Archive for June, 2015

What’s the better buy: Vancouver vs Toronto

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Jordan Maxwell

Speculation surrounding Vancouver these days would tell you that it’s an impossible market for first-time homebuyers to get into, but, according to a study from, it’s a better buy than Toronto.

“The conventional belief is that Vancouver prices have skyrocketed and there is a huge financial barrier to entering the local housing market,” Rokham Fard, CMO and co-founder of, told CREW‘s sister publication REP.

“However, research shows that, although Vancouver housing prices are significantly higher on average, first-time buyers in Vancouver spend an average of $420,000, compared with $425,000 in Toronto, making first-time home purchases actually lower than Toronto prices.”

The comments contradict a whirlwind of speculation that Vancouver’s real estate market is virtually impossible to get into, lacking affordable options for first-time homebuyers.

In March, 40 per cent of all homes sold in the Greater Vancouver Area were condos, compared with on 22 per cent in the GTA.

According to Fard, the fact that Vancouver has just one land transfer tax to deal with while Toronto has two also highlights Vancouver as a more attractive destination and investment spot as opposed to the GTA’s hottest market.

Investors pay $8,800 in tax on a $500,000 home in Vancouver compared to $12,200 in Toronto.

“Vancouverites come out way ahead on land transfer taxes by only paying provincial dues,” Fard said. “Unless you’re a first-time buyer in Toronto, you get a double hit of both municipal and provincial land transfer taxes. This can add up to serious money on a market-priced home.”

He added that Vancouver and other B.C. locations have more stability in terms of the weather, making for a more active market year-round, whereas spring and summer are typically the strongest seasons for GTA sales. 

Copyright © 2015 Key Media Pty Ltd


Friday, June 26th, 2015


Download Document

More protection needed for landlords?

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Jordan Maxwell

A landlord who rented her property in Bay Bulls, Newfoundland is facing thousands of dollars in repairs after the property was damaged and robbed by its tenants – yet another case of landlord-tenant relations turned sour.

Francene Patey rented the home to a couple last January, but the tenants stopped paying rent in April of the same year. Patey alleges the tenants still had their names on the lease and never indicated that they were moving. 

In June, she gave the tenants an eviction notice with one day to clean up. When she returned to the property, she found a nightmarish situation. 

“He had basically taken everything, from our brand-new washer and dryer … curtains, curtain rods, light bulbs, our child’s desk that was left there, another desk in the den … holes in the wall, mouldings torn up. It was just devastating,” she said in an interview.  “It’s just ridiculous. I mean, we worked to have this piece of property, for them to come in and just destroy and walk away.”

Police are investigating, but the news comes at a time when landlords across Canada are facing more and more of these cases.

Earlier this week, an Ontario property management company faced scrutiny for charging evicted tenants two months’ rent following their departure from the property.  The move, a callous one to some, drew applause from some landlords who have little to no recourse when it comes to evicted tenants and damaged property. Short of getting the police and the Landlord Tenant Board involved, which can take months to resolve, there is little landlords can do but to digest the losses. 

“The law is one-sided,” one landlord wrote on the CREW Forum. “The law has to be enforced more quickly instead of favouring the tenants only.

“My tenant did not leave any trace [of] where he is. There should be some means to trace such people, make it mandatory to provide a SIN.” 

Copyright © 2015 Key Media Pty Ltd

Increased sales fuelling recreational property market

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Jordan Maxwell

Activity is strong for the recreational property market in Muskoka – or the Hamptons of the North as some are calling it – as luxury cottage sales continue to rise in the Lakelands region.

“Demand is up big time and we have prices and sales increases happening everywhere in the Lakeland region largely due to interest from Americans, foreigners and also people in Canada, who now have the option of working out there because of high-speed internet,” said Tom Wilkinson, president of the Lakelands Association of Realtors in Muskoka.

“There is a lot of activity in the market right now, with many waterfront mansions selling, and the internet has allowed people the option to work there so it becomes less of just a seasonal vacation hotspot.”

The comments come on the heels of a $25-million cottage sale earlier this month and another listed at $11 million earlier this week. 

Sales have risen approximately 14 per cent compared to the same time last year, while waterfront sales in particular are at their highest level since 2010.

Christie’s International Real Estate reported a 66 per cent increase in sales for last year compared to 2013, while the 2015 Re/Max Recreational Property report, published this week, reported year-over-year price appreciation and sales increases across Canada’s cottage country.

The strength of the American dollar has many foreign investors flocking to Muskoka for luxury cottages. The region is also drawing foreign investment from China, Europe and the Middle East, as the area has become attractive for the types of spaces they seek.

The activity is also starting to add more of a commercial vibe to what has typically been seasonal cottage country, including more commercial hubs for businesses to create year-round growth.

It’s for all these reasons that Muskoka is the world’s second-fastest-growing recreational real estate market, according to Christie’s International Real Estate. 

Copyright © 2015 Key Media Pty Ltd

Should realtors cut their commissions? – our commissions are the lowest in North America – most are at 6%

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Steve Randall

Homeowners in British Columbia nearly always use a realtor when buying or selling a property, according to a new report by Survey Sampling International,

Over the past four years 86.3 per cent of transactions have involved a real estate agent.

With high home prices, commissions on sales have increased too and some are calling for a readjustment of those fees.

Writing in the Vancouver Sun, columnist Barbara Yaffe asks whether the typical fees of seven per cent for the first $100,000 of a home’s price and 2.5 per cent of the rest should be lower.

Citing readers who have complained of the cost involved and that they often do some of the groundwork themselves using online resources, Yaffe notes that while realtors have been calling for a reduction in property tax percentages due to higher prices, they are not talking about reducing their own fees.

Of course, it could be argued that the nature of the property business is that realtors (along with sellers) do better when the market is good but equally have to take a hit when there’s a slump!

Copyright © 2015 Key Media Pty Ltd

Bridal Falls RV Cottage Resort – 24 foot wide Cottage and RV parking

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


Download Document

What’s happening in the River District

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


Download Document

Sechelt sewage plant malfunctions

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Christine Wood

A problem at the District of Sechelt’s new sewage treatment plant caused sewage to back up in the system for about eight hours on June 13 before operators could fix the problem and restore regular service.

“There are sensors that detect faults and there was a fault condition in the UV disinfection unit,” said Sechelt’s director of communications, Connie Jordison.

“Because there was a fault in the UV disinfection unit, other processes stopped sending water out of the water resource centre on Friday evening. All of the wastewater kept coming into the centre. The operators responded to the situation, to an alarm that goes off. They resolved the situation and resumed normal operations.”

Jordison said she could not elaborate on the problem because she didn’t have any more details.

“The operators addressed the issue. That’s all I’ve been told is that they responded to the fault condition and resolved the issue,” Jordison said.

There was enough capacity built into the wastewater treatment plant to store all of the sewage coming in during the eight-hour shutdown – which, Jordison noted, was how the system was designed.

“But, of course, you do have to respond to these things to address them or else you will run out of storage capacity,” she said.

The recent issue at the treatment plant is one of several problems with the system since it first started taking all of Sechelt’s wastewater in January.

“There have been various minor process upsets and equipment malfunctions during the commissioning period. These trigger appropriate alarms so the operators can take action,” Jordison explained.

“In all cases, they have been resolved, and the disinfection of effluent has been maintained. These events are normal during the ‘shakedown’ period for a new facility, which is typically about one year.”

The new wastewater treatment plant that sits between Ebbtide Street and Surf Circle is classified as a level 4 facility. Currently there is no one trained at that level, so the District is seeking a qualified operator.

“We currently have a level 3 and two level 2s. We had looked at maybe upgrading one of our existing people, but that would probably take too long for them to come up to that level,” Jordison said.

“To be certified as a level 4 they have to actually have worked in a level 4 facility, almost like an internship, so we’re looking at recruiting a level 4 operator to come in as both an operator and a level 4 centre manager.”

The new wastewater treatment plant on Ebbtide Street now has plants inside the greenhouse that were selected by biologists at Organica, the developers of technology that uses the roots of plants suspended in wastewater to aid in its cleaning.

The greenhouse holds all B.C. native plants, Jordison said, including ferns, alders, sedges and skunk cabbage.

“The plants were installed in February and are growing well,” she noted.

Solar panels were installed at the sewage treatment centre in May and June and turned on for the first time on June 23. The centre now has a 15-kilowatt system that feeds back into the facility’s electrical system and reduces the need for BC Hydro.

“It is expected that it will provide two per cent of the average annual electricity use,” Jordison said, adding, “The system includes an Internet-based monitoring system, which will be made accessible to the public.”

The biosolids left over at the end of the wastewater treatment process are being dewatered by centrifuge at the facility and then taken by Salish Soils for composting. There is currently a composting trial underway at Sechelt’s Dusty Road sewer facility site.

“Salish is required to produce a class A product, which is suitable for unrestricted use, and it takes about six months to do so,” Jordison noted.

The resulting water at the end of the sewage treatment process is currently being discharged into the ocean. However, it may be piped to properties for irrigation purposes in the future.

“As council has indicated, proceeding with a plan for use of reclaimed water will be an issue that will be discussed in public and will be the subject of a business case review,” Jordison said.

© Copyright 2016 Coast

British Columbians Embracing the Cottage Getaway: Re/Max Report

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

West Coast residents prioritizing cabin life over city breaks, according to annual Re/Max Recreational Property Report

Joannah Connolly

Nearly 69 per cent of British Columbians would choose a long weekend at the cottage over a big-city getaway, according to the annual Re/Max Recreational Property Report released July 24.

That is slightly above the national average of respondents (67.8 per cent) who said the same thing.

Across Canada and in BC, around 21 per cent of respondents said they would consider downsizing their main home to buy a cottage.

And nationwide, 40.5 per cent of those surveyed said they would pool resources with family and friends in order to buy a vacation home.

The report also said that, in markets where there are large enough sample sizes for year-over-year comparisons, almost all regions witnessed year-over-year price appreciation and an increase in sales. The report highlighted is Whistler, where chalets increased 5.2 per cent from a median price of $1,250,000 in 2014 to $1,315,000.

As highlighted in’s recreational property update this week, the Re/Max report also found that the low Canadian dollar was having a positive effect on domestic vacation home sales in several ways:

  • Canadians who bought US property in the 2008-12 downturn are now able to sell for a nice profit and take advantage of the low dollar to buy their dream properties in Canada;
  • Canadians buying vacation homes are choosing Canada over the US because of the relatively high US dollar; and
  • Overseas buyers are getting a discount on Canadian properties.

Re/Max also said that there has been a significant increase in vacation-home buyers who are planning to rent out their recreational properties part or full time. In BC, regions that reported an increase include Ucluelet, Tofino and Penticton.

For more insights and expert commentary on the BC recreational property market, click here.

To read the Re/Max report as an online PDF form, click here.

© 2015 Real Estate Weekly

Cheap loonie has cottage market booming, especially among foreigners, ReMax says

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Strong demand in many markets, but picture not as rosy in areas dependent on oil money


The weak Canadian dollar has caused Canada’s recreational property and cottage market to heat up, one of Canada’s biggest sellers of real estate says.

In its annual report on Canada’s recreational property market on Wednesday, ReMax said the low Canadian dollar is attracting foreign buyers to well-established recreational property markets across the country, but especially in the areas of Whistler, Tofino, Muskoka, Shediac and P.E.I.

In many cases, it’s not foreign buyers, but rather Canadians repatriating their own foreign gains and putting their money back into Canadian property.

“We are seeing Canadians who took advantage of the downturn in the U.S. property market in 2008 selling their US recreational properties, which have increased in value over recent years, and taking advantage of the low Canadian dollar to purchase their dream cottage or cabin in Canada,” ReMax vice-president Gurinder Sandhu said.

But interestingly, ReMax suggests that not all cottage markets are equal. In places where incomes are heavily tied to the oil and gas industry, such as Alberta and Newfoundland, sales and prices are sluggish.

Cottage lifestyle in demand

In a poll commissioned by the realtor group commissioned by research firm Leger of 1,538 Canadians between June 8 and June 11, more than one in five Canadians said they would consider downsizing their main residence in order to find the cash to fund a recreational property.

“The cottage and cabin lifestyle is very much in demand and Canadians are looking for alternative ways to finance their dream property,” ReMax spokesman Elton Ash said in a release.

Many are using the cottages themselves to help fund their payments. “There has been a significant increase in buyers who are planning to rent out their recreational properties part- or full-time,” ReMax said.

Accross the country, two-thirds of respondents said they would rather spend a long weekend at the cottage or cabin than go on a big city getaway. And more than 40 per cent said they would likely give up going abroad for their summer annual vacation if it would mean they could afford to get into Canada’s recreational property market.

©2015 CBC/Radio-Canada