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When Alvin Narod, the master builder of BC Place Stadium, wrapped up his presentation at the unveiling of plans for the project in 1981, a person in the audience spoke up that the “building looked okay, but needed landscaping.”

Narod, who would die just 21 days after accepting the role of BC Place Chair and before the roof could be raised, responded that they were going to “landscape it with buildings.”

“That, of course, is exactly what is happening today,” said Vancouver developer and architect Michael Geller, who was at the unveiling 34 years ago. “They are finally landscaping around BC Place Stadium with buildings.”

After 3½ decades as a sports-and-entertainment district, the area around BC Place and Rogers Arena is now transforming into something more amid a flurry of residential and commercial builds that could eventually keep more people spending their time and money in the stadium district, whether events are happening or not.

In June, Aquilini Development and Construction opened the first stage of a three-tower project at Rogers Arena. Aquilini Centre West is a 26-storey mixed-use commercial-residential building with 114,000 square feet of office space and 187 market rental apartments. The building, which threads into the Rogers Arena concourse, also has 50,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Leasing is now underway for the homes and commercial space in the West building, said Kevin Hoffman, senior vice-president of Aquilini Group.

He said they’ve also broken ground on the South tower, which will have nearly 166,000 of residential space and will stand separate from Rogers Arena.

“We’ll look for that tower [to be done] in about a year’s time,” he said in an interview last week. “And then we have East Tower. We’ll probably start that tower in about a year.” The East tower will also tie into the stadium with a mix of office and residential space.

Concord Pacific is also amid a massive $1-billion development plan to eventually add 1,400 condominiums in eight buildings near BC Place at the northern end of Cambie Bridge. That series of projects includes non-market housing and adds about 90,000 sq. ft. of commercial space to the neighbourhood, which the developer is billing as False Creek Central.

A new $600-million casino, hotel and entertainment complex called Parq Vancouver is also being built in the neighbourhood.

The 775,000-sq.-ft. resort will have two hotels, Vancouver’s largest ballroom, a casino (relocated from the Edgewater Casino site), restaurants, a spa, gym and retail space. The resort will operate under Paragon Gaming Corporation, Dundee Corporation, and PBC VUR Limited Partnership. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

The outbreak of new buildings is filling a void in the area, Hoffman said. “We think it’s going to be a vibrant atmosphere around the arena, trying to get people there during the day and during the evening so that the whole neighbourhood works.”

He said more opportunities could arise if the nearby Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts eventually are removed.

“If they do come down, that will open up and let the light in beneath,” he said. “There’s some dark spaces down below.”


Source> TheVancouverSun

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Want to buy a property but finding it a bit of a struggle to save for the down payment. Here are 3 great ideas for saving for one:

 

Note: One thing that hasn't changed over the past few years for mortgage financing is the down payment. It is still only 5% of the purchase price.

 

Scale down Your Lifestyle

Finding less expensive ways to do the things you enjoy, or foregoing them for a period of time could save you thousands over the course of a year.   

Dial down your vacations: Try a stay-cation in your own city or go somewhere close by.

Eat out less: This could mean halving the number of times you eat out over the course of a month or eating at less expensive restaurants. If you bring your own lunch to work every day you could save yourself upwards of a $1,000 a year.    

Spend less on hobbies and entertainment: Do you read a lot? Instead of buying books start using the library more often. Do you go to see a lot of movies? Try subscribing to an on-demand video streaming service and watch more movies at home. Do you spend a lot on your hobbies? Spend less this year, or try finding a different hobby for a period of time. Look for small day-to-day ‘luxury’ expenses that you can cut down on – at least until the down payment is saved.

Save More From Work: Make up a spread sheet with all your monthly expenses. Try to set aside a fixed amount from your pay cheque for savings. Even if it’s a small percentage, every dollar will count. If you get a raise at work, allot the difference between your previous salary and your raise for savings.

Pay off your credit card debt: It is difficult to save money when paying substantial interest to someone else. Begin by paying down the smallest high interest loan. Once that has been paid off, take the minimum payment from that debt and use it towards another. This will snowball until all debts have been paid off. If you have numerous outstanding debts you could always inquire about a debt consolidation loan. These loans typically offer a lower interest rate and mean you only have one monthly payment to worry about.

Use a Tax Free Savings Account

Tax Free Savings Accounts are a fantastic way to save money. The money in a TFSA can grow tax free, meaning any income you earn in this account is entirely yours.

Borrow from your RRSP

If you already have some RRSPs you can withdraw up to $25,000 to buy your first home. Though you should be cautious with this method, if the money you took from your RRSP is not repaid with 15 years it will be treated as income. You will thereby have to pay tax on the money you withdrew as if it where income.

At the end of the day saving for something like a home is all about priorities,” says Hankinson. “If saving for a home is a priority then find some areas that you can cut expenses back on. This best way to do this is draft yourself a budget and identity key areas where you think you can save.

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The Bank of Canada has cut its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point. This is the second rate reduction this year after a quarter point rate reduction in January. The rate now stands at .5%.

The big banks will likely resist lowering their prime rates by the same amount.  In January, when the Bank of Canada reduced its rate by .25%, the big banks lowered their prime rates by only .15%. Moves in the bank prime rate affect variable rate mortgages as well as lines of credit. The bank prime rate is now at 2.85%.

This isn't necessarily great news for the Canadian economy. The damage done due to falling oil prices, the slow growth in the manufacturing sector, and the current lower Canadian dollar, were the primary factors in the rate reduction. The Canadian dollar is expected to decline further after this announcement.

The lower interest rate is great news however for Canadian homeowners and homebuyers. They can use these lower rates to pay down their mortgage faster and save in interest costs.  All it takes is some simple yet powerful strategies that will save you thousands over the life of your mortgage. I have the expertise to help sort through the options and opportunities that exist regarding your current mortgage or your new one. If you or someone you know could benefit from my guidance, please contact me.


 

Regards,

Tony Marchigiano,
Mortgage Consultant
Mortgage Alliance Meridian Pacific Mortgages

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In the past three years, the Rize Alliance tower proposed at Kingsway and Main Street was embroiled in a controversial battle over the building’s height.

A neighbourhood group opposed the 21-storey tower because it was far higher than anything in the area. It would cast shadows, create traffic problems and ruin the character of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, they argued. Last year, the group, called Residents Association Mount Pleasant, filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition against the City of Vancouver and the developer, alleging that plans for the multibuilding, 258-unit project at 285 E. 10th Ave. would look nothing like what the city had approved in 2012. It was one of two lawsuits filed by the non-profit group. Both cases were tossed out of court.

It turns out, none of the negative publicity affected presales of units at the Independent, as the project is known today. The site has been cleared to prepare for construction. The building that housed the presentation centre has been dismantled. Presales for the tower are 95-per-cent sold. Of those, 85 per cent were sold in the first month, according to the developer. In about two years, the tower will stand and the controversy will be a distant memory.

Developer Will Lin states his satisfaction plainly: “Well, we’re not in the news,” he says. “It’s good to finally get under way with what we intended to do on the project.”

Mr. Lin, whose previous developments include Metropolis in Yaletown, the Rolston and the revitalization of the Yale Pub, says he has tested the waters for the rest of the development community. But once sales got under way, he expected units to go quickly.

“I wasn’t surprised at all, because it’s a pretty pioneering location. It’s where east Vancouver meets the west side of Vancouver.”

Of the 235 units sold, he says more than 90 per cent were purchased by people with local addresses. He saw a lot of buyers from Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and the Fraser Valley.

“Out of them, I’d say 60 per cent were from the area, meaning within five to 10 blocks of the site.”

Investors purchased about 35 to 40 per cent of the units. None of them purchased units in bulk for short-term rental use, such as through Airbnb. Mr. Lin says the units sold before that kind of investor could get in.

About one-quarter of the units are two bedrooms or more, intended for families. Those larger units with the better views, priced at $500,000 and up, went before the cheaper ones. The townhouses also sold quickly. A 583-square-foot one-bedroom loft was priced at $392,900. The 1,581-square-foot penthouse two-bedroom is priced at $1,399,900. At the other end, studios started at $179,000.

The sale of condos in Vancouver is brisk business. There’s been a 40-per-cent increase in sales of apartment properties in the past two years, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. New units are an especially hot commodity. There have been a total of 1,134 one- to five-year-old units sold since the start of the year. That doesn’t count the all-important presales. There are about 80 presale condo developments in Vancouver proper, both currently listed and up-and-coming. If those developments average 100 units apiece, that could potentially add another 8,000 new units into the market. (That’s a rough number because the data isn’t readily available on presales.) By comparison, 3,142 condos older than five years have sold this year.

With the constant launch of new condos, how are the resale condos to compete? These days, it’s common for a condo resale to break even, if not sell for less than what the owner originally paid.

I asked Mr. Lin if all the new condos are hurting resale prices.

“Because they bought lower, they can afford to sell for lower,” Mr. Lin says.

He adds that the new condos are helpful to the resale market, not a hindrance.

“Having a new building come by at higher pricing makes your unit look good in comparison. It has a ripple effect.”

But a presale studio suite at the Independent is priced lower than a 42-year-old studio suite in a three-storey walk-up that is currently listed in the same neighbourhood, for $220,000. No wonder Vancouverites love their spanking new condos.

Real estate agent Bryan Yan, who sells houses and condos, says the market is much stronger for new condos.

“Most buyers like the hassle-free new or newer condos with warranties,” he says. “In Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby, they’ve changed zoning on big streets to allow for condos and more density, so there’s a lot of supply coming up.

“I tend to stay away from older strata buildings because you’re competing against newer places now and more that are coming in the future, which is difficult. It’s hard for them to appreciate in price. And one must thoroughly go through the depreciation report, or it can be a money-pit nightmare.”

However, a condo owner who has owned for several years can still see a return.

Mr. Yan sold an 848-square-foot Kitsilano condo recently at 2555 W. 4th Ave. for $505,500. The asking was $528,000. It was 19 years old and in original condition. The owner had paid $280,000 in 2003.

“So, there is some return, but it’s lower and slower than the detached. A house on the east side bought at that time for, let’s say, $400,000 to $450,000, is now worth well over $1.2-million,” he said.

“One could have rented out the basement and could have financed the $120,000 to $170,000 difference [to buy the house instead of the condo]. It’s about the same down payment, but a $1-million return, compared to about $220,000. It’s a numbers game.”

When it comes to older condos, he advises clients to steer clear in most cases.

The exception is an older condo with a water view, in Kitsilano, downtown or Coal Harbour, he says.

“But basically, I don’t recommend buying the older apartments unless one is renting and can’t afford anything else.”

But agent Ian Watt argues that buyers are so obsessed with new builds that they’re missing out.

“In downtown Vancouver, there are tons of amazing units being overlooked because Vancouverites have been brainwashed that a presale is the way to go,” he says. “A prime example is Vancouver House, wedged between two bridges. This overhyped and overpriced development is selling for well over what it should be, by about $200 per square foot more, and it’s certainly way pricier than its marina-side equivalents.

“Another area that’s completely overlooked is west of Denman,” adds Mr. Watt. “There are some amazing units, with amazing views. But they lack the newness factor of Yaletown.”

Buyers shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the old buildings, however. The older condos have a lot going for them, which is why they’re currently in big demand in that other Canadian hot market – Toronto. They’re often much bigger than new condos, they are usually centrally located, they’ve often had maintenance upgrades to last several more years and the long-time strata councils have built up a hefty contingency fund for future maintenance. As well, because they’re overlooked for the new units, they offer decent value. Once you update the kitchen and bathroom, you could be sitting with a spacious, central and more affordable home.

As for an investment, it’s probably only a matter of time until Vancouver catches up to Toronto’s current love affair with the old condo.

 

Source: TheGlobeAndMail

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Last week it was talk of fixed rates going up soon; now there's talk of variable rates going down!
 
Last week we talked about how fixed or long term rates may start going up in the fall. This week there's talk of the Bank of Canada dropping their prime lending rate at next week's meeting. This would directly affect variable rate mortgages, not fixed ones. 
 
See recent market commentary from lender, First National, for whose forecasting this drop and why:
 

Market Commentary

"It did not take long but the "contrary" appears to be gaining credence.

 

Late last month about 70% of the economists surveyed by Bloomberg were betting the Bank of Canada would stand pat on interest rates for the rest of the year. One notable exception was long-time bear David Madani who said there would likely be two cuts and the overnight rate would move into 2016 at 0.25%.

 

Over the past 7 days several prominent economists with Canada's big financial institutions have come to embrace, at least in part, some of Madani's thinking. The key element that now has the big names looking to a 25 bps point cut – likely this month – is word that the Canadian economy shrank, again, in April.

 

The fourth consecutive month of contraction has the country flirting with a technical recession.

 

Low oil prices continue to get the blame but the Greek rejection of the conditions for further bailout money from Europe is a wildcard play that no one knows how to call. It remains to be seen what it will mean for bond yields, the euro and the dollar."

 
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A recent article in the Globe&Mail written by Rob McLister of Canadian Mortgage Trends discussed the benefits of going with a shorter mortgage term considering that many economists as well as the Bank of Canada have been predicting that rates are going to start going up for 5 years now. They haven't and they're actually lower than they were 5 years ago. It might be a good idea to take advantage of a lower rate for 1 or 2 years of interest savings and than weigh your options again at the end of that term. This strategy isn't for everyone but for financially secure borrowers who can handle the possibility of mortgage rates possibly being a bit higher in a year, or the same or even lower it's definitely an option to consider.

 

"People haven’t been lining up for short-term mortgages, given the mesmerizingly low rates on 5- and 10-year terms.

But if you’re a financially secure borrower and you believe that rate direction is random (it is), then 1-year rates shouldn’t be written off. That was my topic in this week’s G&M Column.

By way of example, suppose you need to borrow for at least five years. If you’re not risk averse, you might consider options like a:

  • 5-year fixed
  • 1-year fixed …which lets you renew into a 4-year fixed at maturity (or any term for that matter) 
  • 5-year variable …at a rate that’s ~20 basis points or .20% higher than a 1-year fixed 

The total borrowing timeframe is the same in each case, five years. But the 1-year mortgage gives you an option to:

(a) capture the maximum upfront interest savings and then keep enjoying low rates if borrowing costs stay low, or 

(b) switch to a longer term after 12 months if rising rates start stressing you out. 

When to lock in is always the hard part. Most folks who try to time the market find it to be a losing proposition.

But some people take the guesswork out of it by using pre-set rate levels to determine when to convert. For instance, they might ask their mortgage planner to lock them in if the lowest 4-year fixed rate has risen above 3.25% (an arbitrary example). 

This approach is similar in principal to a stop-loss order in trading.

A “stop-loss” gets you out of a trade at a pre-set loss. That lets you determine your risk in advance and prevent emotional and costly market timing.

 

The challenge with most 1-year terms, compared to variable rates, is that you usually have to wait until three to six months before maturity to secure (hold) your renewal rate. By contrast, most variable-rate mortgages let you lock in at any time. That makes them preferable to 1-years in certain situations.

 

Other variable and 1-year differences: 

  • A variable rate drops when prime drops. 

  • A 1-year mortgage fluctuates less, potentially letting you hold low rates for longer than a variable. 

  • A 1-year is currently cheaper up front (because the rate is lower than a variable). 

  • A 1-year lets you switch terms at maturity at the best available rates. (You’ll rarely get the best rates when converting a variable mortgage to a fixed rate during your term.) 

One unique case is the 1-year “convertible” mortgage. It lets you lock into a longer fixed mortgage at any time. In other words, you don’t have to wait until six to nine months into your 1-year term. Convertibles are harder to find but quite flexible if you can locate one that’s cheaper than a variable rate.

 

All-in-all, are 1-year terms right for most people? The answer is no. But they’re definitely right for more people than the 6% of borrowers who actually choose them."

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Last month was the highest selling June, and the second highest overall monthly total, on record for the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

The REBGV reports that residential property sales in Metro Vancouver* reached 4,375 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in June 2015. This represents a 28.4 per cent increase compared to the 3,406 sales recorded in June 2014, and an increase of 7.9 per cent compared to the 4,056 sales in May 2015.

Last month’s sales were 29.1 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month. It’s the fourth straight month with over 4,000 sales, which is a first in the REBGV’s history. The previous highest number of residential home sales was 4,434, recorded in May 2005.

“Demand in our detached home market continues to drive activity across Metro Vancouver,” Darcy McLeod, REBGV president said. “There were more detached home sales in the region last month than we’ve seen during the month of June in more than 10 years.” 

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $694,000. This represents a 10.3 per cent increase compared to June 2014.

“Housing market activity comes in cycles; we're in an up cycle right now that looks similar to the mid-2000s,” McLeod said. “It would be easy to point to one factor that's causing this cycle, but the truth is that it's a number of different factors.

"Conditions today are being driven by low interest rates, a declining supply of detached homes, a growing population, a provincial economy that's outperforming the rest of Canada, pent-up demand from previous years and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that we live in a highly desirable region," McLeod said. 

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,803 in June. This represents an 8.7 per cent increase compared to the 5,339 new listings reported in June 2014.

"We’re seeing a steady stream of new listings entering the market, but the overall number of homes for sale is not keeping up with buyer demand," McLeod said.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the region’s MLS® is 12,181, a 23.9 per cent decline compared to June 2014 and a 1.3 per cent decline compared to May 2015. This is the lowest active listing total for June since 2006. 

The sales-to-active-listings ratio in June was 35.9 per cent. This is the highest that this ratio has been in Metro Vancouver since June 2006. A seller’s market typically occurs when this ratio exceeds 20 per cent for a sustained period of time. 

“The competition in today’s market means that buyers have less time to make decisions,” McLeod said. “Given this, it’s important to work with your REALTOR® to gain insight into the local market, to get quick access to new MLS® listings, to develop a buying strategy that meets your needs and risk appetite, and to receive other services and protections that come from having professional representation.”

Sales of detached properties in June 2015 reached 1,920, an increase of 31.3 per cent from the 1,462 detached sales recorded in June 2014, and a 74.2 per cent increase from the 1,102 units sold in June 2013. The benchmark price for a detached property in Metro Vancouver increased 14.8 per cent from June 2014 to $1,123,900.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,774 in June 2015, an increase of 35.6 per cent compared to the 1,308 sales in June 2014, and an increase of 66.1 per cent compared to the 1,068 sales in June 2013. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 5.3 per cent from June 2014 to $400,200.

Attached property sales in June 2015 totalled 681, an increase of 7.1 per cent compared to the 636 sales in June 2014, and a 44.3 per cent increase from the 472 attached properties sold in June 2013. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 7.1 per cent between June 2014 and 2015 to $506,900.

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Taking on the role of ‘interior designer’, within your own home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be a great opportunity to stretch your creative capabilities and with a few design lessons, you’ll be creating signature spaces in no time.

 

THE CAMERA DOES NOT LIE A smart way to begin is to take a photo of your space to help evaluate what’s currently working and what’s not. In a well-styled room, accessories are usually grouped together in clusters for visual impact. Consider that void space is a grouping, in and of itself. Not every shelf or landing surface needs to be accessorized. A good proportional relationship between the scale, colour and the quantity of items, provides interest and visual relief at the same time.

 

LAYERING RUGS Most homes have transitioned to hardwood, tile or other hard surfaces as the main flooring product, however, the majority of rooms can still benefit from the softness of carpets. A great solution for large spaces is to install wall-to-wall carpet. Now, splurge on a big punch of colour and interest, by layering a high quality area rug (at least two feet smaller than the room size) on top, to anchor the vignette or conversation area in your space. This combination also provides great versatility for future design changes.

 

MY LITTLE FRIEND, THE BAR CART The bar cart is your new best friend. It’s one of the most versatile and classic pieces of furniture, always in style, whether it’s retro or new. Equally as appealing in a living room, office, bathroom, bedroom or patio, it’s fabulous as a side table, a stand alone display unit, towel and toiletry storage, office supplies or, the obvious, alcohol and barware. In a category all its own, it can truly look fabulous in any room. Be sure not to overcrowd the cart so it maintains its classic simplicity.

 

BALANCING THE ELEMENTS If you’re uncertain why your space feels cold or sparse, despite your best design efforts, evaluate its ratio of hard goods to soft goods. Large expanses of hard surfaces, such as floors, walls, high ceilings, counters, fireplaces, glass and geometric shapes can be toned down by implementing soft goods and organic shapes in upholstery, area rugs, accessories and greenery. Combining these elements and layering textures provides relief to the senses, creating a cosy atmosphere. This is another great time to take a picture of your space to see if you’ve struck the right balance.

 

COME HERE, COLOUR! If you’re colour-shy, force yourself to embrace it. Although you may have heard this many times, you may not have confidence in properly applying the design principle. The easiest way to incorporate colour, with minimal risk, is to choose one or two bold colours to sprinkle throughout a room with a neutral backdrop. A lamp base, toss cushion and vase, all in the same colour or varying shades of the same colour family, may be enough to bring a room to life and easily swapped out to create a different look. For a greater colour infusion, paint the ceiling a bold colour, while adding a few accent pieces in similar tones to the space. The result is a dramatic yet intimately personalized look.

 

Try applying these lessons to transform every space in your home and you’ll begin to see how the rooms flow together beautifully.

 

Source - canadianhometrends

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Rates going up in the fall? Well probably…maybe…depends…
 
The U.S. Federal Reserve gave it's clearest indication that rates will start to go up in September. What happens in the U.S. usually trickles over to Canada but with that being said they also stressed that rates will "probably" or "maybe" start to go up and that it "depends" on a number of things. Will this be the time when rates do start going up? Only time will tell. We've had plenty of false alarms over the past few years.
 
Check out lender, First National's, market commentary for more details on this subject:
 
Market Commentary

"Given the close ties between the Canadian and American economies it is little wonder market watchers were paying very close attention to the latest musings from the U.S. Federal Reserve. It is also little wonder that what they heard created quite a flutter, even though nothing actually happened.

Fed chair Janet Yellen has given the clearest signal yet that interest rates will be going up and the clearest projection is that it will happen in September … probably … maybe … depends. It could be December or even next March. From the U.S. perspective employment growth is a key concern.

For Canadian mortgage holders when is not critical. How much and how many – "the entire path of rates", as Yellen put it – are what matter. On that point Yellen says the Fed is projecting increases of 100 basis points a year until rates normalize (likely in 25 bps increments).

Canadians contemplating long-term mortgages need to be aware that the U.S. increases, whenever they start, will likely move across the border."
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It's no secret that Canada's two top real estate markets of Vancouver and Toronto have a long standing rivalry. As both head into a white-hot and likely record setting sales season, real estate brokerage, TheRedPin, analysed the merits of each market. Their fact finding mission concluded that there are seven clear market advantages for homebuyers in Vancouver:

 

1) First Time Friendly

The conventional belief is that Vancouver prices have skyrocketed and there is a huge financial barrier to entering the local housing market. However, Research shows that although Vancouver housing prices are significantly higher on average, first time buyers in Vancouver spend an average of $420K, compared with $425K in Toronto - making first time home purchases actually lower than Toronto prices.

 

2) Land Transfer Tax Factor

Vancouverites come out way ahead on land transfer taxes by only paying provincial dues. Unless you're a first time buyer in Toronto, you get a double hit of both municipal and provincial land transfer taxes. This can add up to serious money on a market priced home.

E.g. For a $500,000 home
      Vancouver = $8,000
      Toronto = $12,200

3) Constant, Consistent Curb Appeal

In Vancouver, mild temperatures keep lawns green, flowers blooming and buyers/sellers active year round. Though the best months to buy and sell match Toronto's (January and May respectively), the Vancouver sales season never really winds down, allowing significantly more viewings and potential buyers.

 

4) Parkland Proud

Vancouver decimates Toronto in available parkland:

Vancouver's largest urban park, Stanley Park, is 400 hectares vs Toronto's High Park which is a mere 161 hectares. Enjoying nature in Toronto is a two hour drive from downtown. In contrast, mountains are only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver and the beach is only five minutes away.

 

5) International Bragging Rights

Vancouver consistently tops liveability and best city studies. When compared against international and North American cities as recently as this year, Vancouver ranked fifth, decimating Toronto (ranked 15th). The study analysed factors related to safety, healthcare, educational resources, infrastructure and environment in 230 international cities.

 

6) Condo Crazy

Greater Vancouver condo resales soar over condo resales in Greater Toronto. In March, 40% of all homes sold in the Greater Vancouver Area were condos, compared with on 22% in the GTA.

 

7) In Vancouver, Over-Ask and You Shall Receive

Two recent Vancouver transactions show that the sky really is the limit when it comes to real estate prices:

 

Two recent Vancouver transactions show that the sky really is the limit when it comes to real estate prices:

A home that was listed at $5.99 Million sold in 12 days for $2 Million over asking in May.

 

Mere weeks ago, a home listed at just under $3 million sold for $1.1 Million over asking, in just hours.

 

"The GTA is an important market for us, but it only represents 25% of Canada's real estate market," said Rokham Fard, CMO and Co-Founder of TheRedPin.com. "Now that we've perfected our streamlined buying model we're ready to extend our unique real estate services to Vancouver, the next major real estate hub of Canada."

 

TheRedPin.Com is the first online real estate brokerage to combine both resale and new homes under one umbrella for the Greater Vancouver Area. The company is now servicing home buyers in Vancouver and will be adding selling services in the coming months. They will also be rolling out in Calgary and other major Canadian real estate hubs throughout 2015.

 

About TheRedPin:

 

TheRedPin connects people, data and technology. Our platform carries the largest database of active residential listings in the Greater Toronto Area, with plans to expand nationally. We are a challenger brand, with a unique business model that streamlines the real estate journey, and provides exceptional end-to-end services and benefits, not found at other traditional brokerages.

 

Founded in 2010, four friends recognized that the real estate industry might be the only sector not influenced by technology. The four saw this as an opportunity to reinvent the way people bought and sold properties, more specifically the way homes were searched. Today, TheRedPin is much more than that.

 

We are a tech startup that doesn't answer to the industry, we answer to our clients and ourselves.

 

Source: MarketWatch

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More Canadians than ever are choosing mortgage brokers because they see benefit in the expertise and unbiased advice that only a mortgage professional like myself can provide.


The latest consumer survey, conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), confirms “mortgage broker market share is trending upwards for most market segments”. The use of mortgage brokers increased to 42% overall in 2015; that’s a whopping 30% increase versus 2014. First time homebuyers that choose a mortgage broker over a bank surged to 55% in 2015.

According to the survey, 50% of Canadians never negotiate or are not aware of the multitude of options that exist at renewal time. This could result in them paying thousands of dollars in unnecessary interest. Mortgage renewal time is a window of opportunity that all homeowners should exploit to reduce expenses as much as possible. It is the ideal time to look at your options regarding rates, mortgage types and terms, or evaluate strategies that could save you thousands in interest and pay your mortgage off sooner.


It’s clear that using a mortgage broker, who has the knowledge and access to the entire mortgage market, makes sense. If you know someone looking to buy a home or is in the process of renewing their mortgage, contact me today.  I can help.


Tony Marchigiano, 
Mortgage Consultant
Mortgage Alliance Meridian Pacific Mortgages

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Approximately 20% of Vancouver detached-housing sales can be defined as flips – the buying and selling of a property in less than 12 months – and Dunbar is the city’s hottest flipping market.

Dunbar, an established west-side Vancouver neighbourhood where the typical price of a house is now $2.27 million, accounted for 30 of the 328 detached-house flips in the city during 2014 and the first five months of this year, based on exclusive research done for Business in Vancouver by New Westminster’s Landcor Data Corp.

Dunbar average house prices rose 9.1% in the past year, which would equate to a theoretical return of approximately $200,000 for someone who had bought and sold a typical house in that period.

But the Landcor data suggests some savvy investors did much better than that.

For instance, a 1950-era house at 4086 West 30th Avenue was bought, held for 217 days and sold last June for $2.95 million, generating a $400,000 profit.

A house built in 1930 at 3464 West 38th Avenue was bought and sold in 107 days. The selling price, at just over $2 million, netted the investor $305,000. And the owner of an 80-year-old house on West 19th Avenue pocketed a profit of $340,000 after holding the house for 171 days and selling it for $2.34 million.

For the Dunbar area the typical house flip generated a 23% annual return, or an average of $1,360 per day that the house was held.

“A well-backed investor leveraging 20% down financing [around $400,000] would yield over 100% [on their cash investment],” said Derek Tinney, Landcor Data operations manager.

Vancouver realtor Ken Leong, who admits to a brief – and heady – history of flipping condominiums for himself and clients, said it takes more nerve and cash to speculate on Vancouver’s detached-house market than during the exuberant days of condo flips a decade ago.

Leong said that if house price increases go soft – as in the current condo market – investors could find themselves financially under water fast.

That was the experience of at least one East Vancouver speculator, who lost $61,000 in 57 days last fall flipping a $905,000 detached house on East 29th Avenue.

Leong is not surprised there’s not more flipping going on, despite the 10% increase in average Vancouver house prices over the past year. He suspects some of what might be seen as speculation is people forced to sell quickly for other reasons, such as changing family or employment situations.

Speculation, he said, is not a guarantee of hefty profits.

As Leong explained, if an investor bought a house for $1 million and flipped it a few months later for $1.1 million, he or she would have to pay $18,000 in B.C.’s property purchase tax. Realtor commissions to sell the house would total around $33,500. The capital gains tax, likely at the highest tax bracket, would be roughly $30,000.

“So now your $100,000 gain is down to less than $20,000, and you still have to add in the carrying costs of financing of around $4,000 per month while the house is for sale,” he said.

“It would be hard to make a big profit on such a flip,” Leong said. “Actually the government would make more than the investor.”

 

SOURCE: Business in Vancouver

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A recent article in the Globe & Mail provides a thorough understanding of what obstacles get in the way of getting the best mortgage rate. Being in the industry I would have to agree with all that the author covers in the article. I would also add that the best mortgage rate is not necessarily and always the most important feature when seeking financing for a home. Total Cost of Borrowing is one should look at very closely.

 

Anyone with a mortgage wants the lowest possible rate. But there’s an array of requirements for snagging the best all-around deal, and some of them are counter-intuitive.

Once people have chosen the term and rate type for their mortgage, they often find that rates for that same term can vary by a percentage point or more. Countless factors can keep borrowers from getting a rock-star deal. Here are 10 of them:

 

1. Rates vary by province

Ontario usually has the most competitive rates in Canada, partly because it has the greatest number of competitors. People living in the Prairies or the East Coast, for example, often pay one-tenth to two-tenths of a percentage point more than folks in Ontario. Other examples: Home owners in Alberta sometimes have to put down more equity to get the lowest available rates (thanks to larger default risks in that province); borrowers in Manitoba have the cheapest six-month rates; borrowers in Quebec have some of the best 10-year rates.

2. A long rate hold

The further into the future your closing date, the longer the rate guarantee you’ll need. In turn, the higher a lender’s rate hedging costs and the higher your interest rate. The cheapest rates in the market are generally for “quick closes.” That typically means you must complete the mortgage in 30 to 45 days from applying. Applying one month from closing can shave off one-tenth to two-tenths of a percentage point from your rate, but the risk is that rates jump even more while you’re waiting.

3. You’re refinancing

Lenders love to finance purchases. So mortgages for new buyers sometimes have lower rates than mortgages for refinances. What’s more, refinances, which essentially require a whole new mortgage, often have lower rates than mortgage transfers, where you’re switching lenders but the key mortgage terms stay the same.

4. You’ve got an apartment condo or atypical property

Some lenders charge more for high-rise condos, especially in cities where condo markets are arguably overextended. The same goes for cottages, co-ops, hotel condos, former grow-ops, larger multiunit residences and other non-standard structures, which lenders view as higher risk.

5. The property isn’t your full-time dwelling

The cheapest rates in the country rarely apply to income-generating properties that the owner doesn’t live in. These deals are statistically a higher risk for lenders and investors, so expect a higher interest rate.

6. Your credit score isn't high enough

The magic number is 680. That’s the most common minimum credit score to qualify for the best rates, especially if you have a higher debt ratio or a smaller down payment. But one number isn’t everything. To qualify for the best pricing you also need a two-year track record of managing your credit with no serious delinquencies.

7. You want flexibility

Some of the nation’s lowest rates come with strings attached, such as below-average prepayment privileges. This limits your ability to save interest by making lump-sum extra payments. Instead of prepaying 15 per cent to 30 per cent annually (which few people do anyway) a “no frills” rate might limit you to prepaying 5 per cent or 10 per cent. Restricted mortgages can also impose painful penalties, prohibit you from refinancing elsewhere before your term is up and prevent you from increasing your mortgage without penalty – useful if you buy a new house.

8. Your mortgage is not insured

In many cases, people with smaller down payments – less than 20 per cent – get better rates. That’s because their mortgage must generally be insured. Lenders like insured mortgages because someone else shares the risk of the borrower defaulting.

9. Your mortgage is too big

For lenders, bigger mortgages mean potentially bigger losses on default. This added risk results in rate premiums and stricter lending limits, especially on million-dollar mortgages without at least 25-per-cent to 35-per-cent down payments.

10. Your income is too low

If you’ve just become self-employed, are on probation or you can’t prove one to two years’ worth of stable salaried income, it can cost you. You may also need a bigger down payment. Lenders want less than 40 per cent to 44 per cent of your provable income to go toward debt.

In looking at this list, you may surmise you’ll get the best deal if you have pristine credit, don’t care about mortgage restrictions and are buying a detached urban home in Ontario that’s closing in 30 days.

That all helps, but there’s plenty more that governs mortgage pricing. Step one is knowing how well qualified you are. The stronger you are as a borrower, the more likely you’ll find exceptions to the rate “rules” above.


Source: theglobeandmail

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The City of Vancouver plans to protect a Shaughnessy neighbourhood from density and re-development with a new heritage conservation district designation.

 

If passed, the heritage designation would prevent a scenario similar to the Cambie corridor where dozens of single-family homes will be demolished for density. 

 

Brian Jackson, the city's general manager of planning development, says the bylaw would allow the city to say 'no' to tear-downs without the necessity of offering compensation. 

 

"If we don't want them to, and we want to designate against their will, we would have to compensate them."

 

Jackon says there are 595 houses in First Shaughnessy, and 317 were built before 1940. Those homes were initially protected under the First Shaughnessy official development plan, but an increase in interest to tear down homes — there were 19 applications for demolition in 2014, up from 3 or 4 a year before that — forced the city to act. 

 

Jackson said the plan is not designed to protect the city's wealthiest citizens from density, and argues it may actually anger those who seek to cash in on their valuable land.

 

"The very wealthy property owners may be the ones that are opposing this because they don't want the kind of protection tools we're imposing," he said. 

 

"We're doing this because First Shaughnessy has this significant concentration of heritage assets."

 

Jackson says some density would come to First Shaughnessy in the form of additional laneway housing and the possibility of stratifying existing structures. 

 

City council has voted to send the report to a public hearing process. 30 other communities in B.C. have Heritage Conservation District designations.

 

Source: CBC

A $4-million “teardown” that sold for $1 million over asking price in West Vancouver this week is renewing debate about money flooding into the top tiers of the Lower Mainland’s real estate market and its ripple effect on affordability.

Debate about issues like foreign buyers and real estate flipping is in the forefront after a home listed for $2.98 million in the Bayridge area of West Vancouver prompted a bidding war and eventually sold for $4.1 million to a buyer from mainland China.

The 60-year-old, four-bedroom home with a swimming pool at 4130 Burkehill Place had never been listed before, said Viv Harvey of Royal LePage Sussex, who represented the sellers in the deal.

“It’s a lovely little rancher,” she said. But that wasn’t what most of the real estate agents and prospective buyers who attended an open house last week were interested in.

“When you’re looking out from the lot, all you see is water,” she said. “There are no homes, there are no wires.”
“It’s basically a teardown,” she said. “The value is in the lot.”

Harvey said at $2.98 million, the property was “sharply priced.”

“It probably was under the value,” she said. “That is the best way to make sure you get full exposure.”

Harvey said she expected the property to perhaps fetch as high as $3.5 million, but having it reach $4.1 million was a surprise.

Nine offers were made on the property — the lowest among them for the full asking price.

Harvey said having the house sell for $1.1 million over asking price is a first for her.

The buyer, from mainland China, already owns a home in the Lower Mainland, and plans to tear the existing home down and rebuild on the lot, said Harvey. He hasn’t decided if he’s going to live in the house or resell it, she added.

While a deal like this is still unusual, it’s indicative of what’s going on in high-end real estate markets like West Vancouver.

“It’s a market on steroids,” said Harvey. “The market has gone a little crazy.”

Increasingly the West Vancouver real estate market is attracting offshore buyers.

“With things escalating in the world, there’s a real need for people to put their money in a safe haven,” said Harvey. “Our dollar is so low that Canada is really on sale.”

Just how much real estate is being sold to foreign buyers isn’t clear, because it’s not well tracked by government statistics.

Harvey estimates about 15 per cent of her business comes from overseas buyers.

Allan Angell of Angell Hasman, a West Vancouver real estate company that caters to the high end of the market, puts that figure higher. “I’m selling 80 per cent of my high-end houses to Chinese,” he said.

Most see investment in real estate as a good way to bring money into the country, he said.

Others are making money by quickly flipping properties — sometimes assigning their contract of sale to a third party for a premium.

Those kinds of issues recently prompted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to call for a speculation tax on real estate.

Houses that sit empty until they are flipped is another issue garnering attention.

That can contribute to the problem of housing affordability by putting pressure on housing supply, said David Wachsmuth, an urban geographer at the University of British Columbia. “It exacerbates the whole affordability crisis the city faces,” he said.

It can also lead to problems because people who leave their homes empty aren’t participating in the community, he said.

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said he’d support measures like a higher tax rate for homes that aren’t used as a principal residence — a practice common in other parts of the world.

“We hear that people are buying houses and they’re not renting them out,” he said. “That does not create a neighbourhood and does not create a community.”

Money made by quickly flipping real estate should also be taxed as business income, said Smith.

“There’s too much of an incentive right now for people buying houses and flipping them.

“I don’t personally believe in speculating in houses. It’s a house. It’s a place to raise your family.”

But Smith said any such measures would need approval from the province, something that hasn’t happened yet.

Angell said if it wanted to preserve affordability, the government should have brought in those kinds of measures before the market exploded. “By the time they bring this in, the market will have changed,” he said.

Wachsmuth said the issue isn’t about where buyers are coming from, but what they’re doing with the properties.

“The housing market’s a weird thing,” he said. “Houses are simultaneously a possible investment and a human necessity. Because they are both of these things at the same time, you can get some really tough situations. Vancouver’s in the face of one of those right now.”

- See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/4-million-west-vancouver-teardown-fuels-housing-debate-1.1963621#sthash.WUbzxy6M.dpuf

A $4-million “teardown” that sold for $1 million over asking price in West Vancouver this week is renewing debate about money flooding into the top tiers of the Lower Mainland’s real estate market and its ripple effect on affordability.

Debate about issues like foreign buyers and real estate flipping is in the forefront after a home listed for $2.98 million in the Bayridge area of West Vancouver prompted a bidding war and eventually sold for $4.1 million to a buyer from mainland China.

The 60-year-old, four-bedroom home with a swimming pool at 4130 Burkehill Place had never been listed before, said Viv Harvey of Royal LePage Sussex, who represented the sellers in the deal.

“It’s a lovely little rancher,” she said. But that wasn’t what most of the real estate agents and prospective buyers who attended an open house last week were interested in.

“When you’re looking out from the lot, all you see is water,” she said. “There are no homes, there are no wires.”
“It’s basically a teardown,” she said. “The value is in the lot.”

Harvey said at $2.98 million, the property was “sharply priced.”

“It probably was under the value,” she said. “That is the best way to make sure you get full exposure.”

Harvey said she expected the property to perhaps fetch as high as $3.5 million, but having it reach $4.1 million was a surprise.

Nine offers were made on the property — the lowest among them for the full asking price.

Harvey said having the house sell for $1.1 million over asking price is a first for her.

The buyer, from mainland China, already owns a home in the Lower Mainland, and plans to tear the existing home down and rebuild on the lot, said Harvey. He hasn’t decided if he’s going to live in the house or resell it, she added.

While a deal like this is still unusual, it’s indicative of what’s going on in high-end real estate markets like West Vancouver.

“It’s a market on steroids,” said Harvey. “The market has gone a little crazy.”

Increasingly the West Vancouver real estate market is attracting offshore buyers.

“With things escalating in the world, there’s a real need for people to put their money in a safe haven,” said Harvey. “Our dollar is so low that Canada is really on sale.”

Just how much real estate is being sold to foreign buyers isn’t clear, because it’s not well tracked by government statistics.

Harvey estimates about 15 per cent of her business comes from overseas buyers.

Allan Angell of Angell Hasman, a West Vancouver real estate company that caters to the high end of the market, puts that figure higher. “I’m selling 80 per cent of my high-end houses to Chinese,” he said.

Most see investment in real estate as a good way to bring money into the country, he said.

Others are making money by quickly flipping properties — sometimes assigning their contract of sale to a third party for a premium.

Those kinds of issues recently prompted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to call for a speculation tax on real estate.

Houses that sit empty until they are flipped is another issue garnering attention.

That can contribute to the problem of housing affordability by putting pressure on housing supply, said David Wachsmuth, an urban geographer at the University of British Columbia. “It exacerbates the whole affordability crisis the city faces,” he said.

It can also lead to problems because people who leave their homes empty aren’t participating in the community, he said.

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said he’d support measures like a higher tax rate for homes that aren’t used as a principal residence — a practice common in other parts of the world.

“We hear that people are buying houses and they’re not renting them out,” he said. “That does not create a neighbourhood and does not create a community.”

Money made by quickly flipping real estate should also be taxed as business income, said Smith.

“There’s too much of an incentive right now for people buying houses and flipping them.

“I don’t personally believe in speculating in houses. It’s a house. It’s a place to raise your family.”

But Smith said any such measures would need approval from the province, something that hasn’t happened yet.

Angell said if it wanted to preserve affordability, the government should have brought in those kinds of measures before the market exploded. “By the time they bring this in, the market will have changed,” he said.

Wachsmuth said the issue isn’t about where buyers are coming from, but what they’re doing with the properties.

“The housing market’s a weird thing,” he said. “Houses are simultaneously a possible investment and a human necessity. Because they are both of these things at the same time, you can get some really tough situations. Vancouver’s in the face of one of those right now.”

- See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/4-million-west-vancouver-teardown-fuels-housing-debate-1.1963621#sthash.jY2TtN0A.dpuf

A $4-million “teardown” that sold for $1 million over asking price in West Vancouver this week is renewing debate about money flooding into the top tiers of the Lower Mainland’s real estate market and its ripple effect on affordability.

Debate about issues like foreign buyers and real estate flipping is in the forefront after a home listed for $2.98 million in the Bayridge area of West Vancouver prompted a bidding war and eventually sold for $4.1 million to a buyer from mainland China.

The 60-year-old, four-bedroom home with a swimming pool at 4130 Burkehill Place had never been listed before, said Viv Harvey of Royal LePage Sussex, who represented the sellers in the deal.

“It’s a lovely little rancher,” she said. But that wasn’t what most of the real estate agents and prospective buyers who attended an open house last week were interested in.

“When you’re looking out from the lot, all you see is water,” she said. “There are no homes, there are no wires.”
“It’s basically a teardown,” she said. “The value is in the lot.”

Harvey said at $2.98 million, the property was “sharply priced.”

“It probably was under the value,” she said. “That is the best way to make sure you get full exposure.”

Harvey said she expected the property to perhaps fetch as high as $3.5 million, but having it reach $4.1 million was a surprise.

Nine offers were made on the property — the lowest among them for the full asking price.

Harvey said having the house sell for $1.1 million over asking price is a first for her.

The buyer, from mainland China, already owns a home in the Lower Mainland, and plans to tear the existing home down and rebuild on the lot, said Harvey. He hasn’t decided if he’s going to live in the house or resell it, she added.

While a deal like this is still unusual, it’s indicative of what’s going on in high-end real estate markets like West Vancouver.

“It’s a market on steroids,” said Harvey. “The market has gone a little crazy.”

Increasingly the West Vancouver real estate market is attracting offshore buyers.

“With things escalating in the world, there’s a real need for people to put their money in a safe haven,” said Harvey. “Our dollar is so low that Canada is really on sale.”

Just how much real estate is being sold to foreign buyers isn’t clear, because it’s not well tracked by government statistics.

Harvey estimates about 15 per cent of her business comes from overseas buyers.

Allan Angell of Angell Hasman, a West Vancouver real estate company that caters to the high end of the market, puts that figure higher. “I’m selling 80 per cent of my high-end houses to Chinese,” he said.

Most see investment in real estate as a good way to bring money into the country, he said.

Others are making money by quickly flipping properties — sometimes assigning their contract of sale to a third party for a premium.

Those kinds of issues recently prompted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to call for a speculation tax on real estate.

Houses that sit empty until they are flipped is another issue garnering attention.

That can contribute to the problem of housing affordability by putting pressure on housing supply, said David Wachsmuth, an urban geographer at the University of British Columbia. “It exacerbates the whole affordability crisis the city faces,” he said.

It can also lead to problems because people who leave their homes empty aren’t participating in the community, he said.

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said he’d support measures like a higher tax rate for homes that aren’t used as a principal residence — a practice common in other parts of the world.

“We hear that people are buying houses and they’re not renting them out,” he said. “That does not create a neighbourhood and does not create a community.”

Money made by quickly flipping real estate should also be taxed as business income, said Smith.

“There’s too much of an incentive right now for people buying houses and flipping them.

“I don’t personally believe in speculating in houses. It’s a house. It’s a place to raise your family.”

But Smith said any such measures would need approval from the province, something that hasn’t happened yet.

Angell said if it wanted to preserve affordability, the government should have brought in those kinds of measures before the market exploded. “By the time they bring this in, the market will have changed,” he said.

Wachsmuth said the issue isn’t about where buyers are coming from, but what they’re doing with the properties.

“The housing market’s a weird thing,” he said. “Houses are simultaneously a possible investment and a human necessity. Because they are both of these things at the same time, you can get some really tough situations. Vancouver’s in the face of one of those right now.”

- See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/4-million-west-vancouver-teardown-fuels-housing-debate-1.1963621#sthash.jY2TtN0A.dpuf

A $4-million “teardown” that sold for $1 million over asking price in West Vancouver this week is renewing debate about money flooding into the top tiers of the Lower Mainland’s real estate market and its ripple effect on affordability.

Debate about issues like foreign buyers and real estate flipping is in the forefront after a home listed for $2.98 million in the Bayridge area of West Vancouver prompted a bidding war and eventually sold for $4.1 million to a buyer from mainland China.

The 60-year-old, four-bedroom home with a swimming pool at 4130 Burkehill Place had never been listed before, said Viv Harvey of Royal LePage Sussex, who represented the sellers in the deal.

“It’s a lovely little rancher,” she said. But that wasn’t what most of the real estate agents and prospective buyers who attended an open house last week were interested in.

“When you’re looking out from the lot, all you see is water,” she said. “There are no homes, there are no wires.”
“It’s basically a teardown,” she said. “The value is in the lot.”

Harvey said at $2.98 million, the property was “sharply priced.”

“It probably was under the value,” she said. “That is the best way to make sure you get full exposure.”

Harvey said she expected the property to perhaps fetch as high as $3.5 million, but having it reach $4.1 million was a surprise.

Nine offers were made on the property — the lowest among them for the full asking price.

Harvey said having the house sell for $1.1 million over asking price is a first for her.

The buyer, from mainland China, already owns a home in the Lower Mainland, and plans to tear the existing home down and rebuild on the lot, said Harvey. He hasn’t decided if he’s going to live in the house or resell it, she added.

While a deal like this is still unusual, it’s indicative of what’s going on in high-end real estate markets like West Vancouver.

“It’s a market on steroids,” said Harvey. “The market has gone a little crazy.”

Increasingly the West Vancouver real estate market is attracting offshore buyers.

“With things escalating in the world, there’s a real need for people to put their money in a safe haven,” said Harvey. “Our dollar is so low that Canada is really on sale.”

Just how much real estate is being sold to foreign buyers isn’t clear, because it’s not well tracked by government statistics.

Harvey estimates about 15 per cent of her business comes from overseas buyers.

Allan Angell of Angell Hasman, a West Vancouver real estate company that caters to the high end of the market, puts that figure higher. “I’m selling 80 per cent of my high-end houses to Chinese,” he said.

Most see investment in real estate as a good way to bring money into the country, he said.

Others are making money by quickly flipping properties — sometimes assigning their contract of sale to a third party for a premium.

Those kinds of issues recently prompted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to call for a speculation tax on real estate.

Houses that sit empty until they are flipped is another issue garnering attention.

That can contribute to the problem of housing affordability by putting pressure on housing supply, said David Wachsmuth, an urban geographer at the University of British Columbia. “It exacerbates the whole affordability crisis the city faces,” he said.

It can also lead to problems because people who leave their homes empty aren’t participating in the community, he said.

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said he’d support measures like a higher tax rate for homes that aren’t used as a principal residence — a practice common in other parts of the world.

“We hear that people are buying houses and they’re not renting them out,” he said. “That does not create a neighbourhood and does not create a community.”

Money made by quickly flipping real estate should also be taxed as business income, said Smith.

“There’s too much of an incentive right now for people buying houses and flipping them.

“I don’t personally believe in speculating in houses. It’s a house. It’s a place to raise your family.”

But Smith said any such measures would need approval from the province, something that hasn’t happened yet.

Angell said if it wanted to preserve affordability, the government should have brought in those kinds of measures before the market exploded. “By the time they bring this in, the market will have changed,” he said.

Wachsmuth said the issue isn’t about where buyers are coming from, but what they’re doing with the properties.

“The housing market’s a weird thing,” he said. “Houses are simultaneously a possible investment and a human necessity. Because they are both of these things at the same time, you can get some really tough situations. Vancouver’s in the face of one of those right now.”

- See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/4-million-west-vancouver-teardown-fuels-housing-debate-1.1963621#sthash.jY2TtN0A.dpuf

A $4-million “teardown” that sold for $1 million over asking price in West Vancouver this week is renewing debate about money flooding into the top tiers of the Lower Mainland’s real estate market and its ripple effect on affordability.

Debate about issues like foreign buyers and real estate flipping is in the forefront after a home listed for $2.98 million in the Bayridge area of West Vancouver prompted a bidding war and eventually sold for $4.1 million to a buyer from mainland China.

The 60-year-old, four-bedroom home with a swimming pool at 4130 Burkehill Place had never been listed before, said Viv Harvey of Royal LePage Sussex, who represented the sellers in the deal.

“It’s a lovely little rancher,” she said. But that wasn’t what most of the real estate agents and prospective buyers who attended an open house last week were interested in.

“When you’re looking out from the lot, all you see is water,” she said. “There are no homes, there are no wires.”
“It’s basically a teardown,” she said. “The value is in the lot.”

Harvey said at $2.98 million, the property was “sharply priced.”

“It probably was under the value,” she said. “That is the best way to make sure you get full exposure.”

Harvey said she expected the property to perhaps fetch as high as $3.5 million, but having it reach $4.1 million was a surprise.

Nine offers were made on the property — the lowest among them for the full asking price.

Harvey said having the house sell for $1.1 million over asking price is a first for her.

The buyer, from mainland China, already owns a home in the Lower Mainland, and plans to tear the existing home down and rebuild on the lot, said Harvey. He hasn’t decided if he’s going to live in the house or resell it, she added.

While a deal like this is still unusual, it’s indicative of what’s going on in high-end real estate markets like West Vancouver.

“It’s a market on steroids,” said Harvey. “The market has gone a little crazy.”

Increasingly the West Vancouver real estate market is attracting offshore buyers.

“With things escalating in the world, there’s a real need for people to put their money in a safe haven,” said Harvey. “Our dollar is so low that Canada is really on sale.”

Just how much real estate is being sold to foreign buyers isn’t clear, because it’s not well tracked by government statistics.

Harvey estimates about 15 per cent of her business comes from overseas buyers.

Allan Angell of Angell Hasman, a West Vancouver real estate company that caters to the high end of the market, puts that figure higher. “I’m selling 80 per cent of my high-end houses to Chinese,” he said.

Most see investment in real estate as a good way to bring money into the country, he said.

Others are making money by quickly flipping properties — sometimes assigning their contract of sale to a third party for a premium.

Those kinds of issues recently prompted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to call for a speculation tax on real estate.

Houses that sit empty until they are flipped is another issue garnering attention.

That can contribute to the problem of housing affordability by putting pressure on housing supply, said David Wachsmuth, an urban geographer at the University of British Columbia. “It exacerbates the whole affordability crisis the city faces,” he said.

It can also lead to problems because people who leave their homes empty aren’t participating in the community, he said.

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said he’d support measures like a higher tax rate for homes that aren’t used as a principal residence — a practice common in other parts of the world.

“We hear that people are buying houses and they’re not renting them out,” he said. “That does not create a neighbourhood and does not create a community.”

Money made by quickly flipping real estate should also be taxed as business income, said Smith.

“There’s too much of an incentive right now for people buying houses and flipping them.

“I don’t personally believe in speculating in houses. It’s a house. It’s a place to raise your family.”

But Smith said any such measures would need approval from the province, something that hasn’t happened yet.

Angell said if it wanted to preserve affordability, the government should have brought in those kinds of measures before the market exploded. “By the time they bring this in, the market will have changed,” he said.

Wachsmuth said the issue isn’t about where buyers are coming from, but what they’re doing with the properties.

“The housing market’s a weird thing,” he said. “Houses are simultaneously a possible investment and a human necessity. Because they are both of these things at the same time, you can get some really tough situations. Vancouver’s in the face of one of those right now.”

- See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/4-million-west-vancouver-teardown-fuels-housing-debate-1.1963621#sthash.jY2TtN0A.dpuf

A $4-million “teardown” that sold for $1 million over asking price in West Vancouver this week is renewing debate about money flooding into the top tiers of the Lower Mainland’s real estate market and its ripple effect on affordability.

Debate about issues like foreign buyers and real estate flipping is in the forefront after a home listed for $2.98 million in the Bayridge area of West Vancouver prompted a bidding war and eventually sold for $4.1 million to a buyer from mainland China.

The 60-year-old, four-bedroom home with a swimming pool at 4130 Burkehill Place had never been listed before, said Viv Harvey of Royal LePage Sussex, who represented the sellers in the deal.

“It’s a lovely little rancher,” she said. But that wasn’t what most of the real estate agents and prospective buyers who attended an open house last week were interested in.

“When you’re looking out from the lot, all you see is water,” she said. “There are no homes, there are no wires.”
“It’s basically a teardown,” she said. “The value is in the lot.”

Harvey said at $2.98 million, the property was “sharply priced.”

“It probably was under the value,” she said. “That is the best way to make sure you get full exposure.”

Harvey said she expected the property to perhaps fetch as high as $3.5 million, but having it reach $4.1 million was a surprise.

Nine offers were made on the property — the lowest among them for the full asking price.

Harvey said having the house sell for $1.1 million over asking price is a first for her.

The buyer, from mainland China, already owns a home in the Lower Mainland, and plans to tear the existing home down and rebuild on the lot, said Harvey. He hasn’t decided if he’s going to live in the house or resell it, she added.

While a deal like this is still unusual, it’s indicative of what’s going on in high-end real estate markets like West Vancouver.

“It’s a market on steroids,” said Harvey. “The market has gone a little crazy.”

Increasingly the West Vancouver real estate market is attracting offshore buyers.

“With things escalating in the world, there’s a real need for people to put their money in a safe haven,” said Harvey. “Our dollar is so low that Canada is really on sale.”

Just how much real estate is being sold to foreign buyers isn’t clear, because it’s not well tracked by government statistics.

Harvey estimates about 15 per cent of her business comes from overseas buyers.

Allan Angell of Angell Hasman, a West Vancouver real estate company that caters to the high end of the market, puts that figure higher. “I’m selling 80 per cent of my high-end houses to Chinese,” he said.

Most see investment in real estate as a good way to bring money into the country, he said.

Others are making money by quickly flipping properties — sometimes assigning their contract of sale to a third party for a premium.

Those kinds of issues recently prompted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to call for a speculation tax on real estate.

Houses that sit empty until they are flipped is another issue garnering attention.

That can contribute to the problem of housing affordability by putting pressure on housing supply, said David Wachsmuth, an urban geographer at the University of British Columbia. “It exacerbates the whole affordability crisis the city faces,” he said.

It can also lead to problems because people who leave their homes empty aren’t participating in the community, he said.

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said he’d support measures like a higher tax rate for homes that aren’t used as a principal residence — a practice common in other parts of the world.

“We hear that people are buying houses and they’re not renting them out,” he said. “That does not create a neighbourhood and does not create a community.”

Money made by quickly flipping real estate should also be taxed as business income, said Smith.

“There’s too much of an incentive right now for people buying houses and flipping them.

“I don’t personally believe in speculating in houses. It’s a house. It’s a place to raise your family.”

But Smith said any such measures would need approval from the province, something that hasn’t happened yet.

Angell said if it wanted to preserve affordability, the government should have brought in those kinds of measures before the market exploded. “By the time they bring this in, the market will have changed,” he said.

Wachsmuth said the issue isn’t about where buyers are coming from, but what they’re doing with the properties.

“The housing market’s a weird thing,” he said. “Houses are simultaneously a possible investment and a human necessity. Because they are both of these things at the same time, you can get some really tough situations. Vancouver’s in the face of one of those right now.”

- See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/4-million-west-vancouver-teardown-fuels-housing-debate-1.1963621#sthash.jY2TtN0A.dpuf
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Has anyone heard of a Smith Manoeuvre? Yes, No?
 
Well, it's not a WWF wrestling move as I once thought it was when I first heard the words. It's an investment strategy to gradually convert your non-deductible debt into a deductible one. 
 
Unlike our friends in the States the financing on our principal residence is not tax deductible. Fortunately, the Smith Manoeuvre can turn it into a deductible loan.
 
If you have at least 20% down payment or 20% equity in their home you could qualify for the specific type of mortgage financing needed to benefit from this type investment strategy.

This investment strategy isn't for everyone and the benefits do not come without some risk. This is why I would always recommend discussing this with a Financial Planner if considering.

If you have any questions or would like to start discussion on the 6 steps of putting this in place please give me a call.
 
Sincerely,
 
Tony Marchigiano,
Mortgage Consultant
Mortgage Alliance Meridian Pacific Mortgages
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Developer Wesgroup refers to the River District as “the Lower Mainland’s best-kept secret.”

 

But the massive chunk of former industrial land stretching along the Fraser River below Marine Drive from Kerr Street to Boundary Road is going to become very well-known over the next 20 years as 7,000 homes are built and the total population swells to as much as 15,000 to 18,000.

 

Less than 10 per cent of the 52.6-hectare property is currently occupied, but the next residential phase of the multi-family project is launching this month.

 

The 296 homes in two concrete buildings, one of which is a highrise while the other is a mid-rise, are part of the One Town Centre that will be the core of what is one of the largest, master-planned communities in North America.

 

While the River District is smaller than the 82.5 hectares of Concord Pacific’s development around False Creek, it’s Vancouver’s last large-scale neighbourhood project and it’s also the last big waterfront property.

 

River District was planned after a discussion with local residents about what they’d like to see in an area that is three times the size of Granville Island.

 

Wesgroup owner Peeter Wesik highlighted his firm’s intent to build a community, not just housing.

 

“What we’re doing is building a setting that attracts people that make the community,” he said Wednesday.

 

Wesik pointed to the things at River District that will attract people: schools, walkability, nature and shopping, or “a place to have your breakfast, do your banking, have a cup of coffee.”

 

Services like a grocery store and bank will be part of the new town centre and its plaza. There will also be a high street of shops down toward the water and 10 hectares of park space — which is bigger than Gastown. There’s already a community centre and an energy utility that will help heat homes.

 

Architect and developer Michael Geller is familiar with the area, because he was a real-estate consultant for MacMillan Bloedel in the 1980s when it was selling what was then the White Pine mill site.

 

“I don’t think I would have ever envisioned a community of the scale that this is turning out to be,” he said.

 

But Geller likes what he sees, particularly that the River District has been planned as a complete community. “My sense is that it’s going to be very successful,” he said.

 

The River District won’t be restricted to owners only, because it also includes affordable rental housing.

 

According to the city, out of 55,800 rental-housing units in Vancouver there are only about 500 three-bedroom units. The city announced Wednesday that it would encourage more such units by waiving the development cost levies on new, three-bedroom units with a size limit of 1,044 square feet.

 

Source: Vancouver Sun

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It’s never easy to start saving up for your first home—especially in Vancouver’s white hot real estate market. For those looking to get into the market for the first time, the down payment is often the biggest challenge. So here are a few tips on how to get closer to your first home sooner than later:

1) Reduce your monthly spending with the small things

Little things like buying lunch or a latté every day can add up quite a bit. Instead, make an effort to pack your lunch from home. Consider brewing your own coffee instead of lining up at the coffee shop each morning. It may seem small, but those daily purchases add up over time.

2) Take a vacation closer to home

Resist the urge to pack your bags for an overseas getaway. Instead of the Mediterranean or South Pacific, consider something on a smaller scale like a trip to Whistler, Portland or Seattle. Expensive plane tickets aren’t always needed to enjoy some well-earned relaxation.

3) Downsize your current living arrangements

If possible, see if you can sacrifice some square footage now for a bigger place later in life. Maybe go from a two bedroom rental to a one bedroom if you don’t need that extra room? Or, if you’re really brave, move back home for a year – it will definitely boost up your savings.

4) Take advantage of government programs

The B.C. government has a First Time Home Buyer’s Program where they help reduce the amount of property transfer tax when you purchase a qualifying home. Also, the Government of Canada offers the Home Buyers’ Plan which allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year from your RRSPs to buy or build your qualifying home. This amount you withdraw is not counted as your income and there is also no withholding tax on the withdrawals, and you have up to 15 years to pay it back.

5) Talk to a Mortgage Broker or Financial Planner

Mortgage Brokers/Advisors as well as Financial Advisors/Planners can propose and even help implement creative, possibly even tax savings ways of saving for a down payment. Give me a call should you want to discuss.

Sincerely,

Tony Marchigiano,
Mortgage Consultant
Mortgage Alliance Meridian Pacific Mortgages
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Six years ago, Jon Stovell and Reliance Properties built the first micro-lofts in Vancouver, turning a defunct Gastown single room occupancy (SRO) into a 30-unit rental project with suites ranging in size from 219 to 291 square feet.

Tiny by standards of the day.

But within no time — and advertised only on Craigslist — Burns Block was all rented.

In October, 2013 Reliance took the concept to Victoria’s waterfront. It offered 122 micro-lofts for sale in its proposed Janion development to be completed in 2016.

“Property sales in Victoria were very slow at the time,” said Stovell, Reliance president and CEO. Yet, “we sold them all in just over a month.”

Next it’s Surrey’s turn.

This month the company is offering 200 micro-lofts as part of its 371-unit Prime on the Plaza development to be across the street from the Surrey’s new city hall.

The $100-million 38-storey condo tower will take three years to complete. The units will range in size from 300 square feet to 437 square feet with a starting price of $139,000.

How does he think it will do?

“We’re expecting a good response,” said Stovell.

Reliance is in the process of presenting plans to Vancouver city hall for 294 micro-lofts in a 30-storey condo to be built at Davie and Hornby. It has to be for the rental market because Vancouver — unlike just about every major city in North America, says Stovell — won’t allow a condo to be sold that is less than 398 square feet in size.

This scuppered the company’s plans to build the city’s first micro-loft condo tower, which would have had 370 units.

“When you look at the city’s minimum size unit bylaw, it’s almost like it’s deliberately keeping a whole segment of people away from home ownership,” said Stovell.

Micro-lofts are an affordable way to enter the housing market and should be welcomed in Vancouver, he said, given the price of the average Vancouver home.

“Vancouver is a great city but it’s becoming a city for the rich. We’ve got all these young people living in Vancouver who make the city so vibrant and exciting and yet they are being shut out of the housing market,” he said.

“We’ve done our own research on all the major cities in North America — including Dallas in Texas — and they are encouraging micro-lofts, except Vancouver. … Surrey lets them happen, Victoria, Montreal, Seattle but not here,” he said.

The Vancouver Sun asked for an interview with city planner Brian Jackson or other officials in the planning department for comment on Vancouver’s minimum size condo bylaw but was told no one was available. A statement was issued from the city media relations department which said the city was monitoring the use of micro-suites in other jurisdictions to see “how well it was working for their communities.”

“We need to examine the consequences of micro-suites as there are concerns about livability, affordability and sustainability,” said the statement.

Michael Ferreira of Urban Analytics Inc. said it was hard to tell if micro-lofts were going to form a significant part of the housing market for people looking to purchase a home.

“We don’t see it as much of a trend yet,” he said. “While they are appealing to investors who can get a generally easily rentable investment unit for relatively low cost, the market for end users is pretty shallow as not everyone wants to live in less than 400 square feet.

“This could change as more are built and people see them as more acceptable but the challenge for end users is they don’t see themselves living in a small amount of space for a long period of time.”

Stovell says his company, which rents hundreds of conventional-sized apartments in Vancouver, was led into the micro-loft business by repeated requests seeking rental accommodation for under $1,000 a month.

“We’d keep seeing requests on our website, livework.ca, for anything under $1,000 ‘and I don’t care how big it is.’”

“We realized there’s an unsatiated demand out there for something like the Burns Block,” he said.

Stovell said the ‘millennials’ — persons born after 1990 — have different values than their parents who worked hard to buy a regular home outside of the city centre with all the attachments.

“Young people today place a higher value on their time. They are more interested in using things that society offers them free such as libraries, parks, and other public amenities so they don’t have to spend their own money.

“A lot of their self-worth comes from their social media network rather than ‘where do I live and what kind of car do I drive’.

“They don’t mind trading space for living in a place where they want to be. So they will choose to have a 300-square-foot home if it can be in a place they want to live,” he said.

Sam Baron, 29, has lived in the Burns Block in a 248 square foot space for two years and says he is more than comfortable.

He is a graduate student at SFU attending the university’s downtown campus, and has a job at Emily Carr University on Granville Island.

“Between working and school I’m very busy and I don’t need a lot of space because I’m not at home much. I live alone and this place is functional and comfortable and allows me to live centrally for work and school,” said Baron.

“I’ve got everything I need. All I had to bring in here were my clothes. I can find everything I need in the neighbourhood and your living room kinda spills out into the city.”

Stovell said micro-lofts are more expensive to build per square foot than normal apartments..

“It’s because we have to use high quality materials, the suites have high ceilings, big windows, hardwood floors, a wall bed, a full complement of appliances — stovetop, dishwasher, fridge, wall oven, flatscreen TV.”

Stovell said many items that used to take up large amounts of space in homes have shrunk in size.

“Your stereo and computer and phone can now all be carried in your pocket. When we did the Burns Block we felt everyone needed a desk.

“But we don’t do that anymore. People don’t use desktop computers, they sit and work with their computer on their lap and the printer is now wireless and sitting in a cupboard.”

Source: Vancouver Sun

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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.  


Regards,


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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