, rising 19.7 per cent from December 2014 to $700,943.

“The 2015 housing market finished in dramatic fashion, with record demand for month of December,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist. “BC home sales breached the 100,000 unit threshold in 2015, and it was only the third time on record that this high watermark was achieved.”

Across 2015, BC residential sales dollar volumes rose to a record $65.3 billion over the year, up nearly 37 per cent from the previous year.

The average annual residential price reached a record $636,627 over the whole of 2015, up 12 per cent from 2014. A total of 102,517 residential unit sales were recorded, an increase of 22 per cent compared with 2014 and a figure eclipsed only by 2005 and 2007.

BC totals tend to mask the significant variations between different markets across the province, with the major southern regions seeing huge increases in sales and dollar volumes, and some of the smaller regions seeing declines in transaction and dollar volumes, especially in the north and Interior of the province.

Of the larger markets, the largest increase in sales was again recorded in the Fraser Valley, where home sales climbed 33.5 per cent from December 2014. Greater Vancouver and Chilliwack remained in second and third spots for transaction growth, up 28.1 and 25.6 per cent respectively.

Unlike previous months, at a massive 47 per cent, the Fraser Valley’s sales-to-active-listings ratio eclipsed even that of Greater Vancouver, taking that region deepest into sellers' market territory.

Across the whole of Canada, the story was relatively moderate, with the softening markets in resource-dependent provinces pulling down the overall sales activity rise, according to Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) figures also released January 15.

Total sales rose 10 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December to. CREA reported that sales activity was up compared with December 2014 in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by BC’s Lower Mainland.

The national average sale price rose 12 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December. However, excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 5.4 per cent.

“December mirrored the main themes of 2015, with strong sales activity and price growth across much of British Columbia and Ontario offsetting declines in activity among oil producing regions,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

“The recent decline and uncertain outlook for oil prices means that housing market prospects are unlikely to improve in the near term in regions where job market prospects are tied to oil production.”

To view BCREA's December report, including a full breakdown by region, click here.



Infographic: Greater Vancouver Real Estate, December 2015


Greater Vancouver prices were up 17.9 per cent year over year in December, but how do they break down by city and area? This infographic will help 

12rebgv

Greater Vancouver real estate broke both sales and price records in 2015, with sales totalling the most ever recorded, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) data released January 5.

And in December alone, home sales rose 33.6 per cent year over year to 2,827 units, while the benchmark price of a composite property increased 18.9 per cent year over year to $760,900.

But how do the prices break down by individual city? Our infographic below highlights all the areas within the region, and breaks down listings data.

To read the full story and analysis, click here.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/infographic-greater-vancouver-real-estate-december-2015-1.2144983#sthash.Xq2G2e1T.dpuf



2015 Year in Review


A look back at Vancouver's year in real estate – the biggest news, the way-off-the-mark predictions and the hottest trends

As we wrap up for 2015, it's time to take a look back at the year in real estate and development for the Lower Mainland. Which early predictions came true and which were wildly off the mark? And which were the real estate stories that blew everyone's mind this year. Here's a month-by-month breakdown.

January

In the first story of the year, a single street in Vancouver was identified as being home to three of BC’s five highest valued residential properties, according to the 2015 BC Assessment Roll released January 2. 

The properties, ranked in third, fourth and fifth places on the latest property tax assessment list, are all on Belmont Avenue in Point Grey – a street commonly known to locals as Billionaires’ Row. They were valued at $50.1 million, $38.5 million and $28.1 million respectively, as of July 1, 2014

The most valuable home in BC was not on Belmont Avenue but located mere blocks away at 3085 Point Grey Road in Kitsilano. This 30,600-square-foot home belongs to Lululemon co-founder Chip Wilson and was valued at $57.6 million.

The only non-Westside property to make BC’s top five is in fact an entire private Gulf island – James Island, which was valued at $51.6 million and ranked in second place.

Also in January, home prices in Vancouver were predicted to see a modest 2.8 per cent rise in 2015, according to the Royal LePage quarterly house price survey released January 14 – a forecast that turned out to be way off the mark, with prices up 18 per cent year over year in November.

Towards the end of January, and after predictions of rate rises in 2015, the Bank of Canada surprised everyone by cutting its overnight rate to 0.75 per cent in the wake of sliding oil prices. 

February

Premier Christy Clark made headlines in February by telling the Surrey Board of Trade that it was the Liberal BC government's long-term plan to scrap the provincial Property Transfer Tax

"When we really start making a dent on our debt, we really want to start knocking down the Property Transfer Tax," Clark said at the event, as reported by The Surrey Leader. "It is absolutely part of our long-term plan to get rid of it."

The Globe and Mail reported that at a later news conference, Clark emphasized the “long-term” part of her previous statements, saying that in order to replace the lost revenue, “Government either needs to be a billion dollars smaller, taxes need to be a billion dollars more elsewhere, or there needs to be a billion dollars in new revenue from economic growth.”

She added, “I wouldn't characterize it as a promise. I would say it’s something that we would like to do.” There has certainly been no significant mention of the idea since.

February also saw some conflicting real estate sales forecasts for 2015, with the CMHC predicting that sales across BC would actually drop 5.8 per cent compared with 2014. 

However the corporation qualified that this forecast was formed ahead of January's rate cut and acknowledged that the surprise move could mean 2015's sales would outperform the previous year.

Even RBC's much more optimistic assertion that home sales in BC would rise 10.5 per cent in 2015 versus 2014 fell short of the eventual outcome in this year's super-hot market. 

March

One of the hottest March stories was the disappearing traditional house-price dividing line between Vancouver's east and west sides. A fascinating animated heat map by urban planner Andy Yan caused quite a stir in local media, revealing that the traditional line between high house prices of Vancouver's West Side and the lower prices of East Vancouver blurred considerably in  five years.

East Vancouver's under-$1m homes decrease dramatically between 2010 and 2015, and homes below $1m all but disappear from the West Side over the same period. The longstanding dividing line of Ontario Street, where East and West sides meet, can still be seen in 2015 but to a much lesser degree than five years ago.  

On the subject of prices, another big story in March was our Frank O'Brien's coverage of the disparity between prices of homes in West Vancouver and those a 35-minute ferry ride away on the Sunshine Coast. The average house in West Vancouver was selling for just over $2 million, according to March figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, compared with the Sunshine Coast where the average house was selling for less than $350,000.

April

Splashing across all the local and national media headlines in April was the assertion by the head of the world’s biggest asset management company that Vancouver condos were a “better investment than gold.”

Bloomberg reported that Laurence D. Fink, chairman of BlackRock Inc., told a conference in Singapore that there was only one better bet than condos in those three markets – and that’s contemporary art, he claimed.

“The two greatest stores of wealth internationally today is contemporary art….. and I don’t mean that as a joke, I mean that as a serious asset class,” Fink told the Credit Suisse Global Megatrends ConferenceApril 21.

“And two, the other store of wealth today is apartments in Manhattan, apartments in Vancouver, in London.”

April also saw some of the key brokerages hustling to amend their earlier sales and price forecasts on the back of scorching first-quarter results – including Re/Max, which doubled its price rise forecast for Vancouver from three to six per cent annual rise in 2015. And they thought that was bullish...

May

A fun lookie-loo story from May was the listing of mayor Gregor Robertson's Kitsilano home for $1.8 million ahead of the open-house weekend. The lovely ocean-view duplex was marketed for $223,000 more than the mayor and his then-wife bought it for two years previously. The property is a three-bedroom-plus-den, four-bathroom duplex totalling 1,666 square feet, on a 3,500 square-foot lot, less than a block from the beach. The listing is long gone but we published a gallery of the listing photos, which speak to the stunning ocean and mountain views from the interior and the three “entertainment-sized” outdoor spaces, including a view deck and a tree-shaded patio with hot tub.

The Vancouver market heated up still further, with the latest statistics out in May showing sales up 37 per cent year over year in April and the sellers' market firmly in place. 

June

June saw a well-read and somewhat controversial story about the British Columbia Real Estate Association's assertion that foreign buyers are having an insignificant impact on Vancouver's housing market. 

The skyrocketing demand for homes and rapid price acceleration is “largely driven by land scarcity and densification policies in the Metro region,” while foreign investment is “insufficient to impact such a large and diverse market,” according to a BCREA report published June 10.

The BCREA said that although there was a scarcity of data on the topic, the available information suggests that “foreign ownership of housing is considerably less than 5 per cent of the housing stock and not more than 5 per cent of sales activity.”

Also in June was a much-publicized poll by Angus Reid, which found that just over half of Metro Vancouverites are “happy” or “comfortable” in terms of their housing and daily commuting, with the remainder “uncomfortable” or “miserable” and considering leaving the city.

The poll, which surveyed 821 randomized Metro Vancouver residents on their housing attitudes and commuting habits, divided its respondents based on their answers and placed them into four groups, which Angus Reid dubbed as “happy” (21 per cent), “comfortable” (34 per cent), “uncomfortable” (27 per cent) and “miserable” (18 per cent). 

Older generations dominated 55 per cent of respondents making up the “happy” and “comfortable.” Most of the respondents in those two groups are homeowners who purchased property before 2000, and fewer of these people have above-30-minute commutes compared with those who were placed in the “uncomfortable” and “miserable” categories.

July

Reflecting the hot summer weather, statistics released in early July revealed June 2015 as the hottest June for real estate sales on record. That was the second-highest sales volume ever recorded, beaten only by May 2005. Prices continued to break records, as they have every month this year, rising in June more than 10 per cent year over year.

Also in July, the year's second (albeit more anticipated) interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada dominated the headlines. REW.ca published a popular story in which finance expert Penelope Graham of RateSupermarket.ca explained what this meant for the economy and the housing market. She also offered a word of caution to consumers and mortgage applicants tempted to borrow more money because of the record-low rates. 

The industry also expressed alarm in July at rumours of an increase in the minimum down payment, prompting a well-read editorial on the dangers of such a move. (As of early December, these rumours have proven to be true, although the new plan mitigated many of these fears - see December.)

August

With many alarmed at the seeming unsustainability of Vancouver real estate price rises, the industry seemed to scramble in August to make reassurances that the market is stable. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's August Housing Now report said that Vancouver, Victoria and Canada as a whole all remain at low risk of the kind of overvaluation that could cause a significant price correction. 

And RBC issued a report that forecast prices in BC to keep rising across the rest of 2015 and into 2016, but at a slower rate. The report said that average BC home prices in 2015 would be 7.8 per cent higher than 2014ls average, and in 2016 would be 4.9 per cent higher still. This prediction aligned with a forecast made by TD Bank July 30, which said Vancouver home prices were likely to see a "soft landing". However, as of early December, there has been no sign of price growth rates slowing...

Another hot August story was REW.ca's feature on families who decided to make the most of Vancouver's high prices by cashing out of their city homes to move permanently to their vacation cabin.

September

September saw the much-publicized results of the REW.ca reader survey, which was picked up by multiple local TV and radio news shows. One key headline figure was that the Bank of Mom and Dad was enabling 75 per cent of young home buyer respondents with at least some of their down payment to help get them into the Vancouver real estate market. It also found that even in the 41-50 age group, 64 per cent of would-be buyers are expecting some form of financial help from family for their move-up home aspirations. 

In September, the Canadian Real Estate Association predicted that, by the end of the year, BC would see by far the country's biggest rise in home sales for the whole of 2015. And a much-hyped report by a CIBC economist asserted that Vancouver was seeing Canada's “most asymmetrical” price rises, with the prices of detached homes rising at a much faster rate compared with condos than other cities – a factor that was hindering move-up buyers. 

October

The big news of October was of course the election of the new Liberal federal government under Justin Trudeau. The most-read news story of the month was the editorial on what the new government would mean for home owners and real estate, examining the Liberals' housing policies and how these could affect the Vancouver housing market and affordability. 

Another well-read story covered the record-priced sale of the first market-listed home in BC built to passive house standards (although not certified as such). The state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind East Vancouver home, displayed on a  bike tour of passive house projects with Mayor Gregor Robertson just days previously, was sold in a single day before it could hit the market. Although the sale price was not permitted to be published, the home was sold at a record price for a single-family home on a 33-foot lot in East Vancouver’s Renfrew neighbourhood, according to Ashley Smith, one of the listing agents with the Klein Group.

November

Another irresistible looky-loo story, and by far November's most read REW.ca article, was a photo gallery story showcasing the listing of a luxury West Side home for $12.8 million. REW.ca was given a tour of this magnificent home by the developer Tavan Group, and we just had to share the photos to show you exactly what just shy of $13 million can buy you (hint: downstairs has its very own private pub).

If those kinds of prices have you convinced that the market is overvalued, a report published in November might make you think otherwise. According to a report by Central 1 Credit Union's chief economist Helmut Pastrick, Vancouver’s housing market is not at risk of collapse because of its record prices. A much greater risk is a recession, asserted Pastrick, and he suggested the city look to Calgary for warning signs of an economic collapse. 

Right at the end of November, local mortgage broker and finance expert Peter Kinch told REW.ca that ahead of the anticipated US Fed interest rate rise on December 16, Canadian banks have been quietly raising the rates on new variable-rate mortgages. Speaking to REW.ca editor Joannah Connolly live on her Real Estate Therapist Show on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM, Kinch explained that new applicants for variable-rate mortgages are now getting a 0.5 per cent poorer deal than they were in August, despite the prime rate staying steady. 

December

In early December, the most read story has been staggering monthly statistics coming out of the Fraser Valley – and mirrored in Greater Vancouver – that November saw the highest sales activity for the month in 26 years. Not since 1989 have either of the two boards seen so many sales in the month of November – usually a quiet month for real estate. 

REW.ca took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the hype about the sale of singer-actress Selena Gomez's California mansion by suggesting what she could buy in Vancouver with the $6 million in proceeds. 

But the big news of the month was that of the Liberal government raising the minimum down payment – thankfully on a sliding scale so that those buying under $500,000 still only need to put down a minimum of five per cent.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/2015-year-in-review-1.2135329#sthash.I2veJIUK.dpuf



Home Sales Across BC Up 34.5% in 2015’s Super-November


With transactions and average prices both rising, sales dollar volume is up 56.4 per cent year over year, says association

Home in Vancouver for sale sold sign

As in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, BC home sales saw the second strongest November on record, according to a BC Real Estate Association report issued December 14.

There were 8,032 residential sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in November 2015 – a 34.5 per cent rise over November 2014.

BC’s total home sales dollar volume in November was $5.38 billion, up a staggering 56.4 per cent compared with the same month last year. This increasing rate of growth reflects the combination of skyrocketing transaction volumes and the average MLS® home price in BC rising to $668,317, up 16.3 per cent from November 2014.

“Housing demand last month was the second strongest ever recorded for the month of November,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist. “You’d need to look all the way back to the frenetic market of 1989 to find more homes trading hands in November.“

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 35.4 per cent to $60.7 billion, compared with January-November 2014.

As in previous months, the BC totals disguise the significant variations between different markets across the province, with the major southern regions seeing huge increases in sales and dollar volumes, and some of the smaller regions struggling, especially in the north and Interior of the province.

Of the larger markets, the largest increase in sales was recorded in the Fraser Valley, where home sales climbed over 60 per cent from November 2014. Greater Vancouver and Chilliwack both saw an increase of more than 40 per cent, and Kamloops home sales were up 30 per cent.

Greater Vancouver’s sales-to-active-listings ratio remains the province's highest, meaning that is still deepest into sellers' market territory.

The Northern Lights region once again recorded the biggest annual decline in unit sales, down 41.7 per cent year over year – although, again, the region is small enough that the figure could be anomalous. The Kootenay, South Okanagan and BC Northern real estate boards all also posted declines in sales and dollar volumes.

Despite posting the largest annual rise in sales at 100 per cent, Powell River’s 36 November home sales (compared with 18 the previous November) sold at an average price of 29.4 per cent lower than a year ago. This was the largest average price decline reported by any of the BC boards – followed by Northern Lights and South Okanagan.

To read the full BCREA report, click here.



Vancouver Will See Canada’s Steepest House Price Rises Again in 2016


Demand showing no signs of waning, although price rise in metropolitan area will be slower than the 17 per cent seen in 2015 

With home prices in Greater Vancouver up more than 17 per cent year over year and demand showing no signs of waning, average local house prices will rise another seven per cent in 2016, according to a forecast published December 10 by real estate brokerage RE/MAX.

This is nearly three times the growth rate projected for Canada as a whole, across which house prices are forecast to rise 2.5 per cent next year.

“Based on the projections for Canada’s key housing markets, RE/MAX expects the average home price in Canada to increase 2.5% in 2016,” said Gurinder Sandhu, executive vice-president, RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region.

“While we expect to see some price decreases, particularly in regions that rely on the oil and natural resource sectors, strong demand in Canada’s urban centres is expected to continue throughout next year.”

RE/MAX also predicted residential real estate price rises in 2016 of three per cent in the Fraser Valley, 2.7 per cent in Victoria and just two per cent in Kelowna.

The forecast for Greater Vancouver had echoes of last year’s predictions from the same brokerage. At the beginning of 2015, RE/MAX predicted that prices in Greater Vancouver would rise three per cent across the year, following 14 per cent annual rises seen in 2014. After strong first-quarter sales, the brokerage doubled its forecast in April 2015 to six per cent, which was considered bullish at the time. As of November 2015, house prices were up nearly 18 per cent year over year.

RE/MAX also reported December 10 the results of a recent Leger survey conducted for the brokerage, which found that British Columbians were the most convinced of all Canadians that home ownership is an essential part of “the Canadian dream.”

Of the respondents who agreed with the statement “home ownership is part of the Canadian dream,” BC residents were the most in agreement, at 94.6 per cent of respondents. This compares with 90.0 per cent of respondents nationwide agreeing with the statement.

More than two-thirds of Canadians surveyed agreed that, when buying a home, 10 per cent or more is a sufficient down payment. And 70 per cent of homeowner respondents agreed that REALTORS® provide value when buying or selling a home.



Greater Vancouver Real Estate, November 2015


Metro Vancouver real estate sales in November reached the second highest volume for the month on record, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) figures released December 2.

But how do the sales and prices breakdown by property type and city? Check out our infographic below with all the highlights.

For the full story and analysis, click here.


REBGV-nov15

 
 
 


© Copyright 2015 - See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/infographic-greater-vancouver-real-estate-november-2015-1.2125616#sthash.bHfKvG42.dpuf



How Strata Councils Can Deal with AirBnB-Type Rentals


With more and more people offering their homes for short-term vacation rentals, what can strata councils do about it? 

West End Vancouver beaches

The rise in home owners offering short-term and vacation rentals through companies such as AirBnB, Craigslist and VRBO is making a significant impact on many strata corporations across the Lower Mainland. The line between a hotel and a traditional rental is being blurred.

Many strata councils are taking a firm stance against these short-term rentals by issuing bylaw violation fines under their existing bylaws, while working to have new stricter bylaws passed. The councils are not wrong in wanting to address the issue; however, an even keel and planned approach will yield the best results.

What We Know

For the unit owners renting out their homes, online rental services can be a good source of income while delivering a unique vacation experience for travelers.

There are thousands of listings for short-term rentals in Metro Vancouver through AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway, Kijiji and Craigslist. Many are for condos and townhomes that are part of strata corporations.    

Strata corporations are understandably concerned about security. When neighbours do not recognize each other, keys and fobs are harder to track, and short-term renters are less likely to follow security protocols.

The City of Vancouver does not allow a person to use a dwelling unit for less than one month unless it is a hotel or bed and breakfast, as per Section 10.21.6 of the Zoning and Development Bylaws.

The City of Vancouver and other cities in Metro Vancouver do not provide resources to actively enforce this bylaw, so strata councils are trying to address the issue themselves.

Traditional bylaws used by strata corporations may not apply due to their wording. Short-term rentals can be deemed a “licence” instead of the traditional “rental” and the bylaws therefore may not apply.   

What to Do

Strata councils need to engage the ownership they represent to better understand their community’s wants and needs. Open discussions at general meetings of the ownership, along with surveys and information sessions held within the building, are a great way to gather feedback.

If those that have opposing views can better understand the other’s position, there typically will not be any surprises at the general meeting when it comes to voting on a new rental bylaw. Information sessions also allow any objections to be addressed or potential revisions to be accommodated in the proposed bylaw changes.  

The council then needs to design new bylaws that reflect the community’s needs. In most cases, this will be limiting rentals/licences to a specific time period such as six or 12 months.

Further regulations may be warranted such as well worded bylaws for “move-in” fees or restrictions on advertising terms for the rental/licence agreement.

The ownership will then need to approve the proposed bylaw changes at a general meeting and have them filed with the Land Title Office to be enforceable.

Finally the strata council and the management company can begin working on ensuring owners know of the changes and are in compliance with the new bylaws.

A Solid Action Plan

Below is a common plan of action for strata councils in addressing short-term rentals:

  • Have an open discussion at your next annual general meeting to gather input from the owners in attendance. Stay open-minded and record concerns and objections.
  • Create a summary page that identifies why the council feels there needs to be a change, what the impact would be, any proposed bylaw changes, how short-term rentals will be tracked, and when the changes to short-term rentals would take place. 
  • Share the summary page with the ownership. One way to accomplish this is by including it with the distribution of meeting minutes. Consider including contact information so owners may provide additional feedback.
  • Hold a meeting in the lobby or amenity room with council members present to answer any questions about the proposed changes. This is the time to engage the ownership and ensure the council’s plan is clearly articulated.
  • If a change in bylaws is needed, ask your strata manager for assistance. Your management company will also assist in ensuring a general meeting is called and a vote held for approval of the bylaws.
  • Educate the ownership by broadcasting the changes through email, notices, and letters to the owners.
  • Site staff, such as building managers and concierge personnel, should be trained on the changes so that they can educate the ownership and be part of a successful implementation.
  • Identify those owners who are not complying with the changes. Send them correspondence that outlines the new changes that have been implemented.
  • Reinforce the changes in strata council meeting minutes and other correspondence.
  • Send bylaw violation warning letters to those owners who are in contravention. If no response is received, contacting the owner’s agent directly or calling the owner may be required.
  • Continue following up and be consistent with all owners.    
  • Review short-term rentals on an annual basis and be prepared to make minor changes or updates, as needed, to best reflect your community’s needs.

Additional Items to Consider

If the council does not understand the ownership’s needs, it may be difficult passing the required 3/4 vote. Specific bylaw wording will be needed to address short term rentals that may not qualify as a defined “tenancy”. Consult your strata management company in regards to crafting the appropriate bylaw wording.

There may be insurance coverage issues if residential units are being used for non-residential means, such as short-term rentals.    

The Strata Property Act requires a one-year exemption for rental units after a new bylaw restricting rentals is passed. If this is applicable to a strata corporation, the year exemption should be planned for and reminders issued well in advance. 

Persistent, consistent action is the key to weaving bylaw changes into the fabric of your strata.

- Originally piblished on REW.ca author credit FirstService Residential https://www.fsresidential.com/british-columbia/home

 


What the Average BC Home Price Will Buy You


The BC Real Estate Association says the average BC home price in 2015 will be $626,000. So what exactly does that buy in various regions? Here are five hot listings

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BCREA’s projections that the average home resale price in the province will increase to $626,000 this year. But with averages being so vague, what exactly does that buy you in different cities and regions?

Here are five BC homes that are currently listed at around the BCREA projected figure – see for yourself just what that will get you in Vancouver, Surrey, West Vancouver, Whistler and Victoria. You might be surprised at where the lowest cost-per-square-foot home is located… (Hint – it’s in the most expensive city of all these markets!)

Click through each property for more amazing photos and to see the full listings.

Champlain Heights, Vancouver

Listing price: $628,000
Three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse
2039 square feet
Price per square foot: $308

What the Average BC Home Price Will Buy You_3

Space is the name of the game in this three-bedroom townhouse in family-friendly Champlain Heights. Enjoy this 2,000-plus square foot home with its enormous south facing patio. The large open-concept living and dining room are perfect for entertaining, and a handy second entrance on the lower level leads directly to your two-vehicle carport.

White Rock, Surrey

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium
953 square feet
Listing price: $639,000
Price per square foot: $671

What the Average BC Home Price Will Buy You_4

Live in luxury in this ultra-modern, two-bedroom condo in the sky. Enjoy stunning views of the ocean and mountains from the multiple balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. Furry friends can join as well, along with your grown kids in this no-age and no-rental-restriction White Rock gem.

Howe Sound, West Vancouver

Three-bedroom, two-bathroom house
Listing price: $649,999
1686 square feet
Price per square foot: $386

What the Average BC Home Price Will Buy You_1

Private mooring gives direct access to this West-facing two-level A-frame that’s only 10 minutes by boat from West Van. The living room with vaulted ceilings opens to an incredible entertaining deck. Solar panels and sweeping vistas make this an unforgettable West Coast home.

Whistler Village, Whistler

Two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom townhouse
Listing price: $618,000
1082 square feet
Price per square foot: $571

What the Average BC Home Price Will Buy You_0

Calling all skiers! Live in the heart of Whistler Village in this two-level, two-bedroom townhouse that boasts easy access to the lake beaches and ski hills alike. Warm up after a long day on the slopes in front of the fireplace or in the private, in-suite hot tub.

Fairfield West, Victoria

Two-bedroom, one-bathroom detached house
Listing price: $649,900
1012 square feet
Price per square foot: $642

What the Average BC Home Price Will Buy You_2

This darling 1930s two-bedroom Victoria home is steps to popular Cook Street Village and walking distance to downtown. Gorgeous refinished hardwood floors and a cosy fireplace add to the charm of this bright home.

 
 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/what-the-average-bc-home-price-will-buy-you-1.2112845#sthash.C4dwTMBq.dpuf



BC Home Sales to Hit 100,000 Mark This Year


Residential unit sales in 2015 to be third strongest on record, and then slow but stay strong in 2016, according to forecast

Home sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across BC are projected to breach the 100,000-unit milestone this year, making 2015 the third strongest year on record, according to a British Columbia Real Estate Assocation (BCREA) forecast issued November 10.

If sales do exceed 100,000 as expected, it will also be the first year since 2007 that BC home sales beat the 10-year average.

The report said that, after climbing 15 per cent in 2014 and nearly 20 per cent this year, BC sales are expected to decline 7 per cent to 93,700 units in 2016 – a level described as “remaining elevated” by the BCREA.

Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist, said, “Less latent pent-up demand and gradual upward momentum of mortgage interest rates is expected to ease housing demand next year.”

The average home resale price in the province is projected to increase 10.2 per cent to $626,000 this year. The price growth rate is then forecast to slow to a 2.2 per cent rise next year, taking the average price to t $639,700 in 2016. This predicted trend is in line with the CMHC’s recent forecasts for Vancouver house prices in 2016.

The inventory of homes listed for sale has fallen to its lowest level since 2007, according to the report. Because of this, builders and developers have increased production, with total housing starts in the province projected to reach more than 30,000 units this year. This would be the highest level of production since 2008.

However, the BCREA predicts that capacity constraints and easing-off consumer demand will mean a decline of BC housing starts to 28,800 units in 2016. This is slightly at odds with CMHC predictions for Vancouver alone, which forecast a modest increase in housing starts in 2016, followed by a slowdown in 2017.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/bc-home-sales-to-hit-100-000-mark-this-year-bcrea-1.2107844#sthash.n7KsuMzq.dpuf



Greater Vancouver Real Estate, October 2015


The Greater Vancouver real estate market continued its relentless pace in October, with sales up 19 per cent and prices up15.3 per cent year over year, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver figures released this week. And it was the dramatic rise in the growth rate of condo prices that was the biggest surprise.

But how do the figures break down by city, and what are the key numbers? Our infographic below rounds them up.

Home sales up 19 per cent as prices rise 15.3 per cent – but dramatic rise in growth rate of condo prices is the biggest surprise - See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/condo-prices-surge-as-vancouver-real-estate-continues-relentless-pace-rebgv-1.2102910#sthash.DJagM34S.dpuf

For the full story and analysis, click here.

 

Greater Vancouver Real Estate, October 2015

 
 


© Copyright 2015 - See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/infographic-greater-vancouver-real-estate-october-2015-1.2103737#sthash.KiKNKdQM.dpuf



Is Vancouver Real Estate “Problematic”?


Locals give collective snort of derision as Crown corp describes market as “not problematic” – but it depends on your point of view

Vancouver Yaletown fall Marinaside Crescent.jpg

Earlier this week, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released, with customary pomp that included a nationwide media conference call, its latest quarterly Housing Now report.

For the uninitiated, these reports examine 15 key Canadian housing markets, including Vancouver and Victoria. They assess how much these metropolitan areas are demonstrating each of four factors that put them at risk of a housing bubble:

  • overheating of demand (demand significantly outpacing supply);

  • acceleration in the growth rate of house prices;

  • overvaluation in the level of house prices; and,

  • overbuilding of the housing market (supply significantly outpacing demand, which can reflect excess new construction and/or a decline in demand).

On balance, given all four factors, the CMHC said that there was “weak evidence of problematic conditions” in Vancouver’s housing market.

Reporters on the conference call scoffed audibly at this assertion. “Problematic” for whom, exactly?

After all, it is pretty clear that a an awful lot of people are finding our real estate market pretty problematic – primarily first-time buyers, low earners, disadvantaged locals and growing families. No surprises there. 

No, what the CMHC is basically saying is that the Vancouver market is not problematic for the CMHC. Not problematic for the government. They’ve taken a look at our city, its high house prices, its seemingly insatiable demand for real estate, its growing population and its economy, and figured that Vancouver will take care of itself. (Same goes for Victoria, by the way.)

On the flip side, the corporation is pretty worried about Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina, all of which were found to be displaying “strong evidence of problematic conditions.” In other words, a poppable bubble is much more likely in these cities, even if average prices are lower than ours.

Of Toronto, the report said, “Inventories of both new and existing single-detached homes have been declining, which has contributed to rapid price growth in this segment. The continued rise in house prices has not been matched by growth in economic and demographic fundamentals, giving rise to strong evidence of overvaluation.”

A lot of people might argue that the same could be said of Vancouver. But the CMHC’s assessment of our city is that the “economic and demographic fundamentals” are growing in line with the prices we’re seeing. It does note for Vancouver that there is a slightly increased risk of overvaluation (from low to moderate) since the last quarter, as prices have increased further with no corresponding economic growth. But on the whole, the CMHC is saying, no need to worry.

Now that might seem pretty dismissive, at least to those out there who are struggling to get into or move up in our market. But rather than get mad at the CMHC for its “Ah, you guys are fine” attitude, those who are smart will sit up and listen.

After all, you have to hand it to the CMHC – its forecasts have rarely been out of line. Whether predicting house prices rises, home sales or housing starts, it is usually on the money. There are a lot of very smart researchers and economists putting together these reports.

So then, if the CMHC is right, what can people do with this information? If there really is no bubble, no overheating, no overbuilding, steadily rising home prices but no scary acceleration of the growth rate – what then?

Well, for those people who are already in the real estate market and comfortable with their homes, it’s great news. And come on folks, let’s not dismiss existing homeowners – they have needs too. We don’t want there to be a bubble in Vancouver real estate that pops. We are not hoping for a housing market crash here. To see billions of dollars of equity built up by hard-working local families wiped away would be utterly devastating. So if prices continue to rise, perhaps at a slowing pace (as the CMHC predicts), that’s got to be the best-case scenario.

No, we must not hope for lower average prices to be the answer for those people struggling to get their foot on the property ladder. For those people, innovative solutions and government-funded programs are required. If the new Liberal government delivers on its housing promises, that will help (more on that here). I also have some suggestions in a previous editorial that I won’t go into now.

The other thing that is needed is a reality check among locals. An adjustment of expectations. If the CMHC is right (and it usually is), this supposedly “crazy” market is not crazy at all. It’s the new normal. If you are a low, or even an average, earner who has no additional personal wealth, you will never be able to buy a single-family home in a desirable, central neighbourhood. There are many great options out there for you (truly, there are), but that is simply not one of them.

This city is changing. Change with it. Otherwise, you’ll be the one with the problem.

 

 



First Shaughnessy designated Heritage Conservation Area


Photograph by Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Vancouver City Council established the First Shaughnessy District as the city’s first-ever Heritage Conservation Area, an important move toward preserving and protecting valuable heritage homes in Vancouver.

Pre1940 character homes are protected from demolition

First Shaughnessy District is the area between West 16th and King Edward and Arbutus and Oak streets where many pre-1940 character homes are located.

Designating First Shaughnessy as a Heritage Conservation Area legally protects pre-1940 heritage properties in the area from demolition and provides more clarity around conservation.

“First Shaughnessy is one of our most historic neighbourhoods, and in a city as young as Vancouver it's important that we protect its unique heritage,” said Mayor Robertson. “By designating First Shaughnessy as Vancouver's first Heritage Conservation Area, we are taking a balanced approach that will prevent the demolition of these historic homes while providing new opportunities to add very modest density where appropriate.”

While demolition can be prevented, many benefits in the new zoning would be available to these properties.

The proposed new regulations support additional dwelling uses and units, such as secondary suites, coach houses, infill buildings, and multiple-conversion dwellings.

These changes can generate land value and would offset the impact of keeping the existing house.

Over half of First Shaughnessy properties were built before 1940

First Shaughnessy is a historic Vancouver neighbourhood which was developed in the early 1900s as a premier residential area.

The neighbourhood is highlighted by distinct homes in neo-Tudor, Federal Colonial, and Arts and Crafts styles, and features lush landscaping and mature trees.

There are 595 properties in First Shaughnessy, of which 315 were constructed before 1940. Eighty of the properties are currently listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.

In response to a steadily increasing number of demolition permit requests for pre-1940 homes in the area in recent years, a temporary moratorium on demolitions was put in place in 2014, while a review of the First Shaughnessy District was underway and the Heritage Conservation Area plan was developed.

Heritage Conservation Areas help cities identify and manage heritage resources

Heritage Conservation Areas are used in municipalities across North America to identify, manage, and provide long-term protection to heritage resources. There are around 60 Heritage Conservation Areas in British Columbia, with nine of them in Victoria.

Heritage Action Plan

The Heritage Action Plan is a review of the policies and tools used to conserve and celebrate heritage resources. It was approved by Council in December 2013 to improve how the City supports heritage conservation in Vancouver. 

Actions implemented through the plan will result in an update of the City’s existing Heritage Conservation Program, which was originally established in 1986, Vancouver's centennial. 

Consultants, staff, and a public advisory committee are working on actions set out in the plan. You will also have numerous opportunities to provide your input.    

Key areas for action and implementation

The Heritage Action Plan has five key areas for action and implementation:

  1. Heritage Conservation Program review
  2. Heritage Register upgrade
  3. Character home zoning review
  4. Sustainability initiatives
  5. Awareness and advocacy initiatives

View the work program and public engagement schedule  (576 KB)



Leasehold: Own a Home, But Not the Land It's On


What if you could shave a hundred thousand or more off the typical asking price of the home you want? What if you could do this in a central neighbourhood, in a more spacious unit, perhaps one with a view?

It's possible. The only catch? You won't own the land your home is sitting on.

There are pockets of land throughout Metro Vancouver - many in prime locations - that have been rented out to developers for a set amount of time, usually between 50 and 99 years. The developers or "leasehold landlords" build on and make improvements to the land, then sell or rent out portions of the buildings.

This lease land is often city-owned, but the federal government, First Nations bands, Universities and even private individuals also own and rent out land. The types of developments vary, from condos to townhouses to detached houses and duplexes to mobile or even float homes. But all share one thing in common: unlike a traditional freehold unit, you own your share of the structure and any common property, but only rent the land beneath it.

Leasehold units are usually more attractively priced, more spacious, and in better neighbourhoods than their freehold counterparts. A quick search on REW.ca revealed these two 1-bedroom condos in the West End.

Freeehold condo in Vancouver's West EndLeasehold condo in Vancouver's West EndThat's a difference of $160,000 between two comparable 600 sq. ft. units, one freehold and one leasehold.

Basically you are buying a "right of exclusive possession" until the end of the lease period, or until you sell that right to another person.

Often, leases are prepaid by the developer and incorporated in the selling price. If the lease is not prepaid, you will have to fork over rent for the land on top of any strata fees, taxes, and mortgage payments you're already paying.

However, you're often buying into a better lifestyle (at the cost of a better investment). And in some areas, you are buying the right to live somewhere you otherwise couldn't, such as the UBC endowment land with its pristine forests and majestic ocean views.

What you won't get is a share of the rising land value. In fact, rising land values can cost you.

The lease agreement, called a "ground lease," sets out the terms and conditions upon which the developer has leased the property. If lease payments haven't been prepaid, the agreement will usually allow for annual lease payments to be raised periodically to reflect current land valuesometimes dramatically.

In 2006, some False Creek condo owners saw their annual lease payments skyrocket by up to 700% when the City adjusted for the then-current land value. Subject to arbitration, the lease payments were later lowered by several hundred dollars per month because the recent sale of the Olympic Village site had dramatically skewed the land value.

If the lease on your unit is soon coming to an end, you won't be able to say with any certainty whether it will be renewed, and if so, at what cost once rising land values have been factored in.

And if the lease is not renewed, most lease agreements give the landowner the right to buy out the buildings at fair market value, then do with the land what they wisheven if that means tearing down existing buildings, rezoning, or selling for redevelopment. You might have to move.

It's uncertainties like these that make some leasehold properties less than ideal investments. They don't increase in value as quickly as a freehold. They generally take longer to sell. And as the lease counts down to expiry, the property value can actually be negatively affected.

Banks don't like the uncertainty surrounding certain leaseholds either. That's why most lenders will ask for a hefty 25-30 per cent down payment. Lenders also use the expiry date of the lease as a guideline for loan amortization periods, lending only for five years fewer than the remaining lease. So if a lease expires in 20 years, for example, you would only be able to get a 15-year amortization period for that loan. Reverse mortgages for retirees can be next to impossible to get for most leasehold properties.

That depends. If lifestyle factors like being close to work or living in a beautiful area are most important, it could be the right choice for you. Look for long leases - 25 years or longer - and preferably for a length of time that far exceeds the time you plan to live there. Prepaid 99-year leases are the most secure, but they also cost almost as much as freehold.

And, most important, find a Real Estate Agent and mortgage broker who have experience in leasehold properties.

So where can you find leasehold gems? Start by doing an Advanced Search on REW.ca in your preferred neighbourhood with the keyword "leasehold." Here are a few areas to get you started:

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/leasehold-own-a-home-but-not-the-land-it-s-on-1.1342076#sthash.M4nwNrO5.dpuf



Vancouver New Housing Prices Continue Steady Rise


Annual growth in city’s new housing price index slows after hot July but still climbs in August, according to national statistics agency

New homes townhouses

Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) new home prices rose again in August, although at a slightly slower growth rate than last month, according to a Statistics Canada report released October 8.

The CMA’s new housing price index increased 1.4 per cent year over year in August, and across the whole of BC it increase 1.2 per cent.

Month over month, new home prices in both Vancouver and across the whole province rose 0.1 per cent in August compared with July’s figures, a slower monthly growth rate than seen in recent months.

Unlike in the resale housing market, Vancouver and BC’s annual price rises were similar to that of Canada as a whole, with new housing across the nation increasing its price index in August 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 CMA’s new home prices continued their slide in August, down 1.6 per cent compared with the same month last year and down 0.1 per cent compared with the previous month, after three months of no price change. Victoria was again one of just five CMAs to record an annual decrease in August, out of a total of 21 CMAs surveyed.

Hamilton, Ontario and the combined metropolitan region of Toronto and Oshawa recorded the joint largest annual price increase in August, with prices up 3.8  per cent over the same month last year. Vancouver’s annual price growth of 1.4 per cent was fifth highest nationally.

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

 


Condos Accelerating Growth in BC Home Building Investment


Multi-family building spend in the province catching up to detached home construction investment, reports statistics agency

Multifamily home construction

Investment in BC home building continued to climb – and increase its rate of growth – rising nearly 19 per cent year over year in July to $731 million, according to Statistics Canada data published September 22.

As has been the recent trend, apartment-condo construction led the investment growth in BC, rising 32.3 per cent compared with July 2014 to a total of $306 million – almost catching up with single-family home investment. 

The province’s detached home construction spend also increased, although at a slower growth rate, with the $331 million of investment an 11.9 per cent rise over the same month last year.

Townhome and row home construction investment in BC continued to rise steadily, increasing 14.4 per cent year over year to $64 million in July.

Bucking the recent trend, the only properties to see a reduction in construction investment in July were duplexes, spending on which fell 6.3 per cent year over year to $29 million.

The province’s total $731 million new home construction spend was again the third highest total in the country, after Ontario and Alberta. BC’s home investment growth rate was also Canada’s third highest, after spending surges in July in the Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia (up 65.9 and 27.8 per cent year over year respectively).

As with previous months, increases in new home spending nationwide were much more muted than those seen in BC. Investment in new home construction across Canada totalled $4.2 billion in July, up a meagre 0.5 per cent from the same month a year earlier.

As with BC, Statistics Canada reported that the increase came mostly from higher investment in apartment and condominium building construction, up 17.5 per cent to $1.4 billion, as well as higher spending on row house construction, up 6.3 per cent to $395 million.

Single-family home and duplex construction across Canada again both saw year-over-year declines in construction investment, falling 7.4 and 15.8 per cent respectively. However, detached homes saw the biggest total investment in July at $2.1 billion.

To see Statistics Canada’s interactive chart, click here

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/condos-accelerating-growth-in-bc-home-building-investment-statcan-1.2065519#sthash.NID6jKhG.dpuf



Condos Accelerating Growth in BC Home Building Investment


Multi-family building spend in the province catching up to detached home construction investment, reports statistics agency 

Multifamily home construction

Investment in BC home building continued to climb – and increase its rate of growth – rising nearly 19 per cent year over year in July to $731 million, according to Statistics Canada data published September 22.

As has been the recent trend, apartment-condo construction led the investment growth in BC, rising 32.3 per cent compared with July 2014 to a total of $306 million – almost catching up with single-family home investment. 

The province’s detached home construction spend also increased, although at a slower growth rate, with the $331 million of investment an 11.9 per cent rise over the same month last year.

Townhome and row home construction investment in BC continued to rise steadily, increasing 14.4 per cent year over year to $64 million in July.

Bucking the recent trend, the only properties to see a reduction in construction investment in July were duplexes, spending on which fell 6.3 per cent year over year to $29 million.

The province’s total $731 million new home construction spend was again the third highest total in the country, after Ontario and Alberta. BC’s home investment growth rate was also Canada’s third highest, after spending surges in July in the Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia (up 65.9 and 27.8 per cent year over year respectively).

As with previous months, increases in new home spending nationwide were much more muted than those seen in BC. Investment in new home construction across Canada totalled $4.2 billion in July, up a meagre 0.5 per cent from the same month a year earlier.

As with BC, Statistics Canada reported that the increase came mostly from higher investment in apartment and condominium building construction, up 17.5 per cent to $1.4 billion, as well as higher spending on row house construction, up 6.3 per cent to $395 million.

Single-family home and duplex construction across Canada again both saw year-over-year declines in construction investment, falling 7.4 and 15.8 per cent respectively. However, detached homes saw the biggest total investment in July at $2.1 billion.

To see Statistics Canada’s interactive chart, click here

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/condos-accelerating-growth-in-bc-home-building-investment-statcan-1.2065519#sthash.MOdsqM0O.dpuf



BC to See Canada’s Biggest Rises in Home Sales Activity and Prices


In national forecast for real estate market, British Columbia singled out as province expected to continue outpacing all others in sales and house price growth

Home for sale sold signBritish Columbia is projected to post by far the largest annual increase in MLS home sales in 2015, a rise of 18.1 per cent, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

The CREA revised its forecast for national sales in 2015 slightly upwards September 14, which it said reflected stronger-than-anticipated activity in BC and Ontario. National sales are now projected to rise by 3.3 per cent to 495,800 units this year, which would make 2015 the second strongest year on record for home sales in Canada.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia are expected to post the largest annual sales declines (down 21.6 per cent, 12 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively), with the Prairie provinces hard-hit by the decline in oil prices.

The forecast for national average home price growth has been revised up slightly to $433,600 in 2015, representing an annual increase of 6.2 per cent. The CREA’s upward revision reflects higher price gains in British Columbia and Ontario.

British Columbia is expected to be the only province in 2015 where the average home price rises faster than the national average at 8.5 per cent.

For 2016, the CREA predicts that national sales will total 495,000.

The report said, “Activity gains in Quebec and some improvement in Prairie provinces are expected to offset a slight cooling for activity in BC and Ontario, where affordability for single family home buyers is anticipated to become strained.”

 


August Rounds Out Summer of Scorching Home Sales Across BC


Resale transactions across province up 20 per cent year over year, prices up 10.6 per cent, reports association

Home for sale sold

Residential real estate sales in August completed a summer characterized by hot weather in the province and an even hotter market, according to the latest statistics issued September 11 by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA)

There were 8,811 residential unit sales recorded by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in August, up 20 per cent from the same month last year.

Total sales dollar volume was $5.5 billion, a 32.8 per cent increase on August 2014. This jump is due to the average MLS residential price in the province rising to $619,881, up 10.6 per cent year over year.

“Housing demand continued at an elevated level in August,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist. “More homes were sold in BC during the first eight months of the 2015 than in the whole of 2012.” A total of 67,637 BC homes were sold on the MLS in 2012, compared with 70,617 year-to-date in August 2015.

South Okanagan and the Fraser Valley were two boards in the province to see the highest sales growth, both up 33.1 per cent compared with last August.

The BC Northern region was the only board in BC to see an annual decline in unit sales, down 0.7 per cent year over year. However, this is a huge improvement on last month’s 12.5 per cent annual drop.

The Northern Lights board registered the province’s largest annual price drop, with the average price of a home in that region falling 9.2 per cent in August compared with the same month in 2015.

Greater Vancouver’s reported annual price rise of 12.2 per cent was the largest in BC, and its sales-to-active-listings ratio was the province’s highest, meaning that Greater Vancouver is currently deepest into sellers’ market territory.

 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/august-rounds-out-summer-of-scorching-home-sales-across-bc-bcrea-1.2056404#sthash.cpzNn8ZA.dpuf



August Ends Sizzling Summer for Vancouver Real Estate


MLS home sales between 25 and 30 per cent above the 10-year average from June to August, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

Vancouver Yaletown park

It’s been a scorching summer for real estate in Greater Vancouver, with MLS home sales between 25 and 30 per cent above the 10-year average from June to August, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) figures released September 2.

Resale transactions were up 21.3 per cent annually in August and prices up 12 per cent compared with August 2014.

However, this was the second consecutive monthly drop following June’s huge figures, with sales down 15.5 per cent since July, revealing some seasonal decline.

Nevertheless, last month’s sales were 27.9 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

Darcy McLeod, REBGV president, said, “There was no summer lull in our market this year.”

Resale home prices continued to beat previous records, with the benchmark price of a Greater Vancouver home now at $708,500. This is a 12 per cent increase compared with July 2014.

Sales and Listings

Greater Vancouver home sales rose 21.3 per cent to 3,362 units in August, compared with the 2,771 sales of August 2015. This is a drop of 9.1 per cent compared with the 3,978 sales in July 2015.

What's Up, What's Down - At a Glance
 Aug/Jul 15Aug 15/14
Overall Sales -15.5% +21.3%
- Detached -17.2% +11.4%
- Attached -16.2% +18.7%
- Apartment -13.6% +32.7%
New Listings -16.2% +8.7%
Current Listings -5.3% -26.2%

 

Broken down by housing type, detached home sales reached 1,290 units in August, an increase of 11.4 per cent from the 1,158 detached sales recorded in August 2014.

Condo-apartment sales once again saw the biggest annual rise, reaching 1,494 in August 2015, a rise of 32.7 per cent compared with the 1,126 sales in August 2014, reflecting the growth in this market segment.

Sales of townhouses and other attached properties totalled 578 in August, an increase of 18.7 per cent compared with the 487 sales in August 2014.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 4,281 in August. This represents an 8.7 per cent increase compared to the 3,940 new listings in August 2014 but a 16 per cent drop compared with the 5,112 new listings in July.

Total listings remained extremely tight, with the number of properties listed on the MLS at the end of August standing at 10,897, a 26.2 per cent decrease compared with August 2014 and a 5.3 per cent decline compared with July 2015.

“Home buyers … are motivated, but they’re competing for a smaller supply of homes for sale than is typical for this time of year – that’s the dynamic driving our market right now,” said McLeod.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio in August 2015 was 30.9 per cent. The board said that this is the sixth consecutive month that this ratio has been above 30 per cent in Metro Vancouver, meaning that the sellers’ market conditions are persisting.

“Those who have a sound buying strategy and an understanding of current price trends are having the most success in today’s market,” McLeod added.

Benchmark Prices (MLS Home Price Index)

The benchmark price for combined MLS residential property types in Metro Vancouver continued to set its monthly new record, now standing at $708,500. This represents a 12 per cent increase compared with August 2014.

The benchmark price for a detached property in Metro Vancouver increased 17.5 per cent from August 2014 to $1,159,600, the highest price growth rate of all the property types.

Townhome and other attached unit prices increased 7.3 per cent between August 2014 and 2015 to $511,500, which was no increase over July's figure.

The benchmark price of a condominium-apartment property continued to increase at the slowest rate, albeit an increasing one, rising 6.3 per cent compared with August 2014 to $405,400.

The composite benchmark prices by housing type are:

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
 Aug 2015Aug/Jul 15Aug 15/14
Detached $1,159,000 +1.6% +17.5%
Townhome $511,500 +0.0% +7.3%
Apartment $405,400 +1.1% +6.3%

 

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 in the REBGV full statistics package.


  • 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, 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.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/august-ends-sizzling-summer-for-vancouver-real-estate-rebgv-1.2047938#sthash.VDsD4VB7.dpuf



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.

 ews/vancouver-house-owners-rent-out-suites-at-triple-national-average-survey-1.2039193#sthash.EQGan3Mc.dpuf



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.”

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/house-prices-in-bc-to-keep-rising-over-2015-and-2016-rbc-forecast-1.2035882#sthash.CcW6wafv.dpuf

 



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.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/new-home-prices-in-vancouver-continue-upward-streak-statcan-1.2029852#sthash.SYH8z2dc.dpuf



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.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/infographic-greater-vancouver-real-estate-july-2015-1.2023250#sthash.zanTclbw.dpuf



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.



Sunshine Coast Luxury Waterfront Homes: Cheaper than a West Side Bungalow


Prices on the Sunshine Coast have barely budged in eight years and lots on Gulf Islands – even entire islands – are still at relatively low prices

This two-storey, four-bedroom home in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast sits on a 15,960-square-foot oceanfront lot with level access to a sandy beach and stunning south-western ocean views. It is listed for $1.59 million.

For the average price of a Vancouver West Side bungalow – $1.5 million – buyers could purchase a luxury waterfront home just a short ferry ride to the city, according to a survey by REW.ca's sister publication Western Investor.

And for the price of a large luxury house on Vancouver’s West Side or West Vancouver, entire Gulf Islands are within reach.

While average detached house prices for areas served by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver have risen 64% since the 2008 financial crisis – and more than doubled in Vancouver proper – they have barely budged in the rest of the province. Coastal real estate prices outside of the Lower Mainland are now the same or, in many cases, lower than seven years ago, according to the BC Real Estate Association and local realtors.

Western Investor’s survey turned up some waterfront listings that may tempt homeowners to cash out of Vancouver.

Roberts Creek, Sunshine Coast:  Considered one of the prime neighbourhoods in this resort community a 35-minute BC Ferries ride from West Vancouver, Roberts Creeks offers relatively low-priced waterfront easily accessible from the city. An example is a two-storey, four-bedroom waterfront house on Beach Avenue. The Westcoast-style home sits on a 15,960-square-foot oceanfront lot with level access to a sandy beach and southwest views to Vancouver Island. The asking price is $1.59 million, listed by Brynelsen O'Reilly Group of Sechelt.

Powell River: Located on the northern Sunshine Coast and accessible by ferry from both Vancouver and Vancouver Island, the forestry town has both oceanfront and lakefront properties. Western Investor’s pick here is a two-bedroom house of 1,466 square feet on 0.75-acres of landscaped, level oceanfront. The listed price is $499,900, through Powell River realtor Warren Behan.

Gulf Islands: Prices have come down from the peak of eight years ago, said Janet Moore, a Royal LePage agent in Nanaimo. Moore, a specialist in waterfront property, provided two examples from ferry-accessible Thetis Island: a 2.7-acre, west-facing waterfront parcel with a 1,100-square foot house listed at $675,000; and a 1.6-acre level waterfront property with a high-end, 1,800-square-foot house for $1.25 million.

On Sidney Island, at the southern end of Vancouver Island, 1.8-acre oceanfront lots are available from as low as $179,000, according to agent Richard Osborne of LandQuest Realty Corp. There is also a newer house on nearly six acres of Sidney Island oceanfront for $605,000.

For less than $5 million, there are entire islands for sale in the Gulf, listed by Jones Lang Lasalle Specialized Assets of Vancouver. An example is 66-acre South Secretary Island in the southern Gulf Islands. It has been preserved in its natural state by the long-time owners and includes several sandy beaches and a number of areas to construct a dock. It is priced at $4.95 million.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/sunshine-coast-luxury-waterfront-homes-cheaper-than-a-west-side-bungalow-1.2009309#sthash.OwTfHGRP.dpuf



Vancouver House Prices to Rise by 9.4% in 2015


First half of 2015 was red hot across all housing types and market shows no sign of cooling, despite economic uncertainty, says report

home for sale - sold

Despite the clouds hanging on the economic horizon across Canada, Vancouver’s red hot market is showing no sign  of cooling off over the rest of the year, according to the Royal LePage House Price and Market Survey released July 14.

The report is forecasting that house prices in the city will rise by 9.4 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014.

Looking back at 2015’s second quarter, the average price for a detached two-storey home in Vancouver was $1,368,125, a rise of 13.6 per cent compared with the same period last year, said the report.

Royal LePage observed that there is a diminishing supply of single-family homes, which is the property type in the highest demand.

“There is a finite supply of detached homes and they continue to be one of the most desired property types by a wide range of buyers,”  said Chris Simmons, manager of Royal LePage Westside in Vancouver.

Detached bungalow prices rose 12.6 per cent to an average $1,247,125 in Q2 2015, whereas condos increased a more modest 6 per cent to $521,425, compared with the Q2 2014.

“Average prices for homes in Vancouver continued their sharp ascent in the second quarter as a result of high demand and tight supply,” said Bill Binnie, broker at Royal LePage Northshore.

“Vancouver is a highly sought-after destination for homebuyers with a very limited supply of properties, which puts the market firmly in the hands of sellers.”

 Binnie added, “The market is firing on all cylinders. The low interest rate environment is encouraging many buyers to make their purchase now while the rates remain attractive. There is little indication that demand will taper off in the short term.”

According to Simmons, activity in the condominium market is picking up as buyers are priced out of the single-family home market. “With a diminishing supply of detached homes, buyers are starting to gravitate towards condominiums. If there is an uptick in sales activity and decrease in inventory, it would not be surprising to see price appreciation quicken in this category.”

Nationally, Canada’s real estate market performed strongly in the second quarter of 2015, with solid national average price appreciation across housing segments. However, Vancouver and Toronto markets are carrying the weight of this strong performance.

The report added, “Furthermore, the combination of high sales volumes and vigorous price appreciation in Canada’s largest cities has put the national residential real estate market on track for a record year in terms of total sales.”

Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer of Royal LePage, said, “Looking to Canada as a whole, 2015 is shaping up to be a record year for housing, despite the cloud of economic uncertainty caused by low oil prices and twitchy global economies.”

However, the report pointed out that a further interest rate cut this month “could over-stimulate markets such as Greater Toronto and Vancouver.”

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/vancouver-house-prices-to-rise-by-9-4-in-2015-royal-lepage-forecast-1.1999825#sthash.ZMBKVEYr.dpuf



Infographic: Greater Vancouver Real Estate, June 2015


Greater Vancouver home sales and prices were up yet again in the hottest June on record. Our monthly infographic breaks down the key real estate statistics

Greater Vancouver home sale prices are up 10.3 per cent year over year according to Real Estate Board of Vancouver (REBGV) figures released July 3, and real estate sales numbers continue to climb. In fact, the 4,375 homes sold last month were 29.1 per cent above the 10-year average for June.

Below is our useful infographic that highlights the key stats and breaks down the figures, area by area. To read the full story and analysis, click here.

REBGV-6

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/infographic-greater-vancouver-real-estate-june-2015-1.1989505#sthash.BFyh6yhe.dpuf



Metro Vancouver home sales set record pace in June


Last month was the highest selling June, and the second highest overall monthly total, on record for the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

The REBGV reports that residential property sales in Metro Vancouver* reached 4,375 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in June 2015. This represents a 28.4 per cent increase compared to the 3,406 sales recorded in June 2014, and an increase of 7.9 per cent compared to the 4,056 sales in May 2015.

Last month’s sales were 29.1 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month. It’s the fourth straight month with over 4,000 sales, which is a first in the REBGV’s history. The previous highest number of residential home sales was 4,434, recorded in May 2005.

“Demand in our detached home market continues to drive activity across Metro Vancouver,” Darcy McLeod, REBGV president said. “There were more detached home sales in the region last month than we’ve seen during the month of June in more than 10 years.” 

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $694,000. This represents a 10.3 per cent increase compared to June 2014.

“Housing market activity comes in cycles; we're in an up cycle right now that looks similar to the mid-2000s,” McLeod said. “It would be easy to point to one factor that's causing this cycle, but the truth is that it's a number of different factors.

"Conditions today are being driven by low interest rates, a declining supply of detached homes, a growing population, a provincial economy that's outperforming the rest of Canada, pent-up demand from previous years and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that we live in a highly desirable region," McLeod said. 

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,803 in June. This represents an 8.7 per cent increase compared to the 5,339 new listings reported in June 2014.

"We’re seeing a steady stream of new listings entering the market, but the overall number of homes for sale is not keeping up with buyer demand," McLeod said.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the region’s MLS® is 12,181, a 23.9 per cent decline compared to June 2014 and a 1.3 per cent decline compared to May 2015. This is the lowest active listing total for June since 2006. 

The sales-to-active-listings ratio in June was 35.9 per cent. This is the highest that this ratio has been in Metro Vancouver since June 2006. A seller’s market typically occurs when this ratio exceeds 20 per cent for a sustained period of time. 

“The competition in today’s market means that buyers have less time to make decisions,” McLeod said. “Given this, it’s important to work with your REALTOR® to gain insight into the local market, to get quick access to new MLS® listings, to develop a buying strategy that meets your needs and risk appetite, and to receive other services and protections that come from having professional representation.”

Sales of detached properties in June 2015 reached 1,920, an increase of 31.3 per cent from the 1,462 detached sales recorded in June 2014, and a 74.2 per cent increase from the 1,102 units sold in June 2013. The benchmark price for a detached property in Metro Vancouver increased 14.8 per cent from June 2014 to $1,123,900.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,774 in June 2015, an increase of 35.6 per cent compared to the 1,308 sales in June 2014, and an increase of 66.1 per cent compared to the 1,068 sales in June 2013. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 5.3 per cent from June 2014 to $400,200.

Attached property sales in June 2015 totalled 681, an increase of 7.1 per cent compared to the 636 sales in June 2014, and a 44.3 per cent increase from the 472 attached properties sold in June 2013. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 7.1 per cent between June 2014 and 2015 to $506,900.

*Editor’s Note:  Areas covered by Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver include: 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.

Download the complete stats package by clicking here



British Columbians Embracing the Cottage Getaway: RE/MAX Report


West Coast residents prioritizing cabin life over city breaks, according to annual RE/MAX Recreational Property Report

Cabin cottage deck chair

Nearly 69 per cent of British Columbians would choose a long weekend at the cottage over a big-city getaway, according to the annual RE/MAX Recreational Property Report released June 24.

That is slightly above the national average of respondents (67.8 per cent) who said the same thing.

Across Canada and in BC, around 21 per cent of respondents said they would consider downsizing their main home to buy a cottage.

And nationwide, 40.5 per cent of those surveyed said they would pool resources with family and friends in order to buy a vacation home.

The report also said that, in markets where there are large enough sample sizes for year-over-year comparisons, almost all regions witnessed year-over-year price appreciation and an increase in sales. The report highlighted is Whistler, where chalets increased 5.2 per cent from a median price of $1,250,000 in 2014 to $1,315,000.

The RE/MAX report also found that the low Canadian dollar was having a positive effect on domestic vacation home sales in several ways:

  • Canadians who bought US property in the 2008-12 downturn are now able to sell for a nice profit and take advantage of the low dollar to buy their dream properties in Canada;
  • Canadians buying vacation homes are choosing Canada over the US because of the relatively high US dollar; and
  • Overseas buyers are getting a discount on Canadian properties.

RE/MAX also said that there has been a significant increase in vacation-home buyers who are planning to rent out their recreational properties part or full time. In BC, regions that reported an increase include Ucluelet, Tofino and Penticton.

For more insights and expert commentary on the BC recreational property market, click here.

To read the RE/MAX report as an online PDF form, click here.



How to Protect Your Home from Water Damage


We all protect our home from fire and smoke, but what about water damage? The Home Insurance experts at BCAA offer eight excellent tips to avoid a costly mess

Water damage

Water damage is one of the most common and costly challenges facing BC homeowners. The frequency and severity of water damage claims continue to grow due to extreme weather, more complex appliances and the growing popularity of condensed multi-unit living.

Most insurance policies do not cover water damage caused by continuous or repeated seepage, rising ground waters or surface waters – but sudden, while accidental, escape of water from a watermain, plumbing, heating system or internal drain are usually covered. Water damage resulting from a private external drain or entry of water through an opening in your roof are usually not covered and depend on your policy; additional coverage can be purchased for either event to provide you with protection needed.

A few simple precautions can help to safeguard your home and possessions from water damage:

  • Install water alarms. They work like smoke detectors but warn of leaks from toilets, water heaters, overflowing baths and sinks. Simply place near any water source and a high-pitched alarm alerts you to water leaks. Water alarms start from as little as $15 a unit.
  • Install stainless steel-braided hoses where possible. These hoses cost around $20 and are less likely to deteriorate than plastic hoses. Dishwasher and washing machine hoses should be inspected and replaced every three to five years. 
  • Use a rain barrel. Rain barrels keep rainwater out of overloaded storm sewer infrastructures and provide you with water for your garden. Check if your municipality has a program that offers subsidies for a rain barrel purchase.
  • Connect an eavestrough downspout extension. Extend the eavestrough at least six feet from foundation walls to prevent water from draining into your basement, and direct it towards the street. Downspout extensions cost around $15.
  • Check the foundation. As ice melts or after heavy rain, clear any pooling water away from the home.
  • Inspect the roof. Get the roof inspected every few years to check the condition of the shingles and replace when necessary in order to prevent leaks.
  • Test the sump pump. If the basement has one, examine it and conduct a test run especially if it doesn’t get used frequently.
  • Protect your valuables. Consider moving valuables away from high-risk areas, such as the basement, or place items on high shelves or risers, especially in homes prone to water damage.


The Rise and Rise of Townhomes


As single-family homes become increasingly scarce, townhouses are seeing a massive surge in popularity

Buyers looking for the benefits a detached home offers without the hassle of maintenance – or the exorbitant prices – are turning in increasing numbers to new townhouse developments.

Sales of townhomes currently account for 60 to 70 per cent of new real estate development transactions in the Fraser Valley. Townhouse sales in that region jumped nearly 21 per cent in May 2015 compared with the previous May. Those numbers would likely be mirrored in Metro Vancouver except for the limited supply of new townhomes in many of that region’s municipalities. Even so, there were 733 townhouse sales across Metro Vancouver in May 2015 – an increase of 34 per cent compared with sales in May 2014.

What’s Driving Sales?

“Townhomes appeal to a broad segment of the market... people who want to own a home but not an apartment,” said Scott Brown, president of Fifth Avenue Real Estate Marketing, a residential real estate sales and project marketing organization. “They want to build equity and have children, but they don’t want such a big financial burden that they can’t afford a vacation. A townhouse meets their needs and allows them to do more than just own a home.”

Michael Ferreira, managing principal at Urban Analytics, a real estate and urban planning consultant firm, says affordability is the primary driver of townhouse sales.

“Townhomes are fairly affordable, especially in the Fraser Valley,” he said. “It’s the next best thing to a single-family home: you have your own front door, outdoor space, a garage, multi-levels. When you look at the price point between a townhouse and a single family house, it’s a no brainer.”

Real estate consultant and urban planner Michael Geller notes townhouses are popular with buyers across various demographics.

“Many empty nesters aren’t ready for an apartment. For those people, a townhouse is an excellent transition. And for those moving up from an apartment, single-family houses are simply not affordable. They see townhouses as an attractive alternative.”

Product Innovation

Townhouses have traditionally been skinny, three-storey buildings with tandem garages. But designs are changing and bringing more people to the market.

“Developers are constantly making notes on unfulfilled needs expressed by prospective buyers at their presentation centres,” said Brown. “Masters on the main floor have come about because of aging consumers telling developers they want that and that they don’t like three storeys with all the stairs.”

Rooftop amenities that accommodate outdoor living are also popular. One Langley site, Exchange, has enjoyed such strong sales the developer has accelerated construction to keep up with demand.

“Exchange’s rooftop decks replace the traditional patch of grass a townhouse offers,” said Ferreira. “The design means you’re locked in with three neighbours but you still have outdoor space.”

More than 50 per cent of Exchange’s buyers are single and come from communities across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The two-bedroom units appeal to singles and couples without large families. Prices, starting in the low $300,000s, are less than the average Metro Vancouver apartment.

“These homes are targeted to those who would otherwise buy a two-bedroom apartment,” said Brown. “The Fraser Valley is more affordable and townhouse prices have been relatively flat.”

But it's not just the Fraser Valley that's seeing this trend. Marcon, a Vancouver developer, currently has two townhome projects in the design stages – one along Granville Street with 18 homes and one just off Cambie with 24 homes. To date, they've built hundreds of townhomes across the Lower Mainland, including the Century Signature and Westchester developments, both in Vancouver.

"In the past two years there has been a major shortage of townhomes in Vancouver, which has resulted in fast absorption rates and higher prices," said Nic Paolella, Marcon's development manager.

“Development activity for of this product type is not as well known as condominium developments. It's quietly happening, not like the big towers. And I think it's because the community doesn't perceive a negative impact of townhomes on a community, unlike larger developments, because they are smaller scale. But townhomes offer a lot of value in terms of diversity of housing, affordability over single-family homes as well as not-insignifcant community amenity contributions."

Strata Vs. Non-Strata

Most townhouses are strata-titled, with purchasers becoming members of a condominium association. But not all buyers want the associated strata maintenance fees and restrictions. While they are still the exception rather than the rule, there is an emerging demand for non-strata townhouse developments.

Parkside and Bedford Landing in Langley are fee-simple projects. And Aragon Homes built a non-strata row house development in New Westminster’s Port Royal community. These projects proved to be highly marketable and more are sure to follow.

Geller has written extensively on this topic. “Developers have been building condominium townhouses for so long and they tend not to embrace something new until demand is there,” he said.

The Townhouse Mindset

The demand for townhouses is not going to decrease any time soon. Fifth Avenue Real Estate Marketing cites a recent survey of more than 40 industry leaders. More than 96 per cent of them believe the townhouse sector will continue to advance to meet growing consumer demand.

“It’s going to be the standard mindset for the next 10 to 15 years,” said Brown. “We need to be greener and we need to squeeze more homes onto available land without compromising lifestyle. Townhouses are the alternative that best meets the needs of multiple partners.”

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/the-rise-and-rise-of-townhomes-1.1960094#sthash.J3EaQbrW.dpuf



Greater Vancouver Real Estate, May 2015


Vancouver home sales are up year over year and prices reached record highs again. Our useful infographic will help you make sense of the stats

Greater Vancouver MLS home prices reached another record high, as home sales in May rose 23 per cent year over year and 16.7 per cent above the 10-year average, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) figures released June 2.

Below is our useful infographic that highlights the key stats and breaks down the figures, area by area. To read the full story and analysis, click here.

 

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How to Find the Perfect Mortgage Helper Property


If you're looking for a home with a separate suite, there are lots of things to consider

House with basement suite separate entrance

A mortgage helper property is a home with a suite that can be rented out to tenants. Typically, the owner lives in the main part of the home while the tenants occupy a separate area with its own facilities such as a bathroom and kitchen space.

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.

How exactly do lenders gauge the added value of a home with a rental suite? Typically, 50 per cent of the rental income goes against your debt service ratio, and the lender will want to see a tenancy agreement before closing.

Find the Right Space for the Tenant You Want

As you search for a home, you’ll probably be focusing on the space that works just perfectly for you, but if you’re thinking of bringing in tenants, you need to find a suite that meets the needs of the kind of tenant you want to attract.

You should be looking for a home in a neighbourhood with a high demand for rentals that is close to the amenities they may rely on, such as public transit connections, schools, shops and services. Properties located close to universities can make sense even if you don’t plan on renting your suite to students. It could make your property more attractive to future buyers who want to tap into a dependable rental market.

Look at trends in the area before converting a property to include a suite. If you buy an executive home in an upscale neighbourhood and put in a mortgage helper suite, you could find it harder to sell at the right price if most buyers in the area aren’t looking for that. There may be ways to work around this though, for example if you create a space that could also house a nanny or be used as an in-law suite.

Do your Due Diligence with Existing Tenants

If you’re lucky enough to find a home you love and it already has tenants in the rental suite, it could save you a lot of hassle. You get to reap the financial rewards of your new suite as soon as you buy the property, and you can skip all the effort of finding tenants.

It’s still important to do your due diligence because it can be very difficult to remove existing tenants. Take a look at the suite. Do the tenants take pride in their home and keep it clean? Request a copy of their rental application. Consider asking your Realtor to arrange a meeting between you and the seller to discuss their relationship with the tenants.

You will be bound by the terms of the tenancy agreement between the tenants ant the previous owner, so make sure you read it thoroughly. Find out what the renters currently pay each month. If you think they are paying too little, be aware that you can only increase the rent by an allowable percentage per year.

Stick to Your Comfort Level

Having a suite in your home should be a benefit, not a source of major stress. Staying within your comfort level means being able to manage financially during vacant periods, or if you have to settle a dispute with non-paying tenants.

How do you feel about common entrances, a shared garage or laundry facilities? For some homebuyers, especially those with kids, having separate entrances is high on the priority list. Test out the noise transfer between your spaces, and look into the hot water system to make sure you don’t have to worry about running out of hot water.

Ask a Realtor about your municipality’s approach to authorized and unauthorized suites. In most areas, you’ll see many more homes with unauthorized suites on the market than authorized ones – but again, the decision comes down to what you are comfortable with.

The Long-Term Advantage

Renting out a part of your home to tenants is a big decision, and some buyers may feel a little unsure about taking that step. One of the great things about owning a property with a suite is that you don’t have to rent it out, but if times get tough, you’ll have that revenue generator to fall back on.

Everyone’s parents are getting older. Owning a home with a suite means there’s an opportunity down the road to have parents move in to help raise a child or offset the mortgage. There are many benefits of owning this type of property, even if having tenants is not part of your short-term plan.



Densification in Vancouver: Some (Land) Assembly Required


As the City tries to increase density, rows of for-sale signs mark where land is being assembled for development – but not all those blocks have been rezoned for density

Metro Vancouver is growing... we’re expecting an additional million people to move here over the next 25 years. To prepare, the region’s municipalities are adding density. Neighbourhoods that have traditionally been zoned for single-family detached homes are being transformed into communities with condominiums and townhouses. It’s a trend that has visions of dollar signs dancing in some homeowners’ eyes.

Many neighbours are banding together to sell their properties as land assembled lots. While this is happening throughout the region, it is especially apparent along several major arteries in Vancouver including Cambie, Oak, Granville and 41st where the for-sale signs are lining up, row upon row. The assumption is that when owners sell together, they will receive a higher price for the assembled land than they would individually. But how realistic is it to think that the value of your home could double or even triple because of potential redevelopment?

Seeking Unsuspecting Buyers

Michael Geller is a local architect, planner and property developer who has worked on land-assembly projects since the 1990s.

“The City has an overall plan that will allow some single-family lots to be redeveloped as apartments,” he said. “In some cases, developers tried to quietly assemble these sites themselves. Residents thought they might get better deals if they worked together.

“Now we have a situation up and down Cambie where lots are being assembled, but the current city plan isn’t to rezone all of them. It’s startling to me to see Realtor signs – sometimes five or six in a row – in locations I know the City has no plans to rezone now or in the immediate future. Realtors are hoping to find unsuspecting buyers who think it is logical for these places to be redeveloped.”

Further East

While Vancouver’s West Side is the area where most land assembly real estate speculation is taking place, there are pockets in East Vancouver that are also undergoing change. The Norquay Village community is one example. Here the 18-unit Slocan Villa townhouse complex located only a minute’s walk from a SkyTrain station will replace the torn-down detached homes. Further down Slocan Street, closer to Kingsway, another four properties have been assembled. Jackson Ng is the real estate agent who helped put together the latter deal.

“The first four lots north of the lane are zoned for an apartment building,” he said. “The buyers purchased the first house four or five years ago and held onto it as an investment property. I listed the three homes next to it as part of a land assembly. The owners received offers substantially over their assessed value because they worked together.”

Tricky Negotiations

Ng cautions that successful land assemblies do not come together overnight. The number of stakeholders makes negotiations significantly more difficult than a single transaction as each family has different needs. Each needs to find a new home to go to, which Ng describes as the hardest part of the transaction.

“It definitely requires teamwork between the owners,” he advised. “You need an agent who is working for you – not the buyers. Some Realtors are over-promising and under-delivering in order to get your business. My advices is to work with someone who’s realistic about what you’ll be able to achieve.”

Not Just the Suburbs

Densification is also happening at a fast pace in the city’s downtown core. In the Hornby Slopes neighbourhood, Grosvenor Americas is taking a rezoning proposal forward to the city for parcels of land at Hornby and Pacific. The site includes the heritage Leslie House, which will be restored and used as a community amenity building. The company’s senior vice-president and general manager, Michael Ward, anticipates the redevelopment will eventually see a residential tower between 30 to 40 storeys plus a handful of townhouses to replace the site’s derelict buildings.

“There’s a renewed sense of interest in Hornby Slopes and we see it as a great place to be involved,” said Ward. “When you buy and develop land you’re taking huge risks. There are a lot of unknowns around construction and marketing costs and there’s also uncertainty about density when you have to rezone a property. The profits are commensurate with the risks but certainly not double or triple what you pay. They’re probably far less than people think.”

Regarding land assemblies, Ward notes they have been happening “forever” and warns that homeowners are taking the chance that the City will “upzone” the properties.

“Speculation is not a great way to run a development business,” he said. “Those can be dangerous games to play.”

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/densification-in-vancouver-some-land-assembly-required-1.1936248#sthash.Ob1MBekE.dpuf



Location Vs. Amenities Vs. Schools: Picking the Right Neighbourhood to Buy In


Each person’s perfect community may differ from the next, but there are many common features

Vancouver single-family home neighbourhood street

One person’s ideal home is likely to be different from another’s, but there are many features that will be the same. There are needs and wants that are similar in all people, and the desire to find the right community for one’s lifestyle is no exception. Distance from amenities is one of the most popular community features in the Lower Mainland, for example. But traditional features such as distance to schools are often important as well.

So how do you balance all those needs and desires and distil them into one neighbourhood that is ideal for you?

When you enter the real estate market to buy a property, it’s very important to be mindful about where you are buying. What does this community bring to the table? What is the history of the housing market within this area? Will there be a demand for my home when I go to resell it? All these are critical factors to look at when searching for the right place to live.

Lifestyle is Key to Happiness

Feeling like you are part of a community is critical to happiness, and often you can address this by buying into the right neighbourhood. If you cycle everywhere in the city, buying near the PNE might not be the best spot for your life. When you have a family of five, it’s important to look at what schools are nearby and whether or not they will address your requirements.

Sometimes just a good old-fashioned walk around the area will give you a great sense of what it would be like to live there. Is there an unusual amount of vacant land? If so, it’s a good idea to research who owns the land and to see if there are any plans to use it. Imagine buying a home only to find out six months later a highrise building is going up to obstruct the view you fell in love with. It happens more than you’d think!

Access to parks, recreation, shopping, restaurants and coffee shops is another key factor to a great neighbourhood. In Vancouver, areas like Cambie VillageMain Street and Sunrise/Hastings are currently experiencing a big upswing in new businesses in the area. Established areas like the West End, Commercial Drive and Kitsilano always have something to offer their residents and are more well known.

Location Wins, Every Time

When it comes to resale value, a good rule of thumb is the more central the property is - the more it will appreciate in value over time. Vancouver city is actually quite small when you compare it to other world cities, so anytime you can own land in a market with high demand and low supply you are putting your money in a good spot.

If you buy a home with direct access to parkland, this can be a great feature for the present as well as the future. Buying too close to a school is often times frowned upon by buyers as it could have some potential noise drawbacks. But if you are set on having your children attend a certain school it might be your only option.

Seek Advice When Needed

Most people in Vancouver know where they want to live, or at least have a general idea. When people are moving to the city from elsewhere, this is often where these tips will come in handy. Search out people who know the areas you are thinking about and ask questions.

Research, research, research is what I tell my clients. This is the most important purchase of your life – don’t leave anything to chance.

Making the right choice to buy in the right neighbourhood will ensure that you are happy in your home, which is very much the name of the game when buying real estate.



Why Strata Documents Don't Have To Be Daunting


The big stack of documents you have to comb through when buying a condo can be intimidating – but it doesn't have to be, says local agent Barry Magee

 
The prospect of buying into a strata unit is all too familiar for Vancouverites, and with good reason. The price of land continues to skyrocket due to a demand level that has a voracious, unquenchable appetite, and for many who wish to live in urban areas, condos are the only option. Fortunately most residents of our fair city are more than comfortable with the restrictions involved with shared living. Stress over condo strata documents

Buying into a condo doesn't have to be overwhelming, and when it comes to strata documents it really is about consumers being protected and making sure the building isn't facing any major issues.

Depreciation Reports

Condo buyers are very well protected in Vancouver and the rest of BC, largely due to strict government regulations. Depreciation reports need to be done every three years in BC. This expense ensures that there are no big surprises for new owners, and current owners can address and serious issues facing their building. Buildings with four or fewer units aren't required to have a depreciation report, and a strata council can decide not to conform if 75 per cent of owners don't want to incur this expense. Learn more about the requirements in BC here.

Navigating a depreciation report can be quite challenging, so it's important to have as many eyes on it as possible. The key component you'll want to address is any future work that needs to be done to the building. If there are three or four major projects recommended to be completed in the next 10 years, it might be time to reconsider the purchase or to negotiate a further discount from the purchase price.

Building Financials

Going over the year-end financials of a building will reveal what type of expenses your building incurs year after year. Are there any items that stick out like a sore thumb? Buildings require consensus between owners to add any new expenses to the docket, so if you notice a number of questionable items you could be dealing with a condo board that likes to spend.

Contingency is important when buying into strata, many people don't realize that strata's have first dibs on your money - even before property taxes and your mortgage! When you buy into a building, try and buy into a building with a high financial reserve. As a rule of thumb, $5000 per unit for a wood framed structure and $10,000 per unit for a concrete building is a good rule of thumb.

Learn From the Minutes

Reading through the strata council minutes can be a little tedious, but it's an important component of making an informed purchase decision. Do your fellow owners take action when something needs to be done or do they defer to another time? There is no worse course of action than trying to avoid issues in a building, in my opinion. Deciding if the council is proactive or reactive is one of the primary reasons to go over the minutes.

Strata minutes shouldn't be overwhelming or daunting, but it is important to have several people go over the documents on your behalf – including a real estate professional or two. Consumers in BC are very well protected, but leaving anything to chance when it comes to a real estate purchase is extremely foolish.

 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/why-strata-documents-don-t-have-to-be-daunting-1.1871874#sthash.0DLn5hHH.dpuf



No Overvaluation or Overheating in Vancouver Despite Prices


Local housing market deemed at low risk of seeing a real estate price correction, according to house price analysis by CMHC 

Vancouver at sunsetDespite having the highest residential real estate prices in the country, Vancouver’s housing market is not overvalued and is very unlikely to see a correction, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The CHMC’s latest House Price Analysis and Assessment report, published April 30, considers the “incidence, intensity and persistence” of four key risk factors that suggest potentially problematic housing market conditions.

Those factors are:                  

  1. overheating of demand in the housing market (demand significantly outpacing supply);
  2. acceleration in the growth rate of house prices;
  3. overvaluation in the level of house prices; and
  4. overbuilding of the housing market (supply significantly outpacing demand, which can reflect excess new construction and/or a decline in demand for existing homes).

The CHMC said that in Vancouver “none of the individual risk factors are currently detected”.

Despite high Vancouver home prices, demand for housing across the price spectrum is supported by a growing population and growth in personal disposable income,” said the report.

“First-time home buyers focus on lower-priced options in suburban locales. At the upper end of the price spectrum, high-net-worth residents, and those who have gained equity in their homes, are more likely to buy single-detached homes in central locations and luxury property."

The report added that high house prices do not necessarily equate to overvaluation. “Overvaluation is present in a housing market when house prices remain significantly above the level warranted by fundamental drivers such as land supply, income, population, and interest rates … For example, average prices in Vancouver exceed the national average, although no overvaluation is detected. In comparison, average prices in Québec are below the national average and overvaluation is detected.”

The CHMC said that overvaluation in Regina and Winnipeg means that those markets are at a high risk of correction.



Vancouver Condos a “Better Investment than Gold”


World’s leading money manager tells Singapore conference buying condos in any of three hot markets is their second-best investment bet

Golden Vancouver condos

Putting your money into condos in Vancouver, New York or London is a better investment than gold bullion, according to the head of the world’s biggest asset management company.

Bloomberg reported this week that Laurence D. Fink, chairman of BlackRock Inc., told a conference in Singapore that there was only one better bet than condos in those three markets – and that’s contemporary art, he claimed.

“The two greatest stores of wealth internationally today is contemporary art….. and I don’t mean that as a joke, I mean that as a serious asset class,” Fink told the Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference April 21.

“And two, the other store of wealth today is apartments in Manhattan, apartments in Vancouver, in London.”

In the past gold was seen as an excellent method of storing wealth that traditionally holds steady even through periods of conflict and inflation. But, since peaking at US$1,921.17 an ounce in 2011, the price of bullion has dropped about 38 per cent.

“Historically gold was a great instrument for storing of wealth,” said Fink. “Gold has lost its lustre and there's other mechanisms in which you can store wealth that are inflation-adjusted.”

He added, “It’s become much more accessible for global families worldwide to store wealth outside their country. And they don’t have to own gold.”

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/vancouver-condos-a-better-investment-than-gold-world-s-biggest-asset-manager-1.1847076#sthash.3pWmpgqs.dpuf



BC Home Sales Up 37.6% in March, Prices Up 14%


Many markets across province experiencing sellers’ market conditions as buyer confidence rises, says association

Home for sale sold

As in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the province as a whole had a case of spring fever when it came to real estate transactions in March, judging by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) figures released April 16.

There were total of 9,101 MLS home sales in March, up 37.6 per cent from the same month last year. Total sales dollar volume was $5.8 billion, an increase of 57.1 per cent compared to a year ago.

The average MLS residential price in BC rose to $641,799, up 14.1 per cent compared with March 2014.

"BC home sales climbed significantly in March," said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist. "More homes traded hands last month than any March since 2007. On a seasonally adjusted basis, March posted the most home sales of any month since December of 2009."

In 2015’s first quarter, BC residential sales were up 22.5 per cent year over year to 20,139 units, while the average MLS residential price was up 8.7 per cent at $630,435.

"Rock bottom interest rates and rising consumer confidence have strengthened housing markets in most regions of the province,” added Muir.

"Many board areas are now exhibiting sellers' market conditions with home prices advancing well above the overall rate of inflation."

The report came out the day after the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released its own monthly figures.

According to the national association, nationwide MLS home sales rose 9.5 per cent compared with March 2014 levels and the average sale price rose 9.4 per cent year-over-year basis in March.

However, CREA added that Vancouver and Toronto’s figures had skewed the national average upwards significantly. Excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, the average house price increased by 2.4 per cent year over year.

March sales were up from the previous month in nearly two-thirds of all Canada’s markets, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.



New Home Prices Drop Further in Vancouver and BC


New townhousesEven though resale prices in Greater Vancouver are at record levels this spring, the price of a new home in the city continued to decline in February, according to Statistics Canada figures released April 9.

Vancouver's new home prices stayed flat compared with January 2015 but fell 0.6 per cent year over year, continuing the trend of recent months.

The New Housing Price Index also fell 0.6 per cent year over year and maintained levels month over month across the whole of BC.

Victoria saw Canada’s biggest new home price decrease in February, falling 1.5 per cent year over year, although staying flat compared with January.

Vancouver and Victoria were two of only eight metropolitan regions to report decreases in new home prices in January, out of a total of 21 areas surveyed.

The index combines both home and land values. As in previous months, the above decreases in value were entirely attributed to developers reporting a drop in negotiated home prices, with land values remaining unchanged for several months.

Across Canada, the index increased 1.4 per cent year over year but fell 0.2 per cent month over month.

To read the full report and view the interactive statistics chart, click here.

 



Spring Fever in Vancouver Market with Home Sales Up 53.7%


Region's sales in March 32.6 per cent above the already impressive figures seen last month, and benchmark prices are up 7.2 per cent

Vancouver spring

Greater Vancouver's spring market has so far surpassed even the highest of expectations, with sales up a staggering 53.7 per cent year over year, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) figures released April 2.

Vancouver's sales were also 32.6 per cent above the already impressive figures seen last month, and 26.8 per cent above the region's 10-year average.

The benchmark price all residential homes in Greater Vancouver saw another notable increasing, rising to $660,700, which is 7.2 per cent above March 2014, echoing the trend of increasing year-over-year growth seen in the past months.

The rise in sales of townhouses outstripped growth of single-family detached home transactions in March.

Sales and Listings

Greater Vancouver MLS home sales totalled 4,060 in March, an increase of 53.7 per cent compared with March 2014, and a rise of 32.6 per cent compared with February  2015.

Detached single-family home sales increased 53.3 per cent compared with March 2014. This sharp increase was not enough to keep their highest-growth status after regaining it in February.

Townhomes and duplexes are proving an increasingly popular option, with sales of attached properties rising an impressive 72.3 per cent year over year.

Following a strong February, condo sales continued their growth, rising 47.1 per cent in March compared with March 2014.

New listings in Greater Vancouver in March were 13 per cent higher than the same month last year. But, following the downward trend of previous months, active listings were down 14.5 per cent, as inventory tightened even further.

Now undeniably a seller's market, the sales-to-active-listings rose to 32.8per cent, the highest since before the recession in July 2007.

What's Up, What's Down - At a Glance
 Mar/Feb 15Mar 15/14
Overall Sales +32.6% +53.7%
- Detached +32.0% +53.3%
- Attached +38.6% +72.3%
- Apartment +30.8% +47.1%
New Listings +8.2% +13.0%
Current Listings +4.0% -14.5%

 

“The number of homes for sale today is below what’s typical for this time of year,” said Darcy McLeod, the recently appointed REBGV president. “If you’ve been considering putting your property on the market, these market conditions indicate that now may be a good time to list.”

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

The benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver now stands at $660,700, which is up 7.2 per cent year over year and up $11,000, or 1.7 per cent, compared with February's $649,700.

Single-family detached homes continued to see the highest price rises of all property types.

Despite the sharp year-over-year jump in condominium apartment sales, prices continued to grow only modestly.

The composite benchmark prices by housing type are:

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
 Mar 2015Mar/Feb 15Mar 15/14
Detached $1,052,800 +1.7% +11.2%
Townhome $484,900 +0.7% +4.9%
Apartment $390,200 +1.0% +3.3%
 

"We're seeing strong competition amongst home buyers today. This is leading to more multiple offer situations and some upward pressure on home prices,” said Darcy McLeod, REBGV president said. “For sellers, this means that it's taking less time, on average, for your home to sell if you have it priced correctly for today's market."

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 in the REBGV full statistics package.

 



All Signs Point to Continued Rise of Local House Prices


Economic growth predictions, population increase projections and ever-rising tide of foreign investors set to keep driving prices up

House prices rising

 "So will Vancouver and Lower Mainland real estate prices just keep rising – or are we in a bubble that is set to pop?"

Well, nobody can predict the future with 100 per cent certainty. But all the indicators suggest that this is not a bubble and that house prices will just keep rising – for the foreseeable future, at least.

What makes me say that? Five key factors.

1) Extremely Tight Local Housing Inventory

The British Columbia Real Estate Association says that, for the Greater Vancouver market, a sales-to-active listings ratio anywhere above 22 per cent is a sellers’ market. In January 2015 we saw a ratio of 17.7 per cent, but the following month, it jumped to 25.7 per cent. Advantage sellers.

What this means is that February saw a big jump in bidding wars and homes selling above asking price. With sales set only to increase, this will doubtless be the case for the rest of this spring market, if not the whole year.

2) Historic Low Interest Rates

With mortgage lenders offering rates that currently seem to be going from rock bottom to even lower, local buyers are suddenly able to afford that little bit more than previously – and listing agents know this and price accordingly. And they can afford to do so. With the previously mentioned inventory as tight as it is, they’re not going to scare away buyers by pushing up asking prices.

So for the short term at least, until interest rates start rising again, this will be a major factor in driving up local residential property prices.

3) Local Economic Growth Projections

New projections from the Conference Board of Canada say that Greater Vancouver’s economic growth in 2016, 2017 and 2018 will be at least 3 per cent each year, outstripping the 27 other census metropolitan areas (CMAs) surveyed across Canada.

The board said in a report published in March 5: “Vancouver’s economic outlook is positive.”

It added that the Vancouver CMA unemployment rate (currently 5.8 per cent) will fall to 4.7 per cent by 2019, similar to that of Calgary at the height of its economic boom.

Other institutions agree. RBC is similarly bullish about the economic growth in BC as a whole, as reported by Business in Vancouver.

With the economy of other provinces and CMAs like Calgary projected to grow at a much slower rate, BC generally and Vancouver specifically are set to benefit with a boost in business activity, greater investment in the city and (hopefully) an increase in average incomes. All of which naturally boosts real estate prices in the medium to long term.

4) Local Population Increase Forecasts

Metro Vancouver’s population is forecast to grow by 30,000 new residents each year, or 1.2 million residents, by 2041 for a total population of 3.4 million, according to Metro Vancouver’s Metro 2040  regional growth projections 

That’s half a million new homes needed in the area to house all those people – and yet housing starts at least over the next few years, are predicted to remain relatively flat, according to the CMHC

What’s more, Metro 2040 was compiled before the recent dip in oil prices and contraction in growth of our neighbouring oil-rich provinces. Interprovincial migration from BC to Alberta is now dropping rapidly. We’re getting more and more people, and losing fewer and fewer. So by 2019, the 30,000-a-year population growth that Vancouver has been seeing could increase to 42,000 additional people a year, said the conference board.

This kind of population growth will put huge pressure on local housing stock and, again, keep house prices rising.

5) Continued Influx of Overseas Investors

One of the most discussed (and much-maligned) influences on Vancouver real estate prices is the thorny topic of overseas investors parking their money in our city’s more expensive homes, particularly those from mainland China.

Some BC agents have suggested the trend is focusing increasingly towards investing commercial and recreational (hotel/resort) properties and away from the limitations of Vancouver housing. And that may be true, but it doesn’t mean that foreign investors are going to stop buying up the city’s real estate and pushing up prices. If anything, signs suggest that more and more overseas investors, from an increasing number of countries, will look to perceived “safe havens” such as Vancouver to park their cash.

The Urban Land Institute said in a recent report that “Local money coming out of China and South Korea is set to continue to seek a home in international markets, and to be supplemented in the years to come by pension fund capital from Japan.”

And Canadian Real Estate Wealth recently reported that Canadian real estate markets should prepare for an influx of investors from Russia and Greece too.

The article said, "Dr. Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres, told CREW sister site MortgageBrokerNews.ca that, due to political uncertainty in Russia and Greece, nationals from both of those countries are expected to move their money out-of-country and into the Canadian real estate market."

So it looks like we are not expecting foreign investment to die down any time soon – even if the Chinese economy’s growth doesn't perform as well as anticipated.

Where does all this leave the average Vancouverite? Sitting pretty, if you're a home owner. Positively smug, if you’re a real estate investor. And if you’re a renter – with a limited window of opportunity to get yourself onto the property ladder any way you can while rates are low.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/editorial-all-signs-point-to-continued-rise-of-local-house-prices-1.1798709#sthash.BvdCFmtX.dpuf



All Signs Point to Continued Rise of Local House Prices


Economic growth predictions, population increase projections and ever-rising tide of foreign investors set to keep driving prices up

House prices rising

So will Vancouver and Lower Mainland real estate prices just keep rising – or are we in a bubble that is set to pop?

Well, nobody can predict the future with 100 per cent certainty. But all the indicators suggest that this is not a bubble and that house prices will just keep rising – for the foreseeable future, at least.

What makes me say that? Five key factors.

1) Extremely Tight Local Housing Inventory

The British Columbia Real Estate Association says that, for the Greater Vancouver market, a sales-to-active listings ratio anywhere above 22 per cent is a sellers’ market. In January 2015 we saw a ratio of 17.7 per cent, but the following month, it jumped to 25.7 per cent. Advantage sellers.

What this means is that February saw a big jump in bidding wars and homes selling above asking price. With sales set only to increase, this will doubtless be the case for the rest of this spring market, if not the whole year.

2) Historic Low Interest Rates

With mortgage lenders offering rates that currently seem to be going from rock bottom to even lower, local buyers are suddenly able to afford that little bit more than previously – and listing agents know this and price accordingly. And they can afford to do so. With the previously mentioned inventory as tight as it is, they’re not going to scare away buyers by pushing up asking prices.

So for the short term at least, until interest rates start rising again, this will be a major factor in driving up local residential property prices.

3) Local Economic Growth Projections

New projections from the Conference Board of Canada say that Greater Vancouver’s economic growth in 2016, 2017 and 2018 will be at least 3 per cent each year, outstripping the 27 other census metropolitan areas (CMAs) surveyed across Canada.

The board said in a report published in March 5: “Vancouver’s economic outlook is positive.”

It added that the Vancouver CMA unemployment rate (currently 5.8 per cent) will fall to 4.7 per cent by 2019, similar to that of Calgary at the height of its economic boom.

Other institutions agree. RBC is similarly bullish about the economic growth in BC as a whole, as reported by REW.ca’s sister publication Business in Vancouver.

With the economy of other provinces and CMAs like Calgary projected to grow at a much slower rate, BC generally and Vancouver specifically are set to benefit with a boost in business activity, greater investment in the city and (hopefully) an increase in average incomes. All of which naturally boosts real estate prices in the medium to long term.

4) Local Population Increase Forecasts

Metro Vancouver’s population is forecast to grow by 30,000 new residents each year, or 1.2 million residents, by 2041 for a total population of 3.4 million, according to Metro Vancouver’s Metro 2040  regional growth projections 

That’s half a million new homes needed in the area to house all those people – and yet housing starts at least over the next few years, are predicted to remain relatively flat, according to the CMHC

What’s more, Metro 2040 was compiled before the recent dip in oil prices and contraction in growth of our neighbouring oil-rich provinces. Interprovincial migration from BC to Alberta is now dropping rapidly. We’re getting more and more people, and losing fewer and fewer. So by 2019, the 30,000-a-year population growth that Vancouver has been seeing could increase to 42,000 additional people a year, said the conference board.

This kind of population growth will put huge pressure on local housing stock and, again, keep house prices rising.

5) Continued Influx of Overseas Investors

One of the most discussed (and much-maligned) influences on Vancouver real estate prices is the thorny topic of overseas investors parking their money in our city’s more expensive homes, particularly those from mainland China.

Some BC agents have suggested the trend is focusing increasingly towards investing commercial and recreational (hotel/resort) properties and away from the limitations of Vancouver housing. And that may be true, but it doesn’t mean that foreign investors are going to stop buying up the city’s real estate and pushing up prices. If anything, signs suggest that more and more overseas investors, from an increasing number of countries, will look to perceived “safe havens” such as Vancouver to park their cash.

The Urban Land Institute said in a recent report that “Local money coming out of China and South Korea is set to continue to seek a home in international markets, and to be supplemented in the years to come by pension fund capital from Japan.”

And Canadian Real Estate Wealth recently reported that Canadian real estate markets should prepare for an influx of investors from Russia and Greece too.

The article said, "Dr. Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres, told CREW sister site MortgageBrokerNews.ca that, due to political uncertainty in Russia and Greece, nationals from both of those countries are expected to move their money out-of-country and into the Canadian real estate market."

So it looks like we are not expecting foreign investment to die down any time soon – even if the Chinese economy’s growth doesn't perform as well as anticipated.

Where does all this leave the average Vancouverite? Sitting pretty, if you're a home owner. Positively smug, if you’re a real estate investor. And if you’re a renter – with a limited window of opportunity to get yourself onto the property ladder any way you can while rates are low.



Wealth Transfer Driving Vancouver House Prices (Not Just Overseas Buyers)


The transfer of wealth between generations is an increasing factor in local real-estate transactions – whether that family is Canadian, Chinese or otherwise

Multi-generational family celebrating

In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen how Greater Vancouver’s house prices are on a seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory, with the real estate board reporting that February benchmark prices are up 6.4 per cent year over year for homes sold on the MLS, and sales up 21 per cent compared with February 2014. 

But what’s driving this rise in house prices? We all know that investment from overseas (mostly mainland Chinese) buyers is a major factor. But is that the only factor?

Some facors may be in this well-publicized editorial about the three key reasons why many Vancouverites are also able to afford the city’s high real estate prices. But there is one crucial factor that we haven’t delved into, and that is wealth transfer within families.

Here’s what’s happening in increasing volumes. Baby-boomers (aged 51-69) have been seeing their parents die and inheriting their estates – paid-off homes and investments that have increased massively in value. The thing is, the baby-boomers are already well established and have their own real estate assets – indeed, this is Canada’s wealthiest generation ever. So many of them don’t really need the inheritance for themselves, and look instead to help their own children – Gen X and, to some degree, Y.

These 21- to 45-year-olds are the fortunate beneficiaries of a considerable amount of cash from the sale of such estates, meaning that they are often putting huge down payments on their own homes. That makes these homes suddenly affordable to those younger people, despite what might be fairly average incomes. (Another reason why the oft-maligned median-income-to-house-price ratio is largely irrelevant – more on that in the aforementioned affordability editorial, and also here.)

Keith Roy, a Realtor with Macdonald Realty, has been talking to BNN on this very topic (watch the video here). He points out that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is raising red flags over the increasing numbers of uninsured mortgages, but what that actually means is that more and more people are putting down more than 20 per cent and therefore don’t need to insure their mortgage. Surely this trend proves there is increasing personal equity in the market, which equals stability – not the opposite? Roy is seeing a lot of inheritance transfer from baby-boomers to their offspring, driving up local prices. More parents are helping children buy real estate. As long as the parents are gifting the money, it’s not calculated into their total debt service ratio.

Chris Catliff, CEO of BlueShore Financial in North Vancouver, agrees. He says that his credit union has seen an increase in the number of parents who use their equity to help their children buy into a detached-home neighbourhood. Admittedly, some of these are wealthy immigrant home buyers, but not all of them.

More supporters of the wealth-transfer theory are seasoned industry veterans Tsur Sommerville, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, and the Condo King himself, real estate marketer Bob Rennie. In a 2014 speech to the Urban Development Institute, Rennie said wealth transfer between generations is increasing and will help to keep real estate demand in Vancouver strong.

What does all this ultimately mean for the Vancouver market and would-be home owners? Four things.

  1. Despite mediocre average salaries in the city, there is considerable additional wealth behind the scenes that is making high-priced real estate affordable for a considerable segment of regular folk.
  2. Local house prices are not likely to go down any time soon, as the market is well supported by that wealth.
  3. Even on the off-chance of a soft landing for the market, prices are likely to go down considerably less than 20 per cent, which means most homeowners will not go into negative equity, despite the IMF’s scaremongering.
  4. That if you’re not on the property ladder right now, you should take advantage of current low interest rates to buy into the market, as prices are likely to only rise. (And if you don’t have inheritance to fall back on, buy further out in more affordable areas to build equity.)

Happy house hunting!

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/editorial-wealth-transfer-driving-vancouver-house-prices-not-just-overseas-buyers-1.1791066#sthash.SButUUTW.dpuf



Vancouver’s Top Tier Home Market to Keep Growing


 

Vancouver luxury homeFollowing an increase in sales of 25 per cent in 2014, Vancouver’s $1 million-plus home market is poised to see more steady growth in 2015, according to a Sotheby's International Realty Canada report released March 4.

The Bank of Canada’s decision to maintain historically low interest rates will have a stabilizing effect on the market, and result in “positive gains” for BC and Vancouver, according to the nationwide report.

Ross McCredie, President and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, said, "Historically low lending rates will be the driving force behind top-tier real estate sales across the country into mid-2015. With both the Ontario and BC economy positioned for growth, the high-end real estate market in Toronto and Vancouver will experience the greatest gains.”

The report adds that the low lending rates “will ease the ability for buyers to enter and upgrade within the real estate market by offsetting price gains, and signal a measured approach to monetary policy that appeals to foreign investors seeking stable real estate markets.”

Sotheby’s noted that in the first two months of 2015, detached single-family homes over $1 million saw a 24% increase in 2014 sales over 2013 and said that gains were anticipated in the coming months. Meanwhile, demand for attached home sales over $1 million is projected to continue its trend upwards as consumers seek alternatives to single-family homes, according to the report.

To view the full report, click here.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/vancouver-s-top-tier-home-market-to-keep-growing-sotheby-s-1.1781892#sthash.evo9WFTH.dpuf



Home buyers remain active despite reduced selection


VANCOUVER, B.C. – February 3, 2015 – The first month of 2015 saw home sale activity above historical norms, while the number of homes listed for sale trended below typical levels.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,913 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2015. This represents an 8.7 per cent increase compared to the 1,760 sales recorded in January 2014, and a 9.6 per cent decline compared to the 2,116 sales in December 2014.

Last month’s sales were 14.9 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

“While demand remains steady, we’re seeing fewer homes for sale at the moment,” Ray Harris, REBGV president, said. "This is creating greater competition amongst buyers, particularly in the detached home market. The number of detached homes listed for sale today is the second lowest we’ve seen in four years.

” New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver1 totalled 4,737 in January. This represents an 11.4 per cent decline compared to the 5,345 new listings reported in January 2014.

Last month’s new listing count was 1.2 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month. The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the REBGV MLS® is 10,811, a 14.2 per cent decline compared to January 2014 and a 4.8 per cent increase compared to December 2014.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $641,6002 . This represents a 5.5 per cent increase compared to January 2014.

With the sales-to-active-listings ratio at 17.7 per cent, the region remains in balanced market territory. “The Bank of Canada’s recent announcement to lower its benchmark interest rate is an important one for home buyers, sellers and owners to note,” Harris said. “A reduced rate could allow you to pay down your mortgage a little faster, save some money on your monthly payments, or change the amount you qualify for. It’s important that you do your homework and understand how these announcements impact your situation.”

Sales of detached properties in January 2015 reached 781, an increase of 7.3 per cent from the 728 detached sales recorded in January 2014, and a 44.1 per cent increase from the 542 units sold in January 2013. The benchmark price for a detached property in Metro Vancouver increased 8.4 per cent from January 2014 to $1,010,000.

Sales of apartment properties reached 809 in January 2015, an increase of 7.4 per cent compared to the 753 sales in January 2014, and an increase of 40.5 per cent compared to the 576 sales in January 2013. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.5 per cent from January 2014 to $382,800.

Attached property sales in January 2015 totalled 323, an increase of 15.8 per cent compared to the 279 sales in January 2014, and a 38.6 per cent increase from the 233 attached properties sold in January 2013. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4.3 per cent between January 2014 and 2015 to $479,600.



Real Estate Transactions Increasing As Spring Approaches


 
  
Home for sale soldThe real estate market is already seeing the start of a spring boost, according to the Society of Notaries Public of BC.

“Spring is just around the corner, and notaries are already seeing an increase in real estate transactions,” said Wayne Braid, the society’s CEO, in a February 23 press release.

Notaries, who are involved in more than half of the real estate transactions in BC, noted some changes in market trends.

“I have seen an increase in local residents purchasing condos downtown as an investment,” said Akash Sablok, the society’s president and a notary public in East Vancouver. “Due to lower interest rates and a strong rental market, investment properties are seen as a good investment, creating a positive cash flow and adding to affordable rental housing.”

Kristy Martin, a notary public in Langford, said, "We are seeing a great number of high-ratio financing purchases right now, where the purchaser is only required to have a minimal down payment. We are also seeing multiple family members, such as parents and their children, going on the title and the mortgage together to make the purchase more affordable, and in some cases to make the purchase possible.”

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/real-estate-transactions-increasing-as-spring-approaches-bc-notaries-1.1772570#sthash.W1G5Qy7H.dpuf



First Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit


Fill out one box on your tax forms and get a $750 tax rebate!!

Tax Credit/Rebate Explained

Check below for video…

Did you know that the Economic Action Plan includes a First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC) to help?

The HBTC assists first-time home buyers with the costs associated with the purchase of a home, such as legal fees, disbursements and land transfer taxes, which are a particular burden for first-time home buyers, who must also save for a down payment.

When doing your taxes for 2014, check to see if the following criteria apply to you and make sure to make use of this credit:

You can claim an amount of $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home acquired in 2014, if both of the following apply:

  • you or your spouse or common-law partner acquired a qualifying home; and
  • you did not live in another home owned by you or your spouse or common-law partner in the year of acquisition or in any of the four preceding years (first-time home buyer).

This means that essentially you can decrease your declared income by $5,000 allowing for reduction in the amount of taxes you owe. The Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, at current taxation rates (15%), works out to a rebate of $750 for all first-time buyers. After you buy your first home, the credit must be claimed within the year of purchase and it is non-refundable.

First Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit Video



BC Home Sales to Rise 10.5% in 2015


In stark contrast to recent CMHC predictions, RBC Economics Housing Forecast calls for strong 2015 sales and price rises in BC

Home for sale - sold

BC will far outpace the rest of Canada in terms of home sales increases in 2015, although transactions will moderate in 2016, according to an RBC Economics housing forecast released February 9.

RBC said that it expected sales in the province this year to total 92,800 – an increase of 10.5 per cent over 2014, following 2014’s 15 per cent rise. The report also said it expected 2016 to be slower, dropping back to 84,300 units, a fall of 9.2 per cent over 2015.

BC home prices were predicted to rise 5.6 per cent this year.

RBC’s report was in stark contrast to CMHC’s forecast issued February 6, which predicted that home sales in BC would drop nearly 6 per cent this year before recovering in 2016. The CMHC also said that price growth in the province would slow to 1.6 per cent year over year.

However, the CMHC’s BC regional economist Carol Frketich admitted to REW.ca that because the cut-off for its forecast data occurred immediately before the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate cut, it was “entirely possible” that sales in BC this year would outperform expectations.

The RBC forecast said that sales across Canada would rise just 1.7 per cent this year, with strong gains in BC and lesser gains in Ontario (+4.7 per cent) offset by plummeting home sales in oil-dependent provinces Alberta (-15.7 per cent) and Saskatchewan (-8.6 per cent).

To read the full report, click here.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/bc-home-sales-to-rise-10-5-in-2015-rbc-forecast-1.1758394#sthash.K97pzLJl.dpuf



Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market January 2015


Head spinning from all the latest record-breaking stats for January's housing market? Let our handy infographic help you absorb the numbers

 

 
REBGV-Jan-2015-infographic-crop-REW

Greater Vancouver home sales are up 9.8 per cent and prices are up more than 5 per cent year over year, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver announced February 3. Below is our new monthly infographic to help digest the numbers, with the key headline figures and benchmark prices broken own by area. To read the full story and analysis, click here.

REBGV-Jan-2015-infographic

Source: Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/infographic-greater-vancouver-real-estate-january-2015-1.1752739#sthash.l36aZv42.dpuf



Prime at 2.85% - Now is the Time to Get into Vancouver Real Estate


Current cheap mortgages and basic principles of supply and demand will keep Vancouver market propped up indefinitely 

Vancouver Yaletown and Downtown skyline

We all see the headlines throughout our daily lives: "Real Estate Bubble About to Burst" or "Vancouver Second-Most Unaffordable City In The World" and so on. Many people in the city let these headlines affect their thinking and avoid property ownership. Well, I'm here to tell you that now is one of the most opportune times to get into the Vancouver real estate market.

Yes, I'm a Realtor, so what else am I going to say, right? While my profession could very well have an impact on my thinking, the stats I'm about to highlight don't lie.

The first factor is the historic low levels of interest available to mortgage consumers. With rates hovering around the 2.84 per cent level on five-year fixed terms, (when you use a  Dominion Lending mortgage broker) the market hasn't seen this level of interest since after the Second World War. But can the low rates stay here forever? Not necessarily at these historic lows, but they will remain relatively low, for a few different reasons.

Western banks are faced with an aging population that is retiring, and therefore saving in large amounts. This is reducing their appetite for high interest rates, because they would have to pay out on these large amounts. Combine this with a government in need of stimulating its economy, especially with low oil prices, and rates could very well stay low or set new records for historic lows over the coming years.

However, I do always advise my clients to err on the side of caution. Paying off your mortgage with large one-off payments or a shorter amortization is highly advisable at this time. Also resist the temptation to buy a home that is at the max of your approval limit. Calculate how much your payments would be if the rates were at 6 per cent when you renew in five years. Are you comfortable with this payment? If so, then start shopping in that price range.

The second factor that is often cited is that Vancouver is overpriced and therefore the prices are unsustainable. While the merits of interest rates can be debated, in my opinion this argument is extremely flawed. Yes, the price of land in Vancouver is very costly – there is no escaping that. And yes, the cost of buying a home on freehold land is out of the realm of possibility for most average people. But does that mean the entire market is unaffordable? Not necessarily.

Really this comes down to the economic theory of supply and demand. There is a super-high demand for land in the Lower Mainland, and Vancouver is a relatively small city in size so there is a super small supply of land to develop properties on. So while buying a single-family detached home is very difficult unless you have a high income, ownership within a strata is much more affordable and is a very conservative approach to personal financial planning. Shared ownership is much more preferable to throwing your money away on rent.

So the next time you see a headline that says “Vancouver is the second most expensive real estate market in the world”, hold your head up high. Most of you have the opportunity to own real estate in one of the safest, sought-after real estate markets on the planet earth. New York, Hong Kong, London and Vancouver are all extremely safe markets to investment in.

Outside of global economic collapse and a rapid rate of inflation that leads to a sharp increase in interest rates, there is little that can affect the Vancouver real estate market. And even if that were to happen, rest in the knowledge you’d still own in one of the top five real estate markets in the world. There would be no shortage of people lining up to buy your home if you chose to sell.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/opinion-now-is-the-time-to-get-into-vancouver-real-estate-1.1748137#sthash.4OQVGmE9.dpuf



Don’t Believe the Hype – Why Vancouver Isn’t That Unaffordable


Is affordability really as bad as the headlines make it seem? Here are three oft-overlooked reasons why not

Vancouver False Creek

It’s always a hot topic on these pages and in the media generally, but these past few weeks the issue of Vancouver’s lack of affordability has been more discussed than ever.

First, a few weeks ago, the price of a typical Greater Vancouver single-family home surpassed $1 million for the first time

On January 13, Workopolis published a survey that got picked up by mainstream media including VanCity Buzz, outlining what you need to earn to buy an average house in Canada’s cities. Needless to say, Vancouver came out worst, at $147,023 a year.

Then, on January 19, an annual survey by Demographia asserted that Vancouver was the world’s second-least affordable metropolitan region, after Hong Kong.

Even Mayor Gregor Robertson told press in response, “It’s going to take us years to start to move the needle and improve affordability as a city and across the region.”

But is it really as bad as the headlines make it seem? After all, the real estate market is hotter than ever, with home sales in 2014 up 16 per cent compared with 2013. So if Vancouver real estate is so very unaffordable, how are all those buyers, well, affording it?

And we’re not talking about overseas investors, who make up about third of the luxury market and a much smaller fraction of the market overall. We’re talking about regular folk with their average incomes, buying typical homes.

Here’s how. There are three major, often-overlooked reasons why families and individuals continue to be able to afford real estate in a supposedly unaffordable market.

1) Most People Have Existing Equity

Around 70 per cent of all real-estate purchases are made by non-first-time buyers. That is, people who are selling a home to buy the next, and therefore already have equity to offset against the cost of their new mortgage.

A typical family buying that typical million-dollar single-family home has probably been in the market for around 10 or 15 years: first buying a condo as a couple, then moving to a townhome or duplex when the kids are small, and then finding their “forever” home to grow into. It’s not as though they are taking out a full million-dollar mortgage and having to pay that off with their average household income.

This family has been able to take full advantage of the rising house prices in selling their previous homes, so the sharp rise in prices has worked as much for them as it has against them.

This means that the income-to-mortgage ratios of surveys like those by Demographia and Workopolis simply do not apply in the real world, especially when you factor in reason #2 below. (And by the way, Demographia also chose not to include many developed countries such as France, Germany and Russia, so its numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt in general.)

And what about first-time buyers who do not have any equity? They need to follow the same process as our family above, like everybody else. And if they want to live in downtown Vancouver but can’t even afford a one-bedroom condo (Vancouver’s 10 most-affordable condos listed here) then why not build up equity by buying in an up-and-coming outlying area, rent it out and carry on renting downtown (more on that here)? Or just live in it and work your way up the ladder back to your desired area. The sense of entitlement felt by so many that they should be able to afford to buy a home in whichever desirable area they choose is, frankly, outdated and naïve in a city such as ours.

2) Income-to-Price Ratio Skewed

There is a fundamental flaw in the methodology of comparing average household incomes with average house prices in Vancouver.

Let’s take the Demographia survey as an example. It cited a median price (mid-point of all sales prices) of $704,800 and a median household income of $66,400.

This median price factors in all those super-luxury homes generally bought by rich overseas investors, as well as the regular homes more generally bought by locals. But if you are factoring in homes bought by the super-rich from overseas, then you need to factor their income into the average household income of the “buying public” – not just Vancouver residents.

Either that, or strip the super-luxury market from the equation entirely – bringing the median price down considerably. But don't compare apples with oranges.

3) Interest Rates at Historic Lows

On January 22, at the Urban Development Institute 2015 Luncheon, Neil Chrystal of Polygon Homes presented the below slide and made a crucial point.

5-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

He observed that because of the current historically low interest rates, the mortgage payments on a typical home in 2014 were only slightly higher than those made on a home in the late 80s and early 90s. Allowing for the increase in average annual income in that time, and it is now probably cheaper to pay a mortgage on a typical home than it was back then. Of course, Chrystal is in the business of getting people to buy homes, but his point is nevertheless valid.

Now that interest rates have just dropped even further, this is truer than ever. Of course, all home buyers must be careful to allow for future rate increases, but we are extremely unlikely to see the highs of the early 90s any time soon.

Overall, the message is that aspiring homeowners must not be alarmed by the headlines, and should find out for themselves what they are able to buy. There is a multitude of very affordable homes in the Greater Vancouver region for people to get onto that property ladder and start being on the right end of those price increases. The last thing they should do is be disheartened by unaffordability hype and continue to rent long-term, locking themselves out of the market permanently.

This train ain't stopping – so get on board.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/editorial-don-t-believe-the-hype-why-vancouver-isn-t-that-unaffordable-1.1741028#sthash.z0eKPwU3.dpuf

By
Joannah Connolly REW.ca
January 23, 2015

 



2014 a Banner Year for BC Home Sales, Up 15%


Home for sale sold

A total of 84,049 home sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in 2014, up 15.2 per cent from 2013, according to a British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) report issued January 13.

The report, compiled from the combined monthly reports of the province’s 12 real estate boards, said that after lagging for several years, BC home sales “eclipsed” the 10-year average of 82,000 units and even surpassed the 15-year average of 83,600 units.

Transaction dollar volume was $47.8 billion in 2014, an increase of 21.9 per cent from 2013. The average MLS residential price in BC rose to $568,405, up 5.8 per cent from the previous year.

“BC experienced a significant increase in housing demand last year,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist. “Not since the post-recession rebound of 2009 has the market posted such a turnaround."

Unit sales climbed 8 to 25 per cent in all BC real estate boards, except Kamloops where the number of transactions fell nearly 5 per cent, said the report.

In December, sales dollar volume was up 18.2 per cent to $2.97 billion, compared with December 2013. Residential unit sales were up 14.7 per cent to 4,426 units, while the average resale home price was up 3 per cent to $585,718.

The figures come a week after reports from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board revealed similarly strong growth in December and 2014 as a whole.

UPDATE: Home sales activity in December across Canada rose 7.9 per cent year over year, according to Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) figures released January 14.

Sales for the month were up from year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal.

The national MLS house price index rose by 5.38 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December. As in recent months, Calgary (+8.80 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.89 per cent) and Greater Vancouver (+5.82 per cent) posted the biggest year-over-year increases.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/market/2014-a-banner-year-for-bc-home-sales-up-15-bcrea-1.1729302#sthash.54OwAll8.dpuf



Price of New Homes Falls Again in Vancouver and Across BC


new homesDespite resale property prices on a seemingly unending upward trend, the price of a new home in Vancouver fell 0.2 per cent month-over-month in November 2014 – the first monthly price drop since July, according to Statistics Canada figures released January 8.

November’s new home price index also dropped 0.6 per cent year over year, as builders reported a decrease in negotiated selling prices in Vancouver, which was one of only seven cities to post a decline. The drop was attributed entirely to a fall in the property values, which fell 1.1 per cent, while land values stayed flat.

Victoria saw the country’s second-largest annual drop in its new home index (after Charlottetown), falling 1.1 per cent year over year.

Across BC, the new home price index also fell, dropping 0.7 per cent year over year.

Nationwide it was a different story, as the average cost of a new home in Canada increased 1.7 per cent year over year to November.

Calgary again saw the largest uptick in new home prices, rising 6.5 per cent year over year.

The index tracks the price of new single-family detached homes, townhouses and duplexes, but does not factor in new condo selling prices.

To see Statistics Canada’s interactive chart, click here.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/price-of-new-homes-falls-again-in-vancouver-and-across-bc-statcan-1.1724652#sthash.i15iQuzZ.dpuf



Vancouver’s Total Home Values Up 9.5% Year Over Year: BC Assessment


The value of residential real estate in Vancouver has risen by 9.48 per cent over the past 12 months – the second largest increase of any area in the province, according to the 2015 BC Assessment Roll released January 2.

The total value of homes in the city rose $18,080,317,824 to $208,883,582,499 in the latest property tax assessment figures.

Elsewhere in the province, Northwest BC saw by far the largest increase in total residential property values, rising 20.73 per cent year over year.

The only area in BC to register a decrease in residential values was Nelson/Trail, where assessment values have dropped 0.2 per cent.

All other areas of the Lower Mainland saw strong increases in BC Assessment values for residential properties, with the North Shore/Squamish Valley area rising 6.7 per cent, North Fraser 6.6 per cent, Richmond/Delta 5.7 per cent, Surrey/White Rock 4.9 per cent and the Fraser Valley 4 per cent.

In terms of what this means for property taxes, most home owners in what BC Assessment defines as the Vancouver Sea-to-Sky region (Vancouver, North and West Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast) can expect increases in 2015.

“Most homes in the Vancouver Sea to Sky region are worth more in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said Dharmesh Sisodraker, deputy assessor at BC Assessment. “Most home owners in Vancouver Sea to Sky region will see changes up to +15%.”

The City of Surrey has already announced a $162 property tax increase for an average home, and Vancouver is looking at a similar increase, according to a Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation statement released December 29.

Homeowners can expect to receive their property tax notices in the next few days, if they have not received them already.

Sisodraker added, “Property owners who feel that their property assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2014, or see incorrect information on their notice should contact BC Assessment as indicated on their notice as soon as possible in January.”

More information on the 2015 BC Assessment Roll can be found here

 



Should You Sell Your Old Home Before Buying a New Home?


Ideally, the time to strategize about the resale of a property is before you even buy it. We all should have a clear idea of what we want to achieve from buying a home, and how we intend to implement that when the time comes to sell. But where our home is concerned, who realistically does that? We start a family, we want to nest, we buy that first home, we’re happy. Who cares about the future?

Well, whether we did consider how to make a good purchase (the library is full of good books – including mine) or not, the time comes where a $25,000 down payment has grown into an equity of $100,000 over a few years. We have more children and we want and can afford to buy a bigger house (we do this on average four times in our lives – so get ready). And then we must face one of the biggest problems as homeowners when we think about a new dream home and then have to wrestle with the problem of not having sold the old one.

On the face of it is easy: Just sell your old house first and, flush with the money of the sale of your property in your pocket, you go get a new one. But just because it’s logical doesn’t mean that’s what we actually do. What we do is we drive around on a Sunday, fall in love (always dangerous) at an open house and then are told by the agent that we have to act fast. “The owner will not accept a subject offer” and “don’t worry the market is good – we will sell your old home in time – no worries”.

And they may well be right. But markets can change at the precise time that your home is put up for sale. So, what if the agent is wrong? That’s where the great joy of the great dream of that new home can turn into a dreadful experience.

Best advice? You should only buy that new home with a subject clause that says: “This offer is subject to the buyer selling his property on or before such and such a date.” And if the owner won’t take it? If the owner insists, you can add a 78- hour clause (if owner gets another offer, you have three days to decide on whether to buy or not).

But you are now safe. No matter what the current market conditions are, real estate markets fluctuate and are local by their very nature. Maybe the Westside is hot but Langley isn’t or vice versa. In all markets (yes, also in Vancouver), prices fluctuate, conditions fluctuate and you might be caught in never-never land – that is, having bought a new home without subjects and not sold your old one.

Stuck with getting bridge loans, credit lines and often two mortgage payments, two sets of property taxes, two strata fees, etc, this can be a nightmare scenario. Even worse, the pressure of not having sold your old house will ensure that you will not get your best price. Yes, you heard me – you WILL NOT! If you have bought and your existing house hasn’t sold and the closing date for the new one comes ever closer, you WILL accept a much lower offer than you had anticipated. Bank on it.

I have seen more people lose money by having to carry two properties for much longer than they (and their agent) had I thought possible. And remember, real estate markets can stay flat or go down longer than you can make the payments.

As with stand-up comedy and practically everything else in life, timing is everything. The degree to which your timing in buying and selling at the same time is accurate, is very often the difference between success and failure. When you look at the market you are looking at a snapshot in time. That's the way it is at that moment but in a month or a year it might be very different. Maybe the market is good today, but what if it takes three months or longer to sell yours. No matter what the circumstances you will always be better off to either sell first or at least try a subject to sale offer on the new property. Carrying two houses is often a self-inflicted wound.

If you choose to buy first, but then lose out and the house that you want sells to someone else, learn to say these three words: “So, what next!”

“But Ozzie, we love this property and MUST have it, even though we haven’t sold our old house!” Well, I capitulate immediately. If it is TRUE love than what does it matter whether you pay too much for it or don’t get enough for the old family home. Nothing more important than love!

Ozzie Jurock
Real estate investment guru Ozzie Jurock is known as one of Canada's leading business motivators with many thousands of followers, and his investor outlook conferences attract audiences of over 500 attendees every time. Ozzie is the past president of Royal Lepage in charge of 10,000 employees. He also authored several real estate books and is featured in Donald Trump's new book The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/should-you-sell-your-old-home-before-buying-a-new-home-1.1686869#sthash.bd5bcytA.dpuf



BC Forecast to Lead Nation in 2014 Home Sales


British Columbia is projected to post a 14.5 per cent annual increase in home sales activity in 2014 – the largest increase of all the provinces and territories, according to an updated forecast by Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released December 15.

The association said in its report, “In British Columbia, historically low mortgage interest rates have helped fuel a broadly based increase in the number of homes changing hands this year, although activity has only recently risen above its 10-year average.”

It added, “In British Columbia, activity is still expected to be held in check by eroding affordability for single-family homes. However, with sales in British Columbia now only at [10-year] average levels, they may climb further before rising interest rates begins to materially reduce affordability.”

Nationally, home sales are now forecast to hit 481,300 units in 2014, an annual increase of 5.1 per cent.

The CREA said: “While this places annual activity eight per cent below the record set in 2007, it marks the strongest annual sales since then.”

The national average home price is now projected to rise by six per cent year over year to $405,500 in 2014, with similar annual percentage price gains in British Columbia.

To read the full report, click here.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/bc-forecast-to-lead-nation-in-2014-home-sales-crea-1.1684550#sthash.IopB4MCp.dpuf



BC Home Sales Up 8.8% in November, Prices Up 3%


The increase in BC home sales in both unit numbers and dollar volume is continuing unabated, according to a British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) report released December 12.

The report, compiled from the combined monthly reports of the province’s 12 real estate boards, found that the number of units sold in BC rose 8.8 per cent year over year to 5,972 units, and the dollar volume of sales province-wide totalled $3.4 billion, up 12.1 per cent compared with November 2013.

The average MLS residential price in BC rose to $574,694, up 3.1 per cent from the same month last year.

“BC home sales were robust in November,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist.

“Improving economic conditions, strong consumer confidence and persistently low mortgage interest rates are providing a solid foundation for elevated consumer demand.

“Market conditions have improved province-wide, with most regional markets now in the mid to high range of a balanced market.”

Only three regional boards posted a decrease in unit sales in November. These were northern BC (down 6.8 per cent), Kamloops (down 5.2 per cent) and Kootenay (down 1.1 per cent).

Year to date, BC residential unit sales are up 15.3 per cent to 78,973 units, and residential sales dollar volume is up 22.1 per cent to $44.8 billion, compared with the same period last year. The average MLS residential price is up 6 per cent at $567,292 year to date.

UPDATE: Sales activity across Canada in November stood 2.7 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year, according to Canadian Real Estate Association statistics released December 15.

November sales were up from year-ago levels in about half all regional markets, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Calgary and Greater Toronto.

Nationwide year-to-date sales activity in November was 5 per cent above levels in the first 11 months of 2013. It was also slightly 2.4 per cent above the 10-year average for year-to-date sales.

The nationwide Aggregate Composite MLS house price index rose by 5.19 per cent on a year-over-year basis in November.

The average price for Canadian homes sold in November 2014 was $413,649, up 5.7 per cent from the same month last year.

The CREA said, "The national average home price continues to be raised considerably by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $331,743 and the year-over-year increase shrinks to 5 per cent."

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/bc-home-sales-up-8-8-in-november-prices-up-3-bcrea-1.1663634#sthash.vYer9wZc.dpuf



Vancouver Home Sales Beat the November Odds


Greater Vancouver's November home sales dipped from the previous month in typical November fashion, but they again beat the 10-year average and outstripped last year's November sales numbers, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's report released December 2.

Meanwhile, prices continued to increase for houses, attached properties and condos, with an average lift of 5.7 per cent from last November.

“It’s been a more active fall than we typically see in the Metro Vancouver housing market,” says Ray Harris, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

In his video wrap-up of the latest statistics, REBGV vice-president Dan Morrison looks at projections for 2015 MLS sales and prices and notes that the BC Real Estate Association, the CMHC and Central 1 Credit Union all predict "Minimal fluctuation in home prices and sales in 2015."

Watch the video

Sales and Listings

After an unexpected surge of 3,057 home sales in October, things quieted down, as expected, in November. In all, 2,516 homes sold in November in the area covered by the REBGV. That was still an increase compared to 2,321 in November 2013.

Of the properties for sale, 1,012 were detached houses, 452 were attached (townhouses or duplexes) and 1,052 were condo apartments.

 

What’s Up, What’s Down — At a Glance
 Nov/ Oct 2014Nov 2014 / Nov 2013
Overall Sales -17.7% +8.4%
- Detached -20.9% +9.3%
- Townhome -12.7% +6.1%
- Apartment -17.0% +8.6%
New Listings -32.8% -7.1%
Current Listings -9.4% -10.2%
 

By November, people generally tend to wait until after the holiday season to list their homes, and this year is no exception. New listings were down by almost one-third, from 4,315 in October to 3,016 in November. Fewer new listings helped reduce the total of active listings to 12,553 from 13,851 in October. 

Both new listings and current listings are also down from last November. Considering the gradual gain in prices this year, perhaps savvy sellers figure they'll get a few thousand dollars more if they wait a few months. The returns beat putting their money in a GIC.

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

Since November 2013, prices for the three major housing types — detached, attached and condo — have increased in every community within the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, with only three exceptions. (Condo prices in Maple RidgePitt Meadows and Richmond have all decreased slightly, probably because of competition from new condo developments.) Such a consistent increase is a pretty amazing feat considering the huge range of neighbourhoods and prices within the region.

November composite benchmark home prices by housing type are as follows:

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
 Nov 2014Oct 2014Nov 2013
Detached $997,800 +0.3% +7.9%
Townhome $480,200 +0.1% +4.8%
Apartment $380,200 -0.2% +3.2%
 

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 in the REBGV full statistics package.

Price increases should level off somewhat in 2015, say several real estate market experts. REBGV vice-president Dan Morrison talks about the conditions that will affect the Greater Vancouver market in the coming year in this month's video.

 

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.

 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/vancouver-home-sales-beat-the-november-odds-rebgv-1.1634912#sthash.StTv1fxe.dpuf



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.”

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/strong-population-growth-bolstering-vancouver-market-udi-1.1619516#sthash.zlgxdqKi.dpuf



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.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/when-is-the-best-time-to-hire-a-home-inspector-1.1589810#sthash.WiyPNSNk.dpuf



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.” 

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/rising-interest-rates-will-cool-vancouver-house-prices-bmo-1.1584972#sthash.sbgGoB03.dpuf



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." 



BC New Home Construction Investment Up 11%: StatCan


new homesBC spent $683 million on new housing construction in August 2014, an 11.3 per cent rise compared with August 2013, according to Statistics Canada data released October 22.

The increase follows the province's trend of recent months of far outstripping the national year-over-year increase, which in August was a rise of 1.1 per cent to $4.24 billion.

BC’s was the third biggest annual rise of all provinces and territories, with Nunavut posting a 33.7 per cent increase in new home construction investment (having posted a separate entry from Northwest Territories for the first time) and Alberta boosting investment 12.9 per cent.

BC’s increased investment was driven by another strong rise in townhome construction, which posted a 30.9 per cent increase. Investment in single-family home construction rose 11.8 per cent, whereas condos rose 8.4 per cent year over year and duplexes rose just 0.8 per cent.

The modest 1.1 per cent rise in new home construction across Canada masks even wilder variations when broken down by property type. Nationwide, townhome investment rose 18.3 per cent, duplexes rose 5.2 per cent, condo investment increased 2.4 per cent and single-family home construction investment fell 2.6 per cent.

To see the interactive table, with statistics broken down by province, housing type and dates, click here.

See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/bc-new-home-construction-investment-up-11-statcan-1.1453811#sthash.6jk7884A.dpuf



Expensive but Worth It


It’s a sacrifice to live here, but it’s worth it. That seems to be the takeaway from a new Vancity/Vancouver Sun survey of Metro Vancouver residents

Vancouver on the Beachsurvey by Vancity and the Vancouver Sun released October 17 asked 1,100 Metro Vancouver residents how the high cost of housing affects their life decisions. The results show that many people will make sacrifices to own a home here... sometimes at the risk of future wellbeing.

Value for money

The question, "How would you rate value for money when it comes to housing/rental prices," got a wide range of responses. In general, 48 per cent, almost half of the respondents, believed that the cost/value ratio is poor or terrible.

The cost of housing varies depending on where in Metro Vancouver you live, and the answers to this question closely tracked the cost of housing in each area. In Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge, where  a detached house averages under $500,000, only 9 per cent of respondents thought value was poor or terrible. In the City of Vancouver, where a house averages about $1.6 million, 77 per cent said poor or terrible.

Affordability

The statement “I would like to own a home, but I can’t afford to buy one,” got rousing agreement from non-home owners: 62 per cent strongly agreed, with 66 per cent strongly agreeing in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Tri-Cities.

There was also a consensus that “Where I live, housing prices are too expensive for the average resident,”: 45 per cent strongly agreed and 36 per cent somewhat agreed.

Nineteen per cent of respondents strongly agreed that, “I have considered moving due to issues of affordability.” The figure was 28 per cent for Vancouverites, and a low of 11 per cent for Burnaby residents.

(Check out this Vancouver Sun interactive map called “Where can you afford to buy a home?” which shows which neighbourhoods are affordable depending on your family income.)

Satisfaction and sacrifice

But the majority agrees that, “It is worth every penny to live where I live.” A total of 61 per cent answered on the yes side, and 39 per cent, no. The North Shore, Richmond/Delta and the Fraser Valley  were the most satisfied, with 71 or 72 per cent on the yes side. The lowest satisfaction level — though still the majority — was in Vancouver and Tri-Cities (56 per cent yes) and Surrey (53 per cent yes).

Only the wealthy can buy a home without making  some sacrifices. So what are people willing to give up to keep living where they do in Metro Vancouver? Some of the choices could have long-term repercussions, particularly if home prices flatten out or drop:

  • 26 per cent have cut back on saving for retirement, while 22 per cent have stopped saving for retirement altogether
  • 23 per cent have worked at a job they don't like
  • 18 per cent have lived in a space that is too small
  • 10 per cent have given up extra-curricular programs for the kids
  • 12 per cent have given up gym memberships
  • 9 per cent have cut short their education

In Metro Vancouver’s inner core, less floor space tends to equal greater affordability. A small condo may be the only way to break into the property market, and a cramped townhome in the city may be a lifestyle choice over a suburban house.

Only 18 per cent of the respondents say they have lived in a space that is too small for them or their family. On the other hand, 54 per cent agree that, “I may live in a small space, but at least I am where I want to be.” In the City of Vancouver, 70 per cent agree, while only 36 per cent agree in the Fraser Valley, where space isn't such an issue.

You can see the full Vancity survey here.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/expensive-but-worth-it-says-new-survey-1.1431511#sthash.iOZlDxjJ.dpuf



Vancouver Sees Record High Home Prices in September


Vancouver Mountain ViewGreater Vancouver’s real estate market showed no signs of cooling in its hottest September yet, as sales increased 17.7 per cent year over year, according to Real Estate Board of Vancouver figures released October 2.

Benchmark sales prices hit record highs at $633,500 for all housing types, and just shy of $1 million for single-family homes across Greater Vancouver.

Ray Harris, REBGV president, said, “September was an active period for our housing market when we compare it against typical activity for the month.”

Sales and Listings

Since July 2013, Greater Vancouver MLS home sales have closely tracked the 10-year average. But in September 2014 the region's 2,922 sales beat the average by 16.1 per cent.

Of the properties for sale, 1,270 were detached houses, 464 were attached (townhouses or duplexes) and 1,188 were apartments.

What’s Up, What’s Down — At a Glance
 Sept/Aug 2014Sept 2014/Sept 2013
Overall Sales +5.4% +17.7%
- Detached +9.7% +24.1%
- Townhome -4.7% +5%
- Apartment +2.6% +16.7%
New Listings +33.5% +4.6%
Current Listings +0.4% -8%
 

New listings climbed in September as the fall season picked up, after having dropped for four months in a row — they rose 33.5 per cent to 5,259 compared with 3,940 in August. They currently stand at 0.4 per cent below the 10-year average for September new listings.

The sales-to-active listings ratio moved closer to the 20 per cent mark that would put Greater Vancouver into a seller’s market, rising one percentage point compared with August to 19.7 per cent.

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

The composite benchmark price for the REBGV region continue its determined upward trend, now standing at $633,500, up 17.7 per cent over five years, 5.3 per cent over one year and 0.3 per cent compared with August 2014.

The MLS benchmark price is a calculation of the value of a typical home of its type for the neighbourhood. Because it’s tied to housing type and area, it varies widely for the Greater Vancouver region. A good idea of home prices in a specific location is contained in the detailed MLS Home Price Index that the REBGV publishes.

September composite benchmark prices by housing type are as follows:

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
 August 2014July 2014August 2013
Detached $990,300 +0.6% +7.3%
Townhome $477,700 +0.6% +4.2%
Apartment $378,700 +0.1% +3.1%
 

Read the full REBGV report here.

- See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/vancouver-sees-record-high-home-prices-in-september-rebgv-1.1411691#sthash.xTBwxYli.dpuf



August Home Sales Hit Five-Year High


Greater Vancouver MLS® home sales in August rose 10.3 per cent compared with August 2013, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reported September 12.

There were 2,820 residential units sold compared with 2,557 a year ago – the highest level of residential resales in August since 2009, said the BCREA.

The average price for a residential property rose 2.3 per cent to $802,763 in August 2014, compared with $784,567 a year previously – a slower rate of increase than has recently been seen.

August’s total sales dollar volume increased by 12.8 per cent to $2.26 billion compared with $2.0 billion in August 2013.

Across the province, the number of resales was up seven per cent to 7,341 units. Total sales dollar volume was up12.4 per cent to $4.1 billion.

The average MLS residential price in the province rose to $560,318, up 5 per cent from the same month last year.

Kootenay and the Okanagan were the regions that saw the highest year-over-year sales increase, at 24.2 per cent and 22.3 per cent respectively.

Prices in the Okanagan also increased the most, year over year, rising 11.2 per cent to an average of $421,387.



Vancouver Affordability Better in Q2 – But Not For Long


 

Vancouver Yaletown condos
 

Despite house price increases, Vancouver housing affordability actually improved in 2014’s second quarter because of low mortgage rates, according to RBC’s latest Housing Trends and Affordability report.

The banks said that across the country and even in cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, where there were significant house price increases, owning a home became more affordable in Q2. This was because, in that period, fixed mortgage rates fell more than they have done in almost four years.

Across Canada, RBC’s affordability measures fell for all housing types (a decrease represents an improvement in affordability). The measures dropped by 0.9 percentage points from the first quarter of 2014 to 48.0 per cent for two-storey homes, by 0.6 percentage points to 42.5 per cent for detached bungalows, and by 0.4 percentage points to 27.4 per cent for condos.

In Vancouver, RBC’s measures fell from 0.3 percentage points in Q1 2014 to 1.3 percentage points in Q2. The bank reported that this modest improvement in affordability may have been among the factors contributing to a rise in home resales in the second quarter; however, it added that the effect was limited given that affordability levels remains poor in the area, with all RBC measures still well above historical averages.

Across BC, the RBC measure dropped fairly significantly for two-storey homes (2.0 percentage points). The other measures declined by 1.3 percentage points for detached bungalows and by 0.9 percentage points for condos.

However, RBC warned that the current low interest rates are not likely to last and that any improvements in affordability are expected to be short-lived.

The bank said: “We believe that the current historically low levels of interest rates in Canada are not sustainable and that longer-term rates will begin to rise later this year in anticipation of a return to tightening mode by the Bank of Canada in 2015. While continued growth in household income will provide some offset, we expect rising rates to erode housing affordability across Canada and weigh on homebuyer demand. The effect will be gradual and unlikely to unhinge either overall affordability or the market, thereby leading to a cooling of activity as opposed to a US-style crash.”

To read the report, click here.



1/3 of Vancouver Single-Family Homes Sold to Chinese Buyers


Buyers with connections to mainland China are snapping up one third of single-family homes in Vancouver– and spending way above the already huge average price, according to a survey by Macdonald Realty.

Macdonald Realty Ltd. said 33.5 per cent of the single-family homes sales in its Vancouver offices in 2013 went to a demographic that included both recent immigrants from China and Canadian citizens with Chinese lineage.

It was also found that those buyers averaged a sale price of $2 million, considerably higher than the average sale price of $1.4 million for a single-family home in Vancouver.

Although some impact is to be expected on the local housing market, it won’t be as big an impact as factors such as interest rates and where they are going.

It definitely adds vibrancy and health to our real estate market, it assists developers so they know that a certain percentage of their condominiums will be taken by buyers from offshore, and it helps with rental supply because without new condos there’s virtually no rental stock coming onto the market in Metro Vancouver.

In terms of whether the buyers are buying to live or for investment purposes, although the survey did not “drill down into intentions”, they believe that “most buyers either plan to live or spend some time in Vancouver” and that not many were pure investors.

The data did not include suburban areas such as Richmond, Burnaby or North Vancouver.



Vancouver Prices Up 4.44% in July, On Par with Canada


Canada’s average house price rose five per cent year over year to $401,585 in July, according to Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) figures published August 15.

The association said that removing Vancouver and Toronto from the national equation, because those two large and expensive markets “skew” the findings, takes the average Canadian house price to $327,988, a four per cent year-over-year rise.

In the CREA’s breakdown of local markets, Greater Vancouver posted the third-biggest year-over-year increase in house prices at 4.44 per cent, beaten out by gains in Calgary (up 10.48 per cent) and Greater Toronto (up 7.88 per cent).

The number of home sales processed through the MLS® across Canada rose 0.8 per cent on a month-over-month basis, marking the sixth consecutive monthly increase and the highest level for sales since March 2010.

July sales were up from year-ago levels in about 70 per cent of all Canada’s local markets, with Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan seeing the biggest increases nationwide.

Sales activity across the country was up 7.2 per cent year over year in actual (not seasonally adjusted) figures, and up 1.1 per cent over June 2014.

Activity rose in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets in July, with Victoria leading the gains.

“On the surface, national sales activity in July was similar to what we saw in May and June,” said CREA president Beth Crosbie. “That said, July sales picked up in markets that struggled to gain traction in the spring, while activity eased slightly in some of Canada’s largest urban markets.”



BC Sees Canada’s Largest Drop New Home Prices: StatCan


Vancouver new-build apartment building

 

The price of new homes fell 1.5 per cent across BC and 1.4 per cent in Vancouver in the year to June 2014, according to Statistics Canada data released August 14.

The BC figure is the largest drop of all the provincial regions identified in the report, and Vancouver’s decline is the second-largest drop of all the cities identified – after Charlottetown, where the price fell 1.5%.

Statistics Canada’s new home price index, which measures the total price of both house and land, rose 1.5% across Canada over the same period.

In BC and Vancouver, the declines were due to a decrease in house-only prices, which fell 2 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively, while the price of land did not change.

The highest increase in new home prices was seen in Calgary, which rose 7.3 per cent, made up of an 8.8 per cent rise in house-only prices and a 4.3% rise in land prices.

Between May 2014 and June 2014, BC and Vancouver’s new home prices both fell 0.1 per cent.

The biggest month-over-month gain was seen in Ontario, where the index rose 1.9% because of a 2.5% rise in house-only prices and 0.3% increase in land prices.

Across Canada, the month-over-month index rose 0.2 per cent. The combined metropolitan region of Toronto and Oshawa was the top driver the June growth, with prices up 0.3% over the previous month. Builders reported market conditions and new list prices as the primary reasons for the increase.



Why You Can’t Afford Not to Use a Mortgage Broker


buyersBuying BC real estate can be expensive. Vancouver has some of the highest real estate prices in North America, plus you may need to consider the added cost of legal fees, appraisal fees, GST (if it’s a new property) and property transfer tax. Fortunately, one cost you likely won’t need to factor into your budget is using the services of a mortgage broker.

For 99.9 per cent of homebuyers, there is no fee or cost to use a mortgage broker. Many homebuyers I meet in Vancouver are shocked to hear this. They assume that using a mortgage broker, like many things in life, will cost them big bucks. However, mortgage brokers typically get paid a commission by the lender after closing, so homebuyers never actually see or pay this bill. This also incentivizes the broker to work hard and help qualify you for a loan, because they won’t get paid if you can’t get a mortgage.

Despite being free to the homebuyer, independent mortgage broker services offer plenty of valuable benefits and can save you huge sums of money. Here are a few areas where a mortgage broker can help:

  • Comparing mortgages: A mortgage specialist at a bank can only offer you products and rates from that bank, so you won’t have the benefit of comparison shopping through multiple companies – which could potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage and ensure you are in a mortgage that is right for your needs and future plans. Independent mortgage brokers, on the other hand, work with many different lenders to help you find the best mortgage for your needs.
  • Holding your hand throughout the process: Mortgages can be confusing. Should you choose a variable or fixed interest rate? What amortization period makes the most sense? When do prepayment penalties apply? A mortgage broker can walk you through the underwriting process and explain different loan scenarios so you understand exactly what you’re signing. This is extremely helpful for first-time buyers who haven’t taken out a mortgage before and may have loads of questions. It’s also useful for self-employed borrowers or newcomers to Canada, who may have a more complicated mortgage qualification process and need a broker with experience in those areas.
  • Helping you throughout the life of your loan. If you borrow money directly from a bank, you might speak to a different person each time you contact your lender. But a mortgage broker will service you over the course of the loan, so they can help you refinance, answer questions about mortgage portability and more.

These are just a few examples of the value mortgage brokers bring to the table. Many brokers are well-connected in the real estate industry, so they can also help by referring you to other professionals you need such as home appraisers, real estate agents and inspectors. At no cost (usually), a mortgage professional can save you lots of money, time and energy during the home buying process.

But what about the 0.1 per cent who are charged a fee? Those exceptions might be if one or more of the three key elements of the application is in question: income, credit or property. Perhaps there is no income reported and the homebuyer needs to qualify under an equity program, maybe their credit is bruised or they do not have any established credit, or maybe the property is a former grow-op or a complicated co-op situation. But even where the broker has to charge a fee, in any of those situations the client would not be able to secure lending on their own or through their bank at all – so using a broker becomes even more essential in these scenarios.



BC Home Sales Up 24.9% in June, Prices Up 4.5%


There were 8,989 residential sales in British Columbia recorded by the MLS® in June, up 24.9 per cent from June 2013, according to British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) figures released July 16.

Total sales dollar volume was $5 billion, an increase of 30.5 per cent compared with a year ago.

The average MLS residential price in the province rose to $556,977, up 4.5 per cent from June 2013.

“Home sales finished the second quarter on an upward trend,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist. “The increase in provincial housing demand was broad-based, with the largest year-over-year increases occurring in the Okanagan, the Kootenays and Chilliwack.”

Home sales increased 46 per cent in the South Okanagan and nearly 30 per cent in the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board area.

In the Kootenays, home sales rose 36 per cent year over year and in Chilliwack they increased 33 per cent.

“Market conditions also continued to improve, with the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland even flirting with sellers’ market conditions,” said Muir.

In the first half of the year, BC’s residential sales dollar volume was up nearly 26.8 per cent to $23.8 billion, compared with June 2013. Residential unit sales were up 18.5 per cent to 41,883 units, and the average residential price was up 7 per cent at $568,499.

Here’s BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir with his video wrap-up of the June 2014 real estate market in BC.




How to Use Home Equity to Unlock Tax Deductions


unlockUnlike our American neighbours to the south, Canadians can’t take a mortgage interest deduction on their taxes. However, there is a scenario where the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allows taxpayers to mimic the effect of deducting mortgage interest.

Fraser Smith, a now-retired financial strategist in Victoria, BC, created the Smith Manoeuvre two decades ago based on this premise: Mortgage interest isn’t tax deductible in Canada, but loans on investments are.

So, a Canadian with sizable non-registered investments (those that generate taxable income and do not have contribution limits) could use those funds to pay off an existing mortgage or purchase a residence. Depending on the mortgage and whether it’s open or closed, there may be prepayment penalties for paying it off before the end of the term, so those costs should be weighed against the potential tax benefits of this strategy. Assuming the numbers stack up, a few days later, the homeowner would be able to apply for a separate loan for purposes of investing and use their property as collateral.  If the borrower later decides to move house during the process, the lender may agree to what’s called a “substitute of collateral.”

Afterwards, the homeowner could reinvest funds from the loan into qualified, non-registered investments (avoiding TFSAs and RRSPs, as those are registered investments) and deduct the interest on the investment loan.

Homeowners who employ this strategy are basically using the equity in their home to invest and hopefully grow their assets over time, thanks to the tax deduction they enjoy combined with the growth of their investments. This deduction is legally permitted by CRA, but it’s always a good idea to keep all records documenting any tax deductions in case they are questioned later.

There are some scenarios in which the Smith Manoeuvre may not work. Canadians who take out a mortgage to purchase a rental property may be looking at slightly higher interest rates as most lenders add a premium to non-owner occupied homes. It makes sense for the investor to compare the offers and rates on websites such as ratehub.caratesupermarket.ca or lavarates.ca to ensure they are getting the best available mortgage and rate. However, it does help to know that when a property is considered an investment, with fair market rent, the homeowner may be able to deduct the mortgage interest, among other costs associated with the rental unit. This would not apply if a mortgage was taken out on a paid-off rental property to finance the purchase of a new primary residence.

In addition, under CRA rules, those who do more than 50 per cent of work in a home office may be able to deduct certain costs associated with that home office (such as a percentage of property taxes, heating and home insurance) but not the actual mortgage interest.

For more specifics on tax deductions, investments and how they might apply to your individual situation, consult a tax accountant or financial planner.

 


BC Home Sales, Prices Predicted to Continue Rise


chart

BC housing sales and prices are predicted to continue their rise over the next few years, but will be only a modest source of growth for the BC economy as a whole, according to a Central 1 Credit Union report released July 3.

The report was issued on the same day that the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board reported increases in home sales and prices in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley respectively.

B.C. Housing Forecast 2014–2017 forecasts that median home prices in the province will continue to climb, with growth expected to average just under 3 per cent per year through 2017 to $429,000.

“Price growth is expected to average less than 3 per cent a year through to 2017 as higher borrowing costs and stricter mortgage insurance policies weigh on affordability,” said Bryan Yu, Central 1 economist and report author.

“The strongest gains in BC will be in the Lower Mainland and Northern B.C. regions. Excess supply and subdued demand hold back price growth in the interior and island markets.”

Annual housing starts are forecast to remain at about 27,200 units in 2014 and are on track to average 30,000 units by 2016. Because of the surplus of housing inventory, housing starts will trail household formations, which are forecast to average about 31,000 from 2014 to 2017.

Northern BC’s housing market outpaces the rest of the province, with stronger port activity and pre-construction projects related to LNG development.

BC’s economy will expand by less than 2.5 per cent this year, but is forecast to make some steady gains, averaging more than 3.5 per cent from 2015 to 2017.

The forecast for the housing market, however, remains mixed. Low borrowing costs have boosted BC’s market this year, particularly in the detached housing sector in the Lower Mainland market, but rising mortgage rates and tightened lending policies are predicted to reduce sales over the forecast period.

“Despite a rising rate mortgage environment, the stronger economic outlook is expected to drive consumer confidence, income and employment,” said Yu.

The loss of BC residents to Alberta and Saskatchewan is expected to reverse in 2015, with an inflow of landed immigrants and Canadians from throughout the country driving demand for new homes. In the meantime, housing starts are predicted to remain steady, despite a busy early part of 2014, in which urban markets posted a 14 per cent year-to-date gain through May.



Top grants and rebates for property buyers and owners


leaving money on the tableHome Buyers' Plan  -  Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Home buyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca Enter 'HomeBuyers·Plan' in the search box 1.800.959.8287

GST Rebate on New HomesNew home buyers can apply for a rebate for the 5% GST if the purchase price is $350,000 or less. The rebate is equal to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000. At $450,000 and above the rebate is nil. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca Enter 'RC4028' in the search box 1.800.959.8287


BC Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First-Time Home Buyers' Program - Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1 % on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $475,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced between $475,000 and $500,000. At $500,000 and above the rebate is nil. http://www2.gov.bc.ca1 250.387.0604


First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit (HBTC) - This federal non-refundable income tax credit is for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a cooperative housing corporation. The calculation: multiply the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2012) x $5,000. For the 2013 tax year, the maximum credit is $750. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra-arc.gc.ca/  1.800.959.8281


BC Home Owner Grant - Reduces property taxes for home owners with an assessed value of up to $1,100,000. The basic grant gives home owners:

  • a maximum reduction of $570 in property taxes on principal residences in the Capital, Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional districts;
  • an additional grant of $200 to rural homeowners elsewhere in the province; and an additional grant of$275 to seniors aged
  • 65+, those who are permanently disabled and war veterans of certain wars.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.rev.gov.bc.ca/hog or contact your municipal tax office.

BC Property Tax Deferment Programs -

  • Property Tax Deferment Program for Seniors. Qualifying home owners aged 55+ may be eligible to defer property taxes.
  • Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program. Qualifying lowincome home owners may be eligible to defer property taxes.
  • Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children. Qualifying lowincome home owners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue http://www2.gov.bc.ca/

Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) - A program jointly sponsored by the provincial and federal governments provides up to $20,000 to help eligible low income seniors and disabled home owners and landlords to finance modifications to their homes to make them accessible and safer. BC Housing www.bchousing.org/Options/Home_Renovations 604.646.7055 or toll-free 1.800.407.7757 extension 7055

CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund - Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient home or make energy saving renovations. www.cmhc.ca/enlco/moloinlmoloin 008.cfm 604.731.5733

Energy Saving Mortgages - Financial institutions offer a range of mortgages to home buyers and owners who make their homes more energy efficient. For example, home owners who have a home energy audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy Saver™ Mortgage, may qualify for a rebate of $300 to their RBC account. http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/mortgages/energy-saver-mortgage.html 1.800.769.2511

Low Interest Renovation Loans - Financial institutions offer 'green' loans for home owners making energy efficient upgrades. Vancity's Bright Ideas personal loan offers home owners up to $20,000 at prime +1 % for up to 10 years for 'green' renovations. RBC's Energy Saver loan offers 1 % off the interest rate for a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000 or a $100 rebate on a home energy audit on a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000. For information visit your financial institution. www.vancity.com/Loans/TypesOtLoans/BrightIdeas and www.rbcroyalbank.com/products/personalloans/energy-saver-loan.html

BC Hydro Appliance Rebates - Mail-in rebates for purchasers of ENERGY STAR clothes washers, refrigerators or freezers. http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/rebates_savings/appliance_rebates.html 1.800.224.9376

BC Hydro Fridge Buy-Back Program - This ongoing program rebates BC Hydro customers $30 to tum in spare fridges in working condition. https://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/rebates_savings/fridge_buy_back.html 604.881.4357

BC Hydro Power Smart Partner Program for Businesses - The Power Smart Partner program partners BC Hydro with BC's largest commercial, government and institutional customers (who spend $200,000 or more/year on Hydro). Customers gain access to a wide range of energy management programs, tools and incentives. http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/business/commercial/power_smart_partners.html 1.866.522.4713

BC Hydro Power Smart Express (PSX) for Businesses - Launching June 2, 2014, the PSX program partners BC Hydro with BC's largest commercial, government and institutional customers (who spend $200,000 or more/year on Hydro). The program provides incentives for various technologies, including lighting, cooking and refridgeration appliances. http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/business/commercial/power_smart_partners/psp_express.html 1.866.522.4713

FortisBC Rebate Program for Homes - A range of rebates for home owners including a $300 rebate for purchasing an EnerChoice® fireplace, or up to $1,000 off
an ENERGY STAR® water heater, or a $1,000 rebate for switching to natural gas (from oil or propane) and installing an ENERGY STAR® heating system. http://www.fortisbc.com/NaturalGas/Homes/Offers/Pages/default.aspx 1.800.663.8400

FortisBC Rebate Program for Businesses - For commercial buildings, provides a rebate of up to $45,000 for the purchase of an energy efficient boiler, up to $15,000 for the purchase of a high-efficiency water heater and receive funding towards a new construction energy study. http://www.fortisbc.com/NaturalGas/Business/Offers/Pages/default.aspx 1.800.663.8400

City of Vancouver Rain Barrel Subsidy Program - The City of Vancouver provides a subsidy of 50% ofthe cost of a rain barrel for Vancouver residents. With the subsidy, the rain ban'el costs $75. Buy your rain barrel at the Transfer Station at 377 W. North Kent Ave., Vancouver, BC. Limit of two per resident. Bring proof of residency. There is also a limited time offer for short rain barrels for small yards. Cost $50. http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/conserving-and-protecting-water.aspx 604.736.2250 Other municipalities have similar offers.

Local Government Water Conservation Incentives - Your municipality may provide grants and incentives to residents to help save water. For example, the City of Coquitlam offers residents a $100 rebate and the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, and District of West Vancouver offer a $50 rebate when residents install a low-flush toilet. Visit your municipality's website and enter 'toilet rebate' to see if there is a program. www.coquitlam.ca/city-services/water and www.cnv.org/ToiletRebate and westvancouver.ca

Local Government Water Meter Programs - Your municipality may provide a program for voluntary water metering, so that you pay only for the amount of water that you use. Delta, Richmond and Surrey have programs and other municipalities may soon follow. Visit your municipality's website and enter 'water meter' to find out if there is a program.



No Let-up in Metro Development as Major Land Deals Surge


Land Deals

Metro Vancouver has seen a surge in the completion of large-scale land purchases by developers over the past six months, according to Colliers International’s Metro Vancouver LandShare Spring Report released June 19.

The authors reported, “Notable developers have been quick to pull the trigger on opportunities in markets where recently introduced community plans have facilitated density increases. In the West End, the acquisition of the 1400 Block of Alberni by Wall Financial was spurred by the added value that was created through the approval of the West End Official Community Plan. In addition, there have been more opportunities to purchase substantial projects in suburban areas fuelled by government and institutional owners capitalizing on strong market conditions.”

The report said that Standard Life sold 12.5 acres surrounding Gilmore Station, while the BC government sold 88 acres at Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, 40 acres at the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Canada Way in Burnaby and 15 acres in the Panorama neighbourhood of Surrey.

The authors added: “Areas that were expected to crest such as Metrotown and the Westside of Vancouver have continued their upward pricing trend. A mixture of private equity and foreign investments have led the purchasing, with institutional developers taking a backseat and waiting for prime assets of scale.”

The report says that major transactions have dominated the marketplace, with lower transaction volumes than previous years being offset by higher average deal values.

It stated, “Fewer land transactions took place in 2013 than the past several years. The year closed with 330 transactions compared to 553 in 2012. Total sales volume also decreased from $1.70 million to $1.47 million. However, sites traded at a higher average value than previous years. Despite low overall volumes, high-density site transactions far exceeded 2012 sales as land owners began to cash out.”

Download the full report from here (free registration required).



Strongest May for Home Sales Since 2007


 The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 8,729 residential sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in May, up 13.9 per cent from May 2013. Total sales dollar volume was $4.9 billion, an increase of 20.6 per cent compared to a year ago. The average MLS® residential price in the province rose to $565,233, up 5.8 per cent from the same month last year.

BC Real Estate Association May 2014 home sales and listings report

“Consumer demand was noticeably stronger last month, with unit sales posting their highest level for the month of May since 2007,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Rock bottom mortgage rates are inducing many would-be home buyers to enter the market this spring.”

“With most BC markets now in balanced conditions, home prices are up in nine of 11 board areas,” added Muir.

During the first five months of the year, BC residential sales dollar volume was up nearly 26 per cent to $18.8 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales were up almost 17 per cent to 32,894 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 7.7 per cent at $571,648.

Click here for complete report and details by board area.