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East of Main, and North or 7th seems to be the Live/Work hotspot in the city. Another new development was announced recently. Onni has released a future scheme that still needs to be approved (though it isn't a request for re-zoning so the approval should come easily). This development will consist of 209 units on a seven storey building facing East 1st Ave and a six storey building facing Great Northern Way. 


This development will sit close to the future Emily Carr University campus, so it could be a great new investment opportunity. More details should be announced once it has approval. 


Image courtesy of

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Another new Live/Work residence is coming to Mount Pleasant - with the project about to start sales. The building, Shine, will be located at 273 East 6th Ave, across the street from District. 


Designed by SHIFT Architecture and developed by Imami Development, it'll be awhile before this building opens its doors, but it will be something to look forward too, as Live/Work buildings have been rising in popularity in the last few years. 


It will be interesting to see exactly how it is zoned and what people are allowed to do with the space. 


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The City issued 350 Laneway permits in 2012, that is a big increase from the average of 146 from 2009-2011! Laneway houses are one of the many ways homewowners help pay for their mortgages. With the new mortgage rules limiting what most people can afford, having a secondary source of income in your property, whether through laneway houses or secondary suites, is a natural move for most families. They can build the laneway house and rent it out until their family grows and needs the extra space. Many families are opting to share land, with one generation in the laneway house and the other inhabiting the main house. Laneway houses aren't costly to build, though the process can be long and quite involved, and you need to have the proper RS-1 or RS-5 Zoning to begin with. 


For more information on the process of building a laneway house, see my Laneway Guide here


If you have any questions, or would like to chat about your possibilities with laneway houses and what you can afford, feel free to contact me


Information taken from News 1130:

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Clear your calendars, the BC Home + Garden Show runs from February 22 to 26 at BC Place Stadium.


Featuring exhibits on Interior, Exterior, Storage, Technology, Construction, Lighting, Cleaning and much more, this event has something for everyone. If you're looking for an easy upgrade, or are preparing for a full remodel, make this your first stop to learn about the latest and greatest in Home + Garden. HGTV Celebrity guests will be on hand.

While at the show, view "The Kitsilano" prefab dream home produced by Karoleena.

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Be sure to buy your tickets online, at BC Home + Garden.

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I am getting a TON of questions about the new pricing being launched at the Olympic Village (now just 'The Village') condos today. WIth price drops ranging from as little as 5% on some of the smaller, less expensive units, to reductions pushing 50% on some of the higher end units, Bob Rennie is doing his best to create a buzz around a product that has gone stagnant and lost much of the consumer interest. All in all, the average price reduction is rumoured to be about 30%. The big questions that remains is... "Are the price reductions enough?"

My initial thoughts are, quite simply, no. I still believe that the condos at 'The Village' represent a poor value in today's market. Most of the available units are still being sold at $700/square foot and higher, and a great majority of the units being sold are interior units with no views of any kind. Comparable units the neighbouring Wall Centre at False Creek and the Exchange are being sold for as much as $150-$200/square foot less. As an investor, there is no way the rental income here makes up for the premium you have to pay to buy in. There are SOOOOO many better options available. And for those who are looking for a new home for themselves, you would have to REALLY love the area, as I suspect it will be at least 3-4 years before you will see any appreciation on property values here. With the premium already being charged (yes, even with the discounts) and the pending release of still more condos in The Village once this batch of 230 units is sold, I really struggle to come up with any justification as to why now would be a good time to buy here.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to fire away...

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City’s housing affordability problem boils down to too many people on too little land

What drives Vancouver’s house prices so relentlessly to levels four times higher than Winnipeg’s, and more than half again what Torontonians pay?

It’s simple, says Tsur Somerville of UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.

“If you want Winnipeg-level house prices here, all you have to do is tear down the mountains and fill in the ocean.”

Well, that puts slow or stop to the steady influx of people — though the massive loss of amenities if our landscape were to be suddenly levelled might do that automatically.

“Depending where you draw the circle,” Somerville says, “70 per cent of the land isn’t developable. It’s mountains or water or the United States.”

Then, on top of this insurmountable geographic limitation, add the relentless population growth that, in good years and in bad, ranges from 1.3 to 1.5 per cent a year.

“The higher the population of a city, the higher the house prices,” he says. “If we lose 70 per cent of the land, our metropolitan area of two million will have the same house prices as a seven-million metropolitan area. Because people have to commute the same distance.”

The myths

Does this mean there’s no truth to some, or all, of the pervasive myths? You know, the ones that maintain our housing costs are driven by rich immigrants looking to get families and/or mistresses out of Hong Kong or other Asian cities. Or by criminals laundering ill-gotten gains. Or speculators. Or empty nesters who reap big tax incentives to not budge from big houses on the best land. Or all that acreage tied up in parks and the Agricultural Land Reserve. Or the rules and fees imposed on developers. Or the property transfer tax on all home sales, and the HST on new ones. Or the civic amenities for which buyers pay through the nose. Or imprudent young buyers willing to take on massive debt. Or an inherent result of a good economy. Or ....

One reader even suggests it’s the fault of public employees, who are so numerous and so well paid they over-invest in property. And an academic study on my desk argues it’s the high hidden cost of the city’s ubiquitous “free” parking.

This short series will look at several of these myths, which collectively point one finger or another at most Metro residents, no matter which group we fall into. The conclusion is, in short, that many of them are, like all good myths, rooted in a little truth. But none come close to matching the impact of the Law of Supply and Demand.

“That’s why, even if the economy collapses, house prices don’t tank,” says Jock Finlayson of the B.C. Business Council. “You get some drop, but it’s typically modest because there’s a growing population and there just isn’t a lot of land.”

Maintaining demand

What helps maintain this demand, says Cameron Muir of the Real Estate Council of BC, is that much of the population growth stems from international immigration, and it, unlike internal migration, tends not to follow the business cycle.

“When the economy is performing weakly, immigrants still come,” Muir says. “This not only bolsters our population, but also housing demand.”

And: “Our immigrants tend to be the cream of the crop,” Muir says, citing statistics showing 55 per cent of Canada’s investor immigrants come to B.C., mostly to Metro Vancouver.

But for people already here and newcomers who don’t arrive with money, Finlayson notes, “Incomes aren’t that high here. They’re less than in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa or London, Ontario. But our houses cost a lot more. So people cope by getting less house. They commute farther than they would in another community. Or they get less space than they would settle for in another city.

“They live in condominiums and raise children, which is not common in other parts of the country.”

Or, in the case of a growing number of young people, they’re coping in a far more worrisome way, says Andy Yan, a planner and researcher with Bing Thom Architects.

Yan has looked at what’s happened with housing in a few other high-priced cities.

In Hong Kong, which ironically is seen as a bastion of free enterprise, 60 per cent of the people live in government-subsidized housing, he said.

On the other hand, prices in San Francisco shot so high that demand has flattened or even decreased over the last 20 years, and huge numbers of the city’s workers live somewhere else and commute in daily.

Two-thirds of Metro’s people also live outside the City of Vancouver, though we haven’t yet hit the downward pressure on price seen in San Francisco.

Instead, Yan sees a lot of young Vancouverites, especially those who have an artistic bent and who thrive on the energy of a vibrant city core, packing up to leave for Montreal or Toronto simply because it’s cheaper to live there and pursue creative goals.

“Because Vancouver is going through a very destructive real estate market,” he says.

“High housing costs have a great way of killing innovation and creativity. Can the next Facebook or the next Apple computer really come from Vancouver if you’re too busy trying to pay the rent?”

The upshot, he says, is that Vancouver is increasingly seen by the young as a nice place to hang out for a couple of years, but not a place to settle down.

“That’s serious. You’ve got to think about what’s down the road. They’re not going to be here to support us, to pay for our social infrastructure and all of that.”

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Vancouver, BC – June 14, 2010. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province declined 4 per cent to 7,950 units in May compared to the same month last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, MLS® residential unit sales in the province declined 11 per cent in May from April 2010. The average MLS® residential price climbed 7 per cent to $498,294 in May compared to the same month last year.

“A slower pace of home sales combined with an increase in the inventory of homes for sale has quelled upward pressure on home prices,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. A total of 54,362 MLS® residential listings were recorded in May, up 26 per cent from January on a seasonally adjusted basis. “Moderating market conditions in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria are reducing the number of multiple offers as a greater selection of homes for sale lessons competition amongst home buyers,” added Muir.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 50 per cent to $17.5 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales rose 31 per cent to 34,619 year-to-date, while the average MLS® residential price climbed 14 per cent to $505,468 over the same period.

For the complete news release, including detailed statistics, follow this

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Vancouver, BC – June 7, 2010. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its Housing Forecast for the second quarter of 2010 today.

BC Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales are forecast to ease back 3 per cent from 85,028 units in 2009 to 82,350 units this year, before increasing 4 per cent to 85,900 units in 2011.

“Eroding affordability will trim home sales by 3 per cent this year despite improving economic conditions and related employment growth,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “The push and pull of positive economic growth versus rising mortgage interest rates is expected to keep BC home sales near their 10-year average of 85,569 units both this year and next.”   

The average MLS® residential price is forecast to climb 6 per cent to $494,600 this year and remain relatively unchanged in 2011, albeit increasing by 1 per cent to $499,700.

"Strong consumer demand in Vancouver, Victoria and the Fraser Valley was largely responsible for driving the average home price in the province higher over the last three quarters,” added Muir. “However, demand has moderated in those markets and a larger inventory of homes for sale has pulled market conditions into balanced territory, providing less upward pressure on home prices"

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May Statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver...
The number of properties listed for sale in Greater Vancouver continued to rise in May, while the number of sales showed a year-over-year decrease.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,156 in May 2010, a decline of 10.4 per cent compared to the 3,524 sales in May 2009; 5.1 per cent more than the 3,002 sales in May 2008; and 27.1 per cent less than the 4,331 sales in May 2007. May 2010 sales also represent a 10.1 per cent decline compared to last month’s sales.

In terms of number of property listings, last month marked the third consecutive month during which more than 7,000 homes were listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties totalled 7,014 in May 2010, a 48.2 per cent increase compared to May 2009 when 4,733 new units were listed, and an 8.3 per cent decline compared to April 2010 when 7,648 properties were added to the MLS®.
At 17,492, the total number of property listings on the MLS® increased 10 per cent in May compared to last month, and is up 28.2 per cent compared to this time last year.
"Prospective home buyers in today’s market have a broad selection to choose from in every property type. REALTORS® are telling us they’re working with buyers who are not feeling as rushed to make a decision as they did late last year and earlier in the year," Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said.
Over the last 12 months, the overall MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver increased 16.7 per cent to $590,662 from $506,201 in May 2009.
"It’s important for those looking to buy or sell a home to remember that real estate is local and wise real estate decisions are made by those who understand current market conditions at the neighbourhood level," Moldowan said.
Sales of detached properties in May 2010 reached 1,256, a decrease of 10.4 per cent from the 1,402 detached sales recorded in May 2009 and a 4.4 per cent increase from the 1,203 units sold in May 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 19.1 per cent from May 2009 to $810,175.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,354 in May 2010, a decline of 7.1 per cent compared to the 1,458 sales in May 2009 and an increase of 8.8 per cent compared to the 1,244 sales in May 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 13.9 per cent from May 2009 to $398,783.

Attached property sales in May 2010 totalled 546, a decline of 17.8 per cent compared to the 664 sales in May 2009 and a 1.6 per cent decline from the 555 attached properties sold in May 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 14.8 per cent between May 2009 and 2010 to $500,339.

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It’s the space that’s supposed to be a bonus in condominiums: the one marked "flex" or "storage" or even "multi-purpose" on the floor plans. The problem is, the space is often so small, it hardly serves any purpose at all.
Designer Erik Lauzon of Konstruk Design has seen how much of a disaster these rooms can be. "The flex room becomes a dump. People throw in stuff that they don’t know where else to put, or maybe they’re simply not ready to throw that stuff away."
If it’s something that hasn’t been used for more than a year, it’s time to get rid of it, according to Lauzon. He also says that identifying a purpose for the space is the first step to getting junk under control.
"If you’re going to use it as a storage room, that’s fine," Lauzon says. "But don’t try and use it as a workspace, too; there isn’t enough room for that. If you’re going to do work there, get rid of unnecessary clutter, and make it minimalist and usable."

Lauzon is applying his strategies to two condos where the flex spaces are completely inflexible.

Joelle Guerin knew space would be a challenge two years ago when she moved from her two-bedroom apartment in Burnaby, B.C., to a condo in downtown Vancouver.
"I must have looked at more than 30 places listed as being one-bedroom-and-dens, or one-bedrooms-plus-flex," she says with a laugh. "I pretty much drove my realtor crazy!"
Guerin ended up with a home close to her workplace, but had to make a lot of adjustments during the transition. She bought all new furniture, including a storage bed that holds a lot of household items. She also bought a six-by-two-foot desk, which dominates the storage room.
"It (the room) has become a catch-all for random things. I put paperwork down, and it piles up until I clean it out every few months. I’ve tried to decorate, but there’s no point. I don’t even go into it unless I’m throwing something in, and when people come over, I make sure I pull the door closed."
The small size of the space has forced Guerin to pare down how much paperwork she keeps around, and Lauzon says that’s a good start.
He also says Guerin should start using the large, black, framed pegboard over the desk to better display keepsakes or lists of tasks she has to tackle. Lauzon says it would be a better use of space to centre the desk and pegboard in the room. That would then leave enough room on the right hand side to put up six brightly coloured wall-hung folders to deal with paperwork, with titles like "not so important", "important", and "do this right now".
On the opposite wall, Lauzon suggests creating a photo wall with black and white photos, matted in white, to up the chic factor. He would paint the entire room in a soft grey tinged with green, which goes well with the existing carpet. Designers are increasingly using grey as a neutral colour.
"If she doesn’t need the door, she should take it off, especially since it’s such a small space," says Lauzon. "Making the interior of the room visible is an incentive to keep it organized and you get rid of the dead space. You could also put a little bit of overhead shelving in." He estimates the total cost at between $300 and $500.
Don Genova’s flex space will likely cost more, and be more of a challenge to rehabilitate. The freelance journalist also teaches food and travel writing, and has all of the accoutrements to match.
"I’m a pack rat when it comes to magazines and newspaper articles and cookbooks, because it’s nice to show a hard copy to my students," Genova says. "Then there’s all of the photography and audio equipment, and regular office stuff like a printer, an external hard drive, and a modem."
He needs all of the table surface he can get for marking and his various projects, which means his wife is exiled to work on either the dining table or a small side table in the living room.
Genova says there is definitely some stuff he can get rid of, but his wish list for the flex room includes better shelving, better lighting, and two workspaces. The room also gets hot, so he needs a fan, and he’s tired of tripping over electrical cables and accidentally unplugging equipment.
Lauzon says the first thing he would do is to have Genova consider taking advantage of digital technology to store his CDs, or to archive more of the magazines and newspapers."The books are fine. In fact, they’re quite nice, if they’re displayed properly," says Lauzon.
To fulfil Genova’s wish list, Lauzon would build a long, L-shaped table along the left and centre walls of the room, with storage drawers underneath. Genova would have the long portion, which would be close to nine feet of table surface. The short portion of the ’L’ would be a little thinner, and be designated for his wife. The table would also include small niches to corral all of the equipment cables.
Lauzon says he likes overhead fans, but believes it’s difficult to find a stylish one that also incorporates good lighting. Instead, he suggests that Genova use a slim and quiet tower fan in the corner of the room where there is no table surface.
All of the books and knick-knacks could go into overhead cabinets extending right to the ceiling, taking advantage of the nearly nine-foot ceiling height in the room. Recessed pot lights could be tucked into the underside of the cabinets, with additional task lighting above the defined workspaces.
Lauzon says Genova could either go with custom cabinets, or some very stylish and inexpensive high gloss white shelving from Ikea. Adding in or removing doors would also affect the cost. Lauzon says the room could be completely revamped for $3,000 to $6,000.
Article written by Claudia Kwan, Vancouver Sun
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