Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rental task force recommends ban on renovictions, not allowing stratas to restrict rentals

The province’s rental task force is calling for an immediate ban on renovictions, a province-wide rent bank for low income British Columbians, and the elimination of a strata corporation’s ability to ban owners from renting out their units.

Renters currently have little recourse once they are told they must leave their unit for the owner to renovate. In some cases renters are forced out for minor upgrades to the home in order for the landlord to put in substantial rent increases.
“One of the most frequently mentioned challenges from renters was unfair evictions, including renovictions and other evictions, based on false claims,” the report reads.
“They told the task force about how stressful it was to live with the constant threat of being forced from their home with too little time to find alternative housing in a challenging rental market.”
The task force found the Residential Tenancy Act needs to be updated to provide clear guidelines on what actions are acceptable during renovations. One of the suggested changes is to allow tenants to remain as long as they are willing to accommodate the renovations.
The task force is also suggesting that evictions should be reserved for the rare instances of serious, major and long-term renovations.
“Many renters called for improvements to the right of first refusal, specifically asking for tenants to be able to return to their units at the same or a similar rent after renovations have been completed,” the report reads.
The task force previously recommended the provincial government change the maximum rent-increase formula. Now landlords are only allowed to increase rent by the rate of inflation and have scrapped the ability of landlords to tack on an additional two per cent annually. The Residential Tenancy Branch can approve “modest rent increases” above inflation.
The task force consulted with renters, landlords, non-profit housing providers and advocates and produced a total of 23 recommendations.
There are 1.5 million renters in British Columbia. The vacancy rate is 1.3 per cent province-wide and, according to the report, below one per cent in Vancouver and Kelowna.
The provincial government has brought in a speculation tax that will punish B.C. homeowners who have multiple properties in affected areas or other Canadians who own property in the province. One of the criticisms of the tax is that it could unfairly punish homeowners who live in stratas where rentals are not allowed.
The government must now review the report but is expected to put in place most, if not all, of the recommendations. The task force consists of NDP MLAs Spencer Chandra Herbert and Ronna-Rae Leonard as well as Green Party MLA Adam Olsen.
“The task force believes that a breakdown in the landlord/renter relationship is often the result of a lack of understanding or a lack of commitment to respecting the rights and responsibilities of each party,” the report reads.
“In some cases, this is deliberate. However, in most cases, this is due to misinformation or lack of knowledge.”
Full list of task force recommendations:
  1. Stop renovictions
  2. Work with local governments to develop tenant compensation and relocation guidelines in the case of demolition of purpose-built rental to reduce dislocation, and homelessness of affected tenants.
  3. Set a clear timeline for a tenant’s decision on the use of a right of first refusal.
  4. Implement a B.C.-wide rent bank system for low-income people.
  5. Strengthen enforcement of the law, including implementing a clear process for making, investigating and reporting administrative penalty complaints.
  6. Strengthen penalties for breaking the law, including refusal of service for outstanding administrative penalties.
  7. Investigate ways to provide affordable access to bailiff services in smaller and more remote communities.
  8. Investigate other options to increase the repayment rate for damages, non-payment of rent and other storage costs if ordered by the residential tenancy branch.
  9. Increase the availability of currently empty strata housing by eliminating a strata corporation’s ability to ban owners from renting their own strata units.
  10. Maintain rent tied to the renter, not the unit.
  11. Work with local governments to develop, implement and enforce short-term rental rules to better protect long-term rental stock.
  12. Make the residential tenancy branch more responsive, accessible and proactive with more opportunities to learn from and educate landlords and renters on their rights and responsibilities.
  13. Improve fairness and consistency of the residential tenancy branch dispute resolution hearings process by recording all hearings.
  14. Improve procedural fairness by expanding review considerations to include more grounds for review.
  15. Require landlords who are filing for eviction for cause, or for renovation, to provide all evidence with any eviction notice to the affected tenants
  16. If repairs are needed to maintain a rental home and the landlord is refusing to make them in a timely way, have the residential tenancy branch proactively reduce the rent of affected tenants until the repairs are completed.
  17. Allow email as a form of notice of service between landlord and tenants.
  18. Speed up the return of damage deposits to tenants by allowing tenants to make a direct request to the residential tenancy branch for the damage deposit where no damage has been found and reported by the landlord.
  19. Work with the insurance industry to see if rent guarantee insurance, and other improvements to insurance coverage, might be provided for landlords in B.C.
  20. Undertake a review to simplify the regulations relating to a landlord’s obligation to store abandoned personal property.
  21. Ensure it is clear for all landlords and renters where to go to get help for all forms of residential tenancy
  22. Address the specific needs of non-profit housing and supportive housing providers in the residential tenancy act.
  23. Ensure manufactured home park rules are clear and understandable. Clarify what occurs when park rules conflict with lease or contract rules.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

$1 billion money laundered by crime networks in BC real estate?

Criminal networks could have used British Columbia’s real estate market for more than $1 billion of money laundering.
A secret police report, obtained by Global News, reveals that crime networks are linked to 10% of the 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in the Lower Mainland included in a police study in 2016.
These include a $17 million Shaughnessy mansion owned by a suspected importer of the potent drug Fentanyl.  
Of around 120 properties linked to crime, 95% are believed to have Chinese crime network origins.
Global News own analysis says that the crime networks may have laundered more than $5 billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Vancouver supply crunch eases

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says home supply is rising and reaching levels not seen in roughly four years, even as the average price inches up year-over-year.
The board says the composite benchmark price for all homes was $1,062,100 in October _ up one per cent since October 2017, but down 3.3 per cent over the last three months.
Sales of all types of homes _ detached, townhomes and condos _ in October fell 34.9 per cent compared with the same month last year, dropping 26.8 per cent below the 10-year October sales average.
Meanwhile, nearly 4,900 new properties were listed for sale last month, up 7.4 per cent compared with October last year.
Nearly 13,000 homes are listed in Metro Vancouver or 42.1 per cent more than in October 2017.
Board president Phil Moore says the additional supply gives home buyers more choice and home sellers more competition.
Detached home sales fell 32.2 per cent in October compared with the same month last year, while the benchmark price fell to $1,524,000 marking a 5.1 per cent drop year-over-year and 3.9 per cent fall over the last three months.
Sales of townhomes declined 37.5 per cent and condos fell 35.7 per cent year-over-year. The benchmark price for townhomes rose 4.4 per cent from last year to $829,200, while condo prices jumped 5.8 per cent to $683,500. Over the past three months, townhome prices fell 2.8 per cent and condo prices dropped 3.1.
The three-month price drop ``is providing a little relief for those looking to buy compared to the all-time highs we've experienced over the last year,'' says Moore.

The Canadian Press

Friday, November 2, 2018

Vancouver home sales rally in October as prices ebb

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The long plunge in Vancouver-area home sales is pushing prices slightly lower, driving a sales surge in October.
“Home prices have edged down between three and five per cent, depending on housing type… since June,” says Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president Phil Moore.
The realtors’ group says says sales of apartment-style condos, the largest segment of the market, jumped 21 per cent from the previous month to 985. Single-detached houses had a 26 per cent gain to 634 units, while sales of attached properties such as townhouses and duplexes rose 25 per cent to 344. Sales across all categories were still down 35 per cent from the previous October, to 1,966.
Moore adds “The supply of homes for sale today is beginning to return to levels that we haven’t seen… in about four years.”
The sales-to-listings ratio is still low at 10.3 per cent for detached houses, while condos are at 20.6 per cent, which is close to the midpoint for upward or downward pressure on prices.
The board’s adjusted “benchmark” price for a condo is $683,000, down 0.5 per cent from September, 3.1 per cent lower over three months, but 5.8 per cent higher than a year earlier. Single-detached houses averaged $1.5 million, representing a drop of 1.1 per cent in one month, 3.9 per cent in three months and 5.1 per cent lower than the previous October.
Vancouver’s month-over-month sales jump comes despite stricter mortgage qualification rules that have reduced the amount some buyers can borrow and squeezed others out of the market entirely.
View image on Twitter

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Vancouver condo listings keep piling up — and many more are on the way

Vancouver condo listings are rising amid weakened demand, a perfect recipe for lower selling prices and a trend experts suggest won’t reverse in the near future.
“I think we’re really at the early stages,” says Steve Saretsky, the Vancouver realtor who created the VancityCondoGuide, of the condo market’s cooling.
“Condos really topped out in the winter of 2017, so you could argue that the correction in that space is really just beginning,” he tells Livabl, noting it can take years for a market to really reach bottom.
Further aggravating the situation is an anticipated number of condo completions that are expected early next year.
Typically, these units would have been purchased before shovels even broke ground in what’s known as a pre-construction sale, technically an agreement to buy at a later date.
When the units are finished, the owners — who are typically investors rather than end users — will look to sell off their units or rent them out, suggests Saretsky.
“That is going to bring lots more supply,” he says. “I think it’s a huge thing that hasn’t really played out a whole lot yet,” he adds in an interview.
In a report released last month, Central 1 Credit Union flagged the potential risks the pending completions present for the overall real estate market.
So far, home listings have already surged compared to the same time last year, according to the REBGV’s latest monthly data, published this week.
In all, there were 13,084 resale properties available in Metro Vancouver in September, up 38 per cent from last year and 10.7 per cent over August.
The number of condos on the market in Greater Vancouver at the end of September was 75 per cent higher than what was counted at the same time in 2017.
At the same time, condo sales have plunged. Apartment transactions totalled 812 last month, representing a 44-per-cent decrease from 12 months prior, says REBGV’s report.
“Weaker sales [and] rising inventory generally leads to lower prices, and that’s sort of what we’re starting to see in the condo space,” says Saretsky.
Over the last three months, Vancouver condo prices are down 3.1 per cent, according to REBGV, which pegged the benchmark price at $687,300 in September.
Saretsky is not alone in anticipating Vancouver’s housing market won’t recover any time soon. In a note published this morning, BMO Senior Economist Robert Kavcic also highlighted elevated listings and declining prices in not just the condo market but the detached segment as well.
“We would not be holding our breath for a quick price rebound in this market,” writes Kavcic in the note titled “Vancouver Housing Still Reeling.”
by Josh Sherman

View image on Twitter

Vancouver home sales continued lower last month

Sales of homes in Metro Vancouver remained well-below long-term norms in September.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported sales of 1,595 homes in the month, down 43.5% from a year earlier, 17.3% below August 2018 levels, and 36.1% below the 10-year average for September.
Lower demand has allowed inventory to build with 13,084 homes available on the MLS for Metro Vancouver, a 38.2% increase year-over-year and a 10.7% increase month-over-month.
There were 5,279 detached, attached, and apartment newly-listed properties in September; 1.8% down year-over-year but a 36% jump from August.
“Since spring, home listing totals have risen to levels we haven’t seen in our market in four years,” said Ashley Smith, REBGV president-elect.
“Metro Vancouver’s housing market has changed pace compared to the last few years. Our townhome and apartment markets are sitting in balanced market territory and our detached home market remains in a clear buyers’ market,” Smith said.
Market by property type
Sales of detached properties in September 2018 reached 508, a 40.4% decrease year-over-year. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,540,900, down 4.5% y-o-y and a 3.4% decrease over the last three months.
Sales of apartment properties reached 812, a 44% decrease y-o-y. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $687,300, down 7.4% y-o-y and a 3.1% decrease over the last three months.
Attached property totalled 275, a 46.9% cent decrease compared to September 2017. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $837,600, down 6.4% y-o-y and a 2% 

by Steve Rendall

Thursday, September 6, 2018

New rules cut inventory in half

The City of Vancouver says the number of short-term rentals listed online has dropped by almost half since new rules came into effect requiring operators to have a business licence.
There are 3,742 active Vancouver listings on sites like Airbnb, compared with about 6,600 in April, when the regulations were introduced, the city said Wednesday.
Kaye Krishna, the city's general manager of development, buildings and licensing, called the early results of the efforts to regulate short-term rentals ``very promising.''
``As we move forward with continued public education and increased enforcement we expect to see the short-term rental market stabilize,'' Krishna said in a statement.
As of Sept. 1, operators must have a business licence, which costs $49 annually, and must include the licence number in their listing. Operators can only advertise their main residence and must have permission from their landlord or condo board, or they could face fines of up to $1,000 a day on each platform where the rental is advertised.
The city says it has one of the highest initial compliance rates by any major city globally, with 2,640 short-term licences issued, representing about 70 per cent of existing listings.
When the new rules were announced earlier this year, Mayor Gregor Robertson said they were intended to protect and free up rental housing in response to a critically low vacancy rate.
Most of the listings taken off the market were the result of an agreement the city signed with Airbnb. The online platform has deactivated 2,482 Vancouver listings that did not include a business licences.
The agreement also means long-term rental operators can no longer accept rentals of less than 30 days. In addition to the unlicensed listings removed by Airbnb, more than 660 listing were removed or converted to long-term rentals by individuals in response to the new rules, the city said.
Expedia, which is the second-largest platform in Vancouver, has also agreed to add a field where business licence numbers can be added to their online listings on VRBO.
After introducing new rules in April, the city allowed a registration window for operators to comply through Aug. 31, and also began enforcement for unsafe dwellings and commercial operations that would clearly not meet the new regulations.
It has investigated more than 2,650 listings and says that since Sept. 1, 294 new addresses have been flagged for non-compliance and are subject to enforcement.
``The short-term rental program will continue to strengthen as the city expands its data sources and ongoing dialogue with multiple partners,'' the city said in a statement.
Residents are encouraged to continue to report suspected illegal short-term rentals.
Jens von Bergmann, principal at MountainMath Software and Analytics, said Airbnb's agreement to share data with the city such as the address and business licence for a listing represents a new model for Canada.
But there are still some operators bending the rules on the platform, based his own analysis of the data, von Bergmann said.
In one case, a business licence has been used for multiple properties, he said. In another, an operator appears to falsely present their listing as a hotel or other commercial enterprise that would be exempt from this type of business licence.
But Bergmann said he sees the city's initial results as positive.
``It looks encouraging. I think the real test is, will those listings that are right now clearly non-compliant disappear?''
``The other test will be how many fines are actually levied.''

The Canadian Press

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Vancouver’s condo market expected to sit in buyers’ territory for the rest of 2018: expert

As Vancouver condo inventory increased in July in the face of plummeting sales, one Vancouver realtor says the market is favouring buyers and will continue to trend in this direction for the rest of the year.
Last month, a total of 427 condos changed hands in the city, down 22 per cent from a year ago, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).
July’s sales were also 20 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.
“We’re entering into a slower period from a seasonality perspective so I think that you’ll probably continue to see the market trend towards favouring buyers. I think inventories are going to keep building up here and I don’t expect sales to get stronger in the back half of this year. I think for buyers it’s definitely encouraging,” Vancouver-based realtor Steve Saretsky tells Livabl.
In a blog post, Saretsky writes that, so far, condo sales have declined each month this year and dropped to their lowest total for July in six years.
Saretsky attributes the fall in sales to a combination of factors, including government intervention and higher interest rates.
With condo sales dropping and more supply hitting the market, inventory is on the rise in the condo segment.
In July, Vancouver’s condo inventory hit a three-year high for the month, increasing 32 per cent compared to a year ago.
Saretsky says supply still remains low on a historical level but is starting to grow — an uncommon trend in the city.
“Over the last couple of years, the trend has been lower inventory and more sales and now it’s fewer sales and higher inventory. So, buyers and sellers alike have to adjust to that,” says Saretsky.
While the city is experiencing a slower sales pace, Saretsky says prices are still holding up relatively well.
He adds that condo prices peaked in the beginning of 2018 and have been declining ever since.
“Condo prices have definitely topped out and I would say they topped out in Vancouver probably about four or five months ago. And, since then, it’s been a steady decline lower. I would say typical condo prices are off about 5 per cent from their peak,” says Saretsky.
Last month, the average sales price of a condo dropped two per cent compared to a year ago.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Vancouver home sales hit 18-year low

VANCOUVER _ Home sales in July across Metro Vancouver tumbled to their lowest level in 18 years in statistics compiled by the real estate board, but prices remained steady since last month.
The Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board says 2,070 properties changed hands in July, a 30 per cent plunge when compared with July of last year and about 29 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.
The number of condos, townhomes and detached houses listed for sale were up 32 per cent year-over-year, and 1.6 per cent since June.
The real estate board says the benchmark price for all residential properties was just under $1.1 million, a 6.7 per cent hike over July 2017 but a slip of 0.6 per cent since June.
Board president Phil Moore says the number of sales to active listings across Metro Vancouver last month was pegged at almost 10 per cent for detached homes, 20 per cent for townhomes and about 27 per cent for condos.
Analysts expect downward pressure on prices when the ratio dips below 12 per cent, while property prices tend to climb when it is over 20 per cent.
Moore said there's less upward pressure on home prices across the region.
``This is most pronounced in the detached home market, but demand in the townhome and apartment markets is also relenting from the more frenetic pace experienced over the last few years,'' Moore said in a news release on Wednesday.
Real estate board data shows July sales of single detached homes plunged nearly 33 per cent compared with July of last year, while the almost $1.6 million benchmark price slipped 1.5 per cent over the same period and is down 0.6 per cent since June.
Sales of condos decreased 26.5 per cent year-over-year while sales of townhomes fell by almost 35 per cent, but both property types have seen price hikes above 12 per cent since last July.
The benchmark price is $700,500, for a condo and $856,000 for a townhome, but the board says prices for condos and townhomes have slipped about 0.5 per cent since June.
``With increased mortgage rates and stricter lending requirements, buyers and sellers are opting to take a wait-and-see approach for the time being,'' Moore said.

The Canadian Press

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Burnaby council the first to use new legislation aimed at developers

The City of Burnaby says it will be the first in British Columbia to take advantage of the province's new rental zoning laws.
The city says in a news release that it will begin implementation of a rental zoning bylaw aimed at maintaining rental stock at affordable rates.
On Monday, Burnaby council passed a motion asking city staff to implement the bylaw requiring developers to replace all rental suites if an apartment is renovated or rebuilt.
The bylaw requires the replacement units to be in the same neighbourhood, rented at affordable rates and be made available to current tenants.
Legislation passed in May by the provincial government allows municipalities to zone undeveloped property for rental housing and set out a specific number of rental units in a development.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan says the city has been calling for municipal authority over rental zoning for almost 30 years.
``We were optimistic when the new legislation came in about six weeks ago that allows us the tools to require older market rental buildings be replaced as part of any redevelopment,'' he says.
In the past, Corrigan says cities could only attempt to negotiate density in exchange for small numbers of rental suites, but the new legislation gives municipalities the authority to require replacement of rental suites.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Will BC’s new strata short-term rental fines help boost Vancouver’s vacancy rate?

In an effort to curb British Columbia’s housing affordability crisis, the provincial government has introduced higher fines for strata short-term rentals. And, according to one realtor the fines could help renters grappling with the City of Vancouver’s severely-low vacancy rate.
Last week, the BC government announced that, as of November 30th, strata corporations can impose a fine of up to $1,000 a day to owners and residents who don’t comply with a strata bylaw that limits or bans short-term rentals.
According to a press release, the BC government decided to increase the allowable fine as the previous penalty of $200 a week was not a “sufficient deterrent.”
Vancouver-based realtor Steve Saretsky says this could be welcome news for Vancouver renters who are struggling to find housing in a market with a vacancy rate of less than one per cent.
“[I] think at a time when our market’s really starting to slow down here, this is just another thing that’s probably going to free up some more rental supply and maybe take away a little bit more of the investor demand,” Saretsky tells Livabl.
Strata housing often refers to multi-unit developments, but can also include duplexes, townhouses and single-family homes which belong to a strata corporation. Stratas are self-governed and made up of all the strata owners.
The fine hike comes shortly after the City of Vancouver partnered with global home-sharing website, Airbnb, in April to allow Vancouverites to use their primary residences as short-term rentals, as long as they obtain a business licence.
Although the immediate impact of higher fines for strata short-term rentals is unknown, Saretsky says the new rules could cause demand in the City of Vancouver’s condo market to drop further.
“I don’t think it’s going to have a significant impact, but I think you’re adding on another demand-side policy at a time when the condo market is already really slowing down. I think any sort of little changes here and there are all going to add up,” says Saretsky.
In June, the city’s condo sales plummeted to a five-year low with a total of 475 units, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).
As for rental prices, Saretsky notes that the new policy could also help keep prices stable in the coming months.
“Recent data and discussion with property managers suggest that rents have sort of topped out here over the last couple of months, so maybe this will sort of keep rent prices in check in the city.”
Kerrisa Wilson

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Airbnb renters could face fines of $1000 a day in BC rule change

British Columbia is taking action to curb the reduction of available rental homes caused by owners opting for the surging short-term rental market.
The popularity of services including Airbnb has been blamed for tightening availability of rental homes and the government has now announced a change to its Strata Property Regulation.
It will mean that strata corporations will be supported in enforcing short-term rental bylaws.
Currently strata corporations can restrict or ban short-term rentals and impose fines of a maximum $200 a week. With the high returns available from these rentals, that is not a strong deterrent.
But the new rules will hike fines to a hefty $1000 per day – 35 times the current limit!
“We’ve all heard the stories of renters losing their homes when units are pulled out of the rental market to be used as short-term rentals. With this change, we can ensure there is long-term rental stock for people and families who need them,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “As part of our 30-point plan to improve housing affordability in B.C., we are supporting strata corporations to both deal with the noise and security issues that can sometimes come with short-term rentals, and also preserve rentals for the long term.”
The change will take effect on Nov. 30, 2018, in order to allow short-term rental hosts time to adjust bookings and comply with a strata’s short-term rental bylaws.
“The new regulations will help define short-term commercial use as a different function than rentals, and provides some very real consequences for the violators,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director, Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. “For those strata corporations who prohibit short-term use, this is a valuable amendment. It will require strata corporations to amend their bylaws at a general meeting to permit the higher penalties, which in turn will provide the strata with a great opportunity to make sure the strata’s bylaw complies with provincial legislation.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Greater Vancouver’s pre-sale market expected to shift from “hyperactive” to balanced in 2018

Greater Vancouver’s pre-sale market was off to a strong start in 2018 but sales are expected to ease for the rest of the year, due to housing policy changes and escalating home prices.
In the first six months of the year, 81 new multi-family projects and 7,753 units came to the market across Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, according to MLA Advisory’s 2018 Mid-Year Market Review, released Wednesday
Although the pre-sale market remains active and strong, MLA says the pace of residential sales is experiencing a slowdown.
[W]e’ve come off of an incredibly, incredibly strong market where in 2017, all the homes that were being released were being being consumed within the month of being released,” Cameron McNeill, Executive Director of MLA Canada tells Livabl.
“Now we’re seeing a movement towards a slightly more balanced and more normalized situation,” he adds.
The Vancouver-based real estate marketing company used internal data to compile its mid-year report.
In January, Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley’s pre-sale market had a very high absorption rate of 94 per cent for new units entering the marketplace. However, six months later, the absorption rate dropped to 48.9 per cent in June.
McNeill says this downward trend in absorptions indicates a shift from hyperactive levels over the past two years to more normalized market conditions.
He attributes the slowdown to stricter mortgage regulations introduced in January, along with rising interest rates and the impact of new BC housing policies.
“I believe that it’s less about the government intervention as it is about people’s perception. And therefore there’s short-term uncertainty that the consumer has, they’re waiting and watching,” says McNeill.
MLA defines normalized pre-sale activity as projects experiencing 50 to 60 per cent sales absorptions within the first six to nine months and sell-out periods of 12 to 24 months.
Although the pre-sale market in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley is expected to see slower activity in the second half of the year, McNeill says sales are still relatively strong.
“MLA predicts that we’re going to level off to a balanced market where projects take anywhere from three to 12 months to sell out versus selling out in a matter of weeks,” he says.
From July to December 2018, MLA is forecasting 67 project launches and over 7,700 new homes to be released in the market.
North Vancouver is slated to be the most active market during the rest of 2018 as approximately 11 projects and nearly 1,500 homes are scheduled to be released.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

BC housing markets return to balanced territory thanks to softer demand

As a result of the stricter mortgage regulations that rolled out nationwide six months ago, housing demand in British Columbia continued to soften in June, pushing most markets into balanced territory.
Last month, a total of 7,884 homes changed hands across the province — a 32.5 per cent decrease from 11,672 units sold a year ago, according to the latest data from the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), published Friday.
“What we’re seeing in the market right now is almost purely the impact of new mortgage rules,” Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA deputy chief economist, tells Livabl.
On January 1, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) implemented a new stress test for uninsured mortgages, to ensure buyers can withstand rising interest rates. Since the new policy came into effect, it has been linked to a slowdown in activity both across BC and the country.
In June, declining sales persisted in BC’s priciest housing region, Greater Vancouver, which had 2,467 home sales last month, down roughly 38 per cent from 3,953 homes sold in June 2017.
As demand continues to decline, Ogmundson says that most of BC’s housing markets are returning to balanced territory.
“What we’re seeing in the market is that the level of listings is up a little, so supply is starting to accumulate but from historically low standards, while demand is off a fair amount. And therefore, markets are somewhat balanced on a supply and demand basis.”
Last month, there were a total of 35,932 homes listed for sale across the province, up 21 per cent from a year ago.
As most markets are sitting in balanced territory, there was less upward pressure on prices last month. In June, the average price of a home in BC was $716,326 — a 1.3 per cent decline from the same time last year.
In Greater Vancouver, the average price of a home hit $1,068,559 in June, up 1.4 per cent from a year ago.
Looking ahead, Ogmundson says the impact of the stress test should start to fade away, allowing BC housing markets to recover over the next six to 12 months. The economist forecasts that sales will pick up across the province in the coming months and prices will continue to experience moderate growth.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Metro Vancouver price drops unlikely to help housing affordability, real estate experts say

While there may be more signs of cooling in Metro Vancouver's housing market, experts say significant relief is unlikely for shoppers at the market's lower end.
Sales are well below the 10-year average, according to figures released this morning by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, and the price of a detached home actually dropped marginally last month in half of the areas tracked.
Some of the biggest price drops have been in the most expensive neighbourhoods, including the West Side of Vancouver and West Vancouver, which have shown four per cent decreases in prices over the past six months.
That's not surprising to Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Association, who says the top of the market is always the most volatile part.
Along with new taxes on foreign buyers, speculators and empty homes, for a detached home costing more than $3 million owners will also pay both the new school tax and the extra property transfer tax if they sell, Muir notes — and all that is cooling sales in the upper price range.
But he says the effect of those taxes will be limited since "only three per cent of homes sell for over $3 million."

Price drop not trickling down

While overall prices are pretty flat across the market, Muir cautions that anyone looking for significant price relief at the lower end is likely to be disappointed.
That's because the unintended consequences of other factors designed to cool the market are actually continuing to push up prices at the lower end.
In fact, while sales of apartments dropped 29 per cent over the last year, the benchmark price has continued to go up over 20 per cent over the same period.
Phil Moore, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, agrees the new mortgage stress test and rising interest rates are driving up prices at the lower end, where supply remains limited.
He says an average couple making $120,000 annually is limited by the new rules to prices of up to $750,000 — and that's driving up competition for apartments and townhomes.
"First time buyers are so frustrated," Moore says.

Demand forecast to outpace supply

Even with a record 42,000 homes under construction across the region, immigration and changing demographics will mean demand will continue to out strip supply.
"The selection of homes for sale in Metro Vancouver has risen to the highest levels we've seen in the last two years, yet supply is still below our long-term historical averages," says Moore.
Muir agrees that demographics will continue to put pressure on the market's affordable end.
"Underpinning the market we have the millennials, the baby boomers' children which are a huge demographic cohort, now entering their house-forming years. So, they are going to help underpin demand over the next several years, particularly in big cities where young people tend to flock."
If there are any bargains to be had, they will likely be limited to the higher end of the market, says Moore.
However, taking history as a guide, Muir forecasts the negative impact of the new taxes is only likely to last three to four months before prices start to tick up again.
CBC News

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

B.C., federal governments sign 10-year deal worth nearly $1bln

The British Columbia government has signed a deal with Ottawa that will see nearly a billion dollars injected into affordable housing across the province over the next decade.
The provincial and federal governments say more than $990 million will be spent on building, repairing and expanding social housing and supporting housing affordability.
A joint news release says both levels of governments will share the costs, and the agreement will be supported by funding that starts on April 1, 2019.
The deal is part of a $40-billion national housing strategy unveiled by the federal government last year, which includes funding from the provinces and territories.
Federal Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has previously said the strategy will reduce homelessness and take 500,000 Canadians out of housing that is either unaffordable or inadequate.
B.C. introduced a 30-point plan earlier this year that will spend more than $6 billion on affordable housing over the next decade.
``This agreement will help more British Columbians find homes they can afford,'' B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson said in a news release.
Duclos said the agreement is part of the federal government's national goal.
``The government of Canada is committed to ensuring that every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home,'' he said in the release.
``Long-term, predictable funding for housing has been needed for more than a decade.''

The Canadian Press

Friday, June 22, 2018

Bank of Canada decision could go either way

OTTAWA _ A pair of unexpectedly soft economic reports are creating fresh doubts about the timing of the Bank of Canada's next interest rate hike.
For months, experts have been predicting Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz to raise his benchmark rate at next month's meeting. But broadening economic unknowns _ mostly linked to trade concerns around U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist agenda _ have begun to lead some analysts to wonder if Poloz will stand pat on July 11.
And on Friday two reports from Statistics Canada added more uncertainty to the interest rate outlook.
One release by the agency found Canada's annual inflation rose at a pace of 2.2 per cent in May for the second straight month. The number, however, was cooler than market expectations of 2.6 per cent.
In the second report, Statistics Canada found that retail sales contracted in April by 1.2 per cent for the reading's first month-to-month decline since December.
``These reports kind of highlight an economy that has slowed pretty significantly from the last year or two,'' Robert Kavcic, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets, said in an interview.
``Given a lot of the uncertainty out there, and a little bit of a softer tone to this data, I think expectations for a July rate hike have probably come down a little bit.''
Royce Mendes of CIBC Capital Markets wrote in a report that Friday's ``bad data'' make it even more difficult for the Bank of Canada to hike rates in July. Mendes noted, however, that things could improve before Poloz's July 11 meeting because more important numbers on gross domestic product and employment are still on the way.
Nathan Janzen, RBC senior economist, said the combination of Friday's figures, somewhat slower economic growth and a deteriorating tone in trade discussions with the U.S. ``aren't all that encouraging'' and will make the Bank of Canada's rate decision closer than previously thought.
Ranko Berich, head analyst at Monex Canada and Monex Europe, said the central bank's July rate decision is ``now an unknown factor.''
The hunt for clues into Poloz's thinking will continue next Wednesday when he gives a speech to the chamber of commerce in Victoria, B.C.
The May annual inflation number in Friday's report followed the 2.2 per cent reading for April and 2.3 per cent for March.
The main contributors to inflation last month were led by gasoline prices. Compared to a year earlier, they climbed 22.9 per cent in May and helped drive overall energy prices for the month 11.6 per cent higher.
Inflation also received a lift because Canadians paid more last month for restaurants, airline tickets and mortgage interest costs.
Consumers, however, paid less in May for telephone services, natural gas and digital devices and computers.
The report also found the average of the Bank of Canada's three measures of core inflation, which leave out more-volatile numbers like pump prices, slowed to 1.9 per cent last month.
The core readings, which are closely monitored by the central bank, averaged 2.03 per cent in April, which was the strongest pace in six years.
On retail trade, the April contraction of 1.2 per cent pulled total sales down to $49.5 billion.
The April decrease was mostly due to a 4.3 per cent decline in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers _ with new car dealerships reporting a 5.1 per cent drop and used car lots seeing a contraction of 4.1 per cent.
Statistics Canada said April's unusually cool temperatures and bad weather in many parts of the country may have been to blame for the overall decline.
The decrease was concentrated in the largest provinces. Sales fell 2.3 per cent in Ontario, while Quebec saw a 2.7 per cent drop.
Statistics Canada, however, did release an upward revision to its retail sales data for March. The updated reading shows a 0.8 per cent increase, compared to its preliminary 0.6 per cent estimate.
Friday's reports will help feed the Bank of Canada's deliberations as its governing council considers its next interest rate decision.
For inflation, the bank can use interest rate hikes as a tool to help prevent it from climbing too high. The Bank of Canada tries to keep inflation from moving outside a range of between one and three per cent.
Recent inflation readings _ including Friday's _ have been hovering just above the two per cent mid-point of the bank's target range.
It's unlikely, however, to have a significant impact on upcoming rate decisions because governor Poloz has predicted inflation to stay above two per cent for all of 2018. He's predicted inflation to average 2.3 per cent this year before settling back down to 2.1 per cent in 2019 _ in large part due to the temporary effects of higher gas prices and the introduction of minimum wage increases in some provinces.
He's raised the trend-setting interest rate three times since last July, but he hasn't touched the rate since January. It's been at 1.25 per cent ever since.\
 The Canadian Press

Friday, June 15, 2018

Towers proposed for Coquitlam Centre Eleven new highrises could go up near Lincoln Station

Plans to build 11 towers next to the Lincoln SkyTrain station as the first phase of the Coquitlam Centre mall redevelopment are in the works at city hall.

But putting a shovel in the ground is going to take a while.
Morguard Investments, which manages the mall, has four applications on file for the property. One is for a development permit for the first phase of the project which proposes "approximately 11 towers." The highrises would be constructed on the northeast corner of the mall property's footprint along the west side of Pinetree Way. They would be between Atlantic and Northern avenues to the north and the former Sears building to the south, said Jeff Denney, the city's major project planner.

Morguard is also applying to change the official community plan to add more commercial and office space and a higher density to the project. Denney emphasized the process is in the very early stages.
"There's a lot of work ahead for this. It's more geared toward land use and site planning versus the towers at this stage," said Denney.

Morguard is also applying to have the city's official community plan amended from being general commercial and City Centre commercial to all City Centre commercial. It's so preliminary at this point, it's unlikely any of the applications will appear before council, let alone go to public hearing, before the fall. The city is also in the late stages of updating its City Centre area plan.
"It's difficult to estimate timelines at this point," said Denney. "There's just a lot of work ahead of us. We have to identify the parks and open space needs, school needs.
"Those are high level things we will consider in terms of the overall planning direction for the mall site… It's definitely exciting."
Morguard did not respond to an interview request from The Tri-City News. In November 2016, Morguard asset manager Ken Moffatt told the News there would be an expansion of retail, some commercial and "most probably the introduction of plenty of residential."
At the time, Morguard said they planned to develop a master plan to guide development in the area for the next 50 to 70 years.
Coquitlam Centre is close to three SkyTrain stations, which puts it in an even better situation than the massive development currently underway at Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby and the ones in the works at Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby and Oakridge Centre in Vancouver, all of which have rapid transit stations.
With a 57-acre footprint, the Coquitlam Centre project has a potential to be even bigger than the others. Brentwood will have 12 towers on a 28-acre site when it's completed, including one that was recently topped off in construction at 63 storeys. Lougheed is expected to have 23 towers on a 40-acre site. Oakridge's plans call for 10 towers on 28.5 acres.
Despite the long-term major redevelopment plans, a significant tenant for the mall signed on last week. According to two Canadian retail websites, Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo announced plans to open three new outlets in the Toronto area and at Coquitlam Centre. Retail Insider said Uniqlo will take over a 12,000 square foot space on the second level of the Walmart wing where Old Navy used to be.
That gives Uniqlo nine stores in Canada and four in the Lower Mainland. It opened its first in B.C. in October 2017, a 20,000 sq. ft. outlet in Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby. Since then it has opened a 12,800 sq. ft. store in Guildford Town Centre in Surrey and an 8,000 sq. ft. outlet at Richmond 
Tri City News