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!

Dec. 13, 2017

City of Vancouver Approves 2018 Budget - With Surprise Tax Increase

Image via City of Vancouver

In the news this week - Vancouver homeowners will want to be prepared to pay more the next time the property tax bill comes in the mail.

The City of Vancouver has approved its 2018 capital and operating budget — and with it, an unexpected property tax hike. Despite original recommendations of a 3.9 per cent hike, Vision Councillor Raymond Louie made a last-minute proposal to increase it again by 0.34 per cent - explaining the hike would contribute towards housing initiatives and social grants. 

Before the extra tax, the city estimated a median household would be on the hook for an extra $87 per year, but Affleck said owners will now be on the hook for more. 

"It's unfair to the residents of this city to suddenly throw in almost a half per cent increase … without any consultations at all," said Counc. George Affleck, who failed in an attempt to have the extra funding studied by staff to see if it could be included in the original $1.4 billion budget.  

However, finance chair and Vision Coun. Heather Deal said last-minute amendments to recommendations come up all the time. “We’ve just added another $7 to [households] with the 0.34 per cent increase,” she said. Deal agreed that having more time to prepare is better, but added changes like those are normal for council. 

The city approved the $1.4-billion operating budget and $425 million toward capital costs. 

Wonder which priorities the extra tax will be used for?

$1.1 million for a tactical response team to review city-wide zoning regulations and establishing a renter protection manager.

$550,000 to support a bid for Chinatown to be named a UNESCO heritage site and support for "Chinatown Historic Discrimination programming."

$500,000 for additional social grants not in the original budget.

$300,000 to "reduce the amount of time to achieve permit approvals."

About 75 per cent of the overall tax increase will pay for ongoing city services and fixed costs such as wages, energy, rent and maintenance. 

Before the additional tax, the increase amounted to an extra $87 per median single family home (assessed at $1.823 million) or $29 for a median strata unit (assessed at $609,000).

Questions about how this could affect your investment? 

Please be sure to give us a call at (604) 241-7653 with your questions, or email info@michaelcowling.com 

We're here to help!

Michael Cowling & Associates 

 

 

Posted in News
Dec. 11, 2017

BC Home Sales Forecast for 2018

According to a forecast issued November 28 by the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA), rising interest rates and a tough mortgage stress test will combine to reduce home sales in the province next year.

The association predicts that, following BC home sales falling by 8.8% in 2017 compared with last year, resale transactions will decline a further 10.4% in 2018, to around 91,700 units sold across the whole year.

The BCREA reported that “strong economic and demographic fundamentals are supporting elevated housing demand," and noted that is 10-year average for home sales in BC is 84,700 units per year.

They indicated that two key factors will bring home sales down to between 2014 and 2015 levels:

“Housing demand across the province will face increasing headwinds in 2018," said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist. "A rising interest rate environment combined with more stringent mortgage stress tests will reduce household purchasing power and erode housing affordability. Given the rapid rise in home prices over the past few years, the effect of these factors will likely be magnified."

Although home prices are not expected to decline in 2018, average price rises will be less steep than we saw in our hot markets in 2015 and 2016. Residential resale prices in BC are forecast to be 3.1% higher this year than last year, at an average of $712,300, and to rise a further 4.6% to $745,300 in 2018.

It should be noted that these price-rise predictions are expected to vary considerably across the province, with Greater Vancouver’s average home prices expected to rise 5.5% in 2018, and Victoria’s just 1.4%.

One key driver in our recent price increases? This report indicates that "the imbalance between supply and demand has been largely responsible for rapidly rising home prices.”

But it added, “The combination of weakening consumer demand and a surge in new home completions next year is expected to induce more balanced market conditions, producing less upward pressure on home prices.”

Please be sure to give us a call at (604) 241-7653 with your questions, or email info@michaelcowling.com 

We're here to help!

Michael Cowling & Associates 

 

Posted in News
Dec. 1, 2017

Stage Your Home To Sell Over the Holidays

 

Traditionally recognized as a quieter time in real estate, today's savvy buyers are catching on to the once-hidden benefits of taking advantage of the winter market - and the reality is, there's really no slow time in Real Estate in our current hot market. Given our mild climate here in Greater Vancouver, our market really keeps churning year-round - no snowbanks to slow down our investors and savvy buyers!

Fewer homes on the market this time of year means less competition - which is GREAT news for the sale of your home. While it’s a great time to sell while buyers are highly motivated, it’s essential to strike the delicate balance between making your home festive and keeping it show ready.

Take a look at these holiday home decor tips to keep your space in the festive spirit - here's how you'll want to stage to sell this time of year! 

Try these tips from the Spruce.com to maximize your winter selling appeal! 

BY RONIQUE GIBSON

Focus on Winter Curb Appeal & Safety

Winter outdoor home safety for your visitors should be a top priority. So to ensure that potential buyers can make it to your front door without any slips, make sure to clear the driveway, stairs, and walkways of snow, leaves, and ice. Also, having proper outdoor lighting will help to make your house safer and more attractive to buyers who plan to visit at night. Consider illuminating the way to your front door with a series of path lights or flanking the door with decorative lanterns or sconces.

Create a Welcoming Winter Interior Buyers Will Love

 A burning fireplace in the living room can be a welcoming sight or area or a plush quilt at the foot of the bed, or a nicely folded throw kept on a chair are just about a few small additions that will help to create a big difference in the way your interiors feels to potential buyers. Just make sure that there is nothing very personal about the accessories such as a monogrammed throw or a customized rug. Also, as winter days are short, dim, and gloomy, be...

Try Using Warmer Painted Colour Walls for Buyer Appeal

While a fresh coat of paint is advised at any time of the year, it is very important when it comes to creating winter buyer appeal. Due to bare trees, visitors have a clearer view of your house in colder months than they do in spring or summer. Chipped or faded paint will be visible during these months, so give it a fresh coat if there is a need.

Use Tasteful Holiday Decor

For sure a giant inflatable Santa displayed in your front yard can distract potential buyers from your home, but tasteful wintry accents can bring out the best in your property. In fact, as buyers want to be able to envision living in your house, it’s advised to make that vision possible with subtle holiday decorations. Consider a simple wreath on the front door, a centerpiece made of pine cones, and small white lights strung outdoors.   

All of the above tips certainly point to one concept - and that's to use weather to your selling advantage, by making potential buyers feel warm and comfortable. 

Questions about Real Estate in Richmond, Ladner, Tsawwassen or Vancouver West? Reach out today - we can happily start you off with a free, no-obligation market evaluation. 

Please be sure to give us a call at (604) 241-7653 with your questions, or email info@michaelcowling.com 

We're here to help!

Michael Cowling & Associates 

 

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Nov. 30, 2017

CMHC Insurance in Force Falls $28 Billion From A Year Ago

By Steve Randall 

Originally published via Canadian Real Estate Magazine

 

 

The mortgage regulations implemented in the fourth quarter of 2016 have led to a large decrease in insurance-in-force at CMHC.

The agency released its annual report Wednesday which shows it provided mortgage loan insurance for 189,000 new units in 2017 up to the end of the third quarter, 63,500 of them in the third quarter.

Total insurance-in-force year-to-date was down $28 billion to $484 billion.

 The typical CMHC-insured mortgage was for $260,577 with the borrower’s credit score of 752 and total debt service ratios of 36.6%. The overall arrears rate was 0.30%.

Additionally, the agency’s guarantees for its securitization programs totalled $113 billion; $82.8 billion for National Housing Act Mortgage-Backed Securities and $30.2 billion for Canada Mortgage Bonds.

CMHC delivered $467 million of net income (after tax) and approved a $290 million dividend for its sole shareholder, the federal government.

“CMHC continues to deliver results for Canadians. The Government, through CMHC, is making unprecedented investments to help Canadians in housing need as part of the National Housing Strategy. Commercially, we continue to manage our mortgage loan insurance and securitization operations in the best interests of long-term financial stability,” said Wojo Zielonka, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice-President, Capital Markets.

In a conference call Wednesday, Steve Mennill, CMHC's senior vice-president of insurance said that the agency is confident that the level of mortgages insured by the CMHC in the third quarter is “the new normal.”

Are you looking to invest in property? 

Please be sure to give us a call at (604) 241-7653 with your questions, or email info@michaelcowling.com 

We're here to help!

Michael Cowling & Associates 

Posted in Market Updates
Nov. 21, 2017

Foreign Buyers Remain Resolute in Richmond

As published on Richmond News

Graeme Wood / Richmond News

NOVEMBER 15, 2017 10:45 AM

Foreign influence in Richmond real estate remains strong and steady, according to recent data released by the B.C. Ministry of Finance.

Since April 1, foreign nationals have been involved in eight per cent of all residential real estate transactions in Richmond, which is the highest rate of any jurisdiction in B.C. 

By comparison, foreign nationals were involved in 3.4 per cent of all Vancouver transactions and across Metro Vancouver the rate was 3.3 per cent. 

In Richmond, foreigners were involved in 318 transactions, whereas in Vancouver they were involved in 259.

From January to September, foreign buyers have paid about $36.2 million in additional taxes (from the 15 per cent tax introduced last August) in Richmond alone, meaning they’ve sunk roughly $241 million into homes.

The monthly rates appear to have stabilized following the Aug. 1, 2016, implementation of the foreign buyers’ tax. 

In the months prior to August 2016, foreigners were involved in 24.7 per cent of all such transactions in Richmond.

In 2017, the average value of homes being purchased by foreigners has also declined, as more multi-family units are being targeted.

Since October 2016, all Richmond properties have increased in sale price by 10.8 per cent. 

Single-family homes have remained relatively stable by increasing only 2.3 per cent (now averaging $1.69 million), however townhouses are up 12.6 per cent and condos are up 26.3 per cent. Compared to the same period in 2016, sales of single-family homes have dropped by about 25 per cent, while condo and townhouse sales have remained stable. 

Jill Oudil, president of Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said multi-family units have been a hot commodity among local buyers after the Government of Canada announced new mortgage stress tests (starting in the New Year new buyers must be able to afford mortgages with higher interest rates).

“Many buyers are trying to enter the market before the changes are in place,” said Oudil, in her last monthly report.

While the City of Vancouver looks to policies targeting non-residents, such as an empty homes tax and restricting pre-construction condo sales to local residents, the City of Richmond has maintained a supply-focused solution to the housing crisis.

While the public wasn’t given the option to consider foreign money and speculation as the “primary focus” for the City of Richmond’s Affordable Housing Strategy, in the “other” comments section of a public consultation survey, about one third (17/52) of respondents noted foreign investment and speculation as something city council should address. 

Please be sure to give us a call at (604) 241-7653 with your questions, or email info@michaelcowling.com 

We're here to help!

Michael Cowling & Associates 

Posted in News
Nov. 21, 2017

Selling Property in Canada as a Non-Resident

Selling Property in Canada as a Non-Resident

What you need to know about withholding tax

Selling any property can be stressful, lining up all of the paperwork, finances, etc. When the seller is a non-resident of Canada, there are even more things to consider. Beyond negotiating a good price, there are specific filing requirements a non-resident must undergo. You’ll want to ensure that you have an experienced Real Estate professional on your side – one who is well-versed in handling transactions with non-residents of Canada.
 
First of all, a non-resident is subject to a withholding tax, which is generally 25% of the sale price. 

One implication of this withholding tax you must be aware of, is the seller’s ability to complete knowing that 25% of the sale price may not be readily available to them on completion.     

Consider this example of a transaction:
Sale Price     $500,000
Commission  $ 17,000
Mortgage      $425,000

In most cases, the Seller’s ability to clear title would be simple. But, in the case of the Seller being a non-resident, $125,000 will be held back - leaving only $375,000 to pay your fee and mortgage balance! Obviously, the math doesn’t work in this scenario.

To reduce or eliminate the holdback, a Clearance Certificate must be acquired. This must be filed within 10 days of the sale closing. Once this has been issued, the notary will only be required to withhold the amount needed to satisfy any taxes owing. To accelerate the process, it’s advised that you place the entirety of the CPS in the hands of the Seller’s tax advisor and ask that they file for the ‘Clearance Certificate’.  However, it should be noted that this does not address how much tax is payable.

You can see the importance of having a qualified, experienced professional on hand to help you navigate through the process – helping you save time, money, and any costly issues with legalities.

Be sure to reach out with your questions. Put our experience working with non-residents of Canada to work for you and the sale of your property!

Please be sure to give us a call at (604) 241-7653 with your questions, or email info@michaelcowling.com 

We're here to help!

Michael Cowling & Associates 


 

Posted in News
Nov. 17, 2017

FICOM Not Creating Stress Test for Credit Unions

Article via Bill Macklem of Dominion Macklem Mortgages

November 17th, 2017

The words "good news" and "FICOM" are not usually in the same sentence, but there is good news from FICOM today.

Acting Superintendent of FICOM, Frank Chong, announced that they will not be putting OSFI like stress tests on the credit unions in BC - at least for now. There was some concern that credit unions - who are not regulated by OSFI - would have similar stress test rules put on them by FICOM. Thankfully, that is not the case.

This should mean more opportunities to have deals completed by credit unions starting in 2018 and allow hard working, credit worthy Canadians to secure a mortgage without having to qualify at the two point stress test.

Here is the complete statement from Mr. Chong and FICOM:

FICOM has reviewed the new requirements from the federal bank regulator (OSFI) regarding requirements for residential mortgage qualification.

These changes come into effect in January 2018 for federally regulated financial institutions but will not apply to provincially-regulated institutions like credit unions now regulated by FICOM.

Because some borrowers will not be able to qualify for mortgages with banks, they may migrate to credit unions or private lenders where qualifying is less stringent. FICOM has a residential mortgage guideline in place for credit unions and regularly reviews that directive to determine if credit unions are managing risks effectively.

In the coming months, we will be consulting with credit unions and monitoring developments in residential mortgage lending to protect the interests of consumers and credit union members.

We will continue to assess the situation, but no changes are contemplated in provincial requirements at this time.

Please be sure to give us a call at (604) 241-7653 with your questions, or email info@michaelcowling.com 

We're here to help!

Michael Cowling & Associates 

Posted in News
Oct. 11, 2017

Adrenaline Is Pumping On Richmond Property

Step into the shoes of an Olympic athlete on Richmond Property. A one of a kind experience awaits at The Richmond Olympic Experience. Fondly dubbed The Rox, visitors can immerse themselves into the ultimate sporting adventure. The Olympic Games is filled with thrilling moments as top athletes push themselves beyond their limits to be the very best.

Simulators at the Rox share the adrenaline, plummeting guests into extreme sports situations. One in the Bobsled simulator, winds rush up as the sled whisks along the track. A wild ride ensues inside the luge when Olympic gold times are challenged. With speeds topping almost 100 kilometers the Sky Jump makes it feel like flying. In the Sit-Ski guests can adapt like a world class paralympic athlete. With just one ski what changes are necessary to remain steady on the slopes? Take on a raging river in the Kayak simulator. Mother Nature throws a world of curves as the Chilliwack River fierce white waters threaten to topple paddlers in its midsts. Put the pedal to the medal in the Racecar simulator. Buckle up and hit the winding track.

The Spirit Of The Olympian Lives On Near Richmond Homes

Interactive Challenges let guests see how they measure up against the best athletes in the games. Hockey and soccer buffs try to score a goal against simulated competitors. When shooting hoops professionals seem to reach the sky. Here the average Joe can see how their jumping skills compare. Agility tests pair individuals up against themselves. Are movements slow and sloppy or smooth and slick? Friends often engage in friendly competition to see who scores the highest. The Rox recognizes behind the scenes talents in the broadcast booth. Sportscasting enthusiasts can grab the mic and call out all the action as it happens on the field.

Exhibits showcase the talent of past Canadian Olympians detailing journeys of success stories including tough moments where dreams seemed almost out of reach. The Rox Theater sets the scene for inspirational stories of up and coming athletes headed toward the games. Key starts, unprecedented moves, and unbelievable finishes share the limelight in The Moments in Series Exhibit.

Membership opportunities are readily taken advantage of by sports enthusiasts living in Richmond homes. Packages include unlimited admission, discounts and special events. For more information please call 778.296.1400.

 

Posted in News
Oct. 10, 2017

Spend Time In Peaceful Repose On British Columbia Real Estate

Inhale the fine fragrance from spectacular blossoms on British Columbia real estate. The world-renowned Butchart Gardens enchants one and all with its spectacular beauty. Themed gardens seemingly merge as if in a masterful painting as colors blend delightfully together. Favorite spots to linger include the rose garden, Japanese garden, Italian garden and sunken garden.

The four seasons change the gardens beautifully. Open year sounds and sights are truly amazing on this British Columbia property. Recognized as a National Historic of Canada the gardens host a variety of events throughout the year. Hours vary and are updated online.

Festive Spirits Abound On British Columbia Property

Flowers are in full bloom during the springtime. Guests wander the paths taking in the brilliant ambiance of color. Summer afternoon and evenings can’t be beat for summertime fun. Ten weeks of Saturday Night Fireworks illuminate the sky with prisms of color. Aerial spectacles and ground displays earn oohs and awes. Crowds gather in front of the Concert Lawn Stage in preparation for the summer nights concert series. Musicians taking the stage feature a range of genres appealing to varied tastes. When autumn comes the leaves turn showcasing gorgeous hues of reds, oranges, yellows, and brown. Many visit the Japanese garden for peaceful repose before winter strikes. Greenhouse tours are extended to the public in November giving a behind the scenes glimpse.

The Butchart Gardens turn into a virtual wonderland when winter comes. Indoors the Spring Prelude Garden is eye catching with its subtle loveliness. Starting in December the Christmas season begins bringing joy and merriment. Festive lights sparkle almost everywhere. Carolers stroll about singing songs of the season. Visitors swirl and twirl on the outdoor ice skating rink. Dining specials present holiday menus and everyone seems to be in good cheer. Children under twelve receive a tasty cup of hot chocolate in exchange for a homemade snowflakes. View the Magic of Christmas video here.

Membership opportunities are well worth contemplating for those living on British Columbia real estate. The artistry of nature is in full form with the landscape providing a place to ponder life and enjoy pure and simple exquisiteness. Going on a regular basis is truly life a breathe of fresh air. 

 

Posted in News
Oct. 9, 2017

West Vancouver Real Estate Has Gone To The Dogs

West Vancouver real estate treats man’s best friend right. Dog lovers have plenty of parks to enjoy their furbabies in around the city. Leashed and unleashed outings cater to owners of friendly dogs just out to have a good time.

Ambleside Park has plenty of places for pups to roam with grassy knolls, trails and even beach access for dogs to romp in the waves on warmer days. Families frequent Ambleside Park because there is something for everyone to do. The skate park calls to teenagers adeptly showing off tricks. Golfers find their groove on the Par 3 Golf Course. Sandy beaches are made for summertime swims, and afternoon snacks are often devoured from the concession stands.

In Cypress Falls Park, dogs are great hiking buddies. Tails wag in greeting for fellow hikers on this West Vancouver property. An off leash area is perfect for energetic runs. Dogs and their owners can relax nearby benches while watching games in play on the baseball diamond. Birdwatchers seek out feathered friends often spotting elusive species.

Explore Vancouver Property With A Buddy

Over at Whyte Lake Park animals are welcome but must remain on leash due to the sensitivity of the habitat. A scenic wonderland, this inspirational piece of West Vancouver real estate features a boardwalk and pier. The largest park in West Vancouver, Whyte Lake Park trails wind through scenic surroundings with creeks, a lake, wetlands and a mystical old growth forest. Benches are spread about for sitting and contemplating life. Dogs are especially good contemplators too.

Close to the business district sits Memorial Park. This is another area where dogs must remain leashed. Walking hand in hand with their humans, pups are welcome to meander through. Curious critters perk up as they observe the centennial salmon rearing pond. During Remembrance Day the Memorial Arch is a tender spot to gather and reflect on all those who have served.

Bring your canine buddy on the next family adventure. With dog only waste bins centered throughout West Vancouver parks, the city reminds owners to “pick up what their dog puts down.” Every day is a doggone good day with a happy pooch by your side. More information on where dogs are welcome can be found in Abbie’s Guide.

 

Posted in News