Featured Listing

1322 East 34th Avenue, British Columbia

1322 East 34th Avenue

Vancouver, British Columbia

Park Georgia Realty

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January 19, 2018

Vancouver’s New Housing Strategy


1. Shift toward the “right supply” by increasing rental and social housing near transit and arterials, like the Broadway corridor, Nanaimo station, 29th Avenue station, and Olympic Village station.  Low-density neighbourhoods will see new infill housing and multiple homes on a single lot, as well as townhouses and low-rise apartments in areas with public amenities.  The city will also implement a Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (see point 3).

2. Limit speculation and stabilize land value by working with senior levels of government to develop tax and financial regulations including a speculation and flipping tax, increased Property Transfer Tax on luxury properties, and closing loopholes around capital gains taxes.

3. Increase rental protection and affordability to ensure rents remain affordable after redevelopment.  The city plans to preserve the existing 90,000 rental homes in Vancouver by lowering the trigger for one-for-one replacement of rentals.  A new Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program will incentivize developers through density bonusing to build 100% rental buildings where 20% of the units are permanently affordable for households earning $30,000-$80,000 annually.  Over the next decade 2,000 co-op homes will also be built.

4. Review city processes for housing, rezoning and development to simplify city approaches.  Reduce processing times and speed up the rezoning and community amenity contributions (CAC) process for market rental development applications.

5. Support diverse ways of living by permitting collective housing by amending the Zoning and Development By-Law to permit six or more unrelated roommates in single-family areas.

6. Provide housing for homeless residents by requesting funding to build 1,200 units of temporary modular housing on city-owned sites in the next two years.

7. Develop a new 10-Year Affordable Housing Delivery and Financial Plan to support development of 12,000 social, supportive and co-op homes.

8. Improve livability of single room occupancy (SRO) hotels by replacing 50% with new self-contained social housing.  The city will also establish an SRO revitalization fund to renovate 10 privately owned buildings.

9. Launch the new Social Purpose Real Estate Incentive Program to support non-profits and co-ops who own their land and buildings to redevelop and expand affordable housing.

10. Build five new Aboriginal housing developments through partnerships with Aboriginal agencies, and create a 10-Year Aboriginal Housing strategy in support of the city’s ongoing efforts for reconciliation.

The strategy builds on measures Vancouver is already taking, including the Empty Homes Tax; short-term rental regulation; and temporary modular housing for low income and homeless residents.

The goal:  72,000 new homes to be delivered in 10 years.

  • 50% of new homes targeted at families earning less than $80,000
  • 29,000 homes (40%) will be for families
  • 48,000 homes (55%) will be for renters
  • 12,000 homes will be social, supportive and non-profit co-operative homes; 4,100 will have supports
  • 20,000 homes will be secure long-term market rental homes
  • 4,000 new laneway homes will provide ground-oriented homes for couples and families

Vancouver has seen rapid home price growth which city officials believe is “fuelled by more than just households looking for primary homes.”

So far, the strategy has been to implement the Empty Homes Tax and the Short-Term Rental regulations.

The next step is a pilot program directed at newly constructed housing for residents who live and work in Vancouver.  This will include:

  • A rezoning policy to require developers to market pre-sale strata units to residents already living and working in Metro Vancouver before units are marketed and sold nationally or internationally; and
  • Additional measures such as requiring the developer to limit bulk sales, and include terms in the contract of purchase and sale to prevent the flipping of assignments for profit

January 15, 2018

East Vancouver Detached Hosing Stabilizes

Following strong demand in the late spring of 2017, which resulted in a big price jump, the year ended with Vancouver East detached homes in a more stable market. According to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 88 houses were sold on the Eastside in December 2017. This is down slightly from the 94 detached sales in November 2017. Meanwhile, the number of Vancouver East houses listed for sale dropped considerably in December 2017. As we go to press in early January 2018, the listing inventory is around 550 units. With a sales-to-listings ratio of about 17%, the new year begins with reasonable demand vs. supply in the Eastside detached market.

Mortgage rates continue to be favourable, despite some increases in 2017. Major lenders are advertising 5 year closed mortgages at rates of about 5%. However, with discounts of 2% or more to qualified home buyers, financing continues to be competitive between lenders.

One of the many Federal Government changes to try to cool the housing markets in Canada’s major cities came into effect on January 1, 2018. Home buyers who don’t require mortgage insurance must still qualify for their mortgage at a higher rate.

Under the new rules from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages will be:

  • The greater of the Bank of Canada’s 5 year benchmark rate or
  • The contractual mortgage rate plus 2%

It will be interesting to see if this new ‘stress test’ negatively impacts the housing market, particularly the condo market, which has been running hot through the latter part of 2017!

November 27, 2017

Detached Home Sales Ease, Condo Sales Boom!

With the prices for Vancouver East detached homes still high, it seems that homebuyers have turned their attention to the condo apartment and townhome markets.  As sales for detached homes have slipped this fall, sales for apartments have been at a frenzied pace.  According to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver 106 detached homes sold in East Vancouver during October 2017.  This is a slight increase in sales from the 95 houses sold in September 2017.

Meanwhile, 150 apartments were sold in October 2017 vs. 129 units in September 2017.  While house prices have eased somewhat from the peak prices of May 2017, condo prices were at an all-time high in October 2017.  This is clearly a result of low inventory vs. high demand.  Multiple offer situations have driven up condo prices nearly 20% from a year ago.  Tougher Federal Government lending rules are coming to mortgage lenders in January 2018.  (See accompanying story).  It seems that Buyers are desperately trying to buy and complete on their purchases prior to January 1, 2018.

In closing, the sales to listings ratio for detached homes on the Eastside stood at about 14% (close to a Buyer’s Market) while the sales to listings for apartments was a whopping 79% (definitely a Seller’s Market).

Detached home sellers need to price their properties sharply today, but prices are still higher than they were at the beginning of the year.  All we can say about the condo apartment market right now is that it is great to be a Seller!

November 27, 2017

New Requirements for uninsured mortgages….

Home buyers who don’t require mortgage insurance—those with a down payment of 20% or more—must still qualify for their mortgage at a higher rate as of January 1, 2018.

Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)  announced these rules changes on October 27, 2017.

Draft changes were released last summer for stakeholder feedback.  The Canadian Real Estate Association provided a submission.

Under the new rules, the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages will be:

¨ the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or

¨ the contractual mortgage rate plus  2%

OSFI will also require lenders to enhance their loan-to-value (LTV) limits and restrict certain lending arrangements designed to circumvent LTV limits.

These changes apply to federally regulated financial institutions and are the final revisions to Guideline B20:  Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures.

There could be a rude surprise for borrowers who signed a purchase and sale agreement for a property closing after December and have not applied for a mortgage before the new rules kick in, according to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA).

“Unless the OSFI creates an exception for such cases, some of these buyers will have to seek higher-cost non-bank financing to close (or may not be able to close at all),” said CHBA, which is working with officials from the Department of Finance to get OSFI to put transitional rules in place for buyers who find themselves in this situation.

CHBA notes:  “Builders could be left with empty units while buyers could lose their hard earned deposits.”

The new stress test will not apply to home owners renewing their uninsured mortgage with their existing lender.  Home owners who move to a different lender will be treated as a new borrower and will have to qualify at a higher, stress-tested rate.

November 27, 2017

Residential Underground Storage Tanks

How many are still in the ground in BC?  No one knows precisely because they were never registered and there wasn’t a permitting system.  City of Vancouver staff estimate there are between 10,000 and 20,000 still in the ground in Vancouver alone.

Underground storage tanks (USTs) were extensively used until the 1970’s when natural gas became readily available.  They’ve often been forgotten and lie buried in yards and under basements and decks.

Telltale signs of USTs include vent and fill pipes or copper lines sticking out of lawns, or the ground close to buildings.


The life span of a tank is about 25 years.  As tanks age and corrode, the  toxic substances they contain can leak and leach into soil, neighbouring properties, and groundwater.  They can also cause a fire or explosion.

Cleanup costs vary.  There are cases where home owners have paid as much as $123,000, according to Mike Mangan, a real estate lawyer.

In BC, residential fuel storage tanks are regulated by the BC Fire Code, Part 4.

Toxic leaks are governed by the BC Environmental Management Act and the Contaminated Sites Regulation.

Municipalities, including Vancouver, typically also have bylaws, policies, and additional requirements for removing or abandoning tanks.  Local fire departments usually administer them.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy’s Remediation Liability Overview, those who can be held responsible for causing contamination include the current owner, a previous owner, and even a producer or transporter of the substance that caused the contamination.

Tanks in the City of Vancouver

Tanks still in the ground in Vancouver are regulated by:

¨ The City’s Fire Bylaw which follows a CCME Code of Practices for tank removal and decommissioning; and

¨ The City’s Sewer and Watercourse Bylaw No. 8093, section 5.3, which requires property owners to remove a tank that will not be reused or has been out of service for two years.

Have an interesting idea for a newsletter article? Contact Norm and watch this page regularly for updates!