Paul Liberatore

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The number 1 question I get asked when showing a home (Condo/Townhouse) is...

"Is this owner-occupied"? NOPE
"When is your client looking to move out?" NOPE
"Is that a gas fireplace or electric" (this get asked a lot) but still NOPE

"Is there a depreciation report for this building?" YEP, that's the one.

This question always makes me chuckle a little bit. The Buyers agent or Buyer fires this question off right out of the gate (sometimes I even get it before the showing is set up) and if the answer is "YES" the seas part, harps are played in the background, and the building all of a sudden becomes the gold standard. If the answer is "NO" then, pack up shop, gotta go, no point looking any further, lets leave before this building implodes on us.

Let's back up to a few years ago, the Strata property act made these changes that mandated all strata buildings must have this report done UNLESS it was deferred by a 3/4 vote. Some newer buildings felt that they did not need to spend the $5,000 -  $10,000 that it costs to do this report.

What is the report? Well, a company will come in and tell you the windows of your building are 10 years old, and should last 20 more years. Your roof is 10 years old, and should last 15 more years , they then look at your reserve (contingency) fund etc etc etc. It then gives the strata corporations 'recommendations' (notice how I put that word in parenthesis)  on how to save for these items that will need replacement. The goal is to have 30 year funding system to eliminate or at least minimize future levies.

The problem is, tons of stratas are getting these reports done, but very very few of them are following the funding recommendations. The reason why? It would raise the monthly strata fees up considerably in most cases. It's a pay now, or pay later scenario. Windows, paint, boilers, roofs, elevators etc, nothing lasts forever.

There has been a recent report that over 90% (yes 90%) of stratas are not adequately funded...even AFTER having a Depreciation Report done.


So the moral of my story is, to all the people that simply ask "is there a depreciation report for the building?" It really doesn't matter if its not enforced. Simply having one done, to satisfy the requirement doesn't mean the strata is any better than a building without one. Talk to your Realtor (hopefully its me) and get the hard facts on the building and what's going on with it.

Paul

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We have listed a new property at 1950 TAYLOR ST in Port Coquitlam.
WOW! this 5 bedroom / 3 bathroom stunner is located on a CORNER lot! Completely renovated with stainless steel appliances, new floors, cabinets, windows and hot water tank. Open concept layout boasts 3 bedrooms upstairs (Master bedroom even has a 3 piece ensuite!). Downstairs has its own complete separate 2 bedroom suite, with its own laundry, and brand new bathroom! Lane access, 2 car attached garage for ultimate convenience. Enjoy the revenue income of the 2 bedroom suite, and the peace of mind of this beautifully renovated and well cared for home. 100 amp electrical panel, copper plumbing, vinyl windows. Close to all level of schools and transit. First showings at open house Saturday and Sunday from 2-4pm.
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Please visit our Open House at 1950 TAYLOR ST in Port Coquitlam.
Open House on Saturday, February 27, 2016 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
WOW! this 5 bedroom / 3 bathroom stunner is located on a CORNER lot! Completely renovated with stainless steel appliances, new floors, cabinets, windows and hot water tank. Open concept layout boasts 3 bedrooms upstairs (Master bedroom even has a 3 piece ensuite!). Downstairs has its own complete separate 2 bedroom suite, with its own laundry, and brand new bathroom! Lane access, 2 car attached garage for ultimate convenience. Enjoy the revenue income of the 2 bedroom suite, and the peace of mind of this beautifully renovated and well cared for home. 100 amp electrical panel, copper plumbing, vinyl windows. Close to all level of schools and transit. First showings at open house Saturday and Sunday from 2-4pm.
Read

Amid growing tensions over the Vancouver region’s runaway real estate prices, the B.C. government says it will commit to the “largest single social and affordable housing investment” in the province history.

B.C. will spend $355-million over five years to construct and renovate more than 2,000 units of affordable housing, Premier Christy Clark said Friday in Vancouver. She did not provide a definition for “affordable,” or specifics on where the units might go.

“We are in the enviable position in this country of being able to afford to make big investments, good investments, that are going to change people’s lives, because we have looked after the fundamentals,” Ms. Clark said.

 

The discussion over local real estate prices has reached a fever pitch, with multimillion-dollar teardowns making headlines and a younger generation of British Columbians looking outside the province.

The average price for detached houses in Greater Vancouver climbed to $1.83-million last month – up 40.2 per cent from January, 2015 – while the average price for detached houses in the City of Vancouver hit a record $2.53-million last November.

Earlier this month, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson offered $250-million worth of city-owned property – the largest offer of municipal land ever made by the city – in a pitch for $500-million in federal housing money over five years. The property comprises 20 sites, including areas on the north shore of False Creek and the Downtown Eastside.

The newly announced provincial money will be generated from B.C.’s Non-Profit Asset Transfer program, which sees the province transfer parcels of land to non-profit housing providers at fair market value. This grants the housing providers access to equity and new opportunities for development, while money paid to the province is reinvested in housing.

The province has earmarked $50-million each in 2016-17 and 2017-18, $75-million in 2018-19 and $90-million each in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Ms. Clark said “affordable” would encompass a range of housing, supporting people such as seniors and those with mental-health or addiction issues. Housing is typically considered affordable, according to BC Housing, when costs are within 30 per cent of a household’s gross income.

Ms. Clark said the land recently set aside by the city will “absolutely” factor into the government’s affordable housing plan, though details will have to be worked out.

“We hope that other cities around the province will come forward with a plan as part of their contribution to doing this,” Ms. Clark said. “When cities are there and the province is there, which we are, I think we have a chance to really make sure the federal government makes its contribution as well, which they seem to be hungry to do.”

Mr. Robertson he was glad to see the Premier talking about the need for affordable housing in B.C. and welcomes any commitment from the province to team up.

“We have sites ready to go this year and can start construction right away, so I’m hopeful that we can move swiftly to get funds flowing, shovels in the ground and people into homes,” the mayor said in a statement Friday.

David Eby, the B.C. NDP’s housing critic, called Friday’s announcement a “significant reversal” in provincial housing policy.

“It wasn’t that long ago that the province said that they were getting out of the business of building new units of social housing and that they would rely entirely on rent supplements,” he said. “We told them then that it wouldn’t work and now we know that that was right. Unfortunately, they have put half a billion dollars now into rent supplements with no appreciable results except for a vacancy rate of less than 1 per cent.”

Tony Roy, CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, said co-operation between three levels of government could signal “a new era for affordable and social housing” in the province.

“What I thought was really interesting today was this growing dialogue about things being a third, a third, a third. The truth is, it’s been nobody, nobody, nobody for a long time,” he said. “For 20 years, nobody has done anything.”

Still, Mr. Roy emphasized that the province’s investment is stimulus, which does not take the place of stable, long-term funding.

“At the end of the day, a good economy means that we’re a growing economy. There are going to be more people living here, there’s going to be more immigration, more opportunities to bring in refugees. Families are growing. If we don’t have a stable program, we’ll do this work and then we’ll dig the hole back again and wonder why we’re buried.”

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An American billionaire warned, “You show me a highly unequal society and I’ll show you a revolution or a police state.”

But, the mainland Chinese super rich are not worried about the possibility of either states. Just look at the kind of scotch whiskey that they collect and drink. It can only be attained with a “wealth beyond avarice” kind of net worth.

The label: “Whisky Distilled in 1948 and 1961. A special vatting to commemorate the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer on 29th July, 1981. Strathisla. Bottled in 1981 by Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin, Scotland,” guaranteed a unique tasting and investing experience.

Old money knows it is far safer to be quiet, secluded and less visible with their wealth

This kind of historical significance is beyond priceless according to Gil Lempert-Schwarz, founder and director of Dragon 8 Auctions. He specialises in the kind of wine and spirits that are particularly sought after by China’s one per cent. “There aren’t many assets or collectibles left that are able to command their enthusiasm. They are looking beyond fine wine and into rare spirits.”A handout image shows Coco Paris, Chelsea Jiang, Flo Z and Joy - the ultra rich Asian girls who star in the Youtube programme ‘Ultra Rich Asian Girls of Vancouver’. Photo: SCMP Handout

This is how he articulates exclusivity. “Only 500 bottles were produced out of two casks for the wedding dinner. No one knows how many remain. 1948 and 1961 represent the birth dates of the couple as well as the dates of the two casks.” He doesn’t even bother quoting a price. Buyers, like one of China’s internet billionaires, will pay whatever is needed.

Price discovery and volatility are high. In 2005, a bottle of the Macallan Fine & Rare 1926 sold for a world record price of US$53,414. A decade later, a single large format bottle of Macallan in a Lalique crystal container, labelled “M”, sold in Hong Kong for a record US$628,205.

Despite market turbulence, flaunting wealth remains an image problem for China. The government wants to minimise the “bling” and the scornful attention it has attracted globally. But there is nothing they can do outside of China.

One of the more avidly watched bling reality shows for Chinese is “Ultra Rich Asian Girls of Vancouver.” It follows the dining and real estate shopping adventures of half a dozen young women who are from rich mainland families.

Don’t confuse it with the “Real Housewives” series, where one of the women described her main source of income as “two divorces.” Or the “Shahs of Sunset,” which showcases the present day elite Persian community in Beverly Hills. The only similarity is that their lives orbit around their own social order, which is vital for maintaining a semblance of security in a lifestyle of never ending conspicuous consumption.

Like Russia, China’s experience with the nouveau riche shows that capitalism is the only system that works, despite its flaws. Only it can fulfil the universal desire for more. Whether or not the political institutions that remain in those countries can remain stable and prevail over flaws like economic disparity is the unanswered issue.

Perhaps China’s super rich should learn from European old money, which has been forced to survive and prosper through wars and political upheaval. Conspicuous consumption is the way new money asserts success. But, old money knows it is far safer to be quiet, secluded and less visible with their wealth.

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By Amy Fischer, Columbian City Government Reporter

Published: February 22, 2016, 8:43 PM

 

click to enlarge

Interested in buying a vacant block at the heart of downtown Vancouver for a great project?

Not a single developer formally responded two years ago when the city issued a “request for interest” to see what potential developers envisioned for Block 10, which is catty-corner to Esther Short Park.

But the market has heated up since 2014, and now the city is planning to advertise Block 10 again.

Bordered by Columbia, Washington, Eighth and Ninth streets, it’s the last remaining block to be sold of the five-block Lucky Lager brewery site that the city bought in 1993. The other four blocks were developed into Heritage Place and Vancouvercenter residential buildings and the Vancouvercenter public parking garage.

Later this year, the city is preparing to release a “request for proposals,” which seeks more detailed and comparable proposals than the request for interest. But first, Block 10 had to be declared surplus, which the city council did Monday night.

The city is requesting proposals to attract the largest number of interested parties and increase the ability for the property to be put to its highest and best use. That has been determined to be a multi-story development, most likely with a few floors of housing above retail space, according to city documents.

Monday, the city council asked staff if Block 10 might be developed into a grocery store, which downtown residents have been clamoring for. Tim Haldeman, director of general services, replied that the city will put a grocery store on its “wish list” in the request for proposals. When it’s time to negotiate a sale, a grocery store possibly could be put in a development agreement for Block 10, he said.

Developers want to see a certain number of households in an area before they’ll build a grocery store, Haldeman said.

“We’re getting really close to supporting a grocery store. We’re kind of at that tipping point,” he told the council.

Block 10 had been used mainly for truck and employee parking from 1975 to 1985, when the Lucky Lager brewery closed for good. The city bought the former brewery for $2.3 million in 1993.

In the mid 1990s, Block 10 was to become home to an office building with Kaiser Permanente as the anchor tenant, but Kaiser reevaluated its needs and pulled out of the project.

The block was transformed in 2013, when Vancouver’s Downtown Association took down the cyclone fence surrounding it and spent $15,000 on plants, raised flower beds and materials. Bicycle racks and 10 flagpoles flying a rainbow of banners were installed.

The 1-acre lot, which has been appraised at $3.125 million, has been off the tax rolls since 1994. The site was used for homes, a blacksmith shop and painting facility dating back to the 1800s. In the 1900s, it housed a bicycle shop, grocery store, hardware store, machine shop, gas station and auto repair shop.

The city will use grant funding to conduct an environmental analysis to determine the level of contamination on the property, if any, from past uses.

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether the city could get the full appraised value of the property, which works out to about $72 per square foot. Eric Fuller, president of Vancouver commercial real estate firm Eric Fuller and Associates, said Monday that there haven’t been any significant land sales recorded downtown recently, but there’s a “feeling of demand” for downtown commercial real estate.

Much of that is due to the attention the downtown Waterfront Vancouver project is getting, Fuller said, referring to the $1.3 billion mixed-use project under construction, where property is advertised starting a $100 per square foot.

He noted that the asking price for another full downtown block is $53 per square foot, which could mean the city may need to be patient when waiting for a buyer for Block 10, he said.

Fuller said he believes the block is destined to have a building with street-front retail on the ground floor, such as a restaurant, small grocery store or coffee shop, and a large tenant in an upstairs office with residential units occupying the other floors.

Teresa Brum, Vancouver’s economic development division manager, said the city doesn’t see Block 10 as competing with The Waterfront Vancouver, into which the city has invested $44 million in railroad bridges, roads, utilities and other infrastructure.

“We don’t see this as competition,” she said Monday. “Waterfront is a completely different opportunity than downtown.”

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Vancouver has the highest quality of living rating among Canadian cities on Mercer's global list of 230 cities — in fifth place overall.

Vancouver has the highest quality of living rating among Canadian cities on Mercer's global list of 230 cities — in fifth place overall. (Canadian Press)

 

 

 

Canada's biggest cities ranked ahead of most U.S. cities in Mercer's annual global quality of living survey, with the human resources company crediting high levels of personal safety that exist in Canada.

Vancouver is the highest Canadian city on Mercer's global list of 230 cities — in fifth place overall — the same ranking as last year.

Vienna, Zurich, Auckland and Munich were the only cities that placed ahead of Vancouver. Baghdad, ranks last.

Other Canadian cities fared well in the Mercer survey, with Toronto (15th), Ottawa (17th), Montreal (23rd), and Calgary (32nd) all in the top 50 cities worldwide. San Francisco was the top U.S. city, in 28th place.

This year's survey was the first to factor personal safety into the calculations, joining other categories like economic conditions, medical and health issues, the social and cultural environment, education, housing and recreation.

It's worth noting that the housing category evaluates rental housing prices, as opposed to how much it costs to buy. Vancouver is the most expensive real estate market in Canada.      

"Quality of living continues to be high in Canada with a stable political environment and positive social benefits, offering a very desirable and safe place to live and work for residents and expatriate employees," said Gordon Frost, leader of Mercer's talent business in Canada, in a statement. 

Canadian cities 'much safer'

The survey ranks only five Canadian cities. It places all five at 16th in the world for personal safety. No American cities place in the top 50 worldwide.

"Canada's major cities continue to be much safer than every U.S. counterpart," Frost said. "This is extremely appealing for expatriate employees looking to bring their families with them as they move abroad for work."  

Mercer's survey is designed so multinational companies can come up with appropriate compensation when placing employees on international assignments.  

The company says most multinationals provide a quality of living or "hardship" allowance for staff to compensate for a decrease in the quality of living between their home base and the new location.  


Global quality of living rankings

  1. Vienna.
  2. Zurich. 
  3. Auckland.
  4. Munich.
  5. Vancouver.
  6. Dusseldorf.
  7. Frankfurt.
  8. Geneva.
  9. Copenhagen.
  10. Sydney, Australia
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Interim report on real estate licensee misconduct expected in mid-April
 

Carolyn Rogers, the Superintendent of Real Estate and the CEO of the Financial Institutions Commission, was appointed last week by the Real Estate Council of B.C. to look into allegations of “shadow flipping,” in which some real estate agents are using a little-known “assignment contract” to secretly flip properties for higher prices without the knowledge of their listing clients.

 

The Real Estate Council of B.C. and the B.C. Financial Institutions Commission have appointed a powerful advisory committee to look into allegations of real estate licensee misconduct. Drawing deeply on the leaders of the B.C. Securities Commission, Central 1 Credit Union, Society of Notaries Public and others, the advisory committee has set a deadline of mid-April for an interim report and the end of May for a final report with recommendations.

Carolyn Rogers, the Superintendent of Real Estate and the CEO of the Financial Institutions Commission, was appointed last week by the Real Estate Council of B.C. to look into allegations of “shadow flipping,” in which some real estate agents are using a little-known “assignment contract” to secretly flip properties for higher prices without the knowledge of their listing clients.

The practice, which was detailed in a Globe and Mail report, is believed to be one of the contributing factors in Vancouver’s hot real estate market, particularly in Vancouver’s west side. Premier Christy Clark said her government is prepared to change the rules but wanted to give the Real Estate Council time to act on its own.

In a statement Monday, Rogers said the advisory committee will look at whether real estate licensee conduct requirements are adequate and are being effectively enforced.

“As Chair of the Advisory Group, I want to assure the public that we understand their concerns and we’re determined to provide a report that puts consumer protection first,” Rogers said in a statement.

Rogers named six people to her committee, including Vancouver lawyer Howard Kushner, Central 1 Credit Union President and CEO Don Wright, B.C. Securities Commission commissioner Audrey T. Ho, Vancouver lawyer Bruce D. Wooley of Stikeman Elliott, Century 21 Veitch Realty associate broker Carol Geurts, Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. executive director Tony Gioventu, and Ron Usher, the general counsel for the Societies of Notaries Public of B.C




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We have listed a new property at 1950 TAYLOR ST in Port Coquitlam.
WOW! this 5 bedroom / 3 bathroom stunner on a CORNER LOT! Completely renovated with stainless steel appliances, new floors, cabinets, windows and hot water tank. Open concept layout boasts 3 bedrooms upstairs (Master bedroom even has a 3 piece ensuite!). Downstairs has its own complete separate 2 bedroom suite, with its own laundry, and brand new bathroom! Lane access, 2 car attached garage for ultimate convenience. Enjoy the revenue income of the 2 bedroom suite, and the peace of mind of this beautifully renovated and well cared for home. 100 amp electrical panel, copper plumbing, vinyl windows. Close to all level of schools and transit. First showings at open house Saturday and Sunday from 2-4pm.
Read

 

 

In what could be British Columbia’s biggest real estate deal, Vancouver’s Bentall Centre has been sold to Chinese investors.

Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. purchased the land lease of Toronto’s HSBC Building at 70 York St. just last year.

The price has not been disclosed to the public, but reports say the deal is worth $1 billion for a 66 per cent stake in towers one to four.

“I would suggest it is the largest commercial real estate transaction in the history of Vancouver,” said Kirk Kuester with Colliers International.

The towers contain 1.5 million square feet of office space.

“Now that [Aubang] had I think their biggest transaction in Canada… we want to encourage them to set up their management operations, [and] their head office functions for North America right here in Vancouver,” said Yuen Pay Woo, President of HQ Vancouver.

But some experts say this deal should serve as a warning to Vancouver residents.

“Vancouver’s tax code punishes work, rewards investment in property with low property taxes, but high income taxes,” said Tom Davidoff with UBC Sauder School of Business. “As long as you combine that with this flood of demand for parking cash from other countries into Canada, we’re going to see people who live and work here get displaced by people who are primarily buying to invest.”

“We are getting close to Manhattan prices, but with Vancouver salaries. And that just isn’t workable for a lot of people.”

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van“Problematic”.

Toronto’s ongoing real estate boom is rivaled by Vancouver’s, a situation Canada’s federal housing agency is concerned with.

“In Toronto, overall strong evidence of problematic conditions reflects a combination of price acceleration and overvaluation,” says a recent report from the CMHC. “We are also monitoring for the potential emergence of overbuilding in Toronto due to the high number of condominium units under construction. Inventory management therefore continues to be necessary to make sure that these condominium units under construction do not remain unsold upon completion.”

In select parts of Canada, a million dollars doesn’t go a long way. But the rest of us can dream, right?

The use of drones to show off pricey real estate has given rise to a kind of “house-porn” that was previously unavailable. Forget glossy magazines that “romance the kitchen”, today anyone who can find their way to YouTube can get up close and personal with a $10-million crib.

And while the idea of an unmanned aerial vehicle snooping around your city may bring to mind a dystopian Blade Runner-like future, their use is completely legal, if they weight less than 25 pounds. Heavier than that, and Transport Canada says you will need a permit, something that isn’t that hard to get: more than 1500 permits to operate a drone were handed out between 2010 and 2013.

The kind of footage that drones can get is often nothing short of remarkable, and for real estate agents it’s really effective. Colliers says a recent video of a commercial property in North Vancouver has nearly 1500 views, far more than the 20 or 30 the real estate agent says it would normally get for such a property.

“It’s a completely different perspective,” says Windsor realtor Paul Rouillard. “They can see the complete area, and they can see the entire property all around in a 360-degree view.” Rouillard says he is now getting sales that are almost entirely the result of drone footage, a result that ironically may not bode well for his chosen profession in the years to come

“They didn’t even see the property and they wrote an offer on the property right away, just from the virtual tour,” he told CTV recently about one sale. “It ended up being sold a few days later.”

In some cases, drones have turned selling real estate into an art form. That might not have been the express intention of the person who grabbed this footage, but who wouldn’t want to live in a city that looks like this?

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The sad fact is there aren’t any leaders in B.C. who are both ready and willing to deal with housing prices, writes Kate Webb.

 
A house built in 1930 that was recently listed for sale for $2.398-million is seen in the Point Grey neighbourhood of Vancouver, B.C., on Friday January 29, 2016.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK

A house built in 1930 that was recently listed for sale for $2.398-million is seen in the Point Grey neighbourhood of Vancouver, B.C., on Friday January 29, 2016.


Would the politicians who are ready right now to roll up their sleeves and tackle the problem of Metro Vancouver’s real estate affordability crisis please stand up?

The sad fact is there aren’t any leaders in B.C. who are both ready and willing to deal with it, which leaves a lot of millennials — this writer included — and other regular, non-mega-rich folks feeling pretty uninspired about who to support in the next provincial election.

The “solutions” the Liberals put forward in last week’s budget fall laughably short. They promised to start collecting data on foreign ownership — though it is unclear whether their methods will have loopholes — and bring in a full exemption from the property transfer tax on newly constructed homes up to $750,000. Oh, and build 2,000 units of new affordable housing — a drop in the bucket for Metro Vancouver’s house-hungry masses.

But the NDP is just as hesitant to propose more drastic policies like those used in other white-hot markets, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Reached after the budget announcements last week, NDP Housing Critic David Eby said the Official Opposition is in the midst of intense internal debates over what potential remedies to include in their 2017 platform. It’s a tactical nightmare, I’m sure, given that the Liberals are ready to scream bloody murder over anything that could threaten the home values of those poor souls who recently bought property and are now mortgaged to the hilt (a minority more likely to vote for the Libs than those still hoping to buy their first property).

“What would the correction be that it would have to be to become affordable?” Eby asked. “I mean, really, 30 or 40 per cent, and that is a pretty devastating blow for a lot of people who, if you look at the debt figures for Vancouver, are highly, highly leveraged, just hanging on, so I would have a really hard time supporting that.”

(A note – according to a Vancity study released last year, between 2001 and 2014, Metro Vancouver housing costs increased 63 per cent, while salaries only rose 36.2 per cent. I would argue that allowing housing costs to rise at that rate is an equally devastating blow to those who hope to ever own even the tiniest slice of property.).

Eby said there are only three possible ways to address Metro Vancouver’s abysmal price-to-income ratio, which is 11-1 — nearly twice the national average. Prices could come down, wages could go up, or governments could subsidize more affordable ownership options, such as government-owned leaseholds (where you own the home but not the land it’s on).

 

He likes — but stops short of necessarily supporting — what he sees in Singapore: a 15 per cent tax on purchases by non-residents, combined with plenty of subsidized housing for the working classes and a seven per cent tax on anyone buying a second home. But he says the NDP needs more time to study policies used around the world before the party can say definitively how it would address the problem if it were to win power.

The important difference between the NDP and Liberals, Eby argues, is that the NDP promises to hold a public inquiry into housing prices, while the Liberals are essentially supporting business-as-usual while making a few soothing noises to try to placate unhappy urban renters and buyers.

A public inquiry would be a really good start, but I want to see the Opposition get familiar sooner than later with all the solutions, and put forward a concrete vision ASAP on how to reverse the trend that has made Vancouver the third least affordable city in the world. Waiting until just before the election to explain their plan is a surefire way to leave voters confused and susceptible to last-minute fear-mongering by the ruling Liberals.

But enough of this blame-the-politicians stuff, which gets tired. If B.C. is ever going to get a mandate for change, it’s going to have to come from the voters. Now is the time to tell our leaders if you want to see major changes, like those recently implemented in other unaffordable cities around the world.

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Benchmark price for Vancouver homes reaches $1.94m

 
 
Latest figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver revealed a continuously upward trend for the price of real estate in the region, with the benchmark price for detached homes reaching an unprecedented $1.94 million in January 2016.
 
This number, which represented 26 per cent growth compared to the same month last year, skewed upwards because a significant fraction of the detached houses had sale values worth millions.
 
Around 94 per cent of houses sold in Vancouver in 2014 and 2015 were detached homes, and approximately 44 per cent of these properties sold last year were priced at least $2 million, according to Royal LePage. Last month alone, the average price of a detached house in the city was $2.87 million.
 
Corroborating these numbers, the results of a recent study conducted by city planning program administrator and university researcher Andy Yan found that 32 per cent of detached houses in Vancouver were worth more than $2 million as of July 2015, with an average cost $1.91 million.
 
“It goes to show that a single-family detached house in Vancouver has become a luxury product,” Macdonald Realty Group managing director Dan Scarrow told The Globe and Mail.
 
Vancouver real estate’s relatively high price point has made it especially at risk of the B.C. government’s recently enacted legislation on luxury homes, which would slap additional taxes on properties worth more than $2 million.
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Please visit our Open House at 307 3033 TERRAVISTA PL in Port Moody.
Open House on Saturday, February 20, 2016 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Welcome to this huge 1170 square foot 2 bed/ 2 bath apartment in Port Moody. Soaring inlet views, on the quiet tree lined side of the building. 2 huge bedrooms both facing greenbelt. Separate laundry room in the unit with additional storage. This unit comes with 2 side by side parking stalls and 1 storage locker. Top floor for total peace and quiet. Close to grocery stores, Moody Elementary school is an easy stroll away. Tranquil surroundings, comfortable living, active community - be a part of this neighbourhood today! Open house sat 2:30-4:30 and sun 2-4pm
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We have listed a new property at 307 3033 TERRAVISTA PL in Port Moody.
Welcome to this huge 1170 square foot 2 bed/ 2 bath apartment in Port Moody. Soaring inlet views, on the quiet tree lined side of the building. 2 huge bedrooms both facing greenbelt. Separate laundry room in the unit with additional storage. This unit comes with 2 side by side parking stalls and 1 storage locker. Top floor for total peace and quiet. Close to grocery stores, Moody Elementary school is an easy stroll away. Tranquil surroundings, comfortable living, active community - be a part of this neighbourhood today!
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Please visit our Open House at 307 3033 TERRAVISTA PL in Port Moody.
Open House on Saturday, February 20, 2016 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Welcome to this huge 1170 square foot 2 bed/ 2 bath apartment in Port Moody. Soaring inlet views, on the quiet tree lined side of the building. 2 huge bedrooms both facing greenbelt. Separate laundry room in the unit with additional storage. This unit comes with 2 side by side parking stalls and 1 storage locker. Top floor for total peace and quiet. Close to grocery stores, Moody Elementary school is an easy stroll away. Tranquil surroundings, comfortable living, active community - be a part of this neighbourhood today!
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We have sold a property at 1 4132 HALIFAX ST in Burnaby.
RARE END UNIT TOWNHOUSE! 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom TH in Brentwood Park. This corner unit has lots of windows & street access similar to a house. Main floor features spacious living room, kitchen with granite counters & SS appliances, formal dining room, bedroom, & 3pc bathroom. Private fenced patio off kitchen with view of Downtown. Upstairs: master bedroom with 4pc bathroom & large 3rd bedroom with 3pc bathroom, 2 balconies upstairs with gorgeous views. 9ft ceiling throughout keeps things spacious. Perfect blend of size, living space and outdoor features. Easy on site fitness centre & pool, walk to Steve Nash/Golds Gym, 2 min walk to Save On Foods, restaurants & skytrain. Minutes to BCIT, SFU, Hwy 1. Pets & rentals allowed. 2 pkg. 1 storage. OPEN HOUSE Tuesday Feb 9th 6-7pm!
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beavers


VANCOUVER — A pair of buck-toothed homemakers is having more luck than most getting a toehold in Vancouver's red-hot real-estate market after snagging an enviable piece of waterfront property.

A beaver couple has bid adieu to the bucolic marshes of British Columbia's hinterland and taken up residence in the heart of the city's bustling downtown.

The iconic Canadian duo built a lodge late last year along the city's picturesque False Creek in a restored marshland abutting the city's Olympic Village — a residential neighbourhood of gleaming metal and glass apartment complexes built for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Now the pair may find themselves welcoming new neighbours across the city following a resolution passed by the Vancouver Park Board.

beavers false creek
The beaver couple's new Olympic Village home. (Photo: Geordon Omand/CP)

The board has voted in favour of restoring or enhancing 12 hectares of natural land throughout Vancouver by 2020, in addition to the 13 hectares already restored, in order to allow for novel habitats for fish, birds, plants and mammals.

The plan is part of the board's new biodiversity strategy.

"It's amazing when you have the opportunity to hear songbirds in the city, to go fishing for crabs at Jericho Park, catch a glimpse of a river otter at Lost Lagoon or see a beaver right here behind me at Hinge Creek,'' said Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung during a news conference Tuesday at Olympic Village.

"These sightings provide an increasingly rare opportunity to see nature in a very rapidly urbanizing environment.''

Several dozen beavers are believed to be living in Vancouver.

 

Elsewhere in Canada's big cities, Calgary's verdant Elbow and Bow rivers offer prime habitat to approximately 200 beavers.

Tanya Hope, a parks ecologist with the City of Calgary, said that while the animals can sometimes prove a nuisance, they also serve a useful role by mitigating flood damage with their dams and removing invasive tree species.

"We're trying to coexist with them,'' she said.

"We know that they're there and we know that they're working so we're going to hopefully have them work for us instead of working at cross purposes with each other.''

During Alberta's devastating flooding of 2013, a beaver dam on Prince's Island Park saved a storm-water pond that otherwise would have been swept away, Hope said.

Winnipeg has about 100 beavers within its city limits and, like most other jurisdictions, manages the loss of vegetation by wrapping trunks with protective wire.


(Photo: Berthier Emmanuel via Getty)

The City of Toronto doesn't keep track of its urban beaver population, but a city guide to its mammals says the aquatic animal is commonly seen along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and throughout the city's streams and corridors.

The animal is North America's largest rodent and a lone beaver can fell more than 200 trees a year, making them a formidable influence on waterfront flora.

Vancouver's city biologist Nick Page said an increase in beaver numbers is being felt across the country and that a decline in trapping is to blame.

"It's less about habitat and more about trapping,'' Page said. "Historically, beavers were what drove the fur trade.''

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American buyers slow to move on Whistler real estate, despite lower loonie
 

International visits to B.C. are up and the loonie is down, but U.S. investors haven’t yet flooded into the province to snap up properties, according to a Whistler realtor.

“The Americans don’t follow the Canadian dollar like we follow the American dollar,” said David Haggins, managing broker at WhistlerRealEstate Co

Consequently, he said, they may not yet be aware of the deals to be had.

The U.S. dollar is worth $1.40 Cdn, international visits to Whistler in November 2015 were up 11 per cent over the same month a year before and the percentage of U.S. buyers in the Whistler market doubled to eight per cent last year from four per cent in 2013.

And last fall, Whistler and area posted the highest number of real estate transactions since 2008.

But the last time the Canadian dollar was this weak more than a decade ago, Americans made up about 20 per cent of homebuyers in the Whistler market, said Haggins.

“If the dollar stays here (low), they’ll buy more,” he said, especially since the recent tourist boom to Whistler — Tourism Whistler said November was the best November on record — can be expected to showcase to visitors the bargains to be had.

Cameron Muir, economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association, agreed the ailing loonie will likely attract U.S. buyers, although statistics on the nationality of buyers aren’t officially kept.

“A 70-cent dollar makes local real estate more attractive to American investors, especially recreational property,” Muir said.

Real estate analyst Ozzie Jurrock said it’s not just Americans who will find deals in B.C. recreational properties, but investors from around the world, especially investors running from collapsing currencies and looking for a more secure investment.

A U.S. blogger on point2homes.com last week posted the headline “Americans buying Canadian property at a 31 per cent discount,” noting a $750,000 Vancouver home will cost an American about $500,000 US.

But the housing stock in Whistler has shrunk, with listings now at 400 from a high of 800 properties two years ago, meaning it’s a seller’s market, said Haggins.

That has caused prices to rise since they hit rock bottom after the 2008 global financial meltdown, he said.

“If you’re looking for a smoking hot deal, you’re about two years too late,” he said, adding a ski-in, ski-out one-bedroom, for instance, that was $310,000 about 18 months ago is now $360,000.

The average single-family home in Whistler was $1.7 million last year.

The trend of a tight market and higher prices holds true across Metro Vancouver, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The average price for detached homes across the region hit a new record high of $1.83 million in January, 40 per cent higher than January 2015.

The board recorded 2,519 sales through the Multiple Listing Service in January, down 11 per cent from December’s 2,827 sales, but still 32 per cent higher than the level of sales in January a year ago.

However, inventory also shrank, with new listings down 6.2 per cent at 4,442 in January compared with a year ago and a total inventory of 6,635 homes for sale, down 38 per cent, which kept pressure on pricing.

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Burial plots at Mountain View cemetery in Vancouver. In Metro Vancouver’s hot real estate market, everything’s up for sale, even resting spaces for the dead.

 

METRO VANCOUVER — In Metro Vancouver’s hot real estate market, everything’s up for sale, even resting spaces for the dead.

But unlike the residential housing market where prices are skyrocketing and prompting bidding wars, gravesite owners are having to haggle for a deal.

Laverne Waite, 84, has two plots at Burnaby’s Forest Lawn cemetery, which have been in her family for 65 years and are worth $22,500. She’s willing to take $18,000 or best offer for the pair, partly because her father rests in a plot between them and she doesn’t want to pay the funeral home $7,000 to move him.

“That makes it hard to sell because people want them to be together,” Waite said.

 

Resale of burial plots is nothing new, although the practice has been increasing in recent years, said Jarma Del Rosario, marketing manager of Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

Jason Payne / PNG

While buyers of residential land in Metro Vancouver are experiencing booming returns on their investments, those with graveyard plots typically only see a three to five per cent rise annually.

The reasons vary. Some, like Waite, have left Metro Vancouver and have no desire to come back to the family plot, while others are choosing cremation, which means they don’t need as much space even if they choose to bury just an urn at the gravesite. In some cases, people find the deeds to the family plots after burying their parents elsewhere, while others just want the cash.

But while buyers of residential land in Metro Vancouver are experiencing booming returns on their investments, those with graveyard plots typically only see a three to five per cent rise annually.

“The whole point of buying a site was to pre-arrange your funeral,” Del Rosario said, noting sites were as cheap as $50 in the late 1950s. “People who bought them for a song 60 years ago are now seeing them go up.”

The decision to sell her two sites was a no-brainer for Waite, who was raised in North Vancouver but now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, which she expects will be her final resting place. “I’m dying and (the plot) was willed to me by my mother,” Waite said. “My family up there doesn’t want it. They’re living in their own towns and want to be buried there.”

Del Rosario said the resale of plots varies on the location. Most of the sites in her cemetery, particularly in its older gardens, have been sold out for decades, she said, meaning the only time a spot opens up is when someone decides to dispose of it.

Debra McIvor’s father bought three sites at Surrey’s Valley View Funeral Home and Cemetery from a door-knocking salesman for $125 each. However, when her mother died and was cremated, her father gave McIvor the burial plots.

She put them up for sale a year ago, but didn’t get any bites. She decided to try again this week, offering the three sites for $7,500 each, $20,000 for the trio or best offer. “I’ve had them for years,” McIvor, 59, said. “We don’t need them anymore because we want to be cremated.”

People who bought them for a song 60 years ago are now seeing them go up

Cemeteries can only buy sites from owners for what they paid for them, Del Rosario said. But there’s nothing stopping people like Waite and McIvor from seeking the true value of their properties. And, just like in the real estate market, there is always someone hoping to make a quick buck, even if it involves flipping gravesites.

Patrick Downey, regional director for Valley View Funeral Home, said the situation has resulted in a secondary market for gravesite brokers, who are setting up shop around the region.

On Craigslist, for instance, there are 44 sites for sale. Some, such as one for $19,999, feature a single or double plot, while others involve multiple gravesites akin to a real estate land assembly deal.

He urges owners to first consult with the funeral home to get the assessed value of their plots, as well as any conditions for re-sale. “It’s a piece of property after all.”

Waite was contacted by a broker shortly after advertising her two plots for sale this week. “I had a burial graves salesman call me who tried to buy them cheap and make money on them,” she said. “They’re supposed to be valued at $20,000 and he offered me $7,000.”

Waite refused. But she said she wasn’t surprised to get the call. “It’s all part of life.”

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