Are you a first-time homebuyer wondering where to live in Metro Vancouver?

Monday, June 17th, 2013

If you’re a young twentysomething first-time homebuyer looking to get on the property ladder in Metro Vancouver, where should you start looking for a home that you can afford?

I recently came across this article by Michael Ferreira of Urban Analytics which could help to point you in the right direction.

Generation Y has many advantages over others, but when it comes to buying a first home it appears the “good old days” truly did belong to baby boomers.

Today’s twentysomethings are not only having trouble earning meaningful pay cheques to put toward a mortgage, but the Canadian government has made it even tougher by tightening lending rules to keep a leash on the housing market. Combine this with a decade-long rise in house prices across Canada, it’s no surprise Gen Y is feeling down about buying their first home.

While it’s a discouraging time for young people with a dream of owning their first home, it’s not impossible for Gen Y to buy. At Vancouver-based Urban Analytics, we’ve watched the evolving first-time homebuyer market for years and can offer some advice to young people – Metro Vancouver in particular – who are contemplating buying their first home.

Tip #1 – Consider “best buy” locations (not the electronics store)
By “best buy” we mean the five areas in Metro Vancouver with the largest selection of new condos and townhomes. These include: Richmond, Coquitlam, Southeast False Creek, Surrey Central, and neighbourhoods south of the Fraser. In fact, Richmond is now the most competitive new condominium market in the region as developers have become increasingly aggressive in their fight for market share. Six major new condo projects totaling more than 1,000 units have launched in Richmond in the past two months alone. Another five condo projects are potentially launching in the next few months. Now may be the time to invest in Richmond.

Tip #2 – Think like Donald Trump: Negotiate

When it comes to buying a new condo unit from a plan, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or for an upgrade feature to be included. Your real estate agent can also do this for you – just let them know what you want. Some developers are more willing to negotiate than others, depending on their sales targets or those of their lender, so it never hurts to make a pitch.

More and more developers are offering incentives these days. Some include: Bohème on East Hastings where buyers of units more than $330,000 receive either a new Fiat car or $15,000 in cash; at The Rolston in downtown Vancouver, renters who buy in the building receive $1,000 off their mortgage payments for three years, or $500 off for six years; at the Wall Centre Central Park in Burnaby, buyers receive a 3.2-per-cent credit off purchase price. These incentives result in significant savings.

Tip #3 – Tis’ the Season? Or is it?
Spring typically brings with it a sense of renewal, which seems to get more people thinking of buying a new home, is a traditionally strong home-buying season. That means more competition for properties, and less incentive from sellers to offer discounts. Unless your timing is tight, consider buying during traditionally slower times of the year such as mid-summer when there are fewer buyers, and sellers and developers may be more willing to negotiate.

Tip #4 – Become a Landlord

Buying a house doesn’t have to mean carrying the entire mortgage on your own. A lot of first-time homebuyers purchase properties with two or more bedrooms or units, and rent out the extras to roommates or tenants. Becoming a landlord isn’t for everyone, but if you’re up for a little extra work, and some company, it could make the difference between changing your status from renter to buyer.

Property sales in Vancouver and Burnaby

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Vancouver Sun February 13th, 2012

6629 Laurel St., Vancouver

Type: 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom detached
Size: 2,700 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2012: $2,083,700
Listed for: $2,200,000
Sold for: $2,100,000
Sold on: Jan. 5
Days on market: 0
Listing agent: Daphne McFarland at Hugh & McKinnon Realty
Buyer’s agent: Charan Kamal Pannu at SRS Westside Realty

The big sell: The seller of this two-level rancher bought it in 1953 — the year it was built – and resided in it for the next 59 years. It is not uncommon to have original-owner homes of this age in Vancouver, but in these real-estate obsessed times, it is becoming less so. As the description on the MLS listing sheet states, this is a solid home, but the main value is in the large level lot. That land measures 54 by 144 feet and if redeveloped, could hold a property larger than the current residence. Adding to the attraction was the light-filled west-facing fenced back yard, the Oakridge neighbourhood, and the convenience of a location that’s near Oakridge shopping centre, Langara College, Churchill secondary and Jamieson elementary schools, and the Canada Line. All of this produced an accepted offer the day the property went on the market.

89 -9229 University Cres., Burnaby

Type: 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom townhouse
Size: 1,163 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2012: $392,000
Listed for: $449,000
Sold for: $438,000
Sold on: Jan. 12
Days on market: 58
Listing agent: Robert Crowe at RE/MAX Real Estate Services
Buyer’s agent: Robert Crowe and Ali Nimji at RE/MAX Real Estate Services

The big sell: SFU’s UniverCity development is a sustainable community that has evolved into a family-friendly complex high up on the campus grounds on Burnaby Mountain. Serenity was built by Polygon in 2006 and consists of 132 townhomes surrounded by forest walks, hiking and bike trails. One block away is the new University Highlands elementary school, and a new child care centre will be opening soon. This three-bedroom, two-level corner unit home enjoys an abundance of natural light and a large patio and garden area surrounded by thick conifers. The interior features a mix of flooring with wall-to-wall carpet, laminate hardwood and tiling. The kitchen has plenty of cupboard and counter space, birch-coloured cabinetry, a double sink, stainless-steel appliances, and a subway-tiled backsplash. An electric fireplace warms the living room and an oversized shower adds a spa-like quality to the ensuite bathroom. The home has designer colours throughout.

106-1040 West 8th Ave., Vancouver

Type: 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment
Size: 692 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2012: $340,000
Listed for: $369,900
Sold for: $362,500
Sold on: Jan. 12
Days on market: 85
Listing agent: Paul Bale at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty
Buyer’s agent: George Winkler at Amex Broadway West Realty

The big sell: This home is just north of Broadway on the Fairview slopes, with Granville Island, the seawall, parks, shopping, and transportation minutes away. The ground-floor unit has a well-designed floor plan and a front door that opens to a 16-by-16-foot living room. That room has bright, arched windows that provide plenty of views of a partly covered garden patio. The home has a gas fireplace, in-suite laundry and storage areas, a 16-by-9-foot bedroom, and a secure underground parking stall. This is one of 28 units in the four-storey development, which was built in 1986 with the homes positioned around a central courtyard. The apartments have been rainscreened and are pet- and rental-friendly.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Recent real estate sales in Burnaby, North Vancouver and Surrey

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Vancouver Sun December 10th, 2011

4096 Napier St., Burnaby

Type: 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom detached
Size: 3,400 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $715,000
Listed for: $999,900
Sold for: $990,000
Sold on: Oct. 26
Days on market: 9
Listing agent: John Conte at Sutton Centre Realty
Buyers agent: Cathy Chin at RE/MAX Central

The big sell: There is a strong European influence to this home in Burnaby’s Willingdon Heights neighbourhood: It was originally a custom construction by a German builder in 1978 before undergoing renovation by an Italian contractor some years later. Each of the three floors has eight-foot ceilings, and there are draught-preventing double-paned vinyl windows throughout the property, as well as distinctive tile flooring. The home’s features include a steam shower off the master bedroom, a sunken family room with a floor-to-ceiling Squamish stone fireplace, stainless steel appliances and undermount sinks. As well, there’s a 24-by-23-foot southern-exposed concrete deck with sweeping city views, a solar-powered remote-controlled gate that opens to a paved parking area and double-car garage, and pressure-treated cedar gambrel siding. The property sits on a 37-by-122-foot lot and according to agent John Conte, the 3,400-square-foot house is larger than what would be permitted with current bylaws.

1115 Cloverley St., North Vancouver

Type: 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom detached
Size: 2,421 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $647,000
Listed for: $699,000
Sold for: $732,000
Sold on: Nov. 14
Days on market: 7
Listing agent: Helen Grant at RE/MAX Crest Realty
Buyers agent: Sarina Lui at Angell Hasman & Assoc. Realty

The big sell: Listing agent Helen Grant reports that she had 70 people through her first – and only — open house, with offers presented the following evening. The result? An unconditional offer of $33,000 over the asking price. Two of the major attractions of this rancher must be the views that encompass Vancouver’s harbour and Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, and the location in the family-friendly Calverhall area, which enjoys trails and proximity to Brooksbank elementary, Sutherland secondary, and the Park and Tilford Shopping Centre. The 1955 home has hardwood floors, two wood-burning fireplaces, and a new fenced front yard and paved driveway. The convenience factor includes a sundeck off the kitchen, three good-sized bedrooms on the main floor and a one-bedroom guest suite or mortgage-helper on the lower level. As well, there’s a 26-by-12-foot family/recreation room, a den, a 19-by-5-foot laundry room, ample storage, and a 7,000-square-foot lot.

3240 143A St., Surrey

Type: 6-bedroom, 5-bathroom detached
Size: 5,100 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $1.244 million
Listed for: $1.499 million
Sold for: $1.46 million
Sold on: Oct. 30
Days on market: 89
Listing agent: Mike Grahame at Home life Benchmark Realty
Buyers agent: John Grauer at Macdonald Realty Westmar

The big sell: Property experts always say location is key, and the builders of this 2004 home in South Surrey’s Elgin Estates must have had that in mind as they took advantage of a cul-de-sac location, a sunny south exposure, and a private fenced back yard adjacent to a greenbelt. This custom-built three-level home has a soaring entryway, and an open design that allows for plenty of natural light. There is wide-plank flooring throughout the main and upper floors, extensive use of crown moulding and window casings, and a spacious kitchen with granite countertops and bespoke cabinetry. The master bedroom is 20 by 14 feet with a spa-like ensuite, and views of the landscaped garden. The second bedroom also has an ensuite and all four upstairs bedrooms have walk-in closets. The property has a full basement that contains two further bedrooms, a rec room and a wet bar.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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