Archive for August, 2014

Yaletown citizens take City of Vancouver to court to stop a tower from rising above Emery Barnes Park

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

CANY alleges city, developer kept details secret

Bob Mackin
Van. Courier

A citizens’ group battling to stop a tower from rising above Emery Barnes Park goes to B.C. Supreme Court on Aug. 25.

Community Association of New Yaletown wants a judge to overturn a rezoning and land swap deal that it says were cloaked in secrecy and in violation of the Vancouver Charter. Brenhill Developments agreed to give 1099 Richards St. to the City of Vancouver after it builds a 13-storey social housing project on the site, so it could then build a 36-storey tower on 508 Helmcken, site of the city’s Jubilee House social housing project built in 1985. The Vancouver park board’s 2011 budget included a plan to eventually expand Emery Barnes Park, which occupies most of the city block bounded by Seymour, Davie, Richards and Helmcken streets.

CANY claims the July 16, 2013 public hearing was unfair and illegal because the city and Brenhill kept secret their Jan. 28, 2013 contract for the non-tendered land sale and the outcome was predetermined. CANY claims the tower would be 4.5 times higher than what the Downtown Official Development Plan allows.

City hall’s July 31 response to CANY’s amended filing said it followed proper procedure from the start. It claimed the land swap was discussed by the parties in 2011 and approved by city council in October 2012. City hall said the basic terms of the deal were published in the June 4, 2013 staff report.

Brenhill proposed spending $24 million on the $30.6 million New Jubilee House, with the city contributing $6.6 million from the Helmcken land sale. Staff valued the community amenity package at $25 million: $1 million cash from Brenhill to the city affordable housing fund and $24 million in-kind for the social housing.

In its July 17 response, developer Brenhill cast doubt on CANY, because it did not exist during the rezoning “and appears to have been created for the purposes of this litigation.”

“The transaction was thoroughly described in the city staff report, and the submissions by members of the public related to view impacts and shadowing, not having anything to do with the details of legal agreements,” according to Brenhill owner Brent Kerr’s affidavit.

CANY court filings maintain the public did not have all the facts before city council voted and that the disposal of public property should have instead gone through a public tender process.

Said CANY’s petition: “In addition, after the close of the public hearing, council continued to accept submissions from the public contrary to the city’s procedure bylaw No. 9756, which provides that ‘public comments received by the city clerk later than 15 minutes after the close of the speakers list will not be circulated to council’.”

CANY’s original petition was filed May 6 and amended July 3. The judicial review hearing is scheduled for four days at the Law Courts and it is expected the judge will reserve decision.

© Vancouver Courier

Residents RAMP up suit against City of Vancouver

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Mount Pleasant group seeks to defeat Rize development in court

Naoibh O’Connor
Van. Courier

The Mount Pleasant Residents’ Association has filed a court petition against the City of Vancouver in a bid to quash the development and building permit granted to Rize Alliance properties July 14 for its Rize tower project, which it’s christened The Independent.

The development project comprises five building blocks, including a 21-storey tower and features 257 residential units, commercial space, outdoor space, parking and bicycle stalls.

RAMP’s petition was filed at B.C. Supreme Court Aug. 13. The city has 21 days to respond.

RAMP argues plans for the project significantly differ from what was approved by council more than two years ago following a lengthy public hearing.

RAMP points out the tower is 21 storeys, as opposed to 19 storeys, the number of condominiums and parking spaces have increased, and a food co-op is no longer part of the project.

Matt Pesklewis, the project’s director of marketing and sales, told the Courier in a recent story that while the number of storeys has changed, the height of the building has not and he noted the proposed food co-op couldn’t get financing.

RAMP spokesman Stephen Bohus said members of the organization feel “confident” the suit will be successful.

“We’re pretty confident. There was a decision made with direction from council and a different proposal scheme was presented to the development permit board and we believe that the development permit board overstepped their authority,” he said.

Bohus said RAMP would be more inclined to accept a project that respected existing zoning and “that respects the height and character of the neighbourhood.”

“We’re not against development. We just want a development done at a human scale. At current zoning, you could build housing for 180 or 170 people,” he said.

Earlier this month, concerns were also raised about advertising signs for the development project, which violated the city’s sign bylaw and have since been removed.

In an email to the Courier, the city’s communication department said the city can’t comment on the legal proceedings, but did address a question about the signs.

“The City received a complaint about signs located at 246 E Broadway and 221 E 10th Ave. advertising the development ‘The Independent.’ Property Use Inspectors inspected the site and found that non-compliant signs had been installed or constructed without permits,” the email explained. “An order was sent to the owner on June 26/14 to remove the free standing sign and the huge wrap around sign on the building by July 28/14. They asked for an extension, which the city denied. The applicant was informed that if the signage is was not removed by Monday, July 28th it would be referred for charges. An inspector was sent out on July 29th and the signs had not been removed so it has been referred for charges. The penalty is determined by the court, but the range is found under [the sign] bylaw.”

© Vancouver Courier

Vancouver House at 1480 Howe Street 388 units in a 59 storey tower by Westbank

Friday, August 15th, 2014

This one’s big


Construction on Vancouver House will begin in the next four months and as it goes up, so, too, will the city’s cachet as one of those places worthy of world-class architecture.

We’ve all seen the renderings of the tower that appears to twist, and few dispute that Vancouver House is a thing of beauty. It’s also going up in a downtown location at Beach and Howe that needed a serious jolt of life, in a tight wedge of space darkened by a bridge off-ramp; a dead zone dominated by traffic and perilous for pedestrians.

Once finished, by 2018, Vancouver House will be the sort of sculptural building that lands in the pages of international architecture and design books. Sales of the 388 units began just three weeks ago, and the tower is already half-sold.

Developer Ian Gillespie believes sales are driven by the fact that the tower is unique, and has the lustre of being a Bjarke Ingels project. Since he hired Mr. Ingels for the job, the young Danish architect’s demand has soared. He and Mr. Gillespie already have other projects in the works.

“Every city needs to have some special moments that take your breath away, that say to you, ‘Okay, this is something unique. This is something beautiful,’” says Mr. Gillespie, the man behind Westbank Projects Corp. “And you can’t have too much of that, because then it’s not special. But you do need two or three or four special moments in a mature skyline, and Vancouver lacks that.”

The tower appears to defy gravity, a top-heavy shape that ascends from a triangular base. It will be more than 500 feet tall and yet its foundation only 6,000 square feet.

“The total floor plate above is about 13,000 square feet, so your building is twice as heavy up top,” says director of sales Jason Dolker. “It’s the reverse of the usual building that gets skinnier and skinnier as it goes up.”

It wasn’t a creation driven by ego, or the “edifice complex” that drives development in cities such as Dubai and elsewhere, insists Mr. Gillespie.

“This wasn’t some attempt at being extravagant or trying to shock people into some crazy form,” he says. “Instead, the form came out of the constraints.”

One of the minor constraints was a parcel of land adjacent to the project, which they couldn’t buy because someone else snapped it up first. It wasn’t crucial for the tower, but it would have made sense to belong to the project because of its proximity.

“We have no idea what they intend on doing with it, as it’s very limited in its development potential,” says Mr. Gillespie. “Keep in mind our site is more than 100,000 square feet and that site is only 8,000 square feet. All in all, it wasn’t something that was worth us chasing, so we just worked around it.”

Floors 47 to 57 of the tower are “the estates,” which means they are especially luxurious. The 58th and 59th floors are two-storey penthouses. The biggest penthouse, which has yet to sell, is priced at just below $20-million. The lower-level units start in the $300,000-plus range, with sizes ranging from studios to four-bedroom. As for sales, they’ve been swift due to a long reservation list of names the sales team is working its way through.

As part of its $4-million amenities contribution, Westbank is building a market-style area under the nearby Granville Street Bridge. The project includes stores, restaurants and office space and 95 market rental apartments.

The tower will be connected to Mr. Gillespie’s own, newly acquired utility company, called Creative Energy. It has long supplied heat to the downtown peninsula, and the goal is to convert from gas to low-carbon biofuels.

There’s also a public art component, with Rodney Graham’s spinning chandelier, located at market level. Over the course of the day, the chandelier will slowly descend and at 9 p.m. spin rapidly, then slowly ascend again.

Mr. Ingels, 39 – who was introduced to Mr. Gillespie by former city planning director Brent Toderian – has been directly involved in the design of the faucets, the copper backsplashes, the kitchen islands that are shaped like the building, an infinity pool, the lobby couch that resembles stacked sand bags, and floating mailboxes designed to encourage conversation between residents.

“There is a strong link between architecture and interiors, like some of the features in the architecture repeat in the interior design,” says Bjarke Ingels Group partner Thomas Christoffersen, who met with Mr. Gillespie in Vancouver this week. “We are doing a lot of customized items, such as built-in furniture.”

Like most major projects, it hasn’t been without its controversy. Eyebrows have been raised about marketing to global purchasers. An influx of foreign money, mostly from China, has helped push Vancouver home prices so high as to make affordability an ongoing issue for a city where the average household income is among the lowest for a major North American metropolis. Locals are tired of competing with offshore money for a share of the real estate pie. It’s typical for marketers to target overseas buyers, but for locals, it’s a sensitive topic.

Westbank began its official marketing launch with real estate agent events in Vancouver in April. The company, which has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, then marketed the tower in Asia in June. It also marketed the project in New York, London and Beverly Hills.

When asked what he thinks of the unease with foreign ownership, Mr. Gillespie is forthright. “I think it is a very provincial attitude,” he says. “And Vancouver is one of only four cities in the world where 40 per cent of the population is born outside of Canada. The second thing I would say is that the foreign buyer is buying a unit that creates hundreds of construction jobs. That buyer closes on the unit, and then pays thousands and thousands of dollars a year in property taxes, and doesn’t use infrastructure that those property taxes pay for. If that’s the worst-case scenario, then maybe we have bigger problems.”

Of the units already sold at Vancouver House, 60 per cent are local buyers, according to Mr. Dolker. Of those, about half are end-users, or people who intend on living in the units as opposed to holding them as investments.

Mr. Gillespie says we also need to define the meaning of “foreign owner.”

“The majority [of units] will sell to local residents of Vancouver,” he says. “And I don’t know where the numbers will shake out, but 35 to 40 per cent will sell overseas. And at the end of the day, most of those people already are Canadian citizens. About 90 per cent of the buyers in Hong Kong already have Canadian citizenship. Is it foreign because they don’t carry a passport? What does foreign even mean? In today’s world, what do those concepts mean?”

As for the potential empty condo issue, Mr. Gillespie says that the number of empty condos typically shrinks as the residents settle in. Wealthy global purchasers are often transient.

“These buildings mature and as they mature, the ownership of the units gravitates to people who are owner/occupiers,” he says. “I could point out building after building that has been through the same pattern. Because what happens is, you are a buyer from Singapore, and you buy a unit in Vancouver, and why do you buy that unit? They never, ever buy just on speculation. They don’t buy to flip it. Those days are gone 10 or 20 years ago. Our market doesn’t go cyclical up and down. It’s a very steady market. They buy because they think it’s going to be a second home or because they have a child who will go to UBC, or because they are thinking of leaving Hong Kong because they are worried about air pollution. And the ones who don’t end up coming, it’s because their kid who they thought was going to UBC decides to be a rock star.

Instead, they end up renting the unit out.

“But in those years they are paying property taxes, and supporting the City of Vancouver. So in the whole scheme of things in a city that will continue to blossom over the next century, why worry about something like a building not being occupied in next three or four years?”

© Copyright 2014 The Globe and Mail Inc.

BC to Escape Canadawide Housing Slowdown: CMHC

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Joannah Connolly

British Columbia’s housing market is not likely to see the same “soft landing” in 2014 and 2015 as the nation as a whole, according to the latest forecasts in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Third Quarter Housing Market Outlook British Columbia Highlights.

Housing starts in the province are expected to remain balanced, with a total of 27,500 homes expected to be built in 2014 and 27,900 homes in 2015.

“While housing demand [in BC] will be supported by stronger economic and employment growth, total housing starts will remain relatively stable due to a well-supplied resale market and inventory of newly completed and unabsorbed units,” said Carol Frketich, CMHC’s BC Regional Economist.

CMHC forecasts the average BC home price to be $553,300 in 2014 and $556,500 in 2015. The 2014 prediction would represent a 2.95 per cent increase over the BCREA’s stated 2013 average house price of $537,414, and suggests a more modest rise than the BCREA’s recent forecast that average BC house prices will rise 5.6 per cent to $567,300 in 2014.

The CMHC also predicts that BC home resales through the Multiple Listings Service® (MLS) will total 78,200 units in 2014 and 78,700 units in 2015, compared with the BCREA’s figure of 72,936 units in 2013.

The steadily rising BC statistics compare with the agency’s nationwide figures, which predict that housing starts will to drop slightly to a point forecast of 184,800 units in 2014 and 183,100 units in 2015 – compared with the 187,923 units that were built in 2013.

“Recent trends have shown an increase in housing starts, which is broadly supported by demographic fundamentals. However, our latest forecast calls for starts to edge lower as builders are expected to reduce inventories instead of focusing on new construction,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist for CMHC.

CMHC’s point forecast for Canada’s average MLS house price is a 4.5 per cent increase to $399,800 in 2014 and a further 1.8 per cent rise to $406,800 in 2015.

© 2014 Real Estate Weekly

CMHC report says just 17.1% of Toronto, Vancouver condos investor-owned

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

New survey of condo market sure to be criticized for leaving out more than it includes

Susan Pigg

Canada’s federal housing agency has tried – yet again – to pull back the curtain on Toronto’s and Vancouver’s condo market and says a new survey of condo owners shows just 17.1 per cent are investors and 82.9 per cent own the unit in which they live.

The survey released Friday by the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corp. quickly came under criticism by some housing watchers, especially in Toronto where investors are generally believed to control far more – at least 40 per cent – of the new condo market.

One concern is that the survey of 42,426 households comes from a CMHC database of condo renters and owners in existing and often older buildings.

It doesn’t shed any light on the extent of foreign investment – the number of wealthy people from areas such as Asia, Russia and the Middle East who are simply looking to park their money in offshore real estate.

Nor does it include investors who own a condo in Toronto or Vancouver, but don’t live in those cities.

Most critically, it doesn’t include the mass of buyers who’ve purchased suites since the explosion of condo construction in the last five to seven years, often in hopes of making money.

Many of those projects have yet to start, are still under construction or have yet to occupy. While the Canada Revenue Agency routinely asks developers for their sales lists, to track buyers who may be flipping units and not paying capital gains, CMHC made no such efforts to actually track down owners.

Analysts simply relied on its existing database, usually used to assess rents and the strength of the rental market, and surveyed owners from that.

“That’s the biggest issue I see with this survey,” said former CMHC analyst Shaun Hildebrand, now a senior vice president with Toronto-based condo research firm Urbanation.

“The more important question for the market is what does that huge wave of (more recent) investors intend to do, how long do they plan to hold their units, what equity do they have in the units? It’s those individuals – who may be first-time or amateur investors – who we don’t know a lot about.”

CMHC’s 2013 Condominium Owners Survey found that about half those 17.1 per cent of condo owners who are investors rent their units out. Another third said they were living in the unit themselves or had family living there.

Almost 60 per cent – 58.4 per cent – expect to hang onto their condo for more than five years. Another 17.9 per cent plan to hold for 2 to 5 years, 7.6 per cent for less than two years and 16.1 per cent “did not know or answer,” says CMHC.

About 12 per cent of respondents said they bought a condo with plans to sell for a profit within a year.

Some 42.1 per cent of the 42,426 households surveyed in August and September of last year, had no mortgage on that secondary property.

“It’s not a complete picture. (The number of) foreign investors is a really, really tough one to get at. They don’t live here and we don’t have the power to survey them,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC’s market analysis centre.

“This survey is a starting point for us. We’ve identified data gaps (in understanding the national housing market) and condo investors is one that we’re trying to work toward filling. This is one step in that direction, but it’s not the final destination.”

CMHC first tried to do this survey in 2012, but decided not to release the results, fearful they didn’t properly reflect the market. In another effort, it released a survey last December that also raised questions because it found just 23 per cent of Toronto’s condo stock was being rented out in 2012 by investor-owners and 26 per cent in Vancouver.

CIBC deputy-chief economist Benjamin Tal has raised concerns recently about the lack of enough data on the housing market, particularly the fast-growing condo market. He called the survey “a great and welcomed move.”

But it assesses the “stock” rather than the “flow” of the condo market, he notes.

“When you talk to developers in the GTA and even in many pockets in Vancouver, they tell you that 70 per cent of (condo) presales and close to 50 to 60 per cent of final sales are by investors.”

The “picture that is emerging from this survey is much more positive than the popular perception,” said Tal, calling the 17.1 investor figure “much smaller than expected.”

Market watchers believe it’s critical to get a better handle on the investor-owned component of the market as they may be more prone to engage in a massive sell-off if the market heads for a downturn.

So far, that has not happened. In fact, housing watchers have been surprised at the strength of the condo market, which has become, in essence, the major supply of rental housing, especially in Toronto where almost no new apartment buildings have been constructed in the last few decades.

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2014

Renovating? In Vancouver, it’s about to get way more complicated

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Kerry Gold

A major renovation of an old house is one of life’s more daunting challenges. As of January, when the new building code kicks in, the job may get a whole lot tougher for Vancouver homeowners.

Additions to the building code include a host of requirements designed to enhance accessibility for the disabled and to make houses more energy efficient. The revised building code was supposed to be implemented in July but has been pushed back to Jan. 1, 2015.

In the spring, there was a surge in development applications for single-family homes, as people anticipated the new code. Homeowners and builders have a few more months, unless opponents can convince the city to reconsider some of the changes.

Groups opposed to it are arguing that it will make renovations prohibitively expensive, adding to affordability problems and increasing the number of demolitions.

Once the code is implemented, a major renovation of a single- or two-family house will trigger a review of guardrail safety and width of staircases. Assuming it’s a drafty old house, a major renovation may also require building envelope air sealing and upgrades to the thickness of walls and attic to meet energy efficiency requirements. As well, new homes more than 583 sq. ft. will require a bathroom on the main floor with a low-barrier shower. And of course, for new houses, there is the requirement that made Vancouver the subject of a mocking piece last year in The Economist: that all round door knobs are to be banned, replaced with easier-to-operate lever handles. Those are just some of the new changes.

“If someone wants to do a serious renovation, to bring their house into contemporary usage – that’s the kind of thing that could potentially require the whole house to be upgraded to the building code,” says long-time heritage advocate Anthony Norfolk.

“They could push it as far as saying everything has to be rain screened, if you’re over the threshold. It would drive wholesale demolition. I think that’s a distinct risk, unless someone takes a firm line.

“I’m hearing from people who are wringing their hands, individuals in the design community, the heritage community. It’s really something that we’ve got to get organized on. We’re watching with concern.”

Critics cite impracticalities and potentially self-defeating results. They are pushing for exemptions from rules that make house renovations almost impossible, and that threaten historic housing stock. For example, old character houses can survive demolition if they are relocated or redeveloped as multifamily units. However, once a house is made into strata units, or moved from its original location, under the building code, it’s treated as a new house. Bringing an old house up to code is a monstrous task that can strip the character and negate any profit margin.

And renovations to an old house, they argue, don’t make sense. Attempting to seal an old house from drafts is not only contrary to what has kept the house standing for 100 years, it’s not even energy efficient. The existing building code has long been criticized for overly sealing a new building so that it rots from the inside. Old houses have stood for so long, they argue, precisely because they are drafty – they breathe.

Robert Lemon, architect and former city heritage planner, points to three-storey stucco walk-ups in Kerrisdale and the West End that have no overhang, and have stood for decades without rotting. Why didn’t they join the list of leaky – or rotting – condos?

“I think that if someone was to do a thorough investigation, you’d find a significant amount of leaking is from rot within, because these buildings can’t breathe,” says Mr. Lemon. “That’s why historic buildings, any existing building, breathes naturally through window frames, walls, electrical outlets, which is what you want. You don’t want to trap moisture.”

There’s something to be said for old-house technology. In his own 80-year-old home, he changed two of the single-paned windows with double-glazed windows when he did a renovation. Over the years, the new windows are the only ones that have required replacing.

“The historic windows aren’t perfect, but they have served a perfectly adequate function for the past 80 years,” he says. “There are blinds, drapes, awnings, many elements that have been used historically to create a better envelope without the house being completely sealed.

“I’m from back east, and you have storm windows in the winter and you take them off in the summer.”

Hazel Borys, an electrical engineer with an MBA in finance, is partner in a Winnipeg-based urban planning firm that helps cities throughout North America rewrite the red tape to make the development process leaner. Her company, PlaceMakers, aims to create healthier, more walkable cities that aren’t dependent on the car.

Ms. Borys lives in a 100-year-old Winnipeg house with three porches, which in the summer, are like built-in air conditioners, she says.

“But I guarantee you, if I retrofit the house to be fully energy efficient, I won’t live without an air conditioner any more. What is that gaining me in megawatt hours and BTUs? It probably isn’t.

“In a place as temperate as Vancouver, once you hermetically seal a building, you’ve gotten yourself nowhere fast.”

As the city wraps homeowners deeper in red tape with additions to its building code, there is a movement afoot called Lean Urbanism that attempts to streamline bylaws. The idea is that red tape is getting in the way of small projects and taking control out of the hands of the average resident.

“Lean urbanism has said, ‘Let’s cut through that red tape and write really simple development bylaws, and simple building codes, that would allow a walkable, livable high-return urbanism to happen as a matter of right,” says Ms. Borys. “We’ve had too much bureaucracy. We’re not even creating neighbourhoods that people love and that are good for our health, the environment or the economy. So we’re asking, ‘What can we do to reverse that?”

She says that, while Vancouver is respected for its urban planning, these additions to the bylaw could backfire.

“One of the least successful parts of Vancouver is its lack of affordability.

“This litany of retrofits sounds like it will make affordability an even bigger problem.

“It sounds like a very well intentioned initial idea to help people with special needs, which is essential and important, but that monoculture response is the sort of gold plating of any sort of city planning that ends up having a lot of unintended consequences,” she says.

As well, several critics believe it may further threaten the city’s already diminishing stock of old character houses. The city has enacted a plan to better protect heritage, and to deter demolitions of pre-1940 houses. However, the changes will fly in the face of that effort, says Mr. Lemon.

“I would predict that it will certainly deter people from renovating,” he says. “It will probably precipitate more demolition and it will work exactly against what the city is trying to do by encouraging heritage building conservation.”

And that, says Ms. Borys, is the antithesis of energy efficiency, which is the goal for many of the new provisions.

The energy required to tear down an old house, send it to the landfill, or even recycle it, then process and transport new materials in order to build the new house, far exceeds the energy efficiency of the new house.

“Carting old homes to the landfill, or even parts of them, in the name of energy efficiency takes years to build back the sorts of energy reserves you just destroyed.

“In these old structures, until you calculate that embodied energy, the intensity and the invasiveness of retrofitting should be fully cognizant of that.”

© Copyright 2014 The Globe and Mail Inc.

Buy for equity Rent for lifestyle

Thursday, August 7th, 2014


Download Document

Tate Downtown offers world class lifestyle in Downtown Vancouver

Thursday, August 7th, 2014


Download Document

Greater Vancouver July Home Sales Up 4%: REBGV

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Elizabeth Wilson

Greater Vancouver residential sales in July passed the 3,000 mark for the fourth month running, and were up nearly 4% year over year, according to the latest statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

“This is the fourth consecutive month that the Greater Vancouver market has exceeded 3,000 sales,” said REBGV president-elect Darcy McLeod. “Prior to this, our market had not surpassed the 3,000 sale mark since June of 2011.”

It has been a hot month in more ways than one, with a sales-to-active-listing ratio of 19.6 per cent – the very top of balanced-market territory – and sales 3.8 per cent above the 10-year average.

Sales and Listings

Following the typical seasonal pattern, sales were down from June, which proved to be the high point of the year so far, with 3,406 home sales.  However July’s 3,061 sales were 3.9 per cent higher than those of July 2013. And that’s saying something, because last July was the highest-selling month of 2013 and the highest-selling July since 2009.

Of the properties for sale, 1,322 were detached houses, 527 were attached (townhouses or duplexes) and 1,212 were apartments.

What’s Up, What’s Down — At a Glance


July/ June 2014

 July 2014 / July 2013

Overall Sales



– Detached






– Apartment



New Listings



Current Listings



July was the third consecutive month of lower new listings, with 5,339 homes coming on the market. With fewer new listings and lively sales, the active listings also declined to 15,617 from June’s 16,011. Sales divided by active listings gives us the sales-to-active-listings ratio of 19.6 per cent. It’s spent the last four months hovering around 20 per cent. If it tops that magic number consistently, we will have reached a seller’s market, but for now we’re at the top of a balanced market.

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

Benchmark prices (a calculation of the value of a typical home for the neighbourhood) have been creeping up steadily since a dip in 2012, as the MLS Home Price Index shows. The index’s starting point is 100, the value given to home prices in January of 2005.

Detached house prices reached record levels in May of this year, and have continued to climb, month by month. House prices are now 6.5 per cent higher than they were in July of 2013, when the benchmark was pegged at $920,500. That’s a $60,000 difference.

It’s different from place to place within the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver region, of course, but looking at the one-year changes broken down by community, single-family detached houses have appreciated everywhere, from 2.7 per cent in Pitt Meadows to 10.3 per cent in East Vancouver.

Townhouse prices have appreciated since last July everywhere except Maple Ridge, where they’ve decreased by 2.1 per cent. The biggest price rise for townhouses has been in Vancouver West, where prices have risen by 10.2 per cent since last July.

Condo prices have also generally appreciated over the year, except in Maple Ridge, Squamish and Whistler – all communities where there’s a lot of choice in affordable townhouses and houses. Burnaby East has seen the biggest boost in resale condo prices: 11.7 per cent.

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change


July 2014

June 2014

July 2013














© 2014 Real Estate Weekly

Vancouver existing home sales, prices continue to climb in July

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Garry Marr

The number of homes sold in Canada’s most expensive market topped 3,000 in July, marking a fourth straight month sales have hit that level.

The Vancouver sales market has not been this strong in three years, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“The Greater Vancouver housing market continues to see slightly elevated demand from homebuyers, steady levels of supply from home sellers and incremental gains in home values,” said REBGV, in a release.

Residential property sales in the Greater Vancouver area through the Multiple Listing Service reached 3,061 last month, a 3.9% increase from a year earlier. Sales were also 3.8% above the 10-year average for the month. Sales were down 10.1% from a month earlier.

Prices also continue to rise with the board’s MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential property reaching $628,600, a 4.4% increase from a year earlier.

“Today’s activity continues to put Metro Vancouver in the upper reaches of a balanced real estate market,” said Darcy McLeod, the board’s president-elect, in a statement.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio reached 19.6% in Metro Vancouver in July, having hovered between 18% and 20% over the last four months.

New listings reached 4,925 in July, a 1.5% increase from a year ago. However, it was a 7.8% decline from a month earlier.

The total number of properties currently listed was 15,617, a 6% decline from a year ago and a 2.5% decrease from a month earlier.

© 2014 National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.