Category Archives: BC

Developers kindly provide support to government

Those of you who complain about the local real estate market should calm down and take a moment to reflect on the benefits of the current situation.

Without financial support from real estate developers how would the provincial government be able to provide necessities like salary top-ups for the premiere?

Without fundraising  by condo marketers it would be you the taxpayer that would have to pay for that extra $300k given to the premiere since 2011.

And if you’re concerned about conflicts of interest, don’t be! The premiere herself has addressed this issue:

‘The issue for us is to make sure we always separate our public duties from any sources of funding for political parties, and I think that’s the most important thing for all of us to remember,” Clark has reportedly said in defense of the stipend. ”I always keep that utmost in my mind when we’re making decisions.”

If you want to read David Ebys concerns about the current situation, you can find them over at the Tyee but  just remember, he’s likely motivated by sour grapes or jealousy.  After all, Eby has been stuck with the MLA responsibilities for Vancouver Point Grey for the last few years while Clark gets to enjoy Kelowna.

Before buying real estate, create a bare trust

You know what the difference between you and the wealthy is?

The wealthy have lots of money.

And they tend to keep hold of it by using perfectly legal techniques such as buying and selling real estate within a bare trust to avoid taxes. One recent example prevented more than $2 million from from being vacuumed up into government coffers.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver has been concerned about the bare trust for the last two years, highlighting the need to fix the loophole.

He says people who are very wealthy or investing from abroad would be recommended by astute accountants to purchase their house using the loophole.

“Every time most people buy and sell a house, they’re paying property transfer tax. It’s only the wealthy and the wise who would actually buy in bare trust,” said Weaver.

“As a society, if every single person created a bare trust and bought every property in a bare trust there would be no more property transfer tax collected in British Columbia… there’s no reason not to change it.”

Just think of the efficiencies and tax dollars saved if every real estate transaction in BC happened through a bare trust. Less money spent in taxes means more money flowing into a supporting a healthy local economy. Bare trusts for all!

The negative side of overpriced real estate

Over at MoneySense they have a list of 4 casualties of the Vancouver real estate market.

The first one isn’t really a negative though, it’s just people jumping into the market without any conditions or clauses and taking on the risks that entails. That only affects willing participants in the market.

The other 3 points affect everyone – Empty zombie neighborhoods, high rental prices and fewer options for local food.

…land prices in the rich and productive soils of the Fraser River delta have risen and now sell in the range of $80,000 to $110,000 per acre. While prices can drop for parcels of land greater than five acres, these price increases are setting off alarm bells, especially when paired with statistics from agricultural lender Farm Credit Canada that show that any land priced above $80,000 per acre makes farming unsustainable.

Read the full article here.

 

VSB seeks input on Kingsgate Mall

Did you know that the Vancouver School Board owns the land under Kingsgate Mall?

Well now you do.

The VSB is seeking ideas on what to do with this asset due to current budget shortfalls.

Surprisingly, the modest little mall has also been generating big money for the Vancouver School Board — upwards of $750,000 per year, The VSB has owned the East Broadway and Kingsway lot on which the mall sits since 1892 when the long-gone False Creek School first opened on the site.

But 124 years later and facing a $24 million budget shortfall, the VSB is now contemplating its future with Kingsgate, and asking for public input.

“One of the questions we’re asking is what do you think the school board should do with it,” said VSB chairman Mike Lombardi.

According to Lombardi, the VSB could see revenue from the property increase to $2 million annually — money which flows directly into the operations budget, offsetting the deficit. The lease with mall operator, Beedie Development Group is set to be renegotiated next year.

Selling the land is also a possibility, although money raised from a sale won’t help the budget shortfall because it would be restricted to capital projects like new school construction and building upgrades.

Read the full article over at the CBC.

It’s a tough job to bust AirBnB listings in Vancouver

Short term AirBnB style property rentals are not permitted in Vancouver and the city can levy fines up to $10,000, but apparently there are still some of these short term rentals available.

“The difficult and complex thing comes when we move forward with prosecution,” Toma said, explaining that the city needs to connect the property owner to an online short-term rental listing without the help of a specific address.

Toma said a few cases against short-term renters are pending. Fines in those and other cases are up to the prosecutor, but staff recommend they recoup investigation expenses at minimum.

City staff are contemplating new tools to deal with the nuisance aspect of short-term rentals at the same time as assessing the industry’s impact, Toma said.

“We do have such a tight rental market,” Toma said, adding that she hoped staff could craft a smart and enforceable regulation that would also “find that sort of a sweet spot” for those sharing their home to meet their mortgage payments.

Of course there is one kind of short term rental that is currently allowed in Vancouver, but it comes with a few catches:

Bed and breakfasts are allowed in Vancouver, but under certain conditions. Homeowners need to live in the residence and they can host a maximum of four guests in two bedrooms, among other regulations. They also have to pay a one-time development and building permit fee, get a business licence and pass a safety inspection.

Read the full article over at the province.

Condos are hot again, buy two or three

CMHC has surveyed condo owners in Vancouver and Toronto and found that the number of owners with multiple units is growing.

…the total number of investors in the two regions who say they have purchased at least two condo units in addition to their primary residence has risen nearly 13 per cent over the past two years. Nearly a quarter of condo investors told CMHC that they owned least two units, with close to 10 per cent reporting that they owned three or more condos.

Buyers are looking for both rental income and appreciation, with some interesting math:

Among condo investors in Toronto and Vancouver, half told the federal housing agency that they had bought their investment unit for rental income. Of those, 56 per cent expect the value of their condo to go up, while only 8 per cent thought that it would go down. The share of condo investors in Toronto who expected their unit to increase in value fell to 60 from 64 per cent from a year earlier, while the share in Vancouver who expected their condos to increase in value rose to 50 from 41.5 per cent.

A slightly larger share of investors in Vancouver reported paying higher prices for units than in Toronto, although the survey found that the reverse was true of rents, which were higher in Toronto. Nearly 16 per cent of Vancouver landlords reported charging less than $1,000 in rent for their condos compared with fewer than 5 per cent in Toronto. By contrast, nearly 50 per cent of condo landlords in Toronto said they charged more than $1,500 for their units, compared with 33 per cent in Vancouver.

Read the full article over at the Globe and Mail. So how many condos do you own and how many are you thinking of buying this year?

Where’s the love Vancouver?

This city has lost more than a thousand people a year in the 25-44 age group since 2012 and it’s not hard to guess why.

One of those people has an editorial in the Vancouver Sun:

Sure, I managed to pay rent on a 380-square-foot apartment and eat takeout sushi once in while, but I definitely haven’t saved for retirement or been able to afford to give birth yet. I’ve spent most of my 30s on the west coast (land of economic opportunities?) while I watched my friends on the east coast (with less education than me) buy four-bedroom houses and multiple cars.

Sure, they shovel snow, but they also run across the street to borrow sugar from the neighbours. They trade gardening tips with the elders living next door. Their children play in the backyard. They are happy and connected.

In Vancouver I’m lucky to get a hello in an elevator.

Read the full editorial here.

Are you in that 25-44 year old demographic and if so are you thinking of leaving or in love with the city and never gonna go?

Update on David Eby emergency housing meeting

Did you go to the emergency town hall meeting on housing in Vancouver last night? David Eby hosted with seating for 650, with the CBC reporting attendance of over 700.

“These are serious issues, this is a major crisis, and we want the provincial government to take it seriously,” said NDP MLA David Eby,  who organized it.

The event started with Eby citing a long list of media stories highlighting questionable real estate practices and how housing practices have caused residents to leave the region.

Eby said the region’s real estate is governed by “runaway speculation” that is “unpoliced, unregulated and rampant.”

The CBC article has a live blog from the event if you missed it and are curious. Will events like this have any effect on Vancouver house prices or will non-owners eventually move away leaving the city as a home owners paradise?

Housing bubble pushes out young tech workers

According to this article in the Financial Post Millennials are ‘fleeing Vancouver‘ and moving to cities where they can afford housing.

As housing costs have risen, so have the number of people in their twenties and thirties leaving the city. The net number of people age 18 to 24 added to Vancouver’s population was the lowest ever last year, at 884, and the number of 25-to-44-year-olds decreased by about 1,300, the biggest decline since 2007, according to Statistics Canada.

The tech industry is currently one of the key drivers of economic growth in the area, but they’re noticing the shift:

That driver of growth may evaporate as talent exits Vancouver, said Christine Duhaime, founder and executive director of the Digital Finance Institute, which supports Canada’s financial-technology industry. She’s having a tough time filling a 2,000-square-foot (186-square-meter) open-concept office for startups in Vancouver’s historic Gastown neighborhood she opened this year because potential tenants say they’re leaving the city for Victoria, Kelowna and as far away as London and Singapore.

“We’re banging our heads on the wall,” she said. “Why aren’t they staying? Because it’s too expensive. Vancouver is going to lose its tech edge.”

The nearest towns that seem to be benefiting from the exodus of young tech workers are Victoria and Kelowna. Read the full article over at the Financial Post.

Vancouver Emergency Housing Town Hall

At least one local politician seems to think that house prices in Vancouver are not just a problem, but an emergency.

David Eby is hosting an ‘Emergency Housing Town Hall‘ on March 16th at the St. James Community Square on West 10th.

Join MLA David Eby and local experts for an Emergency Housing Town Hall

This meeting is to discuss the causes of, and solutions to, an out-of-control real estate market in the Lower Mainland that has little or no connection to average household income. Issues of international speculation in our housing market, shadow flipping, real estate agent accountability, and other concerns will be addressed. Bring your stories, questions and concerns. The media, along with MLAs from both sides of the legislature, both BC Liberal and BC NDP, will be invited.

This is a meeting to hear stories, demand answers, and send a message to the Premier and the government to start to value the people of Metro Vancouver who make the communities we call home possible.

For full details see the event page here.