Archive for August, 2019

First-time homebuyers can apply for incentive program in 5 days

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

The Federal government?s incentive scheme for first-time homebuyers

Steve Randall

The Federal government’s incentive scheme for first-time homebuyers is about to go live with applications open from next Monday.

The First-Home Buyer Incentive enables eligible buyers with incomes of up to $120K to reduce mortgage payments without increasing the amount needed for a down payment.

The incentive is available to buyers of new or existing homes and new or resale manufactured/mobile homes. The incentive is 5%, with a 10% option for new constructions.

A participant’s insured mortgage and the incentive amount cannot be greater than four times the participant’s qualified annual household income.

Homebuyers should be aware that using the incentive means that the government will share in both upside and downside changes in the property’s value.

The incentive must be repaid when the home is sold or after 25 years, whichever is sooner.

Copyright © 2019 Key Media Pty Ltd

Developer Beedie taking City of Vancouver to court over rejected Chinatown project

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

B.C. Supreme Court petition claims “gross procedural unfairness” to developer over fiercely opposed housing development

Darryl Greer
Western Investor

A Vancouver developer is taking the City of Vancouver to court over a controversial proposal to rezone a property to allow construction of a 12-storey building on Keefer Street. Photo by Dan Toulgoet

Developer Ryan Beedie is taking the City of Vancouver to court in a bid to revive a controversial development project at 105 Keefer Street in Chinatown that whipped up fierce opposition from social housing advocates before the city’s Development Permit Board sunk the proposal in November 2017.

Beedie (Keefer Street) Holdings Ltd. filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court on August 16 to set aside the Development Permit Board’s 2-1 decision refusing the company’s development application for 105 Keefer and 544 Columbia Street.

The decision, the company claims, was made contrary to city staff recommendations in a “politically charged environment” where there was “hostility” toward the proposal that saw activists disrupt events and vandalize open-house signs.

“Due to the intensive process of vetting by City staff, the Urban Design Panel and the Development Permit Advisory Panel to ensure compliance with all applicable by-laws, policies and guidelines, there had not, in recent memory prior to the DP Board’s refusal which is the subject matter of this Petition, been a single instance of outright refusal of a DP application,” the petition states.

Before seeking a development permit, the company had unsuccessfully attempted to rezone the lands for greater density, sparking a wave of opposition that saw 300 speakers decrying the proposal at a hearing, some of them saying “there should be no further development whatsoever at the Property or in the neighbourhood.”

“In the end, City Council refused the Prior Rezoning Application, a decision which the Petitioner respected,” the petition states.

Beedie forged on with the development plans despite the city’s refusal to rezone the lands, and submitted a formal development permit application in June 2017 for a nine-storey mixed-use building with 111 units, and one floor of retail. City staff, the Urban Design Panel and the Development Permit Advisory Panel all recommended issuing the permit, but public opposition remained fervent.

As well, days before the final hearing on the company’s application, Vancouver council endorsed “potential UNESCO world heritage site status for the Chinatown Historic Area,” which coincided with an initiative to “downzone” the area, reducing building heights and introducing maximum floor space rations.

Despite findings that Beedie’s application was in compliance, the Development Permit Board shot down the application 2-1, with board members giving vague reasons for their refusal, the petition states. The board also “did not clarify what should be done for any new DP Application to succeed.”

“Even in the absence of the Downzoning Initiative, both the Petitioner and City staff would then be put in the position of having to guess wildly at what the DP Board might have considered acceptable from a design perspective and be put to the time and considerable expense of preparing a new application ‘in the dark,’” the petition states. “The result was gross procedural unfairness to the Petitioner.”

Beedie seeks an order to set aside the DP Board’s refusal and an order to grant the permit, or and order compelling the city “to specify precisely what changes must make so that a DP will be granted.”

Copyright © Western Investor

Strata units dominating Metro Vancouver’s industrial development

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Strata deals account for more than half of transactions in ultra-tight industrial sector

Frank O’Brien
Western Investor

The 185,000-square-foot IntraUrban Crossroads project, Surrey?s second-largest industrial strata space, is now being developed in Cloverdale. Photo supplied by PC Urban Properties

Projects where space is sold – not leased – are dominating Metro Vancouver’s industrial market for the first time as property transactions fall sharply from the record investment levels of 2018.

In the first six months of this year, industrial investment struggled to reach $272 million, and it “will likely fall far short of its five-year average,” according to JLL and Altus Group.

The slide began in the first quarter, with a 54 per cent plunge in industrial transactions compared with the record-setting pace seen in the fourth quarter of 2018.

But the bigger story is the transformation of industrial into a strata market as tenants seek shelter from a spike in leasing costs and developers try to cover high land costs.

“Fifty-two per cent of investment volume this year has gone towards industrial strata,” JLL reported in a Q2 Capital Market Insights report. “High land values are making it easier to justify developing and selling at today’s strata prices, which have reached an average of $300 per square foot.”

“Vancouver is the national leader in industrial strata space, and the prices there are higher than in Toronto, the only other market where it is widely used,” said Scott Figler, national manager of JLL capital markets research, in an interview from Toronto.

In fact, some new light-industrial space in Vancouver is already demanding more than $1,000 per square foot.

Yet businesses appear willing to pay for strata space because of ascending lease costs for industrial that are up about 10 per cent from a year ago in a market with a 1.2 per cent vacancy rate.

According to Q2 data from Avison Young, the average industrial lease rate in Metro Vancouver is now $12.70 per square foot and spikes to $19.36 per square foot in Vancouver, by far the highest in North America.

In Surrey, where only 1.3 per cent of its 32.5 million square feet of industrial space is vacant, lease rates are up 13.5 per cent from a year ago to $10.80 per square foot.

Garth White, a principal at Avison Young who specializes in industrial, said Surrey businesses are seeking strata space, which has driven those prices up at least 15 per cent over the past year.

“Businesses are now looking to strata to provide ownership opportunities,” White said.

To meet that demand, PC Urban Properties has just launched the second-biggest industrial project in Surrey with its 10.45-acre IntraUrban Crossroads development on Highway 10 in Cloverdale.

With three buildings totalling 185,000 square feet, the space will all be sold and includes a mix of industrial and commercial space. Unit sizes range from 2,600 to 76,000 square feet.

“We are transforming an underutilized, dormant property into a new business hub in Surrey that has the potential to generate 265 full-time jobs,” said Brent Sawchyn, CEO of PC Urban Properties.

All units are being built to industrial standards, with grade loading (larger units feature dock-level loading), 26-foot ceiling heights, high-efficiency lighting and fire sprinklers.

Strata prices have not been released, but Sawchyn is confident that Crossroads will be a success.

He noted that other IntraUrban strata developments sold out before construction completion in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby.

© Copyright 2019 Western Investor

The Vancouver price madness has infected both purchases and rentals

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Vancouver rental prices out of this world

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

A since-removed Craigslist ad for a “low-income” rental home in the City of Vancouver would have been available only for tenants who are earning more than twice the market’s average household income.

In a recent piece for the Vancouver Sun, columnist and markets observer Dan Fumano recounted the tale of a supposedly “affordable” three-bedroom rental suite in the West End – which would have cost a staggering $2,850 per month.

Understandably, this led to no small amount of dismay and horror among neighbours and those looking for a place to call home. The listing was removed early last week.

“There’s definitely been a policy shift, but I don’t know if council was informed of that policy shift,” resident Judy Graves told Fumano.

Graves previously worked for the city for more than three decades, and championed the rights of Vancouver’s homeless.

“I think most people who are on the current council would understand immediately the amount of outrage that will be experienced by people in Vancouver, when they realize they paid for social housing that is now being rented out for top dollar, and families are being screwed.”

Rubbing salt to the wound was that the ad came in close proximity to the city’s announcement of new housing developments that will address the needs of lower-income families.

“That housing is still a few years out [from being constructed and occupied], and in the meantime, you’re going to deplete the stock of non-market housing? “It’s un-freaking-believable,” Graves lamented.

Danny Laufer, who previously occupied the unit for seven years with his family, expressed hope for a new local owner after moving out in early 2019. Upon learning of the absurd price, he wrote to express his disappointment to every level of the local government, from Vancouver’s mayor all the way up to the BC Housing Minister.

The price madness is “taking away precious family housing that exists, and replacing it with market rate housing that is not geared to families,” he wrote.

“I just don’t get it,” Laufer told Fumano. “Everybody on council now ran on the platform of housing … What’s going on?”

Copyright © 2019 Key Media

Where Can the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive Be Used in Canada?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Canadian Housing Markets That Will Most Benefit From the First-Time home Buyer Incentive

Penelope Graham

Good news for those looking to break into the Canadian housing market: the new federal First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) will officially be open for business as of September 2nd.  Designed to alleviate mortgage costs for first-time home buyers, the FTHBI will take a bite out of monthly payments by providing shared equity loans of 5% toward the down payment of a resale home, and 5% or 10% for newly-built homes. By boosting the size of buyers’ down payments, the FTHBI whittles down monthly mortgage costs, offering some relief on the costs of home ownership.

Who Can Use the FTHBI?

To qualify for the FTHBI, home buyers must satisfy the following:

  • At least one person in the household must be a first-time home buyer, meaning they have not owned a home, or dwelled in a home owned by their spouse, over the last four years. (An exception is made for buyers who’ve had a breakdown of marriage or common-law relationship.)
  • Buyers must have a minimum 5% down payment saved in order to qualify for an insured mortgage.
  • Buyers’ combined household income cannot exceed $120,000. This includes the income of any guarantors co-signing on the mortgage, as well as any rental income generated if part of the home is tenanted out.
  • The buyers’ Mortgage-to-Income Ratio (MTI) cannot exceed four times their income, including the portion that’s provided by the FTHBI. This means the maximum down payment for a resale home cannot exceed 14.99%, and 9.99% for a new build.

How Does the FTHBI Work?

The funds provided via the FTHBI are registered as a second mortgage, and don’t incur interest. This second mortgage must be paid back in full when the first insured mortgage matures at 25 years or when the home is sold, whichever comes first, though homeowners may pay it back as a lump sum early without penalty.  Because it is a shared equity mortgage, the amount to be paid back will fluctuate along with the value of the home over time: if the home’s assessed value rises, the loan repayment will increase by the same per cent. However, the same will occur if the home has lost value by the time it is sold or the mortgage matures.

Who Will Benefit from the FTHBI?

Since its big reveal in the March 2019 budget, the FTHBI has been the subject of debate; some mortgage experts point out that borrowers taking out a traditional mortgage would actually qualify for a larger loan based on more generous MTI criteria, while others argue that home buyers could be on the hook for a much larger loan repayment if they live in a particularly hot market where real estate prices are rising.  The largest points of contention are the FTHBI’s income and MTI caps; based on the criteria, a household earning the maximum income of $120,000 and making a 5% down payment would be limited to a resale home purchase price of $505,000 – an amount too low to have much traction in larger markets. For example, sold prices in Toronto and Vancouver were $806,755, and $967,314 in July, respectively.

FTHBI Could Be Used in 19 of 25 Markets

However, new analysis from Zoocasa reveals that the FTHBI may be an option in the majority of the nation’s major urban centres; a study of July 2019 average prices in 25 markets across the nation finds home buyers with the maximum income of $120,000 and a 5% down payment could feasibly qualify for the Incentive in 19 cities. These include markets in Eastern Canada, Quebec, and Prairies, as well as smaller urban centres in Ontario.

Not surprisingly, the six markets where the average home buyer would not qualify for the FTHBI include homes for sale in Toronto and several markets in its proximity in the Greater Golden Horseshoe such as Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as in Greater Vancouver and neighbouring Victoria and Fraser Valley.

However, it’s important to note that the study’s calculations are based on average home prices and maximum incomes; home buyers’ ability to use the FTHBI in each city may range based on their income, size of their down payment, and the price of their desired home.

© 2015-2017 Zoocasa Realty Inc.,

DocMagic partners with INTEGRA for integrated e-signature services

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

E-signature service available on DocMagic

Candyd Mendoza

DocMagic and INTEGRA Software Systems have announced a partnership that allows INTEGRA’s clients to e-sign documents with DocMagic’s loan document-preparation service.

With the integration, lenders can use DocMagic’s document production, preparation, delivery, and automated compliance service through INTEGRA’s new loan origination system, EPIC. The integration also allows borrowers to digitally sign all documents needed to meet state and TRID-based disclosures, which the company said will accelerate the loan process.

“INTEGRA is a long-time, trusted integration partner of DocMagic and we are pleased that they are introducing our end-to-end document preparation solution to their lenders utilizing the EPIC LOS,” said Steve Ribultan, director of business development at DocMagic. “In a margin compressed business environment, this is of particular importance as lenders are better able to manage their costs using an all-in-one solution.”

“We are pleased to make available DocMagic’s services with this robust end-to-end integration to an influx of new clients purchasing EPIC,” said Michael Picker, senior vice president of sales and marketing at INTEGRA. “Through our LOS, we are able to efficiently provide borrowers with the Loan Estimate, ability to eSign every document, produce an accurate closing disclosure, service transfer packages, and offer DocMagic’s Compliance Edge updates.

Copyright © 2019 Key Media Pty Ltd

Tackling cash-flow challenges in real estate development

Monday, August 26th, 2019

The cash-flow specialists at Canadian Western Bank explain how developers can bank smart to minimize risk

Western Investor

Real estate development companies face a variety of cash-flow issues, from borrowing capital, to paying suppliers and contractors, to day-to-day banking. The cash management team at Canadian Western Bank (CWB) knows how important it is to stay on top of current real estate industry trends, needs and challenges. 

Here, Kam Palak, Manager of Cash Management, answers key questions about how developers can strategize their banking methods to minimize risk, and how CWB is uniquely positioned to help.

Q: Where do you start at a strategy meeting when discussing cash flow and cash management with a developer client?

A: When thinking real estate development, the initial thought is usually about getting a loan and getting shovels in the ground. However, like all businesses, managing the workload, cash flow and execution are very important.

Revenue from real estate development can be months or even years in the making. As such, the industry can be complicated when it comes to cash flow. Usually, projects entail a large outflow of capital for a prolonged period with operating expenses on top of that. It is important that our clients have the right tools and understand their overall projection going out. This goes far beyond a projection, extending to how they manage their costs on a monthly and even daily basis.

Q: What are some of the key cash-flow challenges that developers often face?

A: Most developers face the same challenges – primarily, paying their contractors or sub-contractors, materials, marketing and labour costs. In our experience, we commonly see active and successful developers spending too much time working through the payments and cash flow than focusing on their core business. More often than not, we have company owners issuing cheque after cheque – occasionally with the caveat, “Please wait until next week to cash this.” There have been times where the cheques were lost or, worse, stolen, misplaced or cashed five months later. This further increases the workload and risk our clients face. 

At CWB, we work with our clients to optimize their outflow through a variety of methods. Instead of simply providing a loan and sending them on their way, we have a local team of experts that figures out their project, how they pay and how they want to pay, and provides the right tools to do that. Many of our developer clients are surprised when we say they can send a direct deposit to your sub-contractor and have them paid. Their previous method may have been to issue and mail a cheque, follow up on it, and then reconcile once it has cleared. 

Additionally, we try to work with our developer clients to implement controls in their online and digital channels, further freeing up time, saving money, and creating peace of mind. 

Q: What are some of the challenges on the capital side?

A: The other end of the equation is when the funds come in. Once our clients have been paid, it’s key that they park their funds in the right vehicle that gives them flexibility and return. As they plan the next project, we ensure that their capital receives a high interest rate, and can be available when they need it. This could be short term or long term. 

At CWB, we even go one step further. When clients are required to deposit their pre-sale funds with a law firm, we work with that firm so we can offer the best interest rate possible. When the funds are transferred to the developer, they know that they have been taken care of all the way through. 

Q: What sets Canadian Western Bank apart in its cash-flow management services? 

A: Our key separator is that we manage the entire relationship locally. Our Relationship Managers, Cash Management team, and leaders are local to the market and the branch. From our credit decisions to our implementation, there are no Toronto call centres, no 1-800 numbers, not even voicemail. We have a live deal team that you can access with top of market knowledge and expertise all the way through. It’s our approach for all our clients and business owners. 

Copyright © Western Investor


Sterling Wong: Online tech fuels Search Realty growth

Monday, August 26th, 2019

Emerging trail-blazing brokerage Search Realty, an industry technology pioneer

Susan Doran

“If drama sells, I’ve got lots,” says Sterling Wong, founder of emerging trail-blazing brokerage Search Realty, an industry technology pioneer.

Wong doesn’t elaborate much on this intriguing statement, other than to explain that he was born with a cleft lip and palate and spent much of his childhood undergoing corrective surgeries at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. On the plus side, this motivated him to give back to the medical community, with one per cent of the majority of Search Realty commissions being donated to the hospital.

But there have also been lingering effects that he believes continue to hold him back, despite the success of the surgeries.

“I don’t like to be in the spotlight. I’m not comfortable in front of cameras, or public speaking,” says Wong. “It’s a disadvantage.”

His wife is adamant that it’s time he got over it, he adds.

If practise does indeed make perfect, his wife will likely get her wish. Wong and Search Realty have increasingly been attracting media and industry attention since the brokerage’s inception in 2012. Under Wong’s leadership as broker of record, and with the arsenal of websites and online technology tools he’s developed, the Mississauga-based brokerage has grown to include six offices in southern Ontario and 225 agents.

Wong – who had trouble getting a job after graduating college and spent several years flipping burgers – has created a successful business model. Last year Search Realty was ranked among the fastest growing companies in Canada on the Canadian Business and Maclean’s magazine Growth 500 list. Rated on five-year revenue growth, it’s a mark of impressive entrepreneurial achievement. Search Realty made the list thanks to its five-year revenue growth of a staggering 1,942 per cent.

Search Realty puts an intense focus on online lead generation and search engine marketing. Lead generation is what makes or breaks an agent’s business, Wong says. Well aware that the vast majority of home buyers now start their search online, he feels that the recognition he and his company are receiving “underlines how effective our Leads on Demand system is for generating consistent, quality leads for agents.”

Leads on Demand is the patent-pending, lead-generation custom software platform developed by Wong over a period of many years. (“I knew I was on to something.”) It started to germinate even back before he founded Search Realty, when he was with a different brokerage, keeping a keen eye on an agent he now refers to as “the king of the internet”.

Designed to automate, leverage and manage real estate lead generation, Leads on Demand comes up with multiple types of leads for agents anywhere, in any language and in any price range. Wong says “keyword tuning” is used to pinpoint high-quality leads.

You don’t need to be tech savvy to navigate the system, he says.

Search Realty agents first log in and enter the number of leads they are looking for (having pre-determined the income they wish to achieve) along with the determinants such as location. The system will then deploy ads on various search engines based on the specified details. In a nutshell, you create an order and the software then disperses ads across the web and starts delivering leads to your inbox (reputedly within one day).

This can save time, money and energy for both the brokerage (more automation means less staff) and agents. It has the potential to free up agents’ time so they can forgo traditional marketing techniques like handing out flyers and door knocking, and instead focus on servicing clients, says Wong. This is a big advantage in an industry where the majority of real estate agents are uncertain of where their next deal will come from.

Agents put in orders for leads, which can be paid or free, Wong says. “Everything in our system is based on leads.” For example, a Search Realty agent referring a new sales rep to the brokerage will be given 25 free leads, he says. And new agents get 100 free leads right out of the starting gate.

Although Search Realty offers agents a range of digital marketing solutions, Wong says that Leads on Demand is the brokerage’s most popular product and has gained nationwide attention.

“It’s a system I’ve never seen anywhere else,” he says.

He’s currently in the midst of spinning the platform off into a separate business/brokerage. “That way, I can provide it to agents North America wide, instead of just Search Realty agents,” he says.

Wong believes that his software provides more accurate and exclusive information than other lead generation systems, most of which in his opinion have not caught up yet. He feels he has an edge due to having developed his entire business through search engine marketing.

“A lot goes on that no one knows about. We see the end results. The tech companies don’t,” he says. “People say, ‘Get Facebook leads – it’s cheaper.’ But we get more qualified buyers.”

But he is keeping an eye on Facebook for other reasons. He says, “If Facebook or Google were to get into our industry, we’d be toast. Who else is going to come up with those numbers in search results?”

Also fuelling Search Realty’s success is the internet presence the brokerage has created, with an abundance of websites (“too many to count,” says Wong) and potentially 30,000 new website visitors monthly.

A supportive workplace can’t be hurting either; the brokerage recently received certification from Great Place to Work, a global authority on positive workplace cultures. And in the same location as Search Realty is Wong’s own mortgage brokerage, Search Mortgage Corp., offering one-stop financing options.

Wong recalls starting out in the real estate business 12 years ago with no capital or database. Now he has plans to franchise across the country and even into the United States.

“There are 100,000 real estate agents in Canada and two million in the U.S. That’s a big difference,” he says, ever the enterprising entrepreneur.

© 2019 REM Real Estate Magazine

MODE at 3438 Sawmill Crescent 257 homes in a 25 storey tower between Kerr Street and Boundary Road by Wesgroup

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

River District project has every amenity for work and play

Kathleen Freimond
The Vancouver Sun

There’s a reason Wesgroup Properties’ new residential tower in Vancouver’s River District is called MODE—the 25-storey building’s 9,000 square feet of amenities will include a range of dedicated spaces for everything from work, movie screenings, yoga and gardening to places to fix the squeaky brakes on your bike or shampoo Fido in the dog wash station.

“The name of the building, MODE, represents the story of the amenities. We created a broad offering of amenities in the building so [residents] could switch between different modes of life—dinner-party, exercise or work mode,” explains Brad Jones, Wesgroup’s vice-president of development.

MODE, at 3438 Sawmill Crescent, is part of the second phase of the 130-acre River District master-planned community on land between Kerr Street and Boundary Road in southeast Vancouver.

When completed, the River District will include 250,000 square feet of retail space, 25 acres of green space and approximately 7,000 residences that will be home to more than 15,000 people. The 257 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes range in size from 562 to 1,537 square feet and appeal to a wide range of buyers. Their interior design creates a backdrop to enable people to indulge their own sense of style, says Erin Kenwood, Wesgroup’s vice-president of interior design.

Buyers can choose from two colour schemes—light or dark—both with a grey palette. “The interiors are very timeless and sophisticated and neutral enough for people to add their own personality when they move in with all their possessions,” says Kenwood.

At the sales centre, located at 3302 North Arm Avenue in the River District, a two-bedroom/two-bathroom display suite showcases the light scheme while a one-bedroom/one-bathroom penthouse condo is finished in the dark option.

“In the penthouses there are hardwood floors throughout [except the bathrooms] that give the homes an elevated feel,” adds Kenwood. There are 10 one-, two- and three-bedroom penthouses available ranging in size from 704 to 1,784 square feet.

The kitchen in the dark penthouse display suite features dual-tone cabinetry: flat-panel high-gloss grey doors and drawer fronts on the cabinets against the back wall where the five-burner Jenn-Air gas cooktop is located, while the refrigerator and freezer are integrated behind wood-look laminate panels that are also used on the island and the cabinet tower housing the oven and microwave.

Waterfall edges on the island—in the same quartz as the countertops—add a touch of luxury to the space and the signature black matte Brizo pull-down faucet contributes a contemporary flair. The kitchen island accommodates the double stainless-steel sink, a wine fridge and Jenn-Air dishwasher. The space adjacent to the kitchen is shown as a wine room/bar.

In this display suite the double vanity, frameless glass shower enclosure and LED lighting under the mirror and medicine cabinet give the bathroom a spacious ambience. In-floor heating will warm up the porcelain tile floor during the cooler months.

In the laundry room, a side-by-side washer and dryer are tucked under a countertop that will be useful for folding and sorting laundry.

In a complete contrast to the dark option, the two-bedroom two-bathroom display suite showcases a much lighter colour palette with light laminate floors throughout the entry, kitchen, living and dining space, and carpeting in the bedrooms. In the kitchen, dual-tone cabinetry (light grey high-gloss and wood-look laminate) complements the white with grey veining marble-look quartz countertops and slab backsplash, along with a stylish white matte Brizo pull-down faucet.

The flex space in this suite is set up as an office brightened with fun, colourful art on the wall.

The building, designed by Ciccozzi Architecture, includes modern and industrial details that echo the history of the site—such as the patina on the fins of the podium façade that are reminiscent of weathered beehive-shaped steel burners that were used in the area’s saw mills.

The sales centre at 3302 North Arm Avenue is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

© 2019 Postmedia Network Inc.

The Commonage at Predator Ridge 100 Mashie Crescent Vernon 58 semi-detached homes by Wesbuild Holdings Ltd

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

New phase at The Commonage expands Predator Ridge

Michael Bernard
The Vancouver Sun

While segments of the Metro Vancouver real estate market experience a general slowdown in listings and prices, the maturing neighbourhood of Predator Ridge near Vernon has enjoyed a steady sales season this year, say those marketing the residential lots and move-in ready homes in the picturesque golf course resort community.

After all, people haven’t stopped retiring from work and like to continue an active lifestyle of golfing, hiking, tennis and pickle ball, and skiing, they explain. The demographic mainstay of buyers has moved to the Okanagan Valley from the Lower Mainland and Alberta over the last decade, although the marketers say they now are seeing an increasing number of buyers from other Okanagan communities.

Predator Ridge, a resort destination community built by Wesbuild Holdings Ltd., has just launched phase three of its popular mountainside neighbourhood called The Commonage, where it is offering a combined total of 58 single-family home sites and semi-detached homes.

“We’ve sold six or seven lots so far, which is quite good,”says Jay Barre, Wesbuild’s vice-president, marketing, adding that Predator Ridge’s real estate cycle is different than Metro Vancouver’s. “We’re selling to a lot of downsizers.”

Lots range from about 7,000 square feet to more than 12,000.

What has proven particularly popular over the last couple of years is the developer’s semi-detached product, homes which are joined on one wall, but sit on their own freehold lot.

The big attraction is the size of the homes, which measure 1,500 square feet, with a master bedroom, kitchen, den and laundry on the main, and another 950 square feet of unfinished space on the lower Ievel, which buyers can finish themselves or have Wesbuild’s contractor complete for about $30,000.

Prices started around $649,000 in the last phase, but with the new homes situated higher up the hill with better views, Barre expects the prices will start around $750,000.

There have been more local buyers in the last two years, Barre said. “We have become a little more affordable locally, and we are so much more than a golf resort now. We really are a fully functioning community, so a lot of people in Vernon or Coldstream or Kelowna are taking note of that.”

Since Predator Ridge was started in the 2000s, the development has added a host of amenities. It boasts a fitness centre with indoor pool, hotel facilities, two restaurants, a village grocery store with a Starbucks, covered tennis and pickle ball courts, and more than 35 kilometres of hiking and biking trails that serve as Nordic and snowshoe trails in winter. Predator Ridge is within an easy 25-minute drive from Kelowna International Airport and about 20 minutes to Vernon.

Barre described the design of the new phases as “modern ranch” with board and batten, corrugated metal roofs with dramatic high ceilings, ranging up to 30 feet high inside. “We are currently sold out of those, but we are going to be building 10 to 15 more semi-detached as the first construction in phase three. They have proved to be the most popular home model, outselling the single-family homes by a ratio of two to one.”

Also available is the 48.5-kilometre Okanagan Rail Trail, an abandoned stretch of CN railbed that stretches north-south from Kelowna to the north end of Kalamalka Lake. Predator Ridge offers a biker shuttle van to drop off and pick up cyclists.

As with all properties at Predator Ridge, all the yard work front and back is done for homeowners at a monthly cost of about $120, says property specialist Claire Radford. The other standard fee is $75 a month per household, giving homeowners unlimited use of the swimming pool and fitness centre and hiking trails.

A survey conducted a few years ago found that the most popular activity among residents was not golf, but rather hiking, said Radford. However, Wesbuild does offer golfers a $20,000 credit toward the $40,000 cost of a club membership.

Wesbuild has also seen another demographic shift occurring. More and more buyers are choosing Predator Ridge as their principal residence; about 73 per cent of all buyers versus about 40 per cent in the early years, said Radford.

“I think that people see the benefits of living in a community that offers all these amenities. It is all beautifully maintained. It is like living in a big park…It’s a very easy place to settle in from a social point of view. You can be as social as you want at Predator Ridge.”

There are about 1,000 events a year staged at Predator Ridge, with the most recent one being an artisan market where local vendors set up booths around the clubhouse to sell their wares. As well, the community recently covered two tennis courts and four pickle ball courts so that residents can use them all year round.

The Commonage at Predator Ridge

Project address: 100 Mashie Crescent, Vernon

Project scope: A total of 58 home sites and semi-detached homes in Phase 3 of The Commonage, with some overlooking the golf courses and Kalamalka Lake. A well-developed community with a full suite of recreational amenities, including two 18-hole courses, several kilometres of hiking trails, fitness facilities, pickle ball and tennis courts.

Developer: Wesbuild Holdings Ltd.

Prices: from $250,000 to $1.25 million

Sales centre:100 Mashie Crescent

Centre hours: 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. daily

Sales phone: (866) 578-2233


Occupancy: Immediate for some pre-built homes

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