Looking For A Home? BCREA Projects A Decline In Housing Prices

Greater Vancouver’s real estate market could be headed for its first year of price declines since 2012 as home sales extend their slide.

2017 has started on a cautious note, when compared to the same time last year. The average resale price in Greater Vancouver was $878,242 in January, down by 18.9% from last year. Last January, the average price stood at $1,038,000.

According to BCREA (British Columbia Real Estate Association) Chief Economist Cameron Muir, the average home prices in BC are forecasted to be down by 5% this year compared to a year ago, while in Vancouver, prices are expected to drop around 7.5%. Meanwhile, all other regions in BC will have price increases between 0.5-4.5%.

The average home price in BC will likely drop to $657,000, mostly due to a softening of the high end $3 million plus market. BC Home sales have been impacted by the property tax burden aimed at foreign buyers and the tighter mortgage regulations aimed at first time homebuyers.

Currently, it is the high-end market that is taking a decline in prices, which peaked in February of last year. But sales in condos and townhouses are surging. In other words, the lower end market – homes under $1m – is very active with lots of buyers. According to the BCREA, the boom in new home construction is likely to keep the housing stock high. This should keep the lower end market very buoyant.

Cameron Muir does not foresee any major price correction in the near future. According to him “typically major price corrections occur when we have macro economic shocks, which could be anything from a rapid rise in interest rates or a recession”.

With the sagging home sales, the pendulum is swinging towards being a buyer’s market. The decline in luxury home prices is now presenting a great opportunity to those who are thinking of getting into this market.

If you are looking to getting into the market, we have a large inventory of luxury homes and experienced real estate advisors to guide you. Contact us or call us at 604 695 1000.

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March Is The Best Time To Start Planting Your Seeds

Growing your seeds indoors is useful because it gives your plants a head start, especially when the weather outside is not warm. This results in earlier and longer harvests that would otherwise not be possible.

Growing indoors is particular good for tender crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squash.

Use the following tips to get the best results for your seeds:

1) Use a good seed starting soil.

The soil needs to be fine and moisture retaining so the young seeds don’t dry out. Keep the soil well watered, but not waterlogged so that there is sufficient air to prevent rotting.

2) Provide warmth for germination.

Use a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the room you are keeping the trays in. Warm soil does tend to dry out quickly, so to prevent this, either cover the seeds with a plastic cover, or regularly check and water them. The seed packet usually tells you how long it takes the seeds to germinate.

3) Once germinated transfer to lighted area.

As soon as the seeds emerge, you will need to transfer them to a place with good strong natural light. Placing the trays near a window will not necessarily be the best place to catch the optimum light.

4) Start planting the seeds at the right time.

There is no point starting seeds too early only to find that they have outgrown their pots before the weather has warmed up enough outside. Starting seeds too late means that they may not have time to develop properly.

Use an online location specific garden planner that will give you the best range of planting dates for each crop in your geographical area.

5) Sow in batches every few weeks.

Successful gardening depends on a lot of factors. To mitigate against variations in climate, pests etc., it is a good idea to plant every few weeks.

6) Transfer into pots once ready.

After a few weeks, the seedlings will have developed their second set of leaves. At this stage, before their roots get entangled, it’s a good idea to transfer the best ones into pots.

7) Minimize root disturbance.

When you transfer the seedling into a pot, pick it up by the leaves and not the stem. By picking up by the stem, you can squeeze and damage the capillary tubes that carry water.

Take as much soil as possible around the roots when you transfer the seedling, so the roots are not damaged.

8) Label your plants.

This may seem obvious, but many gardeners forget to label each pot and have trouble identifying them when planting outside. Note down the variety and dates such as when the seeds were sown and transplanted, for future reference.

9) Seedlings need intensive care.

Seedlings grown indoors are vulnerable to a lack of moisture, nutrients or warmth. Just like an intensive care unit, you need to make sure that you supply them everything they need. So check on them at least once a day.

10) Introduce them outdoors gradually.

Going from intensive care straight to outdoor conditions is a shock few seedlings can survive. As the plants get larger, gradually introduce them to outside conditions. Initially, take them out for an hour, and then gradually increase the time each day until they are finally ready to be planted.

By following these tips, you will give your seedlings the very best chance for survival and set yourself up for a great harvest.

If you have any questions about this blog or any other topic that we cover in our weekly blogs, please contact us by email or message us on Facebook.

FILED UNDER Exterior Upgrades, Changes & Help, Vancouver, Virani Tips    1 Comment

The Metro Vancouver Market Housing Shortage – Not Enough Product To Meet Buyer Demand

The Real Estate Board Of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) recently released its February 2017 report. The report showed that Metro Vancouver home sales in February fell 7.7% below the 10 year average for the month.

This decline was caused by 2 main factors:

* the unusually winter weather

* a limited supply of inventory

Another important piece of information from this monthly report was the new listings in February. There were only 3,666 new listings in February, a 37% drop from the same month last year. What is alarming is that this is the lowest number of new listings registered in February since 2003.

According to Board President Dan Morrison, “…the inventory is so low that there is just not enough product to meet the buyer’s demand.” Sellers are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach and not participating in the market.

“While home sales are not happening at the pace we experienced last year, home seller supply is still struggling to keep up with today’s demand,” says Morrison.

The Urban Development Institute (UDI) recently released its State of the Market Quarterly Market Research Q4 – 2016 report. It stated that there is a short supply of available units in the Vancouver market and the housing affordability is not expected to improve. Notable points:

* The housing shortage is so severe that in one segment of the local housing market, just 8 town home residences were available and unsold in 2016’s 4th quarter.

* Metro Vancouver concrete-condo units have hit the lowest standing inventory level recorded over the past 5 years.

* The standing inventory of wood-frame condominiums also saw a milestone decline.

UDI President Anne McMullin cites the need for more houses for more people and the reason for the shortage. “We have plenty of available land, but 85% of it is locked up in restrictive, single family zoning, meaning no multi-family condos, townhouses, row homes, duplexes or even sales of laneway homes are permitted, “ McMullin said.

“Coupled with years of delays in multi family building approvals, rising land costs and lack of available land to build on, aside from industrial, agricultural, and park land reserves, home seekers can count on prices to keep rising.”

The population of Vancouver has increased by over 30,000 in the past year and the housing supply has not followed suit. The rental vacancy rate has fallen to an appalling 0.6%. The housing situation is dire.

If you are planning on selling your home, now is a good time. Supply is short, and demand is high – simple economics. Email us or call us at 604 913 1000 / 604 695 1000 for more information and to talk to a trusted advisor about the current market condition.

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5 Really Useful Tips For Getting The Best Selling Price For Your Home

So you are ready to put your home on the market. Choosing the right price tag will make all the difference. Here are 5 useful tips that will help you find the best selling price for your home:

1. Find out what the competition is doing.

Prepare a comparative market analysis report. This should include:

* the original list price

* the actual sale price

* time spent on the market

for all nearby homes that were sold in the last 12 months. Pay special attention to the homes that were sold in the last 3 months.

2. Think like a buyer.

When you are pricing your home, learn to think like a buyer and not like a seller.

Prepare to be rational. For example when you are looking at all the aspects of your home that you deem important, imagine which one would appeal to you most if you were looking from an outside point of view.

3. Compare your home with others.

Walk or drive by any homes that recently sold in the neighborhood and spend a few weekends visiting open houses in your area. This kind of legwork will give you a better understanding of what you are up against, and will enable you to price your home more in line with the current market.

4. Leave some room for negotiation.

Price your property so both parties have room to maneuver, because you don’t want to leave money on the table, and a buyer does not want to overpay. If you price too high, then you risk the possibility that your price may be perceived as being unrealistic, and you may lose out. Reducing the asking price may be seen as a signal of desperation that makes buyers wonder what is wrong with the house.

If you price too low, you could be shortchanging yourself.

5. Make quick decisions.

If you get feedback that you are priced too high, adjust your price immediately in line with the market sentiment.

Studies have shown that the first 2 weeks on the market are the most crucial to your success. The market is dynamic and you have one chance to grab the attention of prospective buyers, so your initial pricing is crucial.

Pricing your home is all about supply and demand. Some agents are better at figuring out pricing than others. Experience matters. We have been in the real estate business for over 28 years, and we know how to price your home right. Call us on 604 913 1000 or contact us by email if you are planning to sell your home.

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Here’s Some Good News For Those Worried About Losing Their Homeowner Grants After Receiving Their 2017 Property Assessment Notifications

On January 1, 2017 many homeowners in BC woke up to find that they were richer as their property value had skyrocketed, in some cases, by at least 40%.

The increased property values have a 2-fold impact:

1) Many of the homeowners who enjoyed the benefit of the $570 Homeowner grant to help them with the property taxes, have discovered that the increased value of their property has pushed them out of the qualifying threshold, leaving them without the grant.

2) With the increased property values comes a hike in property taxes, which can have dire financial impact on low-income households, such as seniors, veterans and individuals on fixed income. Some of these individuals bought their homes 20-30 years ago for around $50,000 only to see them worth millions of dollars today.

In view of this, and this being an election year, the Finance Minister gave an assurance at the beginning of this year that the Homeowners Grant threshold would be increased, to account for the increase in property values and bring some relief to homeowners. But the question remained how much?

On the 10th of January, the Provincial government increased the threshold from $1.2 million to $1.6 million of assessed value.

Here are some interesting stats released by the Minister of Finance:

-         If the new threshold had not been introduced last week, then only 68% of Metro Vancouver homes would have been covered.

With the new threshold 83% are now eligible.

-         Under the old threshold, only 49% of Vancouver homes would have been covered.

With the new threshold, 67% are now eligible.

-         Under the old threshold, 59% of Burnaby homes would have been covered

With the new threshold, 78% are now eligible.

-         Province wide, the old threshold would have covered 84% of home owners

With the new threshold, 91% are eligible.

Going back to the problem of the low-income households facing higher taxes as their home value falls outside the new threshold limit, the government has a number of remedies, with 2 programs being at the forefront:

1)     The property tax deferral program – available to those over 55, a surviving spouse, a person with disabilities or a family with children.

2)     Low income supplement – available to seniors aged 65 or over who meet certain requirements.

The Provincial government has ensured that 91% of homeowners across BC will be eligible to receive a basic grant and the program will apply to 83% of the homes in Metro Vancouver.

If you own a home in Metro Vancouver and require some assistance or advice regarding your property taxes, we have a team of experts who can help you. Contact us on 604 695 1000, email us or visit our offices on 1280 West Pender St.

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Breaking News: A Major Change to the 15% Foreign Buyers Tax

Last year in July, the Government of BC introduced a 15% tax on foreign buyers as a way of cooling down the red hot Vancouver real estate market. According to BC’s Premier Christy Clark, the tax has worked as it has slowed down the “incredible distortion in the market” and had the required impact it was set out to do.

With this in mind, the government has decided that now is the time to make changes to the tax. So the Premier chose to make an announcement, which, some may argue, is influenced by the current immigration chaos that is running rampant in the US.

At the Chines New Year parade last Sunday, the Premier said that the BC Government is lifting the 15 per cent foreign buyers tax for anyone living in Metro Vancouver with a work permit, who pays taxes and contributes to the economy, and wants to purchase a home.

The move is to encourage skilled immigrants to move to BC, especially those who have been affected by US President Trump’s executive order, banning travel and immigration into the US for people from 7 Middle Eastern and North African countries. Those who had previously considered moving to BC, but were discouraged by the 15% tax, will no longer face this obstacle.

The Premier made a direct reference to Google, Microsoft and Facebook encouraging them to consider sending more employees to Vancouver and beef up their local presence, especially if they are worried about the legal status of their employees’ residence in the US. They will not be subject to the tax.

Canada has had a history of allowing victims of persecution a safe haven within its boundaries, and the government of this province is no exception to this. It seeks to attract the best and brightest to our shores, no matter where they come from, as long as they pay taxes and make a positive contribution to our economy.

There are lots of opportunities available in the Vancouver housing market. If you contact us on 604 913 1000 or email us, our experienced and professional real estate advisors will be able to assist you in any way shape or form.

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Why Vancouver House Prices Will Continue to Rise in the Coming Years

Recently, our beautiful city was shown as having the third least affordable housing market in the world in a survey by Demographia. We are all aware of the fact that Vancouver housing has become a major political and economic issue over the last few years, as home prices have shown dramatic double-digit increases.

Although the housing market has taken a hit in the last few months due to recent political actions such as the 15% foreign buyers tax, in the long term, house prices will continue to rise, making home ownership in the city an attractive proposition.

Consider the following factors when evaluating house prices in Vancouver:

* Vancouver has the most restrictive land use policies of any city in Canada. Supply side issues caused by municipal regulations dating back decades, have been one of the main causes of the current housing crises. This issue is now being addressed, but as we are all aware, policy changes take a long time to become reality.

* Investors from Mainland China and the rest of the world will continue to buy and invest in real estate in Canada. Canada is a highly respected, safe, stable and democratic country, with a generous immigration policy: this is more apparent now with the new administration in the US.

* The planned changes to the foreign homebuyers tax to exempt those in Metro Vancouver who have work permits will encourage more people to come and move to Vancouver, creating more demand for housing.

* Canadian currency is weak and is projected to remain so when compared with the US dollar, making our home prices very attractive to investors.

* We have a shortage of land: mountains to the north, a border to the south, an ocean to the west, and to the east a 22% agricultural land reserve. So there is very limited space left to build that single-family house.

* The West Coast is attractive in terms of weather and geography than any other area in Canada. More than a million people are expected to move into the region by 2041, and this will put more pressure on the housing market.

* While the provincial government realizes that more homes have to be built and is gradually working to accommodate this, there will still be a time lag before this actually happens and the additional homes are built. Meanwhile, expect prices to increase as the shortage persists: simple supply and demand economics.

* As the city densifies to make room for the increased demand for housing, detached homes will become more limited and more expensive, as is the case in other major cities worldwide.

Buying a home in Vancouver is potentially a great investment. Take advantage of the current downturn and uncertainty by investing in one. We have a very experienced and knowledgeable group of real estate professionals available to help you. Please call us at 604.913.1000 with any questions you may have about the market or real estate in general, we’d be happy to assist you.

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What Does a Home Mean to You: Karim Virani

Meet Karim Virani, founder of Virani Real Estate Advisors based in Vancouver, BC. Karim’s warm, friendly demeanor is the first thing you will notice when you meet him. A Realtor since 1988, Karim’s passion for the real estate industry has garnered him many awards, consistently ranking top 1% of all Realtors in Greater Vancouver, and top 100 Realtors in Canada.

Karim and his team at Virani Real Estate Advisors are passionate about giving back and having an impact, leading them to become World Housing’s very first realtor brokerage partner in Canada. Every home sold by Virani Real Estate unlocks a donation to World Housing, with a goal to build a neighbourhood in the Steung Meanchey slum in Cambodia in 2017. If you would like to support Virani reach their goal, make a donation on their fundraising page here!

World Housing has been on our personal radar for years. Pete Dupuis and Sid Landolt are both inspirational people who have been a part of Vancouver and my life for years. Their hard work and generosity of spirit is a solid reminder that children—wherever they live—deserve a place to play, in a community surrounded by family. That’s just one reason why Virani Real Estate Advisors got involved with World Housing. It’s easy to take the basic necessities we enjoy for granted, and we wanted to make a difference. Through Westbank’s Vancouver House, we gifted 13 World Housing homes to 65 people in need. Since then we have committed to providing a community with a neighbourhood and a playground and hope to continue to provide homes to families in need for years to come.

Why did you decide to align Virani Real Estate Advisors with World Housing?

We believe not just in dreaming big but in making those dreams come to life. In many respects, World Housing’s vision to provide homes to families in need parallels our vision of pairing people with the homes of their dreams. We are a very fortunate society and we owe it to our brothers and sisters around the world to help each other when we can. World Housing’s one-to-one real estate gifting model is one of the best ways to give back to the developing world. It also partners with amazing organizations within developing countries to build community. These homes go to individuals who will take a leadership position and who have the initiative to better their community. What is critical too, is that these partner organizations work with people and families directly and teach them to be self-sustaining. That also resonates deeply with our belief systems as the best way to help people in need.

What does a home mean to you?

A home is a gathering place. It’s where individuals, families and friends can flourish, whether finding solitude or sharing. It’s a place where people can unwind, entertain, learn, and love. It is an environment where individuals should feel safe and protected. It’s also a basic human need. Everyone should have access to a home, and we are in the business of providing these spaces for people. We’re not in the real-estate business – we’re in the experience business. We can bring meaningful change to people and families and enhance the quality and direction of their lives.

Has the meaning of a home changed for you through out your career selling real estate?

As lives evolve and change, the meaning of home does as well. There have been many ups and downs within my career, and throughout this time my home has been a haven for me. I have also seen this with the clients I represent. No matter what happens in life, people need a home. The security of that is something we often take for granted and I love being a part of the process of finding that for individuals.

What is the most meaningful home you ever sold? Why?

I don’t have a particular home sale that is more meaningful than another. Each and every sale has been an opportunity for me to find a family their dream home, a builder their dream lot or a to help an investor grow their portfolio.

What do you look for in a home?

To me, a home is about balance: comfort and practicality. Due to the nature of my work, I have to be able to find a space that accommodates to my specific needs. Many nights I am working late so a home to me has to offer an environment where I can stay focused but also can unwind when I have a free moment. Location is something I also value. Vancouver is the most beautiful city in the world and looking out and seeing the city I love so much brings me joy.

What role do you think philanthropy plays in real estate?

To me, giving back to the community and the world isn’t just important, it’s a responsibility. In our field, we have the ability to provide homes for people who can afford to buy them. This is not the case for the majority of the world, and if there is a way to help families in need wherever they are in the world, we should be doing it.

What are your client’s reaction to your involvement with World Housing?

Many of our clients are excited to get involved in World Housing. With so many amazing organizations helping people around the world, it can sometimes be overwhelming finding one that connects with you individually. World Housing stands out because it does not just provide homes for families in developing nations, it provides a community full of leaders. Their influence radiates to other communities, ensuring that even after organizations step out, the community will continue to flourish. To World Housing, it is more than just providing a home to those in need, it is about teaching valuable life skills and educating individuals to lead a community.

What message do you have for other realtors that are considering giving back?

I urge everyone – not just realtors – to give back to the world and our community. We are in a privileged position where we can help, and we have a moral calling where we should help people who are less fortunate. Giving back doesn’t necessarily have to be in a monetary sense either. Even smaller gestures add up. It can be volunteering once a month, smiling at strangers, just spreading positivity around. We are all fighting our own battles, and it is important to stay grounded and realize all of us are essentially the same. We all deserve the same opportunities regardless of where we live. This is why World Housing is one of the best organizations to support – they provide opportunities for people to embrace their lives.

 

This article was written by Scott Wilkins courtesy of “Worldhousing”.

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2017 – What to Expect in the Vancouver Housing Market

Leading to and during last year, much of the real estate talk in Vancouver was centered on how to slow the market down in view of substantial price hikes.  But 2017 could spark a much different type of conversation.

The 64 million dollar question is “will the Vancouver house prices drop in 2017?” Housing experts state that while there are factors pointing to this, there is still much uncertainty especially as we come to terms with the fallout of some major policies introduced by all levels of government within the last 6 months; notably:

1) 15% Foreign buyer tax.  This tax was introduced in August last year by the Provincial government in response to a public outcry that blamed foreign buyers for the rising house prices.

Although it is not yet a 100% evident that the tax is responsible, the market for high-end homes has cooled with some of the foreign demand seeping into the Interior, Victoria and Toronto.  While demand has cooled considerably, prices have not gone down as expected.

2) Changing mortgage rules. Recently, more stringent mortgage qualification rules were introduced by the Federal government targeting first time homebuyers. Ottawa is worried that first time homebuyers are taking up too much debt,  which will cause a lot of concern if prices drop and interest rates rise.

First time homeowners are required to take a “stress test” to see how they can fare financially in times of adversity.

Other measures introduced include a decrease in the amount of money they can effectively borrow, in some cases as much as 20%. This means that first time home buyers will have to come up with a larger down payment than was previously required, forcing some to put their home purchasing plans on hold.

3) City of Vancouver empty home vacancy tax. In response to the general euphoria targeting foreign homebuyers who have bought local homes for investment purposes and left them vacant, and the very low rental vacancy rates, the Vancouver Municipal government has introduced a vacancy tax.

Beginning this year, homes in Vancouver that aren’t lived in or rented for at least half the year are now subject to an annual 1% tax. So for a $2 million home that qualifies, the owner will be responsible to pay $20,000 in taxes. Penalties for non-compliance are severe.

4) Interest free loan program for first time homebuyers. Yet to be implemented, this program introduced by the Provincial government for BC residents, offers a capped loan with a 5-year interest free period, aimed at helping first time homebuyers afford the down payment.

Since this program will be launched mid January, its impact will not be known for a few months. But the idea is to make home buying more affordable for first time homebuyers.

This measure somewhat contradicts the Federal government’s recent change in mortgage rules aimed at restricting first-time homebuyers as discussed previously.

We have yet to see the long-term impact of the recent policy changes, but one thing is certain – unlike previous years, this will be a very interesting year as far as real estate in Vancouver is concerned. So stay tuned!

 

We have been in the real-estate business for over 28 years. Our real-estate professional advisors are well qualified and experienced to give you their qualified opinions on the Vancouver real-estate scene. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us or call us on 604 695 1000.

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How the New Empty Homes Tax Will Affect You

The Empty Homes Tax was introduced on January 1, 2017 to address the current state of the rental market in Vancouver, which has the lowest rental vacancy rates and the highest rental costs in Canada.

It is hoped that the tax will improve Vancouver’s vacancy rate, which currently stands at 0.6%, by persuading the owners of the thousands of empty apartments and houses to put them up for rent.

This December, if you own a residential property in Vancouver, you will receive a property status declaration notice for 2017, whereby you will be required to make a property status declaration, which will determine if you are subject to the tax.

Most properties will not be subject to the tax including those that:

  • Are being used as a principal residence by the owner, his/her family members, or friends.
  • Are being rented for a total of 180 days of the year, in periods of at least 30 consecutive days.
  • Meet the criteria of a list of permissible exemptions that have been outlined by the City of Vancouver.

If your home is deemed to be empty as a result of the property status declaration, it will be subject to a 1% tax of the property’s assessed value. For example, a home with an assessed value of $2 million will be taxed $20,000.

Non-payment of the tax (which will be applied annually) will be treated to the same treatment as property taxes, whereby there will be:

  • A late payment penalty of 5%
  • Daily interest on any arrears

There will be a rigorous audit process in place, especially in the early years of the tax. If you are found to have made a false declaration, you will be subject to potential fines of up to $10,000 per day, in addition to payment of the tax.

Empty Homes Tax Due Dates:

Property status declaration (for 2017): February 2, 2018

Empty Hoes Tax payment: April 16, 2018

Unpaid tax added to property tax bill: December 31, 2018.

 

If you require more information regarding this issue or any other developments that have taken place recently, please contact us or call us on 604 913 1000. Our real estate professional advisors will be only too pleased to be of assistance.

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