British Columbia Real Estate News

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

May 21, 2018

Yet another bank discounts variable mortgage rate

In the news! (as published by The Canadian Press | May 17, 2018) 

HSBC says it is discounting its variable mortgage rate starting Thursday to a level that undercuts the recently discounted rates of other major banks, as competition in the space intensifies.

The bank says it will offer a five-year variable closed rate of 2.39 per cent, down from 2.49 per cent and 1.06 percentage points below its prime rate. It says there's no end date but that the rate could change at any time.

HSBC's lowered rate comes after TD Bank and Bank of Montreal started offering five-year variable closed rates of 2.45 per cent in recent days at a heavy discount to their prime rate until the end of May.

Scotiabank says it has also started lowering its rate to match the limited-time offer of its competitors.

The moves come amid slowing mortgage growth. The Canadian Real Estate Association said Tuesday that national home sales volume sank to the lowest level in more than five years in April, falling by 13.9 per cent from the same month last year. The national average sale price decreased by 11.3 per cent year-over-year.

Home sales have slowed due to various factors, including measures introduced by the Ontario and B.C. governments to cool the housing market, such as taxes on non-resident buyers.

Other headwinds for mortgage growth include higher interest rates and a new financial stress test that makes it more difficult for would-be homebuyers to qualify with federally regulated lenders, such as the banks.

The tighter lending rules are making it harder for homebuyers to qualify for uninsured mortgages and shrinking the pool of qualified buyers for higher-priced homes, CREA's chief economist Gregory Klump said in April.

Meanwhile, Canada's largest lenders all raised their benchmark posted five-year fixed mortgage rates in recent weeks as government bond yields increased, signalling a rise in borrowing costs.

In turn, the central bank's five year benchmark qualifying rate _ which is calculated using the posted rates at the Big Six banks _ increased last week to 5.34 per cent. This qualifying rate is used in stress tests for both insured and uninsured mortgages, and an increase means the bar is now even higher for borrowers to qualify.

Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch! 

Contact us today!

info@michaelcowling.com 

(604) 241-7653

RE/MAX Michael Cowling & Associates

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
May 17, 2018

Can a majority of owners force the sale of a strata complex?

What happens when a majority of strata owners in a multi-unit complex decide they want to sell their units and wind up the strata, but not all property owners support the decision?

This happened earlier this year in Richmond’s Ascott Wynd complex when six of 102 owners disputed the winding up of the strata. They reasoned the sale wouldn’t be in the best interests of the owners and would cause significant confusion and uncertainty in their affairs.

However, BC Supreme Court Justice Milman disagreed, saying the sale was in the best interests of the owners and ruled the complex could be sold.

Why would strata owners decide to sell their complex?

The reasons vary and include:

their aging strata complex requires so much repair work, it makes more sense to demolish the building and build a new one in its place;

a low-rise strata building is in an area rezoned for higher density developments, and property owners will make a profit selling to a developer who’ll demolish the low-rise building and construct a higher-rise property in its place; and

their strata is located within a larger area (a few blocks) undergoing redevelopment as part of a broader urban renewal project.

New strata rules make winding up a strata easier

In 2016, new strata property rules came into force allowing strata owners to terminate a strata corporation with an 80 per cent vote. This was a change from the previous unanimous voting requirement.

Although a resolution to cancel a strata plan can be passed by an 80 per cent vote, there’s court oversight intended to address unfairness alleged by an owner or creditor.

The strata corporation is required to apply to BC Supreme Court for an order confirming a wind-up resolution. The court must consider:

the best interests of the owners;

the probability and extent of significant unfairness to one or more owners; and

the probability and extent of significant confusion and uncertainty.

Recent court cases:

In 2017, six condominium owners in the Hampstead, a Vancouver West End strata complex, went to court to stop their 33-unit strata building from being sold by a majority of owners for redevelopment. They lost their case. The judge agreed the wind-up resolution had been conducted fairly, in the best interests of all strata owners.

In 2018, two owners in the 36-unit Barclay Terrace in Vancouver’s West End refused to sell. The judge allowed the sale stating it was in the best interests of the owners and wouldn’t give rise to significant uncertainty.

- as originally published via the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board 

Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch! 

Contact us today!

info@michaelcowling.com 

(604) 241-7653

RE/MAX Michael Cowling & Associates

Posted in News
May 8, 2018

Mother's Day in Richmond, BC

 

 

Here are four ways you can treat the special Mom in your life in our community!

 

Say it with flowers 

You can’t go wrong with fresh, local blooms! Pick up a fresh bouquet at one of our favourites, Touch of Flowers.

 

Save the date 

Make a special breakfast reservation at one of our local breakfast hot-spots, like Blue Canoe Waterfront or The Buffet at the River Rock Casino, Just be sure to book ahead, as these tables fill up quickly! 

 

Savour a sweet treat

Treat Mom to some goodies from local chocolatier Wild Sweets; ranked one of the '25 Best Chocolatiers in the World', awarded 'Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America' and Canada's only science-based cocoa bean-to-bar chocolate-makers! 

 

Sip and shop

Richmond offers some beautiful wines AND shopping! Head to Lulu Island Winery for a delicious tasting, then hit the unique, local shops along Steveston’s boardwalk. 

 

Regardless of how you choose to spend Mother’s Day this year, the most important part is that you enjoy quality time together. 

 

Happy Mother’s Day from our team and families to yours!

 

Best, 

Michael Cowling & Associates 

 

Posted in News
May 1, 2018

Richmond's pre-sale condo flipping to be tracked by province

Graeme Wood / Richmond News

APRIL 30, 2018 05:15 PM

Minister of Finance Carole James says her government is cracking down on tax evasion within the opaque world of pre-sale condo assignments.

Wednesday’s announcement, to require real estate developers to collect and report information on pre-sale condo assignments, comes five months after Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced it was investigating select developments in Toronto and Vancouver.

“We are making it fairer for people who want to buy a condo, by making sure those who flip pre-sale condos are paying their fair share.”

Prior to a development being constructed, speculative buyers may pay a deposit for the right to buy a unit upon completion at present-day pricing. If the market price rises in the intervening years of construction, the buyer could sell (assign) the pre-sale contract (the right to buy) and reap a large profit. This is perfectly legal as long as the transaction is recorded and the appropriate capital gains or business taxes are paid. 

According to the CRA, a local buyer could be on the hook for the taxes owing, if they were not paid/withheld here, or from overseas.

However in many cases there is no paper trail left behind with these so-called “shadow flips.”

But even with better records and tracking, tax experts have identified gaps in collecting taxes from real estate transactions, especially from foreigners.

According to University of B.C. real estate economist Tom Davidoff, pre-sales have been a popular means for developers to finance their projects.

Many Richmond condo pre-sale contracts have been sold by marketing agencies in Asia. Pre-sales are popular there because there is no foreign buyers’ tax on pre-sale flips. Only the final sale is registered with the Land Titles and Survey Authority of B.C., hence such flipping obscures the true impact of foreign money in Richmond’s real estate market, where one in four new condos close to non-residents.

A recent Globe and Mail investigation shows pre-sale flipping is popular with a privileged clique of realtor “insiders” in Metro Vancouver, who use their relationships with developers to access contracts first.

In November, Davidoff told the Richmond News that from a free market perspective, it is problematic there is no public record keeping of pre-sales. This meant final buyers, typically locals, have limited information to the market and hence are put at risk.

Davidoff said developers have been reluctant to provide details, from what is effectively an honour system, because “A, there’s a lack of reporting infrastructure and B, there’s a lack of incentive.”

The flipping frenzy has led to rising costs in the multi-family market, according to Richmond realtor and real estate blogger Steve Saretsky, who said last week the new reporting measures “won't necessarily impact prices but could discourage some offshore investment that maybe otherwise was hoping to make a tax free gain.”

In the past year condo prices have soared 27 per cent in Richmond, while townhouse prices have gone up 13.4 per cent.

Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch! 

Contact us today!

info@michaelcowling.com 

(604) 241-7653

RE/MAX Michael Cowling & Associates

Posted in Market Updates
April 25, 2018

Vancouver Turns Vacancies Into Cash Cow

 

The city of Vancouver's new empty homes tax is expected to bring in $30 million in revenue in its first year.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said $17 million has already been collected from owners of almost 8,500 properties that were determined to be vacant or under utilized for at least six months of the year.

For those who didn't rent their empty property and chose to pay the empty homes tax, I just want to say thank you for contributing to Vancouver's affordable housing funding and making sure we can invest more in affordable housing,'' Robertson said at a news conference Monday. ``For those who did rent their empty homes, thank you very much for adding to the rental housing supply here in Vancouver. It's desperately needed.''

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, requiring homeowners who do not live in or rent out their properties to pay a one per cent levy based on the assessed value of the home.

Robertson said the tax was intended to address the city's near-zero vacancy rate.

The most recent figure from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation puts the city's rental vacancy rate at 0.8 per cent, up slightly from the previous year, the mayor said.

It's unclear yet if the tax has increased the availability of rental accommodation, Robertson said, adding that the city is developing better data collection methods to monitor the impact of initiates like the tax more closely.

The city previously said about 60 per cent of properties affected by the tax are condominiums.

The tax on the properties where owners said their home was empty ranged from $1,500 to $250,000, Robertson said, noting the highest tax bill came from a $25-million home.

The funds will support the city's affordable housing initiatives and residents can provide feedback on exactly where the money should be spent.

Robertson said increasing capacity at homeless shelters or adding to the city's rent bank, which provides one-time interest-free loans to low-income residents in a financial crisis, are among the possible initiatives that could benefit.

The median tax due is just under $10,000 and Robertson said anyone who doesn't pay up will face fines and have the bill added to their property taxes next year.

``Those who are not playing ball here and who are skirting the system, we will get you,'' the mayor said.

Nearly 99 per cent of homeowners completed an empty homes tax declaration.

The tax cost the city $7.5 million to implement and annual operating costs for the first and subsequent years are pegged at $2.5 million.

Audits are underway and the city said just under 1,000 complaints or disputes have been filed that need to be addressed in the coming months.

Robertson said it will be up to city council to decide whether the tax is having the desired effect, and that will likely take a few years of data to determine.

``I would say at this point it looks like some signs of success,'' he said.

Linda Givetash 

The Canadian Press (as seen in www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca)

Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch! 

Contact us today!

info@michaelcowling.com 

(604) 241-7653

RE/MAX Michael Cowling & Associates

Posted in News
April 18, 2018

Richmond’s First Disputed Strata Sale Approved by Judge, Fuels Speculation

Graeme Wood / Richmond News

April 17th, 2018 

 

Image via the Vancouver Courier

 

Richmond’s first strata termination and sale under a recently-revised Strata Property Act has been granted by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

Despite opposition from a minority group of owners, Mr. Justice Warren B. Milman ruled April 10 in favour of the 86 owners who agreed to sell the three-storey, 102-unit Ascott Wynde property at the corner of Cook and Garden City roads.

“I must weigh the interest of the strong majority in proceeding with the [strata termination] and sale that they voted for,” concluded Milman in a written decision, following an assessment of various complaints made by those who opposed the $49.8 million sale to Everbright Properties Inc.   

The decision, required by law under the Act in order to consider any undue hardship of the minority, has Coun. Carol Day concerned for vulnerable seniors and renters facing the likes of “sharks who are currently circling other complexes in the area.”

Among the complaints heard, the difficulty residents may face in relocating was among Milman’s key considerations, including whether or not existing residents would be able to have priority access to the new, proposed 150 townhouse development that is to be built in place of the two 41-year-old buildings.

“I accept that relocating is likely to be difficult for at least some owners, for various reasons,” stated Milman.

However, Milman concluded that a 60 per cent premium sale price above the 2018 assessment value of the property was not “significantly unfair” to those who opposed the strata termination.

What could be unfair, Milman concluded, is not granting the sale, which passed under a new (2016) rule of the Strata Property Act that allows for strata terminations with a minimum 80 per cent of owners’ blessings, as opposed to 100 per cent under the old rules.

Milman noted owners face a “daunting maintenance and repair burden” of $5 million over the next 5-7 years, resulting in special levies of an estimated $36,700 to $67,700.

 Some opponents, such as Victoria Grigorenko, who lives with her 87-year-old mother, argued they cannot find another place to live in Richmond. Or, if they do, it will be in a similarly old building that may have the same repair burden. It is believed by many owners that the Ascott Wynde sale has inflated listing prices in the area. Rennie and Associates agent Jason Lai said his agency is working on a number of strata sales in the city.

Milman found the compensation to be sufficient and heeded the advice of Lai that there are many older apartments in Richmond being sold for less than the listing price. Since the sale process began in 2016 units have soared in assessed value by about 50 per cent.

Nevertheless, noting strata lawyer Peter Robert’s comment that “the market has spoken,” Milman concluded “there is no sound basis for the contention that the owners are to receive inadequate compensation for their units.”

A contention from opponents, such as Gordon Bell, that the sale included a land expropriation for yet-to-be-approved road widening (and thus the price was lower than it should be) was dismissed by Milman. Rather, he agreed with Lai that it was a number of prospective purchasers who factored in the potential road widenings into their price points.

Day said that there are no plans to widen roads in the area to accommodate new developments and as such the deal may not be as good as it could have been.

Day, who attended court hearings with opponents, wants to see city policies that prohibit fast-track rezoning and/or density bonuses for properties where a strata is terminated without 100 per cent approval. 

Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch! 

Contact us today!

info@michaelcowling.com 

(604) 241-7653

RE/MAX Michael Cowling & Associates

Posted in News
April 12, 2018

The Richmond Vintage Vets Showing Our Support for Jersey Day

 Our hockey team, the Richmond Vintage Vets got together to show our support for Jersey Day. 

Across Canada today, people are wearing their jerseys to run errands, go to work, and to go to school - to show their support for the victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash and their families. 

The initiative was first circulated on Facebook by a group of caring hockey parents here in BC as a way to honour the Saskatchewan junior hockey team, and photos submitted today to Global BC have even seen the movement extended all the way to the United States, the Netherlands, and even China.

Our team also honours a player every year with the #14 jersey with commemoration of our teammate Gerry Pughe, who passed of cancer a few years ago - every year, one teammate is recognized with the Gerry Pughe Memorial for Valiant Effort Team Spirit award. Congratulations to this year’s recipient, Dave Kraemer. 

As hockey players, parents, and lifelong fans - you have an entire community behind you. #JerseysforHumboldt 

-Michael Cowling 

Posted in News
March 29, 2018

Easter Activities in Richmond

 

There are tons of egg-sellent ways to spend the long weekend here in Richmond - so get crackin’, and make your Easter plans for the whole family!

Easter Eggstravaganza @ the Steveston Community Centre 

Who wouldn’t want a visit with the Easter Bunny himself?

Head down to the Steveston Community Centre on March 31st for the Easter Eggstravaganza. This event is recommended for kids 10 and under, with some fun activities starting at 10AM - like crafts, games, and even an egg hunt. Be sure to book ahead - space is limited! Tickets are $10 per child, and they must be accompanied by an adult. 

Head to their website for more info: http://www.richmond.ca/steveston

Or call the Steveston Community Centre (604) 238-8080

Easter @ the Cannery

This fun-filled annual family Easter event is back! Presented by the historic Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site in Steveston Village, families can enjoy special Easter crafts, activities, interactive adventures and of course, the annual Easter Salmon Egg Hunt!  The egg hunts begin every 30 minutes; beginning at 10:30AM and ending at 4:30PM. ALL participants will receive a lovely Easter treat, too! 

Throughout the day, we’ll have activities suitable for kids ages 2 to 12 years old. Easter Salmon Egg Hunts start every 30 minutes, beginning at 10:30am and ending at 4:30pm.  All egg hunt participants will receive an Easter treat for their efforts! Contact the Cannery for pricing/admission info. 

Gulf of Georgia Cannery, 12138 Fourth Ave., Richmond 

March 30th -April 1st 10AM-5PM

Gulfofgeorgiacannery.org 

Easter Tea at the London Heritage Farm

Let’s get real - some of the best Easter activities revolve around the sweet treats! And nothing says “spring” more like these picturesque gardens. Bring the family to the London Heritage Farm on either March 31st or April 1st for some goodies and a cup of tea. The beautiful tearoom will be hosting a special Easter tea just for the occasion! 

Be sure to book your table ahead of time - give them a call for more information and to reserve your spot. http://londonheritagefarm.ca/news/ 

How will YOU be spending the long weekend?

Hop to it - leave your comments! Enjoy your Easter Weekend. 

Thanks for reading, 

Michael Cowling & Associates

 

Posted in News
March 22, 2018

Spring Into Selling Season!

Spring has officially arrived here in Greater Vancouver! 

The cherry blossoms have emerged and we're headed into what's known to be the most popular time to buy and sell a home. 

Where it might seem to be a daunting process to sell your home, it surely doesn't need to be. They are some key actions you can take today - to ensure you the most profitable, time-efficient sale tomorrow. 

Contact Michael Cowling & Associates, Your Trusted REALTOR®

First things first! Real estate agents are professionals - and your trusted real estate agent will walk you through the entire process, from beginning to end. A great real estate agent will not only ensure your property is priced right, they’ll also be your guide through every step of the process in the weeks and months leading up to listing, during the time your home is listed, the closing of your property sale and beyond. Receive your free home evaluation. 

Dive Into Your Spring Cleaning 

Not only does purging feel good in Spring, it can help you sell your home! Rid your home of any extra belongings; including in all of your drawers - remember, you want to convey to the potential buyer that your home has room for their stuff! This will set you up for staging your home to sell (which we have many years experience with, and can help you with once we have your selling strategy in place). Furthermore, consider the curb appeal of your home. Stand at the perimeter of your property - what do you see? Now will be the time to take care of any outstanding repairs, landscaping, or sprucing up the details (like a fresh coat on the front door). 

Dig Out That Paperwork

Now is the time to begin getting your paperwork in order. If any extensive renovations and/or maintenance has been conducted on the home, you’ll want to be sure to have the receipts, permits, or other important documents at hand. They may not be required, but will be of interest to some buyers. Have your bills organized in one place (including a recent property tax amount) as many potential buyers will like to see estimates on any utilities when possible. As well, if you’re selling your home, we will want to assess your budget for making another purchase. 

If you’re at all intimidated by this list, take it from us -  don’t be! We’ve helped clients accomplish everything on this list in days. 

If you’re in the market to sell, the sooner you hire Michael Cowling & Associates to help, the better. 

Start with your free home evaluation - find out what your home is worth in today's market. 

Get in touch today! 

Michael Cowling & Associates 

604-276-2335

info@michaelcowling.com 

Posted in Market Updates
March 15, 2018

How to Spend Spring Break in Richmond, BC

Looking for some memorable ways to spend Spring Break in Richmond, BC? 

There are tons of immersive, educational, and FUN ways to spend the break for kids of all ages. 

Their parents might even enjoy these, too! 

West Dyke Trail | Photo: Tourism Richmond

Explore Richmond Nature Park

Sunday, March 18  2PM

Take part in a free one-hour naturalist-led tours and learn about the plants and animals that live in this special park! You can enjoy the easy walking trails too, and there are two dedicated geocaching options as well. It's a great way to enjoy our local beauty while getting outside and staying active!

For more information visit www.richmond.ca/naturepark

Take in Richmond’s History 

Spark the imagination of the entire family with some of the excellent programming offered up by Steveston’s heritage buildings and National Historic Sites. 

Drop by the Steveston Interurban Tram for a tour, and collect a Steveston History Hunters scavenger hunt flyer. Don’t forget to check out the century-old interurban car!

Visit the Steveston Museum, for free crafts and other activities are on the schedule for March 22, 28 and 29 (12:30PM -3:30PM).

Over at the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, they’ve got some spring break camps on the roster. The family-friendly museum is also open from noon - 5PM daily, with free guided 15-minute tours available. 

Take in Spring Break at the Cannery (Monday, March 19 - Saturday, March 24). The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site over Spring Break on weekdays from March 19th - 29th is the place to be - activities, crafts and games for kids of all ages!

Check out www.gulfofgeorgiacannery.org for more details

Experience Richmond Media Lab

Thursday, March 22 3PM-8PM

Get one step ahead of today’s advancements in technology - this sounds creative, fun, AND educational! Youth can try their hand on any digital medium (think film, music, photography, digital drawing, and other media arts).

Visit www.richmond.ca/medialab for drop-in times, snack breaks, etc. 

 For more ideas on how to spend your spring break, visit www.richmond.ca/springbreak and https://www.visitrichmondbc.com/blog/post/spring-break-activities-in-richmond/ 

 

Michael Cowling & Associates 

604-276-2335

info@michaelcowling.com

Posted in News