Conference board senior economist suggests the situation facing homebuyers is ‘less dire than at first glance’


If the prices in downtown Vancouver look too steep, there are other markets with more modest housing costs.

If the prices in downtown Vancouver look too steep, there are other markets with more modest housing costs.


Photograph by: JASON LEE, REUTERS


VANCOUVER -- A Conference Board of Canada senior economist has suggested there are affordable deals in Metro Vancouver’s expensive housing market, but is that the case?

There are, if you’re willing to be flexible.

June real estate numbers revealed a wide discrepancy in benchmark prices (the cost of a typical home) throughout the region, with significant savings outside the central core.

Two towns that stood out as potentially good deals for buyers seeking affordable single detached homes were: to the north, Squamish — just 30 minutes to Whistler and 45 to 50 minutes to downtown Vancouver on a new four-lane highway — at $508,000; and, to the east, Mission — the easternmost station for the popular West Coast Express commuter train — at $360,000.

In between the two towns, prices were generally higher, with town houses and condos considerably cheaper.

“I definitely think there is [affordable product],” Central 1 Credit Union economist Bryan Yu said in an interview Wednesday about the matter. “Detached homes in certain areas might be out of reach, but if [buyers] are willing to go east or look at different product types, it’s likely they could find product that meets their needs. It’s all about making compromises. If a detached home is too expensive, they can go to a condo or a townhome.”

In an op-ed from a Conference Board report published in The Vancouver Sun Tuesday, senior economist Robin Wiebe noted that the average resale price in Metro Vancouver was up more than 20 per cent from a year earlier in both May and June, the latest in a six-month string of double-digit hikes, and well above the six-per-cent long-term trend of price growth.

But he said the situation facing homebuyers seems “less dire than at first glance,” with Vancouver’s average resale price skewed upward by sales of expensive homes in pricier neighbourhoods and by a modest shift toward single-detached homes that carry higher price tags.

Wiebe — who concluded that the growing belief Vancouver has a housing bubble should perhaps be reconsidered — said that for those on tighter budgets market conditions in all price ranges below $500,000, which includes many condos and townhouses, have shifted in favour of purchasers.

He said that while Vancouver’s market is certainly top-heavy, “those seeking shelter, both physically and from high prices, can still find relatively affordable units and decent bargaining conditions if they are careful, knowledgeable, flexible and ready to shop around.

Wiebe added: “Savvy shoppers can still do relatively well in Vancouver by searching for the right unit in the right location, which after all, is the whole mantra of real estate.”

The conference board report also noted that in Vancouver, while annual gains remain large, price growth decelerated for the second straight month in June.

In June’s housing index by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price for all single detached homes in Metro Vancouver was $902,000, with much higher prices in areas like West Vancouver and the west side of Vancouver.

However, the four cheapest areas for single detached homes were in Maple Ridge ($450,000), the Sunshine Coast ($403,000), Pitt Meadows ($540,000) and Squamish.

Besides Mission, the lowest prices for detached homes in the Fraser Valley region were Abbotsford at $420,000, Langley at $524,000, and Surrey North at $511,000.

Meanwhile home resale prices in Canada notched their biggest monthly rise in May since last July, according to the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index released on Wednesday.

The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes in six metropolitan areas, showed overall prices were up 1.3 per cent in May from April, the second straight monthly gain of one per cent or more. It was also the sixth straight monthly gain.

Vancouver and Toronto, already expensive markets, were the price-gain leaders, up 1.6 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

The Vancouver market was especially heated in the spring as buyers tried to get in ahead of the implementation of tougher mortgage rules in mid-March.

Time lags between the actual home sales and their entry into public land registries may account for the large gains in April and May after the mortgage rules were already in effect, the report said.


Good ol' Mariner Village gets some publicity when a detached unit sells above asking price, thanks to high-end improvements and prime location.  I found this little tidmit in the Vancouver Sun on July 23rd.


"A two-storey detached townhouse in the Mariners' Village complex had been renovated to such a high standard that RONA had featured it as a cover story in its in-store publications . The attraction? The interior features precision woodwork with crown mouldings, chair rail and baseboards, solid maple floors, and 18-inch porcelain tiles, and the airy, vaulted, living room opens on to a large stamped patio. The corner position ensures that the fenced yard has a high degree of privacy and includes ample room for a table and chairs. The development contains 220 units in three stages that were built in the mid-1970s in a prime location that stretches along the Steveston dike. It also comes with access to a health club with an indoor swimming pool, spa and sauna"



You may remember the story of Garrett Shakespeare, the young man from North Vancouver who shared his story on CKNW's morning news with Phillip Till.


Shakespeare was told he would die if he didn't get a very expensive drug for his very rare blood condition, paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria or PNH.


During last week's meeting of Canada's Premiers in Vancouver, Delegates reached a landmark pan-Canadian agreeemet to fund the drug Soliris, which can cost up to $500,000 annually.


Shakespeare call Soliris his 'miracle cure'.


"I don't think I would have lived very much longer if I didn't get it, from what I heard from my doctors I didn't have a lot of time left...It's (Soliris) an intravenous I-V injection for about 45 minutes, every 2 weeks, and apparently it starts working pretty much right away, and then almost all of the symptoms are reversed within six months."


There are fewer than 90 Canadians living with PNH.


The annoucement came on Friday, which also happened to be Garrett's 23rd birthday.


It's nice to have a bit of that golf buzz back in our town again!!



- News and notes for Wednesday at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open -

Vancouver (Golf Canada) – The stars of the PGA TOUR are ready to challenge the renowned Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club as the opening round of the 2011 RBC Canadian Open gets under way Thursday morning.

Following their rounds in today’s RBC Wealth Management Championship Pro Am, World No. 1 Luke Donald, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, fan-favourite Rickie Fowler and Canada’s own Mike Weir shared their praise for the course as Shaughnessy prepares to host the 102nd playing of Canada’s National Open Championship.

“Yeah it’s a very good, classic course,” said Donald, who will be competing in Canada’s National Open Championship for the fifth time.  “The rough is extremely thick, probably the thickest we played all year.  I’d say it’s even thicker then than the US Open, so there’s a big premium on hitting the fairway and hitting greens.”

Fan favourite Rickie Fowler believes the quality of the golf course played a major reason in the strength of this year’s field.

“I think tough courses draw better players,” said Fowler.  “I mean, I like playing tougher golf courses.  As far as for the course, I’ve heard a lot of good things from other PGA TOUR players.  Ben Crane was one of the first ones to tell me about it.  He said it’s probably one of his favourite places so I was excited to be coming here.”

For 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, the course reminds him of US Open type conditions.

“I think a National Open has some sort of prestige to it so you know, you want to separate it from normal events,” said Schwartzel.  “Not even the US Open at Congressional had nearly as much rough as this.  No, this is the toughest I’ve had all year rough wise.”

Set to tee it up in his 21st Canadian Open, Mike Weir believes the set up at Shaughnessy will be a true test for the world’s best players.

“It’s a great course, probably the toughest set-up we’ve seen so far this year of any TOUR event,” said Weir.  “So it’s a real championship feel, national championship feel.”

The RBC Canadian Open congratulates the teams hosted by PGA TOUR professionals Carl Pettersson and Chris DiMarco who came out on top at Wednesday’s RBC Wealth Management Championship Pro-Am at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.  In the morning portion, Pettersson, the defending RBC Canadian Open champion, teamed with amateurs John Brodie, Peter Tomsett and David Scott to finish at 12-under par 58 while DiMarco and the team of Bruce Leech, Garth Moore and Bob Stanlake shot 11-under 59 in the afternoon draw.

Pairings for Thursday, July 21st and Friday, July 22nd are available online.

Kids from Canada’s Junior Golf Program – CN Future Links – had the chance to caddy for PGA TOUR professionals on the 17th hole at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.  Kids carried the pro’s putter or bag and had the chance to take the pro’s first putt. CN Future Links is Canada’s national junior golf program conducted by Golf Canada, the Canadian PGA and the National Golf Course Owner’s Association (NGCOA).  To find a CN Future Links program in your area visit

The field is set for the RBC Canadian Open and the PGA TOUR has broken down the numbers and analyzed the field for the 102nd playing of the RBC Canadian Open. Click here to read more.

An exciting new era has arrived for Canada's national championship. Part of the FedEx Cup, stars of the PGA TOUR will compete for $5.2 million (US) at the RBC Canadian Open, July 18-24, 2011 at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver.  Established in 1904, the tournament is the third-oldest national open golf championship worldwide next to the British Open and the U.S. Open. The RBC Canadian Open is proudly sponsored by RBC, Bell, BMW Group Canada, C.F.F Stainless Steels, Corona Extra, TaylorMade adidas Golf, The Glenlivet, The Globe and Mail, Mike Weir Wine, LG, and Reader’s Digest. For updated ticket and tournament information please visit or call 1-800-571-6736.

In partnership with Golf Canada, RBC is the title sponsor of the RBC Canadian Open, the third oldest national golf championship worldwide, next only to the British Open and the U.S. Open. With a history of great players and premier fields, the RBC Canadian Open provides golf fans with the opportunity to experience the excitement of a world class event on Canadian soil. RBC also sponsors all levels of amateur sport, from grassroots programs in local communities to national sport organizations and elite-level athletes, and is Premier National Partner of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Golf Canada – a member-based organization governed by the Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) – is the governing body of golf in Canada, representing close to 350,000 members at almost 1,500 clubs across the country. Recognized by Sport Canada as the National Sports Organization (NSO) for golf in this country, Golf Canada is responsible for promoting participation in and a passion for the game of golf in Canada.

A proud member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Golf Canada actively conducts championships, programs and services to help shape the present and future of golf in Canada. High performance athlete development, National Golf in Schools, Golf Fore the Cure, the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum and CN Future Links, Canada’s national junior golf program, are only some of the initiatives the association leads for golf in Canada. As the authority for golf in Canada, the association also administers the Rules of Golf, amateur status and handicapping and course rating under the respected RCGA brand.

In addition, Golf Canada conducts Canada’s most prestigious golf championships. The RBC Canadian Open and CN Canadian Women’s Open attract the best professional golfers in the world, while regional junior and national amateur championships provide world class competitive opportunities for Canada’s top golfers to showcase their talents.



VICTORIA— From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

PublishedTuesday, Jul. 19, 2011 8:34PM EDT


Ms. Thornton-Joe said after the men popped a lolly in their mouths, their nasty energy all but dissolved. “They got calmer after taking the lollipops,” she said. “It had an immediate effect.”

Now the third-term municipal politician wants lollipops to be handed out at downtown bars, clubs and taxi stands when carousers make their way home after a night of drinking. She is taking her cue from the United Kingdom, where police officers and bar staff routinely hand out lollipops.

A member of Victoria's Downtown Late Night Task Force, created in 2009 to find a solution to rowdies who sour the downtown with fighting, yelling and public urination, Ms. Thornton-Joe will consult with city staff this week to see if handing out candy can be a regular occurrence. Not all of the 11,000, low-cost lollipops, paid for by Coast Capital Savings, were distributed July 1.

Ms. Thornton-Joe researched how other jurisdictions deal with fighting, vandalism and excessive noise borne from drunken, post-pub men, and sometimes, women.

She learned that when people spill out of drinking establishments in towns in England, Wales and Scotland, they're handed lollies.

The sucker punch works for several reasons, she said. First, it's difficult to yell while sucking a lollipop.

Altercations happen due to verbal exchanges, but with a sucker in the mouth, there's less talk, which results in fewer fights.

The lollipop's sugar hit calms those who've drank too much, she said. And the lolly's pacifier effect can't be denied.

She also read the 2008 book, Raising The Bar: Preventing Aggression In and Around Bars, Pubs and Clubs.

The book's co-author, Kathryn Graham, has spent more than a decade studying bar-room drinking and violence in Canada, the U.S., Australia and the U.K. As a student in Vancouver in the 1980s, she worked in about 50 bars.

Now a psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario and lead researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in London, Ont., Ms. Graham said not many efforts have been shown to be fully effective in lowering the temperature of macho males who get overheated in bars.

“There's not that much that's proven,” she said.

What can work is enhanced police work. “In general, we know what a Friday night looks like, so be on top of it,” she said.

And instead of simply breaking up fighters, police should fine them, she said.

Bar staff, who could be doing a better job, should be well trained in how to deal with men under the age of 25 who drink too much, especially since a lot of fights start inside bars, Prof. Graham said.

Edmonton had significant problems created by lubricated oil patch workers and students. The city formed Responsible Hospitality Edmonton, which has used wide-ranging education campaigns with some success, Prof. Graham noted.

Victoria's lollipop campaign runs the risk of being a novelty, whose charm could fizzle out, but it is worth pursuing, she said.

The Victoria Police Department isn't sure it wants its officers to become lolly-cops. The department will review the event, said department spokesman Mike Tucker.

One concern is that police officers are already burdened with about five kilograms of gear on their belts, so there isn't much room or inclination for toting suckers, Mr. Tucker said.

It's preferable to have bars and nightclubs hand out the candy, he said.

Vancouver Police Department spokesman Constable Lindsey Houghton said distributing food products demands study, given the potential for food allergies.

“We would want to have proof that it wouldn't cause adverse reactions,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s something we’d consider but it’s not something we’d rule out if it’s shown to work.”






The features home buyers and owners want

If home buyers and home owners that Elizabeth FitzZaland talk to are any indication, the answer is yes.


"Building and renovating with green features is a priority, whether it's a modest kitchen renovation or a major addition like a secondary suite," says FitzZaland, who heads the design team at Burrard Green City Builders,  a company specializing in green residential building and renovations.


"Everyone seems to be concerned with rising energy costs and with creating healthier environments,' explains FitzZaland.


While future cost savings drive most projects, there are some green features that are more popular than others.


Topping the list are energy efficient, affordable windows and insulation, which are not a huge upfront cost but provide home owners with considerable savings over he long term when it comes to heating bills.


Energy efficient appliances are also popular since they lead to lower utility bills.


This is followed by high quality green building materials such as recycled flooring, reclaimed wood and concrete, and low-VOC paint (VOC stands for volatile organic compounds) which will last a long time and have a better air quality as a side benefit.


According to FitzZaland, 'Bigger and newer is not always better.  In the past, home buyers may have been thinking about demolishing a home.  Now, more and more of them are looking at innovative adaptive re-uses and recylcing and they're willing to spend money to green a home."


Those with bigger budgets want geothermal heating, open space to maximize light, green roofs and edible landscaping with no-mow grass.


"Overall, home buyers and owners are prepared to pay a higher price tag because they can see the payoffs down the road".


My wife and I just happened to be riding our bikes by the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site in Steveston last Friday evening.  Apparently they have live acts every friday throughout the summer.  Gerry Layton was performing. Great fun for a $5 donation.  If it's not raining the performances are outside, otherwise we stay dry inside the cannery.

I look forward to popping by again. 



 Here is a fun artlicle that I found in the Vancouver Sun today.  I think it sums things up a bit in regards to our outlook on the weather so far this summer.  I like the next line and I am counting on it being correct.  Keep smiling!!!


Next month will likely see warmer, drier weather


Dreary summer weather continues on Georgia Street, in front of the Art Gallery, in Vancouver on Thursday, July 14, 2011.

Dreary summer weather continues on Georgia Street, in front of the Art Gallery, in Vancouver on Thursday, July 14, 2011.


Photograph by: GLENN BAGLO, PNG


VANCOUVER -- Terrible weather is expected to darken Vancouver and much of the province this weekend.

Before you climb back into bed and draw the blanket up over your face, there are a few things you should bear in mind. Bad weather is depressing, but griping about it simply won’t help matters — getting outside will.

According to Joti Samra, a clinical psychologist at Simon Fraser University, some people probably feel left out in the cold this summer.

“People often really look forward to this time,” said Samra. “You have to cancel plans, kids are out of school, you’re just disappointed. You’re left out because the plans you had aren’t happening.”

But cancelled vacations are only the beginning.

“The more we think about, talk about, ruminate about the [foul] weather, the worse it feels,” said Samra.

She said there is one sure thing people can do to improve a cloudy mood.

“One of the best things we can do is actually expose ourselves to natural light,” she said, adding that the positive effects are felt regardless of the forecast.

David Phillips, a climatologist with Environment Canada, was taking no responsibility for Vancouver’s bad weather but said he could see why people on the wet coast were feeling down.

“You put up with your monsoon season and you wait for your reprieve, but it’s not happening,” he said. “It’s depressing weather; just psychologically downing weather.”

Although Friday might see a few breaks of sunshine, Environment Canada’s Weatheroffice ( is forecasting showers and highs of 19 C on Saturday and Sunday. This trend appears to continue until Wednesday.

But Phillips found reason for optimism.

“When I look at the next month ... we are seeing warmer than normal and we’re seeing drier than normal,” he said. “This system has to break down ... when you get to the good weather, maybe that will persist too.”

Like Samra, Phillips said people need to get out whenever they can in this kind of summer.

That doesn’t have to mean playing hooky to catch a mid-week glimpse of sunshine.

“We don’t mind the rain at all,” said Jennifer Webb, communications manager at the Museum of Anthropology.

Webb said attendance at the museum spikes during rainy days. She added that the setting is beautiful, regardless of weather.

Webb recommended that visitors spend time at the reflecting pool.

“If you’re depressed it may make you more depressed,” said Webb with a laugh, “but it may uplift you.”


The good news about bad weather

• Front row seating is wide open at outdoor festivals.

• Ice cream is bad for your waistline anyway.

• There’s no need to water the plants.

• Patio seats at outdoor restaurants abound.

• No need to feel guilty about staying indoors to catch the newest Harry Potter flick.

• There’s no better time to sing than in the rain.

Read more:


But even then, most homes will still be worth more than they were in 2010


A new study shows immigration, not investment, is fueling Vancouver's real estate boom as new residents purchase homes.

A new study shows immigration, not investment, is fueling Vancouver's real estate boom as new residents purchase homes.


Photograph by: Mark van Manen, Vancouver Sun PNG/CANWEST NEWS


First, the bad news: Average house prices in Metro Vancouver will drop by 14.8 per cent from their peak by the end of 2013, according to a report released Wednesday by TD Economics.

The silver lining for Vancouver homeowners is that the average house will still be worth more, after the correction, than it was in 2010.

The national report -the latest in a string of bank dispatches warning of unsustainable Vancouver housing prices -projects that the annual average home price will peak at $780,700 in 2011 before falling to $688,800 in 2013. The average house price in 2010 was $675,900.

Sales in Vancouver are projected to fall 25.4 per cent from peak to trough.

Nationally, a softer landing is projected for both house prices and resales. Average prices are likely to fall by 10.2 per cent in the next two years, and resale activity by 15.2 per cent.

While Vancouver house prices keep rising despite having pushed the limits of affordability for years, the difficult economic climate and impending interest-rate hikes mean that a slowdown is virtually inevitable, TD economist Sonya Gulati said in a phone interview.

"From an economic point of view, [housing prices] are not sustainable," said Gulati, who authored the report with TD deputy chief economist Derek Burleton.

The report describes Vancouver as the "poster child" for those who fear a real-estate bubble.

Gulati acknowledged with a laugh the "boy who cried wolf'" nature of the repeated warnings over the years about the unsustainability of Vancouver's gravity-defying prices.

One way Vancouver residents may be "coping" with resale home prices that are more than ten times average incomes is through the underground economy, the report suggested.

"For example, income generation through self-employment or renting basement apartments may not be included in reported income," the report stated.

"Key" downside risks to the TD Economics outlook are a greater than anticipated pullback in offshore buying and deterioration in household debt levels, already the highest in the country.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, a Metro Vancouver home delivered a compounded-annual return of 7.8 per cent, according to a Housing Barometer Report released by Re/ Max earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the monthly average of house prices in Vancouver continues to rise, hitting $802,000 in April and $810,000 in May.

The Toronto market is also expected to be among the hardest hit, with projected declines of 11.7 per cent in resale prices and 25 per cent in sales.

Prospects are "considerably better" for housing markets in Calgary, Edmonton and Regina, the report said, although it cautioned that means price and sales-activity declines will merely be less pronounced.

TD expects demand to be supportive in most markets this year and that the brunt of the adjustment will take place in 2012 and 2013.

Over the forecast period, the report said the market will be constrained by national economic growth, which is expected to slow from 2.8 per cent in 2011 to 2.3 per cent in 2012 and 1.9 per cent in 2013.


Read more:




Richmond to adopt coach housing soon!


by admin on June 28, 2011

Coming Soon – Coach Houses In Richmond

Richmond is considering allowing more alternate forms of housing in existing single-family neighbourhoods – a small dwelling built in the backyard space of a single-family home. Richmond currently allows coach houses to be built along arterial roads, or in the case of a in a new subdivision in East Richmond’s Hamilton neighborhood upon rezoning approval.

Richmond city now allows secondary suites in single-family neighbourhoods, loosening restrictions inside residential subdivisions could allow homeowners to have up to three homes on one single-family lot.

Richmond Neighborhoods ear-marked for coach houses

In recent months, city planners pitched the idea of opening up neighbourhoods to coach houses, or granny flats even if the lots don’t front arterial roads. Such dwellings are detached, self-contained homes in the backyard of a single-family home, with or without lane access.

Once adopted as a new official community plan in 2012, this type of housing will multiple in Richmond. As such homes are detached and self-contained, it can be rented out at a higher rate between $800 to $1,000. This is much more than a typical suite, and comparable to a new condo (typically a new condo costs over $300,000) at a much lower cost.

Based on public feedback, city planners have focused on opening the Burkeville (Sea Island), Edgemere (near Matthew McNair Secondary) and Richmond Gardens (west of Minoru Park) neighbourhoods to the new housing types. Burkeville and Edgemere are likely candidates for coach houses and granny flats – developers would be required to go through a formal rezoning process.

Laneway Houses in Vancouver

In Vancouver, laneway houses are being built after the city adopted the “Laneway Housing Regulations and Guidelines” on July 28, 2009. Bryn Davidson of LaneFab Design completed the first one under new regulations a year ago.  A 710 sq ft backyard house whose owners expected to net $1,700 per month in rent. According to LaneFab, a custom lane home costs $180,000 to $250,000. The cost-benefit of Laneway housing is attractive – view info here. Home owners are looking for cheaper alternatives. Some builders that I know are happy to quote $150 to $175 per sq ft to undertake a laneway housing contract.

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.