Archive for November, 2010

Homebuyers in the driving seat in British Columbia

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

If you’re tired of renting and have always wanted a home you could call your own, but thought the opportunity was just beyond your reach because of economic factors, here are some things to consider if you are thinking about taking the home ownership plunge.

In a recent report put out by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) it was suggested that perhaps Home Buyers were in the driver’s seat.

Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist said, “A relatively large number of homes for sale have created the most favourable supply conditions for home buyers in more than a year”.

The silver-lining in the lacklustre economic outlook is that the normalization of both short-term and long-term interest rates will be deferred. BC households with variable rate mortgages will therefore be facing lower payments than we would have originally predicted at the beginning of the year.

Moreover, new homebuyers or homeowners set to renew their mortgages will be offered a second chance at securing rates at levels last seen at the depths of the financial crisis.

The BCREA mortgage rate forecast is for a continuation of the current low-rate environment into early 2011, when prompted by a new round of tightening by the Bank of Canada and (hopefully) brighter economic prospects, interest rates will renew their ascendency to historical norms but at a measured pace.

The one-year fixed mortgage rate is forecast to finish 2010 at around 3.20 per cent and to reach 4.05 per cent by the end of 2011. The five-year fixed mortgage rate is forecast to end the year at 5.35 per cent and to reach 6.10 per cent by the end of 2011.

So with a good supply of homes to choose from and continued historically low interest rates this could be as good a time as any buy a home.

(This article was prepared on behalf of the REALTORS® of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board for the information and benefit of consumers. Visit for more information.)

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

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Canadian condos are a popular real estate purchase

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Condominiums have become a hot sector of the Canadian real estate market, particularly as an option for first-time home buyers spooked by high prices for single-family homes, says a report released Monday.

Real estate services firm RE/MAX says affordability, lifestyle, investment opportunities and urban renewal efforts are among the reasons condo sales have spiked over the last year in some Canadian markets.

“As one of few affordable housing options available to first-time buyers, the concept is poised for dramatic growth in years to come,” Michael Polzler, executive vice-president for RE/MAX’s Ontario-Atlantic Canada operations, said in a statement.

RE/MAX said condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area are up 10.4 per cent, year-to-date, as of September, and now represent one out of every three homes sold there. In Ottawa, condo sales are up 11.9 per cent.

“The lifestyle has also gained a foothold with younger, hipper audiences as the definition of home ownership evolves with the changing demographic,” Polzler added. “Dreams of the small home with a white picket fence are being replaced by the funky loft apartment in proximity to shops, restaurants and entertainment.”

Price comparisons provided by RE/MAX for Ottawa showed the average price for condominiums had risen 12.9 per cent to $252,641 over the last year, but was still more than $100,000 cheaper than the average price of $366,587 for a single-family home.

While the RE/MAX report focused specifically on Ontario and Eastern Canada, Gregory Klump, chief economist for the Canadian Real Estate Association, said condo sales are becoming a bigger share of more expensive housing markets across the country, such as the Toronto and Vancouver real estate markets.

“(Condos) have been accounting for a greater percentage over time of all sales activity,” Klump said. “Condo units are an affordable alternative to single-detached home ownership.”

The RE/MAX report said other factors driving the condo market include urban redevelopment that favours intensification over urban sprawl, empty-nesters seeking low-maintenance retirement properties and investors hoping to sell when prices appreciate, the report said.

RE/MAX said the “vast majority” of newly built condominiums in Toronto are purchased by long-term investors from Asia and the Middle East, who will often rent them out until they find their desired sales price.

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Written by: Derek Abma, The Vancouver Sun (c)

Canadian housing market expected to even out by Spring

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

According to a report in yesterday’s Globe and Mail, low interest rates and a lack of houses on the market should create an equilibrium in the Canadian real estate market by Spring of next year. The Canadian Real Estate Association announced on Monday that although prices had been flat in October and sales slid more than 20 per cent compared with a year earlier, the market still posted its third straight month of increased sales.

In a sign of stabilization after two years of wild fluctuations, CREA said October sales were halfway between the lows of December, 2008, and the record high of December, 2009. Economists said October’s data likely means the market bottomed out in July; while prices won’t rocket to previous highs any time soon, it’s unlikely they have much farther to fall.

After slowing in the recession of 2008, sales activity reached a fevered peak in December, 2009, as buyers rushed back into the market. Average resale prices for a Canadian home peaked at an all-time high $346,881 last May, causing concern that cheap money was driving prices to unsustainable levels. The average resale price in October was $337,842, CREA said.

The housing market came to an abrupt halt last July, with major regions such as Vancouver and Calgary posting sales drops of nearly 45 per cent and prices pulling back from May’s high. Several factors were cited for the decline: The federal government introduced rules that made it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage, and Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia introduced harmonized sales taxes that made the services associated with buying a home more expensive.

With the number of houses currently listed for sale significantly lower than in July, prices are expected to stay firm as buyers compete for the few homes available. The months of inventory – the amount of time it would take to sell everything that is for sale, at the current rate of sales – sat at 6.2 months in October, down a full month compared with the July figure.

That doesn’t mean prices are likely to catch fire again in the spring, when activity traditionally accelerates, but it should help keep prices from dropping as buyers and sellers hit the market in equal numbers.

For the full report, please access Canadian housing market looks forward to Spring.

Greater Vancouver home sales remain steady – REBGV

Friday, November 12th, 2010

According to October’s real estate stats, Greater Vancouver home sales have remained steady over the past four months, indicating stability in the residential housing market. With the MLS sales to active listing inventory ratio indicating a buyers’ market, properties appropriately priced are selling.

According to the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI), the benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 4.6 per cent to $579,349 in October 2010 from $553,702 in October 2009. Since June, however, residential home prices in Greater Vancouver have remained relatively unchanged, declining 0.2 per cent.

“We’ve seen a lot more consistency and less volatility in recent months when it comes to both number of sales and pricing, although it’s important to remember that conditions often vary between communities and neighbourhoods,” Jake Moldowan, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) president said.

Looking at transactions, the number of residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,337 in October 2010. This represents a 5.3 per cent increase compared to September 2010 and a 36.9 per cent decline from the 3,704 sales in October 2009.

More broadly, last month’s residential sales represent a 71.3 per cent increase over the 1,364 residential sales in October 2008, a 22.8 per cent decline compared to October 2007’s 3,028 sales, and a 14.1 per cent decline compared to the 2,722 sales in October 2006.

For the full report, please click here, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver October sales report.

Real estate sales in Vancouver, Powell River and Burnaby

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Vancouver Sun October 30, 2010

34 East 18th Avenue

Type: detached, 6 bed, 2 bath
Size: 2,098 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment: $783,300
Listed for: $1.038 million
Sold for: $1.055 million
Sold on: Aug 24
Days on market: 10
Listing agent: Mario Felicella at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty
Buyers agent: Clair Rockel at Macdonald Realty Ltd.

The big sell: Buyers can be divided into two camps: those who want a project to renovate and those who simply want to move in. This house in Vancouver’s Riley Park neighbourhood would hold tremendous appeal for the latter. Built in 1927, it has been extensively remodelled without losing original character. Essential updates to the roof, furnace, hot water tank and electrics have been undertaken. The home has a self-contained two-bedroom suite downstairs, a large open-plan layout on the main floor, with fir floors, stained glass windows, custom cabinets and stainless steel appliances including a commercial-style gas stove. The southern-exposed garden is well-established with fruit trees.

413 – 9150 University High Street

Type: attached, 3 bed, 3 bath
Size: 1,221 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment: $N/A
Listed for: $514,000
Sold for: $514,000
Sold on: Aug 20
Days on market: 1
Listing agent: Howard Steiss at Red Dot Real Estate Marketing Ltd.
Buyers agent: Howard Steiss at Red Dot Real Estate Marketing Ltd.

The big sell: This apartment is located in the Origin new-home project scheduled for completion in March 2012. Origin is located on Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Mountain campus. This suite has in-floor radiant heating, a mix of laminate flooring, carpet and porcelain tile, polished quartz kitchen countertops, Greenlam cabinetry, deep soaker tubs, a walk-in closet off the master bedroom, and two decks. Meeting the neighbours is easy: there will be a large social suite, a handy workshop and all the fitness facilities of SFU, plus myriad walking, hiking and biking trails.

104 – 2137 West 10th Avenue

Type: attached, 1 bed, 1 bath
Size: 669 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment: $425,000
Listed for: $439,000
Sold for: $429,000
Sold on: Aug 10
Days on market: 49
Listing agent: Lailey Wallace at One Percent Realty Ltd.
Buyers agent: Lailey Wallace at One Percent Realty Ltd.

The big sell: This townhouse is a bright address with a southfacing courtyard. The interior is impressive and benefits from some striking upgrades: African Sepeli hardwood floors that flow throughout the property, a central kitchen island with an oak butcher block and granite countertops, an electric fireplace and double sinks in both the kitchen and bathroom. It comes with parking and storage and rentals and pets are allowed. Adera built the building in 2004 so some of the 2-5-10 warranty is still in place.

Powell River
105 – 4580 Joyce Avenue

Type: attached, 2 bed, 1 bath
Size: 1,130 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment: $172,000
Listed for: $179,900
Sold for: $172,000
Sold on: Aug 31
Days on market: 91
Listing agent: Paige Anderson at Coast Realty Group (Powell River) Ltd.
Buyers agent: Dawn Adaszynksi at Coast Realty Group (Powell River) Ltd.

The big sell: Listing agent Anderson represented this apartment as “the perfect home for people who love to get out of town — no lawn to mow or weeds to pull!” It is in Powell River’s downtown, with conveniences on its doorstep. The home is a ground-level, wheelchair-friendly home, which has been freshly painted, with a new kitchen countertop and sink. Recent laminate flooring adds to the appeal, as does the roomy closet off the master bedroom, a spacious bathroom with a separate tub and shower, extra storage in the ensuite laundry room, and outdoor parking with space for RVs.

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