Episode #10 – COVID19 How It’s Affecting The Vancouver Real Estate Market

As Covid-19 cases keep rising more gathering locations are closing, international flights are being canceled, borders are shutting down and social distancing techniques are being implemented. What does this all mean for real estate here in Vancouver? James and Denny will share what they are seeing in real estate as well as provide predictions on what might happen to real estate prices and the market in general. If you own or are looking to buy, or if you are looking for information on how Covid-19 will impact real estate then this episode is for you.

Listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast (bottom of page) to learn about how COVID-19 may affect the Real Estate prices and the market in general. If you own or are looking to buy, or if you are looking for information on how Covid-19 will impact real estate then this episode is for you.

Follow us on Spotify, iTunes & Youtube.

COVID-19 

We at the Garbutt + Dumas Real Estate Team understand the current confusion and concern that a lot of our clients are experiencing regarding the COVID-19 virus over the past couple weeks. We have been constantly keeping up to date with the progression of the virus and with the recommendations of the Health Minister of Canada, and wanted to keep our clients, colleagues, friends and families aware of how we will be proceeding over the coming weeks. We are taking their recommendations very seriously and that our position on how to operate moving forward has not come without a great deal of thought.  The health and safety of the people in the communities where we live and work is very important to us.

CLIENTS

Supporting our clients during this time is our primary focus and concern. We understand that some clients are caught in the middle of this situation, and are actively buying or selling as we speak.   To our clients, know that we are here and will continue to support you during this uncertain time. Fortunately, our industry is heavily online with photos, videos, strata documents, electronic signatures, etc.

PROPERTY SHOWINGS

At this current time, property showings are still permitted, and in other areas (such as Ontario, no official news for BC) real estate has been deemed an essential service.  For buyers and sellers we will assess each client’s situation individually, but note that we can still show properties and will use extreme caution when doing so. We will be as cautious as possible, we will adhere to social-distancing requirements, and we will be avoiding any unnecessary contact with others.

OPEN HOUSES

Given the situation in our province, the Real Estate Board has advised all members to refrain from holding open houses and adhere to the most up-to-date social-distancing requirements from our government and public health officials.  We feel it is important to follow these recommendations, and have elected to replace all open houses with pre-screened showings by appointment for those that must buy or sell during this time.

Please view the best practices for Real Estate professionals and Consumers on the BC Real Estate Council website here and view recommendations for realtors on how to proceed through this time and precautions to take here.

THE PROCESS

There are a lot of moving parts in real estate transactions: photographers, videographers, home inspectors, appraisers, mortgage brokers/mortgage representatives. We ask your patience throughout your real estate transaction as it may take longer than normal to have these professionals scheduled.

STAYING INFORMED

It’s very possible that situation could affect our real estate market, but in what manner and to what extent, only time will tell. Prior to COVID 19, the 2020 market was upward trending and very active.  We are committed to staying informed on the current situation (COVID-19, real estate market trends, the financial crisis, and interest rates) and hope to share this with you to help make informed decisions.

REACH OUT!

If you have any concerns, we would love to talk.  Please reach out to us in the next few days to discuss your specific situation and we can help put a plan into place.

Thank you for your continued support!

Episode #3 – BC Energy Step Code & The Future of New Home Construction

How energy efficient is your home? Have you ever had an Energy Advisor provide you with energy modelling and air tightness testing? Do you know what a Step Code is? James and Denny talk about the BC Energy Step Code and how builders are using energy software modelling and on-site testing to rate the insulating efficiency of a home. Listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast (bottom of page) to learn about the BC Energy Step Code and the future of new home construction.

BC Energy Step Code & The Future of New Home Construction

The BC Energy Step Code is a system of guidelines laid out to make sure the construction of new buildings are compliant in terms of modern-day energy efficiency. The goal of implementing such regulations is to make all new buildings “net-zero energy ready” by 2032. While this may be ambitious, it’s happening, and we need to get ready…

With more and more local governments adopting the BC Energy Step Code as part of their legal compliance for construction, in their latest podcast, our friends, James Garbutt and Denny Dumas, discussed the implications of these new regulations and offered some practical advice for those who wish to make sure they’re operating within the new laws.

A total of 64 local governments in British Columbia have submitted their initial notifications that they have started to consult on the new regulations, with 31 of those fully adopting the BC Energy Step Code as a part of their bylaw.

Displaying great humility, James wanted to make it clear to listeners that he doesn’t have the definitive answers on making sure homes meet the new provincial standard, however, he does offer us his own, practical insight into the topic based on his years of experience in real estate construction.

BC Energy Step Code

The BC Energy Step Code is different according to two distinct categories: Houses (Part 9, simple buildings) and Wood Frame Residential Buildings (Part 3, more complex buildings). In this podcast, Garbutt and Dumas discussed the application of the new code to residential houses (Part 9).

Part 9 buildings are categorized according to five steps; step five being the highest level of energy efficiency and, to all intents and purposes, is a building that could be considered off-grid or completely self-sustainable. Some local governments are demanding that builders comply with step four of the BC Energy Step Code by 2022, with the aim of achieving step five by 2032.

While steps one and two of the BC Energy Step Code are very much achievable without the addition of huge costs, James gave us his practical advice to help builders understand what is needed in order to achieve step four. To keep it simple, it’s all about insulation and designing a home in a way that has more focus on energy efficiency.

All About Insulation

“Let’s talk about insulation,” James said, “because that is what it really comes down to”. His personal interpretation of a home that would meet step four of the BC Energy Step Code comes down to simply building with 2 x 6 walls that have batt insulation, a rain screen on the outside, and a vapor barrier on the inside. James recommends adding insulation boards to the foundation walls, like a 2-inch rigid board to the exterior, as well as beneath the concrete slab in the basement.

In James’ opinion, if you put rigid board (or similar insulation products) around the exterior of your home and on top of the sheeting in your roof too, the framing materials of your home will be encapsulated in this, giving extra protection to preserve the building for the long term. It could also block condensation from getting to the wood and, in his opinion, is the great way to make a home compliant with step four of the BC Energy Step Code.

One of the most important factors in achieving compliance with the BC Energy Step Code is creating a fully sealed building that has minimal air gaps. Right now, there is no air testing, but as part of the BC Energy Step Code, buildings will be subject to an “airtightness test” at a certain stage of its construction. While there is no obligation to commit to step four at the moment, 2022 is fast approaching, and so James advises us to get used to the extra reports and tests in energy efficiency now.

A home that is compliant with step four of the BC Energy Step Code will have to have significant insulation in the roof. They want to increase the minimum to R40 (currently at R20), meaning, in some cases, a metre of insulation could be required. This will, of course, affect how architects approach roof heights as we move forward.

In order to achieve compliance with the BC Energy Step Code, James discusses using triple pane windows with insulated frames to improve efficiency. Window placements and overhangs are also important factors that can affect whether the home meets the new energy-efficient insulation demands. An overhang keeps water away from the walls and offers shade against the summer sun. Clever design means the home can be angled to capture the warming winter sun without having that sweltering greenhouse effect in the summer.

James goes on to discuss the mechanical changes on the inside of the property as the BC Energy Step Code aims to reduce heat loss through vents. The use of a heat exchanger system is James’ tip to combat heat loss as they warm the fresh air that is coming in. “There are lots of ways to get there”, James added, “there is no one way”.

Market Effects of the BC Energy Step Code 

What will be the effect of constructing according to step four of the BC Energy Step Code? Well, incredibly efficient and durable homes for a start. In James’ opinion, these houses could easily last for 200+ years if built and designed to a high standard.

Having said that, there will be additional time and costs to this energy-efficient construction. For example, factoring in the costs of the design, tests, reports and the extra building material costs, such as insulation, on a typical Vancouver suburb home could exceed $50,000.   More so if you include financial carrying costs for the extra time.

James Garbutt and Denny Dumas conclude this podcast by discussing how step four and above compliant homes will affect the future of real estate in the area. In two years, many cities throughout BC have a goal to meet step four of the BC Energy Step Code.  In the short term, they agree that speculative new home construction may be affected by this as buyers may take some time to pay the additional premium for these new homes. At some point, however, high energy efficiency will be the norm, and homes built prior to this era might have a negative connotation. Similar to how a building without rain-screen does today.

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!

Housing market waking from seasonal slumber

Winter may be hanging on tenaciously, but the housing market is waking from its seasonal slumber.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports 2,425 residential home sales in February; that’s 59.2 per cent more than were sold the month before.
And while it’s still 41.9 per cent less than the record 4,172 homes that were sold in February, 2016, it’s only slightly less than the 10-year average for the month.
REBGV president Dan Morrison says rotten weather may have helped keep buyers at home. But the supply of new listings is also tight. The 3,666 new properties for sale in February was 36.9 per cent less than a year ago, and 11.4 per cent fewer than January. It was also the lowest number of new listings for the month since 2003.
That’s keeping prices buoyant in the local housing market, says Morrison.
“While home sales are not happening at the pace we experienced last year, home seller supply is still struggling to keep up with today’s demand,” says Morrison. “This is why we’ve seen little downward pressure on home prices, particularly in the condominium and townhome markets.”
The ratio of sales to active listings actually increased 10 per cent from January to 31.9 per cent; experts say housing prices don’t start going down until that ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period and they go up when the ratio stays greater than 20 per cent over several months.

Condo sales strong in local housing market

Condo sales are still hot in the housing market
Condo sales are still hot in the New Westminster and Burnaby housing market, despite the wintry weather.

In fact, the benchmark price for a typical condo in Greater Vancouver increased 2.7 per cent in February to $526,500. In New West, the benchmark price for a condo went up 1.4 per cent to $392,400; that’s a 21.3 per cent increase over a year ago. The benchmark price for condos also increased in Burnaby, by as much as 2.6 per cent to $503,600 in North Burnaby, to 1.9 per cent in South Burnaby, where a typical condo now goes for $561,600.
The benchmark price for townhomes in Greater Vancouver is now $675,500, a 1.3 per cent increase since January and 18.3 per cent more than Feb., 2016. New West townhomes experienced similar increases to a benchmark of $545,500 while in North Burnaby, the benchmark price increased 3.1 per cent over the previous month to $539,500.
House prices are staying steady; in Greater Vancouver the benchmark price of $1,474,200 for a single-family detached home was unchanged from January. In New West, the benchmark price for a typical house went up .3 per cent in February to $1,026,700 while increases in Burnaby ranged from .1 per cent in the South to $1,636,100 to a 1.3 per cent jump in North Burnaby to a benchmark price of $1,499,600.
The February stats

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

What's hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

What’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate? And what’s not? We’re well into the new year, we’ve settled back into familiar routines. It’s time for a little market analysis and look ahead to the coming months.
Snow and ice. A media feeding frenzy. Changes to the mortgage rules. The foreign buyers’ tax. The usual post-Christmas lull. It’s all added up to a of uncertainty, and a “lukewarm start” in the Greater Vancouver real estate market.
Sure, sales are down 39.5 per cent from last January. And there’s 9.1 per cent more listings.
But the market is stronger than it may appear.

Condos and townhouses are what’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

In fact, condos and townhouses are hotter than ever! They’re still selling at peak prices. They’ve been virtually unaffected by the legislative changes, or skittish buyers. We’ve already had a few recent sales that were 5-10 per cent above last summer’s spike.
Quite simply, there’s more demand for condos and townhouses for sale than there is supply. It’s the first time I can recall condos being hotter than houses.
So, if you’re looking to purchase a condo, don’t expect to find a deal. You’re going to have to jump when the right one comes up because there’s no sign they’re going to slow down in the short term.
If you’re selling a condo, it’s a great time. The provincial government’s new loan program to help first-time homebuyers with their downpayment is already driving demand. Many of those buyers are shopping for condos.

Houses are what’s not hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

The market for detached houses, on the other hand, is still cool. Especially for houses worth more than $2 million. Currently, there’s 240 of those listed for sale in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities. But only seven have sold.
Then again, only seven such homes sold in all of 2010.
Also feeling the pain are land value listings as builders hold off, hoping to score a deal. Difficult properties such as those with weird layouts or ones located on busy streets are presenting challenges as well.
Overall, their prices are discounted 5-10 per cent, and sometimes even as much as 20 per cent, from where they were last summer.
That’s not great news for sellers. If you’re looking to sell a high-end detached home, it might be best to hold off a little longer if you’re able; I expect the market will rebound 5-10 per cent by the time the weather warms up.
For buyers, there may be some opportunities to score a deal that would have been unattainable last summer. You could do especially well if you’re willing to throw a little sweat equity into the mix by buying a home that needs some renovation.
Of course, what’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate, and what’s not, is always evolving. The fact remains, this is a desirable place for people to live and invest in real estate, and the general trend for property values continues to increase over time. It’s all about where and when you want to jump into or out of the market. Spring is just around the corner; traditionally that’s a busy time of year whether you’re selling or buying.

Top 10 questions a buyer should ask a Realtor

Finding a Realtor may be the most important step in your search for a new home. There are questions a buyer should ask their Realtor to make sure they’re a good fit for the way you like to do things. Your Realtor should understand your needs and desires, keep your best interests first and foremost.
Think of it as a job interview; if you like what you hear, like their qualifications and feel like they’re a good match for your needs, they’re hired.
1. What is your experience?
One of the first questions a buyer should ask their Realtor is about their experience.  Not just in terms of years, but in real estate the number of sales is just as important.
You want to make sure your Realtor has a good base of knowledge and experience in the type of properties you’re looking for, and that they’re well in tune with the current market.
If the Realtor doesn’t have much experience it’s good to know if they have any related experience or knowledge.  A background in real estate investment or construction could be a valuable resource to tap as you evaluate possible properties.
2. What is your approach to the buying process?
Does your Realtor’s way of doing things align with your own philosophy and approach. Some buyers prefer to monitor listings themselves and then just inform their Realtor to set up a showing when they find one of interest. Other buyers prefer to sit back and entrust their Realtor to do all the leg work. Make sure each of you has a clear understanding of who’s watching the market.
And be clear about your timeframe for your search; some buyers are very anxious and want to get their new home purchased quickly while others are more patient, willing to wait until they find the “perfect” place. If you’re the latter, you don’t want your Realtor pressuring you before you’re ready to buy.
3. What are your expectations from your clients?
You should know what your Realtor expects of you. Conversely, your Realtor should know what you expect of them.
Be open in all your communications with your Realtor; let them know when you’re anxious to buy, or when you might want to take a break from the search. Try to stay focussed so you, or your Realtor, aren’t expending a lot of wasted energy. Make sure your financing is in order, and you’re pre-approved for a mortgage so when the right home does come along, your Realtor can move quickly and confidently on your behalf.
Be realistic in your expectations; it may take some time to find the perfect house, or you may have to make some compromises if you need to move quickly.
4. Where do you primarily work?
A Realtor who is familiar with the community and its neighbourhoods will likely get you the best result.  If you’re looking in a specific area, that Realtor should know it well.
A knowledgable Realtor will be able to recommend neighbourhoods, and even streets, that are the best fit for your needs. They’ll be give you valuable information about schools in the neighbourhood, as well as daycares, parks and transit service.
5. What is your approach to evaluating a property?
A property evaluation, or Comparative Market Analysis, will compare a home you’re looking at to other similar homes in the area that are for sale or were sold recently. This will give you an idea of the local market conditions and what it will take to purchase the home you seek in the area you desire.
You should ascertain your Realtor’s approach to doing their evaluation; how detailed are the evaluations? A generic condo can be easy to evaluate, especially if there have been recent sales above or below. But evaluating a unique home can be quite difficult as there’s little to compare it with.
A skilled Realtor will be able to evaluate a property’s value with confidence and accuracy. They’ll look at similar properties outside the neighbourhood, as well as in similar neighbourhoods. Or they could use a replacement cost approach that calculates the value of the land and what it would cost to build a comparable home.
If a Realtor doesn’t provide you with any guidance and just wants to hear your offer, you may want to find another Realtor.
6. Are you part of a team, or do you work independently?

One of the questions a buyer should ask a Realtor is whether they work as part of a team.
One of the questions a buyer should ask a Realtor is whether they work as part of a team.

 
You want to know whether the Realtor you’re dealing with is going to be there for you when you need them or whether you’ll be tapping into a team of Realtors. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who is your primary contact and who is the backup if your Realtor isn’t available. If your Realtor doesn’t have a backup, establish a contingency for when they’re not available; the perfect property could come along at any time and you want to know you can jump on it.
7. How many clients are you currently working with?
This may give you an idea how much time and energy your Realtor will have available for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Keep in mind the references the Realtor provides will likely be their best and happiest clients so try to dig a little deeper by asking around the community or other people who’ve recently bought or sold a home. Search their name on Google and Facebook, check out their profile on LinkedIn.
8. What happens after I buy?
A great Realtor will be there for you if there are any issues before, during and, especially, after the purchase, such as the seller not fulfilling their end of the contract, or leaving the place in a shambles. They’ll also be available to help you settle in, perhaps recommend professionals and trades to help with any renovations or repairs you want to do. A Realtor who doesn’t abandon you once they’ve handed over the keys to your new home will likely be your Realtor for life.
9. What is your availability and how will you communicate?
Does your Realtor prefer phone contact, or email? How often will they update you? What hours are they available? And what happens if the right property comes along when the Realtor isn’t available?
Your Realtor will likely have the same questions for you.
The more you know about your Realtor’s way of operating, and vice-versa, the more likely you’ll have a good home buying experience.
10. What else do I need to know?
It’s always a good idea to ask an open-ended question to give the Realtor a chance to highlight a unique service they might offer, or speak to areas you might have overlooked. That extra little tidbit of information could be the tipping point to your decision.
Bonus question. Do you own a brewery?
If your Realtor owns a brewery, that’s a bonus!

 
This question might throw your Realtor. Unless of course they do happen to own a brewery, in which case you may end up with a particularly thirst-quenching welcome gift when you take possession of your new home!

Questions a buyer should ask their Realtor: It’s all about trust

There’s no general rule for forging a great relationship with your Realtor. It’s all about trust and personal preference.
But your Realtor should be responsive to your needs; they should be patient when you need to take a little time, and proactive when you’re anxious. Your Realtor should be a good listener who will offer advice and help find solutions. And, most importantly, your Realtor shouldn’t try to sell you into every property you view.

Metro Vancouver real estate has "lukewarm start"

Metro Vancouver real estate hasn’t exactly started the new year like a house on fire.
“From a real estate perspective, it’s a lukewarm start to the year compared to 2016,” said Dan Morrison, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).
That’s creating some opportunities for buyers who had decided to step aside from last spring’s market madness.
In fact, prices for detached homes have declined about seven per cent since July, said Morrison. “Conditions with the market vary depending on property type. The townhome and condominium markets are more active than the detached market at the moment.”
That’s been our experience. Townhomes and condos are selling quickly. Some are commanding offers greater than their listed price. Detached houses are staying on the market longer.
True to form, sellers are waking from their usual December doldrums. New listings of detached homes, townhomes and condos increased 215.5 per cent over the end of 2016. There were 4,140 new listings in January, but only 1,312 in December.
Overall, there are 7,238 homes currently listed for sale in Metro Vancouver, 9.1 per cent more than a year ago.
Sales of detached homes in January were down 57.6 per cent from a year ago. Condo sales dipped 24.7 per cent and townhouse sales went down 32.4 per cent.
That’s helped nudge the ratio of sales to active listings to 21 per cent, the lowest since January, 2015. Analysts say housing prices start to feel downward pressure when the ratio goes below 12 per cent for a sustained period.

House prices down in Metro Vancouver real estate market

The benchmark price for a typical detached home in Metro Vancouver has gone down 6.6 per cent over the last six months to $1,474,800. It’s also dipped slightly for townhomes to $666,500. That’s .4 per cent less than it was six months ago, but it is .7 per cent more than it was in December.
For condo apartments in Metro Vancouver, the benchmark price has increased .3 per cent over the past six months to $512,300. In New Westminster, the benchmark price for a condo is up 5 per cent over the last six months to $387,700. For condos in North Burnaby it’s gone up 6.3 per cent to $490,800.
REBGV stats for Metro Vancouver real estate market in January

Mortgage insurance premiums going up

Mortgage insurance premiums from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will be increasing March 17.
For the average homeowner whose mortgage is insured by CMHC, that could mean an increase in their monthly mortgage payment of about $5 on a $250,000 loan with a downpayment between 5% and 9.99%. The increase applies to new mortgage applications received after March 17. The premium for current mortgages or applications that are submitted before March 17 won’t be increased.

What the increases in mortgage insurance premiums means for monthly mortgage payments
A sample chart provided by CMHC shows what the increases to mortgage insurance premiums will mean for monthly mortgage payments.

 
“We do not expect the higher premiums to have a significant impact on the ability of Canadians to buy a home,” said Steven Mennill, the senior vice-president of insurance at CMHC. “Overall, the changes will preserve competition in the mortgage loan insurance industry and contribute to financial stability.”
CMHC is a Crown corporation that is the largest provider of mortgage insurance in the country.

Private insurer also raising mortgage insurance premiums

Canada’s largest private mortgage insurer, Genworth, is matching the CMHC premium hikes.
“We believe this new pricing is prudent and reflects the new regulatory capital framework for mortgage insurers,” said Stuart Levings, the president and CEO of Genworth Canada.
The increase is necessary because new rules that came into effect on Jan. 1 require banks and insurers to hold more capital against the value of the mortgages they’re holding. It’s also the latest in a suite of changes to mortgage rules implemented last fall by the federal government to help temper the furious housing market in some parts of the country, including Metro Vancouver.
Mortgage insurance is required by Canadian law whenever a homeowner’s down payment on a home purchase is less than 20 per cent of its total price. The premium can be paid in a lump sum, but it’s more typically added to the mortgage principal and repaid as part of a homeowner’s regular mortgage payments. The insurance protects lenders in case borrowers default on their loans.

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.