Archive for October, 2010

Market Conditions Beginning to Improve

Vancouver, BC – October 13, 2010. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province declined 36 per cent to 5,511 units in September compared to the same month last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, MLS® residential unit sales in the province increased 2 per cent in September from August 2010. The average MLS® residential price climbed 4 per cent to $493,846 in September compared to the same month last year.

“BC home sales increased for the second consecutive month in September,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, consumer demand is still noticeably lower than last fall’s frenetic pace.”

“Market conditions have improved, with the months of supply declining from 11.1 in June to 8.9 in September,” added Muir. A balanced market typically exhibits five to seven months of supply.

“The current downward pressure on mortgage rates is expected to bolster housing demand this fall as consumers take advantage of a second opportunity to secure near record low interest rates,” noted Muir.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 2 per cent to $29.6 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales declined 7 per cent to 59,228 year-to-date, while the average MLS® residential price climbed 9 per cent to $500,539 over the same period.

Setting The Record Straight

By David Rees, TD Canada Trust

Earlier in the year, the Canadian government announced that new lending rules would come into effect as of April 19th, 2010. At the same time, our local BC government was set to introduce the HST only a few months later, on July 1st, 2010. The combination of the new rules and the introduction of the HST were misunderstood by many consumers and the result has been much confusion about home finance requirement and what implications the HST may have on the purchase of a home. Let’s take a closer look.

How much of a down payment do I need to purchase my new home?

Contrary to what you may have heard or believe yourself, you still only need as little as 5% down to purchase! Many clients I assisted this summer were under the belief that the new Government changes increased the required down payment to 10% – simply not true. If you are an EXISTING home owner, the maximum you can re-finance your EXISTING property is up to 90% of the value of your home (or 10% left in equity). However, any NEW PURCHASES still require only as little as 5% down. So yes, it’s still affordable to get into the market!

How much more will it cost for my home now that HST has been introduced?

I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to client’s that were under the impression that the HST would add a substantial amount more to the price of a home. Again, contrary to popular belief, the effect of the HST on RE-SALE (homes that have been previously lived in) is negligible. The HST tax is ONLY charged on services that are associated with the sale of a property (legal fees, home inspectors, conveyance fees). The effect of this tax in association with these services is negligible when looking your actual cost of the house itself! The HST IS, however, charged on NEW HOMES (homes that have never been lived in, or homes that have had a substantial amount of renovation work done). In this case, there is still a rebate that can be applied for on new homes up to a purchase price of $525,000 (up to a maximum rebate of $26,250).

Some minor misunderstanding with major implication for home buyers!

David Rees is a Mortgage Specialist with TD Canada Trust. He has been in the financial services industry since 2005. He specializes in all residential real-estate secured transactions, including new home (project site) purchases, re-sale home purchases, re-finances, equity take outs and investment properties. If you have any mortgage related questions, please feel free to contact David any time @ 778.217.0624 or

Housing market factors indicate stability in recent months

VANCOUVER, BC – October 4, 2010. September home sales in Greater Vancouver were consistent with activity experienced in the preceding two months across most categories.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that the number of residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,220 in September 2010. This represents a 0.8 per cent increase compared to August 2010 and 37.6 per cent decline from the 3,559 sales in September 2009.

In comparison, last month’s residential sales represent a 40.1 per cent increase over the 1,585 residential sales in September 2008, a 20 per cent decline compared to September 2007’s 2,776 sales, and an 11.9 per cent decline compared to September 2006’s 2,519 sales.

“We’ve seen fewer properties coming on to the market over the last three months. This trend, combined with the continued attraction of low interest rates, is likely having the effect of less downward pressure on home prices,” Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said.

Since spring, housing prices in the region have trended slightly downward, with a decrease of 2.7 per cent compared to the all-time high reached in April when the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) residential benchmark price was $593,419. The overall benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 5.5 per cent to $577,174 in September 2010 from $547,092 in September 2009. The current price remains consistent with last month, rising just 0.1 per cent between August and September 2010.

Total active property listings posted on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver currently sit at 15,401, basically unchanged compared to last month and a 22 per cent increase from September 2009. Over the last three months, active listings in the region have declined12.3 per cent.

New residential property listings posted in September declined 17.6 per cent to 4,731 compared to September 2009 when 5,746 new units were listed.

“We saw signs of more stability in our marketplace last month than we have seen since spring based on a variety of indicators that we look at each month,” Moldowan said. “At 56 days, it took, on average, three days less to sell a home in our region compared to August. This is the first month-over-month decline we’ve seen in this category since April.”

Sales of detached properties in September 2010 reached 866, a decrease of 39.1 per cent from the 1,423 detached sales recorded in September 2009, and a 58.6 per cent increase from the 546 units sold in September 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 6.7 per cent from September 2009 to $790,992.

Sales of apartment properties reached 971 in September 2010, a decline of 34.7 per cent compared to the 1,489 sales in September 2009, and an increase of 27.1 per cent compared to the 764 sales in September 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.7 per cent from September 2009 to $388,373.

Attached property sales in September 2010 totalled 383, a decline of 40.1 per cent compared to the 647 sales in September 2009, and a 39.3 per cent increase from the 275 attached properties sold in September 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 5.2 per cent between September 2009 and 2010 to $490,385.

Mortgage Life Insurance vs. Personal Life Insurance

By Alim Dhanji, Assante Financial Management

Insurance is an important part of one’s financial plan and it protects us from the unexpected.  It also helps us sleep at night knowing that your loved ones are protected.

When deciding between insurance that a mortgage broker sells and one that you can buy through a trusted insurance advisor, you have to look at the differences as personal life insurance is a lot better and usually more inexpensive as insurance advisors have the ability to shop the market to find the best rates for coverage.

Some issues with mortgage life insurance include:

  • Post Claim Underwriting, which means that you don’t know if you claim will be paid out until it has been submitted, with personal life insurance all the underwriting is done upfront.
  • The beneficiary is the lender, with personal life insurance, you choose the beneficiary.
  • The premiums stay the same as the mortgage balance is paid down, with personal life insurance the coverage doesn’t change.
  • It’s non-transferable to a new lender.

Instead of taking the easy way out by going for mortgage life insurance,  do your homework and get a solid insurance policy as it may save you from a lot of stress down the road.   If you would like to speak to a Certified Financial Planner and licensed Insurance Broker, please contact Alim Dhanji at (604) 688-1919 ex.17.

Alim Dhanji is a Certified Financial Planner and has been helping people achieve their life goals including buying homes through written financial planning for over 10 years. Alim has been featured on CKNW, The Province, The National Post, Money Sense, The Metro, Investment Executive, Morningstar, and The Insurance Journal.

Light up your life with colour!

By Amber Beall, Benjamin Moore Dunbar

What do natural light, artificial lighting and the colour of your walls have to do with one another? How important is it that you choose the right colour, considering the natural light in your home? The answer to both is everything!

As the days get shorter and we creep towards the stay-indoors and hibernate months of fall and winter, making sure your home is properly lit is very important. Not only does good lighting affect your overall mood, but choosing a wall colour while considering the amount of natural light you get in a space is essential.  For instance, many people think that the best colour to paint in a darker room is a light, fresh tone to “make the space feel bigger” when in fact the opposite is true! Think about it, how will you see the light, fresh colour when it’s overcome by shadows in the room.  Much better to use a warm, mid-tone or even a cozy, darker shade and leave the provision of light to some swanky new table lamps!

The opposite is true of airy, natural light-filled rooms, these often look wonderful painted a lighter colour that contrasts subtley with white trim.  In this case, artificial lighting is only necessary in the evenings.  Either way, there is no hard and fast rule to darker or lighter paint colours in any room, as it is your taste that matters most in the end. The most important thing is that your space is a warm and inviting place to relax and shed the cares of your day!

Amber Beall is an Interior Designer and Benjamin Moore Colour Expert based in Vancouver, BC.  Specializing in residential homes, Amber transforms her client’s spaces with colour palettes and design ideas as bright and bold as her personality!  Contact her directly at