Kim little

Down to Earth Real Estate Advice

 

Did you know that as of January 1 of this year the new mortgage " stress test" takes effect. This can reduce the average persons buying power by 18-20%, so its important to price sharply.

 

As well, March 15th the new Council rules take effect. Do not choose a Realtor to list your home because you think they will bring you a Buyer- that is no longer allowed. Think about it, How can I do the very best for my Seller if i also promise to do the very best for my Buyer. Meeting in the middle is not winning for either side. Reputable agents will have someone they can refer you to, as I do , should you wish to buy My listing from me.

 

December 2017 Sales in West Vancouver were down by  3.2 % over same time last year but prices are UP! by 4%

December 2017  Sales in North Vancouver are up by 45.8%, prices are up by 5.2%

North Vancouver Buyers will face more competition , now is an excellent time to buy in West Vancouver.

 

Email me if you would like information on  a couple great properties currently for sale in West Van I have seen.

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As of November 3, we can now start building coach houses in West Vancouver and the District of North Van has passed the draft bylaw as well.
Some of my clients may find this a better option than selling. If you sell and pull out all your equity, where will you park your money? What is safer than your house in one of the most desireable places to live? I am now getting requests to sell condos and homes so that people can joint own a property. Each takes half the equity of the  home and  puts it into 2 houses on the new property, one each. Its has feed up capital to travel and help kids go to University which still keeping currency in this market. A second home is called a coach house on the North Shore, but a laneway house in Vancouver. Call me if you would like to know more .
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Well I spent some time writing for the Vancouver Observer, which I thoroughly enjoyed but its time to get my blog back to current.
I also run a wordpress blog called Real estate and beyond. So its busy! 
Nov 18th west Van council will vote in ( yes i hope they do) draft bylaws for the Coach house policy. Then it will go back to Public consultation. I have been actively involved in this housing form and this is what i believe it will look like for West Vancouver- this is my best guess.
1. Max size will be 1000 sq ft, possibly 1200 but unlikely
2. This will come out of over all square footage of lot, if you already built a new home as big as you can- Sorry you are out of luck
3. Design review.Dear God lets hope they let the professionals do this and not have neighborhood input. Notification yes, its fine to have to let the neighbors know but to get there approval? They didnt need any approval to rip down a small cottage and put up a 7000 sq ft monster so why should a little carriage house have a veto option? So there will be a planning review of staff and a mandatory neighborhood notification
4.Dont need a lane. We have massive properties that could take a back cottage, a lane not required.
5. Distrance between homes, this will be interesting and I cant even speculate if they will adopt Vancouver system of 16 ft or not.

Stay tuned, I just hope they can speed this up as the rate we are losing the little cottages full of history and soul is very discouraging. Soon it will be all vacant, cold square marble boxes with gothic pillars that have no place being here on the West Coast.
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People ask me if i think prices will settle in Vancouver. The West side is still getting multiple offers and high end real estate is still selling briskly, even in this usually quiet time of year. There is one interesting  graph that crossed my desk. I think the answer lies in the fortunes of another country. It shows the direct correlation of China's  Forex reserves and Vancouvers Housing prices. Coincedence? or is the money coming full circle?

The Canadain economy is doing well, despite the train wreck in USA and Europe. We are not an Island however and personally I am actively paying down the mortgage. These rates wont stay this low forever. Too many people are using their line of credit as a second income. Borrowing against tommorrow for today. I figure I have a good 2 Years to work very hard. If I can cut my mortgage in half then if rates double it wont kill me.

I cant even begin to guess what a dollar will be worth then. I never thought id see the day when a loaf of bread was $5 and here we are. So,  keep your mind open and balance your life. Dont mortgage against your future self. As Julia Child said " everything in moderation, including moderation"
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How to own an affordable house in Vancouver

Kim Little
Posted: Jan 25th, 2012
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Photo from SMALLWORKS Studios/Lanway Housing Inc. featuring split home with double enterance

The City of Vancouver lead the way in premiering the laneway housing bylaw. It's taken a while for this to really catch on, but the possibilities the bylaw presents are no- brainers. The laneway home can house your parents, it can house your adult kids, it can provide positive cash flow as a rental, or you can move in the newly renovated space and rent the old house. So many incredible options.

 At under $300,000 all in, for many one and two bedroom models, it provides way more flexibility than an investment condo. But how does this help someone that doesn't have a property to put it on? How can this help you get noticed in the housing market?

Three words for you.

Tenants in common.

More commonly referred to as “shared equity.”

Investing in shared equity is a no-brainer

When you buy a home with a spouse, you generally hold a title as "joint tenants.” This means the right of survivorship goes from one name on title to the other. So, if a wife is hit by a bus, her husband gets the house etc. But there are other ways to place your name on title.

Take a home on the West side for instance. Assume there is a cute three story house on a decent lot, in an area you like, but it's $1.6 million. You have been preapproved to go shopping for a house for under $700 thousand. You grab some close friends to join you in taking a second look at the house.

Together, you agree the house has a fabulous walkout basement suite but it could use some updating. Your landscaper friend says he loves the space, and the third friend points out that they would rather live in a detached laneway then a suite or a condo.

Now we do the math. You write a contract with your two friends where you agree to divide the home. If one person takes main space of the home, the other takes a suite, the third can take the laneway. The three of you buy this home for $1.6 million (or less if you have a good negotiator). You call a company like Smallworks studio or Laneway Housing Inc., to pick a preapproved design -spend under $300,000 and you will have a home ready for move-in day within 16 weeks. You throw $60,000 into making that basement gorgeous. Add in a little extra for closing costs.

You are now at about $675,000 each. The price could probably be divided by square footage, or by some reasonable three way split that reflected the different units, but I split it equally just to make the point here. You have now created your own co-ownership or shared equity arrangement. Make sure you have a contract/ agreement in writing in place. A co-ownership agreement can be very detailed and typically includes each co-ownerships’ interest in the property, as in percentage 25/25/50; and what each co-owner will pay for the Property Transfer Tax, property taxes, property insurance, water and sewer fees, repairs, improvements, maintenance and legal fees.

Financing co-ownership

Vancity offers a “Mixer Mortgage.” This mortgage lets partners, family members or friends share the cost of home buying, including the deposit, the mortgage and other ownership expenses.

RBC Royal BankScotiabankTD Canada Trust and other financial institutions offer what are known as “co-borrower mortgages,” which let friends, family and partners own a property together. Applicants must complete a co-ownership agreement and are required to buy home and life insurance. (More information available at REBGV.ORG)  

Home ownership as tenants in common

Now own your own place in a neighborhood you would otherwise never be able to get into. You can paint the walls whatever color you want and no one will be giving you notice to vacate.

For most people, this is better than commuting to the suburbs, and it is better for our environment to keep people living where they work and need to be.

Being listed on title as tenants in common means that if anything happened (the death of an owner) then that portion – governed by the contract- would go to his estate, not to the other two on title. Again, you can protect yourself by contract to cover various scenarios - this should all be done before you purchase.

Personal success story

I did this back in 1988, and here's the promised Chinatown story from my previous blog.

I really wanted to own a home. Not a condo.

I wanted land, a garden and a place I could renovate and fix up. I was preapproved for a $60,000 mortgage. Giddyup. It didn't take long to realise I couldn't get anything except a condo, and an old one at that. Lamenting this issue with a colleague I had just met a couple months before, he mentioned he was in the same boat. We soon decided we could pool our money and at the very least ”get in” to our ideal location. He mentioned an area he had toured and loved, so we went to take a look. I fell in love with Strathcona right away. There was a funny little cottage on Pender street, it sat below the street level with a bridge going to it, and a little sign out front that read, “for sale by owner.” When I called and Mr. Wong answered, he said he could meet us the following day and was asking $99,000 for the house.

While my friend headed out on a five day trip to Frankfurt, I went to see Mr. Wong alone with a verbal agreement from my new business partner that I could offer $95,000, but not a penny over $97,000. I was in my early 20's and had very little idea what I was doing. I met him for tea.

Mr. Wong said his sons wouldn't take $95,000 nor the $97,000. I explained that was as far as I could go without the other partner in town. The next thing I know, he said, “I will miss my parking pass, can I have the parking pass to park in front of the house?" So I agreed that at least for five years, he could. My potential new housemate had a scooter anyway.

 We drew up a detailed contract explaining what would happen if he or I died, wanted to sell, or got married.

What we didn't know or predict was that we ended up married to each other, and still are today.

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wow, I just listed a home that reminds me of times gone by. A beautiful .8 acre estate in lower  properties that has the wonderful feel of an english country estate. 1165 Chartwell. I should be thrilled but I am nervous. Not for the Canucks tonite  as i believe they deserve this win ( not just because i was an old Rota router in the 82 series, and thanks to Bob and Tom Larsheid got to see some playoff games- but because the ones sided calls, the honorable Sedins and young Mason all deserve it!)
 I am nervous because this beautiful immaculately maintained and lovingly cared for home has people calling every few hours about how big a house can they build on this lot.35,000 sq ft is big and the flat buildable area is probably about 18,000 sq ft. But somehow I really want a family to continue to love this home and make it their own. Maybe renovate the kicthen and bathrooms and fix up the lovely cottage on the knoll that would have a nice view! and it has power and water - what a great doghouse when hubby comes home late. ok just kidding, how about a wandering teen. Anyway, the property is worth seeing, even if just to remember the type of homes we dreamed about when we were young. ill be there thursday 10 to 12 and saturday and sunday 2 to 4.
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My husband and I spent a couple hours transporting and digging in a 10 foot apple tree from a friends yard. They were having some landscaping done and had no place for this big tree. My husband has been busy painting and reflooring our basement and questioned the logic of getting this tree NOW, when we could go and buy one when we were ready for it.

The truth is, The tree had a story. We had many enjoyable dinner parties at Dougs house and the fact that the lovely big tree is now in our yard will remind me of that when i see it. He had stories of the bear beating him to the apples which i will also remember. A tree on sale at Walmart will come with no history.

 I remember my friend Brent Comber talking about his wooden functional sculptures and how each piece has a story to tell. For him it was bringing that story out. Spec houses these days lack that story, that history.

When we were developing houses in Strathcona we often sought out balustrades or doors from demolished heritage buildings to add character to the homes we were doing.( I remember one woman who wanted to buy our house said" well I am going to have to discount for the used stuff you used". " Honey, if you think of this as used stuff- this isnt the house for you and its not for sale"was pretty much our response.) But for most people its that character that is the soul of the home.
Houses today are getting bigger and soulless. If we can find that piece that gives us a story, its buy in.

Unlike the joke about the 2 storey house, it should be the same story when you buy it as sell it!
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Just returned from a fantastic seminar by Cameron Muir, cheif economist for BC real estate association.
In a coles notes version our current housing market resembles the Snakes and Ladders game I played with my son the other day. You get the odd free ride up and then a little further along you slide back down to where you were.

 We are tied so closely to the US economy that we cant help but be affected. 48%percent of our exports go there ( thats an improvement from 65% just a few years ago but still..) If you look at the influences that affect the economic output of Canada 40% is the US Economy, 33 percent is the financial markets and 13 percent is the price of oil, actual domestic demand is only 8 %. All of these have been have been volatile of late so no wonder we are all asking ourselves- where is this headed?
 Job wise we are only about 3200 jobs from peak employment in BC. Of the job openings in BC 60% are replacement opportunities, only 38% from new growth.So they forcast a labour crunch in 10 yrs as we cant fill the replacement jobs that baby boomers leave. Our population is aging and the baby boomers are checking out. Economists estimate by 2025 more people will die than are born in Canada.Currently BC is  a poplution growth leader and the West will continue to drive economic growth. Our current population growth is  71 % International immigration,10% provincial migration, and 19percent is natural  increases.
So the bottom line? these are the factors that will be driving our real estate market.Barring some new catastrophy. We have a balanced market leaning slightly to sellers market in North Vancouver and a slight leaning to a buyers merket here in West Vancouver and Vancouver. We are at levels seen just prior to the financial crisis in 2008 so we will probably see a moderate continuation of this market as rates stay low.
In terms of risk in buying or waiting till later. Analysts believe you have a  greater risk of losing affordability by  upcoming short term rate increases than by waiting. As for the HST impact, that will be the next blog!
The reality is we have just been through the worst recession since the 30's, a total Global recession and  a worldwide financial crisis and  how did our Real Estate market fare? we fell only 15% from peak to trough, my stocks did far worse. I'm sticking to real estate.
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So everyone is up in arms with the recent calculation that an upgrade to our sewer system will cost the equivalent of over $3850 per household! But people, lets be realistic. Our system is not adequate and we are pumping sewage into our bay. This is not a solution. The Councils have seen this coming and knew the state of our system did not meet current standards. This must be done and we must find a way to pay for it.
On another note The City of North Vancouver came out with a laneway housing stategy. A good compromise to not over developing lots but allowing some sensitive density increase and getting some rental housing back in our booming  real estate market.
In a nut shell the program does not allow for extra square footage- as in Vancouver city, rather you can use existing unused FSR in your lane house.
- a two-tier approach with 800 square feet, single-storey homes available through a faster process, and a longer more involved approval process with up to 1000 square feet with a one-and-a-half storey unit
- parking provided for both units on the lot
- minimum requirements for a lot; at least 3960 square feet and lot width of 10m

I will be meeting with Smallworks next week to discuss their projects as they have been a leader in this endeavor so far. I will keep you posted!
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I just sold this Condo at 1953 tompkins, north vancouver, BC .

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I just finished uploading this House for sale, 3545 Emerald Dr, North Vancouver, BC

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I just sold this House at 4501 West 7th Ave, Vancouver, Vancouver, BC .

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I just finished uploading this House for sale, 425 INGLEWOOD Ave, West Vancouver, British Columbia

Own a piece of West Vancouver history! Original home dates back to the 1940's and possibly the Guinness family. Updated and expanded over the years with unique features: hand crafted cabinets, professional gas stove, hand cut tile, old brick, stained glass and arched windows. Loads of charm on a huge 35,000 (.84 acre) sq. ft. level lot!

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I just finished uploading this Condo for sale, 807 150 24TH Street, West Vancouver, British Columbia

West Vancouver's popular SEASTRAND. This 2-Bedroom/2-Bath freshly painted Suite overlooking the Seawall has completely unobstructed 180-degrees water views. Display your patio furniture on huge balcony and enjoy front-row seat to watch the cruise ships pass by. Both bedrooms look out to unobstructed picturesque Northshore mountains. Additional features include lounge, gorgeous outdoor pool, secured parking, free laundry (laundry room on same floor). Problem-free building located in an area of some of the most desirable real estate in Canada. No public opens permitted. Call to view by appointment.

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so the party is over and we ask ourselves,did anyone like it enough to want to stay? One downtown developer reported $46 million in sales closed during the  17 day Olympic games. Included in that was a whopping $22 million dollar condo. There is money being left here, lets see how long it bouys our economy.

Currently some great listings coming out in West Vancouver. If you can handle a little sweat equity or some reno time there are good buys to be had.
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there has been alot of press about the recent sale of an ambleside cottage that sold $53,000 over asking. What people dont take into consideration is the asking price is not the market value. There are several proicing strategies and one of those is listiong under the estimated market value to get comnpeting offers. This was clearly the case as comparable sales were actually $950-999. so listing at $899 was a strategy. An unrenovated cottage in the same area recently sold for $950,000 after being listed at 999. So listing at $899 and getting $952,000 is not as alarming as the press likes to think..

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N6IU7k7PcI

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NY times top places to see and look who is number 25. Vancouver Island
Vancouver will have the sporting world’s attention when it hosts the Winter Olympics this year, but the most rewarding outdoor exploration is found outside the city, away from the crowds and off the beaten path. Hop the BC Ferry (www.bcferries.com) from Vancouver to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island’s east coast, and drive three hours through mountain passes to the wild, dramatic west coast. The new Wild Pacific Trail (www.wildpacifictrail.com) skirts the rocky, rugged shoreline, overlooking sandy coves lined with driftwood and tidepools and the Pacific beyond them.

The hiking trail is being built in sections (there are three of seven set up so far), hand-cut through dense old-growth forests of cedar and spruce, with viewing platforms that let hikers see turn-of-the-20th-century lighthouses, kayakers heading to nearby islands, and the annual gray whale migration (about 20,000 pass by the island from February to late May). The base for the Wild Pacific Trail is a folksy fishing village called Ucluelet, a former First Nations settlement dotted with seaside inns, bed-and-breakfasts and beach cabins like the Terrace Beach Resort (www.terracebeachresort.ca), which has direct access to the trail.  written by BONNIE TSUI

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I just sold this Condo at 202 1420 ARBUTUS Street, Vancouver West, British Columbia .

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