A new government program promises to match the down payment for eligible first-time homebuyers.

The BC Government has announced today the BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership Program.

Under the program, the BC government will match down payment funds of eligible first-time homebuyers up to $37,500 with a 25-year term second mortgage.

As an example, a buyer purchasing a $500,000 home can put down 5% using $12,500 of their own funds and $12,500 from the BC Home Partnership Program.

No payments are required and no interest will accrue until the sixth year of the mortgage term.

The program was announced by Premier Christy Clark Thursday afternoon. Samantha Gale, executive director at the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association, attended the announcement.

“This is a necessary program which will assist many first time home buyers to enter the housing market at a time when housing affordability is a serious challenge. This program will provide tangible, necessary assistance which will facilitate the purchase of first homes for many BC residents struggling to save sufficient funds for a property down payment,” Gale said. “There are many potential buyers in BC who simply cannot afford to buy a home because they do not have the necessary down payment saved, despite having sufficient income to qualify for their mortgage payments.

“We find that most potential buyers are aiming to put down on a property purchase either the minimum 5% for an insured mortgage or 20%, so that their mortgage is conventional with no CMHC fees.  We at the CMBA, believe that the borrowers who are aiming to put 5% down are the ones whom this program is likely to benefit the most.”

Applications for the program will be accepted starting January 16 up until March 31.

Below are the qualification requirements. Buyers must:

•             Reside in the home
•             Be a first-time homebuyer
•             Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for 5 years
•             Have resided in BC for at least one year
•             Have a combined gross income of $150,000 or less
•             Have saved at least half of the minimum down payment they will require, and
•             Be pre-approved for a 1st mortgage before applying. Brokers should treat the second mortgage as a non-traditional source of down payment.

Additionally, the property must be the principal residence for the first five years, must cost less than $750,000, and must not be a rental or recreational property


The City of Vancouver is one step closer to introducing a vacancy tax that will target homes and condos that sit empty for the majority of the year after the provincial government on Monday committed to introducing the needed legislation in a rare summer sitting of the legislature. 

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said Monday that the House will convene on July 25 to pass new legislation that will effectively amend the Vancouver Charter and provide the city with statutory authority to introduce and administer Mayor Gregor Robertson’s proposed vacancy tax.

As well, de Jong said the government will use the summer session to introduce legislation that will end the self-regulation of B.C.’s real estate industry, a move promised by the government earlier this month following release of a scathing report of the sect0r by an independent advisory group.

De Jong’s announcement responds to a request late last month by Robertson for the province’s support to impose a vacancy tax as a way of encouraging some of the owners of an estimated 10,800 vacant residences to rent, thereby increasing the city’s rental stock.

At the time, Robertson warned that the city was prepared to push ahead with the tax with or without the province’s help. On Monday, De Jong agreed that the proposal is a way to increase rental supply while waiting for some of the city’s pending housing projects to come online.

“It strikes us that if the city wants to do this, it is a reasonable request on their part,” he said. “We want to ensure the City of Vancouver has clear statutory authority to do this. But, it is ultimately their decision to proceed. We want to ensure that they have all of the information that is available to the province, that could reasonably be expected and be needed to effect enforcement of a measure like this when it is up and running.”

Robertson welcomed the province’s support at a press conference held later on Monday, saying it was a positive step in the right direction. He did note, however, that a lot of work around the details — including the rate of the tax, how it will be administered and what data the provincial government will supply to the city — still need to be ironed out. 

“We want to make sure it is fair, we want to be sure it’s focused on homes that are empty 12 months a year and that we are using all the data that has already been collected, whether that’s provincial data or city data we are using, that to make sure we administer this fairly and efficiently,” he said. 

“We are working on the next steps with the province on exactly how we collect the data [and] administer the empty home tax. So we haven’t gotten to the point where we’ve made decisions on how this is going to be administered.”

De Jong said the day-to-day administration of the tax will be the city’s responsibility. 

Robertson is hopeful other communities, particularly ones around Metro Vancouver, will push forward with their own empty-home tax as a way of increasing rental stock — a move that will require legislative changes to the Community Charter — noting that Vancouver is not alone in dealing with a vacancy crisis.

“The whole region is dealing with a vacancy crisis,” he said. “Rental housing is in short supply.”

De Jong said Vancouver is the only jurisdiction to date that has put forward a formal request for a vacancy tax.

NDP housing critic David Eby slammed the government on Monday for not acting fast enough on the affordability crisis, saying the only reason the government has decided to support Vancouver’s vacancy tax is because the B.C. Liberals are polling badly in Metro Vancouver.

The announcement also does nothing to address the issue of housing affordability in other communities, he said.

“If the mayor of Vancouver is happy with this, then I’m glad,” said Eby. “But the reality is that the province has responsibility for Metro Vancouver, and for the other areas that have identified this as an issue and this is a zero response for those residents that are grappling with unaffordability across the region.”

Source: Vancouver Sun


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Metro Vancouver home sales set record for February

Last month was the highest selling February on record for the Metro Vancouver housing market, according to the Real Estate Board of Vancouver.

Photograph by: Jason Payne , PNG

METRO VANCOUVER -- Last month was the highest selling February on record for the Metro Vancouver housing market, according to the Real Estate Board of Vancouver.

Residential property sales in the region, which covers areas from Whistler to South Delta, totalled 4,172 in February 2016, up 36.3 per cent from a year ago.

The sales in February were 56.3 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month and rank as the highest February sales total on record.

"We're in a competitive, fast-moving market cycle that favours home sellers," Darcy McLeod, REBGV president said. "Sustained home buyer competition is keeping upward pressure on home prices across the region."

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,812 in February 2016. This represents an increase of 7.1 per cent compared to the 5,425 units listed in February 2015 and is up 30.8 per cent compared to January 2016 when 4,442 properties were listed.


"We're beginning to see home listings increase as we head toward the spring market; however, additional supply is still needed to meet today's demand," McLeod said.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service system in Metro Vancouver is 7,299, a 38.7 per cent drop compared to a year ago. The sales-to-active listings ratio in February 2016 was 57.2 per cent. The REGBV said: "Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12 per cent mark, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it reaches the 20 to 22 per cent range in a particular community for a sustained period of time."

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board also reported sizzling February numbers with 2,387 sales, up 79 per cent compared to a year ago. This is 46 per cent over the 10-year average for the month of February and four per cent higher than the previous record of 1,948 sales in February 1992.

"In my twenty-five years of real estate, I have never seen such consistent demand for housing in the Fraser Valley," said Charles Wiebe, president of the FVREB. The board said across Fraser Valley, the the average number of days to sell a single family detached home in February 2016 was 21 days, compared to 41 days in February 2015.


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February 16, 2016

BC Budget 2016 – the impact on you and your clients

The BC government introduced its 2016 budget today. The budget included a number of items intended to affect affordability and availability in the Lower Mainland’s housing market. 

Here’s a summary:

Property Transfer Tax (PTT)

• a New Housing exemption will apply to newly built homes or newly subdivided units priced up to $750,000, saving buyers up to $13,000; and

• a partial exemption will apply on newly built homes priced $750,000 to $800,000.

• a new 3% PTT rate will apply to the portion of a home sale that exceeds $2 million. For homes that sell for below $2 million, the PTT will continue to apply at a rate of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the balance. 

These changes will take effect on February 17, 2016. 

 “While we applaud the government’s efforts to improve affordability for home buyers purchasing new housing, there’s more work to be done, including indexing PTT thresholds to keep pace with changes in home prices over time,” Darcy McLeod, Board president said. 

Data collection

Starting this summer, individuals and corporations buying property must disclose if they are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada and if neither, their home country. These changes will provide information on the volume of foreign investment in BC. 

Your Board supports this change. We advocated for this initiative in a letter to the Finance Minister earlier this year. 

Home Owner Grant

The Home Owner Grant threshold will increase to $1.2 million from $1.1 million for the 2016 tax year.

Affordable housing

The province will invest $355 million to help the BC Housing Management Commission support more than 2,000 affordable housing units for residents with low-to-moderate incomes. 

Watch for more information on today’s budget in next week’s edition of our REALTOR® News.

Additional government resources:


OTTAWA - New federal rules for Canadian mortgages have now gone into effect.

The changes affect properties that cost more than $500,000 — a small percentage of the overall market.

Buyers can still have a five per cent down payment on the first $500,000 of a home purchase but must now put at least 10 per cent down on the portion above $500,000.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said the new measure — effective Monday — aims to ensure buyers have sufficient equity in their homes.

Lenders also face new capital requirements to keep pace with the growing risk of the real estate markets that they bankroll.

And Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. will change the fees it charges issuers of mortgage-backed securities.

The Finance Department has tightened mortgage rules on several occasions in recent years — along with requiring stricter enforcement and management of loans — to weed out marginal


Sourece: Yahoo


Rental buildings a hot commodity in Metro Vancouver

In Metro Vancouver last year, 181 rental apartment buildings were sold. The average price per suite was $362,424 in the city and $205,476 in the suburbs.

Photograph by: ian lindsay , Vancouver Sun

Sales of rental apartment buildings in Metro Vancouver surged 47 per cent in 2015 — and the total value of all sales of apartment buildings went up 99 per cent from 2014.

But that’s because most of the apartment blocks sold were bigger. The number of suites in the 181 buildings sold in 2015 was 6,259, up from 3,282 in 123 buildings the year before. The average price paid per suite was up only five per cent, to $247,879 in 2015 from $237,025 in 2014.

The figures come from the Goodman Report, a newsletter for apartment owners put out by commercial realtors David and Mark Goodman.

David Goodman said the increase was due to several factors.

“Obviously there’s low interest rates,” said Goodman.


“There’s a significant lack of supply. There’s just not enough land in the Lower Mainland, and when there is land it’s difficult as hell to develop new rentals, very difficult.

“Besides that, there is a staunch opposition to tearing down older rental buildings. It seems to be ingrained in the DNA of politicians — protect at all costs existing rentals.”

Goodman tracks 3,020 apartment buildings in Metro Vancouver. Last year 78 buildings were sold in Vancouver and 103 in the suburbs. The average price per suite was $362,424 in the city and $205,476 in the suburbs.

In dollar value, this worked out to sales of more than $612 million in Vancouver, and more than $938 million in the suburbs, for a total of more than $1.5 billion.

There were 17 apartment blocks sold in the West End, 15 in Kitsilano, and 14 in both East Vancouver and Marpole. The highest prices per suite were registered by buildings near UBC, $769,231, followed by Kerrisdale at $611,340 and the West End at $392,192.

Burnaby led the suburbs with 36 sales of apartment buildings, followed by New Westminster with 22 and North Vancouver with 10.

The prices paid were significantly less than in the City of Vancouver. Apartments in North Van sold for $289,362 per suite, in Burnaby for $260,036 and in Richmond for $251,880. Apartments in Maple Ridge sold for $92,614 per suite, and in Surrey for $128,419.

Goodman said most buyers of rental apartments are local.

“I would say 80 per cent of them are local,” he said.

“We know them all, it’s the same players over and over again. What has changed a bit this year is that there is investment coming in from China. Not an avalanche, they’re (usually) buying land.”

Goodman said the net result of all the sales will be that rents will go up. But there are other factors in those rent increases, such as when a long-term tenant moves out and a landlord renovates the suite.

“Why have rents gone up beyond 2.9 per cent, which is the mandated rent increase? Because if you own a building and you’ve had a tenant living there for 14 years and they finally leave, it goes from typically $900 or $1,000 to $1,400.

“And they paint it, they spend money on the suite, they’ll spend $10,000 to $15,000 on a unit and mark it up 30/40 per cent. Well, when you have some of those happening, it skews the 2.9 so it reports as four to five per cent.”

Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs notes that half the city’s population lives in an estimated 67,000 rental apartments. He said the high prices paid for apartment blocks is “worrisome,” and said the city is doing everything it can to keep and expand rental stock.

“In Vancouver and I think maybe North Van you have to replace a rental unit if you tear it down,” Meggs said.

“But in some other municipalities, notably Burnaby, that’s not the case. And we’ve seen significant losses, which is discouraging. These are valuable lower-cost units, and they’re being snapped up in some cases for redevelopment as condominiums, depending on the municipality.”

Meggs said Vancouver insists developers build rental apartments in any new project.

“All major developments already have a 20 per cent requirement in our case,” he said.

“If it’s too small a project to warrant construction of the units right there, the money goes into a fund instead and we build it nearby. The rental program requires it to stay rental for 60 years or the life of the building, whichever is longer.”

Goodman said that while Vancouver’s goal of building 800 to 1,000 new rental apartments per year is laudable, it falls far short of the demand.

“It’s really a paltry amount, given what the marketplace needs, probably 4,000 to 5,000 a year,” he said.


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January 5, 2016

Metro Vancouver home sales set an all-time record in 2015


In a year when the number of homes listed for sale was below historical averages, actual home sales in Metro Vancouver set a new record.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that 2015 home sales were the highest annual total in REBGV history. This was powered early in the year by four straight months with more than 4,000 sales a month from March to June, another first for REBGV.

Sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in 2015 reached 42,326, a 27.8 per cent increase from the 33,116 sales recorded in 2014, and a 48.4 per cent increase over the 28,524 residential sales in 2013.

The total number of homes listed for sale on the MLS® in 2015 ranked fifth in the last ten years, while the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) saw double-digit year-over-year price increases.

The number of residential properties listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in 2015 reached 57,249. This is an increase of 2.1 per cent compared to the 56,066 properties listed in 2014 and an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to the 54,742 properties listed in 2013.

With sales-to-active-listings ratios above 25 per cent for 11 months in 2015, the Metro Vancouver market experienced seller’s market conditions for much of the year.

"Home buyers were active and motivated throughout 2015 despite the pressure on supply of homes on the market," Darcy McLeod, REBGV president said. "Housing markets typically experience quieter periods within a calendar year, but that wasn't the case in Metro Vancouver last year."

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver ends the year at $760,900. This represents an 18.9 per cent increase compared to December 2014.
“We often hear economists say that seller’s market conditions put upward pressure on home prices,” McLeod said. “That was certainly the case in 2015, with price increases ranging from 14 to 24 per cent depending on property type.” 
December summary
Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,827 in December 2015, an increase of 33.6 per cent from the 2,116 sales recorded in December 2014 and a 19.8 per cent decline compared to November 2015 when 3,524 home sales occurred.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,021 in December 2015. This represents a 7 per cent increase compared to the 1,888 units listed in December 2014 and a 40.4 per cent decline compared to November 2015 when 3,392 properties were listed.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 6,024, a 41.6 per cent decline compared to December 2014 and a 25.6 per cent decrease compared to November 2015.

Sales of detached properties in December 2015 reached 1,136, an increase of 36.4 per cent from the 833 detached sales recorded in December 2014. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 24.3 per cent from December 2014 to $1,248,600.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,225 in December 2015, an increase of 34.3 per cent compared to the 912 sales in December 2014.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 14 per cent from December 2014 to $436,200.

Attached property sales in December 2015 totalled 466, an increase of 25.6 per cent compared to the 371 sales in December 2014. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 13.6 per cent from December 2014 to $543,700.


East Vancouver home owners can expect biggest assessment increases

Owners of single-family houses in East Vancouver can expect some of the biggest increases in the assessed value of their homes for 2016.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann , PNG

Owners of single-family houses in East Vancouver can expect some of the biggest increases in the assessed value of their homes for 2016.

Annual assessment notices from BC Assessment were in the mail Monday morning, and homeowners in many parts of Metro Vancouver can expect increases as high as 25 per cent on detached homes, according to Assessor Jason Grant.

“Increases of 15-25 per cent will be typical for single-family homes in Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Tri-Cities, New Westminster and Squamish,” Grant said in a news release.

“Typical strata residential increases throughout the region will be in the five to 10 per cent range.”

The release gives examples of homes in each city, including a home on the east side of Vancouver valued at $1.575 million last year that has now been assessed at $1.94 million — a jump of 28 per cent. The west side example increased in value by 23 per cent.

Over in the Fraser Valley region, which includes Richmond, Delta, Surrey, White Rock, and every thing to the east, assessment increases are a bit more modest.

“Properties in South Delta and parts of Richmond will generally see the highest per cent increase within the region,” Grant said.

Urban areas in the Fraser Valley can expect increases of between five and 25 per cent. An example home in south Richmond saw a jump of 20 per cent, whereas the value of a house in east Richmond only rose by eight per cent.

Assessment increases are less dramatic in Whistler, Pemberton and the Sunshine Coast, where values have typically risen by between zero and 15 per cent.

Commercial and industrial properties near Vancouver are also seeing big increases of 10-20 per cent, or even higher for properties being bought with redevelopment in mind.

More information is available on


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