TGIF: Talking Metro Vancouver Property Taxes and Land Assembly

Friday, August 24, 2018

If you are asking yourself why so many foreign investors park their money in Vancouver real estate when it is so expensive, the answer could lie in our low, low property taxes!

The real estate website ‘Zoocasa’ recently investigated property taxes in 25 major Canadian markets – the owner of a $1-million home in Vancouver will pay approx. $2,468 while in Toronto, the property tax would be $6,355 and in Ottawa – $10,000. Of course the comparatively light property tax burden has undoubtedly been a factor in attracting long term investors – purchase price may be high, but carrying costs comparatively low. While we may lament other aspects of our market, let’s be thankful for the property taxes. Never thought I’d hear myself say that!One of our other first world problems is land assembly – happening all over our cities on the corridor adjacent to SkyTrain. We have pockets all over the TriCities, Burnaby, Port Moody, Coquitlam, and New Westminster where small land assemblies are being put together (or not) and our people in those locations are nervous. They should be because 2 + 2 does not always make more than four! We are conditioned to believe that buyers will do anything to put together an assembly, but the times they are achanging! Developers and builders are spooked by land costs and building costs. If you are in a quagmire of negotiation, which is beginning to make no sense, it probably doesn’t.

Time for the cavalry – that’s us! In a world without crystal balls, the only way you can protect yourself is to buy and sell in the same market. So… the top of mind thought when negotiating in a land assembly scene is to know what it is going to cost you to relocate. Either it is worth it to you, or it isn’t. This is the point at which, even if it goes against the grain, you have to consider your own circumstances, needs and the goal – where you want / are prepared to go to make this happen. Some circumstances would just not warrant risk taking or reaching agreement with certain parties.Sometimes an offer to buy you, home owner, out in favour of a land assembly can be a very large blessing – other times, a curse. This is our cue – we consult with you in such a dilemma, check out the possibilities and alternatives and formulate the best strategy designed to get you what you want. This is what we signed on for – so take us up on it if you are in the midst of strangers making offers direct to you for your property.We are here to keep you covered whatever the circumstances, so give us the challenge. In a changing market, we realtors who have been there before are your resource – SkyTrain might be a new reason, but land assemblies have been with us at different times and our chief concern as ever is looking after our own clients.

A major “thank you” goes out to all of the front-line workers and emergency responders involved in fighting this season’s BC wildfires – we are deeply indebted to your dedication to our safety and for your service. Please stay safe out there.

Wishing you a safe and happy close to your summer.
Have any questions? We’ve always got you covered.

From the Generations Real Estate Partners,
Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane.

TGIF: Port Moody is Going GREEN!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Yes, this Sunday, August 19th join Port Moody in its second ‘Car Free Day’ when the section of St. Johns St. from Douglas to Moody Street will be pedestrians only between noon and 7PM. Last year more than 20,000 people took the opportunity to stroll down the middle of St.Johns for this community celebration. There will be great live music like last year and about 100 booths to visit – local businesses, artisans, non profit groups, the popular Brewers Row beer garden, great food & family friendly activities. We all love to live, shop and play in our neighbourhood – let’s support this novel intiative, which is also so much fun. Go Green!

Car-Free Day will feature:
live music on the Main Stage
great food, available from local restaurants
Brewers Row Beer Garden at Queens Street Plaza
family-friendly activities, like rock climbing, street hockey, face painting, and a bicycle skills and safety zone
roving entertainers and mascots
booths presented by local businesses and artisans; and
electric vehicle demonstrations.

It was great to see so many of you at our summer family picnic event – thank you – you make our world go round.

Happy summer!

Cheers from the Generations Real Estate Partners,
Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane.

TGIF: New Rules – Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services

Friday, August 10, 2018

We as realtors are subject to a number of new rules imposed by the Real Estate Council (our regulatory body) over the past 2 months. They are designed to protect you, the consumers. What we have discovered during this time is that while we have been taking courses to fully understand and play by these rules, a couple of them take the consumers by complete surprise. When we meet with sellers or buyers for the first time, we may give full information, explain the process and how we work but are not permitted to dispense any advice including an interpretation of data to give an opinion of value with regard to a potential list price or an appropriate offer to present on the buying side. UNTIL the seller or buyer has been presented with the new ‘Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services’ and agreed in writing to designate our team (or another realtor) as the consumer’s exclusive realtor. This can cause confusion when sellers are interviewing realtors in order to get opinions of value. This particular new rule is designed so that realtors who will not be representing you either buying or selling are not privvy to your reasons for buying or selling or to any other pertinent private information which could be used during a negotiation where that realtor was representing the other party. We cannot engage in conversations with buyers at open houses which could lead them to believe we are working for them when we are permitted to be working only as designated agent for the seller. Similarly, without the designation as your agent at seller interviews, we must not allow any conversations with regard to your motivation or any other personal information.

This requires rethinking the process in order to stay within the rules for us and for you, rethinking the reasons you would select a listing realtor. It is all about a “good fit” with your real estate team:- Do you trust their expertise and competence and that they will do as they say? Do you feel that they will be empathetic and helpful to your special needs? Are they demonstrating that their negotiating skills will make a difference to your outcome? Are they supplying all the information with regard to sales activity in your neighbourhood? Would you feel confident that they are representing you? It is all about relieving the stress which every seller experiences. The price will come naturally as a result of satisfying the above. And the last little comfort zone is that you will still be agreeing to and signing a listing contract which you will do only when you are in agreement with the terms.

We are including a video with this so that may clear up any confusion remaining after you have read this. Any further questions, please contact us.
Change is nothing new to us – I remember when a sales contract was 1 page in the Wild West real estate times!

We all wish you summer fun – Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane.

TGIF: Escaping!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Did you know that the number one reason Canadians buy recreation property is ESCAPE!

And guess who are the greatest escape artists – the Baby Boomers! 91% of recreation property buyers fall into this demographic – mostly wanting the magical place to get away from it all with family and friends. Many Boomers are cashing out of their family home, buying a pied a terre in town, and a second property preferably close to water. According to this year’s RE/MAX Recreation Report, a surprisingly small number of investors were involved in recreation property purchases in the past year – guessing that ski resorts would be the exception. So….happy summer to all of you enjoying your (or someone else’s) home away from home.

Tax evasion is an entirely different form of escape and the BC Government is busy closing a loop hole in an effort to avoid tax evasion in relation to real estate. Starting September 17, the new property transfer tax will require people purchasing through a corporation or trust to report additional information including their name, citizenship and social insurance number. Finance minister Carole James stated that the government wants to prevent buyers circumventing the laws, hiding property ownership behind numbered companies. This will apply to all types of property with exemptions for charitable trusts and certain corporations such as hospitlas and schools.

This change is part of a series of measures the government is taking to address tax fraud in the real estate market including tracking presale condos, sharing home owner grant information with the federal government and boosting the ability of auditors to act on tax evasion.

The final escape to mention… is from the heat! So August 9, get on down to your local Dairy Queen for Blizzard Day in support of Children’s Miracle Network and our local children’s hospital. Be cool and help the kids! Every home we have listed is a “miracle home” where a donation from our team is made to Children’s Miracle Network. A big thank you to our loyal clients for their support in this.

The coolest team in town has you covered every day however much the heat turns up!

Wishing you a wonderful week wherever you are from Generations Team.
Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane.

TGIF: A Weekend of Eating and Enjoying Ribfest and Our Local Craft Breweries!

Friday, July 20, 2018

This will be a lively weekend locally as one of our largest community events gets underway – yes – Ribfest! Three days of delicious barbecue, live music, craft breweries & family entertainment hosted by Port Moody Rotary Club and the City of Port Moody in Rocky Point Park between July 20th and 22nd. New this year is the VIP Zone sponsored by Lexus – this for those who want personal service, no line-ups along with an expanded craft beer and wine menu.

For this luxury you can you can purchase tickets and book reservations online. Bonus is, that this spot gives a great view of the live bands. You are encouraged to take public transit and there is the free summertime shuttle bus service for residents and visitors Friday thru Sunday which links Inlet Centre with Rocky Point Park & Moody Centre. This is a 1 way loop leaving the Park approximately every 30 minutes during operating hours. For those with cars, there is parking available along the Evergreen Line at Moody station, Coquitlam Central station, Lincoln & Lafarge Lake – Douglas Station. There is also car parking “by donation” at Port Moody soccer fields east of Rocky Point Park. For those who are going by bike, there is complimentary bike valet service in the park. This is an event driven and manned/womaned by volunteers, so when you are hot & tired, still be grateful!

Just time to recover before heading downtown next week for the start of ‘Celebration of Light’ fireworks displays from all over the world. Here are the top cost effective (FREE) places to watch the fireworks:- English Bay, Sunset Beach, Vanier Park, Kits Beach, Jericho Beach, Locarno Beach & Stanley Park’s Second Beach (where the festival’s main daytime entertainment takes place). Other options are Granville Island, Burrard St.Bridge and of course from a boat on the water (not such a free choice unless it’s your boat!).

So….no reason not to have summer fun over the next week or so! See you in the ‘hood.

REAL ESTATE Note:- The new more stringent mortgage rules are taking our clients by surprise – the focus on employment income rather than equity or even rental income is making obtaining a mortgage more difficult than ever. If you are considering buying for the first time, or selling your home to buy another, you need a preapproval already in place, so there are no surprises after you have set your heart on a home. With quietly increasing interest rates, a preapproval also gives you a cap on your interest rate good for the next 3 months. The government rules that you will also have to qualify at a rate 2% higher than your actual agreed rate. There will be paperwork for you to supply – so much easier ahead of time with no panic. Remember that experienced mortgage brokers work realtor hours and can meet with you at your convenience – these are the specialists who can walk you through the process and find the best fit for you. This is the time for experts. If you have questions about this, please ask. We are still here ready to keep you covered – even with summer fun!

Continuing in that tradition of trust and caring, we are your Generations Real Estate Partners –
Michelle Hawthorne, Scott Johnson, Sheila Francis, Ray Harris & Shane Goutsis

A Happy Ending To A Surprising Story

Friday, July 13, 2018

Kudos to our TriCities community!

The pushback to Fraser Health on their plan to take 2 parcels of Eagleridge Hospital land and redevelop as condos was swift and effective.

The Eagleridge Hospital Foundation, responsible for raising $22 million over past years for necessary equipment and programs, was neither consulted nor informed prior to a public open house for Fraser Health to reveal its plan.

In a letter to their donors and supporters, the Foundation stated that its members could not support the Fraser Health plan because it doesn’t fit with the region’s health needs – “ The proposed redevelopment plan shows no long term vision for our community hospital, Eagleridge, or concrete understanding of re-investment in the greater health services of our growing communities of Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.”

The Foundation further said that the impacts needed to be explained to the community. Seemingly our residents are quick studies and grasped the impacts right from the public open house where they expressed their concerns – following on with letters to the TriCity News, lobbying our local politicians etc. They did not buy into Fraser Health’s theory that its redevelopment plan would better utilize the land and integrate the hospital with the surrounding community.

Then came the most recent meeting of the Port Moody planning advisory committee which unanimously opposed Fraser Health’s application to rezone the 2 land parcels from public and institutional to multi-family residential. The committee not only focused on the need to retain the land for future hospital expansion, but also to acknowledge that the official community plan already reflects the necessity to densify with appropriate zoning. To create even more would be a severe strain on the city’s services and amenities. A thoughful but resounding “no” caused Fraser Health to withdraw its application. Our city councillors and committee members deserve a round of heartfelt applause for honoring the wishes of those City Fathers who had the foresight to donate the land to our only community hospital in the first place, and for listening to their constituents.

Now we can look forward to the current hospital expansion, construction to begin this year and funded by Fraser Health with $5m being raised by the Hospital Foundation. This will more than double the capacity of the emergency department, add new isolation rooms for infection control measures plus 2 trauma resuscitation bays. The cardiology department too will double in size with 50% increase in staffing to handle walk in patients. Good news!

We all live, work and play in our community and are exceedingly grateful for the pride of ownership and sense of activism which brought about this result. We must remain vigilant because experience indicates that a similar proposal could return at some point. When we are not talking residential real estate, apparently we are talking institutional! Watch out for those fundraisers from the Foundation to help our expansion and show appreciation for their ever present advocacy on our behalf.

As every week – holidays or not – we continue in that long standing tradition of trust and care.

We have our parasols up to keep you covered!
Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane.

Happy Canada Day!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Despite the not so summery weather, we’ll be hard pressed not to get into the patriotic spirit this weekend no matter where we live in our region. We are joining our fellow Canadians coast to coast to celebrate this beautiful, great, free country where we are privileged to live.

Downtown Maple Ridge will be rocking all day – kicking off with a decorated bike parade, followed by the traditional Canada Day parade. A welcome touch at the lunchtime ceremonies is the recognition of those who have recently become Canadian citizens followed by cutting the Canada Day cake. The Act Arts Centre has live entertainment – everything from a multicultural dance & fashion show to interactive world drumming. The fly over with the national anthem ends the full day.

In contrast, the largest of our local municipalities, Coquitlam, hosts a huge Canada Day festival, named one of the top 20 festivals in Metro Vancouver – beginning at 8AM with the Village in Town Centre Park featuring a wide range of live entertainment, ethnic and regional food along with multicultural activities. The noontime procession heralds free birthday cupcakes and fireworks, as well as the dusk firework display. ‘Delhi 2 Dublin’ are the headline musical entertainment on the amphitheater stage.

8AM pancake breakfast & a fishing derby in Lions Park begins the Port Coquitlam celebrations moving on to Castle Park at noon for a myriad of activities including a kids zone, live entertainment, the firefighters salmon barbecue & ending the day with fireworks.

The free Port Moody shoreline shuttle bus service will be a wonderful addition to this year’s big Canada Day celebrations – connecting Inlet Centre, Rocky Point Park and Moody Centre as diverse festivities stretch round the Inlet. The patriotic ceremony will be at the performance stage in Rocky Point Park at 1pm followed by cupcakes and juice. The evening will be magical in the park as Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts perform. Both Saturday and Canada Day, our local firefighters are volunteering their time to make breakfast in supprt of Eagleridge Hospital Foundation and Crossroads Hospice.

So…wherever you are on Sunday, take time to enjoy and celebrate thanks to our proactive cities. Hope to see you around! There is more info available on the city websites.

Holiday or not, we still have you covered in the real estate world and are happy to hear from you any time. Have a great long weekend!

Canada Day good wishes from the Generations Real Estate Partners:
Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane

TGIF – Connecting and Updating

Friday, June 22, 2018

If you are new in town or looking for a place to volunteer your services, here is the perfect opportunity – Port Moody’s Inaugural Community Fair tomorrow (Saturday, June 23) from 11AM to 3PM at Civic Centre & Fire Hall.

This is an occasion to celebrate the community and get connected to your neighbours, the community services and organisations which contribute to Port Moody’s vibrant lifestyle. Find out about volunteer opportunities, clubs, community associations etc. and enjoy all the free fun activities. Lots available for the kids with the usual face painting, outdoor activities and almost constant shows running in Inlet Theatre – check it out here.

REAL ESTATE is almost constantly in the news these days and you may be wondering about all the chatter with regard to new rules and paperwork from the new BC Real Estate Council. Rest assured – these rules have been put in place to protect you, the consumers – to ensure that your privacy and confidentiality is respected, that you receive full fiduciary duty with all relevant information disclosed and that there is no conflict of interest. This will all be very familiar to our clients – just business as usual for the Generations Team. The rules have always been crystal clear – the interests of our clients come first with no compromise – changing the paperwork does not change that golden rule. Updating rules and paperwork provides the clarity which may have been missing in some cases before.

One very necessary explanation to our purchasing public is that of what it means to be an unrepresented party, which is the position of every buyer entering a presentation centre and writing an offer with the staff put in place by the developer. The people you are dealing with there are often not licensed realtors and are representing a developer with competing interests to yours – they owe loyalty to their employer, not to you. They do not have a duty to give all relevant information to you and must share any information you tell them with their employer. Beyond all of this, you do not have your own real estate professional to both negotiate and navigate the way through the paperwork and to be at your side through the entire lengthy process, including the final deficiency walk through (euphemistically called “orientation” by the developer). There is no advantage, either financial or any other way, to be unrepresented in this scenario. We are grateful to the Council for their clarity in this regard.

Confused or just want to know more? That’s why we’re here to keep you covered! We are up for coffee and a chat any time & bring on those questions. In the meantime, enjoy summer in our beautiful neighborhoods.

We are the Generations Real Estate Partners – Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane.
Continuing in that long tradition of trust and caring.

REBGV News Release on the New Rules

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

This month, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has announced new Real Estate rules – here is their release (as featured on their website).

VANCOUVER, BC – June 15, 2018 – New real estate rules took effect today that will change the way REALTORS® and their clients work together.

Specifically, the new rules will prohibit the practice of limited dual agency and require real estate licensees in BC to provide additional information to their clients about how they’re compensated.

The move to single agency is a significant change from the practice over the years when Realtors could represent both sellers and buyers in a transaction. BC is the first Canadian province to implement rules that require Realtors to act only for one party.

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver President Phil Moore issued the following statement on these changes:

“Today’s changes mean that real estate licensees across our province can now only represent one party in a real estate transaction and must provide their clients more detailed information about how they’re compensated. One of the biggest impacts of these changes is that there may be times when your Realtor is unable to represent you because they’re representing another client in the transaction. As well, listing agents won’t be able to bring their own buyers, which has always been a key reason for the existence of limited dual agency.”

“Realtors support and embrace standards that provide greater protection to home buyers and sellers. To understand how these new rules could apply to your next real estate transaction, talk with your Realtor or refer to the Real Estate Council of BC’s website at www.recbc.ca. To ensure you’re best protected and advised through the home buying or selling process, it’s important to hire your own professional representation to guide you through each stage.”

Click here to learn more about the new real estate rules.

Questions? We’ve got you covered in every climate. Please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime and give us a call.

– Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane

TGIF: Seasonal Savings Tips

Friday, June 8, 2018

You may have noticed it is property tax time! If you are a new home owner, you may be unaware that in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, you qualify for a basic home owner grant of $570, provided that you are a resident living in the home. You must apply each year and the application is included with your tax notice. Only one qualifying owner can claim a grant for a property each year, so best to check when selling / purchasing at this time of year.

Grant amounts are higher for seniors, veterans or persons with disabilities. For seniors there is an additional grant of $275 making it a total grant of $845. Separated spouses may be able to claim the home owner grant for each of their principal residences, provided that they have a written agreement acknowledging thay they live apart or a Court order recognising the separation. If you qualified for the grant last year and didn’t apply, you may be able to apply retroactively.

A STAGGERING STATISTIC for you – 48% of Canadians have their mortgages up for renewal this year – the largest percentage ever. DON’T simply sign those renewal papers when they come in the mail. There are deals out there, both in terms of interest rate, cash and other incentives. Shop around. The interesting aspect is that most financial institutions offer a better deal to the new customer just coming in their door, than they do to their existing customers – time to rebel. Find out what they are offering the newcomer then offer a match or switch scenario. This tactic only good provided that you have established without doubt that you qualify elsewhere for your mortgage amount at current interest rates or, if a new institution works it out on the new stress test (qualifying 2% higher that posted rate) that you do still qualify. Interest rates are the biggest game changer in your monthly payments – worth a little research!

Enjoy the sunshine and the wind down to summer. We are still here and ready to interpret a changing market for you, or answer any other questions you have. That’s how we keep you covered and continue in that tradition of trust and caring.

We are the Generations Real Estate Partners – Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane