Archive for December, 2010

Housing Market Recovers from Summer Doldrums

Vancouver, BC – December 14, 2010. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province climbed 20 per cent in November from October 2010, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Compared to November of last year, MLS® residential unit sales were down 21 per cent to 5,647 units. The average MLS® residential price rose 9 per cent to $523,394 in November compared to the same month last year.

“Improved economic conditions and low mortgage interest rates have contributed to a 46 per cent increase in home sales since July,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. Employment in BC eclipsed the July 2008 record by 2,600 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate dipped to 6.9 per cent, the lowest recorded since January 2009.

“The inventory of homes for sale has trended lower since last spring, improving market conditions in many areas of the province,” added Muir. Vancouver and Victoria climbed back into balanced market conditions in last month.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume declined 4 per cent $35.5 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales declined 11 per cent to 70,382 year-to-date, while the average MLS® residential price climbed 9 per cent to $504,042 over the same period.

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

Skyline may climb as Vancouver mulls building heights

Vancouver Sun – December 12, 2010

Vancouver is considering raising the maximum height for high towers in the downtown core, as long as they aren’t within several protected view corridors.

But the proponents of a $500-million, three-tower proposal for Burrard Street are already trying to convince the city to exceed the new proposed height restrictions even before they’ve been adopted by council.

On Thursday, council will consider a staff recommendation to raise the maximum building height in the central business district outside of view corridors to 700 feet from 600. They’re also suggesting the city raise to 500 feet from 375 feet the maximum height along the Burrard Street corridor, which affects the Davie/Burrard area.

In October, Reliance Properties and Jim Pattison Developments unveiled a proposal to build a 48-storey, 466-foot tower on Pattison’s Toyota dealership as part of its Burrard Gateway project. The height limit is 375 feet.

But in the report to Thursday’s planning and environment committee, staff say the developers have since submitted a new application for a building 550 feet tall — higher even than the new contemplated limits.

Staff told them they didn’t support the proposal but that it was up to council to decide.

The city is also proposing to raise the maximum heights of signature buildings that can be seen from the approaches of Granville and Burrard bridges, including 300 feet at the foot of Burrard and 425 feet at the foot of Granville.

And it recommends creating a new “shoulder” area in the central business district south of Alberni Street to add to the existing Melville Street shoulder. It suggests raising the heights in those shoulder areas to 550 feet from 400.

But it also is recommending the city keep free of clutter several important view corridors, including those affecting Queen Elizabeth Park and locations on the south side of False Creek. And it recommends that all new towers, which now must meet at least LEED Gold standards for energy efficiency and sustainability, have even higher standards applied.

The report contains “before” and “after” images to show how much the city’s skyline would be changed under the various scenarios.

In January the city created three new view corridors that protect mountain views northward from Choklit Park and the Olympic Village.

Vancouver’s move to protect its signature views that are known around the world began in 1989 as the city’s skyline came under threat from redevelopment pressures. In 1997 it adopted a “General Policy for Higher Buildings” that sought to control the form and height of towers, and over the years planners have tried to control how high developers could build and how far into those corridors the buildings could intrude.

But enforcing the policies of previous councils has often been a lax affair; councils have often granted exemptions to the maximum allowable heights, with the result that Vancouver’s skyline is constantly changing and rising.

However, the report advocates that the city stick with a general theme of keeping higher buildings along “ceremonial streets” like Granville and Georgia, and not approving them on side streets, along the waterfront or in important shopping areas like Robson Street that would be unreasonably shadowed.

It also says the city’s tallest buildings should be signature towers that express an international level of architecture.

MLS® stats show more sales, fewer property listings in November

Vancouver, BC – December 2, 2010. Greater Vancouver residential home sales improved in November compared to the previous four months, with the number of sales posted on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) coming in slightly higher than the 10-year average for that month.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that the number of residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,509 in November 2010. This represents a 7.4 per cent increase compared to October 2010 and an 18.6 per cent decline from the 3,083 sales in November 2009.

Looking back further, last month’s residential sales represent a 187.1 per cent increase over the 874 residential sales in November 2008, a 13 per cent decline compared to November 2007’s 2,883 sales, and a 6.4 per cent increase compared to the 2,358 sales in November 2006.

“Housing sales numbers were fairly typical for a November and indicate a fairly balanced market. Activity on the buyer side has been stable, with slight increases, over the last few months while the number of homes listed for sale in our region has declined each month since we reached a peak in June,” Jake Moldowan, REBGV president said.

Total active residential property listings in Greater Vancouver currently sit at 12,384, a 12.1 per cent decline from last month and a 12 per cent increase from November 2009. New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties declined 17.1 per cent to 3,030 in November 2010 compared to November 2009 when 3,653 new units were listed.

“Home values have been relatively stable over the last five months compared to the summer period when we were seeing some downward pressure on prices,” Moldowan said. “It’s the homes priced accurately for today’s market that are receiving a lot of attention and selling right now.”

The MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 4.1 per cent to $580,080 in November 2010 from $557,384 in November 2009. This price has remained virtually unchanged since June of this year.

Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in November 2010 reached 1,050, a decrease of 9.8 per cent from the 1,164 detached sales recorded in November 2009, and a 226.1 per cent increase from the 322 units sold in November 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 5.6 per cent from November 2009 to $799,312.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,052 in November 2010, a decline of 24.6 per cent compared to the 1,396 sales in November 2009, and an increase of 156.6 per cent compared to the 410 sales in November 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 1.9 per cent from November 2009 to $389,168.

Attached property sales in November 2010 totalled 407, a decline of 22.2 per cent compared to the 523 sales in November 2009, and a 186.6 per cent increase from the 142 attached properties sold in November 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4.1 per cent between November 2009 and 2010 to $488,733.