Thursday, November 24, 2011
And while developers, realtors and investors are reaping the benefits, some fear Canada's biggest housing markets could collapse like a house of cards if foreigners were to head for the exits in search of the next best thing.
Average property prices in Canada continue to climb, posting another 5.5% in year-over-year gains in October and causing the Canadian Real Estate Association to up its annual sales forecast.
Prices in Canada today are "overshooting," said CIBC's Benjamin Tal in a new report. He's hoping price growth will come back down to earth, gradually.
In the meantime, Chinese investors are buying condominiums and houses worth more than $2 million at unprecedented rates in two pockets of Vancouver. This group accounts for roughly 20% of the overall sales in the city and is the main the reason prices are so high there.
"If you eliminate this segment, you get a semi-normally functioning market," Tal told QMI Agency.
The same phenomenon, though to a lesser degree and mostly from European buyers, can be seen in Toronto and even Montreal, he said.
"If for some reason we see foreign investors in Vancouver or in Toronto exiting, then that definitely will be an issue."
There are no official statistics on foreign buyers in Canada's property market, but anecdotal evidence of wealthy European, Middle Eastern and Asian investors snapping up property, especially condos, north of the 49th parallel is well documented.
Garnet Watchorn, president of Graywood Developments and the man behind Toronto's new Ritz-Carlton hotel and condo project, said many units were sold to investors in Hong Kong and Singapore because that's where the luxury buyers are.
Some developers go to great lengths marketing their projects overseas, Watchorn said.
But most of the time Canada's solid market and history of strong returns, especially compared to sagging markets south of the border, is enough to lure buyers.
Watchorn and other real estate experts gathered for a panel discussion at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Business last week.
Any number of things could go wrong and cause the market to take a turn, they warned.
For one, rental rates aren't keeping up with property values. If prices continue to outpace rent, landlords will have a harder time paying the mortgage and many could be forced to sell.
A new tax on foreign buyers could also wreak havoc, said Stephen Moranis, founder of Prudential Sadie Moranis Realty.
He's concerned that the government may consider intervening on foreign deals as affordability continues to erode for average Canadian workers.
Any new tax on non-resident purchases could be disastrous, especially to high-rise builders who sell to investors, Moranis said. So far, no such tax proposals have been tabled.
Even the Wall Street Journal has drawn parallels between Toronto's glass-tower-and-crane-dotted waterfront and Miami, where an invasion of foreign buyers inflated a speculative bubble that burst with disastrous consequences.
Much like Miami in its building heyday, the Greater Toronto Area was home to nearly 1,200 condo projects with more than 200,000 units this past summer, according to research firm Urbanation. Another 16,000 units are expected to hit the market next year.
There's also the debate of what constitutes foreign money, Tal said. Many Chinese buyers in Vancouver are sending their families to live and work in the city.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Local firm Landcor Data Corp. says it has been tracking property tax assessment bills to pinpoint the percentage of transactions driven by foreign investors in Vancouver's suburbs -a trend the real estate industry says has been driving up average prices in the country's priciest city.
The latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association shows the average price of a home sold in May in Vancouver was $831,555, a 25.7% increase from a year ago. CREA has said the sale of multimillion-dollar homes has skewed the city's average sale price and done the same nationally.
Richmond and the west side of Vancouver, favourites of Chinese investors, were the focus of a first-quarter report form Landcor's which looked at the profile of buyers from 2008 to 2010. It found buyers from the "Middle Kingdom," as the company put it, dominated purchases.
In 2008, there were 69 sales of homes priced at $3-million or more, the most expensive $10.5-million, and 46% were purchased by Chinese buyers. By 2010, there were 164 sales in the same category, the highestpriced being $17.5-million, and 74% went to Chinese buyers.
"There is only one way to track this and we are as close as anybody is going to get," said Rudy Nielsen, the president of Landcor, about the use of property assessment to track where buyers are from. It also compared names on sales contracts to names common in the People's Republic of China, excluding people with Western first names.
Mr. Nielson acknowledged his methodology is not without flaws, given assessment notices do not necessarily have to be sent to a person's permanent address and could be forwarded to a friend, property manager or lawyer located in B.C.
"There is a lot of hype and it is hard to tell for sure what the impact of the Chinese buyers has been. He doesn't give you a postal code. He's not like the German buyer who gives you a German address," Mr. Nielson says.
If anything, the impact of Chinese buyers in the market could be even greater because of the number of purchasers shielding their identity, he said.
Andrew Ramlo, executive director of The Urban Futures Institute, a Vancouver research firm that worked with Ledcor, says the data prove that influence of foreign investment is not a major factor in most of the Lower Mainland.
His group points out of the 55,512 sales in 2010 only 195 were to people outside of Canada -0.4% of all sales for the year. Furthermore, he says, foreign investors own only 0.5% of the total housing stock of 774,600 residential properties in the Lower Mainland.
"These data contradict what seems to be largely anecdotal evidence indicating foreign investment is a significant driver to residential price increases in the Lower Mainland," he said in a report.
Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets, said he needs to see more data on foreign investment in individual neighbourhoods before he makes conclusions.
"What you could have [in Richmond and west side Vancouver] is a bubble within a bubble or a bubble outside the rest of the real estate market," says Mr. Tal, noting his concern is if prices drop in Vancouver's luxury market it will it affect the rest of the city.
By Garry Marr, Financial Post
Thursday, June 23, 2011
STALLS AS LCP:
1) If the project is solely residential and the Developer intends to sell all of the units, it’s most common for the Developer to designate the parking garage as CP, but the individual stalls as LCP such that each strata lot has at least one parking stall designated for its exclusive use.
2) In this scenario, the Developer is required to provide the surveyor with a list of every parking stall that is to be designated to each particular strata lot, and those LCP numbers are included on the strata plan filed in the LTO to raise titles in advance of the first sale. To do this, the Developer must be able to determine in advance of sales, what it wants to do with all the stalls – ie. that it does not intend to retain a handful of stalls for its own use to designate them as a marketing tactic to bigger strata lots in the future, if the sales don’t go well or to sell them to potential buyers (perhaps owners of commercial strata lots close by in the complex etc.) down the road. Once the strata plan is filed and the first sale closes, the Developer has limited means to amend the strata plan without a ¾ vote of the strata corporation.
3) This method ties the Developer’s hands and is generally mostly seen in residential projects only. LCP stalls are designated permanently on the strata plan for the use of the strata lot specified and thus cannot be sold to other owners or outside parties – they run with the sale of the unit, unless a strata plan is permanently amended to change the LCP designation by approval of the strata corporation and an amended strata plan is filed in the LTO (which is rare).
STALLS AS CP:
1) In a project that’s mixed residential and commercial, it’s advantageous for the Developer to designate the parking garage and all stalls as CP. Prior to the first sale (as Developer controls strata corporation in the period between the Strata plan filing and the first sale) the Developer enter into a lease agreement with a company controlled by the Developer and named Random Parking Co. (the Tenant). The Developer leases all of the stalls to the Tenant and causes the Tenant to assign each particular stall to the first purchasers, who then assign the CP stall/storage locker to the new buyer of the strata lot upon sale. A term of the lease provides that once all the strata lots are sold the Developer causes the Strata Corporation to assume the rights and obligations of the Developer, and thus the Strata’s job is to maintain the Parking Assignments (and the register of which strata lots were initially leased which stalls – usually a binder with a list) when the units are sold over and over again, and to ensure the Assignments are kept in order etc.
2) The major advantage to this method is that the Developer doesn’t need to tie themselves to a list of which stalls are designated to which units until each strata lot is sold, which can be long after the strata plan is filed.
3) Thus the Common Property area of the parking garage and all of the stalls become SUBJECT TO the lease arrangement, meaning the owners do own the common property as tenants in common, but that ownership right is subject to any contract in place, and therefore subject to the lease agreement and terms of it.
4) The assignment of the lease from the Tenant to each owner grants the owners the exclusive contractual right to use and occupy that particular stall and storage locker. Because the contractual right to use the stall is granted to the owner of the strata lot – that owner could assign their right to use and occupy the stall and locker to another owner in the building by entering into an assignment (and taking payment for the sale of the leased stall/locker) – BUT this would mean that when the strata lot is sold, the owner must advise the new buyer that the unit does not come with a stall or locker - - the Strata Corporation should carefully maintain the Assignment Registry to verify if a stall and locker has not been previously assigned by the owner of a pending sale.
5) Usually there is a term in the lease that restricts transfer so that owners are only permitted to assign the stall/locker to another owner in the building – sometimes though the Lease expressly provides that assignments can be made to owners outside the development (ie. anyone who is willing to pay the developer $20,000 for a stall.. developers commonly reserve a handful of CP stalls for themselves - ie. remember they are the Tenant under the Lease (eg. Onni Parking Co.) so they use this method to be able to sell stalls to neighbouring retailers long after they’ve sold out the strata lots and lost control of the strata corporation.
6) In summary by incorporating a company before the strata plan is filed and entering into this lease arrangement which the Strata Corporation later assumes by stepping into position of “Developer/Landlord” once all units are sold.. the Developer gets out of being the Landlord and having to administer the lease in the future (first they assign all the stalls to the Tenant (themselves) and then causes Tenant to assign the ones it wants to provide to strata lots for new buyers - at least one per strata lot is mandatory by City bylaw) BUT Developer gets to remain as the parking Tenant which allows them to retain control over the stalls they want to keep to later profit from them.
7) Normally in mixed developments there’s a provision the developer has added to ensure that assignment of stalls/lockers can be made to outside parties who are not owners in the strata plan.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Congratulations on the purchase of your new home! During the closing we briefly discussed your Title Insurance policy, but now that you have a little more time to breath you’d like to know more about it. Well, Title Insurance is an integral, yet often times misunderstood, component of almost every real estate transaction.
Banks and lenders require it in most transactions, and for that reason – People Buy It! But it’s also important to understand what you’ve purchased. Below you will find a brief summary on the ins and outs of a Title Insurance policy.What is Title Insurance?
Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects residential and commercial property owners and their lenders against losses related to the property’s title or ownership. The term “title” is a legal term that refers to the legal ownership of property. Title insurance provides protection from the various potential losses related to your property. These include unknown title defects, existing liens against the property’s title, encroachment issues, title fraud, and other title-related issues that can affect your ability to sell, mortgage, or lease your property in the future. For a one-time fee, called a premium, a title insurance policy will offer protection from such losses. Importantly, title insurance policy will only protect you as long as you own your property. In addition, a title insurance policy will cover losses up to the maximum coverage set out in the policy. It may also cover most legal expenses related to restoring your property’s title.The Type of Protection Offered by Title Insurance
Before purchasing a title insurance policy, be sure to review the coverage as there are possible exclusions. These include known title defects, environmental hazards, native land claims, zoning bylaw violations, matters that are not listed in public records, problems that would only be discovered by a new survey or inspection of your property, and other additional exclusions.
Given that a title insurance policy does not provide compensation for non-title related issues, it does not provide compensation for damages due to flooding, fire, general wear and tear of your property, theft, and other damages due to non-title related issues.
Title insurance policy provides protection for residential and commercial properties. Residential title insurance policy insures houses, condominiums, rental units, cottages, cooperatives, leased properties, and vacant and rural land. Commercial title insurance policies can insure office buildings, industrial buildings, shopping centers, warehouses, leased commercial properties, vacant commercial land, and rental units.
Residential title insurance can provide coverage for individuals planning to purchase new property, or even if they own a property already. Specifically, the policy can provide comprehensive coverage which offers protection against losses related to the property’s title. Also, it can provide gap coverage which protects you for the “gap” between the time your property purchase is finalized and the time your title is registered in the land registration system. Next, the policy provides survey coverage which eliminates the need for a new up-to-date survey of your property. Finally, the title insurance policy provides legal coverage which offers payment for most legal expenses related to defending your home’s title. Most importantly, title insurance simplifies the closing process for your lawyer, thereby saving your time and money!When can title insurance policy be purchased?
Title insurance may be purchased at the time of buying your property, or anytime after the purchase. However, policies for existing homeowners and new property buyers are slightly different. The cost of residential title insurance varies based on the value of your property, and the insurance company you choose. A one-time fee, called a premium, applies to all purchasers.
Residential title insurance coverage lasts as long as you own the property. Most residential title insurance policies extend coverage trough a will, or when the property is transferred from parents to children for nominal consideration.
Title insurance can be purchased through a lawyer or title insurance company. You can also contact an insurance agent for more information.
Once you have decided to purchase title insurance be sure to verify that your property is insured for its full value, that your policy’s effective date is the same as your property’s closing date, and that you understand the terms of your coverage.
Importantly, all real estate lawyers in Ontario are required to carry professional liability insurance and this insurance may provide coverage for title-related issues that relate to the services provided by your lawyer.How to Make a Title Insurance Claim
In order to make a title insurance claim you must first verify that the title-related problem is covered by the policy. Once it is established that you qualify for protection, ask your title insurance company or refer to your policy to find out when claims must be submitted. Your claim must be submitted in writing specifying the information on the losses you have experienced and must include your policy number, contact information and any relevant documents related to your claim. Finally, it is recommended that you keep a copy of your claim. A decision about your claim will be communicated with you within a reasonable amount of time.
Friday, May 6, 2011
The tablets contain, for example, the electronic version of service agreements and Contracts of Purchase and Sale of real estate. The signature of the buyer and seller may be captured by their signing on the tablet, much like when we sign on a tablet for receipt of delivery of a couriered package or at a credit card terminal. The agreements can be printed or emailed directly from the tablet.
The Council has considered the question of whether electronic contracts are enforceable when the signature of a party to the contract is not signed in ink, known as a “wet” signature.
The Council has concluded that electronic agreements and the use of signatures written onto an electronic tablet can create enforceable agreements, whether these are service agreements or Contracts of Purchase and Sale of real estate, so long as all of the essential elements of a contract are in place, e.g. the parties to the contract are known, the terms of the contract are clear and the parties have agreed to those terms.
The Law and Equity Act requires that a Contract of Purchase and Sale of real estate, in order to be enforceable, must be in writing and signed by the party to be charged or an agent of the party.
The courts have expressly supported the view that, while the traditional form of writing is a paper document, the definition does not preclude other forms of expression, including electronic
The reason for the requirement of a signature to a contract is to ensure that there has been acknowledgement and approval of the terms of the contract.
The signature need not be in any particular form and the courts have supported both manual “wet” and electronic signatures, and electronic signatures that are password protected, as well as those that are not.
Monday, April 25, 2011
The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province continued to climb higher in March. Compared to March of 2010, MLS® residential unit sales increased 11.5 per cent to 8,600 units. The average MLS® residential price rose 15 per cent to $594,157 in March compared to the same month last year.
"We continue to observe a two-speed market in BC, with surging consumer demand in Metro Vancouver overshadowing more moderate demand in other regions," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Vigorous consumer demand drove Greater Vancouver to its most active March since 2004, while the Fraser Valley had its strongest March in four years. Conversely, sales activity in other BC markets is expanding at a pace more inline with overall economic growth."
Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 21 per cent to $11.14 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales increased 4.7 per cent to 19,147 units. The average MLS® residential price rose 15.4 per cent to $582,021 over the same period.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The B.C. government announced on April 8, 2011 the process by which British Columbians will cast their ballot in the HST referendum vote this summer.
- Monday, June 13 – Elections BC starts mailing out referendum ballots for the HST to all registered voters.
- Friday, June 24 – Majority of British Columbians have received the ballot.
- Friday, July 8 – Last day for unregistered voters to request a ballot from Elections BC.
- Friday, July 22, 4:30 p.m. (local time) – Completed ballots must be received by mail by Elections BC or in person by a Service BC centre.
Elections BC, a non-partisan office of the legislature, will conduct the referendum.
British Columbians who are not registered voters for a provincial election, or who have moved since the last election and have not updated their voter record, will need to request a ballot from Elections BC.
It will take several weeks for Elections BC to count the ballots. Results of the vote are expected in August.
The referendum question will be:
“Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)? Yes/No.”
Attorney General Barry Penner –
“Most British Columbians will have their ballot by June 24 and can begin weighing this very important decision. Voters will need to remember that, to be counted, they must make sure their ballots are mailed in time to be received by Elections BC before the close of voting at 4:30 p.m. local time on Friday, July 22 or deliver their completed ballot to a Service BC centre by the same deadline.”
For more information on the HST, visit: www.hstinbc.ca
For more information on Elections BC, visit: www.elections.bc.ca
Thursday, March 10, 2011
REBGV reports increased housing demand in February
Demand for detached homes continues to be strong across Greater Vancouver, with particularly high sales volumes occurring in Richmond and Vancouver Westside.
For the past two months, the number of properties listed for sale and those sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver outpaced the 10-year average in both categories. From a historical perspective, February’s 3,097 home sales outpace the 2,742 home-sale average recorded in the region over the last ten years.
“We saw an increase in demand across our region last month as more buyers entered the market in advance of the spring season,” said Jake Moldowan, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). “The intensity of this activity varied between communities. Our statistics tell us that single detached homes in Richmond and the west side of Vancouver remain the most sought after properties in our marketplace.”
Between November 2010 and February 2011, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in Richmond increased $190,739 to $1,099,679; in Vancouver West, detached home prices increased $222,185 to $1,850,072. In comparison, detached home prices across the region increased $51,762 between November 2010 and February 2011 to $848,645.
“To effectively analyse real estate statistics for the purpose of buying or selling a home, it’s critical to focus on your neighbourhood of choice because, like we see today, conditions and prices can fluctuate significantly within the same city or municipality,” Moldowan said.
Looking across the region, the REBGV reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver reached 3,097 on the MLS® in February 2011. This represents a 70.3 per cent increase compared to the 1,819 sales recorded in January 2011, an increase of 25.2 per cent compared to the 2,473 sales in February 2010 and a 109.3 per cent increase from the 1,480 home sales in February 2009.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,693 in February 2011. This represents a 23.6 per cent increase compared to February 2010 when 4,606 properties were listed, and an 18.6 per cent increase compared to January 2011 when 4,801 homes were added to the MLS® in Greater Vancouver.
“With a sizeable increase in the number of properties coming onto the market for sale, there’s a good selection out there for buyers to choose from,” Moldowan said.
At, 11,925, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS® increased 14.2 per cent in February compared to last month and increased 5 per cent from this time last year.
Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in February 2011 reached 1,402, an increase of 42.6 per cent from the 983 detached sales recorded in February 2010, and a 138.9 per cent increase from the 587 units sold in February 2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 6 per cent from February 2010 to $848,645.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,206 in February 2011, a 12.3 per cent increase compared to the 1,074 sales in February 2010, and an increase of 85.5 per cent compared to the 650 sales in February 2009. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.2 per cent from February 2010 to $399,397.
Attached property sales in February 2011 totalled 489, a 17.5 per cent increase compared to the 416 sales in February 2010, and a 101.2 per cent increase from the 243 attached properties sold in February 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 2.3 per cent between February 2010 and 2011 to $507,118.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
The Greater Vancouver housing market remained in balanced market conditions in January, although higher levels of buyer demand were seen in some of the region’s largest communities.
The number of properties listed for sale and those sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) last month outpaced the 10-year average in both categories for January.
"There was a healthy balance between the number of home buyers and sellers in our market in January, but there's always variation in activity from region to region," said Jake Moldowan, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). "We're seeing strong sellers' market conditions in areas like Richmond and the west side of Vancouver."
Over the last 12 months, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price of detached homes increased 22.6 per cent in Richmond and 12.2 per cent in Vancouver West. In comparison, detached home prices across the region increased 2.7 per cent over the same period.
"When yo'’re looking to buy or sell a home, it's important to familiarize yourself with the wider trends in the market. It's equally important to seek out knowledge of your local area so you understand current market conditions in your neighbourhood," Moldowan said.
Looking across the region, the REBGV reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,819 on the MLS® in January 2011. This represents a 4.2 per cent decline compared to the 1,899 sales recorded in December 2010, a decrease of 5.4 per cent compared to the 1,923 sales in January 2010 and a 138.7 per cent increase from the 762 home sales in January 2009.
From a historical perspective, January's 1,819 homes sales slightly surpassed the 1,790 home sale average recorded in the region over the last ten years.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 4,801 in January 2011. This represents a 6.7 per cent decrease compared to January 2010 when 5,147 properties were listed, and a 182 per cent increase compared to December 2010 when 1,699 homes were added to the MLS® in Greater Vancouver.
At 10,438, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS® increased 5.8 per cent in January compared to last month and increased 2.2 per cent from this time last year.
Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in January 2011 reached 793, an increase of 12.5 per cent from the 705 detached sales recorded in January 2010, and a 171.6 per cent increase from the 292 units sold in January 2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 2.7 per cent from January 2010 to $810,045.
Sales of apartment properties reached 713 in January 2011, a decline of 20.8 per cent compared to the 891 sales in January 2010, and an increase of 97.5 per cent compared to the 361 sales in January 2009.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 1.4 per cent from January 2010 to $390,935.
Attached property sales in January 2011 totalled 313, a decline of 4.3 per cent compared to the 327 sales in January 2010, and a 187.2 per cent increase from the 109 attached properties sold in January 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 2.6 per cent between January 2010 and 2011 to $495,140.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
This West Tower's 28th floor 1 bedroom condo features panoramic 180 degree NW views of the North Shore mountains and ocean over Coal Harbour and English Bay.
With a well-laid open floor plan, 600sf feels spacious and includes a nook and office space.
Kitchen features granite countertops and large porcelain floor tiles. Washroom features quartz countertops and tile floors.
Great starter or investment property!
Suite previously rented out furnished for $2200-3000/month. All furnishings are also for sale. Included are 1 underground parking stall and 1 storage locker.
Building amenities include a screening/theater room, gym, 2 meeting rooms and 2 lobbies with 24-hour concierge.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province declined 12 per cent to 74,640 units in 2010. The annual average MLS® residential price rose 8.5 per cent to a record $505,178 in 2010.
"Tighter credit conditions and expended pent-up demand curbed home sales during the first half of 2010,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, low mortgage interest rates and improved economic conditions buoyed home sales in the latter half of the year.” MLS® residential unit sales declined 40 per cent January through July before climbing 43 per cent by the end of the year, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
"The inventory of homes for sale peaked at 53,375 units in May before declining 14 per cent to 46,000 units by December,” added Muir. “The combination of fewer active listings and increased consumer demand has improved market conditions in many areas."
MLS® residential sales declined 25 per cent to 4,258 units in December from a near record level of 5,703 units in December 2009. After a 15 per cent increase in unit sales between October and November, a further 1 per cent increase was recorded in December on a seasonally adjusted basis. The average MLS® residential sales price was a record $523,990 in December, up 6 per cent from December 2009.