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David's thoughts on anything real estate related


The Greater Vancouver housing market remained in balanced market conditions in January, although higher levels of buyer demand were seen in some of the region's largest communities.

The number of properties listed for sale and those sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) last month outpaced the 10-year average in both categories for January.

"There was a healthy balance between the number of home buyers and sellers in our market in January, but there's always variation in activity from region to region," said Jake Moldowan, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). "We're seeing strong sellers' market conditions in areas like Richmond and the west side of Vancouver."

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People often tell me, "I'm waiting until the market falls until I buy" or "I'll sell when the market is stronger."

The problem with trying to "time" the market is that this strategy rarely works! However, there are still a few ways to make money on real estate, which I will discuss along with pitfalls and examples of what is happening right now.

Entering the Market

First time buyers often wait to buy in hopes of the market falling. The challenge with this strategy is to have everything come together when they buyer is ready to jump in: a depressed market, low interest rates, ample supply of homes to choose from and security in the buyers' employment and personal situation. More often than not, one of these criteria is missing.

Currently, there is a healthy supply of condominiums downtown; however, other areas on the West side are experiencing higher competition. More homes traditionally come on the market in Spring.

Downsizing

If you are selling a larger or more expensive home to free up money and purchase a smaller home, it is best to do so in a "hot" market. This will maximize your selling price and free up the greatest amount of funds. Although you still have to buy another home, you are minimizing the amount of home that you purchase at a (relatively) inflated price. The challenge with this strategy is that when the market is hot, homes sell quickly and the selection may be limited.

Moving Up

If you are selling your home and using the proceeds towards buying a more expensive home, then it makes the most financial sense to do so in a "down" market. This will minimize the amount you have to pay mortgage interest on in order to live in the home you desire. The challenge with this strategy is that when the market is depressed, it is often in difficult economic conditions generally, so it requires a buyer who is financially secure as well as confident about their employment situation.

In today's market, if you own a large single family home in Vancouver West, now is a great time to sell your home and downsize into a condominium in the city. There is a shortage of single family homes in Vancouver, and a healthy supply of luxury condominiums downtown.

Moving to a Different Market

Even within Greater Vancouver there are distinct markets. The North Shore and Vancouver West Side, for instance, are often in different phases of the market roller coaster. The challenge with this strategy is that it may take a few years to reach the optimal conditions for your move.

Currently, if you don't mind crossing the bridge to the North Shore, now would be a great time to sell in Vancouver and purchase a home in this location.Whereas two million dollars will buy you a small home on a standard 33' x 120' size lot in Vancouver, in West Vancouver, you can currently buy a large home on a ¼ acre lot with a view of the city and harbour in the background.At times, this equation has been reversed.

Investing

If you are purchasing an investment property in addition to your primary residence, you can afford to take risks and take your time. Generally, you will want to wait for a quieter market when supply is high and to avoid multiple offer situations that can inflate a purchase price above current market values.

I have recently viewed a few single family homes in the Douglas Park area (my neighbourhood) that sold for $100,000 to $500,000 over asking price after being on the market for less than one week. Some of these single family homes were in such demand that seven buyers were all offering on the same property (see side bar for some recent sales).

The final tip is not to rely on the media or even Real Estate Board statistics to judge the state of the market. Both of these sources provide backward -looking (lagging) information. I always inform my clients of what I am seeing in the market place. The indicators of a warming market (fewer listing opportunities, multiple offer situations, busy Open Houses, busy phones and Realtors who don't return calls) are generally evident weeks before the statistics come out and a month before the general public jumps on the bandwagon.

Of course, the best time to buy real estate in Vancouver, is when your personal situation is driving your decision. Always keep in mind that regardless of when you buy, a home is more than just an investment.It is something to be enjoyed and valued on a different level than other possessions and many memories will be attached to your home over the years of living there.

And if all else fails, given enough time, real estate in Vancouver has always historically increased in value. As the anonymous quote goes:

"You will never lose money on real estate in BC. You'll just sell too soon."

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According to Frank Schliewinsky of Vancouver-based Strategics condo prices in Vancouver are expected to rise by as much as 5% in the downtown area, the west side of Vancouver and in Richmond.  This is mainly due to Asian demand in these areas. 
 
Other areas such as North Vancouver and Coquitlam may see a 10% decrease in prices.
 
This information was obtained from the Western Investor, February 2011 edition, page A21.
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I recently spent three days with a client touring the best condominiums and townhomes Vancouver has to offer. Make no mistake, high-end condo living has come of age in Vancouver. As a developer, I am difficult to impress; however, after viewing these buildings, I wanted to sell my own home and move. The developers of these condominiums pulled out all the stops, from the finishes to the extravagant amenities.
 
We focused our search efforts on Coal Harbour and False Creek North (that part of Yaletown just south of Pacific Avenue).
 
Two Harbour Green is the nicest residential building in Coal Harbour. If Yaletown is known for its amenities, Coal Harbour is known for its views. The views are both expansive and breath-taking, with the snow-topped Coast Mountains in the background and Stanley Park in the foreground. The dramatic lobby penetrates through the entire building from street to water and its triple height ceilings frame the outdoor view. Of all the amenities, I really enjoyed the virtual golf: it was as realistic as it gets, allowing you to hit your real golf balls into a movie screen curtain.
 
Moving on to the suites, only three condominiums are on each floor. The interior ten-foot high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass bring the view inside, making the mountains in the distance feel even larger.
 
The nicest developments in False Creek North (in my opinion) are The Erickson and Kings Landing. The Erickson, designed by world-renown architect, Arthur Erickson, was his final legacy before he passed and it is everything one would expect from Erickson.
 

Imagine: your own private elevator delivers you straight from the lobby and into your living room. The moment the elevator doors open, you are impressed by a south facing view of False Creek and beyond. As the building is designed like a corkscrew, each condominium has its own unique view. Inside, you are treated to first-class finishes. Some of the highlights include high-gloss white European cabinetry in the kitchen, a quartz stone vanity in the powder room that is back-lit and glows like something out of a futuristic movie, and even a toilet that anticipates your entrance by raising its lid. The en-suite mirror features a built-in TV that is only visible when you turn it on.

The amenities at The Erickson include a swimming pool that uses UV light to treat the water and has under water speakers that allow you to listen to music from your own iPod. A yoga room, weight room and spa facility round out the amenity package. Having trained for many triathlons, I can really appreciate having underwater music while I swim lengths, not to mention the yoga and spa rooms.
 
Next we stepped across the street to a more traditional but equally impressive Kings Landing. The first thing that I noticed was how well-conceived the landscaped areas were. I now understand why this development has won so many awards for best urban landscaping. The buildings surround a large central courtyard with concrete pavers that crisscross through the water features and shrubbery. The development is comprised of two larger mid-rise buildings anchored with townhomes fronting a courtyard and the seawall. The townhome that we viewed felt more like a single family home in the middle of the city. The home was well-designed with three bedrooms upstairs and the kitchen, family, living, and dining rooms on the main floor.
 
Whether you choose to live in Coal Harbour or Yaletown (False Creek North), homes exist that can truly offer a change of lifestyle for the better. Not only will your life be more care free, but you will also experience resort style amenities in a very prestigious location.
 

If you ever want to get out of you large single family house and take a private tour of the best condominiums Vancouver has to offer, I am available night or day to serve you. If you are a serious buyer, there are a lot of luxury condos to choose from right now and single family homes are in short supply (but that is another newsletter).

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.