Thursday, November 25, 2010

Describing Parking Stalls and Storage Lockers on Listings

Determining how to describe parking stalls and storage lockers when listing a strata lot for sale can be difficult. Simply because the seller has the use of parking stalls or storage lockers does not necessarily mean that they are available for the purchaser. Unless it is confirmed that the stall or locker will be available for use, it should not be on a listing. Property on a strata plan is designated as either a strata lot or common property (CP), which can be further designated as limited common property (LCP). Both CP and LCP are owned by all owners within a strata corporation; individuals exclusively own their strata lots.


Strata Lot or Part of a Strata Lot

Strata plans can designate parking stalls/ storage lockers as part of a strata lot, in which case the new purchaser will automatically have the use of the area and the listing can identify the stall or locker number. Alternatively, the stalls or lockers would be part of separate strata lots. If the seller is selling both the lot and the parking strata lot, both must be listed for sale and separately transferred to the buyer.


Limited Common Property

LCP is common property that is designated for the exclusive use, not ownership, of a particular strata lot owner and is shown on the strata plan. Where a parking stall/ storage locker has been designated as LCP for the use of a strata lot, it should be indicated as LCP on a listing. The listing can include the specific stall or locker numbers.


Common Property

If a parking stall/storage locker is designated as CP, it is within the control of the Strata Council, unless there is a developer’s lease. The Strata Council has the authority to grant an owner or a tenant exclusive use under the Strata Property Act. When listing a strata lot where the parking stall/storage locker is CP, entitlement of use cannot be included, unless there is a developer’s lease or unless the Strata Council has confirmed the use of the stall/locker. When CP has no lease or sublease and the Strata Council confirms the parking stall/storage locker numbers that the buyer would use, they can be referenced on the listing with “subject to the provisions of the Strata Property Act.” If no stall or locker numbers are confirmed, they cannot be referenced in a listing.


Developer’s Leases

Developers can enter into leases of CP parking stalls/storage lockers to either themselves or to related companies. They then often enter into agreements with purchasers to sublease one or more parking stalls/storage lockers to each purchaser.
One parking stall is often assigned to each purchaser who is either charged for only the additional stall or locker or for all subleases. Generally, the sub-lease provides that the owner must assign the sub-lease to a new purchaser at the time the strata lot is sold and the listing can reference the stall or locker numbers. If a seller sub-leased a parking stall/ storage locker from the developer, they can reference the stall or locker when listing the strata lot for sale, indicating that the area in question is CP but subject to a sub-lease. The stall or locker number can be shown on the listing.


Purchased Parking Stalls/Storage Lockers

In many cases, sellers of strata lots insist that the listing should include the parking stall/storage locker because the seller bought it from the developer. If the area in question is designated as CP, unless there is a lease/sublease arrangement or the Strata Council has confirmed what parking stall/storage locker the buyer will be entitled to use, the stall or locker should not be included on the listing even though it was paid for. Unfortunately, developers can charge purchasers for an additional parking stall or storage locker without designating the area as LCP or entering into a lease/sublease arrangement and the area remains CP which cannot be “bought.” If there was no lease and no designation of LCP, although the developer may have charged the buyer to allocate a parking stall/storage locker, the buyer may not have realized that the developer was acting as the Strata Council who can technically only grant the buyer the use of CP for a one year maximum. If that is the case, the seller could obtain written confirmation from the Strata Council that the same stall or locker would be allocated to the new purchaser. The listing could then reference the stall or locker number and include that it is “subject to the provisions of the Strata Property Act.” Without confirmation from the Strata Council, the listing should not reference the stall or locker number.


Recommendations to the Provincial Government

BCREA recently submitted recommendations to the provincial government regarding the Strata Property Act addressing, among other issues, the challenges around describing parking stalls and storage lockers when listing a strata lot for sale. To view the full BCREA Strata Property Act brief, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/govt/2010- 09StrataPropertyAct.pdf.
Prior to the conveyance of a strata lot, the strata council, strata corporation accountant or strata property management company fills out a Form B Information Certificate (usually ordered by the REALTOR® on behalf of the seller). Based on extensive consultation and feedback from member boards, BCREA noted that potential buyers of strata properties need more and better information as the Form B Information Certificate does not address critical information. In particular, BCREA recommended that the government add new provisions to section 59(3) of the Act to require strata corpora-tions to disclose information about the designation of parking as either CP, LCP, part of the strata lot or subject to a lease with the developer; if the parking and storage is designated as CP, the strata corporation should indicate how it will be allocated to a new buyer and what stall numbers and storage lockers will be assigned to the buyer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

BC Home Sales Trend Higher

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province declined 36 per cent to 5,507 units in October compared to the same month last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, MLS® residential unit sales in the province increased 2 per cent in October from September 2010. The average MLS® residential price climbed 6 per cent to $521,859 in October compared to the same month last year.



"BC home sales have posted moderate gains since the summer months," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Consumer demand was bolstered by double-dip in mortgage interest rates and the associated increase in purchasing power."


"Total active residential listings in the province have declined 18 per cent since June," added Muir. "However, the housing market remains tilted in favour of homebuyers."


Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume declined 2 per cent $32.5 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales declined 10 per cent to 64,735 year-to-date, while the average MLS® residential price climbed 9 per cent to $502,353 over the same period.



For the complete news release, including detailed statistics, follow this link: www.bcrea.bc.ca/news_room/2010-10.pdf

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Home sales remain steady in Greater Vancouver

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 buyer's 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 mont'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.


"As we enter the final two months of the year, buyer demand is in closer alignment with supply than we’ve seen for most of 2010," Moldowan said. "Those buying today recognize that they still have a chance to enter the market with near-record low interest rates, while gradual reductions in inventory have eased downward pressure on prices."


Total active listings on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver currently sit at 14,075, an 8.6 per cent decline from last month and a 16.4 per cent increase from October 2009. New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties declined 25.7 per cent to 3,698 in October 2010 compared to October 2009 when 4,977 new units were listed.


Sales of detached properties in October 2010 reached 976, a decrease of 34.4 per cent from the 1,487 detached sales recorded in October 2009, and a 98 per cent increase from the 493 units sold in October 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 6.3 per cent from October 2009 to $796,883.


Sales of apartment properties reached 984 in October 2010, a decline of 38.8 per cent compared to the 1,607 sales in October 2009, and an increase of 52.1 per cent compared to the 647 sales in October 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.4 per cent from October 2009 to $390,074.


Attached property sales in October 2010 totalled 377, a decline of 38.2 per cent compared to the 610 sales in October 2009, and a 68.3 per cent increase from the 224 attached properties sold in October 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4 per cent between October 2009 and 2010 to $487,530.


Download complete stats package by clicking here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Can't believe that internet's "most valuable" domain name sex.com is going for $13 million USD... Wow

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another sunny day, bank of Canada kept the interest rates at 1% which is great news and looking forward to White Sensation in Copenhagen...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Would like to extend my thanks and regards to lawyers at Lando, especially Robyn Miles for all the legal work done on my deals... Thank you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Building Snapshot report

Building Snapshot is a FREE monthly report on real estate activity in your condominium building. It is emailed to you every month, with option to unsubscribe, and it lists all the current active listings for sale and the recent sales for the previous month.

Part of the report is also your unit basic information, such as: assessment, tax info, size, sold price and date, etc, and building statistical data. Building stats data shows the average asking and sold price for all active and sold listings, also average price per square foot for both active and solds. Furthemore, this data is broken down by number of bedrooms.

Future reports will incorporate graphs for both active and sold units for the past 6 months, which will give you a visaul representation of the activity your in building.

Building Snapshot is still in the beta phase and improving daily. It is brought to you by Sanjin Cvetkovic, a Realtor with Century 21 In Town Realty office in downtown Vancouver, and also www.vancouver-proeprties.ca.

You can check a demo report here, and also sign up for FREE report here.

Your comments are appreciated and welcome!

If you would like to see some other features in this report please do not hesitate to contact Sanjin Cvetkovic at 604-771-6415 or by email at sanjin.cvetkovic@century21.ca.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Housing market factors indicate stability in recent months

September home sales in Greater Vancouver were consistent with activity experienced in the preceding two months across most categories.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that the number of residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,220 in September 2010. This represents a 0.8 per cent increase compared to August 2010 and 37.6 per cent decline from the 3,559 sales in September 2009.

In comparison, last month’s residential sales represent a 40.1 per cent increase over the 1,585 residential sales in September 2008, a 20 per cent decline compared to September 2007’s 2,776 sales, and an 11.9 per cent decline compared to September 2006’s 2,519 sales.

“We’ve seen fewer properties coming on to the market over the last three months. This trend, combined with the continued attraction of low interest rates, is likely having the effect of less downward pressure on home prices,” Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said.

Since spring, housing prices in the region have trended slightly downward, with a decrease of 2.7 per cent compared to the all-time high reached in April when the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) residential benchmark price was $593,419. The overall benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 5.5 per cent to $577,174 in September 2010 from $547,092 in September 2009. The current price remains consistent with last month, rising just 0.1 per cent between August and September 2010.

Total active property listings posted on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver currently sit at 15,401, basically unchanged compared to last month and a 22 per cent increase from September 2009. Over the last three months, active listings in the region have declined12.3 per cent.

New residential property listings posted in September declined 17.6 per cent to 4,731 compared to September 2009 when 5,746 new units were listed.

“We saw signs of more stability in our marketplace last month than we have seen since spring based on a variety of indicators that we look at each month,” Moldowan said. “At 56 days, it took, on average, three days less to sell a home in our region compared to August. This is the first month-over-month decline we’ve seen in this category since April.”

Sales of detached properties in September 2010 reached 866, a decrease of 39.1 per cent from the 1,423 detached sales recorded in September 2009, and a 58.6 per cent increase from the 546 units sold in September 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 6.7 per cent from September 2009 to $790,992.

Sales of apartment properties reached 971 in September 2010, a decline of 34.7 per cent compared to the 1,489 sales in September 2009, and an increase of 27.1 per cent compared to the 764 sales in September 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.7 per cent from September 2009 to $388,373.

Attached property sales in September 2010 totalled 383, a decline of 40.1 per cent compared to the 647 sales in September 2009, and a 39.3 per cent increase from the 275 attached properties sold in September 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 5.2 per cent between September 2009 and 2010 to $490,385.

Download the complete stats package by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Low Mortgage Rates Boost August Home Sales

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province declined 35 per cent to 5,590 units in August compared to the same month last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, MLS® residential unit sales in the province increased 7 per cent in August from July 2010. The average MLS® residential price climbed 4 per cent to $487,804 in August compared to the same month last year.

"August home sales posted the first month-to-month increase since March of this year," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Lower mortgage interest rates and an improving labour market are inducing additional consumer demand."

"The number of new residential listings in the province has fallen 30 per cent since April," added Muir. "With fewer new listings, total active listings are now on the decline, signaling that an end to the buyer's market may be on the horizon."

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 8 per cent to $26.9 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales rose 2 per cent to 53,717 year-to-date, while the average MLS® residential price climbed 10 per cent to $501,226 over the same period.

For the complete news release, including detailed statistics, follow this link:
www.bcrea.bc.ca/news_room/2010-08.pdf.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Buyer’s market conditions continue in Greater Vancouver

Conditions in the Greater Vancouver housing market continued to favour buyers in August. Since April, prices have edged down slightly as the number of sales and the number of properties coming on to the market have been declining.


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that the number of residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,202 in August 2010. This represents a 36 per cent decline from the 3,441 sales in August 2009, the second highest selling August ever recorded, and a 2.4 per cent decline compared to July 2010.


From a wider perspective, last month’s residential sales represent a 40.4 per cent increase over the 1,568 residential sales in August 2008, a 34.9 per cent decline compared to August 2007’s 3,384 sales, and a 26.6 per cent decline compared to August 2006’s 2,998 sales.


New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties declined 17.5 per cent to 3,750 in August 2010 compared to August 2009 when 4,544 new units were listed. Total active listings in Greater Vancouver currently sit at 15,421, a 6.1 per cent decline from last month and a 29 per cent increase from August 2009.


“We’re seeing moderate demand, low interest rates and a healthy but slowing stream of supply in our marketplace, all variables that favour those looking to purchase a home,” Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said. “The last few months have also shown some stability when it comes to price fluctuations in the region, which is a welcome trend after reaching record highs in April.”


Since spring, housing prices have decreased 2.8 per cent compared to the all-time high reached in April when the residential benchmark price was $593,419. Over the last 12 months, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver increased 6.9 per cent to $576,597 in August 2010 from $539,600 in August 2009.


“Canada remains an attractive destination for foreign buyers, a fact that continues to affect activity in the Greater Vancouver housing market,” Moldowan said.


Sales of detached properties in August 2010 reached 893, a decrease of 34.7 per cent from the 1,367 detached sales recorded in August 2009 and a 66.9 per cent increase from the 535 units sold in August 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 8.5 per cent from August 2009 to $795,076.


Sales of apartment properties reached 935 in August 2010, a decline of 36.1 per cent compared to the 1,464 sales in August 2009 and an increase of 26.4 per cent compared to the 740 sales in August 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 4.5 per cent from August 2009 to $385,968.


Attached property sales in August 2010 totalled 374, a decline of 38.7 per cent compared to the 610 sales in August 2009 and a 27.6 per cent increase from the 293 attached properties sold in August 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 6.6 per cent between August 2009 and 2010 to $489,511.


Download complete stats package here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mortgage calculator added to mobile website!

Canadian Mortgagecalculator has been added to vancouver-properties.ca mobile website.

It is a simple javascript calculator that will calculate amount of monthly and bi-weekly mortgage payments.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Top 21 grants and rebates for property buyers and owners

1 Home Buyers’ Plan

Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Home buyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time.
Canada Revenue Agency: www.cra.gc.ca. Enter ‘Home Buyers’ Plan’ in the search box.
1.800.959.8287

2 GST Rebate on New Homes


New home buyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is less than $350,000. The rebate is up to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate fornew homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000.
Canada Revenue Agency: www.cra-arc.gc.ca. Enter‘RC4028’ in the search box.
1.800.959.8287

3 BC New Housing Rebate (HST)


Buyers of new or substantially renovated homes priced up to $525,000 are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion (7% of the 12% HST) paid to a maximum rebate of $26,250. Homes priced at $525,000+ are eligible for a flat rebate of $26,250.

http://hst.blog.gov. bc.ca/faqs/new-housing-rebate
1.800.959.8287

4 BC New Rental Housing


Rebate (HST) Landlords buying new or substantially renovated homes are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion of the HST, up to $26,250 per unit.

http://hst.blog.gov.bc.ca/faqs/new-housing-rebate
1.800.959.8287

5 Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First Time Home Buyers’ Program

Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional
exemption for homes priced up to $450,000.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue.
www.rev.gov.bc.ca/rpt
250.387.0604

6 First-time Home Buyers Tax Credit (HBTC)


This is a non-refundable income tax credit for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a cooperative housing corporation. It’s calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2009) by $5,000. For 2009, the maximumcredit was $750.

Canada Revenue Agency
www.cra.gc.ca/hbtc
1.800.959.8281

7 BC Home Owner Grant

Reduces school property taxes by up to $570 on properties with an assessed value up to $1,050,000. For 2010, the basic grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of value over $1,050,000, and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,164,000+. An additional grant reduces property tax by a further $275 for a total of $845 for seniors, veterans and the disabled. This is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,050,000 and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,219,000+.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue
www.rev.gov.bc.ca/hog or
contact your municipal tax office.

8 BC Property Tax Deferment Programs

Property Tax Deferment Program for Seniors. Qualifying home owners aged 55+ may be eligible to defer property taxes. Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program. Qualifying low-income home
owners may be eligible to defer property taxes.
Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children. Qualifying lowincome home owners who
financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue.
www.sbr.gov.bc.ca and enter ‘Property tax deferment’ in the search box or contact your municipal tax office.

9 Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) Grants.

This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low-income home owners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire
safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and for the creation of secondary and garden suites.

www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/prfinas/prfinas_001.cfm
1.800.668.2642 | 604.873.7408

10 CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund


Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance, a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient home or make energy savings
renovations.

www.cmhc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_008.cfm#reno
604.731.5733

11 LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program

Home owners improving the energy efficiency of their homes who hire a certified energy advisor may qualify for cash incentives through this provincial program provided in partnership with Terasen Gas,BC Hydro, and FortisBC.

www.livesmartbc.ca/rebates
1.866.430.8765

12 BC Residential Energy Credit

Home owners and residential landlords buying heating fuel receive a BC government point-of-sale rebate on utility bills equal to the provincial component of the HST.

http://hst.blog.gov.bc.ca/faqs/energy-credit
604.660.4524

13 BC Hydro Appliance Rebates

Mail-in rebates of $25 - $50 for purchasers of ENERGYSTAR clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, or freezers between June 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, or when funding for the program is exhausted.

www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/appliance_rebates.html
1.800.224.9376

14 BC Hydro Fridge Buy-Back Program (different from Appliance rebates)

This ongoing program rebates BC Hydro customers $30 to turn in spare fridges measuring 10 - 24 cubic feet in working condition.

www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/fridge_buy_back.html
604.881.4357

15 BC Hydro Windows Rebate Program

Customers can save $100 per window on BC made ENERGY STAR windows until August 18, 2010.

www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/current_offers.html

16 BC Hydro Mail-in Rebates/Savings Coupons

To save energy, BC Hydro offers rebates including 10% offan ENERGY STAR cordless phone; 50% off an E2™dualflush toilet; $15 off a clothes drying rack; and 50% off Earth Massage showerheads. Check
for deadlines.

http://www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/coupons.html
1.800.224.9376

17 Terasen Gas Rebate program

A range of rebates for home owners include a $25 gift cards for furnace servicing; $50 rebates for upgrading a water heater; $150 rebate on an Ener-Choice fireplace; $1,000 rebate for switching to natural gas and installing an ENERGY STAR heating system.

www.terasengas.com/homes/Offers/LowerMainland-Squamish.html
1.888.224.2710

18 SolarBC Incentives

Contractors will provide home owners buying a solar hot water system with a $2,000 discount at the point of sale until December 31, 2010.

www.solarbc.ca/learn/incentives-costs
1.866.650.6527

19 City of Vancouver Solar Homes Pilot

Offers $3,500 (about 50% of the cost) towards the cost of a solar hot water system for anyone building new homes in Vancouver. Offered by the City of Vancouver, SolarBC, Terasen Gas and Offsetters to 50 new homes on a first come, first served basis, January 2010 - March 2011, with buildingpermits issued in 2010.

http://vancouver.ca/sustainability/SolarHomes.htm
604.873.7748

20 RBC Energy-Saver Mortgage

Home owners who have a home energy efficient audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy Saver™ Mortgage may qualify for a $300 rebate credited to their RBC account.

www.rbcroyalbank.com/products/mortgages/energysaver-mortgage.html

1.800.769.2511

21 Vancity Green Building Grant

In partnership with the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Vancity provides grants up to $50,000 each to qualifying charities, not-for-profit organizations and co-operatives for building renovations/retrofits, regulatory changes that advance green building development, and education to increase the use of practical green building strategies.

https://www.vancity.com/MyCommunity/NotForProfit/Grants/ActingOnClimateChange/GreenBuildingGrant
604.877.7000

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BC home sales expected to rise in 2011

BCREA Housing Forecast Update - Third Quarter 2010


BC housing markets are returning to typical post-recession demand patterns. The dramatic rebound in consumer demand during 2009 and subsequent decline during the first two quarters of 2010 has set the stage for a gradual increase in home sales during the fall and through 2011. Residential unit sales through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC are forecast to decrease 7 per cent to 79,500 units in 2010, before climbing 5 per cent to 83,400 units in 2011.


A slower than expected normalization of interest rates will temper erosion of affordability as economic output posts more moderate growth for the balance of this year and through 2011. Stronger corporate profits are triggering employment growth and a reduction in the unemployment rate is now underway.

A larger inventory of homes for sale has created the most favourable supply conditions for home buyers in more than a year. While tighter mortgage qualifications for low equity home buyers has negatively impacted demand, more borrowers are now channeling into 5-year fixed mortgages where discounted rates increase purchasing power.

The average MLS® residential price is forecast to increase 6 per cent to $492,800 this year and edge down 1 per cent to $489,500 in 2011. Some softness in home prices is expected through the summer months in most regional markets. However, inventory levels peaked in May and will likely edge lower in the coming months, leading to more balanced conditions in the fall with a commensurate firming of home prices.

“The volatility in consumer demand characteristic of the past 24 months is expected to give way to more gradual improvement through 2011,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Housing demand has fallen back to earth from its break-neck pace at the end of 2009 and is expected to more closely match overall economic performance over the next 18 months.

“A larger inventory of homes for sale has created the most favourable conditions for home buyers in more than a year,” added Muir. “However, the buyers’ market is expected to be short-lived as total active listings peaked in May and are beginning to wane, with more balanced conditions set to emerge in the fall.”

After a sharp pull back in new home construction last year, home builders are gradually increasing production to meet demand. BC led the country in population growth over the last three quarters and with the inventory of complete and unoccupied units expected to decline, builders are adjusting production to match supply with household formation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Homebuyers and sellers less active in July

Home sales activity in Greater Vancouver was quieter last month than most
Julys over the past decade, with residential sales, prices, and the number of homes listed for sale trending downward
in recent months.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that the number of residential property sales in
Greater Vancouver totalled 2,255 in July 2010. This represents a 45.2 per cent decline from the 4,114 sales in July
2009, the highest selling July ever recorded, and a 24.1 per cent decline compared to June 2010.

Looking back further, last month’s residential sales represent a 3.7 per cent increase over the 2,174 residential sales
in July 2008, a 41.8 per cent decline compared to July 2007’s 3,873 sales, and a 17.5 per cent decline compared to
July 2006’s 2,732 sales.

“With the pace of home sales and listings easing off in our market, we’ve begun to see a levelling of home prices
from the record highs seen in the spring, creating greater affordability,” Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said. “Activity
in today’s marketplace is clearly trending in favour of buyers.”

The number of properties listed for sale on the market has been trending downward since spring, with 4,138 new
listings in July compared to April’s peak of 7,648. New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in
Greater Vancouver on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) declined 17.9 per cent in July 2010 compared to July
2009, when 5,041 properties were listed for sale.

At 16,431, the total number of property listings on the MLS® in July declined 6.5 per cent compared to last month
and increased 33 per cent compared to July 2009.

“It’s currently taking home sellers who work with a REALTOR®, on average, 45 days to sell their property, which
is a historically healthy timeframe for people on both sides of a transaction,” Moldowan said.
Since spring, housing prices have decreased 2.8 per cent compared to the all-time high reached in April when the
residential benchmark price was $593,419.

Over the last 12 months, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI)
benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver increased 9.1 per cent to $577,074 in July 2010
from $528,821 in July 2009.

Housing Price Index

Sales of detached properties in July 2010 reached 908, a decrease of 43.7 per cent from the 1,614 detached sales
recorded in July 2009 and a 9.8 per cent increase from the 827 units sold in July 2008. The benchmark price for detached
properties increased 11.5 per cent from July 2009 to $793,193.

Sales of apartment properties reached 979 in July 2010, a decline of 42.7 per cent compared to the 1,708 sales in
July 2009 and an increase of 1.3 per cent compared to the 966 sales in July 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment
property increased 6.2 per cent from July 2009 to $387,879.

Attached property sales in July 2010 totalled 368, a decline of 53.5 per cent compared to the 792 sales in July 2009
and a 3.4 per cent decline from the 381 attached properties sold in July 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit
increased 8.6 per cent between July 2009 and 2010 to $490,995.

Friday, July 30, 2010

BC Home Sales to Rise in 2011

BCREA Housing Forecast Update - Third Quarter 2010


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its Housing Forecast Update for the third quarter of 2010 today.

BC MLS Residential Sales Chart

BC Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales are forecast to decline 7 per cent from 85,028 units in 2009 to 79,500 units this year, before increasing 5 per cent to 83,400 units in 2011.


"The volatility in consumer demand characteristic of the past 24 months is expected to give way to more gradual improvement through 2011," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Housing demand has fallen back to earth from its break-neck pace at the end of 2009 and is expected to more closely match overall economic performance over the next 18 months."


"A larger inventory of homes for sale has created the most favourable conditions for home buyers in more than a year," added Muir. "However, the buyer's market is expected to be short-lived as total active listings peaked in May and are beginning to wane, with more balanced conditions set to emerge in the fall."


The average MLS® residential price is forecast to climb 6 per cent to $492,800 this year and remain relatively unchanged in 2011, albeit declining by 1 per cent to $489,500.

For a PDF version of this news release, including data table, follow this link:
www.bcrea.bc.ca/news_room/2010-07-30Forecast.pdf.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands

Singapore - SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands


You love it for its casinos, its beaches and, most of all, its Slings. But you’re about to get another immensely compelling reason.


Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to go to that great swimming pool in the sky...


Introducing the SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, home to a jaw-dropping rooftop pool 57 stories above Singapore, open now.


It’s a massive, watery park the size of a soccer field spread out across the tops of three skyscrapers—like a rooftop aircraft carrier entirely devoted to swimming. Gather your sun-baked Singapore cohorts, find your way to the daybeds on the private end of the SkyPark, and you’ll see it: an infinity pool floating far above downtown.


If you feel like a closer look, ditch the snow-white daybed for a snow-white pool float, or take an exploratory backstroke down the length of the pool—nearly 500 feet stretching along the edge of it all. (You’ve always lived life on the edge.)


If you fancy a dip in this pool, you'll need a head for heights - it's 55 storeys up.

But swimming to the edge won't be quite as risky as it looks. While the water in the infinity pool seems to end in a sheer drop, it actually spills into a catchment area where it is pumped back into the main pool. At three times the length of an Olympic pool and 650ft up, it is the largest outdoor pool in the world at that height.

It features in the impressive, boat-shaped 'SkyPark' perched atop the three towers that make up the world's most expensive hotel, the £4billion Marina Bay Sands development in Singapore.


I’d stay away from the observation deck in the name of tourist dodging, but when you’re ready for dry land, you’ll have a whole Vegas-style resort/casino waiting beneath you. That means a casino floor, two theaters and no fewer than 16 restaurants that don’t require changing out of your bathing suit.


The hotel, which has 2,560 rooms costing from £350 a night, was officially opened yesterday with a concert by Diana Ross.

The Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, estimated to have cost £2billion when it opened in 2004, was previously the world's most expensive hotel.

But with its indoor canal, opulent art, casino, outdoor plaza, convention centre, theatre, crystal pavilion and museum shaped like a lotus flower, the Marina Bay Sands has taken its crown.

The infinity pool on the roof is in the 'SkyPark' which spans the three towers of the hotel. The platform itself is longer than the Eiffel tower laid down and is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Infinity pools give the effect that the water extends to the horizon. In reality, the water spills over the edge into a catchment below, and is then pumped back into the pool. The pools have two circulation systems. The first functions like that of a regular pool, filtering and heating the water in the main pool. The second filters the water in the catch basin and returns it to the upper pool.


The Marina Sands resort was designed by architect Moshe Safdie who based it on a deck of cards.

Inside shoppers can ride along an indoor canal in Sampan boats styled on traditional Chinese vessels from the 17th century.

The owners have also commissioned five well-known artists to create works of art to 'integrate' with the buildings. Among these is a 40m-long Antony Gormley sculpture made from 16,100 steel rods. The whole thing weighs 14.8 tons and it took 60 people to assemble it in the hotel.

Artist Chongbin Zheng created Rising Forest which is 83 three metre high pots with trees in them. The pots were so big the artist had to build a customised kiln the size of a small building to make them in.

The world's most expensive hotel was given a launch party befitting it. Singing legend Diana Ross performed for 2,500 VIPs in the resort's Grand Ballroom and pop singer Kelly Rowland headlined an outdoor concert.

The opening celebrations also featured a death-defying relay. Seven teams of three participants each scaled the three towers before sprinting across the 340-metre long Sands SkyPark, where the infinity pool is located, to the finish line.


The resort will employ 10,000 people directly and generate up to £48m each year. Entrance to the casino alone is nearly £50 a day - but an average of 25,000 people have visited the casino daily since its initial phased opening two months ago.


Thomas Arasi, president and chief executive officer of the resort, said he expects to attract an astonishing 70,000 visitors a day once it is fully open.


It was due to open in 2009, but was delayed thanks to labour and material shortages, and funding problems due to the global financial crisis.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Held an Open House today at the Atelier, corner of Robdon and Homer. It is another cool development by Magelan 2020, completed this year and there is already 26 units foe sale. It seems all those investors that bought in presale are trying to flip now.... Lots of choice and some good deals...
Another stunning day.... Come by my Open House at 510-833 homer street.... Corner of Robson and Homer... 2-4 pm.... 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom for $719,000 .... C u there

Monday, June 7, 2010

Housing Market Push and Pull: Economic Growth Versus Affordability

BCREA Housing Forecast - Second Quarter 2010

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its Housing Forecast for the second quarter of 2010 today.

BC Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales are forecast to ease back 3 per cent from 85,028 units in 2009 to 82,350 units this year, before increasing 4 per cent to 85,900 units in 2011.

"Eroding affordability will trim home sales by 3 per cent this year despite improving economic conditions and related employment growth," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "The push and pull of positive economic growth versus rising mortgage interest rates is expected to keep BC home sales near their 10-year average of 85,569 units both this year and next."

The average MLS® residential price is forecast to climb 6 per cent to $494,600 this year and remain relatively unchanged in 2011, albeit increasing by 1 per cent to $499,700.

"Strong consumer demand in Vancouver, Victoria and the Fraser Valley was largely responsible for driving the average home price in the province higher over the last three quarters," added Muir.

"However, demand has moderated in those markets and a larger inventory of homes for sale has pulled market conditions into balanced territory, providing less upward pressure on home prices."

The full BCREA Housing Forecast is available at: www.bcrea.bc.ca/economics/HousingForecast.pdf.

Friday, June 4, 2010

May market offers buyers greater selection

The number of properties listed for sale in Greater Vancouver continued to rise in May, while the number of sales showed a year-over-year decrease.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,156 in May 2010, a decline of 10.4 per cent compared to the 3,524 sales in May 2009; 5.1 per cent more than the 3,002 sales in May 2008; and 27.1 per cent less than the 4,331 sales in May 2007. May 2010 sales also represent a 10.1 per cent decline compared to last month's sales.

In terms of number of property listings, last month marked the third consecutive month during which more than 7,000 homes were listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties totalled 7,014 in May 2010, a 48.2 per cent increase compared to May 2009 when 4,733 new units were listed, and an 8.3 per cent decline compared to April 2010 when 7,648 properties were added to the MLS®.

At 17,492, the total number of property listings on the MLS® increased 10 per cent in May compared to last month, and is up 28.2 per cent compared to this time last year.

"Prospective home buyers in today’s market have a broad selection to choose from in every property type. REALTORS® are telling us they’re working with buyers who are not feeling as rushed to make a decision as they did late last year and earlier in the year," Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said.

Over the last 12 months, the overall MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver increased 16.7 per cent to $590,662 from $506,201 in May 2009.

housing price index

"It's important for those looking to buy or sell a home to remember that real estate is local and wise real estate decisions are made by those who understand current market conditions at the neighbourhood level," Moldowan said.

Sales of detached properties in May 2010 reached 1,256, a decrease of 10.4 per cent from the 1,402 detached sales recorded in May 2009 and a 4.4 per cent increase from the 1,203 units sold in May 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 19.1 per cent from May 2009 to $810,175.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,354 in May 2010, a decline of 7.1 per cent compared to the 1,458 sales in May 2009 and an increase of 8.8 per cent compared to the 1,244 sales in May 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 13.9 per cent from May 2009 to $398,783.

Attached property sales in May 2010 totalled 546, a decline of 17.8 per cent compared to the 664 sales in May 2009 and a 1.6 per cent decline from the 555 attached properties sold in May 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 14.8 per cent between May 2009 and 2010 to $500,339.

Average price graph

Download the complete stats package by clicking here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

CREA lowers housing forecast as market weakens

Rapidly changing market conditions have led the Canadian Real Estate Association to lower its forecast for housing sales this year.

The Ottawa-based group, which represents 100 boards across the country, now says 2010 sales will not be as strong as previously forecast and by next year prices will begin falling.

CREA expects 490,600 sales through the Multiple Listing Service in 2010, a 5.5% jump from a year earlier and the second-best year on record. However, by 2011, sales are expected to fall by 8.5%.

“The revision reflects a weaker-than-expected start to the year in British Columbia, and recent developments that pulled forward the timing as to when sales are expected to ease in other provinces,” the group said in a statement.

A major factor pushing people into the market earlier has been new mortgage rules that went into effect April 19. Canadians buying homes with mortgage default insurance must now qualify based on what is called the benchmark rate for a five-year fixed-rate closed mortgage, if they opt for terms of under five years.

The impact has been that borderline borrowers get less cash for their homes because they must qualify based on a rate that is 6% today. Consumers going for terms five years or longer can qualify based on the rate on their contract, which is as low as 4.25% for a five-year mortgage based on discounting.

The rules have forced many consumers out of variable rate mortgages tied to prime, which even after yesterday’s Bank of Canada rate hike, stood at 2.5%.

“The changes prompted some homebuyers to finance their home purchase before the new regulations took effect in April, which pulled forward a number of sales that would have otherwise taken place at a later date,” said CREA.

With the Bank of Canada on Tuesday finally increasing its overnight lending rate, which prime tracks, that too is expected to impact home sales in the coming months. “Interest rates are expected to rise slowly and at a measured pace during a new era of government spending restraint, so home financing will remain within reach for many homebuyers,” said Georges Pahud, CREA president.

CREA now says the market peaked in the fourth quarter of 2009 and predicts by next year the average price of a home sold through the MLS will be $318,300, a 2.2% decline from 2010. This year’s average price increase is now expected to be only 1.6% higher than 2009.

Average price increases were previously forecast to rise 5.4% in 2009, but the lower sales activity in British Columbia, which includes the country’s most expensive market in Vancouver, drove down the national numbers. In fact, only B.C. and Ontario are not expected to post price gains in 2011.

“With interest rates soon expected to rise, Canada is widely believed to be entering a typical demand-driven downturn due to recent prices increases and rising interest rates,” said Gregory Klump, chief economist with CREA. “A downward trend in national sales activity combined with an increase in listings will result in a more balanced market. In keeping with the return of a balanced housing market and typical demand-driven housing market cycle dynamics, prices will remain stable.”

Mr. Klump emphasized that Canada’s mortgage market remains “solid,” and that conservative lending practices mean the country will not experience the same type of correction the United States has had where prices have fallen as much as 50% in some markets.

Last month, CREA issued a report debunking the theory put forward by a number of commentators that the Canadian housing market was headed for a major correction. The report came on the heels of an analysis from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce senior economist Benjamin Tal that housing prices in Canada were 14% overvalued.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vancouver-Properties.ca has gone Mobile!

mobile website

Today it's my pleasure to announce that vancouver-properties.ca has been also formated to display on your mobile devices. Thanks to MyRealPage.com amazing platform, iWebkit and some DIY by yours truly, vancouver-properties is now viewable on your Iphones, Blacberry's etc, by simply going to mobile.vancouver-properties.ca.

Really cool feature of the mobile website is GPS location property search, which allows you to view all active properties for sale around you using your GPS position.
So if you are walking through some neighbournood or an area that you like and wondering what is for sale, now you can simply go to my mobile website and click on Mobile Listing Search and see active listings around you.
You can also see my active listings, my office listings, read my latest blog, news etc.

Take some time and visit mobile.vancouver-properties.ca browse around and let me know what you think about it or if you have some suggestions that you would like to see in the future.

How to setup a short cut icon on your phone:

  • Blackberry: Click or tap on the link at the bottom of any page that reads
    "Download a shortcut to your Blackberry"
  • Iphone: Tap the "+" sign and select "Add to Home Screen"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CMHC Housing Outlook for Vancouver

Vancouver Highlights

  • Moderating MLS® sales and more homes listed for sale will move the resale market into more balanced market conditions.
  • Home prices will rise 11 per cent this year1, with most of the gains taking place in the fi rst half of the year.
  • Modest price growth is forecast for 2011.
  • New home construction will increase, but stay below the ten-year average level, this year and next.
  • Improving economic and labour market conditions will mean slightly lower rental apartment vacancy rates in 2010 and 2011.
figure1

Resale Market Becomes More Balanced

MLS® sales in Greater Vancouver are forecast to moderate in the second half of 2010 and remain flat through 2011. While an improving local economy and job market, along with steady population growth, will support home ownership demand, higher mortgage rates will dampen demand starting in the second half of this year. In addition, much of the pent-up demand that built up during 2008, has been satisfied. In 2009, many first time home buyers made the move to home ownership, taking advantage of record low mortgage rates and prices that had fallen from their previous peak levels. While first quarter home sales this year were well above the low levels of the first quarter 2009, the pace of sales has slowed compared to last fall. This trend will continue, resulting in a three per cent decline in annual sales both this year and next.

At the same time that the pace of sales is expected to flatten, there will be more homes for sale. The steady increase in home prices during the past year has motivated potential sellers to list their homes. The number of new listings added to the market trended higher in the first quarter of 2010. However, strong sales have kept the total stock of active listings on the market well below previous peak levels reached in late 2008.

A combination of moderating sales and an increase in the number of listings will mean more balanced market conditions in Vancouver for the remainder of this year and into 2011. Expect to see fewer multiple offers on properties listed for sale. Buyers will have a larger selection of homes to choose from and more time to make their home purchase decision. With more homes on the market, there will also be less upward pressure on prices going forward. As the resale market adjusts to more balanced supply and demand conditions, the pace of price growth will slow. However, there is often a lag between when conditions become more balanced and when prices react. As a result of high prices and robust sales in the early part of 2010, the annual average MLS® price will increase 11 per cent, with the most of the increase accounted for by the first half of the year. Balanced market conditions will result in home prices rising a more modest three per cent in 2011.

Price growth during the past year has varied by home type. As of March 2010, apartment condo and townhouse prices were two and three per cent above their previous peak levels, respectively. However, single detached home prices were seven per cent above their previous peak level, pushing the total price up nine per cent over the previous peak. Single detached home sales have shifted to the higher price ranges. For example, in 2009, 48 per cent of homes sold were priced above $700,000, while in the first quarter of 2010, 62 per cent of the total sales were above this threshold. Apartment condominium sales saw a smaller shift to higher price ranges, with the proportion sold at the upper end of the market (above $400,000) increasing from 32 per cent last year to 38 per cent of total sales in the first quarter of this year.

Modest Increase in New Home Construction

New home construction in the Vancouver CMA is projected to increase this year and next. An improving local economy and job market will contribute to growth in housing starts. As well, an estimated 16,000 – 18,000 new households will be added to the region annually, largely as a result of migration, contributing to housing demand. The quick recovery in existing home sales and prices during the past year is also giving developers confidence to move forward with new projects.

Foundations will be poured for 12,000 homes this year, a 44 per cent increase over 2009, and 14,500 units in 2011. Even with these robust increases, the number of starts will fall shy of the average for the last ten years (15,360). There will be more single detached and multiple unit home building during the next two years.

Single family home starts will increase, but because this type of construction saw less of a decline last year than did the multiple unit variety, growth will be more subdued (19%). Multiple unit starts are forecast to increase 57 per cent to 8,500 this year. A further 24 per cent boost in 2011 will bring multi family starts near the ten year average level. Larger multiple unit projects, which saw the sharpest decline in 2009, will start to return to the market. However, these projects will be flexible and started in phases, according to market demand.

Part of the reason for this cautious approach to new projects and for the moderate level of starts forecast for Vancouver is that the inventory of completed and unabsorbed new homes has been edging up. While the inventory of unsold single detached homes remains low, more newly completed apartment condominium units have recently been added to the supply.

However, with monthly condo absorption rates during the first quarter of 2010 holding near the twelve month average pace, and with the HST deadline upcoming at the beginning of July, these units will likely be absorbed quickly.


Rental Market Vacancy Rate to Edge Lower

Rental apartment vacancies are forecast to edge slightly lower this year and next, after increasing in 2009. An improving job market and an expected net inflow of more than 40,000 migrants each year will support demand for rental accommodation. Another factor contributing to strong rental demand is that the difference between monthly rental costs and the cost of carrying a mortgage on an apartment condominium is growing. Condominium prices in many areas have rebounded from their previous lows, making rental accommodation a more attractive alternative for those looking to minimize their monthly outlay.

Strong demand for rental accommodation will keep average apartment rents increasing by four per cent this year and next.


Economy

Economic conditions in the Vancouver CMA will be favourable for the housing market this year and next. 2010 began on an up note in the Vancouver CMA with the Winter Olympic Games boosting consumer spending in the region. Most sectors of the economy are poised for growth this year, following an overall contraction of the economy last year. On the services side, the wholesale and retail trade sector is expected to grow, as are the business and noncommercial services sectors. On the goods side, manufacturing will begin to expand as the US economy improves and demand for British Columbia exports rebounds.

Job growth this year and next will support demand for both ownership and rental housing. Vancouver CMA’s job market is expected to pick up as the economy improves. A modest uptick in new home construction will add jobs and non residential construction employment will get a boost from large infrastructure and transportation projects. Some of the larger proposed projects expected to begin in 2010 include the Interior – Lower Mainland Transmission Line Expansion, the Metro Vancouver Waste-to-Energy Incineration Facility, the BCIT Burnaby Campus Expansion, and the Surrey Memorial Hospital Emergency Department and Critical Care Tower4.

Population growth in the Vancouver CMA will continue to contribute to demand for rental and ownership housing. An estimated 40,000 people are expected to move to the Vancouver region each year. This is will add some 16,000 – 18,000 new households each year, in need of housing. Most migrants to the Vancouver CMA are from international destinations, particularly Asia Pacifi c nations. For example, more than seven out of ten immigrants to Vancouver in the fi nal quarter of 2009 came from Asia (Mainland China, India or Taiwan).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Living small in Vancouver

The city’s first laneway house to be installed on a permanent site attracted a crowd of more than 1,000 to a two-day open house over the weekend.

If it’s an indication of demand for the 500- to 750-square-foot homes, then business may soon be booming for developers in the business of building these prefab constructions.

The first laneway house to be installed since zoning approval was passed last summer is McGill House, a 710-square-foot contemporary design home that sits to the rear of a house at 2703 McGill St., on the city’s east side. The house is the creation of Bryn Davidson’s Lanefab custom development company, which has been in business for about a year and a half.

Mr. Davidson is a LEED-accredited architect and mechanical engineer who started the business with partner Mat Turner, after design and construction work dried up because of the recession. Prior to Lanefab, Mr. Davidson had been working as an independent designer on sustainable residential projects in Ontario and Alaska.

“It was in the midst of the recession, we were suddenly without work, and at the same time, the City of Vancouver was talking about fast-tracking this lane house policy as part of their EcoDensity strategy,” he says. “So, just over a year ago, we started working to create Lanefab and we worked on designs that would be ready for when they did pass the bylaw.”

What Mr. Davidson didn’t expect was the outpouring of interest the minute he opened the doors for a peak inside McGill House, which is owned by Manuel and Agnes Mendoza, who live in the main house. Mr. Mendoza is a bridal gown designer who owns a long-established store in downtown Vancouver.

McGill House could easily rent for around $1,700 a month – a fact not lost on Vancouver homeowners looking for a revenue stream. They were willing to line up down the lane to view the sleek, modern laneway house that will be ready for rental by June 1.


.

“There are quite a few potential projects coming out of the woodwork after this weekend,” says Mr. Davidson, who has given many tours and talks this past year about his designs.

Approval for laneway houses was passed last July, after several years of public meetings attended by stakeholders such as Mr. Davidson who could benefit from the initiative. Laneway housing was made a priority when the city adopted its EcoDensity charter two years ago.

For many, the laneway house (also known as a microhouse) could become a way to offset the high price of Vancouver real estate. In order to purchase a laneway house, the customer must already own a house on a suitable property. A few people who came to view McGill House mistakenly thought they could own the laneway house outright, Mr. Davidson says. Laneway houses are intended to be small one- or two-bedroom microhouses on a lot that’s at least 33 feet wide and has plenty of room for another structure. Oftentimes, they occupy the space where a garage would have been built.

“That’s the caveat – the price doesn’t include the land,” Mr. Davidson says. “You have to already own a $600,000 property.”

In Vancouver, about 66,000 thousand houses or roughly 85 per cent of properties qualify for laneway homes. Because the houses are so small, they can easily be built as prefabricated panels, then constructed on site. Lanefab contracts out the panel work and does the design, construction, permits and hook-ups, such as hydro, for about $190,000 to $230,000 a house, depending on lot size.

The city has issued more than 60 permits for laneway houses. Another Vancouver company, Smallworks, has a factory that produces the panels. The company has taken out seven building permits for laneway houses. It offers a time-lapse video of a prefab house being built on its website (smallworks.ca).

It’s a revenue opportunity that’s relatively inexpensive to build. Customers see it as a boost to the property’s overall worth that also offers housing to either renters or family members, such as kids who are attending university but can’t afford to live independently. Mr. Davidson does not see the laneway house replacing the basement suite. Instead, he sees it complementing Vancouver’s long-standing love affair with the basement suite mortgage helper.

“Given the property values now and the cost of a mortgage, and the cash flow required to pay for a $1-million property, you’ll see both lane houses and basement suites.”

Clients most suitable to the housing are long-time homeowners who don’t have big mortgages and have a lot of equity.

“I think about one-third of people [who want one] are people who just want revenue property,” Mr. Davidson says. “They have a lot of equity, but not a lot of cash flow. Another one-third are people who want it for family – either kids moving back home to care for parents, or people who have a family member who can’t afford a condo but can afford a laneway house. And the last one-third is people who want to downsize and move in themselves. They rent out their main house.”

Lanefab has a dozen more projects in the works, including one for a young couple who plan on renting out their larger house and moving into their laneway home.

“In Vancouver in particular, people have become much more acclimated to living in more compact dwellings than many other places in North America, where the suburban model is still the norm. For many people, the idea of having a well-designed small space is very appealing.”

For Simon Fraser University instructor Darren Jukes, the addition of a 750-square-foot laneway house to his 33- by 122-foot property at 23rd Avenue and Heather Street is a “no brainer.” In the next month or so, construction will begin on an Arts and Crafts design laneway house on his property after about a year of planning. The price tag will wind up in the $180,000-to-$200,000 range, he says.

“For me, there are a couple of things,” he says. “I like investing in an asset basically, and this is a way you can do it in Vancouver. And to have the flexibility of having a family member move in there, or potentially rent it out. I haven’t decided what to do with it yet.

“The alternative is you try to find another piece of real estate in Vancouver, which is another barrier of entry.”

Mr. Jukes purchased his home three years ago, at one of the market peaks.

“The fact that prices are as high as they are, it’s definitely motivation around here, trying to make better use of property that already exists. I also like the fact that I can see in the Lower Mainland that there are only a certain number of directions we can go. And if we don’t want to start building massive condos all over the place, then we are making better use of real estate that we already have. It’s a pretty clever alternative.”

Mr. Davidson has put his money where his mouth is. He and his wife, a transportation planner, have lived in a 360-square-foot condo on the east side of the city for the past few years. It had been completely gutted and redesigned in order to operate as an efficient, usable and contemporary designed space. He used his experience in recreating and living in the studio condo when designing McGill House. After all, 360 square feet could get a little crowded for two people.

“Our relationship survived and is in much better shape than I expected considering we lived in it while renovating it,” he says, laughing.

In terms of living space, he learned the importance of decent storage to keep bikes and clutter out of sight, as well as an open, flexible plan. The linear galley kitchen in his condo is almost identical to the McGill House kitchen. The couple also installed a raised bed that offers storage underneath and an overhead clearance from the ceiling of about four feet.

“It goes from disaster to clean in about 15 minutes,” Mr. Davidson says. “And we do a lot of entertaining. We can do a dinner party for 10.”

There are other benefits to small living.

“It’s nice because our mortgage and condo fees together are half of what we were paying before in rent,” says Mr. Davidson, who plans to put the condo on the market next month for $250,000.

His mantra has long been that we don’t need huge spaces in order to live well.

He has another motive for working on the EcoDensity initiative.

“I grew up in Northern California and watched the sprawl from Sacramento come outward like a tidal wave and engulf the old, small communities.

“And here we are, the first city to really adopt [EcoDensity] as a policy for the majority of properties throughout the city.”

BC Home Sales Less Volatile

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province climbed 21 per cent to 8,385 units in April compared to the same month last year.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, MLS® residential unit sales in the province declined 4 per cent from March 2010. The average MLS® residential price climbed 15 per cent to $514,820 in April compared to the same month last year.

"BC home sales have trended on an annual rate of 84,000 to 86,000 units over the past three months, down from the 108,000 unit pace recorded in the fourth quarter of last year," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist.
A total of 85,028 MLS® residential unit sales were recorded in 2009. "Higher home prices, particularly in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria as well as a recent lift in mortgage interest rates has eroded affordability and had an impact on overall housing demand," added Muir.

The BC residential sales dollar volume increased 73 per cent to $13.5 billion in the first four months of 2010, compared to the same period last year. Residential units sales rose 47 per cent to 26,669 units year-to-date, while the average MLS® residential price climbed 17 per cent to $507,616 over the same period.

For the complete news release, including detailed statistics, follow this link:
www.bcrea.bc.ca/news_room/2010-04.pdf.

Visit www.vancouver-properties.ca/blog for more blog postings

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Canadian Housing shows glimpses of cooling

Canadian housing activity continues at a bustling pace, but there are glimmers the market is set to cool.


Housing starts rose at an annualized pace of 201,700 units last month, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Monday, though gains in multi-unit construction masked the first sizable slide in single-unit activity in a year.


A separate survey showed fewer Canadians have firm plans to buy a house. And resale activity is already slowing.


Most economists – including Bank of Canada officials – expect the housing market to slow from its torrid pace. Rising interest rates, tighter mortgage rules and a new sales tax in Ontario and British Columbia will likely dampen activity in the second half of this year. And though monthly numbers – especially in the building sector – can be volatile, economists said the drop in single-family homes suggests the sector is already softening.


"Is this a signal that single-market construction activity will ease going forward? Probably,"said Yanick Desnoyers, assistant chief economist at National Bank Financial.


Quarterly growth in the housing sector is cooling “rapidly,” and he expects the sector will actually have a negative impact on Canada’s economy next year.


Higher interest rates are a chief reason for the expected slowdown. The Bank of Canada is widely expected to boost its key lending rate next month. “The sensitivity of Canadian households to interest-rate hikes is very, very high right now because debt levels of many households have far outstripped personal-income growth," Mr. Desnoyers said.


The resale market, meantime, also points to some moderation as activity has eased from record levels and more supply is coming into the market, the Canadian Real Estate Association said in March.


Canadians seem set to take a breather. Just 3.4 per cent say they are very likely to buy a house in the next 12 months, “suggesting activity may slow during the remainder of this year,” a Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals report said Monday.


To gauge the effect of rising rates, the association simulated the impact of mortgage-rate increases up to 5.25 per cent. The current average mortgage rate is 4.02 per cent among households that locked in fixed rates during the past year.


It found that about 375,000 mortgage holders “are already challenged” by their current payments, and an additional 475,000 might be in trouble if their rate hits 5.25 per cent.


Mortgage rates have already risen, though several banks – including Royal Bank of Canada on Monday– trimmed some rates in recent days. RBC’s five-year closed rate is now 6.10 per cent – still higher than several months ago.


CMHC’s report showed multiple starts rose 27.2 per cent. Single urban starts tumbled 12.7 per cent – the first big drop since last April.


Starts climbed 16.4 per cent in British Columbia, 6.7 per cent in the Prairie region, 4.5 per cent in Ontario, and 1.1 per cent in Quebec. They fell 3.3 per cent in Atlantic Canada. The country needs a pace of about 175,000 to 185,000 units a year to keep up with demographics, economists estimate.


Canadian mortgage numbers


5.55 million


Number of mortgages in Canada, out of a total 9.3 million homeowners in the country.


$138,000


Average outstanding principal.


$770-billion


Outstanding mortgage principal on primary residences in Canada.


0.45%


Portion of Canadian mortgages in arrears as of February.


Sources: Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, Canadian Bankers Association.


www.vancouver-properties.ca

Friday, May 7, 2010

James - new False Creek Waterfront development by Cressey



Another cool new developmet to look for!

James - www.jamesliving.com

James

New development n False Creek waterfront neighbourhood by Cressey, designed by Rafii Architects.
James is located at W1st avenue and Crowe. Completion in 2012, maintenance fees from $174.31 - $491, deposit structure is 10% at signing, and 5% after 120 days + 5% after 2nd deposit within 120 days.

map

The vision for James was to create a building that acts as both landmark and landscape and a residence that not only compliments the False Creek community, enhances it.

Concrete, glass and steel come together at James to create a striking residence with sweeping vertical lines, an abundance of outdoor space and exciting elevations where no two sides are alike.


Catering to the community, the townhomes arch away from the sidewalk to create a feeling of openness and inclusion while the glass encased corners of the main tower provide sightlines and a connection to people passing by.


The breezeway, entrance, and lobby are all open and inviting. Natural light spills in reflecting off the skybridge and water feature for added serenity and aesthetics as well as into the fully landscaped common areas and south mews.


The unmistakably contemporary feel of James also features ornamentations and other organic elements that pay homage to the history of this industrious waterfront False Creek community.


James at False Creek was built for people who have high standards for themselves and their homes. Life at James encompasses everything from innovative ways to save water and heat your home to the use of intelligent, low-impact building materials.


Green features


Living at James means you get all of the credit for an environmentally conscious residence just by moving in. James will follow a LEED silver standard. LEED stands for Leadership in Environmental Design which basically means that all along the way, James has been designed with a green theme in mind. This includes far more than just using Energy Star rated appliances, and your in-suite recycling centre, which James does.


It involves careful planning centered around six main categories:
Developing sustainable sites which protect and restore open spaces, have close proximity to rapid transit, include charging stations in the parkade for electric vehicles and scooters, and offer Co-op cars for all residents to enjoy.


Water efficiency is carefully managed throughout the homes and also in using efficient irrigation and drought resistant landscaping which requires less water.


Energy and atmosphere we considered in this case by linking into the False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility which uses an economy of scales to heat all of the homes in this exciting new community while using less energy and therefore at a lower cost to each homeowner.


Materials and resources are sourced from regional suppliers and recycled materials where possible as well as recycling at minimum 50% of construction waste during the construction process.

Interior Features

The finer points complete the portrait of ones character. And, it is the small things, often overlooked by others, that make James unique. Of course, the prominent features and fixtures are immaculate, but look a little bit closer, behind the cabinets, in the closets, and into the corners and you'll see that the quality that defines James is more than skin deep.

kitchen at James

ARRIVE


Developed and built by Cressey Development Group

Impeccably designed by award winning Rafii Architects

Convenient air conditioning in every home

5" wide plank brushed engineered hardwood entry, kitchen, dining, living and bedrooms*

In-suite storage with porcelain tile flooring

Energy efficient stacking washer and dryer

12" x 24" porcelain tile flooring in den with frosted glass door

Contemporary smooth ceilings

Outdoor balcony area in every home

5" baseboard throughout

24 hour video surveillance security

ENJOYY

Beautifully landscaped community including breezeway with granite inserts, water feature, art and prestigious entrance lobby

On-site concierge for security and convenience to help with everyday errands**

Fully equipped fitness centre with yoga room, steam room and sauna

Cozy fireplace lounge with large screen TV

Convenient business centre

Thoughtful car share program

“UP” the beautiful rooftop observatory with kitchen spilling out to rooftop patio with BBQ area, seating, landscaping, garden plots and shed, children’s play area and all with stunning views of downtown


COOKK

Contemporary cabinetry with task lighting

Sleek composite stone countertops and backsplash with eating bar

Suspended backsplash track including spice rack and utensil hooks

Convenient custom cutlery organizers

Aluminum roll-up door for hiding appliances or extra countertop space

Custom under sink organizer for extra storage and built-in
recycle centre

Stainless steel double bowl sink with in-sink waste disposal

Designer faucet with vegetable spray
Wine storage shelving in island

Soft-close cabinet drawers and doors

Fully integrated Blomberg bottom freezer refrigerator

Fagor 5 burner gas cooktop

Broan slide out hood fan

Fagor European convection wall oven with 8 cooking programs

Fagor 6 washing cycle fully integrated dishwasher

Panasonic built-in microwave


BATHE

Luxurious limestone countertops and backsplash

Custom medicine cabinet

Contemporary cabinetry

12" x 24" porcelain tile flooring in bathrooms

Designer porcelain tile tub and shower surround

Frameless glass shower**

Contemporary chrome faucet and showerhead

Recessed pot lighting

Dual flush toilet

Designer vessel sink


Floor plans click here

Please fell free to contact me for more information on this development at 604-771-6415!


Why list Your property with Us?  Our marketing and advertising campaign includes:

Print advertising: Online Marketing Campaign Unique Services
Real Estate Book Multiple Listing Service (MLS.ca) Real Estate Channel TV
Real Estate weekly Realtylink.org Virtual Tours
The Courier Century21.ca (global and local website) Professional Photos
Flyers Vancouver-properties.ca Open Houses
Feature sheets Asmallworld.com (international site) Floor Plans

More information at www.vancouver-properties.ca

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Home buyer and seller activity increases in busy spring market

The Greater Vancouver housing market experienced increased activity in April thanks to a steady balance of home buyers and sellers entering the marketplace.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,512 in April 2010, the fifth highest-selling April on record. The figure represents an increase of 18.5 per cent compared to the 2,963 sales in April 2009; 9.1 per cent more than April 2008’s 3,218 sales; and 3.7 per cent more than April 2007’s 3,387 sales. April 2010 sales also represent a 12 per cent increase compared to last month.
“We’re in the midst of another strong spring season thanks to high levels of activity on both the buyer and seller side of our market,” Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said. “The number of homes coming on the market has increased significantly in recent months, which is providing a healthy level of choice for those looking to buy during this busy period.”
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 7,648 in April 2010, a 64.5 per cent increase compared to April 2009 when 4,649 new units were listed, and a 9.2 per cent increase compared to March 2010 when 7,004 properties were added to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®).
At 15,901, the total number of property listings on the MLS® increased 17 per cent in April compared to last month, and is up 11 per cent compared to this time last year.
Over the last 12 months, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver increased 18.9 per cent to $593,419 from $499,021 in April 2009.
“It was at this time last year when home prices in our region began their recovery from the declines that occurred during the recession period,” Moldowan said.
Sales of detached properties in April 2010 reached 1,370, an increase of 15.1 per cent from the 1,190 detached sales recorded in April 2009 and a six per cent increase from the 1,293 units sold in April 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 21.2 per cent from April 2009 to $818,403.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,526 in April 2010, an increase of 29.4 per cent compared to the 1,179 sales in April 2009 and an increase of 15.9 per cent compared to the 1,317 sales in April 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 16.9 per cent from April 2009 to $397,779.
Attached property sales in April 2010 totalled 616, an increase of 3.7 per cent compared to the 594 sales in April 2009 and a 1.3 per cent increase from the 608 attached properties sold in April 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 16.4 per cent between April 2009 and 2010 to $502,399.

Click here to download the complete stats package.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Community vision proposed for divided public in the West End

Sunday, April 4, 2010
By KELLY SINOSKI, Vancouver Sun
 

 
Vancouver city council will consider Tuesday whether to develop a “community vision” for the West End, as opposition mounts over its plans to build highrises in the neighbourhood.
 
COPE Coun. Ellen Woodsworth will put forward the motion Tuesday asking city staff to report back on the process for a proposed West End “community visioning process.”
The process would look at the needs and priorities of the community — something that hasn’t been done in the West End for more than 20 years even though it’s one of the city’s densest neighbourhoods.
So-called visions are already in place in areas such as Dunbar, Fraserview and Mount Pleasant.
Woodsworth will also ask for a public meeting to be held to get public input on the neighbourhood’s needs, noting the recent debate has divided the community.
“The public has been pitted against each other,” she said. “We need to call a meeting to get a sense of what people want.”
Her proposal follows council’s spot rezoning last December for a 20-storey project at Bidwell and Davie streets, ahead of several other requests for comprehensive highrise projects. These include a 22-storey residential tower for the 100-year-old St. John’s United Church site, at 1401 Comox St.
The projects, proposed under the city’s Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program, are recommended for approval by city staff to secure more rental housing in the city. The city hasn’t built any rental housing in the West End for at least a decade.
But Woodsworth said the city has recently determined that there are rental units in the West End, and that those being built now aren’t necessarily affordable because they’re being offered at current market rates. As well, she said, the STIR program is not providing the community amenities that are needed in the West End.
West End residents have been vocally opposed to the developments, saying they will radically change the skyline and alter their protected views, and should not be rushed through without public consultation and a neighbourhood plan.
Residents have collected about 1,800 signatures on a petition entitled “No Rezoning without a Comprehensive Plan” that calls for Mayor Gregor Robertson to uphold the existing community-zoning guidelines for a maximum height of six storeys in the West End.
They claim the city is allowing developers to change the face of their neighbourhood by demolishing low-rise heritage buildings and churches to put up profitable highrise residential towers.
“Almost everyone can accept new construction and taller buildings, but it should be part of a comprehensive and transparent process,” said resident Randy Helton.
“This is what really outrages us: It’s such an extreme departure from the current rezoning guidelines. It really gets people upset.”
Helton said building more highrises in the West End would have major consequences for taxpayers owing to the impact on such infrastructure as electricity grids, roads and libraries.
“The taxpayers will pay the price of the increasing wear and tear on the infrastructure,” he said.
“There are so many things wrong with this.”
Woodsworth said a public meeting on her motion will be scheduled for Thursday.

ksinoski@vancouversun.com     © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Monday, March 29, 2010

$450-million hotel-casino complex announced for False Creek

100,000 square foot casino, two hotels to sit next to B.C. Place

Ian Bailey
Vancouver, BC — Globe and Mail update
Published on Friday, Mar. 26, 2010


The B.C government has announced the construction of a $450-million new hotel-casino complex attached to BC Place.
“I am pleased to confirm what many people have been discussing,” Premier Gordon Campbell told a news conference in the domed stadium.

Edgewater Casino on False Creek is to be moved as part of the project and the new 100,000-square-foot casino operation, also operated by Paragon Development Ltd., is expected to generate $130-million in annual gambling revenues to be distributed to the province
.
PavCo, the Crown corporation that manages BC Place, has struck a deal for a 70-year lease with Paragon.
“We are going to build a destination anchored by two hotels,” said Scott Menke, Paragon president.
The project is expected to create 8,500 direct and indirect jobs during construction and operation.

Assuming the city of Vancouver approves a rezoning application for the project, construction is supposed to begin early next year and be completed in mid-2013.

But events are to be held at BC Place during construction around the replacement of the stadium's roof, which begins in May and is to be done in 2011.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stripped Down: Vancouver landmark makes way for a new 'hood

Say goodbye to the Cecil strip bar and hello to the Rolston, a condo project developers hope will anchor a new neighbourhood called Midtown

Source: Kerry Gold, Vancouver — From Friday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Mar. 12, 2010

One night in late January, developer Will Lin held a catered party for the closing of Vancouver’s Cecil strip bar, complete with strippers and lobster bisque appetizers.
Topless strippers, who had been told to keep their pants on, worked the pole for the suit-and-tie crowd that had assembled to hear about a new condo project called the Rolston.
It was an awkward merger, but one that symbolized the end of the era of strip bars and sex shops and the introduction of a new neighbourhood the developer calls Midtown.
Midtown is the future neighbourhood at the north end of the Granville Street Bridge, currently anchored by the Cecil Hotel and the Yale Hotel and Pub at 1300 Granville. By the summer of 2012, the 23-storey, gold LEED-certified Rolston condo development and restaurant is scheduled to stand where the gritty old Cecil is now.
The Cecil closes permanently this summer. Mr. Lin, president of Rize Alliance Properties, tried auctioning off the club’s strip pole, but ended up buying it for charity himself, for $3,000. Pre-sales for the Rolston begin this month, ranging from $350,000 for a one-bedroom condo to $650,000 for a two-bedroom.
The Rolston and a Cressey condo development at Drake and Howe streets are the first phase of a new neighbourhood that is to get under way in the next five years. Gone are most of the pornography and drug-paraphernalia shops that dominated that part of Granville for so many years. The marketing for the Rolston is aimed at an urban demographic attracted to nearby cultural hot spots that have popped up, such as the Dance Centre, Pacific Cinematheque and the Roundhouse Community Arts Centre.

“We are selling a lifestyle, meaning they are going to use their homes for a place of rest and do a lot of entertaining in the neighbourhood,” Mr. Lin says.
The Cecil Hotel pub is credited for being the locale where Greenpeace was spawned in the 1970s, back when it was a pool hall. But while the Cecil Hotel has long been a familiar landmark at the foot of the Granville Street Bridge, it’s past its expiry date, Mr. Lin says.
“The demise of the Cecil as a strip bar is attributable to the Internet. I was talking to the owner and the revenue was definitely not at an all-time high. And I don’t think we are taking on a big public amenity there that everybody else wants by demolishing the Cecil.
“When people start moving into a neighbourhood, they turn it into a neighbourhood that they want to live in,” he adds.
The Yale pub, famous for its blues acts, will also get a facelift and continue as a major destination for blues-music fans. As for the hotel part of the century-old Yale, originally built to house CPR workers, the 44 residents won’t be forced out. Part of the deal with the city is that the rooms will be renovated for 44 single-room occupants.

The long-term city plan, approved a year ago, involves light industrial property, a public-market-type area, condominiums, retail and better transit routes. The plan includes a radical transformation of the north end of the bridge: the two off-ramps – also known as the “Granville loops” – will be removed entirely and replaced by the traditional street grid. The area, bounded by Drake, Howe, Pacific and Seymour streets, includes the redevelopment of several city-owned sites composed of market and non-market housing. The dark area under the bridge will be better utilized as a market-style shopping district that will resemble the look and scale of Granville Island.
In other words, the loops at the north end of the bridge are a waste of space. With 31,000 cars on the Granville Street Bridge every day, only 5,000 use the west loop and 3,600 use the east loop, according to a city study.
“The transportation plan looked at some site-specific initiatives that would take areas of the downtown that had really been designed to favour automobiles and change it to favour pedestrians or transit or cyclists,” senior central area planner Michael Gordon says. “And definitely one of the areas that was problematic was where we have the two loop structures.
“The city should really primarily be designed for pedestrians and cyclists and transit, rather than being auto-oriented. Car drivers are a minority in the downtown peninsula.”
As an example, city analysis found that 75 per cent of people who shop at trendy Urban Fare in nearby Yaletown arrive on foot, not by car.
Off-ramps do not move traffic effectively and they also waste valuable space that could be used to densify the area. They are an outmoded idea from the 1950s, when cars ruled. “They were built when freeways and on-ramps and off-ramps were the mode of moving traffic,” senior development planner Anita Molaro says.
For pedestrians, added crosswalks will link downtown with the shoreline of False Creek. As it is now, zooming cars make the walk to the water from downtown an awkward proposition.
As to whether the area will be called “Midtown” remains to be seen. Mr. Gordon says some names given to new neighbourhoods stick, while others don’t. Nearby Yaletown was named after the CPR workers who went to work there and had their houses from the town of Yale shipped down on barges. Those houses are long gone, but the name lives on. Maybe the new neighbourhood will be called the Granville Loops, even when the loops are gone?

      Rendering of the Rolston, planned for the new Midtown development in Vancouver. Suite interior. Credit Rize Alliance Properties Ltd.

Mr. Lin has lived in Vancouver since the eighties and has been behind several projects in Yaletown. He sees the Rolston as one of the pioneer city developments that mix social and market housing. When the Cecil is demolished and the Yale Hotel undergoes its renovation in about a year, the 44 single-room occupants at the Yale will be relocated to other social housing. When the Yale renovation is finished by the summer of 2012, those occupants will be given the opportunity to return to the remodelled rooms.
However, many of the seniors who resided at the Yale Hotel have already moved out, says former owner Waide Luciak, who owned the Yale from 1987 until Mr. Lin purchased it two years ago. As part of that deal, Mr. Luciak has plans to buy the Yale building back from Mr. Lin and return to business as usual.
Mr. Luciak says his single-room occupants had been at the Yale Hotel for many years. One senior, who recently died just before reaching 100 years old, had lived in the hotel for most of his life.
All the occupants who left did so because they had been offered better accommodation, Mr. Luciak says. “People were coming around from different housing societies and telling them that if they wanted, they could move into units in concrete high-rises that are 50 per cent larger with cooking facilities.
“It is better accommodation subsidized by government, whereas I am a private enterprise – I can’t afford to do as much as government can. But my rents are a little lower. I am a friendly landlord who hasn’t given increases. I love the old boys.
“Typically what happens is, the old boys who live upstairs call the downstairs bar their living room. They are in the living room every day in a certain seat they call their own. I know all of them. They are very much like family. Upstairs, a lot of them had pictures of my kids on the wall.”
Although condo growth in Vancouver is often associated with bland gentrification of streetscapes, Mr. Lin insists the character of the Yale will be retained. And he is not just referring to retaining single-room occupants. The Yale Pub is famous in Vancouver for playing host to artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan. Before he died in 2005, English bluesman Long John Baldry was a regular performer at the pub. Mr. Lin says there was no question about maintaining its legendary status as a blues destination.
“We’re creating a real neighbourhood here. We are creating a building that is a representation of what the neighbourhood is all about. It’s not about an ivory tower – it’s full of different mixes.”