Archive for January, 2013

Renting a suite in a house: 103,780 Metro households do just that, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Thursday, January 31st, 2013


Download Document

Pacific Point in Yaletown by Bosa development – 214 units

Thursday, January 31st, 2013


Download Document

Over 103,000 Rental Suites in Metro Vancouver Houses

Thursday, January 31st, 2013


Many Metro Vancouver home buyers aren’t buying a home simply as a principal residence: they are investing in the property as a partial or full-time rental property.

According to the most recent CMHC survey, taken in the fall of last year, there are now 103,780 secondary rental units in single-family houses, townhouses and row houses. As well, there are 48,528 condominiums in the Lower Mainland that are now being rented out, representing nearly 26 per cent of all condominiums. In central areas of Vancouver, rental condos now account for about 44 per cent of all condos, according to the survey.

“Rental market conditions in British Columbia are influenced by a number of factors – growth in jobs, migration patterns, the relative cost of homeownership compared to renting, and changes in supply, including additions to the secondary rental market” noted Carol Frketich, CMHC’s BC Regional Economist.

Renting out a secondary suite or condo can be profitable. A survey by Altus Group show that the average two-bedroom condo in Metro Vancouver rents for $1,662 per month, and that the average rent for a two-bedroom suite in a detached house is $1,321. The typical three-bedroom suite in a detached house rents for $1,624 per month. CMHC confirms that the vacancy rate for secondary suites is about the same as for the general rental market, but the vacancy rate for rental condos in Metro Vancouver is lower, at 1 per cent. At today’s interest rates, $1,600 per month would cover the monthly mortgage costs on a $300,000 mortgage.

Western Investor

If You Build it They Will Come: The History of UBC

Thursday, January 31st, 2013


Few of those who organized and took part in the Build the University Campaign in 1922 could have predicted the scale of development that would take place decades later.

When the student population outgrew the existing university- in the Fairview district, where Vancouver General Hospital now stands-they used Varsity Week in October 1922 to raise awareness of their need to move to a bigger, permanent home. Their efforts culminated in The Great Trek, when 1,200 students walked and waved banners from downtown Vancouver to the Point Grey campus.

A week later they handed in the 56,000-signature petition they’d amassed over the summer and fall to the legislature in Victoria. This, combined with the presentation and public support, persuaded the Province to finish what it had stopped due, largely, to the advent of The First World War.

On September 22, 1925 UBC as we know it held its inaugural assembly.

There is more to the backstory of UBC, which you can read about here and also in this article by Emma Spenner Norman, which details how UBC’s idyllic setting was considered a place of inspiration, and how the area had long been used for education by the Musqueam people.

The initial 175 acres of Crown land at Point Grey was set aside for a university by the University Site Act of 1912, and in 1920 the British Columbia University Loan Act increased the amount of land for residential development to 3,000 acres.

Former BC Premier and then Lands Minister Duff Patullo drew up the first subdivision plan for Point Grey in 1926. Only the first phase was completed as the Great Depression and later the Second World War came and halted the development of all the UEL.

This loss of momentum, combined with later opposition to numerous development attempts rolled on into the modern era and the undeveloped land, almost 2,000 acres, became Pacific Spirit Park in 1988.

The park and the private properties on the original 175 acres are not part of UBC and have their services provided by the Provincial government. The remaining 1,000 acres is the university’s and is what UBC is developing to endow the university.The UBC Properties Trust

 develops and manages land. Its function is to reinvest in the future of the university, with UBC and the UBC Foundation being its sole beneficiaries.

And as the UBC Campus and Community Planning Department states on its website: “The land is being used to transform UBC from what was historically a commuter campus into a vibrant, sustainable, live-work-learn community of scholars.” Five UBC neighbourhoods embody that transformation.

U-Town (University Town) Neighbourhoods

The Trust’s first project, Hampton Place, generated $80 million for UBC (Here’s how those funds were distributed.) Opened in 1989, and completed about 2000, this near-1000-unit residence predates UBC’s development plan which outlines the projects that followed.  Since this first build there have been three other communities developed. There are 11 buildings, high rise and town homes, which are home to about 2,000 people. Interestingly, the demographic here has shifted initially from retirees and older adults to young families.

Hawthorn Place opened in 2007.

The neighbourhood consists of faculty, staff, student and family housing and is situated between the East and West Mall south of Thunderbird Boulevard. There are 709 units.

Chancellor Place, at the intersection of Chancellor Boulevard and Wesbrook Mall, was completed in 2010 and consists of 614 units.

It was built to resemble the scale of houses opposite, and the two condos bookending the original theology school funded the much-needed repairs to this building.

The smallest is East Campus. It consists of market rentals, student accommodation and housing for visiting professors in TRIUMF House, which shares its name with the subatomic physics lab at the University.

Wesbrook Village is also well under construction but there is still much to develop at what will be UBC’s largest neighbourhood. This community, and  plans for the future of the campus, are the focus of Part Two of our look at UBC housing.

The developers that have been integral in building UBC communities are:

© 2012 Real Estate Weekly

Plaza 500 Hotel subject of growing list of lawsuits

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Sandra Thomas
Van. Courier

The head of Coquitlam-based Bulldog Demolition is suing the owner of the Plaza 500 Hotel on West 12th Avenue at Cambie for $2 million.

Jim Caya is seeking $1 million he says are still owed in wages and supplies and a second million for damages.

Caya said Azim Popat hired his company in February 2011 to remove 180 bathrooms and perform general cleanup, including carpet removal. At the time, it was announced the Plaza 500, located across the road from Vancouver city hall, would join the Indigo hotel chain.

“But the first day on the site, in order to remove the carpets we had to remove the baseboards and that’s when we spotted the mould. The drywall was completely black with it,” Caya told the Courier. “And they had guests staying at the hotel right up until then. I’m surprised no one got sick.”

He said at that time, Popat, who did not return the Courier’s phone calls, was forced to hire Pacific Environmental Consulting to do an environmental assessment as required by WorkSafeBC. (Norman Richardson, senior operations manager with Total Safety Services, which owns Pacific Environmental Consulting, told the Courier he’s unable to comment on client cases.)

“They immediately wrote up an order saying that anyone entering the building had to wear a hazmat suit and a mask,” said Caya. “The density of the mould was so bad that even non-hazardous jobs like carpet removal became hazardous. And that’s when the costs went up.”

Caya said what started out as a $488,000 job escalated to $3 million over time as the company completed numerous projects. He said Popat stopped paying halfway through the project. He said after Bulldog placed a $1.5 million lien against the property, Popat called a meeting with Caya and the Canadian Western Bank, which was financing the project at the time. Caya said in order to remove the lien, the bank paid the overdue amount to Bulldog and the company went back to work.

“And we haven’t been paid since,” said Caya.

Caya’s lawyer, Suzan El Khatib with Wiebe Douvelos Wittmann, explained Popat has placed $800,000 in trust with the courts. Once a decision is made on the case, which is scheduled for February 2014, that money will go to either the plaintiff or defendant.

Caya is not alone. According to cases filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Plaza 500 Hotels Ltd. is named in 39 lawsuits starting from 1996, with 16 dated between 2011 and 2012.

Last week Nancy Eng, communications coordinator for the City of Vancouver, confirmed an application by development consultant Brook Pooni Associates on behalf of Plaza 500 to convert floors three to 17 of the hotel into rental units had been approved by the city subject to conditions. This week, the city told the Courier it is not aware of any complaints regarding the condition of the building, which would be evaluated during the building permit application stage.

Caya suggested the city take a very close look at the building. He said as a way to save money, Bulldog was directed to cover the asbestos in the hotel with steel bars, to which drywall would later be attached. He said a structural engineer halted the project because it was deemed the building wouldn’t stand under the weight.

“If they allow people to live in that building and it goes down in an earthquake, not only will it be a tragedy for those people, but the asbestos dust will contaminate that entire neighbourhood,” said Caya. “Even the mayor at city hall would end up with asbestos dust in his lungs.”

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

The BC first-time new home buyers’ bonus

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The bonus Expires on March 31, 2013


Download Document

Get pre-approved mortgage before you shop

Thursday, January 24th, 2013


Download Document

Focus at Morgan Crossing

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Urban living with a village lifestyle


Download Document

Old Plaza 500 Hotel may turn into rental suites

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Sandra Thomas
Van. Courier

The former Plaza 500 Hotel and Convention Centre on West 12th will likely be converted to rental apartments. In an email to the Courier, Nancy Eng, communications coordinator for the City of Vancouver, confirmed an application by development consultant Brook Pooni Associates to convert floors three to 17 into rental units has been approved by the city subject to conditions. If approved, the second floor will also be converted – from hotel use to office space.

The iconic property, kitty corner to city hall, was home to the Plaza 500 for decades but closed several years ago. It was later announced the property would become part of the Indigo chain, operated by InterContinental Hotels Group, which also manages Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels.

An Internet search of “Hotel Indigo Vancouver” resulted in dozens of mentions, including an “official description” on the popular website TripAdvisor submitted by “the hotel.”

“Located in the heart of Cambie Village, one of Vancouver’s trendiest, fastest-growing neighbourhoods the hotel is steps away from the Canada Line and minutes from downtown Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport… From the locally-inspired art to the oversized beds with plush bedding and spa-inspired showers, Hotel Indigo Vancouver is designed to reflect the local culture, character and geography of the surrounding area while the IHG brand hallmarks ensure consistent and reliable service…” the description reads in part.

The TripAdvisor page also includes colourful photos of guest rooms, but an attempt to book a room led to a Hotel Indigo webpage offering the message “Page Not Found.”

While there’s plenty of information readily available about the hotel online, attempting to speak to a real person about the property’s future is a different story. A phone message left for Francie Schulwolf, vice-president of corporate communications for InterContinental Hotels Group, wasn’t returned. Neither was a phone messages left for Alfredo Perdomo, listed as financial controller on the Plaza 500 Hotel website, or an email to [email protected]. A phone call to the hotel was answered by a man who refused to answer any of the Courier’s questions and who also insisted there is “no head office.”

“I’m just here doing paperwork,” he said.

In response to a phone call from the Courier, an employee at Firefly Fine Wines and Ale located in the bottom of the empty hotel confirmed the owner is Azim Popat, but refused any further comment. The Courier attempted, unsuccessfully, to reach Popat by email and phone. A land title search completed through B.C. Assessment Online, states the $8.5 million property is owned by Yaletown-based Yorkson Investment Company Ltd., “attention Florence Chan.” An Internet search showed the address included on the report matched one for PFC Management, which shares the same phone number and where Chan answered the phone. Chan denied having any knowledge of the Plaza 500 property.

The Courier was unable to reach Chuck Brooks of Brook Pooni Associates before press deadline.

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

ank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1 per cent

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013


OTTAWA, Jan. 23, 2013 /CNW/ – The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 1/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 3/4 per cent.

The global economic outlook is slightly weaker than the Bank had projected in its October Monetary Policy Report (MPR).  At the same time, global tail risks have diminished. The economic expansion in the United States is continuing at a gradual pace, restrained by ongoing public and private deleveraging, global weakness and uncertainty related to fiscal negotiations. Despite a marked improvement in peripheral sovereign debt markets, Europe remains in recession, with a somewhat more protracted downturn now expected than in October. Growth in China is improving, though economic activity has slowed further in some other major emerging economies. Supported by central bank actions and by positive policy developments in Europe, global financial conditions are more stimulative.  Commodity prices have remained at historically elevated levels, though temporary disruptions and persistent transportation bottlenecks have led to a record discount on Canadian heavy crude.

In Canada, the slowdown in the second half of 2012 was more pronounced than the Bank had anticipated, owing to weaker business investment and exports. Caution about high debt levels has begun to restrain household spending. The Bank expects economic growth to pick up through 2013. Business investment and exports are projected to rebound as foreign demand strengthens, uncertainty diminishes and the temporary factors that have weighed on resource sector activity are unwound. Nonetheless, exports should remain below their pre-recession peak until the second half of 2014 owing to a lower track for foreign demand and ongoing competitiveness challenges, including the persistent strength of the Canadian dollar.  Consumption is expected to grow moderately and residential investment to decline further from historically high levels. The Bank expects trend growth in household credit to moderate further, with the debt-to-income ratio stabilizing near current levels.

Relative to the October MPR, Canadian economic activity is expected to be more restrained. Following an estimated 1.9 per cent in 2012, the economy is expected to grow by 2.0 per cent in 2013 and 2.7 per cent in 2014. The Bank now expects the economy to reach full capacity in the second half of 2014, later than anticipated in the October MPR.

Core inflation has softened by more than the Bank had expected, with more muted price pressures across a wide range of goods and services, consistent with the unexpected increase in excess capacity. Total CPI inflation has also been lower than anticipated, reflecting developments in core inflation and weaker-than-projected gasoline prices. Total CPI inflation is expected to remain around 1 per cent in the near term before rising gradually, along with core inflation, to the 2 per cent target in the second half of 2014 as the economy returns to full capacity and inflation expectations remain well-anchored.

Reflecting all of these factors, the Bank has decided to maintain the target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. While some modest withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus will likely be required over time, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target, the more muted inflation outlook and the beginnings of a more constructive evolution of imbalances in the household sector suggest that the timing of any such withdrawal is less imminent than previously anticipated.

Information note:

The next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is 6 March 2013. The next full update of the Bank’s outlook for the economy and inflation, including risks to the projection, will be published in the MPR on 17 April 2013. 

SOURCE: Bank of Canada