Steve Baldwin


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A controversial new tax aimed at curbing foreign speculation in British Columbia's red-hot housing market might actually hurt local homeowners more than anyone else, the province admitted Thursday.


According to the Ministry of Finance, about 32,000 properties are about to be hit with the so-called speculation tax on unrented second homes. Nearly two-thirds or about 20,000 of them are B.C.-owned.


Roughly 10,000 homes belong to foreign owners, while 2,000 are owned by Canadians from other provinces.


Liberal finance critic Shirley Bond called the numbers "disappointing" Thursday.


"From my perspective, this is an asset tax," she said. "After working very hard in this province and putting their resources into an asset, this government intends to focus on British Columbians."


The province, however, insists its target is speculators.


In March, Finance Minister Carole James said the levy is intended "to make sure that we get speculators who are using our housing market as a stock market out of the business."


On Thursday, she continued to say that 99 per cent of British Columbians won't pay.


"This tax is impacting people who have second or third or fourth homes in the least affordable communities in British Columbia," she said.


"We have to address the housing crisis. There are families in this province who have not even a hope of owning a home."


Locals who have to pay the fee will face a lower rate and receive a tax credit. That means they'll only pay a combined $60 million, while non-residents will pay $140 million, even though British Columbians make up more than 60 per cent of those taxed.


While those across the aisle acknowledge that speculation is a problem in the province, they say the tax isn't the way to solve it.


"It's time for the NDP to take a look at this and look at realistic, practical ways to actually deal with the actual speculators in this province," Bond said.


This isn't the first time that the levy has sparked controversy.


Weeks after it was introduced in the February budget, pushback from vacation communities across the province led the government to announce changes narrowing the scope of the tax, which applies to those who own a home they don't live in or rent out for a majority of the year.


As it stands, the tax will start at a base rate of 0.5 per cent of the property's assessed value in 2018. It will climb to 1 per cent for Canadians outside of B.C. and 2 per cent for foreign investors in 2019.


The levy will only apply to specific communities where the province says speculation is a significant problem.

These include:

  • Metro Vancouver Regional District (excluding Bowen Island and parts of Electoral Area A that aren't in the University Endowment Lands)
  • The Capital Regional District (excluding the Gulf Islands, Juan de Fuca, Willis Point, East Sooke Park and Matheson Lake Park)
  • Kelowna
  • West Kelowna
  • Nanaimo-Lantzville (excluding Newcastle, Protection and smaller islands in Departure Bay)
  • Chilliwack
  • Abbotsford
  • Mission

The tax is expected to become law this fall.


Article from CTV Vancouver - May 17th


A down payment on an "affordable" Toronto condo could buy you a whole house in the Maritimes.


Woe be the millennial homebuyer in Canada.

Things were hard enough in recent years, with house prices rising rapidly in many cities, but a new report from Royal LePage highlights just how much tougher buying a home has become in recent months.


The federal government's new mortgage rules, instituted at the start of the year, have reduced the buying power for a "peak millennial" by about $40,000, the report said, reducing the mortgage they can get by 16.5 per cent.


Woe be the millennial homebuyer in Canada.

Things were hard enough in recent years, with house prices rising rapidly in many cities, but a new report from Royal LePage highlights just how much tougher buying a home has become in recent months.


The federal government's new mortgage rules, instituted at the start of the year, have reduced the buying power for a "peak millennial" by about $40,000, the report said, reducing the mortgage they can get by 16.5 per cent.


Working couples have a better shot at getting in the market, with a maximum price of around $406,000 for the average duo, Royal LePage noted. And pairing up isn't the only way millennials are using to get into the market.

"In major cities across Canada, a growing number of peak millennials will save, pool their money with a partner and/or borrow funds from their parents, many of whom are downsizing in retirement and can financially contribute to their child's first home purchase," the report noted.


For those discouraged by the astronomical prices in Toronto and Vancouver, the report points out there are far more affordable places to buy homes in Canada.

"A peak millennial can purchase a home in Moncton, New Brunswick for the cost of the 20 per cent down payment on a home in the market segment accessible to them in the Greater Toronto Area or Greater Vancouver."

Among Canada's major cities, there are major disparities in how much home a typical millennial couple can afford, from a high of nearly 1,800 square feet in Halifax, to a low of 788 square feet in Vancouver:



But how is a millennial even supposed to get into the market these days?

"My advice is start small," said Tom Storey, a sales rep with Royal LePage Signature Realty in Toronto.

"Get that condo, start paying it down. If the appreciation keeps going at the rate we've been having, this gives you the opportunity to trade up," he told HuffPost Canada.

Not enough young homebuyers in the years to come

But not everyone believes the price hikes Toronto, Vancouver and some other places have seen in recent years will continue in the years to come — and that's because there might not be enough millennials to keep pushing the market upwards.

Bank of Montreal senior economist Sal Guatieri recently said Canada's housing market potentially faces a decade of stagnation, as the population in the first-time home-buying age range slows in growth in the coming years. By the 2020s, "peak millennials" will be past first home-buying age, and this population could be shrinking, just as it did in the 1990s, when housing markets in Canada stagnated for years.

"We will see a much more sedate housing market over the next decade than we have seen over the past decade," he told HuffPost Canada last month.

Simply put, if you get into the market today, don't expect the home you buy to rise in value like your parents' homes did. Sorry, millennials — you get the short end of the stick on that one, too.

Hufftington Post - Daniel Tencer April 26th, 2018


Canadian Rental Rates Are Falling After A Long Period Of Steep Growth

Maybe this will end all those “renovictions.”


The slowdown in Canada's residential real estate market may now be spreading to the rental market, with rents falling in many cities after a prolonged period of rapid growth.

That could be good news for renters in Toronto and Vancouver, where rents were rising at double-digit rates in recent years, and where few vacant apartments can be found.


According to data from rental site Padmapper, the average one-bedroom apartment in Toronto fell by 4.4 per cent in February, to an average of $1,970. Two-bedroom units fell by 2 per cent to an average of $2,500.


Prices for one-bedroom apartments also fell in Calgary, Montreal and Quebec City. They were flat in Ottawa and Edmonton, and rose slightly  by 0.5 per cent  in Vancouver.


That's not to say apartments are suddenly more affordable; in many cities, prices are still considerably higher than they were a year ago.


In Toronto, which has seen the strongest price growth of any city in the past year, one-bedroom units are still 15.9 per cent more expensive than a year ago, Padmapper's data shows.

It's common for the rental market to slow down in the winter months, but it "just seems to have hit harder this year than previous years," a Padmapper spokesperson told HuffPost Canada.


"The recent slowdown in home sales could definitely be a factor in this, but as the months warm up and more people start to move, that is when we will see if rental rates are actually softening (compared to) previous years' hot markets."

A slowdown in price growth would be welcome relief to tenants, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, where apartment vacancy rates have fallen to absurdly low levels  1 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively, according to the latest estimates from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

That lack of rental housing supply is beginning to have noticeable social consequences. In Vancouver, news reports suggest a growing number of people are living in their cars.

Article from Huffington Post - Daniel Tencer

In Toronto, tenants are starting to confront landlords over "renovictions"  the phenomenon of building owners pushing out tenants in order to renovate apartments and then rent them out at much higher rates.

Ontario's housing minister, Peter Milczyn, said this week he wants to limit renovictions, and will review the province's tenant act "to see if changes need to be made."


5 Hottest Real Estate News Stories of 2017

The year’s most-read news stories take in the BC election, the mortgage stress test and some diverging market predictions

In a year of market uncertainty, various government interventions and a provincial election, REW’s News + Trends category saw more clicks than ever before. But what were the hottest of all those hot topics? Here’s our countdown of our five most-clicked News + Trends stories of the year…

5. “Stress Test” for All Mortgages to Launch in New Year

The fifth most-read news story of 2017 was the announcement of the dreaded “stress test” qualification rules being extended to all new mortgage applicants. The test had already been applied to applicants for insured mortgages (less than 20% down payment) in the fall of 2016, but fears that even those buyers with 20% down payment or more were overstretching themselves – and putting banks at risk – led to the much-anticipated announcement in October 2017. There was a lot of pushback, with some decrying the decision as likely to make things worse.

4. NDP Plans 2% Yearly Tax for Non-Resident Home Owners

The only provincial election story to hit our top five most-clicked is this pre-election piece about a key NDP housing promise. The eventually victorious party pledged that if it were to gain power, it would impose a 2% tax on owners of Vancouver homes who do not pay Canadian income taxes (with many exemptions for non-taxpaying locals). As of December 2017, there’s no sign of any such tax so far, but it’s still early days.

3. New Mortgage Rules Set to Further Cool Markets Up To 10%

The second of two stories on the new stress test, this one anticipates the October confirmation about the new policy, with TD Bank predicting that it could cool the housing market. The reduction in buyers’ purchasing power could be as much as 20%, and with some markets already seeing a slowdown, the new rules could exacerbate any price corrections, said the bank. We’ll see in the first part of 2018 whether TD’s number-crunchers were right…

2. Vancouver Housing Market “Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”

One of two prediction stories about Vancouver’s housing market in these rankings, this piece was more of a warning than an optimistic outlook. At an industry event, leading real estate marketer Cameron McNeill from MLA Canada warned that the relatively slow rate of new home construction combined with increased demand and population growth meant that Vancouver was “dancing on the edges of a massive problem” in housing supply. What does this mean for market activity and home prices? “We ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” McNeill warned. The article that covered his comments obviously rang our users’ alarm bells, as it was the year’s second most-read News + Trends story.

1. 2017 Vancouver and BC Real Estate Market Outlook

Our top story of the year was also our first story of the year. This January 3, 2017 article was a round-up of market predictions from various industry groups and Big Banks – some of them bullish, some less so. Most predicted a drop in home sales compared with the frenzy of early 2016 – correctly, as it turns out. But the overall consensus that Vancouver and BC home prices would lose ground turned out to be inaccurate – only Central 1 was correct, in that home prices in fall of 2017 would be higher than a year previously. This story was popular right off the bat in January, but readers also kept coming back to it throughout the year – perhaps to see whose predictions had been right…


Original Article HERE

Joannah Connolly


The tax is aimed at freeing up more units for the city's tight rental market.


VANCOUVER — Nearly 8,500 homes have been declared vacant or underused in Vancouver after the submission deadline passed for the city's new empty homes tax.

The figure not only includes properties that were deemed unoccupied for six months or more, but also those that claimed one of the various exemptions to the levy. It also includes about 2,100 homes that will be hit with the tax because no declaration was submitted by Monday's deadline.


Near-zero vacancy rate

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada and is set at a rate of one per cent of a home's assessed value. It's aimed at freeing up more units for the city's tight rental market.


"Vancouver housing needs to be for homes first, not just treated as a commodity," said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a news release.

"We brought in an empty homes tax because Vancouver has a near-zero vacancy rate and many people are struggling to find a place to rent."


About 184,000 homeowners — 98 per cent — submitted their declarations on time.


​​​​​​Sixty per cent of the empty or underused units are condominiums, 34 per cent are single-family houses and six per cent are multi-family and other types of homes, the city said.


Downtown Vancouver is home to 2,250 unoccupied or underutilized homes, by far the largest number. But the West End and Shaughnessy have the highest percentage of vacant units relative to the total number of residential properties in the neighbourhoods, at eight per cent each.


Declared vacant and undeclared properties will be issued a vacancy tax bill in mid-March with payment due by April 16, the city said.


But the city did not say how many of the 8,481 unoccupied or underutilized homes were granted an exemption. So it's unclear how many homes will receive a tax bill, apart from the 2,132 undeclared units.


Numbers, revenue to be released in fall

There are a wide range of exemptions for homes that are left empty for more than six months a year, including if it's a primary residence, if it's undergoing renovations or the owner is in hospital or long-term care.


City spokesman Jag Sandhu said specific numbers of exempt or vacant declarations will not be confirmed until audits have been conducted and owners have submitted appeals. The numbers will be released, along with the revenue raised by the tax, in an annual report to council this fall, he said.


The provincial government signalled in its budget last month that it intended to introduce a tax on homeowners who do not pay income taxes in B.C. and leave their units vacant. The plan means that some owners of empty Vancouver homes could end up paying both a city and a provincial tax.


A 2016 city-commissioned report analyzed electricity use and found about 10,800 Vancouver homes were left vacant for more than a year, most of them condominiums.


Original Article HERE


It’s not always enough to have a mortgage approved – there are lots of factors that could mean you don’t get the funds, advises Alisa Aragon


You have saved enough money for the down payment and you are excited to buy a property. You have spent considerable amount of time looking for the right home and your mortgage has been approved. However, there are certain things that can affect your mortgage approval, which is based on more than just having the down payment. Some of the things lenders also consider are your income, employment history, credit history, other properties and so on.


Most lenders request your credit score within 30 days of the approval – and they might even request a new one between the mortgage approval and funding date, especially when there is a long period between the two.

So how can you ensure nothing goes wrong in that time?


The following helpful tips explain what not to do between the time your mortgage is approved and when you receive the funds.


  • Don’t buy a new car or trade up to a more expensive lease.
  • Don’t quit your job or change jobs. Even if it’s a better-paying job, you still are likely to be on a probationary period. If in doubt, call your mortgage expertand they can let you know if this may jeopardize your approval.
  • Don’t change industries, decide to become self-employed or accept a contract position –even if it’s within the same industry. Delay the start of your new job, self-employment or contract status if you can, until after the funding date of your mortgage. Any changes could definably jeopardize your mortgage approval.
  • Don’t transfer large sums of money between bank accounts. Lenders get especially skittish about this one because it looks like you are borrowing money. Be ready to document cash transactions or money movements.
  • Don’t delay payment of your bills, even ones that you are disputing. This can be a legitimate deal-breaker. If the lender pulls your credit bureau prior just to the closing and sees a collectionor a delinquent account, the best you can hope for is that they make you pay off the account before they will fund. You don’t want to have to scramble to pay off a debt at the last minute or even worse, put your approval at risk!
  • Don’t open new credit cards. Again, just wait until after your funding date.
  • Don’t accept a cash gift without properly documenting it – even if this is from proceeds of a wedding. If you have a bunch of cash to deposit before your funding date, give your Mortgage Expert a call before you deposit it.
  • Don’t buy furniture on the “Pay nothing for XX years” plan until after you get mortgage funding. Even though you don’t have to pay now, it will still be reported on your credit score, and will become an issue – especially if your mortgage approval was tight on the debt service ratios to begin with.

Buying a home and getting approved for a mortgage is not meant to be a difficult process. It is important to do your due diligence and know as much as possible and make informed decisions on your path to homeownership. If you are in doubt, it’s always best to call your mortgage expert before making a move that could jeopardize your approval.


Alisa Aragon - Dominion Lending Centres Mountain View July 4, 2016


But even some alternative lenders are tightening their standards.

Original Article HERE


Mortgage brokers say the borrower rejection rate from large banks and traditional monoline mortgage lenders has gone up as much as 20 per cent after Canada's banking regulator imposed a new stress test for home buyers who don't need mortgage insurance.


As a result, alternative lenders are seeing an uptick in business as brokers increasingly direct home buyers toward borrowing options that are beyond the reach of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions' newly enacted tighter lending requirements.


Clients who don't meet the bar are turning to private lenders, mortgage investment corporations (MICs) and credit unions, which are provincially regulated and not required to implement the stress test, said Carmen Campagnaro, president of Pro Funds Mortgages in Burlington, Ont.


Campagnaro is one of the brokers who said rejected loan applications to traditional lenders have risen by 20 per cent since Jan. 1, when OSFI mandated a new stress test for uninsured borrowers, or those who have more than a 20 per cent down payment.


Private lender Fisgard Asset Management Corporation in Victoria is seeing an influx of borrowers and "better quality business" said Hali Noble, its senior vice president of residential mortgage investments and broker relations.

"A lot of these people should be bankable," said Noble. "But they're not."


The guidelines, known as B20, are aimed at curbing risky lending amid rising household indebtedness and high home prices in some markets.


In order to get a loan from a federally regulated lender, home buyers have to prove that they can service their uninsured mortgage at a qualifying rate of the greater of the contractual mortgage rate plus two percentage points or the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada. An existing stress test already requires those with insured mortgages to qualify at the Bank of Canada benchmark five-year mortgage rule.


Superintendent Jeremy Rudin has said OSFI is aware the stricter rules could have unintended consequences, such as sending borrowers towards more risky lenders that are out of the regulator's purview.


"We can't control what we can't control,'' he said in October.


"Our mandate is focused on the safety and soundness of the federally regulated institutions ... It isn't something that we favour but it isn't something that we have an authority to prevent.''


Since the revised mortgage guidelines came into force, both the Bank of Canada of rate and benchmark rate has risen, dealing a "double extra whammy" to borrowers, said Dave Teixeira, vice president of operations, public relations and communications for Dominion Lending Centres.


Dominion mortgage brokers are seeing a higher rate of rejection and clients have to submit multiple applications to various institutions before finding a lender that works, he added.


In turn, their brokers are submitting 80 per cent more applications than last year, Teixeira said.


"Normally, we would see our volume going to the big banks and monolines, and now we're seeing a little bit more of that, roughly up to 20 per cent ... moving over to credit unions."


Tighter standards at the credit unions

However, some credit unions have voluntarily implemented the new stress test or tightened their own requirements.

Quebec credit union Desjardins Group has been applying OSFI's new mortgage rules in full since Jan. 1.


"We believe it represents an effective way to protect consumers against interest rates variations," said Desjardins spokeswoman Valerie Lamarre.


Vancouver-based Vancity Credit Union has voluntarily increased the stress test its members must meet to qualify for a mortgage.


Rick Sielski, Vancity's senior vice president of risk, would not disclose the mechanics of the stress test and said it was too early to gauge the impact of the new guidelines.


"What we're really trying to do is make sure we're serving our market, serving our members in a responsible way," he said.


Lenders getting pickier

The higher bar for borrowers is also shifting business to riskier lenders.


Harold Gerstel, better known as Harold the Mortgage Closer from his television ads, said his Toronto-based mortgage arm is seeing an influx as well.


"We're definitely getting more business. Whether it's a substantial change, it's too early to tell," he said.

The new rules are sending better quality demand down the credit line, said Robert McLister, a mortgage planner at IntelliMortgage and the founder of


"The demand is shifting down the ladder, so you have these less regulated lenders with higher risk tolerance now seeing materially more business. And they can charge more, and they can be pickier with the types of borrowers that they lend to."


The City of Vancouver brought in an Empty Homes Tax, also known as the Vacancy Tax, on January 1, 2017 under Vacancy Tax By-law No. 11674.


The tax came into effect January 1, 2018.


All Vancouver home owners have now received a property status declaration from the city and are required to submit a declaration.


The declaration helps the city determine if a property is subject to the Empty Homes Tax.

Deadline and instructions

Home owners must return their declaration by February 2, 2018These instructions outline how to submit a declaration.


If the city determinesa property is empty, the owner must pay a tax of one per cent of the property’s assessed taxable value.


The Empty Homes Tax doesn’t apply to principal residences or homes rented for at least six months of the year.

The city reports that 55 per cent of home owners have already submitted declarations.



A Guide to Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax, July 14, 2017




If you have any questions about the empty home tax, contact me HERE



A majority of the world's housing markets are seeing slowing momentum, and Canada could soon be among them.


Orignal Article HERE


Housing markets around the world are showing signs of losing steam, but Canada's market isn't among them — yet.

The Great White North is still clocking in some of the world's fastest house price growth, though that is likely to come to an end in the first half of this year, amid tough new mortgage rules and higher interest rates.


According to data released this week by the Global Property Guide, a site for residential real estate investors, Canada saw the world's fourth-fastest property price growth in the third quarter of 2017, behind only Iceland, Hong Kong and Macau.


But prices in a majority of housing markets surveyed by GPG have either turned negative or slowed down. The U.K., Beijing, Singapore and Mexico are among the places now seeing falling house prices.

"Globally housing markets are slowing sharply," GPG said in a release Tuesday.


Of 47 housing markets surveyed, 21 recorded lower house prices in the third quarter of 2017 than a year earlier. That's a notable change from the previous quarter, when only 15 countries were showing year-on-year declines.


Two-thirds of all housing markets surveyed showed slowing momentum — either lower prices or slower price growth than earlier. Once-hot New Zealand is now barely eking out any price growth at all.


Meanwhile, "Canada ... is in the middle of a house price boom," the report noted.

That's despite the introduction of foreign-buyers' taxes for the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets, as well as other measures in Ontario's Fair Housing Plan designed to cool house price growth.

Recent data suggests that while the detached-home markets in those cities have slowed down, condos are still seeing strong price growth.

For instance, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported on Wednesday that benchmark condo prices in the metro area soared nearly 26 per cent in the past year, while detached home prices grew a slower 7.9 per cent.

A perfect storm for Canadian housing


Canada's housing markets are moving into 2018 facing a perfect storm of conditions that could put a damper on activity and add the country to the list of places where residential property is slowing down.

A new "stress test" for borrowers of traditional mortgages comes into effect this month, and it's expected to reduce homebuyers' purchasing power by about 21 per cent. The Bank of Canada estimates that the new rule will disqualify about one in 10 prospective homebuyers.

At the same time, the experts predict the Bank of Canada will continue raising interest rates this year, though there is little agreement as to how quickly that will happen.


A report from credit rating agency DBRS last fall warned Canadian mortgage borrowers risk "payment shock" in the coming years. After years of slowly declining mortgage rates, Canadians can now expect to see mortgage rates start rising in the long term, DBRS said, putting pressure on household finances.


With adverse conditions ahead, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has downgraded its forecast for Canada's housing market for 2018. It now predicts nationwide home sales will fall by 5.3 per cent in 2018.


"The overwhelming majority of the forecast decline in sales next year reflects an expected decline in Ontario sales, with activity anticipated to remain well below the record levels logged in early 2017," CREA said last month.


It sees house prices staying flat in British Columbia in 2018, while falling 2.2 per cent, on average, in Ontario.

The association estimates that the slowdown in the housing market will take a $1.1-billion bite out of Canada's economy, and will translate into 12,000 fewer jobs.

But CREA doesn't see disaster on the horizon. The group predicts a rebound in Canada's housing market in the second half of the year, once prospective buyers have adjusted to the new mortgage rules and higher interest rates


Original Article HERE

Effective January 1, 2018, home buyers who don't require mortgage insurance — those with a down payment of 20 per cent or more — must qualify for their mortgage at a higher rate.


This new stress test doesn't apply to people renewing their uninsured mortgage.


Canada's Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced these rule changes on October 17. Draft changes were released in the summer for public feedback.


Under the new rules, the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages will be the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or the contractual mortgage rate plus two per cent.


OSFI will also require lenders to enhance their loan-to-value (LTV) limits and restrict certain lending arrangements designed to circumvent LTV limits.


These changes apply to all federally regulated financial institutions.


This is the seventh time since 2008 that the federal government has made mortgage policy changes.


Cameron Muir, BC Real Estate Association chief economist believes this will have a significant impact on the real estate market:

The impact of the new stress test requirement will be to lower the purchasing power of households by up to 20 per cent. Like past tightening of mortgage regulations, we anticipate that the market impact will be sharp but temporary. In the past, we’ve seen home sales decline in the three to nine months following the implementation of tighter mortgage lending standards, with the severity of the impact fading within one year. However, these new regulations impact a larger pool of mortgages and so the impact could be more significant than in the past.


Read the government’s full announcement here.


Original article HERE


If home buying is on your to-do list in 2018, there are some tasks to tackle before you hit the streets. Admittedly, many of these New Year’s Resolutions relate to finances, and rightly so. A home is likely the biggest investment you’ll make in your lifetime, so here are five New Year’s Resolutions that you’ll definitely want to keep this year.


This is arguably the biggest, most difficult and most time-consuming part of the home buying process. This about it - the avergae home in Canada costs $504,000. To avoid taking out a high-ratio mortgage, you'll need at least 20 per cent down payment, or $100,800. It's important to start thinking about how you will come up with the money - wehter it's using your RSPs through the first-time Home Buyer's Plan, savings, or financial help from the Bank of Mom and Dad. 




This one's important, because your potential mortgage lending will be doing the same. A credit score is a number between 300 an 900 that rates your credit worthiness. According to credit-rating company Equifax, a score of 690 or higher is considerd "good". Lenders will use this score in tandem with other factors, such as your debt-to-income ratio, to determin mortgage eligibility. 



Remember that phone ill you forgot to pay a couple of years ago? It can come back to haunt you. Even a one-day-late payment is still considered "late", and can negativly affect your credIT rating - and your potential to qualify for a favourable mortgage. If you're not happy with your credit score, take some time to bring it up to par before you start the pre-qualification process. 



You'll want to take advantage of this low interest-rate environment, while you still can. Interest rates will rise sooner or later (some argue sooner!) so getting pre-approved for a mortgage will lock in your rate for 90 days. A mortgage pre-approval is not an obligation to purchase in this time frame, nor are you committed to thatv particular lender. It's just a written confrimation of your lending amount and the promised rate, allowing you  to shop with confidence within a budget you know you can afford. 



The Web is a good place ot start your search, but nothing beats first-hand experience. With budget in mind, bundle up and hit the streets to explore different neighbourhoods and the amenities you'll have access to. Do you rely on public transit? Is an active night life important to you? Dayscares and schools?  Parks and rec? Highway access? How close (or far!) do you want to be from family and your work place? Think about your day-to-day needs, and anticipate how they might change over time. 


Last but not least… work with the right real estate agent who has experience in the area and the type of home you plan to purchase.  They will make setting up viewings easy, and be ready and on your side to negotiate the best price when it comes time to finally make an offer.


Original article HERE


OTTAWA -- Foreign buyers make up a minuscule portion of the overall housing market in this country, new research shows, but what they own is more expensive and newer than the average Canadian homeowner.

And there are indications foreign buyers are moving out of the traditional bases of Toronto and Vancouver and into new cities.


Non-residents owned 3.4 per cent of all residential properties in Toronto and 4.8 per cent of residential properties in Vancouver, according to new housing statistics by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and Statistics Canada.

Largely what foreign buyers scoop up are newer, more expensive homes. In Vancouver, non-resident owners, as they're known, had homes valued on average at $2.3 million compared to $1.6 million for the owners whose primary residence was in Canada.


In Toronto, the average detached home owned by a non-resident was valued at $944,100 compared to $840,600 for residents, a difference of $103,500 or 12.3 per cent.


Foreign owners are stepping into the big-city condo market where, again, what they own is more expensive than the what residents own. In and around Toronto, the average assessed value for a condo owned by a non-resident was $420,500, compared to $385,900 for a resident. In Vancouver, the figures are $691,500 and $526,700, respectively.

CMHC says that overall, foreign buyers owned less than one per cent of the condo stock in 17 metropolitan areas across the country.


The figures mark the first time that CMHC and Statistics Canada have measured foreign ownership in the country's hot housing market to see how much influence foreign buyers have over skyrocketing prices.


Ontario and B.C. have rules in place to dampen foreign interest in buying properties as investments.


The data from CMHC suggests that the foreign buyer tax in both provinces has shifted foreign ownership to other parts of the country.


The CMHC survey found that downtown Montreal and the city's Nun's Island had the largest increases in the share of non-resident owners over the last year. On Nun's Island, the rate went from 4.3 per cent in 2016 to 7.6 per cent this year; on the island of Montreal, the rate went from 0.9 per cent to 1.5 per cent.


"The lack of growth in Toronto and Vancouver, combined with the increases in Montreal, indicate the possibility of a shift from these centres after the introduction of foreign buyers' taxes in Ontario and British Columbia," CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said in a release accompanying the data.


"Other factors attracting demand to Montreal include lower housing prices and a relatively strong economy."


The head of CMHC has publicly argued that foreign ownership is not the main driver for increasing housing prices. Evan Siddall has previously said that foreign ownership makes up less than five per cent of the housing market.


"Foreign ownership is a thing; it's not the thing," Siddall said in an interview earlier this year.


"The sources of demand that are pushing prices higher are many-fold and the sources of investment the real estate part of our economy are many-fold and more domestic than foreign."


Original Article HERE


With tougher new home-buying and mortgage rules and somewhat higher interest rates in place, Canada's once-hot housing market seems to be losing some of its mojo.

House prices in Canada fell for the third month in a row in November, pulled down by weakness in Toronto and other parts of Ontario, according to data released Wednesday.


The Teranet-National Bank house price index fell by 0.5 per cent in November. It was the largest drop for the month of November recorded outside of a recession, National Bank economist Marc Pinsonneault said in a statement.


Prices in Toronto, Canada's largest real estate market, fell by 1.4 per cent, while nearby Hamilton saw prices fall by 1.6 per cent, suggesting that Toronto's housing cool-down has spread to surrounding areas.


House prices also fell in Ottawa-Gatineau (down 0.8 per cent) and Edmonton (down 0.7 per cent). They were unchanged in the two British Columbia markets covered by the index, Vancouver and Victoria.

Prices rose in all the other cities covered by the index, including Montreal ( up 1.0 per cent), Quebec City (up 0.9 per cent), Halifax (up 0.8 per cent), Calgary (up 0.7 per cent) and Winnipeg (up 0.5 per cent).


Toronto's market has seen a significant cooldown since the province introduced its Fair Housing Plan in April, which includes a 15-per-cent tax on foreign home buyers, as well as expanded rent controls.

But National Bank's Pinsonneault notes that sales in the city grew from October to November, something that usually doesn't happen. It's a sign that some buyers are racing to purchase ahead of tougher new mortgage rules that will come into force in January.

"Therefore, a resumption of the downward price trend early next year cannot be excluded," Pinsonneault wrote.

"Be that as it may, market conditions turning from extremely tight at the beginning of the year to balanced is good news for affordability."


But in Vancouver, "market conditions remain tight," Pinsonneault wrote, noting that the city's condo price index has risen by 19 per cent in just the past 10 months.

Starting in January, borrowers of uninsured mortgages (those with 20 per cent or more down) will have to pass a "stress test" to see if they can afford their mortgage at interest rates about 2 percentage points higher than the rate they are being offered.

Of all the mortgage rule changes enacted in recent years to cool the housing market, industry insiders say this one will have the most impact. It's expected to reduce home-buying power by around 21 per cent.

No agreement on where prices are headed

In a report released this week, realtor Royal LePage predicted the new rules would slow down home sales, but "insufficient housing supply in Canada's largest cities" will keep prices rising.

Royal LePage predicts prices will rise 4.9 per cent next year.

However, not every forecast agrees with that. In a client note Wednesday, Capital Economics predicted that the new mortgage rules will end Canada's run of rising house prices.

"Higher interest rates and tougher mortgage rules will depress prices next year," economist David Madani wrote.


Original article HERE



The median net worth of Canadian families rose to $295,100 in 2016, a jump of nearly 15 per cent from four years ago, mostly due to an increasing value of homes, Statistics Canada reports.


Statistics Canada released its Survey of Financial Security Thursday, the first time since 2012 the data agency has offered a comprehensive look at the financial health of Canadians.


The agency defined net worth as the amount of money they would be left with if a family sold all its assets and paid off all its debts. Any family of two or more persons was considered a “family.” Unattached individuals were also included.


The survey found that housing was typically both the largest asset and the largest debt for Canadians.


In 2016, 61.7 per cent of Canadian families reported a principal residence as an asset. Of them, 57.3 per cent still had a mortgage on their principal residence.


The median reported value of principal residences was $349,000, up just over 10 per cent from 2012 and double that of 1999.


Overall, only 29.6 per cent of Canadian families were debt-free in 2016. Among Canadians aged 35 to 44, only 15.4 per cent were debt-free.


The share of those who were debt-free was highest among senior-led families; 58 per cent no longer had debt. However, this was down from 1999 when 72.6 per cent of senior-led families were debt-free.


Families in British Columbia reported the highest median net worth in 2016 -- $429,400. Families in Ontario were next with a median net worth at $365,700. New Brunswick reported the lowest median net worth among the provinces at $158,400.


Differences in the value of homes accounted for most of the provincial differences in net worth. The median value of principal residences in B.C. was $550,000 in 2016 -- the highest value in the country.


Vancouver residents had the highest median net worth in 2016, at $434,400. Toronto families had the second-highest median net worth, at $365,100, followed by:


  • Calgary ($339,400)
  • Québec ($335,100)
  • Winnipeg ($287,800)
  • Edmonton ($230,200)
  • and Montreal ($170,000).

Private pensions were the second-largest asset category, accounting for 29.2 per cent of assets -- up 17.7 per cent from 2012. The majority of this growth came from employer-sponsored registered pension plans (EPPs.)


Other real estate such as cottages, rental properties and other commercial properties represented 10 per cent of total assets. Just under one-fifth of Canadians owned these types of properties in 2016.


Original article HERE


Canada's two priciest housing markets are both showing signs of recovery following the introduction of foreign buyers' taxes in Toronto and Vancouver. But the markets went off in separate directions in November, data from the cities' real estate boards shows.


In Toronto, home sales were down 13.3 per cent in November, compared to the same month a year earlier. The average house price of $761,757 was 2 per cent lower than the same month a year earlier.

All the same, sales bucked the seasonal trend and rose slightly from October, to 7,374 transactions.


Board president Tim Syrianos suggested the sales bump may have to do with the upcoming new mortgage rules.

"It is ... possible that the upcoming changes to mortgage lending guidelines, which come into effect in January, have prompted some households to speed up their home buying decisions," Syrianos said in a statement.


He added that "similar to the Greater Vancouver experience, the impact of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan and particularly the foreign buyer tax may be starting to wane."


Residential home sales in Greater Vancouver jumped by about 26 per cent in November compared with the same month a year ago.


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says the number of sales, which saw 2,795 homes sold, is 17 per cent above the 10-year average for the region in November.

Sales dropped by 7.5 per cent in November compared with October, when just over 3,000 homes sold.What's Going On In Housing?

Board president Jill Oudil says there is a steady demand in the market, with the townhome and condominium markets being particularly strong.

The benchmark price for detached properties was about $1.6 million, about a six per cent increase from November 2016.


Oudil says there are more listings entering the market this year compared with the same time last year, but inventories are still below typical levels.


The benchmark price of an apartment property was about $648,000 in November, an almost 24 per cent increase from November 2016.


Many places in and around Toronto and Vancouver have crisis-level vacancy rates.

Original article HERE


High levels of immigration, strong job growth and an aging population are among the reasons why it's becoming increasingly difficult to find an apartment for rent in Canada, a new report says.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.'s latest rental market report found the country's apartment vacancy rate is falling, meaning there are fewer apartments available for rent.


The situation is particularly dire in and around Toronto and Vancouver, where many cities have crisis-level vacancy rates below 1 per cent.



Toronto's vacancy rate fell to 1 per cent in October of this year, from 1.3 per cent the same month a year before. That's the lowest rate the city has seen in 16 years.


"Rising costs of homeownership forced more people to seek and remain in rental accommodation," CMHC said in its report.

"House prices in the Greater Toronto Area reached unprecedented levels during the early part of 2017, making homeownership out of reach for the majority of potential first-time buyers."


That, in turn, led to rental rate increases, with the average rent up 4.2 per cent in Toronto. The average rent in Toronto is now $1,404 for a two-bedroom apartment and $2,301 for a two-bedroom condo. The CMHC report includes rates both for units on the market and already-occupied units.


Origin article HERE



Gregor Robertson



The Canadian government launched its long-awaited national housing strategy Wednesday, but Vancouver advocates say the move is long overdue in a city already that is facing record levels of homelessness and an affordability crisis.


The 10-year plan includes some bold promises such as committing $40 billion to build 100,000 new affordable housing units, repairing 300,000 existing affordable housing units. The initiative also aims to cut chronic homelessness in half and remove 530,000 households from "housing need" by 2027.


Vancouver affordable housing advocates say the move is long overdue. According to Union Gospel Mission spokesperson Jeremy Hunka, it may be too late for some of the 2,100 currently facing homelessness in the city.

"The bottom line is this is a big number, there’s a lot of money coming, help is on the way. A lot of that help is a long way down the road and a lot of people are going to be struggling until that comes," he told CTV Vancouver Wednesday. "A lot of people are going to be suffering and some people might not make it to see some of this help because that’s the reality of the homeless crisis."


The strategy also allocates $4 billion for a national housing benefit intended to provide low-income renters with an annual $2,500-subsidy beginning in 2020.


"There’s a lot of single mothers, a lot of families who are low-income who could really use that subsidy. For it to not come until 2020 means a lot of long, hard years ahead," Hunka said. "We’re glad this funding is coming, but we’ve got a huge mountain to climb a lot of challenge to overcome until that help is there."


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city has struggled to have conversations about housing with provincial and federal governments in the past.


"It’s been an embarrassment to not have a national housing strategy as a country and it’s fantastic to see one delivered that has had rigour and has had input from all levels," he said Wednesday.


"We’ve struggled as a city with provincial and federal governments past who were not at the table with us at the level we needed them and as a result we’ve had record levels of homelessness right across Metro Vancouver, right across our region right now and it’s never been worse."


B.C. Premier John Horgan also echoed the sentiment that governments need to collaborate to address housing affordability and homelessness.


"If we’re going to crack the affordability crisis of housing in British Columbia, we need all levels of government working together," he said at a press conference. "This is a step in the right direction."


Robertson said the housing strategy shows just how important "urgent action" is for the country.


"We have to treat housing as a human right and it’s critical that our federal government recognizes that and follows through in terms of the monitoring and the reporting on that," he said.


However, both Robertson and Hunka pointed out that while having a strategy is a good start, targets need to be set to ensure the plan is implemented.


"It’s fantastic to have a game plan," Robertson said. "We need to take those next steps and take action."


Original article HERE


Are Foreign Buyers Really Ditching Vancouver For Seattle?

"It's like Vancouver, but cheaper."

For those priced out of Vancouver's housing market, a recent story suggesting that foreign buyers are bailing on Vancouver in favour of Seattle may seem like good news.

But that may not translate into more affordable housing in Vancouver, because even as Seattle becomes the hot new alternative to Vancouver, there are still plenty of foreign buyers staking a claim in the Canadian city.


"A lot of people who were looking in Vancouver are automatically looking further south now to Seattle," Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Seattle's Windermere Real Estate, told CBC News.

"It's like Vancouver, but cheaper," Chinese real estate broker Yi Liu told the Seattle Times.

The influx of foreign buyers, which Gardner described as "frenetic," has shot Seattle-area house prices up by 17.6 per cent in the past year, according to the region's multiple listing service.


A detached home in Seattle now costs US$735,000 (C$934,000). But that is still much lower than the C$1.6 million average price for a detached home in Vancouver.

About half of the foreign buyers in Seattle are from Asia, Gardner said. Chris Hu, the vice-president of Beijing-based real estate agency B.A. & 515J Group, told the Times about half the homes bought by foreigners were for investment purposes, and half were bought to live in.

"The no-growth trend in Vancouver is far different than what we see overall, in all locations."Byron Burley, Juwai

So does this mean foreign buyers will leave Vancouver alone now? The data suggests that is not happening.

According to an analysis from Chinese real estate portal Juwai, the number of Chinese buyers in the Vancouver market has been "flat as a pancake" for the past year-and-a-half, following a steep plunge in the wake of the foreign buyers' tax introduced in the summer of 2016.

But Chinese buyer inquiries worldwide jumped 8.7 per cent over the past year year, meaning Vancouver is seeing a shrinking share of overall foreign buyer interest.


"The no-growth trend in Vancouver is far different than what we see overall, in all locations," said Byron Burley, a B.C.-based vice-president of Juwai, in a press statement.

"Vancouver's tax is working by driving a share of buyers to other cities, especially Seattle. It has taken the froth off of the top."

Burley says these days there are more "and-or" buyers — people who look into buying a home in Vancouver and/or Seattle, and/or Toronto, rather than just targeting Vancouver.

"When these uncommitted buyers compare Vancouver prices plus the tax to what they can get somewhere else, sometimes they decide it's not worth it."

Despite the change in foreign buyer habits, Burley doesn't see the city's housing market declining. The market "is more like a pancake than a deflating soufflé. Buyer demand has not collapsed, it's merely flat."


Original article HERE


Image result for air bnb


Vancouver has banned owners of basement suites and laneway houses from listing them on Airbnb after a heated debate in which some city councillors warned that homeowners would not be able to pay their mortgages without the extra income.


City council approved new regulations in a 7-4 vote Tuesday for vacation websites such as Airbnb and Expedia. The rules prohibit hosts from listing homes that are not their principal residence, including any secondary suites on their property.


Mayor Gregor Robertson and members of his Vision Vancouver party defended the rules as necessary because the vacancy rate is just above zero and housing is needed for long-term renters.


"I'm stunned to hear that some councillors don't believe there's a problem here. We have 6,000 illegal short-term rentals in the city," he said.


"I can't imagine doing nothing."


The new regulations will come into effect on April 1, 2018. Hosts must buy a business licence that costs $49 annually, plus spend $54 on a one-time application fee, and display their licence number in online listing. Those who fail to comply will face a $1,000 ticket per violation.


Homeowners will still be allowed to list an individual room inside their principal residence. Tenants who are renting a basement apartment or laneway house will be allowed to list it on Airbnb, as long as it's their principal residence and they have permission from the owner.


Some short-term rental hosts criticized the proposed rules at a public hearing last month, saying the changes will deprive them of much-needed income.


Image result for laneway homes vancouver


Councillors from the opposing Non-Partisan Association echoed those concerns on Tuesday, with Coun. George Affleck warning that homeowners who depend on the extra income will be forced to leave Vancouver or lead "very challenging lives."


Affleck said the city should instead focus on ensuring more rental housing gets built.

"We're just creating more bureaucracy, more taxation, more sticks and we're not solving the problem. We're making Vancouver more unaffordable and a harder place to live, whether you're a renter or an owner," he said.


But Coun. Andrea Reimer of Vision Vancouver said secondary suites and laneway houses were approved to provide accommodation for local residents, not tourists.


She said she just received an eviction notice at her rental home on Monday night — her second eviction in 16 months due to "speculation and flipping.


If the vacancy rate rises to four per cent or higher, city staff will report back to council on whether to allow owners to list their secondary suites on short-term rental websites.


Council also passed a voluntary transaction fee of three per cent on bookings, which would be remitted to the city.

Alex Dagg, public policy manager for Airbnb Canada, said the company is unable to impose a voluntary fee and instead would like to see the province amend the hotel tax so that it applies to short-term rentals.


Dagg applauded Vancouver for making short-term rentals legal, but she criticized the ban on listing secondary suites. Many people list them on Airbnb because they're in use by family or friends for most of the year and can't be rented to long-term tenants, she said.


"What short-term renting does is allow a homeowner or someone in a primary residence to use their space in a flexible way," she said in an interview.


The city estimates 80 per cent of short-term rentals will become legal under the new rules. Dagg said the estimate lines up with Airbnb's numbers on people who are renting their principal residences.


Vancouver is the latest jurisdiction to crack down on vacation websites. Seattle council voted Monday to impose a levy of $14 per night for short-term rentals of entire homes, and $8 per night for rooms, with the taxes to kick in by 2019.


Sping cleaning, fall edition! 


Original article HERE


#1 Wash Bed Pillows


A bed with white lines and fluffy blue-green pillowsImage: Laura W.

You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what’s also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!

With fall being the height of guest season, you’ll want your guest pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn’t be washed, but replaced instead.)

#2 Clean the Mattress, Too


A pink note attached to a mattressImage: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic


Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you’re lying on a clean and fresh mattress. The yuck factor: Skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.

You’ll want your guest mattress to be at it’s freshest. It’s easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you’re inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free.

(Another option: if you’ve got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.)

#3 Insulate Windows


A living room with couch and blue roman shades on windowImage: Nick Smith, photographer | Clare Gaskin Interiors, designer

Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside.

You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.

#4 Stock Up on Snow Supplies


A man in a blue coat using a snow blower in a neighborhoodImage: Chiyacat/Getty

If snow is a given where you live and you’re lacking supplies, take advantage of seasonal sales now to make sure you’re not the one rushing to the hardware store at the last minute — only to find out they just sold out of ice melt.

If you have a snow blower, be sure to have it serviced and fueled up before the first winter storm arrives — and with it, price hikes on all the snow stuff.


#5 Trim Tree Branches


A woman with a green short-sleeved T-shirt trimming branchesImage: Michele Constantini/PhotoAlto/Getty


The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof for excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding.

Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus it’s easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. (If it’s an evergreen, well, sorry about that. It’ll be a prickly job, but the bonus is you’ll have greenery for the holidays!)


#6 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace



It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important. 


Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.

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.