In the first part of our capital gains series- Capital Gains in Vancouver- How to Reduce Your Taxable Income– we looked at what capital gains are, how they’re incurred and potential ways to mitigate or minimise the tax payable when you sell your property in Vancouver. Once you have determined whether you have incurred a taxable capital gain, it’s important to understand the process of how to actually report it to the Canada Revenue Agency.
When Do You Report a Capital Gain or Loss?
Reporting a capital gain or loss is required when you have disposed of a capital asset. For ease of understanding, we will refer to property (real estate) as that asset from here on in. You are required to report this gain in the same calendar year that you sell the property (January to December).
It’s also important to note that regardless of whether you made a gain or loss, or whether you are required to pay tax on that gain (for example, if it was not your primary residence), you must still report the sale on your income tax return.
If the property was your primary residence you will not be subject to tax on the capital gain. However, if it was a second property, 50% of the gain you make from the sale of the property is considered taxable income.
As a reminder, there is no stand-alone ‘capital gains tax.’ Rather, this figure needs to be added to your personal income for that calendar year, and you will be taxed on your overall income (including this figure), based upon your marginal tax rate for that calendar year.
How to Calculate Your Capital Gain
When it comes to calculating your capital gain on real estate, you first need to determine your adjusted cost base. This is the overall cost of the property, not just the original price you purchased it for. We strongly recommend the use of an accountant or financial professional in this step, but for the sake of example let’s say:
You paid $500,000 for your property
Plus an additional $25,000 in fees to acquire and sell it.
And whilst living there, spent $125,000 on renovations/permanent improvements
Your adjusted cost base would be equal to $650,000.
If you then sold the property for $750,000 your capital gain is actually $100,000, as opposed to $250,000 (based on the original purchase price alone).
Of this $100,000 only 50% is taxable. Although you need to report the transaction itself, only $50,000 would be added to your annual income for that calendar year, and you will be taxed depending on the marginal tax rate that applies to you.
How Do I Report Capital Gains Tax in British Columbia?
In B.C., capital gains or losses are reported on a Schedule 3 form. It is a self-reporting system, and once you have calculated your adjusted cost base and other expenses is really just a simple form to record the numbers. Of course, you are also required to have evidence to substantiate these figures. The submitted form must include:
The year of acquisition (the year you purchased the property in B.C.)
The proceeds of acquisition (the sale price)
The adjusted cost base
Any fees or costs associated with the sale of the property
The overall capital gain (or loss) resulting from the sale of your property
The Schedule 3 form for reporting capital gains (or losses) in BC
If you’re looking for ways to defer or minimise your capital gains, or aren’t sure if you’ve incurred a capital gain, please reach out and connect with our team. As some of the top-performing Realtor’s in Vancouver, our team is ‘on the ground’ and always adapting to the current state of the market, in order to assist our clients to acquire and profit from their property investments.
Vancouver has some of the lowest municipal property taxes in British Columbia. The actual tax rate varies year to year depending on the needs of the city, and the revenue collected is used to fund public services like schools, police, hospitals and more. However, there are also other taxes that may apply to your property, including the city’s own Vacancy (empty homes) Tax, and the more recently introduced provincial Speculation and Vacancy Tax, both of which may affect you if you don’t live in the property.
Property Taxes in Vancouver
Municipal Property Tax
Each year, property owners in Vancouver are subject to property tax, based on the fair and assessable value of their property. The rate for 2020 is $2.92568 per $1000 of taxable value. So the municipal property tax on a $600,000 property would equal $1755.
Regardless of whether you live in or lease your property, you are required to pay property taxes annually. In order to do so, you must submit a property status declaration, which will determine if you also need to pay the Empty Homes Tax.
Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax
The Empty Homes Tax was implemented in 2017 to return vacant properties to the rental market, lest they be subject to an additional tax of 1.25% of the property’s fair and assessable value.
This tax only applies to you if you have more than one property (assuming the one you are residing in is your principal residence) and the additional properties are vacant for more than 6 months of the year. Whilst there are some circumstantial exemptions, if you are not living in the house, the Empty Homes tax may indeed apply to your property.
A third property tax- the Speculation and Vacancy tax may also apply to your property in Vancouver if the property is not your primary residence, and is vacant for more than 6 months of the year. According to the B.C. government, the Speculation and Vacancy tax is ‘designed to discourage housing speculation and people from leaving homes vacant in B.C.’s major urban centres,’ like Vancouver.
As such, all property owners in the Metro Vancouver regional district must also complete a provincial property declaration (separate from the declaration required for the Empty Homes tax).
The tax rate itself varies depending upon your residential status. From 2019 onwards, the provincial Speculation and Vacancy tax rates are:
2% of the properties assessable value if you are a foreign owner or satellite family
0.5% for Canadian citizens or permanent residents
Do I Have To Pay Property Taxes in Vancouver if I Don’t Live in the House?
When it comes to which taxes you have to pay, and how much they equate to, it really depends on how you use the property. Regardless of how your property is used, you or whoever is listed on the property titlewill be subject to the annual municipal property tax.
If the property is leased, or occupied by yourself or your close family, it will not be subject to the additional taxes. However, if your Vancouver property is not listed as your primary residence, and is vacant for 6 months of the year or more, you will also be subject to both the Empty Homes Tax and the B.C. provincial Speculation and Vacancy Tax.
As an example, if you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, the tax on a $600,000 property (based on the most current rates) would be:
Municipal tax = $1755 (as above)
Empty Homes tax (1.25% of property value) = $7500
Provincial empty homes tax (0.5% of property value) = $3000
Total annual property tax = $12, 225.
Similarly, if you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, your annual property taxes would be:
Municipal tax = $1755
Empty Homes tax (1.25% of property value) = $7500
Provincial empty homes tax (2% of property value) = $12,000
Total annual property tax = $21, 255
Whilst there are some exemptions to these taxes, they will be applicable in most cases if the property is vacant and is not your primary residence. If you’re unsure whether they will apply to your property, or are interested in acquiring an additional property and want to understand the tax risks, reach out and connect with us.
The Vancouver real estate market is showing no signs of slowing, with sales in August almost 20% above the 10-year sales average. With certainty returning to the market across summer, we’re busting some of the most common real estate myths to help you take advantage of this fast-paced environment!
Myth: You Should Wait Until Spring to List Your Home in Vancouver
One of the most prolific myths of the Vancouver real estate market is the idea that Spring is the best time to list. While Spring signals the start of the busy real estate season, activity is far from finished by the time Fall rolls around. In fact, many buyers who didn’t take the plunge in the Spring or Summer are very motivated to buy a home before the snow hits the ground, which could result in a quicker sale or a higher price!
Myth: Listing at a Higher Price Leaves More Negotiating Room
Generally speaking, over-pricing your home means many potential buyers won’t ever see it. Most homebuyers start their search for a home online, filtering by region, housing type and most importantly, price.
In fact, a recent RE/MAX survey revealed that price was the most important factor when shopping for real estate. This highlights the importance of doing your research of comparable sales in the area when setting your listing price, as well as the importance of setting realistic expectations.
In addition, many buyers will already have a mortgage pre-approval figure on the table when they begin to seriously search for a property. This hard-line figure is often used to set the parameters of their search, and if your property price is above this number, it won’t even feature let alone leave room for negotiation.
Myth: Vancouver Real Estate Is Seasonal
To those who think there’s a right and wrong season to buy or sell a home in Vancouver, there really isn’t. Many factors contribute to property sales, and people are consistently on the move due to work, access to amenities, or the increasing needs of their family.
Although natural lighting may be beneficial in Spring compared to Winter, effective property staging (see more below) can have a much larger impact on prospective buyers.
Moreover, Vancouver property prices depend much more on factors such as supply and demand, which can vary between cities and neighbourhoods. So, rather than season, look to days on market as the best indicator of your negotiating power.
Myth: Under-Pricing to Create a Bidding War Is Always a Good Strategy
This strategy can be successful if the subject property is in a market segment where the is:
A shortage of supply, and
Real/hot demand, AND
Where the subject property appeals to all (or almost all) of those buyers. In other words, the subject property will appeal to the masses.
If your property does not fall into these categories, under-pricing is more likely to lead to lower offers than you want, or that your property is worth.
Myth: Effective Property Staging Is an Expense
In order to achieve the price you deserve on your property, it needs to present well. In our 20 years of experience, effective staging will net a profit and therefore staging should be considered an investment, not an expense.
Myth: The Right Buyer Will Pay What I Want for My Home
A buyer who falls in love with your home may pay a premium stemming from their emotions. However, they are still very likely to perform an analysis of sold comparable’s with their Buyer’s Agent, and/or will still be comparing value given what they have already seen.
Most active buyers nowadays are quite savvy during their search given that they are often seeing a lot of properties – online and in-person- and overpricing may lead to the listing going ‘stale.’ In most cases, if your property has been on the market for an extended period, prospective buyers will wonder what they’ve missed, and may be less likely to make an offer.
Myth: You Can Save Money by Finding a Property on Your Own
One of the more interesting myths in the Vancouver property market is the false belief that struggling through purchasing a property on your own will somehow save you money.
As a buyer, it does not cost you anything to engage the services of a qualified Realtor/ buyer’s agent. When you purchase a home, your agent is paid by the seller’s agency after the purchase is completed- so you don’t have to go it alone!
As Realtors have the first access to new listings, open houses generally occur after private viewings have been completed. Whilst the property may still be opened for viewing, the best ones will have already accepted an offer by that stage (with subjects in place). So without a buyer’s agent- it is very likely that you won’t even be aware of these properties, or have the first opportunity to make an offer.
Myth: Renting Out Your Property Is ALWAYS a Good Investment
There are some key advantages to owning/renting a second property when compared to other investment vehicles. However, it isn’t always a good investment. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and the determining factor usually comes down to whether the right property was purchased at the right price. For more information about property investing please see “Is Renting Out a Property a Good Investment?“
There are a lot of misconceptions that surround the property industry in Vancouver. That’s where professional Realtor’s can make all of the difference. From listing and staging to sales and contracts, the West Haven Group can help with all facets of the property buying and selling process. For more information about our services, or any advice, please reach out and connect with us!
Ready to purchase a home in one of Canada’s fastest-moving property markets? There are a lot of steps when it comes to purchasing a home in Vancouver, and they’re not always straightforward or easy to understand. So we’ve compressed them into bite-sized chunks! Our 5 step home buyers checklist can be used as a quick reference guide for your property purchases, and of course- we’re always here to help if you need anything further.
Vancouver Home Buyers Checklist #1: Engage a Realtor
There is a LOT of misconception when it comes to engaging a Realtor, or buyers agent when you’re on the property hunt. Many people are familiar with the commission structure of property sales, but for the most part, are unaware of how an agent can help you to purchase a property. The best part? It doesn’t cost you anything!
Rather, when you utilize the services of a Realtor, the commission is paid by the seller’s agency after completion. By engaging an experienced, high-performing Realtor/buyer’s agent you are also given access to:
Behind-the-scenes and off-market property listings
Immediate and arranged property viewings
The Realtor’s, and brokerages, internal communications networks, where new listings are usually posted first, often weeks or months before they become available to the public.
Vancouver Home Buyers Checklist #2: Mortgage Pre-Approval
When it comes to the home buyers checklist, determining the amount that you can actually borrow is an imperative step in finding your new home in Vancouver. Your Realtor can help to put you in touch with a suitable broker, as well as helping you to collect and compile the necessary information.
There are a number of reasons why obtaining a mortgage pre-approval early on is important as:
It helps to set realistic expectations by taking into account your real financial situation.
With it, you can now establish a budget and narrow your search options.
It puts you into a stronger position to make an offer, as vendors know that you are a legitimate and capable buyer.
Mortgage pre-approval can help you to reduce the emotional and financial stress of the purchasing process, by giving you clear, definitive answers about your access to finance.
The process will also determine your monthly repayments, and help you to establish a budget. That way you can calculate what you can actually afford to spend each month, to be able to meet your mortgage obligations whilst maintaining the lifestyle you desire.
Finding out what you can spend will save you time, energy and money when purchasing a home in Vancouver
Vancouver Home Buyers Checklist #3: What Can You Afford?
When it comes to purchasing a property in Vancouver, it can be difficult to marry your wishlist with affordability. Whilst we will always work our hardest to ensure you are happy with your new home, we find that in most cases there is usually at least one compromise, and it’s important to be prepared for it.
However, once you are aware of the funding available, you can begin to establish your wishlist, and then decide what you are willing to spend to acquire those features. If the events of 2020 have been any indicator, it’s also important to establish a budget that accounts for contingencies, as well as any other future events that you can take into account. Start by asking yourself questions like:
Are you starting, or growing your family soon?
Do you really need a water view, or do you need more space to live in?
Are you purchasing the property as an investment, and will it generate an income?
Do you have the required downpayment?
Will you require mortgage lenders insurance?
Do you need to move into something immediately, or can you be patient?
How much do you need for normal living expenses per month? Does this allow for utilities, bills, food, education, and socializing?
What is the maximum repayment amount you can afford, taking into account your lifestyle and contingencies?
Are you prepared for the closing costs on your property? These can add an additional 2-4% of the total purchase price, and need to be considered. Again- your Realtor can help you to determine and establish these costs.
Vancouver Home Buyers Checklist #4: Let’s Find Your New Home!
After completing the first 3 steps of our home buyers checklist, you should have a wishlist compiled, and now be aware of what you can afford to spend to acquire them. With a definitive mortgage figure, you can also begin to narrow your property search, which usually begins with websites like REW.ca.
If you have chosen to engage a buyer’s agent, the chances are they have already lined up a number of viewings and opportunities to meet your needs. As we mentioned earlier- a high performing Realtor will often have access to properties before they become public listings. They also tend to have an ear to the ground within their own networks, which can lead to off-market opportunities, and making sure you have the first access to view properties.
After viewing each property, ask yourself these five important questions:
What did I like/dislike about the property?
What would I have to change about the home in order for it to work for me?
If the price were right, could I see myself living in this property?
If so, what is that price?
Did the home ‘feel right’ to me?
Overall, trust your instinct!
Vancouver Home Buyers Checklist #5: Offer and Negotiations
When you’ve found a home that suits your needs (or your dreams) it’s time to make an offer. If you are using a buyers agent, they will be able to guide you to the right amount to offer, that is within your budget. However it is important to remember that there may be several offers on the table, and the list price is rarely the final sale price.
Moreover, submitting an offer doesn’t necessarily mean it will be accepted, or that you must ‘go firm’ on the sale.
Rather, most offers come with ‘subject to’ clauses or conditions, allowing you the opportunity to fully inspect the property and its condition. It also allows you the opportunity to complete your due diligence on the property, and, once your offer has been accepted, we need to work to satisfy the conditions (or subjects). These most commonly relate to:
Once you have made an offer on a property, it’s time to complete your due diligence
When the conditions of sale have been met, it is time to hand over a deposit. This is usually around 5% of the sale price and will be managed by your Realtor’s brokerage, your lawyer/notary, or both. This is also the time that closing costs need to be settled, including any property transfer tax, GST (on new properties), and legal costs.
Purchasing a new home can be a stressful and emotionally taxing experience. There are a number of moving parts that make the property industry what it is, and having someone experienced and on your side can make the process much easier and simpler. If you would like any advice or information about purchasing a new property, reach out and connect with our experienced team.
Ownership of property in B.C., and any stipulations over that ownership, are set out in the property title. This document dictates your rights over that property, and in Vancouver, most properties fall under freehold, leasehold or strata-titled property. Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling property in Vancouver, the title of a property can greatly affect its value, resale, and your on-going expenses.
What Is a Property Title?
In B.C., the ownership of land or property is referred to as title to land. It is registered with the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia.
In Vancouver, there are a number of types of property, and a number of types of Title (ownership)- but the title document will always stipulate:
The type of ownership- sole ownership, tenant, tenant in common etc…
The legal description of the property, including number identifiers, descriptors, and the legal property address (this may vary from the postal address).
Any legal charges, interests, liens, easements, or caveats surrounding or to do with your property. These must also be registered against the title and disclosed in any contracts of sale or ownership.
Once the property title is issued, it is evidence of your interest (ownership) of the property. The type of title, however, dictates what that ownership actually means, and what it entitles you to do. In Vancouver, you tend to fall into one of three categories.
Freehold Property Title
The first type of property title and perhaps the easiest to explain is the freehold titled property. Occasionally referred to as ‘fee simple,’ a freehold title grants the owner full use of, and control over, the land and/or buildings they have purchased. Whilst this use is still somewhat controlled by local by-laws and some other stipulations, a freehold title generally grants you the most freedoms, and therefore can come at a higher cost to purchase. Typically these are freestanding homes.
Leasehold Property Title
Leasehold properties get a bit more complicated. They essentially grant you the right to use your property for a long period of time. However, whilst you may own the building/condo, if it’s leasehold it usually means either the government or First Nations owns the land.
Purchasing a leasehold property gives you the right to possess the property until the end of the lease, or you sell it to someone else. For example, in the West End, there are a number of 70’s and 80’s rental and leasehold buildings. Most of them have pre-paid leases that come due in 2073. So whilst purchasing now, with 50+ years remaining on the lease may suit your needs, it also limits your options if you’re looking for a long term home, or to pass down your property.
Similarly, it also makes financing more difficult, as the property can be revoked, or the prices dramatically decreased at the end of the lease.
Strata Property Title
This is the most common type of property title in Vancouver. Owning a strata-titled property gives you exclusive use of the property itself, which is generally a:
Detached home (also known as bare land strata)
The key point of difference is whilst you have access to, and use over, your condo, there are also common areas and shared spaces, such as gardens, elevators, garages etc… In order to maintain these spaces and any other building restorations, homeowners are required to contribute financially.
Whilst some of these upgrades or maintenance works may not be your choice, all owners in a strata-titled property are required to contribute. However, generally speaking, a strata-titled property will cost less in maintenance than a freehold property, as the financial burden is shared amongst many residents.
This is usually a monthly maintenance fee, however, can be dramatically affected by unforeseen events, such as:
Damage caused by a Tennant
Upgrades to the systems of the building (fire, water, plumbing, heating etc…)
New rain screening, paint, stucco or other building requirements.
Property title’s vary depending on the property itself, it’s location, the building/home type, and it’s history.
The title of a property in Vancouver can greatly affect its price, value, appreciation and resale. Depending on your needs a freehold or strata title may suit you best, or if you are only planning on living in the property for a short amount of time a leasehold may be more appropriate.
As always, at the West Haven Group, we’re here to make sure you find the home of your dreams, within your budget. With an active and on-the-ground team, we can help to guide you towards the buildings, neighbourhoods and property titles in Vancouver that suit your needs.
For more information about the Vancouver property market or any other information, reach out and connect!
One of the quieter neighbourhoods in Vancouver, the West End has recently become more popular thanks to its location and access to the city’s natural features. However, without a deeper understanding of the marketplace and the finer details of the buildings in the area, finding your dream home in Vancouver’s West End can be a challenge. We’re breaking down some of the key property insights so that you can call the West End home!
Neighbourhood Features: The West End
Known as the gateway to Stanley Park, the West End combines big city life with the great outdoors. The area encompasses the stunning English Bay Beach, the sea wall, Stanley Park, and other outdoor spaces, whilst bordering on some of the primary nightlife and shopping districts in the city.
Typically, residential property in the West End comprises 70’s and 80’s rental and leasehold buildings, and 80’s timber-framed strata buildings. The majority of listings are apartments, and with the city’s current sensitivity to losing affordable housing options, it is unlikely that these will be redeveloped in the near future. As such, condo owners and strata bodies have been contributing to renovations and facelifts, building new life into buildings that sit on (arguably) some of the best land in Vancouver.
Whilst these properties are unlikely to change significantly, infill projects and other luxury towers are becoming more prevalent. This is creating more options for dining, retail and other amenities, and modernising the area, whilst allowing it to maintain its existing character and laid back demeanour.
With a wide variety of building types, finding your dream home isn’t a matter of where it’s a matter of when. And whilst property is generally more affordable in the West End compared to Yaletown or Coal Harbour, there are a number of considerations that can help you to find the perfect home.
Inside the West End- Past, Present and Future
To give you some insight into the properties of Vancouver’s West End, we’re looking at the current properties available, as well as future plans for the neighbourhood.
The Buildings in Vancouver’s West End
1. A lot of the buildings in the West End are leasehold properties. Leasehold means you own the house/condo/townhouse but not the land that it sits on. Generally, this land has been leased to a developer, who builds on it and leases the property for a stipulated sum of money and amount of years.
Whilst these leases are long term, it can make it more difficult to obtain financing if purchasing a leasehold property. This is because you are purchasing the right to possess the property until the end of the lease, or you sell it to someone else. In the West End, most of the concrete towers are either rental buildings or leasehold, and most of the leasehold buildings have pre-paid leases that come due in 2073.
2. Because of the access to finance (among other things) strata titled properties are much more sought after, and market data indicates that for 2020, properties only spend between 10-15 days on the market before they’re sold. This is important to know, as hesitating on a property you like could mean missing out.
3. If you’re looking to move into one of the Strata wood-frame builds, try to find the buildings that have had renovations or updates already performed. Things like new rain-screens, pipes, windows etc… when this maintenance has been done, it indicates a more sought-after building in better condition.
4. Most of the 1970’s buildings in the West End have shared laundry facilities. Whilst this may not bother some, most residents prefer to have their own internal laundry. The slightly newer buildings (1980s and onward) will typically have in-suite laundries, and may be better suited to your property search. Similarly, buildings that have been re-plumbed since their construction may also allow for a ventless laundry to be installed after purchase.
Where in the West End Should I Live?
When it comes to where in the West End you want to live, there are a few things to note:
5. West of Denman has become its own micro-bubble, know for it’s quiet and laidback community, and one of the most convenient access points to Stanley Park. Denman itself, however, has been going through a facelift, with newer and more modern retail options entering the area.
6. Most people aim to be as close to the water as possible, but really anywhere in the West End makes it a short walk.
7. The City has been supportive of new rental towers within the West End in zones where new strata towers would not be allowed. The benefit is that these towers so far are turning out to be quite well done, and are modernising these zones. One complex in particular has resulting in a brand new Safeway grocery store, and other commercial developments could lead to increased amenities in the area. Being aware of new developments in the area may help you choose where in the West End you would like to live.
The Future of The West End
8. New, luxury and ultra-luxury towers are already being built along Davie, Thurlow, Burrard and Alberni. These areas have been designated for high rise, so expect other residential and commercial developments along these streets in the years to come.
9. Various infill projects are resulting in brand new boutique strata developments that are offering some unique new homes. However, parking can be difficult to come by with some of these homes given that they are sometimes too small or too constrained in some way to build an underground parkade. As infill projects, they also tend to add congestion to an area, and this may be a consideration for your property hunt.
10. Alberni will become Vancouver’s most architecturally interesting street – with stunning ultra-luxury towers underway. Prices within these towers are among the city’s most expensive at over $2,000/sqft. For more information about these developments, and the possibility of a pre-sale, please get in touch with us.
At the West Haven group, our dedicated team is on the ground to help you find your dream property. If you would like to see what’s available in your favourite area, or need help selling your property, we’re here to help.
For many of us, the dream of a big family home is enough motivation to get out of bed every morning. But after the family leaves the nest, it’s not uncommon to find yourself with too much space and an ever-increasing list of costs and maintenance. Downsizing in Vancouver can be the perfect solution, giving you back the time and money to enjoy your new home, and it’s location.
Why Downsizing in Vancouver Can Be the Right Move
There are a lot of reasons that people choose to downsize their properties in Vancouver. Being able to reduce your living and maintenance costs and unlocking capital in your property to name a few. But more typically, we see people looking to downsize when their children have left home, or in a move to a different neighbourhood to be closer to amenities and other lifestyle benefits.
Downsizing could also be the right choice for you if you travel a lot for work, or are looking to travel more permanently. Rather than paying expensive utility bills and property taxes for rooms that aren’t being used, moving into a smaller property or condo may free up some much-needed capital, as well.
As the boomer generation continues to exit the workforce, we most often see retirees looking to downsize in Vancouver. Considerations like comfort, the difficulty of living in multi-storey housing as you age, and being closer to family and friends are all reasons to consider downsizing. But other unforeseen events such as relationship breakdowns, employment circumstances, or global pandemics can also become aggravating factors.
Make Downsizing Easy With These 5 Steps
1. Define Your Goals
Before you can downsize, you need to determine the necessities, and which things you are happy to compromise on. Room is a given, but you need to consider things like:
how much room do you actually need to live comfortably?
Do you need a guest room or can you sacrifice it to minimise costs?
Which neighbourhoods would you be happy to live in?
How long do you plan to live there? Will stairs become an issue?
Are you trying to avoid maintenance?
All of these questions and more will help you to make decisions on the type and size of property that suits your needs.
2. Buy or Sell
When it comes to property, the decision to buy or sell first comes down to personal circumstances. There are a number of factors that come into play, such as:
the current state of the market
The specific properties involved. Are they unique? Will they be an ‘easy’ sell?
The risks involved with either option
Flexibility with your time, finances or options
For more information, see our detailed write-up. Using an experienced realtor can help to streamline this process for you, and give you advice specific to your circumstances.
Then it’s time to make some tough decisions.
3. Pack and Sort
Downsizing in Vancouver can mean a much smaller space than you’re used to. You’ll need to decide which pieces of furniture you might donate, which items you consider essential and which ones you do not. In short, what are you taking, and what are you saying goodbye to?
It can be an emotional process, and we suggest starting as early as possible. Some people prefer to start in unemotional rooms, like the laundry or garage, before moving into the main parts of the home.
When you begin to pack, it’s important to consider whether the items you’re keeping serve your plan for the new property and its uses. Does it help you meet your goals? Have they actually been used recently? In many cases, a lot of possessions can be passed down to family or friends, who can enjoy them as much as you did.
4. Call in the Favours
Moving day means all hands on deck. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to rely on friends and family, or paying for a moving company may suit you better. Either way, it can be an emotional and stressful experience, so remember to breathe, and take your time.
Spend time in your new property, arrange and re-arrange. But don’t forget to enjoy all the great things about moving to a new place! Get outdoors and explore, get to know the street names and how to find your way, meet the neighbours. Often it lets you appreciate a neighbourhood while you get to know it, and it’s a great way to find it’s quirks and rhythm.
Thinking About Downsizing in Vancouver?
The process of buying or selling your home is a big task in and of itself. But downsizing has a more specific set of challenges that can make it a difficult process. At the West Haven Group, our dedicated team can assist from start to finish. Whether it be determining your goals or helping you to sell or find your new dream property, we are always here for you.
To find out if now’s a good time to downsize, or for any other information, please reach out and connect!
It has come as a shock to many across B.C., but the recent price hikes in strata insurance premiums in Vancouver is rapidly making insurance unaffordable. With monthly rates more than doubling, and deductibles increasing by more than 300% in some cases, budgets that are already stretched thin are taking a hit. Understanding why strata premiums in Vancouver are increasing is the first step in making informed decisions for yourself and your fellow condo owners, to make sure you stay covered.
Why Are Vancouver’s Strata Insurance Premiums on the Rise?
Although these rate rises are being seen across the province, they are particularly worrisome in Vancouver where more than half of its residents live in strata-titled properties.
There are a number of reported reasons for their increase:
Strata insurance valuations are based on recent appraisals. Owing to the increase in costs for construction, and the increase in property values over the past few years, the value of a building, and the cost to repair, have also dramatically increased. The cost of construction/repair in Vancouver has risen 7-15% in the last 12 months.
Owing to the fact that strata insurance policies cover commercial-grade systems, such as your plumbing, boilers, heating, etc… strata buildings are insured with a commercial property insurance policy. These policies are generally more expensive, and also subject to fluctuations in construction and materials cost increases.
Insurance companies need to maintain a ‘float’ to meet future claims and needs. The increases in property prices over the past few years, and the aging of buildings across Vancouver, has led to more claims, and at higher valuations.
The local market is affected by global events. In order to keep strata insurance premiums in Vancouver lower, many insurers need to take out their own insurance. As these larger-scale insurance companies are now affected by global weather events such as fires, floods, and hurricanes, their costs are also increasing.Unfortunately, these costs are not only passed down to you- the strata owner- but they are also seeing the viability and liquidity of smaller insurers drying up. This leads to less competition within the market, as larger, national insurers become the only option for large scale insurance policies.
What Does This Mean for Your Strata Insurance Premiums?
In most cases, it means that your strata insurance premiums are going to be increased whenever the policy is due for renewal. It also means that if the deductible on the insurance premium increases dramatically, say to $100k, any damage under that value will have to be paid by the condo owners. Whereas traditionally the policy would cover these liabilities, or at least cover them with a lower owner contribution, as well.
Now, it is more likely that if your condo is damaged in some way, and it is localized (that is- it only affects you), you are now more likely to have to pay for repairs yourself. If that damage happens to also affect the common areas, you may also be liable to the whole repair amount, depending on the policy.
With this in mind, it is now more important than ever to take out your own condo homeowner insurance policy in Vancouver. This policy should cover your liability in the event of damage to your condo, as well as (at the least) the cost of the deductible of the strata policy, should you be found to be at fault in a claim.
I’m Looking at Buying a Condo in Vancouver- Should I Be Worried?
If you’re looking at entering the condo property market in Vancouver, or simply looking to move, there are a few things to consider when forming your budget. First and foremost, it is unlikely that these insurance premiums will see a reduction any time soon. Although the provincial government has confirmed they will review current legislation, it is unlikely these premiums will be reduced again, now or in the future.
Second, when looking for a condo, you need to take into account those things that typically affect strata insurance premiums in Vancouver. Questions like:
The age of the building, and likelihood that it will need repairs
Does the building have an active and regular maintenance program?
Is the building’s structural integrity intact?
Is there a depreciation report and does the building meet regulatory requirements?
Are the strata by-laws up to date, and have the tenants/owners been made aware of these changes?
Is there a history of claims, that are likely to see premiums increase?
Have the premiums been underpriced in the past, and is it likely the insurer will look to recover those costs, now that the property market has cooled a bit?
Just because strata insurance premiums in Vancouver are on the rise, doesn’t mean you should be scared out of the market. At the West Haven Group, we work for you. As industry experts, we can help you to navigate these changes and establish a budget and plan based on your circumstances. If you want more information, or need help find the home of your dreams without worrying about the future reach out and connect!
Real estate markets ebb and flow, and whilst condo’s in downtown Vancouver sell year-round, taking advantage of seasonal fluctuations may earn you a higher sales price, in less time. Coinciding with the recent return of buyers returning to the Vancouver property markets, we’re taking a look at the stats, to help you decide the best time of year to sell your Yaletown condo!
This rooftop patio belongs to a Yaletown Penthouse- the Iliad – recently sold by Shawn Brown of the West Haven Group.
Do the Seasons Make a Difference?
Before we get into the specifics of selling aYaletown condo, it’s important to understand the trends in the wider market. In Vancouver, these trends tend to rotate depending on the seasons. Contrary to popular belief, summer actually ranks low on the ‘best time to list’ scale, as it’s either too hot, or people are too busy enjoying themselves to spend time on theproperty hunt.
Rather, spring usually sees the best returns for home andcondo sales in Vancouver, in the least amount of time. Sales often begin to increase in late February and continue until June. It is due to a number of factors:
Improved weather and willingness of buyers to be outside
Lighting improves, brightening up your property and making it look more appealing
Winter vacations are over and everyone has settled back into a routine
Neighborhood aesthetics come to life with new growth
When buying in spring, the opportunity to move into your new property in summer becomes available, causing less disruption for kids and families.
Spotlight: Is Spring the Best Time to Sell My Condo in Yaletown?
As we return to our outdoor lifestyles in spring, the streetscapes, cafes, and patios of Yaletown begin to come alive. The ocean begins to calm, and people begin to return to the beautiful waterfront parks- David Lam and George Wainborn. But is it the best time to sell a condo in Yaletown?
When we look at data and market trends over the past 3 years, we can see that yes, the average value of property in Yaletown increases during Spring. For this example, For this example, we are using the MLS® HPI pricing chart, which tracks relative price levels by comparing price levels at a point in time to price levels in a base (reference) period. This figure gives us a better overview of market trends overall, based on pure inflation/deflation, as opposed to median sale price.
When looking at the chart below, we can see the average value in December 2017 ($887,900) and January 2018 ($909,200) are considerably lower than their Spring counterparts- $953,900 in March 2018 and $964,000 in April 2018.
Although the wider Vancouver market saw a downturn across 2019, the statistics still show an increase in the average value from January 2019 ($852,100) compared to February 2019 ($892,000).
Now, with the recent market recoveries and the return of buyers to the Vancouver property markets, a new positive market trend is being established. Again, this is reflected in the average values, and we’ve already seen an increase from the May 2019 lows at $794,700, to $841,700 in October 2019, and continuing to increase to $869,700 in January 2020.
If this trend continues, it could be a great time to consider selling your condo in Yaletown, especially as we move into the Spring property season!
Of course, to really take advantage of the property markets in Vancouver, and the latest numbers and statistics- you need someone on the ground, and that’s where the West Haven Groupexcels!
If you would like to know more about selling your condo in Yaletown, the current state of the market, or just need some advice- you can contact us here. We look forward to hearing from you.