Building permits way up in Vancouver

This just in: Canada-wide building permits are up but Vancouver seems to be the only bright spot for housing starts in BC. This explains why every block in this city seems to have several construction projects underway. Developers are clearly not anticipating any slowdown in the Vancouver market for new homes.

How to Improve Housing Options in Metro Vancouver

First post of 2012 so it seems fitting to start with a list of ideas on how to increase housing options. This article appeared recently in the Vancouver Sun and the writer makes a number of useful, if perhaps optimistic, suggestions on how home ownership might be made more attainable in Metro Vancouver.

The simplest suggestion mentioned to implement would be encouraging and allowing higher density (innovative design and more compact units). This would increase opportunities for people to remain in urban areas without breaking the bank. The main hurdle here seems to be nearby neighbors who fear their property values will fall as a result of additional density being built close by.

Another idea presented relates to having municipalities reduce the charges and fees (development cost charges) they assess for granting building permits as this is a major cost. One would hope that savings here would trickle down to property buyers.

Finally, higher density developments should first be considered near good public transit and the requirements for minimum number of parking spaces per property should be abandoned in some instances.

So that’s the wish list. Do I think any of these are likely to happen any time soon? No, but dreams are healthy.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

The Condo Walk-through – Deficiency Hunting

I recently accompanied a client on their substantially completed new construction condo walk-through. This took place about two weeks before the buyer was to take possession of the new two bedroom condo in the Fraser area of Vancouver. Now I consider attending these inspections a part of my job as a full service REALTOR® but this one was scheduled for 7AM! This is not known as peak performance timing for most REALTORS®.

Nevertheless, I made my way to the building on time to meet my client and we then proceeded to wait for the developer’s representative who ended up being about 10 minutes late. On these outings I use a detailed checklist of potential problems to look for (see image for a sample).

These usually go pretty smoothly and this one was no exception except for some minor surprises. The best part of this inspection was when the developer’s representative opened the door to the laundry area and it was empty. The washer and dryer that were to be included as per the buyer’s contract were nowhere to be found.

Make sure your REALTOR® attends the walk-through inspection with you so they can provide expertise on what to be on the lookout for and to fully protect your interests.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

Vancouver Ranked Fifth in the World for Quality of Living

It seems the high price of real estate in Vancouver has not hampered this city’s ranking on the world stage. Mercer has just released its 2011 Quality of Living worldwide city rankings and Vancouver is ranked at 5th (tied with Düsseldorf)  This is the highest ranking in the Americas with Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal following at 14th, 15th and 22nd respectively. The only US city to break the top 30 is Honolulu at 29th.

This is not shocking news to those of us who are from here and live here but it would seem that Vancouver continues to be a top world destination for people considering relocation.

Surrey rated B.C.’s hottest housing investment market

See the Vancouver Sun article here:

The top towns ranked in Real Estate Investment Network report are:

No. 1: Surrey

No. 2: Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

No. 3: Kamloops

No. 4: Abbotsford

No. 5: Fort St. John

No. 6: Dawson Creek

No. 7: Kelowna

No. 8: Comox Valley

No. 9: Penticton

No. 10: Prince George

No. 11: Vancouver

Fixed or Variable Rate Mortgage?

Some interesting posts raised in today’s Globe and Mail article. The gap between the two types of mortgages is smaller than it has been for quite some time causing many to consider opting for a fixed rate mortgage.

In a fixed rate mortgage, the interest rate, and hence periodic payment, remains fixed for the term of the loan. Therefore the payment is fixed and payments for principal and interest should not change over the life of the loan. With a variable rate mortgage, on the other hand, the interest rate ‘floats’ and this may result in a fluctuating monthly payment.

The considerations for home owners have not changed? How much risk can you tolerate? How long is your time frame for owning the property? Where do you see the prime rate going and when, etc?

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

Unruly condo owners – must they be tolerated?

Every condo owner’s nightmare – an owner who won’t listen to a meeting quietly or obey the rules of the meeting. 

Question: What can we do when an owner continually disrupts our condo meetings and also harasses owners after the meeting is over? Our condo meetings are getting out of control.

One solution is offered here. This is an important issue and must be dealt with promptly and swiftly for the strata council to conduct its business in a timely and efficient matter. If the strata council is intimidated, it might not be able to do its legally mandated work which could affect the running of the strata corporation. One can see how this might trickle down to would-be sellers or have an impact on potential buyers into a strata development.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

Are Strata Fee Estimates for Strata Developments Reliable?

Ever wondered how developers set strata fees before a new strata building is even built? Good information on just that in a recent Vancouver Sun article. Developers are tasked with estimating monthly strata fees for their future development projects. It might be tempting for developers to make fees appear lower than they are actually likely to be in if gives them a leg up when courting potential buyers. Apparently this is not common practice and developers are subject to strong penalties as a disincentive to underestimating potential strata fees.

I have seen this happen on one occasion but I’m not sure if it was a case of poor accounting skills, outright deceit by the developer or a bit of both. The developer was required to make up the shortfall in the strata fees to cover the first year’s annual budget.

The best way to avoid this scenario as a buyer is to retain the services of a Realtor who can assist with the due diligence and fully investigate an offering for sale.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

Making the case for freehold townhomes

A recent story in the Vancouver Sun spells out the potential benefits and the reasons why BC has been slow in getting this going. It appears that the legal framework is lacking in BC (this type of ownership already exists in many provinces) and this seems due to multiple levels of government not wanting additional legal responsibility.

My question would be this: If it’s working in other provinces of Canada and other parts of the world why can’t it work here? It would seem that those other provinces allowing freehold townhomes should be consulted but that might require provinces talking to one another so don’t hold your breath.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

Fundraiser Garage Sale for Public Dreams – Saturday July 9th at 9AM!!!

Should be some great items available at the upcoming fundraiser Garage Sale for Public Dreams Society. I will be providing some baked goods and coffee to benefit this great cause. Here’s the write-up:
The board of directors of Public Dreams Society is hosting a multi-family garage sale with all proceeds to go to Public Dreams Society, the amazing not for profit art organization that stages the City’s best free public celebrations: Illuminares lantern festival and Parade of the Lost Souls.So many items to purchase (many of them brand new). Too many items to list but some features are refrigerators, baby furniture, baby stroller, puppy stairs, kitchen items, washer and dryer, sporting goods, mirrors, massage table, costumes, cushions, curtains, etc. See you there!

When: Saturday, July 9th from 9 am to 12pm – no early birds please
Where: 626 East 22nd (one block west of Fraser)
Weather: Rain or shine!

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.