Paul Liberatore

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Please visit our Open House at 213 3588 VANNESS AVE in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, March 28, 2015 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
One of the largest, best laid out studios in Vancouver, for an affordable price. Granite counters, laminate/tile flooring, updated kitchen & bathroom.Proactive strata & pride of a mostly owner occupied building shines thru this beautifully maintained building. Unit includes 1 parking stall, and a large secure storage locker. Great fitness/bike rooms in the building and just steps to Skytrain & bus. 9 minutes to downtown, and 3 minutes to Metrotown. Beautiful office space with window for lots of light. Low maintenance fees make this unit a must see. Nothing to do but move in.
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Vancouver storage locker disappears, along with contents
 

Jamie Tait received a shock on Sunday when he paid a visit to the Vancouver storage facility where he had rented a locker for the last five years.

“It was gone. A mess … just rubble and machines,” he said.

West End Mini Storage, at 1460 Howe St., was one of seven properties purchased and levelled by Westbank Corporation to make way for Vancouver House, its 59-storey tower being constructed at the foot of the Granville Street Bridge.

Tait estimates the contents of his locker — which he says included a 1967 Vox Mark VI guitar, music equipment, an extensive comic book collection and video game collection — was worth more than $10,000.

Other items, like personal artwork and items from his childhood are irreplaceable, he said.

“I’m more than angry, I’m heartbroken,” he said.

Westbank Corporation spokeswoman Jill Killeen says every effort was made to contact customers last year when it was deemed that the facility would be demolished.

“Notices went up advising people that the storage facility would be closing. The storage facility team was very proactive in reaching out to customers,” she said. “In cases where they weren’t able to reach customers by email or telephone, they sent out letters and even walked over letters to residential buildings.”

Tait claims he never received any warning. He only checked on his locker Sunday because he just noticed his regular monthly storage rental of $51.45 was no longer being charged to his credit card.

He hadn’t realized that West End Mini Storage had stopped charging him since October.

“Over the weekend my girlfriend and I were discussing moving and I had mentioned that I wanted to put some of my more delicate things in storage so that they don’t get damaged. In taking a quick glance at my MasterCard statements noticed that over the past couple months, (West End Mini Storage) hadn’t taken money out to cover costs,” said Tait, who says he supplied the storage company with updated contact information and a new credit card number last April. “Why would they stop taking the money from my account and leave me in the dark? Are there others in the same boat as me?

“They have my phone number … I’ve always had same phone number.”

As for his stuff, which also included mementoes from his childhood, it would have been either sold or disposed of when the facility closed last fall.

“However, (Tait’s locker) contents that have been described are not something that the storage facility team was aware of or even remembers seeing,” said Killeen. “The property would not be randomly discarded.”

The Canadian Self Storage Association doesn’t have a guideline for storage facilities that are closing down.

“It just doesn’t happen. This is the first time in 21 years that I have heard of one shutting down,” said Sue Margeson, CSSA director. “Storage facilities are in very high demand and there is always a waiting list of people looking to buy existing storage facilities.”

In Vancouver, however, where prime real estate is worth nearly $1,400 per square foot according to Commercial Real Estate Service of Canada, money-making storage facilities do indeed get purchased and torn down.

Another storage facility, South Vancouver Mini-Public Storage, located two blocks from the Marine Drive Canada Line station, closed in 2013 and is listed for sale with an asking price of $7.88 million.

Margeson says Tait’s ordeal is a cautionary tale for people who rent storage lockers. She advises customers to check on their lockers regularly and take out insurance — or at least make sure the locker is covered by home insurance — if the contents are valuable.

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Vancity Credit Union expects the average home in Metro Vancouver to cost more than $2 million.

A new housing report from the VanCity Credit Union says the average house price in Vancouver will climb to $2.1 million within 15 years.

Andy Broderick, Vancity's vice-president of community investment, says future homebuyers who want to stay in the Lower Mainland should lower their expectations of what they'll be able to afford to buy.

"We'll be looking at more and more comfort with condo ownership, with living in denser conditions," says Broderick.

The likelihood of new buyers owning a house with a white picket fence is pretty much nil as the report highlights that wages are not growing at anywhere near the same pace as housing prices.

Broderick says the desirability of living in Metro Vancouver is to blame.

"You're here for the very reasons that the place is unaffordable," says Broderick.

"Realize that you may not be able to buy the kind of house you'd buy far up the Fraser Valley."

The report highlights that although Vancouver is the second-most unaffordable city in the world, it's also been named the third-most liveable city in the world.

But the report also mentions that the cost of condos will rise as well, leaving the most affordable options in Metro Vancouver cities like Langley, Port Moody and Coquitlam.

Focus on millennials

The report focuses on home ownership for millennials, or those born approximately between 1980 and the early 2000s.

However, a recent report from U.S.-based Federated Investorshighlighted that millennials in North America stand to inherit $30 trillion over the next few decades.

And a recent housing report from the Vancouver-based Urban Futures Institute showed that despite climbing home and condo prices, millennials were more likely to own a home in 2011 than they were in 2006. And yes, that pattern was the same specifically for the Metro Vancouver region as well.

Broderick says the exponential rise in the cost of home ownership is not inevitable.

"I think we all have to elevate our awareness of the problem and start asking our municipalities and our provincial government to pull together to come up with solutions," he says.

Some of the Vancity report's recommendations for various levels of government include changing zoning to increase density, creating affordable housing, and changing tax structures to create incentives for developers.

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  • A home for sale sign hangs in front of a house in Oakton, on the day the National Association of Realtors issues its Pending Home Sales for February report, in Virginia March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

     

 

Stop me if this sounds familiar: You scour MLS for the semi that will rescue you from a life in a high-rise. Mortgage pre-approval in place, you bid well above asking, because you live in Toronto and that’s how it works. The selling agent comes back and says there’s another stronger bid, and couldn’t you do a bit more? You swallow hard and cough up another $10,000, sealing the deal, and only later wondering if there really was a competing offer in the first place.

It’s tough to know how often this happens, but with interest rates still rock-bottom and bidding wars turning post-war bungalows into million-dollar properties, the Ontario government is bringing in new rules to crack down on unethical real estate agents that try to pump up housing prices with “phantom” offers.

“It’s all in the context of these bidding wars, and the idea is a potential buyer knowing ‘am I in competition, and how many people am I in competition with?’” says Bruce Matthews, deputy registrar of the Real Estate Council ofOntario (RECO), which oversees real estate agents and is responsible for enforcing the new rules.

 

 

Matthews says misleading a bidder as to the number or existence of rivals is already against the rules, but that the new standards will essentially force realtors to keep better records that can then be used to confirm that a purchase was above board.

“We’re making it certainly harder to fudge the truth,” he says.

So instead of wanna-be homeowners just throwing big numbers down a hole and hoping a house pops up, someone will start actually taking notes.

Specifically, selling agents will have to keep records on successful bids for six years and on unsuccessful bids for one year. As well, agents will only be able to claim they have other bidders if they’ve received a formal offer in writing.

So if you’re strong-armed to cough up more dough because there’s apparently a higher bid than yours, you can follow up later to make sure there actually was one. If it turns out there wasn’t, RECO can step in and take action, including potentially revoking an agent’s registration.

Of course, this isn’t going to move the needle too far on cooling down the housing market in the GTA and to a lesser degree in places like Ottawa and Hamilton. Agents will continue to list houses low to spur the mad scramble that every seller dreams about.

The most recent data show that Toronto home sales in February grew 11 percent from a year ago, while prices jumped nearly 8 percent. And that was during the coldest February since 1875. So the home buying crowd is a committed bunch.

Matthews acknowledges the housing scene, in the GTA at least, is driven by an imbalance that won’t go away any time soon.

“I think the nature of this hot housing market is very much an issue of diminished supply, rather than just excessive demand,” he says. “So… even in past hot housing markets you didn’t get bidding wars quite to the extent that you’re getting today.”

And with mortgage rates at the bottom end of the historical scale, don’t expect the bidding frenzy to stop any time soon.

But starting July, when the rules take effect, at least there will be a paper trail.

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In competitive housing markets like Vancouver, buyers feel the pressure to move quickly and make seller-friendly offers, often with no subjects such as financing or inspections. In fact, theVancouver Sun reported a few months ago that some houses and condos in the area sold within a week or two (one house sold with no subjects and for $50,000 above asking price). With low housing inventory and high demand, realtors don't expect that competitive landscape to change any time soon.

While an offer with no subjects could certainly be more attractive to the seller, I do not advise my mortgage clients to go in without subjects due to the potential risks involved.

The only time I would say to go in without any subjects would be if you're looking at making a cash offer and you're paying for the value of the land so you don't care about the inspections and don't need time to line up financing. Here, I would also emphasize the importance of having your own representation. Some buyers think that not having their own agent puts them in a more advantageous situation, but the truth is that the sellers' agent is contracted to represent their sellers and in some situations they can even be encouraging a bidding war and discouraging subjects.

For those who need a mortgage, having at least one subject would allow the buyers to exit the deal if they need to. For instance, if your offer was subject to a home inspection, that could buy you time to get the mortgage financing in place. The vast majority of my clients review strata documents, conduct a home inspection and secure financing before removing subjects.

When you make an offer, you usually have a grace period where you can work through removing the subjects such as reading the strata minutes, booking a home inspection and arranging for your financing. By the end of the grace period, you have to either remove subjects and move forward with the deal or you don't remove subjects and basically the accepted offer becomes void.

Remember, a pre-approval doesn't mean you're 100 per cent approved for whatever home you decide to buy. For instance, if you suspect there'll be multiple bids on a property and you make a bid that's higher than the asking price, the home's appraised value may fall short of your offer.

Another scenario where you might run into financing problems would be if the life expectancy of the house does not support the amortization of the loan. If the value of the property is in the land, most lenders will not finance a tear-down. Instead, they might finance a lower amount (say, 50 per cent of the land) whatever amount on the property.

With competitive situations, it's easy to get caught up in bidding wars and succumb to pressure to make offers without subjects, but I think the key is to treat it like a business transaction and maintain a clear head. Have a maximum budget you're willing to spend and do not go above that amount.

If you try to be more competitive by offering a higher price or not placing any subjects, you could be playing with fire and wind up getting burned. Only you can determine how much risk you're willing to take on..

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Fears of a Metro Vancouver office market slowdown in 2015 appear to be unfounded.

True, until 2014’s third quarter (according to Colliers International), vacancies were rising, absorption of space was negative and landlords’ need to make concessions to secure tenants was a hot topic. But entering 2015, the market is in good shape.

The post-Olympic slump that was forecast was inconsequential, and even in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Bentall 5 sold twice over at benchmark prices.

“We didn’t see anything, even though there was a financial meltdown,” said Mark Chambers, executive vice-president of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) in Vancouver. “I tend to be, ‘Boy, this went well.’”

Now, with four new buildings and a handful of smaller projects set to add 1.8 million square feet to the market this year – with commitments promising 90% occupancy on opening – Chambers said there’s little cause for pessimism.

“Historically, every time we’ve seen a construction boom we’ve seen a few really good years of positive absorption. So is this cycle going to be any different? I don’t think so.”

Given the time since the last new tower completed downtown, Chambers added that the buildings have market dynamics on their side. They aren’t entering a falling market, but one where there’s pent-up demand for new space and sufficient confidence among tenants to lease it.

“There’s demand for better product,” he said. “People didn’t have that breathing room. I think you’ve got growth in the economy now – you’ve got growth in the digital media, technology area.”

The real tension in the market appears to be between the core and a periphery increasingly defined by transit lines.

The Broadway corridor, a market once defined as the two-block-wide swath running along Broadway between Cambie and Burrard streets, now encompasses everything outside downtown, in the opinion of many brokerages.

Avison Young and JLL both include Marine Gateway, at the south foot of Cambie Street, within the area, as well as Bentall Kennedy LP’s Broadway Tech Centre at the city’s eastern edge. Both developments sit adjacent to rapid transit stations, infrastructure that has redefined how many tenants view the region and its relation to the core.

Transit lines are like the spokes of a wheel whose hub is downtown, Bentall Kennedy vice-president Jeff Rank said. Transit connections let companies stay close to the core without limiting them to conventional space.

But he’s skeptical as to whether non-core locations are rising to dominance or simply complementing core locations. His reading of the numbers – from the standpoint of a company with projects in both segments of the market – is that location remains key.

“We focus an awful lot on public transit and SkyTrain as the be-all and end-all of future office space demand,” Rank said. “But I think we do that without fully recognizing that that’s one variable in usually at least a half-dozen, if not a dozen, other variables.”

JLL’s regular Rapid Transit Index underscores that projects within 500 metres of a transit station typically enjoy higher rents and lower vacancies – but exceptions exist. The most recent edition notes that Metrotower III in Burnaby and Anvil Centre in New Westminster both completed with just 17.8% leased.

Rank feels Broadway Tech Centre has maintained its appeal because of its key location between the Burnaby market – where it was once classified – and the Vancouver core.

Downtown remains appealing because it offers an established package of amenities that’s still evolving in many other markets.

“It ticks every box,” Rank said. “Now that we’ve added some new supply and given people some opportunities, I think downtown stands to continue to perform well.”

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We have sold a property at 301 2736 VICTORIA DR in Vancouver.
Welcome to this beautiful 2 Bedroom/1 Bathroom, unit in the desirable Trout Lake! Huge windows & vaulted ceiling provide an abundance of natural light. Cozy gas fireplace, stainless steel appliances.Beautiful views on the quiet side of this well maintained building, with proactive strata. Long time owner, and the pride of ownership shines through in this immaculate home that is a pleasure to show. 1 block from Vancouver's famous Commercial Drive, Skytrain, bus/bike route. One of the most desirable areas in Vancouver. Lots of street parking with shopping nearby.
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Savvy strategy

Vancouver may be all about densification, but Calgary-based Big Rock Brewery Inc. is showing what can be done with the city’s industrial space. While flexible zoning has helped make the combination possible, drawing a half-dozen craft brewers to the industrial heart of Mount Pleasant, Big Rock is readying its own facility cognizant that it’s not the only game in town. The 20,000-square-foot facility at Alberta and West 3rd Avenue is a triple threat aimed squarely at local drinkers, with a pub, retail store and commercial brewery all in one building – and each element offering something different.

While it will kick off operations with a Northwest-style red ale, general manager JM Pelland said plans are in place to give each component a distinct flavour.

“By May, June, there’ll always be six to eight different draft beers available, split up between the restaurant and the retail area,” he said.

The facility has 30,000-litre tanks that will enable it to produce beer for broad distribution, while smaller tanks of 3,000 to 6,000 litres will allow small batches for on-site consumption. The retail outlet will also stock product from Big Rock’s Calgary plant.

“I’m quite confident in making it a cornerstone of this neighbourhood,” Pelland said. “It is a unique neighbourhood, and what a great way to capture a multi-faceted audience with a mixed-use building!”

Situated next to the Vancouver Police Department, the brewery receives daily visits from officers wondering when it’s opening.

Pelland expects to produce evidence of the brewery’s handiwork in April.

Housing and incomes

It’s become common of late for commentaries on housing affordability to note that rising home prices are less of an issue than stagnant incomes.

Condo marketer Bob Rennie has long suggested this, arguing that foreign buyers are not dependent on local incomes and should be factored out of discussions of affordability.

But that doesn’t prevent high-level data from grabbing headlines; to wit, the flutter of excitement as the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s benchmark pricing for detached homes crossed the million-dollar mark last fall. That’s indisputably beyond what the median family income in metropolitan Vancouver – which Statistics Canada pegs at below $65,000 a year – can afford.

RBC Economics figures indicate the qualifying income for a standard condo – the most affordable housing type in the region – has averaged approximately $76,000 since mid-2009.

The good news, however, is that qualifying incomes have typically been within $1,500 of that average in recent years. In fact, RBC reports that a condo purchase requires just 39.9% of monthly household income today, versus more than 47% four years ago.

It’s the single-family buyers that have been hit hardest by rising home prices and the affordability crunch. RBC data shows that households now require $44,000 more in annual income to qualify for a simple bungalow than they did in spring 2009 – a gap that local incomes simply can’t bridge. 


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The area, on the northern border of East and West Side Vancouver, has long been known for its inexpensive and low-rise industrial building

Last year, however, the City of Vancouver changed the light industrial definition in the area to allow the mixing of office space with industrial use. Zoning allows three square feet of commercial space to be erected for every square foot of land occupied.

Since the change was implemented, Mount Pleasant industrial land prices have hit the highest level in all of Metro Vancouver, at $384 per square foot, up about 34 per cent from 2007.

Some recent sales are already well above the average: one buyer paid $500 per square foot for an old one-storey industrial building on West 3rd Avenue in Mount Pleasant, a survey from Avison Young reveals. Another buyer paid $3.1 million for less than 7,500 square feet of industrial space in the 300 block of West 6th Avenue.

The density change has transformed what would typically be considered industrial transactions into land deals, according to Avison Young, which has been tracking action in the area.

“The higher pricing has essentially rendered retaining the existing structures as an inefficient use,” the report stated.

Growing demand for Mount Pleasant property has resulted in tech firms and other so-called light industrial users competing with developers and private investors trying to acquire property, the commercial agency noted. “This activity and subsequent pricing has skewed the overall value of Vancouver industrial real estate transactions,” Avison Young said.

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As Canadian banks slash their mortgage rates to new lows, a developer in B.C. is offering a dollar-a-day mortgage to interested home buyers in the Metro Vancouver region as incentive to buy in.

WestStone Group and Platinum Project Marketing are offering the deal for buyers of a luxury condo in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey. After the first year, buyers must start paying down the rest of their mortgage at the regular rate.

Vince Taylor, of Platinum Project Marketing, said the move is critical to entice prospective buyers who are savvier than ever.

"If we're not one step ahead; if we're not fully prepared; if we're not ready to go a mile further than the next guy, we won't sell any condos," he said.

The deal comes as the Bank of Montreal and TD Canada Trust slashed their mortgage rates this week. Both banks cut their rates, posting a five-year fixed-term rate of 2.79 per cent.

CTV Financial Commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid said the new rates were posted just in time for the red-hot spring housing market.

"Let the price wars begin, because we're heading into the spring housing market, and markets such as Vancouver and even Toronto are still very hot," Reid said.

Business analyst James Doak said the new rates are virtually unprecedented.

"The bank is actually starting to pass on the full amount of the Bank of Canada reduction to their consumers," he told CTV Vancouver.

Jim Kwon, a mortgage consultant, agrees, noting that he's surprised at how low the rates have fallen.

"I'm kind of shocked where they are now," he said. "Because when rates were four per cent a number of years ago, we heard they'd never come lower."

But analysts warn that the low-rates may come with many restrictions, which if broken, may result in stiff penalties.

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Used shorts for $638.43? Lululemon garb resold online for absurd prices
 

"LULULEMON VERY RARE W SHIMMER VBT shorts." Listed for $638.43 on Ebay.ca on March 18th, 2015.

Forget Vancouver real estate as a high-performing investment, the big money’s in polyester yoga pants.

Specifically yoga pants made by that brand people love and love to hate, Lululemon.

Yesterday on eBay.ca, a Vancouver woman had on offer a “limited run RARE” pair of Wunder Under Pants in a fluorescent multi-coloured and horizontal motif called Beachscape. Price: $899.99 Cdn.

And that wasn’t the most expensive posting. Next to it was a black pullover sweatshirt from another seller asking $1,146.87 Cdn, plus $25 in shipping costs and $138 for import duties, for a grand total of $1,310.

On the same page, “sprinkler blue speed shorts,” size 4, were listed for $798 Cdn.

Welcome to the Lululemon resale market, frowned upon by the Vancouver-based clothing giant and not openly discussed by participants.

The Vancouver seller of the Wunder Under Pants responded rather warily by email to an interview request — “I always wanted to tell my story as it’s quite a story but can’t for obvious reasons” — and followed up with an email declining.

“My lawyer said not to reply if nothing is in it for me as the last thing I need is more publicity; as you know, lulu discourages reselling.” Signed: ez2curg8.

She did tell racked.com that she makes a living flipping Lulu, has 1,100 eBay listings and sells 50 items a month.

The sellers can get outrageous amounts several times higher than retail for Lululemon because, like a Chanel suit or a Louis Vuitton handbag, they hold their value.

“Lululemon expert,” offering advice online on how to sell, explains the gear’s collectibility: “Some people must have all the Vinyasa scarves, others want an impressive collection of Wunder Under Pants. Some people collect all items in Teal Zeal, others must have Pique everything! I’m a sucker for Define jackets and Groove Pants.”

Fans note people are willing to shell out big bucks in secondary markets because of Lululemon’s “scarcity model” strategy of limiting stock even when it sells out.

Lululemon, faced with complaints from customers who would find coveted items — called “unicorns” in Lulu fan land — only on eBay, tried to crack down on online resellers by banning them from its online store, but had to back down after bad press.

Lululemon didn’t respond to an interview request but sent a “resale/counterfeit” FAQ: “We completely recognize that once someone purchases our product they can do what they want with it. We do not, however, support those who acquire large volumes of our product to resell at an elevated price point.”

There is a similar honour code among not-for-profit sellers, like the Vancouver Lululemon Swap ’n’ Shop Facebook page. It threatens to delete posts that appear to be for profit, “as we want this site to continue and not be shut down by the brand.”

But the for-profit seller ex2curg8 said in her email to The Province: “I will say that the members on Facebook lulu groups have no idea what goes into selling as the profit isn’t as much as one thinks, especially after fees, overhead, time and income taxes.”

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 There was a time when the lush west side of Vancouver was the city’s most desirable place to live. For anyone under 40, those days are over.

The city has undergone a radical shift, with the vast majority of young people moving away from Point Grey, Dunbar, Kerrisdale, South Granville and other west side neighbourhoods. They’ve migrated to the more exciting urban centres, and not just for reasons of affordability. It might have been the initial reason, but now the younger cohort is choosing the east side for its livability and charm.

In those neighbourhoods, professionals, artists, designers, students and young families are revitalizing neighbourhoods. The cultural centre of the city has shifted.

“The numbers indicate that there are people clearing out of the southwest sector of the city,” says Andy Yan, adjunct professor of planning at University of B.C. “You could call this the great reshuffling into hipster homelands.”

His numbers show that the area south of Broadway and west of Main Street to UBC saw a 15 per cent decline in 25 to 39 year olds. Metro Vancouver grew by 16 per cent. But that was data from 2001 to 2011. In the past five years, the number of properties that are valued at over $5-million has tripled. That would mean an even further drop in the number of young people shifting from west to east.


 

Real estate agent Keith Roy, 33, is catering to the east side client who would have once chosen to live on the west side. But the west side, he says, has lost its cool.

“These buyers are accountants, lawyers, engineers, doctors, tech people and management consultants, and they are double income. So you get two people making six figures,” he says. “But they don’t want to be on the west side any more. They want to be between Fraser and Cambie, they want Main Street, and if they can afford it, they want Douglas Park. And they’re going further east.

“I don’t get clients who say, ‘I wish I could live on the west side.’ They’re not interested in the west side. It doesn’t have the cachet for this type of buyer.”

 

 

Samuel Baron, 29, lifts the murphy bed out of the way in his micro-loft at the renovated Burns Block on West Hastings Street. DARRYL DYCK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Samuel Baron, 29, is typical of Vancouver’s young demographic. He’s urban – as in, not interested in driving anywhere. That means he wants his job, his entertainment and his shopping within walking distance. Gastown suits those needs. Mr. Baron, who holds a Master’s in Urban Planning, works at Emily Carr University. He can’t yet afford a down payment on a condo, so for the past two years he’s happily lived in a 240-square-foot microsuite in Burns Block. He pays $1,000 a month, which includes WiFi.

“The only way this living situation works is the fact that it’s dense, and I can reach urban amenities on foot. I have absolutely no desire to get into my car to get groceries,” Mr. Baron says. “I don’t see the appeal of that living arrangement. I honestly just stop to get groceries on my way home. I stop every second or third day.”

He cycles around the seawall, and he spends time in Mount Pleasant. Occasionally, he’ll venture to the west side for baseball or a bike ride along Point Grey Road.

He came from Edmonton and was initially surprised at Vancouver’s urbanity.

“When I moved here, I was surprised to see more families in apartments. I think we’ll see more of that.”

In a city where everybody obsesses over land values, a key component of quality life gets lost in the mix. Investors aside, most people want community and livability as much as they want their home to have high resale value. For some, community trumps all.

Keri Guelke grew up in Point Grey but she says she wouldn’t want to live there again – even if the houses became magically affordable. Her father still lives in Point Grey, but he is thinking of moving into her large, comfortable east side house near Commercial Drive. She says the west side can’t compare to the east side when it comes to livability.

“I wouldn’t live on the west side because I’ve never experienced such great community since I moved to the east side,” she says. “I know all my neighbours, and we look out for each other. When my twin boys were born, I got dinners delivered to my house for three months straight, from neighbours and friends.

“People don’t seem to know their neighbours [on the west side] anymore.”

Tina Oliver is a real estate agent who used to work at city hall for former mayor Philip Owen. She grew up on the west side and now lives north of Fourth Avenue near Waterloo in a big Arts and Crafts house. Her kids, however, prefer the east side, and not just because of affordability, she says.

“Main Street is the new Dunbar. That’s where all the young babies and strollers are, and the charm,” Ms. Oliver says.

A big part of the problem is that the west side has lost a lot of its character because of relentless demolitions, fuelled by a demand for bigger houses. The insatiable appetite of the global real estate market has had a significant impact. Since 2005, nearly 9,000 demo permits for residential buildings have been issued in Vancouver. An average of three houses a day are torn down, and the majority are west side character houses around Dunbar-Southlands.

In response, the city issued a late-in-the-day temporary demolition moratorium on First Shaughnessy character houses. All other houses built pre-1940 are supposed to be recycled up to 90 per cent. They are also looking into upgrading the extremely outdated heritage registry, which was always far from comprehensive.

“The Heritage Action Plan is a good thing, but it’s too little, too late,” Ms. Oliver says. “The west side is destroyed.”

Mr. Yan wonders what the future looks like for west side neighbourhoods, if they continue to lose their young demographic. And there’s no reason to think they won’t.

“It’s a really interesting population dynamic,” he says. “It’s basically how certain neighbourhoods are losing their diversity, while others are gaining. You want diversity, and along with that, you want community.

“We have to wonder what the west side will look like as it loses this aspect.”

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We have sold a property at 1509 438 SEYMOUR ST in Vancouver.
SW Corner unit with both exposures. 1 bedroom & Den, Completely renovated from head to toe, including new stainless steel fridge, stove, dishwasher and in-suite washer/dryer. Open concept living, new cabinets, quartz counter tops and sink.Den/Office has soaring downtown views of Gastown & Stadium. 24 hour concierge service, steps to SFU campus, indoor pool, exercise room, hot tub. Freshly painted, new bathroom, built in California closet in master bedroom. Bedroom fits queen size bed comfortably. Comes with 1 parking stall & 1 storage locker for ultimate convenience. Rentals are allowed, and this unit type can rent for approx. $2200/month furnished
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We have sold a property at 307 2346 MCALLISTER AVE in Port Coquitlam.
The 'Maples' at Creekside! Simply the best. Nestled amongst nature's trails just steps from shops, banks, buses, West Coast Express, restaurants & everything you need. Large countertops, stainless appliances & large southern exposed deck.Balance of 2-5-10 year warranty in place. Perfect to live or rent as there are no rental restrictions & this unit comes with TWO side by side parking stalls & a spacious storage locker! Huge master bedroom that fits all furniture, and his & her walk-thru closets. Open House Saturday March 7th 2-4pm.
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Please visit our Open House at 213 3588 VANNESS AVE in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, March 21, 2015 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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Bank of Montreal announced Tuesday is it trimming the rate on one of its five-year mortgages, and TD said it would follow.



Bank of Montreal announced Tuesday is it trimming the rate on one of its five-year mortgages, and TD said it would 

Bank of Montreal has lowered its five-year fixed mortgage rate to 2.79 per cent from 2.99 per cent, effective immediately. Late on Tuesday, TD Canada Trust announced it would match that rate, effective Wednesday

That's the lowest ever posted five-year mortgage rate by the so-called Big Five Canadian banks, according to RateSupermarket.ca

"This is historically the lowest a federally regulated lender has gone on a five-year term," Penelope Graham with the mortgage pricing website said. "It's a big deal."

Busy buying season

Graham said major lenders have a recent tradition of cutting their rates this time of year, in the lead-up to the key spring home buying season. And more often than not it's BMO that moves first.

"This is the time of year when lenders get competitive about pricing," Graham said. "Speaking from precedent, what we've seen in the past is that the others don't immediately rush to match. But there's nothing to say they won't this year."

'It's a big deal.'— Penelope Graham on BMO's mortgage move

Although it's precedent setting, it's not the lowest rate out there, as alternative lenders have been pricing at that level and below for several years, because they have to charge less to break the hold the bigger lenders have in terms of branding and trust.

Currently, the lowest five-year posted rate in Ontario is 2.59 per cent from several lenders, including Dominion Lending Centres and True North Mortgages.

"The mortgage rate war has been happening for three years now," Graham said. "Brokers and smaller lenders, we've been seeing this pricing for several years, to be honest."

The rate cut comes ahead of the key spring real estate season. The latest numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association show that Canada's housing market continues to crank out gains, with the average price up more than six per cent to over $430,000 last month.

Those gains are coming at least in part on the back of lower rates, which have been compelling Canadians to buy more houses at lower than usual interest rates.

BMO and TD are the first of Canada's big banks to significantly alter benchmark interest rates since the Bank of Canada surprised markets with an unexpected rate cut in January.

 

More than two-thirds of mortgage-holders opt for a fixed rate term, the Canadian Association of Mortgage Professionals said, and within that group, five-year terms have been the dominant standard for some time.

Aside from its key five-year rate, BMO left its other rates unchanged Tuesday.

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A Vancouver-based chain of restaurants is expanding into Burnaby. Glowbal Restaurant Group will open its 10th property—Trattoria (4501 Kingsway, Burnaby)—on Thursday (March 12).

This is the third Trattoria location for Glowbal. The casual Italian eatery first launched in Kitilano in 2008. Last year, a second location opened at Park Royal in West Vancouver.

The new Burnaby location is part of the Sovereign tower, a 45-storey luxury development by Bosa Properties. The building includes over 200 condominiums as well as retail space at the intersection of Kingsway and Willingdon Avenue.

“This is our first restaurant located in a building that has a hotel, residential units and retail space,” Emad Yacoub, owner of Glowbal Restaurant Group, stated in a news release. “The City of Burnaby is growing so fast and we’re looking forward to being a part of it.”

Trattoria will feature 200 seats across 6,000 square feet of dining-room space. A WoodStone pizza oven will be the centrepiece of a 30-seat circular bar. A private dining space and heated outdoor patio are also included.

The menu at Trattoria includes Italian-inspired salads and appetizers, over a dozen different pasta dishes, and a selection of handmade pizzas. The Burnaby restaurant will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Glowbal Restaurant Group also operates Coast, Italian Kitchen, Society, Black + Blue, and the Fish Shack. In 2014, the company announced the closure of its original restaurant, Glowbal Grill, in Yaletown with plans to reopen at TELUS Garden.

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 Real estate association lowers 2015 forecast to reflect lower oil prices

 

OTTAWA - The Canadian Real Estate Association is predicting that the impact of declining oil prices on consumer confidence in some provinces will push down Canadian home sales by 1.1 per cent this year, to 475,700 units countrywide.

CREA also estimates the national average home price will grow by two per cent to $416,200 this year, a smaller increase than last year, as Alberta's average home prices slip by an estimated 3.4 per cent this year to $387,600.

The association had previously predicted home sales would be 0.8 per cent above 2014, rising to 485,200 units, but revised its outlook downwards to reflect further deterioration in the price of oil.

Provinces with significant oil production will see declines in home sales. Alberta is expected to see sales activity decline by 19.3 per cent in 2015, Saskatchewan by 11.2 per cent, Manitoba by 2.2 per cent and Newfoundland by one per cent.

Canada's other provinces will continue to see higher sales and relatively stable or higher average sales prices, according to CREA.

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British Columbia is projected to see the number of home sales increase by 4.9 per cent, Nova Scotia by 3.7 per cent and Quebec and New Brunswick by 2.5 per cent.

Ontario is expected to see a 1.9 per cent boost in sales levels from 2014, while Prince Edward Island is projected to see sales activity rise by 1.4 per cent.

The B.C. average home price is expected to rise 3.4 per cent this year over 2014 to $587,600 and Ontario's average price will grow 2.5 per cent to $441,900. Apart from those two provinces and Alberta, prices elsewhere are expected to be within one per cent of last year.

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in February were up one per cent from January as the market was divided by sharp regional differences.

The overall increase was led by the Vancouver and Okanagan regions in B.C. and Toronto.

However, the association says sales were lower in more than half of all local markets compared with January as buyers on the Prairies stayed on the sidelines amid low oil prices.

Compared with a year ago, sales last month were up 2.7 per cent from February 2014.

The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5 per cent in February compared to January.

The national average price for a home sold in February was $431,812, up 6.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis.




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