A Year After the Foreign Home Buyers Tax – It’s a Great Time To Buy A Luxury Home.

It’s been just over 1 year since the Provincial government introduced the 15% foreign homebuyers tax to cool the then ultra hot Vancouver real estate market.

Since the implementation of the tax in August 2016, Metro Vancouver sales have dropped 44%, and the 3 most popular markets for foreign buyers – West Vancouver, Richmond and the West Side of Vancouver, have still to recover to their 2016 levels.

West Vancouver

According to recent Real Estate Board of Vancouver data, house prices in West Vancouver have actually dropped by roughly 6% when compared to August of last year. This is the biggest drop in the Metro Vancouver area.  However, according to a number of real estate professionals, the plunge in prices is even greater in the higher-end market.

Richmond

Prior to the foreign homebuyers tax last year, foreign buyers accounted for roughly 10% of the housing sales in Richmond. The August benchmark price was down around 1% when compared to the same time last year. To give you an idea of the effectiveness of the tax, for the 12 months leading to before the tax was implemented, prices of detached homes rose by 43%!

Vancouver – Westside

Detached housing sales year to date are down 42% from the same period in 2016, and as of August 2017, the benchmark house price dropped by an average of $135,000 to $3.5 million.

For those contemplating the purchase of a detached home in any of the above-mentioned areas, this temporary downturn represents a solid buying opportunity. We are currently in a buyers’ market in the high-end detached home market, and sellers are learning to adjust their prices to accommodate buyers.

If you are looking to buy a luxury home, contact us by email, or call us at either our Downtown office on 604 695 1000 or our West Vancouver office on 604 913 1000. We are Vancouver’s premier luxury home specialists.

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Bank Of Canada’s Overnight Rate Hiked For Second Time In Two Months – What Does This Mean To You As A Homeowner?

Luxury West Vancouver Real estateOn September 6, The Bank Of Canada (BOC) announced that it was raising the overnight lending rate another 25 basis points to 1%. This followed the recent rate hike in July when rates increased from 0.50% to 0.75%.

The reasoning for the rate hike can be attributed to the fact that economic growth in Canada has exceeded analyst’s expectations: GDP growth expanded more quickly than expected, consumer spending has been robust due to strong employment and income growth, and business investment and exports have been increasing.

Whenever there is an interest rate hike by the BOC, other banks invariably follow suit and raise their rates.  As a result, everyone is affected: homeowners with mortgages, home equity lines of credit card holders, car loans etc.

Effect on Mortgages

Fixed – rate mortgages will have no change in the interest rate. The change will occur on renewal, so expect a higher interest cost and a higher monthly mortgage payment.

Variable – rate mortgages will move up or down with the interest rate. When a rate hike happens, your variable mortgage rate and payment will increase. You can switch to a fixed rate to get peace of mind, but the switch is not cheap. Consult your mortgage broker to get more information.

Prospective homebuyers can count on higher current mortgage rates, as generally speaking, an increase in the lending rate puts pressure on mortgage rates to rise. This can force some first-time homebuyers off the market.

Effect on Home equity lines of credit

This type of line of credit, commonly known as a HELOC, has become popular as home values have increased over the years, resulting in more equity for the homeowner. According to the Federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, there are about 3 million HELOC accounts in Canada.

HELOCs have been used to finance purchases at an attractive rate of interest that would otherwise not be possible, and in many cases, borrowers can maintain the account by just paying the interest.

Rising rates will definitely impact the interest rate on the HELOC as most of them have variable interest rates. So expect an increase in the monthly payment to take account for the rise in the interest rate.

Despite the increase in the interest rates, we are experiencing historically low interest rates, when compared to rates in the 1980’s.  With higher interest rates it is advisable not increase your level of debt and if you have the capacity to pay down your debit – do it.

Whether you are listing a condo or a luxury home, it does not make a difference to us. Our experienced real estate professionals are available to assist you in making the transaction as stress free as possible. Contact us by email or call us on 604 913 1000 or 604 695 1000.

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REBBGV Market Update For August 2017 – Condo and Townhouse Sales Soar, While The Detached Market Continues To Cool

The August 2017 stats released by the Real Estate Board Of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) show a month that has turned out to be much busier than anticipated, thanks to continued demand for relatively affordable housing options.

Jill Oudill, REBGV President released the following statement with regards to the August stats: ”First  time homebuyers have led a surge this summer in demand in our condominium and townhome markets. Homes priced between $350,000 and $750,000 have been subject to intense competition and multiple offers across the region.”

So while the condo and townhouse market is soaring, the detached home market  is seeing a continuation of the trend that has developed over the past few months– slow sales and stalled price growth.

Home Sales

The number of registered home sales in August totaled 3,043. This is a 22.3% increase from the 2,489 sales in August last year and a 2.8% increase from the previous month’s 2,960 sales.

Home Listings

The number of newly listed homes for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Metro Vancouver is 4,245, a 1.1% decrease from August 2016 and a 19.2% decrease from the previous month (July) when 5,256 new homes were listed.

The total number of properties listed on the MLS is 8,807, representing a 3.5% increase when compared to August 2016 and a 4.2% decrease when compared to July 2017.

Sales-to-active-listings ratio

This ratio gives a good understanding of the supply and demand forces in the market. For all property types the ratio is 34.6% for August.

When classified by property type, the ratio breaks down thus: 16.3% for detached homes, 44.8% for townhomes, and 76.3% for condominiums.

To understand the importance of this ratio, there is downward pressure on prices when the ratio is around or below 12% for a sustained period, and when it is above 20% for a sustained period, there is upward pressure on prices.

Home Prices

The MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is $1,029,700. This is a 9.4% increase from August last year and a 0.2% increase from the previous month.

The increase in market activity can more or less be attributable to heightened activity in the condo and townhome property types. Of all sales, condo sales have topped the leaderboard in August.

Get the full report here.

Our team of real estate sales professionals is squarely focused on looking after their client’s best interests. They are trained and highly experienced in negotiating on behalf of their clients. To contact a Virani sales professional, call on 604 913 1000/ 604 695 1000 or email.

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REBGV Market Update For July 2017 – Changing Trends In Demand For Housing

Overview by REBGV (Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver)

Lately we have been experiencing inconsistent demand for different types of homes. While some pockets in the market are receiving multiple offers, others are not. Detached homes are taking twice as long to sell on average when compared to condominiums and townhouses. 

The hottest sector currently in the market is condos and townhomes priced between $380,000 and $580,000. Year-to-date, both condos and townhouses have experienced a surge in demand resulting in limited supply. The once hot detached home market has cooled down significantly. 

Home Sales

In July, home sales reached 2,960 units, a 24% decrease from the previous month when 3,893 homes were sold, and down 8.2% from the same period last year when 3,266 sales were recorded. 

Sales of detached properties dropped to 949, which represents a decrease of 11.9% when compared to the same time last year. 

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,468, which represents an 8.4% decrease when compared to the 1,602 units sold in July 2016.

Home Listings

The total number of property listings on the MLS for the Greater Vancouver region for July reached 9,194 representing an increase of 10.1% compared to the same month last year, and an 8% increase compared to the previous month. 

Sales – to – active listings ratio

For all property types, the ratio was 32.2%, down 13.8% from June 2017.  For property types, the ratio was 16.9% for detached homes, 44.9% for townhomes, and 62% for condos. 

The ratio gives a good understanding of supply and demand in the market. When it is around or below 12% for a sustained period, there is downward pressure on prices. When it is above 20% for a sustained period, there is upward pressure on prices. 

Home prices

The MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver was $1,019,400. This figure was up 2.1% from the previous month and up 8.7% from July 2016. 

The benchmark price of a detached property climbed up 1.9% from July last year to $1,612,400. The benchmark price of an apartment property soared 18.5% from July last year to $616,000. 

Get the full report here. 

Because we have been in the real estate business for over 30 years, we can professionally advise you an all aspects of buying or selling your home. Questions?  Contact us and follow us on Facebook. 

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Airbnb – Expect A Wide Range Regulations Coming Soon

Lately, Metro Vancouver has seen a lot of news about short-term rentals advertised on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO. Their lack of regulation and impact on the long-term local rental market, has forced local municipalities to respond to market concerns, and gradually introduce directives to regulate this market. 

As most cities within Metro Vancouver have only recently started to address and implement restrictions, it is the strata corporations that have taken the lead on placing restrictions on these short-term rentals. In June this year, the Supreme Court of BC gave strata corporations even more clout to restrict short-term rentals. 

Here are short-term rental regulations currently in place across various municipalities in Metro Vancouver:

Surrey

So far there are no short-term rental restrictions in place. Council is carrying out on going research. 

Coquitlam

Short-term rentals are allowed as long as the rental is for a maximum of 40% of the square footage of the dwelling. They are prohibited in secondary suites or investment properties. An $85 business licence must be obtained and the hosts must operate as though they are running a bed and breakfast. 

Vancouver

So far no regulations in place, but public hearings are scheduled for the fall. Expect some far-reaching directives? 

Burnaby

No regulations in place, but the municipality is investigating on how other cities are approaching the issue and will act accordingly. 

Richmond

By far the most active municipality. In Richmond, short-term rentals must operate in a similar way to a bed and breakfast business. The entire primary residence cannot be used, nor can any part of a secondary suite or investment property. The operator must obtain a business licence. 

North Vancouver

All short-term rentals must be in a primary residence and not in a secondary suite, laneway home or investment property. No business licence or fee is required. 

West Vancouver

No restrictions in place at the moment. However, the municipality is adopting a wait and see attitude. 

Delta

Currently no regulations in place, but there is research being done in what other municipalities are doing. 

There is no doubt that short-term rentals in Metro Vancouver has become a contentious issue. While some municipalities have taken the lead in creating regulations, others are adopting a wait and see attitude. Rest assured that within the next few months, most of the Metro Vancouver councils will have some form of regulation in place. 

If you have any questions about this topic or any other topic we have written about, contact us by email or call us on 604 695 1000 or 604 913 1000.

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Important Information For Homebuyers – The Consequences Of Cancelling An Offer To Purchase A Home.

When a buyer wants to purchase a home, he usually makes an “Offer to Purchase”. The offer contains, amongst other things, items included and not included, the deposit (earnest money) amount, the possession or closing day, and conditions of purchase.

If the seller accepts the offer, then the contract between buyer and seller is legally binding based on the wording of the offer.

But there are occasions when a buyer backs out of the deal. Reasons may be that:

  • the buyer cannot secure the mortgage commitment under the terms of the contract
  • the buyer may have found a better home
  • on inspection, there may be repairs required that neither the buyer no seller are willing to pay for

When the buyer backs out of the deal, the seller gets adversely affected:

  • the seller has lost the opportunity to sell to someone else
  • the seller’s property may have lost value during the contract phase of the sale
  • the seller may incur additional expenses arising from a delayed move
  • the seller may lose deposit on another home intended for purchase

While the buyer’s action affects the seller, there are also dire consequences for the buyer:

  • the buyer may lose the deposit paid to bind the contract
  • the buyer may face extended legal action should the seller incur expenses that are not covered by the deposit
  • the buyer may have to compensate the seller for loss of value during the contract period

The decision to withdraw an offer and its consequences can emotionally drain buyers and sellers alike.

The bottom line is that the seller’s goal is to sell his/her property at an agreed upon price. If the buyer breaches the contract, the seller is entitled to “be made whole”; this includes providing the seller with all costs associated with obtaining a new buyer and the fair market value of the property at the time of the breach.

Remember this – a buyer intending to purchase a home must:

  • Understand his rights before he signs the contract and makes a deposit.
  • Understand that once an agreement is signed and accepted, simply changing his mind can have far reaching consequences.
  • Understand that as a buyer if he defaults on his obligations the seller can sue for the deposit and damages.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home, you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you carefully through all the steps. We have been in business for over 28 years and currently have over 60 listings. Contact us, call us on 604 913 1000/604 695 1000, or visit one of our offices.

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5 Reasons Why Canadian Real Estate Investing Is Much Better Than Stock Market Investing

If you have money to invest, would you invest it as a down payment on a property and earn revenue and appreciation, or invest in the stock market to get positive results?

 

This is the dilemma many potential investors face. The stock market has been hitting new highs (especially in the US) and local property prices are rising. Both seem like win win situations, but in our opinion, investing in real estate is a better bet, and here is why:  

Real estate investing is much less volatile than stock market investing.

It is easier to lose money on stocks than in real estate. The chances that you will lose 30%+ on your real estate investment in Canada is very low. On the other hand, there are laundry lists of stocks that have lost over 30% of their value within months, weeks and even days. 

If you buy a property for investment purposes you will get revenue rental as well as a fair amount of capital appreciation, unless there is a significant flaw in the property which you were unaware of when purchasing. This makes real estate a relatively stress free and profitable form of investment. 

There are plenty of expense write offs in real estate investing

Real estate investing allows you to write off a number of expenses to reduce taxes payable on the income you earn from the investment property. On the other hand, stock market investing has few if any expenses, which can be utilized to boost the bottom line.  

Real estate is a physical asset

Investing in real estate allows you to “touch and feel” a physical, tangible asset.  If you invest in a house or apartment building, you can visit it and see it visually. Whereas while a stock purchase does represent a piece of ownership of an underlying company, it is usually depicted as an entry on your screen grouped with a whole bunch of other stocks – not something you can physically touch – it’s just a number. 

There is no stress about daily price movement in real estate investing

Real estate prices do not fluctuate on a daily basis as stocks do. If anything, there are monthly fluctuations, which may vary by 1-2%. With stock market investing, it is hard to ignore the changing ticker symbols.  We all know that stock values can drastically change within hours, minutes or even seconds.  

As an investor, you can sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into a stock, which may be down one month and recover in the following months and vice-versa. While a few of us may have the appetite to be able to withstand these fluctuations, most of us don’t, and the less volatile behavior of real estate would be the ideal investment. 

Real estate investing is relatively much easier than stock market investing

If you want to be a successful stock investor, you need to understand technical analysis, how to gauge the fundamentals of the company, how the sector you are investing in compares with other sectors, etc. etc.  The management of the company and worldwide events can also influence the stock. In other words, there are a lot of moving parts, so the specialized education, market awareness and knowledge is required.  

With real estate investing, the task is easier. An adequate amount of research combined with local knowledge, and an experienced real estate advisor, can give you a head start in pretty much any real estate market.  

Most real estate investors begin by putting a down payment on a property and rent it out. With time and confidence, another property is purchased using the equity appreciation from the first property, and this process is rinsed and repeated. Within a few years, the investor owns a portfolio of properties and has considerably increased his/her net wealth.

 If you are thinking of real estate for investment purposes, talk to us. Over the years we have worked with many clients, who have successfully invested in properties throughout the Lower Mainland of Vancouver. We know the market well.  Call us on 604 913 1000/ 604 695 1000 or contact us by email.


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Sweeping Changes Proposed As Vancouver Fights To Get Units Back Into Rental Housing.

Sweeping Changes Proposed As Vancouver Fights To Get Units Back Into Rental Housing. 

According to Vancouver Mayor Greg Robertson, Airbnb is effectively “Vancouver’s largest hotel”. Currently there are thousands of short-term rentals that are believed to be eating into Vancouver’s rental supply. In view of this, the City of Vancouver is proposing sweeping changes in the short-term rental market that will bring at least 1,000 rental units back into the market. 

Presently, Vancouver has around 6,000 active listings on various platforms such as Airbnb, Hometogo, VRBO etc. These are not registered and are effectively “illegal” according to the City. The City estimates that at least 70% of the current short-term rentals will be able to continue doing so once its proposed regulations are adopted. 

Below are some of the proposed new regulations for short-term rentals in the City of Vancouver: 

  • Owners or renters would need to obtain a business license to be able to participate in the short-term rental market. This would have to be posted on the relevant platform the property is listed on.
  • There would be a one-time activation fee of $54 and an annual fee of $49. These fees are in line with long-term rental units and bed and breakfast businesses currently operating in the Vancouver. By keeping the fees low, the City is encouraging compliance.
  • All short-term rental unit operators would have to comply with Federal and Provincial tax requirements, based on the income they generate from the unit.
  • Each property would have to ensure that it fits with building safety guidelines and the surrounding neighbourhood.
  • A transaction fee of up to 3% that would apply to the guest. This would be comparable to the Provincial Government tax on hotel guests that is currently being levied.
  • Only principal residences would qualify. The intent is that long-term investment homes and secondary homes would be returned to the rental market.  

The Mayor calls his proposed regulations a “balanced approach”. “Our focus is to protect long-term housing and also that we ensure that people can make supplemental income from short-term rentals”, he said during his press conference. 

Did you know that we have a property management and rentals division? Contact us or call 604 695 1000 and we will be pleased to discuss your rental needs.

 

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No Air-conditioning at Home? Don’t Worry We Have You Cooled Using These 7 Hacks

It’s summer and for a change instead of finding ways to keep our homes warm, we are looking for ways to keep them cool. While installing air conditioning is a good option, it may not be necessary, especially as we don’t have the searing hot heat and humidity our friends in the East and down South have. 

So here are a few hints to keep your home cool even if you have air-conditioning installed: 

Close your blinds or curtains.

Closing your blinds from late morning to early evening can lower your indoor temperature by as much as 20 degrees. This is especially important for south and west facing windows.  

Unplug unnecessary appliances and devices

Everything you plug into a socket produces some heat.  Even devices that produce a glowing red light when not in use, drain energy and produce heat – they need to be unplugged and not just turned off. 

Use ceiling fans the right way

During the summer months your ceiling fan should blow forward in a counter-clockwise direction. During winter, the direction should be changed whereby the air gets circulated throughout the room. The base of the ceiling fan normally has a small switch that changes the direction of the airflow. 

 

Enjoy more outdoor barbeques and salads

Generally speaking, in any household, the kitchen generates a lot of heat with the oven being the main culprit. By frequent use of the outdoor barbeque, you are reducing the use of the oven and heat generated within the home. Eating lots of salads and “cold” meals reduces reliance on the oven as well.  

Get help from your garden

Shade providing plants, trees and shrubs in front of windows can absorb much of the afternoon sun to cool down your home, and add beautiful landscaping to the outside.  Did you know that a tree in full bloom can block over 70 per cent of solar radiation from entering your home? 

Change your bedding

During the winter months fleece blankets and flannel sheets are great for keeping you warm, however in the summer, using cotton instead is a great way of keeping cool, as cotton breathes easier and stays cooler. 

Use ice with your fan

If you fill a bowl with ice and place it at an angle in front of a large fan, the air that blows off the ice is extra chilled and can really keep a room cool. Even a bowl of icy water will do the trick. Try it – it really works! 

Summer is usually the busiest time for homebuyers and sellers. For a full list of our luxury homes available for sale, please visit our website. We have over 60 amazing homes offered for sale.

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Why The Biggest Mistake A First Time Home Buyer Makes Is Not Using An Experienced Realtor.

A fundamental mistake we often see first time home buyers make, is not hiring their own real estate professional to represent them with their purchase. 

This usually happens in 3 ways: 

  1. They rely on the resources available on the Internet to help them with their purchase, as there are a number of on-line self-help resources.
  2. They go to a real estate developer’s office and buy direct.
  3. They go to an open house and buy directly from the seller’s agent. 

The problem here is that there is no professional representation for the buyer, which could be helpful in negotiation and problem solving. 

A homebuyer who wants to avoid paying an agent’s commission will end up paying one way or another. Granted that the commission comes out of the seller’s sale proceeds, but the home is invariably priced to account for this.  

So what can go wrong with the transaction that can cost a first time homebuyer dearly without professional representation?

  1. Delay in closing due to missing documents, errors on documents etc. These can be preventable as a real estate professional has the knowledge and training to ensure that all the necessary paperwork has been filled out correctly.
  2. Lot of valuable time can be spent on the transaction. The internet can educate, to a large extent, on how to buy a property. But why would one want to spend all that time learning when there are experienced professionals who can do this?
  3. Hidden flaws and expenses may linger. Walking through a home, one may not notice flaws or discrepancies that would be apparent to the trained eye of an experienced realtor. This also applies to various closing costs that a buyer may not be aware of, and have not factored into his/her budget.
  4. The buyer may be overpaying for the home. Chances are slim that the buyer is familiar with the current and historical price of properties in the area. A professional realtor has a number of resources at his/her disposal, and has training in negotiation, which can work in the buyer’s favor.  

Buying a home is one of the largest financial transactions you will ever make in your life. So why wouldn’t you trust a professional to do it for you? After all , the seller pays the commission. 

 

When you decide to do so, contact us and one of our experienced real estate professionals will help you find your dream home.

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