Archive for July, 2013

Why you should work with buyers from China … and how

Saturday, July 27th, 2013


Download Document

News Alert: In Historic Vote, NAR Resoundingly Approves Amendments to Operating Agreement – Real Estate Portal Competition to Heat Up

Saturday, July 27th, 2013


The Board of Directors of the National Association of Realtors® made history this week in a resounding vote to approve changes to its operating agreement that allow® to publish listings from sources beyond those provided by Realtors®, such as additional new homes and rental properties.

Providing more flexibility to compete more effectively in an evolving online marketplace, the change reaffirms NAR’s commitment to making® the “first, best online destination for home buyers and sellers,” the organization announced. The vote was held yesterday during a special meeting of the BOD in Chicago.

“Over the years, Realtors® have invested a lot of time and millions of dollars in building information technology to give consumers online access to real estate information, and we know that consumer demand for all things ‘home’ has never been greater,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif. “As the most trusted resources for real estate information, Realtors® want® to have the resources and flexibility it needs to give consumers what they want while ensuring that today’s buyers and sellers can continue to rely on Realtors® for the most accurate, credible market data. We think the proposed changes achieve both goals.”

The operating agreement is between NAR subsidiary Realtors® Information Network and Move, Inc. subsidiary RealSelect, Inc. The RIN board sought advice from NAR’s BOD because any changes to® could have a substantial impact on NAR’s members. The RIN board met immediately after the NAR BOD meeting, and approved the final recommendations.

“When today’s consumer is searching for their dream home, they are utilizing more tools and information than ever before,” said® President Errol Samuelson, Chief Strategy Officer for Move, Inc. “Today’s historic and collaborative recommendation from the NAR board members empowers us to further expand and enrich the consumer experience on and its mobile applications with greater breadth of content, and to do so with our continuing commitment to the highest level of quality and accuracy for both the real estate community and consumers.”

The proposal recommended by NAR’s BOD gives® more flexibility to publish listings from sources beyond those provided by Realtors®, such as multiple listing services not affiliated with NAR. That includes additional new homes and rental properties. At the same time, the site will reinforce the value of using a Realtor® when buying, selling or investing in real estate, and will give consumers tools to differentiate between Realtors® and real estate agents who are not Realtors®.

“We want consumers to be able to envision their American dreams of homeownership online and then make those dreams a reality in the offline world,” said Thomas. “Working together,® and Realtors® are making home happen.”

Move will discuss the details of the special meeting and the amendments during a Q1 earnings call on Aug. 1. Click here for more information. Stay tuned to RISMedia for additional coverage


Stricter mortgage rules cover debt, income ratio

Thursday, July 25th, 2013


Download Document

A new website recently launched for sales reps who actively work the GTA condo market, or would like to enter that market.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013


CondoNow ( is the newest offering from Aareas Interactive, which has been producing sales and marketing technology solutions since 1991. Launched in October 2012, it offers an easy, convenient and centralized online spot where sales reps can get all of the required information on condos and upcoming projects, the company says.

“The whole idea behind CondoNow is to create an MLS/Expedia-like website for condos, and eventually new homes, where a Realtor can go online and search for condos on any parameter – anything from upcoming launches to the number of bedrooms – and get a quick listing that they can then show their client,” says Frank Guido, president and CEO of CondoNow.

Guido says that previously, if a sales rep had a client who wanted to buy a condo for a future date, there was no easy way for the Realtor to pull all of the available condos that might meet the client’s criteria. It was a lot of leg work and chasing, with the sales rep calling the various condo builders to see what’s coming down the pipe and might be a fit.

But he says, with 482 projects in the GTA and 111 new condos currently available for immediate occupancy, that represented a lot of wasted time.

The CondoNow website offers everything sales reps need to find and present the perfect condo to their client: brochures, virtual tours, floor plans, renderings, views, pricing and specific Realtor information such as commissions and clawbacks. Everything is presented in a clean, consistent format, making it easier to locate and compare information. If a sales rep is interested in upcoming projects, with CondoNow, all they need to do is flag the projects they’re interested in and they’ll be sent a notice whenever there are updates.

The website also becomes effective for new VIP product launches. Guido says that until CondoNow, developers were typically receiving worksheets by fax. They’d collect all of the faxes, spread them out and then start pairing up the possibilities.

“It was a very antiquated, error-prone process for everyone involved,” says Guido. “CondoNow uses technology to not only streamline the process and eliminate errors, but provide accurate, fast, live data to Realtors.”

CondoNow is strictly a place for developers and Realtors to connect – no real estate is sold over the website. Developers post their inventory and information directly to the website, and Realtors then access the site to locate condos, similar to what the MLS does for resales. It is free to Realtors and developers only pay a fee if a deal closes.

“We only get paid if a transaction initiates on the site and then the deal closes,” says Guido. “Once the deal closes, the developer pays a fee to CondoNow. That’s it. There is no advertising revenue being generated, so the site is clean, and there’s definitely no preferential treatment given to one developer over another.”

He estimates that out of the 34,000 Realtors in TREB, there are probably only a couple of thousand who deal with new condos.

“It’s a very convoluted process and very much an old boys club,” says Guido. “CondoNow levels the playing field and gives every Realtor a chance to sell their client a condo.”

Within the next year, Guido expects to be offering CondoNow across North America in multiple languages. For information:

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,196 residential sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service®

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

BC Home Sales Continue on Upward Trend


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that BC home sales are continuing on an upward trend.  

Residential home sales in BC were up 5.6% from June 2012, and the sales dollar volume was 11.9% higher. As well, the average MLS residential price in the province was up 6% from one year ago.

From May 2013, “BC homes sales rose 6.7%…and since February home sales across the province have climbed by 23%, on a seasonally adjusted basis,” says Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist.  

MLS residential sales have climbed 15% in the second quarter, and the inventory of homes on the market has moved down 5%, creating improved market conditions in many areas.  

The real estate market is changing, and the time to buy is now. Positive news from the BCREA and steady mortgage rates mean you should secure your home, as favourable buying conditions like this will not last! Sales and prices are going up and inventory is shrinking.


 The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,196 residential sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC in the month of June, up 5.6 per cent from June of 2012. Total sales dollar volume was 11.9 per cent higher at $3.84 billion. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $533,219, up 6 per cent from a year ago.

“BC home sales rose 6.7 per cent from May, on a seasonally adjusted basis, with June being the fourth consecutive month of increasing sales activity,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Since February, home sales across the province have climbed by 23 per cent, on a seasonally adjusted basis,” added Muir.

On a quarterly basis, MLS® residential sales climbed 15 per cent in the second quarter, while the inventory of homes for sale has moved down 5 per cent over the last two quarters, creating improved market conditions in many regions of the province.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 8.2 per cent to $18.8 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales were down 7.8 per cent to 35,336 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 0.4 per cent at $531,401.

What’s Not on the Property Title May Be Important

Thursday, July 18th, 2013


In West Vancouver in 2007, on the advice of her REALTOR®, a property seller checked to see if there was an underground fuel storage tank on her property. There was and the seller had the tank removed and the contaminated soil remediated. The bill was $202,963.07.

The seller had bought the property in 2001 without using the services of a REALTOR® and had been told by the previous owner that the tank had been removed or decommissioned.

The seller sued the former property owned and won because the owner hadn’t disclosed the severity of the problem. (Note: a REALTOR® was not involved in the 2001 sale).

What do these examples have in common?

  • In Richmond, an illegal drug lab in a rental home on a busy street resulted in a neighbourhood evacuation.
  • In Marpole, the owners of a non-profit theatre learned from a neighbouring business that the building they own is one of a dozen commercial sites sitting on a midden, the location of Aboriginal artifacts.

None are registered on the property title.

This means that current and future owners may not know about issues associated with their property that could affect its safety, ease of sale and ultimate value.

What is registered on the property title?

The legal description of a property, including:

  • the parcel identification (PID)
  • taxation authority
  • registered owner and their address
  • the title number
  • the previous title number
  • legal notations against the property (may include heritage)
  • charges, liens and interests (under-surface rights, rights of ways, covenants, judgments)
  • whether a duplicate title has been ordered and by whom
  • transfers and pending applications

What is not registered on title?

  • archaeological sites
  • former grow ops and illegal drug labs
  • heritage designations (not always on title)
  • highway entitlements
  • stigmatized property
  • streamside issues—if there are fish-bearing ditches or creeks on the property
  • underground fuel storage tanks

How can you discover the facts about a property?

  1. Ask the owner.
  2. Visit the local government (municipal) website where you will find a range of information, for example:
    • Richmond provides a road map of designated heritage buildings and homes, and includes photos.
    • The City of Vancouver confirms if a property has been used as a grow op or illegal drug lab to anyone phoning 604.871.6231. The City does not provide the owner’s name in keeping with privacy legislation.  (Note: there is no available universal public registry of homes previously used as grow ops and illegal drug labs, but the RCMP has a national registry at which covers municipalities policed by the RCMP.)
    • West Vancouver provides a list of properties known to have underground storage tanks. Visit: and search Fuel Storage Tank Program. Scroll to More Information and see Fuel/ Oil Tank Records Search.

If you don’t find what you need online, phone your local government or go in person. Depending on the municipality, there may be comprehensive data.

  1. There is a BC Heritage Sites Inventory. Information about its properties comes from local governments, so start there. Check the BC Archaeological Site Inventory at You can also phone: 250 953-3338.
  2. Search the BC Government’s Contaminated Sites Registry which lists some contaminated sites. It is available through to Products). There is a charge to access the database.

Fuel tanks facts

Throughout the Lower Mainland aging fuel storage tanks in yards are potentially corroding and leaching toxic materials into the soil. In worst-case scenarios, the contamination extends to neighbouring properties and the groundwater system.

These tanks, used until the 1960s when natural gas became readily available, were never required to be registered. In the 50 years since, many tanks have been decommissioned or removed, while others have been long forgotten. This makes it difficult to determine how many still exist, although estimates indicate there are still tens of thousands remaining underground throughout the Lower Mainland.

In more remote areas such as Pemberton and the Gulf Islands, tanks may still be in use.

Oil tanks are regulated by the BC Fire Code, Part 4, which covers tank installation, maintenance, repair, removal or abandonment.

What happens if your property has an old tank?

Each municipality has different requirements and provisions for enforcing the removal or abandonment of underground or aboveground storage tanks.

Contact your local fire department. They will advise you on how to properly deal with your tank.

Tanks can contaminate soil and groundwater, may pose a fire and explosion hazard, and may affect human health.

If you plan on selling your property, you must tell your REALTOR® about the tank and also disclose the tank on the Property Disclosure Statement.

If you are buying a property, your REALTOR® will advise you to have the property inspected and to seek an expert opinion on the matter, especially if the underground or aboveground storage tank is thought to be leaking. If you have questions about fuel storage tanks, contact your municipality.

See also:

Underground Oil Tanks — What You Need to Know

Think that Former Grow-Op is a Deal? Think Again.

When You Buy a House, How Do You Know It’s Not a Former Grow Op?

Luxury buyers mostly local

Thursday, July 18th, 2013


Download Document

The View at 1212, 19 units in a 5 level building

Thursday, July 18th, 2013


Download Document

‘Lucky’ numbers for property investors

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Grainne Burns

Door numbers impacting home sales? Could be. Having the number 4, 13 and 8 on front doors could affect the value of a property by up to $35,000, according to real estate agents in the GTA.

Superstitious or not, investors are staying away from numbers that may impact future sales. No.13 always carries a stigma, no matter the location or price, but more investors are stepping away from doors with the No.4.

Most recently, Richmond Hill council voted to drop the No.4 in new addresses as that number means ‘death’ in Cantonese and Mandarin.  Other house owners are applying to change their numbers for a nominal fee. On the other side of the coin, the No.8 symbolizes luck and perfect balance in Chinese.

This may be an inconsequential issue for many investors but any factors that may dictate property values is on the agenda of forthcoming Investor Forum series by Canadian Real Estate Wealth magazine. It kicks off this fall in Montreal.

With so many conflicting mainstream media reports on the future of the real estate market, CREW has again corralled experienced and informed speakers to outline what, how, when and where investors should be putting their cash, how to protect their assets and how to plan for the future.

The cities playing host to upcoming conferences include Montreal (September 7), Moncton (September 21), Vancouver (October 5-6), Winnipeg (November 23) and Toronto (March 22-23).

As for the speakers, they include Sunil Tulsiani, founder of Private Investment Club, and Todd Talbot, seasoned investor and co-host of Love it or List It Vancouver.

A number of analysts from CMHC will provide in-depth reports on local economic conditions that affect market values while Mikael Kurkdjian in Montreal will speak about the obstacles and opportunities of investing in a seller’s market.

Greg Taylor from Colliers Canada will speak in Moncton, Julie Broad in Winnipeg and Jason Henneberry in Vancouver.

Rize Alliance project at Broadway and Kingsway revised

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

A Mount Pleasant plan is facing opposition over its size.

Naoibh O’Connor
Van. Courier

An open house for the Rize Mount Pleasant project runs from 4:30 to 7:30 at St. Patrick’s Church at 2881 Main St., July 17. Photograph by: Renderings courtesy , Rize Alliance.

An open house for the Rize Mount Pleasant project is being held Wednesday more than a year after city council approved the rezoning application.

Rize Alliance Properties Ltd. has worked with its architects to revise the proposal based on council and community feedback, according to Chris Vollan, Rize’s vice president of development. The open house, which will reveal those revisions, runs from 4:30 to 7:30 at St. Patrick’s Church at 2881 Main St., July 17.

Broadway, Kingsway, 10th Avenue and Watson Street bound the mixed-use project. More than 100 spoke during six nights of public hearings prior to council approving the project in principle in April 2012. Many speakers were concerned about subjects including tower height, density, affordable housing and traffic.

Rize Alliance submitted its development permit application at the beginning of June. The project must also go before the urban design panel and the development permit board, then back to council for approval.

“What we’re hearing [about project revisions] so far, based on preliminary feedback, has been pretty positive in that we took the council direction and community input from the rezoning and made some very significant changes to the building,” Vollan said. “So I’m thinking the feedback is going to be generally positive – some of those who don’t agree with the community plan will continue to protest the project, but I think, in general, the character development we’ve done and the massing changes are going to be well received.”

The project has been divided up into five separate building blocks, so it reads like a collection of buildings rather than one big building, according to Vollan.

“During the rezoning we had massing diagrams, so it looked like one complex, but as the design has evolved through DP [development permit], it now has five separate characters. That’s probably the biggest change – that and dropping the second floor retail and reducing the height on Broadway and putting the loading bay underground – those are the biggest changes,” he said.

The tower, which used to be 19 storeys, is now 22 storeys, but its actual height has stayed the same because the second floor commercial space was taken out. “What we’ve been able to reduce is the Broadway, Kingsway and Watson Street elevations – Broadway by 30 feet and that again is mainly by deleting the second floor,” Vollan said.

The Residents Association of Mount Pleasant (RAMP) still has major concerns about the project, including the timing of the open house in mid-summer, not enough promotion for the event, and the project’s change in address, which might confuse some residents.

Stephen Bohus, a spokesperson for the group, said he’s worried about revisions. “I think the changes are so vast that the project should go back to council for a new public hearing. They’ve increased the unit count to (336) condo units from 241 and the height of the tower is now 22 storeys instead of 19. The height remains the same, just the storeys have been increased. But that’s different from what was in the staff report last year,” he said. “It does matter because it might affect the CACs [community amenity contributions] calculations so the developer makes more profit by changing the number of condos by taking out the food co-op then there will be less CACs paid, so it does matter.”

He said timing and notification of the open house, and the address change, is under the city’s purview. He doesn’t expect the community amenity calculation will change and he noted the Mount Pleasant Food Co-op couldn’t get financing for the Rize project, which was a main factor in deleting the second floor retail.

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier