Archive for the ‘BC’ Category

Vancouver a graveyard for job seekers?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

There’s been some discussion lately about the temporary foreign worker program (TFW) and whether Canada needs to import workers, skilled or unskilled.

This of course brings up the debate: companies say they can’t find people to fill positions, workers say thats just because you aren’t paying enough.

Is there something special about Vancouver that enables lower wages to be paid or are is it not true that Vancouverites tend to be underpaid?

Atomic Frog had this to say:

Here are some of the facts that I know of

Highly skilled and highly in demand workers do not stay in Vancouver. You get paid higher in another city and cost of living is likely lower than living in Vancouver. Local companies ALWAYS have problem hiring qualified applicants and if this snowball, they cannot stay in business for very long or be very competitive in their sector. What kind of industry is doing very well in Vancouver anyway these days? Movie industry? Mining? Tech? I work in the local IT industry for the last 20 yrs. I saw all kind of IT ppl who came to town, found a job and eventually left town after a couple of yrs because they had found a much better paying job in another city.

As a result, Vancouver is considered to be a graveyard for job seekers. Even for those who have a job, local salary has been stagnant for yrs. Without a steady stream of local workers who should see their annual salary go up steadily every yr, it is very difficult for this local property bubble to continue.

There are many cases in other parts of the world where property value goes up and stay there. Main reason being foreign investor, but the locals also keep making more money over the yrs. Prices that were higher five yrs ago may not seem to be that high for those cities. However, can we say the same thing for Vancouver?

Do you know skilled workers that have sought better career opportunities outside of Vancouver or are you and your coworkers properly compensated and happy to stay?

Saving is hard.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

One of the great things about the Vancouver housing market is that we don’t have subprime lending.  All of our loans are rock solid and even if they weren’t guaranteed by the government banks would still be eager to hand out the same mortgages.

And yet..

If there’s one thing Vancouverites know, it’s that saving money is difficult.

So what are you to do as a responsible first time home buyer who is unable to save up the hefty 5% required to get a CMHC insured mortgage?

Don’t worry, at least one bank has your back: Vancity will match half your downpayment savings on a home priced under $500k.

Still that’s not exactly zero down, since the CMHC scrapped that in 2008, but if saving up 2.5% is still too difficult you may have other options.

But remember, unless you have a poor credit rating this still isn’t subprime.

Apparently it’s gotten harder to get the long term zero down mortgage the CMHC made available in the past, but not impossible.

Renting: The last, best real estate bargain?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Somebody at the Sun has started looking at rent / buy ratios.  

Many Franks posted this in the comment section yesterday:

Barbara Yaffe discovers renting. Contains a few groaners. Renting a place may be the last, best real estate bargain and a majority of the city’s residents are taking full advantage

Vancouver rents have remained reasonable in part because of a 2.2-per-cent limit on annual increases imposed by the provincial government.

NO! Bad Barbara.

In a recent bulletin, [David and Mark Goodman] report Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation numbers that demonstrate it’s 32.5-per-cent cheaper to rent rather than own a one-bedroom unit in Vancouver.

“The gap increases considerably once strata fees, maintenance costs and taxes are taken into account.”

WTF kind of buy/rent comparison EXCLUDES strata/maintenance and tax?

Apartment building owners in Vancouver since 2007 have faced a municipal moratorium on the demolition of rental housing stock, and are reluctant to evict tenants in order to do needed upgrades.

Renoviction. When a phenomenon is popular enough to coin its own term, “reluctant” might be overstating the case.

The Goodmans are predicting that landlords of these older, minimally upgraded buildings soon may find themselves confronting tough new competition.

They report as many as 49 rental buildings, with 5,849 suites, could come on stream in the region within the next three years.

And the popularity of renting in Metro Vancouver may grow, says the Goodman Report, because of an increasing wariness about Canada’s possibly overvalued real estate.

“We live in a very special place with abundant resources and continuing investment from abroad,” says the newsletter. But with all the housing-bubble talk, “as a B.C. real-estate owner you’re wise to be cautious.”

Should you just move to an island?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Skook has a post over at VancouverPeak.com about an island dream gone sour.

A BC couple purchased land on Mayne island and started building their dream home only to run into a confluence of cost overruns and real estate market downturn.

Today, their house is only a wood frame shell that looks out over one of B.C.’s most dramatic views, with the Lower Mainland in the distance, and regular sightings of ferries, whales and seals. The tiered wooded lot is only a five-minute drive to the ferry.
It is the idyllic best that B.C. has to offer, and yet the Klingsats won’t even break even on the near $1-million they spent on the property and construction. They have relisted it for $539,000, after previous listings at $649,000 and $699,000 didn’t get any offers. “Everybody loves the place, but the people don’t want a house that’s not finished,” says Mr. Klingsat, who gave up on the project six months ago. “And I can’t do it. I haven’t got any more money to put into it. “The whole economy everywhere is lousy – nothing is gangbusters. There are places for rent all over here on Vancouver island.”

The original article in over at the Globe and Mail. Skook adds some extra thoughts and information.

RFM has also added some information summarizing other properties in that particular island market.  There are 113 properties for sale on an island with a population of 900.

Where are the 3 bedroom condos?

Monday, March 24th, 2014

M- and MarKoz brought up this topic – Vancouver seems to be seriously lacking in affordable family housing.

There are lots of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, but not much available for 3-4 bedrooms until you go to houses.  M- suggest the city requires more large units to be built to provide future homes for Vancouver families:

CoV could require condo developers to include a much larger percentage of 2-bed and 3-bed units in the towers that they’re approving, and require some of those units to have a more family-sized square footage. Maybe in exchange for higher density, to make it less controversial.

It won’t help much of anything today, but it will prevent today’s towers from becoming tomorrow’s ghettos.

My wife and I used to have an 800 sq.ft condo. It was too small for the two of us. Then we got a 1000 sq.ft apartment, and it was enough space for the two of us (we would have liked more, but it was good enough).

Then we had a kid.

The 1000 sq.ft unit slowly became too small for our family, so we’ve upgraded to a house (rental, of course).

We keep an eye on the condo/house markets, and there’s not much selection of 3-bed units out there, until you get into houses.

MarKoz adds:

When I went condo hunting I could find nothing similar. You would have marginal master bedrooms and second bedrooms the size of a closet. The master bathroom was usually huge at the cost of a smaller living room etc. All had fireplaces – a waste of precious wall space in a small unit. Stainless and granite with barely enough counter space to lay a pizza box. Closets were minimal as was out of suite storage.

I moved on to townhouses. 1200 square feet spread over 3 floors is worse than 800 square feet on one floor. So much space given over to stairs and landings.

Who wants these places? Apparently everyone but me. They sure are selling. In the US they have plenty of 3 bedroom units but I guess those don’t attract specuvestors like 565 sq ft one bedrooms.

 

REDMA changes, is this a big deal?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Ex-kitsie pointed out this story:

Justice Minister Susan Anton has introduced Bill 17 (Miscellaneous Amendment Act, 2014) which includes a proposed amendment to Section 23 of the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA).

Ex-kitsie explains:

This is the legislation that governs the marketing of real estate by developers to consumers. The amendment would make a purchase agreement enforceable against a purchaser where the developer’s disclosure agreement included misrepresentation of a material fact and the developer was not aware of the misrepresentation at the time the agreement was entered into. This amendment would remove the ability of the purchaser to terminate or renegotiate the agreement upon discovery of the misrepresentation. So… the developer can include unsubstantiated inaccuracies while still enforcing the purchase agreement against the purchaser who relied upon the misrepresentation. Of course, we all know developers would never lie.

We’re not sure if this is a big deal or not, here’s a link to the amendment, you’ll have to scroll down about half way to find the relevant section.  Any comments on whether this is a dramatic change to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act or just a minor adjustment?

 

Does density make people happy?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Is there a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ kind of density?

Is density for its own sake an improvement to a city?

Gordon Clark has an opinion piece over at the Vancouver Province about density and it’s effect on people in the city.

Perhaps I’d feel better about all the growth if someone could point to some positives. But where are all the natural history museums, art galleries and other great cultural features common to other large cities? Despite the growth, we’re not acquiring any of the cultural attributes of large cities that at least provide some trade-off to a hectic life in an urban jungle. Let’s face it, we’re an artistic wasteland compared with truly great cities. How are all those condo towers blocking the spectacular views of the North Shore mountains and the ocean making us more interesting?

What do you think? Are community and culture getting shafted in the race to density and growth or are long term Vancouverites just grouchy and looking at the past through rose coloured glasses?

 

Won’t you please help a hungry house salesperson?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Are you aware of the Vancouver Realtor Hunger Index?

Across the city you’ll see used house salespeople who are having trouble making their german auto lease payments – a decline in the glory days of Vancouver real estate affects us all.

That lost commission translates into a deferred payment to a local auto dealer, who might not buy that extra big ad in the local newspaper.  Will that editor buy his ounce of weed this month?  Will that grow op have the money to expand?

These are the big issues to consider.

Please.

If you’re thinking about buying a house or apartment in Vancouver BC or know somebody who is, your commission can make all the difference.

Just jump in and do it. Now is the time.

The Vancouver Realtor Hunger Index for February 2014 stands at 62%.*

And while thats nowhere near the worst that we’ve seen it, it’s a hell of a lot worse that the halcyon days of 2004 where for two solid months every used house salesperson in the city was fed.

You can help.  Buy a house or condo in Vancouver BC and lets keep this economy rolling.

*A big thanks to RFM for the data. 

Gen Y not buying a lot of Vancouver houses

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

From the obvious files: expensive homes are expensive.

The Globe and Mail has an article about changing attitudes towards real estate by Generation Y in Vancouver.

Essentially: they are more inclined to live urban and remain mobile.

They also say that Boomers are downsizing into condos.

Ben Smith, VP of sales and marketing at Rennie & Associates, says he’s already seen a major shift in the last six months. This year he’s seen a sudden surge in demand for three-bedroom condos, purchased by downsizing boomers. Those boomers are trading their homes for spacious condos. Those same boomers are helping their kids with a down payment on their own condo, which is the only way a lot of Millennials will ever afford to live in Vancouver.

“It’s exciting, because for years we’ve been talking about this, and we’re finally seeing it happen,” he says. “There is $88-billion worth of clear-title real estate tied up with boomers. In B.C. and Vancouver especially, we are all equity and no income. If you don’t have that down payment, you don’t have a home.”

Read the full article here.

Downtown jail to become affordable housing

Monday, February 17th, 2014

The vacant remand center in the downtown eastside is going to see new life as affordable and low income housing.

In a $13 million dollar project, the former jail cells are being converted into homes.

In addition to the residential units, the development will include the conversion of the existing jail gymnasium to a multi-purpose room, a community garden in the courtyard, a communal lounge and a bicycle storage facility.

“By combining affordable housing with support services and job training opportunities, we’re providing quality housing and strengthening the Downtown Eastside economy at the same time,” said Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

The remand centre functioned as a jail for those not yet convicted of crimes, including the Air India bombing suspects, for 30 years before closing in 2002. The property has sat vacant ever since, prompting Vision Vancouver to recommend repurposing the space in 2006.

Read the full article over at Global News.

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