Archive for the ‘Canada News’ Category

Recent real estate sales in Vancouver, Surrey and North Vancouver

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Vancouver Sun October 22nd, 2011

843 Union Street, Vancouver

Type: 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom detached
Size: 2,535 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $815,000
Listed for: $1.075 million
Sold for: $1.05 million
Sold on: Aug. 22
Days on market: 7
Listing agent: Stephen Burke at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty
Buyer’s agent: Geoff Jarman at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty

The big sell: This heritage home in the heart of Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood was purchased in 1999 for $335,000 and recently fetched more than $1 million.According to listing agent Stephen Burke, the house – it dates to 1908 — is in need of some work, but the character of the property and the location on the tree-lined Adanac bike path and opposite the Union Market were a winning combination. The three-level home sits on a high 25-by-122-foot lot and features wood floors, a large front parlour with a gas fireplace, an office/library, a country-style kitchen with eating area and gas stove, skylights and nine-foot, six-inch ceilings on the main floor. As well, it has a renovated bathroom with a two-person bathtub, a two-bedroom in-law or guest suite in the basement and a private mature garden that is overlooked by a rear deck.There are many single-family homes in the area, which is a five-minute drive to downtown.

1206 – 138 East Esplanade, North Vancouver

Type: 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment
Size: 626 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $388,000
Listed for: $429,000
Sold for: $410,000
Sold on: Aug. 16
Days on market: 27
Listing agent: Tyler MacDonald at Century 21 In Town Realty
Buyer’s agent: Jay McInnes at Macdonald Realty

The big sell: Buying a home that is affiliated to a hotel can pay dividends, especially when residents have access to the hotel’s amenities — as is the case with this condo in the Premiere at the Pier building. The hotel in question is the Pinnacle, which features a five-lane indoor swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and fully equipped exercise room. This unit takes in panoramic southwesterly views of the water, city and the North Shore mountains. It has an open floor plan with white oak hardwood floors, central air conditioning, an electric fireplace, stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops and a balcony. The revitalization of this area four years ago transformed the neighbourhood from a shipyard site into a bustling community, and provided access to this portion of the city’s waterfront for the first time in 100 years. The location is close to the SeaBus, shopping, and eateries in what is now known as Lolo – the Lower Lonsdale area.

19341 0 Ave., Surrey

Type: 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom detached
Size: 3,205 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $1,213,700
Listed for: $1,849,900
Sold for: $1.6 million
Sold on: Aug. 18
Days on market: 98
Listing agent: Bruce Copp at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty
Buyer’s agent: Brent Silzer at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty

The big sell: You cannot get much closer to the U.S. than this property on 0 Avenue in Surrey. Although neighbours to the south would be impressed if they could see this home, it is hidden from view via a winding driveway that is lined with tall cedar trees. It was built in 1971 in a traditional West Coast style that comprises split cedar, glass and vaulted ceilings. The interior is modern with tiled floors, a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, a 24-by-12-foot chef’s kitchen, media room, solarium, wine room, library and a 1,200-square-foot deck. With five acres to enjoy, there is plenty of room for a horse barn, pastures, and a guest cottage with a fireplace and view of the mountains. One of the most enticing features of the property is the lush vegetation that surrounds the home. It includes mature flower gardens, a pond and waterfall, and a variety of birds attracted by the flora.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Bank of Canada predicted to keep interest rate hike on hold

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

The Bank of Canada will keep rates on hold until the third quarter of next year amid slow global growth and the risk that Europe’s debt crisis will linger on, according to a Reuters survey released Tuesday. The poll of 40 economists and strategists showed the median forecast for the next interest-rate increase was pushed back by three months from the second quarter of 2012 projected in an August poll.

Analysts said the central bank need to raise borrowing costs is less than they previously thought because the domestic economy has not recovered strongly and the European debt crisis still dampens the global outlook. “There is slightly more slack left in the Canadian economy than where it was presumed a couple of months ago, based on how the second quarter panned out,” said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian fixed-income and currency strategy at Royal Bank of Canada.

Source: Financial Post

See which countries are top for relocation destinations

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Relocation services firm Cartus Corporation compiled a list of the 25 most popular destinations for relocated employees, based on the international moves it has helped to organise over the past five years.

The United Kingdom was the second most popular location for international transfers, while Singapore, China and Switzerland claimed the third, fourth and fifth spots respectively.

Although the US and the UK occupied the same positions in the list as when the report was last compiled in 2006, a number of countries had moved significantly up the rankings.

So-called emerging markets showed particularly impressive growth in the number of international employees they were receiving, with India for example climbing from ninth place to sixth, and Hong Kong moving from 11th place to eighth.

Some of the most impressive jumps were made by Singapore, which moved from seventh to third place, Brazil, which climbed 10 places to 14th position, and the UAE, which moved from 19th to 13th place.

evin Kelleher, president and CEO of Cartus, said: “It’s clear that as market opportunities present themselves in many of these non-traditional relocation markets, companies are beginning to transfer employees there in greater numbers.”

Regionally, Europe was the location companies were most likely to relocate employees to, followed by Asia-Pacific, North America, Central America and, jointly, the Middle East and South America.

New countries on the list included Panama (18) and South Korea (23), while three locations – Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Austria – fell off altogether.

Top 25 relocation destinations (2006 ranking in brackets)

United States (1)
United Kingdom (2)
Singapore (7)
China (3)
Switzerland (4)
India (9)
Germany (5)
Hong Kong (11)
Japan (6)
Canada (8)
France (10)
Australia (13)
United Arab Emirates (19)
Brazil (24)
Belgium (16)
Italy (15)
Netherlands (12)
Malaysia (18)
Ireland (14)
Mexico (20)
Spain (17)
South Korea
Sweden (21)

Bank of Canada considering keeping interest rates low

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Canada’s central bank may need to keep interest rates low as the economy faces “substantial headwinds,” Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said in an interview published on Friday.

“Monetary policy may still need to be stimulative in order to close the output gap and in order to get inflation back to target,” Carney is quoted as saying in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The bank has kept its key interest rate on hold at 1 percent since last September, after lifting the it from a rock-bottom 0.25%. Its next rate decision is July 19.

Most market players surveyed by Reuters on May 31 forecast the bank would resume rate increases in September, but some have since pushed their forecasts even further out.

Carney named the U.S. economic slowdown and the strong Canadian dollar as two major factors that could hinder Canada’s economic expansion.

“We see the headwinds both in our export performance and in the inflation data,” he said, referring to the currency.

The Canadian dollar is currently trading around $0.98 to the U.S. dollar, or US$1.02.

Carney said the bank may not need to raise rates to a “neutral” level just as the economy reaches its production capacity, and repeated the idea that the neutral rate, which he declined to specify, might be lower than it was before the global financial crisis.

Carney has raised concerns in recent comments about possible overheating in the Canadian housing market, where prices in some cities, such as Vancouver, have skyrocketed.

Higher short-term interest rates could be a tool to curb high housing prices, he said, but he added that regulatory action should be the first option.

One out of two Vancouverites is now foreign-born

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Vancouver was once considered a “European” city. Now it’s more accurate to call it “Eurasian.”

In less than two generations, Vancouver has transformed from a city dominated by people of British, German and Italian origin to one in which people of Asian heritage make up the majority.

The demographic changes in this city of more than half a million people are most readily seen in the hundreds of restaurants serving Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Japanese, Arabic, Afghan, Malaysian and Korean food. But the changes go much deeper.

Since the early 1970s -after Canadian immigration laws made the country more open to Asians and multicultural policies were instituted -the city has developed a whole new personality, one that’s attempting, in fits and starts, to fuse Atlantic and Pacific cultures.

Statistics compiled by Vancouver city hall tell the story of the new Asian wave.

In 1971, three out of four of the city’s 426,000 residents had English as their mother tongue.

Just six per cent of residents had Chinese as their mother tongue, while five per cent spoke German, three per cent grew up speaking Italian and three per cent were raised in French. In addition, people who were most familiar with a Scandinavian, South Asian, Greek or Spanish language accounted for about one per cent each of the population.

By 2006, the city’s European atmosphere had been dramatically adjusted by new Asian immigrants fluent in everything from Mandarin to Korean, Hindi to Farsi.

Only 49 per cent of the growing city’s 578,000 residents had English as a mother tongue, according to the 2006 census, which is the last year for which Statistics Canada census figures are available.

Meanwhile, 21 per cent reported that one of the various forms of Chinese was their first language. Another two per cent of Vancouverites said they had Punjabi as a mother tongue, while almost two per cent spoke Vietnamese at home, almost two per cent spoke Tagalog (Filipino) and roughly one per cent each were most familiar with Korean or Japanese.

Given the tens of thousands of immigrants from Asia who have moved into the city of Vancouver since 2006, the East Asian and South Asian percentages of the population only will have risen since the last census.

How are Vancouver’s eclectic European and Asian-rooted residents getting along in this city, which has grown by more than 100,000 since the 1970s? Harmony is not entirely supreme among Vancouverites of different ethnicities.

To get around the problem of under-employment for foreigntrained medical workers, engineers, botanists and other specialists, the City of Vancouver has initiated the Mentorship Pilot Project. It aims to link newcomers to the city’s formal and informal employment networks.

If one had any doubt, consider that the non-English links on the City of Vancouver’s official website now receive more hits than almost anything else.

Source: Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver again voted best Canadian destination by US travel agents

Monday, March 21st, 2011

For the eighth consecutive year, readers of the influential US travel trade publication, Travel Weekly, have named Vancouver the best destination in Canada.

At their annual Readers’ Choice Awards held in New York City this week, Travel Weekly awarded Vancouver the top spot in the “Best in Destination: Canada” category. Those who vote in the awards are accredited travel agents who cast their ballots through an open online process. The awards are widely recognized in the industry and are presented annually to travel suppliers who excelled in product and service during the past year. Vancouver has been named best destination in Canada each of the eight years that the awards have been held.

Dayna Miller, Tourism Vancouver’s director of Sales, Travel Trade, was in New York to accept the award. “This award is significant because it’s voted on by travel agents – the front line travel influencers who work directly with potential visitors to Vancouver,” said Miller. “These people are some of our greatest allies in building visitation to Vancouver and it’s a great honour to know that they hold our destination in such high esteem.”

Tourism Vancouver works closely with the travel agent community, particularly in encouraging travel to the city from long-haul destinations. The organization’s sales teams regularly call on agents in the US, Europe and the Asia Pacific region to educate them on Vancouver products and packages that are then sold to consumers.

“It’s no surprise that Vancouver has been voted the best travel destination in Canada for the eighth year in a row,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver has made its mark on the world stage as a vibrant and multicultural city in a stunning setting. We have outstanding hospitality services including some of the best hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions in the country. Tourism has steadily grown in Vancouver because we are a great place to work, live and visit. We look forward to building upon our world-class reputation and welcoming even more visitors to our great city for years to come.”

Travel Weekly reaches some 190,000 readers in the travel industry each week – agents, suppliers and tour operators in North America. This award is the latest in a list of honours that Vancouver has received over the years, including being ranked “Best City in the Americas” in Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards again this year.

Tourism Vancouver’s focus is on building exceptional customer relationships with meeting planners, travel influencers, travel media and independent tourists. The organization’s brand essence is about “exceeding expectations”.

Media Contact at Tourism Vancouver:
Emily Armstrong
Manager, Travel Media Relations, North America

Canadian mortgage rules changed

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, today announced that new mortgage restrictions would be implemented aimed at preventing housing speculators and ensuring that house buyers can handle their debt when interest rates inevitably rise.

Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail explains further:

Olympics aside, the current favourite Canadian diversion is debating whether there is a bubble in the housing market. Those worried about the market plunging have urged Mr. Flaherty to raise the minimum down payment for a home and reduce the maximum payback period.

But the 35-year amortization, favourite of first-time buyers across this land, remains. So does the 5-per-cent down payment, which is heavily relied upon in high-cost cities like Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

All the measures announced by Mr. Flaherty affect mortgages covered by government-backed mortgage insurance, where the buyer puts less than 20 per cent down. The key change for typical home buyers is that, regardless of what term or type of mortgage they choose, they’ll have to be able to afford the five-year rate.

This is a sensible way of building some slack into the system as we look ahead to a cycle of rising interest rates. If someone chooses a variable-rate mortgage, where the interest rate can be as low as 2 to 2.25 per cent today, they’ll have to be able to handle the payment at the current five-year rate. Right now, the posted rate at the big banks is 5.39 per cent.

You won’t have to actually make the higher payments required by the five-year mortgage. You’ll just have to theoretically be able to carry them and still remain within the limitations lenders set out on how much of your gross income can be consumed by debt (it’s 42 to 44 per cent, just so you know).

Another reason why the changes won’t be jarring is that a huge number of homebuyers are actually choosing five-year mortgages these days. A study issued by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals last month showed that fixed-rate mortgages accounted for 86 per cent of mortgages in set up in 2009 and, of those, 70 per cent were for a five-year term.

People who borrow to buy investment properties to either flip for a quick profit or to generate income are also affected by Today’s announcement. If you buy a property you’re not going to live in, then you’ll have to put down a minimum 20 per cent to qualify for mortgage insurance. That’s up from 5 per cent.

But not all lenders even require clients to have mortgage insurance if they put 20 per cent down. Stiff mortgage insurance premiums already discourage people from putting 5 per cent down on an investment property.

The final mortgage change restricts the ability of existing homeowners to refinance their mortgages to take on more debt. The new ceiling is 90 per cent of the value of your home, compared to the current 95 per cent

Expats in Canada have best quality of life

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

According to the second annual Expat Experience survey commissioned by HSBC Bank International, expats in Canada have the best quality of life and found it to be one of the easiest places in the world to integrate with the local population.

If you’re looking to work overseas, head to Canada, Australia or Thailand, as recession-hit Britain was found to be one of the worst locations to live for expatriates.

Australia and Thailand also came in the top three in the survey of 3,146 people working in 30 different industries and 50 countries, even though Thailand was one of the countries worst-hit by the recession for expats.

“We have seen that there is a distinct trade-off between income and overall quality of life, as many of the top performers … scored toward the bottom of this report’s league table (of the best places to make and save money),” said Betony Taylor, spokeswoman for HSBC Bank International.

“What is clear is that the locations where salaries may not be as high, such as Canada and Australia, are where expats are really enjoying not only an increased quality of life but are also finding it easy to fit in to their new communities.”

Last year Germany, Canada and Spain were the top three countries deemed to have the best lifestyle for expats.

This year Britain was one of the lowest ranked locations when it came to lifestyle after being named as one of the most expensive places for expats with the recession taking its toll.

About 44 percent of expats in Britain are considering returning home, compared with only 15 percent of expats overall.

About 41 percent of expats in Britain find it difficult to find somewhere to live, most find the quality of their accommodation drops after moving to Britain, and a third claim their health has deteriorated since moving there.

“Despite this, the UK does hold the crown for being expat entertainment capital of the world, with over half (58 percent) of expats in the UK saying that the quality of entertainment had increased,” said Taylor.

She added that 62 percent of expats also said that employment prospects were the main reason keeping them in the region.

Results from a different section of the survey, which was conducted by research company FreshMinds, released earlier found Russia was home to the highest proportion of expats earning more than $250,000 with 30 percent of international workers there banking that amount, followed by Hong Kong and Japan.

The lowest-paid expats live in Australia and Belgium with the majority — 63 percent and 61 percent respectively — earning less than $100,000.

Source: Reuters

Vancouver named World’s Best Place to Live by EIU

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Vancouver is the world’s best place to live, a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has found.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s livability shows cities in Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland and Switzerland as the ideal destinations thanks to a widespread availability of goods and services, low personal risk and an effective infrastructure. The report placed Vancouver as the most livable city in the world, with Vienna taking second place followed by Melbourne, Australia. The survey said “In the current global political climate, it is no surprise that the most desirable destinations are those with a lower perceived threat of terrorism.”

The main uncertainty for people living in those cities was climate-related, the EIU said.

The worst places were Algiers in Algeria, and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea because “many aspects of daily life present challenges”, the EIU said.

The survey has produced a mixed picture of the world’s cities. London was ranked in the 10th group, on a par with Dublin and Los Angeles, but one place below Manchester, four behind Berlin, five lower than Tokyo, and six off Helsinki, Frankfurt and Stockholm.

In Latin America, “no city manages to present ideal living conditions, neither do any fall into the category where extreme difficulties are faced”, the EIU said.

Montevideo in Uruguay, Santiago in Chile and Buenos Aires in Argentina offer the region’s best conditions. Bogota in Colombia and Caracas in Venezuela score the least favourably.

In Asia, cities in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan all score well, as do Australia’s main hubs.

Africa and the Middle East fare less well, with the EIU citing concerns about terror attacks, and economic and political instability.

Some of the worst performing cities include Harare in Zimbabwe and Lagos in Nigeria.

    Top 10 Cities


    Bottom 10 Cities

Phnom Penh
Port Moresby

Source: BBC News

Canada – Cheapest for Expats

Monday, May 11th, 2009

The cost of emigrating to the USA has increased by almost a fifth in the past six months alone, according to research from Foreign Currency Direct.

Currency fluctuation has increased the cost of living in Canada by only 3 per cent in the last six months which means that with sterling strengthening against the Canadian dollar, British expats living there are enjoying more for their pound.

The average cost of a property in Canada has risen by only £5,599 in six months, a long way from the £32,303 increase in the US.

The average Spanish property now costs £31,576 more to a British buyer than it did in November last year, yet the cost of living in Canada has gone up by just 3 per cent, representing the smallest change of all expat hot spots.

Britons who are already overseas and receiving income from property or pensions in sterling have seen some serious price hikes.

The pound reached record lows against the euro in January, and living as an expat in Europe is now a fifth more expensive than it was in November last year.

Brits emigrating to or living in the USA have seen the average property price rise by £32,303 since November last year, and the cost of groceries, services, meals out and leisure activities has gone up by £373 over the same period.

In February, British expats were enjoying some cost of living reductions as the pound was stronger against the Australian and New Zealand dollar, but even these expats are now seeing their cost of living rise as sterling struggles against other world currencies.

How much impact these currency fluctuations has had depends on which country you are living in, with the USA and France now the most expensive expat destinations.

Peter S Ellis, chief executive of Foreign Currency Direct, said: “Recent exchange rate fluctuations have had a considerable impact on the cost of buying a property and living overseas.

“Despite the euro maximising exchange rates across Europe, the cost of living still varies considerably across the region, meaning that exchange rate fluctuations have a magnified impact in more expensive regions.

“When considering a move abroad it is important to consider not only current exchange rates, but also any likely future currency changes and the cost of living in your preferred country.”

Mr Ellis added: “In the last year Foreign Currency Direct has seen a 29.3 per cent increase in the number of our clients transferring funds to and from Canada and New Zealand, suggesting that Brits are taking advantage of the increasing affordability of these destinations.

“But many British expats are moving their money and their homes back to the UK from Europe as they can no longer afford to live in Europe and can currently take advantage of the strength of the euro when converting their money back to pounds.”

British expats in Europe and America are struggling to stretch their income to meet their needs as the cost of living abroad rockets on the back of the sterling slump but Canada’s attractiveness as a viable, affordable destination remains high.

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