The BC government is taking its first steps to mitigate soaring strata insurance costs by introducing a bill to amend the Strata Property Act and Financial Institutions Act.
The government wants to make the strata insurance industry more transparent, close depreciation report loopholes, and end referral fees paid to property managers, while giving strata councils more tools to deal with insurance.
If passed, the changes will:
end the practice of referral fees between insurers or insurance brokers and property managers or other third parties;
set out clear guidelines for what strata corporations are required to insure to help strata councils make informed decisions on their insurance policies;
require strata corporations to inform owners about insurance coverage, provide notice of any policy changes, including increasing deductibles, and allow stratas to use their contingency reserve funds when necessary to pay for unexpected premium increases – this was recommended by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) and the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA); and
protect strata unit owners against large lawsuits from strata corporations if the owner was legally responsible for a loss or damage, but through no fault of their own.
The new legislation will also give the government the ability to:
identify when stratas are not required to get full insurance coverage;
strengthen depreciation reporting requirements, including limiting the ability to use existing loopholes in the legislation to avoid completing depreciation reports;
change the minimum required contributions made by strata unit owners and developers to a strata corporation’s contingency reserve fund;
require brokers to disclose the amount of their commission, which has been reported to be at times in excess of 20%;
strengthen notification requirements to strata corporations of changes to insurance coverage and costs, or an intent not to renew – this was recommended by REBGV and BCREA; and
amend the Form B Information Certificate – this was recommended by REBGV and BCREA.
Consultation with REALTORS®
The government specifically named BCREA, which represents Realtors across the province, as a key stakeholder in the creation of the new legislation.
Since February, Realtors have made recommendations to the provincial government to help deal with rising insurance costs.
BC Financial Services Authority report
The BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) found strata insurance premiums rose by approximately 40 per cent, with deductibles seeing triple digit increases over last year across the province according to their interim report released on June 16.
These increases are having a widespread impact on BC – nearly one in three British Columbians live in a strata property.
We’ll provide more information on this report in the coming weeks.
Vancouver's Real Estate Board worked with the BC Real Estate Association, and the other 10 boards in the province, to develop recommendations for the BC government that, if implemented, would help deal with the issue:
Amend the Form B Information Certificate to require proof of insurance, including premiums, deductibles, coverage and expiry date.
Work with the insurance sector to put measures into place that assure all strata corporations are able to obtain insurance coverage, for as long as the difficult market conditions last.
Engage with insurers so they continue to provide coverage to strata corporations.
Amend the Strata Property Act to require a strata corporation to inform owners and tenants of any material change in insurance coverage, including an increase in any deductible, as soon as feasible.
Require insurers to provide strata corporations with notices 60 days before their policies expire or will be cancelled.
Encourage the provincial insurance regulator, the BCFSA, to make public the data and information it is gathering from insurance companies to better understand the current climate of expensive strata insurance.
Encourage the BCFSA to foster a robust, economically viable market that attracts insurance providers.
Develop mandatory education for strata council members.
Either create a new organization – modeled on the Condominium Authority of Ontario – to enforce the Strata Property Act, including providing mandatory training and creating best practices for strata councils, or assign this role to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Why are insurance rates increasing?
Strata building insurance premiums are increasing for a variety of reasons, according to the insurance industry. These include an increase in the number of claims, in the cost of repairs and rebuilding, and in the growing number of strata developments. Many strata buildings date back to the 1970s and ’80s and strata owners may be reluctant to undertake major system upgrades until problems occur.
What's the impact on the housing market?
The most affordable homes in Metro Vancouver are strata units. Drastically increasing insurance rates negatively affects housing affordability. As well, some strata corporations are struggling to find insurers willing to cover their building, making them non-compliant with the Strata Property Act. This means these units can no longer be bought or sold. This is adding uncertainty and risk into the market and the economy at large.
In the "bet you wouldn't have guessed this" category - Did you know that as of yesterday, the number of homes sold YTD in North Vancouver are just 18 homes less than this time last year? Once weekend sales are reported, we may get very close to the same # of sales as YTD 2019. Put this along side inventory at 80% of last year's levels, and add favorable rates plus a lower stress test, and you can see why our market is moving swiftly.
In West Vancouver, there have been 333 residential sales YTD 2020, and 317 for the same period last year. And, residential inventory is only 75% of what it was this time in 2019. This is great news for West Van - as the turnover is much better than 2019.
Summer is the new Spring - and now we just have to keep staying cautious & safe out there in the world, so that we can keep not only the real estate market, but our economy - both broad & local - going strong through the end of the year!
The health crisis slowed the market this spring, so buyers are jumping back into the market to make their moves this summer. Check these 10 items off your to-do list so your house is ready to sell while buying is hot!
Well, hello and welcome to June. Looking back to last week on the North Shore, we see the highest Sales to Listings Ratio since early March of this year. Impressive numbers ! 46% sales to listings in North Vancouver, and 61% in West Vancouver. The phone is ringing. The stress test has loosened. People feeling a little more comfortable in their day to day lives, and venturing our & about a little more. Plus, add some sunshine to the demand for North Shore homes ( people want to live here!), and you have a winning combination.
BUYERS: There's a little more choice for you now, in all categories.
SELLERS: This is the PERFECT TIME to book a Strategy Session with us so that we can help you get your home looking beautiful, and on the market before everyone else lists and your competition gets going!
In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate through the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.
We are, however, in anything but a normal market right now. We are amid one of the greatest health crises our nation has ever seen. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the journey consumers take to purchase or sell a home. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’
According to Lexico, a Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.
They are much more than just guides.
This is much more than a normal real estate market.
Today, the average guide just won’t do. You need a Sherpa. You need an expert who understands how COVID-19 is impacting the thoughts and actions of the consumer (ex: virtual showings, proper safety protocols, e-signing documents). You need someone who can simply and effectively explain the changes in today’s process to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, especially in these challenging times.
Hiring an agent who understands how the pandemic is reshaping the real estate processes is crucial right now. Find that ‘Real Estate Sherpa’ to guarantee your journey is a safe and successful one.
The benefits of Home Ownership are many - and with interest rates at amazingly low levels today - the joys of Home Ownership may be closer than you think!
Home values tend to appreciate over time. This increase becomes equity you can benefit from when you re-finance or sell.
Renting has often been reffered to as paying 100% interest, but when you own a home and a mortgage is in place, a portion of your payment goes toward the principle balance of your loan. This builds your equity and acts as a savings account
Freedom to Make It Your Own:
Experience the joy of making your own repairs, upgrades & renovations - to ensure your space is a reflection of you.
The feeling of owning your own home is unmatched. You can fix it up, make it your own, get a dog or plant a tree if you want. Doesn't that sound exciting!
The sale of a principal residence, in the right location and at the right price, can certainly provide enough to boost, if not fully fund, your retirement and /or provide wealth to the next generation.
Put Down Roots:
People who own rather then rent stay in their homes 4 times longer. This provides an opportunity to get to know your neighbors and connect with your local community.
Check out our mortgage calculator HERE and get started planning today!
We anticipated April's numbers would be less favorable than those of March. Still, on the ground we see Sellers & Buyers finding ways to transact successfully, despite uncertainty. The good news is this situation is not systemic to the real estate or mortgage industry. If we’re not in a recession yet, we’re about to be in one. This time, however, most experts feel that housing will be the sector that leads the economic recovery.
BEWARE the articles in the MEDIA like the one we saw today whose headline reads, "BC Home Sales to plummet by up to 40% this month". What's the number you're going to remember here ? 40%, right ? But it's not until you read further in that it says, "compared to the same month last year". Spring is typically our busiest time for sales, and it is no surprise that this year is going to be different than last year! If you want to know what's going on in your neighborhood, talk to a Realtor who is working through this market and find out the true numbers in your area of preference. And you could also CLICK HERE
Home Sellers & Buyers are still finding success in our market. With extremely favorable interest rates, if you find yourself needing to buy or sell, this could be a very good time to do so. If you're not feeling comfortable with either, we understand. Still, there are lots of things we could be doing together to prepare you for when you ARE ready to consider a move. You can call or email any time !
But with phone lines jammed, and websites unable to process applications that are assessed on a case-by-case basis, many homeowners looking for a deferral or seeking answers have had little success.
Confusion reigns over what makes a homeowner eligible for an emergency deferral, how the program works, whether interest is payable and whether deferring payments will affect credit scores. Unfortunately, with the situation changing on a daily basis, and lenders forced to make up rules as they go, it has been impossible for most people to get any information.
To clear up some of these issues, Glacier Media Real Estate spoke with five mortgage experts who offered their insights and advice on some frequently asked questions.
You would have to visit your local pharmacy or science lab to rival the number of potentially dangerous chemicals in the average home. You likely store everything from fertilizers to acidic cleaners to gasoline and corrosive drain openers. Obviously, it makes sense to ensure that everyone in your home uses and stores such items safely.
For example, laundry detergent packs – which have become popular recently – are attractive to children. Keep them locked and out of sight. You should do the same with all laundry products. Even exposure to fabric softener pads can cause skin irritation to a child. Always read and follow the labels on household chemical products. Use and store them as directed.
Keep corrosive, such as harsh cleaners and drain openers, separate from other chemicals and in a place where, should they leak, they will cause minimal or no damage. Also never put a chemical in anything other then its original container. You don’t want to take the chance that paint thinner stored in an old water bottle, for example, is mistaken for water!
Finally make sure you have the phone number to your local poison control center in a handy place, such as your fridge door. You can find a list of numbers at www.CAPCC.ca
"Staging" you home is all about making the space in your home as appealing as possible to buyers. You may already know the basics, such as eliminating clutter. Here are some other tips that are less well known yet very effective:
Chandeliers. Surprisingly, these are one of the simplest ways to make a foyer, dining room or living room dramatically more eye-catching. you can buy a good looking chandelier for a few hundred dollars.
New linen. This is something many home sellers don't consider, but should. Replace any worn linen - sheets, covering, towels and even oven mitts with new ones. Believe it or not, new linen makes a big impression on buyers.
Pedestal sinks. It may not be practical for you to replace a bathroom sink. However, if you are doing a renovation, keep in mind that pedestal sinks - especially in small washrooms - are a big hit with buyers.
New appliances. A brand new fridge, stove, and dishwasher are motivating selling features to buyers. That's because new appliances can make the whole kitchen look brand new.
Avoid multi-use rooms. Have a spare bedroom that doubles as a home office? That's a turnoff to buyers. Whenever possible, stage each room so that it has a singular purpose. A guest bedroom, for example, should be only that.
Want more tips on how to stage your home so that it attracts buyers? We have more ideas! In fact, every Seller receives a FREE STAGING CONSULT prior to listing their home for sale. Call us at 604-984-7253 to learn more.
It’s exciting to put a house on the market and to think about making new memories in new spaces, but we can have deep sentimental attachments to the homes we’re leaving behind, too. Growing emotions can help or hinder a sale, depending on how we manage them.
When it comes to the bottom line, homeowners need to know what it takes to avoid costly mistakes. Being mindful of these things and prepared for the process can help you avoid some of the most common mishaps when selling your house.
1. Overpricing Your Home
When inventory is low, like it is in the current market, it’s common to think buyers will pay whatever we ask for when we price our homes. Believe it or not, that’s far from the truth. Don’t forget that the buyer’s bank will send an appraiser to determine the fair value for your home. The bank will not lend more than what the house is worth, so be mindful that you might need to renegotiate the price after the appraisal. A real estate professional will help you to set the true value of your home.
2. Letting Your Emotions Interfere with the Sale
Today, most homeowners have been living in their houses for an average of 10 years.
This is several years longer than what used to be the norm, since many homeowners have been recouping from negative equity situations over the past 10 years. The side effect, however, is when you live for so long in one place, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought after you got married or the house where your children grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.
For some homeowners, that makes it even harder to negotiate, separating the emotional value of the home from the fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations in the process.
3. Not Staging Your Home
We’re generally quite proud of our décor and how we’ve customized our houses to make them our own personalized homes, but not all buyers will feel the same way about your design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you stage your home with the buyer in mind. Buyers want to envision themselves in the space, so it truly feels like their own. They need to see themselves in the space with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. Stage and declutter your home so they can visualize their own dreams as they walk through your house. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your home ready to stage and sell.
Today’s primarily Seller’s market might be your best chance to make a move. If you’re considering selling your house, sit down with a local real estate professional to help you navigate through the process while avoiding common seller mistakes.
Several reports indicate that real estate is a good investment, topping other options such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings. Why? Real estate helps build equity, a form of investing for you and your family. According to this Royal LePage Report,
“Canadian home prices are expected to see healthy appreciation by the end of 2020, driven by low single-digit appreciation in both the condominium and detached home segments. The decline in high price appreciation in the condominium segment, in recent years, reflects a shift in millennial demand towards houses and is expected to reinvigorate sales activity in the suburbs.”
If you want to start building your equity, put your housing costs to work for you through homeownership this year.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Low
While interest rates have risen since 2016 (see recent history here), rates are still the lowest they have been over the majority of the last 25 years. When you purchase a home at a low mortgage rate, it will impact your monthly mortgage payment, giving you the opportunity to buy more house for your money.
3. Investing in Your Family is a Win
There are some renters who haven’t purchased a home yet because they’re uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you’re living rent-free with your parents, you’re paying a mortgage – either yours or that of your landlord.
Today, rental prices continue to increase, and when you’re paying your landlord’s mortgage instead of your own, you’re not the one earning the equity. As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ you can use later in life to reinvest in your family. You can use it for a variety of opportunities, such as saving for your children’s education, moving up to a bigger home, or starting your own business. As a renter, it can be more challenging to achieve those types of dreams without home equity working for you.
Buying a home sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings and long-term financial growth for you and your family. Reach out to a local real estate professional to determine if homeownership is the right choice for you this year.
In today’s real estate market, more houses are coming to market every day. Eager buyers are searching for their dream homes, so setting the right price for your house is one of the most important things you can do.
According to Royal Lepage’s Regional House Price Survey, The Greater Vancouver real estate market continues to see year-over-year price declines, which has attracted considerable interest from buyers and spurred sales.
With prices slowing from their previous pace, homeowners must realize that pricing their homes a little over market value to leave room for negotiation will actually dramatically decrease the number of buyers who will see their listing.
Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be negotiating with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers competing with each other over the house.
The secret is making sure your house is Priced To Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the most potential buyers. It will sell at a great price before more competition comes to the market.
If you’re debating listing your house for sale, reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss how to price your home appropriately and maximize your exposure.
January 09, 2020 - Courtesy of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver
Property owners received their 2020 assessment notices in the first week of January, which reflects the market value as of July 1, 2019. Assessments for strata units throughout Greater Vancouver decreased with West Vancouver leading with a decline of 10 per cent, followed by Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, and North Vancouver District which all dropped by nine per cent, followed by Richmond with an eight per cent decrease.
Assessments for detached homes were also lower, with West Vancouver again leading the way with a 16 per cent decrease. Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Vancouver all saw an 11 per cent decrease, while Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows each dipped six per cent.
Only three communities saw increases for detached homes: Whistler (5%), Pemberton (5%), and Squamish (0.3%).
For new construction or substantially renovated homes, the estimate is based on the physical condition as of October 31, 2019.
Details include a photo, a property description (land and buildings), the total assessed value, the previous year’s value, the legal description, and property ID.
If property details are incorrect, property owners are directed to complete and submit an e-valueBCData Validation Form. Property owners can also compare neighbouring properties and sample sold properties to decide whether their property has been correctly assessed. Deadline to appeal assessment is January 31, 2020.
Property owners who disagree with their assessment should do homework by:
comparing their assessment with neighbouring properties; and
contacting BCA at 1-866-valueBC (1-866-825-8322), talking with staff who can make adjustments if there’s an obvious error, for example if BCA included a complete renovation when there was only a spruce-up or an upgrade for plumbing or electrical.
BCA is a provincial Crown corporation. Since 1974, it’s been responsible for determining and reporting property value estimates.
For 2020 BCA reported the number of properties assessed in the Lower Mainland is 1,014,135 properties, an increase of 1% from last year.
Total value of real estate in the Lower Mainland in 2020: $1.41 trillion, down 5% from 2019.
In BC, 88 per cent of all properties are classified as residential (class 1).
BCA’s assessment roll provides the foundation for local and provincial taxing authorities to levy property taxes each year which fund community services including the school system.
Property taxation is determined by local and provincial taxing authorities after determining their budget needs and calculating property tax rates based on the assessment roll for their jurisdiction.
Municipalities determine tax rates for each property class in the spring, once the assessment roll is finalized. Changes in assessment over the year don’t automatically translate into the same percentage changes in property taxes for any particular class of property or for any individual property.
The Home Owner Grant a provincial grant which reduces the amount of property tax an owner pays. To qualify you must:
be the registered owner;
occupy the home as your principal residence;
be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada; and
live in BC.
The Home Owner Grant threshold applies across the province. The amounts are:
$570 for the basic grant;
$770 if the home is located in a northern or rural area;
Up to $845 for home owners age 65 and more or a home owner with a disability; and
Up to $1,045 for home owners age 65 and more or a home owner with a disability where the home is in a northern or rural area.
The grant is available to owners of property assessed at up to $1.525 million in 2020, down from $1.65 million in 2019 to accommodate the decline in home prices.
The grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,525,000. This means properties assessed up to $1,639,000 ($1,679,000 in a northern and rural area) can receive a partial regular grant.
In northern and rural areas, the basic grant fully phases out at $1,804,000 and the higher grant at $1,859,000.
(2) Just because your Assessment went down, it doesn’t necessarily mean your TAXES will decrease. That’s because every municipality still needs to raise enough revenue to fund its annual operations. Here’s a great article to read: https://bit.ly/36oXJp3
(3) BC Assessment uses a mass appraisal system, which calculates property value by evaluating prices for homes sold in each neighborhood and then applies the information to arrive at an assessed value. This information is typically obtained from MLS sales, not by visiting the properties in question. BC Assessment has approximately 650 full-time staff positions in 17 offices throughout the province. They can’t possibly visit every residence.
(4) The most important factor is the TIME at which a property is assessed. A 2020 Assessment notice is BCA’s estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2019, which is 6 month’s prior to you receiving your assessment. (and the reason why current Market Value can be different – as it reflects a more current state of the market).
(5) Good news – the Home Owner Grant threshold has been set lower! This year: $1.525M and last year: $1.65 M.
Here are the median price changes in North Vancouver, so you can see how your Assessment may not necessarily equal true, current market value:
July 2018 - July 2019 Dec 2018 – Dec 2019
(Assessment period) (Year over year data)
Detached down 9% down 7%
Attached down 9% down 2%
Apartments down 9% up 9.5%
Bonus #2 –
Here is a service that you may find helpful – available now until March, where you can view details on a single property, compare neighbouring properties, and compare sales information. http://evaluebc.bcassessment.ca/
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.