If you're in the market for a house, first of all, congrats! Buying a home is one of the most rewarding — albeit at times exasperating — things you'll do in your life. By the time you're ready to buy, you likely have a sufficient grasp on the basic necessities: a solid foundation, a roof that doesn't leak, wiring that won't cause your new home to spontaneously combust, and so on. But what about the other stuff you should be mindful of? You know, the considerations not covered during your home inspection?
These more personal assessments may not be as "dear-god-get-me-out-of-here" detrimental as a crumbling foundation, but they could likewise affect your quality of life for the foreseeable future. So here are a few things to watch for, as well as the ones you shouldn't sweat.
3 Things to Pay Attention To:
1. The amount of natural light
Unless you're particularly partial to living like a cave-dweller, you want your home to have ample natural light. Besides making everything inside look better, it just makes you feel better. Yet this is often glossed over by some buyers during the house hunt. If you have your sights set on a house, schedule viewings at different times of the day to get an accurate picture of the natural light situation.
If you need secondary motivation outside of how beautiful natural light is, consider this: The amount of natural light in your home could indicate bigger (read: more costly) issues. Too little and you may have to add or modify existing windows, which could run upwards of $15,000.
2. The driveway and parking situation
You may be thinking, "Really? The driveway?" To which the answer is, "Yes. Really, really." The dimensions of your driveway could very well determine how quickly your new-home infatuation fades. It may seem silly in the grand scheme of things, but consider your parking spot like an extended part of your entryway. If the drive is too narrow, you'll spend countless hours playing musical cars to squeeze vehicles in. Alternately, if it's too long and you live in an area prone to snowdrifts, you may never want to leave home during the winter months. Street parking may seem like a viable option, but some cities have strict regulations regarding visitors and even overnight parking. Be sure to ask!
3. The neighbourhood
This is the epicenter of the house hunt for many people for one readily apparent reason: You want to like the area where you live. But there are a few less obvious things to consider before you hit the local coffee shop in preparation for your first early Saturday open house. Are there ample sidewalks in case you want to take a leisurely stroll or go for a bike ride? Is it in close proximity to public transportation? If you have kids, there's little doubt you looked into the local school district. Even if you don't, though, keep in mind a better school district equals a better resale value. And, finally, read any HOA documents before you sign on the dotted line. It will be tedious beyond belief, but doing so will alert you to restrictions, bylaws, and other issues that could be unwelcome surprises down the road.
3 Things to Ignore
1. The seller's style
Don't let that Day-Glo paint in the kitchen be a deal breaker. For that matter, don't let any paint color put you off of a home you like. You can always repaint and, let's be honest, what first time home-buyer doesn't want to hand-pick their own hues anyway? Similarly, if the seller's fuzzy toilet seat cover stresses you out, don't worry — they'll take it with them when they go. It can be hard to envision your stuff in a home that currently clashes with your personal style, but try to remember decor is easily changed and offers you the opportunity to tailor things to your own tastes.
Hey, life is busy, you know? Sometimes a seller just can't find the time to pack up the plethora of tchotchkes littering their living room before a showing. Cut 'em some slack (selling is just as stressful as buying) and think outside the box. Just bring a tape measure to make sure there actually is enough room for your belongings and focus on the condition of the house as opposed to its clutter.
3. Unsolicited opinions
You'll soon find that everyone and their brother has an opinion about your potential new home, from the color of its exterior to the quality of the finishes inside. If you feel as though a particular piece of unsolicited advice may be helpful, by all means cull that wisdom. Fortunately, though, you can simply ignore anything else. You're the one who'll be living there and paying the mortgage. Ultimately, the only person you need to please when you pick your house is you.
WANT MORE ADVICE ON HOUSE, HOME AND REAL ESTATE? TALK TO US!
A rendering of Surrey’s planned LRT line. (Photo: surrey.ca)
Surrey Board of Trade CEO makes case for light rail in a letter to Mayors’ Council chair Derek Corrigan
This is an open letter to Mayor Derek Corrigan, chair of the Mayors’ Council:
I am writing in support of Surrey’s Light Rail Transit project.
In fact, the Surrey Board of Trade would like to see all 27 kilometres of the proposed light rail to be built as soon as is feasible. In our most recent Surrey Road Survey, more than 80 per cent support to strongly support the building of the “City Centre-Guildford-Newton” and over 85 per cent support LRT along Fraser Highway through to Langley City.
Surrey is growing rapidly, and as it grows, the opportunity exists to shape it into a world-class destination in its own right. With nearly 1,000 new residents coming monthly, the need for a vision has never been more necessary. The LRT provides an opportunity to consider how to manage the growth, where to densify, how to move people, and how to create commercial space while achieving an attractive streetscape.
Businesses are on board with creating an economically viable city that is attractive to clients, customers, and employees alike. LRT sparks development along its corridors, a mid-rise, medium density, mixed-use type of development that will attract both families and business to the area while also maintaining affordability.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.
We have done our due diligence and read through all available reports. We have had roundtables and panel dialogues. We have had all of our advocacy team members review material and provide feedback (12 teams with over 400 volunteers). We’ve reviewed the number of technology and route alternatives that were examined using multiple metrics to evaluate their effectiveness.
The Surrey Board of Trade has taken the position that the project should be completed in one phase to capitalize on lower construction costs and LRT fleet vehicles, and the simple fact that waiting for phase 2 will unnecessarily delay needed transit through Surrey.
We are concerned that those who oppose LRT in favour of increased buses and a SkyTrain down Fraser Highway are not fully considering what they are saying no to, or conversely what they would be saying yes to, if they in fact succeed to influence decision-makers.
Three things we know will occur if there is no support for LRT:
Increasing B-line buses will very quickly increase congestion on those routes as more and more would be required to move commuters, but they would still not be sufficient to meet anticipated future population growth as quickly as the LRT on its dedicated lanes — and within 10-15 years would need to be replaced with LRT to meet the demand.
The cost of the Surrey-Langley line is nearly a billion dollars more to build SkyTrain than LRT, money that can be spent elsewhere on needed infrastructure and services.
The ability to quickly adapt to growing town centres and expand the system through the large Surrey geography will be severely compromised by putting all available and future funding into one option.
We have observed that where the SkyTrain has gone, it encourages development only around the station, not along the line. The stations are relatively far apart and the ability for riders to view commercial options is minimized. The purpose would be to move people from one far distant point into the City of Vancouver Hub.
As it turns out, this is not necessary. Over 70 per cent of our survey respondents like to work and live south of the Fraser; and LRT encourages that liveability by also promoting affordable housing strategies along existing corridors.
Although the Pattullo Bridge and other crossings need to be improved to accommodate commuters, more are staying South of the river. Over 50 per cent live and work in Surrey, unchanged from 2016, and an additional 24 per cent commute into Surrey for employment.
Our businesses and our residents deserve a system that encourages growth along the corridors, the creation of liveable streetscapes, and the flexibility to add stops as required with the minimum of cost and disruption in the future — as well as extending the lines to loop through the city as it ought to be. We need a system that moves people around Surrey and South Fraser, with links to cross the river where appropriate to minimize congestion on river crossings.
With over 400 LRT systems worldwide, we know that this is a system that has proved itself many times over. We anticipate TransLink to release its business case very soon, so that all can likewise be assured of the value of the LRT and not rely on out-dated documents to put forward erroneous positions in the media.
We have determined that Surrey is the destination, not a thoroughfare to somewhere else. The demand for more transit increases annually, as reflected on our own surveys. Surrey is becoming the hub of the south Fraser Region. Businesses are moving here. People are moving here.
It makes no sense to build a system that by-passes the opportunity to develop and grow a city of our choosing to meet our own vision.
Without doubt, the LRT is the best system, dollar for dollar, for Surrey and South of Fraser. The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce has also indicated their support of the Light Rail Transit transportation system, which includes the Fraser Highway line.
Anita Huberman is CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.
VANCOUVER — An upward trend in housing prices isn't expected to significantly change in British Columbia despite an anticipated slowdown in sales this year, economists say.
The B.C. Real Estate Association's chief economist said Wednesday that new housing stock, slightly higher interest rates and tighter mortgage regulations will result in about a 10 per cent decline in sales compared with 2017.
But demand continues to outpace supply in most markets from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan, which spurs rising prices, Cameron Muir said.
"We would need a combination of a pretty substantial decline in demand as well as significant increases in overall residential supply in order to get to the point in which prices would decline," Muir said.
Nationally, the Canadian Real Estate Association has said tighter mortgage regulations imposed on Monday, including a stress test for uninsured mortgages, would result in fewer sales and reduced prices by about 1.4 per cent to an average selling price of $503,100 this year.
Bryan Yu, economist with Central 1 Credit Union, said the changes may slow the pace of first-time buyers entering the market or lead to adjustments in what people choose to buy.
While this may slow sales, particularly in the first quarter of this year, he said B.C.'s growing economy and jobs will maintain a strong demand.
"I think the overall economic drivers are still there to support rising prices through 2018," Yu said.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Wednesday the benchmark price for all residential properties was $1,050,300, in 2017, a 15.9 per cent jump from December 2016.
Sales of detached homes, townhomes and apartments reached 35,993 last year, the third highest total in a decade.
The board considers the sales total more "historically normal," marking a 9.9 per cent decrease from 2016 and down 15 per cent from the sizzling pace of 2015.
A key aspect of last year's housing market was a decline in the number of available listings, a trend the board has said can put upward pressure on prices.
Board president Jill Oudill said 54,655 properties were listed for sale in 2017, a dip of 5.1 per cent from the year earlier.
She also said market activity across the Vancouver region differed considerably in 2017 based on property type.
"Competition was intense in the condominium and townhome markets, with multiple offer situations becoming commonplace," Oudill said in a news release.
The benchmark price of condominiums leaped 25.9 per cent in the Vancouver area last year, while townhomes increased 18.5 per cent and the price for detached homes climbed 7.9 per cent.
Prices have also soared in the neighbouring Fraser Valley with the benchmark price of condominiums jumping 40.5 per cent last year to $388,600.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Association said the benchmark for single detached homes reaching $976,400, an increase of 14.2 per cent from 2016. The price of townhomes increased by 23 per cent.
Yu said rising prices means people will increasingly be left out of the housing market.
"We're going to see an increase in renters in proportion to the population," he said. "I think that's going to be the natural evolution of this market over time."
University of B.C. business professor Thomas Davidoff said governments could improve affordability by encouraging the development of more units in single-family home neighbourhoods and reforming taxes.
"We have high income and sales taxes and low property taxes and that says we encourage people not really to make a living and sell stuff here, but buy property. That's the worst recipe ever for affordability," he said.
Other factors, including political instability, interest rates or natural disasters, could drive down prices, Davidoff said. More likely, a major driver of prices will be what people are willing to pay.
"I do think in the long run, Vancouver will continue to be a very difficult place to buy or to rent unless you're really rich," he said.
This summer, the City of White Rock and the White Rock Business Improvement Association have partnered to bring a free trolley service to White Rock! You can hop-on and hop-off on weekends, holidays and during select special events* from June 24 to September 4.
There are stops located throughout the City, so check the schedule below to find the closest one to you and begin exploring our beautiful City by the Sea!
*Some special event days have different schedules and/or routes. The alternate routes and times will be posted on this webpage.
Latest numbers from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) revealed that B.C.’s southwestern region has experienced significant home price growth in February, indicating a possible companion to the red-hot Vancouver market in the near future. Last week, the Board revealed that the benchmark price for a single-family property in the Valley increased by 20.4 per cent year-over-year and 0.4 per cent compared to January, hitting $859,300.
“This is the kind of February we like to see. Last year at this time, the incredible demand created a market that was difficult for consumers,”
according to FVREB president Gopal Sahota, as quoted by CBC News.
“Now, we have sales moving upward from the winter months at a typical, healthy pace and a growing inventory to support it,” Sahota stated, adding that the numbers are so far showing a “return to normal historical sales numbers.” Apartment prices also rose sharply by 26 per cent compared to February 2016 and 1.8 per cent month-over-month, up to $267,000. Meanwhile, average townhome costs grew by 25 per cent year-over-year and 0.5 per cent since January, reaching $422,400. Recently, Finance Minister Bill Morneau assured that the federal government is still closely monitoring the Canadian housing market, amid seemingly inexorable price growth in Vancouver and Toronto.
“We continue to be very focused on thinking about how we can manage what is peoples’ most significant investment. And we do watch the level of indebtedness, in particular around housing,” Morneau stated, adding that “strong underlying markets” continue to drive the two cities’ outsized performance. “So in Toronto and Vancouver, unemployment is lower in those two places than it is in some other places. Incomes are higher. The economy is doing better. So there are underlying reasons for the housing markets to do better and we’ll continue to monitor, to work with provinces and municipalities who have an important role to play here to manage what we see [as] a challenge, but not one that isn’t manageable.”
In all the excitement and packing, buying & selling, many people forget to take care of some essential items before they move. Don’t look past these 5 things you need to take care of, or it could cost you $$$.
1. Take care of all subscriptions: Magazines, memberships, recurring orders, gym memberships. Get a head start on updating your address or cancelling memberships before charges mount on your credit card. We suggest you take care of this at least 30 days prior to your move, as many gyms, clubs, and mail subscriptions require this much time for cancellation or updates.
2. Change your address at the post office: For a small fee Canada Post will allow you to register your new address to ensure all your mail finds its way to your new home. Leaving bills or an outstanding balance behind, may impact your credit score, as well as lead to accumulated interest charges -–neither of which you are likely o want.
3. Call utility providers: Cable, internet, electricity, gas, etc…These are all services that you should be making contact BEFORE you move. Many of these services can pivot on a dime so not much notice is required, but we do recommend making contact at least 1 week prior to your move date. Make a list of required utility providers & check it twice! Or, you could wind up paying for someone else’s electric bill!
4. Manage your motor vehicle insurance: If you are new to British Columbia here is what you need to know; ICBC allows up to 90 days to switch over your license, and 30 days to register, license and insure your vehicle.
If you are moving within the Province, you must update your address within 30 days of moving. Your auto-insurance policy must always show your current home address and vehicle use, so do not forget to update this information!
5. Get a ‘To-Go’ box ready: Whether you are moving across the country, province, or just down the street, make sure that you have a go-to box ready. This should contain items you will need as soon as you get to your new home; cleaning products, toilet paper, garbage bags, paper towels, clean sheets, fresh towels, paper plates and eating utensils and maybe even a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.
Join the City and Translink at our White Rock open house to talk about Phase One of the 10-Year Vision, which will reduce road congestion and add new transit services in every community, starting in early 2017.
Date: October 25, 2016
Time: 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: White Rock Community Centre, Gallery
Public consultation on the Phase One plan runs from October 11-31, 2016. Your input will inform the final Investment Plan that's presented to the Mayors' Council and TransLink Board for consideration in November 2016.
Foreign buyer tax has resulted in “policy shock,” but market will quickly recover to see prices higher than they are now, predicts Central 1 Credit Union chief economist
Courtesy of Joannah Connolly REW.ca September 20, 2016
Left to right: Tom Davidoff of UBC, Helmut Pastrick of Central 1 Credit Union and Tsur Sommerville of UBC listen to Arnon Dachner of Dentons at the UDI's September16 lunch panel on the Foreign Buyer Tax — Ryan Broda Photography
The “policy shock” of the new foreign buyer tax has created a “temporary market disruption” that will play out over the next three to six months, after which “market fundamentals” will mean the market recovers, according to a leading economist.
Speaking to a sold-out audience at the Urban Development Institute’s Foreign Buyer Tax luncheon and panel debate September 16, Helmut Pastrick, chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union, said that he expects house prices to recover so that they are higher this time next year than they are today.
Pastrick said, “I fully expect September’s sales to be down again, year-over-year, probably by 30 or 35 per cent compared with last September. The average price will probably fall again, relative to August, and this will play out over the next three to six months – it’s a temporary market disruption.
“After the market has absorbed this new tax regime, we will begin to see other market fundamentals come into effect. Prices will then continue to rise, and they will be higher this time next year.”
Pastrick’s fellow panellist at the UDI lunch, Tsur Sommerville, associate professor at UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, added, “In other markets where a foreign buyer tax was introduced, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, in both those markets, prices continued to rise.”
Pastrick said later in the discussion, “I think home prices will begin to increase again, but at a slower rate. I expect to see higher prices until this economic cycle comes to an end, as all cycles do… But recessions only last a short while, and the cycle begins again. And in the long term, I would expect that over the next two or three decades, [Vancouver real estate] prices will double again, if not more than double. But there will be more economic cycles between now and then.”
He added, “Right now we don’t see any signs of an economic recession due to a shock event – we’re in a strong economic cycle.”
Sommerville added, “In terms of the demand side, you’ve got the combination of the strong economic cycle, low interest rates, and a demographic profile where you’ve got a large number of young people ramping up into home ownership. There are more Millennials than any other group, so you’re going to have a huge increase in housing demand, in a market where the ability to respond on the supply side is securely constrained.”
Sommerville’s colleague Tom Davidoff, associate professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, who was also on the luncheon panel, said that despite the strength of the economy and demand, there was still a significant risk of a sharp correction in home prices due to the foreign buyer tax.
He said, “A potential collapse in foreign buyer demand… could result in a less-bad version of what happened in the United States [in the sub-prime crisis of 2008]. There is a significant risk of an over-correction in prices – but I wouldn’t say that is the most likely outcome.”
The fourth member of the panel was lawyer Arnon Dachner, a partner at Dentons LLP, who warned delegates that tactics to avoid paying the foreign buyer tax – even seemingly legal approaches, such as contract reassignment – could be defined as an “avoidance transaction” that could leave the party still liable for the payable tax or other monies lost to the BC government.
The panel debate was moderated by Neil Chrystal, president and CEO of Polygon Homes, who recently told REW.ca that that he thought the overseas buyers’ tax was “morally and ethically wrong” and added, “I wouldn't be surprised if it was challenged legally.”
Joannah Connolly is the editor and content manager of REW.ca and Real Estate Weekly newspaper, and editor-in-chief of Western Investor and West Coast Condominium. She also moonlights as the host of the Real Estate Therapist call-in show on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM every Saturday, 9-10am. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 20 years of media experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture and business media. Like many of the residents of her newly adopted town, Joannah has a decidedly unhealthy passion for Vancouver real estate and is often to be found scouring property listings well above her pay grade.