Archive for September, 2018

Purchasers: You are what you sign

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Legally speaking BCREA

Chris Johnston

When dealing with consumers, licensees will encounter those who do not read, write or speak English well, or even at all. While licensees are required to be proficient in English as a part of becoming licensed and meeting the English language proficiency requirement of Rule 2-6.1 of the Council’s Real Estate Rules, consumers naturally have no such requirements.

Licensees should make efforts to encourage consumers to read and understand all transaction documents including the Contract of Purchase and Sale, disclosure forms and any forms required by the Real Estate Council of BC. The new agency forms prescribed by the Council are available in English, French, Chinese, Persian and Punjabi at

How that encouragement can be achieved depends on the situation, the licensee involved and the ability of the consumer to read, write, speak and/or understand English. There is no standard way to ensure the consumer understands and you can lead them to water but cannot make them drink, as the saying goes.

Some helpful tools to encourage a consumer to read and understand the transaction documents may include:

  1. Asking the consumer about their language abilities at the outset;
  2. Encouraging the consumer to have an unofficial translator available. This could be the licensee or someone from their office, a relative or friend of the consumer or someone else to assist in translation, if required;
  3. Asking the consumer if they understand the documents once they have been explained and whether they have any questions before they sign and initial the documents;
  4. Documenting all communications with the consumer on any language issues; and
  5. Recommending legal advice, where appropriate.

Doing what you can to encourage the consumer to understand the transaction documents will make the deal smoother and reduce claims against the licensee as well as disputes between buyers and sellers. Ultimately, it will protect the consumer and licensee alike.

In a recent case1, a consumer who failed to read the contract they signed and claimed to have “relied on their Realtor,” was not successful in their lawsuit against the licensee acting for them. The judge noted:

“I do not find the claimant’s evidence compelling when they say, ‘We just signed and relied 100% on our realtor.’ As experienced, highly educated people, they either knew or ought to have known not to sign legal documents if they did not know what they are signing. Their failure to make any enquiry of their realtor does not enhance their credibility.

“Presumably the claimants went to (the licensee) because he could explain the various legal documents they were being asked to sign. They were spending well in excess of a million dollars. A modicum of due diligence on their part could reasonably have been expected, not the bare assertion that we relied 100% on our realtor.”

Expectations of licensees will vary depending on the consumer’s abilities, background and education. Licensees should take greater care explaining, reviewing and translating (or recommending someone else to translate) documents for those less experienced or less educated consumers.

Encouraging consumers to read and understand documents benefits all and ensures certainty in deals. Client service does not necessarily require your literal translation services, and you may not be qualified to do so, but encouraging a consumer verbally and in writing to read the documents that will bind them is an important step in protecting consumers.

Copyright ©2018 BCREA

Winona on Cambie 7638 Cambie Street 38 studio, one, two and three bedroom homes in a six-storey building by Raichu Development Group

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

At Winona on Cambie, there are plenty of eye-catching elements

Michael Bernard
The Vancouver Sun

Project: Winona on Cambie

Project location: 7638 Cambie St., Vancouver

Project Scope: 38 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes, ranging from 418 to 2,109 square feet in a six-storey concrete building. Close to Winona Park, and Oakridge shopping centre, Langara Golf Course and the Canada Line

Prices: From $900,000s

Developer: Raichu Development Group

Architect: GBL Architects

Interior Designer: Portico Design Group

Presentation Centre: 5710 Cambie St. (Cambie and West 41st Ave.)

Centre’s Hours: TBA

Sales Phone: 604-364-2688



Completion: Early 2021

Architects can sometimes run a gauntlet when they are designing residential buildings, trying to create an interesting looking structure from the outside without running afoul of design guidelines or compromising the interior space.

That is the challenge that Andrew Emmerson and GBL Architects faced when they were asked to design Winona on Cambie, a new 38-unit building along the Cambie Corridor.

“We wanted to create some energy and movement and cadence to the exterior expression of the building,” Emmerson said. ”So we worked with the idea of a flux expression along the façade,” which reflects the flow of traffic on a busy Cambie Street.

The result is a kind of interweaving of balconies and floor orientation vertically and horizontally with the building, which will rise over the next two years at West 61st Avenue and Cambie, adjacent to Winona Park.

“A lot of credit goes to the client,” the architect noted. “When he came to us, he wanted to do something different and challenged us with the design task of breaking out of the mould. He was fairly hands off during the design process and gave us a free rein.”

Along the way, the building’s form was designed to optimize sunlight inside the homes while providing shade from the summer sun, he said. As well, stretching out the balconies along the building’s west side facing Cambie served to dampen the sound of traffic.

Emmerson said the client also wanted to have a mix of homeowners who reflected the area, whether they are first-time buyers or people moving out of larger single-family homes in the area. As a result, the building’s suites range from relatively modest studios at 418 square feet to three-bedroom penthouses of 2,109 square feet and large private rooftop patios.

Mukhan Rai, president of Raichu Development Group, said he is pleased with the final result.

“We worked closely with GBL to create Winona’s striking exterior façade, and I am excited that this building will be unlike anything on the Cambie Corridor,” he said. “The stunning geometric architecture of the building is engineered with a unique angled façade that maximizes opportunities for view exposure, privacy and natural light.”

Rai said many of the homes are indeed spacious. “Someone who is looking to downsize from a single-family home to single-level living will not have to compromise on space or quality of finishes.”

He noted all homes include a Sub-Zero and Wolf appliance package in the kitchens, polished Cambria quartz countertops with a waterfall edge and a unique built-in wood-frame detailing over the bathroom vanity.

“Our one- and two-bedroom homes are very spacious as well. From 754 to 874 square feet, these homes are designed for those seeking a lifestyle balance with their home being nearby to urban conveniences such as transit and shops, as well as recreation and parks.

Each home offers outdoor living space on a private balcony that includes electricity, gas and water connections. Portico Design Group chose wide-plank engineered hardwood floors through all the living spaces and bedrooms. Windows come with roller shades and four-inch recessed lighting in nine-foot ceilings. All homes have a Blomberg front-load washer and dryer.

Appliance packages vary with the suite sizes, with 30-inch integrated refrigerators with two freezer drawers in the two- and three-bedroom homes, while one-bedroom and studio models have 24-inch wide versions. The same applies with 30-inch and 24-inch Wolf built-in convection wall ovens. All homes come with Panasonic microwaves and Asko dishwashers.

In the bathrooms, 24-by-24-inch tile extends from the floor to walls, and a tiled shower with glass enclosure has a niche and linear shower drain.

In main bathrooms, the bathtub has a tile front face that matches the floor.

Rooftop patios with views of surrounding parks on Vancouver’s west side feature an outdoor kitchen with a 36-inch Napolean built-in stainless steel barbecue and a 28-inch flush-mount cabinet with double stainless steel doors for a propane tank and 17-inch Napolean drawers. Topping it off is a 24-inch Marvel undercounter outdoor stainless steel refrigerator.

All homes are covered by a 2-5-10 New Home Warranty and are LEED Gold certified on completion.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

BC government to end “Wild West” real estate market

Friday, September 28th, 2018

B.C. launches new money-laundering review in real estate sector

Steve Randall

Money laundering in real estate and other sectors is the focus of a new two-pronged probe by British Columbia.

The provincial government announced Thursday that its aim is to address the concerns raised about shady dealing in the sector and shut down avenues for money laundering.

“The last government allowed the real estate market to turn into the Wild West with rampant speculation and out-of-control prices,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “Our overheated housing market can attract criminals and people wanting to abuse the system. When these people exploit loopholes, they drive up housing prices and help organized crime and drug dealers. That kind of activity has no place in our province, and we are taking action.”

James’ ministry will lead one of the probes and will identify systemic risks that leave the real estate and financial services sectors open to money laundering.

The other investigation will be led by the Attorney General and will investigate specific case examples of problematic activity in real estate and other vulnerable sectors to uncover the ways that money launderers have operated in the province.

“Our examination of money laundering in casinos uncovered troubling evidence suggesting strongly that dirty money is circulating in other places in our communities,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “The multi-faceted approach announced today is an attempt to move quickly to anticipate and shut down new avenues for money laundering, and to follow up on specific cases that Dr. German and the media have drawn to the public and government’s attention.”

Regulators welcome action The government’s action has been welcomed by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE).

“We fully support the Government’s goal of creating world class regulatory standards in BC,” said the newly appointed Chair of RECBC, Elain Duvall. “We appreciate Government’s willingness to act on these important issues.”

RECBC says it looks forward to working with the government on proposed regulatory regime changes to ensure consumers are well protected.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

Greater Vancouver sold data available online for the first time ever

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Sold prices for Greater Vancouver properties are now available online

Ephraim Vecina

Sold prices for Greater Vancouver properties are now available online for the very first time, licensed brokerage Holywell Properties announced yesterday (September 27).

The data – which is sourced from MLS® Systems of Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Chilliwack & Area – will be hosted at ZEALTY (dot) ca. Users who wish to access the information will have to create a password-protected account on the website.

“We’re thrilled with the Supreme Court’s decision because we can now deliver this vital information to our clients,” Holywell Properties managing broker Adam Major said.

“ZEALTY.CA is committed to providing easy access to real estate market data to all Canadians. We want to be the ‘go to’ source for real estate information in British Columbia and across Canada.”

Major noted that this is a long overdue feature as such data has already been available in the U.S. and in Nova Scotia for over a decade now.

ZEALTY’s depth of sold data is expected to go back as far as more than a year. It will also offer 4 years of MLS information on all Lower Mainland transactions.

Aside from prices, the portal will be providing data on boundaries for B.C. properties and lots for sale.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

Luxury market gets boost from thriving industry

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Toronto?s luxury housing market doing well

Neil Sharma

Toronto’s luxury housing market is officially out of the doldrums.

That’s according to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s President and CEO Brad Henderson, who notes that sales for GTA homes priced $4mln and above spiked 34%, while the $1mln-plus category climbed 19%.

“I don’t think it was in the doldrums as much as people thought it was,” Henderson told REP. “The first quarter of 2017 saw an historical number of sales in the Toronto market and that was primarily driven by the fear of missing out. When the Ontario Fair Housing Plan came into place, it chilled the market significantly, not because of the foreign buyer tax itself causing the market to pull back, but because it was a shock to buyers and sellers. When that kind of thing happens they freeze.”

Given the psychological impact that government intervention has on consumers, there’s little suggesting Henderson is wrong. Another reason for the market’s burgeoning robustness is a significant cohort has entered its peak earning years.

“They’re likely going to spend more money on homes,” said Henderson. “Let’s face it, prices in the city of Toronto are, more and more, in the $1mln to $3mln range. We expect the Toronto market will see increases in activity, and as there continues to be a shortage of inventory, there’s a very good chance of upward pressure on prices.”

According to Matt Smith, a broker with Engel & Völkers in Yorkville who specializes in the luxury market, the city’s thriving tech sector has been fueling demand for high-end homes.

“A new trend is on the horizon that will continue to push Toronto’s housing market and its luxury segment, and it’s the impending tech boom,” said Smith. “In the last five years, Toronto has created 82,000 tech jobs, more than Silicon Valley and more than any other city in North America.”

Tech sector jobs in Toronto are known to remunerate handsomely, and according to CBRE, Toronto ranks as the fourth-most important tech hub on the continent—up from 12th place only two years ago.

“And it doesn’t stop there,” said Smith. “Just last month, Microsoft announced a new headquarters in downtown Toronto, and Intel announced earlier this month their intentions to create a new chip manufacturing plant in North America. Without a doubt, hiring in the tech sector is a big factor driving the market, which has, both directly and indirectly, impacted the luxury market in a positive way.

“When we talk about North America’s great tech incubators, we mention Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and D.C. Toronto has now earned its place in the conversation, and as long as the talent and capital continues to concentrate in Toronto, this trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon.”

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

B.C. launches new money-laundering review in real estate sector

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Warning signs lead to real estate investigation

Rob Shaw
The Province

B.C. has ordered a new review of the real estate, luxury automobile and horse racing sectors over worries they’ve been used by criminals to launder illegal money.

Attorney General David Eby said Thursday he’s authorized an independent probe into money laundering that builds upon a similar investigation done earlier this year into how duffel bags full of dirty cash were allowed to flow improperly through B.C.’s casinos.

The new review will focus on sectors of the economy where criminals could use funds to purchase luxury items, like homes and high-end automobiles. In particular, Eby flagged the use of trust accounts by lawyers to mask the source of money used in real-estate transactions and the misuse of builders’ liens in the construction sector.

“We don’t know yet the extent of criminal activity that may be occurring in these sectors, but we have no intent of ignoring the many warning signs,” said Eby. A final report is expected by March 2019.

 “Quite frankly we’re all giving our heads a shake wondering what’s behind all this,” said Blair Qualey, president of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. “All of our members, whether they are selling Fords or Maseratis are all under the scrutiny of pretty big global vehicle manufacturers who have some pretty darn high standards (and) who expect dealers to conduct themselves and follow all the rules.”

The Law Society of B.C., which regulates lawyers, said it began adopting a no-cash rule for depositing funds into lawyer’s trust accounts as far back as 2004.

“The Law Society’s compliance audit program ensures that all law firms who operate trust accounts are audited at least once within a six-year cycle, and we recently adopted a plan to re-audit law firms in high risk areas and to conduct compliance audits of law firms that practice in the areas of real estate and wills and estates every four years,” said spokesperson David Jordan.

It’s unclear what part of horse racing is susceptible to money laundering, and Eby did not elaborate. Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which owns Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, said in a statement it “welcomes the newly announced review of the horse racing industry.”

Real estate firms are required by law to report suspicious transactions and all cash transactions over $10,000, as well as have compliance measures in place, conduct a money-laundering risk assessment and keep proper records.

Canada’s financial intelligence watchdog, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or Fintrac, found “significant” and “very significant” deficiencies in the anti-money-laundering controls at 88 per cent of real estate entities examined in B.C. over the last two years, according to data obtained in July by Postmedia News.

It’s clear there’s work to do to improve Fintrac reporting, said Darlene Hyde, CEO of the BC Real Estate Association, which represents the province’s 22,000 licensed realtors.

“We’re in support of any effort to make sure proceeds of illegal activities don’t make their way into our economy,” said Hyde. “We’re deeply concerned that the real estate sector may be vulnerable to abuse by organized crime, so we support the review’s focus.”

A former RCMP deputy commissioner, Peter German, who probed money laundering inside B.C. casinos earlier this year, will conduct the new investigation as well.

However, German’s casino report only flagged around $100 million from money laundering in casinos over 10 years. Eby was asked Thursday whether $100 million could truly distort $363 billion of residential real estate sales that occurred during the same 10 years.

“That is exactly the question we’re asking,” said Eby.

The NDP has criticized the previous Liberal government for allowing money laundering to proliferate. “If there is suspicious activity in the real-estate market in British Columbia obviously it needs to be exposed,” Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said Thursday,

Also on Thursday, the government announced a new “expert panel” on money laundering regulations, to be chaired by Simon Fraser University professor Maureen Maloney.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Vancouver’s about to get its tallest tower yet

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

The Stack is one of the most-forward thinking office projects in Vancouver

Steve Randall

Vancouver’s skyline will reach new heights in 2022 as The Stack becomes the city’s tallest ever tower.

Built by Oxford Properties Group, the tower at 1133 Melville will be 530 feet tall and provide a AAA class office development of 540 square feet, making it the largest office development currently underway in Vancouver.

Demolition has begun with construction due to start in Q1 2019 and completion in Q1 2022.

The new development will ease the tight vacancy rate in Vancouver which is the second lowest in North America at 4.7%.

It will also bring the latest design thinking to the city’s office market and is at the forefront of sustainability by targeting LEED Platinum status and is one of only two high-rise towers in Canada to be part of the Net Zero Carbon pilot.

“The Stack is one of the most-forward thinking office projects in Vancouver,” said Chuck We, Vice President of Office at Oxford. “Not only does it break new ground by incorporating employee wellness into the fabric of its design through its use of natural light, outdoor space and cycling amenities, we’re future-proofing the building with the adoption of Smart Building technology and multi-modal transportation options.”

The building will include 250 bike stalls and a dedicated drop-off zone for ride-sharing providers and (in the future) autonomous vehicles.

Tenants already lined up The Stack has its first three tenants lined up with pre-leases for global services firm EY taking 60,000 sq. ft; and law firms Blakes and DLA Piper taking 80,000 sq. ft. and 67,000 sq. ft. respectively.

“The location provides quick access to our downtown clientele, the waterfront, great amenities and is a short walk to transit options. It’s going to be the premier business location in the entire city and we’re excited to be part of it,” commented Bill Maclagan, Managing Partner of the Vancouver office of Blakes.

The Stack development project is co-owned by Oxford and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board with each holding a 50% stake.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

Chat room risks outweigh benefits

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Strata council may encounter problems that will fuel conflicts, face potential lawsuits

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

Two of our strata council members started a Facebook page in 2016 and it has been nothing but a source of conflict ever since.

A good example would be the “pool incident” this past August. Our strata corporation is multiple buildings over 200 units with a variety of cultures and traditions and not everyone uses the recreational facilities in the same manner. But we do have a published rule that everyone must be appropriately dressed at all times when in the pool, hot tubs or steam rooms.

As a result of a dispute over what is “appropriate”, one owner decided to take photographs of several residents at the pool, post them on our Facebook account and ask for everyone’s feedback of which bathing suits or clothing would be deemed appropriate. The residents whose pictures were posted were furious and threatened to sue the strata corporation. The whole thing ignited another round of cultural and racial exchanges.

This is only one of many problems that has been caused by our Facebook page. How do we force council to close down our Facebook page? 

Allen Donaldson

Dear Allen:

The risks with Facebook or any website where users may add, post or respond to information is that it is impossible to prevent misuse of the site. As a result, the strata corporation may encounter a series of problems that will fuel conflicts and discrimination and place your strata corporation in a position where the individuals who have been targeted and identified may have a valid claim against the strata corporation.

These claims could be for potential human rights violations, privacy breaches, security breaches, and claims for damages where an owner, tenant, occupant or visitor may have experienced some level of personal loss or damages. Everyone in a strata corporation needs to remember that when your strata corporation is sued, you all pay.

If your owners want the site closed or council wants to close a site that is not hosted by the corporation but is representing your strata corporation, petition for or convene a special general meeting to vote by majority vote to cancel or remove the site. If the parties don’t comply, file a claim with the Civil Resolution Tribunal ordering the site be closed.

Websites are excellent resources for strata corporations. If they are maintained by the strata corporation, changes of council or management will not affect the site.

Websites are best used to store historic and active documents to ensure a strata corporation has a corporate memory and to facilitate operations and management. They can also be used to communicate with owners and tenants and provide a portal for owners and tenants to notify the strata council or strata manager if there are maintenance issues.

While the concept of providing a chat room for owners always starts out with the right intentions, it inevitably winds up being hijacked by an owner who is using the site to discredit or harass the strata council, the manager or to target specific owners. The risks of misuse on chat sites far outweighs the benefits.

Before your strata council creates a Facebook page or any other public media format, establish terms and conditions that address the following issues: the type of information that will be posted to the site, who will have access to the site, whether the site will contain a chat room, if the site will be used to relay general information to owners, tenants and occupants, and terms defining under what conditions a user may have their access revoked.

Strata corporations manage significant amounts of personal and proprietary information. Do not publish any personal information or information that may be in violation of the Personal Information Protection Act or pose a security risk to the owners, tenants and occupants of your community. 

One of the problems that frequently occurs with strata social media or from strata websites is the assumption that the information on those sites is accurate and potential buyers may rely upon the information posted to the site. Clearly identify on your site that any information hosted on the website is not to be used for the purpose of disclosure or to replace a Form B Information Certificate and that buyers are advised to contact the strata corporation or strata manager to obtain official documents.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Kentwell 124 townhomes at 3500 Burke Village Promenade Coquitlam by Polygon Kentwell Homes Ltd

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

At Kentwell, the design cues are stylish and comfortable

Simon Briault
The Province


What: 124 four-bedroom townhomes

Where: 3500 Burke Village Promenade, Coquitlam

Residence size and prices: 1,496 to 2,239 square feet, from $818,900

Developer: Polygon Kentwell Homes Ltd.

Sales centre: 3500 Burke Village Promenade, Coquitlam

Hours: noon — 6 pm., Sat — Thurs

Telephone: 604-260-8446

You only have to look at the numbers to see that Polygon is a huge player in residential development in B.C.: the company has built more than 27,000 homes in the Lower Mainland.

That kind of experience is likely to earn you a loyal following and Goldie Alam, Polygon’s senior vice-president of marketing, said this is particularly true of Kentwell, the company’s latest townhome development in Coquitlam.

“We’ve built more than 4,700 homes in Coquitlam already and a lot of the buyers at Kentwell are repeat customers from our other Coquitlam communities,” Alam said. “They’ve bought with us before, they know that our customer service is great and they like the new plans.”

Kentwell comprises 124 four-bedroom townhomes in the Smiling Creek neighbourhood atop Burke Mountain. The big selling point for the development, Alam said, is its proximity to nature, parks and an extensive network of 21 trails suitable for hiking and mountain biking.

“The City of Coquitlam is still putting in a lot of amenities there, which people really love. There are new schools opening and new parks going in, including one right across the street from Kentwell. There’s also a huge trail network that they maintain really well.”

Homes feature private double-car garages, custom entry plaques with integrated lighting, wood laminate flooring and main floor powder rooms.

Kitchens come with flat-panel cabinetry, and cabinets and drawers feature soft-close hardware and chrome pulls. There are expansive kitchen islands, engineered stone countertops and full-height linear mosaic marble tile backsplashes. The stainless-steel appliance packages are by KitchenAid and there are roll-out recycling bins under the kitchen sinks as well as halogen track lighting.

Master ensuite bathrooms feature showers with benches, built-in niches and frameless doors. Vanities include engineered stone counters, dual rectangular porcelain sinks and oversized mirrors. Main bathrooms feature bathtubs with ceramic tile surrounds, rectangular porcelain sinks, porcelain tile flooring, engineered stone countertops and vanity lighting.

Kentwell also includes a private 1,100-square-foot health club with a fully equipped fitness studio, weights area and yoga room. There are two central green spaces, a children’s play area and pedestrian walkways throughout the site that provide interconnected routes to green spaces and trails in the surrounding areas.

“These homes are huge,” Alam said. “We’ve built four-bedroom townhomes before, but it’s not that common that we do a whole community of them. It’s mostly families or downsizers who are buying these homes so it works for both of those markets.”

“With the (recent) launch of phase two, people will have a lot more choice of plans and locations within the site,” Alam said. “We have some homes right now that have some very quick completions – you could be moving in as early as this fall – but our next phase has longer completion times stretching into next spring and summer.”

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Vancouver buyers pulling back from high taxes

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Speculation tax leading to housing market slowdown

Steve Randall
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

The speculation tax introduced by the British Columbia government is leading to a slowdown in the housing market according to a new report.

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada says that sales were down 24% over the summer and buyers’ concern over high taxes is starting to impact prices.

Its analysis of homes prices at $1 million and above found that all property types are showing weaker sales. Overall just 434 sales were recorded through the MLS in July and August.

In the $4 million and above sector sales dropped by a third to just 31 and condo sales fell 21% year-over-year to 162.

Brad Henderson, CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada says the speculation tax is to blame and adding nervousness to the market.

“I think ‘fear of missing out’ has translated into the fear of paying too much if you’re a buyer, and the fear of selling too low if you’re a seller,” he told the Canadian Press.

Elsewhere, luxury sales increased in Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd