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Garbutt Dumas Real Estate Vancouver
315 Levi Street D,
New Westminster, BC V3M 4N4
604.805.3115
info@gdrealestate.ca




James Garbutt

Pier West | A dynamic new waterfront development in New Westminster

Project: Pier West

Address: 600 & 700 block of Quayside Drive, New Westminster, BC

Builder: Bosa Development

Units: 665

Pier West will be the tallest waterfront residential property in the lower mainland, reaching heights of 43 and 53 stories.

Pier West by BOSA is a landmark development for New Westminster’s already thriving and dynamic waterfront community. The project includes two residential towers, one of which will be the tallest building on a Metro Vancouver waterfront (reaching heights of 43 and 53 stories).  These two modern towers feature 665 units, 1,000 public & residential parking stalls, and over 15,000sqft of new waterfront dining, shops and services. Pier West  will be located within a 6 acre park connecting the beautiful 12.5 acre Fraser River boardwalk.  This is the premier opportunity for waterfront living in one of the Lower Mainland’s most coveted locations.

Pier West will be located steps from historic Columbia Street, featuring restaurants, yoga studios, live music bars, and boutique shops. To the West, a quick 5 min walk will take you to River Market with groceries, cafes, restaurants, shops, and access to New Westminster Skytrain Station and Shops. Only a 30 minute commute to Downtown Vancouver and 20 minutes to Coquitlam or Langley, putting you right in the centre of Greater Vancouver.

If you have considered investing in real estate or are thinking about a move, this is a fantastic opportunity that you will not want to miss! Exclusive viewings are expected to begin in early February 2018. The West tower (660 Quayside Dr)  has an estimated completion of Early 2022.

Pricing & Deposit Structure: TBA

Contact us for more information about this highly anticipated development!

Northeast Views of the Fraser Valley and Tri-Cities Mountains


Modern design and comfort

This amazing location is walking distance to shops, restaurants, parks, schools, transit, and more!

 

7 exterior spring maintenance tips for your home

It may be hard to believe, but spring is just around the corner! (In fact, some might say it should have been here already!) And after such a rough winter, you can be sure there’s going to be some exterior spring maintenance for your home you’ll want to attend to as the temperatures warm up!

1. Roof: Inspect your roof. With all the snow and ice we had this year, you want to make sure your roof weathered the weather! If you’re uncomfortable with climbing a ladder, stand back and scan your roof with binoculars. Look for cracked or missing shingles, and a buildup of debris.

Cleaning the roof of debris is part of exterior spring maintenance.

Leaves and needles left on the roof can eventually damage the shingles.

 

2. Gutters: Check the gutters (Yes, this exterior spring maintenance tip will require climbing a ladder). Look for damage like cracks or gaps in seams. Clean out debris like leaves and pine needles. Run water from a hose to make sure there’s no leaks and the downspout is draining properly.

Some exterior spring maintenance will require climbing a ladder

Climb a ladder to check the gutters and clean them of leaves and other debris that may have accumulated through the stormy winter and fall.

 

3. Siding:  Clean the siding. That will prevent mould from taking hold. If the exterior of your home is wood, inspect it for weathering and peeling paint because those could invite rot. Touch up and repaint as needed. If your home is brick, look for cracks in the mortar where water may have penetrated and expanded and contracted as it froze and thawed. If you can slide a coin into a crack, it needs to be fixed. The same applies to your foundation.

4. Windows and doors: Inspect the seals and caulking around windows and doors. Scrape out any old, deteriorating caulk and then recaulk.

5. Decks, stairs and porches: Check them for damage or deterioration like loose planks or broken railings. Wood that is exposed to the elements should be treated and resealed every 4-6 years. If your deck or patio is stone or concrete, clean off the winter’s grime and check for debris and plant growth between the stones. Hosing it off will also give you a chance to check for settling that may allow water to pool or not drain properly.

Exterior spring maintenance includes cleaning the deck.

Inspect and clean the deck as part of your annual exterior spring maintenance.

 

Once the deck or patio is clean, bring out the patio furniture from storage and get it ready for the outdoor season. After all, those lazy sunny afternoons in the lounger are going to be your payoff for your exterior spring maintenance.

Check your driveway

6. Driveway. You know all those potholes in the streets that have been rattling your teeth? They’re caused by water penetrating the asphalt and expanding then contracting during freezes and thaws. We had no shortage of those this winter. So, as part of your exterior spring maintenance for your home, check your driveway for growing cracks and fissures. You’ll want to seal any cracks you find so they don’t get bigger and become a real problem.

7. The Yard. Rake the grass of fallen leaves and branches. Clean dead flowers and shrubs from the gardens. Trim back bushes and trees. Drain planters of any standing water, or they could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. And don’t forget to check all those outdoor garden tools like the lawnmower, so they’re ready to go when the serious gardening season hits full stride.

Try not to think of exterior spring maintenance as a chore. As the weather warms up and dries up, it’s a nice way to get outside, commune with your home, maybe even trade winter survival stories with your neighbours. Enjoy!

Creating Curb Appeal That Sells!

You may not be able to judge a book by it’s cover, but a big part of selling or buying a home is the first impression it makes when you first see it from the street. That’s curb appeal.

If a home makes a good first impression, potential buyers will be enticed to check out the inside, see how it fits their needs and lifestyle. A home with an attractive exterior could also be worth more.

But these days, curb appeal means a lot more than how a home looks to passersby on the sidewalk or in their car. It starts online.

Creating online curb appeal

For most home buyers, the first curb is their computer monitor or mobile device. They’re likely to check a listing online before they take the time to see it in person. That means it has to look good in photographs.

While a skilled photographer can avoid a property’s faults by their choice of angle, composition and lighting, if the reality doesn’t live up to buyers’ expectations from the photos, they may just drive on by. So the work you do to make your home look good in photos will also give it good curb appeal.

Giving your home great curb appeal

A house with great curb appeal will attract buyers.

Curb appeal isn’t just how your home looks to passersby, but also how it looks in photos that are posted online.

 

Creating great curb appeal starts with a good cleaning. That includes decluttering the yard of neglected toys, furniture and decorative implements that may have seen better days. Clean all the windows and consider renting a power washer to scrub grime from your home’s exterior. If needed, touch up trim like shutters, doors and railings with a coat of new paint. A little pop of colour can go a long way to making a home look fresh.

Once the yard is clean, make it neat by cutting and weeding the lawn, trimming trees and hedges and taming gardens. Plant fresh flowers.

Look up. A home’s great curb appeal can be ruined by a dilapidated roof. That’s a red flag to prospective buyers that expensive repairs or replacement could be in their future. So clean off fallen foliage and stray frisbees. Repair loose or missing shingles and eaves. If your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, consider getting an assessment by a roofing professional, then attending to their recommendations.

Turn the lights on. Replace exterior bulbs that have burned out. Repair or replace broken fixtures, maybe even add some new ones to brighten your home’s curb appeal at dusk or night. While potential buyers may never see your home at night, attention to small details sends a message that a home has been well cared-for.

Other ideas to improve your home’s curb appeal

  •  Replace outdated hardware on doors and windows.
  •  Replace your old mailbox, or give it a fresh coat of paint.
  •  Paint the front door. A pop of colour on your front door can completely transform your home’s curb appeal, make it more eye-catching.
  •  Refinish decks and porches.
  •  Repave, or at least reseal, the driveway.
A great looking patio will help a home's curb appeal

Creating curb appeal extends to every outdoor space at a home.

 

Curb appeal for strata homes

Of course, if you live in a strata condo or townhouse, much of your home’s curb appeal is out of your control. But paying close attention to detail at the outdoor areas you do control, like your patio or balcony can have a significant impact on your home’s appeal to potential buyers.

Curb appeal includes a great balcony or patio

Even if you live in a condo, you can create great curb appeal by making your balcony look great.

 

According to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, Realtors have been pitching a home’s exterior appearance as its curb appeal since about 1975. Investing in your home’s first impression doesn’t have to be expensive; it might just involve time and toil. But it will pay off.

More useful blogs if you’re selling your home

10 Great Questions to Ask a Realtor When Selling Your Home

10 Reasons to Hire a Realtor

How Realtors Price a Home

Best Time of Year to Sell a Home

Getting Ready for an Open House

Get Buyers to Fall in Love With Your Home

7 Tips to Help Your Home Look Great in Photos

Who’s buying a home in New Westminster?

We’re always curious about who’s buying a home in New Westminster.

After all, we don’t just work in New Westminster, we also live and play here.

It’s important for our clients, and for us, to have a handle on how the city is changing and how those changes might affect the local real estate market.

Whenever we hold an open house, we ask visitors where they’re from. The majority are usually local, mostly curious neighbours. But as we started tracking the numbers, we were seeing more and more people coming to our open houses from Vancouver. In fact, through Oct. 2016, 22 per cent of visitors to our open houses were from Vancouver.

When we looked at actual sales last year, the trends were even more definitive.

For detached single-family homes, 51 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver, suggesting their clients likely are as well. For condos, 36 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver. The next biggest source was from Coquitlam. But New Westminster residents who’ve chosen to stay in the city were close behind.

Infographic of who is buying a home in New Westminster

Who is buying a home in New Westminster

Overall statistics of who is buying a home in New Westminster

Overall 39 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver.

It’s not surprising, really.

As real estate prices spiralled upward through the first half of 2016, Vancouver homeowners were cashing out and looking for value by buying a home in New Westminster.

Buying a home in New Westminster is affordable

New home buyers who can no longer afford Vancouver are looking for a place that fits their budget but still offers them the amenities of the big city they desire.

Like Justin Turcotte. The 29-year-old filmmaker and his wife, Jaycey, moved to New Westminster last year from East Vancouver. They bought a home in Sapperton because they could afford it, something they could no longer do west of Tenth Avenue.

Buying a home in New Westminster is an affordable alternative to Vancouver for many

Justin Turcotte, 29, takes a break from gardening in front of the home he and his wife, Jaycey, bought in New Westminster a year ago. The couple discovered the city when they could no longer afford to buy in Vancouver, where they’d lived the past six years.

 

But moving to New West hasn’t cost them the urban vibe they loved in East Van, says Turcotte. “It really doesn’t feel like a suburb.”

New Westminster is no longer a secret. The city is centrally-located, there’s a great sense of community and, quite frankly, it’s the most affordable community to buy into that’s within 30 minutes of downtown Vancouver.

Even people who grew up here are appreciating the value of buying a home in New Westminster.

Anna Horvath considered moving to Gastown, Chinatown and Mount Pleasant in Vancouver when she was shopping for her first home before she realized there’s no place like her hometown. She ended up buying a condo in the Trapp + Holbrook on Columbia Street.

Unique buildings are attracting people buying a home in New Westminster

New condo projects like Robert Fung’s Trapp + Holbrook on Columbia Street are helping make New Westminster more attractive to young urban professionals who’ve been priced out of the Vancouver market.

“The area needed to have a sense of community,” she says. “I wanted it to be on a transit line and no bridges between my place and the downtown core. I did not want to spend most of my disposable income on a mortgage.”

Anna’s thrift is well founded; a two bedroom, two bathroom condo that’s between 800 and 900 square feet, in a five to 10 year-old building, will cost a little over half in Downtown New West than it would in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood.

Buying a home in New Westminster is more affordable

But this new demographic of young professionals buying a home in New Westminster does create some challenges for British Columbia’s oldest city, says its mayor, Jonathan Coté.

“It certainly does present a challenge to be able to anticipate that services are in line with the growing population and demand,” says Coté.

To meet that challenge, the city embarked on a three-year process to update its Official Community Plan, a kind of road map for growth that was last visited in the 1990s. New Westminster’s population is expected to exceed 104,000 by 2041.

“The Official Community Plan is definitely a document that guides us how the city will transform,” says Coté. “The timing is perfect for a city in our stage of growth that is starting to become attractive.”

But to manage the city’s growth, it needs a variety of housing options, and the infrastructure like schools, transportation, recreation, culture and jobs, says Coté.

Attracting families buying a home in New Westminster

One key component is the city’s new Family-Friendly Housing Policy.

It was sparked by a 2015 City of New Westminster supply analysis that ranked New West 21st out of 22 Metro Vancouver communities for ground-oriented housing and 20th for housing options with three bedrooms that are more family-friendly.

But the need for family housing is growing. Census data from 2011 shows an 11 per cent increase in the number of families living in New Westminster compared to 2006. Of neighbouring communities, only Surrey and Coquitlam saw a larger jump, and BC’s overall increase was just 6 percent.

Matt Lorenzi and his family know the frustration of buying a home in New Westminster.

Matt Lorenzi says he searched for more than a year to find a condo in New Westminster that could accommodate his family of four.

Matt Lorenzi knows the frustration of finding a family home in New Westminster only too well. He spent about a year searching for a new, larger home that could accommodate his growing family, his budget, and his desire to stay centrally-located in the Lower Mainland as well as close to transit.

“We wanted more space, something as modest as a third bedroom or spacious den,” says Lorenzi, whose family of four could no longer fit into their one bedroom plus den apartment. “We knew the supply of three-bedroom condos was limited. But we didn’t really realize it until we started our search.”

After a series of consultations with residents and builders, the City brought in a new bylaw that mandates new multi-family projects must dedicate at least 30 per cent of the units to two and three bedrooms with at least 10 per cent of the total comprised of three-bedroom units.

New multi-family rental buildings must also include a minimum 25 per cent two and three-bedroom units, with at least five per cent of the total comprised of three-bedrooms or more.

The bylaw, the first of its kind in British Columbia, came into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

So far developers have been receptive, says John Stark, New Westminster’s acting manager of planning. “There is a realization in the development community that three-bedroom units appeal to a wider market segment, like extended families and young professionals looking at shared living arrangements.”

In fact, says Stark, some projects that have been submitted by builders in the past year are even exceeding the mandated requirements for two and three-bedroom units. One of those is a new condo development planned for 100 Braid St.; 26.1 percent of its units will be two-bedrooms and 13.5 percent will have three bedrooms.

Stark credits an ongoing dialogue with developers as well as some key compromises, like not requiring the third bedroom to require direct light from a window, for the smooth transition. He says the city is committed to gauging the ongoing success of the bylaw and adjusting it if necessary.

“We’re still in the early days,” says Stark.

That gives Lorenzi hope his family will be able to stay in New West, even as their living requirements change. After flirting briefly with the idea of moving to Port Moody or elsewhere, they were able to find a suitable condo in Victoria Hill

“Over the eight or nine years prior to moving (to Victoria Hill) we grew to love New West,” says Lorenzi. “The city should encourage a mix of housing, especially larger units for growing families.”

Buying a home in New Westminster “the right choice”

Justin Turcotte says he’s confident moving to New West was the right choice.

“It took a bit of warming up to the idea of living so far from Vancouver,” says Turcotte. “We’re discovering new things about the city and have been pretty impressed by what we’ve seen so far. I definitely still think that it’s only going to improve and offer more.”

Anna Horvath says she’s also feeling good about her decision to stay in New West, close to family and the friends she grew up with.

“It ticks most of the boxes.”

 

A version of this article was commissioned for Tenth to the Fraser magazine, where it appears in the February, 2017 edition.

Keller Williams Elite is our new home

We’ve got a new home! Garbutt + Dumas is now part of the Keller Williams Elite real estate team.

Keller Williams is a global network of realtors and real estate professionals who believe in working together to help each other and our clients achieve success in business and life. In fact, Keller Williams is the world’s largest real estate franchise, with more than 110,000 realtors operating in 700 offices in Canada, the U.S., Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and Dubai.

That’s a lot of expertise and talent to draw upon.

The team at Keller Williams Elite is just that, a team. They understand the team model. Their support systems and commitment to training and innovation will make us more effective, able to provide an even better experience for our clients.

We’re pretty excited about the move. But that’s not all that’s new for us in this new year.

To celebrate our move to Keller Williams Elite, we’ve got a new look.

If you follow our social media channels (and, really, you should), you may have noticed our new signs being posted in front of our newest listings. As the market gets busier, you’ll also be seeing more of our signs around Metro Vancouver.

We like to think our new signs are bold and distinctive to catch the eye of passersby. But they’re still classy enough you’ll be pleased to place one on your lawn.

Garbutt + Dumas is now part of the Keller Williams Elite real estate team.

Denny posts our new sign at our first new listing of the year.

 

Finally, if you pay attention to the address bar at the top of your browser window, you may have noticed we’ve also got a new URL.

Our new site may not look that much different from the old one, but we’re building it to make it more functional and informative, even if you’re not currently in the market to buy a new home or sell your current one.

Our listings will continue to feature some of the best properties in Greater Vancouver. And now you’ll be able to easily search for properties in specific communities and neighbourhoods, as well as learn a little about what it’s like to live there. Each community page features an interactive map of its neighbourhoods where you can get familiar with amenities like parks, recreation and shopping, as well as its schools and transit information.

We also want to keep you up-to-date on everything real estate in Greater Vancouver. Our blog features timely updates on market news, issues and policies, as well as useful tips and information that will help you understand and navigate the process of buying or selling a home, or just make your life a little easier if you’re content right where you are.

After a record year in 2016, and with the support of Keller Williams Elite, our growing team at Garbutt + Dumas is poised for an even bigger 2017. But our priority will always be to provide our clients with the best service and a great experience.

Homeowner grant gets higher threshold

The BC government is raising the threshold for owners to be able to claim the homeowner grant to $1.6 million from $1.2 million.

The change means many homeowners whose recent property assessment increased the value of their home above the old threshold will still be eligible for the $570 basic homeowner grant to offset municipal property taxes on their principal residence.

“The threshold increase to $1.6 million helps ensure virtually everyone who received the grant last year will also receive it in 2017,” said Finance Minister Michael de Jong.

The threshold for the homeowner grant is going up to $1.6 million.

A higher threshold for homeowners to be eligible for a homeowner grant will help offset increases in their assessed property values.

 

The 33 per cent increase in the threshold was necessitated by 30-50 per cent jumps in assessed property values for detached single-family homes in some areas that put many homes above the previous $1.2 million threshold. In Metro Vancouver, the new threshold will keep 83 per cent of homes below the threshold and across the province 91 per cent of homes will remain eligible for the full grant.

When a home is valued above the threshold, the grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of its assessed value in excess of the threshold. That means a home’s assessed value will now have to be more than $1,714,000 for its owner to completely lose their eligibility for any grant at all.

“We are doing our part to help keep housing costs affordable for families,” said de Jong.

When homeowners claim the grant to reduce their property taxes, the provincial government reimburses municipalities for the difference. The program will cost the province $821 million in 2017-18, up from $809 million last year.

  • To be eligible for the grant, a homeowner must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, living in BC, and the home must be their principal residence.
  • The basic grant is $570. For home owners in northern or rural areas, the grant is $770.
  • Homeowners who are over 65, disabled or are the surviving spouse of a veteran can receive an additional grant to reduce their property taxes by up to $845, or $1045 for residents in northern or rural areas.

Low income homeowners, or those on a fixed income who are still struggling to pay their property taxes can also apply for a deferral of all or part of their obligation. That’s a kind of low-interest loan against the equity of your home; the province pays your property tax on your behalf and you repay the loan, plus interest, at any time.

Everything you need to know about the Homeowner Grant

Municipal bylaws are rules to live by

The wintry weather we’ve all endured for the past month has focused attention on municipal bylaws about clearing snow and ice from sidewalks.

The unusual pattern of snowfall, followed by a slight thaw, followed by an extended cold snap, caught many people out. Homeowners, property managers and even city crews that didn’t clear the first snowfall right away suddenly found themselves confronted with a thick moonscape of ice, frozen slush and crusted snow on sidewalks, parking lots and even roads. That made getting around tough for cars, treacherous for pedestrians.

Municipal bylaws exist so members of community can co-exist.

Weeks of snow and cold weather can make it tough to get around. Municipal bylaws regulate when property owners have to shovel their sidewalks.

 

Municipal bylaws are a set of rules and regulations that set standards for safety, maintenance, appearance, liveability and sustainability in a community. They’re implemented so residents, businesses and visitors can enjoy the community and coexist harmoniously. One of the those rules, common to many cities, mandates when property owners must clear snow from sidewalks or foot paths bordering their property.

In New Westminster, bylaw 6.28.2 says “the owner or occupier of real property shall: remove snow and ice from any Sidewalk, transit landing and foot path bordering that person’s real property and from the roof and other part of a structure adjacent to or abutting on any portion of the Street, not later than 10:00 a.m. of the day after the snow or ice was deposited thereon.” The sidewalks must be cleared their full length and width, right down to the bare concrete; it’s not good enough to create just a shovel-wide foot path. And if you’ve got an awning that hangs over a sidewalk, it should be cleared as well.

In Burnaby, businesses have to remove accumulated snow by 10 a.m. of any day they’re open to the public and residents must clear their sidewalks “as soon as possible.”

But regulations about clearing snow are only the tip of the municipal bylaws iceberg.

Municipal bylaws affect daily life

Municipal bylaws can affect many aspects of your life, from where you can park your car, to how loud and late you can play your stereo, to how well you must care for your property and the kind of renovation work you can do on it. They can govern when and how you dispose of your garbage, how you care for your pets, and even what kind of pets you can keep.

Municipal bylaws are passed by elected councils. They’re often created to address specific issues in communities, sometimes in response to concerns and complaints from community members.

For instance, the value New Westminster residents have placed on preserving the city’s heritage homes and buildings led to the creation of a “Community Heritage Register” of those properties in 1997. It’s accompanied by a whole series of municipal bylaws that regulate how protected heritage properties must be maintained. They also set procedures owners of those properties must follow if they want to do any renovations, restorations or even just paint the exterior.

The growing concern about the loss of trees and the possible impact on climate change as well as the appearance of neighbourhoods has led many communities to pass municipal bylaws that regulate the removal of trees. Those bylaws stipulate what size and kind of trees can be removed, as well as procedures to remove those trees so other trees aren’t affected and replant new trees.

When you become a homeowner in a community, it pays to familiarize yourself with its municipal bylaws. Or rather, you won’t pay if you know the rules because then a bylaw enforcement officer won’t show up at your door with a ticket for a violation.

Where to find municipal bylaws

Busy year for Vancouver real estate

Slight price increases for detached houses, townhouses and condo apartments in New Westminster capped a busy year for Vancouver real estate.

The benchmark price for a single family detached home in New West reached $1,035,600 in December. That’s a .9 per cent increase over November and 18.7 per cent higher than December, 2015. Townhouses were up 4.6 per cent over the month prior, 20 per cent more than a year ago; and the benchmark price for condos increased .2 per cent to $380,700, 22.6 per cent more than the end of last year. Overall, the benchmark price for a typical property in New West increased .6 per cent over November, 21.2 per cent more than a year ago.

Slight price increases New Westminster in December finished a busy year for Vancouver real estate

The benchmark price for condos in New Westminster increased .2 per cent in December over the previous month.

 

The benchmark price for residential properties in South Burnaby also increased one per cent in December over November to $858,300. That’s mostly due to a 2.7 per cent bump in the price of condos in the area while townhouses and detached homes dipped slightly.

A busy year for Vancouver real estate was capped by a slight increase in the price of condos in South Burnaby

The benchmark price for condos in South Burnaby went up 2.7 per cent in December over November to end a busy year for Vancouver real estate.

 

Those increases came even though there were fewer listings and sales. They also bucked a slight downward trend across Metro Vancouver where the benchmark price for all properties dipped 1.2 per cent from November.

In North Burnaby the overall benchmark price dipped .5 per cent in December and it was down .4 per cent in East Burnaby.

A general cooling of the real estate market in the last half of 2016 wasn’t enough to keep the year from being the third-highest selling on record, said Dan Morrison, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Only 2015 and 2005 recorded more property sales.

“The supply of homes for sale couldn’t keep up with home buyer demand for much of 2016,” said Morrison. “This allowed home sellers to raise their asking price.”

In fact, the benchmark price for all homes in Metro Vancouver reached $897,600 at the end of 2016, 17.8 per cent higher than December, 2015. The benchmark price for a typical single family detached home increased 18.6 per cent over the year to $1,483,500 while townhouses went up 20.4 per cent in 2016 to $661,800 and condos increased 17.3 per cent to $510,300.

Too soon to tell if 2017 will be another busy year for Vancouver real estate

Morrison said while government interventions to temper the frenzy in the local real estate market in the first six months of 2016 may have contributed to lower sales volumes and prices in the last half of the year, it’s still too soon to tell if their impact will continue to be felt into the new year.

“The long-term effects of these actions won’t be fully understood for some time,” said Morrison of the provincial foreign-buyers’ tax that was implemented in August to discourage off-shore speculators and new rules to make it tougher to qualify for a mortgage that were introduced by the federal government in the fall.

Another new measure introduced by the provincial government, a loan program to help first-time homebuyers with their down payment, begins accepting applications on Jan. 17.

Morrison said the market was under the microscope as sales and prices peaked in the late spring.

“Escalating prices caused by low supply and strong home buyer demand brought more attention to the market then ever before,” said Morrison. “As prices rose in the first half of the year, public debate waged about what was fuelling demand and what should be done to stop it. It was an eventful year for real estate in Metro Vancouver.”

All the stats from a busy year in Vancouver real estate

Wrapping-up our record year

Assessment notices hitting mailboxes

Property assessment notices for 2017 are in the mail, and some homeowners might be excused if they go a little bug-eyed in the next few days. In some parts of Greater Vancouver, assessed values have jumped 30-50 per cent for a detached single-family home, and 15-30 per cent for strata properties.

In New Westminster, assessments increased by an average of 28.48 per cent. In Burnaby the average increase over 2016 was 30.72 per cent. Assessments in Coquitlam increased by an average of 32.91 per cent; in Port Moody it was 31.49 per cent and in Port Coquitlam it was 33.86 per cent. Residential assessments in Surrey increased by an average of 36.26 per cent.

Assessment notices are in the mail and show some eye-popping increases.

Property assessments in New Westminster are up more than 28 per cent.

 

The most expensive residential property in Greater Vancouver is at 3085 Point Grey Rd. in Vancouver, with an assessed value of $75,821,000. All of the top 100 most expensive properties receiving assessment notices in the region are located in either Vancouver or West Vancouver.

Across the province, 2,017,364 properties were assessed for a total value of $1.68 trillion, a 25 per cent increase in value over 2016.

Assessment notices part of formula to set property taxes

Property assessments are set on July 1 by BC Assessment. Assessment notices are then sent to homeowners early the following January.

The agency estimates the market value of every residential, commercial and industrial property in the province based upon an analysis of current sales in the immediate area of each property, as well as its size, age, quality, condition, location and view. That information is then used by municipalities as a component for calculating property taxes, although a 30 per cent increase in assessed value doesn’t typically mean a corresponding increase in property tax. In fact, if the increase in the assessed value for a property is in line with the average increase of other properties in the community, your property tax will likely go up only by the rate set by the municipality to meet its budget.

But a property’s assessed value isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of what that property might currently sell for on the open market. Some properties sell for more than their assessed value, while others can sell for less. A month after BC Assessment set its values for this year, the BC government introduced its foreign buyers’ tax on residential property transactions in Greater Vancouver that accelerated the usual summer slowdown of prices. Subsequent initiatives by the provincial and federal governments to help address the affordability of housing further impacted sales and prices.

Homeowners who can’t wait for their property assessment notice to arrive in the mail, can check their assessment online. They can also compare their assessment to others in their neighbourhood, as well as get information on how to correct or appeal incorrect assessments.

Looking back at the 2016 real estate market

To say the 2016 real estate market in Greater Vancouver was wild and crazy would be an understatement.

The first half of the year was insanely busy as the market exploded. Homes were selling as soon as they hit the market, often after multiple offers, without subjects and above list.

The Lower Mainland has always been a desirable destination for home buyers, but this was off the hook, unsustainable. The 2016 real estate market was already showing signs of cooling down to a more sustainable level when the B.C. government implemented its foreign buyers’ tax. Some areas, like Vancouver’s West Side, felt its chill immediately.

That created a bit of a domino effect that reached into the suburbs as buyers and sellers decided to step aside to see how the market plays out.

The federal government’s new mortgage rules further tempered the market by making it a little tougher to qualify for a mortgage.

Then, in December, the provincial government introduced its new loan program to help first-time homebuyers with their downpayment, beginning in the new year. It’s too soon to tell if the incentive will reignite home sales; but for young people looking to plant roots in their community, every little bit helps. And the Bank of Mom and Dad will no doubt appreciate the relief.

Garbutt + Dumas enjoyed a record year; we sold 140 properties for a total of $98 million. It was hard work. But we still managed to have some fun along the way. Because providing our clients with an enjoyable real estate experience is our passion.

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

Uhm, okay, the real estate business can be fierce but…

 

That commitment to superior service will continue in 2017. In fact, we’re planning to kick it up a notch or two by keeping you even better informed about what we’re up to and what the market is doing and making the biggest transaction of your life even smoother and as stress-free as possible.

Thanks to all our clients for a great 2016. Thanks to our followers on social media and visitors to our website. Happy New Year! Bring on 2017!

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

Game on!

 

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

Checking the work of Marcos, our talented real estate photographer.

 

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

Our patio staging furniture is a star all its own!

 

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

If there’s a jungle gym, sometimes you just can’t help yourself!

 

Will this antenna gets us the Olympics?

Will this antenna gets us the Olympics?

 

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

Getting in a workout!

 

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

The devil is in the details.

 

The 2016 real estate market was crazy, but we still had fun.

Staying in touch with clients never stops!

 

Loan program for first-time homebuyers in BC

A new provincial government loan program for first-time homebuyers will help with their down payments. And maybe relieve some of the pressure on the Bank of Mom & Dad.

Loan program for first-time homebuyers in BC was announced on Thursday.

Condos and townhomes will be a little more affordable with a new loan program for first-time homebuyers in BC that was announced on Thursday.

 

The BC Home Partnership program will provide qualified first-time homebuyers with a loan of up to $37,500, or five per cent of a home’s total purchase price of $750,000, before taxes and fees. The loan must match the buyers’ own contribution to their down payment. It is interest-free for the first five years. After that buyers can repay the loan in full or they can begin making monthly payments at current interest rates. They’ll then have up to 20 years to repay the loan.

“People need a partner in scraping together that first down payment,” said Premier Christy Clark, who announced the program on Thursday.

In fact, a survey conducted earlier this year by the Bank of Montreal found 65 per cent of millennials said they would need financial help from parents or other family members for a downpayment on a home.

Clark said now they’ll be able to get that help from the government.

“Now we’re partnering with first-time buyers to make the purchase of their home more affordable.”

The Province estimates the $703 million loan program will be able to help 42,000 families buy their first home over the next three years. It will start accepting applications on Jan. 16, 2017 for home purchases that close after Feb. 15, 2017.

How to qualify for new loan program for first-time homebuyers

To qualify for the program, buyers must:

  • be buying their first home
  • purchase a home that is $750,000 (before taxes and fees) or less
  • be eligible for a high-ratio, insured first mortgage for at least 80 per cent of the home’s purchase price
  • have a combined gross household income of less than $150,000
  • have saved a down payment at least equal to the loan amount
  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least five years and have lived in BC for at least a full year before applying to the program
  • home must be the buyers’ principal residence for at least five years after purchasing

When applying for your loan, you will need the following information:

  • proof of status in Canada and residency in BC
  • secondary identification (must include a buyer’s photo)
  • proof of income and tax filings
  • insured first mortgage pre-approval

To learn more about the program and how to apply

The different types of property ownership

Generally speaking there are four common types of property ownership in Canada; Freehold, Strata, Co-Operative and Leasehold.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the types of property ownership.  It’s important to know the differences  between the different types of property ownership when you’re shopping for a new home.

Freehold property ownership

Freehold is the most common type of property ownership. It’s what we traditionally think of as property ownership; you own the building and the land it sits upon.

Freehold is one of the four most common types of property ownership in Canada

Freehold is the most common property ownership where you own the home and the property it sits upon.

 

This type of ownership gives an owner a great deal of freedom when it comes to maintenance of the home, property design and renovations to the building or land.  Most restrictions on freehold properties come from city zoning, bylaw and permit limitations.

Most single family homes are freehold.

Strata property ownership

Most condo and townhouse developments are strata properties. Single-family detached home strata properties are rare, but they do exist.

Strata property ownership comes with rules and bylaws.

Condos and townhouses are usually strata property ownership.

 

When you buy a strata property you are buying the exclusive space within the unit while everyone in the development shares ownership of the common property  like the grounds, parking and storage areas, hallways, amenity rooms, roof, etc,.

You are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your unit but the costs of looking after the common property are covered by monthly fees charged to every owner. These strata fees are proportional to the size of your unit; if you own a large two-bedroom unit you’ll pay more than someone living in a small bachelor suite.

As strata properties are comprised of a number of people sharing common spaces, there are rules and bylaws that govern how those spaces can be used. There may also be rules that regulate what you can do in your own private space so it doesn’t have an adverse impact on your neighbours, or the common spaces owned by everyone.

These rules are set by a council of owners that is elected by owners in the strata. The council is also responsible for the strata corporation that is set up to administer the strata. They set budgets, hire contractors, adhere to maintenance schedules, get repairs done, deal with complaints and infractions of the rules and bylaws. How a strata council is set up and functions is regulated by provincial laws.

Co-op property ownership

Co-op property ownership is similar to owning a unit in a strata.

But instead of owning the interior of your own unit and sharing ownership of common property, owners in a co-op each own a share of the corporation that actually owns the building or complex. That share ownership then gives you the right to occupy a unit within the co-op, provided you don’t break any of the co-op’s rules and you pay your housing charges on time.

Some provinces require housing co-ops to be non-profit.

As you are not buying into the actual real estate when you purchase a co-op, you’ll require a different kind of financing from your lender called a share loan.  It works much like a mortgage except your share in the co-op is the loan’s collateral, instead of the property.

Like a strata, all owners in a co-op share the expense of repairs and maintenance through monthly fees.

Owners in a co-op must follow rules and regulations set and administered by a co-op board which is elected by members of the co-op.

The co-op board also has the power to approve or reject prospective new members.  The board’s decisions must comply with provincial human rights legislation.

A variation on a co-op is cohousing.

A cohousing development is a community of households that live independently while sharing communal facilities like a kitchen, dining area, playground, laundry facilities, storage. Residents share in common activities like communal dinners, caring for children, cleaning, maintenance.

Cohousing developments are often set up as non-profit corporations that then become developers of their own complex. Ownership of individual units is usually structured like a strata.

A local example of a cohousing development is Cranberry Commons in Burnaby.

Leasehold property ownership

Living in a leasehold property is like living on borrowed time.

When you buy a leasehold property, you own the building but the property on which your home sits is owned by somebody else who has leased it back to a builder or developer. Typically those leases last for 99 years. When the lease expires, the property’s owner could choose to renegotiate the lease to current market rates. Or they could reclaim the property as their own for redevelopment after buying out owners at fair market value.

In Metro Vancouver residential developments on property owned by Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia are leasehold as are some developments built on First Nations reserve land. The federal government, municipalities and private companies and individuals can also own leasehold land.

Leasehold property ownership comes with uncertainty.

New condo developments at Simon Fraser University have been built on leasehold land.

 

Most developers prepay the cost of leasing the land, then incorporate that into the selling price of their projects. If they didn’t do that, then you’ll be paying rent on top of your mortgage payments, strata fees and taxes. And you won’t be protected from periodic adjustments to reflect the current value of the land.

While most properties appreciate over time, a leasehold property can actually depreciate, especially as the lease gets close to expiring. That uncertainty over a property owner’s future plans for their property can make it more difficult to get financing for a leasehold property. The lender could require a larger downpayment or it could be amortized over a shorter period of time.

Despite their uncertainty, leasehold properties can be a good option for property ownership, especially if they’re still early in the lease period. They can be cheaper than freehold properties or offer better value in desirable neighbourhoods. But the uncertainty that comes with leasehold can make them a poorer investment than other types of property ownership.

Co-owning a property

There is a fifth option for property ownership, called co-owning. It is becoming a viable option for some families who’ve been priced out of owning a home.

Co-ownership is when two or more owners enter into a legal agreement to own a single piece of property. Usually co-ownership involves family members, such as parents and grown offspring, who may share the same home or live autonomously in separate dwellings like a house and laneway house.

Co-ownership agreements are complex documents, with plenty of legal protections to safeguard both parties in the agreement as well as the lender financing the mortgage. If co-ownership is an option, it’s best to consult a lawyer experienced in constructing such agreements.