Home Sales Decrease as Interest Rates Increase
The Bank of Canada raised its trend-setting policy interest rate to 3.75% on October 26, 2022, up .5% from the previous rate setting. This raising of the policy interest rate impacts mortgage interest rates from major lenders.
With higher interest rates, the ability to borrow for a home purchase can be affected. Thus, home sales have slowed. According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 66 detached homes were sold in September 2022 in Vancouver East. 56 Eastside houses changed hands in October 2022. The Benchmark Price for a Single Family Detached home in East Vancouver has dropped to $1,719,100 as of October 31, 2022. While sales have eased, so too has the number of houses listed for sale. As we go to press, the listing inventory of detached homes on the Eastside is in the range of 450 units. As the holiday season approaches, the number of home buyers and sellers tends to drop off.
Traditionally, the new year ushers in a change to the housing market. Will the slow down continue; will the market stabilize, or even start to pick up again? If there is one thing that describes the Vancouver real estate market, it is that it is rarely easy to forecast!
BC Needs 570,000 New Homes; Metro Vancouver Needs 523,530
To make housing more affordable, British Columbia will have to build 570,000 new units by 2030 according to a report from Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC).
The report finds that in 2021, a household with an average income would have to devote close to 60% of their household income to housing.
In contrast, in 2004, this same household would have devoted 45% of their household income to housing.
To achieve the 2030 target, BC will have to overcome major hurdles, including:
- Significant delays between when a project is proposed and when it starts, due to long approval processes;
- Skill shortages and supply-chain challenges in the short term which push up costs and lengthen the time it takes to build,
- Increase in supply will put pressure on the cost of construction.
“Canada’s approach to housing supply needs to be rethought. It needs to be done differently. There must be a drastic transformation of the housing sector, including governments, and priority given to increasing the supply of housing to meet demand,” said Aled ab Iorwerth, CMHC Deputy Chief Economist.
WESGROUP PROPERTIES ANALYSIS
While BC will need 570,000 new homes, Metro Vancouver will require 523,530 units according to a Wesgroup Properties analysis.
“It’s going to be an insurmountable challenge for the market to address,” said Brad Jones, Wesgroup SVP, Development.
The current annual completion rate of affordable homes is 23,766 units according to Jones. It would take 26 years (or by 2048) to reach the 523,570 unit target, not CMHC’s target of 2030.
Sales Down, Listings Down In Vancouver East: Statistics
Rising interest rates have made the cost of borrowing for a home purchase higher. As a result, demand for homes softened over the summer and at the beginning of autumn. According to statistics from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 54 detached homes in Vancouver East were sold in July 2022. August 2022 saw a slight increase in Eastside detached sales to 57 units. This easing of sales activity has been expected as interest rates have increased from a Bank of Canada policy interest rate of .25% in January of this year to a rate of 3.25% as of September 7. This leads mortgage lenders to increase their rates in response. The slowdown in home sales has not significantly affected the number of homes actively listed for sale.
As we go to press, there are just under 500 detached homes for sale in East Vancouver. The Benchmark Price for a Single Family Detached home in Vancouver East was $1,794,000 at the end of August 2022. Compare this statistic to a Benchmark Price of $1,947,000 at the end of May 2022!
In the end, the housing market is about supply and demand. With a listings-to-sales ratio of nearly 9:1, the pressure on prices is expected to continue. However, a good quality home listed at a competitive price will continue to be in demand, regardless of the statistics!
Broadway Plan Approved; 30,000 New Homes Coming
Vancouver’s Broadway Plan, approved by Council on June 2, 2022, will transform 485 blocks within the area from Vine Street to Clark Drive and 1st Avenue to 16h Avenue. Council made extensive amendments to the original proposal. We will post these amendments when the link is available.
Neighbourhoods in this area—Kitsilano, Fairview and Mount Pleasant—currently house:
- 78,000 residents (or 12% of Vancouver’s population), of which 30,000 are renters; and
- 25% of Vancouver’s purpose-built rental housing
The City forecasts the area will grow in the next 30 years by:
- 50,000 residents to 128,000 residents from the current 78,000; and
- 42,000 to 126,000 jobs from the current 84,000 jobs.
The goal of the 30-year Broadway Plan is to address the looming housing crisis, economic growth and the climate emergency by creating denser, walkable neighbourhoods with new market and rental housing, jobs, and amenities around the new Broadway Subway.
The Broadway Plan will add 30,000 new homes. Of these:
- 34% will be market strata;
- 46% will be market rental;
- 12% will be social housing; and
- 7% will be below-market rentals.
The plan allows for mixed-use developments up to 40 storeys near new subway stations. Smaller, aging rental buildings can be replaced by residential towers up to 20 storeys.
To help tenants stay in their neighbourhoods at affordable rents, existing tenants displaced by the plan will have the right:
- of first refusal to live in redeveloped buildings with new homes; and
- to return at their current rent or a 20% discount on city-wide average market rents, whichever is less.
The plan creates new space for up to 42,000 jobs. Current shopping areas on West 4th Avenue, and South Granville will be preserved and enhanced.
PARKS, LIBRARIES, ARTS, AND CULTURE
The plan provides $1 billion during the first 10 years, including:
- $96 million for new or enhanced parks:
- funding for Vancouver’s first blue green system with a network of connected park-like streets that manage water and protect the ecosystem;
- funding for 400 new or renewed childcare spaces;
- funding for an expansion of the Firehall library and Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House; and
- funding for arts, cultural, and music spaces.
Bike lanes will be strengthened along Kingsway, Fraser Street, 10th Avenue, and Seaside Green.
A bike lane down Broadway; freezing development on side streets for 5 years; and thinner buildings to allow side lawns and tree canopies.
Bank of Canada Interest Rates Climb!
As we settle into the summer of 2022 the temperature isn’t the only thing climbing. The Bank of Canada has reacted to inflationary pressures by raising the trend-setting bank rate 4 times since the beginning of March, 2022.
From a Policy Interest Rate of .25% at the beginning of the year, increases of .25% (March 2, 2022), .50% (April 13, 2022), .50% (June 1, 2022) and 1.0% (July 13, 2022) have added up to a current Rate of 2.50%!
Not surprisingly, these changes have made the cost of borrowing much higher and resulted in a slowing of the Vancouver housing market. According to statistics from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, there were 174 detached houses sold in Vancouver East in March, 2022. Subsequently, 110 houses were sold in April, 2022, 94 units in May 2022, and 77 sales in June 2022. As we go to press we have about 540 detached homes for sale on the Eastside.
With a sales-to-listings ratio of around 1:7, prices are softening. A 5 year fixed mortgage that was well under 3% at the start of the year, is now near 5% or more. For homebuyers used to the multiple offer battles to own a home, the slowing market is a welcome change.
While prices are easing, most longer-term homeowners are still well ahead financially, compared to when they originally purchased.
Skytrain to UBC, One Step Closer…
Vancouver Council has endorsed the Millennium Line Extension from Arbutus Street to UBC (SkyTrain to UBC).
Council also approved potential stations at Macdonald Street, Alma Street, and within the Jericho Lands. The aim is to advance opportunities to integrate the new stations with future development, to improve connectivity, accessibility, and passenger amenities.
SkyTrain to UBC will also be on the agenda at upcoming meetings of the Mayors’ Council Transport 2050. If the project is prioritized, it will progress to the next phase of design development.
“This decision brings us one step closer to extending SkyTrain all the way to UBC and linking it to the entire region,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.
“Broadway is the second largest economic area in BC, and a rapid connection to UBC will foster new jobs and innovation while combating climate change and reducing congestion by taking an estimated 3,000 cars off the road per day.”
SkyTrain to UBC supports the City’s Transportation 2040 Plan, Climate Emergency Action Plan, and Housing Vancouver Strategy goals.
The City, UBC, and the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Development Corporation (MST-DC), signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding in late 2019 to jointly advocate for federal, provincial and regional support and funding for the proposed extension.
In summer 2021, senior levels of government committed to providing funding contribution for the next phase of the project, including future planning and business case development.
Land Value Escalation
When the SkyTrain down Cambie Street was announced, land prices started rising and this continues today.
Vancouver Council wants to know how to prevent price escalation along the Millennium Line to UBC and has asked City staff how to:
- ensure that the UBC transit corridor initiative doesn’t result in the same degree of land price speculation and consequent high housing prices and rents as in the case of the SkyTrain on Cambie Street; and
- get real affordability along the UBC SkyTrain route calibrated to average renter incomes and how to protect the affordable rental stock that exists there now.
Council has also asked staff to ensure:
- the cost of the UBC transit doesn’t starve the rest of the transit system for those who don’t use that route; and
- other routes that need faster transit are appropriately prioritized and funded.
Eastside House Prices Rocket Higher!
The demand for housing continues to fuel price hikes throughout the Lower Mainland. Here in Vancouver East, the Benchmark Price for a Single Family Detached home reached $1,860,900 at the end of February 2022, according to the MLS Home Price Index. This is up over 10% from 6 months ago!
According to further statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Multiple Listing Service (MLS), 117 Eastside houses were sold in February 2022. This is almost double the sales from the 65 units sold in January 2022. Sales would likely have trended higher if the number of Single Family Detached homes listed for sale increased as well.
However, there are less than 450 houses listed in Vancouver East, as we go to print. With so few choices, homebuyers are often forced to compete with each other in the drive to purchase a home. One reason for the continuing demand for homes is the fear of interest rate hikes. In February, the Bank of Canada raised its benchmark rate by .25% for the first increase since before the COVID-19 pandemic. With Canadian inflation increasing to 5.1% recently, pressures to continue to raise interest rates will build.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Government is threatening to enact legislation to try and cool the real estate market.
For Homebuyers, spring in Vancouver is traditionally the season when listing inventory increases. In 2021, the peak level of homes listed for sale in East Vancouver was found in May. Will listing inventories build up enough to satisfy the demand for detached homes, and ease the pressure on prices?
Eastside Detached Home Listings at a 30 Year Low!
The inventory of detached homes for sale on Vancouver’s Eastside has not kept up with the demand from prospective home buyers. According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Multiple Listing Service (MLS), 2022 started with the number of house listings in Vancouver East sitting at just under 300. With sales of 94 homes in December 2021, and 126 in November 2021, this keeps the sales-to-listings ratio for Eastside houses at around 1:3.
Without the build up of new listings, the price increases we’ve seen in the last year will continue.
The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for Single Family Detached homes in Vancouver East was at $1,770,100 at the end of December 2021. Compare this statistic to the same month in 2020, when the benchmark price was $1,545,400! Many factors are contributing to the huge demand for houses in Vancouver East and throughout the Lower Mainland. Low mortgage rates continue to be a big reason for buyers to jump into the market. There is also the buyers’ fear that interest rates are likely to start going up in the very near future. Families with one or two people working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic are recognizing the need for more space.
Population growth in Greater Vancouver is expected to continue with increased in-migration from other parts of Canada, as well as higher Federal targets for immigration.
These trends continue to fuel demand from potential homebuyers. On the listing side, many potential home sellers are wary of becoming a home buyer in a rapidly rising house market. Thus, we are seeing many home owners renovating their existing homes rather than selling and moving. As we begin 2022, there seems to be no immediate end in sight to this seller’s market.
Lane Fab Design Build
Bryn Davidson, co-owner of Lane Fab, built Vancouver’s first laneway house in 2009 and now also builds energy-efficient passive homes. He provided the following information about passive homes.
Projects include all the same features as a full-sized home, but the home uses passive energy backed up by LEED certification and requires 90% less energy for heating, and uses 60% less energy overall.
Costs for passive house upgrades
Compared to a 3,000 square foot single family house, the costs for passive house upgrades are as follows:
- Windows/doors cost up to $35,000 more.
- Mechanical/ventilation costs up to $10000 more.
- Insulation upgrade costs up to $10,000 more.
- Air tightness costs up to $10,000 more. Air tightness means fresh air is coming in through filters so it’s cleaner than outdoor air.
Some of these costs can be offset by government incentives and utility savings.
In older houses heat leaks out, and many houses are heated with high carbon emission gas heat. In contrast, passive house temperatures stay steady. Even in a power outage, passive houses can stay heated for several days off the sun and body heat. The building quality is more comfortable and quiet, and is better for the environment.
Selling climate-friendly buildings to those who don’t care about climate change
Comparing the costs and benefits of climate-friendly housing, there’s a net positive to the owners in addition to a lowering of carbon emissions which cause climate change.
In Vancouver, passive buildings get extra building height and depth, a bonus floor area of 8 to 12% on a single family or duplex home, as well as a smaller front and rear yard. On a typical 33-foot lot, a 2,800 square foot passive house gets an added bonus of 340 square feet. The net value at $1,200 per square foot is $300,000. Plus the passive home is:
- more comfortable
- zero draughts/condensation
- more comfortable during power outages
- more durable
- resilient to extreme heat and cold
- future-proofed for energy prices
Listing Inventory Shrinks in Active Fall Market
Following a relatively quiet summer market, Vancouver’s Eastside has seen homebuyers back on the house hunt this fall. The problem is that the number of detached homes listed for sale has been dropping since the spring. As we go to press, the number of detached homes for sale in Vancouver East has ebbed to about 400. According to statistics from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, buyers snapped up 138 detached homes in September 2021. 137 sales were recorded in October. With a sales to listings ratio of approximately 1:3, pressure continues to build on house prices. When new records were being set for home prices on the Eastside in the spring of this year, expectations were that prices were likely to ease somewhat (or at least level off). However, the autumn listing season is falling well short of the anticipated increase to the listing inventory. Yet again, buyers are often competing with each other when a new listing does hit the market.
There are hints from the Bank of Canada that increases to interest rates are in the offing. So far though, mortgage rates are holding at extremely low levels (5 year fixed mortgages can be found for well under 3% to qualified buyers).
For home sellers, now may be the right time to go to market. However, these same sellers need to prepare a plan, as they may then become the buyer in a very tight market.
Land Owner Transparency Act
The BC government enacted the Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) which requires mandatory disclosure of beneficial ownership of BC land and the creation of a publicly searchable registry.
Reporting bodies holding an interest in BC land as of November 30, 2020, were required to file a transparency report to disclose beneficial ownership by no later than November 30, 2021. This date has now been extended to November 30, 2022.
A reporting body includes relevant corporations, relevant partnerships and relevant trusts as defined under the LOTA. Societies and co-ops are also reporting bodies.
Applicable interests in land include an estate in fee simple, a life estate, and a right to occupy land under a lease with a term of more than 10 years.
Any organization owning any land or holding a lease of more than 10 years must file a transparency report if it:
- meets the definition of a reporting body;
- is not exempted from the reporting requirements under LOTA;
- holds an interest in land in BC; and
- hasn’t already filed a transparency report.
What is a transparency report?
A transparency report is filed by a legal professional and includes information about the organization (reporting body) and for each individual interest holder identified in connection with the reporting body.
If a society or co-op owns/leases multiple properties, one report can cover multiple properties.
Who files the report?
The Land Title and Survey Authority of BC (LTSA) is responsible for developing and operating the Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR).
A legal professional must complete and file reports directly using their LTSA Enterprise account and a digital certification signature (known as a Juricert).
Costs include the ‘myLTSA’ filing fees of approximately $40 plus tax, in addition to the fees charged by a legal professional.
Read about the Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR) at https://landtransparency.ca/
Summer Heat Slows House Sales in Vancouver East!
After a sizzling spring market, the summer market slowed down, due to factors both traditional, and COVID-19 related. Generally, with kids out of school, July and August are the months that families have to enjoy a summer vacation. This means many prospective Buyers and Sellers (and their Realtors) may be taking a break from their real estate activities. As well, in the time of COVID-19, Summer 2021 saw the Provincial Government easing travel restrictions throughout B.C. There was pent up demand to travel and get away from the sense of being cooped up at home. Thus, the statistics from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reflect this summer season. There were 144 detached houses in Vancouver East sold in July 2021. August sales ebbed to 102.
With kids back in school and the traditional summer holiday season over after Labour Day, it is expected that real estate activity will pick up for the fall. While the Benchmark Price for Single Family Detached homes on the Eastside has dropped slightly (about 1.2% over the last 3 months), the current lack of inventory could lead to a new round of price increases. As we go to press, the listing inventory for houses in Vancouver East is sitting around 500. Low interest rates continue to be an incentive for prospective Buyers to return to the market.
Mortgage rates of less than 2% can often be found on terms under 5 years. With the fall market upon us, the key will be the demand for homes vs. the supply available. We will be watching this dynamic to see how the market performs over the next few months.
New Massey tunnel by 2030
The BC Government will replace the 62-year-old Massey Tunnel connecting Richmond and Delta with a new eight-lane, toll-free, immersed-tube tunnel.
The goal is to “improve traffic flow and make travel by transit, walking and cycling more convenient and attractive, without costing commuters hundreds of dollars a year in unfair tolls,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The new tunnel will open in 2030 and is estimated to cost $4.15 billion. Two of the eight lanes will be dedicated for bus rapid transit, and there will be separated pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.
Why a tunnel, not a bridge?
A business case reviewed two options: the eight-lane tunnel and an eight-lane bridge.
Length (infrastructure): 1,054 metres
Estimated Cost: $4.15 billion
Length (infrastructure): 2,805 metres (3x tunnel)
Estimated Cost: $4.22 billion
The B.C. Government chose the tunnel as the best option because it:
- has the fewest impacts on agricultural land;
- won’t introduce new navigational restrictions affecting the Fraser River;
- best facilitates the movement of trucks and cyclists with a much lower overall elevation change;
- best meets the regional vision/interests, as endorsed by the MetroVancouver Board;
- limits visual, noise, shading and lighting impacts;
- allows for work to start immediately on the bottleneck areas of the Highway 99 corridor; and
- provides protection from inclement weather for everyone who uses this crossing.
The Government will proceed with an environmental assessment process, including ongoing engagement with Indigenous peoples, and preparing for procurement.
Until the tunnel opens in 2030, the Government will address traffic congestion by improving transit and cycling infrastructure along the Highway 99 corridor and replacing the Steveston Interchange.
Will the Summer Heat Calm the Local Housing Market?
With hot summer weather upon us, school out, and COVID-19 restrictions starting to ease, there seems to be a little less panic in the Vancouver Eastside detached housing market. According to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 155 detached homes sold in June 2021.
This is down from the 190 sales in May 2021. However, this slowing of sales compared to the Spring activity may be counteracted as the number of new listings being added to the inventory has been dropping too. As a result, the Benchmark Price for a detached home in Vancouver East has flattened as of the end of June 2021 vs. the previous month.
The Benchmark Price for a Single Family Detached home in Vancouver East is $1,696,500.00.
Meanwhile, on July 14 the Bank of Canada maintained its current overnight lending rate.
With the Bank of Canada stress test rules kicking in as of June 1, 2021, home prices are up about 16% compared to June 2020, and a general fatigue with multiple offer scenarios, home buyers appear to be ready for that summer holiday!
Cambie Corridor—30,000 New Homes Coming
The Cambie Corridor is now the biggest growth area in Vancouver, and in the next 30 years is expected to double in population and add more than 30,000 new homes.
Where these homes and the amenities to service them will be located were key topics in a presentation by City planners to more than 100 REALTORS® attending a live webinar (via Zoom) on May 11, 2021.
The Cambie Corridor plan, which guides change and growth, will create neighbourhoods with places for current and future residents to live, work, shop, play, and be part of a community.
Part of a City-Wide Plan
Susan Hay, deputy director of planning and Neil Hrushowy, director community planning, explained that the Cambie Corridor is part of a City-wide planning process that began in 2019, known as “Planning Vancouver Together.” This developing plan updates the previous City-wide plan which was approved in 1995.
Largest Survey in City History
To launch the planning process, the City undertook the largest open survey in its history to find out key issues to 2050.
In Vancouver, 52% of all land contains only 15% of dwelling units – primarily all detached; and 50% of residents in the City are renters.
This presents significant problems. The City needs more affordable market housing as well as rentals, co-operatives, social and non-market housing – and not just concentrated on arterial roads such as the Broadway corridor.
The City has a severe lack of small livable neighbourhoods where residents’ needs are met. For example, neighbourhoods where residents can run out to get milk or drop children off at the local daycare. Diverse housing, amenities, shops, and workplaces with opportunities to gather and socialize would create self-contained vibrant neighbourhoods.
Oakridge Municipal Town Centre (MTC)
The Oakridge MTC is one of 17 planned town centres across Vancouver and represents a rethinking of single-family neighbourhoods.
When fully developed, this Centre will contain diverse, high-density market and rental housing, retail and office space and robust public benefits such as a new civic centre and a park.
This 21-acre site owned by the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation (MST Corporation) and Canada Lands Company, will also contain a diversity of housing types and tenures, away from arterial roads, to give residents a break from higher noise and pollution.
Housing types will include 2,600 units of high-rise and mid-rise towers, and townhouses set amidst four acres of parkland and walking/biking trails.
Public benefits will include a youth centre, a childcare centre and non-profit office space located between West 27th and 33rd Avenues and Willow and Ash Streets.
The Oakridge Transit Centre (OTC)
Used as a bus depot from 1940 to 2006, this 14-acre site parallel to West 41st Avenue will include retail space and farmers markets, as well as new pedestrian and site connections.
The housing plan includes 1,600 new units – market, rental, and social housing on 3.3 acres of the site.
The City is improving safety and access for all road users along Cambie Street and King Edward Avenue between Heather and Ontario Streets.
This includes upgrading road conditions for everyone walking, biking, rolling, and driving. There are upgrades to electrical infrastructure including streetlights.
Q & A
Q: How much will be affordable market housing?
A: 25% of all units of all major projects will be either social housing or rental with 20% of rental units geared to moderate income – $30,000.00 to $50,000.00. The MST will have 20% of units in attainable housing and market homes which will be more affordable given the homes are on 99-year leases.
Q: What about parking?
A: The goal is to get residents around using other alternatives. The City plans zero parking projects. There are significant changing perceptions around the need for a car, according to the City.
Strange Times Indeed!
What an unusual year 2020 has been so far; whether we are speaking about real estate or life during the COVID-19 pandemic! With so much news coverage about the pandemic, let’s talk about the state of the housing market during this time of upheaval. The real estate industry is considered part of the financial services sector. The financial services sector has been considered an ‘essential service’. Therefore, it has been possible to buy and sell real estate during the pandemic. With some buyers and sellers nervous about ‘being out there’ during a pandemic, the statistics are reflective of this. According to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 109 detached homes sold on Vancouver’s Eastside in March 2020. At the end of April 2020, during the height of government restrictions on the movement of the citizenry, only 49 sales were registered on MLS. While this represents a drop of over 50% month over month, the number of new listings added to the inventory was down over 50% in April 2020 compared to March 2020.
Facts About the Strata Contingency Fund
All strata corporations are required to establish a contingency reserve fund (CRF) under the Strata Property Act, Sec. 92(b) to meet expenses.
What is a CRF?
It’s a fund collected from strata owners through strata fees. A CRF is separate from the annual fund collected for the repair, maintenance and replacement of the common property as identified in a strata depreciation report.
What is the CRF used for?
It’s used for unforeseen expenses, including emergencies, that occur less than once a year or that don’t usually occur, including repairs to common property such as the roof, elevator, sidewalks, railings, or recreational facilities.
Insurance deductibles and legal expenses
The CRF can also be used for unexpected insurance deductibles as well as unexpected legal costs and expenses approved by a majority vote of the owners at a general meeting for specific projects.
How much is the CRF?
A strata corporation must contribute a minimum of 10% of the annual budget to the CRF until the CRF reaches 24% of the annual budget according to the Strata Property Regulation 3.4.
Regulation 6.1 requires the CRF be equal to at least 25% of the operating fund. If the CRF is below this amount at the time of the AGM, an amount equal to 10% of the operating fund must be contributed annually until the CRF is 25% of the operating fund.
Any amount can be contributed to the CRF with a majority vote. Strata fees and contributions to the CRF are approved in the annual budget by a majority vote of the owners.
How is the CRF collected?
The CRF is collected from the strata fees owners are required to pay. Strata’s can add surplus funds from the previous year’s operating budget to the CRF as well as funds remaining from a special levy, or funds from the sale of assets.
Who approves expenditures?
Strata owners must approve expenditures from the CRF with a majority vote.
The strata corporation is required to account for the CRF separately from other strata corporation funds, such as the operating fund and special levy funds, at the end of each fiscal year in a financial report detailing the opening balance, contributions, expenses, and the closing balance.
This ensures each strata owner knows how much of their strata fees go to the operating budget and the CRF.
When the CRF is inadequate to cover an emergency cost, a special assessment is typically levied on each strata property owner, according to their unit entitlement.
A Form B Information Certificate contains information about the strata including monthly maintenance fees and the amount in the CRF.
Lack of Listing Drives Home Prices Higher!
As home buyers continue to snap up homes at a rapid pace, the number of listings of homes for sale is not keeping up. According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 109 East Vancouver detached houses were sold in January 2021. Sales increased in February 2021 to 137. With a listing inventory of around 400 (as we go to press) the sales-to-listings ratio is about 1:3. Generally, analysts suggest there is upward pressure on prices when the ratio surpasses 1:5. We are well beyond that! As a result, house prices in Vancouver East (as of February 28, 2021) are up 9.5% over last year. This Benchmark Price is a composite from the Home Price Index, and some types of homes have risen in price well beyond the Index.
The Benchmark Price for a Single Family Detached home in Vancouver East is now up to $1,565,800 as of February 2021. Townhouses and other ‘Attached’ units are starting to feel the pressure too.
Meanwhile, on March 10, 2021 the Bank of Canada kept its trend-setting interest rate at the record low of 0.25%. With COVID-19 forcing people to stay close to home, people are not travelling, and spending money like in normal times. Money saved in the bank receives little or no interest. Thus, real estate has become one of the popular vehicles for ‘saving’ money or helping family members get into housing. With spring upon us, we anticipate that this traditionally busy period will continue.
BC Strata Insurers to end ‘Best Terms Pricing’
In 2019, insurance premiums skyrocketed for many of the owners of the province’s 32,218 filed strata plans and 671,351 active strata lots.
With premiums continuing to rise and some strata’s unable to buy insurance, in February 2020, the BC Government asked the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) to go on a fact-finding investigation under section 213 of the Financial Institutions Act. The BCFSA is the agency responsible for regulating the private insurance sector.
In June, the BCFSA issued an interim report which found that a practice known as `best terms pricing´ had contributed to premiums increasing an average of 50% in Metro Vancouver. A subsequent report found that 94% of sample properties had been negatively affected by best terms pricing.
This practice refers to a process where insurance brokers collect quotes from multiple insurers. When each insurer quotes on a strata property, it sets out the amount of risk it’s prepared to accept and a rate charge.
The quotes are conditional quotes, based on all the insurers receiving the same terms. Instead of the premium being set by the quote of each insurer, or by an average of all quotes, under best terms pricing the final price is set by the highest rate quoted by any of the insurers on the policy.
Changes as of November 1, 2020—As a result of the investigation, in July 2020, the BC legislature passed Bill 14-2020: Municipal Affairs and Housing Statutes Amendment Act (No.2), 2020, which received royal assent in August 2020.
The Bill amends insurance-related provisions of the Strata Property Act (SPA) and the Financial Institutions Act introducing regulatory changes, effective November 1, 2020 that address rising strata insurance and best terms pricing.
Bests Terms Pricing—This practice will end in January 2021.
Renew or not renew—Insurers or insurance agents are now required to provide a 30-day advance notice, directly to strata corporations, of their intention to not renew an insurance policy or of any material changes to the policy. This change ensures that strata corporations will have time to select other insurance options in advance of any cost increases.
Commission disclosure—Insurance agents are now required to disclose their commission amount, or a reasonable estimate, to strata corporations. Penalties for non-disclosure include fines up to $25,000 for an individual, or $50,000 for a corporation.
Referral fees—Referral fees to strata property managers from strata insurance transactions are prohibited. These regulatory changes were made to bring transparency to the industry so that strata corporations have the information needed to make informed decisions about their insurance needs.
Vancouver Empty Homes Tax Increases to 3%
Mayor Kennedy Stewart has followed through on a 2018 election campaign promise and has tripled the Empty Homes Tax (EHT) rate to 3% from the original rate of 1% when the tax was introduced in 2017.
In 2019 the rate increased to 1.25%. The new rate takes effect in 2021.
The increase is supported by new data released by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) which finds Vancouver-specific policies, such as the EHT, have led to a greater number of condominiums moving onto the long-term rental market.
The EHT is credited with helping to bring more than 5,000 condominiums to the long-term rental market, including almost 3,000 in the downtown core, according to Alvin Singh, communications director for the mayor’s office.
Since 2017, the EHT has resulted in a 25% reduction in vacant homes and has generated $61.3 million in net revenues. These revenues have been allocated to support affordable housing initiatives.
Despite the effectiveness of the EHT, nearly 2,000 homes remain empty, according to Mayor Stewart
The tax rate remains at 1.25% for the 2020 tax year. Declarations for 2020 are due by February 2, 2021.
Vancouver Council will amend the Vacancy Tax Bylaw to reflect this rate increase at a future meeting.
In 2019, the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) gained 11,118 rental condominiums, an increase of 18.9%, according to CMHC.
The increase resulted because:
- 2,294 rental units from new condominiums were completed, purchased by investors and then offered for rent on the long-term rental market upon completion; and
- 8,824 existing units were converted to being offered as long-term rental units in 2019. These units were previously used by their owners, or changed owners and the new owner opted to rent out the unit.
These rentals were likely helped along because of Vancouver EHT and the provincial Speculation and Vacancy Tax.
Listing Inventory Lags Behind Demand for Homes!
Welcome to 2021! As we prepare for another busy year in local real estate, let’s do a quick look back at the end of 2020. According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 133 detached homes sold in Vancouver East during December 2020.
This is down slightly from the 137 sales in November 2020. Traditionally, the number of listings eases during the holiday season, and this past December was no different. Only 105 Eastside houses were added to existing inventory levels last month. With monthly sales exceeding that amount, we start 2020 with extremely low levels of listings for sale in Vancouver East. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have helped create the demand for detached homes on the Eastside. Growing families, higher costs associated with strata living and having space to more easily social distance all seem to be driving people back to the detached market. Add in extremely low mortgage rates and you have a demand for houses that isn’t being met by existing listing inventory. As we go to press there are under 350 detached homes listed for sale on the Eastside. With a sales to listings ratio of around 1:3, prices for houses continue to escalate.
The Benchmark Price for a detached home in Vancouver East is up over 10% compared to December 2019.
Often, with a new year comes a resolution for change. Will home sellers take advantage of the increase in price and sales activity to list their properties for sale? If not, home buyers will continue to be forced to compete for the limited inventory of detached houses listed for sale.
November 27, 2020
Strong Eastside Housing Market Continues!
In spite of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, detached homes on Vancouver’s Eastside continue to be in big demand. As young families have been trying to make do in attached units such as condos, today’s record low mortgage rates are allowing these families to make the move to single family homes.
According to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 171 detached houses were sold in Vancouver East during the month of September 2020. Sales dipped slightly in October 2020, as 151 houses changed hands. However, the sales to listings ratio (the indicator of the housing market’s strength) is tight. With about 500 Eastside detached homes for sale, as we go to print, the ratio is about 3:10.
Consequently, house prices have now jumped up over 9% compared to October 2019. The Benchmark Price for a Single Family Detached home in Vancouver East is up to $1,507,200 as of the end of October 2020.
As the City of Vancouver pushes for higher density we are seeing the loss of single family detached housing to make way for more multifamily development. This will impact the supply of detached homes available to families on the Eastside. With some mortgages now available at under 2% to qualified buyers, it appears that the detached market in Vancouver East will continue to have strength in both unit sales and prices.
November 27, 2020
Federal government pledges $51.5 million for affordable housing in Vancouver
The federal government has agreed to provide $51.5 million to house Vancouver’s rapidly increasing homeless population.
The funding, to be delivered through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is part of the federal government’s $1-billion Rapid Housing Initiative developed during consultations between the federal government and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities ‘Big City Mayors’ Caucus.
The city will combine Rapid Housing Initiative funds with the city’s $30 million emergency housing initiative approved in October 2020.
A staff report identified 29 units in undisclosed buildings that could cost $125 million to $240 million to buy, with another $11 million required for operating costs, including providing tenants with access to health care and other services.
CMHC has opened applications to government and non-government entities seeking funding for projects including modular home construction and converting existing buildings to affordable housing.
Vancouver Council has also directed city staff to use the 65-unit city-owned 2400 Motel on Kingsway and the Jericho Hostel at Jericho Beach to house homeless residents.
September 29, 2020
Pandemic Fails to Cool Eastside Detached Housing Market!
As the unprecedented year of 2020 moves into autumn, the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed the recent demand for detached homes on Vancouver’s Eastside. While the spring ‘lockdown’ caused sales to drop, the number of houses listed for sale also dropped. Since then, homebuyers have been taking advantage of record low interest rates to snap up the reduced number of homes listed for sale.
According to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 141 detached houses sold on the Eastside in July 2020. 118 sales were registered in August 2020. However, after Labour Day, and as schools began to re-open, homebuyers returned to the hunt. As we have gotten used to wearing masks, sanitizing our hands, and staying `socially distant’, we still have lives to live. This means that people who have a reason to buy a home (upsizing, downsizing, job situation) are still in the market. Meanwhile, listing inventory continues to grow at a snail’s pace. As we go to press, we have less than 550 detached homes for sale in Vancouver East.
The Benchmark Price for a Single Family Detached home on the Eastside is now up to $1,502,700 as of the end of August 2020 (according to the MLS Home Price Index). This is up 10.1% from August in 2019. This is not surprising when some lenders are offering huge discounts from their posted mortgage rates.
In some cases, a 5 year closed mortgage can be found for under 2% to qualified buyers. While the economic picture is not all rosy, sometimes life just has to carry on, even in these complicated times.
September 29, 2020
Home buyers with less than 20% down payment…
Applying for a high-ratio mortgage with a regulated financial institution are typically offered a contract mortgage interest rate.
The regulated financial institution is required to ensure the borrower can make mortgage payments at one of two rates:
• The Bank of Canada qualifying rate, or
• The contracted rate plus 2%.
Borrowers must qualify for the higher of the two rates, which means their income must be sufficient and their debt low enough to make mortgage payments at that higher rate. This is known as the stress test.
How is the Bank of Canada’s rate determined?
The Bank of Canada doesn’t control the 5-year qualifying rate. They set the rules for how it’s calculated, according to BC Real Estate Association chief economist, Brendon Ogmundson.
The rate is an average of large lenders’ posted rates. When a majority of those lenders lower their posted rate, it’s reflected in the official qualifying rate.
As of August 12, 2020, this rate is 4.79%. An average 5-year fixed rate in the market is 2.2%, so the qualifying rate is still a significant spread over what most borrowers are actually paying at current market rates.
You can always check the rate here: www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/daily-digest/
Have an interesting idea for a newsletter article? Contact Norm and watch this page regularly for updates!