Friday, December 12, 2008

Update on the Canada and Vancouver Real Estate Market: BoC Rate Decision, Bank Prime Rates, Mortgage Lending, Home Prices, Property Assessment Freeze

Canada Greater Vancouver Housing Starts Continue to Plunge

According to both Metro Vancouver News and 24 Hours Vancouver, the Greater Vancouver housing starts in most municipalities continue to plunge to record low levels admist the global economic problems and real estate sales declines. From MetroNews Vancouver: Groundbreaking housing starts falls for 6th straight months in Greater Vancouver to only 134,600, which represents a drop of 12.3%! Canadian housing starts fell by a greater than expected 12.3 per cent in February 2009, marking a sixth straight month decline in housing starts in Canada (consecutive months) and the lowest level since June of 2000, as domestic economy strugges through a major downturn. Groundbreakings on new homes dropped to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 134,600 units last month from 153,500 in January 2009 with declines seen in the single and multiple dwelling Canadian real estate sectors, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said yesterday. The number of starts in February 2009 in Canada was below analyst forecasts fro 145,000 starts. But there was a silver lining in the weak numbers of the plunge in Canadian housing starts this month. While it suggests that builders are responding to weaker demand, which could have a short term negative effect on economic activity, it also indicates there may not be a severe oversupply of homes throughout Canada. Economists continue to describe the Canadian housing downturn as only a correction that will last the better part of 2009, and many experts expect the real estate markets in Canada to make a recovery in 2010 according to Reuters. Construction of urban single family homes in Canada real estate markets fell 11 per cent to 44,500 units, while multiple dwellings, like condos and townhome communities, dropped 17.5 per cent to 63,300 units throughout Canada, representing a huge plunge in Canadian housing starts for the sixth consecutive month. According to 24Hours Vancouver: Housing starts throughout the Lwoer Mainland plunged in February compared to a year ago, new stats from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests. There were only 701 homes started in the Greater Vancouver real estate area last month, compared to 2,446 in February 2008, representing a whopping 71 per cent drop in Vancouver housing starts this February 2009. CMHC analysts are calling it a moderation in the Greater Vancouver real estate market. “New home construction slowing to more sustainable levels,” CMHC said in a news release regarding the sudden drop in housing starts in the Vancouver property market. It’s a trend seen in most areas of the country. Overall, Canadian urban centres saw an average drop of 60 per cent in housing starts last month compared to 2008 (a year earlier). But it’s also a change that’s hitting cities in the wallet just as property tax season comes around and finance officials struggle to balance their books and finances. In the City of Vancouver, revenue for building permits related to all forms of construction real estate has continued to fall as well. In January 2009, the value of building permits issued was 29 per cent lower than December 2008 (just a month earlier), and more than half the value of January 2008 (a year earlier), according to city officials. That represents a difference of $46 million on a total budget of roughly $900 million. By Irwin L of 24 Hours Vancouver.

Rate Decision by Canadian Banks Angers Some Home Owners

Canadians are speaking out against a decision by the big six banks not to fully match a big interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada, as indicated in MetroNews Vancouver. A spokes person says the Consumers’ Association of Canada has received “hundreds of calls” from “outraged” Canadians across the country since the chartered banks decided to lower their prime rates by only 50 basis points. The central bank of Canada had earlier cut its trend-setting rate by 75 basis points. Consumers appear upset that the banks are blunting the impact of the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy, and that they are doing so at a time when they are tapping taxpayer-funded programs to bolster lending. Among those intiatives, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has tripled Ottawa’s mortgage purchase program to $75 billion and backstopped more than $200 billion in interbank loans. In a statement, Flaherty’s spokesperson noted the objective of both the mortgage purchase program and the lenders assurance facility is to “further improve credit availability and affordability,” for soncumser and businesses.

Is Now the Right Time to Buy Your First Vancouver Home?

According to Your Money section in Vancouver 24 Hours newspaper: Today’s economy has many people wondering if now is the right time to buy their first Vancouver home. With a moderate real estate market, interest rates at all-time lows and incentives for first time homebuyers announced in January’s Federal Budget, some think that now is a good time to make home ownership dreams into reality in the Greater Vancouver real estate market. Almost four of every ten Canadian or 38 per cent believe now is a good time to purchase an 32 per cent think it is a bad time, so it’s basically split in the middle, according to a report released recently by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals. “Residential mortgage consumers remain remarkably positive as they weather the financial storm,” the association says. The Conference Board of Canada also found that consumer confidence in the country rebounded slightly in January 2009 from a twenty seven year lo in December 2007. The organization says the number of people considering making a big purchase such a car or new home rose to 28.5 per cent from 26.7 per cent. An online survey conducted by CAAMP also reveals Canadians expect housing prices to fall: 35 per cent, more than twice as mnay as last fall.

Most Experts and Canadian Home Buyers Expect Stability in the Housing Prices for 2009

According to the front page Real Estate Weekly newspaper, 65 per cent of all Canadians expect home prices to increase or stay stable over the next year, according to a report from the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP). Many of the people’s attitudes are very positive even in the face of tough economic times and recession in the North American markets. Attitudes towards local conditions have shifted only slightly with 38 per cent of Canadians believing now is a goot time to purchase and 32 per cent believing it is a bad time. Mortgage arrears remain very low in Canada home market and steady at 0.28 per cent and 84 per cent of home owners are satisfied with their current home mortgages. The information was gathered by Maritz from an online survey of over 2,000 Canadians in mid October 2008. In addition to this report, some Canadians do expect housing prices to fall: 35 per cent, more than twice as many as last fall, now believe prices will drop; half o those survedyed gave a neutral answer while the number who thought prices would go up fell from 40% to 20%. In BC, hardest hit by the recent drop in property prices, 48% of those surveyed said they expect prices to fall, far above the national Canadian average.

Canada Housing Sales to Stay Stalled

According to MetroNews Vancouver, the first half of 2009 to be somewhat static according to a recent report. Canada’s real estate market is expected to be “somewhat static” for at least the next six months as the economic downturn makes potential buyers extra cautious, while the average house price is expected to fall, according to a report released yesterday. The Re/Max Housing Market Outlook, which tracks 22 real estate markets across the country, says it expects 440,000 homes to change hands in 2008, down 15 per cent from 2007. It predicted the same number of sales for next year, but the first six to nine months of 2009 will be under pressure from volatility in financial markets and the threat of recession. Housing markets across Canada real estate should recover as stability returns to the financial sector the Re/Max report said. If consumer confidence is restored and overall economic activity picks up, so should the housing market and a bounce back could occur “as early as spring.” Eleven major real estate markets in Canada are expected to match or exceed 2008 home sales next year. Report highlights: A buyers market emerged in the latter half of 2008. Housing values are expected to slip three per cent to an average of $300,000. Unit sales should match 2008 levels by year end 2009, but the average price is forecast to fall another two per cent to $293,000.

Vancouver House Prices to Fall 18% in 2009

The latest forecast for housing prices in Greater Vancouver calls for the bottom in 2010. By Jeff N. for the Black Press. House prices in B.C. are in for a two year slide that won’t bottom until 2010, predicts a leading economist. Helmut Pastrick of Central 1 Credit Union says the B.C. and Greater Vancouver housing market is heading into recession on the heels fo the global impact of the credit crisis. He projects median B.C. hose prices will fall 13 per cent in 2009 and drop another 5 per cent in 2010 before reaching a turnaround point. “A poor economic outlook for 2009 and tight credit conditions extending into next year will keep housing sales on a downward trajectory for several more months,” Pastrick said. Housing sales in Greater Vancouver real estate market, already down 30 per cent this year, will drop another 17 per cent in 2009, he said. Pastrick also projects a 37 per cent plunge in new construction next year as a result of a poor sales climate and tight credit environment. House starts should make a modest recovery in 2010, he added.

Property Assessment Freeze in Vancouver Real Estate Prices Expected – With Some Exceptions

According to Real Estate Weekly, the B.C. government is freezing 2009 property tax assessment to help ailing home owners who have felt the economic times and freeze in lending/financing for their homes. According to REW, the BC government will freeze all tax assessments for 2009 at the July 2007 levels (with some exceptions) because the July 2008 would misinterpret the value of their homes through 2009. July 2008 as many home owners know was the peak fo the real estate market here in British Columbia and Vancouver and would have been much higher than the market value through 2009 if the values were used in the 2009 tax assessments. Some of the exceptions include: new homes built on what were building lots, substantial renovations that add value to a property in addition to fires and other accidents causing damage will not have the same benefit and will be valued at the July 2008 market value. Please watch for for more information about this. Meanwhile, the national Canadian real estate states are lowest since 2002. The number of homes sold through the Canadian Multiple Listing Service plunged 14 per cent last on the weakest level since July 2002, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association since Friday. The statistics reflect tighter money and the erosion of Canadian’s sense of wealth because of continued stock market declines, CREA suggests. Changes in federal mortgage rules that shortened loan periods and made it more difficult for people with little down payment to finance a home, also had an impact on sales.

Mortgage Changes in Canada Will Have Little Effect

Another article according to the Real Estate Weekly suggests that the tightening of the Canadian mortgage bank lending rules will have little impact on homebuyer choices. With the abolishment of the 0% down mortgage and the decrease from a maximum 40 year amortization to 35 year amortization, these won’t make it more difficult for home buyers to get an affordable mortgage for their new home. The difference is so little monthly and over time that it won’t have a big impact on people’s decisions to buy or wait. Canadians regularly exercise their options to pay down their mortgage debt sooner as well according to REW. In fact most Canadian home owners repay their mortgage in 15 to 20 years or in far less time than the amortization periods affected by these new criteria. While the changes won’t deny many people the chance to own a home, they will help ensure our housing market stays strong.

New Canadian Homes Prices, Starts Defy Experts

According to REW, the price of new homes in Canada actually increased by 2.1 per cent in September 2008 on a year over year basis, slightly ahead of economist’s expectations, Stats Canada reported. The 12 month increase for Vancouver was 1.4 per cent and in Victoria, contractors’ selling prices increased 0.2 per cent year over year. Most analysts had called for a two per cent decline in new homes prices and much slower starts. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. however, reports that housing starts remained relatively strong, declining by just 3.1 per cent to 211,800 units in October from 218.600 in September.

Real Estate Investment – Thinking Long Term for your home

Cited by many as a somewhat non-intuitive benefit of this year’s market change is a growing return to the concept that your own home should be somewhere you live, an investment in real estate to be held for the long term rather than analyzed minute by minute against market fluctuations like stocks or bonds. After all, in the grand scheme of things, if you’ve found the perfct home – one you love, you can afford, and that meets all your criteria – history suggest the Chinese proverb that says “the best time to buy real estate was five years ago, but the next best time to buy real estate is today” remains valid advice for home buyers today. This is a great article written by S. Boyce for the New Home Buyer Guide of Greater Vancouver on the market outlook in Greater Vancouver for the upcoming year. Return to Village Living is another concept that home buyers have been embracing this year in 2008. Across all municipalities of the Lower Mainland, 2008 saw the new home real estate market in Vancouver change to be driven in large park by the multi-family sector. As the lock-and-go lifestyle becomes more about choice than nccessity, homebuyers in Lower Mainland of all generations are opting to let others take care of the daily hassle of maintenance. Amenities figure strong among these choices. Spa style clubhouses with state of the art fitness centre, even demonstration kitchens and multimedia rooma are showing in increasing frequency in new home construction in the Greater Vancouver real estate market these days. Some properties in Vancouver property market are even including on site temperature controlled wine lockers. WE also saw a strong leaning toward lifestyle centres like South Surrey’s Morgan Crossing and Garrison Crossing in Chilliwack real estate market. These multi phase property developments celebrate intergenerational living communities and the idea you can live, work and play in a neighbourhood where everything is within walking distance. Shopping and services rub shoulders with different types of housing. Recreational facilities are just down the road and services from laundry or doctors offices to banking and pet sitting just round the corner.

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BC & Greater Vancouver Real Estate Developer & Builder Profiles: Amacon, Freeport Industries, Onni, Concert Properties, Westmana Developments

Amacon – Live Well

There are those who live and those who live well according to Amacon real estate developers in the Lower Mainland and beyond. Their taglines include: Live to Achieve, Live for Dreams and live For Success. Amacon boasts a spectacular portfolio of landmark properties in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Los Angeles, and has established a highly regarded reputation for setting the new standard in exceptional long-term value with each and every real estate development. With roots that stretch back over four and a half decades, Amacon has become one of Canada’s leading and successful real estate development, construction, and property management firms. Amacon is driven by a passion to design with architectural innovation; a commitment to constructing uncompromising standards of quality and superior craftsmanship; and offering responsive customer care and proven satisfaction. These are the building blocks that define Amacon’s signature real estate developments and new home communities. At Amacon, it’s not just have how we build, its’ about how you live. Amacon-Live Well – Acquisition – Marketing & Sales – Property Management – Development – Construction – Customer Care.

Discover Freeport Industries – Modular Real Estate Construction, Built to Last

Dicscover Freeport – and the modular advantage today! Our mission at Freeport is to provide our clients with the highest quality, most comfortable, attractive and durable modular residence sin Western Canada real estate. Building structural modules indoors, in a controlled environment, resolves many problmes typical of conventional on-site building. Costs are lower and prices and completion dates more reliable using Freeport Industries real estate builders. Hundreds of people already live in homes built by Freeport and the number is growing. While Freeport Industries real estate builders can supply you with finished plans to choose from, they can also be a base for a unique customized home that exactly fits your family and lifestyle. From consulting and initial planning to lot servicing, let Freeport Industries property builders handle your entire real estate projects. For more information, please visit the website at Freeport Industries – Modular Construction, Built to Last. Cabins, single family, duplexes, townhouses and fourplex construction. Head office of Freeport Industries real estate builders is in Parksville at 1365 Springhill Road in Parksville BC and Westbank at 3522-B Red Cloud Way, Westbank BC.

Imagine How Good It Feels To Live in the Best Residential Development in B.C.

Winning the coveted 2007 Georgia Award for Best Residential Development of the Year from the Canadian Home Builders Association takes more than constructing a collection of exceptional homes. It requires the creation of a community that captures imaginations. A place where people can find solace from the frenzy of city life. Somewhere kids can play safely in the park and float toy boats in a crystal clear pond. A neighbourhood where people can walk their dogs on quiet streets lined with old growth trees. Victoria Hill has all this and more. That’s why it captures the hearts of the Georgia judges. And it will capture yours. Nestled above B.C.’s royal city, Victoria Hill is a carefully tailored combination of residences ranging from lovingly restored heritage houses to sophisticated townhomes and contemporary condominiums. These outstanding residences are destined to become a flagship community of the Lower Mainland. And we’ve worked hard to ensure it’s accessible to everyone from first time home buyers to retirees. It’s your chance to be one of fhe privileged few who can call the best residential community in BC home. Visit Victoria Hill by Onni Developers today and let your imagination carry you away. The Onni Victoria Hill sales centre is located off McBride Boulevard and Royal Avenue in New Westminster BC and is open daily from noon to 6pm (except Friday). The Carlyle highrise condo tower by Onni is a 27 storey of concrete opportunity that is ready for 2010. Featuring unparalleled views and oversized decks. The Grove at Victoria Hill – live in parkside luxuy, a collection of Onni lowrises nestled amongst trees, streams and trails and best of all, you can move in today! Whittacker at Victoria Hill is coming soon to Onni’s master planned community. Heritage inspired low rise residences – relive the royal city glory as the grand opening is coming this spring.

Concert Properties – a Developer with a difference

Not all of our development real estate projects require hard hats. At Concert Properties, we are committed to supporting B.C.’s building trades and to helping create rewarding careers for the youth of our province. To fulfill this commitment, we contribute thousands of dollars annually to programs that assist young people with choosing a career in the trades. Some of these funds go towards teaching life and work skills to disadvantaged youth. Others become cash grants and bursaries thorugh BCIT to financial support and incentive for students to complete their studies and training. We’re proud of the foundations we build at Concert Properties. On the site and in the classroom. For more information, visit or call 604.688.9460.

Westmana Development Corp

Thank you for registering to receive information on Westmana's current and upcoming real estate developments. If Waterfront living is part of your future, then you have come to the right place! At Westmana real estate development corp., we are committed to the property development of sustainable and well-planned communities in British Columbia, balancing the fulfillment of human needs with the protection of the natural environment. We are applying our real estate expertise and experience in the British Columbia Sea-to-Sky corridor (especially in Squamish and Whistler), in the Okanagan (Osoyoos, Penticton) and in Vancouver Island (Tofino, Campbell River) to find, secure, develop, and market superior real estate projects that will over-deliver on the expectations of all our constituents: our customers, our employees, our community, and our investors. We have now added your name to our registrant list, and we will keep in touch via email updates. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 1.866.629.2353. Best regards, Karen Ng, Westmana Marketing Coordinator - Email: - Web:

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Greater Vancouver Hollyburn Properties are Unique, Renovated and Environmentally Friendly - Rent a Hollyburn Rental Apartment Today

Looking for Premiere Rental Apartment? Discover the Hollyburn Difference Today!

Exceptionally maintained – prime urban locations – attractive residences – environmental initiatives – professional on-site managers – value added services. Commitment to excellence is part of everything we do at Hollyburn Properties. As proud owners, we manage each one of our buildings with professionalism and quality. We make every effort to create beautiful, functional and comfortable home environments for each one of our valued residents. We know that you have a choice of where to live and we want you to consider making your home in one of our Hollyburn Properties. Make your new rental home with us …. Contact Hollyburn Properties today! Hotline is at 604.878.8888. Proudly owned and managed by Hollyburn Properties – premiere residences, exceptional management today. A great article about the Hollyburn Properties rental apartments in Greater Vancouver. You know what you want in a home. Great location, contemporary features and amenities, plus a solid commitment to outstanding management and customer service here at the rental accommodations and rental apartment suites by Hollyburn Properties in the Lower Mainland real estate market. Okay some people call you fussy: you siply think of it as being discriminating. Hollyburn Properties gets it. Big time. And I’ve long ago discovered they not only get it, this West Vancouver based rental property management company goes out of their way to exceed the expectations of every resident in all of their Hollyburn rental apartment properties – every day and every time. There’s a sense of easygoing efficiency when ever I walk through a Hollyburn rental apartment property building. All are located only in the most sought after neighbourhoods, the Hollyburn West End rental apartments are among the most popular, as are the Westside Vancouver, North Shore, Toronto and Calgary – neighbourhoods with unique character and a vivacious outlook on life. Typically people who live here pause to chat with neighbours and their resident managers like old friends – laughter is a frequent sound.

Investing in the future at Hollyburn Properties Rental Apartments

“We call it the Hollyburn Difference,” explains Alisa A, sales and marketing manager for Hollyburn Properties rental accommodations. “Unlike many companies, we own and manage all our buildings. That means we have a strong incentive to constantly re-invest into each property and into our staff’s knowledge and expertise. Plus we have professional, on-site manageres, a benefit you don’t always find in a rental building.” Alisa explains about the Hollyburn Properties rental apartments’ private education centre on the lower level of Nicola Place, one of Hollyburn’s West End Vancouver rental apartment properties. Affectionately known as the Hollyburn School, this is where managers and maintenance staff go through intensive, hands on seminars covering everything from painting and general repairs to professional dishwasher installation techniques and administration systems. I’ve already seen two expamples of Hollyburn rental properties undergoing full renovation – Nicola Place in Vancouver West End rental apartments and Reid Manor and it’s impressive. Each has been refinished and transformed into sunny living spaces with finishing details that meet or even surpass the standards at home in any new condominium development. But every change is considered an opportunity at Hollyburn Properties rental suites. “Whenever a suite turns over, we go through a comprehensive series of renovations to ensure the next resident will be moving into a Smart Suite – energy efficient lighting and appliances, low water consumption, plumbing fixtures, painting, and all the extras that make a suite more comfortable.”

Inspired Partnerships at the Rental Hollyburn Apartments

Embracing the philosophy that the good life encompasses a broad diversity of partnerships, Hollyburn Properties continues to develop some truly innovative bonuses for their residents. “We believe it’s not just about renting suites, it’s about building a sense of community which is why we’ve introduced the Hollyburn Properties Value Added Partners. The concept is simple but inspired. By partnering with a growing number of large retail and service providers, residents have access to some very significant discounts – discounts you can get excited about. How about residents at the Hollyburn Properties rental apartments getting as much as 50% off tenant insurance through ING Insurance? Or membership in Co-Op Auto Network at an even higher discount? One of my favourites for Hollyburn rental apartment residents is Costco Night, an opportunity to shop till you drop even if you are not a member. And then there’s the many Shaw Cable events and special promotions available exclusively to Hollyburn residences. See For Yourself: Ready to get inspired by the place you call home? Check out the Hollyburn rental apartment difference for yourself by visiting online at Browse all the Hollyburn Properties, take a preview of residences coming available, and get set to be part of the Hollyburn community.

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Vancouver Home Ownership Made Easy by Manulife One Financing on Home Buying and Investment Real Estate

Manulife one Financing of Investment Real Estate and Improving Home Ownership

Location, Location and Manulife one. Introducing a new addition to the golden rule of real estate investing. Manulife one is much more than a mortgage. It takes the increasingly popular home line of credit one giant step further by allowing your income and short-term savings to be applied to the account. With Manulife one, every deposit you make automatically lowers your borrowings and, as a result, you play less interest. This “one way” provides three easy ways to improve your home and real estate investments. Manulife one Makes Home Ownership More Affordable. Manulife one’s ability to consolidate all your debt at one low rate could free-up hundreds of dollars in monthly cash-flow. You may have a choice of paying off your mortgage sooner or looking towards purchasing a more expensive property. What would you do with a couple hundred extra hundred dollars per month*? Simplify your life with Manulife one. Manulife one is more than a revolutionary approach to managing finances. Life is simpler when every dollar you deposit immediately reduces the amount of money you’ve borrowed. Having less debt saves you interest cost and could even reduce financial stress through Manulife one program. With 24 hour online banking and just one comprehensive monthly statement, managing your daily finances is so much easier with Manulife one. Managing the financing of investment real estate property. Manulife one for investment proeprties provides you with an all in one package to anage and monitor the finances of an investment real estate property. You could have your mortgage, taxes, income flow, monthly expenses and maintenance costs managed through this one account. Not only is the interest rate competitive, but the range of payment options through Manulife one program allows you more flexibility with managing your investment in real estate. And real estate investors can always access the accumulated equity (up to your established credit limit) for property maintenance and repairs. To learn more, visit or ask your financial advisor for a Manulife one referral.

The Dream Home Purchase with Manulife one

The dream home purchase: let’s say you own a home with a mortgage at current rates. You also have money in savings, a good income and you carefully manage monthly expenses. Like most Canadians you probably have a car loan and may have borrowed from a line of credit. With Manulife one’s power of consolidation, account flexilbility and ability to maximize your income, you could pay off your debts in significantly less time and save thousands in interest costs. Or, if you’re comfortable continuing to pay the same amount as you are currently paying with your traditional mortgage, and unconsolidated debts, you coule turn that payment towards buying a larger home using the power of Manulife one. Result. Although you’ll be paying the same overall debt payments, the power of the Manulife one account enables you to purchase a home worth more-maybe your dream home! By taking advantage of the flexible mortgage account and reduced borrowing costs, you could “trade-up” to a bigger house through Manulife one program yet there may be no extra cost when compared to your current debt repayment. *Manulife one is designed to help save Canadians thousands in interest costs and help clients become debt-free sooner, but individual results may vary. Manulife one is offered by Manulife Bank of Canada. Manulife, Manulife one, the one logo and the block design are registered trademarks of the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it and its affiliates, including Manulife Bank of Canada. $48,496 – Hi, I’m Bob and this is my Manulife one number. It’s the interest my family could save over the life of our mortgage. By combining all our income, loans and savings into one single Manulife one account we could be debt free years sooner. This innovative money saving account with Manulife Bank of Canada called Manulife one comes with infinite possibilities. It coule mean a better education for my kids, a few more relaxing vacations or some renovations we’ve always put off. It’s not just y Manulife one number. It’s my life in dollars and sense. Every Canadian homeowner has a Manulife one number, what’s yours? Discover it today at Manulife one is offered through Manulife Bank of Canada. Ask your financial advisor for a referral or call 1.877.765.2265.

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Metro Vancouver Homelessness Key Issues and Numbers - Social Housing Updates - North Shore Homeless Count - Affordable Housing on Its Way?

Downtown Eastside Vancouver Rainier Hotel Re-Opens for Women’s Social Housing

The complex offers homes and hope according to Kristen T. of MetroNews Vancouver. Forty one women who had been sleeping in alleys or shelters will now have a safe place to call home with the opening of the women’s housing social apartment complex in the downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Rainier Hotel was re-opened yesterday after a $9.5 million contribution from the provincial and federal governments and $5 million from Health Canada. The 41-unit, single room occupancy Rainier Hotel Vancouver downtown eastside building will have a 20 unit treatment program for women in recovery from detox and 21 units for social housing tenants. “In our community there is a lot to be sad about,” said Liz Evans, founder of the Portland Hotel Socity, which will be managing the third floor units at the downtown Eastside social housing Rainer Hotel in Vancouver. “This building represents homes and hope for the women in the Vancouver downtown eastside. This will have a great impact on the lives of the people here.” Heather Hay, with Vancouver Coastal Health said yesterday was a “benchmark day,” for the women of Downtown Eastside Vancouver and social housing. “Housing is often the first step in recovery, but it isn’t enough,” she said. “By offering a rnage of supports to vulnerable women after detox treatment, we are giving them the tools to become stable, regain control of their health and establish a foundation for ongoing recovery.” Expanding social housing has been a priority for the provincial government. The Rainier Hotel in Downtown Eastside Vancouver was one of six single room occupancy social housing hotels bought by the BC government last year to protect and expand affordable housing. To date, the province has acquired 23 hotels with 1350 units in Vancouver, mostly in the downtown Eastside for social housing and treatment facilities. Renovations are currently underway at 11 of the buildings.

Vancouver Social Housing Update - March 2009 - BC To Fund New Affordable Social Housing Sites

The provincial government of British Columbia has announced that it will fund and build six long awaited social housing sites in Vancouver, part of a year old pledge to fast track a dozen social housing projects on city-owned land. This is according to 24Hours Vancouver and written by Irwin L on March 18, 2009. The six new Vancouver social housing sites will be located at: 1338 Seymour Street (with 105 new social housing units in Vancouver Downtown), 1005 Station Street (with 80 new Vancouver social housing suites), 525 Abbott Street in Gastown with 108 units, 188 East 1st Avenue in East Vancouver with 129 new social housing units, 3212 Dunbar Street with 51 units and 339 West Pender Street with 96 new affordable housing suites. This move by the BC government came on Tuesday as advocates in the Downtown Vancouver Eastside accused the province on failing to deliver on their election promises. By kick starting $172 million in funding for affordable social housing in Vancouver, these will be an additional 569 units built in the next year. Five of the six Vancouver social housing sites are in downtown Eastside. This is only half of the promised Vancouver social housing projects that was promised back in 2007. If fully constructed, the dozen Vancouver social housing sites would see up to 1200 small studio units of housing for low income singles, with many catered towards hard to house clients with mental health and addiction service providers.

Metro Vancouver Homeless Tally Up 22 Per Cent

This according to 24Hrs Matt K: Metro Vancouver has 22 per cent more homeless today than it did three years ago. The Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness published the final results of its March 2008 Homeless Count. “We’ve approximately named the report ‘Still on our Streets…,’” said Val MacDonald, the chair of the Steering Committeee’s communications working group. “Without exception, all communities showed an increase in homelessness.” Volunteers tallied 2,660 homeless people during the 24 hour count, which is meant to provide a “snapshot” of Vancouver’s homeless situation. In 2005, volunteers reported 2,174 homeless people. This year’s homeless numbers are particularly staggering for the Aboriginal community. After a 34 per cent spike in their homeless population, Aboriginals now make up 32 per cent of all homeless people in Vancouver included in the count. “The findings of Aboriginal homelessness are some of the most disturbing,” said Ken Clement, the chair of Lu’ma Native Housing Society. “We can’t afford to look at Vancouver homelessness just as one piece of the problem. It’s a system issue. We need to act.” Both Clement and MacDonald challenged all levels of governments to step up with funding to meet the growing demand to house the Metro Vancouver homeless.

Numbers Show Homelessness Still Rising in Greater Vancouver

According to Andrea W of Metro Vancouver newspaper: The findings of last March’s homelessness count were released yesterday, confirming what is no surprise to Vancouver locals: homelessness is on the rise. The count, done by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee (RSCH), showed that there were at least 2,660 homeless people on the streets in Metro Vancouver during the 24 hours in which it was conducted. The total number of homeless people in Vancouver, however, is likely much higher. “Considering that 24 hour point in time counts inherently undercount the homeless, the numbers in the report tell us that the region is experiencing a continued growth in homelessness,” said Alice Sundberg, co-chair of the RSCH, in a statement. The report also found that Metro Vancouver homeless people in the region increased by an estimated 22 per cent since 2005 and 137 per cent since the first count in 2002. Street homelessness in Vancouver increased by 40 per cent since 2005 and by 373 per cent since 2002. Aboriginal people represented 32 per cent of all Vancouver homeless people surveyed, despite making up only two per cent of the Greater Vancouver region’s population.

North Shore Outlook- Homeless Count in Vancouver

The North Shore’s homeless population is now the fourth largest in Metro Vancouver real estate. According to the 2008 Homeless Count in Greater Vancouver the number of people living without shelter grew 40 per cent (to 113) since volunteers last conducted the 24 hour survey in 2005. Based on the number of homeless turned away at the North Shore Lookout Emergency Shelter, executive director Karen O’Shannacery knew this wasn’t a typo in the report. “The visible homeless is on the rise not just on the North Shore, but everywhere,” she said. “We’re not surprised by the drastic jump at all.” The overall number of homeless people in Metro Vancouver jumped by 22 per cent from 2005. The number of homeless on the North Shore ranks only behind Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey. If anything, O’Shannacery said the homeless numbers collected during the point-in-time count are underreported. The North Shore homeless shelter has limited capacity: 45 temporary beds and 25 traditional housing units. “There’s a number of people living on the streets [in North and West Vancouver] because they refuse to leave because this is where their comfort zone is,” she explained. Many are forced to live rough because of a dearth of shelter beds and – perhaps- more importantly – supported North Shore housing units. “Where is the affordable, supported housing?” she asks. Breaking the cycle of homelessness on the North Shore required permanent housing options with support services for those wishing to transition from life ont eh streets. At the moment, there’s only a “nominal” supply of supportive housing units on the North Shore, she added. Last year the provincial government announced more than $80 million in funding for approximately 1,000 supportive housing units in Vancouver, Victoria and Burnaby. O’Shannacery conceded that North and West Vancouver may suffer from the “attitude that the North Shore is wealthy and can meet their own needs,” and believes North Shore municipalities must increase pressure on federal and provincial governments to start an affordable housing supply program for the homeless on the North Shore. “The North Shore has even less affordable housing than Vancouver and other municipalities. [The temporary shelter] is the pathway to the solution – not the solution.” – The Outlook.

Government Parties Promise Housing

According to Carlito P for the Georgia Straight Real Estate section. When police started ticketing homeless people camped out in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park last summer, Kathy Walker and her neighbours decided to take action. They started going to the park early in the morning, when police started arriving, and they stood in solidarity with the campers. One evening, Walker, a resident of the Jackson Avenue housing cooperative on the east side of the park, camped out with her young daughters amid the homeless. At one time, walker said, she counted about 30 tents in the park. In mid-August, the campers were moved into hotels and housing units owned by the provincial government. Walker recalled that one woman told her she had been on a housing wait list for the past five years. Oppenheimer Park has returned to what it was prior to the camp-out. But according to Walker, there are always homeless people hanging out there. With the federal election campaign in full swing, Walker wants to hear politicians talk more about what their respective parties intend to do about homeless and housing the homeless. “It’s such a basic thing for human dignity,” Walker to the Straight by phone on September 22nd. “People need decent, safe place to live.” On Sept 16, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that if reelected, his government will give first time home buyers a tax credit of $5,000 of the closing costs of a house purchase. The next day, ministers Monte Solberg and John Baird rolled out a pledge that a new Conservative government will extend for five years three programs with funding of $1.9 billion. These are the Affordable Housing Initiative, the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy. For their part, the federal Liberals have promised to tackle the Vancouver housing crisis by providing 30,000 new social housing gunits. They will also refurbish 30,000 existing units. The Liberal platform also includes expanding subsidies for low income people living in federally funded co-op housing in downtown Vancouver east side.

More about Social Housing Vancouver

Like the Conservatives, the Liberals pledged to renew the RRAP. They will also continue with the Homeless Partnering Initiative, a component of the HPS. If ever they get to form a government, the NDP has am ambitious program to implement. They will start a 10 year national housing program that will build 200,000 social housing and co-op units. They will also renovate 100,000 existing units. Rent supplements will be given to 40,000 low income tenants. An NDP government will underwrite low interest mortgages on affordable housing. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will be redirected to fund social housing. The Greens are more modest. They have promised to build 20,000 social housing units and rehabilitate 10,000 existing units over the next 10 years. They will also provide credit and loan guararntees to nonprofit housing organizations and co-ops. The Greens will subsidize private real estate developers who include affordable housing in their housing projects. If politicians aren’t saying much about the housing and homelessness, voters themselves can put these issues front and centre. The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, a national organization representing nonprofit housing groups, has assembled a tool kit so that anyone can be a “housing champion” in his or her riding. The kit has a sample letter or email to candidates that explains why social housing in Canada has to be on the campaign agenda. It states that four million Canadians “live in housing they can’t afford, that is overcrowded or that is unhealthy or unsafe.” When the Striaght first talked with Walker on August 15, the day after campers were removed from Oppenheimer Park, she offered a smiple solution to help ease the problem of homelessness. “With all the energy and resources and time going to prepare for the Olympics, if we can divert some of the time and energy and money… we could get people off the streets and into decent social housing.”

Tents No Vancouver Housing Answer
According to the 24Hrs Vancouver newspaper: Vancouver’s less fortunate can no longer be shuffled out of sight, homeless advocates charged yesterday. Speaking outside of city hall, Streams of Justice organizer David Diewert cited a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that allows Vancouver homeless people to erect tents in parks and on public grounds in Victoria as a catalyst for a parallel action in Vancouver. “All this is really doing is brining into the visible landscape the true reality of desperation and homelessness that are in our cities,” Diewert said of the decision. Pivot Legal Society lawyer Laura Track said a case before Vancouver courts to strike down a similar vagrancy bylaw should yield the same result since the number of homeless people in Vancouver is more than double the number of available shelter beds. If city attorneys in Victoria had been able to provie there was sufficient shelter space, the judge would have faced a more difficult position, she said. Still, Diewert said tents are no solution, and called for the immediate opening of vacant Vancouver housing. Diewart is taking part in a seven day fast and vigil on city hall property to mark Homelessness Action Week. An article by Dharm M for 24 Hours.

Social Housing and Homelessness Activists take on Vancouver Housing Hurdles through the Eastside Vancouver Poverty Olympics

According to MetroNews Vancouver’s Jeff H., activists in the downtown Eastside Vancouver held a $6 Olympics yesterday in protest of the $6 billion Olympics in Vancouver-Whistler 2010 that wil take place in Vancouver in little more than a year from now. The Poverty Olympics, as they call themselves featured short skits of athletic events like Housing Hurdles, Wrestling for Community and Skating Around Poverty. Gena, who co-hosted the second annual event dressed as mascot Chewy the Rat, said she was representing all the people of downtown Eastside Vancouver “who have go nothing out of all the Olympic promises.” The Vancouver Eastside Poverty Olympics began with a torch relay and protest march through the Vancouver downtown eastside to the Japanese Language school on Alexander Street. The first event, Sweeping Aside Poverty (curling), featured poverty Olympians pitching rocks (painted milk jugs) across a carboard ice sheet covered with obstacles like bureaucratic red tape and paper clips. Meanwhils, their opponents, a slick looking team called Vanoc, had no such difficulty. They were able to sweep away obstacles with bailout brooms or cut thorugh them with help from their friends in the police and corporate media. The Vancouver Poverty Olympics has been a hot issue around town lately.

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Your Money: Should you Buy or Rent?

Falling rental vacancy rate shows home buyers are more cautious according to Andrew Allentuck. In the current housing market more people are choosing to rent, either giving up on buying or postponing the decision until prices drop. It appears prices in the formerly booming Canadian home market have reached a peak and are descending. Lower prices are a good thinkg for first time home buyers, but in the face of lower auto sales in the U.S. (a big factor in the auto parts economy of Southern Ontario) and lower commodity prices (a big factor in the mines and oil fields of B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan), potential home buyers are being more cautious. The feeling is that times will get tougher. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s June 2008 housing survey shows more people are choosing to rent or being forced to rent. Nationally, vacancies decreased to 2.6 per cent in April 2008 compared to 2.8 per cent a year earlier. The lowest rates in the 2008 survey were in Victoria (0.3%), Kelowna (0.3%), Sudbury (0.7%), Vancouver (0.9%), Saskatoon (0.9%) and Winnipeg (1%). By comparison, high vacancy rates were in places like Charlottetown (5.3%) and Moncton (6.1%) where mining, oil and car making don’t take place. Falling vacancies can indicate many things, but in the present housing market, the fact it’s getting harder to find a house or apartment to rent implies that many people are waiting for prices to drop or are unable to come up with the downpayment for homes of their own. This is cautious behaviour, an indication that the rush to buy a home is ebbing. The feeling that if one does not buy now, a home will be unattainable is waning, replaced by hesitation to take on debt for a home that could fall in price. AT the same time that vacancy rates drop in Ontario and in the western Canadian provinces, prices of houses and condos show signs of cooling. “The much anticipated housing market slowdown in Canada has arrived,” said a May 2008 report from the Royal Bank’s Economic’s Department. In April 2008, resale activity of existing homes dropped 6% compared to the same period a year earlier. Listing of homes for sale rose 18% year over year an dprice gains rose 3% compared to 10% a year earlier. Speculative housing listings moved far ahead of prices. For example, in Saskatoon, listings rose 121% in April 2008 compared to April 2007. That amount of rise in offerings suggests that owners of homes were anxious to score capital gains. Saskatchewan has had increased activity in potash and uranium mining and oil production. But commodity prices have dropped drastically since May 2008 and with them, homes prices in the West.

Nationally, home construction has declined. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said 185,600 new homes were built in July 2008, a 13.6% drop from June. Home buyers are taking a wait and see attitude. Falling prices offer them an incentive to be patient. Interest rates are still in a low range. Open mortgages with rates around 4% to 4.75% can be found. But bank lenders have tightened lending standards in the wake of the U.S. created credit crisis and money is harder to get. Zero down mortgages have been terminated by CMHC, a factor that reduces the number of people who can bid for homes. Nationally, housing is shifting from a seller’s market, in which potential buyers have had to bid over offering prices, to one in which it will be possible to get a home by bidding under the asking prices. For home buyers and sellers switching homes in the same area, trend changes should not matter much. For those buyers entering formerly hot markets like Saskatoon, Regina, Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary there is potential to score a bargain. For home buyers who can afford to wait or who, for lack of downpaymetn, must wait, the question is: when will the market bottom out? Canada has no crisis like that in the U.S. says the Royal Bank’s economics department, but caution in the face of tougher times in understandable and evident. Timing markets is tough to do as well. With the economics of Canada, the U.S. the European Union and most emerging markets in difficulty, asset prices are headed lower. In this time of trouble, a house still represents a solid asset. For anyone who wants to keep a house for years or decades, the time is ripe, or at least near ripe, for a good purchase. For sellers, things could get worse. For folks thinking of renting until the economy improves, there are transitional costs, such as moving expenses, breakage and even the bother of changing addresses. The Canadian housing market is shifting to a buyer’s phase. Timing the bottom is tough, but a couple of years from now, it may seem to have been a fine moment to have bought. Andrew is the author of Bonds for Canadians: How to Build Wealth and Lower Risk in Your Portfolio, published by John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd.

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Downtown Vancouver Alda Condos, Ocean Towers, Pomaria Condominiums for Sale - Also False Creek Discovery Quay Condo & New Westminster C2C Lofts

703 - 1835 Morton Ave @ OCEAN TOWERS Downtown Vancouver Condo for Sale

NEW PRICE or the Ocean Towers condominium suite for resale overlooking English Bay is now only $789,900! OCEAN TOWERS is located at 703 – 1835 Morton Ave in downtown Vancouver real estate. This spectacular unit at the Ocean Towers Condo high-rise residences is just over a thousand sq ft at 1,050 s.f. and features two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Peter Cardew, one of Canada's leading modernist architects, has transformed this resale Vancouver Ocean Towers condo suite into a unique expression of west coast minimalism. This open plan condominium home featuring wall to wall vistas of English Bay and the Gulf Islands immediately gives you the feeling of airiness and light. Superior details at the resale downtown Vancouver Ocean Towers condo suite include AEG and Euro gourmet s/s appliances, flush mounted doors and cabinetry, recessed lighting and tile work. The overall effect is uncluttered design that showcases one of Vancouver's most unique location and views. For all photos of the Ocean Towers condo for sale and more details visit

608 - 522 Moberly Rd @ DISCOVERY QUAY False Creek Condos for Sale!

DISCOVERY QUAY is one of the most luxurious False Creek condominium residences in Vancouver real estate and right now, Unit 608 – 522 Moberly Rd at Discovery Quay condos is for sale. The real estate agent's open house is Tuesday, Sept 30 10:30 - 12:00. The resale Vancouver Discovery Quay residence is one thousand two hundred and seventy three square feet in size featuring two beds and two full bathrooms with a large southeast facing balcony. The listed price for this resale Discovery Quay False Creek condo is offered at $649,900. False Creek living at it’s Best! 522 MOBERLY– FREEHOLD concrete building, RAINSCREENED & re-piped. Common areas at the Discovery Quay False Creek condo residences were updated and this two bedroom plus flex home completely renovated and ready to move right in. Bright and functional plan with open kitchen to living and dining room. Movable island at this luxury False Creek Discovery Quay Vancouver condo creates more entertainment space, large covered deck with south exposure expands the living area when needed. Master suite easily accommodates king size bed and large furniture pieces. Flex space at the re-sale Vancouver condominium in False Creek real estate market is just that – pantry for the food lovers, but great for office or an extra storage. Your neighborhood? False Creek Seawall & Marina, Market, Cafés, Restaurants of GI, future REV line with direct connection to YVR, and just over Cambie bridge the center of Downtown. Exercise Room, secured underground parking and storage locker are included with the purchase of this resale Vancouver Discovery Quay condominium home. For all photos and more details visit

504 - 549 Columbia @ C2C Lofts New Westminster Condos - Priced to SELL!

Right now, you can purchase an affordable loft style residence at the New Westminster C2C LOFTS located at #504 - 549 Columbia St in New West. This two bed and two bath New Westminster loft features 1,215 square feet of living space and over 300 square feet west facing terrace that is not to be missed. The C2C Lofts New Westminster condo for sale features clearly over height ceilings of 12 feet. Now offered at $424,900, this New Westminster C2C Loft condo is priced at only $350 per sq ft, a huge bargain in today’s New West real estate market. Here are some fabulous features: Award winning New Westminster C2C LOFTS & FLATS – above the Police station in the old Post Office heritage building. Only 30 mins from Downtown Vancouver, 2blks to Skytrain, and steps to New Westminster Quay, the homebuyers at the resale C2C New West lofts will be central to everything. This is a very RARE 1215 sf loft space all on 1 level! This New Westminster C2C PENTHOUSE LOFT has 12’ceilings and ENTERTAINMENT size west facing covered outdoor terrace with stunning views of Fraser River & heritage New Westminster real estate district. The kitchen opens to one fantastic great room visually separated into dining, living & seating area with gas fireplace. The second bedroom at the C2C Loft in New Westminster real estate resale market is open to living space and is now used as an office but can be easily reverted to a second bedroom. The Private Master Suite that accommodates king size bed with en-suite bathroom and huge walk-in closet. This re-sale C2C Penthouse loft in New Westminster has 1 parking & in-suite laundry. Very well kept & in move-in condition. Pets allowed. UNIQUE opportunity to own a Yaletown Loft Space at great value! For all photos and more details visit

404 - 1455 Howe @ POMARIA Vancouver Downtown Luxury Condo - now priced at $725,000!

NEW PRICE! POMARIA Condominium located at 404-1455 Howe St, Vancouver real estate market. This two bedroom and two bathroom new Pomaria Vancouver condo features 1096 square feet of living space with a one hundred and seventy sq ft south east facing deck with gas fireplace. There is also over 300 sq ft of west facing terrace for this new downtown Vancouver Pomaria Condo for sale with a listing price of just $725,000. About POMARIA Vanouver Downtown Luxury Condo - Award winner for Best Downtown Vancouver Condo Building in 2007! And of one the few that have air conditioning. This Rare 2 bedroom Pomaria luxury condo corner suite with large (170 sq. ft.) south facing deck, outdoor fireplace, designer paint throughout and lots of light in every room. Kitchen upgraded with glass tiles and rich walnut floors throughout. Gourmet appliances including SUBZERO & GE MONOGRAM. This new downtown Vancouver Pomaria luxury condo has a living & dining room are very spacious & made for those who have large furniture or like to entertain. Master bedroom has built-in bed with extra drawers, side tables, built-in bookshelf & great storage providing extra closet space. 2nd bedroom overlooks private garden. The downtown Vancouver luxury condo Pomaria Amenities include 24hr concierge, gym, steam room, sauna, yoga room, guest suite. One dog or one cat. For all photos and more details visit

Downtown Vancouver Pomaria Townhome For Sale

Just listed at $669,900, this Pomaria Vancouver Townhouses is located centrally at 1457 Howe Street. The first Agent's open hose is scheduled for Friday February 27th 10:30 - 12:00pm. POMARIA Townhomes at 1457 Howe St, Vancouver re-sale condo features two bedrooms plus den and two full bathrooms. With an east facing patio, air conditioning and building concierge, the downtown Vancouver Pomaria townhome for sale are one of the finest residences in the city core. Offered at $669,900 with MLS#V753855. Vancouver POMARIA: designed by renowned architect Foad Rafii, with interiors created by Robert Ledingham. Building that received UDI award for 'Best High-Rise' in 2007. Exceptional architecture and LUXURY Pomaria Condos in downtown Vancouver that exceeds your expectations: SUBZERO fridge, GE MONOGRAM s/s stove top and convection wall oven, stone countertops w/glass backsplash, European silent self operating door hardware, hardwood floors...the list goes on. This unique 3 storey, 2 bedroom plus den re-sale Vancouver Pomaria townhome with loft-style double height ceilings on the main floor, 2nd bdrm on the upper level with master suite on the very top. Enjoy the convenience of 24 hr concierge, geothermal heating/AC, guest suite & POMARIA SPA with fitness facility & steam room.

ALDA Condos in Downtown Vancouver Real Estate Market

507 - 1275 Hamilton @ ALDA - just listed! $589,900. Featuring two bedrooms plus den and two bathrooms, this downtown Vancouver ALDA Yaletown condo that is completed is eight hundred and nine square feet in size with a large covered west patio deck. Right now, the completed ALDA Vancouver condominium is listed at $589,900 at MLS#V743810. Walk into "The Alda" - solid concrete loft style Yaletown’s premier boutique building. Designed by award winning Alda Pereira, this 2bdrm + Den sub-penthouse with 80sf west-facing COVERED patio creates an extension to your living space at the completed Yaletown ALDA condo luxury home. Beyond spectacular and immaculate air conditioned interior with 9ft ceilings, electric fireplace, designer lighting, exposed beams, walnut hardwood flooring throughout. & floor to ceiling and wall to wall Euroline tilt’n turn windows. Open kitchen with movable island, gas stove and Karadon countertops. Where parking is rare - one stall is included & visitor parking available when friends in town at the luxury Yaletown Vancouver ALDA condominium apartments. Additional storage locker & pet friendly. Steps away from the best shopping & restaurants of Yaletown or stroll down to the seawall.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

North Shore Property Update: West Vancouver Secondary Suites Issue, West Van Limits Size on Monster Homes, Problems with North Van Coach Houses

City of North Vancouver Cancels Coach House Installation

In the latest twist to the ever slowdown of results and progress for affordable housing in North Vancouver, city councillors narrowly voted down a proposal on Monday that would have installed a prototype coach house for display on unused city land according to North Shore News, Benjamin. Home show demo home offered at cost, but North Vancouver councillors balks at the $150,000 required to complete a demo Coach House in North Van real estate to showcase the benefits of affordable housing initiatives that could alleviate the shortage of affordable rental units on the North Shore. The motion called on the City of North Vancouver to spend up to $150k out of a reserve fund for the purchase of roughly six hundred square foot home. The intent was to display the North Vancouver coach house to the public at 204 East First Street for an unspecified period before selling and moving it ot the buyer’s lot. The proceeds of the sale of the coach home in North Vancouver would have been returned to the reserve fund when all said and done. Keating emphasized the energy efficient features of the Smallworks coach house prototype. However, Coun. Bookham opposed the motion because she thought it was highly inappropriate for the city of North Vancouver to promote the services and products of a third party builder. She also couldn’t fathom how the city could justify spending up to $150,000 on a coah house model at this time. Bookham and the City of North Vancouver could produce a list of xisting privately owned North Vancouver coah houses in the city for interested buyers to inspect. Mussatto told city council that the had visited a homeless shelter over the weekend that had turned away 70 people. “There are still camps out there, people looking for shelter. There are people one paycheque away from losing their home, losing their mortgage. And they’ll be looking for somewhere to go. This is one option we could consider,” as he talked about the City of North Vancouver plans to go ahead with coach houses rental suites. But council was not swayed by the mayor’s appeal, and defeated the motion marginally by four to three. Mussatto immediately tabled another motion directing staff to request competing proposals for a similar North Vancouver coach house project in hopes this will addres some of the Councillors objections. This was also voted down, so there is not much anything is being done about the affordable housing problems in North Vancouver. The interior of the Laneway Loft House built by Smallworks Studios/Laneway Housing coach house is at the B.C. Home and Garden Show until Sunday.

West Vancouver Secondary Suites Recommended

Report calls for more housing options in the form of West Vancouver secondary housing suites for the city. This according to Daniel Pi for the North Shore Outlook newspaper. A report presented to West Vancouver Council Monday night recommends allowing secondary suites in the West Vancouver community to raise housing stock in the expensive North Shore community. On Monday, West Vancouver councilors sent the report, penned by the Community Dialogue on Neighbourhood Character and Housing Working Group, to district staff for further research. According to Stephen Mikicich, senior community planner for the district, staff will be reporting back to council in the fall with ideas to implement the 20 recommendations listed in the report, including the West Vancouver secondary suites housing issue. Besides allowing secondary suites in West Van, the recommendations include: considering “infill” housing, exploring new West Vancouver housing types with pilot programs, utilizing surplus district owned lands “to address identified housing gaps in the community, protecting and defining neighbourhood character, and finding ways to reduce residents’ reliance on cars. The report also recommends amending the West Vancouver Official Community Plan’s Housing Policies “to enable consideration of new housing types to meet the current and future needs of West Vancouver residents.” The working group developed its recommendations through public input that included community forums, workshops, and presentation, and an online form. The group also sent out a questionnaire and two newsletters to residents.

West Vancouver Home Sales Drop by Half

According to the North Shore News: Metro figures similar but economist says U.S.=style collapse in the West Vancouver real esate market housing prices unlikely. Written by James W. West Vancouver home sales are down more than 50 per cent from last summer, according to figures released by the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board, and it’s possible there is more to come. Just 101 detached homes were sold in the West Vancouver / Howe Sound area between June and August this year, according to the September 3rd release. That’s down from 230 West Vancouver homes sold during the same period in 2007, a drop of 56 per cent. Other West Vancouver real estate resident types have seen similar declines. With just 13 per cent sales, attached homes in West Vancouver real estate property are down close to 19 per cent; and with 29 sales, condos are down almost 53 per cent. The slide is part of a wider trend across the Greater Vancouver region, according to the board. Lower Mainland homes ales of all kinds dropped 53.7 per cnet last month compared to August last year. North Vancouver is among the communities caught in the fall, although declines there have not been quite as pronounced as its neighbour’s in West Vancouver real estate market update. Summer sales of North Vancouver detached homes are off by more than 33 per cent, and other home types by more than 46 per cent. In a nutshell, says one expert, the good times are coming to a close. “It’s the end of the boom,” says Tsur Somerville, director of the Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate at UBC”s Sauder School of Business. He identified three factors behind the change in West Vancouver and North Vancouver real estate property markets in summer of 2008. The first is a simple truth inherent to all housing booms: they just can’t last forever. Eventually it gets to a point that people can’t pay any more. “You can’t continually have growing number of sales and rising prices unless the economy is growing faster and faster and population is growing more and more,” said Somerville. “since we don’t have those conditions, we have a boom and it tires itself out.” This is what is happening in the new West Vancouver real estate market housing values are dropping. This works in conjunction with a second, psychological component: Canadians are looking at what happened to the housing market in the United States and wondering if the same might happen here. But when asked what thi means for the future, Somerville’s answer was very simple, “I don’t know.” The real estate market in West Vancouver is a difficult thing to rpedict, he said, and any forecasting on his part would likely come back to bit hime. “That’s an invitation for me to be wrong and have everybody remember it,” said Somerville. That said, he made certain observations that might shed some light on the future. For one thing, a crash on the scale of the American housing crisis seems unlikely. That’s because the conditions were different in Canada and West Vancouver real estate market when our neighbour was building its bubble.

The extremely cheap credit that has been available south of the border in recent years encourage speculation in the real estate market. Many Americans, emboldened by super lower interest rates, have been borrowing more money than they can afford, and investing it in houses they hope will make them a quick buck. That in turn inflated housing prices in the U.S. beyond a sustainable level. Canada has not seen credit quite as cheap, however, so speculation here in West Vancouver and North Vancouver real estate markets has been more limited, said Somerville. That doesn’t mean it has been non-existent, however. “We do have potential for bad things to happen in the condo market because we have so many real estate investors there,” he said. “There is definitely is speculation in that market.” And if condos tank as a result, they could drag down other types of West Vancouver property with them, added Somerville. “People wouldn’t be moving up (from condominiums to houses) and people who are… comparing the two might say, ‘Hey, I’m not going to buy a house for this much when I can get a condo for that.” However, guarding against an all-out collapse is the fact that BC’s economy does not appear to be as bad as has been suggested. “I’m not saying it’s all good news. But you look around the Lower Mainland, and where’s the 15 per cent unemployment and the shutting mills and the real problems?” said Sommerville. “A lot of industries are not doing great, but they aren’t abysmal.” Rather than plummeting, housing prices in West Vancouver real estate market may just rise at a slower rate,” he said. And at the end of the day, the Lower Mainland – which ahs been limited supply of homes, is still drawing new people who need a place to live. That has to push up property values in West Vancouver real estate over the long term, said Somerville. So what should homeowners do if they’re thinking of selling? “Be prepared to take a lower price than they think they’re going to get,” he said. “Be prepared to wait longer to sell.” His advise to home buyers in West Vancouver real estate was not far from the same. “If you’re thinking of buying, it’s a time to take your time,” said Somerville. “There’s not reason to feel rushed.

One Size Doesn’t Fit all in West Vancouver Real Estate

According to Jessica B of the North Shore News: District of West Vancouver residents are willing to let go of monster house mania to make way for smaller, more affordable housing, council heart Monday. In addition to smaller houses, West Vancouverites want a greater variety of housing types, but still like the idea of a single family home with a garden or green space. “One or two sizes no longer fit the community that we live in,” said Any, Vice Chairman of the neighbourhood character and West Vancouver housing working group. “We need to change in order to stay the same.” The West Vancouver housing working group, comprised of West Vancouver residents, many with backgrounds in urban planning, engineering and real estate, has been collecting public input through meetings and workshops for more than a year. The Group appeared at Monday’s meeting to president its findings to the West Vancouver Real Estate Council, complete with 20 recommendations based on resident input for preserving community character and shaping neighbourhoods for the future. “This whole dialogue was about people talking to people,” said Christine Banham, group chairwoman. “We heard many personal stories telling of Wets Vancouverites’ struggles and challenges in their neighbourhoods.” Banhm spoke of single retirees coping with the high cost of West Vancouver living, disable adults with accessibility concerns and the so called “sandwish generation” who are at once caring for aging parents and not yet independent children. “Each story is unique, but we heard the same messages over and over again,” Banham said. “West Vancouver residents want to maintain thei homes and neighbourhoods, they wan to remain in community over the long run, even as their needs and abilities change over time. The report’s recommendations for the West Vancouver real estate future include an overwhelming need and public support for West Vancouver secondary suites such as coach houses or infill housing district wide. The West Van working group also suggested leasing district lands for lower-income housing and developing pilot projects in certain neighbourhoods. One thing all the recommendations have in common, Banham said, is that they intended to move council to take action.

West Vancouver Plans New Limits on Large Homes

First steps to a rewrite of zoning in the City of West Vancouver real estate according to Jessica B for the North Shore News. Zoning bylaws in the District of West Vancouver are in for an overhal that will make it more difficult for developers and homeowners to build bulky houses. A series of zoning amendments designed to close loopholes in current legislation that allow real estate developers to skirt the existing bylaws were introduced to council on Monday night for first reading. According to director of planning Bob Sokol, the proposed amendments are the first part of a comprehensive rewrite of bylaws that will overlap with concerns by residents, brought up last week in the neighbourhood character and housing dialogue. The floor area ratio is the amount of floor area that is allowed in relation to the size of the lot. Most West Vancouver housing neighbourhoods allow houses that are 35 per cent of the lot. For example, a 10,000 square foot lot would allow up to 3,500 square foot house. In Ambleside, Dundarave and Horseshoe Bay, however, houses may take up to 50 per cent because the lots tend to be smaller. But Sokol said exceptionas to floor area ratio are contributing to West Vancouver’s bulky monster house epidemic. The biggest culprits, Sokol said, are covered decks on second floors and attached accessory buildings that don’t count toward the floor space ratio. “Over the past few years, there’s been kind of an explosion of people putting covered decks on their houses,” Sokol said, “They add substantially to the bulk of the West Vancouver house, particularly when theyr’ on the second storey.” Sokol added that people routinely add accessory buildings as extensions to their West Vancouver houses too. The accessory buildings are supposed to be separated from the house by a dividing wall. However, Sokol said the walls frequently come down after real estate developers and homeowners receive their last building inspection Under the proposed bylaw amendments, second storey covered decks will still be allowed but would be included in the floor area ratio. The proposed West Vancouver real estate amendments also reduce attached accessory building exemptions from 240 sf to 50 sf. Bylaws limiting changes to grades and retaining wall heights were also introduced along with a proposal to reduce rock and soil removal from 600 cubic metres to 200 cubic metres. More aspects of the neighbourhood character and West Vancouver housing working group report will likely be seen as Sokol proceeds with the zoning and policy rewrites. For instance, Sokol said he did not want to limit basement sizes right now because they may play a role if council decides to allow West Vancouver secondary suites in some neighbourhoods. The interim amendment are “baby steps” on the way to the comprehensive rewrite, Sokol added, which could take up to a year to complete. The zoning bylaws of West Vancouver real estate will also undergo a technical rewrite to bring the 1968 document up to 2008 standards. Council voted unanimously to refer the amendements to the deign review committee for comment. A public hearing on the proposed West Vancouver real estate amendments is scheduled for October 20th and Sokol is expected to return to council on October 27th with a technical review and a list of other policy issues his team will be addressing.

North Shore Real Estate Update by Alan Skinner, the Most Trusted Source of Property Information – October 2008

The Supply/Demand Dictatorship. WE know we live in a democracy, but not everybody realizes that there is a tyrant – depends on which side you’re on – that dictates our lives. Obviously, my old hobby horse, embodie in the term willing seller/willing buyer, is that of which I speak. Say, for a minute, the Supply side represented by potential sellers, got together, and said… buyers (Demand side) are not appearing confident to make the decision to buy a home. Therefore, it makes sense to take our homes off the market (or not add them to the supply pool). But, I hear you sya, that is not realistic as so many of us really want to (need to) sell. Precisely my point! Now, and this is not meant to be facetious; Sellers, realize that it is your collective wants and needs that will cause prices to drop. Supply must decrease or the confidence of home buyers must be restored. We do know that a very large part of that “damage” can only be repaired by the actions of our neighours to the south. Just how long will it take?

North Vancouver Home Rentals

Beware the pitfalls of renting your home to vacationers according to the North Shore Outlook Contributor Jennifer R. If you’re looking to earn a little extra cash this summer, a short term vacation rental may sound like a sweet deal. A quick and easy way to help lighten your mortgage load over the holiday months right? But, according to the Better Business Bureau, many North Vancouver home owners are unaware of the pitfalls of renting their homes to vacationers. “What can look like an easy way to make profits is really not so easy,” says Lynda Pasacreta, Better Business Bureau president and CEO. “Being successful with vacation rentals requires extensive planning and knowledge on how to market your property effectively.” But with some experts saying a homeowner could double or even make up to 10 times the amount with a short term vacation rental than a traditional month to month home rental, the potential pitfalls show no signs of slowing down eager North Shore residents. And with the 2010 Olympics around the corner, many North Vancouver homeowners are taking the time to prepare for winter visitors by renovating their residences. Capitalizing on vacationers often means taking loans to update homes and installing self-contained suites. But before you jump start a renovation project, the BBB urges homeowners to protect themselves by taking a few simple precautions. All you have to do is a little homework. If you are adding a suite to your home, you may need to install a bathroom or a kitchen, which often requires a building permit. It’s a good idea to check with the BBB before you hire a contractor to start the renovation. Next, make sure to get the right type of insurance. To help avoid future headaches consider fire insurance, liability insurance and burglary protection. Ask other North Vancouver homeowners in your neighbourhood what policies they have to cover their homes. Also, check your municipal laws and taxes before you move ahead with a home rental. Familiarize yourself with both provincial and local restrictions and contact your local tax office or chamber for up to date information including B.C. rental tax laws. A hotel room tax coule apply to your short term accommodation if you have four units for rent or more or if you rent to one person for longer than one month. Visit the Ministry of Small Business and Revenue website for more information ( Licensing may also be required. If you are planning on providing services outside your own home rental, you may require additional licensing for areas such as property management and acting as a travel agent. Lastly, be careful when you advertise. The Internet can be a powerful tool for attracting vacation renters through online listings, but some sites are scams. Take your time, do your research and when possible ask for a referral. For more information and consumer tips visit

Home Construction Down in North Vancouver Real Estate Market

This article taken from the North Shore Outlook newspaper and written by Jeff N for Black Press. Home builders say they see few signs so far of imminent collapse in the construction industry. Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association president Peter Simpson is pointing to the latest statistics showing Metro Vancouver housing starts are so far up 11 per cent from 2007 housing starts. “If we continue on this pace, we’re looking at the best year since 1993,” he said. Simpson was responding to predictions that the decline in Vancouver real estate prices in the region will soon trigger a building construction decline that could create a drag on Metro Vancouver’s economy. He did not rule out the possibility that will happen in the months ahead. “There are some clouds out there, but the sky is not falling,” Simpson said. “We warned our builders some time ago to be risk averse. Don’t plan out too far in advance.” He said there may be “ abit of shakeout” with smaller industry players, particularly newer entrants. “We’re looking ahead with cautious optimism.” Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) analyst Robin Admanche said 2008 should be the fifth straight year in which housing starts have topped 18,000 units in the Greater Vancouver real estate region. She said the demand for new homes remains healthy, but the inventory of unsold new homes is beginning to rise. Surrey leads the region so far in new home construction, CMHC reported, with 4,000 units started – three quarters of them are multi family units. That’s a 66 per cent increase from the same period in 2007. Vancouver is up 74 per cent with 3,568 starts. Delta has twice as many new starts (171) this year. Langley, Burnaby, New Westminster, North Vancouver and Maple Ridge have all experienced significant declines of at least 20 per cent however. Real estate prices in Metro Vancouver peaked in March, the latest realtor statistics show, and are down about 4.5 per cent so far. Many more homes are now available for sale and buyers have become much more selective.

Community Update for Park & Tilford Shops & Gardens on the North Shore

Park & Tilford gets pedestrian friendly makeover according to the North Shore News magazine. New design of Park & Tilford makes a strong connection with the Gardens. One of the North Shore real estate’s favourite shopping, dining and entertainment destinations will soon be sporting an attractive new look. Park & Tilford Shops and Gardens is nearing the end of the first major renovation in its 20 year history. The $6 million makeover will include new fabric canopies, improved signage and a red brick façade designed to match the architectural style of the gardens at Park & Tilfod. “I think it’s going to be much more inviting, much more friendly,” says greg Richardson of Omicron, the project architect. “When you put canopies on a building you tend to lower the scale and make it more pedestrian friendly. It gives it a small town look and makes for a more comfortable shopping experience.” Richardson says the design of the new Park & Tilford North Vancouver shopping and gardens makes a much stronger connection between the shops and the gardens. “This will unify the whole centre. This is much more than a quick paint job,” says Tony Segaric, Vice President of Operations and Construction, Bentall’s Retail Property Management Division. “We are updating and upgrading the entire shopping centre.” Segaric says the North Vancouver Park & Tilford shopping centre experienced general wear and tear over the years and the exterior had suffered some damage from the elements. “The need for repairs gave us an opportunity to include an aesthetic upgrade to give Park & Tilford a warmer, more modern appearance and improved functionality.” Environmental considerations at the new North Vancouver Park & Tilford were also included in the renovation, and in day-to-day operations, with the use of building components that include recycled material as well as upgrades to improve energy efficiency. The improvements have earned Park & Tilford North Vancouver a “Go Green” designation from the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada, which recognizes leadership in environmental stewardship. Segaric says the approach to the upgrades is consistent with Bentall’s long term view of retail property development such as Park & Tilford in North Vancouver. “We’re extending the lifespan of Park & Tilford to help our retail tenants deliver service and value to the community for many more years to come.”

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