Archive for May, 2013

Thinking of selling? Here are the main threats to your home’s value

Friday, May 31st, 2013

There are many factors that could potentially reduce the value of your home. According to a recent article on MSN Money by Leah Culler, here are 8 potential deal breakers:

1. Location

Threat to value: Could be high – in some cases, 50% or more

What are the three most important factors in determining a home’s value? You guessed it: location, location and location. Although you likely considered location when you bought or built your home, something may have changed since then: rezoning, an increase in crime or a new city dump. So what can you do? Well, that depends on what about your location is bringing down the value. If you have a view of the city dump, for instance, you can plant some privacy hedges to make it less of an issue. Play up your home’s strengths; make sure every interior and exterior detail is perfect and be patient.

2. Lack of updates

Threat to value: Low to medium; usually, at least 10%

When there’s an oversupply of homes, buyers can be picky — and they definitely are. Rather than seeing the potential in an outdated kitchen and bathroom, a buyer will just move on to another home that won’t require as much work and vision. Granite countertops, new appliances, and a modern kitchen and bathroom, will all help to increase value. For between $5,000 and $8,000, you can install those granite countertops, update the light fixtures and add fresh paint and carpet. You’ll likely get a return of $15,000 to $20,000 when it is time to sell.

3. Bad floor plan

Threat to value: Medium to high; up to 25%

Appraisers consider odd floor plans when appraising homes. Without easy access to upstairs and an open layout, appraisers classify this as a functional problem which can reduce an appraised value by as much as 25 per cent compared with similarly sized homes.

4. Major systems and structures

Threat to value: Medium to high; up to 20%

A buyer wants to be able to walk in and say, ‘I could move right in’. Major system and structure issues kill potential deals in high-end neighbourhoods. Have an inspection done before you list your house and fix the major things. A roof that needs to be replaced could knock 15 per cent off the value. A heating and air-conditioning system that needs repairs could cut the value by as much as 20 per cent, and an electrical-system problem is probably somewhere between eight per cent and 10 per cent.

5. No garage

Threat to value: Varies; usually about $5,000

A garage definitely adds value to a home, and the key is to have the right-size garage for the home and the neighbourhood. If you have a one-car garage in a 1,200-square-foot home in a starter neighbourhood, there’s a big premium for that, but if you have a one-car garage in a half-million-dollar home, that’s a functional problem. The added value for a garage varies greatly by neighbourhood, but a good rule of thumb is $5,000 per stall.

6. No fence

Threat to value: Low; 5% to 10%

Many potential buyers are looking for a home with a fence because they have pets or want their children to be able to play in the yard safely. When you look at standard appraisal forms, there is a premium paid for fences. Porches and decks also add value to homes because people like outdoor space.

7. Allergens

Threat to value: Low to medium; up to 15%

A little mould under a sink could potentially kill contracts. Even if buyers could easily get rid of it, sometimes they just back out. If people have an allergy, they’re going to run. Possible problems also include cigarette smoke and pet dander. No matter how many times you clean your home, you can never really get rid of Fido.

8. Fit and polish

Threat to value: Low; 5% to 10%

How’s your curb appeal? Is your lawn mowed? Is there chipped or peeling paint on the outside of your home? This is a sure way to negatively affect the value of a home and turn a buyer off. Buyers wonder if sellers can’t take care of simple items like peeling paint, what will the rest of the house look like?

What about the inside of your home? Small things like a stain in the bathtub or a hole in the wall can stand out to buyers. These repairs may be inexpensive, but they can make all the difference when it’s time to sell. Make sure you’ve got good paint and carpet. Whatever you spend there is usually a good investment.

See what’s in store for Vancouver’s house prices this year

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

The Canadian housing market is calming rather than crashing, as the impact of tougher mortgage rules and cooling credit is partly offset by the supportive influence of low interest rates and continued income growth, according to a new report from BMO Economics.

“House prices have hit record highs in most regions across Canada, though the rate of appreciation has slowed,” said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

Resale markets are largely balanced, though buyers have gained leverage in some provinces, including Quebec and British Columbia.

Steadier prices are expected in the year ahead amid decent job growth. A benign outlook for rates and income should support affordability this year, weighing towards relatively steady sales and prices in most regions.

Canadian Housing Market Balanced Mr. Guatieri noted Toronto house prices, though slowing, hit a record high in April; gains in the detached market more than offset slightly lower condo values. Alberta enjoyed decent price gains, while Vancouver’s prices have declined moderately.

“Nationwide, housing starts have adjusted to the reduced demand, returning to household formation rates,” Mr. Guatieri added. “Meantime, Toronto continues to build up rather than out to meet supportive demographic demand.”

BMO Housing Confidence Report found that nearly half of Canadian homeowners (48 per cent) intend to buy a property in the next five years — mostly unchanged from fall 2012 — signalling a high level of confidence in Canada’s housing market is continuing into 2013.

Laura Parsons, Mortgage Expert, BMO Bank of Montreal, noted that it is essential for both buyers and sellers to be aware of any changing conditions on the local level. “If planning to buy or sell a property, consider working with an expert who can help you make decisions that are appropriate to the health of your local market, and more importantly, that responsibly fit within your particular financial situation.”

Source: MarketWire, Vancouver Sun

Which is cheaper – moving or renovating your home?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Ever wonder about the costs associated with moving versus putting money into renovating your home? Garry Marr from the Financial Post added up the figures.

Here’s a way to get some value from your house without selling. Just be prepared to stay put and be ready for some headaches.

Renovating can make your home bigger and more valuable but without any of the enormous transaction costs that can easily top 10%, depending on where you live in the country.

The federal government might have made it more difficult with its tighter and tighter regulations over the last three years to extract cash out of your home to pay for renovations.

Whereas once you could refinance your home for up to 90% of the value, it’s now only 80%.

If you bought a $500,000 home with 5% down, it has to rise in value past $600,000 before you would be able to extract some equity for a renovation. With home price increases shrinking — they are not falling in most parts of the country despite the general negativity — that hasn’t left much opportunity for a major project.

But guess what? Canadians have other ideas. A new poll shows they are actually saving for major projects based on the results that reveal a majority of Canadians are paying for a renovation with cash.

A Bank of Nova Scotia study found 44% of Canadian homeowners plan to do a major renovation in the next two years. Among that group, 62% will fund the transaction with cash.

“The renovation market is quite large in Canada and quite consistent, people are reinvesting in their homes,” says David Stafford, director of real estate secured lending with Scotiabank.

The amount of money spent on renovations in Canada is still dwarfed by the money people spend on buying homes but it’s not small potatoes either. The latest annual data from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. put the market at $20.9-billion in 2011 across 10 major markets.

Unfortunately for the 2.6 million people in Toronto, they live in a jurisdiction with two land transfer taxes. You have to pay both the city and province which amounts to $16,200 on a $600,000 purchase or about 2.7% of the value. The only other city with an equivalent tariff is Montreal with its so-called welcome tax.

Consider some of the other costs associated with moving. Realtors charge about 4% to 5% commission on the sale of your home. Add in legal fees, moving costs and some of the soft costs like painting and minor repairs that come with any selling and buying transaction and it’s not hard to get to 10%.

“I wouldn’t say renovation is just a financial decision,” says Mr. Stafford. “People are looking to improve the quality of their environment. The financing and financial requirement are just part of that decision.”

It’s a good point. We’ve come to think of our houses as an investment because they can easily top 50% of our net worth but they are as much about consumption as anything.

Let’s say you do that $50,000 kitchen project. Is your house really going to be worth that much when it comes time to sell? Probably not but in the interim you get to enjoy all those years of cooking and eating in your fabulous kitchen.

“The reality is that very few renovations return a dollar for dollar,” said Mr. Stafford, adding one of the other reasons people choose to improve their existing home are qualitative. “They like the neighbourhood they are in.”

There’s no question not all renovations go as planned. One of the great perils of renovation is doing the whole thing in cash, to avoid HST, and without permits to avoid costly fees.

“It’s cheaper in the short run but maybe not the long run,” says Raymond Leclair vice-president of public affairs with the Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company.

The tax is ultimately something that your contractor is required to pay and there’s nothing technically illegal with a verbal contract. But when things go wrong, what do you do without a paper trail?

“It becomes a ‘he said, she said’ situation and you get into court before a judge and say ‘he painted it blue and it’s supposed to be green’. The other said says the opposite,” says Mr. Leclair.

And when it comes to permits, think twice about not doing it by the book. When you sell, the buyer may ask if that addition you built is up to code. The city can ultimately order any project done without proper permits to be taken down, says Mr. Leclair.

Doing a renovation on the books is going to cost you more money. For sure. But when you start by saving up to 10%, it’s worth it.

Renting versus buying a home – which is best?

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Should you buy or should you rent? There are many factors to consider and what is right for one person may not be right for you. The following is an article that addresses this dilemma which appeared in today’s Vancouver Sun.

My landlord’s email twisted my stomach into knots.

She informed me that she plans to sell the bright, spacious, perfectly located condo that I’d been renting for the past year and a half.

I would have to leave in three months, she said.

Once the initial shock wore off, I asked myself: “Is it time for me to finally grow up and buy place of my own?”

Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, said the first factor to consider is whether or not you can actually afford to buy.

“Really have a good understanding of where you stand financially today,” she said.

That means finding out whether there’s enough money for a down payment — a minimum of five per cent of the home’s purchase price. It’s also important to look at what other debts you owe and how stable your employment is.

And the down payment is just one cost to consider. Haque recommends potential home buyers set aside another 1.5 to three per cent of the purchase price to take care of closing costs.

Once the papers have been signed and the property is yours, it’s not just the mortgage payments that you have to worry about after that.

Can you afford property taxes, condo fees, heat, electricity and repairs?

“When you own a home, you can’t call the landlord. Guess what? You’re the landlord,” said Haque.

“You have to create a cushion in your monthly budget to provide for these additional costs.”

Shannen Lazorko, a home financing adviser at Scotiabank, said those costs should be put into the context of the benefits of owning a property.

“At the end of the day, if you continue renting, you’re building someone else’s future,” she said.

Sometimes it does make sense to rent if you’re moving around frequently for work or if the money simply isn’t there.

“I would say, yes definitely it would make sense to rent, but always with the plan to build toward home ownership,” Lazorko said.

“Long term renting to me does not make any sense if you can build towards owning something.”

Steve van der Woerd has a different perspective. He ditched home ownership in favour of renting two years ago — more for lifestyle reasons than financial.

For five years, he owned a condo in Burnaby, B.C.

“There, I was able to get 1,200 square feet, a nice big deck — something I just couldn’t have found in the city of Vancouver for that price.”

But van der Woerd found he didn’t like feeling so disconnected from the cultural and social life in the city. He didn’t like the car-centric way of life and the chores associated with keeping up the condo.

Now, van der Woerd rents in the Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood, not far from downtown. He spends less time in his car and has considerably less stress.

“If you’re in Vancouver and you’re thinking of buying, inevitably you’re going to move into a less desirable area unless you’ve got lots of money. My advice would be don’t do that to yourself.”

As for me, I have enough saved for a down payment and the bank pre-approved me for a mortgage at a great interest rate.

But in the end, I decided to keep renting a little longer and build up more of a financial cushion.

When the adviser at my bank plugged the mortgage payments and the extra costs into a calculator, it added up to half my monthly income. That would mean less money for travel, lift tickets and nights out with friends — not to mention emergencies.

“That’s what’s called being house poor,” the adviser said with a laugh.

Source: Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Is it a good idea to have all your money invested in your home?

Friday, May 17th, 2013

If you want to include your home as part of your asset mix, Canadians may not be such bad savers after all.

The net worth of Canadians keeps rising – it reached $199,700 per capita at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. But that wealth is being generated from our flourishing property prices, something that financial planners haven’t always considered in a retirement planning scenario.

An analysis of Statistics Canada National Households Balance Sheet by Carleton University professors Ian Lee and Vijay Job found Canadians have gross assets of approximately $8.8-trillion of which $3.5-trillion is held in primary and secondary residences and raw land, $3.7-trillion is in cash, mutual funds, equities, and $1.6-trillion is in registered pension plans. Taking away $1.7-trillion in debt, that leaves $7.1-trillion. While they concluded Canadians are actually much smarter savers than we are given credit for, others might see it as violating the No. 1 rule of investing: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

“Real estate makes up about half of our total assets, not including debt,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal. That’s a pretty high percentage to invest in one sector of the market.

While more than a few skeptics say the piggy bank known as your house is not that secure, prices have not dipped. The Canadian Real Estate Association said Wednesday that while April sales were down 3.1% from a year ago, the average sale price last month rose 1.3% from a year ago to an average of $380,588.

If you are worried that you are overweight in real estate, what can you do to take some money out of it and spread some of the risk around?

If you don’t want to sell there are a number of options you can explore to diversify your so-called savings. If you’ve got decent equity in your home, you can easily get a line of credit on it and use the money to invest and thereby diversify your overall wealth.

“If you have a $500,000 house with no debt on it and you get CPP, most banks will give you a $75,000 line of credit,” says certified financial planner Ted Rechtshaffen, president of TriDelta Financial Partners, adding the rate is about prime plus 50 basis points.

If you take that loan and invest the money, not only have you diversified your savings but you’ve created a deduction for any of the income you earn from the money.

“You can borrow at 3% and invest in something that pays a 5% [yield]. I’m not saying it’s without risk,” said Mr. Rechtshaffen, who doesn’t think over 50% of your net worth should be in real estate. Others in the investment industry suggest between 30% and 50% is appropriate.

“A significant number of people in Canada are well over 50% in real estate.”

Even with a loan you are still exposed to any downturn in real estate but your overall portfolio now has more assets with a larger debt component.

There’s nothing to prevent you from taking the profit from your home outright but if you decide to extract equity and downsize you can expect transaction costs in the 8% to 10% range.

You could really think outside the box and sell your house with a provision that allows you to lease it back from the buyer. A $1-million home that generates say $50,000 a year in rent, or 5%, might be a tempting deal for someone looking for an investment opportunity.

One of the more controversial schemes for extracting wealth from your home is a reverse mortgage, a product which can give you cash today at the expense of drawing down on the equity of your home when it is time to sale.

CHIP Home Income Plan, which is administered by HomEquity Bank, is the only provider of reverse mortgages in the country and originates about $250-million in mortgages a year.

Steven Ranson, chief executive of HomeQ which owns HomEquity Bank, says the average customer takes out about 33% of their equity and the average mortgage amount is $120,000. Consumers can take it up front or draw it down over a period of time like investing in an annuity.

“You get what you pay for. You are not making a payment and the loan is never going to be re-underwritten. You don’t have to worry again what happens in five years.” says Mr. Ranson, about his five-year rate of 5.4% which compares with rates as low as 2.7% available for a traditional mortgage.

You get to live in your house forever so the risk for CHIP is you end up living in your house so long that the equity in the property is worth less than the loan. It rarely happens that way — about 25 of 10,000 mortgages the company has ever written have ended up under water. The average client pays about 50% of their equity at the time of sale to CHIP.

Funny enough, Mr. Ranson is one who doesn’t really think consumers should count on their homes as savings instruments. “There are a lot of stats out there that a generation of people are not saving the way previous generations did,” he said.

BMO’s Doug Porter says the official savings rate was 3.8% in the fourth quarter of last year whereas it was once in the high teens in the 1980s.

“I think it is fair to count your house as part of your savings if part of the long-term plan is to downsize,” said Mr. Porter. “I would counsel that it is an asset and asset price can fluctuate. Until you sell you don’t know what that savings will look like.”

It’s one more reason diversifying makes sense.

Source: Garry Marr, Financial Post

Spring homebuying breathes life back into Canadian home sales

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Canadian home sales rose in April, the second straight monthly gain, as spring homebuying breathed life back into the slowing real estate sector and bolstered hopes that Canada will manage a soft landing rather than a U.S.-style housing crash.

Sales of existing homes climbed 0.6% in April from March, but year-over-year sales were down 3.1%, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on yesterday in a report that showed a small spring bounce in an otherwise slowing housing sector.

CREA’s home price index rose 2.2% in April from a year earlier, its smallest gain in more than two years. That echoed the 2.0% April gain in the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index reported on Tuesday.

Prices, still above year-ago levels in most markets, typically lag a slowdown in sales activity as sellers resist pressure to lower asking prices and wait to see whether the market is truly declining.

Canada’s housing market began slowing in the middle of 2012, when the government tightened lending rules in a bid to prevent consumers from taking on too much debt.

“Today’s report further underscores our argument that tighter mortgage regulations have a transitory impact and the expectation for stabilization in the housing market. We expect this theme will persist over the balance of the year and into 2014,” Mazen Issa, Canada Macro Strategist at TD Securities, said in a research note.

He said the key markets of Toronto and Vancouver look more balanced after a period of moderation, which will help limit the downside in prices.

The April month-on-month uptick in sales was the second straight monthly gain. CREA said home sales improved in more than half of all local markets in April from March, led by gains in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Victoria.

There was some noise in the data. CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said the Easter holiday and extra full weekend in March lowered sales activity that month and boosted April sales.

The CREA report showed the national sales-to-new listings ratio inched up to 50.4% in April from 49.7% in March. It has held near the same level for the past nine months.

Nationally, there were 6.6 months of inventory at the end of April 2013, unchanged from the end of March.

The national average price, not seasonally adjusted, for homes sold in April was $380,588, up 1.3% from the same month last year.

Source: Andrea Hopkins, Reuters

Demand for condo rentals in Toronto outpaces sales

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

The rental market in Toronto condominiums is heating up, with increasing numbers of units being leased rather than sold and rents continuing to rise in the first quarter of 2013, an analysis by the market research company Urbanation suggests.

There were 31 per cent more condo units leased in the first quarter than a year ago, Urbanation found, and rents were up 4.4 per cent, a gentler jump from the 5.9 per cent increase that occurred between the first quarters of 2011 and 2012 but still a significant rise, said Pauline Lierman, Urbanation’s director of market research.

The average rent was $1,856, or $2.33 per square foot, in the first quarter compared to $2.11 in Q1 2011.

That jump in rent of more than 10 per cent in two years is mainly a product of demand, with the most desirable units in downtown locations close to transit lines and amenities, Lierman said.

“The vacancy rate is barely over one per cent for rental condominiums,” Lierman said. “The market has remained tight.”

Investors who have bought condos are choosing to rent them out instead of selling them, Urbanation’s senior vice-president, Shaun Hildebrand, said in a news release.

“For the first time in a while, rents are rising faster than prices,” he said.

Of the 773 new condominium units listed in Q1 2013, 13 per cent were rented out, versus four per cent of listed units in Q1 2012. Only two per cent of the new listed units were resold, down from 2.8 per cent last year.

“You’re seeing a higher trading factor rather than a resale factor,” Lierman said. “What you’re seeing is more [units] are going into the rental market. These people may be investors or people who bought and aren’t going to use their units and are not putting their units into the market.”

Much of the increase in rentals in Q1 2013 is owing to the fact that more than twice as many condominium projects were completed that quarter than in 2012: 4,859 new units were registered in Q1 2013 versus 2,127 in Q1 2012.

Many condo projects were started in the volatile period of 2008-2009 and experienced construction delays because of the recession and are only now making up the deficit, which is in part why the number of available new condo units was so much lower last year, Lierman said.

Lierman says that another factor driving more people to rent condo units instead of buying them is the further tightening of mortgage rules last year, which shortened the maximum amortization period for government-backed insured mortgages and reduced the maximum size of home equity loans.

“The changes have definitely seen first-time buyers put off; they’re renting,” she said. “It’s hard to quantify, but you can definitely see the resale market has slowed down throughout the latter half of the year. Even the new sale market slowed down. We were ahead of the year before during the first half of 2012 and then everything eased off. Prices have flattened out.”

Source: CBC News

Price of ultra-prime property in the world’s top cities ‘to rise 27% in next five years’

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Prices of ultra-prime property in the world’s leading financial destinations are set to grow by more than a quarter in the next five years.

The value of residential homes worth more than £10-million in London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore will rise 27% in the next five years, new data from leading property and finance companies predicts.

Nick Candy, Chief Executive of developers Candy & Candy says, “By 2017 the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) population is expected to have increased by 20% and their wealth by 30%.

“A trophy safe haven property in a global city is typically at the top of the shopping list for wealthy individuals, and their continuing appetite for such investment is expected to exert even greater influence over global property markets in the next few years.”

In 2012 there were more than 300 residential real estate transactions of over £10million that together were valued at more than £6.6billion, Savills research shows.

The total is expected to grow by 400 per year up to 2017 to a total value of £8.4billion. This growth is expected to be both organic and incremental as ultra-prime area expand and new properties are built, driven by the direct impact of global wealth increases and sector price rises.

Global wealth is predicted to increase by around 5% a year from around $122trillion to $150trillion by 2017, figures from The Boston Consulting Group show.

The research, produced by Candy & Candy, Savills and Deutsche Bank, this growth is already underway, as the number of billionaires rose by over 10% in the past year and their wealth increased by 14%.

Much of this wealth creation is being generated in emerging markets such as Africa, central Asia, China and South Korea. Asia’s wealth creation is already rising 11% a year and in Russia, Eastern Europe and Latin America by 9% a year.

North America is home to over one third of the UHNWI population and New York has the highest share of this figure and residential property in the city is good value following price falls in the national property market, says the report.

But when it comes to property transactions over £10million, London is a bigger market than New York, with more than 70% of sales going to overseas buyers, many of whom are establishing a base to live and work.

The rapid rise in wealth generation in Asia has had an unprecedented impact on price growth in the prime residential markets of Hong Kong and Singapore, with property prices increasing by over 150% in each. Asia’s UHNWI population is expected to grow by 50% more than North America’s in the next five years.

The report also examines the real costs to buy, occupy and sell a £10million property in London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Yolande Barnes, director of Savills World Research, says, “Recent changes to the taxation of international buyers owning property, particularly to stamp duty in Singapore and Hong Kong have made these locations expensive jurisdictions in which to invest. They now rank alongside New York in this respect.

“London’s recent tax changes pale by comparison and the UK capital remains one of the cheaper of the four cities in which to own and occupy real estate.

“But wealthy owners face paying higher property taxes. Hong Kong and Singapore has experienced such rapid price growth that property transaction taxes have been significantly increased by their governments to control the markets. New York has a long established annual property tax and London has also raised its levels of stamp duty and continues to debate the merits of a mansion tax.”

Although tax changes have failed to have a noticeable impact on the buying habits of UHNWIs, there are fears that manoeuvres by governments will put off investors down the line, the report says.

“Evidence from different global markets suggests that the taxation of market transactions tends to reduce the incidence of these transactions so turnover rates have reduced after the introduction of stamp duty taxes,” explained Yolande Barnes.

“We won’t see the rate of ultra-prime house price growth abating significantly over the long term. It will be driven by the rarity value and desirability of homes in established world cities,” she adds.

Source: Overseas Property Professional

Just how affordable is Metro Vancouver?

Friday, May 10th, 2013

The high costs of development could be helping to drive up housing prices in the city of Vancouver, figures provided to The Vancouver Sun by the Urban Development Institute show.

Various city development fees, community amenity charges and sustainability requirements add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of building a condominium unit in the city of Vancouver. Vancouver charges far more than Burnaby and Surrey, the figures show.

Sky-high land costs and slightly higher construction charges also add to the cost of development in Vancouver compared to other parts of Metro.

“The significant cost premiums of building new homes in Vancouver, compared to Surrey, leads to two observable results,” said Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute. “Either the increased costs will inevitably be passed on to homebuyers or the viability of building new market housing will be suppressed. Regardless, the end game is a more unaffordable and less socially sustainable city.”

She says the most obvious way to address affordability is to look at the costs and supply of housing.

“Costs affect supply — if it’s too expensive to build, you’re going to limit the supply. But we still have the demand. There’s always going to be a demand — there are buyers who can afford it.”

But Brian Jackson, the City of Vancouver’s general manager of planning, says market demand drives the price of housing much more than the costs of development.

“If we took $1,000 off the cost of the CACs or we took $1,000 off the cost of the DCLs,” Jackson said, referring to two types of city development fees, “is the developer going to take $1,000 off the cost of selling the house? I don’t think they would – they’re going to get the highest price that they could.”

Nonetheless, he acknowledges developers take a lot of risks when they build in Vancouver.

“I think it’s a tough game out there, especially when the market is becoming soft like it is now,” Jackson said.

It may be a risky game for developers, but the figures provided to The Vancouver Sun still show developers making a sizable profit: even with the higher development costs in Vancouver the expected profit is $80,694 per unit, in Burnaby $54,652 and in Surrey $34,668.

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver and Toronto housing markets show signs of Spring

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Home sales in two of Canada’s biggest cities show the country’s cooling housing market may still have some spring in its step.

Vancouver home sales last month fell about 6% from the same time last year, but were up almost 12% on a monthly basis, according to the latest stats from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Home sales in Toronto fell 2% in April compared to the year-earlier period, but were up a whopping 24% from March, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

“Despite the headwinds we have experienced in the housing market this year, April sales came in quite strong in comparison to last year,” said Ann Hannah, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. “As we move through the spring and into the second half of 2013, the demand for home ownership should continue to firm up relative to last year.”

It’s now been nearly a full year since the federal government enacted stricter mortgage lending guidelines that cooled what was then a hot housing market in Canada, and Ms. Hannah says it’s “realistic to surmise” that some households may be on the hunt again to buy a new home.

Those potential buyers may welcome this nugget of good news: the pace of home-price growth continues to fall, at least in Toronto.

The price of an average home in Toronto rose 2% in April to 526,335 Canadian dollars ($521,898), the real estate board said, and while higher, it’s the fourth-straight month the pace of price increases has slowed. In March, Toronto prices climbed 3.8% from the previous month.

Prices in Vancouver fell 3.9% to C$597,300 month-over-month in April, the same rate of decline recorded in March.

Source: David George-Cosh, Wall Street Journal

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