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Dozens of speakers have addressed Vancouver city council on a proposal to allow duplexes in every part of the city. Ted Chernecki has the story.

 

The City of Vancouver has approved a new zoning policy that will permit the construction of duplexes in 99 per cent of single-family neighbourhoods.

The seven to four vote saw Mayor Gregor Robertson, all five Vision Vancouver councillors and Hector Bremner support the policy, while three Non-Partisan Association (NPA) councillors and Green Coun. Adriane Carr voted against.

“The decision by Council to make it legal to build duplexes in single family neighbourhoods across Vancouver is one more step we’re taking to boost the right supply of housing for people who live and work in Vancouver,” said Robertson in a statement.

“This is not a silver bullet for Vancouver’s housing challenges, but we have to deal with the fact that more than half of the City’s land base is zoned exclusively for single family homes – homes that are out of reach for the overwhelming majority of residents.”

The vote came after two days of contentious public hearings. More than 70 people signed up to speak to council, while close to 500 people submitted written comments. More than 300 of those were opposed, while 186 were in support.


The zoning change grew out of the city’s Making Room program, announced back in June, which seeks to address the affordable “missing middle” in the city’s housing options.

The city is hoping to add 10,000 new housing units for middle-income residents in the next decade.

However, many speakers attending Wednesday’s meeting said they felt that council was trying to fast-track a contentious policy just weeks before an election that many of them would not be standing in.

“This vote pretty much sums up Vision Vancouver’s 10 years in power,” tweeted NPA Coun. George Affleck after the the policy was approved.

“Why listen when they can just ram things through.”

“I’m concerned that the city is trying to rezone all of the single family lots in Vancouver with minimal consultation with the existing communities,” said one speaker on Wednesday.

“The manner in which this was undertaken has been, as I said, haphazard, last minute, and there are just, again, a whole spectrum of opportunities for public participation in the planning process that have been entirely overlooked,” said another.

WATCH: City of Vancouver investigating 13 bedroom rental house

Others argued that the change is a supply-side attempt by the city to keep up with insatiable global demand, and warned it would spark a speculation frenzy.

That’s something housing experts like Tom Davidoff, with UBC’s Sauder School of Business dispute.

Davidoff argued increasing supply a crucial part of the formula to begin reining in prices. He said the rezoning will finally take away some the control which has allowed single family homeowners to block changes neighbourhood that might otherwise evolve into denser housing.


“You’re not helping people in need with half duplexes, let’s not kid ourselves,” said Davidoff.

“What you are doing is setting a precedent and saying single family homes are never going to be affordable to middle class households in Vancouver again, so don’t try. Lets recognize that we need greater density.

“If the neighbours aren’t crazy about it they can make a profit and sell, but they don’t get to dictate what happens next door.”

The city says that about 67,000 single family lots comprising 52 per cent of Vancouver’s landmass are now eligible for duplexes

Neighbourhoods like Strathcona, Kitsilano and Grandview Woodland had already permitted duplexes. They are now joined by west side neighbourhoods such as Dunbar, Kerrisdale and West Point Grey.

Aside from permitting duplexes, the new zoning does not allow for any increase in height or density on a property.

A report on the potential of allowing row houses, townhouses and low-rise apartments in low-density neighbourhoods is due to come before council next summer.

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We have listed a new property at 906 1650 7TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Welcome Home! This amazing huge 2 bedroom + den, 2 bathroom immaculate condo has it all. Soaring mountain views, unobstructed water views, both North and East exposures, Huge bedrooms, beautiful bright den, freshly painted and waiting for you to move in. 1 parking and 1 storage locker are included. Steps to Granville street and everything Vancouver has to offer. Open House Saturday / Sunday 2-4pm
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Please visit our Open House at 906 1650 7TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, September 22, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Welcome Home! This amazing huge 2 bedroom + den, 2 bathroom immaculate condo has it all. Soaring mountain views, unobstructed water views, both North and East exposures, Huge bedrooms, beautiful bright den, freshly painted and waiting for you to move in. 1 parking and 1 storage locker are included. Steps to Granville street and everything Vancouver has to offer. Open House Saturday / Sunday 2-4pm
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Please visit our Open House at 906 1650 7TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, September 23, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Welcome Home! This amazing huge 2 bedroom + den, 2 bathroom immaculate condo has it all. Soaring mountain views, unobstructed water views, both North and East exposures, Huge bedrooms, beautiful bright den, freshly painted and waiting for you to move in. 1 parking and 1 storage locker are included. Steps to Granville street and everything Vancouver has to offer. Open House Saturday / Sunday 2-4pm
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We have sold a property at 306 6742 STATION HILL CRT in Burnaby.
2 bedroom + 2 full baths in a natural surroundings, tranquility + convenience at Wyndham Court. Facing onto a greenbelt where you can enjoy sunshine from your private balcony. Spacious floor plan with extensive renovations including a wall taken out to open up the entire condo! Stainless steel appliances, renovated bathrooms, new carpets, gas fireplace, large closet, access to balcony from both bedrooms, facing quiet side. Steps to skytrain, all schools, daycare, Choices Market, parks, Metrotown.
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We have sold a property at 1979 WADDELL AVE in Port Coquitlam.
Gorgeous home in Port Coquitlam's most desirable area. Stunning 2-level updated home boasts 4 bedrooms (3 upstairs) and 3 bathrooms. Master Bedroom has its own 3 piece ensuite for ultimate convenience. New roof (2017), New carpets, real hardwood flooring in living areas, Huge Master bedroom that comfortably fits a king sized bed, 2 fireplaces (1 electric / 1 gas) with updated hearts and culture stoned face. Quartz / Granite counters, SS appliances, New Stove / Dishwasher, all bedrooms have built in closet organizers, with fresh landscaping just completed as well as a brand new paint job! This house is an absolute must see. Set on a semi-cul-de-sac on a quiet street.
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We have sold a property at 19592 SOMERSET DR in Pitt Meadows.
Located in one of Pitt Meadows' best neighborhood's & locations, this lovingly updated home boasts an open plan from the kitchen to living room. Kitchen updated with SS appliances and granite counters. Formal dining room & family room off the kitchen is great for entertaining. Large backyard offers mature garden, lots of grass space and a large patio as well as access to a large open field. Upstairs features a large media room, perfect for a man cave, home office or play room. Also offers a large master bedroom with ensuite and 2 additional bedrooms. Updates include granite on all counters, newer HE furnace, gutters, plumbing, roof & MORE! This home is turn key and move in ready! less than 1 minute onto Lougheed hwy, GE bridge, Meadow Gardens golf course, Meadow Town Centre & much more.
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Mortgage eligibility rules now require borrowers to prove they would be able to still afford to pay their mortgages if their approved rate went up by two per cent.

Maple Ridge home prices still going up, but fewer buying

Double the inventory for people house hunting


The number of residential real estate deals being made in Maple Ridge has dropped, but the same hasn’t happened to prices.

When it comes to the price of a single family home, they’ve jumped by 10 per cent in Maple Ridge, when July 2017 is compared to July 2018, said Macdonald Realty manager Tom Garvey.

When it comes to condos, it’s the same scenario.

 

Garvey said the average price for a condo in Maple Ridge is now $324,400 – a jump of 37 per cent from July 2017 to July 2018, according to numbers from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

At the same time, the number of actual sales of condos has dropped by the same amount – 37 per cent – while the amount of housing inventory has more than doubled.

However, the comparatively lower prices in Maple Ridge are keeping up local prices, he added.

The average price of a townhouse in the city has jumped 13 per cent – to $567,600 in the same time period, although the number of sales have also dropped.

And there are twice as many townhomes now on the market compared to a year ago.

“So there’s a lot more product on the market,” said Garvey.

“Prices are not dropping for the simple reason, the cost of building these things.”

Maple Ridge is also a more active market compared to Coquitlam because prices here are lower than the rest of Metro Vancouver, making housing more affordable to more people.

Garvey said the 20 per cent foreign buyer’s and speculation taxes have had an effect at the top end of the market. But as a result, foreign money is now going into commercial and agricultural real estate around Metro Vancouver.

He added that the financial stress announced last fall by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is one of the major reasons the market has slowed down.

Mortgage eligibility rules now require borrowers to prove they would be able to still afford to pay their mortgages if their approved rate went up by two per cent. That’s particularly harsh for first-time buyers, he added.

But instead of stiffening borrowing requirements, the government should have started taxing condo pre-sales, to discourage flipping of properties.

Last May, condos were selling for 50 per cent more than they were the year before.

Garvey doesn’t see any big crashes in those prices coming, adding there is a summertime lull, as there is every year.

Still, he said he’s starting to see price reductions.

“But right now, prices are fairly stable.”

People keep wanting to move here because of the environment, he added, noting Metro Vancouver is an international urban area.

“If there was going to be a big crash, it would happen elsewhere, as well. I don’t expect a massive downturn to happen. If it is, it’s not just going to be in this market, it will be all across North America.”

Philip Edge, a realtor in Maple Ridge since 1971, said the housing market has normalized and balanced this year. He said there’s now a 12- to 20-per-cent sales-to-active-listings ratio, meaning those percentages of homes are being sold of the total inventory on the market.

He said higher interest rates and government taxes are all affecting the number of buyers. A condo is going for about $400,000 and townhomes $600,000 in Maple Ridge, making this area attractive to buyers moving out from closer to Vancouver.

“We’re still doing good,” he said.

His office did more than $16 million in real estate sales last July.

He compared Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to an island, separated by the Pitt, Fraser and Stave rivers from the rest of the region.

Edge maintains that interest rates are still lower than they should be and that rates could rise gradually to six per cent within six or seven years.

He said the financial stress test could be the government’s way of ensuring against a spike in interest rates. A five-year mortgage is now at about 3.3 per cent.

“A year ago, we had some crazy prices.”

Now, it’s a more realistic housing market and buyers now are more qualified, Edge added.

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We have sold a property at 2508 CONGO CRES in Port Coquitlam.
Custom designed home in Riverwood. This well cared after family home has vaulted ceilings, bright south/west exposure = lots of natural light. Formal dining area, gas fireplace. This home boasts a spacious, fully equipped kitchen, ceramic tile flooring with an eating area & family room that have patio access to the fully landscaped backyard - or relax upstairs in the master bedroom & ensuite. this home is steps from all levels of schools, close to shopping centres, recreation, as well as Carnoustie Golf Club. Call to schedule a private showing today!
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Before you list, tweak your home decor and finishes to up your odds of attracting a sale.

When you’re putting your home on the market, you want it looking its best. You know you’ll need to clean and declutter, but what about making cosmetic updates?

Investing in a new look for your home might be well worth the effort. Zillow reports that certain paint colors in specific rooms can impact a home’s sale price. And many buyers perk up when they see terms like granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and subway tile in a home’s listing.

Let’s take a look at ways to work these trends into your home for maximum impact.

More natural, less fussy

Today’s buyer is looking for fresh and natural design elements that easily blend between varying styles, from tailored and traditional to ultra-cool and modern.

Zillow discovered that shades of cool blue speak to home buyers, because they offer a semi-blank canvas for a personal touch. A natural blue tone also looks best in listing photos and videos.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Many elements impact a home’s value

While Zillow’s research shows that applying a fresh coat of paint to your home helps boost its value, there are many more components that impact a buyer’s willingness to pull out their checkbook.

In addition to paint, other elements of the kitchen and bath are important to keep in mind. Updating the countertop or flooring often breathes new life into a space.

If you don’t want to dip into construction territory, smaller projects, like swapping out hardware, adding artwork or installing stylish storage, are all great fixes that signal your home’s been well cared for.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Dip your toe

We always tell clients who are nervous to jump into a new color or pattern this simple piece of advice: Dip your toe in and try it out.

As Zillow found, shades of blue are the go-to for home buyers today. However, that doesn’t mean you have to splash navy blue paint across your walls.

If you’re staging your home to sell or just want to see what the color looks like in it, start small with throw pillows, an area rug or window coverings. These decorative accents are small but mighty, and they may offer just the right amount of impact to boost your home’s value.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Now that homeowners are gravitating toward fresh, bright and clean coloration, we can expect hues of blue and gray to offer the tranquility potential buyers are looking for.

Paired with classic white countertops and cabinets, these shades complement nearly every kitchen and bathroom, making your next home sale a slam dunk — especially if sky blue or periwinkle is involved!

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We have listed a new property at 1979 WADDELL AVE in Port Coquitlam.
Gorgeous home in Port Coquitlam's most desirable area. Stunning 2-level updated home boasts 4 bedrooms (3 upstairs) and 3 bathrooms. Master Bedroom has its own 3 piece ensuite for ultimate convenience. New roof (2017), New carpets, real hardwood flooring in living areas, Huge Master bedroom that comfortably fits a king sized bed, 2 fireplaces (1 electric / 1 gas) with updated hearts and culture stoned face. Quartz / Granite counters, SS appliances, New Stove / Dishwasher, all bedrooms have built in closet organizers, with fresh landscaping just completed as well as a brand new paint job! This house is an absolute must see. Set on a semi-cul-de-sac on a quiet street. Open House Sunday 2-4
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Please visit our Open House at 1979 WADDELL AVE in Port Coquitlam.
Open House on Sunday, September 2, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Gorgeous home in Port Coquitlam's most desirable area. Stunning 2-level updated home boasts 4 bedrooms (3 upstairs) and 3 bathrooms. Master Bedroom has its own 3 piece ensuite for ultimate convenience. New roof (2017), New carpets, real hardwood flooring in living areas, Huge Master bedroom that comfortably fits a king sized bed, 2 fireplaces (1 electric / 1 gas) with updated hearts and culture stoned face. Quartz / Granite counters, SS appliances, New Stove / Dishwasher, all bedrooms have built in closet organizers, with fresh landscaping just completed as well as a brand new paint job! This house is an absolute must see. Set on a semi-cul-de-sac on a quiet street. Open House Sunday 2-4
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Please visit our Open House at 1979 WADDELL AVE in Port Coquitlam.
Open House on Sunday, September 2, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Gorgeous home in Port Coquitlam's most desirable area. Stunning 2-level updated home boasts 4 bedrooms (3 upstairs) and 3 bathrooms. Master Bedroom has its own 3 piece ensuite for ultimate convenience. New roof (2017), New carpets, real hardwood flooring in living areas, Huge Master bedroom that comfortably fits a king sized bed, 2 fireplaces (1 electric / 1 gas) with updated hearts and culture stoned face. Quartz / Granite counters, SS appliances, New Stove / Dishwasher, all bedrooms have built in closet organizers, with fresh landscaping just completed as well as a brand new paint job! This house is an absolute must see. Set on a semi-cul-de-sac on a quiet street. Home is also easily suiteable, for a mortgage helper, if wanted. Easy to show anytime! Open House Sunday 2-4pm
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Buying a condo in Metro Vancouver may get harder in 2019

  • by MARCELLA BERNARDO

Posted Aug 26, 2018 10:05 am PDT

 
 
 

BC Real Estate Association is predicting prices will climb nearly two per cent this year

 

Condo prices and sales still stronger than single family homes

 

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Rising prices and dropping sales have prompted more speculation about what’s in store for Greater Vancouver real estate.

The BC Real Estate Association is predicting prices will climb nearly two per cent this year, but UBC Sauder School of Business professor Tom Davidoff says that might change next year.

“Single family is quite weak, particularly at the higher end. We’ve seen actual reduction in what homes are worth,” Davidoff says.

“We haven’t seen that kind of weakness in condo yet. There’s a possibility of a significant correction there, as well. A weakening of ‘incredibly strong’ is not yet to weak, so you’re starting from a very, very strong point. I don’t think the sales-to-listing ratios for apartments have even hit buyers’ market yet.”

He says while condo sales are still stronger than single family homes, a “significant correction” is possible.

“Apartments have gone from very hot to a sort of balanced market situation, so good time to be a buyer,” says Davidoff, adding that, conversely, it could be a frightening time for sellers because of increased financial stress tests and high apartment prices and inventory. “A lot of the people who wanted to buy already have bought, so that’ll be very interesting to watch.”

Jason Turcotte with Cressey Developments says their latest condo tower near Queen Elizabeth Park is already more than 80 per cent sold, but he agrees changes are on the horizon.

“It’s very challenging to produce housing right now. I mean, the marketplace is showing some signs of cooling, but the cost side of the equation certainly hasn’t,” Turcotte says.

He adds not all properties are created equal.

“We have to price appropriately to the market of the day and it is changing right now,” Turcotte says. “But I think, where you can demonstrate that the value is there, that the marketplace responds very well and not taking for granted that it’s just going to be this robust market that will buy it no matter what.”

He says investments are still being made where buyers see good price and quality.

“We are still seeing some investment-oriented purchasers on some of the smaller homes because we did have a mix of homes from one-bedrooms all the way up to more than two thousand sq-foot, two and three-bedroom homes, so a real broad mix.”

Prices for the Chelsea project on Cambie Street and West 31st Avenue, which is slated to break ground this fall, range from $650,000 for a studio to almost $3 million for larger suites

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Many are seeking work in the fast-growing high-tech sector, which is hungry for young people.

Moving to Kelowna not only gave Pamela Kuiper a bigger house for less money, it allows her to indulge in her passion for gardening.


Marko Bosnjak is proud that he has put a deposit down on his first condo, a 600-square-foot one-bedroom suite just 10 minutes outside of Kelowna’s bustling downtown. That wouldn’t be so remarkable but for the fact the fledgling digital marketer just turned 21 in January and managed to save more than $40,000 for his $234,900 condo—all with no help from the Bank of Mom and Pop.

Marko Bosnjak is a proud homeowner at just 21. SUBMITTED

He is just one of hundreds of millennials who are flowing into Kelowna with its relatively affordable home prices and enviable lifestyle. Many are seeking work in the fast-growing high-tech sector, which is hungry for young people, especially those born between 1982 and 2000.

While there are no hard figures on how many millennials have moved to Kelowna in the last five years, a 2015 survey conducted by Accelerate Okanagan, a local organization that promotes the high-tech industry, found that of the 7,600 people working at 650 companies in Kelowna, about 52 per cent of those workers were under the age of 35.

“This is not an industry which hires senior and seasoned older people,” says CEO Raghwa Gopal. “These tech companies take a risk on younger people, creating more opportunities for them.”

High tech, he said, now surpasses the wine industry and tourism as the region’s chief economic engine, generating about $1.3 billion annually and showing no sign of slowing down.

 

Born in Mexico in 1997, Bosnjak came to Canada with his parents three years later, settling in Oliver, about a 90-minute drive south of Kelowna. He attended high school, and in what he calls “a blessing,” the school helped him get a job at Valley First credit union. “It opened my eyes to what it means to save money and get ahead in life,” he says.

While still working at the credit union by day, Bosnjak and a buddy—“a nerdy techy guy, super smart”—worked nights to form, in January, a website service company called Eureka. “Last month, we hit just under $10,000 in sales and we want to keep the momentum going.”

Digital marketer Alison Roach found new opportunities in Kelowna. SUBMITTED

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Alison Roach, 25, an SFU grad who flirted with journalism before taking a job in digital marketing, was contemplating moving to Kelowna with her boyfriend, Norbert.

“I wasn’t really finding the opportunities I wanted in Vancouver,” she says, having worked in coordinator positions while yearning to do more writing. “I felt sort of stuck and stagnant.”

Responding to an online ad, Roach scored a job at Strawhouse, a fast-growing digital marketing firm in Kelowna, and the pair were off to the Okanagan. It helped that Norbert is a pilot for Air Canada’s Jazz, which allows him to commute daily by air to his YVR-based job.

Roach’s change of job wasn’t the only benefit that came with the move: the couple more than doubled their living space, going from a 500-square-foot “shoebox” off The Drive for $1,500 a month to a 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Kelowna for $1,750 a month. As well, she is just a five-minute bike ride from the office.

For 29-year-old accountant Pamela Kuiper and her husband, Andrew, the tipping point was the ridiculously high prices of homes surrounding their rented 650-square-foot one-bedroom condo in downtown Vancouver. That, and the dismal alternative of a 90-minute daily commute from, say, an affordable Fraser Valley townhome, prompted them to look at getting out of the city.

“It was fun, and we loved it, but we couldn’t see ourselves settling down there [in Vancouver],” she said. Then a job opportunity came up for Andrew, an environmental consultant, starting up a Kelowna office at a small firm. He interviewed and got the job. Around the same time, Pamela moved from a small North Shore accounting firm to the Kelowna office of Grant Thornton.

The couple now live in a carriage house in Lower Mission, a neighbourhood about 20 minutes from downtown Kelowna. It is significantly roomier than their former condo, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a good-sized backyard where Kuiper has indulged her passion for cultivating a veggie garden. They also enjoy hiking and camping outside the city.

“We are just renting now, but want to buy a house at some point,” she says. “Most importantly, we are not feeling the pressure as much to buy a home. That pressure really takes over everything in your mind, and it’s very hard to remember you like to do other things than look at real estate online.”

Amy Matejcek, a real estate agent who specializes in helping millennials relocate to Kelowna, says the downtown scene with its new restaurants and cafes, sports and cultural events, combined with nearby skiing in the winter and boating and biking in the summer, is a giant magnet for millennials. That, and high rents—Kelowna has one of the lowest vacancy rates in Canada—have led many in the age group to leap into home ownership.

A millennial with a $50,000-to-$60,000 annual income and some money saved up could buy a condo for $350,000, about the average condo selling price in Kelowna last June, she says, and significantly cheaper than what you would pay in Metro Vancouver.

Kelowna Quick Facts

  • Average June 2018 price of a single-family home: $716,274
  • Average June price of a townhouse: $455,749
  • Gross median household income: $71,127 (Vancouver: $72,662)
  • Number of kilometres of on-street bike lanes: 300
  • Average annual precipitation: 345 millimetres (Vancouver: 1,457 mm)
  • Average summer temperature: 27°C (Vancouver: 23°C)
  • Number of annual visitors to the region’s 240 vineyards: 500,000


MICHAEL BERNARD
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Please visit our Open House at 306 6742 STATION HILL CRT in Burnaby.
Open House on Saturday, August 25, 2018 11:00AM - 1:00PM
2 bedroom + 2 full baths in a natural surroundings, tranquility + convenience at Wyndham Court. Facing onto a greenbelt where you can enjoy sunshine from your private balcony. Spacious floor plan with extensive renovations including a wall taken out to open up the entire condo! Stainless steel appliances, renovated bathrooms, new carpets, gas fireplace, large closet, access to balcony from both bedrooms, facing quiet side. Steps to skytrain, all schools, daycare, Choices Market, parks, Metrotown, etc. Open House Saturday 11-1pm
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Please visit our Open House at 2508 CONGO CRES in Port Coquitlam.
Open House on Sunday, August 26, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Custom designed home in Riverwood. This well cared after family home has vaulted ceilings, bright south/west exposure = lots of natural light. Formal dining area, gas fireplace. This home boasts a spacious, fully equipped kitchen, ceramic tile flooring with an eating area & family room that have patio access to the fully landscaped backyard - or relax upstairs in the master bedroom & ensuite. this home is steps from all levels of schools, close to shopping centres, recreation, as well as Carnoustie Golf Club. Call to schedule a private showing today! Open House Sunday 2-4pm
Read full post

Please visit our Open House at 1979 WADDELL AVE in Port Coquitlam.
Open House on Saturday, August 25, 2018 1:00PM - 3:00PM
Gorgeous home in Port Coquitlam's most desirable area. Stunning 2-level updated home boasts 4 bedrooms (3 upstairs) and 3 bathrooms. Master Bedroom has its own 3 piece ensuite for ultimate convenience. New roof (2017), New carpets, real hardwood flooring in living areas, Huge Master bedroom that comfortably fits a king sized bed, 2 fireplaces (1 electric / 1 gas) with updated hearts and culture stoned face. Quartz / Granite counters, SS appliances, New Stove / Dishwasher, all bedrooms have built in closet organizers, with fresh landscaping just completed as well as a brand new paint job! This house is an absolute must see. Set on a semi-cul-de-sac on a quiet street. Home is also easily suiteable, for a mortgage helper, if wanted. Easy to show anytime! Open House Saturday 1-3pm
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We have sold a property at 217 2484 WILSON AVE in Port Coquitlam.
Welcome to Verde by amazing builder ONNI ! A contemporary interpretation of west coast style & architecture situated across from Coquitlam River and trails, rec center, Gates Park & just minutes from Coquitlam Centre, schools & transit including the West Coast Express. This SOUTH FACING unit boasts Stainless steel appliances, granite countertops in the kitchen & bathrooms, & over-height ceilings. BONUS 2 Parking stalls come with this amazing unit and HUGE balcony, perfect for entertaining. Nothing to do but move in! Gym and amenity room in the building, and low monthly fees. Insuite storage. Open House Sunday 3-5pm
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New Zealand government has imposed a ban on non-resident buyers for resale homes – but will it help curb runaway prices?

 
 

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is fulfilling her early promise to tackle the country’s soaring property prices.

Ardern – who seems to be taking over from Justin Trudeau as the global media’s latest, youngest, hippest nation leader du jour – promised last fall after her election that non-resident buyers would not be permitted to purchase existing homes anywhere in New Zealand (while also announcing a crackdown on immigration). It has just been confirmed, on August 14, that this policy will go ahead.

 
 

Just like in Canada, New Zealand’s larger cities have seen a severe housing supply shortage and home prices have soared in the past decade, rising around 18 per cent year over year in its capital, Wellington. The largest city, Auckland, was recently named by The Economist as the world’s second most overvalued city for real estate, with New Zealand the world’s most overvalued country. Only a quarter of adults in New Zealand own their own home, compared with half in 1991, according to an August 15 Guardian report (and compared with 63.7 per cent in Metro Vancouver and 66.5 per cent in Toronto, according to Canada’s 2016 Census).

 

And, just like in B.C.’s provincial election, affordability, lack of supply and foreign ownership and speculation (particularly from China) were key issues in the country’s general election last September. So Ardern was duty-bound to make a big move once in office.

The policy is bound to be popular among New Zealanders, many of whom feel they have been pushed out of the housing market. But the question is, will the ban make a difference?

The Guardian report says, “According to the latest figures from statistics New Zealand, 3.3 per cent of homes sold in the last quarter were to foreigners, with the bulk of the buyers Chinese, followed by Australians.”

This suggests that an outright ban would remove only three per cent of New Zealand’s property buyers, which is hardly likely to make a huge difference to the overall market.

Potential policy shock

What might make more of a difference to New Zealand’s housing market – at least in the short term – is a “policy shock” just like the one seen in Metro Vancouver following 2016’s introduction of the 15 per cent overseas buyer tax. Which is to say that, rather than only overseas buyers pulling out of the market, the entire system freezes temporarily as locals and non-locals alike wait to see what effect the new policy will have on prices. This has the self-fulfilling effect of halting sales, and price growth, until people get used to the “new normal” and the system unfreezes, as it is bound to do. After all, people still have to buy and sell homes.

It's also worth noting that overseas buyers will still be able to buy New Zealand presale homes off-plan, as the government doesn’t want to halt construction of new homes, with supply already so limited. What’s more, the ban doesn’t apply to residents of either Australia (which make up the second-largest group of New Zealand's overseas buyers) or Singapore.

Exemptions aside, it’s disconcertingly easy to get around these kinds of bans. Overseas buyers who still want in on New Zealand resale real estate can find loopholes such as using resident proxy buyers, New Zealand-based shell companies, and so on.

So it’s reasonable to expect that a large proportion of those three per cent of overseas buyers will still find a way to invest, whether it’s by reallocating their funds to presale real estate, or to commercial real estate, or simply by being exempt.

Could B.C. follow suit?

Naturally, leaders and industry insiders in B.C. are watching New Zealand with interest, to see if it will “work” in terms of making homes more affordable. According to a Global BC report published when the New Zealand ban was proposed in fall 2017, Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he admired the policy and hoped B.C. would impose a similar ban. “It’s not about stopping people from owning homes who live here and pay taxes,” he said. “It’s about ensuring British Columbians can live in homes in British Columbia.”

But the same 2017 Global story also reported UBC Sauder School of Business professor Tom Davidoff as saying that he doubts the ban will be effective. “I tend to believe restrictions [and] bans are hard to enforce at times. We had it here in British Columbia even with the foreign buyer tax.” And in January this year, B.C. Premier John Horgan poured cold water on the idea of imposing a similar ban in B.C., instead widening and increasing the foreign buyer tax.

My guess as to whether the New Zealand ban will help with housing affordability? I agree with Davidoff on this one. I think that, like in Vancouver, and once any potential policy shock is out of the way, New Zealand’s desirability and convenient Pacific Rim location will mean that buyers will just keep on buying. If anything, Ardern’s immigration crackdown may have more of a long-term effect on the housing market, if population growth stalls and local demand softens.

In the meantime, the popular young Prime Minister will earn some kudos from her adoring voters for addressing the housing crisis. We’ll see…



C/O Vancouver Courrior

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