Growth in condo market share across the Canadian real estate market in 2021

October 19th, 2021

Canadian Real Estate Report: 2021 Housing Impacts to Condo Sector

RE/MAX Staff
other

 Staggering gains in detached housing values have sent condominium sales soaring throughout the first eight months of 2021 in major Canadian real estate markets, according to a new report by RE/MAX Canada

The RE/MAX Canada 2021 Condominium Report, which examines trends and developments in five major Canadian real estate markets and more than 100 sub-markets, found that buyers turned to condominiums in 2021, as freehold housing values escalated beyond their reach. The strongest gains in sales were made in the West, where Greater Vancouver and Calgary saw condominium sales rise 87 and 83 per cent respectively between January 1 and August 31 of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, which experienced a notable downturn in condo sales. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) led the East in terms of percentage increases in condo sales at 71 per cent, followed by Halifax-Dartmouth at 36 per cent and Ottawa at 29 per cent. The greatest upswing in pricing occurred in the East, with both Halifax-Dartmouth and Ottawa posting double-digit price gains of 30.0 per cent and 18.0 per cent respectively. More moderate appreciation was reported in Greater Toronto (seven per cent), Vancouver (6.7 per cent) and Calgary (three per cent).

“Affordability, coupled with availability, set the stage for the exceptional rebound in condominium sales across Canadian real estate  markets in 2021,” says Christopher Alexander, Senior Vice President, RE/MAX Canada. “Double-digit acceleration in detached housing values revived slumping condominium sales early in the year, with demand shifting into high gear as detached supply dwindled and prices accelerated. Younger buyers have been behind the push for condominiums to date, with most looking to lock in low interest rates and buy before prices climb beyond their means.”

Growth in condo market share across the Canadian real estate market occurred in all but one regions surveyed, according to the RE/MAX Canada 2021 Condominium Report. The greatest concentration of condo sales was reported in Greater Vancouver, where condos represented nearly half (48.2 per cent) of total residential sales in 2021, up from 46 per cent one year ago. Condominium apartments and townhomes in the GTA followed with a 34.5 per cent share of the overall market, up from 30.8 per cent one year earlier. Almost one in four properties sold in Ottawa between January 1 and August 31, 2021 was a condominium, compared to the same period in 2020 (24.3 per cent versus 23.3 per cent). Meanwhile in Halifax-Dartmouth, the condominium segment represented 17.3 per cent of total residential sales, up from 15 per cent one year earlier. While overall sales climbed in Calgary year-over-year, condominium market share declined by just under one per cent in 2021, to 14.2 per cent.

“Home-buying activity in the condominium segment has surged in Calgary in 2021, driven in large part by their affordable price point,” says Elton Ash, Executive Vice President at RE/MAX Canada. “Supply has declined from almost eight months to just under five year-over-year, although inventory levels are still 16 per cent ahead of 2020 levels. Once excess product is absorbed – and that is occurring at a steady pace throughout the city – condominium values are likely to experience further appreciation, especially as the average price for detached housing continues to climb in the city.”

Regional Canadian Real Estate Insights

GREATER VANCOUVER CONDO MARKET TRENDS

While strong demand has contributed to a significant uptick in condominium apartment sales in the Greater Vancouver Area, more moderate gains have been reported in terms of price in 2021. According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the average price of a condominium apartment hovered at $740,221 in August of 2021, an increase of 6.7 per cent over the August 2020 average of $693,691. 

 

Copyright © 2021 RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc.

CREA and RECO issued a notice about steering to over 93,000 real estate agents

October 15th, 2021

Real estate agents caught on hidden camera breaking the law, steering buyers from low-commission homes

Tiffany Foxcroft
other

 A CBC Marketplace investigation has found that some real estate agents are breaking the law by steering unwitting buyers away from low-commission homes. 

Posing as homebuyers and sellers, Marketplace tested if real estate agents are engaging in this anti-competitive behaviour and found some agents deceiving the very buyers they are supposed to represent, in an effort to pad their own bottom line.

  • Watch the full investigation tonight at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC-TV or stream anytime on CBC Gem.

Experts and industry insiders say what Marketplace has uncovered is indicative of an industry working for the benefit of real estate agents, at a cost to home sellers and buyers.

“There’s a huge inertia, and maintaining the status quo, it absolutely benefits existing realtors 100 per cent,” said broker and real estate agent Michael Walsh, one of the few speaking out on this issue.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) would not talk to Marketplace about the investigation. However, shortly after learning about the findings, RECO issued a notice about steering to the over 93,000 real estate agents, brokers and brokerages under its purview, noting that such behaviour breaches the code of ethics.

“In addition to being illegal, the conduct undermines consumer protection, consumer confidence and the reputation of the real estate profession as a whole,” said the notice.

Across the country, the National Realtor Code of Ethics, as well as provincial real estate laws, dictate that agents must act with honesty and promote the interests of the individual they represent. Some provincial laws, including in Alberta and Ontario, address the issue of steering specifically.

The Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA) in Ontario states that when a buyer enters a representation agreement with a real estate agent, the agent “…shall inform the buyer of properties that meet the buyer’s criteria without having any regard to the amount of remuneration, if any, to which the brokerage might be entitled.” 

Not doing so is called steering.

But those calling the practice out say RECO and other regulatory bodies are not doing enough to protect consumers and foster an industry that is fair and free from abuse.

Joanne Petit, in Vaughan, Ont., put her house up for sale  without a real estate agent to help save on commissions that would have cost over $73,000. (Dave MacIntosh/CBC)

‘It’s not fair, and I think more people have to know about it’

When Joanne Petit and her husband, Frank, put their house up for sale this spring they decided to do it without a real estate agent. 

Joanne and Frank lived in Vaughan, Ont., where agents typically charge home sellers five per cent commission on the sale price of their home. In Joanne’s case, this would have amounted to over $73,000 plus 13 per cent HST.

In real estate sales, the commission paid to the listing agent by the seller is shared with the agent representing the buyer. Typically the commission is split in half.

In the industry, it’s referred to as the co-operating brokerage commission, and when a property is advertised on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the industry rules require that an amount of commission for co-operating brokerages must be included. This information, however, is hidden from public view and only visible to other agents and brokerages through an internal version of MLS.

To save on some of these costs, Joanne decided to skip the listing agent and instead paid a $200 flat fee to a discount brokerage that listed her house on MLS but left the rest of the work to her.

“I know there have to be people like myself looking on MLS to buy a house … and [they would]  say to their agent, ‘I would like to see this house,'” she reasoned. 

 

Petit’s home was listed on MLS for a $200 flat fee. She decided to do the work of selling herself to save the $36,000 she would have been charged by a listing agent. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

Joanne was still prepared to pay the real estate agents representing the buyer one per cent commission, which totalled nearly $15,000. After six weeks on the market, Joanne received zero calls from agents with interested buyers.

“They called a lot because they wanted us to sign with them, they wanted us to list with them, they wanted to be the selling agent,” said Joanne, who eventually asked one of those local agents why no buyers were interested. She says he informed her that her house had been, in the words of the agent, “blackballed.”

“Agents want to work with agents, and agents want their 2.5 per cent commission,” Joanne told Marketplace. “It’s not fair, and I think more people have to know about it.”

Marketplace producers posed as homebuyers with hidden cameras

To test if Joanne’s house was indeed being snubbed by agents avoiding the low commission,  producers from Marketplace posed as homebuyers looking to purchase a home just like hers and in the same neighbourhood. 

The team contacted three local real estate agents who showed up first in an online search.

Each of the agents was asked to book a showing for Joanne’s property as well as two other nearby properties listed on MLS. 

Marketplace‘s test found that two out of the three agents steered the potential buyers away from Joanne’s home.

While one agent was upfront with the buyers about the low commission and offered to help the would-be buyers purchase the home anyway, the other two agents did not tell the buyers about the commission and discouraged or thwarted them from seeing the home.  

One of the agents steered the buyers by telling them the house was overpriced by $200,000, and said the owners would not budge on price. The other agent told them she was unable to book a showing at all, and suggested the property might have tenants, a turnoff for many homebuyers wanting to move in themselves.  

WATCH | Real estate agents found ‘steering’ on camera:

 

Hidden cameras show real estate agents steering  buyers away from low-commission homes

Marketplace posed as potential homebuyers and asked real estate agents to show them a low-commission home being sold by the owner, Joanne Petit. Some agents attempted to steer the would-be buyers away from the property. 2:12

Joanne said she never received a call from the agent who said she couldn’t book a showing.

She says the other agent did call but didn’t ask if they would be willing to negotiate, even though that agent told the buyers they would not. Joanne says the agent also didn’t inquire about the price of the home, which was in line with other sales in the same area.

“Right off the bat, she wanted to know if she was getting 2.5 per cent [commission]. When we told her that there would only be a one per cent commission, she said, ‘OK, thank you, I’m not interested, I’ll keep my clients to myself.'”

The identities of the three agents have been concealed because Marketplace‘s investigation determined that this problem is industry-wide, and not isolated to these specific agents. 

In a second test, Marketplace made calls to 50 real estate agents in five markets across Canada. Half the time the team called as homeowners looking to sell, and half the time as buyers. When producers asked 25 agents if they, as sellers, could lower the commission they offer to buying agents, 88 per cent warned against doing so. 

Although they’re not supposed to do it, some agents may be very cognizant of what they’re getting paid and push their buyer to another home, said an agent in Halifax.

“I have had agents say to me, ‘You know we’re looking at two houses, they’re both a good fit but I’m definitely sort of massaging them towards yours because there’s more in it for the realtor,'” said another agent in Winnipeg.  

‘It’s just completely unethical’

RECO says that commissions are negotiable and “sellers decide how much, if anything, they wish to offer to pay a buyer’s brokerage,” but when all 50 agents were asked about the commission they charge, nearly all quoted the same amount. A quarter of the agents referred to their fee as standard, and the majority said they would not negotiate. Marketplace shared what they documented with real estate lawyers including Lisa Laredo, who’s practised real estate law in Ontario for over 15 years. 

“It’s beyond steering, it’s just completely unethical,” said Laredo about the hidden camera test. “You’re not actually providing a service, you’re not servicing anyone but yourself.” 

 

Lisa Laredo, a real estate lawyer in Ontario, says steering by real estate agents is against the law and unethical. (Norm Arnold/CBC)

When Marketplace reached out to the two agents who steered, both denied doing so. The one also stands by her assessment the house was overpriced.

Michael Walsh, who runs an agency exclusively for buyers, is not surprised by the findings of Marketplace‘s test and says the current framework for real estate sales enables steering. 

“That’s part of the inherent issue in the model where buying agents are offered compensation by listing agents. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if that wasn’t in place.”

Historically, all real estate agents only worked for home sellers and only had a fiduciary duty to them. It wasn’t until the 1990s that buyers’ agents came to exist in Ontario after some agents advocated for the change. However, the commission structure, wherein sellers incentivize agents to bring buyers, remained in place. 

Michael Walsh is the president and broker at Exclusively Buyers Inc., a brokerage that only represents homebuyers. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

Walsh and researchers studying the industry agree that the only way to truly fix this problem is to change the way real estate agents are paid, so the buying agent’s commission is not paid by the home seller via the listing agent.  

‘The industry functions as a cartel’

“In terms of commissions, the industry functions as a cartel. They enforce on the entire industry a certain high and relatively uniform commission level,” said Stephen Brobeck, a senior fellow and former executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.

Brobeck’s research, which spans over 20 years, has determined that “decoupling” realtor commissions could drop the standard rate of real estate commission by one to two per cent over a couple of years, saving consumers billions of dollars a year.

“If the commissions are decoupled, for the first time buyers would be able to negotiate their commissions and they would come down. That would also encourage sellers to negotiate more vigorously with their listing agents and those would most likely come down,” Brobeck said. 

“Furthermore, it would give discounters a far greater opportunity to penetrate this marketplace, because they would not have to pay the going rate for buyer agent commissions.”

  • Click here for full statements from those featured in this investigation

Brobeck’s argument and how commissions are paid is also at the core of two large anti-trust lawsuits in the U.S against the National Association of Realtors and major brokerages including RE/MAX LLC, Keller Williams and Realty Inc. The class-action suits claim that “anticompetitive conduct causes America’s homebuyers to pay inflated commissions.” These claims are also currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Discount brokerages make up about 10 per cent of the market share in the U.S. There are no figures available for Canada but it’s considered to be about the same or less according to discounters in the industry.  

Stephen Brobeck is a fellow with the Consumer Federation of America. He says with respect to commissions, the real estate industry functions as a cartel. (CBC)

Brobeck says it’s now up to provincial governments to make this change happen. Until then he also recommends that consumers not give up on negotiating the commission they pay.

“If you’re a seller you ought to try to negotiate the commission down by a full percentage point,” he said. “Secondly, if you’re trying to sell an expensive home, or you’re working with a broker who will help you sell one home and buy another home, they may knock an additional percentage point off the home.”

Joanne and Frank, however, remained steadfast in their resolve to sell without a listing agent. 

“The right person is going to come along at the right time,” said Joanne defiantly.

And in the end, patience did pay off. After three months on the market, they sold their house near full asking price to a private buyer, with no agents involved.

  • If you have tips on this or any other story, please email the Marketplace team at [email protected]

©2021 CBC/Radio-Canada

Canadians hoping to enter the housing market to homeownership for qualified first-time buyers

October 14th, 2021

Can the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive be salvaged?

Fergal McAlinden
other

It remains to be seen whether proposed tweaks can revive the much-maligned federal program

 On paper, it seemed a welcome break for Canadians hoping to enter the housing market: a federal incentive program aimed at reducing the monthly mortgage burden and easing the passage to home ownership for qualified first-time buyers.

Over two years after its introduction, though, the jury is still out on whether the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, unveiled by the federal government in September 2019, has had any significant impact in addressing the mounting challenges faced by would-be homeowners across the country.

Figures released to Parliament in April painted a damning picture of the program, revealing that it had seen an uptake of just over 9,000 successful applicants since its introduction – with the $170 million released in incentives representing a small fraction of the program’s $1.25 billion overall value.

One of the most significant stumbling blocks in the incentive, which offers mortgage relief through a shared-equity program between homebuyers and the government, appeared to be the fact that ever-soaring house prices across much of Canada meant that it had little impact on prospective buyers in the country’s hottest markets.

While the government introduced changes to the program late last year – announcing increased household income and buyer’s income thresholds for Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto – those amendments still meant that the program’s maximum eligible home price remained well below the going rate in those markets.

The program has faced staunch opposition from the get-go, with Conservative MPs Tom Kmiec and Stephanie Kusie urging the government to scrap the scheme in May 2020 after it had been in operation for less than a year.

Read more: Conservative MPs urge feds to eliminate First-Time Homebuyer Incentive

Still, the governing Liberals have stuck resolutely by the plan, announcing in their platform prior to September’s federal election – in which they were returned to government, having emerged once more as the largest party in Parliament – that they would retain and rejig the scheme if re-elected.

Under that platform’s proposals, changes to the program would give applicants a choice between the current shared-equity approach and a loan that’s repayable when the property is eventually sold – theoretically allowing new homebuyers to keep more of any increase in their home’s value while also reducing mortgage costs.

CanWise Financial president and RateHub co-founder James Laird told Canadian Mortgage Professional in recent weeks that the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive was an “illogical, complex program” that made little sense and should have been abandoned completely, rather than reworked.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Robert Jennings (pictured top), owner and mortgage broker at East Coast Mortgage Brokers, said that while the scheme was often raised as a topic among clients, actual uptake had proven limited.

“I would say we have a fair amount of conversations, but it doesn’t lead to a lot of usage,” he said. “The usage rate is very low. I believe if I were to pinpoint it, the lean on the property [government involvement] would be really discouraging to a young, proud first-time homebuyer.

“I feel like maybe in Newfoundland in particular, there’s a home ownership pride that they don’t want to share or give up… Of course, there’s the eligibility issues as well. It seems like in a lot of cases trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”

Read next: What the Canada election result means for the mortgage industry

While Jennings said that the scheme had arguably fallen short in its attempts to create a smoother path to first-time home ownership, he believes efforts at a federal level to address the country’s growing housing affordability crisis are to be applauded.

“Everybody made it a big deal in their platforms – not just first-time home ownership, but home ownership in general and affordability,” he said. “I just really hope that they re-evaluate everything.

“They had good intentions, but I feel like they missed the mark. There’s no reason not to try; the problem’s not going away. I’d like to see what happens when the dust settles and I hope that it [the housing crisis] remains a priority, because they certainly made it seem like it would on the campaign trail.”

A good place to start, Jennings said, would be for the federal government to work collaboratively with stakeholders and those who work daily in the mortgage and housing industries – whether that be on changes to the stress test or potential longer-term amortizations.

“What I want is them not to do things blindly,” he said, “to embrace input, do their homework and try to get it done – but also get it done right.”

 

Copyright © 1996-2021 Key Media, Inc.

Discover in Surrey the New Bristol Estate transforming its neighborhood includes 6.27 acre property

October 13th, 2021

New Bristol Estates in Surrey includes over 2,000 homes

Peter Meiszner
other

The owners of Bristol Estates in Surrey are planning a major redevelopment of the low-rise rental apartment complex, with towers up 48 storeys and over 2,000 new homes.
ZGF Architects is working on the concept for the redevelopment, tentatively called “Landmark Bristol.” A rezoning application has submitted to the City of Surrey, and if approved, construction of phase one could start as early as 2023.

The existing complex of 156 rental apartments was built in 1968 and the units are at the end of their service life. The 6.27 acre property is 500 metres from the Surrey Central SkyTrain station and in an area seeing rapid redevelopment.
The proposal for Bristol Estates calls for:
2,000 strata condos in five towers (48, 44, 43, 40 and 38 storeys)
170 secured market rental apartments (11 storeys), with 20 per cent rented below CMHC average rates allocated for returning tenants
Two new streets
Daycare facility
Local serving retail space
Public art at the gateway(s) to the development
Urban forest and stormwater strategy

The Surrey Centre Official Community Plan aims to transform the neighbourhood from a suburban town centre into a walkable, high-density and transit-oriented downtown for the South of Fraser region. The density and mix of uses is meant to create a city centre that is “more animated, livable and a place that thrives economically where residents can work, play, and live in their neighbourhood.”
Recent coverage of Surrey City Centre development
BlueSky Brightside brings 1,300 homes to Surrey City Centre
A SkyTrain runs through it: Thind Properties garners approval for Surrey towers
Central City Tower 2 announced at Invest Surrey
Centre Block Surrey to include 47-storey office tower

Copyright © 2021 UrbanYVR 

Be vigilant on the growing threat of cybercrime in Real Estate industry

October 8th, 2021

The growing threat of cybercrime in the mortgage industry

Fergal McAlinden
other

 Cybercrime figures released by Statistics Canada at the end of July made for sobering reading, revealing that the number of cybercrime incidents in the country have ballooned dramatically in recent years.

The agency said the police had reported over 63,000 instances of cybercrime in Canada in 2020, up from just over 48,000 the previous year and 24,000 in 2016.

As members of an industry that requires swathes of personal information from clients, the implications of that spike for mortgage professionals are clear. Speaking at a Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association (CMBA) symposium in Vaughan last week, Derrick Leue (pictured top), president and CEO of PROLINK – an insurance brokerage whose clients include private lenders and mortgage investment corporations – said that the amount of data stored by mortgage brokerages meant they needed to be fully aware of the risk posed by cybercriminals.

“This is a big reason why hackers would care about mortgage brokers and mortgage agents – as almost a conduit to get to lenders at times, or just get to the information they need to impersonate people,” he said.

“There’s a lot of valuable information that you’re holding on Canadians overall. So that’s why vulnerability is really something to be aware of and take seriously.”

Leue said it was crucial that brokerages have a response to potential cybercrime and breaches of security mapped out in order to mitigate the damage those attacks can cause.

“It’s about setting up your system so that when it happens… you respond really fast, and in the most professional way possible, so that the privacy commissioner is not going to take it to another level or worse, have a lawsuit against you as an individual or your firm overall,” he said.

Read next: RBC’s customer base makes it a favourite of cyber attacks – security experts

Claudiu Popu (pictured below), CEO of cybersecurity platform Informatica Security, told attendees that thousands of strains of ransomware (a malware that threatens to block access or publish data unless a fee is paid) had emerged in recent years, with figures indicating that it takes around 270 days on average for an infection on a corporate network to be discovered.

 

“We have this expectation that when we get infected, we’ll know right away,” he said. “That’s not the case; they case the joint and then they spread the malware across the network. Only when it’s convenient to them do they make themselves known.”

The current global number of active malware strains is also mushrooming: Popu said that on a daily basis, there are 10,000 new strains of malware being launched into the internet ecosystem, with Canada a top-10 contributor to new malware.

With that in mind, Popu stressed the importance of ensuring that passwords are robust and varied, with password leaks allowing cybercriminals to try them out on a variety of sites – meaning that individuals  who use the same password across a range of accounts are at greater risk of a widespread breach.

Using different passwords, and coming up with passphrases that are at least 14 characters long, is the best way to secure an account, Popu said – something that’s important to communicate to all employees using the same system.

While phishing, the sending of fraudulent messages to trick recipients into disclosing personal information, has been a significant trend in cybercrime for many years, Popu noted that messages related to the COVID-19 pandemic have emerged as a significant recent trend aimed at deceiving victims.

Where urgent action on a bank account might have been requested in the past, phishing messages are increasingly likely to mention vaccine passports or an imminent risk to health information if the recipient doesn’t click a link.

Read next: What brokers need to know about mortgage fraud

What hasn’t changed is the element of urgency in phishing messages, something that’s always a telltale sign of cybercriminals attempting to extract personal information from victims.

“All phishing messages in the world have something in common: urgency,” said Popu. “Introduce it in your security awareness training within your organizations, and try to make it easy for your users to think of the simplest possible cues that allow them to memorize some of these things.”

The good news is that prevention is possible, with both speakers emphasizing that training and privacy policies should be enforced and security controls, password management controls, antivirus software and security patches put in place.

Having written policies in place to manage cybersecurity risk or reporting is also becoming increasingly commonplace, with StatCan reporting last year that 38% of large businesses in Canada had a cybersecurity insurance policy compared with 24% in 2017.

Among businesses in the finance and insurance sector, that figure rose from 41% in 2017 to 55% in 2019.

Leue said that a cyberinsurance policy would give mortgage professionals access to a cyber breach coach service, with forensic consultants available to assess the damage, patch the problem and help rebuild the data.

It can also assist with any potential reputational damage caused by a data breach and with notification costs, as well as mitigating the risk of lost business, commission and fee revenue that arise from network and system outages as a result of an infection.

Popu said that having incident response teams and plans in place – and testing those on an annual basis – could make a big difference for companies in dealing with the risk of cybercrime.

Constant monitoring and alerting reduce the window of opportunity for criminals and mean that the 270-day timescale for the discovery of a serious breach can be reduced to a matter of hours.

“Have as many mechanisms in place to let people know when their account is accessed without authorization,” he said. “Response is very important, which is why we say you need to test your response plan and make sure that it works.

“The worst thing you can have in cybersecurity operations is a false sense of security.”

 

Copyright © 1996-2021 Key Media, Inc.

Metro Vancouver new construction completions ramained stable despite of curveballs the pandemic

September 21st, 2021

Vancouver new construction completions hold steady

Michelle McNally
Livabl

 Despite all of the curveballs the pandemic has thrown at the real estate industry, new home construction completions in Metro Vancouver have remained stable according to new insights from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

In the board’s recently-published Q3-2021 Housing Overview, economist Keith Stewart stated that new housing supply has “held steady” across Metro Vancouver during the pandemic.

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According to the quarterly report, builders have been completing new construction projects that kicked off during the region’s pre-pandemic building boom. Purpose-built rental apartments have reported higher completion rates with the help of rental incentives from all levels of government. Although these incentives are changing the types of new homes being built, Stewart said that “ownership housing remains the largest proportion of homes being built today.”

However, new ownership apartment starts and completions have not increased alongside the strong price growth that was recorded during 2016 and 2017.

“In less supply-constrained markets, the price growth like we’ve experienced in Metro Vancouver over the last five years would lead to a matching surge in completions,” said Stewart’s report. “This supply response is sorely lacking in our housing market today.”

In the resale segment, Stewart noted that the market is settling down after setting a series of sales and listings records during the first half of 2021, particularly during March, which set an all-time record of 5,708 home sales and 8,287 new listings. A larger portion of today’s total home sales are also attributed to first-time and move-up buyers.

“The increasing correlation between sales and new listings over the pandemic is consistent with more buyers selling their current homes and purchasing other, typically larger, homes,” explained Stewart.

The MLS HPI benchmark set a new record of $1,176,600 in August for all housing types. Less sales have taken place since March’s market peak, causing price growth to plateau in the region throughout the summer. However, prices could expect to feel pressure come the fall as above-average sales volumes collide with low home inventory levels, Stewart noted.

The Lower Mainland’s job vacancy rate has returned to near pre-pandemic levels. However, Stewart explains that this rate is higher than other major economic areas in Canada, underscoring employment recruitment challenges that could be caused in part by the region’s high cost of housing. 

Coming into the final chapter of 2021, Stewart says that new listings and sales are anticipated to stay closer to long-term averages as active listings slowly build throughout the fall and into the spring.

“Expect these gains to remain on the lower side of typical as Metro Vancouver’s housing market continues to face an under supply of homes and persistent demand pressures,” said Stewart.

 

© 2020 BuzzBuzzHome Corp.

Experience the luxurious and premier entertainment destination hotel in Vancouver

September 11th, 2021

Checking In: Parq and Play

Andrew McCredie
The Vancouver Sun

With two hotels, a casino and access to BC Place, this downtown Vancouver property is ideal for a sporting staycation

Game On! That was the predominant vibe in and around the JW Marriott hotel a couple of hours before the Vancouver Whitecaps kicked off against Los Angeles FC right next door at BC Place.

The match would be the first to be played with fans in attendance in 539 days, and the lobby was buzzing with blue and white-attired supporters as we checked in for a staycation night at Parq, which opened in 2017 and bills itself as ‘Vancouver’s premier entertainment destination.’

The property includes two hotels, a two-level casino, a large outdoor park, a full-service spa and a number of restaurants and bars. That in itself makes it a bit of a one-stop staycation location, but its proximity to both BC Place and Rogers Arena also make Parq an ideal base of operations for taking in one of the city’s three professional teams. That was our plan, and clearly we weren’t the only ones who were keen to catch a Whitecaps game and spend overnight downtown.
As mentioned, we stayed at the JW Marriott, which is located at the south end of the Parq complex, and  as such many of its guest rooms offer great water views overlooking False Creek and Olympic Village. At the other end is The Douglas, with equally impressive city and mountain views. However, it is closed until early 2022. The scenery out the floor-to-ceiling guest rooms isn’t the only thing that differentiates the two hotels: the JW Marriott features a cool, luxurious and contemporary colour palette, while The Douglas is all rich earth tones and back-to-nature aesthetics. Even if you don’t stay at The Douglas you have to check out its lobby and the giant, horizontal Douglas Fir that serves as the check-in counter.

 

In the saddle between the two hotels is the casino, along with the ideal place to grab dinner before the game: The BC Kitchen sports bar. Sure enough it was full of Whitecaps fans priming for the game, but also others who were settling in for the Manny Pacquiao fight. With the sounds of casino action in the background, you’d be forgiven if you thought you were in Vegas for just a moment or two. After some yummy pub grub comfort food, it was less than five minutes later we were walking into BC Place for the Whitecaps game.

And while Southsiders might argue that the best part of the night was the 2-1 home win — thanks to thrilling last-minute heroics by newly acquired Ryan Gauld — capping the night next door with a single malt in the Lotus bar after some casino action with the knowledge that our ride home was simply an elevator ride away was the high point for us.

CHECKING IN 

Ideal staycation for: With its next-door-neighbour status to Vancouver’s two pro sport venues, Parq’s two hotels and entertainment amenities make for a great pairing with a couple of Canucks, Whitecaps or Lions tickets. It’s also very close to the False Creek walking and cycling trail system, and Yaletown, Gastown and Chinatown are close by and connected with good walking routes. And with a casino and spa part of the property, if it’s raining out there are still good in-house options to keep you entertained.

Rooms and amenities: With 329 guest rooms and suites, the JW Marriott is the bigger of the two hotels, and features 24-hour room service, high-speed wi-fi, satellite TV, Illy Coffee and Molton Brown products. Luxury suites offer upscale amenities, including soaker tubs. The Douglas, which reopens in the new year, has 188 guest rooms, including three luxury suites: Apt 108 is billed as ‘eclectic bohemian’ and features a billiard table; The Den is multi-leveled and has a big circular couch as its centrepiece; and The Loft has a baby grand piano and Bauhaus-inspired chairs. All rooms offer 24-hour room service, are pet friendly, have internet-connected TVs, original artwork, Illy Coffee and Aesop Bath amenities. Both hotels have mobility accessible rooms.  

Dining: . You’d figure a place with two hotels and a casino would have many and varied dining options, and Parq certainly doesn’t disappoint. For the finest dining experience, there is The Victor, featuring Pacific Northwest seafood and sushi and a tiered selection of specialty steaks. MRKT East is inspired by Singapore night markets and offers Asian street food with a decidedly upmarket take. More casual dining from morning to night can be found in Honey Salt, featuring farm to table cuisine. And for the sports-minded, BC Kitchen has all the classic menu items and plenty of big screen TVs. For the cocktail-minded, D/6 Bar and Lounge just off The Douglas lobby has indoor and outdoor seating (along with a hidden room), the casino’s Centre Bar is a great place to chill and watch the action, and for a night cap the Lotus Whiskey/Tea Lounge is the place for the scotch and bourbon connoisseurs.

Current Deals: The Park & Dine Local Getaway includes complimentary daily parking, a $50 resort credit for dining on property, late check-out and room upgrade, based on availability. Available now through to Dec. 30. And in keeping with the sporting theme, when guests present their B.C. Lions or Vancouver Whitecaps game day ticket for the same-day-at-home game, they will receive 15 per cent off the bill. And also on game days, guests can enjoy an $11.95 Burger & Beer at Centre Bar up to two hours prior to the start of a home game.

© 2021 Vancouver Sun

Generate real estate leads to a steady string in the business industry in the future

September 9th, 2021

How to generate more real estate leads

REM Staff
REM

One thing seasoned pros and newbies in our industry have in common is that they are always on the lookout for fresh prospects. Having a lead generation plan is crucial to thrive in real estate.

A portion of your leads will likely come from your sphere of influence. By staying in touch with past clients and keeping the rapport going, they will hopefully refer you to others who are looking for a real estate agent. When done right, continually working your sphere of influence will lead to a steady string of leads in the years to come.

 

Patricia Clarke 

Patricia Clarke, a real estate broker at Right at Home Realty in Ottawa, finds leads by focusing on a niche. “I don’t like to use lead generation systems as most of them are not qualified buyers or sellers. I also believe that the traditional cold calling and email marketing are not efficient or effective nowadays as people often perceive them as intrusive and ‘spammy’. What has worked for me is the use of ‘organic’ social media (not paid) and I focus my efforts on a niche. There are thousands of real estate agents in my market and that’s why it’s so important to have your own niche.”

Clarke explains her process: “Something that has worked for me incredibly well and with very little expense is informative (not sales) videos that I record and post periodically in Facebook groups that I am a member of and include my niche. In my videos I talk as authentically as I can. My videos are not rehearsed. I don’t use a script. People in my niche often tell me that they follow all my videos and are always looking forward to the next one. When I attend social events, people tend to recognize me and often introduce themselves or even just say hi as if they know me very well – so I believe my strategy works.”

Clarke continues, “Another thing that I do constantly is be very active in social media groups; answering questions regarding real estate, (making) recommendations. I do this from my Facebook professional page so my professional name shows. In this case, my goal is not only to help my community but position my name and constantly reinforce my brand. In this business, as we all know, having a full pipeline of leads and a ringing phone is often the most difficult goal to achieve.”

COVID-19 has shown us how essential it is to focus on technology to get more leads. Using social media to connect with people is often more effective than mail-outs or emails. Embracing the use of videos for your social media will kick things up a notch. If your phone’s camera isn’t adequate, you can get a quality webcam for under $100 that will do the trick. (Speaking of technology, you do have your own website to connect with clients, right? Not just a page on your brokerage’s website.)

 

Wins Lai 

Wins Lai, a real estate broker with Living Realty in Toronto shares how she gets more leads, “I think when it comes to being a successful Realtor, a lot of people don’t understand that you need to spend money on making more money. Allocate part of your commissions for marketing (for example, 20 per cent of the commissions should be reinvested in your business), spending it on Facebook, Instagram marketing or flyering.”

One agent who asked to remain anonymous does one thing that she claims is responsible for more than half of the leads she receives – she picks up the phone. She calls one person a day from her contact list to keep her name uppermost in people’s minds. As she points out, not only is it effective because few people do it,  but it’s also free. She is especially vigilant to call people on their birthdays and other milestones. Another agent takes it a step further by making sure he sees each of his top 50 contacts in person at least once or twice a year.

 

Les Twarog

A Vancouver real estate agent with more than 33 years experience, Les Twarog with Re/Max Crest Realty, may have nailed the way to get more quality leads. Twarog is aiming to create the next Zillow of Canada.

“Zillow is the number one company in the U.S. for lead generation with over $2.7 billion in sales to Realtors per year. They are now in Canada. Zillow’s market cap is $24 billion. With Realty Mega Data, we have the top local lead generation platform that provides real estate leads to Realtors in the Lower Mainland, with plans to expand to the rest of B.C. and then later to the rest of Canada. We get 4,000-7,000 unique visitors per day and 200-300 internet sign-ups per day with verified names, addresses and phone numbers. The conversion rate averages around two to three per cent, which is double to triple compared to other platforms.”

Twarog says “33 per cent of Realtors leave the industry in less than a year and 80 per cent of Realtors quit the business within five years. The biggest problem is getting leads. We have solved that problem with our platform.” Realty Mega Data is currently focused on expanding to cover all B.C. properties.

 

Amy Youngren

Amy Youngren, a founder and sales representative with Keller Williams Real Estate Associates North Group in Toronto, aims to never put herself in a position where she panics about generating more leads.

“The way I run my business, it’s all about consistency,” she says, “connecting with five to 10 people consistently – every single day – about their real estate plans and offering them value through that call, text or DM. Consistency is hard, so I put measures in place to keep me accountable: calendar reminders, a great CRM, accountability partners and a business coach. In fact, my business coach once said, ‘Big results are built on the back of daily micro-commitments.’ ”

Whatever you choose to do to generate more leads, it is vital that it fits your personality. Just because an expert or a fellow agent has success with something doesn’t mean that is the route you should go. For example, making videos to post on social media may not be the best lead generation option for an introvert. Cold calling isn’t ideal for people who don’t deal well with rejection. Staying true to yourself and doing what you are most comfortable with will get you the best results.

Nailing the ability to generate leads ensures your business will continue to grow. Having a lead generation plan in place is an investment in your future business.

 

© 1989 – 2021 REM Real Estate Magazine

Broadway and Granville New 39 Story Drive with Skytrain Below

September 3rd, 2021

Dan Fumano: Broadway’s tallest tower pitched through ‘exceptional’ process

Dan Fumano
The Vancouver Sun

Opinion: Proposed 39-storey rental tower above South Granville subway station would be among Vancouver’s tallest buildings. It will likely be both applauded and derided.

 Architectural renderings showing PCI Developments’ proposal for a 39-storey mixed use tower at the intersection of West Broadway and Granville in Vancouver. Photo by PCI Developments / Musson Cattel /PNG

A local developer wants to transform a landmark Vancouver intersection with the Broadway corridor’s tallest tower.

 

At a recent Vancouver council meeting, several councillors asked city staff how big of a tower PCI Developments could be considering to rise above the subway station being built at the northeast corner of Broadway and Granville?

The reports before council at that July meeting contained no mention of the potential project’s size — Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung called that question “the elephant in the room.”

At that meeting, staff repeatedly declined to give any indication about what kind of size PCI might be eyeing. Staff said they were merely asking council for permission to consider an application — specifics about the project would be come later, if and when an application could be submitted.

Kirby-Yung pressed staff, citing “speculation and discussion” in the community, and asking: “Is it conceivable it could be 40 storeys?”

 

Staff did not answer. But it turns out the 40-storey speculation wasn’t far off.

Neighbourhood groups have recently started receiving notifications, and in a recent interview, PCI president Tim Grant answered questions about the project.

It’s a big one: a 39-storey mixed-use tower over the South Granville subway station, including a grocery store, offices, retail space, and 223 rental homes, 45 of them below-market units for moderate-income households (defined as household incomes between $30,000 and $80,000). That would make it among Vancouver’s tallest buildings. For comparison, the tallest Bentall office tower downtown has 34 storeys.

Subway station construction site at the northeast corner of Granville and W. Broadway Avenue. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

PCI has owned the property at 1477 West Broadway since 2007. It had long housed an RBC branch below three floors of offices. It obtained a permit in 2019 under existing zoning. Construction is now underway there, incorporating the underground subway station, below five storeys of commercial space.

 

But there have long been indications the developer hoped to build something higher.

In 2019, Fairview resident and writer Stanley Q. Woodvine discovered discarded blueprints while dumpster-diving in the neighbourhood, and wrote in The Georgia Straight that details in the documents — including the six levels of underground parking — suggested PCI was envisioning a far taller building than five storeys. He speculated it could be as high as 40 floors.

Grant said Woodvine’s 2019 report “was bang on in some respects.”

PCI’s new proposal envisions 285 car parking spaces, a little less than typical in a development of this size, Grant said, recognizing the site’s direct access to rapid transit. But, he said, the project would also include a “massive” bicycle storage area, with 507 bike spaces.

 

The July city staff report said PCI has “expressed interest as early as 2011 and over the past 10 years with various proposals to rezone the site for additional office, rental residential and retail floor area.”

But since 2019, the city has been working on a new Broadway Plan and in the meantime has been refusing to consider most rezonings along the corridor, except for social housing.

However, the Broadway Plan has been repeatedly delayed.

In 2017, a city report anticipated it would be complete in 2019, before construction started on the Broadway Subway. But major construction on the subway began in this year, and the Broadway plan is still in progress.

Staff told council in July they expect to have a draft in front of council early next year. 

 

Renderings showing PCI Developments’ proposal for a 39-storey mixed use tower at the intersection of West Broadway and Granville in Vancouver. Photo by PCI Developments / Musson Cattel /PNG

That’s why city staff recommended the city consider a PCI rezoning application now, citing exceptional circumstances. Staff said expediting construction would minimize later impacts on access for the South Granville station, which would happen if construction was delayed until after the Broadway Subway begins service.

Council voted last week to allow PCI to submit an application, with three opposed — councillors Kirby-Yung, Rebecca Bligh and Colleen Hardwick — and the other eight in favour.

Just as any proposal for a building that’s taller than neighbouring buildings, PCI’s proposal will face opposition, some of it from familiar voices.

Sean Nardi spoke to council in July, urging them to not consider an application before the Broadway Plan was finished. Nardi, a longtime homeowner in the neighbourhood, helped spearhead a fierce, organized opposition last year to a 28-storey rental building proposed for Broadway and Birch, two blocks east of Granville.

 

Nardi said at that meeting that his group had warned last year that if council approved the 28-storey project — which it did, narrowly — it would “set a precedent for height and density in the Broadway Plan area.”

“Unfortunately,” Nardi said of the prospect of development at Broadway and Granville, “the chickens are already coming home to roost.”

Others will likely view the project differently, especially those who want more transit-oriented development, including rental and non-market housing.

Coun. Christine Boyle commented on frustrations she’d heard in the community that the Broadway subway stations on publicly owned sites — such as the Main Street and VGH stations — have no plans for development above the stations, a seeming missed opportunity. Coun. Pete Fry commented on frustrations about delays in the Broadway Plan. Both voted to allow PCI to submit an application.

 

The developer would have certainly preferred to have city hall adopt the Broadway Plan before work started on the Broadway Subway. That way, there would have been no need for an exception to the rezoning moratorium.

PCI also owns the property around the future Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station, where Grant says it envisions a similar mixed-use development there.

Grant said PCI has been working closely with the city and B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s Broadway Subway project team to get the station built on time, “but there’s no question that this has been a really complicated process, and the drawn-out Broadway Plan has made it that much more challenging.”

“This is definitely suboptimal,” Grant said.

 

Time is a factor, Grant said. “Right now, we’re permitted to build a five-storey building, and we’ll get to level five in the spring of 2022. So we need the city to issue some updated permits to be able to keep us going on site.”

Grant said he hopes his South Granville project could get to a public hearing by this fall. That kind of timeline — from rezoning application to public hearing within a couple of months — would generally be unthinkable in Vancouver, in normal circumstances. PCI obviously hopes city hall will see this circumstance as exceptional.

 

© 2021 Vancouver Sun

The lowrise development sells for $699 located in 520 West 28th Avenue

September 3rd, 2021

Contemporary design, classic features give Lilibet a high-end esthetic

Kathleen Freimond
The Vancouver Sun

The lowrise development at 520 West 28th Avenue offers one-, two- and three-bedroom garden and townhomes in eight buildings on the site

 Artist rendering of the Lilibet project by Intergulf Development Group. PNG

Inspiration for the names developers assign to their residential buildings comes from myriad places. For Intergulf Development Group’s recently launched project in Vancouver’s West Side, it was just across the street, the famous Queen Elizabeth Park. In a nod to the importance of the park to the neighbourhood, the Queen’s nickname, Lilibet, was chosen for the 59-home development.

 

Although “Lilibet” recently garnered a lot of attention when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chose the name for their daughter, Shaadi Faris, chief operating officer for Intergulf, says the project was named last year, well before the birth of the Sussex’s second child.

“We did the name and branding before the baby was born – we were inspired by Queen Elizabeth Park, an anchor [amenity] in the neighbourhood, and wanted to emphasize the location. When the baby was called Lilibet it was a happy coincidence, it attracted some attention and a few laughs,” he says.

The lowrise development at 520 West 28th Avenue includes one-, two- and three-bedroom garden and townhomes in eight buildings on the site that occupies almost an entire block in the area that falls within phase three of the Cambie Corridor Plan (CCP). 

 

Homes at Lilibet will have easy-to-live-with colour schemes. PNG

Vancouver City Council developed the 30-year CCP to manage change and growth along the Canada Line, part of Translink’s SkyTrain system. Phase three addresses land use off the arterial roads and allows for townhomes in some existing single-family neighbourhoods.

Following Intergulf’s earlier phase one Cambie Corridor project, Empire at Queen Elizabeth Park, Faris says the company was familiar with the area and was on the lookout for a development opportunity in phase three of the plan.

He says while there is a shortage of townhouses in Metro Vancouver, Intergulf decided to include single-level garden units in Lilibet in addition to traditional multi-level townhouses.

“What we wanted to do was [build homes] where everyone had their own front door – something that is really appealing in beautiful mature neighbourhoods like this – and also provide a mix of home types to appeal to a wider variety of buyers. While townhouses are very desirable, we also considered there are people who don’t want to have to deal with stairs, so we offered this product mix instead of townhouse-only product,” says Faris.

 The roof decks range from 300 to 500 square feet. PNG

He points out a diversity of housing forms provides different price points and choices of the type of home people want to live in, noting many potential buyers are residents of the area who want to downsize but stay in the community; or young families and first-time buyers who grew up in the West Side and would like to stay in the neighbourhood but for whom a single-family home is not achievable. Lilibet gives them the option to stay in their community and step into homeownership.

Faris says the building design, by Gateway Architecture, reflects a modern, West-Coast esthetic with a focus on outdoor space and maximizing the views. The buildings, each with five to 12 homes, were planned to retain a beautiful, mature 22-metre-high Deodar Cedar on the site.

One-bedroom homes have patios in the front and back, while the two-bedroom units have a staircase leading to large rooftop decks. The three-bedroom homes have decks off the top-floor master bedrooms. The roof decks range from 300 to 500 square feet. 

Kitchens will have Miele appliances, including a refrigerator with bottom mounted freezer and a five-burner gas cooktop. Photo by Supplied /PNG

“The slope of the land toward the downtown core will give residents sweeping views from Vancouver East towards Burnaby to the west and all the way to the North Shore mountains and beyond – those views are incredible,” says Faris.

The landscaped central courtyard with plantings including rhododendrons and hydrangea, incorporates a children’s play area, garden plots for green-thumbed residents, and a fire pit and seating. The surrounding area also has many amenities.

“Queen Elizabeth Park is the star of the neighbourhood, and within a two-to-five-minute walk there is also the Hillcrest Community Centre and the King Edward SkyTrain station. A little farther south is Main Street, where there’s lots of shopping and dining. Another big attraction is the Oakridge Shopping Centre, currently being redeveloped.

“What’s so appealing is that you’re close to these shopping areas – people can go to Oakridge or Main Street where there’s lots of activity, but when they return to this area, it’s much quieter,” says Faris.

Terrazzo floor and wall tiles and double vessel  sinks in the ensuite bathrooms. Photo by Supplied /PNG

The interiors at Lilibet combine the clean look of contemporary design with classic features to create a high-end esthetic and easy-to-live-with colour schemes, says Ian Wong, director of interior design at BAM Interior.

 

The European-inspired cabinetry choices in the kitchen and bathrooms (white or a warm grey) differentiate the two colour palettes, Contemporary and Westcoast.

In the kitchen, the soft-close cabinetry has no visible hardware, with Wong opting instead for J-pulls, shaped grooves for opening drawers and doors. Subtle tone-on-tone variations in the white countertops complement the Miele kitchen appliances, including a refrigerator with bottom mounted freezer and a five-burner gas cooktop. A black matte faucet and shelf mounted on the backsplash add contrast to the palettes.

In the ensuite bathrooms, terrazzo floor and wall tiles, double vessel sinks with wall-mounted faucets and an illuminated open shelf beneath the vanity reflect the hotel and spa-like features the designers included to create a sophisticated ambience.

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Lilibet’s underground parkade includes electric vehicle outlets in every parking stall plus bicycle storage rooms and E-bike charging stations. Some homes have direct access to the parkade. Completion is scheduled for 2023.

Project: Lilibet – Homes at Queen Elizabeth Park

Project address: 528 – 592 West 28th Avenue

Developer: Intergulf Development Group

Architect: Gateway Architecture

Interior designer: BAM Interior

Project size: 59 townhomes and garden homes

Number of bedrooms: One-, two- and three-bedrooms

Price: From $699,000

Sales centre: 3317 Cambie Street, Vancouver

Sales centre hours: 12 noon to 5 p.m. daily, except Fridays. By appointment only.

Phone: 604-879-0030

Website:intergulf.com/lilibet

 

© 2021 Vancouver Sun