Thursday, April 24, 2014
North Vancouver approves new $400 million waterfront neighbourhood with 800 condo units
North Vancouver City Council has approved a new waterfront neighbourhood on Harbourside Drive, bordered to the south of North Shore Auto Mall. The vote on the re-submitted rezoning proposal came down to a 5-2 vote that gave the mixed-use development the green light, go-ahead.
The 18-building, 1.16 million square foot Harbourside Waterfront development project will be built by Concert Properties on a 12 acre site consisting of:
The buildings will be no more than 27.6 metres in height and proponents have promised a LEED Gold standard certification. It will also fund a new one acre City-owned park, improve the existing greenways, dedicate an additional 2.5 acres for public spaces that will weave between the buildings, enhance the shorelines, and construct waterfront boardwalks and pier extensions to provide access to water.
Altogether, the $400 million project will be similar to the scale of Vancouver’s Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek and the Village emerging around the Richmond Olympic Oval.
However, the project’s location and its allocated density is highly questionable due to its relatively inaccessible location. Road access to the new neighbourhood is limited to only Fell Avenue (4 lanes) and Bewicke Avenue (2 lanes), which intersects with an active ground level rail crossing that will undergo developer-funded safety improvements.
Harbourside Waterfront departs from the region’s typical transit-oriented development of how mixed-use forms of residential and commercial are built adjacent to high capacity public transit infrastructure like SkyTrain. For North Vancouver, it has previously chosen to build density along Lonsdale Avenue, which is served by a high concentration of bus routes and the SeaBus terminal.
As no public transit is planned for the new waterfront neighbourhood, Concert Properties will implement a new ‘frequent’ private bus service to the SeaBus terminal in an effort to ease concerns over car traffic, parking demand and accessibility.
Legend: Blue – Office; Yellow – Market Residential; Red – Retail; Purple – Hotel; Orange – Rental Housing
Thursday, April 24, 2014
10 Things To Know About Mortgage Pre-Approvals
A recent article in the Globe & Mail as well as Canadian Mortgage Trends asks should one get pre-approved for a mortgage? There is actually times when it could benefit you not to be pre-approved first.
A pre-approval is just that a pre-approval not an approval. One thing I advise my clients is that you are pre-approved as a borrower but the property has not. This is the bank or lenders security so they have to be willing to lend on it.
Not all pre-approvals are equal. See below to read the full article from the Globe & Mail and 10 things to know about pre-approvals;
Putting your full faith in a mortgage pre-approval is like betting on a heavy favorite in a horse race. You’ll probably win but there’s room for major disappointment.
Sure, pre-approvals have benefits.
- The best ones accurately measure your qualifications and how much house you can afford.
- Their 90- to 120-day rate guarantees protect you if rates rocket up while you’re home hunting.
- They make you seem more serious to sellers and real estate agents. (In competitive bidding situations, they’re
- They’re free and there’s no obligation to use the lender that pre-approved you.
But here’s the problem: pre-approvals are not full approvals. So if you’re going to rely on one, you need to understand their limitations.
Here are 10 pre-approval facts every mortgage shopper should know:
1. Pre-approvals aren’t created equal.
“I would caution consumers when a lender only holds a rate, versus asking for documents and confirming qualification,” says Rob Regan-Pollock, a mortgage broker with Invis. “It’s heartbreaking to be told by a lender they cannot qualify after being told they were ‘pre-approved’.”
2. Advice goes only so far.
Unless you have a 20 per cent down payment from your own resources, rock-solid employment, provable income, pristine credit, and low debt, then pick a lender that reviews your application and preferably your documentation before granting its pre-approval.
3. Appraisals are the missing link.
Adding a financing condition is especially important if you’re putting down less than 20 per cent, which typically requires an insured mortgage. That’s because default insurers like CMHC don’t even look at pre-approvals. They can decline you or your property for any number of reasons, leaving those without financing conditions at risk of not closing, losing their deposit and being sued.
4. Don’t over-rely on appraisers.
5. Your actions after pre-approval matter.
6. Pre-approvals don’t come with the best rates.
Given this expense, pre-approvals don’t typically come with the best pricing. They’re often 0.10 to 0.15 percentage points above market rates – which is peanuts compared to your costs if rates soar and you’re not pre-approved.
That said, the best mortgage rates are often for 30- or 45-day closings. Check rates 30 days before closing. If they’re more than 0.10 percentage points below your pre-approval rate, ask your lender to match them. If they won’t, consider re-applying elsewhere. But avoid trading a flexible mortgage for a restrictive one that’s only marginally cheaper. Homeowners routinely underestimate their need for refinancing flexibility later.
7. Sometimes waiting pays.
8. Reset if appropriate.
9. Get a second pre-approval, if needed.
10. Features matter.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Real estate market turning the corner as Canadian home sellers come out of hibernation: Royal LePage
Forget what you’re hearing about a declining housing market, prices are still going up, says one of Canada’s leading real estate companies.
Royal LePage says in the first-quarter what it calls a standard two-storey house sold for $428,943 across the country, a 5.4% increase from a year ago. Bungalows rose 4.4% in value to $380,765 and condominiums were up 2.5% to $252,174.
“Suggestions of an overheated real estate market and bubble continue within the mainstream dialogue, but are becoming less frequent,” said Phil Soper, chief executive of LePage, in a release. “Of the core housing types, the condominium segment remains the most vulnerable to short-term price softness in light of increased inventory, but the situation is limited to only a few cities. The medium to longer term prognosis for this housing sector remains very positive.”
LePage says the spring market picked up in the final weeks of the first quarter after showing some slowness.
“It appears that it took only the slightest hint of spring to bring home-sellers out of hibernation,” said Mr. Soper, in the release. “We are finally seeing the arrival of housing inventory in seasonally appropriate quantities across the nation. When combined with pent-up demand following a particularly long and harsh winter, the stage is set for a robust 2014 spring market. This is particularly good news for buyers, as the home price spikes we have seen in a number of cities should be alleviated by this additional supply.”
Thursday, April 17, 2014
What's a B-21? Will it make mortgages harder to get?
OSFI (Office for Superintendent of Financial Institutions) has finally came out with its new B-21 rules for mortgages. They are going to be implemented for the companies who insure mortgages that have less than 20% down payments. Companies like CMHC, Genworth & Canada Guaranty.
In October of 2012 OSFI implemented the B-20 lending rules to federally legislated lenders to follow which definitely tightened up mortgage rules and slowed the market.
Most lenders and insurers have already implemented the guidelines from B-20 & many from B-21 as well so the new rules won't affect the mortgage market that much or people applying for a new mortgage going forward.
Here’s what’s new:
In short, B-21 provides incrementally more confidence in the stability of Canada’s housing finance system. From a pure lending standpoint, it could have been a lot more restrictive
Tony Marchigiano1-155 Water Street
Mortgage BrokerVancouver, BC
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Vancouver is world’s second-most “resilient” city for real estate: Grosvenor Group
The top three cities in the world for long-term real estate investment, ranked in terms of resilience, are in Canada, and Vancouver takes the number two spot, according to a report issued by Grosvenor Group.
The study defined resilience as the ability to avoid or recover from an adverse event. This involved looking at 50 of the world’s biggest cities and ranking them in terms of their environmental and social vulnerability, as well as their adaptive capacity.
“We’ve basically tried to work out whether cities are resilient to likely changes in the global economy over the next 50 years or so,” Dr. Richard Barkham, research director for the Grosvenor Group, told Business in Vancouver.
Barkham went on to explain how this resilience will play a role in long-term real estate investment decisions.
“Longer-term, investors that have a fiduciary duty to protect the capital of their members are really going to be looking at resilient cities,” he said.
“No city can avoid adverse events, but resilient cities will bounce back more quickly.”
He explained that with some of the cities ranked lower on the list, if they are dealing with some sort of disaster, for example, it is not certain that they will be able to bounce back at all.
Specific areas the study looked at included:
Vancouver’s overall score was 97 out of a possible 100. It ranked first in all criteria except climate vulnerability, in which category the city came in the bottom 10. This is related to being in a low-lying coastal location, which makes it vulnerable to sea level rise.
Vancouver scored particularly well because of its strengths in the areas of governance and planning, and having good access to financial services within the city.
Toronto came in first worldwide, and Calgary rounded out the top three. Chicago was in top spot in the United States and fourth overall. The lowest scores were found in Cairo, Manila and Dhaka
Thursday, April 10, 2014
The hidden trap of mortgage penalties at the big banks
It’s easy to get caught in the posted mortgage rate trap at the big banks.
No, you won’t have to pay the posted rate on your next mortgage. Pretty much nobody does that any more, according to mortgage broker Robert McLister. The real danger is that posted rates will be used to calculate the penalty if you ever have to break your mortgage, probably costing you thousands of extra dollars.
A mortgage penalty compensates a lender for the interest payments it loses out on when you break a mortgage contract. “That’s the intention,” said Mr. McLister, who is also editor of CanadianMortgageTrends.com. “But in many cases, it overcompensates. It’s punitive in many cases.”
As we head into another round of quarterly bank earnings reports, it’s worth thinking for a moment about how those wonderful profits and dividends for investors are generated. One way is by using posted instead of lower discounted rates when calculating how much to penalize a client breaking a mortgage.
With houses as expensive as they are today, it’s crucial to get the lowest mortgage rate you can. Keep the same level of focus when inquiring about mortgage penalties. Although it’s hard to imagine the need to break a mortgage on a house you’re just buying or living in happily, it can happen. Mr. McLister said roughly 70 per cent of people adjust their five-year fixed rate mortgage before maturity, although many do it to refinance or move to a bigger house rather than to break the mortgage outright.
Mortgage penalties are straightforward if you have a variable-rate mortgage – expect to pay the equivalent of three months’ interest in most cases. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the penalty is set at the higher of three months’ interest or a calculation called the interest rate differential, or IRD. The must-ask question when negotiating a fixed-rate mortgage: Do you use discounted or posted rates to calculate these penalties?
This is important because using posted rates can result in a much higher penalty. For some real world numbers, let’s use the mortgage prepayment calculators all lenders now provide on their websites. They show penalties for paying all or a portion of your remaining mortgage balance (to find them, Google your lender’s name and “mortgage prepayment calculator”).
Let’s use an example of someone who, three years ago, set up a $250,000 five-year mortgage and has a balance owning of $200,000. Assuming an original mortgage rate of 3.64 per cent with a discount of 1.5 percentage points, the mortgage prepayment calculators at several big banks showed penalties ranging from $5,000 to $7,600 or so.
A check with some alternative lenders found penalties ranging from $1,800 to $2,800. These are very rough comparisons because lenders differ a fair bit in what information they ask you to supply. But you get the picture – the big banks apply penalties with a sledgehammer.
As well as producing revenue for lenders, inflated mortgage penalties also help trap clients who might otherwise move their business to another lender. Imagine you want to refinance your mortgage or buy a bigger home and your bank won’t come across with a competitive rate. You say you’ll change banks, only to find out how prohibitively expensive it is to break your mortgage.
Mr. McLister said some banks have a stated policy of offering clients only a small discount off the posted rate if they want to add on to their mortgage to buy a more expensive house. You may be able to negotiate something better than a trivial discount, but your bank knows your leverage is limited because of the penalty you face if you go.
Alternative lenders often have better rates than the big banks, and they typically have cheaper penalty fees. Why do so many people use their banks for mortgages, then?
Mr. McLister speculated that some borrowers like the convenience of having their mortgage where they bank, and of being able to go into a branch to talk about their mortgage. If you prefer transacting online, some alternative lenders don’t have great websites.
One thing you do not need to worry about if you borrow from an alternative financial institution is that your lender will go bankrupt. “It’s funny that people look at mortgages and think, I need a safe lender.” Mr. McLister said. “If a lender goes out of business, pretty much nothing is going to change except for the name of your new lender.”
Tony Marchigiano1-155 Water Street
Mortgage BrokerVancouver, BC
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The BMO 2.99% 5 Year Fixed Rate Analyzed
In a recent article in the Globe & Mail this is how they described the BMO offer:
I personally don't think it's worth it. There are better and more flexible mortgage terms out there for similar rates including the following:
4 year fixed at 2.87%
5 year fixed at 3.04%
5 year variable at Prime - .50% or 2.5%
Tony Marchigiano1-155 Water Street
Mortgage BrokerVancouver, BC
Thursday, April 3, 2014
REBGV Stats March 2014
Home sale and listing activity continue to chart a steady path for the region’s housing market
March home sales in Greater Vancouver outpaced last year’s total yet lagged the region’s historical average for the month.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,641 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in March 2014. This represents a 12.5 per cent increase compared to the 2,347 sales recorded in March 2013, and a 4.4 per cent increase compared to the 2,530 sales in February 2014.
Last month’s sales were 17.2 per cent below the 10-year sales average for March of 3,190.
The sales-to-active-listings ratio currently sits at 18.2 per cent in Greater Vancouver, which is unchanged from last month.
“We continue to see steady and stable market conditions across the Greater Vancouver housing market,” said Ray Harris, REBGV president. “There has been a consistent balance between home seller supply and home buyer demand in our marketplace over the last year.”
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,281 in March. This represents a 9.1 per cent increase compared to the 4,839 new listings in March 2013 and a 12.4 per cent increase from the 4,700 new listings in February. Last month’s new listing count was 5.9 per cent below the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.
The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® is 14,472, a 6.4 per cent decline compared to March 2013 and a 7.9 per cent increase compared to February 2014.
“Home prices in the region have experienced incremental gains in most areas and property types over the last 12 months,” Harris said. “It’s important to remember that this is a diverse marketplace and trends will vary depending on area and property type.”
The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $615,200. This represents a 3.7 per cent increase compared to March 2013.
Sales of detached properties in March 2014 reached 1,116, an increase of 19.6 per cent from the 933 detached sales recorded in March 2013, and a 5.7 per cent decrease from the 1,183 units sold in March 2012. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 4.2 per cent from March 2013 to $945,400.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,106 in March 2014, an increase of 12.6 per cent compared to the 982 sales in March 2013, and a 7.1 per cent decline compared to the 1,191 sales in March 2012. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.8 per cent from March 2013 to $375,800.
Attached property sales in March 2014 totalled 419, a 3 per cent decline compared to the 432 sales in March 2013, and a 16.2 per cent decline from the 500 attached properties sold in March 2012. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 1.3 per cent between March 2013 and 2014 to $460,100.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Finance Minister resigns! How he changed the Mortgage Market & What's to Come?
Last week, Jim Flaherty, announced his resignation as the Canada's Finance Minister. He said it was in order to go back to the private sector to work. He definitely made some controversial changes in loosening and tightening up the mortgage market over the past 8 years. He also, as reported in a recent Globe & Mail article, metalled with corporations offering an interest rate of 2.99% for a 5yr fixed mortgage term, which no other minister has ever done in the past.
It'll be interesting to see where the newly appointed Finance Minister, Jim Oliver, leads the market next.
According to that Globe & Mail article these are the seven ways Mr. Flaherty changed the market:
The man who ran our nation’s finances for eight years is gone. In Jim Flaherty’s wake are a legacy of housing policies that will impact homeowners for years to come.
When it came to Canada’s mortgage market, the former minister of finance made tough decisions in tough times, and he had his share of detractors.
“I might liken his interventionist tendencies in the mortgage market to ‘pouring gas on a fire’ and, then ‘shooting a dead horse,’” says Gordon McCallum, president at First Foundation Inc., a mortgage and financial services firm.
Jim Murphy, President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, adds, “We believe many of the earlier mortgage rule changes were required… not so much the more recent ones.”
“Mortgage credit growth is slowing and people are paying down their mortgages. Canada needs to maintain the economic importance of housing.”
But real estate, if not at a gallop, is still very much trotting. Many of us in the mortgage industry thought Mr. Flaherty’s moves would derail housing and trigger significant job losses, but most of his policies have since proven prescient and sound.
Here are seven roles Mr. Flaherty took on as he managed the mortgage market throughout his tenure:
1. Financial crisis hero: When bad mortgages endangered the world’s financial system, Mr. Flaherty bolstered Canada’s by purchasing $69-billion worth of mortgage-backed securities. It was a shrewd move that added no new risk to taxpayers (as the mortgages were already insured). That plan motivated the banks to keep lending at reasonable rates, helping the country avert a liquidity crisis.
2. Mortgage loosener: From 2006 to 2008, under Mr. Flaherty‘s watch, the government backed 100 per cent financing (even for rental properties), lower down payment requirements to avoid default insurance, 40-year amortizations and more lenient stated-income financing than we have today.
3. Mortgage tightener: With debt-to-income ratios, mortgage rates and home prices breaking record after record, Mr. Flaherty did an about-face. His regulators slashed amortizations from 40 to 25 years, banned insured refinances and rental financing without 20-per-cent equity, cut the ratio of debt that borrowers could carry, and brought a host of conventional mortgage restrictions (dubbed “Guideline B-20”). On insured mortgages alone, he stiffened rules four times in four years.
4. Funding cost raiser: He capped government-backed Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) insurance at $600-billion, limited the use of insurance on mortgages with 20 per cent or more equity, put new curbs on mortgage securitization (selling mortgages to investors), and prohibited government-backed mortgages in covered bonds and non-CMHC securitization. These and other measures raised mortgage funding and regulatory costs, which in turn boosted the mortgage rates Canadians pay.
5. Market meddler: Setting national policy wasn’t enough. Mr. Flaherty did what no finance minister ever has – or should. He used his influence to push individual banks to raise their privately-set mortgage rates. His media comments publicly called out institutions like Bank of Montreal and Manulife Financial Corp. This fear of reprisal from the finance department is still fresh in lenders’ minds, and it’s a big reason we haven’t seen banks widely advertising 2.99 per cent five-year fixed mortgages.
6. International conciliator: As skepticism of Canada’s richly valued housing market grew internationally, Mr. Flaherty’s efforts to rein in housing reassured international governments and investors. That was key for reducing the risk premiums that government and lenders have to pay to finance themselves.
7. Regulator: One of his wisest moves was placing the CMHC, one of Canada’s biggest financial institutions, under the watchful eye of banking/insurance regulator OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions). For a $600-billion insurance company, that move was a long time coming.
Many people are now asking: What happens next under newly installed Finance Minister Joe Oliver? With his Bay Street roots and arguably more free-market mindset, some anticipate a more hands-off approach to the mortgage market.
“We do not expect any further mortgage rule changes, although the new minister will obviously review the file,” Mr. Murphy says. “Mr. Flaherty and the government seem content with where the housing/mortgage market is now.”
In protecting Canadians homeowners from themselves and lenders from excesses, Mr. Flaherty ultimately made it harder for millions of families to get mortgages. But he also reinforced the very foundation of Canada’s banking system. We ended up with a safer mortgage market because of him.
Read Globe and Mail article here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/mortgages/seven-ways-jim-flaherty-changed-the-canadian-mortgage-market/article17600143/
Thursday, March 27, 2014
The ‘Bank of Mom and Dad’: Advice on helping children with that first home purchase
BMO Bank of Montreal found that up to 40 per cent of their first-time buyers expect some family help to get on the property ladder. Vancouver Sun reporter Derrick Penner sought some expert advice on how parents can approach the situation.
Q: How can I help my child buy her first home?
A: It can be as simple as co-signing on the mortgage to help a child who has saved some money for a down payment, but still can’t meet all the qualification requirements, said Richard Bell, a real estate lawyer with Bell Alliance Lawyers and Notaries Public in Vancouver. Or, a parent can offer a gift of cash.
Q: How do I go about gifting money to my daughter to help her make up the down payment on her first home?
A: You will need to write a letter of gift, specifying that you don’t expect the money to be paid back, as part of the mortgage application, said mortgage broker Michael James of DLC Mortgage Evolution in North Vancouver. And for any gift over $5,000, he added, that banks will want to see a clear history of where the money came from.
Q: What do I need to consider if she isn’t married but living in a common-law relationship, to protect the gift if that relationship ends?
A: One way of making sure the gift stays with the daughter, as intended, is to register an equitable charge after the first mortgage that stipulates there can be no change in title without the parents’ agreement, James said. However, whether parents can do that depends on how big the gift is. Bell said that banks generally don’t like to see such charges on title, but will allow parents to register a second mortgage, so long as a portion of the funds are offered as a gift in the down payment. He recommends drawing up an agreement, similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, to make sure such gifts aren’t split up along with other assets when a relationship ends.
Q: What are the tax implications of o ffering my child a gift of money for a down payment?
A:Gifts of cash to help a child have to be your own after-tax dollars, Bell said, so there are no tax implications to you.
Q: How much should I give?
A: That is completely up to your individual financial situation, but there are advantages to helping a son or daughter maximize their down payment beyond the obvious injection of equity that reduces a buyer’s interest payments over the life of their mortgage. Using the example of a home that fits into the maximum exemption from the property-transfer tax for first-time buyers, $475,000, the minimum down payment of five per cent would be $23,750, which is a difficult sum for young buyers to come up with. However, if parents can help get a son or daughter to 20 per cent, that changes their financial picture by eliminating their need for mortgage insurance — a savings of thousands of dollars in premiums — and qualifies them for a longer amortization, which helps ease monthly cash flow.
Q: How do I go about buying a home outright for my children?
A: There are different scenarios, said Bell. A common arrangement is for the parents to fund the purchase, but register a mortgage against the property in their favour to secure the asset, especially where cases involve a common law relationship. However, he said that is becoming more difficult under new B.C.’s new legislation governing the break up of such relationships.
Q: What are the tax implications of an outright purchase?
A: Again, even if the son or daughter is repaying the mortgage, as long as the parents don’t expect repayment with interest, there are no tax implications to the parents.
Q: How do I co-invest in a home with my daughter and spouse in a case where I plan to live with them?
A: A parent can join in the purchase using a joint tenant agreement, which would allow the child and spouse to slowly take over the title, or allow the property to pass on probate free to the remaining tenants in the event of the parent’s death, James said. This can help young buyers meet both the down payment and income requirements, he said. Ownership can be structured so that the child and spouse can take full advantage of property-transfer-tax exemption for first-time buyers (and the parents don’t take a property-transfer-tax hit). However, James cautioned, the parent can wind up with a big debt liability if the children can’t keep up their end of the payments.
Q: Should I remortgage my own home to come up with the money to help my children?
A: Bell said that scenario does happen, but it is very uncommon and comes with considerable risks. Some parents will do it if their son or daughter needs a little bit of help; otherwise, it raises the prospect of taking on a big debt close to retirement.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I.D.E.A.S. For Choosing A Fixed And Variable Rate Mortgage Term
A couple of the first questions my clients ask me is where do you think rates will go and is it better to go fixed or variable? The answer to those questions are a little more difficult to answer.
There are many economists making many rate forecasts but most of the time they're only 50% right, With that being said we've been in a low rate environment for numerous years and we may be there for a while longer. No one knows for sure though as there are many factors at play that make rates go up or down.
What we can do is help our clients make an educated choice in all areas of mortgage financing but in particular, in this article featured last year at Canadian Mortgage Trends, I.D.E.A.S. is one set of questions or formula to help one make the decision of going fixed or variable.
Here's the article below…
"The first question people often ask when deciding between a fixed and variable mortgage is: “Where do you see rates going?”
They assume we as mortgage planners know…and of course we don’t. No one does.
We can, and do, present a variety of possible rate scenarios based on:
But you never know for sure where the rate setters (the Bank of Canada and bond traders) will take the market.
Aside from reading the tea leaves on rates, the best thing a borrower can do is measure his/her ability to handle rising payments. To gauge that, we use a handy acronym called IDEAS.
IDEAS stands for Income, Debt, Equity, Assets, Sensitivity to Risk.
If most, or all, of the answers to the above are affirmative, a variable rate is something the homeowner can entertain.
After evaluating someone against the IDEAS measure, we then discuss (among other things):
For most people, the decision between fixed and variable will either save them thousands or cost them thousands. The goal is to try and take as much of the gamble out of the equation as possible."
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
$1.5-billion Oakridge mall project gets green light from Vancouver council
One of the biggest, most complex mall redevelopments in Canada was quickly approved Friday by Vancouver council.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver team all voted for the $1.5-billion Oakridge redevelopment project that will add 2,900 housing units and double the retail space of the existing mall built in 1954 in south Vancouver.
“We have a big city that’s growing fast. It’s big projects like this we are dealing with,” said Mr. Robertson, at the conclusion of three days of public speakers, some of whom supported the rezoning, many of whom didn’t.
“This is a big, green, complete community in the centre of Vancouver. I’m excited when I see the possibilities here.”
The development, expected to take a decade to build, includes 11 towers with heights of up to 44 storeys and another three lower buildings, as well as a park with a small lake on the mall’s roof, a community centre, a daycare, a library and a seniors’ centre.
That density wouldn’t be unusual in Vancouver’s downtown, but it’s a dramatic change from the suburban, single-family area of south Vancouver where it’s being planned.
The debate and vote moved along much more speedily than usual at the council, where controversial rezonings and other decisions that have attracted dozens of speakers are often put off for several days to allow councillors to digest the input.
Councillors who voted against it – the Green Party’s Adriane Carr and the Non-Partisan Association’s George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball – all said it was out of scale for the neighbourhood, wasn’t supported by local residents, and would put a strain on local services.
“We are talking about a development with 5,000 more residents, 5,000 more workers, but there are no firm commitments [for more infrastructure],” Ms. Carr said.
Ms. Ball said the size of the development created a core worry for local residents about how their city is changing.
“They’re losing the Vancouver they love. And they have fears that it will change all the neighbourhoods around it to the same thing – more towers.”
The Vision councillors in attendance unanimously supported the rezoning, saying they believed it would ultimately be an asset to the community and not the kind of concrete jungle that people have seen elsewhere.
“What we see is not a proposition to build a replica of Metrotown,” said Councillor Raymond Louie, referring to the collection of towers that has sprouted up next to the SkyTrain line and major mall in Burnaby. “This is one of the most complete communities we have ever had for the city.”
The mall had just gone through an extensive rezoning process that was completed in 2007. But after the Canada Line rapid-transit line was completed in 2009 and it became apparent how popular it was, the mall’s owners, Ivanhoe Cambridge, decided to apply for a rezoning with much more density than the 2007 plan.
The public hearing attracted about 100 speakers, many, though far from all, passionately opposed.
Some said they feared that people who live in towers wouldn’t be good neighbours or participate in the community. Others said they hated the size of the project. Many said the city’s transit, schools, hospitals, and roads were already jammed and this project, along with others planned along the Canada Line, would just add to the problems.
The mayor acknowledged he was concerned about transit service as developments come in along the line and promised his council would push to increase capacity.
The city’s transportation planner, Jerry Dobrovolny, said the Canada Line is currently carrying about 5,000 people per hour and can carry up to 10,000 if TransLink buys more service from the private operator.
Graeme Silvera, the vice-president of retail development for Ivanhoe, said after the vote he was surprised relatively few people had come out to speak on such a big project.
He said it’s a unique project in Canada because, unlike other mall redevelopments that are adding a few towers on the edge of their parking lots, “we’re building a residential community right into the mall.”
Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/oakridge-mall-project-gets-green-light-from-vancouver-council/article17506742/
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Bank of Canada leaves Prime Rate as is once again!
Although this headline might be a snoozer, according to Canadian Mortgage Trends, it's a feel good moment for people who are in variable rate mortgages as their rate will, once again, stay at the same very low level. This is the 29th time the B of C have left the rate alone. One important comment that they made was that the risk to inflation is not a factor meaning that there is no indication of the rate going up anytime in the foreseeable future.
Here's the full article if interested…
BoC Update: Rates Stay Level
Like most of its last 29 rate announcements, today’s Bank of Canada rate statement was a snoozer. But for those with debt, dull is good. It keeps a lid on variable-rate borrowing costs.
For most, the only meaningful line in the BoC’sstatement was:
In other words, there’s no danger of variable rate hikes for as far as the eye can see. So, if you’re like most financially secure borrowers in a discounted adjustable-rate mortgage, there remains little reason to lock in.
Besides inflation, the other risk occupying the Bank’s time is the overleveraged consumer. On that topic it said:
That leaves the usual focal points for the BoC: GDP growth, employment and (most importantly) inflation.
RBC summarized the BoC’s position by calling for no hikes “until there is clear evidence that both the economy and inflation are accelerating.” And the current evidence is muddy at best.
On a side note, the BoC reminded us today of how unforeseeable external factors can alter the course of interest rates. Its reference to “tensions in Ukraine” is case in point. In the event that the situation becomes grave, it could easily have a depressing effect on rates.
Domestically speaking, the next piece of data in the rate puzzle comes this Friday with the Canadian and U.S. jobs reports. Those releases are among the most volatile, but critical, rate determinants.
Bank of Canada Rate Facts:
Tony Marchigiano 1-155 Water Street
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
City unveils $1-billion plan for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
Vancouver’s troubled Downtown Eastside is about to get a facelift.
The City of Vancouver unveiled an ambitious, $1-billion, 30-year plan for the neighbourhood Thursday.
The complex, 183-page proposal would see 4,400 new or replacement social housing units built in the area. There would also be a dramatic increase in condos near Clark and Hastings, where buildings could be 12 to 15 storeys high.
The city said it hopes to revitalize Hastings as a retail street, yet retain the low-income character of much of the neighbourhood.
It projects that housing units in the area will rise from 15,300 to 19,850 in 10 years, and 27,950 in 30 years. The population would rise from about 18,000 today to 30,000 to 35,000 in 2044.
“The plan over the next 10 years will be an increase in the number of these mixed-use projects that we’re trying to achieve in the Downtown Eastside,” said Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s general manager of planning and development.
“It will include affordable housing, it will include a number of opportunities for market rental, and market condos. You’re going to see a mixture.”
The controversial part of the plan looks to be a condo-free zone that stretches along Hastings from Carrall Street in Gastown to Healey Avenue in Strathcona.
Any new structures in the rental-only area have to be at least 60 per cent social housing.
The no-condo zone extends to historic Japantown around Oppenheimer Park.
Jackson said the aim is ensure that low-income people in the Downtown Eastside won’t be displaced.
“The plan is attempting to achieve balance,” he said after a media briefing.
“We have to provide the assurance that through the plan we are making sure the people who want to continue to live in the Downtown Eastside have that opportunity. But it has to be in improved forms of housing.”
In the plan, the Downtown Eastside isn’t just the area around Hastings and Main; it includes surrounding neighbourhoods such as Gastown, Chinatown, Victory Square, Strathcona and Thornton Park.
It was put together during the past two years by city staff in tandem with a city-appointed committee that was mandated to have at least half of its members from the low-income community.
Asked where the money for such an ambitious plan will come from, Jackson said the city will “need partnerships in order to achieve it.”
“We need the other levels of government, we need the non-profits, we need the faith-based groups,” he said. “And we need the development community to help make this real.”
But getting the money to build the social housing called for in the plan may not be easy.
Rich Coleman is the provincial minister in charge of housing. Asked if the province has the money to build 4,400 social housing units in the Downtown Eastside, he said: “No, we don’t. And we don’t do housing that way anymore, either.”
Coleman said the province’s strategy is to “diversify” the way money is spent on low-income housing, such as providing rent assistance for about 10,000 families around the province.
“We don’t build ‘social housing’ anymore,” he said.
“We invest in housing that is for (people with) mental health and addictions, and people that are homeless or at risk of (being) homeless. That was the investment we made in Vancouver; it’s about $300 million, and that was only for about 1,500 units. So if you’re talking about over 3,000 you’re talking $600 million/$700 million.”
Anti-poverty activist Wendy Pedersen was co-chair of the committee that came up with the plan, until she had to resign for health reasons. She is not optimistic the new Downtown Eastside plan will save the low-income side of the neighbourhood, even with the no-condo zone. She argues if you break the social housing part of the plan down, only one third of the social housing units will be rented at welfare rate.
“I think the low-income community is going to be demolished and displaced,” she said.
“And there will be a few people left that can hang on, in some token units, because there’s not enough in the plan for people at welfare rate, which is what we need. There’s a problem. We need 5,000 SROs (single-room occupancy accommodation) replaced with housing at welfare rates.”
Pete Fry of the Strathcona Residents Association thinks the plan tries to address so many issues, there wasn’t enough consideration given to key areas. And it’s so complex, even people who were on the planning committee aren’t sure about what it all means.
“It’s as clear as mud,” said Fry.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
CMHC & Genworth to raise premiums - How & when will this affect you?
Last week CMHC (Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation) announced it will raise premiums as of May 1st. Genworth, the largest private insurer followed suit a couple days later. They say it is to cover new capital requirements that came into effect since the "great recession" a few years ago. There are 3 main insurer's in Canada. The other one is Canada Guaranty. They may also follow.
This kind of insurance is required for someone who is buying a home with less than 20% down payment. It's a one time fee that's based on a percentage of the mortgage taken out. It can be paid up front or added onto the mortgage. On a 400K mortgage with 5% down the additional premium is about $1600. It will also result in an average $5 increase in your mortgage payment should you choose to add the premium to the mortgage proceeds.
Here's a breakdown of the increases along with CMHC's question & answer media release
Effective May 1st the following rate increase will come into affect for insured mortgages: Please see the linked news release from CMHC:
Effective May 1st, CMHC Purchase (owner occupied 1 – 4 unit) mortgage insurance premiums will increase by approximately 15%, on average, for all loan-to-value ranges.
Tony Marchigiano 1-155 Water Street
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
REBGV February 2014 Stats
VANCOUVER, B.C. - March 4, 2014 - In the first two months of 2014, the Greater Vancouver housing market has maintained the steady pace set throughout 2013.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,530 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February 2014. This represents a 40.8 per cent increase compared to the 1,797 sales recorded in February 2013, and a 43.8 per cent increase compared to the 1,760 sales in January 2014.
Last month’s sales total mirrors the 10-year sales average for February of 2,547, with just 17 sales separating the two figures.
The sales-to-active-listings ratio currently sits at 18.9 per cent in Greater Vancouver, a 4.9 per cent increase from last month.
“Home buyer demand picked up in February, which is consistent with typical seasonal patterns in our housing market,” said Sandra Wyant, REBGV president. “We typically see home buyers become more active in and around the spring months.”
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 4,700 in February. This represents a 2.8 per cent decline compared to the 4,833 new listings reported in February 2013 and a 12.1 per cent decline from the 5,345 new listings in January. Last month’s new listing count was 0.5 per cent below the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.
The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® is 13,412, a 9.3 per cent decline compared to February 2013 and a 6.4 per cent increase compared to January 2014.
“With the market continuing to perform at a steady, balanced pace, it’s important for home sellers to ensure their homes are priced correctly for today’s conditions,” Wyant said.
The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $609,100. This represents a 3.2 per cent increase compared to February 2013.
Sales of detached properties in February 2014 reached 1,032, an increase of 46.6 per cent from the 704 detached sales recorded in February 2013, and a 6.3 per cent decrease from the 1,101 units sold in February 2012. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 3.5 per cent from February 2013 to $932,900.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,032 in February 2014, an increase of 35.8 per cent compared to the 760 sales in February 2013, and a 1.2 per cent increase compared to the 1,020 sales in February 2012. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.6 per cent from February 2013 to $373,300.
Attached property sales in February 2014 totalled 466, an increase of 39.9 per cent compared to the 333 sales in February 2013, and a 9.9 per cent increase from the 424 attached properties sold in February 2012. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 0.6 per cent between February 2013 and 2014 to $458,300
Friday, February 28, 2014
Vancouver Firm Will Build Developing-World Home for Each Unit Sold
VANCOUVER - Buy a condo in Vancouver’s notorious real estate market and you’ll likely walk away with a lighter wallet and a sinking feeling you might have overspent. But what if you knew you were also providing a home for a family living beside a garbage dump in Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest countries?
With its official launch Tuesday, Vancouver-based World Housing hopes to make that a reality by partnering with real estate developers who want to donate a new home in the developing world for each unit sold here in the New World.
The project is the brainchild of Pete Dupuis and Sid Landolt, longtime partners in the luxury real estate business, who call it the world’s first one-for-one real estate gifting model. They both say that adequate housing can be life-changing for people struggling to survive in the impoverished slums that surround landfills.
“When you give someone a home, they become completely independent,” Dupuis said.
Since it launched in beta form last year, World Housing has already built 53 homes for families living at the Steung Meanchey dump in Phnom Penh. The 130-square-foot houses are all built on stilts, to protect them from flooding, and have access to shared bathhouses with toilets and running water.
“We’re trying to hit the U.N. standards for adequate housing,” Dupuis said. “When we built our first five homes in November, three of the families had never used a toilet.
The first Vancouver project to partner with World Housing will be Westbank Corp.’s 52-storey condo tower – designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels – at the north end of Granville Bridge. Dupuis expects projects in Toronto, Taipei and Honolulu will come on board later this year.
If everything goes according to plan, developers will commit to donate $3,000 from each condo sale to build a home in a dump community; $2,500 of that goes directly to construction and the remaining $500 goes to operations. World Housing isn’t a non-profit or a charity, but instead a “community contribution company” that functions thanks to a partnership with the private sector.
“The real people making the change are the developers and the buyers,” Landolt said. “Those are the heroes in the equations.”
Dupuis and Landolt hope their program will house 30,000 people by 2020, which would involve the construction of up to 5,000 new homes.
The pair were inspired to create World Housing after a chance meeting on a Los Angeles-Vancouver flight with TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, whose company gives away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes it sells.
“I got off the plane and said: ‘You know what Sid. We can do that,’” Dupuis said.
Any developer who wants to get involved must first be certified by World Housing, which looks at the project’s sustainability initiatives and environmental footprint. They also need to pass what Dupuis calls the “Sid and Pete good-guy test.”
Are they active in the community? Do they give to charity? Are they, in fact, “good guys”?
Dupuis and Landolt believe that partnering with World Housing will be a massive marketing boon for developers.
“We take their project, which is a for-profit development, and we turn it into a social venture,” Dupuis said.
Besides the knowledge that their purchase has provided someone with a home, buyers will also get a personal connection to the people they have helped. They receive a plaque with the family’s photo on it, get the GPS co-ordinates to view the home on Google Earth and can even fly to Phnom Penh to meet the recipients in person.
At the other end of the equation, the families which receive the homes are closely vetted by World Housing partners working in Cambodia. The children must attend school rather than working in the dump as trash-pickers, the parents cannot work in the sex or drug trades, and the families must be considered good role models in the community.
The new houses are built very close to the dump, so that families aren’t removed from the community where they have lived all their lives.
“They don’t want to move,” Dupuis said. “It’s all about keeping the community as stable as possible and not disrupting it.”
Critically, the families own their new homes outright.
This is especially important in Cambodia, where the severe Communist strictures of the Pol Pot era left most people legally landless — a problem that still has repercussions more than 30 years after the Khmer Rouge was removed from power. In recent years, tens of thousands of poor Cambodians have been forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for large development projects, and because they lack title they have virtually no legal recourse.
The hope is that the benefits of the new housing will extend beyond the new homeowners as well.
“When we go over to the Third World, obviously six to eight people get a home, but also the community starts to change,” Dupuis said.
Construction of the new housing creates what he calls a “micro-industry.” World Housing builds a factory and finds workers among the young people who pick garbage for a living. They’re trained in construction techniques and then can use those skills to find new jobs after the project is finished.
World Housing is also in discussion with groups that work in dump communities in Mexico and the Philippines, and it hopes to start construction work in those countries soon. Dupuis says the aim is to have some of the workers trained in Cambodia travel abroad to help get the new projects up and running.
For more information about World Housing, visit its website here.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
5 Facts About the RRSP Home Buyers Withdrawal Plan
It can be difficult for 1st time home buyers to come up with their first down payment on a home but as you may or may not know you can take the money out of your RRSP as a home buyers withdrawal. The money has to be in there for at least 90 days and has to be for a principal residence. Here are 5 other facts about the plan via Ratehub:
Friday, February 21, 2014
Interest Rates are Getting Even Better as we Approach the Spring Market
As we approach the spring housing market lending institutions are starting to get very competitive and rates have started to fall. Fixed rates, especially the most popular 5 year fixed, have been going down since the fall and may even get a bit lower. Discounts on variable rate mortgages have also increased making it a little easier to make that mortgage payment.
Here are the best rates we are offering here at Mortgage Alliance West:
1 & 3 year fixed are at 2.89%
2 year fixed is at 2.69%
4 year fixed is at 3.29%
5 year fixed is at 3.19%
5 year variable at Prime - .50% or 2.5%
Tony Marchigiano | 1-155 Water Street
Mortgage Broker | Vancouver, BC
cell: 604 505 7109
fax: 604 909 4666
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Government Reduces Tax Burden on First-Time Buyers
First-time home buyers received welcome news in today’s provincial budget. Any REALTORS® currently working with first-time buyers will want to share this news with them as soon as possible.
The government has announced, effective February 19, 2014, under the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First-Time Home Buyers’ Exemption program, qualifying first-time buyers can buy a home worth up to $475,000. The previous threshold was $425,000.
The partial exemption continues and will apply to homes valued between $475,000 and $500,000.
With this change, the government estimates 1,700 additional first-time buyers will annually be eligible to save up to $7,500 in PTT when they buy their home.
The government estimates this measure will cost $8 million in lost tax revenue each year.
The Real Estate Board, together with BC Real Estate Association, has actively lobbied to make home ownership more affordable for first-time home buyers. This increase in the threshold clearly signals our efforts have paid off as in past years.
In 2008, as a result of industry lobbying, the provincial government increased the threshold to $425,000 from $375,000.
In 2005, the government increased the threshold to $325,000 from $275,000.
The PTT is calculated at a rate of one per cent on the first $200,000 and two per cent on the remaining value of the purchase price.