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.

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.

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

TGIF: A Week of Courage

Friday, April 27, 2018

Amazingly, summer lost its way into Spring this week – the bright sunshine a stark contrast against the terrifying attack in Toronto. We just can’t imagine the terror felt by those victims and onlookers. Against that backdrop, the calm courage of the police officer who single handedly took down the attacker without firing a shot got me to thinking about the debt we owe to the courage of others. The first responders, our military men and women, our police officers, Doctors without Borders, foreign correspondents all come to mind along with many others.

Then there is the inspiring personal courage of the young hockey player who was injured so badly in the Humboldt bus crash that he is paralysed. When interviewed, he expressed gratitude and was already visualizing playing sledge hockey after a visit from members of Canada’s sledge hockey team. Spend time in any children’s hospital to see that same courage.

We hear the stories all the time about individuals who jump into rivers to save drowning people, those who stop and pull drivers and passengers from burning vehicles, parents who put themselves in danger to save their children and so on. It seems to take a crisis to bring us awareness – so let’s always pay tribute to these local heroes and say thank you.

Whichever side of the issue you are on, we are also witnessing the courage of conviction right now as the Kindermorgan dispute brings out protesters on both sides at the risk of being jailed. It is a tough road to maintain the courage of conviction against all odds – remember the suffragettes! And in modern times the scientists who are speaking out against the conflict of interest when big business is paying for the research – many losing their jobs for not toeing the line. Just one of many examples of the risk in maintaining the courage of your convictions.

In micro terms, we all have those moments where we have to choose between speaking up when it might not be popular or even risky, or taking the easy way of going with the flow and staying silent. Doing the right thing has become a topic for discussion in our business as well as many others because in business, having the courage of conviction can be costly. Our team has thought long and hard about our convictions, and doing the right thing is our comfort zone. We become a part of the families we serve when we are dealing with their most important personal asset – their home. That trust is sacrosanct and our reputation depends on it.
Lily Tomlin had it right – “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat”.

Happy to chat real estate any time. This week under a parasol we still have you covered.

The Generations Real Estate Partners – Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Scott

TGIF: Our Spring Market is In Bloom

Friday, April 20, 2018

With yesterday’s warm sunshine we finally believe in Spring! And…where will all the adults be this weekend? Home Depot and Art Knapps! Baseball diamonds will be in full use and the parks full.

Along with the daffodils, cherry blossoms & magnolia trees comes the burgeoning real estate inventory – it’s here! New listings every day and finally some choice for buyers. With increased competition, sellers have to work harder to have their home be attractive to buyers in condition, cleanliness, updated maintenance and price. You never have a second chance to make a first impression, so the gardens now come into their own, those lovely pots of colourful plants at freshly painted front doors – you get the picture. Remember that when the sun shines, every mark shows on the windows and every cobweb is evident. Buyers are looking for space, so filling it is not a good idea when selling – less is better. Get rid of the stuff now before you’re packing to move! Our stagers will always tell you that every room has to have a purpose. When doing a little renovating before putting your home on the market, remember that the best bang for your buck comes with paint and flooring.

As for buyers – this is your moment! Specially in the detached market – some lovely homes coming on the market at very competitive prices. No longer any need to buy out of desperation! If it sounds too good to be true it is! These inviting low prices are often an invitation to participate in an auction, where the final sale price will reflect market value. If this market is confusing (and of course it is!), please give us a call to interpret and give you the boots on the ground analysis.

Sweet spot pricewise is $1m to $2million in detached homes. These are the guys getting multiple offers provided they are attractive homes. Townhomes have been selling like hot cakes, but now there is inventory and choice. Condos are location driven and inviting to the great bulge of baby boomers focusing on lifestyle. For the larger suites, more than 1100 sf, there is a very real market as downsizers form a massive part of our market today & years to come. All the stars are aligned to have buyers buy and sellers sell!

We have rarely seen such a complicated market place – let us be your guides – we’ve been here before. Let us be your resource; we not only have umbrellas, we have experience!

Let us keep you covered – Michelle,Scott, Sheila. Ray and Shane

Your Weekly Recap in the YVR ‘Burbs – We Are All One Team

Friday, April 13, 2018

Life’s fragility has been brought home in a tragic way this week in Saskatchewan. Our hearts go out to the families who lost their young people so suddenly – the healing will be long and painful. Canadians came together swiftly and effectively to not only share their grief, but to give tangible support. We can be grateful and proud that we live in a caring country. It was amazing to see so many hockey jerseys yesterday – even all the YVR check in clerks were wearing them. We can only hope that this outpouring of love and support will help the families in the difficult days ahead.

On another note, this month of April is also recognized globally as Earth Month – a good time to honour and respect the planet that is all too easy to take for granted. If you’re a teacher or student looking to participate in Earth Day this year, Generations Real Estate Partners’ brand director, cartoonist, (and Sheila’s son) Craig Francis has developed a new version of Jungle Book with animated videos and a live stage version for Kidoons.com. They’re having an Earth Day contest – here is how you can participate (and win some awesome prizes!). Check them out on Facebook, too!

On the real estate front, we have a mystery and a bit of a disconnect. As the price of townhomes has escalated to the point of some being well above the million $ mark, we are asking ourselves why some of these buyers are not buying a detached home with a basement suite. We understand that for many, the more carefree lifestyle is a definite choice, but for others, perhaps they feel they have no choice as the price of detached homes became so high. However, when the maintenance fees are factored into a townhome, then a detached purchase with income makes good sense. Especially as, with a large influx of new Spring inventory of detached homes, prices are stabilizing and there will be many more choices. Just something to consider….

Navigating this ever changing real estate landscape can be challenging – if you need sounding boards and consultation we have you covered any time. Happy to continue in that long tradition of trust and caring, we remain your partners in real estate.

-Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane
Generations Real Estate Partners

TGIF: The Tri-Cities are Hoppin’ for the Easter Weekend!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Thomas Jefferson had it right – “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.”

After the season of Lent when many people gave up something they enjoy as a personal sacrifice, here we are saying Happy Easter! This is the weekend new hope begins and we once more examine the big questions – our purpose in life. Not so much what we do as why we do it. Good to see that a popular book in the business community right now is “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek.

As the first day of Spring seems long past, let’s hope for sunshine on this long weekend of hope, family times, community events and beautiful music. It will be an egg filled weekend in our local communities with many different Easter egg hunts and festivities for our children. Saturday sees the community egg hunt in Blue Mountain Park, Coquitlam from 10am – 2, Port Moody’s Westhill Park has a bring your own basket hunt hosted by College Park Community Association starting 10.15am, Place Maillardvile Community Centre has a magic show at 12.30pm (rabbits out of hats maybe?) followed by 4 egg hunts, Port Coquitlam’s Easter Arts Celebration takes place between 1 & 3pm in Leigh Square Arts Village and Golden Ears Cheesecrafters is hosting its 2nd annual Easter Extravaganza – 22270 128 Av, Maple Ridge – call and choose your time. We feel the start of a giant sugar high……..

For quieter Easter moments on Monday, the Coquitlam public library is inviting children up to age 6 for an Easter storytime. Mums and Dads can give their ideas at the library the following day in order to help plan the library of tomorrow.

Easter Sunday in Port Moody, the place kids want to be is at the Station Museum to enjoy a marble hunt, face painting & Easter basket making. Yes our communities will be hopping!

Enjoy the peaceful moments through the celebrations and personal connections in our vibrant local communities – we feel so fortunate to live and work here. Hoping that we won’t need our umbrellas this weekend, but know that we still have you covered. Continuing in that long tradition of trust and caring, our team sends you best wishes this Easter time. Life is a song – sing it!

Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray, Shane, Leah and Sheena.