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BC Home Sales on the Rise in May

BC home sales increased 9 per cent in May compared to April


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 8,221residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in May, a decline of 7per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $707,829,adecline of 4.3per cent from May2018. Total sales dollar volume was $5.8 billion, an11per cent decline fromthe same month last year.

“BC home sales increased 9 per cent in May compared to April, on a seasonally adjusted basis,” said BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir. “However, consumers continue to struggle with the negative shock to affordability that stringent mortgage lending policies have created.

”Total MLS®residentialactive listings were up 23.2per cent to 41,519units compared to the same month last year. However, total active listings were down 2 per cent from April, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the first monthly decline since the B20 Stress test was introduced in January 2018.

 Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 25.1per cent to $19.8billion, compared with the same period in 2018. Residential unit sales decreased 20.2per cent to 28,711units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 6.2per cent to $688,339.


Chinese crime baron linked to major laundering operation in BC

Chinese cartel drug boss used law firm to launder money

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

An alleged Chinese cartel drug boss used Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido’s law firm to launder money through a Metro Vancouver project, according to an in-depth investigation by Global News.

The deal for the condo development was a “bare trust” joint venture with a company directed by Kwok Chung Tam, who reportedly holds a position of authority in the major cartel called Big Circle Boys, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Said venture gave Tam an instrument that masked his direct involvement in the acquisition of a 3.7-acre property in Coquitlam, BC. The purchase was valued at $7.75-million, and it was sold for $14.8 million in 2015.

Per court documents, Tam was still serving a conditional sentence for a 2010 drug trafficking conviction at the time of the transaction’s completion.

Tam has maintained that he is a legitimate businessman, but his source of wealth has been in question ever since his arrival in Vancouver over 30 years ago.

“I am not now nor have I ever been a member of a gang, triad or criminal organization,” Tam asserted in a July 2016 court affidavit. His Vancouver immigration lawyer also insisted to Global News that the allegations have never been proven in court or in an immigration hearing.

Law enforcement and immigration records from 1991 to 2014 indicated otherwise: accumulated evidence strongly suggested that Tam was most likely a casino loan shark, drug facility operator, and heroin importer who has repeatedly and “brazenly” flouted Canadian law.

Another damning piece of information is that the numbered company used by Tam in the aforementioned bare trust deal has been associated with several Richmond properties investigated by the RCMP for possible drug links back in 2006.

The situation also puts into the spotlight the verification procedures that law firms offering such services use, and whether Peschisolido’s firm did its part properly before undertaking a transaction with a notorious personality.

“Lawyers need to be asking their clients, how did you make your money?” RCMP International Organized Crime Investigation Unit former commander Kim Marsh stated.

“Anybody doing basic due diligence, even basic Google searches, would determine there is huge red flags, that these individuals are involved in illicit activities,” he added. “So anyone doing business with them is either doing nothing, or it’s a case of willful blindness.”

Copyright © 2019 Key Media

Millennials need a major home price drop or sharp wage increase

Generation Squeeze says that in many cities there would have to be a major drop in home prices

Steve Randall

Despite some lower prices recently, many young Canadians are still far from able to afford to buy a home according to a new report.

Generation Squeeze says that in many cities there would have to be a major drop in home prices or a significant rise in wages to enable millennials to enter the housing market.

For example, Vancouverites would need their typical full-time wages to increase to $200,400 or four times their current level; or house prices would need to fall by three-quarters (a $795K drop) to make homes affordable (based on CMHC’s measure of households spending no more than 30% of their pre-tax earnings on housing.)

Across Canada, a wage increase to $93,400 a year, almost double current levels; or a home price drop of around half ($223,000) would be required.

“Despite recent nominal declines in housing prices compared to previous years, the gap between the cost of owning a home and the ability of younger Canadians to afford it is at critical levels. If housing markets are levelling out, they remain untenably high,” said Dr. Paul Kershaw, lead author of ‘Straddling the Gap: A troubling portrait of home prices, earnings and affordability for younger Canadians’, and founder of Generation Squeeze.

The report says it now takes a typical young person 13 years to save a 20% down payment on an averaged priced home in Canada, compared to the five years it took when today’s aging population started out as young adults around 1976.

NHS needs extending

Generation Squeeze is calling on the federal government to expand the National Housing Strategy from the current pledge to support 530,000 of the most vulnerable Canadians, to an estimated 1.2 million who are in core housing need.

“A second phase of the National Housing Strategy must be launched to ensure all Canadians can afford a good home — whether renting or owning — by addressing failures in the broader housing market,” said Kershaw.

Generation Squeeze is also calling for the government to embrace “Homes First” as a guiding principle, with policy targets that would ensure that home prices don’t grow faster than local earnings.

Copyright © 2019 Key Media Pty Ltd

Condo Smarts: Council has a duty to keep building secure

Council has a duty to keep all building systems secure

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

How does a strata corporation manage access to common areas that contain mechanical equipment or which is not intended for recreational or casual use?

We have a council member who is insisting he be given common-area keys to the electrical rooms, the elevator shafts, the boiler rooms and our rooftop. As a 30-floor highrise, we have complicated operating systems, and the only services on our rooftop are our fresh-air intake and hallway blower system.

Our roof does not have guard rails and because of the wind, can be extremely dangerous at times. Our building manager has access to these areas and escorts contractors and service technicians when they require access or to review access if requested by a council member.

We have intentionally restricted keys and access to only the building manager and property manager to maintain security and safety. The council member is threatening court action if we don’t give him keys and access. How do we handle this?

Gary M., Vancouver

Dear Gary:

No council member has the exclusive right of access to the common service facilities of a highrise or apartment building. Who has access, how the areas are accessed and the procedures for access are all set by the strata council. This is a majority-vote decision at a council meeting.

You may want to develop your policy into a published rule the owners approve at a general meeting. This would require the policies you set would be maintained in the future. 

Your obligation as strata council is to act in the best interest of the strata owners and tenants and to maintain and repair common assets and common property. That schedule of maintenance includes the security of your assets.

You must also ensure activities comply with fire safety regulations, building codes, local government bylaws and provincial regulations administered through Technical Safety BC and WorkSafe. 

Unless a council member is escorting a service technician, inspector or emergency personnel, there should be no reason to access your building systems. Either the property manager or council will be responsible to verify service reports and logs to approve invoicing and payments. Copies of these reports should be included on invoicing to support approval.

Access for servicing to elevator shafts or your fire safety systems are only performed by certified technicians under contract. The same conditions should apply to roofing systems. Volunteer council members, owners and tenants are not covered by WorkSafe and in the event of an injury or fatality, the strata corporation will bear the liability of related claims. The limited coverage for such liability under your strata insurance policy is only for general volunteer maintenance.

The whole point of living in a strata corporation is the collective benefits of contracting services. When you live in a multi-family building, the regulatory authorities apply much higher standards of care and safety. 

The fireworks festival is the perfect example of why access to rooftops not intended for occupancy must be restricted. While everyone at the time is lured by the exclusive viewing of a rooftop seat, damage to roofing systems and the risk of a tragic incident is not worth the risk. The combination of an unprotected area and alcohol will never end well.  

It is your duty as the corporation and council to maintain the security of your building systems.  Convene a council meeting and establish procedures and policies for access to operational facilities.

© 2019 Postmedia Network Inc.

Feds announce $10M for RCMP to fight money laundering after ministers’ meeting

Ministers discussed the importance of prosecuting money launderers

Canadian Press
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

The federal government has announced $10 million to help the RCMP prosecute money laundering after a special meeting in Vancouver of Canada’s finance and justice ministers to discuss the pervasive problem.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the ministers discussed the importance of prosecuting money launderers and the new funds will help co-ordinate information and hold criminals accountable.

Morneau says the ministers discussed making corporate ownership of real estate more transparent through beneficial ownership registries, though there was no final commitment from provinces on the topic.

He says Ottawa cannot simply create a framework for such registries, because there are issues around privacy and regulation, but he heard around the table that everyone was willing to take the next steps.

The federal government promised $160 million to help fight money laundering in the federal budget and Organized Crime Minister Bill Blair says Canada is building a new capacity to respond, investigate and prosecute the problem.

Ontario has requested federal funding on par with British Columbia to fight money laundering, but Blair says they didn’t discuss specific allocations of resources at the meeting.

Copyright © 2019 Key Media Pty Ltd

Legions 13525 106th Avenue Surrey a 20 storey mixed use building and a 26 storey condo tower by Lark Group

Surrey, Burnaby properties will combine veteran facilities with market housing

Frank O’Brien
Western Investor

As D-Day ceremonies captured attention June 6, veteran members at two of the 28 Royal Canadian Legion branches in Metro Vancouver were celebrating joint venture real estate deals that will improve facilities and provide a mix of affordable and market housing.

In Surrey, Whalley Legion Branch 229 and the Lark Group broke ground May 23 on the Legion Veterans Village, Canada’s first centre for excellence for veterans and first responders.

The two-phase, $312 million project includes a 20-storey mixed-use building inspired by the forms of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France honouring the lives and sacrifices Canadians made during the First World War.

The village will offer clinical rehabilitation services, research and delivery of health-care programs, services and trauma counselling, including for veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It will also feature a new 10,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility for legion members, 148 market-housing units and more than 48 affordable-housing units. 

Transitional and crisis housing facilities available to veterans, their families and the community are also part of the project.

Its second phase is a new 26-storey building with 325 condominiums. The value generated by the condo sales is expected to help cover the cost of the new veterans housing and treatment facility.

The City of Surrey fast-tracked the project’s application process by deeming it a NEXUS project. Construction on the first phase is expected to reach completion within two years.

The Whalley Legion has moved to temporary premises on King George Highway while the new facility is being built.

Meanwhile, North Burnaby Legion 148 and Beedie are proceeding with a redevelopment that will deliver a new 2,400-square-foot legion facility on the ground floor beneath 39 units of rental housing in a five-storey, mixed-use project.

Beedie is awaiting rezoning for the East Hastings site. Project manager Ali Sarpoushan said that if the rezoning is approved, Beedie plans to start construction later this year on the $30 million development.

Many of B.C.’s 147 Royal Canadian Legion branches are suffering from declining enrolment and falling revenue as the medical and housing needs of their members increase, noted Brian Lutz, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Legion of BC/Yukon. Some of the legions, however, own land that could be used for development.

“Quite a few [in Metro Vancouver] are in talks with developers,” Lutz said.

Since 1956, the legion in B.C. has provided affordable housing to thousands of veterans and seniors. Today, it operates more than 4,500 units in 70 B.C. facilities with a community investment of approximately $94 million. 

© Copyright 2019 Western Investor