Vancouver Real Estate Blog

the city

Quick Facts

The real estate market in Vancouver is currently stabilizing, with housing prices being held in check by lower levels of supply and demand. According to the Canadian Real Estate Board, the median selling price for a detached home in the Greater Vancouver Area in September 2014 was $633,500, an increase of 5.3 percent from September 2013. Central Vancouver consists mostly of high-rises and apartment buildings, and is home to the Downtown area and the trendy West End. The West Side is where you can find some of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods, such as Shaughnessy and West Point Grey. South and East Vancouver are both highly multicultural with a mix of houses and apartments for various income levels.

  • 603,500

    Vancouver Population (2011)

  • 4.4%

    5 Year Population Change

  • 286,700

    Number of Homes in Vancouver

Data source: Statistics Canada

Why Buy a Home in Vancouver?

The Greater Vancouver Area is the third largest metropolitan area in Canada, and the largest in Western Canada. It has an idyllic location, nestled between the west coast and the Rocky Mountains. Vancouver is consistently voted as one of the best cities in the world to live in. It ranked in the top ten of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s most liveable cities list for five years in a row. Residents of Vancouver love having all the benefits of an urban environment surrounded by nature. They also appreciate the city’s laid-back atmosphere and cultural diversity – more than half of Vancouver’s residents do not speak English as their first language.

Explore Vancouver’s Rich Cultural Heritage

Aboriginal peoples have been living in the Vancouver area for as long as 10,000 years. Its present-day name comes from George Vancouver, a British explorer who explored the harbour in 1792. American settlers began to arrive in the nearby Fraser Canyon during the Fraser Gold Rush of 1858. The first European settlement in what is now Vancouver was established in 1862. Shortly afterward, logging mills were set up in the area to capitalize on the abundance of forests. The City of Vancouver was incorporated with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886. The CPR fuelled economic growth and attracted new residents. By the turn of the twentieth century, Vancouver was well on its way to becoming a prosperous, diverse economic centre.

Getting around in Vancouver

There’s a lot to see and do in Vancouver, and thankfully it’s all easily accessible. TransLink Vancouver is one of the most unique public transit systems in Canada, offering such services as the SeaBus and SkyTrain. TransLink services over 1800 square kilometres and provides some breathtaking views of the city. The streets in downtown Vancouver are grid-patterned and easy to navigate – generally, “avenues” run east-west and “streets” run north-south. The Trans-Canada Highway runs through the city’s east end, and the Vancouver-Blaine Highway runs south through Richmond all the way down into the United States. Cycling is Vancouver’s fastest growing mode of transportation, and the city has an extensive network of designated bike routes. Some bike trails worth exploring are those at Stanley Park and Pacific Spirit Park.

Shopping and Amenities

Shopping in Vancouver consists of everything from big malls, to designer boutiques, to multicultural markets. Metropolis at Metrotown, located just otuside the city, is British Columbia’s largest mall. The Downtown and Gastown area abounds with a mix of high-end and independent stores. In Chinatown, you can a wide variety of goods for sale. Vancouver’s mild climate and beautiful environment make outdoor recreation activities popular. The city has over 18 kilometres of beaches that provide for many kinds of water sport, as well as several running and cycling trails. Indoor fitness facilities and gyms are also prominent. There are over 200 public, Catholic, and private schools in Vancouver, and a number of colleges and universities, including Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia.

Entertainment and Attractions in Vancouver

It would be impossible to capture all the things to do in Vancouver in a single list. The more adventurous types might want to try tree top walking in the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. For a more cultured outing, check out the Vancouver Art Gallery or the Museum of Vancouver. The music scene is prominent and encompasses everything from orchestral music, to alternative rock, to folk. The city also has vibrant nightlife centered around the Granville Entertainment District and Gastown. Sports fans won’t find a lack of teams to cheer on, including a number of minor league teams and three major league professional teams – the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps, and BC Lions.

 

Source: Zoocasa

house inspection checklist

 If you’re thinking of buying a home, consider using a checklist. After you’ve seen a few homes, you may have trouble remembering the details.

A checklist can help you remember which home had an ensuite bath, which had walk-in closets and which had the appliances included.

You can also include details about the amount of property taxes and maintenance costs associated with each home; and whether the home was to local amenities such as shopping,  schools, parks and medical clinics.

Compiling a home-hunting checklist will help you keep track of the features and the drawbacks of each home you view.

You can develop a checklist yourself that includes space for standard questions such as location, asking price, annual property taxes, mortgage terms and other items that are important to you and your family. Your REALTOR® can help you with this.

Here are some checklist items Royal Pacific Realty Group suggests you consider:

Exterior

Jot down your impressions of the exterior of the home, noting the lot size and shape, position of the house on the lot (facing north or south, east or west), and whether it has a private or shared driveway. Also note whether it has a large front, side, and backyard and what condition the landscaping is in and whether there are many mature trees and shrubs.

What type of siding does the home have and what kind of shape is it in? Is it a detached home or half of a duplex? How many stories does it have? Don’t forget tojot down whether it has an attached or detached garage and whether it can accommodate one or two cars. Also note whether there is a porch or verandah, storage shed and whether the yard is fenced. How private is the home?

While still outside, take a good look at the roof and note its general condition and age. Check to see if any roof repairs were made recently.

Interior

Once you’ve completed your checklist for the exterior, it’s time to move indoors. Make a note of the total number of rooms in the home.
Check all windows and note whether they are single pane or thermopane. Do they open and close without sticking? What about the doors? Also make a note of their general condition and whether the locks and latches work.

The kitchen is an essential part of any home, so note its general size and colours, whether it has an eat-in area and sufficient cupboard space. Is there a pantry or food preparation island? What condition are the countertops and sink in? Are the cupboards old or new? What shape is the floor in and what is it made of? Is the existing lighting adequate for carrying out kitchen tasks, as well as dining? Also make sure there are enough outlets to run your appliances. Are the fridge, stove, and dishwasher included with the sale? Are they all operational? Note how many burners the stove has and whether it’s gas or electric.

Once you’ve completed your kitchen checklist, move to the dining room and note its size, whether it’s separate from the kitchen and the condition of the floors and walls. Are there any built-in cupboards? Is the chandelier being sold with the house? Take similar notes for the living room. Is there a fireplace? How many windows are there and what are their sizes? Do the window coverings stay when the house is sold?

If the home has a family room, note whether it’s closer or adjacent to the kitchen, if it has access to outdoors and if it has a fireplace or wood stove. Is the stove CSA approved?

Move on to the bedrooms and note their size and closet space and whether there are any window coverings or adjoining bathrooms. Also note the type of flooring in each bedroom and the colors the rooms are painted.

Make notes on the number and size of bathrooms and the condition of the fixtures. Check all faucets and flush toilets to make sure they are in good working order and to see if there is adequate water pressure. Look for signs of mould and deterioration – sometimes these are warning signs of inadequate ventilation.

Basement

Next, move to the basement. Note whether it is full or partially finished or unfinished. Is there adequate headroom for moving about? Is there a fireplace or wood-burning stove? Also look for signs of moisture – such as water marks and peeling paint.

Note whether there is a utility area and whether the washer and dryer are being sold with the house. Again, look for signs of water damage.

Find out if any recent renovations have been made to the home. It’s Also very important to ask about the type of heating, water service, plumbing (copper or other) and electrical amperage. Is the hot water heater owned or rented? Is it gas or electric and what is its capacity? What type of insulation is in the house?

Ask your REALTOR® about any details you’re unsure of. By arming yourself with a checklist and finding out all the pertinent information ahead of time, you’ll find the process much more enjoyable and much less daunting.

Your checklist

  • What size and shape is the lot? Is it fully serviced with sewage, water, gas and electrical lines?
  • How many square feet of living space are there? How many rooms?
  • What type of floors are beneath the carpeting?
  • Are the room sizes adequate for your needs, including storage and closet space?
  • Are the kitchen and bathrooms adequately ventilated?
  • Is the kitchen suitable? Are there enough outlets and space for appliances?
  • What kind of heat system is used and how much does it cost to heat the house?
  • Are there adequate electrical outlets throughout the home?
  • Do windows and doors open and close easily?
  • What is included in the sale – appliances, etc.?
  • Is there sufficient parking? How large is the garage?
  • Is a property condition disclosure statement available? This form provides information about the state of the property to all potential buyers.
  • What is the zoning on the property, and on surrounding properties? What changes to the immediate vicinity can be expected?
  • Are there any restrictive covenants, i.e., specific limitations on such things as use, occupancy, exterior finish?
  • Are there any easements, i.e., rights or privileges one party may have to use the land for a special purpose?

Always hire a professional, certified home inspector who will provide you with a detailed report on the condition of the home.

 

From Royal Pacific Realty blog, posted August 12th, 2010

podcasts

The Real Estate Guys Radio is great. I recommend subscribing to their podcast.

The website address is www.realestateguysradio.com.

 

Bigger Pockets podcast is helpful.   https://www.biggerpockets.com/

However, these are American podcasts, and their real estate strategies are for the American situation. In Vancouver, it doesn’t work the same way, and you need different strategies suited for this city.

Investment Income

People usually struggle to survive by working to make an income and then spending all their money on their expenses. Life can be hard. But there is something called passive income. If you own an investment property and have rental income, it will make your life much easier. Instead of working hard and spending all your money,  you have what is called passive income to help you by supplementing your income. With rental income, no longer will it be so financially tight by working hard and only having just enough money; the rental money will come easily every month. Owning a property and renting it out makes like that much easier. And that is why it is a good idea for people to save their money and make a real estate purchase, so they can have their own rental property.

Student Rentals

You can easily find student tenants in properties nearby universities or colleges. An owner of a house near UBC or SFU can quickly find many students willing to rent rooms. One room can rent for $500/month, but the rental rates will depend on the age and condition of the house. If it is an old house, the students will be willing to pay less rent than if it is a newer house. Many student renters come in groups. They may be friends or of the same ethnic group, and they want to rent a house together, splitting up the rooms between them. Being a landlord can be a pleasant experience, because it is easy to find tenants and the cash flow is constant. However, student tenants will often leave garbage on the property, so there will be some clean up costs.

Also, any family looking for a mortgage helper can rent out one of the rooms in their house, or rent out the basement suite. It is often a good idea to be a landlord, because rental income is a good source of cash.

Feng Shui

Feng Shui may be very important to some Asian buyers of real estate. A proper Feng Shui ensures there is a smooth flow of “qi”/energy around the house. This smooth flow will ensure a good interplay between the seen (our surroundings) and the unseen spiritual world of energy and spirits. With so many Chinese buyers in Vancouver the Feng Shui of a house becomes important. For example, one house had a stairway leading up to the upstairs, with the entrance of the stairway directly in front the main door entrance, which was very bad Feng Shui.

Copper Piping

In other countries the water has a heavy mineral content which causes the development of a thin layer inside the pipes, so the pipes do not leak.

But here in Vancouver, the water is so clean that this doesn’t happen.

Factors than can wear down the piping include chlorine, bacteria, low mineral content in water, and the use of Drano, which is very acidic.

Copper piping can have these problems; that is why new construction may use nonmetallic pipes for the plumbing system.

When piping is at risk of having pin-hole leaks, they can either be replaced or have epoxy pipe treatment to create an inner lining in the pipes.

Air Quality

Here are some tips to maintain good air quality inside your home:

Don’t smoke inside the house.

Open the windows sometimes for fresh air. If it is cold outside, just open the windows for one hour.

Open the window or turn on the fan when cooking food.

Use the bathroom fans when there is a smell in the bathroom.

Don’t burn candles or incense inside the house.

Don’t use a wood stove or wood fireplace.

Vacuum regularly and dust regularly.

Clean the dust out of your fans once a year.

Put an air purifier in your room. It will filter the dust out of the air.

GFCI

A ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is an electronic device for protecting people from serious injury due to electric shock.

GFCIs constantly monitor electricity flowing in a circuit. If the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning, the GFCI will quickly shut off the current flowing through that circuit. The advantage of using GFCIs Is that they can detect even small variations in the amount of leakage current, even amounts too small to activate a fuse or circuit breaker. GFCIs work quickly, so they can help protect consumers from severe electric shocks and electrocution.

If you buy an old home with old electrical circuits, I recommend spending a few thousand dollars to get new electrical wiring and GFCIs in every circuit.

BC Assessment

Property owners in BC received their BC Assessment in the mail this week. The BC Assessment assessed value of the property is used to calculate property taxes. It is also a good indicator of the property value. The assessed value is of the date July 1 of that year.

BC Assessment calculates value based on comparable homes nearby, and considers factors such as size of home, view, location, number of bedrooms, etc. BC Assessment values are accurate if all the houses on the same street are identical. But when the houses have differences such as renovations, you need a real estate agent to see these factors in order to obtain a more accurate market value. That is why you need a realtor to find the value of the property, and why computers will never be able to get a number that can be relied upon alone.