Rize Alliance Development – Public Hearing for Mount Pleasant Tower Proposal

Figure A shows a rendering submitted by the developer. Figure B shows the virtual model created by the City. Figure C shows a rendering created by RAMP. Image courtesy of Openfile.ca

One of the most divisive proposed developments in Vancouver in a long time is currently being considered by Vancouver city council. The Rize Alliance Properties development at Kingsway and Broadway promises to radically change the area where Kingsway, Main and Broadway meet. An article from BC Business is in support of this development and offers some insight into the issues. The original development proposal was more aggressive at 26 stories but has since been scaled back to 19 stories following public opposition. Notice in the renderings above how the building height differs depending on which party it was created by and their particular interest. The rendering closest to reality is likely the one created by the City.

It seems to me that this location is an ideal place to increase density since it’s well-located close to public transportation along the Broadway corridor and is a walk or quick bus ride to two Skytrain lines. The anti-development types are unlikely to be satisfied with any proposal put forward but many Mount Pleasant residents are watching this one closely to see what the City will allow.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
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Will the real estate market and prices remain stable in 2012?

Some interesting predictions from a new poll of Canadian financial strategists and analysts. Get out your crystal ball and get ready to play “Guess where the market is going!” http://cravecanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/vancouver.jpg As a REALTOR® I get asked almost on a daily basis what the market will do next. Unfortunately this is anyone’s guess. Of  the poll respondents, only 60% of these experts would even attempt a guess at the price forecasting.

The referenced article shares what might be on the horizon. If we do see a small drop in prices I don’t expect much in the way of a major market adjustment. Sure, people who bought with a very minimal down payment and are in a variable rate mortgage could feel the pinch but for the most part Canadian banks are conservative and don’t lend money easily.

Stay tuned here for updates on he market situation and for predictions on where the market is headed. Not from me directly of course, I gave up guessing long ago.

Do your homework and enlist the services of a well-recommended REALTOR® before undertaking a property search to best protect yourself.

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

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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.