Sold with Multiple Offers – 809-5380 Oben Street

Great Bosa built two bedroom & two full bath home in Collingwood Village. City & mountain views to the North Shore & located on the cool side of the building looking north and east. Kitchen is user-friendly & opens onto balcony. Smart upgrades include laminate flooring, S/S fridge & newer paint. Exercise room, bike storage & party room for your private use. This property has been well maintained, is only 5 years old & has the balance of 2-5-10 home warranty in place. Just 11 minutes by Skytrain to downtown & only 5 minutes to Metrotown shopping. Well run building where maintenance, cleanliness & security are top priority.  Asking price is only $429,000.

If you can’t make it to the open house get in touch with me to arrange a private showing…

How Affordable Housing Makes a Greener Vancouver

Interesting article from BC Business today. Gets to the heart of the problem for people who work in Vancouver and would like to live in the city but can’t afford to. Having to commute from the ‘burbs is neither green nor does it improve quality of life. 

The focus on affordable housing in this town is skewed towards people at the lowest rung of the ladder while the majority in the middle see little focus on the affordability problems they face.

More density, looking at smaller spaces (most people these days would not opt for a “monster house” even if they could afford it – see photo), alternative forms of architecture and building more rental stock are all part of the solution. Examples include infill housing like laneway housing. Zoning and existing landowner inflexibility are major impediments to greater densification. This burden rests with all three levels of government – but will any of them act?

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

I just bought a new house, or did I?

Happy day! You’ve gone and had your offer accepted for your brand new dream condo or house. But wait! A few days have passed and you’ve got a bad case of buyer’s remorse. What to do now? Well, if you live in BC, you may simply rescind your offer in the first seven days after your offer was accepted or you received the developer’s Disclosure Statement – whichever was later. Rights of Rescission are part of the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA) and apply to most new development properties in BC. There are exemptions to this rule so check with your local knowledgeable REALTOR® for full details on how the laws work for a particular property. An excerpt from the Real Estate Development Marketing Act:

Under section 21 of the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, the purchaser or lessee of a development unit may rescind (cancel) the contract of purchase and sale or contract to lease by serving written notice on the developer or the developer’s brokerage, within 7 days after the later of the date the contract was entered into or the date the purchaser or lessee received a copy of this Disclosure Statement.

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

Attic Conversions – To Finish or Not to Finish?

Feeling claustrophobic? Walls starting to close in on you? The answer may be right above you. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun delves into the pros and cons of converting your attic into living space. In a town like Vancouver where houses are often selling in excess of $400 per square foot (PSF), this is likely a wise investment.

Cheaper than building a new laneway house (starting at around $200 PSF), an attic conversion (starting at around $35 PSF) makes unused space within an existing home usable. On top of that, any added space will add value when it comes time to sell your home.

Older homes are the best candidates for attic conversions while newer houses that utilize roof truss systems will often be more costly to convert. The basics of an attic conversion are ensuring it is properly insulated and ventilated and that the floorboards are adequate to support people and furniture. You can go all out and add dormers but expect your costs to be significantly higher. Skylights are a good investment with any attic conversion due to lower/sloped ceilings.

Whether creating a no-go zone for the kids or somewhere to stash them, new space is usually a welcome addition. No kids? Home theater or home office perhaps? Did I mention the views are generally better up there.

New and Improved Name and Prices – The Village on False Creek

What used to be the Olympic Village is now The Village on False Creek. The media releases might have you believing that the condo development is almost sold out. Not exactly accurate. The limited release of units last week (230 of a total 474) have been selling briskly with 130 units under contract. All of these buyers have a 7 day ‘right-of-rescission’ period in which they can cancel their contracts for any reason – buyer’s remorse for instance.

The asking price reductions are substantial but seem to bring the units more inline with market value rather than making them breathtakingly low in asking price per square foot (PPSF). The lowest PPSF from the marketing material seems to be approximately $672 and this is for a 2 bedroom on a lower floor. This is still a higher PPSF than several nearby developments. Time will tell if the recent sales pace can be sustained over the longer term. This will probably be more a function of  the market strength in general than anything else. The taxpayers of Vancouver, owners of the development, can breathe a little easier now that units are moving.

Finally, as for rental units: “127 along the back row of the complex will be rented out temporarily to help fill out the village population”. Presumably these units will also eventually be sold by the city but that may end up being decided by the civic government of the day. Many taxpayers in this city would prefer that these be sold rather than the city becoming long term landlords over what must amount to nearly 100 million dollars in real estate.

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

Just Sold! Vancouver Special with a view and “laneway house” potential

I just sold this large property high on the hill near 22nd and Carolina in Vancouver. This property was a hot commodity that led to multiple offers and sold over the asking price of $959,000 one day after the first showing. Just 4 blocks off high demand Main Street, this home has a great view and the property offers great potential for building up to a 750 square foot laneway house (the maximum size permitted in Vancouver) with great views downtown and to the West.  The oversize lot is 49.5×122 which makes it 50% larger than a standard 33×122 lot.

The buyer plans to renovate this great Vancouver Special and modernize it at the same time. A laneway house may someday occupy the rear portion of this lot. A couple of local companies at the forefront of laneway house design are Lanefab and Smallworks. Here is a great lanehouse recently designed and built by Lanefab:

Metro Vancouver – Property Sales Numbers Down but Prices Rise in November

According to a recent story in the Vancouver Sun, the number of Metro Vancouver residential sales in November 2010 has declined 21% from November 2009. Prices in the same period have risen 12.3% from an average of $623,000 to $699,000. See the full report from the BCREA (British Columbia Real Estate Association) here (PDF).

Low mortgage rates have contributed to keeping the market strong and to rising prices. We are still seeing many aggressively priced properties sell for over their asking price in multiple offer situations. Overall it seems there are few signs of desperate sellers and an approaching market correction. Time will tell of course.

Vancouver’s Olympic Village – Worth $1400 per square foot?

According to a recent story in the Vancouver Sun, Olympic Village The Birds By Myfanwy MacLeodcondo prices are set to be slashed. The actual revised prices will be decided on by the receiver on January 15, 2011 and the units will then be put back on the market shortly thereafter. In May 2010, the original asking “price per square foot” for some of these units was a lofty $1400. Speculation suggests that the new asking price will be around $1000 per square foot. While a substantial reduction, is this enough of a decrease to lure buyers back to the project?

The bad press surrounding the workmanship on these buildings and the debacle regarding the City of Vancouver’s investment/involvement in the development have not helped. For better or worse, all of the residents of Vancouver have become stakeholders in this development.

The biggest barrier to achieving these luxury prices may well be the intermingling of social housing in this project. This has been a hot topic of late in Vancouver and it remains to be seen if buyers are willing to at once pay top dollar and live next door to individuals receiving social assistance. Stay tuned…

How to Hire a Contractor

This will be a touchy subject for people who’ve ever hired a nightmare contractor (if this is you and you’re reading this I apologize for not positing earlier). As a REALTOR® in Vancouver, I have seen more than my share of renovation projects gone terribly wrong. Here are a few simple suggestions to help make your renovation project go smoothly.

Create plans and sketches first:
Write down as much as you can before even meeting with contractors to be better prepared for contractor interviews and questions. You can modify requirements after meeting and selecting a contractor but this at least gives a starting point for discussions.

Get references:
Try to speak with and, better yet, meet some of the people who’ve had work done by the contractors in question. If possible, visit one of the contractor’s current project sites to see how he/she carries out the work.  Also, one person’s idea of quality workmanship can vary greatly so do your due diligence with all references. Relatives of the contractor don’t count as quality references!

Get multiple quotes:
This may seem obvious but you have nothing to lose by meeting and discussing the project with several contractors. A little extra time spent before the project gets underway will pay dividends later in the project. You may be alarmed by the variation in quotes you receive. Don’t be surprised if some contractors don’t even bother calling you or submitting a written quote.

Always meet the contractor face to face at least once before the project starts:
This may seem obvious but I know of people who have hired contractors after just a short phone conversation. Remember this person and their employees are going to be spending time in your home. This is your chance to make sure you can tolerate each other before any work starts.

Get it in writing:
Having a good rapport is great but getting all details of the work to be done in writing is even better. You have nothing to lose as a property owner by documenting and agreeing on the terms of work to be done. Run the other way if a contractor refuses or claims to be too busy to submit a written quote.

Agree to a payment schedule:
This is very important and will protect the property owner somewhat. If things aren’t going well and/or you are dissatisfied with the work being performed you can stop the work before further damage occurs. I suggest payments of 10% at the outset and then three payments of 30% as the work progresses and milestones are reached. Be wary of a contractor that wants a large payment up front. Another advantage of spreading payments is motivating the contractor to finish the project in a timely fashion – a frequent complaint about contractors.

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

More Info:
Get it in writing! – Canadian Home Builders’ Association

BC New Home Warranty – How protected are you?

Just like any warranty, a new home warranty policy should be closely scrutinized before finalizing a property purchase. Always bear in mind that warranty companies are not in business to payout large sums of money if they have any way of avoiding doing so. Also, do as much research on the builder (not just the developer as this is often a separate company) as possible and research previous projects they have built.

What is it and how does it protect me?
A new home warranty policy provides for deficiencies in construction. If problems are discovered and not addressed by the builder then a claim can be made with the warranty company to remedy the deficiencies.

What is covered and what is the minimum coverage term required by law in BC?
Coverage varies depending on whether or not the property is strata or a detached home. All builders in BC must be licensed by the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) and must provide at least a 2-5-10 new home warranty. A typical 2-5-10 example:

2 Years – Materials and Labour Defects
5 Years – Building Envelope Defects (including water penetration)
10 Years – Structural Defects

Does the fact that a builder is registered and therefore able to offer me a new home warranty ensure a high build quality?
No. Do your own due diligence and check out the builder’s history. How long have they been building? Any problem projects they’ve been involved in? It will often be much easier to choose a high quality builder at the outset then to try to collect on a home warranty policy after the property is complete.

Are there any limits on claim amounts?
Yes, the limits are as follows:

Fee simple (primarily detached dwelling units):
• The lesser of the first owner’s purchase price or $200,000.

Strata homes:
• Strata unit: lesser of the first owner’s purchase price or $100,000.
• Common property: the lesser of $100,000 times the number of dwelling units in the building or $2.5 million per building.

Is it transferable?
Yes. The warranty is tied to the property and will transfer to subsequent owners based on the initial policy commencement date.

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

More Info:
New Home Warranty Brochure from the HPO