Archive for March, 2018

Landmark on Robson a twin tower development of 237 suites at 1400 Robson Street by ASNA Robson Landmark Holdings

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Landmark on Robson makes a statement in its downtown Vancouver location

Michael Bernard
The Vancouver Sun

Landmark on Robson

Project Address: 1400 Robson St., Vancouver

Project Scope: At total of 237 suites in two concrete highrise towers with views of Coal Harbour, the North Shore Mountains, English Bay, Stanley Park and the city skyline. 

Developer: ASNA Robson Landmark Holdings Ltd.

Architects: PDP London and MCM 

Interior Design: Atelier Ikebuchi

Sales Centre: 740 Nicola St., Vancouver

Centre Hours: By appointment only

Sales Phone: 604-566-2288


Occupancy: spring 2023

PDP London may be based thousands of kilometres away, but the architecture firm demonstrated a keen understanding of Vancouver when it came to the balconies in the two-towered Landmark on Robson. And it helped that this city provides such spectacular views and scenery, says David Hoggard, the firm’s managing director and partner.

The firm, working with the locally based MCM, came up with a solution to ensure the homes have both shelter from the rain and panoramic views of the city and mountains and beyond, by alternating the positioning of the balconies on each floor, Hoggard said.

”The convenience of being in the city centre usually means a compromise in access to outdoor space,” Hoggard said in an email. “When outdoor space is provided in urban developments, it is often in the form of small balconies that are not ideally useful.”

The designers wanted “usable” balconies large enough to create outdoor living areas that provide an extra room in addition to the living and dining room, he said.

The solution was to create “Sky Terraces”, which alternate the plan shape of the balconies on each floor so part of the balcony has the shelter granted by the balcony to the floor above, but part has the openness of double-height space, he said.

“We also wanted to make the most of the panoramic views from the building so we made the majority of the balconies project from the corners of the towers so they each have 270-degree views over the city and beyond.”

The building site on a stretch of Robson that slopes down to Stanley Park currently is home to the now-closed Empire Landmark Hotel, a 45-storey structure now being dismantled floor by floor to make way for the two new towers — 34 and 32 storeys high — that will be joined by a podium that houses the common amenities. They include including a heated swimming pool and landscaped gardens and lounge area.

The new buildings will feature retail space at ground level with two floors of office space on top of that. Each tower will have a separate entry for residents off Nicola and Broughton streets.     

“In every major city there is one street that makes it famous, says George Wong, whose Magnum Projects is marketing the homes. “In L.A., it’s Rodeo Drive, in New York, it’s Fifth Avenue and in Vancouver, it’s Robson.”

Wong says that in addition to international buyers, he expects to see a number of empty nesters from west-side Vancouver and West Vancouver who are interested in downsizing. “The kids have moved away and they want to move to a condo and they want to see the best in the condo offerings.”

The three-bedroom 1,600-square-foot show suite at the presentation centre on Nicola, accessible by appointment only, reflects the kind of finishing designed to please an expensive palate, said Wong, adding that the Singapore-based Atelier Ikebuchi developed custom designs for each of the suite types in the two buildings.

The walk-through is impressive from the beginning — the double door entry leading from the elevator lobby. The entrance corridor leads to an elegant streamlined kitchen, designed by the Italian design firm Minotti, known for its minimalist approach. The cabinets are faced in horizontal grained wood veneer, topped with square edged stone slabs on both the counters and island.

All of the appliances are by the German manufacturer Gaggenau, and include a gas cooktop, refrigerator, speed microwave oven with warming drawer, dishwasher. Topping off the list in some homes is a floor-to-ceiling Gaggenau wine fridge with dual-temperature control for red and wine wines.

A big wow factor is looking across the dining and living room spaces to the balcony, which presents a photographic depiction of remarkable view that a visitor would see in the finished product. The effect of space is enhanced by the floor-to-ceiling glass with a threshold-less transition to the balcony area.

The entertainment-sized balcony — with a minimum of 183 square feet of space — has a wood ceiling creating a warm exterior space. Light through the expansive glazing is controlled by motorized blinds.

The living areas have indirect lighting built into the cove ceilings. The floors are engineered hardwood with marble used in the bathroom areas. Marble is also used for bathroom flooring, walls, cabinet sides, shower stalls and tub surrounds. Floating vanities are lit by undermount lights. The bidet-style toilets in the master ensuite come equipped with heated seats and all floors are radiant heated. Plumbing fixtures are by Hansgrohe, rated as one of the best in the world with reliability backed by a lifetime warranty.

The suites have heating and air conditioning through the latest mechanical system called CRF or Variable Refrigerate Flow technology.

The common amenities for both towers are as impressive as the show suite. The 18,000-square-foot Club Robson, situated on the podium between the two buildings, features a heated ozone swimming pool with adjoining sunning areas, a fitness and yoga centre, music and tutor rooms, a multi-media room with billiards, lounge and wet bar, a private dining room with catering kitchen and a 9,000-square-foot open-space lounge with gas fireplaces.

The 24-hour concierge and security service is complemented by a network of special services, including dog walking, chauffeured cars, a personal trainer and even a private visit by a makeup artist.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

B.C. cracking down on suspicious real estate activity

Friday, March 16th, 2018


A new tipline is being set up to allow for anonymous complaints about suspicious real estate activities in British Columbia.

Finance Minister Carole James says the tipline launched by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia will help improve consumer protection.

Trained investigators will review each tip.

They will then ensure appropriate action is taken to maintain professional standards.

An independent advisory group created to better protect consumers in the real estate market recommended establishing a tipline, which is in addition to the council’s existing complaints process.

The council is mandated to protect the public and enforce the Real Estate Services Act.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

‘Secret’ document reveals government confusion about debt crisis

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Andy Blatchford

With a popular measure that shows Canadians’ soaring debt remains in record-breaking territory, the federal government has acknowledged internally there’s no way of knowing whether the burden has climbed too high.

A recently released federal analysis, prepared for Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said the country’s household-debt-to-disposable-income ratio has been steadily rising since 1990, when it was 90 per cent. That translates to 90 cents in debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

On Thursday, the latest figures showed the ratio hit 170.4 per cent in the final three months of 2017, just below its historical peak of 170. 5 per cent the previous quarter. That’s just over $1.70 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.

“While the debt ratio is high historically speaking, there is no way of precisely determining whether the current ratio is too high,” said the memo, which was written last August.

“There is no estimate of the exact ‘optimal’ level of household debt.”

The Finance Department document, labelled “secret,” was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Policy-makers keep an eye on the debt ratio, which is one of several ways experts monitor household debt, in their efforts to gauge the severity _ and potential fallout _ of the country’s years-long borrowing binge.

The Bank of Canada, for one, has carefully assessed the economic risks of consumer debt in order to determine how quickly it can raise interest rates without piling on too many debt-servicing costs for over-stretched households. The central bank has called Canadians’ debt burdens an area of top concern.

Still, in response to the stronger national economy, the bank has increased its benchmark rate three times since last summer. When the economy is close to full capacity, the bank hikes its rate to keep inflation from rising above its two per cent ideal target.

Even if it is uncertain where the danger zones begin for the household-debt ratio, the briefing note to Morneau said there are “clear negative consequences” for the economy if the number gets too high or too low.

High household debt can lead to “deeper and more protracted recessions,” while levels too low among those who can afford it could push home-ownership rates down to sub-optimal levels, the memo said.

But the document notes that static calculations about debt fail to account for many other factors that can affect the entire picture, such as policy changes aimed at slowing debt accumulation.

“Ultimately, what drives the sustainability of debt is whether carrying it is affordable and whether the distribution of that debt poses any systemic financial risk,” said the memo, which was partially redacted.

The main theme of the document was to explore likely economic impacts from the Bank of Canada’s current rate-hiking path.

The memo presented two primary ways higher rates will affect the economy _ they will make existing debt loads costlier to service and they will make interest-sensitive spending, like expenditures for cars, housing and business investment, more expensive.

But given expectations the central bank will take a gradual approach to raising the rate, the briefing note said the economy is likely to steadily absorb the increases.

Some analysts said the fact this week’s debt-ratio reading was slightly lower than the previous number could suggest Canada’s debt growth may have turned a corner.

“That should be viewed as a positive development by the (Bank of Canada), though progress on reducing the ‘key vulnerability’ of elevated household debt will likely be very slow,” RBC economist Josh Nye wrote in a research note.

For several years, policy-makers have been introducing new regulations, such as restrictions on mortgage credit, to curb the build-up of household debt.

Earlier this week, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz also said the federal government’s steps to add to the public debt in recent years has helped slow the rise in debt accumulated by Canadians.

Poloz, who acknowledged household burdens have still managed to reach historic highs, said Ottawa’s spending on programs such as enhanced child benefits and infrastructure have contributed to economic growth. As a consequence, the stimulus has pushed interest rates higher than they would have been without it, he said.

On the household-debt-to-disposable-income ratio, some experts see it as just one number out of many and insist that consideration must be given to the composition of the debt, such as how much of it is high risk.

“It’s masking more than it’s revealing,” Benjamin Tal, CIBC’s deputy chief economist, said of the ratio.

“Therefore, the fact that (Finance officials) are saying, ‘there’s no optimal level, we don’t know if it’s really very high,’ suggests that at least there is some rational thinking when it comes to this ratio, which is very refreshing.”

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

New anonymous tipline for reporting real estate misconduct

Thursday, March 15th, 2018


Download Document

New anonymous tipline for reporting real estate misconduct2

Thursday, March 15th, 2018


The Real Estate Council of British Columbia is launching an anonymous tipline to enhance consumer protection in British Columbia’s real estate market.

New anonymous tipline for reporting real estate misconduct

Thursday, March 15th, 2018


Download Document

Judge rules Vancouver West End condo, Barclay Terrace at 1075 Barclay Street, assembly can be sold off despite holdout owners’ protests

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Stephanie Ip
The Vancouver Sun

A judge has ruled that the sale of a Vancouver West End assembly can proceed despite two holdout owners who believed the sale price was too low and that they were not kept informed during the sale process.

Barclay Terrace is a 36-unit concrete complex built in 1992 and located at 1075 Barclay St. in Vancouver’s West End.

Of the 36 units in the building, 34 belong to two corporations, Barclay Thurlow Property Inc. (BTPI) and Shepstone Investments Inc., referred to as the majority owners.  BTPI is affiliated with Westbank Corporation and Shepstone with Bosa Properties Ltd.

The units had been gradually purchased by the companies from individual owners with the goal of winding up the strata corporation and selling the property for redevelopment.

According to B.C. strata bylaws, owners can force a sale if 80 per cent agree; with 34 of the 36 units in hand, BTPI and Shepstone owned 94 per cent of the strata vote.

An adjacent complex of four two-storey townhomes was also bought by Shepstone to be sold as part of the assembly.

The remaining two units at Barclay Terrace belong to Grace and Lisa Francescato and Ramin Malekmohammadi Nouri, referred to as the minority owners in court documents.

The Francescatos had been in discussions to sell their suite to the majority owners in 2016 for $1.9 million, but the sale fell through after the Francescatos raised their price to $2.1 million and then changed their minds.

Nouri had been contacted by the majority owners in 2015 and 2016 to sell his unit but he refused on both occasions. In early 2017, BTPI offered Nouri $3.5 million to sell and said they were “prepared to offer more.”

“According to … the realtor engaged by BTPI to negotiate with Mr. Nouri, Mr. Nouri said his price was $10 million,” read court documents. When told the “figure was absurd” but that a counteroffer would be entertained, Nouri lowered his price to $9.75 million. The negotiations ceased.

After a purchase offer for the complex was made by Grand World Holdings Ltd. in June 2017 for a price of $105 million, the majority owners applied to the court to confirm its resolution to wind down the strata and proceed with the sale. They also notified the holdout owners of the deal struck, and informed the Francescatos they would receive $2.7 million and Nouri $2.2 million as part of the sale.

The minority owners, however, opposed the application based on their beliefs that they weren’t adequately consulted during the sale process and that the sale price is too low.

In his decision dated March 13, 2018, Justice Warren B. Milman ruled that the minority owners were as informed as could be since the majority owners were required to keep the details of the sale agreement confidential. Milman also said the holdout owners had fair warning as to what the future was likely to hold for Barclay Terrace.

“The minority owners were not taken by surprise by what occurred,” wrote Milman. “They were able to see the writing on the wall by late 2015 or early 2016, when the majority owners sought and then acquired a controlling block in pursuit of their patent agenda to redevelop the property.

“At that point, a dissolution and sale of Barclay Terrace was all but inevitable (and, in the case of the Francescatos at least, initially welcomed).”

As for the sale price, the judge noted that the assessed value – which the minority owners suggest is closer to $150 million – is based on the assumption that all 36 units and the adjacent townhomes are sold as a controlling block under one owner. He also rejected the notion that the minority owners were being unfairly treated or that the sale price was prejudiced against them.

“In the end, the minority owners are to receive enormous premiums over the 2017 assessed values of their units as a result of the efforts of the majority owners in marshalling the combined properties for sale as an assemblage,” he wrote.

“The Francescatos are to receive $2,677,500 for a unit assessed at $793,000 and Mr. Nouri is to receive $2.2 million for a unit assessed at $672,000.”

Milman then granted the majority owners’ application to wind down the strata and sell off the property.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Tighter lending restrictions are making an impact in BC

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Steve Randall
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

The new mortgage rules that came into effect at the start of 2018 are having an impact on the market in British Columbia.

The BCREA says that 6,206 homes were sold through the MLS in February, down 5.7% year-over-year, while prices were up 8.8% to an average $748,327.

“More stringent mortgage qualification rules for conventional borrowers are dampening housing demand in the province,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Since the new rules came into effect, BC home sales have fallen more than 26%, on a seasonally adjusted basis.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 15.9% to $8.47 billion, compared with the same period in 2017. Residential unit sales increased 4.1% to 11,516 units, while the average MLS residential price was up 11.3% to $735,755.

The association says that previous tightening of mortgage rules has led to a softer market for around 4 to 7 months with the third month typically showing the largest impact.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

B.C.’s new tax sparks fears of damaged economies across province

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

by Dirk Meissner
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Communities across British Columbia are speaking out against the province’s proposed speculation tax on real estate, saying the levy could damage their economies.

The Regional District of Nanaimo joined West Kelowna on Wednesday in asking the NDP government to rethink the tax, introduced in last month’s budget.

West Kelowna council voted unanimously to seek an exemption from the proposed tax covering the entire community of 35,000 people in the Okanagan.

The Nanaimo Regional District board, representing much of central Vancouver Island, also voted unanimously to “object to the speculation tax in any form, in any region or municipality in B.C.

Board members asked for a meeting with Finance Minister Carole James to discuss the tax and they invited the mayors of Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Lantzville to attend.

In a statement Wednesday, board chairman Bill Veenhof said there are deep concerns about the potential impact of the tax on people who own vacation properties in the Nanaimo area.

“These people are not speculators,” the statement says. “They are important members of our communities. Families who visit year after year, supporting local businesses, paying their fair share of property taxes, and investing in our tourism-based economy.”

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said his community includes a large population of part-time residents and he fears there could be a real estate crisis if people decide to sell rather than pay the levy.

He said there are already signs developers are hitting pause on local projects.

“Suddenly, the development market is freezing up,” Findlater said in an interview. “The banks are not loaning and some developers are being caught in this already. I’m aware of that. Other developers who haven’t built are just putting it all on hold and just waiting for the air to clear.”

James said she is reviewing the tax, which would cost some homeowners $5 for every $1,000 of their property’s assessed value this year and increase to $20 for every $1,000 of assessed value in 2019.

“I want to stay focused on the reason we’re doing this, which is for affordability,” she said. “When you have in Kelowna a 0.2 per cent vacancy rate, that causes all kinds of problems.”

The speculation tax would apply to properties owned by people who do not pay income tax in B.C. in a bid to improve housing affordability and moderate the real estate market. But many B.C. residents with vacation properties are saying government policy offering income tax credits to offset potential tax increases does not go far enough.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

Toronto, Vancouver trending in opposite direction from rest of country

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Canadian home sales fell 16.9 per cent in February, while the national average sale price dropped five per cent, compared to a year earlier.

New monthly numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association also show that national home sales declined 6.5 per cent from January to February, the second consecutive monthly decline and the lowest reading in nearly five years.

Sales were down in almost three quarters of all local housing markets, but there were large monthly drops in the Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto areas, CREA says.

These declines confirm that many homebuyers moved their purchase decisions forward to late 2017, in a bid to secure mortgages before tighter lending rules took effect in January, said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

The national average house price for homes sold in February 2018 was just over $494,000, down five per cent from a year earlier.

But excluding Toronto and Vancouver, the country’s most active and most expensive markets, the national average price was just under $382,000, up 3.3 per cent from $369,728 a year ago. 

The Canadian Press

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd