All posts by Epic IDX

BC Financial Services Authority To Be Created By Spring 2021 To Regulate BC’s Real Estate Sector.

BC has been under pressure to deal with money laundering in the province’s real estate market, which has inflated home prices by at least 5%. Creating a single regulator was a key recommendation for cracking down on money laundering in the sector.

Currently oversight and enforcement of regulations in BC’s real estate sector remains the joint responsibility of the Real Estate Council of BC and the Superintendent of Real Estate. Both have been mandated to work closely to crackdown on money laundering.

On Nov 1, the province created the BC Financial Services Authority as a Crown agency to continue the regulation of the province’s financial institutions, mortgage brokers and private pension plans. This Crown agency consists of an independent board of directors, effectively to take over from the Financial Institutions Commission under the Ministry of Finance.

Carole James who is BC’s Finance Minister unveiled plans for the new regulator to be created by the spring of 2021. Her reason for the lengthy rollout is mainly due to the fact that “ it will take some time to transition to make sure that the Crown Corporation is ready to take on that responsibility. ” She added, “For example, we don’t want to have a gap in disciplinary hearings. We also need to give the financial services agency some time to get up and running.”

According to B.C. Superintendent of Real Estate Michael Noseworthy, the change should make for better consumer protection “to increase public confidence in the broader financial services sector.”

Our team of real estate professionals has years of experience and first-hand knowledge about the market. We thrive on working with homeowners to help them achieve their dreams, whatever the season or style of home. For more information, please call us on 604 913 1000 or 604 695 1000, or email us.

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Now Is The Time To Invest In Vancouver Real Estate, As Amazon’s New Offices Will Most Likely Create A Real Estate Shortage.

Amazon recently announced plans to convert the old Canada Post site in Downtown Vancouver, into its new base of operations, in the process creating 3,000 new jobs by 2022. This will mean that there will be thousands of extra workers needed homes in a city already facing a shortage of affordable housing.

Amazon has been gradually increasing its workforce footprint in the Lower Mainland of BC over the past few years. The current workforce scattered around the lower mainland stands at 1,800 and by 2022 will explode to 5,000. But it will not stop there.

Consider Amazon’s presence in the Seattle metro area where in 2010 the company had 5,000 employees. Today there are around 40,000, making Seattle one of the fastest growing US cities.

According to Zillow, rent increases in the neighbourhoods that experienced the greatest influx of theses workers have risen 65% faster over the past 5 years than areas with the smallest influx.

Then consider the “Amazon effect”. Amazon attracts other companies that also want that talent, so they move their offices closer to the Amazon hubs, and this causes a larger influx of people.

Experts have commented that with Amazon’s higher pay to its tech workers, they will be able to afford higher rents and mortgages, creating more incentives for higher end housing developments. This would crowd out the working class and force them to leave the city.

Vancouver has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in North America, and the price of a benchmark home has risen 91% over the last 10 years. Despite government attempts to ease prices, real estate is becoming more and more expensive.

Unless there is some drastic policy change that forces a net out migration of people from the Lower Mainland, it seems that we are continuing to experience an influx of population into our beautiful city. So would you not want to become a real estate investor in this market?

We currently have over 70 exclusive listings on our website

If there is any property that interests you, please contact us or call on 604 913 1000

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How the COVID 19 Pandemic Is Affecting Home Inspections

Despite the fact that the COVID 19 pandemic that has virtually changed the way we live our lives, people are still buying and selling their properties. Any person buying a home would want to get a home inspection, in order be alerted to any issues that could become problems in the future.  

In the past, it was not uncommon for buyers to show up during the inspection, so that they could learn about the property, as the inspectors would go through it. But now with social distancing and keeping safe being on the forefront of everyone’s minds, new home inspection protocols have been introduced by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA). 

Inspectors now conduct their work differently compared to before the pandemic.  

Below are some of the changes that are required to ensure the lowest possible risk to the inspector. 

 – Before an inspection is considered, the occupants of the home must answer the following questions, if in the last 14 days: 

  • Have they been, sick or showing any signs of sickness 
  • Have they been in isolation or quarantine 
  • Have they been in contact with anyone exposed to the coronavirus 

If any of these answers is a “yes”, then the inspection is considered as a medium or high risk one, and should be postponed to a later date. 

– The use of PPE (personal protection equipment) such as masks, hand sanitizers and shoe covers is necessary and the job is done in complete isolation.   

– The seller must ensure that the inspector gets a clear and unobstructed access to the heating equipment, water heater, air conditioning , electrical panel and attic access hatch. All window coverings must be raised or opened. In effect, the inspector must have the least amount of physical contact with the seller’s contents. 

– Used wipes, gloves and other disposable items used during the inspection must be collected in a disposal bag and then disposed off with other household waste. 

– The post inspection summary review should not be done in person, but rather by telephone, email or video chat, ensuring that the inspection is done with the lowest possible exposure risk. 

If you are looking to get into this market, we are offering a wide range of homes suitable for any budget. Visit our website and browse our wide range of listings. 

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REBGV Market Update For May 2020 – Home Sales Down, But The Future Looks Optimistic.

Buyers and sellers are getting used to the new normal, and this is reflected in the May 2020 market report released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). 

Although sales still lag, they are down 44%, they did rise sharply from April 2020 and prices are up slightly from May 2019. 

According to Colette Gerber, REBGV Chair, “Home prices have been stable during the COVID-19 period. While we’re seeing a variety of long-term projections for the market, it’s critical to understand the facts and trends as they emerge.” 

She added that “Home sale and listing activity is down compared to typical, long-term levels and up compared to the activity we saw in April 2020. Home buyers and sellers are adapting today, becoming more comfortable operating with the physical distancing requirements that are in place in the market.” 

Home Sales 

Realtors registered only 1,485 residential property sales in May 2020 for the region. This represented a 43.7% decline from the same period last year in which 2,638 sales were recorded, and an increase of 33.9% from April 2020 when 1,109 homes were sold.  

The number of detached properties sold was 534, 41.5% less than May 2019 (913 sales). 

The number of apartments sold was 653, 47.6% less than May 2019 (1,246 sales). 

The number of attached properties sold was 298, 37.8% less than May 2019 (479 sales). 

Home Listings 

May saw 3,684 new listings of detached, attached and apartment properties added to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Metro Vancouver. This was a 37.1% decrease compared to the 5,861 homes listed in May 2019, and a 59.3% increase compared to April 2020 when 2,313 homes were listed. 

“Home buyers and sellers are working with their REALTORS® to use new tools to complete different stages of the real estate transaction virtually,” Gerber said. “When in-person interactions are necessary, we’re working with our clients to follow the physical distancing requirements set out by WorkSafe BC and the provincial health officer.” 

Sales-To-Active-Listings Ratio 

This ratio gives a better understanding of the relationship between supply and demand in the market. Downward pressure on home prices can occur when the ratio dips below 12% for a sustained period, and home prices can experience upward pressure when the ratio is above 20% for sustained periods. 

For all property types, the ratio in May 2020 was 15%. When broken down by property types, the ratio was: 

  • 13.3% for detached homes  – moving into seller market territory 
  • 18.9 % for townhomes  – in seller market territory 
  • 14.8% for condominiums – in seller market territory 

Home Prices 

For the month of May 2020, The MLS Home Price index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver was $1,028,400. This was virtually unchanged from April 2020 and a 2.9% increase when compared to May 2019. 

The real estate landscape in Vancouver is changing. If you are buying or selling a home, you need to get in touch with an experienced real estate company such as ours to navigate this market during these unheard of times. Contact us by email or call us on 604 913 1000. 

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The Future Of Open Houses During The COVID -19 Dilemma

Holding an open house is an integral part of the real estate sales process. With the COVID – 19 pandemic enforcing us to engage in social distancing from each other and engage in COVID-19 preparedness, holding open houses does not seem to be the right thing to do.

Having said that, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) is “strongly recommending” against its approximately 14,000 members holding open houses during this pandemic. It has also suspended its rule requiring properties that are listed for sale to be made available for showings.

“Realtors want to do their part to help prevent the spread of illness in our communities and to meet the housing needs of residents in a responsible way,” said REBGV president Ashley Smith in a news release. “We’ve heard from some in the community who are unhappy that their realtors are not holding open houses. To those people, we ask for your understanding given the public health crisis we all face today.”

“While only the provincial government or the real estate regulator has the ability to mandate an end to open houses, we urge realtors to encourage clients to take advantage of digital tools like virtual tours when buying or selling a home,” Darlene Hyde, chief executive of the British Columbia Real Estate Association, said in a statement Friday.

So the question is “How do you sell a house if you can’t show it to buyers?” And this sadly, comes when most Canadian real estate markets seemed to be on course for a red-hot spring selling season.

For sellers, the REBGV recommends taking “alternative approaches to open houses, such as virtual showings and other technology-based solutions.” For buyers, the board recommends limiting the number of people participating in a property viewing, sanitizing hands before and after the showing and avoiding touching doorknobs and other surfaces while inside the listed property.

While we are all sailing through uncharted territory with the current pandemic, there are homeowners that need to sell their home and families that need to buy a home. Contact us by email and we can consult with you.

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Take Heed Of Your Property Tax Assessment – There Could Be Some Savings Here

On January 1, 2017 property assessments became available on the BC Assessment website. And as expected, the increases in property values are substantial: values were calculated as at July 2016 when local real estate prices were at their peak. 

The main issue here is that your property value has risen and you are facing a higher than normal property tax rate hike. 

It is important to note that a sharp increase in your property value does not necessarily indicate a proportional property tax hike; it’s relative to how much your property appreciated compared to others in the same municipality. 

In view of this year’s higher assessments, the Provincial government just announced an increase in the Home Owner Grant threshold from $1.2million to $1.6million, in an effort to assist homeowners whose property values and taxes have increased substantially. 

Since July 2016, prices in some neighbourhoods have marginally declined while others have not.  There are a number of homeowners who strongly disagree with their assessments. If you are one of them should you file an appeal? 

You have until January 31 to appeal your property assessment.  Before you do, consider the following: 

  • There are 2 arguments for appeal: either that the assessed market value of your property is too high based on comparable sales, or that you were unfairly assessed in comparison to your neighbors. 
  • There is not a straightforward correlation between your property taxes and your property value  – the important factor here is how your property fared relative to others in your property class and local taxing jurisdiction. 
  • An appeal could work against you as a second review of your property may reveal that you were initially under assessed. 

If your property value went up 30% or 40% don’t panic. It does not mean that your property tax will increase by that much. What matters is how much your value appreciated relative to other homes in your municipality. 

If you are unsure on how to handle the recent dramatic rise in your property value and whether you should appeal or not, we have experts who can advise you as to the best course of action. Contact us on 604 695 1000, email us or visit our offices on 1280 West Pender St. 

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REBGV Market Update For April 2020 – April Home Sales In Metro Vancouver Lowest Since 1982.

Last month life as we knew it, ground to a halt because of COVID-19, and so did Metro Vancouver’s real estate market. This was reflected in The April 2020 market report released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

“Predictably, the number of home sales and listings declined in April given the physical distancing measures in place. People are, however, adapting. They’re working with their realtors to get information, advice, and to explore their options so they’re best positioned in the market during and after this pandemic,” said Colette Gerber, REBGV president-elect.

She added, “We’re seeing more innovation in today’s market, with realtors using different technology to showcase homes virtually, assess neighborhood amenities with their clients and handle paperwork electronically.”

Home Sales

April 2020 sales were 62.7% below the 10 year April average and were the lowest total for the month since 1982.

There were 1,109 residential property sales. This represented a 39.4% decrease from the 1,829 sales in April 2019 and a decrease of 56.1% from March 2020 when 2,524 homes were sold.

The number of detached properties sold was 388, 33.8% less than April 2019.

The number of apartments sold was 503, 43.2% less than April 2019.

The number of attached properties sold was 218, 39.1% less than April 2019.

Home Listings

April saw a plunge in new home listings. There were only 2,313 newly listed properties for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Metro Vancouver. This was 59.7% lower than the 5,742 new homes listed in April 2019, and a 47.9% decrease when compared to March 2020 when 4,436 homes were listed.

The total number of homes listed for sale in April decreased to 9,389 – a figure well below the inventory of April 2019 when 14,357 homes were listed and a 2.3% decrease compared to the 9,606 homes listed in March 2020.

Sales-To-Active-Listings Ratio

This is a good indication of the supply and demand forces in the market. Downward pressure on home prices can occur when the ratio is below 12% for a sustained period, and there is upward pressure when the ratio is above 20% for a number of months.

For all property types, the ratio in April was 11.8%. When broken down by property types, the ratio was:

  • 10% for detached homes
  • 14.7% for townhomes
  • 12.4% for condos

Home Prices

The MLS Home Price index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver was $1,036,000 in April. This was 2.5% higher than April 2019 and 0.2% higher than March 2020. Despite ongoing concerns about the economy and millions of Canadians out of work, the average price of a home in Vancouver went up. 

Paul Kershaw, UBC professor and founder of Generation Squeeze, says the rising prices, as sales fall is worrisome. 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, our entire economy has been upended, our housing system has been hit with a massive shock, and no one knows where all of this will go,” he said.

Click here for a full report.

Working with our real estate professionals will enable you to set realistic expectations that help you achieve your real estate goals. If you are looking to buy or sell a home, contact us by email or call us on 604 913 1000.




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The Impact The COVID -19 Pandemic May Have On How The Real Estate Industry Functions In The Future.

Don’t Let The COVID-19 Pandemic Prevent You From Selling Your Home – Here Are Some Useful Selling Tips. 

The real estate industry in Canada has come to a screeching halt in many regions as the COVID -19 pandemic takes its toll on every aspect of our lives. With social distancing firmly in place, real estate companies have been forced re-think and re-engineer the way they successfully conduct business. 

We are typically in the busiest time of year for home sales. The future is unknown. No one knows when we will recover from this unprecedented shock. While it may prove more difficult to buy and sell your home, it is not impossible – thanks to technology and our ability as an industry to adapt. 

Here are some useful tips on selling your home: 

Create a 3 D Home Tour to replace in person showing 

With open houses being shunned and homeowners skittish to let would-be buyers in, real estate professionals are turning to technology to give buyers a look inside properties by recording or streaming virtual tours, and holding open houses where buyers jump on a video conference to walk through the home. Many are using technology to turn 360-degree panoramic photos of properties into 3D virtual tours. 

In these “virtual tours,” agents act as narrator and walk through homes with their smartphone’s video camera capturing a home’s key selling points while buyers watch virtually from home. 

Stage a Virtual Open house event to replace a conventional open house 

With social distancing limitations, it is difficult to hold an in-person open house. The alternative is to hold a virtual open house, where a virtual tour of the home is uploaded and a digital walk through is performed for everyone tuned on line. Typically, a Facebook page can be set up for the home and a virtual open house event can be created. The real estate professional walks the viewers through the home as if he/she were touring with the buyer in person. 

Be prepared to be patient and flexible 

Actions that once could have taken, a few minutes or a few hours to complete, may take much longer. This is due to the fact that many of the people involved in the sale may be working under different circumstances – limited hours, home office, affected by travel restrictions, may be infected by the virus, etc. Be prepared to wait longer for documents to be completed and reschedule of tasks. 

You may have to close your deal with a “drive through closing”, where by you meet the concerned parties at a parking lot, and handing documents through a car window using gloves.  

In these trying times, a real estate company that is tech and video savvy and has successfully sold homes using virtual marketing is important – that describes us perfectly. Contact us if you want to sell or buy a home. 

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Should I Build Or Should I Buy A Home?

If you are in the market for a new home, you may have considered building from scratch instead of buying a resale home. While the decision isn’t always simple or obvious, each option has its pros and cons.

Building a new home – advantages

Control over details

You can personalize the details of your home from the ground up – so you have more control over details. Everything can be the way you want right from the beginning. You can customize the paint, the flooring, appliances and much more. There will be no remodeling costs.

More efficiency.

A new home is built to meet current building codes, incorporate the latest technology and is often more energy efficient. You will spend less on energy as your appliances will use less energy and your home will be better insulated saving you on heating costs as well.

Everything is new.

The floors, ceilings, roof, siding, appliances, windows, etc. will be brand new. Most will come with warranties that are likely to be covered for several years. Chances are that the first few years of home ownership will incur very few costs for repairs, and you will not have to deal with any unpleasant surprises!

Building a new home  – disadvantages

Delays, delays, delays.

It is not uncommon for a building project to experience delays – blame a lot of this on the weather. Delays can be costly especially if you have sold your existing home and plan to move into the newly constructed home. They can also frustrate you mentally.

Issues with the builder.

Having a reliable builder is very important when it comes to getting permits, construction loans, adhering to the building code and timely completion. If you have a builder who does not cooperate with you regarding the aforementioned issues, you can experience a lot of stress and anxiety, not to mention the added financial burden that may arise from this.

Budget limitations.

You may want to factor in certain upgrades, which could be pricey, and you could end up spending above your budget.

Buying an existing home – advantages

Room for negotiation.

A resale home is usually less expensive than a new build and you have room to negotiate the price (as long as there is no bidding war.) If the market is “soft” then you can end up with an attractive deal. With a new build, once the builder has set the price, there is no more room for negotiation. If market prices have dropped, your price will stay the same.

Easier to move in.

Once the deal is closed, for the most part, you can move into your home without further delay. There is no wait time and no need for temporary housing.

Easy to visualize and renovate.

With a completed home, you are able to see the existing home’s floor plan and layout. You have opportunities for home improvements and changes from the moment you take possession of the property.

More desirable locations.

A resale home may be found in a more desirable location, with close proximity to schools, urban centers and recreational facilities; and the established infrastructure may allow easy access to these facilities.

Buying an existing home – disadvantages

May require extensive repairs/renovations which can be costly.

If you want to renovate a home that is already built, you may face a huge investment in time and money, which may not be worth the effort in the long run. Even simple remodeling can cost a lot.

Fewer amenities/older appliances.

When you buy an existing home, you could inherit appliances and home systems that may cost you money in updating or keeping in working condition. As far as the appliances are concerned, older appliances are less energy efficient and may eventually require expensive replacement.

Buyer’s remorse.

You could experience this if you end up not too keen on the existing floor plan. You may have gotten a good deal on the price, but in retrospect you may have regrets. This could affect your lifestyle, as you would be living in a home you were not happy with.

With all that said, every market is different—just like every buyer is different. The best way to choose the option that’s right for you is to talk it over with an experienced real estate agent. Your agent will know where the deals are, whether you’re interested in the long-time neighborhoods or the up-and-coming communities. And they’ll help you decide whether building a house or buying an existing home will suit your needs best.

Contact us If you’re looking for an agent who’s willing to do what it takes to help you find the perfect home.

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“Virtual Staging” Can Be Misleading. Make Sure You Are Aware Of This

We are living in a sophisticated digital era where real estate photo enhancement is being done on a massive scale. There is also sophisticated virtual staging software available, where one can completely transform the makeup of a listing in a very short period of time. Both factors have helped transform the home staging concept.

Consider this:

You find a house that appears to be what you’re after, and you tap into the photos section of the listing to see the interior shots. The house looks great for the asking price. Everything appears to be in good physical condition, you’re impressed by upgrade extras such as crown molding in some rooms, plus granite counters and premium appliances in the kitchen.

You call your real estate agent and arrange a visit to the house. You both walk in and what you find is not what you expected. The walls have cracks, the carpets are stained and dirty in some places. There are no granite countertops, no premium kitchen appliances. In fact, the kitchen looks really outdated and worn out.Your visit was a waste of time.

This is virtual staging at its best. It requires no physical furnishings like physical staging – just good software and imagination.

As home prices climbed over the past few decades, and new digital photo enhancement technology became widely available and easier to use, it has not been uncommon for sellers to distort their images, making the property look better than it really was.

Now that the market has cooled off, sellers of imperfect homes are resorting to the same tactics lest their listing be overlooked entirely. Photographs are being photoshopped to make them look sharpened, brightened and are cleverly edited. Rooms are being staged to look better than they actually are.

The Real Estate Council of British Columbia has tried to do renovate its legislation to reflect certain technologies. In Its 2013 addition to the Professional Standards Manual reads: “Photo-enhancing computer applications make it easy to manipulate photographs in a variety of ways. While editing out such items as a garbage can or an automobile parked in a driveway would be acceptable, removing nearby power lines or changing any physical characteristic of a property such that it results in a misrepresentation would not be acceptable.”

When looking at listings on line, the age of the home and room measurements should give reasonable hints as to the authenticity of the images. Remember, even the fanciest of photography is no substitute for an on-site visit.  

We are currently in a buyer’s market and an experienced real estate company that has been in business for over 2 decades such as ours, will be able to guide you efficiently and effectively towards your investment goals. Contact us and one of our experienced professionals will be able to answer all your questions and concerns. We have a number of very attractive investment properties for sale.

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