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Is Fraser Valley the next big market in the B.C. housing sector?



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.”



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Photo: Andrew Hudson

The biggest challenge Canada faces in creating affordable housing is getting people to and from home and work.


"If you think housing prices are high now - just wait."  - Heino Molls, REMonline



"Census Canada figures show that Canada’s population has rocketed past 35 million. In fact, that number is going to be 36 million before the ink is dry on this most recent report and it will, without a doubt, be going at light speed past 40 million way before 2020. That means a huge boost in housing demand. It means that the privilege of living in a home in Canada, not to mention an actual house in Canada is going to come with a high cost. You think the cost of a house in Toronto, Vancouver or Ottawa is high now, just wait.

Do the math on your own. Not the math of the naysayers, the doom and gloom crowd, the people who will show you diagrams and charts with circles and arrows that pinpoint the exact time and date of the collapse of the real estate market. Rather look around, see what is going on and add it up for yourself.

We are facing many problems in our country. There is not enough time and space here to discuss all the challenges of health care, especially mental health care, as well as housing for the poor and marginalized people in our society. Another major challenge that should be mentioned in the same conversation as housing and property value is public transit.

Our governments are scrambling to build new transit ways and highways to accommodate all the people who will be travelling to and from our inner cities for business, health care, restaurants and entertainment.

How Much is YOUR Home Worth?



Our biggest problem is going to be building transit, not just within our cities but also from the towns and satellite communities that will have even higher population growth in the coming years. Communities like Chilliwack and Abbotsford in B.C. and cities like Kitchener-Waterloo not far from Toronto. The same for all other cities in the country. Transit is going to be our biggest problem.


Falling house prices. Yeah, not so much."

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courtesy of Business Insider

It turns out homebuyers are really into barn doors.

Screen Shot 2016 04 13 at 8.26.06 AM



When Zillow looked at design features that sell homes at the best price and with the shortest listing time, that feature topped the list. 

Anything craftsman-style, like rectangular farmhouse sinks, also got homes off the market at a premium. 


Zillow Digs screened over 2 million listings for homes sold between January 2014 and March 2016 and looked for the keywords that had the best effect on how much more than the expected price and how much faster they sold.  

Here are the top 15 design features:

Outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchen

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 3.7%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 19


Tankless water heater

Tankless water heater

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 43


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Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 46


Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38


Stainless Steel

stainless-steel HudsonHomeTeam

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.2%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 42


Heated floors

heated-floors HudsonHomeTeam
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.3%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 28


Frameless shower

frameless-shower HudsonHomeTeam
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38


Pendant light


pendant-light HudsonHomeTeam

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 48


Exposed brick

exposed-brick HudsonHomeTeam

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.9%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 36



craftsman HudsonHomeTeam

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 5.4%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 14



quartz HudsonHomeTeam


Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.0%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 50


Subway tile

subway-tile hudsonHomeTeam


Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.9%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 63


Farmhouse sink

farmhouse-sink HudsonHomeTeam

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 7.9%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 58


Shaker cabinet

shaker-cabinet HudsonHomeTeam


Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 9.6%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 45


Barn door


barn-door HudsonHomeTeam

Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 13.4%

How many days faster than expected the home sells: 57

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Broker fears were confirmed Tuesday, with one big bank raising its prime rate less than a month following new mortgage rules.
TD Canada Trust announced in a note to brokers Tuesday that it is changing its mortgage rates, including increasing its prime rate to 2.85%.
The prime rate has been held at 2.70% for more than a year, according to the broker who shared the announcement with on condition of anonymity.



“When a bank changes their ‘version’ of bank prime it also serves as an invitation for the other banks to join in and do the same,” the broker said. “Naturally if they all change the public is screwed and all the banks make more profit.
“You see by effectively changing the goal posts on the rate the bank can continue to say: ‘we are prime less 0.50% which is a good deal.’  So as you can see this a clever move if it works.”
See the new rate sheet below.

The announcement also confirms what one economist speculated – that big banks could influence the market by altering its posted rates.
The new mortgage rate stress test, which forces all holders of insured mortgages to qualify at the Bank of Canada’s benchmark five-year rate.
The Bank of Canada’s benchmark rate is closely tied to big bank posted rates. And that relationship could allow lenders to tinker with their posted rates in a bid to influence the BoC’s, thereby allowing them to also influence the ease with which homebuyers can qualify for an insured mortgage.

Contact us for advice and information


Logo 2016 HD

“Another possible solution is that posted rates could fall, reducing the impacts of the stress tests. Since they are not set by the market, lenders could decide to lower them if, for example, they find that they are saying “no” to too much good business,” Will Dunning, chief economist of Mortgage Professionals Canada, wrote in a research paper entitled Slamming on the Brakes: Assessing the Impact of Changed Criteria for Mortgage Qualification. “The posted rates are set administratively by the lenders, based on their assessments of what is in their best interests, and their assessments could change.”



Courtesy of


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Caring for our neighbours

November 14 - 21, 2016

Each year our volunteers collect donations of blankets and warm clothing for those in need throughout the Lower Mainland.

Since we began 22 years ago, more than 290,000 disadvantaged people have been helped by the REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive.

How you can help

Please donate the following items for all ages:
  • gently used or new blankets or sleeping bags
  • warm clothing, coats
  • hats, gloves, scarves
  • new socks and underwear



Here's where to drop off your donations: real estate offices




Realtors Care - HudsonHomeTeam

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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 September 20, 2016

Davidoff Pastrick Sommerville and Dachner UDI lunch Sept 16 Foreign Buyer Tax


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 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.”


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Joannah Connolly


Joannah Connolly

Joannah Connolly is the editor and content manager of 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.

© Copyright 2016

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In times of great potential, there arises great potential for unethical and untrustworthy elements.


Here’s another reason to use a local Realtor (like our Team) when dealing with a Real Estate transaction.





HHT 2016



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  The Bank of Canada will maintain its target for the overnight rate at 1/2%.

The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is maintaining its overnight rate at 0.5 per cent. In the press release accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that inflation is evolving as expected with total CPI continuing to test the bottom of the Bank's 1-3 per cent target range due to low energy prices. However, the Bank expects that inflation will rise over the next year, reaching its 2 per cent target by mid-2017.  On the economy, the Bank sees economic growth firming after a slowdown in the fourth quarter of last year. The Bank projects that the Canadian economy will grow a modest 1.5 per cent this year before strengthening to 2.5 per cent in 2017.


In not moving on interest rates this morning, the Bank is recognizing that there is little that monetary policy can do to offset a significant supply-side shock such as the dramatic decline in oil prices. Indeed, given Canada's floating exchange rate, the loonie has already adjusted to help partially absorb the negative impact of falling commodity prices on exports.   Keeping in mind that the Canadian economy is still projected to grow at a rate very close to its somewhat diminished potential for 2016 and that inflation will be spurred by a dramatically lower Canadian dollar, we anticipate that the Bank will reassess the need for monetary stimulus once the worst of the oil-shock had passed. That means, barring a significant deterioration in the economy, the Bank will more than likely remain sidelined for 2016. 


For more information, please contact:

Andrew Hudson
Direct: 604.773.3940
Office: 604.531.1111


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Continuing low interest rates and a healthy stream of newcomers will ensure the good times keep rolling in 2015




Barbara Yaffe: Property developers bullish on Metro Vancouver real estate market

Photograph by: ian lindsay , Vancouver Sun


Residential construction, and densification, in the Lower Mainland will keep rolling along in 2015.

VANCOUVER — Continuing low interest rates and a healthy stream of newcomers will ensure the good times keep rolling in 2015 for the Lower Mainland’s property development industry. But it also means pricing will continue to pose a challenge.

Three of B.C.’s biggest developers used adjectives like “great” and “incredibly positive” as they delivered a forecast last week to more than 1,100 industry insiders and politicians attending an Urban Development Institute luncheon.

“Vancouver is going to do well, everyone wants to be here,” declared David Negrin, president of Aquilini Development.

He said a recent crackdown on democracy protesters in Hong Kong is likely to enhance Vancouver’s prospects. “We’re very positive on Vancouver, and it’s going to continue for some time.”

Added Neil Chrystal, CEO of Polygon Homes: “We’re picturesque, have a healthy environment, we’re a clean, safe city offering excellent health care and educational opportunities. We are politically stable and close to Asia.

“I see no sign of the residential market slowing down. ... The market will remain balanced and stable in the year ahead.”

B.C. will experience net immigration in 2015 of some 34,600 immigrants and 2,600 provincial migrants, according to research by Mac Marketing Solutions, a company that plans and markets housing projects.

Mac, with offices in Vancouver and Calgary, forecasts that in subsequent years even larger numbers of both immigrants and Canadians will arrive, noting Alberta’s economic slowdown will make heading further west all the more attractive.

So, while a total of 37,200 newcomers are expected this year, the number should grow to 53,200 by 2018.

Combine that trend with low interest rates and a low vacancy rate in the region, and you have a recipe for continuing strong growth in the property development and real estate sectors. Unfortunately, that does not augur well for affordability.

Between 2006 and 2014, benchmark prices for all types of real estate in Metro Vancouver saw significant price jumps, according to Mac research, with the greatest increase — 46 per cent — recorded in Vancouver’s east side. West Vancouver and Vancouver’s west side both saw increases of 41 per cent.

Referencing the retail sector, Kevin Layden, CEO of Wesbild, said North American stores are downsizing as they move online. But even here, Vancouver is well positioned, never having enthusiastically adopted a big-box retail model.

The city has 13 square feet of retail space per capita, compared to a Canadian per capita rate of 19 square feet and the U.S.’s 30 square feet.

Commenting on Vancouver’s affordability crisis, Negrin cited the high cost of land and remarked: “Everyone is frustrated.” The only way to keep prices down is to increase density, he said.

Yet a Demographia study released last week on housing affordability argues density and urban land containment boost housing prices by restricting development of cheaper perimeter lands.

Chrystal argued development is being constrained by an overly complex and time-consuming municipal approval process. At UBC, he reported, the development approval process takes six months, compared to 12 to 30 months elsewhere in the region.

Added Negrin: “We have to find a way to streamline the process. Anything over one year is too long.”

Chrystal pointed to another challenge for Lower Mainland developers — offshore buyers are starting to purchase land for development that he said could lead to oversupply in certain markets.

They are also posing a challenge in terms of what they are prepared to pay for land acquisitions. “They may be parking money from offshore. We can’t compete on price.”

The developers complained of increasing costs for building materials and a stronger U.S. dollar, forcing higher costs. Prices for drywall, windows and steel were cited.

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My neighbour asked me this the other day. It was 3 p.m. and I was checking the mail.


-What does a Realtor do all day,


He came over and said, “Busy day today, I see. Are we lounging this afternoon again? It must be nice to sell a few houses and make the big bucks and then lounge from home all day.”


I smiled and changed the subject. There’s no need to try to convince him otherwise. 


Then he said, “What do you really do all day? There are some days that I don’t even see your Jeep leave the driveway. Seriously … what do you do all day?”

I smiled again and explained that I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, on the phone and answering texts. I found myself trying too hard to convince him that I really do work hard, and I work a lot of hours. I ended the conversation and went back inside. No harm, no foul.

His question really got me thinking.

What do Realtors really do all day? 

Time to break out my calendar and explain what I do all day.

Monday: I met with a Mortgage Broker at my office in the morning. He was explaining what products he had to offer. That was followed by a lunch with a Real State Lawyer, a listing appointment that afternoon, and a few showings that evening.
Tuesday: I was sick on the couch (that’s rare!), but I was still able to get up and around by the evening to show view properties. I had to cancel a pretty big real estate webinar that day, though. Bummer.
Wednesday: I blogged a lot and spent a good part of the afternoon working on real estate videos. That evening I showed a home to some seller/buyers, and then showed homes to another buyer. We found the one and will be writing an offer today.
Thursday: Right now it’s 9:17 a.m. I just finished my smoothie, got a great blog idea, and then I’m going for a bike ride. Then I need to schedule three closings for next week followed by another listing appointment tonight. I may try to squeeze nine holes of golf in before my listing presentation tonight.
Friday: More videos during the morning followed by an afternoon of phone calls to past clients. Friday night will consist of me showing a few more homes to yet another buyer client.
Saturday: There’s a possibility that we’ll have a listing appointment followed by dinner with past clients. (See, we work our sphere of influence and past client base to not only say hello and catch up, but to ask for referrals to grow our business.)
Sunday: We have yet another new listing appointment that afternoon. Hopefully, that will end the work week and I can watch some hockey with my boys.

Don’t forget all of the phone calls, texts, and all of the emails we receive throughout the day and evening. Oh, and don’t forget about the interaction on Facebook and all of the other social media sites that bring in business. I do most of that in the evenings.

Oh, and don’t forget that we also touch base with each and every seller on a weekly basis, and our Monthly Newsletter that we take time to prepare, and our mail marketing that we work on weekly, and …

Are you catching my drift here? 

Being two full-time Realtors with a thriving and growing business is more than a full-time job. We don’t clock out as much as we should. We live and breathe real estate almost every day and almost every evening.

Sure, it may look like we have it easy, and to be honest, sometimes I think we do. Doing what you love rarely feels like work.


But it is work. 


Time for me to log off, go push some weights and hit the cardio, and then get back to my life of leisure, fun in the sun, and my daily massages and mojitos.


Or something …



This was originally posted by our associates, Amanda and Jared Christiansen on ActiveRain. The Christiansens specialize in Fort Wayne, Ind., real estate for Century 21.

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Why Strata Councils Need to Elect Scrutineers


By Tony Gioventu, 24 hours

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 3:51:33 PDT PM


Dear Tony: At our annual meeting last Saturday, a resolution came up that required a secret ballot. Before the resolution vote was called, an owner demanded a secret ballot. At first, the president refused. However, one owner brought our bylaws, which require a secret ballot if any eligible voter requests a secret ballot.



Fortunately, our secretary came well prepared as a result of attending one of the CHOA workshops, and we had ballots, a voting box and voting booth. When voting was complete, the president, who chaired the meeting, picked up the box and was about to leave the room to count ballots, but he was challenged by the owners and stopped from leaving the room.

We requested scrutineers being appointed and the president chose his wife, and they counted the ballots at the front of the room, and then reported the outcome with the resolution passing.

To avoid these confrontations, how could this have been handled better?

— Tracey Dawes

Dear Tracey: The underlying fundamental at annual or special general meetings is that matters are decided by majority vote unless a different voting threshold is required, like a three-quarter or unanimous vote.

Either at the beginning of a meeting or before a resolution vote is called, eligible voters or the president may put forward individuals who are elected to act as scrutineers, by majority vote.

Scrutiny implies a close and continuous watching or guarding. Appointing scrutineers indicates that the strata corporation has a formal process for the counting and reporting of ballots and the outcome.

Complimentary Garage Sale Signs!


If there are differing factions in a community, having scrutineers from both interests will greatly reduce conflict and suspicion over the voting procedures. In addition, by doing so, the corporation will have voted for the scrutineers’ appointment and granted them the authority to count the votes and report the results.

Great care should be taken to ensure voting procedures are transparent. Only voters should place their own ballots in a ballot box, and the ballots should be counted in the room in front of the eligible voters. Then the chairperson announces the result of the vote reported by the scrutineers. Don't forget, these procedures and decisions also need to be reported in your minutes.

Tony Gioventu, Executive Director

Condominium Home Owners' Association (CHOA)

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Property sales in the Fraser Valley remain static with localized bright spots

July, 03 2013 11:57:22 am, by FVREB

Property sales in the Fraser Valley were 9 per cent lower in June compared to last year – 1,327 compared to 1,463 in June 2012 – remaining significantly below 10 and 20 year averages. However, data from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) reveals localized bright spots where sales have rebounded since May.

Ron Todson is the Board’s president. “In the last month, sales of single family detached homes have picked up in North Delta, North Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford, and in some neighbourhoods where we’ve seen a decrease in new listings, we now have a shortage of quality inventory.
“It’s too soon to know if this trend shows increased consumer demand in general, or if it’s specific to those communities, property types and price points, but it does speak to the importance of getting local real estate expertise if you’re thinking of buying or selling because of the wide variance in the market depending on neighbourhood and property type.”
The Board received 2,625 new listings in June – 9 per cent fewer than received during the same month last year – leaving the volume of active properties at 10,515 a decrease of 1 per cent compared to June 2012 and 1 per cent fewer than were available in May.
Todson adds, “In general, prices are flat and firm. They remain on par with what they were a year ago and that stability is thanks to inventory levels remaining in check, but again similar to sales, price increases or decreases vary.


Get all the MLS listings you want while in the area you want. Just click on the Smartphone:

“For example, the price of a typical detached home in Langley has increased 3.5 per cent over the last year while detached homes in South Surrey/White Rock have decreased in value by the same amount. That variation is the same whether we’re talking about single family homes, townhouses or apartments. Real estate is local.”
In June, the benchmark price of single family detached homes in the Fraser Valley was $552,200, an increase of 0.2 per cent compared to $551,000 during the same month last year. For townhouses, the benchmark price was $298,700, a decrease of 2.1 per cent compared to $305,000 in June 2012 and the benchmark price of apartments was $202,500, 0.8 per cent less than in June 2012 when it was $204,200.

See the full statistics package for June here.

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The British Columbia Real Estate Association’s Chief Economist, Cameron Miur outlines the current market situation in BC as well as updates us on the forecast for our Real Estate market in the coming months.



Cameron Miur



For more information, contact us:

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Our friend and Associate, Tony Spagnuolo, President of Spagnuolo & Company Real Estate Lawyers in Vancouver, BC, has clarified the new rules regarding GST and new home sales in BC.


Watch Tony’s video here:






The Spagnuolo Group of Real Estate Companies focuses on residential real estate law. - See more at:



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By Penelope Graham


Here’s what you need to know about so-called mortgage wars - and how you can benefit as a consumer.

Here’s some good news for prospective homebuyers, or those looking to renew or refinance their mortgages: lenders are literally battling for your business.
The term “mortgage war” has been bandied about finance headlines lately, as banks and brokers have undercut each other’s rates over the past year. It’s resulted in the
lowest fixed mortgage rates we’ve ever seen - and has even prompted the government to wade into the action with attempts to reel them back. For the right homebuyer at the right time, these rates offer great opportunities to lock in for less - but there are long term financial implications for the economy, and potentially all borrowing customers.
Here’s what you need to know about so-called mortgage wars - and how you can benefit as a consumer.
Open season on home buyers
There are several forces at play behind record low mortgage rates - the first being a shortage of qualified homebuyers. That’s right - there are simply less people hunting for a house these days that the banks want to lend to, and they’re pulling out all the stops to catch the attention of those who do qualify.
This decline is due to the new mortgage rules put in place by the Department of Finance and the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation last July. These new rules cut the maximum amortization (the full length of a mortgage) from 30 years to 25, for buyers paying less than 20 per cent down on their home purchase. Those who needed to borrow more for their mortgage suddenly had five less years to pay it all back - and many would-be buyers were sent back to the savings drawing board as a result.
The Government’s stance
These affordability reducing rules are part of the Department of Finance’s attempts to slow the rapidly growing household debt levels across Canada. Last summer, the average debt to income ratio, which measures how much one earns compared to their debts owed, was reaching 160 per cent - the toxic level that contributed to the housing market downturns in the U.S. and UK. Now, that ratio has reached 165 - a new high.
The Department of Finance’s main concern was how easy it was for Canadians to take on more debt than they could handle - and that the banks were allowing it to happen. Now, record low mortgage rates can be seen as counterproductive to these measures. After all, mortgage rates are expected to eventually go back up - and when they do, many Canadian borrowers may find themselves tapped out when forced to renew or refinance at a higher rate.
That’s what prompted Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to scold both Bank of Montreal, who unveiled their 2.99 rate for the third time, and Manulife, who introduced a 2.89 per cent five year fixed. Manulife heeded Flaherty’s warning and retracted their rate. BMO did not.

The new normal

The truth is, neither BMO or Manulife are offering the lowest rates on the market - those have trended below the 2.80 mark for weeks now. In fact, some lenders even dipped as low as 2.74 recently - the lowest fixed mortgage rates ever seen.
These rates are offered by brokers and credit unions. While they have traditionally always priced their products lower than what’s posted by the big banks, it was BMO’s first introduction of the 2.99 last January that really set things in motion. It was the first time a big bank had ever broken the three per cent barrier - and the response from consumers and other lenders was overwhelming. These days, though, with broker rates so consistently low, the term “mortgage war” has a softer definition - the lowest rates can be found by all home buyers who are willing to
compare to learn about their options
Why there’s no need to wait for a mortgage war
Smart mortgage shoppers know that there are better deals available than their bank’s posted rates - and rate comparison
makes it easier than ever to see the rates offered by every lender in the country. A recent Bank of Canada study also found that those with “positive bank bias” - meaning consumers who only stuck with the main banks while gathering mortgage rates - limited their rate options to as few as three - and almost always paid more than consumers who compare the market or used a broker to find their best rate.
Comparing rates is easy.


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Courtesy of:

· TRACY SHERLOCK tsherlock@ vancouversun. com Blog: vancouversun. com/ yourmoney


South Surrey For Sale


Only a major economic shock would push down prices in the Lower Mainland, analysts say

My expectation is that next year we will likely see some increased home buying activity than what we’ve been seeing these last several months, that is more reflective of overall economic conditions.

While prospective sellers are waiting in the Lower Mainland housing market, the numbers indicate that prospective buyers are a bit shy too. While prospective home buyers appear to be waiting for an ever elusive real estate bubble to burst in Vancouver, people thinking of selling their homes also appear to be willing to wait.



Real estate market experts say they don’t expect a big drop in Vancouver housing prices next year, despite the decline in average prices and number of homes sold in 2012.

The most recent numbers show that home sales dollar volumes are down, unit sales are down and average prices are falling in the Lower Mainland.

Typical prices are also falling in some areas, particularly among single- family homes in more expensive areas like the west side of Vancouver or Richmond.

Sales volume drops

The 10- year average for home sales in Metro Vancouver is 88,000 units per year, while the 15- year average is 79,000 per year. So far this year, 64,000 units have sold and the total could be 68,000 by the end of December.

Alongside sales volumes, the number of new listings has dropped.

“That’s consistent with sellers saying, ‘ It’s not a good time to sell, I’m not selling if I don’t have to,’ ” said Tsur Somerville, director of the centre for urban economics and real estate, Sauder School of Business at the University of B. C.

While prospective sellers are waiting, the numbers indicate that prospective buyers are a bit shy as well. “The market right now is both slow and tentative. There are a lot of people out there being very tentative because they’re not really sure where things are going,” Somerville said. “I can’t say how many buyers are in the market — I want to differentiate between that and the prices they are willing to pay. Maybe there are people who are actually interested in buying, but they’re either waiting for prices to be at a certain point, or they’re making offers that aren’t being accepted. I can’t differentiate between those things.”

Concerns about the global economy may be another reason for the “tentative” market, Somerville said.

“My general sense is that it’s hard to see where a market turnaround is going to come from in the short run until there is more confidence and clarity about the American economy,” Somerville said. “Even without the fiscal cliff, the American recovery is very slow. Given the state of things in Europe and China, you’re not looking at any dramatic economic growth that’s going to pull the Canadian economy along. Part of the story is for the housing market to pick up, there has to be more juice to the economy.”

While a pickup in the market may require more “juice,” a crash would require a significant event, Somerville said.

“To get prices to really tank, you’ve got to have something happen. Either you’ve got to have overbuilding, or you’ve got to have some big change in the world of finance, such as large movement in interest rates or a financial disruption, or you’ve got to have a real negative economic shock,” Somerville said. “You’ve got to have some combination of those, or one of those to make prices drop dramatically.”

Overbuilding of single- family homes in Metro Vancouver is difficult because land is so limited, Somerville said.

“On the condo side, even though starts have picked up, it’s nowhere near where they were during the peak. The yield curve for interest rates is very flat so the market isn’t expecting interest rates to rise dramatically,” Somerville said. “But if I could predict interest rates, I could be really, really rich.”

Price plunge unlikely

Cameron Muir, B. C. Real Estate Association chief economist, thinks if buyers are waiting, they could be waiting a long time.

“Three years ago we saw the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression and an ensuing global recession. If that’s wasn’t enough to trigger a correction in an asset bubble, I don’t know what is,” Muir said.

“The condo market in Vancouver has not been ‘ hot’ since 2009, and perhaps even earlier than that. Prices on the condominium side have been relatively flat for three years, so that doesn’t signal any kind of asset bubble welling up,” Muir said. “There has also been little speculation in the marketplace over the past few years and home builders have been kept in check in terms of their total units in production.

Like Somerville, Muir said the market won’t crash unless there is a recession or a spike in interest rates.

“In order to have a significant price decline — you’re hearing a 25 to 40 per cent price decline that some pundits have thrown out there — in order to see that materialize, you need to see household disaster writ large, such as what we saw in the United States,” Muir said.

For example, in the early 1980s, house prices in some areas in Metro Vancouver dropped sharply, but that was after interest rates went up 10 percentage points within a year, Muir said.

“In 1982, the five- year posted mortgage rate was, I believe, 21.5 per cent at its peak. You can imagine what that does to a housing market,” Muir said. “Housing prices fell dramatically — they fell 40 per cent in some markets.

“But are you willing to sell your house at 60 cents on the dollar? Why would you do that? You have to have a reason for prices to fall dramatically. You don’t have to sell and people have to have somewhere to live.”

Muir said he believes the U. S. will find a compromise on the fiscal cliff tax increases and spending cuts before the U. S. is thrown back into a recession.

“I understand ( the fiscal cliff) would shave most of the growth out of the Canadian economy, if it happens,” Muir said. “While it all sounds ominous, and it is, barring a meltdown in the U. S. political system, I don’t see conditions here in B. C. warranting such a shock to real estate.”

Muir talked about the late 1990s, a time when he said the economy was in the doldrums, thousands of people were leaving the province in search of jobs and B. C. had a leaky condo crisis.

“That was a localized shock to the real estate market,” Muir said. “We saw prices fall, but they only fell a few per cent a year for a few years and then they came right back.”

Fundamentals are strong

Another sign of strength in the Lower Mainland market is that prices bounced back quickly after the recession, Muir said.

“January 2009 was pretty gloomy, with home sales running at low levels we hadn’t seen since the early 1980s, and we ended 2009 approaching record levels of sales. That was quite a turnaround,” Muir said.

Muir expects sales numbers to pick up in 2013, because the market fundamentals are strong.

“We’ve seen some pretty strong growth in full- time jobs, we have interest rates at or near historic lows and we still have an expanding population base,” Muir said.

“All of those things point to consumer demand running in the longer- term average levels at least, and right now they’re quite far below that,” he said.

“My expectation is that next year we will likely see some increased home buying activity than what we’ve been seeing these last several months, that is more reflective of overall economic conditions. Overall home sales are expected to trend toward their long- term averages,” Muir said, adding that pent- up demand could contributed to increased sales activity in 2013.

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  OTTAWA – April 16, 2012 – According to statistic[1]s released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national resale housing activity edged higher in March 2012.


  • Home sales rose 2.5% from February to March.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 1.6% above levels in March 2011, the smallest year-over-year increase since last April.
  • The number of newly listed homes eased 0.3% from February to March.
  • While still well balanced, the national housing market tightened due to the rise in activity.
  • The national average home price edged down 0.5% on a year-over-year basis in March.

Sales activity over MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 2.5 per cent from February to March 2012. The increase lifted national activity to its highest monthly level since April 2010.

Activity in March was up from the previous month in two-thirds of all local markets, with Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton contributing most to the national increase.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 1.6 per cent above levels in March 2011, the smallest year-over-year increase since last April. It reflects moderate gains in a number of major centres, including Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City. Increases in these housing markets offset larger declines in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, where activity last year ran at unusually strong levels.

A total of 108,373 homes traded hands in the first three months of the year. This is 5.0 per cent above the five-year average for first quarter sales, 3.8 per cent above the 10-year average, and 4.4 per cent above activity in the first quarter of 2011.

New listings were little changed following their uptick in February, having edged lower by 0.3 per cent on a month-over-month basis in March. The number of newly listed homes declined from the previous month in just over half of all local Canadian housing markets, and rose in almost all of the remainder.

“The spring housing market is off to a good start,” said Wayne Moen, CREA’s President. “The number of sales and newly listed properties are up from levels last year, and the vast majority of housing markets remain balanced. That said, all housing is local, so buyers and sellers should talk to their local REALTOR® to understand current and prospective trends where they live.”

The national housing market remains well balanced, although the monthly increase in sales activity caused the balance between supply and demand to tighten slightly.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 55.1 per cent in March. This remains firmly in balanced market territory, but is up from 53.6 per cent in February. Based on a ratio of between 40 and 60 per cent, more than half of local markets were balanced in March.

The number of months of inventory stood at 5.7 at the end of March on a national basis, down slightly from 5.8 months in February. The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is another measure of the balance between housing supply and demand.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in March 2012 was $369,677, representing a decline of one half of a percentage point from the same month last year.

“Average prices are up from year-ago levels in most large urban centres,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “The slight decline in the national average price points to a tug of war between Toronto and Vancouver from the standpoint of their sales mix compared to last year.”

“The national average price was skewed higher last spring by record level high-end home sales in some of Vancouver’s priciest neighbourhoods. It was expected that this would not recur this spring, which the latest sales figures confirm. The decline in average price reflects the change in Vancouver’s sales mix, not housing price deflation.”

“At the same time, overall home sales activity in Toronto is stronger than it was last spring, and higher-end home sales are up from year-ago levels. Being by far the most active housing market in Canada, Toronto represents the single biggest factor supporting national average price compared to last year.”

1 All figures in this release except average price are seasonally adjusted. Removing normal seasonal variations enables meaningful analysis of monthly changes and fundamental trends.


PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national MLS® sales information from the previous month.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

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The B.C. government has raised the threshold for homeowner property grant to $1.285 million to accommodate rising property values.



Homeowners Staying Afloat


The news comes as hundreds of thousands of annual property assessments are being prepared for B.C. property owners by the government. Last year, the threshold was $1.15 million. The grant effectively reduces the property tax paid by most B.C. homeowners by up to $1,045

Every year the province adjusts the grant to ensure 95.5 per cent of homeowners receive the full amount of the grant. Those with homes above the threshold may still be eligible for part of the grant.

"The homeowner grant provides a maximum reduction in residential property taxes on principal residences of $570 in the Capital, Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional districts and $770 elsewhere in the province," said a statement issued by the government on Tuesday.

"An additional grant of $275 is available to those who are age 65 or over, permanently disabled or a veteran of certain wars,."

"We continue to see challenging economic times around the world. By maintaining the homeowner grant, we continue to help families with the costs of owning their homes," said Finance Minister Kevin Falcon in the statement.

The grant is only available to Canadian citizens and to landed immigrants who normally reside in B.C.


For more information regarding the homeowner grant, please contact us at 778-869-7653

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November 28 - December 5, 2011

REALTORS® and real estate offices are gearing up for this year's REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive, the longest continuous blanket drive in the Lower Mainland!

In 2011, REALTORS® collected and donated enough blankets and warm clothing to directly help more than 100,000 people from Whistler to Hope and places in-between.

Needed donations

New or gently used
  • blankets, sleeping bags
  • warm clothing - coats, jeans, pants, sweaters 
  • scarves, gloves, mitts, hats


New (women, children, men)
  • socks
  • underwear

Please click herefor a drop off location near you!

The REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive story

Way back in 1995, some caring REALTORS® in Vancouver observed the homeless situation in the city’s eastside and said to themselves, we’ve got to do something.

They put out an appeal to their fellow colleagues for warm blankets and coats and collected 600 bags of donations specifically dedicated to Vancouver’s homeless in the downtown core.

That single act of kindness has blossomed into one of the largest annual collections of warm clothing and blankets, helping homeless people and the working poor in every single community in the Lower Mainland.

Fifteen years later, thousands of REALTORS® from Whistler to Chilliwack have collected more than 27,000 bags of donations. Each year, more than 75 amazingly dedicated members actually pick-up and deliver all the donations, and well over 100 real estate offices in the Lower Mainland act as collection depots.

The annual REALTORS Care® Drive now collects an astonishing 4,000 plus bags of warm, winter items on behalf of dozens of local charities.

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The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,516 property sales on its Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in April, a decrease of 15 per cent compared to 1,793 sold during April of last year, and a decrease of 17 per cent compared to March’s 1,818 sales.

Sukh Sidhu, president of the Board, explains, “April’s sales are pretty typical for that month over the last two decades with the 20-year average being 1,580, but softer than what we saw earlier this year.

“The Fraser Valley market was busier than normal in February and March due in part to the tighter credit conditions that kicked in on March 18, plus you add into the mix a focus on the federal election and you get an April that trends back to normal conditions.”

However, Sidhu says certain individual markets within Fraser Valley have remained active. “For the third month in a row, sales of single detached homes in White Rock/South Surrey have accounted for almost a quarter of all detached sales in the region compared to the 15 per cent share that area typically garners.”

“Benchmark prices of detached homes in that area have increased by 11 per cent in the last three months compared to 3.9 per cent across the Fraser Valley as a whole, emphasizing the need for local expertise no matter where you’re thinking of buying or selling.”

April finished with 5 per cent more active listings on the MLS® than it had in March – 9,697 compared to 9,228 – however, 9 per cent fewer than the 10,635 listings that were active during April of 2010.  The Board received 2,918 new listings in April, a decrease of 14 per cent compared to March and a decrease of 22 per cent compared to the 3,760 new listings received in April 2010.

Regarding prices, in April, the benchmark price for Fraser Valley detached homes was $525,510, an increase of 1 per cent from the April 2010 price of $520,423. The benchmark price of townhomes was $332,992 in April, an increase of 2 per cent compared to $326,367 in April 2010. The benchmark price of apartments was $252,689 in April, a 1.3 per cent increase compared to $249,453 in April 2010.


Download the complete stats package by clicking here

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