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.

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.

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.

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: