The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that the dollar volume of homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC declined 12.9 per cent to $3.1 billion in July compared to the same month last year. A total of 6,482 MLS® residential unit sales were recorded over the same period, down 0.8 per cent from July 2011. The average MLS® residential price was $474,954, 12.2 per cent lower than a year ago.

"While some potential homebuyers in Vancouver are taking a breather over the summer months, stronger consumer demand continues across the rest of the province," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. MLS® residential unit sales outside of Vancouver were up 11 per cent in July over a year ago. In contrast, home sales through the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver were down 18 per cent over the same period.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume declined 16.5 per cent to $23.5 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales dipped 7.9 per cent to 44,794 units, while the average MLS® residential price was 9.4 per cent lower at $525,183.

Article from British Columbia Real Estate Association, August 14th 2012

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Please visit our Open House at 307 1808 3RD AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, August 19, 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, Caesarstone & marble counters, gas cooktop, floor-to-ceiling windows and great city views. Priced to sell, no HST, don't miss this one! Public Open House August 19th, Sunday, 2:00 - 4:00pm
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The Greater Vancouver housing market saw further reduction in buyer demand last month. Residential property sales totalled 2,098 on greater Vancouver’s Multiple Listing Service in July; this is a decline of 18% compared to July 2011 and 31% below the ten year sales average for the month. This total amounts to the lowest selling July in our market since 2000.
Home sellers listed just over 4,800 properties for sale in Greater Vancouver in July. This is a decline of just about 15% from June. It represents the lowest total of any new listings for any month so far this year. There are just under 18,100 properties currently listed on our MLS, that’s a 2% decrease from last month and about a 19% decrease over last year.
Today our sales to active listings ratio sits at 11%, which places us in the upper end of a buyer’s market. In a buyer’s market purchasers typically have more selection to choose from and more time to make decisions. Generally analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips around the 10-12% mark, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it reaches the 20-22% range for a sustained period of time.

The MLS HPI benchmark price for all residential properties in the region is currently $616,000, that’s an increase of less than 1% compared to July 2011. However, we have seen slight reductions in home prices over the last 3 months. 

Market Stats from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver 


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Secondary suites continue to be an affordable housing option for Metro Vancouver area residents, benefitting home owners as mortgage helpers and tenants as a less expensive roof over their heads.

Secondary suites are so prevalent that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates there are now about 101,808 accessory suites in the Metro Vancouver region.
“With so many suites in our area, it’s important to remind home owners to let their insurer know about a suite and to buy insurance to cover the suite,” says REBGV member David Chambers, a licensed REALTOR and a licensed insurance agent, and vice president of Chambers Olson Insurance in Vancouver.
“Whether the suite is legal or illegal, having insurance coverage is vita,” says Chambers who notes there is a misconception among home owners that their existing policy will cover a suite. “It doesn’t,” says Chambers.
A home owner who doesn’t tell their insurer about a suite and that there are two households living in the home, opens themselves up to a significant risk.
An unreported and uninsured suite could potentially void the existing insurance contract on the primary residence if there is a flood or a fire,” explains Chambers.
Some home owners may not properly insure their property because of fear that their insurer will report the suite to local municipality. “This isn’t true,” says Chambers. “However, we always advise our clients to comply with local bylaws and report and register the suit with the local municipality.”
How much will insurance cost? “About 10% of the cost of your total home insurance. So if you’re paying $1,200, it will cost you and additional $120,” says Chambers.
Home owners who rent their secondary suite can also buy separate comprehensive rental insurance. Depending on the insurer and on the policy this can cover vandalism and damage by tenants, typically up to a payout maximum limit of 5,000. This insurance doesn’t cover the tenant’s belongings. The tenant has to buy their own insurance for their possessions.
Home owners with laneway homes, coach homes above garages and other authorized or unauthorized accommodation on their property should also let their insurer know and should buy appropriate coverage. 

Article from Realtor Link, August 10th, 2012

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The Process
The following steps are designed to help a homeowner through the various states involved in either putting in a new suite in an existing house, or keeping an existing suite that has no prior permits or approval.

STEP 1: Apply for a Special Inspection and book an appointment for this inspection. A Special Inspection is a coordinated inspection carried out by the Building, Electrical and Plumbing Inspectors. Its purpose is to determine what upgrading work would be required to legalize a suite.

STEP 2: Review Upgrading Letter. You will receive a letter listing the permits, plans, and upgrading requirements. Please read the letter carefully and prepare any documents that are required to obtain permits (e.g. Plans).

STEP 3: Obtain Permits. Bring the letter to City Hall (453 West 12th Ave, 2nd floor of the East Wing Building) with the necessary plans as indicated on the letter and apply for a Combined Development and Building Permit.

NOTE: A Combined Development and Building Permit can be obtained by the homeowner. However, Electrical, Plumbing and Gas Permits, if required will only be issued to licensed contractors.

STEP 4: Call for Inspections. Progress inspections are required during the course of the upgrading. Several inspections may be required before a job can be finalized. To book a progress inspection or final inspection for a secondary suite, you or your contractor may phone 3-1-1.

STEP 5: Suite Approval. If the work meets al requirements, your suite will be approved. Staff in the Secondary Suite Office will send you a letter confirming this.

STEP 6: Annual Business License. An annual Business License will be required for rental suites. Please see staff in the License Office or phone 3-1-1.

Permits, Plans and Upgrading Requirements:
The information below has been prepared as a guide to homeowners only. The relevant City By-Law and/or Code requirements will take precedence.

A Development and Building Permit will be required to carry out upgrading work and to formally change the use of your house from a one-family dwelling to a one-family dwelling with a seconday suite. The homeowner of his/her representatives can apply for this permit.

If the upgrading letter identifies any required trades permits, i.e. Electrical, Plumbing or Gas Permits, these permits can only be obtained by licensed contractors.

Plan Requirements:
Plans are required at the time you apply for a Development and Building Permit. In most cases, two sets of simple floor plans will be acceptable, showing the layout of the floor level where the suite is located

These plans do not need to be prepared by a professional; however, they must be drawn to scale, with location and dimensions of all secondary suite rooms (bedrooms/kitchen/bathroom/living room etc.), stairs, windows and doors clearly labelled. Plans should also include location of electrical outlets and plumbing fixtures.

If on-site parking is required, two sets of site plans will also be required showing the location and dimensions of the on-site parking space. Building a new garage or carport will require further plans and permits.

If additions or alterations are proposed or required in other parts of the building, or if the building is raised or lowered, further plans will be required.

For information regarding the submission of drawings for new construction, please contact the Enquiry Centre at 604-873-7611.

Upgrading Requirements:
The following are general requirements for a secondary suite, identified through a Special Inspection of the building, where Building, Electrical and Plumbing/Gas inspectors attend the property together. The focus of the inspection is the suite area; however, any hazards throughout the building that are identified during the inspection, must be corrected whether or not a suite is retained or installed.

• Houses built before April 20, 2004 – one on-site parking space will be accepted.
• Houses built after April 20, 2004 – require two on-site parking spaces (one for the primary dwelling unit and one for the secondary suite).
• A parking space is 8” x 18”. In some cases, a site peculiarity may allow a relaxation
• A durable surface is required for parking spaces.

Fire Separation:
• Existing lath and plaster in good condition, or minimum ½ inch gypsum wallboard is required on walls and/or ceiling between the primary swelling unit and the secondary suite.
• Self-closing devices are required on any interconnection doors between units.

• For sprinklered buildings, interconnected, hard-wired smoke alarms, installed with a permanent connection to an electrical circuit, are required outside every bedroom, and at least one smoke alarm on every storey.
• For unsprinklered suites, in addition to the above, these smoke alarms must be equipped with carbon monoxide detection, battery backup and manual silencing devices which will silence the alarm for a period of 10 minutes, after which the alarm will continue to function
• The proper number of receptacles/ appliance circuits will be required in the suite.
• The main electrical service must be sized to accommodate all electrical loads (e.g. electric dryers will require a minimum 100 amp service).

Plumping and Gas:
• Existing plumping and gas fixtures must be properly installed with approved traps and vents.
• Furnace and hot water tank vents require proper clearance from combustible materials.
• Gas appliances must be installed in an approved manner.

Changes to the Zoning and Development By-law now make it possible to have a secondary suite in most detached single family homes in the City of Vancouver. In addition, building code standards have been relaxed to facilitate the secondary suite process. Example of these changes include:
• “One-Family Dwelling with Secondary Suite” to be permitted in all residential zones, i.e. all zones with an “R” designation; and specific CD-1 zones;
• No more “Phase-out Suite”;
• One on-site parking space will be acceptable for a house with a secondary suite, if the house was built prior to April 20, 2004;
• Partial sprinkler system will no longer be a requirement for existing non-sprinklered houses (certain conditions apply). Instead, interconnected hard-wired smoke alarms equipped with battery backup and manual silencing device are to be installed;
• Ceiling height requirement for a existing house reduced to 6’6” over 80% of the suite area and in all areas of exit from the suite.

One time inspection and permit fees as follows:

Special Inspection - $$155 (plus HST)
Combined Development and Building Permit – from $661
Electrical Permit – from $58
Plumbing Permit – from $145
Gas Permit – from $152

For more information on secondary suites and to book inspections, please phone 3-1-1.

Annual fees as follows:

Annual Business License - $61
*One-time fee for new application - $50

Please contact the License Office at 3-1-1.

Additional Water, Sewer and Recycling Flat Rates (part of your annual property tax). For more information, please contact the Utility Billing Office or phone 3-1-1.

Water - $182
Sewer - $95
Recycling - $24

Note: Rates subject to change without notice.

Guidelines from the City of Vancouver

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Resident or non-resident?
Under Canada’s income tax system, whether and individual is a resident or a non-resident can play a significant role in how much tax they pay.

• A resident must pay Canadian income tax on his/her worldwide income from all sources.
• A non-resident must pay Canadian income tax only on income from sources inside Canada.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) defines a resident as someone who has lived in Canada for a minimum of 183 days within the past year.
If your client is considered a resident of Canada, they will not have to pay taxes owing on the sale of property in Canada until they file their income tax return for the year in which they sold the property,

Your client is a non-resident for tax purposes if they:
• live in another country and are not considered a resident of Canada;
• do not have significant residential ties including a home, spouse or common law partner or property in Canada; and
                • live outside Canada through the tax year; or
                • stay in Canada for less than 183 days in the tax year.
For information visit and in the search box enter IT221R3. This will take you to a form, Determination of an Individual’s Residence Status.
If your client would like a CRA opinion about their residency status, they should complete and submit Form NR74, Determination of Residency Status (Entering Canada). Visit and in the search box enter NR74.

Non-residents and property ownership
A non-resident who buys a property and does not rent it, and does not earn income in Canada does not have to file an income tax return.

Non-residents and rental property
A non-resident property owner who rents their property is required to pay a 25% withholding tax on either gross or net rent and have it remitted monthly.

1. Withholding tax on gross rent
A non-resident property owner withholding 25% of the gross rent is required to have a Canadian agent remit the withholding tax to CRA within 15 days or each month-end together with Form NR4 Statement of Amounts Paid or Credited to Non-Residents of Canada.

2. Withholding tax on net rent
A non-resident property owner can apply to have the 25% withholding tax applier to net income instead of gross income, under Section 216 of the Income Tax Act. This will allow the owner to deduct expenses such as mortgage interest, property taxes and maintenance. 

If CRA approves withholding on the net rent rather that gross rent then non-resident property owners must file Form NR6, Undertaking to File and Income Tax Return by a Non-Resident Receiving Rent from Real Property or Receiving a Timber Royalty.
When filing Form NR6, the owner or property manager must still report the gross amount of rental income for the entire year on Form NR4.
A non-resident owner must also file a Section 216 income tax return for the year even if the property owner has no tax payable or no refund coming.

When a non-resident sells a property
All non-resident sellers of Canadian property (including assigning a pre-sale) must notify the CRA within 10 days of the date of the property sale to obtain a Certificate of Compliance and remit 25% of any capital gain (profit).
The Certificate of Compliance is proof that the CRA has received prepayment of the taxes owing on profits. The tax is 25% more of the difference between the sale price and the cost of the property including improvements made during ownership.
If the seller doesn’t obtain a Certificate of Compliance, their notary or lawyer must withhold and remit 25% of the gross proceeds of the sale to CRA.
Buyers also typically request a holdback of 25% or more of the purchase price until the Certificate of Compliance is delivered.
This is to protect the buyer. If a seller were to disappear without paying the required taxes, they buyer would be liable for those taxes.
Sellers taking a loss on a property must obtain a Certificate of Compliance; otherwise 25% of the sale price will be used as a holdback
When a non-resident owner sells a Canadian property that has never been rented, they must complete a Section 116 income tax return, Procedures Concerning the Disposition of Taxable Canadian Property by Non-residents of Canada – Section 116. (Visit CRA website and in the search box enter IC72-17R6).
When a non-resident owner sells a Canadian property that has been rented, they must complete a Section 216 income tax return in the year after the sale. This allows them to claim a refund on their income tax for expenses related to the sale such as notary of legal fees, inspection and survey fees and realtor commissions when they file their tax return.
This return must be filed by April 30.

Article from The Open House, July 27, 2012, Volume 7, Number 8

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