Looking for major developmental projects happening in the Lower Mainland? Look no further! The BC Major Projects Inventory (MPI) gives details on projects within BC with a capital cost value of $15M or $20M within the Lower Mainland area. Take a look below for a snapshot of some private and public sector construction projects.

 
 

For a more comprehensive look at the projects, click hereFor all your real estate needs, contact us at info@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively at 604-801-6654.

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Today's blog will look at the tax implications of constructing a laneway house. First things first, what IS a laneway house? It is a small detached residential infill house that typically fronts on the lane of a larger principal house and is generally located where the garage would normally go on a single-family lot. A laneway house can be built on any lot 32 feet or wider in any RS single family zone. Within Metro Vancouver, this type of housing unit is gaining popularity as it increases the value of one's home. However, a few things to note is that it could potentially affect the eligibility of claiming a Home Owner Grant, may result in higher property taxes and may affect the capital gains principal residence exemption for tax purposes.

The City of Vancouver sets out a step-by-step guide to help with the planning process which can be found here. Check out the guidelines here and the regulations here.  

Below you will find additional documents that may be of use:
» Laneway House Guidelines
» Laneway Housing Regulations
» City of Vancouver Checklist of Application Submission Requirements

Remember, it is advised to know the tax and legal implications of having a laneway house. Speak to a knowledged real estate agent or legal representative in regards to this matter. For all your real estate needs, contact us at info@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively at 604-801-6654.

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Source: BC Real Estate Association (BCREA)

Cameron Muir, Chief Economist of the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA), gives a quick, yet detailed overview of the May 2015 statistics. Looking at the statistics, seller market conditions are prevailing. In the first time since 2007, MLS residential sales within BC surpassed 10,000 units in the month of May with an astonishing 10,174 residential unit sales recorded. Looking back at the first five months of the year, there has been a 22% increase in home sales and a 35% increase in the dollar volume bringing it to $25.4 billion. In contrast, there has been a 14% decrease in inventory of homes for sale from the previous year at approximately 45,000 units. This is the lowest level for the month of May since 2007. 

"Home sales for the month were at an eight year high for the month of May," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Strong consumer demand is pushing home sales up in most of the large urban areas of the province."

Average home prices for BC have seen an increase of 12% year over year at $632,000 and the price for a typical home increased over 9% in Vancouver. Moving over to the commercial side of real estate, retail sales have grown more than 8% through the first quarter of 2015. This growth rate has been the highest in the past five years.

For all your real estate needs, contact us at info@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively at 604-801-6654.

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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) provides us with an easy-to-understand video that depicts the specific insider trends in the housing market. Demand continues to outpace supply across Metro Vancouver resulting in seller market conditions.

In order to stay competitive in the marketplace, get connected with a knowledgeable realtor. With over 25 years in the industry, WeSellVancouver can provide advice on:

» Strategies for pricing
» What to include in the contract
» How to safeguard yourself

Whether you're buying or selling, we can assist you through the process. For all your real estate needs, contact us at info@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively at 604-801-6654.

Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

 

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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has a Listed vs. Sold section on their website which graphically represents the comparison between number of units listed vs. number of units actually sold. You have the ability to select a neighbourhood and property type within that neighbourhood to get a visual representation of that data in a graph format. Below is an example of the Vancouver West - Detached statistics.

The graph displays data for a one-year period and displays the following information on a month-to-month basis: units listed, units sold and active listings. To check out other neighbourhoods and property types, take a look at their website here.

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Southeast Vancouver's River District, which encompasses Boundary Road, Marine Way, Kerr Street and the Fraser River, will be seeing major improvements in the way of residential developments. This riverfront community covering 120-acres is in the midst of seeing 1,250 homes underway with thousands more anticipated. There will be approximately 7,000 homes in this area which will be able to house up to 17,000 residents. Marine Way has already seen improvements earlier this year in terms of aesthetics such as shrubbery and in road improvements such as including new traffic signals.

RD2, our unofficial name for this development, is Vancouver's last waterfront community. According to Beau Jarvis, Wesgroup senior VP, "[t]his site was one of the largest, if not the largest, rezoning since the Expo lands". This project has been in the works for quite some time as "it took about 10 years to obtain the zoning and get an official development plan with the City of Vancouver while working with the community", stated Jarvis. Back in 2010, Polygon Homes bought approximately 15 acres of the site and expects to finish building another 156 pre-sold homes by the summer time. In addition, they are working on a development called "Rhythm" which is expected to break ground this spring.

The site's overall master developer, Wesgroup, has even more grandiose plans. Their near-term plans include the development of 700 homes in two towers - a mid-rise and one that is slated to be 18 storeys. Development permits have yet to be received, however, Jarvis expects "prior-to" letters from the City relatively soon. Upon receipt of the required documents, Wesgroup will then be able to launch its project and start with the marketing of this River District development project.

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In today's time and age, location is definitely key, especially in Metro Vancouver. Choosing where to live includes various factors and we'll shed light on some ways to save money by being environmentally conscious about your choice of location.

First off, situate yourself in "green" neighbourhoods. What we mean by that is, look at properties that are in close proximity to work, school, shopping, community centres and other services. In doing so, the commute to these areas take up less fuel and subsequently, are easier on your wallet and the environment.

Another suggestion is to situate yourself in a transit-oriented area. Nowadays, many neighbourhoods are being built with transit as their focus. There is a shift towards shared driving or utilizing Car2Go as there has been a reduction in car ownership in Vancouver.

Choosing a walkable neighbourhood will offer health, environmental , financial and community benefits. Take a look at WALKSCORE to calculate the walkability score of your neighbourhood.

Contact us by e-mail at info@wesellvancouver.ca or by phone at 604-801-6654 if you have any questions in regards to buying or selling!

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In this blog, we'll be touching base again on the demand for housing in the Greater Vancouver Region. As stated in the previous blog, the demand for housing has slightly outpaced the supply for it. In addition, we will be delving into the current status of the real estate market.

The real estate market is cyclical in which several factors such as interest rates, employment growth, investment growth, construction and immigration influence this cycle. These factors affect whether it is a buyer's, seller's or balanced market.

[1] A buyer's market is when the housing supply is greater than the demand. This generally results in housing prices dropping over a period of time due to the fact that home owners may be eager to sell their property.

[2] On the other end of the spectrum is the seller's market. It is when interest rates are low so there are many qualified buyers but not many homes for sale. In this case, buyers must make quick decisions in order to secure a property due to the housing scarcity. Buyers also face competition with multiple offers on the home they are interested in buying and consequently, housing prices may rise.

[3] Lastly, a balanced market is where there supply and demand are fairly equal to one another (not necessarily at equilibrium though). 

Ray Harris stated, "[o]ur market today sits on the cusp between a balance and seller's market". To measure market activity, the Sales-to-Listings ratio is often utilized. This tool measures the balance between demand and supply and the market categorization is based off of the ratio.

-- A ratio of three sales for five listings means we are in a seller's market (when the ratio is greater than 55%).
-- A ratio of less than seven sales for every 20 listings means we are in a buyer's market (when the ratio is less than 35%).
-- A ratio between 35 - 55% would be considered a balanced market.

 *Market Type Sales Ratio as per the Real Estate Board of Vancouver & most industry analysts.

Source: REBGV Market Type

     
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The real estate industry is a key economic driver in BC. Despite the preconceived notions of Vancouverites, the Greater Vancouver housing market is seeing demand for housing slightly outpace the supply. We continue to see incremental gains in home values, depending on the neighbourhood and property type. According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), residential property sales in the Greater Vancouver area has reached 3,061 in July alone, making it the fourth consecutive month that the Greater Vancouver market has exceeded 3,000 sales (McLeod, 2014). Prior to this upsurge in sales, the housing sales have not surpassed this sales mark since June 2011. 

The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) measures home price trends and home price inflation/deflation in residential markets within territories of participating real estate boards in Canada (MLS, 2014). The HPI composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is presently at $628,000. For a single family detached unit, the benchmark price is sitting at $980,500. An overview of the property types and their benchmark price in their respective neighbourhood can be found here: MLS Home Price Index. Benchmarks represent a typical property within each market. 

All in all, the housing market in the Greater Vancouver region has been steadily picking up and although supply is continually increasing, the demand for housing has slightly outpaced supply. 

Below you will find the Residential Average Price in the Greater Vancouver region. As you can see, there has been quite some fluctuation over the past 4.5 years. Residential median prices in July 2014 are sitting at around $805,061. 

 Source: The Canadian Real Estate Association

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2013 was a year of pleasant surprises for Canada’s housing market. Far from extending last year’s deep sales dive on mortgage-rule turbulence, the market pulled up sharply and is cruising at an above-normal altitude. Here’s how the four biggest cities performed, ranked from strongest to weakest, and a look ahead to 2014.

 

Calgary: Gaining Altitude


After correcting several years ago, Calgary has reclaimed its title as the strongest major housing market in the nation. In the three months to October, home sales have run 23% above year-ago levels (nearly twice the national rate) and stand a heady 20% above past decade norms, though preliminary November figures show some slowing. Resale listings and new home inventories are lean, giving sellers the upper hand. Housing starts have hardly kept pace with an exploding population. Benchmark prices are climbing fast (8% y/y) and have all but retraced the 16% collapse from 2007 to 2009. Still, valuations remain reasonable, with prices about four-times median family income and mortgage service costs consuming a manageable 23% of earnings. About half of the increase in prices is supported by rising income. Alberta’s hourly wages are up 4.4% y/y so far in 2013, double the national rate. 

 

Immigrants and young Canadians are flooding into the city, drawn by better job prospects, faster wage growth, and healthier housing affordability than in Vancouver and Toronto. Alberta attracted a record 53,000 more people from other provinces than it lost in the past year, and a similar number from other countries. Because of the influx of young people looking for work and affordable housing, Alberta has the youngest population of the ten provinces. The median age (36 years) is four years less than in Ontario and about six years less than in British Columbia. The population of prime first-time home-buyers (aged 30 to 44 years) is growing 5.2%, nearly five-times faster than the national rate. Calgary’s population (15-years and over) is growing the fastest in fifteen years (4.1%), double Toronto’s and Vancouver’s rate and nearly quadruple Montreal’s. 

 

Propelled by energy exports, Alberta is the only provincial economy likely to grow faster than 3% in the next two years. Strong economic and population growth will encourage an upward trend in Calgary’s house prices, though higher borrowing costs will moderate the gains. While the Bank of Canada is expected to stand pat for a fourth straight year, longer-term interest rates are expected to increase

 

Toronto: Hardly Landing


Canada’s largest housing market (weighing in at 19% of national sales) continues to defy media calls of a crash. Across Greater Toronto, sales are up 20% y/y in the three months to October and are 9% above past decade norms, though preliminary November figures show some cooling. For the most part, markets are balanced, but sellers rule and bidding wars prevail in certain pockets where listings are scarce. Benchmark prices have picked up to an above 4% pace, and, at over six-times median family income, remain lofty. New buyers can either spend 39% of income on mortgage payments for a typical house—or buy a condo, requiring a lesser 24% of income. After plunging last year, new condo sales have firmed, but remain well below the past decade norm. Condos are an affordable alternative to the detached market for the more than 80,000 international migrants moving to the region each year and the growing number of young people leaving their parents’ basement. According to the CMHC, echo boomers accounted for 15% of the growth in housing demand in Greater Toronto in 2012, and the share is expected to double to 30% by 2021. 

 

While low rental vacancy rates have kept resale condo prices near record highs and rents moving higher, prices of new condos have weakened modestly in the face of a record number of units under construction (close to 60,000). And, that doesn’t include big incentives, such as free furniture or waived maintenance fees, which builders are offering to close a sale. Investors, who have purchased roughly half of new condos in recent years, could get antsy if rents flatten out or prices soften further. 

 

Still, most of the new units coming on stream should be absorbed by population growth. In addition, more than half of the units in the pipeline haven’t started construction. Many either won’t be built unless demand picks up and financing is approved, or will take a long time to build given approval delays and shortages of construction equipment. Moreover, the number of newly built, unoccupied condos is not high when normalized for population growth. Most new condos are needed to meet household formations given a shortage of new detached homes. While building of non-detached units has moderately topped demographic needs since 2006 (by about 5%), the excess does not fully compensate for a dearth of new detached homes owing to land constraints and zoning restrictions. In the past seven years, total housing starts in the Toronto region have actually fallen short of demographic needs, averaging about 36,000 per year versus a required 38,000. So, the region’s housing stock doesn’t appear overbuilt. In fact, the number of completed unsold condo units is relatively low, at fewer than 1,300.


Still, the looming supply of condos, high valuations of detached homes, elevated levels of household debt and expected higher interest rates should cool price gains in 2014, even as new immigrants and echo boomers provide support. Toronto house prices are at risk of declining moderately when interest rates normalize.

 

Vancouver: Pulls Out of Steep Dive


If any city is at risk of correcting, it’s pricey Vancouver. However, after keeling over in the face of tougher mortgage rules and the temporary suspension of the Immigrant Investor Program last year, this canary in Canada’s home mine has sprung back to life. At the lowest point, sales were down 33% y/y, but have since pole-vaulted 50% to nearnormal levels. Buyers held the upper hand last year, but the pendulum has swung toward balance today. New home inventories, normalized for population growth, are only moderately above long-term norms. Prices, which fell 6%, have risen modestly this year. The price drop, by the way, pales in comparison with the average 22% correction that Vancouver has suffered on four other occasions since 1980. The worst was a sickening 35% slide in the early 1980s, while the other three corrections clocked in at 22% in the late 1990s, 17% in the early 1990s and 15% in 2008. Whatever you want to say about Vancouver’s market, boring it’s not. 

 

Affordability is Vancouver’s Achilles’ heel, with benchmark prices still topping eight-times family income and detached properties a mere pipe-dream for most first-time buyers. Foreign wealth, rather than income, appears to be driving the upper end of the market. Prices are likely to fall when interest rates normalize, and the opportunity cost of owning an expensive house goes up. We continue to expect detached house prices to decline moderately in the medium term

 

Still, a tight supply of detached properties and steady population growth will cushion the market. While international migration is well off its 2009 peak, the province still attracted 35,000 people (on net) from other countries in the past year, though it lost a good number (nearly 8,000) to other provinces, notably Alberta. In addition, the city’s natural beauty should remain a powerful magnet for the growing number of young Canadians seeking to lay down roots. 

 

For young buyers, condos will remain an affordable option, as prices have fallen slightly in the past year and are little changed from six years ago. Mortgage service costs on a Vancouver condo consume 29% of median family income, still within reach of most buyers. We expect condo prices to remain flat in 2014, as healthy demographic demand from echo boomers and immigrants counters the downward pull from a moderately high number of vacant unsold units. While condos account for nearly three-quarters of new home construction in the Vancouver region, overbuilding is not severe. In fact, total housing starts, normalized for population growth, have stayed below longterm norms for the past three years.

 

Montreal: Smooth Landing


While Montreal’s housing market is the weakest among the four major cities, it, too, has improved. Sales are still 9% below past decade norms, but have risen 2% in the past year. Support from decent affordability and job growth has countered middling population gains (1.1%). Unlike the other major cities, an upswing in new listings has kept buyers in the driver’s seat, especially in the new condo market where a moderate overhang of unsold units persists. While Montreal’s home prices are up 2% y/y, they have gone nowhere in the past six months. 

 

Despite a 155% leap in house prices since 2001, affordability remains healthy. Benchmark prices run at four-times family income, and mortgage service costs consume a reasonable 23% of earnings, less than half that of Vancouver. First-time buyers in Toronto and Vancouver can only cry over the cost of a two-story detached home in Montreal: $382,000 versus $565,000 and $1,030,000 (and we’re talking median, not mansion). Like Calgary, Montreal should remain affordable even when rates normalize. 

 

Montreal’s house prices are expected to hold steady in 2014. With fewer detached homes being built, condos flourished in recent years, leaving the city with a moderate overhang of vacant units (in fact more than in Toronto). While condo sales have picked up recently, they remain soft, as investors are wary of a higher condo rental vacancy rate (2.7% versus 1.2% in Toronto and 1.0% in Vancouver, as of the latest available period October 2012). Elevated unemployment suggests the city could attract fewer young job seekers and potential home buyers than the Western Provinces in the year ahead.

 

- Report courtesy of Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO

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Six sites are available in Vancouver
The City of Vancouver has issued a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) for proposals to develop up to 500 units of below-market rental housing by the end of 2015 on six city-owned parcels of land.
 
The land is being made available for redevelopment to successful consortia of not-for-profit and private sector applicant teams in exchange for a nominal, long-term ground lease. It’s all part of a new program, More Homes, More Affordability, that will see below-market rental housing built that will be operated through a long-term land lease from the city. The program moves the city closer to housing targets set out in its Affordable Housing and Homelessness Strategy, 2012-2121.

These targets also align with policy recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability. “Ensuring Vancouver has affordable housing is vital to building an inclusive, diverse city that supports local jobs and investment, limits sprawl, and creates opportunity for residents of all ages,’ says City of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

 
Sites identified are in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage and Killarney neighbourhoods. Teams interested in building affordable rental housing through the More Homes, More Affordability program should review the City’s expression of interest document available at www.vancouver.ca. In the search box enter More Homes, More Affordability.
 
RFEOI submissions are due by September 12, 2012. Shortlisted candidates will be announced in October. A detailed Request for Proposals will be issued in October and projects will be awarded in early 2012
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The number of properties listed for sale continued to increase in the Greater Vancouver housing market in May. The number of sales decreased year over year, but remained relatively constant compared to recent months.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,853 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in May 2012. This represents a 15.5 per cent decline compared to the 3,377 sales recorded in May 2011.

May sales were the lowest total for the month in the region since 2001 and 21.1 per cent below the 10-year May sales average of 3,617. However, sales have been constant throughout the spring months, with 2,874 sales in March and 2,799 sales in April.

“Home sellers have outpaced buyers in recent months, however, there continues to be an overall balance between supply and demand in our marketplace,” Eugen Klein, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 6,927 in May 2012. This represents a 16.8 per cent increase compared to May 2011 when 5,931 homes were listed for sale and a 14.4 per cent increase compared to April 2012 when 6,056 homes were listed for sale on the region’s MLS®.

Last month’s new listing total was 15.3 per cent above the 10-year average for listings in Greater Vancouver for May.

At 17,835, the total number of homes listed for sale on the region’s MLS® increased 7.9 per cent in May compared to last month and increased 21 per cent from this time last year.

“Our sales-to-active-listing ratio sits at 16 per cent, which is indicative of balanced market conditions,” Klein said. “As a result of this stability, home prices at the regional level have seen little fluctuation over the last six month.”

The MLS® HPI benchmark price* for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver currently sits at $625,100, up 3.3 per cent compared to May 2011 and up 2.4 per cent over the last three months. The benchmark price for all residential properties in the Lower Mainland** is $558,300, which is a 3 per cent increase compared to May 2011 and a 2.3 per cent increase compared to three months ago.  

Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in May 2012 reached 1,180, a decline of 24.8 per cent from the 1,570 detached sales recorded in May 2011, and a 6.1 per cent decrease from the 1,256 units sold in May 2010. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 5.1 per cent from May 2011 to $967,500.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,156 in May 2012, a decline of 5.9 per cent compared to the 1,228 sales in May 2011, and a decrease of 14.6 per cent compared to the 1,354 sales in May 2010.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 1.7 per cent from May 2011 to $379,700.

Townhome property sales in May 2012 totalled 517, a decline of 10.7 per cent compared to the 579 sales in May 2011, and a 5.3 per cent decrease from the 546 townhome properties sold in May 2010. The benchmark price of a townhome unit increased 0.9 per cent between May 2011 and 2012 to $470,000.

Article from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, June 4, 2012, available online at http://www.rebgv.org/news-statistics/spring-activity-remains-balanced-greater-vancouver-housing-market-0

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There are things you can do to help sell your home faster. 

1. Check your curb appeal
Drive down your street and view the front of your home. Make sure the outside is as attractive as the inside. Weed, cut the grass, edge the beds and drive, trim the hedges and plant flowers. Next, paint or power-wash your siding to give it a fresh appearance.

2. Make a great first impression
When it comes to selling a house, a good first impression can actually mean more money, so make sure the entryway is impeccable. Sweep the porch, dust the door, wash the windows, vacuum the mats -- give potential buyers a warm welcome.

3. De-clutter
There should be no clutter. All miscellaneous items should be removed or stored on shelves in attractive baskets. In the kitchen, clear the refrigerator of pictures, drawings and magnets. In fact, remove everything personal -- family photos, keepsakes, tchotchkes. Leave surfaces empty, with maybe one dramatic decorative piece as an accent. Your home will appear more spacious and open, which are key selling benefits.

4. Clean and/or paint
Walls should be freshly painted or, at a minimum, the trim should be touched up and clean. Chipped and peeling paint, scratches and dings on the walls can give the impression the home is not well cared for.

5. If it's broke, fix it
Ensure it is all in working order, especially when it comes to faucets, fixtures and drawers -- anything that's easy for people to test.

6. Tidy behind closed doors
Clean and organize your cabinets, drawers and closets. Yes, people will open them, and they'll form an opinion.

7. Look at it through a visitor's eyes
Be prepared to do the work on your home before listing it. After that, a critical eye is your best tool. Walk through your home and check every room to make sure it's clean and uncluttered.

And, when it comes to an open house or private tours, step aside and allow your Realtor to show the home and answer any questions.

Excerpt from Real Estate Weekly

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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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The government today announced the HST/PST transitional rules on new homes.

As the province transitions back to the PST, which will replace the HST effective April 1, 2013, measures to ease the HST burden on new home buyers include:

The BC New Housing Rebate threshold will increase to $850,000 from $525,000, so that more than 90% of newly built homes will now be eligible for a provincial HST rebate effective April 1, 2012.

The maximum rebate will increase to $42,500 from $26,250 effective April 1, 2012.

Buyers of new secondary vacation or recreational homes outside the Greater Vancouver and Capital Regional Districts priced up to $850,000 will now be eligible to claim a provincial grant of up to $42,500 effective April 1, 2012.

For newly built homes where construction begins before April 1, 2013, but ownership and possession occur after, purchasers will not pay the 7% provincial portion of the HST. Instead, purchasers will pay a temporary, transitional provincial tax of 2% on the full house price.

HST/PST transition rules will help ensure that whenever purchasers buy a new home they will all pay a consistent and equitable amount of tax, whether the home is built:

entirely under the HST;

entirely under the PST; or

partly under HST and partly under the PST.

The temporary housing transition measures will be in place until March 31, 2015. The tax only applies to homes where construction begins before the transition date and ownership and possession occur after.

 

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The Greater Vancouver residential housing market entered three distinctive phases in 2010. Continued buoyancy from the post-recession recovery began the year, followed by a summer lull and, throughout the fall, a sustained period of stability.
 
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that total sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in 2010 reached 30,595, a 14.2 per cent decrease from the 35,669 sales recorded in 2009, but a 24.2 per cent increase from the 24,626 residential sales in 2008. Last year's number of housing sales was 10.3 per cent below the ten-year average for annual Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) sales in the region.
 

The number of residential properties listed for sale on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver increased 9.7 per cent in 2010 to 58,009 compared to the 52,869 properties listed in 2009. Compared to 2008, last year's total represents a 7.3 per cent decline compared to the 62,561 residential properties listed in 2008. The number of properties added to the MLS® peaked in April and generally declined for the remainder of the year.

 
The last two years have been a bit of a rollercoaster for the real estate market. However, sales over the past six months have definitely shown a trend toward stability. We think that's good news for home buyers and sellers, Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said. The Greater Vancouver housing market experienced a modest increase in home prices in 2010, and a continual decrease in the number of properties being listed for sale.
 
Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,899 in December 2010, a decrease of 24.5 per cent from the 2,515 sales recorded in December 2009, an all time record for the month, and a 24.3 per cent decline compared to November 2010 when 2,509 home sales occurred.
 
More broadly, last month's residential sales represent a 105.5 per cent increase over the 924 residential sales in December 2008, a 0.1 per cent increase compared to December 2007's 1,897 sales, and a 12.6 per cent increase compared to the 1,686 sales in December 2006.
 
The residential benchmark price, as calculated by the MLSLink Housing Price Index®, for Greater Vancouver increased 2.7 per cent to $577,808 between Decembers 2009 and 2010. However, prices have decreased 2.6 per cent since hitting a peak of $593,419 in April 2010. Although we saw some pressure on home prices throughout the year, home values in 2010 remained relatively steady in the region compared to the last few years when we witnessed much more fluctuation, Moldowan said.
 
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,699 in December 2010. This represents a 21.1 per cent decline compared to the 2,153 units listed in December 2009 and a 43.9 per cent decline compared to November 2010 when 3,030 properties were listed.
 

Sales of detached properties in December 2010 reached 769, a decrease of 14.8 per cent from the 902 detached sales recorded in December 2009, and a 121.1 per cent increase from the 348 units sold in
December 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 4.0 per cent from December 2009 to $797,868. Sales of apartment properties reached 811 in December 2010, a decline of 29.7 per cent compared to the 1,154 sales in December 2009, and an increase of 94.5 per cent compared to the 417 sales in December 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 1.2 per cent from December 2009 to $387,115.

 
Attached property sales in December 2010 totalled 319, a decline of 30.5 per cent compared to the 459 sales in December 2009, and a 100.6 per cent increase from the 159 attached properties sold in December 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 2.7 per cent between December 2009 and 2010 to $490,869.
 
-source: REBGV
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Vancouver, BC – November 10, 2010. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its Fall Housing Forecast 2010 today.
 
BC Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales are forecast to decline 12 per cent from 85,028 units in 2009 to 74,950 units this year, before increasing 6 per cent to 79,700 units in 2011.
 
"Consumers are responding to a double-dip in mortgage interest rates," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "While housing demand waned in the province through the spring and summer, the added purchasing power from low borrowing costs combined with gradual improvement in the BC economy has trended home sales higher in recent months."  Forecast chart
 
"A moderate increase in BC home sales is expected next year coinciding with employment and population growth," added Muir. "However, the 79,700 unit sales that are forecast for 2011 are well below the ten-year average of 85,500 units" A record 106,300 MLS® residential sales were recorded in 2005.
 

The average MLS® residential price is forecast to climb 7 per cent to $498,500 this year and remain relatively unchanged in 2011, albeit declining by 1 per cent to $495,600.

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