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.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Vancouver+firm+will+build+developing+world+home+each+home+sold+here/9520732/story.html#ixzz2uZfvxBiF
February 13, 2014
Unbelievably Terrible Real Estate Photos
In our line of work we come across some unconventional photos of properties for sale, but one blogger has created an archive of real estate photos ranging from hilariously out of the ordinary to downright terrifying. We had a pretty good laugh taking a look at these photos, which one is your favourite?
And my personal favourite:
December 11, 2013
Quirky Home Conversions: A Church, Museum, and Missile Silo!
Why tear down a unique older building when you can transform it into a home so extraordinary it'll have the whole town talking! Conversions have become a popular way to keep heritage sites intact yet build a quirky and modern home. Take a look at these four conversions, which started out as a cuhrch, museum, water tower, and missile silo, and are now beautiful, cozy homes!
Location: Saranac, N.Y.
Sq. Ft.: 3,100
Don't be fooled by the conventional exterior, this mountain retreat is actually a converted missile launching pad. The main lodge sits atop a 2,300-square-foot silo that's been transformed into a cavernous, luxury living space.
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Sq. Ft.: 4,000
Do you heap hymns onto the karaoke queue? Are you a sucker for Sunday double-headers?
Do you use the words "gosh" and "heck" a lot?
If you answered yes to all those questions, then this could be your ticket to paradise. Formerly a Lutheran cathedral, this church is now a sprawling home.
Location: Savannah, Ga.
Price: $3.35 million
Sq. Ft.: 4,504
Built in 1892, this home was the "Ships of the Sea Museum" until it underwent a full-blown makeover that transformed it into a luxury home. The home offers stunning views through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
How about that! Apparently, a residence in Soest, Utrecht, Netherlands rests inside the sturdy shell of a what used to be a water tower. By the looks of a blueprint of the tower we found on TreeHugger.com, the structure has 7 floors.
Retrieved from: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/gallery/quirky-home-conversions/#!slide=870756
November 20, 2013
Vancouver Bans Doorknob as Move Towards Accessibility
Just like 'burning a CD' and 'rolling down the car window,' there may soon come a day when kids will not know the meaning of the phrase 'dumb as a doorknob.'
Thanks to new building code legislation, Vancouver will be the first city in Canada to ban doorknobs. In all new construction starting this March, they will be replaced with levers, International Business Times reported. The ban also extends to all faucets.
The Vancouver city council voted to amend its building code in September, and with that came the decision to make doorknobs a thing of the past -- although existing structures are now grandfathered into the new code.
Vancouver is the only city in Canada with its own building code, according to the Vancouver Sun, and it often influences building codes within the rest of Canada.
The move was meant to help make the city even more accessible and help the "arthritic, gnarled or weakened hands we earn with age," wrote the Vancouver Sun, which notes cut curbs at sidewalk corners as an example of similar "universally accessible" design.
The accessibility reason -- and, really, the fact that doorknobs were being discussed at such great lengths -- also spurred sarcasm and jokes online.
However, doorknobs also serve a decorative function for many collectors, and the new building code has left some people concerned that they will not be able to have them in their own homes.
"To say that when I build my private home and nobody is disabled that I have to put levers on, strikes me as overreach," Allen Joslyn, president of the Antique Door Knob Collectors of America, told the International Business Times.
Former building inspector Will Johnson, who helped write the new code, said it is "simply good design" and told the Sun it's not a loss if doorknobs are gone for good.
"When I look at what we are proposing, it is simply good design. It allows for homes to be built that can be used more easily for everybody," he said.
November 12, 2013
Most Expensive Listings in Greater Vancouver
Do you ever think about what you would do if you won millions in the lottery? Many people would buy a lavish home with everything they need and much more, so this week I present the most expensive homes for sale in Greater Vancouver. From Coal Harbour Penthouses to Shaughnessy mansions, take a look at the beautiful rooms, over-the-top amenities, and breath-taking views from these multi-million dollar homes!
9. 3000 1139 W. Cordova, Coal Harbour, Vancouver
At 6,000 sq. ft., this luxurious penthouse panoramic views of the city, Stanley Park, and the North Shore Mountains, has state-of-the-art appliances and finishes, and has a rooftop deck with a Jacuzzi.
8. 4812 Belmont Ave., Point Grey, Vancouver
For almost $20 million you'd think this Point Grey home would be flawless, however this 8,284 sq. ft. home will likely be torn down or completely renovated. The value is in the 26,310 sq. ft. lot with city, water, and mountain views, in one of Vancouver's most affluent neighbourhoods.
7. 2408 Halston Ct. Whitby Estates, West Vancouver
This West Vancouver leaves literally nothing to be desired, with breath-taking views of the ocean, Stanley Park, and the city, a huge outdoor pool, massive patios, a full bar, and a media room, just to name a few, you'd never need to leave!
6. 3101 277 Thurlow St., Coal Harbour, Vancouver
You probably have it made when you live in downtown Vancouver and yet have a 'private sky garden' on your walk-out terrace, 20 ft. floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views, and your own 7-car garage. Need I say more?
5. 4749 Belmont Ave., Point Grey, Vancouver
Another tear-down, the value is in the huge 52,141 sq. ft. lot in prestigious Point Grey with beautiful city, water, and mountain views.
4. 1790 W. 38th Ave., Shaughnessy, Vancouver
An estate so lavish it has its own name, the Mayfair is more like a resort than a single family home, with a pool, hot tub, botanical garden, cabana, outdoor kitchen, and... your very own putting green!
3. 5050 Happy Valley Ln., Caulfeild, West Vancouver
Bordering a heritage old growth park, and located on 2.3 acres, this seven bedroom mansion has a massive courtyard, unbeatable views, a wine cellar, and, my personal favourite, a 'high ceiling grand walnut library.'
2. 1416 Wesbrook Cr., UBC, Vancouver
This beautiful UBC estate boasts a fully landscaped yard with an outdoor pool, a wok kitchen, media room, rec room, and wine cellar, plus the master bedroom has a walk-in closet bigger than most peoples' bedrooms!
1. 1 & 2 3838 Cypress St., Shaughnessy, Vancouver
The most expensive listing in Greater Vancouver is actually two half duplexes which have been connected and are being sold together. Altogether there are nine bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, three kitchens, 2 wine cellars, and its very own Oak-paneled elevator.
November 6, 2013
Abbotsford Train Station Converted to Beautiful $5.388M Home
The former Sumas substation at 39623 Old Yale Rd. in Abbotsford was built to power the Interurban train from Vancouver to Chilliwack, but now it's a completely restored home with four bedrooms and six bathrooms.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/affordability/Photos+388M+converted+Abbotsford+substation/9134765/story.html#ixzz2jzx0Mn2W
November 1, 2013
Vancouver Council Approves 'Bold' Westbank Tower
Vancouver council voted unanimously in favour of the Westbank development proposed for the north end of Granville Street Bridge following a public hearing Thursday night.
The decision came after councillor after councillor praised the architectural merits of the project designed by celebrated Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Vancouver firm Dialog is collaborating with BIG on the project.
On the Howe Street sites, the development features a 52-storey tower with 407 residential units and a 10-storey podium with retail and 95 residential market units. On the Granville and Pacific sites, it will feature six-storey buildings for retail and office purposes.
Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie called the tower “bold” and “stunning” and said he was very pleased to support the application, although he hoped efforts would continue to find ways to mitigate shadowing.
“I do have faith in the developer that he’ll design a high-quality building and make sure that the public realm at the base is fully animated with support of many other commercial activities at the base as well.”
Vision Coun. Heather Deal remarked on the uniqueness of the development site and ambitious design plan.
“What we don’t often see in the city is extraordinary buildings,” she said. “We see some really nice buildings, some great buildings. But I had it explained to me when I was first getting into politics that given the price of land it’s very unlikely that we were to see these really world extraordinary-type buildings and here we have one. I’m really thrilled. I think we’re going to look back and be so proud of the fact that we said yes to this project. And I love the podium. I love the shape and the form and the way it’s broken up.”
Green Coun. Adriane Carr called attention to some residents’ concerns about the tower’s height of 52 storeys, as well as concerns about over-development and the impact of density on livability, air, light and traffic congestion.
“These are all issues that we must address. The sustainability of glass towers — we need to look at that, as well as whether or not a city of glass towers is a green city, especially in terms of the use of resources in terms of both building and maintaining those buildings, and the impact on views,” she said.
But Carr also voted in favour, explaining she weighs general concerns and the specific context of the decision in terms of city policy, along with public input. She noted the majority of feedback supported the development.
“I believe my job as an elected official is to represent the views of people and the views of people have come, in general, in support of this project,” she said.
“I think it’s clear this building is of such architectural excellence as to be a landmark in this city. Many of you have heard me speak quite passionately against towers and against excess height, but I’ve also said to you I’m not against all towers. I’m not against all height and there are locations for it. I know some residents have said not in this spot. That’s not what our policy says. I look to policy to direct me in my decisions. In terms of my own feelings, I like this building. I think it’s innovative, I think it’s exciting and I think it will be a landmark, so I will be supporting this application.”
NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball said she loves old heritage buildings, “but this building, as an artist, just makes me catch my breath.
“I think it’s beautiful. I mention heritage buildings and I think this will be a heritage building that Vancouverites will be very proud of for decades and decades to come and I look forward to the refinements that I’m sure will be brought about as the development continues.”
Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer said the building is about choices and there are consequences of choices.
“I think when we make absolute statements like density is always bad or glass towers are always energy inefficient or whatever it is, we do come up with pretty cookie-cutter solutions,” she said. “This building, in all respects, speaks to what happens when we get away from those absolutist statements and look at problem solving and what’s possible.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson also said he loved the project.
“It meets the test at every respect — gorgeous architecture, turning a dead space into a vibrant public space with animation and job space. The housing is diverse and much needed... People have used the word iconic — I think it’s remarkable design to combine so many elements on a tough site,” he said before the vote. “It’s an extraordinary project that deserves strong council support.”
Reaction from speakers during the public hearing was mixed.
Several residents living nearby the site, as well as business people and architecture students, lauded the development proposal.
“In exchange for density in height, the city will make use of land that’s otherwise derelict,” said one man, who said he was excited about the design, which he said would produce a strong and dynamic statement.
A UBC architecture student described the project as “remarkably creative in its design” and said it will “stretch the design vocabulary that our city will have.”
Another commented: “I couldn’t be more excited about this project. It’s super awesome, with the emphasis on super awesome.”
But the development has its critics who are worried about the tower’s location, its height, the shadowing it will create and the density the project will add to the area.
A 16-year resident of Beach Avenue spoke “with regret” against the project.
“I’m excited about the idea, but it’s not an excuse for bringing in density,” he said.
Another speaker said: “Everyone wants vacant land developed, but the location is not suitable for this height of tower.”
The development’s twitter handle, @Beach_and_Howe, welcomed the favourable vote with this tweet:
“With @CityofVancouver's unanimous support for @Beach_and_Howe, we are eager to add to Vancouver's architecture & city-making history.”
See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/vancouver-council-approves-bold-westbank-tower-project-1.672641#sthash.39CU32OQ.dpuf
September 24, 2013
New Development Offers Rowhomes AND Storefronts
Mosiac Homes' new development Osprey, opening this Saturday, offers 24 rowhomes and 12 storefronts, which will be ready to move into this fall. The three level homes, starting at just $299,900, and the spacious storefront properties are located on the Fraser River, across the street from beautiful Shoreline Park, in Pitt Meadows.
Take a look at the floor plans, features, and neighbourhood:
September 20, 2013
How to Make Money Investing in Real Estate
Don Campbell thinks everyone should consider real estate. Of course, you’d expect him to think that given his firm has advised clients on real estate purchases of more than $4 billion. The senior analyst at the Real Estate Investment Network in Vancouver, says every investor should be pondering where they can fit real estate into their overall strategy given the volatilities and uncertainties of the equities market.
“A portion of your portfolio should be in housing or hard assets,” he says. “Our clients lean towards owning their own homes and direct real estate. Our philosophy is that a good piece of real estate is like a blue chip stock. It won’t make you rich overnight, but it will perform well.”
Many investors already own their own homes or are paying off mortgages, so they have a sizeable portion of their overall net worth tied to a hard asset. But there are several other ways to invest in real estate including secondary properties, real estate income trusts and alternatives such as real estate limited partnerships. The key thing to remember is that no one asset type should take up more than 50% of an investor’s portfolio, but how you get to that level can be dramatically different from person to person.
Home ownership and secondary properties
At a time when condo sales in Toronto were reported to have fallen 18% year-over-year, many raised the question of whether residential property, be it a primary residence, second home or vacation place, is actually an investment. Some, like David Kaufman, CEO of Toronto-based Westcourt Capital Corp., simply don’t see homes as investment options. “A lot of people treat their primary residence as an investment, but they aren’t in a traditional way,” Kaufman says. “One of the things people forget is that if you live in an appreciating area, unless you are willing to exit the market and move to some other area, it is hard to make money on it.” Kaufman adds many think they’ll always make money off their properties because of the leverage involved and the long-term growth of real estate prices in recent years. “They think real estate will always go up in value ahead of inflation, but that assumption must be fallacious at some point,” he says. “The music has to stop when there’s no real estate affordable for people to live in.”
But Campbell thinks you can make smart real estate investments by looking at trends in the area you are buying into. He says buyers must look at more than current real estate values and investigate other issues such as job growth in the region, GDP growth and economic development to determine whether those factors will positively impact prices. “If you are going to buy, buy where job growth and GDP growth is,” he says. “Don’t buy cheap, but where long-term demand is good.”
As for vacation properties, Wayman Crosby, CEO of Nicola Crosby Real Estate Asset Management Ltd. in Vancouver, says although prices have dramatically risen in the past decade, expenses have also increased and need to be considered. “Costs associated with vacation properties are often greater than a primary home,” he says, adding that funding the costs associated with these properties are done in after-tax dollars. “My belief is that the market for recreational properties may have peaked and, given the costs, no longer represents the kind of investment opportunity of the past.”
Some pundits claim personal real estate isn’t a very liquid investment, and is limiting for those who may need access to capital. Campbell disagrees. “If you need to sell a piece of property, you can,“ he says. “But if you want to squeeze the last nickel out of it, it might appear illiquid. Canadians have this incredible emotional attachment to property. But once you get by that and recognize you can pay someone 7% for looking after the place and that there aren’t that many issues that come up anyway, then you can put it in your portfolio like your other investments.“
The REIT Conundrum
Real estate income trusts have long been considered a safe way for the average investor to gain exposure to the property market. Experts, however, see REITs as investment vehicles that are linked to the volatility of the overall stock market. Yes, REITs offer liquidity, but they come with a series of potential pitfalls, Kaufman says. His company is concerned REITs can be readily affected by equity market trends as well as by interest rates. For example, many Canadian REITs were hit hard by rising interest rates in May, with several showing declines of more than 5% in the months that have followed. Kaufman isn’t sure the damage is complete.
“We have fears that we will witness that the publicly traded REIT market could face volatility that vastly exceeds the volatility of the stock market because it has three elements affecting value,” he says. “There’s the net asset value, there’s the stock market and the effect of rising interest rates that operate independently of the stock market. You could have a double whammy.”
Crosby agrees REITs are linked to market sentiments, and at some points in recent history represented a discount to the underlying real estate values. However, many REITs more recently have traded above the value of the underlying property as investors chased distributions.
Campbell says you have to do your research if you chose to invest in REITs: Find out where and what they are buying. What is the strategy? Are they speculating on higher-risk turnarounds or relatively safe investments such as apartments and commercial properties? “Why would I dramatically increase my risk for the small chance of a greater return? You need to understand where they are putting your money,” he says.
The RELP Opportunity
Investment advisors looking to open up real estate possibilities for clients are increasingly pondering the option of real estate limited partnerships, which are essentially privately-held versions of REITs. Some provinces have rules that make it easier to invest in these real estate options, but in Ontario you have to be an “accredited investor” with assets exceeding $1 million or a household income of more than $350,000 to invest in RELPs.
Kaufman likes the RELP opportunity because it isn’t tied to the public markets, thereby limiting the volatility that commonly plagues REITs, while still typically offering a total return in the 10% range. “The reason some pooh-pooh them is because they say these REITs aren’t publicly traded,” he says. “I say I don’t care. If I’m able to redeem at the net asset value rather than some price set by some day trader in his pajamas from his basement, then that’s what I care about. I’ll give up 29 days of liquidity for the lack of ridiculous volatility.”
Liquidity is an issue, says David MacNicol, president and portfolio manager at Toronto-based MacNicol & Associates Asset Management Inc. MacNicol started offering real estate investments to his clients five years ago, and now many come seeking them specifically. He says RELPs have less liquidity — his clients can typically get out after two years without penalties — but adds these investments aren’t for people looking to make a quick buck. Instead, they are aimed at those looking for longer-term returns. “We have more and more people looking for direct investment into real estate — 10% per year with 2-3% volatility,” he says, noting the volatility of the public markets can be four times higher.
Some investors are scared of RELPs because they feel private investment is where frauds are more likely to occur. But Kaufman says many put too much faith in a prospectus, a document that doesn’t offer any real protection against fraud. And Campbell says the notion of malfeasance in the RELP market is overdone, and certainly no worse than what has happened in the publicly-traded sector. “The checklist for RELPs is easy,” Campbell says. “Where are they buying and who is doing the buying? What’s their track record? Are they quality investors?”
He recommends digging deep into the history of those running the RELP before plunking down any cash. He also says to look for companies with management experience in the real estate market and past successes. “I’m not a fan of putting money into the first time someone does an LP,” he says. “Just because they have a high profile doesn’t make them great investors. I see people write $150,000 cheques because they like the investor. I’d rather people checked out the investor and their track record.”
MacNicol says one of the good things about owning alternative real estate investments is that they have limited the peaks and valleys that the public markets have experienced in recent years. The TSX in 2011 was down about 11%, while his company’s real estate fund was up 3.5%.
“That’s what our investors are looking for,” he says. “They don’t want to be up 20% one year and down the next. In the old days, a balanced portfolio got you through the highs and lows of the equities market. That won’t cut it any more. To try to achieve a 3-4% cash flow return like you might be able to in a bond portfolio, we can do that in a half-weighting position in our real estate portfolio.”
In the end, Campbell says the fundamentals work for all forms of real estate investments, regardless of whether they are a personal acquisition of a vacation home, a stake in a publicly-traded REIT or looking at the RELP market.
“No matter what you are analyzing, go back to the basics: where and who is involved, and is there a good solid future?” he says. “I’ve done this for 21 years and these things have never changed. I’m looking for a place with a future and not a past.”
Retrieved from: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/09/06/real-estate-investing/
July 24, 2013
Point Grey Road Closure Would Affect Property Values
Vancouver’s most expensive oceanside mansions could get even pricier if council green-lights a proposed closure of Point Grey Road, while neighbours to the south could see their property values drop, a real estate expert told The Province.
“It would really increase the sales prices of homes along Point Grey Road,” said Tsur Somerville, a professor at UBC’s Sauder school of business.
The proposed closure would push 10,000 commuter cars off Point Grey Road between Macdonald and Alma, helping link cyclists from the Burrard Street Bridge to Jericho Beach.
The quieter streets could make Point Grey’s beautiful properties even more appealing, Somerville said.
But neighbours in the blocks south of Point Grey could see a drop in property value if cars start taking shortcuts through the residential streets as a means to dodge congestion on 4th Avenue.
“It could have negative effect on the cost of these homes if it increases traffic there,” he said.
The 1-kilometre stretch of Point Grey road is home to a handful of B.C.’s elite; Lulu Lemon billionaire Chip Wilson reportedly owns Metro Vancouver’s most expensive home at 3085 Point Grey Rd., valued at a whopping $35 million.
July 12, 2013
The Most Expensive House in Vancouver
Vancouver’s most expensive house this month has a predictably oversized kitchen, ornate chandeliers – plus an indoor pool, two-lane bowling alley and 16-seat home theatre.
At $29.9 million, this eight-bedroom fortress of luxury near the University of British Columbia – close to the water, away from the frat houses – has remained unsold since it was first listed in April.
Designed by Vancouver-based architect Loy Leyland, the 14,000 sq.-ft house is packed with features such as a gym built with 20 ft. ceilings, elevator to ease stress on post-workout legs, and a heated driveway.
There’s even a backup generator available on site to keep those Gatsby-style summer parties overlooking Burrard Inlet going all night long.
Besides business people and socialites, Realtors may be the ones partying hard this summer. May housing sales are up one per cent from the same time last year, according to figures released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
This is of course encouraging news for those selling houses and condos in a notoriously unaffordable region.
Earlier this month, a mysterious buyer scooped up the city’s most expensive condo at the Fairmont Pacific Rim for $25 million, making it the priciest sale of its kind in Canada.
June 20, 2013
Donald Trump Announces $360M Hotel-Condo Tower in Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver has become the next stop for real estate tycoon and reality television icon Donald Trump's international hotel chain.
The 63-storey tower's twisting design by now-deceased architect Arthur Erickson was originally meant for the cancelled Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the city's downtown core.
It will now be built by developer Holborn Group.
Speaking at a media event on Wednesday, and flanked by his two sons and daughter, Trump said Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver will make the city even more beautiful.
"I think it will be one of the great buildings, not only in Canada, not only the United States, but anywhere in the world," he said. "It's going to be that good."
The Trump Organization will be lending its brand power and operating the tower, but the family will not be investing in the project's development.
This will be the second Trump International Hotel and Tower to be built in Canada, following the one in Toronto. It opened last April and has been plagued by low occupancy and legal troubles.
Despite that, George Wong, principle of Magnum Projects, the real estate marketing and sales strategist for the new Vancouver tower, said he isn't worried the Toronto tower's woes will impact investor confidence in Vancouver.
"We looked at the entire portfolio of Trump properties, which involves golf courses, hotels, residential towers and the percentage of success is almost one hundred per cent," he said. "Of course, there are always exceptions to the case, but in Trump's case, his successes far exceed those that are not successful."
The $360-million tower will have guest rooms as well as luxury residences ranging from 644 to 2,117 square feet. Penthouses will be between 3,500 and 4,400 square feet.
Joo Kim Tiah, CEO and president of Holborn Group, did not disclose possible prices for the units. When asked by reporters whether he expects the residences to be bought by locals or overseas investors, he skirted the question.
"The Trump brand is synonymous with real estate, and success and quality of the highest degree," he said. "I think it will definitely resonate with anyone who relates to those traits."
Tiah also said he is not concerned about a cooling real estate market in Canada, calling Vancouver's Trump Tower a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
The Tower will also have what Tiah said will be Vancouver's first pool night club, a champagne lounge, a signature restaurant, and a Mediterranean-inspired boutique spa with products and treatments that will be chosen by Trump's daughter and Executive Vice-President of The Trump Organization Inc., Ivanka.
Known for her role in the reality television series "The Celebrity Apprentice," as well as for her large roster of signature lines in jewelry, footwear and handbags, Ivanka called Erickson's design "cutting edge," "innovative" and "striking."
"We've looked at Vancouver for a long time," she told The Canadian Press. "We've seen a lot of opportunities here throughout the years, before the (Winter) Olympics, after the Olympics, but this really was the right one."
Ivanka, who is now pregnant with her second child, said she expects to be back in Vancouver "many, many times" as construction of the Trump Tower gets underway.
Despite Vancouver's reputation as a city of yoga pants-wearing, casual residents, Ivanka said she believes the luxurious lifestyle represented by the Trump brand will fit right in.
"People in Vancouver appreciate beauty, whether it be natural beauty ... or architectural beauty," she said. "Now there are buildings that are appropriate for New York, and there are buildings appropriate for Las Vegas. We think we have conceived and designed a building that's very appropriate for here in Vancouver."
The Trump Tower is expected to be completed by fall 2016.
Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/donald-trump-announces-360m-hotel-condo-tower-in-vancouver-1.1333342#ixzz2WmpBn9l9
May 7, 2013
The Mark Penthouse: Luxury Living on Top of the World
At 41 storeys, The Mark is now Yaletown's tallest tower, providing 360 degree views of English Bay, False Creek, the North Shore mountains, and beautiful downtown Vancouver from the nearly 5,000 sq. ft. penthouse. Offered at over $11.2 million, this suite is designed for entertaining with the highest standards of luxury and elegance. Half of the home is a grand entertaining room, a catering kitchen, and a chilled wine wall, capable of holding and displaying over 1,000 bottles. In the summer you can relax in your private rooftop pool while admiring breath-taking views. In the winter, take a soak in the freestanding bathtub in your 520 sq. ft. master suite. Lastly, you can take advantage of the many high quality amenities The Mark has to offer, with a 10,000 sq. ft. wellness centre including a professional fitness centre, yoga room, dance room, games room, steam and sauna rooms, and much more.
May 1, 2013
Tower Offers Penthouse Perspective For All
Soaring 48 levels into the air, MThree will be an imposing structure that will dominate Coquitlam’s downtown. But what is proving even more impressive for those buying suites in the residential tower is a striking rooftop amenity that will be built in space traditionally reserved for multimillion-dollar penthouses.
The aptly named Summit Club atop the 421-foot-high tower will give residents a stunning 360-degree view of mountains, lakes and the distant lights of Vancouver. The 9,000-square-foot “clubhouse in the sky” will be equipped with state-of-the-art fitness facilities, games room, sound-insulated music room and garden atrium with three trees rising into the 35-foot-high space.
It was what ultimately sold Leighton Wickey, who has bought an 11th-floor two-bedroom 857-square-foot unit with a 100-square-foot balcony that gives him an unimpeded northeast view.
“One of the things that attracted me to the building was the fact that they had designed their community space on the roof,” said the Eagle Ridge Hospital lab technologist. “If I wake up one morning and want to get a nice view of the sunrise, I can just head on to the top. Or I can have dinner with friends on the rooftop patio on the west side of the building when the sun is setting.”
Building such a feature at the top of a tower is relatively unusual, said architect Keith Hemphill. It was possible because of the piecemeal fashion in which the land was assembled and the way the density allowances were apportioned to the three towers on the three-acre site.
As the last of the three towers, MThree was able to absorb the unused density from the first two buildings, permitting a structure almost twice as tall as the 27-storey MOne, completed last year, and the 25-storey MTwo, which is under construction.
The greater density also meant the cost of constructing the Summit Club could be apportioned over a larger number of suites.
A residents-only amenity wasn’t the first idea for the space, Hemphill said. “Because of the height of the building, we tried to talk the client into having some commercial space at the top of the tower — along the lines of a restaurant — to allow the public to get the benefit of being able to get up high in their city.” In the end, Cressey favoured building a facility for the use of the tower’s residents.
Project architect Nadia Said noted that building an amenity roof deck entirely open to the elements wasn’t practical with the region’s weather, but still left room for a design that combined some open-air exposure with other mixed uses to capitalize on the panoramic views.
“We thought about having a space that gives the residents the outdoor experience but one that is controlled environmentally so that when you go up there you feel you are kind of outdoors but you can stay up there for a longer period of time and enjoy the views,” she said.
What evolved at the top was a space built almost entirely of glass, which allows an abundance of natural light to flood the interior spaces.
About a fifth of the rooftop is dedicated to the open air, including a wraparound deck with patio furniture and barbecues for warm summer evenings.
On level 47 of the triple-height interior space are an entertainment lounge with live music from a baby grand piano, a fresh food preparation area and communal dining table, a fully equipped games room with foosball, table tennis and pool table, plus an oversized couch and flatscreen TV.
Overlooking all from level 48 is a weights room, yoga studio, cardio room, bathroom facilities and insulated music room with piano. The club’s piece de resistance is the garden atrium. Ceilings that rise more than 30 feet allow for the placement of three mature trees with a leafy canopy that will give residents “the feel of a small park in the West End” minus the wind and rain.
Attached to this area is a second open-air patio area and yet another special feature that Hemphill calls the “sky deck.”
Equipped with a glass floor, the deck projects beyond the outside edge of the building, allowing residents to gaze straight down to the street below. Hemphill, who credits Said for coming up with the novel feature, said: “It gives people a cool destination to take their friends to.” The building also is made distinctive by stained glass walls on the atrium that carry the tree theme within to the building’s exterior, something that helps to differentiate MThree from a cluster of towers that have sprouted up around Coquitlam Centre in recent years. “We wanted to make it a highly visible landmark building in the city,” Said noted.
Jason Turcotte, MThree’s development manager, says he has no doubt the Summit Club will be popular with residents. “I had an opportunity to visit the rooftop amenity at the Woodward’s building and I was impressed how well used it was.”
Competing with MThree’s attractive features is its proximity to SkyTrain’s Evergreen Line and the West Coast Express. SkyTrain’s Lincoln Station is planned for just steps away from the building’s lobby and, like MThree, is scheduled for completion in 2016.
“We had lots of experience building in Richmond before the Canada Line came and we saw its impact on real estate values.” said Hani Lammam, Cressey’s vice-president of acquisitions and development. “We were there in the thick of it as it got announced, as it started construction, and we watched the escalating prices.”
The presentation centre, now open to the public, features a two-bedroom 809-square-foot suite, scale models of the project, photos of other Cressey projects and a large screening room that shows a computerized video of the Summit Club facilities.
True to Cressey’s approach in its numerous other developments, is the kitchen in MThree, a design feature that truly does create a greater sense of space.
“This is what we are known for and this is why buyers come back again and again,” Lammam said. “We draw our own unit plans; first we draw the kitchen and then we draw the rest of the unit.”
The essence of the kitchen concept is that it breaks up the kitchen’s components and distributes them on two sides of an entry corridor. On one side is a U-shaped configuration with a five-burner gas cooktop with oversized wok burner, a double-bowl undermount.
Kohler sink with built-in disposal unit and an integrated Blomberg dishwasher. Across the corridor on an adjacent wall are a fully integrated 48-inch Blomberg refrigerator, Panasonic microwave and Fulgor Milano wall oven. Counters are quartz composite with a complementary glass backsplash. Rounding out the package is an under-the-counter wine fridge that conveniently faces out to the dining area.
“Virtually everything you see here is standard,” Turcotte said. “We don’t want to confuse the offering.”
In keeping with the European flavour, there are no carpets in the suites: contemporary wide plank laminate is featured throughout the home, except in the bathrooms which have heated handset tile flooring.
The main bedroom in all suites is at least 11 feet wide, enough to accommodate a king-sized bed and night tables. The master ensuite bathroom is equipped with premium Kohler feature and has both a deep soaker tub and a frameless glass-walled shower, and paired undermount sinks.
All units have outside decks, ranging from 47 to 350 square feet. A bank of four elevators will serve the residents, which Turcotte says is one more than the usual for a residential tower.
MThree residents are within walking distance of some of the city’s best resources, including an aquatic complex and community centre, several parks, Lafarge Lake, playing fields, tennis courts, and walking trails. Coquitlam Centre shopping, ranked second only to Metrotown, is next door with major tenants such as Save-On-Foods, Safeway, TNT, a pending Target store and The Bay. The tower is also within easy distance of five elementary and secondary schools and Douglas College’s David Lam campus.
Each suite gets one parking stall, and storage lockers can be purchased for between $1,500 and $3,000. The building will have a concierge at lobby level for residents to book The Summit Club facilities.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Tower+offers+penthouse+perspective/8301196/story.html#ixzz2S4F8fRKN
April 4, 2013
New North Vancouver Condos Have a Unique Feature
Legal suites, coach houses, and laneway houses are becoming increasingly popular ways to help pay the mortgage on a house, but one North Vancouver Intracorp development has added a private suite to some of their condos. This would be perfect for an older parent or grandparent, a live-in nanny, or an older son or daughter. Not only do these suites have their own bathroom and are separated from the rest of the condo, they also have private entranceways. This gives the person living there privacy and freedom to come and go as they please without walking through the living area of the main condo. These suites allow you to have the convenience and affordability of a condominium with the privacy of a house!
Take a look at more floor plans as well as the building's increadible features on the Orizon on Third website.
February 19, 2013
Canada's Most Expensive Home Hits Market at $38 Million
The price tag for a Vancouver waterfront property has risen to $37.9 million from $30 million, taking the topic of housing affordability amid a downbeat real estate market in the West Coast city to a new level.
Stately and pricey, but apparently also in need of major renovations.
Re/Max Masters’ listing agent Laura McLaren says the 5,000-square-foot home itself is “very, very dated” any potential buyer would likely tear it down for upgrades, according to a report in the National Post, which also pegs the house as being the most expensive in Canada.
The house was first listed in 2011 and is described by the paper as "a mashup of today’s suburban stucco style and U.K.’s 19th-century Brighton Pavilion," built in 1964 for a shipping magnate with exotic tastes.
“It’s livable, 5,000 square feet, but for that kind of money you’re spending, it would be a tear-down,” George Tsavdaris, who is also handling the listing, said in a Global B.C. report. “There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s in its original condition.”
"This amazing opportunity rarely becomes available for you to own Seaside Mansion on the Pointe. Featuring Spectacular 180 degree breathtaking views of the city, harbour, Point Grey and out along the mighty Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island," the listing reads.
Built into the price is the potential for a new buyer to redevelop the property to fit three 8,000-square-foot houses, with triple car garages, infinity pools and up to 32-foot boat garages.
February 6, 2013
BC's Top Ten Luxury Homes For Sale
If you've ever found yourself dreaming about having your very own private library, wine cellar, greenhouse, or spa, then you'll enjoy ogling these ten spectacular BC homes that are currently for sale. And who knows, maybe you'll even be inspired to buy one!
$9,400,000: 9344 Ardmore Dr, Victoria.
$8,588,000: 3485 Mathers Avenue, West Vancouver.
$20,000,000: This secluded property spans over 21 acres with 1,000 feet of natural shoreline. The location isn’t disclosed but it’s billed as “B.C.’s finest coastal property.” The sprawling home bosts 6,600 sq.ft.
$18,000,000: 525 Towner Park Road, Victoria
$12,800,000: 5612 Newton Wynd, Vancouver.
$10,999,000: 1069 Beach Drive, Victoria.
$10,900,000: 3480 Ripon Road, Victoria.
$10,180,000: 1393 Port Mellon Highway, Gibsons.
$9,980,000 5252 Marine Drive, West Vancouver
$8,900,000: 1075 Noble Road, Victoria
Retrieved from: http://www.vancouversun.com/homes/Photos+luxury+homes+sale/7900998/story.html
January 10, 2013
Century Old Vancouver Warehouse Reborn With $10 Million Restoration
VANCOUVER — With a five-level glass addition about to go on top, a Beatty Street warehouse built in 1909 and vacant for decades is about to rise in a phoenix-like, $10 million restoration to fresh, mixed-use life.
Approved unanimously by city council as part of Vancouver’s Heritage Building Rehabilitation Program, the plans will allow 564 Beatty “to maintain its identity while providing a striking glass lantern accentuated with architectural lighting,” says Jon Stovell, president of Reliance Properties Ltd., which bought the property for $5 million.
By January 2014 the four full office floors, plus two restaurant levels and rooftop social room and deck, will transform the site into a distinctive bookend for Heritage Row, the other being the historic Sun Tower at Pender and Beatty. Stovell is confident about the appeal of blended contemporary and heritage aspects to tenants and the public – not to mention the convenience of being beside the Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain station.
“We expect the office tenants to be a broad mix of professional service firms, design firms, and high-tech companies whose work forces are attracted to the vibrant neighbourhood and interesting building design of stick-and-brick and contemporary glass addition.”
At first blush, the idea of adding five levels to a heavy-timber building seemed dodgy. The brainwave, says Stovell, was to use cast-in-place concrete rather than the more conventional steel framing and metal decking.
“The building was already receiving a new concrete stair core that also acts to provide a seismic upgrade for the building – so why not just keep going with the same material? The addition will provide a more rigid and solid-feeling building. It will accommodate larger spans, so we can have fewer columns in the new office, and a smooth ceiling without beams to get in the way of air conditioning and ceiling finishes.”
The outside brick walls of the original building will carry most of the weight of the large floor spans, Stovell explains. That extra weight helps to increase the stability and seismic resistance of the old building.
“New concrete columns, where needed, split in two when they meet the old building. They run down either side of the existing 100-year-old heavy timber columns, all the way to the basement parking level, where they rest on new or expanded footings.”
Kent Munro, Vancouver’s assistant director of planning, concedes that the addition is ambitious compared to the usual, more modest ones for heritage buildings. “However, the robust massing of this addition was considered to be appropriate for a site located where Victory Square, the Central Business District, International Village and Stadium SkyTrain station all intersect. The new contemporary addition is designed as a simple cubic form of glass and steel so that it is clearly distinguishable from the historic base building which allows the heritage features to maintain their presence at street level.”
To Donald Luxton, the project’s heritage expert and consultant, the restored 564 Beatty will gleam with history as much as with glass and steel. “The east side of the 500 block of Beatty Street is one of only three places in Vancouver where an escarpment or a steeply sloping site historically provided a unique commercial development opportunity,” explains Luxton, principal of Donald Luxton and Associates Inc.
“The two other locations are the north side of Water Street and Yaletown. In these unique locations, commercial warehouses could be built with railway spurs at the rear, allowing loading bays and the transfer of goods at a lower level and street-level access above. This was ideal for commercial businesses that shipped in heavy goods – like the iron stoves brought in by the Gurney Foundry that built this building. These escarpment situations were prime location in early Vancouver. This is the reason these large brick warehouses exist in 500-block Beatty. The Sun Tower was able to ship in all the newsprint it needed by rail.”
The tracks are gone – and so is the building that once loomed to the south of 564 Beatty. Stovell saw the light. “Our building had just a solid wall along the Plaza. We saw an amazing opportunity to open up this wall with doors and windows on to the Plaza. This has the effect of making the building into a corner building and providing a strong architectural identity for the end of the block and the Plaza down to Paris Square.”
Artist's Rendition of Completed Renovation:
564 Beatty was originally built in 1909:
What it looks like now, vacant for decades:
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/commercial-real-estate/Century+Vancouver+warehouse+reborn+with/7728179/story.html#ixzz2HcrTQrgk
December 13, 2012
Rental Housing Availability Hits 12 Year Low- Now's a Great Time to Invest!
Owners of new apartment buildings across Canada are now smiling like Cheshire cats, with rental housing availability at its lowest point in 12 years, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield Ltd.
Company CEO Pierre Bergevin told reporters Wednesday that the availability of rental housing has been declining since 2007, but the lack of apartment construction has resulted in the biggest lull since 2000.
Cities such as Toronto, where condominiums have taken over as the property development of choice, haven’t had new apartment construction for at least 40 years, added Bergevin, and revealed that the vacancy rate of residential multifamily projects was less than 3 per cent in major urban markets.
Realtor Adam Brind agrees, saying, “Our vacancy rates are definitely at an all-time low.”
He adds that supply of purpose-built apartment buildings is dwindling, as developers move towards new condos and converting apartment buildings into condos.
“The reality is, there’s not much incentive nowadays for developers to build apartment buildings,” he says.
But do investors stand to make more money in the condo game than with REITS?
“Not necessarily,” says Brind. “I think that the reality is that it depends on the investment objectives. One of the pitfalls with apartments to bear in mind is that anything build before 1998 is subject to Landlord and Tenancies Act, any building after is not.
Essentially, landlords are governed by a lot more rules in buying an older apartment building. They have the rent rates capped, says Brind.
“One might be inclined to be something that’s a little newer just for that fact,” he tells CREW. “So from an investor standpoint, do I think there’s an opportunity to be had? Absolutely.”
Retrieved from: http://www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca/news/item/1452-rental-housing-availability-hits-12-year-low?tmpl=component&print=1
November 28, 2012
Bosa Properties one of First to Offer Personal Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
If Daryl Simpson is right, electric vehicle charging stations are the new granite countertops.
The Bosa Properties development company is among the first in North America to offer clients
their own personal electric vehicle charging station in their parking spot. “We want to give condo
owners the same flexibility as single family house owners,” Simpson says of the impetus
behind the installation of charging stations in Bosa Properties’ developments, dubbed BosaVOLT.
The $4,900 option is currently available at five company developments – four in Metro Vancouver
and one in Victoria – and Simpson reports 16 stalls with EV chargers have already been sold.
Those properties include Evergreen, Lido, Promontory, Viceroy and Sovereign. “Our hope is
people ask other developers to do this,” adds Simpson, Bosa’s director of sales and marketing,
noting that it has only been recently that such charging stations were allowed in new condo
For $5,000 – which is simply tacked onto the unit’s price – an owner gets a two-stage charging
station capable of recharging an EV car from empty to full in four hours or so. Current EV cars
available in Canada include the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with more
coming soon. These charging stations are much more than just a three-pronged plug as you’d
use for your lawn mower – they are industrial grade units connected to transformers by large-gauge
Simpson acknowledges the dozen charging stations earmarked for each development surpasses
the need today, “but who knows about tomorrow?” To that end, every new project Bosa Properties
brings online in the future will feature EV charging stations, offering clients a motoring option that
once seemed the stuff of science fiction movies.