Archive for March, 2011

12 most overpriced real estate markets in the world

Vancouver’s home prices may have been rated as one of the least affordable in the world, but high prices locally did not manage to boost Canada into one of the most overpriced real estate markets globally, a recent report said.

According to The Economist, Canada was not among the 12 most overpriced markets in the world, based on rental and sale prices of properties.

Here are a look at 12 most overpriced real estate markets in the world
according to The Economist.

1.   Sydney, Australia
2.   Hong Kong
3.   France
4.   Spain
5.   Sweden
6.   Great Britain
7.   Belgium
8.   Netherlands
9.   New Zealand
10. Ireland
11. Singapore
12. Denmark

Vancouver Leads BC Housing Markets

Vancouver, BC – March 14, 2011. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province climbed 5 per cent in February from January 2011, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Compared to February of 2010, MLS® residential unit sales increased 8 per cent to 6,410 units. The average MLS® residential price rose 18 per cent to $587,571 in February compared to the same month last year.

“The surge in consumer demand in Metro Vancouver continues to propel the provincial statistics higher,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Elevated sales activity in Vancouver’s pricier communities has pushed average home prices higher than market conditions would suggest.” Compared to February 2010, the average MLS® residential price in Vancouver has climbed more than 19 per cent, whereas the Benchmark or typical home price has increased a more modest 4 per cent.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 15 per cent $6.03 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales remained relatively unchanged, albeit down by 0.3 per cent to 10,547 units. The average MLS® residential price climbed 15.6 per cent to $572,121 over the same period.

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Top 25 grants and rebates for property buyers and owners

1. Home Buyers’ Plan

Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Home buyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca. Enter ‘Home Buyers’ Plan’ in the search box | 1.800.959.8287

2. GST Rebate on New Homes

New home buyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is less than $350,000. The rebate is up to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca. Enter ‘RC4028’ in the search box | 1.800.959.8287

3. BC New Housing Rebate (HST)

Buyers of new or substantially renovated homes priced up to $525,000 are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion (7%) of the 12% HST paid to a maximum rebate of $26,250. Homes priced at $525,000+ are eligible for a flat rebate of $26,250. www.hstinbc.ca/making_your_choice/faqs/new_housing_rebate | 1.800.959.8287

4. BC New Rental Housing Rebate (HST)

Landlords buying new or substantially renovated homes are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion of the HST, up to $26,250 per unit. http://www.hstinbc.ca/making_your_choice/faqs/new_housing_rebate | 1.800.959.8287

5. BC Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First Time Home Buyers’ Program

Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced up to $450,000. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.rev.gov.bc.ca/rpt | 250.387.0604

6. First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC)

This federal non-refundable income tax credit is for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a cooperative housing corporation. The calculation: multiply the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2010) x $5,000. For the 2010 tax year, the maximum credit is $750. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca/hbtc | 1.800.959.8281

7. BC Home Owner Grant

Reduces school property taxes by up to $570 on properties with an assessed value up to $1,150,000. For 2011, the basic grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of value over $1,150,000, and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,264,000. An additional grant reduces property tax by a further $275 for a total of $845 for seniors, veterans and the disabled. This is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,150,000 and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,319,000+. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.rev.gov.bc.ca/hog or contact your municipal tax office.

8. BC Property Tax Deferment Programs

Property Tax Deferment Program for Seniors. Qualifying home owners aged 55+ may be eligible to defer property taxes.

Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program. Qualifying low-income home owners may be eligible to defer property taxes.

Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children. Qualifying low income home owners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.sbr.gov.bc.ca and enter ‘Property tax deferment’ in the search box or contact your municipal tax office.

9. Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) Grants

This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low-income home owners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and owners creating secondary and garden suites. www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/prfinas/prfinas_001.cfm | 1.800.668.2642 | 604.873.7408

10. CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund

Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance, a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient mortgage or make energy saving renovations. www.cmhc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_008.cfm#reno | 604.731.5733

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REBGV Housing Market Update, February 2011

Red Flags for Contractor Fraud

With Spring on its way and many homeowners thinking about fixing up or remodelling their homes, it’s always wise to educate yourself on signs of contractor fraud to ensure you don’t end up paying for work that never gets completed.

Following are five red flags that may indicate a contractor is not legitimate:

1. The company does not list a number in the phone book. This may indicate a fly-by-night operation that will be here today and gone tomorrow. They may seem legitimate in the beginning but, as soon as you make your first payment for the job, they may vanish.

2. Asks you to pay for the entire job up front. This contractor will be long gone well before your project gets underway. Or, worse yet, the contractor may have started the project, leaving you with a ripped up home and depleted funds.

3. Only accepts cash. A legitimate business should have the appropriate financial accounts in place to accept a variety of payment options from clients, including personal cheques and credit cards. If a contractor only accepts cash, you probably won’t see them again once they receive a payment.

4. Solicits door-to-door. Most legitimate contractors find enough work through word-of-mouth referrals and advertising. If they need to drum up business by going door to door, they probably are not an established, local operation. Chances are this contractor is running a fly-by-night business.

5. Offers exceptionally long guarantees. The contractor may be making promises that can’t be kept solely to sucker you into hiring them for the job. The contractor could be inexperienced or may be running a fly-by-night business.

The best way to protect yourself from contractor fraud is to seek referrals from people you trust who can vouch for the contractor including friends, family, colleagues or your mortgage or real estate professional.

It’s also important to read and understand every word of a contract before signing it. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.

Also keep in mind that you should never sign a contract with a service professional who makes promises that sound too good to be true. Chances are, this contractor needs to create these incentives to attract customers. If that’s the case, the contractor’s record can’t speak for itself.

Be especially wary of contractors who try to scare you into signing for repairs that they say are “urgent”. Before agreeing to any additional costly repairs, seek a second opinion.

REBGV reports increased housing demand in February

Vancouver, BC – March 2, 2011. Demand for detached homes continues to be strong across Greater Vancouver, with particularly high sales volumes occurring in Richmond and Vancouver Westside.

For the past two months, the number of properties listed for sale and those sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver outpaced the 10-year average in both categories. From a historical perspective, February’s 3,097 home sales outpace the 2,742 home-sale average recorded in the region over the last ten years.

“We saw an increase in demand across our region last month as more buyers entered the market in advance of the spring season,” said Jake Moldowan, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). “The intensity of this activity varied between communities. Our statistics tell us that single detached homes in Richmond and the west side of Vancouver remain the most sought after properties in our marketplace.”

Between November 2010 and February 2011, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in Richmond increased $190,739 to $1,099,679; in Vancouver West, detached home prices increased $222,185 to $1,850,072. In comparison, detached home prices across the region increased $51,762 between November 2010 and February 2011 to $848,645.

“To effectively analyse real estate statistics for the purpose of buying or selling a home, it’s critical to focus on your neighbourhood of choice because, like we see today, conditions and prices can fluctuate significantly within the same city or municipality,” Moldowan said.

Looking across the region, the REBGV reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver reached 3,097 on the MLS® in February 2011. This represents a 70.3 per cent increase compared to the 1,819 sales recorded in January 2011, an increase of 25.2 per cent compared to the 2,473 sales in February 2010 and a 109.3 per cent increase from the 1,480 home sales in February 2009.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,693 in February 2011. This represents a 23.6 per cent increase compared to February 2010 when 4,606 properties were listed, and an 18.6 per cent increase compared to January 2011 when 4,801 homes were added to the MLS® in Greater Vancouver.

“With a sizeable increase in the number of properties coming onto the market for sale, there’s a good selection out there for buyers to choose from,” Moldowan said.

At, 11,925, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS® increased 14.2 per cent in February compared to last month and increased 5 per cent from this time last year.

Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in February 2011 reached 1,402, an increase of 42.6 per cent from the 983 detached sales recorded in February 2010, and a 138.9 per cent increase from the 587 units sold in February 2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 6 per cent from February 2010 to $848,645.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,206 in February 2011, a 12.3 per cent increase compared to the 1,074 sales in February 2010, and an increase of 85.5 per cent compared to the 650 sales in February 2009. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.2 per cent from February 2010 to $399,397.

Attached property sales in February 2011 totalled 489, a 17.5 per cent increase compared to the 416 sales in February 2010, and a 101.2 per cent increase from the 243 attached properties sold in February 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 2.3 per cent between February 2010 and 2011 to $507,118.

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