Professionally renovated homes open to public

The Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA) invites the public to tour eight professionally renovated homes in Burnaby, North Vancouver, Surrey and Vancouver on Sunday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 19th annual Parade of Renovated Homes, produced by the GVHBA Renovation Council and sponsored by FortisBC, showcases leading-edge design, advanced construction techniques and products, and energy-saving features.


"FortisBC is extremely excited to again be the presenting sponsor of this popular consumer event. We look forward to combining the strengths of GVHBA and FortisBC to help the renovation industry in Metro Vancouver achieve innovative and successful results when it comes to their projects and energy requirements," said Dan Noel, FortisBC regional energy solutions manager.


Renovations on display include the revitalization of a 1950s bungalow, restoration of a 1920s Vancouver heritage home, eco-chic kitchen, bathroom makeover, conversion of a Westside basement suite, an extensive interior and exterior renovation, and a contemporary whole-house transformation.
GVHBA President and CEO Peter Simpson said Metro Vancouver homeowners will spend $3.8 billion sprucing up their homes this year, and this popular one-day event offers exceptional sample renovations.


“Professional RenoMark renovators, many of them award winners, will be on site to offer expert advice and discuss their craftsmanship.  Project values range from $135,000 to more than $800,000, offering homeowners an abundance of ideas they can incorporate into their own renovations,” said Simpson.


Admission is by passport, available at each home for $10 per person. Children 17 and under are free. Passports can be purchased at any home, and then used for entry to the remaining homes. Part proceeds from passport sales will help fund the purchase of tools, building materials and safety gear for a carpentry training program offered by Guildford Park and Frank Hurt secondary schools in Surrey.


The event is limited to six hours, so visit to review the full list of participating homes, including project descriptions and before-and-after photos, then plan your route to ensure you have sufficient time to visit specific homes that capture your interest. 


Home locations and renovator contact, listed by municipality (Note: as these are private residences, please respect their privacy.  Homes are only open on Sunday, June 10) :



The original poorly laid out kitchen had the sink window staring at the neighbour's roof, and a sunken TV room was under-utilized. The RJR design team creatively reconfigured the entire area so it is now both well designed and functional. The sunken floor was raised and the kitchen was relocated to capture the private backyard view. Walls enclosing a formal dining room were removed, opening up the space. Beautiful shaker-style cabinetry and spectacular granite incorporate two extremely different types and styles, yet complement each other in a unique way. New skylights bring in warm natural light.
RJR Construction Management Ltd., (604) 254-1760,

This kitchen-dining room renovation is the second phase of a three-phase renovation plan of the contractor’s own home. Contemporary styling elevates this typical 1959 bungalow, while the period’s design characteristics were retained and restored.  Floor-to-ceiling windows, large doors and a spacious open plan capture the spectacular south-slope view.  This phased renovation also features a huge deck, tasteful landscaping and a grade-level patio with a serene water feature, perfect for outdoor entertaining. Visual preview of the third phase of the renovation will be on display.
TQ Construction Ltd., (604) 430-9900,


This 1954 rancher needed to be modernized to accommodate the client’s lifestyle and design sensibilities.  The homeowners’ love of mid-century modern architecture and style was the compass. The interior was opened up to create contemporary social spaces for family and friends. Initially, the plan was to only renovate the interior, but the homeowners decided to landscape the property as well, including an outdoor living room with gas firepit. Front retaining walls replaced aging stone walls.  A kidney-shaped pool was filled in to create three separate outdoor living spaces. The kitchen/BBQ area is sheltered by a cedar pergola with a smoked glass roof.
CCI Renovations, (604) 980-8384,


12166 - 57 AVENUE
This stately home has been restored to its former grandeur with an extensive interior and exterior renovation.  At the heart of this home is a kitchen that would delight any gourmet chef with professional appliances and wine buffet.  The dining room opens onto an enclosed lanai which, in turn, opens onto an expansive outdoor area for informal entertaining.  The home features a luxuriously appointed master suite with marble steam shower, free-standing tub and crystal chandeliers.  Exquisite detailing abounds in the coffered ceilings and four uniquely finished fireplaces.
My House Design / Build Team Ltd., (604) 694-6873,


This 1908 family home makes a stunning entrance into the 21st century with an eco-chic dream kitchen and bathroom renovation. Naturally crafted white-shaker custom kitchen cabinets, pantry and island are framed with complementary mouldings.  Corner-drawer cabinets and recycling centre complete the details.  Bath cabinets extend the length of the room providing ample storage space.  Cabinetry is made from eco-friendly maple plywood and solid alder with low-VOC paint and durable lacquer finish for easy cleaning. There are also Douglas fir floors and a Tuscan dining table built from wood reclaimed from a Penticton high school.
Eco Country Tables Inc., (604) 809-4125,


Designed by a prestigious Vancouver-based architectural firm, the house was originally built in 1932. Having never undergone any upgrades, the home’s plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems had to be upgraded, the roof replaced and the extensive water damage fixed.  The owners’ vision and appreciation of the home’s heritage was incorporated into this whole-home renovation, as much of the original house as possible was rescued.  As a result, the renovation created an updated open living space for a modern family, while respecting this beautiful home’s heritage. 
G. Wilson Construction Co. Ltd., (604) 873-8013,


These clients wanted to convert their typical Westside basement (damp with a low ceiling) into a well-appointed rental suite for investment purposes. The foundation was lowered by two feet then the space was completely modernized with up-to-date engineering and insulation. The totally transformed suite is now beautifully appointed with granite countertops, hardwood floors, stainless-steel appliances and tile finishes. To add extra comfort to the basement suite, in-floor and ceiling radiant heating were added.  Nearing completion is a backyard laneway home that is open for viewing.
Kemp Construction Management Ltd., (604) 948-1124,


This home was completely transformed to allow for an open-concept main floor. The home was updated in a funky contemporary style, including a larger kitchen that offers seating for six at the island. The dining room and living room were opened up to the kitchen, which provides a great ambiance for entertaining. A floating glass partition offers privacy to the powder room.  The upper floor consists of a reconfigured master ensuite complete with a large walk-in shower, floating vanity with an eight-inch-deep countertop and a makeup counter. The kids’ bathroom was redone with vivid accents to create a more playful feel. My House Design / Build Team Ltd., (604) 694-6873,


CLICK here to see the photo gallery index


In an inflated property market, many homeowners may choose to undertake renovations rather than move in order to get more out of their home and limit any potential fall in value in the event the market turns around.

But some improvements may cost more than the value they add to a property, experts say, so it’s important to consider what kind of work to have done. Here are five points to consider when contemplating a home reno:


Be objective

This might sound obvious, but you will only be able to convert your investment into a return if you are able to sell your home at a good price. This means ensuring the improvements you make have a broad appeal. Designer features, such as standalone baths in the middle of a bedroom, will only ever appeal to a small section of the market, especially if they come at the expense of valuable living space.


The two main factors that determine a property’s price are size and location. The latter isn’t something you can change but adding space can be an effective way to add value. However, spending $100,000 rearranging the layout of your property doesn’t mean you will add $100,000 in value. Why? Because you haven’t added a single extra square foot of floor space. Attic conversions or basement finishing are two of the most cost effective ways to add value to your property, with a rear extension adding slightly less.

Local research

It is vital to research your local area and market, because there will be a maximum price that a house in a certain neighbourhood can be valued at, regardless of the improvements you make. Consider the value of the work you are doing in relation to the maximum sale value of similar properties in your area, and keep in mind that going over this figure is risky.

Improve energy efficiency

With fuel costs expected to have nowhere to go but up, having an energy-efficient home is a big selling point for many prospective buyers who are becoming increasingly conscious of a home’s running costs and environmental issues. Getting a professional energy audit and addressing problems, some of which can be very simple to rectify, can boost a home’s energy-efficiency considerably.


It is important when considering the layout of your property to try and avoid losing rooms. If you expand a room’s size at the expense of another’s and in the process go from a three- to a two-bedroom property, it is extremely likely you will be reducing the value of your home. Also, try to keep layouts flexible – if you go to an open-concept ground floor, consider installing dividing doors or make it easy to reinstate stud walls so potential purchasers understand they can change the layout to meet their needs.


Source: Globe and Mail


Source: Globe and Mail


One thing I often say to clients and readers of my website is that the next decade for real estate prices in Canada will look nothing like the past. There are three main reasons for this:


1) The capacity for house prices to outpace income growth by two to three times in most Canadian cities, as they have over the past decade, simply will not be possible as interest rates will eventually begin to rise.


2) The past decade saw a loosening in credit requirements, but in 2009 things began to change. The availability and cost of mortgage credit has been a fundamental driver of the current housing boom, and recent trends toward stricter mortgage underwriting strongly suggest that credit conditions will tighten in the coming years.


3) Demographics. This one’s potentially a big one, and is what I want to discuss today.

In August, 2010, The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) wrote a great report on the impact of an aging population on asset prices. It noted the following:

The paper identifies the impact of aging through the analysis of house prices. It finds that demographic factors contributed positively to real house prices in many countries in recent decades. For instance, the United States is estimated to have enjoyed around 80 basis points per annum demographic tailwinds in the past forty years compared to neutral demographics.


The author calculated that demographic factors have led to a real house price increase of roughly 20 per cent over the past 40 years in Canada. That is, there has been a 0.5 per cent per annum tailwind driving real (inflation-adjusted) house prices. This paper notes the following:

Looking ahead, forecasts … uniformly point towards substantial demographic headwinds.

…The young save for old age by buying assets, while the old sell assets to finance retirement. This asset transfer can happen directly or through institutions such as pension funds. In this setting, the change in the relative size of asset buyers (the young) and sellers (the old), have consequences for asset prices. In particular, the asset purchases of a large working age generation, such as the baby boomers...drives asset prices up. Conversely, if the economy is aging, i.e. the subsequent younger generation is relatively smaller, then asset prices decline.


Now for the bad news: The author calculates that demographics alone will have a 1 per cent annual drag on house prices in Canada into the foreseeable future.


To understand this imbalance, it’s important to understand when age groups become net buyers and net sellers of real estate. This topic was explored in an interesting paper in the Journal of the American Planning Association. It concluded that groups of people become net sellers of real estate after the age of 65, while net buying of real estate is most pronounced between the ages of 25 and 35. If those findings apply to Canadians, we can easily see the problem by simply looking at the age distribution of the Canadian population:


Granted this does not consider the offsetting influence of net immigration, but it’s easy to see how that paper came to the following conclusion:

What have not been recognized to date are the grave impacts of the growing age imbalance in the housing market. If the elderly are more often home sellers, and are more numerous than the young who are buyers, a market shift could come on quickly after 2010, causing housing prices to fall. Even if prices remain flat, without the investment incentive young households will likely slow their entry into homeownership, worsening the imbalance between sellers and buyers.


This poses a particular problem for the Canadian housing market when we consider how many near-retirees are planning on using home equity to at least partially fund their retirement. A 2011 RBC survey estimated that number at 56 per cent. What this does not tell us is what percentage plan on accessing that equity through a reverse mortgage or HELOC and how many plan on accessing it by selling and downsizing or possibly renting. That remains up for speculation. Nevertheless, we can certainly assume that downsizing is in the plans of a significant portion of these households.


This leads me to a few conclusions:


1) It certainly seems reasonable to assume that downsizing will put pressure on the higher end of the market as empty nesters sell their larger homes to downsize into smaller, more age-friendly homes. Current demographic trends suggest that the demand for these large homes is unlikely to persist at current levels. In 1975, the average single family home in Canada was 1050 square feet. In 2010, the average new home being built was nearly 2000 square feet. Yet over that same time, the average household size has fallen by a third. This is a trend that simply will not persist indefinitely and I suspect these larger homes will fall out of favour over the coming years, unfortunately just as many try to capture their equity gains and downsize.


2) The flip side of the first conclusion is that smaller, age-friendly homes (including condos in areas where new construction is not rampant) will see a relative floor put under them. The end result is price compression in the market whereby the larger, more expensive homes fall in price to a greater degree (or as a best case scenario, appreciate more slowly) than smaller, age friendly homes .

The implications are clear: If you are counting on current home equity to at least partially fund your retirement and are hanging on for that last bit of capital gain before selling, you are playing a dangerous game.

Analyst and strategist Mr. Rabidoux covers Canadian macro economic trends with a focus on housing and consumer credit. He also has a website,

Source: Globe and Mail


Vancouver Real Estate Market - 2 Different Pictures, May 16, 2012

Okay, it looks like the big crazy boom in Vancouver house prices is over for now. A flat market or a drop in prices could well be on the way, to the relief of everyone except west siders who haven't cashed out yet. 

So what happens now? It's funny how different stats can tell different stories.

A May 15 article in the Globe and Mail is a good snapshot of the Vancouver real estate market as it teeters on the brink of... something. Great headline too: "Vancouver's Real Estate Swoon Deepens."

But the graph accompanying the Globe and Mail article totally loses us when it compares the percentage change in average Toronto and Vancouver home prices over the last year. 

Greater Vancouver includes several of the most desired and expensive neighbourhoods in Canada. The sheer volume of luxury home sales skews the average price unrealistically.

RE/MAX just released its report on luxury home sales across Canada. After 2011's unprecedented luxury-home feeding frenzy in Greater Vancouver, first-quarter sales this year dropped by 31 per cent (but they're still twice as high as they were in 2010).

Vancouver luxury home sales real estate market q1 2012


Knock out 180 sales ranging from $2 million to $20 million and you're going to see the effect in the average price. That's why this Globe and Mail graph takes such a dive.

First reaction: Yikes. Run for your lives!

Vancouver vs Toronto average home price change 2011 to 2012


Compare that to the graph below that shows the percentage change in MLS® benchmark prices. These are changes in sold price for homes that are typical of their type for the area.

Benchmark prices don't reflect sales of ultra-expensive homes -- except in neighbourhoods where those are the norm -- so they give a better idea of the trajectory of house prices throughout a region.

Like the Globe and Mail graph, this one shows the change over the last year in Vancouver, Toronto and all of Canada.

Vancouver Home Price Index MLS chart vs Toronto Home Price Index 2011 to 2012


That much calmer look at the real estate market still illustrates the huge gap between stratospheric Vancouver house prices and those of the runner- up for the title of Most Expensive City in Canada. Nobody's denying that our prices are ridiculous. But comparing the two charts also shows how the same facts can send confusing messages.

If you're buying or selling, talk to a Realtor who knows your area well. Someone with experience in your neighbourhood will be watching the changing situation daily, and will know mood of your particular market. What's selling and what's not? How long are properties staying on the market? What are potential buyers after? How close are sales prices to asking?

Those hyperlocal stats are more important to your goals than general averages and benchmarks.




The following article is from Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine.


Ask any landlord, contractor, builder or small real estate investor the one tool they have in their DIY renovation arsenal, and the answer is invariably the spreadsheet. Most property owners with some years of experience behind them have crafted a list of must-do projects as they inspect their latest investments. The spreadsheet, making up years of gained knowledge on a variety of projects, is the key to that successful renovation.


Peel back the spreadsheet onion and investors reveal the projects that are essential in making the most amount of profit for, what they hope is, the least amount of cost. Especially in a volatile economic climate with the fear of a double-dip recession, property investors and landlords are taking it upon themselves and "DIYing" their projects to ensure they are attracting the best tenants and/or buyers for their properties.

DIYing and the economy
Owners and landlords are enhancing the value of their properties on their own more than ever before. Cost is always the number one factor and certainly the economy has heightened the need to cut expenses as much as possible.

Even though uncertainty in the economy can create buying opportunities for investors, would-be investors need to be aware of the pitfalls those investments might bring. “Economic times have increased the availability of some projects,” says Andrew Brennan, a professional real estate investor with Brennan Property Investments. “A lot of people who are behind on mortgage payments may not have the money to maintain their more distressed issues,” he adds.


There is a flipside to the economic story other than the availability of potential projects. Landlords, because of uncertainty, are looking to save money.

Stuart Henderson is a property owner and a senior member of the Ontario Landlords Association. The association has more than 3,000 members, most of whom own properties of 10 units or less. He says members are looking for assistance on DIY renovations more than they have in the recent past.


“The economy has not been strong since 2008, so more and more landlords who would have normally paid a contractor are now forced to do their own repairs and renovations,” he says. “Doing your own repairs and renovations is really a key point of landlords these days; the days of slumlords are over if you want to get good, qualified tenants.”

Plan and budget
Getting the appropriate high-quality tenants is really what is behind the renovations in the first place. Essentially, it should be the first part of any DIY renovation plan. “The first thing you need to do is know the expectations of the tenants you are marketing to. You can’t go into a low-income area in parts of Toronto and renovate that to the same standards that would be required for a $1,500 one-bedroom apartment downtown. You need to know what your tenants want,” says Andrew Gulaty, a full-time firefighter and owner of properties in Toronto and Mississauga. He notes that new landlords must realize the goal of a renovation on a rental is not the same goal one might have on their personal residence.


“When you are renovating a rental, your goal is to maximize return on investment and to attract quality tenants. Your personal tastes are not as important; the goals are different,” he stresses. He adds that most new landlords’ biggest mistake is overrenovating. “Granite and stainless steel in a poor-quality neighbourhood is not going to attract top-quality tenants.”


Most investors agree that fixing problem areas first and then getting into the cosmetics is the way to go on DIY projects and makes good planning sense. Scott McGillivray, a property investor and the host of Income Property on HGTV Canada, prepares a relatively systematic way of looking at projects.

“When I see a property that has opportunity, the checklist would be to fix everything that’s a deficiency on the home, i.e. roof, wiring, plumbing,” Mr. McGillivray says.

And with most renovations, either for personal or income purposes, the kitchens and bathrooms appear to be first on everyone’s list.

“The kitchen is of No. 1 importance,” adds Mr. McGillivray. “I have a sublist of how much work needs to be done in the kitchen.


The bathrooms are the next on the list and, again, a checklist is created. Then I look at all the hardware in the house, which I know is really easy. And then I look at how significant the flooring is in terms of needed work.”

Seasoned pros like Mr. McGillivray and Mr. Gulaty often determine their budgets before they even buy a property. Says Mr. Gulaty, “I already have a rough idea as to how much it will cost me to upgrade the unit and how much extra rent I can get through the upgrade.”

Mr. Brennan says his renovations move much more efficiently with a master list of potential items. “I’ve created a master list of 95 per cent of the things you may need as far as supplies for a renovation, from screws to flooring to faucets. It’s much easier if I have a process, if I already have a very good indication of all the items I may need and

I have a good understanding of what the prices are.”

And for the more junior or novice investors, Mr. Brennan says it’s easy enough to walk into any hardware store and familiarize oneself with costs.

Similarly, there is an abundance of resources online by searching "contractors’ costs," which will garner a wealth of information on costs per square footage or per item on a variety of home renovation projects.

Where to start?
Whether you are a landlord who rents or are looking to flip a house, you will likely start your renovations in the kitchens and bathrooms. However, the methodology behind the renovations may be as varied as the projects themselves.


For example, Mr. Henderson has a philosophy by which properties should be renovated to attract the best tenants. He suggests three things to enhance the property, in whatever part of the house/unit it may be. His philosophy looks at the ideas of "space,:" "personalizing the property" and "cleanliness."

Space, he says, can come in the form of an open kitchen and living room, as is the trend among homebuyers these days. “The open concept can be done, but you don’t have to be highly skilled to do it,” notes Mr. Henderson. “In my experience the cost of putting in an open concept kitchen in order to attract a good tenant is worth it.”

In order to personalize, he says items like a new tub or toilet allow tenants to feel the property is theirs and not a property that has been rented out hundreds of times for the past number of years. “We could totally redo the bathroom but these cost-effective tips are the way to go if you are on a budget,” adds Mr. Henderson. In terms of cleanliness, Mr. Henderson says changing old carpets between tenants diminishes the potential for allergies, health problems, and shows sensitivity to people’s health concerns.

Mr. Gulaty agrees that kitchens and bathrooms are the place to start and says tenants often do not have much by way of imagination.


“Even if they see a kitchen and bathroom, if the rest of the place is not in good repair it’s still going to be a hard sell,” he says. “What I often do is if I am working on a unit and it doesn’t show well I will take [the tenants] up to a completed unit to show them this is what it will look like when it’s finished.”

There are also differences between the work done on a single-family home versus a multi-family unit, Mr. Brennan notes. For example, appliances for a single family unit might be purchased new for top rent. But, adds Mr. Brennan, a multi-family residence might get used appliances. Also, a nicer faucet would be added to a single-family.


Part of that planning, according to Mr. Brennan, is knowing well in advance what you may need for repairs or renovations. To a small investor every penny counts, and he says knowing projects ahead of time will allow investors to seek out sales and promotions on the products they need ahead of the renovation stage.

Another piece of advice for investors includes knowing your limits and ensuring you don’t pick the most difficult project around, says Mr. McGillivray. “I could give you every checklist and every piece of information about being a real estate investor. But you’ll never actually understand something until you try it. Don’t jump into something that is overwhelming.” He adds that picking projects within one’s comfort zone will allow them to do many renovations themselves and save costs.

“Even if you’re not that skilled at physically doing things, act as the project manager so you at least learn from hiring out the trades,” he says.


Nothing in the DIY world should be taken for granted and even though costs can be saved and value can be added to projects, novice investors may find themselves trapped by some of the pitfalls of renovation.

1. Be realistic about timelines
Mr. McGillivray says investors should make sure they can afford to carry the property for 25 per cent longer than originally anticipated as timelines always become an issue. Mr. Brennan agrees and says, “It’s guaranteed that something will come up you didn’t plan for both dollar-wise and time-wise.” He adds that investors should try not to add anything during the project, should not procrastinate, and should try to do the challenging projects first and compromise later if needed.

2. Walk before you run
Again, Mr. McGillivray says novices should tackle projects they can deal with. For example, if an investor already owns a home, try putting an income suite in the house first to get a feel for the challenges of being a landlord.

3. Understand local rules, regulations and legislation
Mr. Gulaty says for Ontario landlords, issues such as not being able to collect security deposits, the inability to evict bad tenants in a timely manner and the fact that tenants can qualify if their income matches the rent (even though other expenses are not accounted for) all play havoc with the landlord experience. Mr. McGillivray also adds that checking with the city you are operating in and understanding the local bylaws on building apartments within houses or subdividing properties should be first and foremost in investors’ minds.

4. Play safe
“If you’re under pressure and you’re stressed and your time frame is quickly slipping away from you, sometimes you rush and you may get hurt,” notes Mr. Brennan. And besides your own safety on the job, the safety of the investment and your tenants should be ensured as well. Says Mr. McGillivray: “Above everything than just the cosmetics is the safety of the house. Typically you need a proper inspector or home inspection done to determine if the roof needs to be replaced, if anything needs to be rewired, if there is a plumbing issue or structural issue. Those things take precedence over any cosmetic renovations.”

5. Know when to ask for help
“I’ve learned a lot, even if it’s from a guy at the hardware store,” quips Mr. Brennan.

He says don’t be embarrassed to say “I don’t know.” Take money out of the budget, if necessary, and ensure the project is done right.


Reflecting the clientele
With all the planning, budgeting, avoided pitfalls and lists of materials, the investor interested in “DIYing” their projects must not forget the most important part of the equation – the tenant. “It’s all about imagining what the good tenant wants and doing it in a cost effective manner,” stresses Mr. Henderson. All the work in the world will not attract the right tenants and provide the income being sought if the renovations lack purpose. “Your renovations have to reflect your clientele. And then you can give slightly more to give you an advantage [over your competition],” says Mr. Gulaty. With that information in hand, DIY landlords can plan their projects with direction in order to save money, enhance value and participate in the renovation game in a meaningful and profitable way.


From Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine – the only monthly newsstand publication dedicated to individuals and businesses focused on building value through property investment, covering topics such as values and trends, mortgages, investment strategies, surveys of regional markets and general tips for buyers and sellers alike.


Home sale and listing activity has maintained a consistent pace on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver in recent months, which has helped create balanced conditions for the region’s housing market.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,799 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April 2012. This represents a 13.2 per cent decline compared to the 3,225 sales recorded in April 2011 and a decline of 2.6 per cent compared to the 2,874 sales in March 2012.

April sales were the lowest total for the month in the region since 2001 and 16.9 per cent below the 10-year April sales average of 3,369.

“Although April sales were below what’s typical for the month, we continue to see, with a sales-to-active listing ratio of nearly 17 per cent, a balanced relationship between buyer demand and seller supply in our marketplace,” Eugen Klein, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 6,056 in April 2012. This represents a 3.6 per cent increase compared to both March 2012 when 5,843 homes were listed and April 2011 when 5,847 homes were listed for sale on the region’s MLS®.

Last month’s new listing total was 6.7 per cent above the 10-year average for listings in Greater Vancouver for April.

At 16,538, the total number of homes listed for sale on the region’s MLS® increased 8.5 per cent in April compared to last month and increased 16 per cent from this time last year.

“Recent activity has had a stabilizing effect on home prices at the regional level, although pricing can vary depending on area and property type,” Klein said “To best understand conditions within your area of interest, it’s important to do your homework and consult a local REALTOR®.”

The MLS® HPI benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver currently sits at $683,800, up 3.7 per cent compared to April 2011 and an increase of 2.8 per cent over the last three months. The benchmark price for all residential properties in the Lower Mainland is $612,000, which is a 3.4 per cent increase compared to April 2011 and a 2.6 per cent increase compared to three months ago.

Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in April 2012 reached 1,126, a decline of 19.7 per cent from the 1,402 detached sales recorded in April 2011, and a 17.8 per cent decrease from the 1,370 units sold in April 2010. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 6.3 per cent from April 2011 to $1,064,800.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,190 in April 2012, a decline of 0.9 per cent compared to the 1,201 sales in April 2011, and a decrease of 22 per cent compared to the 1,526 sales in April 2010.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 1.1 per cent from April 2011 to $375,900.

Townhome property sales in April 2012 totalled 483, a decline of 22.3 per cent compared to the 622 sales in April 2011, and a 21.6 per cent decrease from the 616 townhome properties sold in April 2010. The benchmark price of a townhome unit increased 1.7 per cent between April 2011 and 2012 to $487,300.

Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

copyricopyright© real estate board of greater vancouver. all rights reserved.ght© real estate board of greater vancouver. all rights reserved.

copyright© real estate board of greater vancouver. all rights reserved.


Mortgage Features: More than the Best Mortgage Rate

Mortgage Features: More than the Best Mortgage Rate

By Matthew Chan, CA MBA AMP

Getting the best mortgage rate doesn't necessarily mean you're getting the best mortgage. A no-frills mortgage with a rock-bottom mortgage rate may have the lowest interest rate, but it could cost you in the end.

And lenders like to upsell you to a mortgage with more features, but they've always been very cagey about telling you what those mortgage features mean in terms of dollars and cents. As of November 5, 2012, federally regulated financial institutions in Canada are going to have to be absolutely clear in explaining what it will cost to get a mortgage you can pay off faster.

Meanwhile, let's take a look at mortgage features that might -- or might not -- match your needs.


No-Frills Mortgage

What It Is A basic, fixed-rate mortgage with:
  • limited prepayment of the original principal (typically 10- per cent or less)
  • no double-up payment feature
  • limited or no ability to increase your mortgage payment
  • penalties (very high in many cases) for refinancing or paying out the mortgage
  • in some cases, no ability to refinance unless your home is sold
  • limited ability to port your mortgage (take it with you)  if you move
You Want It If...
  • Interest rates are low
  • You see no need to change the mortgage term and payments
  • You don't expect to be able to make extra lump-sum payments of over each year (usually 10 per cent or less per year)
  • You want your payments to stay the same through the life of the mortgage
You Don't If...
  • You want to pay out the mortgage or refinance it before the term is up  (over 70% of borrowers do)
  • You'll have enough money to make large lump-sum payments occasionally
  • You expect to be able to increase your payment each year



Variable Rate Mortgage

What It Is
  • Your mortgage rate is tied to the current prime interest rate and goes up or down with it
  • Payments could either move up or down with the prime rate, or stay the same but cover more or less of your interest as the prime rate fluctuates
  • You can lock in any time, so if interest rates are climbing you can switch to a fixed mortgage rate
You Want It If...
  • Interest rates are trending down (the situation since 1990)
  • You have the potential of paying a lower average rate than a fixed-rate mortgage offers -- there used to be a significant difference between variable and fixed rates, but with the recent historically low interest rates, lenders have decreased the difference to make fixed rates more attractive
  • You're willing to pay attention to the prime rate
  • You like the flexibility to lock in to a fixed rate mortgage later
You Don't If...
  • Interest rates are going up (they're steady right now, but there's only one place to go from here)
  • You like security and predictability



Prepayment Privileges

What It Is Your mortgage includes the right to make extra payments up to a certain percentage of the whole without penalty:
  • In one or more lump sums per year
  • In double-ups, or extra amounts whenever you want to make them
  • In increased payments arranged annually
You Want It If...
  • You want to pay your mortgage down faster
  • You expect to have extra money in your budget to add to your payments or increase them every year
  • You're expecting lump sums you can apply to your mortgage, e.g., bonuses from work or an inheritance
You Don't If...
  • You don't forsee any extra money in your budget



Payment Deferral

What It Is Your mortgage lets you skip one payment or one month's payments per year. Some banks require you to make a double payment at some point to make up for a missed payment, so if this feature is offered with your mortgage, check the terms.
You Want It If...
  • You want to have the option of deferring a payment in case of an emergency
You Don't If...
  • You'd be tempted to use the money as disposable income rather than an investment in your future



Collateral Mortgage 

What It Is This mortgage can be split into multiple components, e.g., part fixed rate, part variable rate, part secured line of credit. Many banks automatically register their mortgages as collateral mortgage, including TD and ING.
You Want It If...
  • You want to separate different portions of your mortgage for tax purposes -- if you took out a loan for investment/business purposes, then it's easier to track the interest expense for tax purposes
  • You're undecided and want to diversify the mortgage so you have some on both variable rate and fixed rate
  • You plan to use some of the equity in your home later, e.g., for investment or renovations
You Don't If...
  • You don't want to be tied to one bank because you have different loans with different renewal dates
  • You don't want to incur legal fees if you switch to a different lender
  • You want to have leverage to negotiate or switch (banks love collateral mortgages because they can tie in more banking services with them, like secure credit cards, lines of credit, RRSP loans, etc.

Every lender creates different packages and uses different names for these mortgage features. An independent mortgage broker will thoroughly analyze your needs and help you find the best mortgage, not just the best mortgage rate.


Matthew Chan has been a licensed mortgage broker since 2004 and served on the Board of Directors for MBABC during 2006 and 2007. Before becoming a mortgage professional, Matt earned a Chartered Accountant designation with a Big Four accounting firm and earned an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.


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