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Balanced conditions remain for BC markets

Cooler home sales remained in October

Steve Randall
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Cooler conditions for British Columbia’s home sales remained in October as the impact of mortgage regulations continue to impact the market.

Sales were down 26.2% year-over-year with 6,405 homes sold through the MLS system. The average MLS residential price was down 4.1% to $690,161.

British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) says that total sales dollar volume was $4.2 billion, a 29.3 per cent decline from October 2017.

“The BC housing market continued to grapple with tougher mortgage qualifications in October,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, more moderate consumer demand has led to a much-needed increase in the supply of homes for sale.”

Inventory up almost 30%
Total active listings increased almost 30% to 36,195 in October and meant balanced conditions across the province overall, although individual markets vary.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 22.1% to $49.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2017.

Residential unit sales decreased 22.8%to 69,664 units, while the average MLS residential price was up 1% to $713,662.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

No easy answer on what constitutes ‘average’ strata fees

Little clarity on ‘average’ strata fees

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony: Thank you for your column a few weeks ago regarding the obligation to maintain common property.

We spoke to our property manager regarding the walkways and driveways in our townhouse complex and he advised because the areas are not defined on the strata plan, each owner was responsible for their own driveways. We are seniors in our eighties in failing health and we are not capable of clearing our own driveways.

Do strata corporations have an option to require owners to remove snow and apply salt or sand for driveways and sidewalks? If every owner contracted a different company to clear the snow, it would be mass confusion in our complex. 

Margaret F., Abbotsford

Dear Margaret: Common property does not have to be specifically shown or defined on the registered strata plan. Under the definition of common property in the Strata Property Act, common property is that part of the land and buildings shown on a strata plan that is not part of a strata lot.

If any limited common property has been designated, it must be shown on the strata plan filed in the Land Title Registry by the owner developer or filed as an amendment by the strata corporation by three-quarters vote that complies with the conditions set out in the act.  

The act does not permit a bylaw that makes owners responsible for common property unless the regulations of the act are adopted, which would make such a bylaw possible. No such regulations have ever been adopted to date.

On your strata plan, the driveways and sidewalks are common property and the snow removal and salting must be performed by the strata corporation.

A common problem for strata corporations, such as townhouse developments with larger geographical areas to maintain, is the expectation and practice that strata fees are lower. As a result, many townhouse complexes do not budget sufficient funds for snow removal, storm sewer maintenance, landscaping and tree maintenance and fencing.

Failing to budget for a maintenance item is no excuse to avoid the obligation. It is very common for townhouse complexes to ignore trees and fencing until the only option is replacement or removal, often resulting in damage to foundations and structures of the buildings.

I am frequently asked what the average strata fees should be for a townhouse complex. Every strata corporation is different and the needs of one community for exterior maintenance and services may be twice as much as a neighbouring property based solely on design, finishing and age. To set an effective budget, start with an inventory of all common property and common assets that require maintenance, repair and inspection.  Almost every exterior element requires attention on an annual basis.

The price of ignoring the obligation of snow and ice removal from sidewalks has been a costly mistake for many strata corporations across the province this past winter.  Municipal bylaws require the adjacent property owner to remove snow and ice within a defined period of time. Failing to do so could result in a fine or summons and many strata corporations received fines as a result that were as high as $600 per incident.  Check your local bylaws before winter sets in. 

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Ovation 813 Carnarvon Street New Westminster 204 one, two and three bedroom homes by Domus Homes

At 32 storeys, Ovation is sure to attract attention

Kathleen Freimond
The Province


What: 204 one-, two-, and three-bedrooms and two-level ‘city’ homes

Where: 813 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster

Residence size and prices: 482 to 1,344 square feet; one-bedrooms from the low $400,000s; two-bedrooms from the mid $600,000s; three-bedroom sky homes from the low $1,100,000s; Two-level city homes from the low $800,000s

Developer: Domus Homes

Sales centre: 1001 Columbia Street, New Westminster

Hours: noon — 5 p.m., Sat — Thurs

Telephone: 604-553-8004

Website: OvationNewWest.com

Domus Homes is setting the stage for plenty of applause with Ovation, its new 32-storey development in New Westminster’s historic downtown.

One of the showstoppers is expected to be the amenity level on the 32nd floor. Half the space is dedicated to indoor amenities, including a sky lounge, fitness zone, chef’s kitchen and dining room, while the other half comprises outdoor amenities that include a hot tub, bocce court and barbecue area.

“The concept is to enable everybody in the building to enjoy the spectacular views from the top of the building,” says Richard Wittstock, principal at Domus Homes. “There are 360-degree views of the [Fraser] river, mountains and bridges.”

Ovation will be close to the New Westminster SkyTrain station and surrounding shops, the Columbia Square Mall and the New Westminster Quay. Wittstock believes the location is a major advantage.

“We started with an incredible location and then, working with GBL Architects, we think we’ve created something really special,” he says. “The building’s architecture features vertical and horizontal elements working together.”

The interior design, by Cristina Oberti Interior Design, features two colour palettes, Light and Dark.

The Dark palette, presented in the two-bedroom show suite, is the bolder option, Oberti says. The kitchen features two cabinet door finishes: the lower cabinets are in a dark grey wood finish, while the uppers have a high-gloss white lacquer finish.

“The combination adds contrast while also brightening up the space,” Oberti says. “It gives the kitchen a graphic punch.”

Major appliances include a five-burner 30-inch Bosch gas cooktop with a slide-out range hood and a Bosch wall oven. The 36-inch Fisher & Paykel refrigerator with french doors is integrated, as is the Bosch dishwasher.

The sales centre also features a second kitchen based on a one-bedroom unit. Showing the Light palette, this kitchen has a 24-inch Bosch gas cooktop and a 24-inch single-door Blomberg refrigerator. A large island doubles as a dining space with one end free of cabinetry to accommodate seating while the other end contains a Bosch dishwasher.

Both the Light and the Dark schemes feature full-height kitchen backsplashes in a marble finish.

In the ensuite, the white quartz countertop and the continuous surface of marble-look 24- by 12-inch porcelain tiles on the floor and walls give the space a fresh and spa-like ambience.

In the main bathroom, the countertop is grey quartz, while the dark grey floor tile complements the dark wood cabinetry.

Wittstock says Ovation has attracted a lot of interest from a range of buyers, including first-time buyers.

“We think the two-bedroom homes will appeal to young professionals and the city homes are going to appeal to the families, while the sky homes will appeal to downsizers and professional couples,” he says.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Province tackles housing crisis in 42 communities

4,900 new units to be built over three years for renters from a range of income

Amy Smart
The Province

The B.C. government is funding 4,900 new affordable rental units to be built in the next three years as part of its efforts to tackle a housing crisis across the province.

The units will include both non-profit and co-operative housing and are designed to address affordable-housing needs for a range of income levels in 42 communities, the government says in a statement.

The buildings will contain a mix of units for middle-income people and families, heavily subsidized rentals for seniors and others on fixed incomes, and homes for low-wage workers.

“We want a range of people to have access to this new affordable housing. The projects will include a mix of rent levels,” Housing Minister Selina Robinson said at a news conference in Vancouver.

Robinson said one building could be home to seniors, retail workers, nurses and first responders, “who are increasingly struggling in a rental market that is becoming so unaffordable for too many.”

Jill Atkey, chief executive for the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association, said the investment is “vital.”

One-third of B.C. residents are renters and almost half of them are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. Almost one in five are spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent, she said.

“Data tell us that this crisis is real,” she said. “Spending more than you can afford on rent is becoming the new normal,” she said.

It’s significant that the projects are being delivered thorough the non-profit sector, Atkey said, because it means they will remain affordable in future.

This is the first set of housing projects selected through the B.C. government’s $1.9-billion Building B.C.: Community Housing Fund established to construct more than 14,000 affordable rental homes for independent families and seniors.

It’s part of a larger $7-billion commitment by the B.C. government to build 114,000 affordable homes over 10 years.

Increasing the housing supply was also part of the NDP government’s confidence and supply agreement with the B.C. Green party.

Robinson said the province received more than 100 responses to its request for proposals and the projects were selected based on criteria that includes the types of clients and the impact the project is expected to have in reducing the community’s affordable rental-housing need.

Seventy two projects have been approved. About 1,500 homes will be built in the Vancouver area, 1,400 in the Fraser Valley, 1,300 on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and a combined 750 in the Interior and north.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Metro Vancouver’s industrial supply is lagging demand

There is a high demand for industrial units in Metro Vancouver

Steve Randall
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

High demand for industrial units in Metro Vancouver is outpacing new supply and driving rental rates higher.

With an ongoing record low vacancy rate of less than 2%, even a 5% growth in inventory (more than 9.2 million square feet net) over the past 36 months has not done enough to meet demand, especially from the fast-growing ecommerce sector.

Avison Young reports that the industrial vacancy rate in the fall of 2018 has hit 1.5% in Metro Vancouver with rental rates have continuing to climb rapidly. The average asking net rent in Metro Vancouver is now at $11.43 psf, up from $9.99 psf a year earlier.

New build may be best for large operators Tenants in virtually all markets are faced with either renewing their lease at notably higher rates or relocating further away from the region’s traditional core industrial markets to markets located further south of the Fraser River and further east in the Fraser Valley.

“Companies are increasingly looking for efficiencies, including consolidating multiple locations into a larger facility,” comments Avison Young Principal Russ Bougie. “Given enough lead time, larger companies currently have more options for a new build-to-suit than if they were to lease an existing building in almost all size ranges and markets.”

Market fundamentals remain strong, and demand from owner-occupiers and investors at near record levels is expected to continue for at least the next 18 months.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

B.C. sets up new condo registry

Pre-sale agreements must be registered

Duffie Osental
Mortgage Broker News

British Columbia is tackling tax evasion in condominium sales by setting up a registry that tracks a project’s pre-sales transactions and ownership history.

According to a Bloomberg report, the information collected by the new online database, which will include the terms of such transactions and the name and tax identification numbers of those involved, will be shared with the Canada Revenue Agency so that they can be matched with income tax returns.

Because there was no way to efficiently track transactions, it was possible to avoid paying taxes by buying and selling rights from pre-sale purchase agreements at inflated prices.

Starting January 1, however, developers will now be required to collect and report pre-sale agreements of condominium units, including when these contracts are flipped and re-assigned to a new owner.

“The days of avoiding taxes through condo flipping are over,” said Finance Minister Carole James.

“This register will help bring fairness and integrity back to B.C.’s real estate market, so that people can afford homes in the communities where they live and work.”

Copyright © 2018 Key Media