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Duncan

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RE/MAX Crest Realty
1428 W 7th Ave.
Vancouver, BC V6H 1C1


Council goes against strata act


Council defied strata act with cameras

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

Our strata council has just purchased and installed eight cameras in our main entry, and parking entry to try and address a growing security problem in our community.

At first, council refused to disclose how much was paid for the cameras and monitoring service or any of the details of the monitoring. However, after a group of our owners demanded a hearing and challenged council on its actions, it disclosed the total cost of the equipment purchased is $11,000, and it signed a service agreement for $2,000 a year for five years. 

We were told that because the funds came from a surplus account, council did not require the approval of the strata owners.

The details of all of these contracts are still being challenged, but generally, our owners are very unhappy with this action and want to know what our options are. 

Candice K.  

Dear Candice:

Your strata council has acted contrary to the Strata Property Act and the Personal Information Protection Act.

Before your strata activates your system, it must convene a special general meeting to seek the approval of the owners or determine the next actions. Whenever a strata corporation acquires or disposes of personal property that exceeds $1,000 in market value, it is required to first obtain a three-quarters vote of the owners at a properly convened annual or special general meeting. This amount may be increased if a strata corporation amends its bylaws approving a greater amount.

As the value of the surveillance cameras and equipment exceeds the authorized amount, your strata council was required to convene a general meeting of the owners to approve the expense, regardless of which account or fund this money was drawn from. 

The other violation that must be addressed is the action of conducting surveillance. If a strata corporation intends on conducting surveillance through video monitoring, FOBS or other tracking systems, it requires the consent of the owners of the corporation. This is approved through a bylaw and the bylaw requirements are set out by the Personal Information Protection Act.

The office of the privacy commissioner provides an excellent guide for setting up a privacy policy and surveillance bylaw.  

Generally, a strata corporation’s privacy policy or policies should address the following:

  • The only purposes for which the personal information collected by the video surveillance system and/or access control system will be used;
  • Who is authorized to view the surveillance footage or access control records and under what circumstances;
  • The location of video surveillance cameras. (They should not be positioned, internally or externally, to monitor areas beyond the strata corporation property or capture images peripherally or directly through the windows of adjacent strata buildings. Video equipment should not monitor areas where owners, tenants, visitors and employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as change rooms and washrooms);
  • The times when the cameras will be operating;
  • The length of time the video recordings and access control records will be retained;
  • How the video surveillance records and access control records will be securely stored and destroyed;
  • How the strata corporation will respond to requests under PIPA for access to the personal information contained in video surveillance records or access control records;
  • How owners, tenants and visitors will be given notice that the premises are being monitored by video surveillance; and
  • How owners will be given notice that their movements may be monitored by the key fob system. 

Download a copy of the guide and consult with a lawyer on setting up a privacy and surveillance bylaw. Go to: opic.bc.ca or for a direct copy of the guide: https://www.oipc.bc.ca/guidance-documents/1455

© 2019 Postmedia Network Inc.



Orchard Park has 80 townhomes located at 16650 25A Avenue Surrey developed by StreetSide Developments


Orchard Park takes a site next to green space, but close to shops and services

Simon Briault
The Province

A useful measure of the quality of a product is whether those selling it to would buy it themselves. That’s absolutely the case when it comes to homes built by StreetSide Developments, according to Jennifer Wilson, the company’s sales administration manager.

“We’ve had employees purchase homes at all our developments,” Wilson said. “That’s something that really tells you a lot about us as a company. I own and live in one of our homes. Our vice-president has also bought one in the past, our director of development and our construction managers, as well

StreetSide’s latest project is Orchard Park, an 80-unit townhome community in South Surrey, and once again, StreetSide employees are among the purchasers.

The Orchard Park homes are tucked in behind 26 Avenue, across the street from a row of single-family homes and right next to a park.

“It’s such an incredible location because even though you feel tucked away in a nice little enclave, you are so close to all those amenities at Morgan Crossing and Grandview Corners, as well as the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre,” Wilson said.

The location has been attracting a diverse range of buyers, according to Wilson.

“Typically, our buyers have been up-sizers or what we like to call equity builders,” she said. “Many of them are engaged, recently married or have young children and they want to move from their condo or small townhouse into something bigger and newer that they can build their equity on. We’re also seeing empty nesters and downsizers.”

Holly Harrison, marketing and sales coordinator at StreetSide Developments, said that the company’s commitment to building vibrant communities is another thing that sets it apart and has helped to attract buyers to Orchard Park in particular.

“For example, we include amenity buildings and community spaces in our projects and we build them close to local shopping areas, parks, restaurants, gyms and schools,” she said. “Orchard Park is a prime example.”

“The amenity building at Orchard Park will be three storeys with lounge spaces, a kitchenette, a games room and a rooftop patio with a barbecue and communal space,” Harrison added.

Homes have nine-foot ceilings on main and upper floors, powder rooms on the main floors and front-load washers and dryers. Kitchens include brushed nickel hardware and soft-close doors and drawers, polished quartz countertops and marble-style porcelain tile backsplashes. The stainless-steel appliance packages are by Blomberg, Faber and Panasonic.

“We have high-end appliances and luxury finishes throughout the homes,” Wilson said. “When you walk in, it’s that wow factor when you see how these homes are designed and the specifications we’ve used.”

Bathrooms have solid-slab thick polished quartz countertops, widespread double handle faucets and undermount sinks. There are oversized porcelain floor and wall tiles, two-piece elongated, dual flush toilets and soaker tubs in the main bathrooms. Ensuites feature frameless glass showers and porcelain tile surrounds, multifunction hand showers and his-and-hers raised counter sinks with wall-mounted faucets.

Orchard Park

What: 80 townhomes with two or three bedrooms

Where: 16650 25A Avenue, Surrey

Residence size and prices: 1,333 to 1,558 square feet; priced from the low $600,000s

Developer: StreetSide Developments

Sales centre: 16650 25A Avenue, Surrey

Sales centre hours: noon — 5 p.m., Sat — Thurs

Sales phone: 604-535-2221

© 2019 Postmedia Network Inc



Presale condo project sales rates hit new lows in Metro Vancouver


Presale condo-project sales rate hits new low

Joanne Lee-Young
The Province

The sales rate for presale condos hit a low of 14 per cent in June, with buyers signing sales contracts for only 73 out of the 519 units on the market in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

“It’s the lowest number for a long time,” said Suzana Goncalves, a partner at MLA Advisory, the research arm of real estate marketing company MLA Canada.

It’s a far cry from when the market was hot, when many projects sold contracts for 90 per cent or more of their units within a month or two of starting marketing.

Some developers, including established ones with deep pockets, say they are holding back on presale launches because they aren’t confident they can sell contracts for even 50 per cent of the units, which is the minimum needed to get bank financing for construction.

And that threshold is low, a level reserved for developers with a strong relationships with their financier and a track record. Most projects need to secure presale contracts and down payments for 75 to 80 per cent of the units to qualify for construction loans.

Presales have been dropping for the past year. But in recent months, even as developers have rolled out all kinds of incentives to spur sales, the drop has accelerated. In May 2019, the sales rate was 22 per cent with 120 out of 539 available units sold.

Between January and June of 2018, the sales rate for presale projects across Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley was 74 per cent. For that period in 2019, the rate was 36 per cent, according to MLA Advisory.

However, in Central Surrey, over 1,500 units were released in the first half of 2019 and about half of these, mostly concrete highrises near the SkyTrain station, were sold, making it the most active Metro market, MLA Advisory reported.

Goncalves said one has to go back to 2012 to find a sales rate as paltry as June’s 14 per cent.

“Now, success (for a project) is being able to sell out about 65 per cent of units over nine months,” said Goncalves. Developers have a window of nine months in which they must hit the sales rate required by their bank.

Some projects with cheaper, smaller units are faring better, said Goncalves.

For example, some projects involving wood frame condos and townhomes, which are less expensive to build than concrete ones, have an easier time hitting the targets required for financing, she said.

One reason for that success is that it’s easier to split such projects into several smaller phases, each sold and financed separately, rather than aiming for the required percentage in a single highrise of 300 units, especially in an area with many similar large projects.

“Sometimes it’s not about being a large developer with deep pockets,” said Goncalves.

“Brentwood is an example,” she said of the neighbourhood along the Millennium SkyTrain line in Burnaby. “It’s in a great location, but (the area) has had a lot of activity in recent years and there is still more activity to come.”

© 2019 Postmedia Network Inc.



BC home sales constrained by static qualifying mortgage rate


BC home sales down 11% in June

Steve Randall
Mortgage Broker News

Home sales in British Columbia continue to be constrained with a year-over-year decline to 6,960 units in June.

The 11.8% decline reported by the British Columbia Real Estate Association continues the recent trend and comes as prices ease and listings increase. Meanwhile, buyers continue to be challenged by finances.

“BC home sales moderated lower in June after a stronger showing in May,” said BCREA Deputy Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While mortgage rates offered by lenders have moved below 3%, a static qualifying rate has limited the impact of the lower cost of borrowing.”

The average MLS® residential price in the province was $687,584, a decline of 4% from June 2018. Total sales dollar volume was $4.8 billion, down 15.3% year-over-year.

Total MLS® residential active listings were up 18.6% year-over-year to 42,625 units but were essentially flat on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to May.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 23.4% to $24.5 billion, compared with the same period in 2018.

Residential unit sales decreased 18.7% to 35,679 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 5.8% to $688,080.

Copyright © 2019 Key Media



Legal issues to consider when buying a cottage


Torontonians moving to rural areas for housing

Natalka Falcomer
REM

Maybe it’s the new flight service by Porter Airlines to Muskoka or maybe it’s the smog that’s prompting Torontonians to move from the hustle and bustle of the city to set up a life in cottage country. Or maybe (and more likely) it’s the cost of a home in the city.

Some Torontonians are opting out of the market to find greener (literally) pastures in the rural parts of Ontario. The math makes sense even if you decide to buy in rural Ontario and rent in Toronto. How? Homes, and therefore mortgages, outside of our urban centres are significantly cheaper than the urban core.  As an article reported in Toronto Life, if you Airbnb your cottage when you’re caught in the city, you will more than cover your mortgage and your Toronto rent.

There are, however, some caveats and critical legal and practical issues that may affect your decision.

Short-term rentals:

If you plan to put your cottage on Airbnb, be aware of noise regulations and open fire rules and your neighbours, who may not be pleased with short-term renters partying throughout the summer months. Especially if they’re out there to relax. Zoning restrictions, and not just noise by-laws, may also be in store for parts of cottage country. And don’t forget that your insurance will be sky high because you’re not living in the cottage and because you’re renting it out.

Financing:

Some other things to consider: many banks will only permit financing if the cottage has a furnace, a heated water line from the lake during winter months and a foundation in the ground and not on cinder blocks. Also, as further described below, ensure that the roads are maintained all year and that the property has a proper septic system and clean drinking water. If not, your lender may back out at the last minute. One wonders also wonders about the impact of insurance on homes near the water due to the flooding in Muskoka … stay tuned!

Easements:

Easements and rights of way are deceptively complex legal concepts and often the cause of litigation between neighbours. The point of most easements or rights of way is to ensure that adjacent properties are accessible or that views are protected. Sometimes these easements are noted on title, while in other cases they’re granted by legislation or arise out of implication. Often when there’s nothing in writing or on title, neighbours will litigate over whether or not such access rights exist. As such, if you intend on buying a cottage that needs access to its neighbouring property or if you want to protect a view, don’t assume these rights are protected. Confirm if these rights are registered on title. If not, you may be exposing yourself to unhappy neighbours or a lawsuit.

Unregistered hydro easements:

Unregistered hydro easements can be highly problematic because they permit the hydro authorities to cut through your land and prohibit you from building on the hydro easement. Case law and Hydro One’s policy requires homeowners to be financially responsible for the maintenance of wires and poles found on or near their property. To complicate matters further, such hydro easements are not found on title! You must contact the appropriate hydro authority to determine such easements.

Waterfront improvements:

Never operate under the assumption that the existing cottage or dock on a property is in line with bylaw mandates. Take, for example, a dock. The provincial Public Lands Act and federal Fisheries Act will apply if the construction of a dock impacts both the shoreline waters and fish habitat. This means that the construction of a dock may require not only municipal approval, but also federal and provincial approvals and permits. Ensure that these permits are in place before you purchase any oasis.

Property insurance:

Proximity to a fire hall can impact the rate charged for fire insurance. Typically, insurance companies focus on whether the structure is within five miles of a responding fire hall. In certain locales, insurers may not provide coverage, given lack of adequate fire protection. Get this information before an offer goes in.

Seasonal zoning:

While you may want to escape to your cottage year-round, it doesn’t mean that this is an option. Some rural residential properties are zoned “seasonal”, which means roadways are not maintained during the winter. Apart from no access during certain seasons, you may also be on the hook to provide and pay for maintenance. Seasonal zoning means that the municipality may not provide emergency services in the wintertime, which is cause for concern if you have elderly visitors or grandchildren.

Water supply:

If the water supply for the cottage is municipally provided, you’re in luck. Unlike most cottages that are supplied by well water, you don’t have to be concerned with potability. This is because there is no reliable potability certificate for well water, or water drawn from lakes or a cistern.

Wells supplying multiple properties may be subject to the Ontario Clean Water Act, and easements for pipes from neighbouring wells (if registered) may violate the Ontario Planning Act. As always, request applicable certificates and obtain warranties from the seller that the water supply is in accordance with all federal, provincial and local regulations.

Septic:

Septic systems require approval by the municipality or the Ministry of Natural Resources. Ask the sellers for such documentation. If you plan to make any additions to the cottage that affect the septic system, you are likely required to get additional approval to satisfy regulatory requirements. If you plan to rebuild and expand the cottage you plan to buy, ensure that such growth is permissible.

© 2019 REM Real Estate Magazine



Legal issues to consider when buying a cottage


Torontonians moving to rural areas for housing

Natalka Falcomer
REM

Maybe it’s the new flight service by Porter Airlines to Muskoka or maybe it’s the smog that’s prompting Torontonians to move from the hustle and bustle of the city to set up a life in cottage country. Or maybe (and more likely) it’s the cost of a home in the city.

Some Torontonians are opting out of the market to find greener (literally) pastures in the rural parts of Ontario. The math makes sense even if you decide to buy in rural Ontario and rent in Toronto. How? Homes, and therefore mortgages, outside of our urban centres are significantly cheaper than the urban core.  As an article reported in Toronto Life, if you Airbnb your cottage when you’re caught in the city, you will more than cover your mortgage and your Toronto rent.

There are, however, some caveats and critical legal and practical issues that may affect your decision.

Short-term rentals:

If you plan to put your cottage on Airbnb, be aware of noise regulations and open fire rules and your neighbours, who may not be pleased with short-term renters partying throughout the summer months. Especially if they’re out there to relax. Zoning restrictions, and not just noise by-laws, may also be in store for parts of cottage country. And don’t forget that your insurance will be sky high because you’re not living in the cottage and because you’re renting it out.

Financing:

Some other things to consider: many banks will only permit financing if the cottage has a furnace, a heated water line from the lake during winter months and a foundation in the ground and not on cinder blocks. Also, as further described below, ensure that the roads are maintained all year and that the property has a proper septic system and clean drinking water. If not, your lender may back out at the last minute. One wonders also wonders about the impact of insurance on homes near the water due to the flooding in Muskoka … stay tuned!

Easements:

Easements and rights of way are deceptively complex legal concepts and often the cause of litigation between neighbours. The point of most easements or rights of way is to ensure that adjacent properties are accessible or that views are protected. Sometimes these easements are noted on title, while in other cases they’re granted by legislation or arise out of implication. Often when there’s nothing in writing or on title, neighbours will litigate over whether or not such access rights exist. As such, if you intend on buying a cottage that needs access to its neighbouring property or if you want to protect a view, don’t assume these rights are protected. Confirm if these rights are registered on title. If not, you may be exposing yourself to unhappy neighbours or a lawsuit.

Unregistered hydro easements:

Unregistered hydro easements can be highly problematic because they permit the hydro authorities to cut through your land and prohibit you from building on the hydro easement. Case law and Hydro One’s policy requires homeowners to be financially responsible for the maintenance of wires and poles found on or near their property. To complicate matters further, such hydro easements are not found on title! You must contact the appropriate hydro authority to determine such easements.

Waterfront improvements:

Never operate under the assumption that the existing cottage or dock on a property is in line with bylaw mandates. Take, for example, a dock. The provincial Public Lands Act and federal Fisheries Act will apply if the construction of a dock impacts both the shoreline waters and fish habitat. This means that the construction of a dock may require not only municipal approval, but also federal and provincial approvals and permits. Ensure that these permits are in place before you purchase any oasis.

Property insurance:

Proximity to a fire hall can impact the rate charged for fire insurance. Typically, insurance companies focus on whether the structure is within five miles of a responding fire hall. In certain locales, insurers may not provide coverage, given lack of adequate fire protection. Get this information before an offer goes in.

Seasonal zoning:

While you may want to escape to your cottage year-round, it doesn’t mean that this is an option. Some rural residential properties are zoned “seasonal”, which means roadways are not maintained during the winter. Apart from no access during certain seasons, you may also be on the hook to provide and pay for maintenance. Seasonal zoning means that the municipality may not provide emergency services in the wintertime, which is cause for concern if you have elderly visitors or grandchildren.

Water supply:

If the water supply for the cottage is municipally provided, you’re in luck. Unlike most cottages that are supplied by well water, you don’t have to be concerned with potability. This is because there is no reliable potability certificate for well water, or water drawn from lakes or a cistern.

Wells supplying multiple properties may be subject to the Ontario Clean Water Act, and easements for pipes from neighbouring wells (if registered) may violate the Ontario Planning Act. As always, request applicable certificates and obtain warranties from the seller that the water supply is in accordance with all federal, provincial and local regulations.

Septic:

Septic systems require approval by the municipality or the Ministry of Natural Resources. Ask the sellers for such documentation. If you plan to make any additions to the cottage that affect the septic system, you are likely required to get additional approval to satisfy regulatory requirements. If you plan to rebuild and expand the cottage you plan to buy, ensure that such growth is permissible.

© 2019 REM Real Estate Magazine