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BC HpuseAt the beginning of every year in January all homeowners in British Columbia receive their property assessments in the mail. For many homeowners, this document is believed to be what their property is worth today. For 2013, a number of homeowners were shocked that their assessments have increased even though the sales and prices have dropped in their area. Meanwhile others have received reduced or same values as previous years, myself included.


One family member was outraged when his assessment increased by $50k and expects that his taxes will be increasing accordingly. If he were selling, he would not be as concerned. I tried to explain that it’s just a piece of paper for reference but I had to end the discussion because I wanted to keep the peace. :)

 

For clarification, the BC Assessment Authority is a provincial Crown corporation. As quoted on their website, “Each assessment reflects an estimate of what properties would have likely sold for on a uniform date of July 1, 2012.” Thus, without the property actually having sold in the open market, the assessment is just that--an estimate formulated about 7 months ago.  If the market were static there may have been more validity. For a better estimate of value today in your marketplace, you need to consult with a Realtor® who has the current information.

 

The real estate market in BC has seen fluctuations in values up and down, depending on the area. However, for the most part, prices have dropped overall in the last 6-8 months. These numbers can be validated by actual reported sales from the respective real estate boards. The BC property assessment is generated by mathematical formulas and assumptions used by a group of appraisers, without viewing the condition or location of the properties to establish a starting point.

 

Would you feel that you had a “deal” if you bought a property below the assessed value? And would you feel you paid “too much” if the price was over assessed value? The same applies if you were a Seller. Understanding how these numbers work along with the knowledge from your local Realtor® would make you feel better on either side.



--Arthur Ng

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Halloween PumpkinWith the end of October comes with it Hallowe’en and the memories of the great Dot Com crash that occurred many years ago which we are still recovering. We have seen a lull in our local real estate market for the last number of months. Are we going to experience what the reporters have been waiting for decades to report of a real estate crash? Ask any economist and 50% of them will be correct and become gurus should the event happen. I have no crystal ball. The Buyers tend to hold off writing offers when they hear the news; meanwhile the Sellers don’t put on their properties because they cannot get their pricing. Yet when the market jumps, Buyers scramble to outbid each other to buy anything without much thought. Investors stock up on pre-sales like there is no tomorrow. Home Sellers get excited because they can get almost any price but are also worried that they cannot find their next home. While everyone’s circumstances are different, I’d rather be taking my time to buy or sell in a normal or Buyers market. I think that a hot market is when it’s scary. Happy Hallowe’en!
  
--Arthur Ng
Managing Broker
  
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Back
 Just imagine that school re-opens for most students next week. I heard many parents have been waiting for this time to return to a routine, while some kids have been eager to see their classmates, and others anxious because they are starting a new school.
 
This also means that the days will be getting darker sooner and we must be more careful driving to and from work. We should be slowing down and not driving faster while we chauffer our children to their many activities.
 

Packing healthy lunches, eating proper dinners and ensuring that everyone is well rested creates a happy, healthy family. Getting the homework assignments completed in a timely and amicable manner is another story but I digress. You see, I have 2 daughters as well. So enjoy the last week of summer and the final days of the PNE. The next break is Christmas, just a few months away!

 
 
--Arthur Ng
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Coldwell Banker recently released their latest survey on what men and women want in real estate. Interesting enough, the results are not what you may think. Here are highlights of the findings: Both men and women place greater emphasis on their feelings about a home more than on layout, square footage, or price. And more than 60% also know within their first visit to the home is right for them. To read the complete report, please go to: [Men/Women Survey]
 
--Arthur Ng
 
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As per my previous blogs and what I have been advising our clients, the local real estate market is unique. The economic and political stability, quality of life, the natural beauty and the sound social and education system is desirable world-wide. This is confirmed by the latest 2011 census report from Statistics Canada shows that our population is growing faster than any G8 nation, fuelled primarily by immigration and the bulk landing in Western Canada. For Metro Vancouver with its’ limited land base, it just means that prices can only head one way overall. This explains why Surrey and Port Moody is experiencing 19.9% and 18.6% growth respectively when compared to 2006. More than 200,000 new residents came to Metro Vancouver since 2006. This and more is expected to continue for the next 20+ years by 1.6 million. Vancouver has been quoted for many years as one of the best places to live in the world by many sources including the Economist, the Conde Nast, Mercer, and others. If you are in the market to buy your first home, I would suggest that you act sooner than later.
 
 
--Arthur Ng
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HBTCDid you know that you could be saving up to $750 in income tax if you recently bought your first home? Many have forgotten about the Federal program that was introduced under Canada’s Economic Action Plan Budget 2009. The Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC) is a non-refundable tax credit based on the amount of $5,000 that you claim in your personal income tax return on line 369. You would claim this amount in the year you completed on your home. So if you bought your first home last year, you could have up to a $750 surprise bonus this April! For more details about this program, please click here:  HBTC
 
--Arthur Ng
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Consult with a Coldwell Banker Agent today“I’m going to wait until prices drop.”
“I want to save enough for a large down payment.”
“The prices are too high.”
“A better house might come up.”
“My friends/media told me not to buy.”
 
We hear these comments on a regular basis. I will say that the right time to buy is when the conditions work for you regardless of the market. If you can afford the mortgage and the property is in the right location and meets most of your needs, why wait? What happens if the prices don’t come down? If the prices do come down, would you and the others sitting on fence jump in at the same time to compete for the same property? When you find the near perfect house but wait to see if another better one comes up and doesn’t, and meanwhile the house that you liked has sold, what do you do then? A home is where you live. And we happen to live in the Lower Mainland where the population continues to grow from international immigration and the rest of Canada at a record pace. Prices are based on supply and demand. Have you wished that you had bought earlier but didn’t because you thought prices were going to fall? Ask some of your friends that did. I am not suggesting that you jump in blindly. Consult with one of our experienced agents and they can guide you in the right direction.
 
 
-- Arthur Ng
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 “My property assessments are up over 15%! Does this mean that my house is worth more now?”
As Real Estate agents we get asked this question all the time, in fact I remember getting asked this question 30 years ago too! Logically homeowners and buyers look at property assessments as some sort of guide to determine house values; unfortunately this method of evaluation is flawed. For example, most properties that are assessed by the BC Assessment Authority are never even inspected, meaning no one enters the home to see its physical condition, properties are mostly viewed from the outside or aerial mapping and assessed based on land size/location and age of the dwelling (recent building permits may trigger some further investigations as well). Can you imagine a Real Estate agent evaluating your home and providing professional price estimation and never even going inside? Of course not.  Well that’s exactly what the property assessor’s do and yet we place so much value on their pricing method, it just doesn’t make sense to use property assessments as your basis to determine the correct Real Estate market value. I have heard some people say that the assessments are always lower than market value, or add 10% or 15%? All of this doesn’t make any sense and are just “guesstimates”. Another major reason for not considering assessed values when pricing a home is the fact that your 2012 assessment was completed by July 1011, over 6 or more months ago (depending when you sell in 2012). Anyone with Real Estate experience will tell you that a lot can change in 6 months when it comes to house prices. So there you have it, don’t put too much weight in your assessed value when deciding on the right price for your home or when you are making an offer to buy a property. At Coldwell Banker Westburn Realty we have experts to help you determine the “Right” price based on recent listings/sales on homes like yours in the market place near your location. Please watch the video below for an even better understanding of how property assessments work in B.C.
 
 
--Paul Prade
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Reports from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver show a continuation of the trend that has been running in Metro Vancouver for several months. Sales of residential detached, attached, and apartment properties reached 3,377 in May of this year.  That's a 7 per cent increase from May 2010 (3,156 residential properties sold) and a 4.7 per cent increase from April 2011 (3,225 residential properties sold).

Million Dollar House in Metro VancouverOne significant, though somewhat misleading stat, is the Housing Price Index (HPI) for residential properties in Greater Vancouver. The HPI over the last 12 months rose in May 2011 to $627,568. In May 2010 it was $590,662. This stat means that the prices for housing in Greater Vancouver rose from last year but because there has been more activity in the higher end of housing, the numbers are a little skewed. 21 per cent of residential properties sold on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver sold for $1-million or higher, while 20 per cent of residential properties that sold in Greater Vancouver sold for less than $350,000. Keep in mind also that these HPI stats are only for properties sold on the MLS® and do not include sales by owners, or properties that were not listed on the MLS®.

With high end property sales making up an increasingly large part of the market and with talk of
geographic restrictions inhibiting Vancouver's housing development, Vancouver's housing market continues to favour sellers this spring.
-- Sarah Mah
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We have heard reports for many years about the affordability, or rather the lack Vancouver Home Mortgagethereof, of real estate in Greater Vancouver. The latest report from RBC suggests that the typical home is now about 10 times the median family income. This means that if your family income is $60,000, then the typical home would be about $600,000 which is about the GVRD benchmark. Let’s have some fun when factoring mortgage rates and going back in history.

 

 
In 1981, the typical home was about $150,000 and the mortgage rate was around 20%. Assuming the $60,000 income the house would be 2.5 times that amount. Yet with 20% down on a 5 year term, you would only qualify for a $115,000 home.

 

 
In 1991, the home became $275,000 with mortgages at 11%. Using the same income, the home would be 4.6 times that amount; however that income now qualified for a $189,000 property.

 

 
In 2001, the same house became $360,000 with rates at 7%. The income was now 6 times the amount while the same income qualified for a $260,000 property.

 

 
In 2011, the rates dropped to 4%. The same $60,000 income now qualified for a $350,000 property while the typical home is about $700,000 which is about 11.5 times that.

 

 
You get the idea. Over the past 40 years, real estate has proven to be a sound long term investment. This is another reason to buy when you have the opportunity to do so instead of waiting and renting. Typical incomes will never catch up to hard assets. I have heard so many people waiting for prices to drop. Remember that you are buying a place to live in, not a short term investment. Cycles do come and go, but prices have always surpassed the previous high. You would think that increased mortgage rates should have the opposite effect on house prices. Yet Vancouver has become a destination city where others want to live from around the world. What do you think?

 

 
-       Arthur Ng
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Every January homeowners receive their Property Assessment Notice. This is an estimate of property value established by the BC Assessment Authority for Home in Burnabyproperty tax purposes. Many get upset when values goes up because they expect property taxes would increase accordingly. This is not always the case. If the municipality in where you live decides to raise taxes to improve public services, or if TransLink or Greater Vancouver Regional District does the same, your property taxes would increase even if your assessment value dropped. Many also believe that this truly is what their property is worth.

 

So how accurate is this property assessment value if you wanted this to be used when you sell your home? Imagine two million properties in BC being reviewed every year by a group of appraisers from the BC Assessment Authority. That’s quite a few for each staff member.  Have you ever had someone enter your property from BC Assessment Authority to establish value? Furthermore, the current assessed value is estimated as at July 1 of the previous year. If you have been a property owner in BC, in particular the Lower Mainland, you will realize that real estate values are cyclical between and within years. I would suggest the property assessment is merely a starting point established in part by some mathematical formula and assumptions.  Only a licensed Realtor® or a certified appraiser would be able to provide the true current value of a property based on their local market knowledge.

 

If a property came up for sale priced below “assessed value”, would you jump on it without thinking twice? I wouldn’t bet my house on it.  Would you be paying too much for a house priced well above the “assessed value”? Many might be led to believe so. But is it really?
 
 -- Arthur Ng
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Downtown Vancouver Condo on WaterfrontCan it be? Is the Vancouver housing market seeing the first signs of buyer fatigue?

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver released its property sale
statistics for April based on the Multiple Listing Service and, while not the plunge many people are predicting, the numbers are trending down.

Residential property sales – including detached, attached, and apartment properties – in Greater Vancouver reached 3,225 in April 2011.  Compared to the 3,512 residential sales in April 2010, that's an 8.2 per cent decrease, which is still modest when compared to the 21 per cent decrease from March of this year when 4,080 residential properties were sold.

It's the same story with new listings in Greater Vancouver.  April 2011 saw 5,847 new listings for detached, attached and apartment properties.  This is a 23.5 per cent decrease from April 2010 (admittedly an "all-time record for April") and a 14 per cent decrease from March 2011.

Rather than a sign of dropping market activity these statistics are more likely a sign of returning normality, especially compared to the strong sales we've witnessed over the last few months.  These changes are only minor and it'll take several more months of statistics to get a real handle on the Vancouver real estate market trend.  This slight fall could just be the lull before the spring storm, as sellers finish renovations, repairs and landscaping in preparation for a sunnier May.  If sales and listing numbers keep inching down as they did in April, though, we can look forward to more balance between supply and demand for residential properties.

Buyer fatigue? Probably not. This is just the coffee break.
 
- Sarah Mah
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The Right Real Estate Vancouver

ight now the Vancouver real estate market is changing and Coldwell Banker Westburn Realty is changing with it.  Monday April 18th marks the launch of our new website and our new brand, “The Right” Real Estate.  Coldwell Banker Westburn Realty is interested in more than just buying and selling property.  We want to keep our readers up to date on all the changes and facets of real estate in Vancouver so you can make informed decisions and have confidence in your investment.  To provide you with a consistent, reliable source for information we’re launching The Right Real Estate Experience, The Right Realtor ®, and The Right Career.
 

The Right Real Estate Experience is designed as an informal community gathering place where you have access to our growing library of real estate videos.  These videos, released once a month, will explain everything from oil tanks to property negotiation to ethics in real estate and how they may affect your investment.  Have a question about real estate?  Email us and we’ll either post a video on your topic or forward your question to one of our experienced agents.

The Right Realtor is a new service we’re offering to find you a real estate agent that will fit your needs, because in an industry that changes as fast as real estate you want someone who stays ahead of the curve and who sets your best interests as the top priority.  Fill out a short questionnaire and we’ll personally match you with the agent in our office that best suits your needs.
 
In order to provide our clients with the best possible service available in Vancouver we have the best possible agents.  Our hiring procedure is strict because we put a lot of time and energy into supplying our agents with all the support services they need to build a successful career with us.  Interested in joining the Westburn community?  Fill out our short questionnaire here.  We mentor our new agents to help them get off to the right start, and we always welcome the experience that veteran realtors can offer.
 
Coldwell Banker Westburn Realty is looking to change the expectations you have for your realtors.  Enter the Vancouver real estate market knowing exactly what to expect.  Use the tools provided on our website to learn about your area, your investment, or real estate in general, so when the market changes or when you’re ready to buy or sell, you have the knowledge and support to make the right decision.
 
- Sarah Mah

 

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.