Vancouver, like other Metro Vancouver municipalities, is scrambling to accommodate the 52% of residents who rent their home.

The situation is expected to worsen given that 40,000 newcomers or about 18,600 households arrive each year, and of these 6,500 households are renters. Since 2007, less than 1,000 rental units per year have been built in Metro Vancouver.

In 2009, to help address the problem, the City created the Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program, which ran until December 2011. STIR provided incentives such as increased density and development cost levy waivers to builders of rental housing in both 100% residential and in mined-used buildings. But the program hand problems. While the 100% rental projects cost the city $4,900 per unit or a total of $1.8 million for 372 units, in contrast the 327 units in mixed strata/rental buildings cost $70,000 per unit, for a total of $23 million. The huge price difference has been attributed to building materials: the 100% rental units were in wood frame walk-ups, while the units in mixed use were in expensive-to-build concrete towers.

But the chronic lack of rental housing isn’t going away. So on May 15, 2012 Council approved a new Secured Rental Housing Policy. Like STIR, it will provide incentives for developers but this program will be for 100% rental buildings only. Mixed-used developments will not qualify.

The new Secured Rental Housing Policy is part of the City’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy which seeks to create 5,000 rental units in Vancouver by 2021.

Incentives under the new policy will likely be similar to those of the STIR program which included:
• Rental property assessment (on rental units only);
• Development cost levy waiver (on rental units only);
• Parking requirements reductions (on rental units only);
• Discretion on unit size
• Increased density; and
• Expedited permit processing.

Affordable rental housing is vital for small businesses throughout the Lower Mainland to attract and keep workers, according to John Winter, President of the BC Chamber of Commerce, who notes: “Without affordable places to live that are close to jobs and transit, local employers will have trouble competing for talented workers. “

The Canadian Rental housing Coalition, of which the Real Estate Board is a founding member, supports Vancouver’s policy and is bringing national attention to the need for rental housing to stimulate the economy and provide affordable housing alternatives.

Article from The Open House, June 1, 2012

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Choosing where you live

1. Green neigbourhoods
Buy a home in a neighbourhood close to work, transit, shopping, community centres and other services

2. Transit-orientated density (TOD)
New, compact, complete green neighbourhoods are being built with transit as their focus. Instead of owning a car, join a car share cooperative, take transit, cycle or walk.

3. Lower Cost Luxury
If it's features such as a gym, or pool you want, buy a strata unit with these amenities and share costs.

4. Score your location
Walkable neighbourhoods offer health, environmental, financial and community benefits. Enter your address or the address of a home you want to buy at This tool calculates a walkability soce based on the home's proximity to transit, grocery stores, schools and other amenities.

Heating and Cooling 

5. Get an energy audit
LiveSmart BC will cover $150 of the cost.

6. Install a high-efficiency heating system
Make sure it's ENERGY STAR rated

7. Weatherize your home
From windows (BC Hydro provides grants of $60-$120) to doors to insulation and weather stripping. Don't forget to seal your ducts.

8. Insulate your pipes
It will prevent costly heat loss. Here's how. 

9. Insulate your hot water heater
Buy a pre-cut jacket or blanket for $10-$20. You'll save up to 10% on heating costs.

10. Install a programmable termostat
Set it lower at night and during the day when you're away. Lower the temperature. Each degree below 20C saves you 3-5% on heating costs.

11. Clean your furnace filter
This optimizes performance.

12. Get the most from your fireplace
Here's how to make it efficient. 

13. Use curtains
In the daytime during summer, close to help cool your home.

14. Install ceiling fans 
The energy it takes to run a fan is less than an air conditioner. In summer, make sure the fan's blades are rotating anti-clockwise for a cooling effect. In winter, the fan should be running clockwise, pushing the warm air down.

15. Use an electric fan
Skip the air conditioning. On hot summer days, place a bowl of ice in front of a fan to cool down.


16. Fix leaks. Fix leaking taps
One drop per second equals to 7,000 litres of water wasted per year.

17. Instal a filter
Stop buying costly bottled water which adds to the landfill.


18. Change your light bulbs
Lighting accounts for 15% of your energy bill. Replace old bulbs with ENERGY STAR rated bulbs. Check for rebates

19. Sensor lights
Turn lights off outside when not in use.

20. Keep it dark
Light pollution is an increasing problem. Turn off outdoor lights to save energy and encourage night life such as bats and frogs. A single bat can eat tens and thousands of mosquitoes nightly. If you have safety concerns, use motion detector lights - which come on, only as needed.

21. Holiday lights
Use LED lights


22. Replace your fridge
An old energy guzzling fridge costs you about $85 a year to operate. Replace it with an ENERGY STAR Fridge, BC Hydro will rebate you $50. BC Hydro will also not only come and pick up your old fridge for free-of charge, they'll rebate you $30

23. Replace your dishwasher
Buy an ENERGY STAR appliance. BC Hydro will rebate you $25

24. Replace your freezer
Buy an ENERGY STAR appliance and BC Hydro will rebate you $25. 


25. Low flow shower
Hot water accounts for 25% of your energy costs. For a $15 investment you can save half the water of a standard shower say experts

26. High efficiency or dual flush (you choose the amount of water used) toilets
These are now required in new homes because of water savings


27. Use smart strips
Also know as power bars, this lets you power off all equipment at the same time.

28. Buy energy smart electronics
There are rebates available. 

29. Recycle your old electronics
Here's how.


30. Conserve Water
Fresh water comprises just 3% the world's total water supply, so conserve. Get a rain barrel and harvest water you can use in your garden. Local governments such as Vancouver and Richmond will subsidize the cost. 

31. Drip irrigation
It saves water compared to sprinklers.

32. Elbow grease
Don't power wash your driveway. Sweep it or use a scrub brush and pail.

33. Less lawn
Lawns waste water. Instead conserve and beautify using indigenous plants such as ferns, tiger lillies and hostas.

34. Grow your own
How much more will you spend on food this year. Even a few miniature fruit trees and a small vegetable garden in a raised bed or in containers will help keep you healthey and save you dollars. Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries thrive in our climate. Here's how.

35. Presever your produce
Invest in home canning jars and equipment and a small freezer and enjoy your produce year round - at considerable savings. Here's how

36. Bee friendly
We need bees to polinate, so get a few plant bee friendly annuals such as asters, marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias; or perennials such a clematis, foxgloves, hollyhocks, roses or shrubs such as Buddleia.

37. Go chemical-free
"Get rid of weeds without using chemicals that harm us and our pets," advises REALTOR and Rechmond City counselor, Derek Dang, who led the way to a bylaw banning cosmetic pesticides. His suggestion, "Use dish detergent or weed by hand."

38. Plant fruit trees
They'll give you shade and fruit. Plum, apple, pear and more. 

39. Compost
It will make your garden grow and divert waste from the landfill. 


40. Clean freen
Vinegar, baking soda and lemons clean as well as expensive, chemical filled cleaning supplies for a fraction of the cost.

41. Green Laundry detergent
Use phosphate-free, biodegradable detergent.

42. Upgrade your washing machine
Replace your old washing machine with an ENERGY STAR washer that gets clothes clean using cold water and BC Hydro will rebate you $75. Wait until you have a full load instead of washing clothes as you need them. Clean your lint trap after every use.

43. Install a clothesline
Dryers use a huge amount of energy. 

44. Get a rack
If your neighbourhood or strata prohibits clotheslines, buy a small drying rack.


45. Recycle

46. Buy local
your food doesn't travel long distances, you support local farmers and the local economy and you consume less pesticides.

47. Don't use paper or plastic
Use cloth bags when you shop or reuse your plastic bags.


48. Borrow green
Most financial institutions offer "green" mortgages, including:
BMO Eco Smart Mortgage offers home buyers a 3.89% rate on qualifying green properties.
RBC Energy Saver Mortgage gives home buyers a $300 rebate for a home energy audit and five-year 4.34% rate.
• TD Canada Trust offers a Green Mortgage and Green Home Equity line of credit - for each green mortgage TD donates $100 to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
• Vancity offers a Bright Ideas home renovation loan - at prime +1% to home buyers and owners making green renovations.
• The City of Vancouver with Vancity offers a home energy loan program for home buyers and owners makeng energy efficient upgrades and 4.5% fixed rate over 10 years. The loan program is a 12 month pilot project with a goal of 500 homes participating. It will wrap up October 21, 2012. For more information attend a loan info workshop or call 604-374-0507.
• CMHC offers a 10% Mortgage Loan Premium refund a possible extended amortization for buyers purchasing and energy-efficient mortgage or making energy saving rennovations.


49. Green Tool Kit
BC Real Estate Association's Green Tool Kit provides information, references and links. It also provides comprehensive information of rebates and incentives.


50. Loan programs
Pay-as-you-Save (PAYS) loan program will help home owners and businessed finance energy efficiency improvements through a loan from BC Hydro or FortisBC. Expected to launch in 2012. 

February 6, 2012, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Article 

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver saw a typical, solid month of residential home sales on the MultipleListing Service in April, in contrast to the near record pace witnessed in the two preceding months.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver reached 3,225 in April 2011, an 8.2 per cent decrease compared to the 3,512 sales in April 2010 and a 21 per cent decline compared to the 4,080 sales in March 2011.
Looking back further, last month’s residential sales represent an 8.8 per cent increase over the 2,963 residential sales in April 2009, relatively unchanged compared to April 2008, and a 4.8 per cent decline compared to the 3,387 sales in April 2007.
While it continues to be a seller’s market (Detached) in Greater Vancouver, last month’s activity brought greater balance between supply and demand in the overall marketplace,the REBGV president said. The year-over-year decline in April sales can be attributed to a less active condominium market on our MLS, as there were more detached and townhome sales this April compared to last year.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,847 in April 2011. This represents a 23.5 per cent decline compared to April 2010 when 7,648 properties were listed for sale on the MLS, which was an all-time record for April. Compared to March 2011, last month’s new listings total registered a 14 per cent decline.
At 14,187, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS increased 8.2 per cent in April compared to last month and declined 10 per cent from this time last year.
There’s considerable variation in activity within the communities in our region. This is causing home price trends to differ depending on the area.
The MLSLink Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 5 per cent to $622,991 in April 2011 from $593,419 in April 2010.
Sales of detached properties on the MLS in April 2011 reached 1,402, an increase of 2.3 per cent from the 1,370 detached sales recorded in April 2010, and a 17.8 per cent increase from the 1,190 units sold in April 2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 7.4 per cent from April 2010 to $879,039.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,201 in April 2011, a 21.3 per cent decrease compared to the 1,526 sales in April 2010, and an increase of 1.9 per cent compared to the 1,179 sales in April 2009. The benchmark price of an apartment property Sales of apartment properties reached 1,201 in April 2011, a 21.3 per cent decrease compared to the 1,526 sales in April 2010, and an increase of 1.9 per cent compared to the 1,179 sales in April 2009. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.9 per cent from April 2010 to $409,242.

Attached property sales in April 2011 totalled 622, a 1 per cent increase compared to the 616 sales in April 2010, and a 4.7 per cent increase from the 594 attached properties sold in April 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 2.4 per cent between April 2010 and 2011 to $514,670.

In the coming Summer months we should continue to see the strong activity of Westside Detached homes. I believe we will see a strong increase of activity in Apartments and Townhomes. For those who are considering a purchase in this sector of the market…now is a good time to buy.
As always I am available for your questions.

Warmest cheers!

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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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