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David's thoughts on anything real estate related


The majority of strata Annual General Meetings are coming up over the next few months presenting an ideal opportunity for strata lot owners to verify that their home owner insurance policy water deductible coverage matches that of the strata corporation's master building policy and if not advise their insurance broker immediately. 


The BC Strata Property Act requires that any AGM Notice includes a copy of the strata corporation's insurance policy summary. This summary page will include a notation on what the building’s current water deductible amount is. Depending on any resultant water damage claims filed in the past policy year and the extent of damage, this deductible amount can increase to a staggering amount from the previous year. It is not uncommon for strata's today to have a deductible in the $50,000 to $100,000 range from the days of when they were $5,000 to $25,000. 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A STRATA OWNER?

Deductible assessment coverage is an additional coverage that has become increasingly important in light of the increasing cost and frequency of resultant water damage claims. For example, if the building is damaged due to a water leak, the strata corporation would generally file a water damage claim with its own insurance company. Section 158 of the Strata Property Act states that the insurance deductible in respect of a claim is a common expense, but the strata corporation may sue an owner in order to recover the deductible portion of an insurance claim if the owner is responsible for the loss or damage that gave rise to the claim. Two landmark BC court decisions in 2007 determined that the strata corporation need not prove negligence in order to determine owners' responsibility. A strata corporation may sue a strata lot owner to recover the insurance deductible even though the owner was not negligent and merely caused or brought about the events that resulted in the damage.


To remove ambiguity and potentially save on future legal expenses, some strata corporations have passed bylaws that clarify that owners are strictly liable for damage to common property that originates in their units.

CONCLUSION

It is therefore important that all strata owners review the building policy and advise their insurance broker of the building deductible amounts to ensure their unit policy includes sufficient coverage for all building deductibles including water damage. This information is included in the insurance summary report within the NOTICE of Annual General Meeting that strata corporations are required to provide strata lot owners prior to the Annual General Meeting. Some strata buildings due to frequent or a single extensive resultant water damage claim are now facing water damage deductibles of $50,000 to $100,000.

ADDITIONAL COVERAGE FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

Additional coverage riders available to strata unit owners that are well worth considering are:


  - Increased unit improvements and betterments coverage insures upgrades to the unit a

  - Loss assessment coverage typically pays the owner's share to cover major property and liability losses on common property that may exceed the strata corporation's policy limits.

  - Request your insurance broker to advise you of any other additional riders that you should consider.


SOURCE: Insurance Brokers Association of BC

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We are living in an age where the thirst to look wealthy is making us broke.


As Morgan Housel writes in The Psychology of Money, “people measure their well-being against their peers (and) people are more keenly aware of how other people live than ever before.” This digital world drives our consumerism; tempting us to want the next best thing, and to want it now. And unfortunately, living in the most expensive North American city is only adding fuel to the fire. Those with a foot in the ‘far from modest’ Vancouver real estate market are using their home equity as a reason to continue living beyond their means; further hindering their ability to build wealth. 


Together, Vancouverites have billions of dollars worth of home value that they could, if desired, grab from. Through home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, and cash-out refinancing, lenders are keen to help many do just that. This is an attractive option to home owners as rates are often lower than other kinds of borrowing, and the interest may be deductible. Unfortunately, many are not ensuring they have access to equity in the case of an emergency. If you can’t pay back the loan, you’re vulnerable to foreclosure and can lose your home. Yikes!

Psychologically, the thought of having a home to use as a piggy bank provides a sense of security that fuels one to accumulate debt. Unfortunately, we can see the harmful effects from binging on home equity debt by looking at the catastrophic effects of 2008. As Morgan Housel puts it, “history is just one damned thing after another.” 


In order to curb this phenomenon, it’s important to learn to live within your means. Invest early, invest often, and follow a budget that works for your lifestyle. If you’re concerned about your debts, ability to pay off a mortgage, or anything in the realm of personal finance, it’s very useful to talk to a trusted financial professional. My wife happens to work as an Insurance Agent and Mutual Fund Representative here in Vancouver.  Feel free to schedule a free financial needs analysis with her HERE


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So you’ve bought the house, you’ve moved in, and the space is finally starting to feel like home. 


Even if you believe you’ve found your dream home - it’s almost impossible to completely avoid anxious thoughts like ‘Did I overpay?’ Or ‘Was this really the right time?’  This is true for all big decisions in life, not just with real estate.  


Once you’ve settled in, the responsibility of maintenance crop up. And I’m not going to sugar coat it, home ownership takes more work than you’d expect! Many weekends will become housework days, it just comes with the territory.


When you first move in, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with all corners of your new place. Even if you’ve gone through an inspection, it’s never a bad idea to double for leaks, bugs, mold, or any issues that would be best dealt with immediately. Finding issues before they develop could save you considerable time and money down the road.

On that note, you will likely run into problems with your home. Whether it’s a few weeks or months after you move in, issues are bound to arise. What helps is having a reaction proportional to the problem.  What initially seems catastrophic, may just be something as simple as a jammed deadbolt. It’s normal to have worries with your new home, so keep calm and tackle the problem.


In regards to home maintenance, I want to emphasize gutters. Regardless of the season, clogged gutters are never something you want to have.  Make sure to stay on top of your gutters - freeing them from leaves and other debris so you don’t fall victim to leaks or flooding. 


Did you know that there is a very important drain located outside your home? This is known as your perimeter drain or weeping tile system. If this system isn’t operating properly, you are going to end up with a wet basement or crawl space so make sure it is functioning properly.


It’s also important to note that leaky windows are one of the largest sources of energy loss in a new home.  One quick and cost effective fix for this is to caulk your windows. Caulk can be easily purchased at home stores like home depot. 


And finally, your new home will likely take some getting used to. Enjoy the transition!

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Where are we seeing lots of strength in the market?

Currently, we can see strength in the condo and townhouse market from $500,000 up to $1,500,000. Overall, the westside condo market is favouring sellers with 30% of them sold last month, and communities with the most activity continue to be Kitsilano, Fairview, and False Creek. Following a steady decline over the summer, the average sale price began to rise in August, and continues to increase. It is currently sitting at $915,000, $58,000 higher than it was in July, and $89,000 more than it was in September of 2020. As inventory grows and sales drop, we can expect this price to fall over the fall season.


condo

Now let's look at the single family market.  The strength in the market lies between $1,750,000 and $3,500,000, with the majority of homes selling above list price. If both inventory and sales remain flat, we can predict the average sale price to remain fairly steady over the next few months. The strongest location is still Kitsilano with 28% of homes sold. I have a special report on the Kitsilano single family market if you want to check out the market update page of my website.



Single Family


If you would like to take a look at the market conditions for your area in detail, you can download the latest Snapstats report here This is a great way to learn where the market is heading. You will find a great 13 month graph here for each area showing:


- how prices are changing over time,

- how supply is changing over time,

- and how the number of sales are changing each month.


If you are interested in gaining access to all the sold and available homes in the lower mainland, feel free to use my website to search for your next home.

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We’ve all heard of spring cleaning.  But what about getting your home ready for the cold months? These chores may not be as exciting as making your space beautiful for the long days of summer, but they’re very important when preparing for wind, rain, and snow that's surely on the way. 


We live in a moderate climate, which means we don’t usually see temperatures dip into the negatives.  But, that doesn’t mean it never happens. If last winter taught us anything it’s that Vancouverites are (to put it bluntly) pretty pathetic Canadians when it comes to the cold (cue all the transit busses piled up along Broadway).  Most buildings in our city aren’t equipped to deal with below zero temperatures, as we saw during last year’s cold spell. Don’t let your home fall victim to bursting pipes! Insulate your pipes and shut off your water when leaving for a trip. Same goes for your outdoor appliances.  Ensure your hoses are turned off and free from water and bugs. 


Another suggestion is to free your lawn of leaves. This isn’t just for aesthetics as leaves can cause a lot of harm such as clogging pipes and flooding streets. Rake the leaves in your yard and set them out for collection in the same way you do your organics . 


And speaking of gutters, it’s a great idea to check your gutters and drainage. With the arrival of fall in Vancouver comes lots of rain, so make sure you’re prepared! This mundane task could save you a lot of money in the long run.


And with that, I wish you all a happy fall tune-up! 


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If you're reading this, chances are you’re new to the home buying experience. You might feel nervous, overwhelmed, or just plain confused about taking the first step. That's normal! Buying a home is one of the greatest financial decisions one will make in a lifetime, so it's only natural to feel some type of way. 


This is why I have decided to compile a few points of advice for those of you hoping to enter the real estate market. 


1. Do your research to get a feel for what you're really looking for - modern, rustic, bright? This will help you narrow down on places at the beginning of your home search.


2. Make a list of non-negotiable factors you are looking for in a home. For example, how important is a specific location? It's easy to overlook factors once you fall in love with a place.


3. When you hire a buyer's agent, do so under a written agreement!


4. And of course, enjoy the process! Get a realtor who is fun and spends the time to really get to know you and your unique needs. I love it when my clients become my friends! Buying a home can feel stressful at times, which is why it's important to have fun and really enjoy this huge accomplishment.


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Are you thinking about purchasing a vacation home?

Maybe you’re tired of high rental prices, or have always wanted a relaxing location to bring your family together? Whatever the case may be, vacation properties are attractive to many people. 


One of the many perks of living in BC is its abundance of beauty. With a short road trip or ferry ride, you can find a plethora of vacation potential . But, there is more that goes into purchasing a rental home than one may realize. Buying any property is a major financial decision, and so it is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s start with the benefits 

  1. If you are a regular vacationer, you may save money by purchasing a second home.  Over time, you’re building equity and not giving your money to someone else. 

  2. Similarly, investing in property helps you build wealth as market value increases.

  3. Your home could serve as supplementary income if rented out when you aren’t there. 

  4. If your vacation home isn’t rented out, you may be eligible for tax breaks on mortgage interest and property tax. 

Now for the drawbacks...

  1. Vacation homes can be expensive! Two mortgages, property tax, utilities, and other expenses can easily add up. And lenders charge higher interest rates than they would for a comparable primary home.

Here is a list of Tax you can expect to pay

  • Provincial Property Transfer Tax that is charged whether you buy undeveloped land, a second home, a strata property, or fractional ownership. Even if you’ve never before owned a home, you won’t qualify for the First-time Home Buyers’ Exemption program because the home isn’t your principal residence.
  • A BC Speculation and Vacancy Tax applies in taxable regions including Metro Vancouver, the Capital Regional District, Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Kelowna, Nanaimo, and Lantzville.
  • As the property owner, you must pay Capital Gains Tax on a second property (non-principal residence) when the property is sold or transferred.
  • If you plan to rent your vacation property, make sure rentals are indeed permitted. Stratas may not allow rentals.  Some municipal bylaws also restrict rentals and impose specific conditions.  For example, Whistler has Temporary Tourist Accommodation Regulations.
  1. Maintaining your second property can also be a lot of work.  Make sure you are well prepared for the added responsibility. The tax rate varies depending on: the owner’s tax residency; and whether the owner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or a member of a satellite family.

So now that you’re more educated on what owning a vacation property entails, where should you buy?


The location you choose for your vacation escape will largely depend on your lifestyle and personality, but I wanted to highlight one area in BC that I feel is a fantastic choice for a second home. 

Squamish - Squamish is a great option for vacation property for a number of reasons.  For one, location.  As it’s only about an hour from West Vancouver, minor transportation time gives you more time to enjoy your time away. And importantly, Squamish is in the wake of a massive new oceanfront development known as SEA AND SKY. This development will include over 900 two- and three- bedroom townhomes and apartments, and be a community where adventure meets access. This area has grown tremendously over the last few years, and property values could increase when the development is complete. If you would like to read more about this new development, click here

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As usual, the end of the summer has snuck up on us, and before we know it those pumpkin spice lattes will be back in full swing. But, as the weather gets cooler, so do fall styles. And personally, I love how a little design magic can turn a space from feeling like a house - to feeling like a home. So, for this reason I thought it would be useful to share what’s rumoured to be “IN” for interior design this fall season. 


1. Velvet! Who doesn’t love velvet? The fabric or the cake! Especially on accent pillows - they easily warm up a space and give it texture.


2. Clay and Curves. Venetian plaster, roman clay and lime wash walls. Futuristic aesthetics from the 80s and 90s and lots of curves - think couches, vases, lamps etc.


3. Checkers and fluted details. Subtle and soft, checkered prints add spice and depth to a space. 


4. Neutrals. Nothing new here, it seems like minimalism has been taking over in recent years, and it isn’t slowing down yet. Simple colours are timeless and will fit in with your style as it evolves. 


5. Cozy cottage vibes. Given the recent pandemic, cozy rustic interiors have become a common place of escape from the uncertainties of the world around us.  It’s no question that as cooler temperatures roll in, so will cozy cottage vibes.


And there you have it! Now you're in the loop with this years fall trends.  

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As the cost of living in Vancouver continues to rise,  it is becoming increasingly common to see home buyers (especially young first-timers) receiving financial help. 

This usually comes in the form of gifted money.  And although this is entirely legal, it is important to know the requirements for gifted down payments.  

  1. The gift must come from an immediate relative, defined as mother, father, brother, sister & grandparents.

  2. The lender will require that the giftor and the mortgage applicant sign a gift letter. The gift letters vary with each lender, so have your mortgage broker supply.

  3. The lender will call the giftor to verify that they are gifting the indicated funds.

  4. The gift should be deposited into the applicant's account at the time of writing and offer. The lender will require that the applicant show that they have received the gifted funds.

  5. Depending on the gift amount and the lender, there may be a requirement to show where the gifted funds came from. This could be bank statements, investments statements, or a Home equity line of credit statement.

  6. If the gifted funds are coming from outside Canada, the funds must be onshore and in the applicant's account 45 days before the purchase completion date. Please note that there are some countries that lenders will not accept gifted funds from.

  7. Gifted down payments are not acceptable by most lenders for the purchase of a revenue property.
If you have anymore questions about gifted down payments, I would be happy to chat.

 

David
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I don’t believe anyone would argue that Vancouver is known for its typically escalating housing prices.  Low interest rates are to thank for this new norm of multiple offers with properties selling far above asking price.


Not too long ago, I sold a home that received just two offers.  One was barely over asking, with the second nearly 100,000 over the asking price! 


This begs the question of what can be done to temper the escalation in prices for Canadians. Currently, the system in BC is not very transparent, as homebuyers rely entirely on the seller’s agent for information on how many other offers there might be. Basically, homebuyers are left in the dark, having no option other than to take the seller’s word.  So unfortunately, this allows for the possibility of unscrupulatory realtors. However, brokerages do have an obligation to retain records of each offer submitted, so that during an audit or investigation they may be verified. 


In Ontario, offers must be filed to a public registry.  This way, a potential buyer is able to see how many offers have been placed. Price and terms aren’t included. 


I feel that many in the industry would agree that the multiple offer process lacks transparency. The president of research firm North Cove Advisors, Ben Rabidoux, recommends an implementation of a simple mechanism found on many online auction sites, called an “automatic step-up clause.” In an environment where it is cheap for buyers to borrow money, this step could help minimize the blind bidding of prices due to the lack of indicators to guide them. 


What do you think about BC’s current bidding process? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

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