Royal LePage City Centre Michael Wilcox Personal Real Estate Corporation | Kate MacPhail Personal Real Estate Corporation



Why Buying/Owning A Home Still Makes Financial Sense

Owning a home just makes sense for most Canadians. A place to live and possibly raise a family that builds equity over time is sound financial planning. As home values continue to increase and mortgage principal gets paid down, you will see your equity grow. That equity that has been built is an ideal resource to help create greater financial security. Using existing equity to renovate your home for example, is an excellent way to add value and in many cases, a better alternative than moving. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), spending on renovations has exceeded spending on new construction since 2011 and the trend looks to be increasing.
There are many ways to access the equity in your home, sensibly. For example, a secured line of credit is a great product that has the most flexibility. You only pay interest on the amount you use when you use it. Refinancing your mortgage is another option that allows you to take advantage of low interest rates while accessing your equity.
I'm here to help people get their first home and get them on the path to building equity that will become the foundation of a long term financial plan. In addition, I can help look at the many available options that can release the equity that has been built over time for renovations, paying off higher interest debts or making other investments. So feel free to consult me anytime.
Download MOPOLO, my personal app so you have my information at hand and I'll keep you updated. It's available in the App Store.  


Tony Marchigiano,
Mortgage Consultant
Mortgage Alliance Meridian Pacific Mortgages

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Hot real estate market generates interest in flipping in West Vancouver

The hot real estate market is generating a frenzy of interest in property flipping in affluent West Vancouver as speculators turn big profits in only a few months.


A review of 23 real estate listings by The Vancouver Sun reveals an average turnaround time of about 6½ months between purchase and relisting, with property asking prices inflated an average of 40 per cent, or $1.1 million per property, during that time.


In one extreme case, an undeveloped 18,000-square-foot property at 1424 Sandhurst Pl. in the Chartwell area sold for $3.7 million last May and was relisted in April this year for $6.18 million — a 67-per-cent increase in 11 months.


Some new owners are trying to flip their properties immediately for as much as $500,000, or almost 25-per-cent profit.


These sorts of turnaround listings are the latest manifestation of a controversial market situation that has already made Vancouver one of the world’s least affordable cities. And while offshore buyers have been cited for fuelling the trends, the West Vancouver listings reviewed by The Sun do not show if those flipping the homes live offshore.


“It’s really beyond our control,” West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said Friday. “The bottom line is housing is a free market and people have the right to buy and sell houses. I don’t think our citizens would appreciate local municipalities trying to thwart them from selling their houses.”


Kim Taylor, a realtor with Royal LePage, said that increased home flipping is linked to the fact there are more buyers than real estate available, adding that foreign buyers — especially from China and the Middle East — have contributed to the hot market in areas like the British Properties, Ambleside and Dundarave.


“It’s a little out of control,” Taylor said. “The prices even shock the sellers — what they can get.”

Especially desirable are properties located in areas with good feng shui, such as those in the British Properties that are overlooking the water or surrounded by mountains. Others realize their returns might not be as good and they have to lower their asking price. “A seller will list them with huge price tags thinking ‘Oh what a great opportunity,’” Taylor said. “Next to those homes that are priced right they might look like an ugly duckling … .”

Taylor noted so many speculators in the market has had an adverse effect on the neighbourhoods.


“You see the diminishing sense of community there because a lot of people don’t live in the homes and they sit empty,” she said. “It’s more of an investment.”


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports that a typical detached home in West Vancouver sold for $2.23 million in April 2015 — up almost 11 per cent in six months and up almost 50 per cent over five years.

The current hot market comes with a warning from the Real Estate Council of B.C. — for both property speculators and for realtors.


Larry Buttress, the council’s deputy executive officer, noted there are no guarantees that property values will continue to escalate. “It’s common knowledge the real estate market has been extremely strong the past several years,” he said. “It can turn. It may have already turned, who knows? But markets change.


Source: VancouverSun >

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Where Will You Get the Best Rates? Your Mortgage Broker or Your Bank?
Whether you're a first-time home buyer, or you've owned a home before, the options for obtaining a mortgage today are extensive. Not only are there the conventional methods through your neighborhood bank, but there are now many independent mortgage companies, such as mobile brokers, that will come right to your door.
The question remains: who to choose, and why? 
For a quick overview of mortgage brokers and bank, check out the infographic below

How a mortgage broker differs from a bank

A mortgage broker is usually an individual who works freelance for themselves. They have many lending contacts and can negotiate and offer very competitive, or wholesale interest rates, thanks to their large connection of lender contacts.
They process your credit application in the same way that a bank would, and can help you determine what is affordable for you, often in the comfort of your own home and on your schedule.
A bank-based lender, on the other hand, only works for their bank. They, too, will try to get you the best rate possible, but it is you that has to do the negotiating for that rate. Banks don't have the access to quite as many contacts as a broker does.

Pros and cons of a mortgage broker:


  • They offer extremely competitive rates, often more competitive than a bank
  • They will meet you anywhere, including after hours
  • They can often get you approved for a loan with poor credit
  • Since they are an independently operating business or freelancer, word-of-mouth referrals are extremely important. Therefore, they may offer to pay for your appraisal or legal fee in return for your business and referral especially if you commit to returning to them once your mortgage term is up.
  • They're easy to get a hold of and to meet with, thanks to non-banker hours


  • Although it is nice to be lent money with little or no credit, or to be approved for a mortgage that you may not be able to afford easily, it can be unscrupulous for them to advise you to do so (put you into financial trouble)
  • The lenders may be smaller companies with little or no history (less borrower confidence)
  • If there are quality control issues or you aren't satisfied with the service, you don't have a supervisor to complain to.

Pros and cons of a bank mortgage:


  • Banks offer a high level of security (they are large corporations, so unlikely to go out of business) and are trusted and familiar for borrowers
  • They may offer a perk or freebie with the mortgage, such as a free bank account
  • Ease of services, such as ability to connect a mortgage to an existing account for payments
  • The offer lines of credit, such as a home line, which can be attached to your mortgage
  • Accessible, with 1-800 customer service numbers available at all times and branch availability


  • You are responsible to do the shopping around and negotiating for the best interest rate, whereas a broker will do this for you.
  • Subsequently, this also means that bank interest rates are not as good as mortgage broker rates.
  • Less able to overlook poor credit scores, so you may not be approved.


Purchasing a home is likely the most expensive purchase you will ever make, and you want to make sure that your lender is the right choice for you. The fact of the matter, is that the evidence suggests that there are tremendous benefits to utilizing the services of a mortgage broker.
The data tells us that most Canadians are not shopping around for their mortgage, for a variety of reasons. It nothing else, a mortgage broker can do the heavy lifting so that we are able to make more informed financial decisions.

So, are you planning to use a mortgage broker the next time you need a mortgage? Or are you happy with the rates you're getting at your bank?

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Appliances Shrink to Match Condo Sizes


Forget a double-door fridge in a 500-square-foot condo: as homes are getting smaller, appliances are too. With so many first-time homebuyers, downsizing baby boomers, and carless professionals flocking to condominium living, makers of everything from ovens to dishwashers are proving that bigger is not better.


“With the urban influx to Vancouver, there’s a big demand for European space-efficient appliances,” says Sylvia McDonald, designer sales associate at Midland Appliance. “We’ve come a long way from the old 30-inch fridge sticking out into the room.”


A width of 24 inches is now more common for refrigerators in small spaces. Ranges used to come strictly in a standard size of 30 inches wide; now 24-inch gas or electric cooktops are available. Add cabinetlike fronts, and you’ve got a fully integrated look and a highly functional space that belies the confines of a cozy condo.


“If you put panels on the front of your 24-inch refrigerator, it looks like millwork; it doesn’t look like an appliance,” McDonald says. “You can completely hide your appliances. You can have a kitchen that really looks more like a dining room. That makes a huge difference in a tiny space.”


AEG, Miele, Blomberg, Liebherr, Electrolux, and GE, with its Loft series, are some of the brands manufacturing new models for modern spaces. The appliances aren’t just more slender versions of the standard ones; in some cases, they have a whole new design. Twenty-four-inch stacking washers and dryers, instead of 27-inch side-by-side ones, are the microsuite norm, while combination washer-dryers—both in a single unit, common in Europe—are also an option. Under-counter refrigerators have one or two pull-out drawers rather than a swing-out door. Dishwashers, some as small as 18 inches wide, are also coming with single or double pull-out drawers and concealed control panels.


“You could have a single-drawer dishwasher with a storage drawer below,” McDonald says. “The door doesn’t flop down toward the floor, so it doesn’t take up as much space.”


All of these more compact units offer more than space-saving efficiency, however. They’re getting smarter, too, by conserving energy.


Induction ranges, for example, rely on an electromagnet to heat pots and pans. They lose less heat in the cooking process than gas or electric ranges and cook food faster. They also give off far less waste heat, which is an important factor in a home the size of your grandma’s living room.


“Twenty-four-inch induction cooktops are fantastic for apartments because they’re clean and sleek but they also don’t need a lot of ventilation,” McDonald says. “With gas, you need a lot of ventilation and it really heats up your space. You still need to have a hood fan, but it doesn’t have to be as high-powered.” (Those hood fans, too, can be fully integrated into the entire kitchen design or installed as a pull-out unit.)


Multifunctional combi-steam ovens save energy as well as space. You can steam veggies or fish but you can also use one for baking; its design ensures precise heat circulation and exact temperature control.


“The AEG model is really efficient with the convection fan because it’s a perfect cube,” McDonald says. “The convection fan moves air around really efficiently, much more efficiently than a big 36-inch oven. It comes from the restaurant industry and is becoming super popular for residential units.”


New dryers also leave a smaller carbon footprint. Many are condenser dryers, and some have heat pumps, which don’t require a vent outside. Condenser dryers extract moisture before draining it away as water, so they don’t pump humid air back into the laundry area. Heat-pump dryers recycle heat in the process of extracting moisture, resulting in energy-efficiency ratings of up to six stars—the highest possible.


Then there are “lifestyle” appliances, like wine racks, that are being designed with condo living in mind. They are, typically, 24 inches wide, but new ones are as small as 15. Built-in espresso makers are getting sleeker too.


McDonald points to AEG’s “Tower of Power” as a prime example of just how much you can do with smaller items. It has three 24-inch-wide built-in appliances: a microwave that contains an infrared grill, a coffee-maker, and a combi-steam oven with 17 cooking functions. It also has a warming drawer.


With that kind of functionality, tiny appliances don’t need to be restricted to small spaces.


“You could have two 24-inch Liebherr fridges side by side for 48 inches, which is more efficient than a standard fridge,” McDonald says. “You could stack two 24-inch wall ovens on top of each other if you have a big kitchen and a big family for twice the cooking power, with a really flush look, more versatility, and a smaller footprint than a regular oven. You can really think outside the box.”




Source >

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BMO Survey Reveals Where More & More 1st Time Home Buyers are Getting Their Down Payment From
In a recent survey by Bank of Montreal 42% of 1st time home buyers are getting all or a portion of their down payment from Mom & Dad or other immediate family members. 
See the full article, as reported by Canadian Mortgage Trends, for this & other interesting statistics below:
If you’ve ever wondered how first-time buyers are affording ever-bigger down payments, BMO may have the answer: parental assistance.

BMO’s 2015 Home Buying Report found that 4 in 10 (42%) of first-time buyers are relying on their parents or other family members to pitch in for a down payment. And this reliance is increasing along with home prices. It’s up 12 percentage points from last year and 15 percentage points from 2013.

On average, first-time buyers now plan to spend $312,700 on their first dwelling. That’s 29% less than the national average home price and it reflects about a $1,400 a month payment with 5% down.

The average down payment for a first-time buyer is much higher than 5%, however. It now stands at $59,413, or 19% of the purchase price. That’s up from 16% in both 2014 and 2013.

Meanwhile, for rookie buyers needing family assistance for their purchase, they’re expecting parents or loved ones to pony up an average of 12% of the property value in equity.

But first-timers aren’t the only ones looking to family for help. Repeat buyers wanting to upsize are also increasingly relying on financial assistance from relatives – 42% of them to be exact. They expect their family to contribute a not-so-modest 20% of the property value in equity. Three cheers for generous parents.

As one might expect, these ‘upsizers’ are shopping with substantially higher budgets as well ($473,900), along with higher down payments ($123,214, or 26%).

Other tidbits from BMO’s Home Buyer Report:
  • 48% of first-time buyers are willing to enter into a bidding war to secure their dream home (up from 35% in 2014)
  • 36% of upsizers are willing to enter a bidding war
  • Without help from their family, an eye-opening 40% of first-time buyers and 50% of those wanting to upsize say they wouldn’t be able to afford their home.
We can’t help but wonder how future generations will fare if more parents are unprepared for retirement and unable to donate such large chunks to their children’s home-buying dreams. No one knows when this trend will turn, but if it does, it could have a measurable impact. Indeed, the parental assistance effect may be meaningfully underestimated in Canada’s housing market as it is.

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends

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Home buyer demand outpacing supply across the Metro Vancouver housing market

Strong home buyer demand coupled with below average home listing activity has created seller's market conditions within the Metro Vancouver* housing market.


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Metro Vancouver reached 4,179 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April 2015. This represents a 37 per cent increase compared to the 3,050 sales recorded in April 2014, and a 2.9 per cent increase compared to the 4,060 sales in March 2015.


Last month’s sales were 29.3 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.


“The supply of homes for sale today in the region is not meeting the demand we're seeing from home buyers. This is putting upward pressure on prices, particularly in the detached home market," Darcy McLeod, REBGV president said.


New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,897 in April. This represents a 0.9 per cent decrease compared to the 5,950 new listings reported in April 2014.


The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the region’s MLS® is 12,436, a 19.8 per cent decline compared to April 2014 and an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to March 2015.


“It’s a competitive and fast-moving market today that is tilted in favour of home sellers. To be competitive, it’s important to connect with a local REALTOR® who can help you develop a strategy to meet your home buying or selling needs,” McLeod said.


The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $673,000. This represents an 8.5 per cent increase compared to April 2014.


The sales-to-active-listings ratio in April was 33.6 per cent. This is the highest that this ratio has been in Metro Vancouver since June 2007.


Sales of detached properties in April 2015 reached 1,815, an increase of 35.9 per cent from the 1,336 detached sales recorded in April 2014, and a 70.6 per cent increase from the 1,064 units sold in April 2013. The benchmark price for a detached property in Metro Vancouver increased 12.5 per cent from April 2014 to $1,078,900.


Sales of apartment properties reached 1,579 in April 2015, an increase of 34.7 per cent compared to the 1,172 sales in April 2014, and an increase of 50.1 per cent compared to the 1,052 sales in April 2013. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 4.4 per cent from April 2014 to $394,200.


Attached property sales in April 2015 totalled 785, an increase of 44.8 per cent compared to the 542 sales in April 2014, and a 53.6 per cent increase from the 511 attached properties sold in April 2013. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 5.7 per cent between April 2014 and 2015 to $493,300.


Download the April 2015 stats package

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Empty Home on Your Street? City of Vancouver May Soon Have a Website for That

VANCOUVER -- The City of Vancouver plans to develop a new website in a bid to tackle the growing issue of vacant homes.


It will be a digital service where the public can report vacant homes "in a coherent fashion," according to a memo from the city's chief housing officer, Mukhtar Latif, which was made public Sunday.


Addresses of empty residences will be matched up with BC Hydro data, the memo adds.


“There is significant public interest in the issue of homes being left vacant given affordability challenges across the housing continuum and very low rental vacancy rates together with the impact on vibrancy of neighbourhoods," wrote Latif.


Latif has identified reasons why homes are being left vacant in a list that shows how difficult it is to get a handle on this hot topic.


In the memo sent to the mayor and council, the following factors were listed:

* Development timing (housing units that are vacant prior to demolition or following new construction pending sale and initial occupation).


* Property is in the process of being rented or sold.


* Property has been vacated in anticipation of being renovated.


* “Flipping” (housing units that are bought, renovated, and sold in a short period of time, with no real ability for rental prior to sale).


* Domestic investment property – pending decision whether to rent or leave vacant for a later sale.


* International investment property — pending decision whether to rent or leave vacant for a later sale.

* Probate.


* Hoteling (owner works in the city but has a long commute so has purchased a property to reside in during the week and is in primary residence at other times).


* Sabbatical/Snowbirds (through work, retirement or other reasons, owner is traveling or working abroad.

* Owner is in hospital or in care.


While there is some limited research about empty condos, Latif said “we have had difficulty in identifying data sources that can provide the exact numbers of vacant single family homes, length of time properties are being left vacant and reasons for why they are vacant."


His memo said the City is seeking a consultant to help it investigate and applications for the RFP close on May 12.


Read more:


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Ottawa Needs to Step in Due to Mortgage Penalties Still Being Obscure

A recent article in the Globe & Mail suggests this and I have to agree. Since moving from the banking world to the broker one I've learned that not all mortgage penalties are created equally. Also up to 70% of people break their mortgage term prior to it's maturity date. All will face a penalty; some will get a portion or all of it refunded under certain conditions. This is key to getting the lowest total cost of borrowing.


See below for the full article:


From Globe Investor:
Mortgage penalties are still obscure. Ottawa, home owners need your help

Via the Globe Investor iPhone app


As always if you have any questions please don't hesitate to call or email me anytime.





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7 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Canadian Real Estate Market


In the last decade, it’s been good to be a homeowner in Canada.

The average price of a house has more than doubled, going from $200,000 to more than $400,000. That’s a return of more than 7% annually, more than double the historical return from the asset class. This has led to thousands of real estate millionaires, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, where properties in good neighborhoods regularly change hands for more than $1 million.


But what if the party is on the verge of coming to an end? There’s evidence that Canada’s real estate market is overvalued. Here are seven reasons why you might want to reconsider an investment in the sector.


1. Record debt levels

Canadians are awash in debt. Mortgage debt is to be expected, but it isn’t just houses we’re borrowing against. Credit card and vehicle debt are also at record levels and student loan debt continues to be a problem. In the fourth quarter of 2014, Canada’s debt-to-disposable-income ratio grew to 163.3%, setting a brand new record. To put it into context, the ratio in the U.S. peaked at around 160% back in 2007.


2. First-time buyers are stretched

According to a recent survey by the Bank of Montreal, more than 40% of first-time home buyers are expecting their parents to help out with the down payment, with the average expectation being 12% of the purchase price. Additionally, 42% of borrowers looking to upsize in the next few years are also expecting parental assistance in order to afford their new place.


3. HELOC growth

In 2000 Canadians collectively owed approximately $29 billion in home equity lines of credit (HELOC). By the end of 2013 that debt exploded to $225 billion, an almost tenfold increase. If this borrowing slows because of a decline in real estate, Canada could plunge into a recession. Between 4-5% of current consumer consumption is because of cash extracted from home equity.


4. Toronto condos 

At the end of 2014 more than 56,000 condos were under construction in Toronto. That’s more than any other major city in North America, including New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, all metros with much higher populations. To put that in perspective, condos under construction in Toronto averaged less than 10,000 during the 1990s.

This has to be especially troubling for investors in Home Capital Group Inc. (TSX:HCG), a sub-prime lender which specializes in Toronto-area real estate. Out of the $22 billion in loans on its balance sheet, only $8 billion are insured against default. If Toronto’s condo market cracks, that weakness will likely affect the whole market.


5. Price-to-rent ratio

According to a recent report by the OECD, Canada’s price-to-rent ratio is a whopping 66% higher than normal levels. That puts us as the second-most overvalued country in the world according to that metric, losing out only slightly to New Zealand.


This is actually good news for a company like Canadian Apartment Properties REIT (TSX:CAR.UN). At some point, investors will be unwilling to buy up rental properties at such anemic cap rates. This creates less competition for the company’s apartments, since it has been forced to compete against amateur landlords hoping for price appreciation.


6. Everyone thinks it’s overvalued

The number of smart people who think Canada’s housing market is in a bubble is astounding. The Economist thinks prices are 35% overvalued. Deutsche Bank thinks houses are 63% overvalued. The IMF says the market is “overheated” and at risk for a “hard landing.” Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and JP Morgan have all warned clients about the bubble. Are all these smart analysts wrong?


7. Similarities to the U.S. market

Count legendary Yale economist Robert Shiller as another pundit who worries about Canada’s housing market. The man well known for predicting the decline in the U.S. sees many similarities between our two markets.

“Canada’s success story is uncomfortably similar to the U.S. success story. It might be offensive to Canadians, but we’re like two peas in a pod,” Shiller told Macleans magazine back in 2014. “But maybe this time is different.”


1 way to avoid risking your retirement during a real estate crash

There's a simple way you can prepare for the possibility of Canada's real estate market crashing. Find great stocks that aren't related to real estate and wait it out.

Which is why we think you should take a look at what our analysts have identified as one TOP stock for 2015 and beyond--a stock with a tollbooth-like business; a solid management team; and a reliable, consistent, and rising dividend--and you can download the name, ticker symbol, and price guidance absolutely FREE. And best of all, no exposure to real estate.

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Federal Budget, Upcoming Changes, What You Need to Know!

The long awaited Federal Budget has finally been received in the House of Commons. This comes after the unusual announcement made in January that Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s first budget, which would typically be presented in February or March, would not be delivered until April amid falling world oil prices. It’s apparent that this budget has a lot more to do with politics than spending and budget cuts since the federal election is only months away.

A highlight of the budget is the increase in the allowable TFSA contributions from $5500 to $10000 which will be well received by Canadians. Mr. Oliver also proudly stated “this budget is balanced”; the surplus is only 1.4 billion which is subject to what direction world oil prices move.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which is the crown corporation that plays a leading role in housing programs, just recently announced that it has increased the insurance premium on their 95% loan to value program. This means that if you are buying a home and putting down less than 10% down payment, the premium to insure the mortgage increases from 3.15% of the total amount borrowed to 3.6%. This new increase comes into effect June 1, 2015. The good news is that you can buy a home right up until May 31, 2015 and still be charged the lower premium regardless of when you move in.

As a mortgage professional, my role is to keep you up-to-date on all the changes that are taking place and how they affect you and your mortgage decisions. With the access I have to a large variety of lenders competing for your business and current CMHC premiums, now might be the best time to save if you were thinking of buying your first or second home.

Warm Regards,


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North Vancouver Waterfront Development Plan Scaled Back


NORTH VANCOUVER — The City of North Vancouver is going ahead with a toned down version of its grandiose plans for the Shipyards area at the base of Lonsdale Avenue.


The plan still has features an outdoor public skating rink and covered structure, a water feature for kids (or adults) to play in, an event stage and gathering area, revenue-generating commercial space, and connections to the spirit trail and foot of Lonsdale.


Gone from the plan, however, is the ferris wheel at the end of the pier, which had been a lightning rod for criticism of the plan. Gone, too, are Las Vegas-style water fountains on the waterfront.

Both of those would require extensive infrastructure upgrades and approval from outside jurisdictions, including Port Metro Vancouver and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a city staff report notes.


The report does, however, leave the door open to these aspects of the original plan should future councils want to pursue them.


The end goal is an “animated and dynamic people place” meant to be a destination for locals and tourists year-round, as presented by destination marketing consultant Roger Brooks in 2013.

But, trepidation still exists on council about how much the scaled-back plan will cost. When it was first presented, Brooks suggested the plan would run about $30 million.


“We’re talking about a new public facility. It has in its broadest concept got the support of the entire council but the devil is in the details and the biggest detail is, ‘What is it going to cost?’” said Coun. Pam Bookham. “Without that information, I’m not prepared to support moving forward and doing additional work.”

Coun. Rod Clark agreed with Bookham.


“While it all sounds great and wonderful and it gets good press when one supports it, there’s no cost there. How am I going to make an intelligent business decision on behalf of the taxpayers when I don’t know the costs? I think we’re a little premature in giving this blessing,” he said.


The staff report made no mentions of slot machines or “community gambling” as a feature at the Shipyards or as a means of paying for it, though council is holding a special meeting on Monday to take feedback from the experts and the public on whether to end its ban on gambling in the city.


Playtime Community Gaming, whose director was a major donor to the mayor’s re-election campaign, lobbied council in 2013 to reconsider its ban and allow gambling revenues to help pay for the rest of the Shipyards project.


Coun. Holly Back said that it would be premature to expect fully costed options for the site until staff had the opportunity to research what was available in terms of the design, construction and technology required.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto praised staff for advancing the plan thus far.


VancouverSun Full Article Here >

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No Rate Cut Surprises to Report Today

Canada’s key lending rate “remains appropriate,”  said the Bank of Canada this morning. That’ll keep prime rate at 2.85% for now.

The BoC’s economic commentary today was both grim and hopeful. The economy “stalled” in the first quarter, it admitted—thanks in part to the “oil-price shock.”

Looking further down the road, however, we got more of the same brand of optimism we’ve come to expect from the Bank—i.e., that the economy will get back to “full capacity” in a few years or less. In the meantime, the Bank says our cheapened loonie and widening output gap will “offset each other,” keeping inflation near 2% on a “sustained basis.”
What does sustained mean, you ask?

Well, barring some out-of-left-field inflation catalyst, the Bank’s assessment portends little probability of rate hikes in 2015. And financial markets agree. OIS traders are pricing in a 44% chance of a rate cut by year-end, according to Bloomberg.

As a result, “interest rate relief” will continue to provide a “cash flow…buffer” for indebted consumers, said Governor Stephen Poloz in today’s press conference. That is particularly true for variable-rate mortgagors.

“On the surface, lower interest rates would be expected to promote more borrowing, which would increase this vulnerability,” Poloz noted in his prepared remarks. “However, in the near term, lower borrowing rates will actually mitigate this risk, by reducing payments for mortgage holders and giving us more economic growth and employment gains."

Tony Marchigiano
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Moving in Together Means Merging Your Interior Decor Styles


Moving in together is great: you have someone to share your life with -- not to mention splitting the bills! Sharing your space though? Not always so easy. When it's time to mix two styles together, here are some tips for creating a decor scheme that everyone can not only live with, but love!


Start with a Purge

Besides making the physical process of moving easier, starting by cutting back (especially on decorative clutter) will help make a decor merge so much smoother. So it's key to only bring your best pieces with you. If you wouldn't stick up for an item to be used or displayed, it's probably time to let it go.

Try: Taking any items you can't agree on and ranking them in order from must-stay to gotta-go. This will help reveal which items you each feel the strongest about so you can compromise where it counts.


Hide in Plain Sight

If one of you loves a slick flat-screen and the other prefers to keep electronics hidden, try encapsulating the TV within a shelving unit, surrounded by more decorative objects. Visually the TV won't stand out like a sore thumb when turned off, but it'll still be easily accessed. (I can't help when it's time to fight over the remote, but if you browse my Yanic Simard Selected accessory collection, you'll find sleek storage boxes for tucking them away.)

Try: Using open shelving to surround the screen while keeping the TV safely anchored directly to the wall.


A decorative storage box from Yanic Simard Selected

Colour Co-ordinate

To help two disparate colour schemes come together, choose one hue to dominate each room, and let the others become an accent. For example, if you have a blue chair and a red sofa, you can help these two fit together by repeating one shade (usually the tamer colour) in other areas to establish dominance -- in this example, try a blue paint colour, or navy cushions and accessories, to let blue become the anchor of the room.

Try: Searching on blogs and in magazines for a room with those colours together, and notice the neutrals used to connect them.


Colour Co-ordinate Part Two

If your newly shared belongings are too colourful to form a simple two-or-three-hue palette, white, grey and light neutrals are your key to tying the look together. By mixing fresh neutrals with a playful variety of hues, you can create a look where no one colour dominates or clashes.

Try: Using a painting for inspiration of what items to feature or hide away, or even create one yourself with paint samples applied in simple stripes or wild splatters.


Go to a Gallery

Or, actually, bring a gallery home! Gallery walls remain a strong, fun trend, so take advantage and mix different pieces of art and objects together on one wall for an artistic statement that reflects both of your passions.

Try: Tying the pieces together with matching frames for a more streamlined look -- painting each out to a matching white or black is an easy DIY option.


Interior by TIDG

Embrace Asymmetry

Mixing the best of two furniture worlds might result in combining some pieces that don't "match," but this can add to the beauty, interest and personality of a space by creating playful asymmetry. Anchor a grouping with a central object like a bed or sofa, and let smaller pieces like tables and lamps play against each other in eclectic styles.

Try: Two different pieces as nightstands (like a side table and a chair, or a dresser and a desk).


Interior by TIDG

Mix Lace and Leather

To balance masculine and feminine energies (a good strategy for any space regardless), balance heavy anchor pieces like leather lounge chairs, wooden chests, and moody rugs with lighter elements like sheer curtains, sparkling lights, and pretty pillows.


Try: Keeping the masculine edge mostly lower to the ground, and feminine appeal up on the walls and ceiling, for a visual balance of heavy and light that our eyes automatically "get."


Share Control

Sometimes if styles just don't match, a good option is to give each person at least one space where one can make all the decisions. That way each of you maintains a sense of control, and not every decision turns into a total compromise where nobody is satisfied.


Try: Letting one person decorate the bedroom while the other styles the den or bathroom (so everyone has one calm space just the way they like it).

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Take Advantage of Lower Premiums for Mortgages

CMHC(Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation) & now Genworth have both hiked their default insurance premiums for people who only have 5% down payment. This is not happening until June 1st of this year though. So if you purchase a place this spring I would ensure the approval is given before this date. That way even if you take possession of your home after June 1st you should still be grandfathered at the old premium.
For more info take a read thru of the statement below as reported by
"Canada’s largest private mortgage insurer says it is matching CMHC’s increase in premiums for the highest risk loans. Genworth will increase its premiums by 15 per cent on June 1, 2015; that’s the same percentage and date as the federal agency. The new rate for a loan-to-value ratio up to 95 per cent is 3.6 per cent, up from 3.15. For a loan-to-value ratio from 90.01 to 95 per cent, but a non-traditional down payment, the new rate is rising from 3.35 per cent to 3.85 per cent."

If you have any questions please give me a call.

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Boomers Drive Real Estate Market for Luxury Housing


Canada’s luxury housing market is in the midst of a striking transfer of wealth, as baby boomers trade up for bigger houses while pouring huge sums into real estate for their children.


“I don’t think you’ve ever had nearly as much help from one generation to the next in buying homes,” said Ross McCredie, CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, which issued a new report examining the finances and buying habits of different generations of buyers in the “luxury” market, which generally refers to the higher end of real estate markets across Canada.

Among the more surprising generational trends is that far from downsizing to smaller condos as they age, wealthy boomers are increasingly looking to upsize into luxury homes, often because they still have adult children living at home. Empty-nesters are more likely to “right-size” into bungalows and condos that are only slightly smaller than their previous home.


In many cases, boomers are taking on debt to buy luxury homes, despite the fact that the typical boomers buying in Canada’s high-end market earn an average of $500,000 and can easily afford to pay cash. Often they’re looking to take advantage of low interest rates to invest their home equity in vacation homes, investment properties or the stock market.


More often than not, that money is flowing to their children in the form of large down payments for luxury homes. For many boomers, Mr. McCredie says, the down payment is a form of succession planning, as many see the housing market as a safe and tax-free way to transfer wealth to their kids.


Thanks to comparatively lower incomes and fewer savings than other generations, young luxury buyers are “overwhelmingly” relying on outside support for a down payment, the report said.


The money isn’t always a gift. In many cases, parents might be paying $200,000 to $300,000 toward a $1-million home for their children, but are doing it in the form of loans and mortgages and are putting liens on the property as to keep their children from squandering their real estate wealth or losing their home in a break-up.


That generational wealth transfer is helping to drive a wedge in the first-time home buyers market. Wealthy Generation Y buyers, those under age 35, typically pay twice as much for their homes as the average first-time buyer. They can spend as much as 15 times their household income on a home purchase, thanks to help from mom and dad.


That gap is most dramatic in Calgary, where the typical first-time buyer spends $363,400 on a property. Young luxury buyers in the city are willing to spend anywhere from $800,000 to $1.5-million even though their incomes are modest compared to luxury buyers in other Canadian cities: averaging just $50,000 to $100,000. The typical luxury home for a young Calgary buyer is a 2,000-square-foot, four bedroom, three bathroom townhouse or duplex, even though most are young single men or childless couples.


Despite a helping hand from family, roughly 85 per cent of young buyers also take out a mortgage. That number was as high as 95 per cent in Toronto, where Gen Y buyers earned an average of $80,000 to $250,000 and bought homes worth $800,000 to $2-million.


Largely left out of the generational wealth transfer are buyers from Generation X, age 34 to 54, of whom just 35 per cent received help from family to afford a home, the report said.


Many Gen X buyers had parents who had lived through the twin real estate busts of the early 1980s and 1990s, when interest rates soared to double digits. They are much less willing or able to help their kids get into the housing market.


“I really think Gen X is very aware of that,” Mr. McCredie said. “Gen Y has never seen anything other than cheap money.”


Having lived through a soaring real estate market, many boomers are now worried their children will miss out on rising prices if they don’t get into the market while they’re young. “Those are the people who are literally saying to their kids: It’s important to participate in the real estate market, because if you don’t you’ll never be in this marketplace.”

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Vancouver Easter Egg Hunts


Celebrate Easter (April 5, 2015) with the Easter bunny, Easter egg hunts and games at Vancouver's top attractions--including the Stanley Park Miniature Train, VanDusen Botanical Garden and Grouse Mountain--and at neighbourhood community centres throughout Vancouver.

Purchase your tickets in advance! These events are very popular (and may sell out), so many require advanced registration.


Vancouver Easter Egg Hunts & Special Events at Vancouver Attractions


Easter at the Stanley Park Miniature Train
Train ride, Easter egg hunts and visits with the Easter bunny for all ages
March 28 - Sunday, March 29; Wednesday, April 1 - Monday, April 6, 2015
Tickets: $8.75 for kids 0 - 17; $3.50 for adults to ride the train

The Great A-Mazing Egg Hunt at VanDusen Botanical Garden
Easter egg hunt and visits with the Easter Bunny for kids 2 - 10
Saturday, April 4 - Sunday, April 5, 2015
Tickets: $15 per kid (with up to two parents/guardians included) for kids. This year, you can buy tickets online; do so quickly as this event is always a sell-out. 

Easter at Grouse Mountain
Easter brunch, Easter egg hunts and the Easter bunny for all ages
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Tickets: $16 for kids 5 - 12; $48 for people 12+; free for kids 4 and under (ticket prices include general admission & buffet lunch)


Vancouver Easter Egg Hunts, Easter Carnivals and Easter Events at Vancouver Community Centres 

Tip: These community centre events often sell out, so buy tickets early. You can search the community centre websites with the keyword "easter" to find event listings.


For more things to do on Easter in Vancouver: Guide to Easter in Vancouver.

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Why are Canadians Favouring Fixed Rates Over Variable by 2 to 1?


In a recent survey, in the market commentary of one of the lenders I work with, First National, found that even that ultra-low but, apparently, unstable interest rates have Canadians favouring fixed-rate mortgages over variable by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1.


The survey, conducted by Nielson, for one of the country's big banks suggests 57% of homebuyers would pick a fixed-rate mortgage over variable, desiring certainty in their payments. That's up from 48% last year and 39% in 2011.

The numbers are fairly consistent across the country meaning Toronto and Vancouver are not having a major influence on the results.


The survey also indicates 44% of respondents expect to see interest rates rise in the next 12 months while 42% expect no change. By comparison, the markets appear to have a stronger expectation, as rates will rise, calculating a 64% chance of an increase by the end of the year. That, however, is down from a 77% chance calculated immediately following the latest U.S. Fed announcement. The Fed is hinting that it is more prepared to look at rate increases.


Taking a variable rate mortgage does comes with some risk but does have the potential for interest savings. It's definitely not for everyone but worth discussing when talking about rate and mortgage term options.
Give me a call should you want to discuss.
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Metro Vancouver Home Buyers Out in Force in March

Demand continued to rise across Metro Vancouver's housing market in March.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 4,060 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in March 2015. This represents a 53.7 per cent increase compared to the 2,641 sales recorded in March 2014, and a 32.6 per cent increase compared to the 3,061 sales in February 2015.

Last month’s sales were 26.8 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

"We're seeing strong competition amongst home buyers today. This is leading to more multiple offer situations and some upward pressure on home prices,” Darcy McLeod, REBGV president said. “For sellers, this means that it's taking less time, on average, for your home to sell if you have it priced correctly for today's market."
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,968 in March. This represents a 13 per cent increase compared to the 5,281 new listings reported in March 2014.
Last month’s new listing count was 4.7 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.
The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the REBGV MLS® is 12,376, a 14.5 per cent decline compared to March 2014 and a 4 per cent increase compared to February 2015.

“The number of homes for sale today is below what’s typical for this time of year,” McLeod said. “If you’ve been considering putting your property on the market, these market conditions indicate that now may be a good time to list.”

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $660,700. This represents a 7.2 per cent increase compared to March 2014.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio in March was 32.8 per cent. This is the highest that this ratio has been in Metro Vancouver since July 2007.

Sales of detached properties in March 2015 reached 1,711, an increase of 53.3 per cent from the 1,116 detached sales recorded in March 2014, and an 83.4 per cent increase from the 933 units sold in March 2013. The benchmark price for a detached property in Metro Vancouver increased 11.2 per cent from March 2014 to $1,052,800.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,627 in March 2015, an increase of 47.1 per cent compared to the 1,106 sales in March 2014, and an increase of 65.7 per cent compared to the 982 sales in March 2013. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.3 per cent from March 2014 to $390,200.

Attached property sales in March 2015 totalled 722, an increase of 72.3 per cent compared to the 419 sales in March 2014, and a 67.1 per cent increase from the 432 attached properties sold in March 2013. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4.9 per cent between March 2014 and 2015 to $484,900.

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Vancouver Eastside Neighbourhood Shifts from Industrial to Mixed Commercial


A new community radio station is set to go to air at a warehouse-turned-office and studio space in Vancouver’s Railtown in a move that the stakeholders say will give a cultural and economic boost to the gritty but emerging Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.


Roundhouse Radio, expected to launch this summer, will be a commercial FM community talk and music station. The station’s management, which claims it will bring 30 to 40 jobs to Railtown, leased a renovated space at 704 Alexander St. for their street-level studio digs.


Japanese property firm KM Pacific Investments purchased the building, formerly a warehouse, two years ago and has leased more than 40 per cent of the overhauled space to Roundhouse, which will take over the entire 6,000-square-foot ground floor.


“We’re right among a mixed community that’s a cross-section of everything going on in Vancouver, which I think is relevant for a station that’s all about the streets, all about the city,” Roundhouse CEO Don Shafer said in an interview.


The station’s broadcast range will cover the city of Vancouver. Shafer said the culture and politics of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods would provide the basis for their content. “We’re counting on the community to drive a lot of the agenda on the radio station.”


They looked at about 40 buildings before choosing Railtown, Shafer said. “We kept coming back to [this one] because it was on the street, and I think it’s really important for a community station to have a street presence and not be isolated on the 35th floor of some tower.”


He said the station’s music would be about half Canadian content with a variety of genres including rock, folk, pop, world, jazz and others.


“We’re hoping that a lot of that Canadian content will come from the streets and from indie bands and new artists who are trying to get their start in Vancouver, B.C. and Canada,” he said.


Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan said she welcomes creative and unique businesses like Roundhouse to the neighbourhood, but she cautioned that developers of Railtown’s industrial space need to respect that problems continue to exist in the area, such as poverty and a lack of affordable housing.


“There are opportunities on the social side of things for economic development in terms of local hires and those components also will strengthen the local community,” said Kwan, who recently won the NDP’s federal nomination for Vancouver-East. “I know that some businesses are doing that and so and I think that is really important to take into consideration.”


Kwan said there is no question that gentrification is taking place in the area. “There’s a lot of tension in the neighbourhood.”


However, there’s a buzz in Railtown that is drawing in many new restaurants, boutiques and creative small businesses, she said. “There’s a long history of buildings in the inner East Side light industrial zones that have been very successful, while offering spaces that are flexible for artists, designers, filmmakers and small fabricators,” she said, mentioning, The Vinegar Factory, The Glass Onion and Ironworks Studios, among others.


“Hopefully the private sector will be able to find ways to work with the community,” she said, adding that she hopes that low-income serving businesses remain while entrepreneurs and social enterprises can continue to access space


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What is Mortgage Loan Insurance?
There are many costs to consider and know about when purchasing a home. Especially if it's your first one. One of those costs is Mortgage Loan Insurance. Generally speaking financial institutions offer mortgage lending up to a maximum of 80% of the value of the home or, in other words, with a 20% down payment. If you have less than 20% down payment then a 3rd party insurer has to come in to insure against the possibility of defaulting on paying the mortgage in the future. There are several providers of this insurance but the primary 2 in Canada are CMHC ( Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation) & a company called Genworth. 
They both have many different kinds of programs for different situations, clients and properties but generally speaking the less you have to put as a down payment the higher the premium. It's calculated on a percentage of the Purchase Price. For example if you purchased a home for 370K and put the minimum down, which is 5%, then the insurance premium you would have to pay would be around $11,000.00 A fare chunk of change to say the least. 
You do have some options, though, with paying this fee. You have the option of paying up front when you complete on the purchase of your property or you can add it to the mortgage proceeds. If you add to the mortgage proceeds, of course, you'll be paying interest on this amount of money as well. The benefit of doing this is that you don't have to come up with the additional money on top of saving for your down payment as well as closing costs which is a struggle for people already, especially considering the costs of home ownership here in the Lower Mainland. Generally speaking you should have about 1.5% of the Purchase Price put aside or available to you in credit facility, like a line of credit, to cover closing costs.
Click on the link below to check out all of CMHC's mortgage loan programs as well as the premiums associated with them:
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Meet the team

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