In this short video I give some tips for Buyers about scheduling and attending showings.
Do you have other questions about showing etiquette or is there something you wish your realtor had told you?
October 18, 2017
Showing Etiquette for Buyers
In this short video I give some tips for Buyers about scheduling and attending showings.
Do you have other questions about showing etiquette or is there something you wish your realtor had told you?
October 18, 2017
Tips for Sellers: 3 options for dealing with offers.
This is it! You have received an offer! Now what do you do? Watch this video to find out your options and the elements of the contract to consider when reviewing any offer.
Come back next week to learn about dealing with multiple offers as a Seller.
October 11, 2017
To Stage or Not To Stage When Planning to Sell
If you look into it, you will find a lot of sources who will tell you that staged properties sell faster and for more money than their unstaged counterparts. Unfortunately, because every property is unique, it is an assertion that is not easily proven. Until now! In the video bleow, I have an excellent example of two mirror image properties in the same building that sold within a month of each other. One was staged the other was not. Watch the video to find out what happened.
When deciding whether or not to stage a home, we take into consideration location, condition and recent market activity.
If you are thinking about selling and want to find out if your home could benefit from staging, give me a call.
September 28, 2017
3 Tips for Choosing a Buyer Agent
3 Tips for Choosing your Buyer Agent
1. Don’t feel pressured into using a friend or family member. If your friend or family member has what it takes, great! Otherwise you are doing yourself a disservice not hiring the most qualified person for the job. Don’t base your decision about the purchase or sale of your most significant asset on not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings!
2. Interview your agent! How do you know you have the right person for the job, whether it’s a friend or family member or someone else, if you don’t interview them?
Here are a few of the questions you can ask when interviewing agents:
3. Then sit back and pay attention to the types of questions they ask you. To serve you effectively and efficiently your agent should qualify you as a prospective buyer. Here is a sampling of the types of questions they should be asking you:
Bonus Tip: Trust your gut! It is very important that you are open and honest with your agent when you answer these questions. If you don’t feel like you can be completely open with your agent, then maybe they aren’t the right agent for you.
September 3, 2017
Creekside Playground Delights Kids of All Ages
I’ll always remember the day the new Creekside Playground was opened to the public. Not because there was great fanfare, in fact the removal of the temporary fencing happened rather unceremoniously, but it seems fitting that the new playground opened on such a magical day as the solar eclipse. This could in part explain why the playground has captured the imagination of children of all ages; but, I believe it is more likely a feat of very intelligent design.
I have watched the progress over the past 10 months while I walked past with Lucy every day and I have marveled at the design and expected it would be awesome when it was finished; but, I didn’t imagine the effect it would have on the neighborhood! People are coming from across the city to bring their kids to experience the new playground and it is buzzing with activity and the sounds of happy children from morning until after dark.
A few times while I have been out with Lucy for her 6am walk, I have seen an elderly Chinese gentleman, who I am used to passing while we walk, taking a ride on the zip line before jauntily continuing his morning stroll! One evening at twilight, again as I walked Lucy, I heard a late 20s cyclist remark to his companion “Wow, that looks fancy! Doesn’t it make you want to stop?” And when I looked back the two men had parked their bikes and were on their way to the zip line.
I heartily applaud the designer(s) of this magical playground!
August 4, 2017
Is it over? Is this the top? A look back at July 2017 market activity.
Is it over? Is this the top?
The age old question of Vancouver Real estate for many years has been – is the bubble “finally” popping? (or, from a homeowner – “are our values going to plummet?) Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to answer that question definitively today – but I will tell you what we’re feeling now and what we expect to see.
Let’s start with the usual stats - the numbers shown are a ratio of the number of active listings (at end of month) over the number of sales in that month. Numbers above a 20% are considered to be sellers’ markets, below a 15% are buyers’ market and in-between are considered balanced. Beside the number, we’ve indicated the direction the inventory on market moved when compared to the previous month. (Contact me for stats for other lower mainland areas).
It’d be hard to ignore the fact that all 18 product categories above all trended towards buyer’s (or “slowed down”). However, before you spring to any conclusions, I would point out that for the attached and condo segments, the numbers basically had no choice but to go up. It would have been mathematically extremely challenging for them to remain as slanted towards sellers as they were last month. Indeed, the evidence we’ve seen on sales pricing over the last couple of weeks supports that we are still very much in a seller’s market in all areas in the attached and condo segments. Multiple offers are still very much the norm (with the vast majority of offers being made subject free) and pricing week after week continues to increase.
Are Houses still Hot?
The detached segment of the market is a very different story – though perhaps not the obvious one based on the numbers. Interestingly, some houses are still seeing multiple offers (admittedly not as many) – and those places do appear to be setting new record high prices. However, houses that are listed at market or slightly above market (or have no super unique selling characteristic) are having a much tougher time selling and we’re seeing pricing going down a bit on those. The only explanation I’ve been able to come up with is that buyer’s (and/or their agents) are allowing the strata market to impact the way they are acting when buying detached homes and are thus whipping themselves into a frenzy in the multiple offers that are developing (and thus potentially making a mistake by not choosing one of the many other options that are now available). Interestingly, despite the buyer’s market conditions, pricing on detached still increased month over month by 1.5%.
There’s been several major changes in the marketplace recently – a change in provincial government (to a coalition of parties who have stated an interest in making Vancouver real estate more affordable), an increase in the Bank of Canada interest rate and a proposed change in mortgage qualification criteria for uninsured mortgages. Given these larger forces, it is reasonable to expect that the detached market will continue to be slanted towards buyers for some time. Lower priced detached homes continue to sell quickly, but as their prices rise, they too will slow and prices overall will thus decline (the current growth in pricing is because while the top end of the detached market is extremely slow, the bottom end remains reasonably active for the most part). Attached and condos will eventually feel the same dragging force – however, when that actually happens is anyone’s guess (and there’s just no evidence of it yet). It is our expectation, however, that despite the overall slowing in our marketplace, prices will remain reasonably sticky and we won’t see substantial price decreases in any of our markets.
June 5, 2017
StellingtheCity May 2017 Market Review
The problem with looking at one piece of data out of context is that, all too often, the context is what renders the data useful. This month’s Real Estate board press release is a terrific example of that very fact. And the problem with the Real Estate Board not doing a thorough analysis is that the media blindly reprints the board’s press release.
Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s start with the usual stats - the numbers shown are a ratio of the number of active listings (at end of month) over the number of sales in that month. Numbers above a 20% are considered to be sellers’ markets, below a 15% are buyers’ market and in-between are considered balanced. Beside the number, we’ve indicated the direction the inventory on market moved when compared to the previous month.
Our regular readers will quickly see that almost all of the markets moved further into sellers’ market conditions over the last month (and the few that did move upwards, didn’t really do so by any significant enough amount to be relevant. In fact, we are now in sellers’ market conditions in all of the areas we track for this report. These market conditions are not new for condos and townhouses (which have been experiencing sustained sellers’ market conditions long enough that pricing is driving upwards). The detached market, on the other hand, has been a much more balanced market over the last few months and it’s only recently (the last 3 weeks) that we’ve been experiencing seller’s market conditions on the detached side of things.
Imagine then our surprise when the Vancouver Sun reported that “buyers looking for a detached home will soon have more options to pick from and less competition to out-bid”. We then remembered that journalism isn’t what it used to be and that they were probably not doing their own analysis, but were getting their information from the Real Estate board’s press release (which we then went to find) which stated that “Home buyers are beginning to have more selection to choose from in the detached market..”. One of the biggest problems we have with this report is that it doesn’t take into account the number of active listings which are not actually homes available for purchase by buyers looking for a home to live in. As of May 4th, there were 749 detached homes listed in Vancouver. Of those listings, 219 were land assembly properties. That means 30% of the inventory that is being counted as available by the real estate board, and consequently by the media, are not actually available to anyone other than developers.
To further illustrate the increased pace of the detached market we will share a story from a sale last week. An older house (56 years old) with no updates and an unfinished basement on a 33×109.4 lot was listed for 1,200,000 two weeks ago. The closest comparable sale was a month previously of a 29-year old house on an identical lot with a suited basement a block down the street that had sold for 1,368,000. The older, un-renovated house without a suite ended up selling for 1,333,000 – not nearly enough of a difference to make up the difference in finishing between the two (let alone the extra kitchen and income potential offered by the 29 year old house).
We’d be remiss not to mention the impact the changing political climate may have on the housing market. Opinions on the topic are wide-ranging – with some speculating that if/when the NDP/Green coalition take power, the economy will suffer and housing prices will fall and others speculating that the market demand is too strong to have a noticeable impact on housing prices for any sustained period of time. However, the changing political climate has already had the impact of everyone wondering what will happen to housing prices. Generally speaking, the slightest uncertainty has been enough to slow the market – and so it is fairly reasonable to expect that the market will likely slow for some period of time in the not too distant future.
For full reports for Metro Vancouver, Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley market activity by neighborhood and price point, contact me and I would be happy to share.
April 7, 2017
Market Review: a look back at March 2017 Market Activity
Going back a few months, our market was fairly quiet and some were declaring an imminent crash. In reviewing this months’ numbers, it’s reasonably clear that any threat of a imminent crash has disappeared.
Let’s start with the usual stats - the numbers shown are a ratio of the number of active listings (at end of month) over the number of sales in that month. Numbers above a 7 are considered to be buyers’ markets, below a 5 are sellers’ and in-between are considered balanced. Beside the number, I’ve indicated the direction the market moved when compared to the previous month.
The incredible thing about these numbers is to see how quickly and how strongly the detached markets have rebounded. Admittedly the West side of Vancouver is now “only” in a balanced market, but it is important to remember that a short two months ago, we were reporting 15.6 months of inventory in that market (the strongest buyer’s market conditions we’ve seen since in any of our markets since January of 2009). Similarly, detached markets in our other regions (which had been trending in the 7-9 months range) are all back squarely into being seller’s markets. Realistically, the attached/condo markets didn’t really have much “recovery” to make (as anyone who regularly reads this newsletter will know) – they’ve mostly all remained in sellers market conditions. Admittedly, it is striking to see that they’ve managed to get even tougher on buyers than in the last few months.
The question becomes – what’s driving these conditions. For the most part, the answer continues to be a lack of inventory. Homeowners simply don’t seem to be selling their homes in as large numbers as our market has/had become accustomed to. Excluding 2016 from the analysis momentarily, we are seeing inventory levels at ½ of what we would in the month of March for any of 2011-2015. Sales numbers are also down when compared to those years, but not be nearly the same percentages. (generally closer to 25% - 30% less sales in any comparable March).
What does this all mean? It means that as long as these pressures remain for any sustained period of time, we’ll see prices increasing again. We had seen prices decrease through last fall. Most of the pricing graphs for these markets are now showing a leveling off of prices and, in some cases, price increases again.
March 7, 2017
Market Realities Defy Headlines
“Low Supply and Snow Limit Vancouver-area Home Sales in February” – Vancouver Sun
Imagine reading those headlines and then having us tell you that you’re going to be competing against 5 other buyers for the home that you want to live in. That is exactly what happened for three of our buyers in the past week. Which begs the question – why is the media reporting the “end of the Vancouver Real estate bubble”? And, more importantly, what is actually happening in the market?
We’ll start with the usual stats - the numbers shown are a ratio of the number of active listings (at end of month) over the number of sales in that month. Numbers above a 7 are considered Buyers’ markets, below a 5 are Sellers’ and in-between are considered balanced. Beside the number, I’ve indicated the direction the market moved when compared to the previous month.
It’s certainly true to say that some segments of our market are slow (even incredibly slow in some cases), but the vast majority of homes in the Vancouver area are in fact experiencing Sellers’ market conditions. Statistically, the only “line” we can really draw would be loosely defined as the “luxury market”. That is, homes at the top end of whatever segment we’re looking at (Eastside detached homes over $2.0Million, Westside detached over $3.5Million, New West homes over $1.0Million). In virtually all cases, homes in the “luxury” segment have experienced a dramatic slowdown and a steady (if not steep) decline on pricing since Summer 2016. The unwritten story (at least, uncovered by the media) is that the rest of the market is actually incredibly strong with multiple offers and price increases being the norm in those “affordable” segments. For instance, just last week, we saw an east side house priced at $1,338,000 sell with 11 offers for $1,650,888. Or, the week before a 1 bedroom condo in Fairview priced at $530,000 sell with 4 offers for $590,000.
Other than the segmented market, the other interesting observation to note has been the complete lack of inventory in virtually all areas of the market. While sales volume remains lower than the last two years, a comparison of sales volumes for February show that February was a strong month when compared against 2012, 2013 or 2014. However, Buyers are simply not seeing the kind of variety/choice that we typically experience in this season. If you ignore last year’s Spring, the current inventory is running at approximately ½ of what we saw in February of 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015. Obviously, when the supply side of a market equation isn’t sufficient, the market pressure will cause an increase in pricing – and that’s certainly what we’re seeing in markets outside of the “luxury” end of the market.
February 22, 2017
Provincial Budget Brings Some Good News for First Time Buyers
A small bit of good news for first time buyers: An increase in the Property Transfer Tax exemption threshold for first-time buyers, announced in BC Provincial Budget 2017. The increase, to $500,000 from $475,000, takes effect today.
This change will make a difference for a lot of people. Since many of the first time buyers are now shopping in the $500k range, they can now benefit from the exemption. At the previous threshold, if they purchased at $500k, they would have had to pay the full amount of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the balance. Even though it was a sliding scale after the $475k previous exemption threshold, the scale was steep and fast.
For more info on exemptions and the Property Transfer Tax in general, click here to visit: The Governemnt of BC
Land transfer tax rates in British Columbia – Updated in 2016
February 16, 2017
The Dynamics of Duplex Ownership
Earlier this week, a friend called me to ask about her rights and responsibilities as a duplex owner. She has been having a minor dispute with her neighbor who owns the other side of the duplex where my friend lives. With the market the way it has been these past couple of years, we are seeing more duplexes being built and more people choosing it as an affordable option to have at least half of a detached home in Vancouver and surrounding areas. Duplexes are a great option for many people. But it is important you enter into duplex living fully aware of the implications. If both owners care about maintaining the property's appearance and value, in most cases the relationship between owners will run smoothly. If the owners disagree about what needs to be done, how it should be done or how much should be spent to do it, that's when you can run into problems.
So, if you disagree with your duplex neightbour, how does a decision get made? Duplexes are what we call non-conforming stratas. This means that the property is stratified so that one half of it can be sold independently from the other half. It also means that the property is subject to the strata property act standard by-laws, unless the owners have created their own by-laws (which is rarely the case). So, if there is a disagreement about the care and maintenace of the common property, such as painting the exterior walls, the standard by-laws state that the strata corporation will determine what will be done. In any strata, the owners make up the strata corporation. Are you following me here? If there are two owners, the owners make up the strata corporation and the strata corporation has the final say on what is to be done or not. You can see how this will be problematic if the 2 parties disagree. Essentially what this means is that nothing can be done if the two owners of the duplex disagree.
Now, what about if one owner went ahead and acted on the common property (gardens, fences, exterior walls and roof) wihtout the prior authorization of the strata corportation (both owners)? Well, the party who acted without authorization of the strata corporation (in other words the other owner), would be in violation of the strata property standard by-laws. I am not writing this post to scare you off purchasing a duplex. As with all my dealings with clients and the public, I just want to make sure you have information you need to make a sound decision.
What can do to make sure you have good neighbours when you buy a duplex (or any other property for that matter)? Be a good neighbour! I have found that the majority of people make for good neighbours. We have all heard horror stories of neighbors from hell, you may have even experienced one, but most people want their home to be a peaceful place and so they make for good neighbours. But there are some steps you can take to find out who your neighbours will be. Don't be afraid to ask questions about the neighbours and if they are willing, take the time to meet your potential neighbours before you make an offer.
A final word on purchasing a duplex. Make sure you get a copy of the strata plan (all pages not just the first page) before you make an offer to be sure you are clear on the designated use of the limited common property. Your Realtor can make sure you have all pages and can interpret the details of the document for you. (Reading a strata plan is not rocket science, but it can be confusing if you have never seen one before, or if you have not been taught how to read it).
Click here to access the Strata Property Act Standard By Laws. If you need assistance interpreting them, feel free to contact me.
February 2, 2017
Emerging Plans for North East False Creek
The Vancouver City Planning department has set up a pop up plannining shop in International Village Mall and they are holding public open houses all week. I visited the pop up shop today and saw the 3D model of the plan. Sorry, I don't have a photo to share (technical difficulties that originated with the user!). The plan looks great and makes a lot of sense. I was very impressed with city employee who spent a long time explaining the plan and answering my questions. The main concern I hear about the proposed removal of the viaducts is "where will the traffic go?" The thing people don't seem to undertand is this plan is not just to remove the viaducts, but to replace them with a better option. At present, transit and emergency vehicles cannot use the viaducts during peak times without running the risk of getting stuck in a grid lock. The new routes will allow such vehicles another option and will allow commuters the opportunity to re-route when traffic is heavy. There are so many great reasons to support the development plan, but I will let you explore them in the planning docuement on the city website. Or better yet, I encourage you to get out to one of the remaining open houses between now and February 7th. The reality is that the viaducts are an aging structure that has had a great deal of negative impact on the surrounding communities. I will be glad to see them go. And when I say see them go, I mean literally. I can see them from my living room window. It is a long term plan and it will take upwards of 10 years before we see it completed and yes, there will be some inconvenience in the process, but I am excited about the plans to improve the community around North East Fasle Creek. Click here to visit the City of Vancouver website for more information and to fill out a survey to share your thoughts and ideas with the planning committee.
January 26, 2017
Selling and Estate, Probate and Reverse Mortgages
If you are currently taking advantage of a reverse mortgage, for the sake of those you will leave behind, I urge you to make sure your affairs are in order and your exectors know the terms of the mortgage agreement. There are only a couple of lenders that offer reverse mortgages and at least one of them has it in the contract that the mortgage must be paid out in full within 6 months of the time of death of the person who owes on the mortgage.
If you are an executor in such a case, here are some steps you can take immediately to ensure that the terms of the mortgage agreement aren't violated. Get in touch with the legal represenative for the estate and start the probate process as soon as possible. Then contact the designated representative of the lending institution to let them know you have initiated probate. Probate is the process of ensuring the will is real and was left by the deceased. Once you have contacted the lawyer and the lender (if there is a mortgae of any kind), contact your realtor, (ideally me), to discuss when to list the property for sale. It is important to note that an estate cannot be sold until the will has gone through probate.
The Real Estate Council of BC has advised that properties should not be listed until probate has been granted; however, there is no definite rule about the matter. The important thing to remember is that a property cannot change hands until probate has been completed. This doesn't mean you cannot accept an offer. If you find a buyer who is willing to wait until probate is complete before they become the registered owners of the property, then you can accept an offer before probate is complete. Most lawyers will tell you probate takes 4-6 weeks. However, I have seen it take much longer, so be prepared that it could take several months.
A delayed probate can be problematic when there is a reverse mortgage, or any mortgage for that matter, in which the contract states that in the case of the owner being deceased the mortgage must be paid out within a certain time frame or else they will foreclose on the property. The important thing to remember is that while the lenders will insist on their due, if you are an executor who is making sincere, measurable efforts to settle the estate, and you are keeping the lender informed, the lender will usually find a way to work with you if circumstances beyond your control occur, such as delayed probate. If you find yourself in such a scenario, be sure to contact a Real Estate and/or and Wills and Estates Lawyer for legal advice.
February 18, 2016
Video Tour of New Listing at 1127 Carnaby Place, North Vancouver
February 17, 2016
Understanding the New Property Transfer Tax Regulations
With the announcement of the new budget yesterday, the Government of BC updated their website on the Property Transfer Tax (PTT). Here is what you need to know:
The Property Transfer Tax for resale properties under $2,000,000 has remained the same at
1% on the first $100,000 and 2% on the balance. First time buyers, who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, are still exempt if their purchase is under $475,000.
For purchases over $2,000,000, there is now a 3% transfer tax. This 3% tax applies only to the portion of the purchase that is above $2,000,000. It appears from the Government website that this 3% PPT is effective immediately. However, we are encouraging our clients to seek legal advice if they already have a deal in place that has not yet completed.
For the New Build Exemption up to $750,000 (conditions apply, read website), the transaction needs to close after February 16, 2016. So, it sound like Buyers will start being eligible for that exemption immediately. Again, you should seek legal advice.
Below is the link that will take you directely to the Property Transfer Tax section of the Government of BC website. There you will find more details and calculators to help you figure out how much PTT is payable on your purchase.
There remains some lack of clarity about when parts of this new plan will come into effect, so if you are in the process of purchasing a home (that is you already have an accepted offer and are waiting for completion) we urge you to seek legal advice before closing on the deal.
February 8, 2016
This is a one of a kind opportunity! If you or someone you know works in the sound, film or music industry, then you are going to want to see this:
November 9, 2015
JUST LISTED: 1706-1088 Quebec Street
Have a look at the video tour for my newest listing:
November 7, 2015
Market Speed: Fast and Furious!
We are in a strong Seller's Market across the Lower Mainland. If you want specific information about your neighborhood, ask me about my Snap Stats report.
November 5, 2015
Market Update: October 2015 in Review
October 26, 2015
Just Listed! 1506-1088 Quebec Street
3 bed, 2 bath, 1452sf beautifully updated condo with fabulous water and city views!
Visit the video tour on YouTube
Open House Schedule: Saturday, October 31 and Sunday November 1st 2-4pm