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Please visit our Open House at 14842 BEACHVIEW AVE in White Rock.
Open House on Saturday, June 20, 2015 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Imagine living off of the White Rock Pier & Promenade! This clean 1 bdrm/1 bath is at the heart of White Rock's desirable beach area. Tasteful updates include flooring, light fixtures, designer paint, dishwasher, clothes washer/dryer, h/w tank and more! Low maintenance fees and well maintained building. Call for a private viewing today!
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Please visit our Open House at 9 20120 68 AVE in Langley.
Open House on Saturday, June 13, 2015 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
What more can you ask for at THE OAKS? Langley's hidden gem is centrally located for schools, shopping, walking paths, playgrounds, transit & more. Your new home is a spacious open layout 3 bdrm + flex/rec room end unit in a family-friendlytownhome complex. Ideally situated overlooking a playground to the South and a greenbelt to the West. New flooring throughout & updated bathrooms. All upgrades included granite countertops on all floors & s/s appliances. Two balconies for optimum living & entertaining w/ gas BBQ outlet! Side by side double garage - a rare find! Call today for a private showing!
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I have listed a new property at 9 20120 68 AVE in Langley.
What more can you ask for at THE OAKS? This hidden gem is centrally located for schools, shopping, walking paths, playgrounds, transit and more. Your new home is a spacious open layout 3 bdrm + flex/rec room end unit in a family-friendly townhome complex is ideally situated overlooking a playground to the South and a greenbelt to the West. New flooring throughout, updated bathroom. All show upgrades included granite countertops on all floors & s/s appliances. Two balconies for optimum living & entertaining w/ gas BBQ outlet! Side by side double garage - a rare find! Call today for a private showing!
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What more can you ask for at THE OAKS? Langley's hidden gem is centrally located for schools, shopping, walking paths, playgrounds, transit & more.

 

Your new home is a spacious open layout 3 bdrm + flex/rec room end unit in a family-friendlytownhome complex. Ideally situated overlooking a playground to the South and a greenbelt to the West.

 

New flooring throughout & updated bathrooms. All upgrades included granite countertops on all floors & s/s appliances.

 

Two balconies for optimum living & entertaining w/ gas BBQ outlet! Side by side double garage - a rare find! Call today for a private showing!

View Full Details here!

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The Conference Board of Canada has recently released its prediction that Canadian mortgages will likely rise next Spring. Obviously there is no mention of how much rates would increase, but the report states that there is just too much inflationary pressure to ignore.

 

Now, I'm not a gambling man nor do I have a fondness for predictions, although I do like to study them. More importantly, I like to study where they come from. There are some companies (no names) that will sell doomsday reports on an annual basis that cry out that the market is 20-30% overvalued. The Conference Board isn't one of them. Although they missed the market on their 2011 prediction of rising mortgage rates, so did everyone else. Since then, they've been on the mark that the Bank of Canada will hold steady on its prime lending rate. Keep in mind that TD Bank economists have also predicted a rise in rates as early as this Fall (although this prediction was almost 6 months ago).

 

CMHC recently increased premiums for homebuyers putting less than 10% down on their mortgage, which seems to signal to me at least that there is definitely a hesitation in Ottawa to bump up rates. Every movement over the last 5 years to cool the market has been made without hiking rates: shorter insured amortizations, higher premiums, a pox on highly leveraged loans, etc. Yet there is only so much power that the Bank of Canada and CMHC has without raising rates.

 

So the chances of a rate hike are good, but it likely that increases, barring an economical catastrophe, will be moderate.

 

So what does that mean for us? And by us I don't mean "us Realtors" - I mean, "us the normal hardworking home sellers and buyers." Generally it means more money going into the government as they attempt to handle inflation. Banks tend to take the same skim off the top whether an interest rate is 2.25% or 5.25%. What that looks for the home buyer is the limiting of purchasing power. This has the obvious affect of lowering the ability to buy the pricier home and effectively takes some prospective purchasers out of the market altogether. The overall affect is a softening marketingplace, and a loss of potential equity for homesellers.

 

In this softening market, buyers are not rewarded unless they have cash on hand. With cash, you can avoid the higher mortgage rates and be rewarded with lower home prices. Who has enough cash to buy a home without any mortgage? I'll let you guess which socio-economic demographic is rewarded here.

 

For those of us NOT in the top 1%, here is what the benchmark Vancouver area home would look like before and after a hypothetical mortgage rate increase.

Right now I can get you 2.54% on a five year fixed. For sake of argument, let's say you have the 20% down required to avoid CMHC premiums. The current benchmark home is selling for $684,400 (REBGV, May 2015). This gives you a mortgage of $547,520. With a 25 year amortization, you're looking at a monthly payment of $2,463.62 (we're leaving out other fees for simplification). If this same mortgage was bumped to 3.5%, you're new payment is $2,733.60. And at 5.0% you're now looking at $3,184.40. The scary thing is that these $270-720 increases aren't paying down your principal - that is just INTEREST.

 

However, the real way of looking at this is that this buyer is no longer looking at a $684,400 home because their max payment was originally $2,500. At a 5.0% interest rate, the max this buyer can now go is a $425,000 mortgage, or with 20% down, an approx. $532,000 home. This is a loss of over $150,000 in purchasing power. Perhaps 5.0% might seem a little extreme right now, but this is a historically normal interest rate. So do home buyers gain anything from a cooling market caused by interest rates? Well, that depends on how much cash you have, and for most home sellers, that amount of cash is will shrink as interest rates rise.

 

Looking to re-finance or purchase a home? Brad Richert & Associates works with 4 top mortgage brokers based on your needs and always working for your interests at no cost to you. Schedule a time to meet one today!

 

Need to find out how much your home is worth in this market? Schedule a free, no obligation, no pressure home evaluation today! If we do not work in your area, we will find a vetted, qualified agent for you!

------------

The views expressed herein are those of mine and mine alone. They are not representative of Macdonald Realty and/or any of its affiliates.

 

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There’s a lot more than foreign ownership at play with Vancouver’s housing market and it’s time to start talking about what is really going on instead of finding a foreign scapegoat.

 

A STATISTICAL PROBLEM

The City of Vancouver is a tiny 114.97 km2 (44.39 sq mi). By comparison, the City of Toronto (post-amalgamation) is 630.21 km2 (243.33 sq mi). To the West is the Pacific Ocean. To the North is the Pacific Ocean and the separate municipalities of West Vancouver and North Vancouver. To the South is the City of Richmond and to the East is Burnaby and the rest of the “Metro Vancouver” region.

 

Unfortunately when we often read about Vancouver home prices, especially in comparison to other cities, they take City of Vancouver average home prices and say its the same thing as Metro Vancouver, often interchanging the two. But it's not. In fact, you could almost fit the City of Vancouver, West Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster into the same area as Toronto. Even “Old Toronto”, where you find the city’s bustling downtown, is 97.15 km2 (37.51 sq mi) - almost as big as the entire City of Vancouver. It’s population is 736,775 (2011): more populous than the City of Vancouver (603,502 in 2011). So for starters, we need to start comparing apples to apples. Vancouver, by nature of it's non-amalgamated bordering municipalities and it's geographical constraints, is not Toronto and it actually has very few comparables cities worldwide. If we are going to compare Vancouver to a city that includes it's surrouding suburban sprawl into sales figures, then we should do the same.

 

A GEOGRAPHICAL PROBLEM

The City of Vancouver itself, along with its suburban support system in the Metro Vancouver area, is running out of room for single family housing. Even in my own suburban community of the Township of Langley, almost 75% of its 306.93 km2 (118.51 sq mi) is locked in BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), leaving around 80 km2  for development - comparable to all developable land in the City of Vancouver (if you exclude University greenland & Stanley Park). Once Langley’s fast growing neighbourhood of Willoughby is developed, there will literally be no room left unless we take out the ALR or start re-developing older neighbourhoods (ask the people of Brookswood how excited they are for that!).

 

Vancouver's own condo-king, Bob Rennie of Rennie Marketing Systems, has recently been in the media urging young Vancouverites to give up on the dream of owning a single family home (or implicitly, take a hike to the suburbs). While many people and advocacy groups are trying to blame foreign owners, Rennie & Mayor Robertson are attempting to put the blame on home flippers & speculators. The problem is that there is a serious lack of data to target either one of these scapegoats and the numbers that are available simply don’t support either. It is neither simple nor inexpensive to own more than one property in this province.

 

Real estate prices are simple: it's supply and demand. There is no overarching malevolent force pushing prices higher. Governments don’t set prices, Realtors don’t set prices, Walmart doesn’t set prices. Sale prices are simply what a buyer is willing to pay on the open market and what the seller is willing to accept. The problem with the recent attack on foreign ownership is that investment has always been here: whether it was Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or China, we’ve always had this external factor. But if we follow history, it isn’t foreign ownership that pushes demand, it’s the somewhat predictable generational demographics that drives the marketplace. A large generational cohort will put incredible stress of demand when they reach their home-buying years. The main difference between, say, the 1970s, and now is that we lack the land to waste on single family homes. The demand is the same, but the supply is limited.

 

THE SUBURBAN BOOMERS

 

From 1946 to 1965, 8.2 million people were born in Canada. We call these the baby boomers. As documented in many studies and popular books, this generation has had a huge affect on our world, including housing. The first impact was, of course, when the boomers themselves were born. The 1950’s saw the revolution of the American suburb as the parents of the baby boomers escaped from the cities with all their babies: Between 1945 and 1960, over 1 million Canadians moved from the city to the suburb (Owram, “Born at the Right Time”, 1996). It was the perfect storm for a housing boom: interest rates were low, land was plentiful, down payments were easy, standard of living high, real cost of building was low, and unemployment was low. In 1945, fewer than 49,000 homes were built across the country. By the end of the 1950’s, 150,000 homes per year were being developed. Over 70% of dwellings were single family homes. Burnaby, Vancouver’s Eastern neighbour, grew from 30,000 in 1941 to over 100,000 by 1960. However, the one thing the parents of the baby boomers did not worry about was land. It was plentiful and they had the American dream, the automobile, to connect their suburban home to everything they needed in life.

 

THE BOOMERS START BUYING

 

When the Boomers started buying, the affects were enormous. As they hit their 20’s, the impact was subtle (a forewarning to 2000-2004 market increases), but by the 1970’s, it was more than apparent that this was something the world had never seen before. Canadian housing starts were peaking around 250,000 dwellings per year. Entire cities, mostly suburban, sprouted between the 1960s and 1980s to fit this powerful and populous cohort. It shouldn’t be hard for Vancouverites to see the affects of this development today: about 10,000 “Vancouver Specials” were built between 1965 and 1985, designed to maximize as much square footage as possible on smaller urban lots. However, land still was not an issue (see 2 photos below of downtown Vancouver, 1974 on the left, 2014 on the right. More stunning photos at http://news.buzzbuzzhome.com/2013/07/vancouver-skyline.html). Lots were getting smaller to fit as many single family homes as possible in Vancouver, but the prominent development was still the detached home.

 












In the 1970’s, however, we began to see cracks in the facade. There wasn’t an infinite amount of land and some of that land was too precious to keep developing homes on. In 1973, Dave Barrett’s NDP BC government established the Agricultural Land Reserve to protect farmland from being paved over. While it has since become sacrosanct in the province, at the time it was deeply divisive. While it did its job well, it had a significant affect on housing prices, both in the short term and long term. It took away 47,000 square kilometres (18,000 sq mi) throughout the province and would later put substantial pressure on Metro Vancouver communities such as Langley and Delta to be wiser with their housing development. Yet suburban communities such as Langley would continue to develop sprawl-like neighbourhoods such as Brookswood (1970’s), Murrayville (1980’s), and Walnut Grove (1990’s).

 

THE MILLENNIALS COMETH

 

While the Boomers and some Gen X'ers did have less children than their parents, those massive generational cohorts still managed to produce 9 million Canadian babies between 1980 and 2000. The Millennials, as they are affectionately called, are even bigger than the Baby Boomers. The oldest and most precocious of the Millennials started entering the housing market in the early 2000s. They were taught the mantras of real estate by our parents: “buy real estate, it only goes up.” It should be no surprise that while the 1990s offered the most stagnant years in real estate prices, that in 2002 prices started to rise as he first of the Millennials were getting their feet wet in the marketplace. By 2006, when the oldest Millennials were hitting their mid-20s, it was a frenzy.

 

FUEL TO THE FIRE

 

The market was hot with this new cohort entering the market, but the two North American governments would add fuel to the fire. The Bush administration allowed Americans to get in on Fannie Mae-insured 0% down, 40 or even 50 year amortization subprime mortgages in 2005; Canada needed to wait until the newly elected Harper government would allow the same in late 2006. By stretching out mortgage amortizations and allowing highly leveraged loans, the Millennials, along with everyone else, went trigger-happy. That is, until the house of cards came tumbling down. The American market began to collapse in 2007 and was in full-fledged panic mode in 2008-09. Yet by 2010, the dual force of low interest rates and the sheer size of a new generations purchasing homes would pick the market out of the gutter and to new heights, especially in Canada where we had less of a sub-prime industry (many thanks to the underappreciated Paul Martin finance years).

 

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

 

Now it’s 2015 and the first Millennials are now in their mid 30’s and those born around the midway point are now in their mid-twenties. Other than a few hipsters (eieieieie, I jest!), they have jobs and they want homes. 9 million Canadians are at the age where they are moving away from their parents (or at least hoping to) and most want to own their own home. And yes, some of them aren't Caucasion. In fact, many are, I know this is hard to grasp, Asian. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Chinese-Canadian millennials make up a huge portion of this cohort due to many generations of Chinese immigrants over the last 100 years. Of course, this also includes the 70% of the roughly 300,000 immigrants every year for the last two decades. Yet, this is why we must be careful about the anecdotal evidence the media and general public has been relying on. I have heard numerous stories where an agent and/or his/her client assumes they lost a bid to a "foreign owner" simply because the winning bid wasn’t Caucasion. Yes, it happens and a lot more than our polite Canadian society is willing to admit. While a global economy will certainly have foreign investment, some legitimate and some corrupt, there is little concrete evidence to suggest this, or home flippers/speculators, are driving the market in a substantial way. We need to recognize this, if only to remain a healthier society that doesn't avoid racial profiling beyond just political correctness. Unfortunately the media is resorting solely to these anecdotes and not to the facts - mostly because the facts are so sparse and the topic so emotionally charged. We need to move pass the ignorant, racially fueled accusation that every Asian buyer is a "foreign owner".


VANCOUVER REALTY/REALITY CHECK

 

First time home buyer programs have attempted to ease buyers into condos and townhouses for the last decade. The first millennials are now feeling the pinch of the new reality. Caught up in the mantra of buying real estate and the condo boom of the mid 2000s, suburban condos such as in the Fraser Valley have since lost upwards of 10% of equity: more, if they bought new (which I dare say most Millennials did). In Langley, the benchmark price for a Willoughby condo in the Spring of 2008 was $202,800. Today, that same condo is going for $175,600 (April 2015). This neighbourhood is 30 minutes away from the City of Vancouver. Meanwhile, the press cries out about skyrocketing Metro Vancouver home prices, has a higher median household income, comparable crime and school system. While not part of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Langley is part of Metro Vancouver, as is Surrey and Delta.

 

Vancouver condos have obviously faired better over that same timeframe (2008-2015), but it isn’t something to jump up and down about. The benchmark apartment in Spring of 2008 was $429,000. After three consecutive months of rapidly increased prices, today’s benchmark Vancouver apartment is going for $477,500 (in January it was $458,500). The average/median home selling in this price range was just shy of 800 sq.ft. This certainly isn’t Hong Kong, New York, or London. What is shown by this is that apartment values, at least in Vancouver, have stabilized, even in the hottest market in years. Only the last few months have been relatively outstanding, but it is likely that this is part of the seasonal ebb and flow of real estate.

 

The constant hysteria in the media, both mainstream and alternative, simply doesn’t measure up to the reality of the situation. Millennials aren’t homeless and they ARE buying, somehow. How is this when the media keeps pummelling into us that the average home prices is this or that? For one, most Millennials, ie. those not complaining about not having a million dollars, are coming to terms with the reality that the median price of $625,000 (Update: this dropped to $619,000 in May) is quite a bit less than a million dollars and that they can actually find a home less than half a million dollars. Most Millennials understand they don’t need a lot of space if they have access to transit and amenities. Most Millennials recognize that they don’t need the ocean view or something brand new. Many Millennials don’t mind finding a home in Burnaby, Coquitlam or Langley. They ARE adjusting their expectations. It is simply a loud noisy few who want what their parents have and they want it now, not 20 years from now. But quiet, moderate people do not make headlines. 


AVERAGE VS MEDIAN VS BENCHMARK HOME VALUES

 

The media continues to regularly share headlines about the “average” home sale. The public doesn’t always understand what this really means. What most people want to know is what a “typical” home cost is in the area, which is very different than the “average”. The "average" home sale is found by adding the sale prices of all the sales in an area and then dividing that by the number of sales. What happens is that a spurt of ultra high home sales will skew the typical home.

Let’s say you have 5 sales:

$25,000,000

$1,000,000

$500,000

$400,000

$300,000

Based on these five sales, the average sale is $5,440,000. The median sale is $500,000. Egads, this is a problem, isn't it?

 

This is an extreme example, but Vancouver is full of extremes. The "median" home is the sale that is right in the middle of all the sales. So in an area with 60 sales, it will be the 2 sales that have 29 above and 29 below. While not the best indicator of prices, it is much better than "average". It too can be skewed, especially by a massive new condo project in the area.

 

The best indicator tends to be the MLS Benchmark value (which is the one I usually use). What we try to do with the benchmark is come up with what the most "typical" home in the area sells for and follow that hypothetical sale as close as possible. So in Langley a benchmark detached home might be a 3200 sqft home on a 4200 sqft lot with 5 bedrooms and is 12 years old. The downfall of this is that a typical home is subjective and trying to track something hypothetical is just that - hypothetical.

 

Yet both benchmark prices and median prices are better indicators of a market than average prices. But high average prices are great for the media but it doesn't tell you that you can live in a nice home in Greater Vancouver for $600,000. No, it won't be detached, and it probably won't be right downtown.

 

Just in case you were wondering and are confused by all the recent numbers reported in the press, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (not including Fraser Valley communities of Delta, Surrey, Langley, etc.) posted an AVERAGE price of $901,542 for all homes in the area in April. The MEDIAN was $625,000. The BENCHMARK was $673,000. In case you were wondering, a Millennial can buy the BENCHMARK townhouse in the Vancouver area for $493,300. This is why the sky isn’t falling. This is why most Millennials, perhaps not a few 29 year olds on twitter, are okay with adjusting their expectations. Not everyone needs a detached home. Nor does this mean that everyone must live in a tiny condo. 

 

THE FUTURE OF VANCOUVER

 

The challenge of space for the Millennials seemed to have been brushed aside a decade ago by predictions that the baby boomers would sell their homes in droves and move to 500-700 sq.ft. boxes in the sky and that Millennials would desert the single family home. It hasn’t happened. Baby boomers aren’t selling and Millennials want to raise families in single family homes. In April of 2010, there were 6,195 homes in Greater Vancouver on the market. In April of 2012 there were 6,529. In April 2014, it was 6,405. Last month, April 2015, only 4,599 homes were listed. Meanwhile, sales were the opposite. April 2010: 1,307; April 2012: 1,106; April 2014: 1,309; last month: 1,771. We are entering a new era ushered by 9 million young Canadians looking to buy, but with the previous 8.2 million baby boomers unwilling to sell. The result is that even while we build towering condos, the height of prices on single family homes will eclipse even those.

 

Do Millennials want condos? What the sale numbers suggest is that no matter how fast we build condos in Metro Vancouver, the market remains more or less balanced. We have a good supply of condos to those who wish to purchase them. But then we enter the detached home market and it is different story entirely. Multiple offers are the norm throughout Metro Vancouver and even the Fraser Valley. Millennials are having babies. If census reports are any indication, reproduction rates are likely to surpass the Baby Boomers. But while the Baby Boomers escaped to the “unlimited” land of the suburbs, the Millennials have no place to go. Except maybe Alberta. Joking aside, the challenge of raising a family in a condo is going to become the new reality unless we can find a middle ground because the other reality is that wages are not increasing with detached home prices. Nor should they expect to be. A bump in the minimum age or somehow forcing wage increases for median wage earners will only inspire young Canadians to buy more and bigger and elevate prices even moreso.

 

So the real question is, can Canada's largest cities and their surrounding areas cater to the 9 million Canadians in an affordable way? Many of which are very attracted to the brand and lifestyle that cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal have manifested. Bob Rennie is right, it is time to forget about the detached home for young Vancouverites. Urban single family homes have reached their peak. But that doesn’t mean we need to solely focus on a product that is more or less unlivable for the next generation who also want to have a family of their own. Millennials are not going to raise 2 kids in 600 sq.ft. homes. They will will escape to the suburbs just as their parents did.


The solution is simple yet complex. It doesn’t require the state taking control of the market nor obscure taxes for foreign owners or the few people looking to risk their money on the open market - we already have the Property Transfer Tax for that. What we do need is a serious look at planning livable density in the form of midrises, townhouses & rowhouses as the new “Vancouver Special”. Metro Vancouver’s municipalities also need to get real about restricting “urban ghettoes” also known as “micro suites”. We need homes that are for living based on the demographics of the city over the next 20-40 years, not homes that cater to a minority of young single people for a couple years and the developers who build them. Vancouver doesn’t have to become a two-tier city between the box in the sky and the detached home. It can offer a lot in between. This means serious research into what the baby boomers are doing, what the Millennials are going to do and what the next 20-40 years will look like if Millennials do, in fact, have more children than their parents.


 

Looking to re-finance or purchase a home? Brad Richert & Associates works with 4 top mortgage brokers based on your needs and always working for your interests at no cost to you. Schedule a time to meet one today!

 

 

 

Need to find out how much your home is worth in this market? Schedule a free, no obligation, no pressure home evaluation today! If we do not work in your area, we will find a vetted, qualified agent for you!


------

The opinions herein are mine and mine alone. They are not representative of Macdonald Realty and/or it's affiliates.

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I have sold a property at 19627 72A AVE in Langley.
Pottery Barn-inspired custom crafted home, built for owner. Stand out of the crowd w/ incredible curb appeal & stunning stonework. Foyer opens up to magnificent 18' ceiling, classic crown moldings & elegant wainscotting. Birch hardwood floor throughout main accentuates richness of this beautifully crafted home. Living/Dining area ideal for entertaining. Granite countertops & backsplash w/ rich white cabinets & S/S appliances make kitchen functional & fabulous. Master bdrm features ensuite w/ separate his/her granite vanities. 2 bdrms w/ box window seats. Bsmt offers rec room & beautiful 2 Bdrm LEGAL suite must see to believe! Home backs onto park breezeway - terrific for kids & dog-lovers!
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