Please visit our Open House at 102 2140 12TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, March 17, 2012 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
RARELY available studio. This amazing Kitsilano townhouse-style studio includes secure parking, an outdoor patio, a separate storage locker, cozy gas fireplace, in-suite laundry and more! Move-in ready and exceptionally spacious for a studio, with ample room for a living room, dining room and bedroom without feeling cramped. Located in the heart of Arbutus Walk, this home offers 2 seperate entrances - including its own private gated entrance from the street. Perfect location, terrific value & lovingly cared-for building! Don't miss this one. Open House March 17th, Saturday, 1:00-3:00
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Please visit our Open House at 307 1808 3RD AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, March 18, 2012 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Welcome to Kore! This luxury concrete condo has it all - located right in the heart of beautiful Kitsilano. NEW spacious one bedroom corner unit features high end finishings, large balcony, hardwood floors throughout, open-concept kitchen,stainless steel appliances, Caesartone & marble counters, gas cooktop, floor-to-ceiling windows and great city views. Priced to sell, no HST, don't miss this one! Open House March 18th, Sunday, 1:00-3:00
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Closer alignment between home buyer and seller activity helped to bring greater balance to the Greater Vancouver housing market in February.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2, 545 on the MLS System in February 2012. This represents a 61.4 per cent increase compared to the 1,577 sales recorded in January 2012, a decline of 17.8 per cent compared to the 3,097 sales in February 2011 and a 2.9 per cent increase from the 2,473 home sales in February 2010.

February sales in Greater Vancouver were the third lowest February total in the region since 2002, though only 151 sales below the 10-year average.

“With a sales-to-active-listings ratio of 18 per cent, we fairly balanced conditions in our marketplace as we move into the traditionally busier spring season,” Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached, and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,552 in February 2012. This represents a 2.5 per cent decline compared to February 2011 when 5,693 properties were listed, and a 3.5 per cent decline compared to January 2012 when 5,756 homes were added to the MLS in Greater Vancouver.
Last month’s new listing count was the second highest February total in Greater Vancouver since 1996.

At 14, 055, the total number of residential property listings on MLS increased 12 per cent in February compared to last month and increased 17.9 per cent from this time last year.

“Region-wide we’ve seen relative stability in home prices over the last six months, but it’s important to do your homework and consult your REALTORS because pricing can vary considerably depending on the neighbourhood and property type,” Setticasi said.

The MLS HPI benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver currently sits at $670,900 up 6 per cent compared to February 2011 and an increase of 0.9 per cent compared to January 2012. The benchmark price for all residential properties in the Lower Mainland is $601,300 an increase of 5.5 per cent compared to February 2011.

Sales of detached properties on the MLS in February 2012 reached 1,101 a decline of 21.5 per cent from the 1,402 detached sales recorded in February 2011, and a 12 per cent increase from the 983 units sold in February 2012. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 10.5 per cent from February 2011 to $1,042,900.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,020 in February 2012, a decline of 15.4 per cent compared to the 1,206 sales in February 2011, and a decrease of 5 per cent compared to the 1,074 sales in February 2010. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.8 per cent from February 2011 to $373,300. 

Townhouse property sales in February 2012 totalled 424, a decline of 13.3 per cent compared to the 489 sales in February 2011 and a 1.9 per cent increase from the 416 townhouse properties sold in February 2010. The benchmark price of a townhouse unit increased 0.7 per cent between February 2011 and 2012 to $472,800.
 

March 12, 2012 REBGV Article available online at http://www.rebgv.org/news-statistics/greater-vancouver-housing-market-trends-near-long-term-averages-spring-market

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Where Canada stands

Canada ranks "in the middle of the pack" on the global real estate froth scale, Bank of Nova Scotia says in a new look at housing markets around the world.

"The global housing boom which began in the mid- to late-1990s and extended through the mid- to late-2000s was notable in its breadth, strength and longevity," economist Adrienne Warren says, and has taken different paths across different markets. Ms. Warren tracked inflation-adjusted prices in 12 advanced economies. In Japan and Germany, prices declined. In four markets - the United States, Britain, Ireland and Spain - average prices have plunged markedly from their peaks. And in six - Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland - prices remain in record territory or close to it. On average, a cycle of rising prices was 12 years. Italy saw the shortest, at eight years, and Ireland and Sweden the highest at 15. Canada's boom has run for 13 years.

"Based on cumulative price increases since the start of their respective cycles, the U.S. real estate market appears the least overvalued, with average prices having reverted back to mid-1990s levels," Ms. Warren said of the country most cited for the housing crash. She found "little evidence" of marked overvaluation in Switzerland and Italy, at about 30 per cent over the cycle, and counted Ireland, Sweden and Britain as the most overvalued, at between 130 per cent and 150 per cent. "Canada falls in the middle of the pack, with inflation-adjusted average home prices rising 83 per cent since 1998. The relatively smaller cumulative price increase compared with some of the frothiest markets reflects in part a later takeoff. Canada residential real estate boom started several years after many of its counterparts, with the economy still feeling the effects of the deep recession of the early 1990s and a weak labour market recovery through mid-decade. "Canada's housing market has been cooling, though few see a melt down in the works.

According to new projections from the Canadian Real Estate Association today, home sales in Canada are expected to inch up this year and dip next, while prices slip this year and rise in 2013. National numbers in each case are skewed by Ontario and Vancouver, respectively. "Risks to the Canadian economic outlook remain elevated owing to the European sovereign debt quagmire, but the continuation of low interest rates is the silver lining," the group's chief economist, Gregory Klump, said in the new report today. "So long as the European debt crisis is contained and a global economic recession avoided, low interest rates will support Canadian home sales and prices. Recent trends are reassuring, but interest rates remaining low for longer will doubtless keep the Canadian housing market under scrutiny for signs of overheating. "CREA forecast sales will climb 0.3 per cent this year to 458,800 on better demand in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, but slip by the same percentage, to 457,200, in 2013. However, all provinces but Ontario will see "modest gains" next year.

National average prices have spiked on sales of rich properties in Vancouver, but CREA said that won't likely happen again this year. Thus, the national average is projected to slip 1.1 per cent to $359,100 this year, and rise 0.9 per cent in 2013 to $362,300. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said today he's still concerned about the condo market, but that housing overall has moderated.

Economists paint rosier view
Canada's finance minister got an upbeat forecast today from private sector economists, who predict his government will have more revenue coming in over the next few years thanks to increased stability in Europe and better-than-expected U.S. growth. It was only a few months ago that the same group of economists were urging Jim Flaherty to pad Ottawa's books with prudence in case the global economy worsened, The Globe and Mail's Bill Curry reports.

 
China cuts forecast
China has cut its forecast for economic growth for the first time in seven years, though economists don't actually accept the new numbers and aren't rushing to rejig their own projections. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveiled the new growth target today at the opening of the National People's Congress, Carolynne Wheeler reports from Beijing, trimming it to 7.5 per cent from 8 per cent, a move that sparked some concern. Economists say "growth stability" is the primary focus for Beijing, and generally believe the economy will perform above the official target. "Of course, to what extent this means anything sustainable going forward depends upon the success with which Chinese authorities are able to engineer such a soft landing," said Derek Holt and Dov Zigler of Scotia Capital. "In that context, note that Chinese growth has often overshot the 8-per-cent target that has been in place since 2005. In fact, only one year 2008 came in lower than the target as all other years since recorded growth of 9.8 per cent to 11.2 per cent. So much for targets. What it does signal, however, is that market expectations for further policy easing by way of cuts to required reserve ratios and/or fiscal stimulus through large pump-priming outlays should be held to a moderate slant."

 
Markets eye Greek bond swap
Markets are watching developments in Greece - again - as Athens nears results of the "voluntary" debt swap that could yet again determine its fate. Thursday marks the deadline for private bondholders to agree to the exchange of debt, part of a sweeping plan to to ease its debt crisis. Athens needs 75 per cent to agree, but has targeted 90 per cent. Standard Poor's has already decided Greece is in "selective default" after changing the terms of some payments through what are known as collective action clauses, or CACs. And last week, a key industry body, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, found Greece had not defaulted. "The worst scenario is one where Greece fails to even meet the threshold for introducing CACs so the whole deal falls apart," said currency strategist Elsa Lignos of RBC in London. "But for CACs to become binding, just 50 per cent of the face value needs to register and of those 2/3 need to consent to the CACs.
 
 
Given that Greece holds the voting rights to debt previously held by the [European Central Bank] and is assured co-operation from Greek banks and funds, that is a low threshold to meet. The most likely scenario is take-up that exceeds 75 per cent but doesn't reach the target 90 per cent, with Greece using CACs to force the holdouts. "Several major institutions said today they would agree.
 
EU to act on board glass ceiling
The European Union is eyeing measures, such as quotas, to increase the number of women on corporate boards. A report by the European Commission released today shows what the group called "limited progress" a year after Justice Minister Viviane Reding urged companies to adopt self-regulatory moves. According to the report, women account for only on in seven directors at Europe's major companies. While that's up marginally from 2010, the EC said, "it would still take more than 40 years to reach a significant gender balance (at least 40 per cent of both sexes) at this rate. "Gender balance at top levels lead to better performance, the group said, and it launched a consultation program as to what measures it could take that will run until May 28. Then it will make a decision.
 
 
The true north strong (at least one of us) and free
The idea of Iceland adopting the Canadian dollar isn’t as nutsy as it might seem to some.
Indeed, says Justin Wolfers, a prominent U.S. economist, if Iceland really wants to do it, Canada should go for it. And if we don't, maybe the Aussies will. It also appears there's nothing to stop the Icelanders from doing it on their own, by the way. The suggestion, which has been tossed around in some quarters in Iceland over the past several months, picked up steam late last week when Canada ambassador to the tiny nation, Alan Bones, said Ottawa is open to talking about it if Iceland makes the request. What we know the nature of the final agreement is will depend very much on the expectations of both countries, Mr. Bones told a broadcast interviewer in Iceland. But in a straightforward unilateral adoption of the Canadian dollar by Iceland, where it is clear that there's no input into monetary policy, then we'd be certainly open to discussing the issue. Mr. Bones had actually prepared to take it further, and was planning to deliver a similar message Saturday to a conference on Iceland currency, the krona. But, as The Globe and Mail's Barrie McKenna reported, Canada Foreign Affairs and International Trade Department pulled the plug at the last minute.
 
 
Coincidentally, that happened just a few hours after my colleague story was published online, picked up by other media and flashed around the world via Twitter. Canadian officials said Ottawa won't talk about the currencies of other countries (though that didn't seem to be an issue when the G7 intervened to stem a surge in the yen a year ago) and that it wouldn't have been right to make such comments at a political event, in this case one held by Iceland's opposition Progressive Party. I agree it wasn't the venue for it, particularly given that Iceland's government is officially preparing to join the 17-member euro zone, but it does seem clear that someone somewhere has been talking about this. It's highly unlikely that Mr. Bones went rogue. Iceland, of course, was the original poster child of the meltdown, suffering a banking collapse, an economic mess and capital controls.

An independent currency for a country with the population of the size of a decently sized Canadian city was always going to be a problem, said Sebastien Galy, senior currency strategist at SocitGrale. Having that country run a financial bubble while offering very high yield was a recipe for a very rapid rise of a financial empire followed by a catastrophic collapse, with the currency ceasing to have a market at one point. The past few years have been of picking up the broken pieces, and a move to a new currency would help to bring credibility while forcing adjustments in internal prices. Should that new currency be the loonie, as it's known in Canada, which is actually a coin rather than a bill? While both currencies share some commonality with their exposures to energy and commodities, it is a reaction to the government negotiating and preparing for the eventual introduction of the [euro], Mr. Galy said of the weekend discussion in the opposition camp. Neither currency is optimal for this country and it is atug of war between Iceland's European and more independent Nordic roots.

Mr. Wolfers thinks the Australian dollar would be a better fit for Iceland. But from Canada's perspective, it would be a no- brainer,the associate professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania told me. Honestly, other countries should compete with Canada for Iceland's business,” said Mr. Wolfers, also a visiting fellow at Princeton, citing Australia in particular. This followed his comments Friday on Twitter, to which Australian MP Andrew Leigh, a former economics professor, responded that, indeed, Iceland would be better off adopting the Aussie dollar. So maybe we can get a competition going. Mr. Wolfers was referring to what is known as seigniorage, which is how Canada could benefit should Iceland actually ever ditch the krona for the loonie. I'm not talking about a currency union here, just Iceland using the loonie.
 
Here are five things to consider:
 
1. Seigniorage
This is the biggie, if a bit complex.
Seigniorage is the difference between the cost of printing a currency and its value. As the Bank of Canada explains it, it's the difference between the interest the central bank reaps on a portfolio of government securities, in turn basically the same amount as the value of outstanding bank notes, and what it costs to issue, distribute and replace the bills. On its website, the central bank uses the example of a $20 bill, which has an average lifespan of three years and is the most commonly used. If it invests the proceeds of issuing that note in a government security that yields interest of 5 per cent, the bill yields $1 a year. Producing that bill costs 9 cents. Given the three-year lifespan, it costs an average of 3 cents a year to produce the note. Add 2 cents a year to distribute it, and the annual cost is 5 cents, which means revenue for the central bank of about 95 cents a year for each $20 bill that’s out there. More than $50-billion has been circulating at any given time, though that can and does change.
 
 
Generally, the central bank says, it reaps about $2-billion a year. Some is used for general expenses - $366-million in 2009 – and the rest goes to government coffers. Given Iceland's small size its population is just 320,000 and the fact that its people have embraced electronic banking, we're not talking about a seigniorage windfall here. But Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is looking to get his hands on whatever he can. Printing money is a good thing for Canada, Mr. Wolfers said. Every dollar in circulation is on the debit side of the central bank's balance sheet, and they're effectively borrowing from the Icelanders at a zero-per-cent interest rate.

So if there are no strings attached, why not? Or, as Mr. Wolfers put it, referring to Iceland, as long as you're a bastard, it's all profit.
 
2. A stable currency
Iceland could of course benefit from a devalued currency. Instead it would get a strong, stable currency that has been something of a haven during this post-crisis period of uncertainty. While strong, exporters at least know what to expect. Consider, too, that the Canadian dollar is liquid. The krona was "blasted through smithereens and very few banks can trade [it] in anything else than very small amounts," Mr. Galy noted. The dollar has been hovering around par with its U.S. counterpart and is expected to remain there, at least through the end of this year.
 
 
I'm not sure Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty would agree, but Mr. Galy believes that the Bank of Canada has held interest rates below where they should be to hold the loonie down and give exporters more time to adjust to the currencys strength. So that's at least something for Iceland if you take that view. This soft approach means that capital may be increasingly misallocated at too low a rate (e.g. potentially housing),” he said. The more German approach, familiar to many German communities in Canada, is to get down and fix the productivity issue, irrespective of any short-term pain. There is a fine balance between the easy and hard way, we must all tackle whether in Iceland, Europe or Canada.”
 
3. Respected central bank
Iceland would of course have no say in monetary policy, but it would have a currency overseen by a very strong central bank and governor, who led Canada out of the recession admirably. Mark Carney is also respected on the global stage, having recently been named to head up the Financial Stability Board. "Dear Canada: If Iceland wants you rather than their own inept central bank to earn their seigniorage, accept the deal," Mr. Wolfers said on Twitter.

4. Fiscal, economic stability
Iceland has no reputation in the wake of its banking collapse. Who would you prefer at that point, a euro zone crippled by recession and a two-year-old debt crisis, or Canada? With Canada, you get a stable, if lukewarm, economic outlook, a government that’s still rated triple-A, and a fiscal standing to die for (if you're Greece or Portugal). And, we can count.

5. Our glowing hearts
For Iceland, do not underestimate friendship in this post-crisis era of currency manipulation and mounting trade tensions. We're a wonderful people, they're a wonderful people. We've got a beautiful country, they've got a beautiful country. True, it gets cold in Canada in the winter, but remember we're talking about Iceland. And surely we can forgive them for Bjork. (A colleague quipped today that he wondered whether Bjprk could qualify as Canadian content, or Cancon, should the adoption of the loonie ever take place. So he asked about it, even though it began as a joke. She wouldn't. She'd need to meet two of four criteria, even if totally financed with Canadian dollars. As in, she'd hypothetically have to cover a Tragically Hip number in Canada, or her track would have to be produced by a Canadian like Daniel Lanois. Without that, the Icelandic star is still Icelandic under Canada's rules.
 
What to watch for this week

The Bank of Canada is back at the table with its policy meeting of the year and an announcement Thursday. No change is expected in the central bank's benchmark rate of 1 per cent. "With investors paring the odds of both a U.S. recession and euro zone train wreck, the odds of an interim bank rate cut have not surprisingly dwindled," said Peter Buchanan of CIBC World Markets. "That said, the last thing Governor Carney wants is to add to the currency’s tailwinds and manufacturers' competitive woes, with the loonie back at five-month highs on triple-digit crude. Look for a cautious statement consequently that stresses continuing global financial risks along with the ongoing dangers of an overvalued currency. "The European Central Bank and Bank of England also meet Thursday. A day later, markets will turn their attention to the key issue of unemployment in both Canada and the United States.

Economists largely expect Statistics Canada's jobs report to show about 15,000 jobs were created in February, and the unemployment rate remained stuck at 7.6 per cent. In the United States, where the labour market has made surprising gains recently, observers expect to see a reading of more than 200,000 jobs, with the jobless rate holding at 8.3 per cent. "We don't anticipate a further rise in the jobless rate, but we also don’t look for a break from the recent lacklustre pace of job growth either," deputy chief economist Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns said of the Canadian report. "Mild weather will support some sectors (retail, construction, transportation), but could weigh on others (recreation)." In the markets, earnings are slowing down, but some biggies remain, notably Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Dorel Industries Inc. and Viterra Inc., among others, which report throughout the week.
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Sales to rise 0.3 pct in 2012 - CREA

* Sales to dip 0.3 pct in 2013

* Avg home price to fall 1.1 pct in 2012 to C$359,100

March 5 (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada are projected to increase slightly this year, but dip in 2013, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Monday.

Sales are predicted to rise 0.3 percent in 2012 to 458,800 nationally, up from 457,305 in 2011, said CREA. The modest increase is attributed to rising demand in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia which is expected to offset declines in British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick.

However the trend is expected to reverse in 2013, with national sales dipping 0.3 percent to 457,200.

"So long as the European debt crisis is contained and a global economic recession avoided, low interest rates will support Canadian home sales and prices," CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump said in a statement.

The Bank of Canada will make its next interest rate announcement this week with analysts anticipating no change to the current 1 percent target, according to a Reuters survey.

On Monday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the Canadian economy should grow modestly and the budget deficit should gradually be eliminated.

CREA also said the average home price this year is expected to fall 1.1 percent from 2011 to C$359,100 ($363,500), down from C$363,116 in 2011. In 2013, the average price is forecast to rebound 0.9 percent to C$362,300.

Ten of 14 economists and strategists surveyed last month in Reuters' first poll on the Canadian housing sector said they expect home prices to stall with a mere 0.1 percent rise this year, and the same in 2013.

In contrast to the United States, the housing market in Canada has remained robust, though some officials have warned of rising household debt levels while mortgage rates remain low.

"There has been some moderation in the housing market. I remain concerned about the condo market, quite frankly," Flaherty said on Monday.

"Interest rates are relatively low, so I again encourage Canadians to be careful in the amount of debt they take on in terms of residential mortgages because rates will go up some day and I would not want people to get caught."

 

March 5, 2012 Thomson Reuters Article, available online at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/05/canada-economy-housing-idUSL2E8E569Z20120305

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I have listed a new property at 307 1808 3RD AVE W in Vancouver.
Welcome to Kore! This luxury concrete condo has it all - located right in the heart of beautiful Kitsilano. NEW spacious one bedroom corner unit features high end finishings, large balcony, hardwood floors throughout, open-concept kitchen,stainless steel appliances, Caesartone & marble counters, gas cooktop, floor-to-ceiling windows and great city views. Priced to sell, no HST, don't miss this one! Open House March 10th, Saturday, 2-4pm
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Please visit our Open House at 307 1808 3RD AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, March 10, 2012 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Welcome to Kore! This luxury concrete condo has it all - located right in the heart of beautiful Kitsilano. NEW spacious one bedroom corner unit features high end finishings, large balcony, hardwood floors throughout, open-concept kitchen,stainless steel appliances, Caesartone & marble counters, gas cooktop, floor-to-ceiling windows and great city views. Priced to sell, no HST, don't miss this one! Open House March 10th, Saturday, 2-4pm
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