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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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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“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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REGBV Report April 2019 – The Trend of Reduced Demand And Increased Supply Still Prevails In The Market.

The latest Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REGBV) report on the April 2019 real estate market, shows that buyers are reluctant to get into the market and sellers are being forced to be creative. Product that is staying on the market for more than a month is seeing discounts that were unheard of 2 years ago. For a decade it has been a sellers market. This has changed.

Residential property sales totalled 1,829 in April 2019, a 29.1% decrease from the 1,829 sales recorded in April 2018 and a 5.9% increase from the 1,727 homes sold in March 2019.

“Government policy continues to hinder home sale activity. The federal government’s mortgage stress test has reduced buyers’ purchasing power by about 20 per cent, which is causing people at the entry-level side of the market to struggle to secure financing.. Suppressing housing activity through government policy not only reduces home sales, it harms the job market, economic growth and creates pent-up demand.” Ashley Smith the REBGV President said. She added,” “There are more homes for sale in our market today than we’ve seen since October 2014. This trend is more about reduced demand than increased supply. The number of new listings coming on the market each month is consistent with our long-term averages. It’s the reduced sales activity that’s allowing listings to accumulate.”

The total number of properties listed on MLS system in Metro Vancouver in April was 14,357  – a 46.2% increase compared to the 9,822 properties listed in April 2018, and a 12.4% increase compared to the 12,744 properties listed in March 2019.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,008,400. This represents an 8.5 per cent decrease over April 2018, and a 0.3 per cent decrease compared to March 2019.

The all-important sales-to-active listings ratio for April 2019 was 12.7%. The general rule of thumb is that there is downward pressure on home prices when the ratio dips below 12%, and upward pressure on home prices when the ratio surpasses 20% over several months.

April 2019 Sales Stats:

Detached properties                       586                  (807 – April 2018)

Apartments                              885                  (1,308 – April 2018)

Attached properties                        358                  (464 – April 2018)

Click here to obtain a full report.

In these market conditions, you need to work with a real estate company that has the experience and know how on getting you the right home. Contact us and let one of our real estate professionals obtain the best results for you.

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