Archive for February, 2010

New rules govern rental of condo units

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Tony Gioventu
Province

Dear Condo Smarts: I have been working with a realtor and trying to find a condo to purchase for investment that I intend to use as a rental.

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion right now over the types of units that can be rented.

I have requested information certificates for two buildings and upon reviewing the bylaws and the number of rentals, there seems to be no logic in the relationship of the limitation on rentals and actual number of rentals.

Could you please tell us how we could find a building where we can buy a unit, rent it out, and have some long-term security over its use.

– Jens Crezma, Vancouver

Dear Jens: There have been some minor changes in the strata legislation that affect rental units.

A strata corporation is permitted to adopt a bylaw that limits or restricts the number of rentals to either a specific number, such as 10 units, or a specific percentage, such as 10 per cent of the total number of units. The changes in legislation now exclude family rentals, as permitted by the act, and hardship exemption rentals. So in the total count of the number of rentals permitted under a bylaw, those are no longer included.

There is no such description as “developer rentals”, but I suspect you are referring to the effects of a rental disclosure statement. There are two different exemptions now that apply to rental exemptions, and they refer to units filed under a rental disclosure before Jan. 1, 2010, and those filed after Jan. 1, 2010.

For strata lots created with a valid, filed rental disclosure before Jan. 1, 2010, the owner developer was permitted to file the proper form with the superintendent of real estate. The form set out a declaration of the units they intended to rent for a prescribed period of time. That exemption, if enforceable, applies only to the first purchaser, and expires on the period of time published on the form or when the first purchaser sells the unit. Many of these forms filed before Jan. 1, 2010, identified the period of time as “indefinite” and a court decision in 2000 found that an “indefinite period” was unenforceable, and the first purchaser was not exempt; however, a recent court decision in December of 2009, of Spagnuolo v. Strata Plan BCS 879, has overturned the previous decision, and found that an “unlimited period” is a valid rental disclosure statement.

If you are purchasing a unit from a developer where the proper rental disclosure form was filed before Jan. 1, 2010, and it identifies the intent to rent the units for an “unlimited” period, then as the first purchaser, you are likely exempt from the rental bylaws. If you are buying from the first or a subsequent purchaser, that exemption no longer applies.

As of Jan. 1, 2010, the rules have changed on new developments, too.

The only way you can have some assurance that your strata lot will be exempt from strata bylaws is by purchasing a unit that falls under a rental disclosure exemption. Even strata buildings that average a high ratio of rentals with no bylaw restrictions often change over the years and adopt rental bylaws. Before you purchase, make sure you have a copy of the rental disclosure from the superintendent of real estate, and seek legal advice on the enforceability of the form. Not all forms grant exemptions or are enforceable, so never assume your unit will be exempt.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association. Send questions to him at [email protected]

© Copyright (c) The Province

New rules govern rental of condo units

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Tony Gioventu
Province

Dear Condo Smarts: I have been working with a realtor and trying to find a condo to purchase for investment that I intend to use as a rental.

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion right now over the types of units that can be rented.

I have requested information certificates for two buildings and upon reviewing the bylaws and the number of rentals, there seems to be no logic in the relationship of the limitation on rentals and actual number of rentals.

Could you please tell us how we could find a building where we can buy a unit, rent it out, and have some long-term security over its use.

– Jens Crezma, Vancouver

Dear Jens: There have been some minor changes in the strata legislation that affect rental units.

A strata corporation is permitted to adopt a bylaw that limits or restricts the number of rentals to either a specific number, such as 10 units, or a specific percentage, such as 10 per cent of the total number of units. The changes in legislation now exclude family rentals, as permitted by the act, and hardship exemption rentals. So in the total count of the number of rentals permitted under a bylaw, those are no longer included.

There is no such description as “developer rentals”, but I suspect you are referring to the effects of a rental disclosure statement. There are two different exemptions now that apply to rental exemptions, and they refer to units filed under a rental disclosure before Jan. 1, 2010, and those filed after Jan. 1, 2010.

For strata lots created with a valid, filed rental disclosure before Jan. 1, 2010, the owner developer was permitted to file the proper form with the superintendent of real estate. The form set out a declaration of the units they intended to rent for a prescribed period of time. That exemption, if enforceable, applies only to the first purchaser, and expires on the period of time published on the form or when the first purchaser sells the unit. Many of these forms filed before Jan. 1, 2010, identified the period of time as “indefinite” and a court decision in 2000 found that an “indefinite period” was unenforceable, and the first purchaser was not exempt; however, a recent court decision in December of 2009, of Spagnuolo v. Strata Plan BCS 879, has overturned the previous decision, and found that an “unlimited period” is a valid rental disclosure statement.

If you are purchasing a unit from a developer where the proper rental disclosure form was filed before Jan. 1, 2010, and it identifies the intent to rent the units for an “unlimited” period, then as the first purchaser, you are likely exempt from the rental bylaws. If you are buying from the first or a subsequent purchaser, that exemption no longer applies.

As of Jan. 1, 2010, the rules have changed on new developments, too.

The only way you can have some assurance that your strata lot will be exempt from strata bylaws is by purchasing a unit that falls under a rental disclosure exemption. Even strata buildings that average a high ratio of rentals with no bylaw restrictions often change over the years and adopt rental bylaws. Before you purchase, make sure you have a copy of the rental disclosure from the superintendent of real estate, and seek legal advice on the enforceability of the form. Not all forms grant exemptions or are enforceable, so never assume your unit will be exempt.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association. Send questions to him at [email protected]

© Copyright (c) The Province

Spirited response for Adera homes at Wesbrook Place, University of B.C.

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

pacific spirit: Business brisk again as Westbrook Place condos are snapped up — with just a few left

Province

Developer Adera ensured the show homes for its Pacific Spirit project would have welcom-mat appeal. Pacific was the first phase of the project; Spirit is the second.

Glass over-counter cabinets in a display suite at the Pacific Spirit new home project.

Office area in one of the display suites at the Pacific Spirit new home project.

A display suite at the Pacific Spirit new-home project. The clean and elegant lines are attracting enthusiastic buyers at a quick rate.

The master bedroom in one of the display suites at the Pacific new home project epitomizes comfort.

The Facts

WHAT: Pacific Spirit

WHERE: Wesbrook Place, University of B.C.

DEVELOPER: Adera

SIZE: 62 apartments in a four-storey building; 1 bed +den; 2 bed +den, 669 sq. ft. -1,034 sq. ft.

PRICES: From the low $400s

OPEN: Sales centre: 120 -5928 Birney Avenue; hours noon -5 p.m., daily

It’s been slightly over three weeks since the 62 new apartments at the Pacific Spirit project went to market. To say sales have been brisk is most certainly an understatement.

Just a handful remain up for grabs, reports Linda Therrien, sales manager for the project, located at the University of B.C.’s Wesbrook Place.

Pacific Spirit, a product of developer Adera, is comprised of two condominium buildings: Pacific and Spirit. It is the homes in Spirit that began selling on Feb. 6, and the market’s response hasn’t been unlike the response to the earlier release of the Pacific homes.

In fact, the buyer enthusiasm has been echoed again and again by people wanting to get into the project, says Eric Andreasen, Adera’s V-p of sales and marketing.

“When we opened for previewing [for Spirit] on Jan. 2, people were literally banging on our doors, asking us to accept deposits, although we hadn’t released pricing to the public yet,” says Andreasen. “We initially expected to sell five to 10 homes a month, but all 91 homes in Pacific … sold within a month.”

Andreasen believes the provincial government’s harmonized sales tax, set to come into effect on July 1, played some role in the quick sales, along with the December occupancy date.

“So many people complain that in these economic times they don’t want to purchase something now and wait two or three years to move in,” says Andreasen.

The Spirit apartments will range from 669 square feet for a one-bedroom-and-den unit, to 1,034 square feet for two bedrooms and a den. The 15 top-level homes will have rooftop patios and outdoor fireplaces.

“Typically, apartments and condos at UBC sell in the millions and we are offering condos beginning from the low $400,000s to just over $800,000 for a penthouse with rooftop West Coast lanai,” says Andreasen.

The building features wood, stone and extensive glazing.

“Each condo features granite slab countertops, glass tile backsplashes, stainless steel appliances and electric fireplaces,” Andreasen adds.

“Then buyers can choose to upgrade to a gourmet kitchen with panelled Monogram appliances and hardwood floors.”

Among the Spirit buyers was Lily Lee, whose son Billy — a general studies student at the university — was beginning to find that his commute from Surrey was becoming gruelling.

Li and her husband drove to the University Endowment Lands, and were charmed when they came upon Wesbrook Place, UBC’s new, upscale urban town centre.

They were sold when they checked out Pacific Spirit.

“When we saw the community with its great shopping, community centre, Pacific Spirit Regional Park and high school, my husband and I thought why don’t we all move here,” says Li.

“We researched Adera and found out they are well-known, good builders with a great reputation.”

Li and her husband initially bought a unit in Pacific, and then decided to purchase a second home, this time in Spirit, where son Billy and a roommate will live.

“Here we are buying another brand new, modern home in the heart of a rural/urban setting,” Li says.

B.C. is considered one of the leaders of the green-building movement in Canada.

And UBC has taken that a step further by initiating its own environmentally friendly building system, based on the LEED program: the Residential Environmental Assessment Program, or REAP.

Both Pacific Spirit and Spirit are rated REAP Gold.

Green features include energy-efficient windows, insulation and plumbing, motion-activated lights in bathrooms, low-emission carpets and membership in the Co-operative Auto Network.

The remaining Spirit homes are priced to begin in the low $500,000s.

© Copyright (c) The Province

Veteran designer: Robert Ledingham builds an organic feel into West Coast homes

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Drawing inspiration from nature

Province

Four decades after his graduation from the University of Manitoba, Vancouver interior designer Robert Ledingham received an honorary doctorate of design from the Winnipeg Institution of higher learning. — HANDOUT PHOTOS

Spacious elegance: One of Robert Ledingham’s works — the Del Prado building in Yaletown.

When veteran interior designer Robert Ledingham embarks on a project, he takes his inspiration not only from within the space of a building’s walls, but also from what’s beyond them.

Ledingham, who has provided interior-design services to local homeowners and builders and developers for four decades — work that has generated more than 26 awards looks for much of that inspiration from nature: water, mountains and the flora and fauna of B.C.

“There is definitely a difference between the East Coast look and the West Coast,” says Ledingham.

“In the West, people’s homes reflect the indoor/outdoor relationships.”

Easterners, he says, prefer a more formal living space than people on the West Coast.

“There’s an organic look to home decor here … people tend to decorate their homes casually elegant, so that it’s a home where they feel they can put their feet up,” says Ledingham, who owns Ledingham Design Consultants and has seen his work featured in many architectural design magazines and books, including Spectacular Homes of Western Canada.

It was Ledingham Sheila Tripp and her husband turned to when they returned to B.C. after a four-year California sojourn and decided their home on the West Vancouver waterfront was looking tired and dated.

“We rented out our home while living in California and when we returned, we realized our 20-year-old house really needed freshening up,” says Tripp, who had seen Ledingham’s work in a number of home and garden journals. She gave him a call, and the two met the next day.

“After a few meetings, he gave us suggestions and incorporated our vision into some designs.”

Tripp loved many of the designer’s suggestions, but there were some she rejected.

“Bob didn’t pressure us to go with an idea we didn’t like; instead, he had alternatives he presented to us,” she says.

The interior designer — the first Canadian to receive the International Interior Design Association Leadership Award, as a 2006 story on an honorary doctorate granted by his alma mater, the University of Manitoba, reports — takes the necessary time to get to know prospective clients so that his recommendations will reflect their personalities, lifestyles, and wants and needs.

And he derives pleasure from helping clients like Tripp and her husband bring their vision to life.

“Mother Nature provided the Tripps with a stunning palette. I helped to bring that into their home,” he says.

“There were many existing pieces of furniture, but soft furnishings had to be added to the living room and den,” says Ledingham. “A variety of architectural modifications were suggested, as well as redesigning the outdated fireplace facades. A kitchen renovation was already in progress when we took the project on.”

When asked if he’s ever had to walk away from a project, he laughs and nods. He likens the relationship between an interior designer and client to that of a married couple: “it’s very close and personal and often lasts for more than a year.

“When conflict arises, sometimes you both have to throw up your hands and say the best thing is to part ways,” he says, noting that delays can be stressful, yet are unfortunately often unavoidable. “However, most interior designers try very hard to work through problems, but sometimes personalities conflict and it’s best not to prolong it.”

At Country Furniture, interior decorator Marlene Seguin of Vancouver is also in the business of helping people beautify their homes. “I like to help customers take their house and create a home,” says Seguin.

She’s often asked by clients to work alongside a contractor to help with layout. She may be called upon to do something as simple as accessorizing a room — to decide what to place on a table or countertop — or to design a room around an anchor piece.

“For example, a client had an antique sideboard inherited from their grandmother and they didn’t know what furniture would look good with it,” she says.

She says interior decorators and designers can offer clients a “new set of impartial eyes.”

“When you walk into your house day in and day out, sometimes you can’t see anything other than what you have, you can’t picture any other way for the room or rooms to look,” Seguin says. “I can help give a fresh perspective to a client’s space and create ones that reflect the homeowner’s personality.

“A home should almost scream who the person is who lives there.”

© Copyright (c) The Province

Pinnacle Living on Broadway – Kits apartments come to market

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Final design reflects a compromise on neighbourhood concerns, includes thoroughfare and lane setbacks

Claudia Kwan
Sun

Pinnacle Living on Broadway

Project location: Broadway between Maple and Arbutus

Project size: mid-rise building with 131 apartments, three town houses

Residence size: one-bed — 568-731 sq. ft.; two-bed– 8311,142 sq. ft.; town houses– 1250-1300 sq. ft.

Prices: one-bed from $439,900; two-bed from $619,900; town houses from $889,900 Developer: Pinnacle International

Architect: Bingham Hill Architects

Interior Design: Christina Oberti Interior Design Sales centre: 2080 West Broadway

Hours: noon -5 p.m., daily Telephone: 604-739-2080 Web: www.broadwayliving.ca

Occupancy: Spring 2012

At the moment, the Vancouver block of West Broadway between Maple and Arbutus streets is dominated by an IGA and a liquor store. There’s a sizable — for Kitsilano — parking lot in front, and a small building that houses the sales office of the Pinnacle Living on Broadway development.

But come 2012, the site will have a hugely different appearance. A glass and metal building with brick facing at its base will stretch along most of the front of the block where the parking lot is now situated. The IGA will eventually be gone, although it may be replaced by a grocery store in a retail space that will measure more than 20,000 square feet in the new building. A new liquor store also may be a possibility and a right-of-way concession has been allotted for a proposed SkyTrain station on a route to UBC.

The Pinnacle Living development is not without controversy and compromise. City staff heard opposition related to traffic concerns, to the loss of parking and retail amenities, and even to the potential loss of sunlight for other residential buildings in the neighbourhood. One petition contained more than 1,000 signatures.

Partner John Bingham of Bingham Hill Architects calls it a “push-and-pull” influence on the final design.

“We were responding to all of the various interested groups,” he says. “There are setbacks from the back lane and Broadway, and a lot of attention paid to the relationships between the site and surrounding area.”

Landscaping is intended to soften the line between public and private space, and the sunlight issue has been addressed with a “massing” effect on the sprawling building. The two ends are taller, giving the effect of small towers, while the building’s roofline drops down several storeys in the middle. There are noticeable tiers built into each level, allowing the building to recede either horizontally or vertically, depending from where you’re looking at the building.

The tiering also allows for balconies or terraces for the apartments that are remarkably generous -befitting the Kits outdoor-loving esthetic -and remarkably egalitarian. A one-bedroom apartment can have anywhere from 45 to 374 square feet of deck; in the upper ranges, that’s more than the outdoor space given to some of the two-bedroom units.

The egalitarianism extends to the inside. The penthouse level includes one-bedroom units, so purchasers at the lower end of the price scale can afford top-floor living. Just about every suite has an oversized, walkthrough closet and ensuite bathroom, including the one-bedroom apartments.

“That’s a signature of Pinnacle Living: modern sophistication with classic elegance,” says Grace Kwok, the uber-agent who is once again the general in charge of the sales and marketing campaign for developer Pinnacle International. “They spend a lot of time on the floor plans so that every inch of floor space is usable.”

You can feel that sense of space inside the show suites. The one-bedroom unit has room enough for a king-sized bed, and the luxurious feel continues through the closet and into the bathroom.

The natural stone countertops are easily an inch thick, and the wall has been covered with an eye-catching band of thin vertical tiles between large white horizontal tiles. A cosy, but fully functional, den is in an alcove off the dining room, which can accommodate a dining table for six.

The two-bedroom show suite has dual connecting entryway closets, with a corridor-style bathroom that serves both the guest bedroom and the living area. Another sizable nook can be used as a den, while an enclosed balcony is a sun-drenched spot to curl up with a book or putter with some plants.

The master bedroom feels like an upscale hotel room, with an open closet tucked into one corner of the room. A bathroom is in the other corner, fully inside the bedroom suite. A large window in the bathroom wall allows sunlight to permeate from the bedroom through to the soaker tub, although the blinds also can be drawn over the glass for privacy. Energy efficient air conditioning is standard in all units, as are noteworthy appliances. The full-sized washers and dryers are Frigidaire; the oven is Bosch, and the huge refrigerator is Fischer Paykel.

“We don’t offer upgrades because we already offer everything you would need.”

Kwok believes buying at Pinnacle on Broadway makes sense on a number of levels. With interest rates at historic lows, she says, the development represents a prime opportunity for consumers who might have thought that a home in Kits was slightly out of reach.

The site has ready access to Kits Beach, amenities, restaurants and transportation.

Kwok points out that an investment in a little extra space and a good location pays off in the long run. “When you buy a 400-or 500-or 600-square-foot space, you have to pay moving fees, taxes and real estate agent commissions each time you move up,” she calculates. “Why not jump in to the market at a livable space?”

Kwok says they are seeing purchasers who realize the value of a location between downtown and UBC, including investors, longtime renters who want to own in the area and some young families. Previews of the available units started at the beginning of February and sales are expected to formally start at the end of March.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Epson printer doubles as a photo frame

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Gillian Shaw
Sun

PictureMate Show, 2-in-1 Digital Photo Frame, Epson

LaCie Coat, LaCie ForMoa

PictureMate Show, 2-in-1 Digital Photo Frame, Epson, $346 Multi-function is the name of the game when it comes to useful tech toys, and Epson delivers with a printer that doubles as a photo frame. Useful for on-the-go conversion of those snapshots to printed versions, it prints four-by-six photos. Print from a thumb drive or a memory card, and the printer will store up to 270 megabytes of photos in its internal memory. A 17.8-cm tilt screen lets you show off your photos. www.epson.ca.

ThinkPad X201 laptop, Lenovo, from $1,050

Weighing in at less than three pounds, the new X201 laptop is ultra portable, and unlike netbooks that may be only slightly lighter, it is a full-performance computer. Lenovo is using Intel normal-volt Core processors, rather than low-volt processors, putting it in the lead as the fastest ultra portable among the competition. That combines with more than 11 hours of battery life. Part

of Lenovo’s Think-branded lineup that includes the ThinkPad X201s, a featherweight under 2.5 pounds with more than 12 hours battery life and a price tag of $1,800. www.lenovo.com.

ThinkPad X201 Tablet, Lenovo, $1,730 Another in the new Lenovo lineup, the new tablet has a 12.1-inch multi-touch screen, giving users the options of using it as a pen-or finger-based slate or as a full-sized laptop with a keyboard. Windows 7 like the others and an angle screen that makes viewing possible up to 185 degrees. A list of features including a fingerprint reader, a 2.0-megapixel camera, TV tuner, firewire, WiMAX and 3G as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet connectivity and expandable memory up to eight gigabytes. www.lenovo.com

LaCie Coat, LaCie ForMoa, from $15 US

Wrap your netbook, MacBook or new iPad up in a colourful coat from LaCie that will protect it with a double layer of neoprene with a soft inside lining. The Coat has an inside zippered pocket so you can keep your power cord and other accessories neatly tucked away. The ForMoa has handles that tuck away, making it double as both sleeve and a carrying case and it comes with three pockets for organizing those extras. The new LaCie covers come in several sizes from the smallest 10.2-inch to three laptop sizes for 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch laptops. In five colours. www.lacie.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

January home sales fall 7.2%, median price unchanged

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Alan Zibel, AP Real Estate Writer
USA Today

WASHINGTON — Sales of previously occupied homes took a large drop for the second straight month in January, falling to the lowest level since summer. It was another sign the housing market’s recovery is faltering.

The results, the weakest since June, were far worse than forecast and suggest the housing recovery will sputter without government support.

“Most of the improvement that we’ve seen in housing over the past year has been tied to some sort of stimulus program,” said Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner. “Now that we’re seeing those programs wind down we’re seeing that housing is quite a bit weaker than many people had thought.”

The National Association of Realtors said Friday that home sales fell 7.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million from a downwardly revised pace of 5.44 million in December. Economists expected a slight increase to a rate of 5.5 million.

Home sales have been sluggish this winter because the deadline for a tax credit for first-time buyers was extended. It had been set to expire on Nov. 30, causing sales to surge last fall. Then Congress extended the deadline until April 30 and expanded it to existing homeowners who move.

The housing report was another sign that consumers still aren’t feeling comfortable making sizable purchases, as jobs remain scarce. Weak consumer spending was a key reason why the economic growth is expected to be feeble this year. While the 5.9% pace in the final quarter of 2009 was stronger than expected, roughly two-thirds of that came from a burst of manufacturing.

“For Main Street, the after effects of the Great Recession linger on,” said Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services.

Home sales are still up nearly 12% from the bottom, but are down 30% from their peak more than four years ago.

Last month, sales declined throughout the country, falling the most — nearly 11% — in the Northeast. Sales fell by about 7% in the South and Midwest and by more than 5% in the West.

The median sales price was $164,700, unchanged from a year earlier and down 3.4% from December.

The inventory of unsold homes on the market was down slightly at 3.27 million. That’s a 7.8 month supply at the current sales pace, up from a recent low of 6.5 months in November.

The bleak report comes after the government reported Wednesday that sales of newly built homes plunged 11% to a record low in January. The report, which measures signed contracts to buy homes rather than completed sales, also came as surprise to economists.

Another question hanging over the housing market this year is whether interest rates will rise, and by how much. The Federal Reserve‘s $1.25 trillion program to push down mortgage rates is scheduled to expire on March 31.

After that program runs out, mortgage rates should not spike, but rather rise gradually to about 6% over the next year, predicts Cameron Findlay, chief economist at LendingTree.com. That will mean homebuyers may have to reduce their price range, and could put downward pressure on prices.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Check your credit history

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Sun

If you want to borrow money to buy a home, car or any other big-ticket item, you will need to have a credit history before the financial institution will lend you money. Your credit history (called a credit report) is held by the major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax and TransUnion. Your credit report is one of the main tools lenders use when they decide whether or not to lend you money.

Your credit report contains the following information:

- Personal information such as your name, address, social insurance number, employers, date of birth and telephone number.

- Information related to any loans you have, such as a credit card, mortgage or secured or unsecured loan.

- Your payment history, including bad loans and late payments.

- Banking information about your various accounts, including any bad cheques you may have   written.

- Public records such as a bankruptcy or judgment from a lawsuit.

- Any people or organizations that have inquired about your credit.

Once you start borrowing and have a credit file opened, it is important to regularly ensure that your credit report is correct. You can check by phone, fax, email, mail or Internet. There is a fee if you check online but you can get your report for free by using the mail.

When you get your report, look closely at the data from the credit reporting agency to see that it is correct. Watch for:

- Wrong mailing addresses.

- Incorrect social insurance number.

- Signs of identity theft.

- Errors in your credit accounts.

- Late payments.

- Unauthorized inquiries.

You have a right to correct any errors you find. The correction process, as well as instructions on ordering your credit report, can be found on the agencies’ websites at www.equifax.ca and www.transunion.ca.

Terri Williams, CFP, is vice president, editorial services and production, with DundeeWealth .

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Canada Video by Tom Brokow on uTube – all that you need to know – 6 Minutes

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Candace
Other

For those of us in Canada who might be sensitive to how the Americans view Canada as a neighbour, here is a sincere salute to Canada by Tom Brokaw, a short U-Tube documentary about 6 minutes long … it is beautifully done … enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYoTJItSPt0

HST , mortgage rules pushing sales

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Julie Fortier and Derrick Penner
Sun

With new mortgage rules, a new harmonized sales tax in some provinces and the possibility of higher interest rates set to kick in this summer, home buyers are on a tear that is likely to keep markets busy leading to this summer, according to the Re/Max Market Trends Report 2010 released Wednesday.

The report, which examined real estate trends in 16 markets across the country, found that unusually strong activity in January — traditionally one of the quietest months of the year — has led to a sharp decline in active listings in 81 per cent of markets surveyed. Too many buyers and not enough homes will probably be the problem, according to the report.

Markets experiencing the tightest inventory levels include Toronto (down 41 per cent), Kitchener-Waterloo (down 33 per cent), Ottawa (down 30 per cent), Victoria (down 30 per cent) and Metro Vancouver (down 27 per cent), which also had some of the highest year-over-year sales gains.

The highest year-over-year sales gains were reported in Metro Vancouver (152 per cent), Kelowna (121 per cent), Greater Toronto (87 per cent), Victoria (69 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington (58 per cent), London-St. Thomas (55 per cent) and Calgary (47 per cent), the report said.

However, those figures for Metro Vancouver represented a slowing in sales in January when compared to the overheated final quarter of 2009, Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Association, said in an interview.

“If you look at the sales-to-active-listings ratio, which is the measure of hotness or coolness of the market, we saw that come down in January,” Muir said.

Metro Vancouver’s ratio of sales listings hit 26 per cent in January, meaning that sales for the month were the equivalent of 26 per cent of the total inventory available, which is almost within balanced market conditions, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. definitions.

During the last three months of 2009, sales equalled 31 to 33 per cent of homes available in inventory, which was seller’s-market territory.

Muir said the last time Metro Vancouver’s sales-to-active-listings ratio was as high as it was in the fourth quarter of 2009 was midway through 2006. January’s year-over-year decrease in active listings was compared to a month that had a high number of houses on the market.

“But last month we saw sales edge lower, we see active listings edge a bit higher and new listings are fairly healthy in the marketplace,” he said.

Western Canada dominated the list of centres with the greatest increases in price, with Victoria home prices jumping 25.5 per cent in January compared with the same month a year before. Kelowna jumped 22 per cent and Greater Vancouver rose 19.5 per cent. St. John’s saw an increase of 23 per cent and Toronto rose 19 per cent.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun