Vancouver Homes With Jay Banks Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:20:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jericho Beach Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:33:53 +0000 It's no secret that Vancouver's public beaches are worth a visit all year round. Tim Gage captured this view from Jericho Beach on a cold December day. Thank you for submitting!


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Vancouver Real Estate: Wishful Thinking in November 2017 Sat, 09 Dec 2017 00:56:06 +0000 Despite all the doom and gloom in mortgage news and desperate world news buyers and sellers in Vancouver are still singing...’Santa baby, I'm filling my stocking with a duplex, and cheques. Sign your 'X' on the line Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight’...
(lyrics by J. Javits and P. Springer)

Lots of wishful thinking going on out there in the real estate market. Vancouver continues to experience above average demand and below average supply.

False Creek, foggy by Colin KnowlesFalse Creek, foggy by Colin Knowles

The sales to active listing ratio for November 2017 is 32%. By property type, the ratio is 15.9% for detached homes, 36.4% for townhouses, and 67.8% for condominiums.

In November 2017 the benchmark price for a detached home in North Vancouver was $1,697,600 up 3.7% in one year, up 79% in 5 years and up 95.1% in 10 years. In Richmond the benchmark price was $1,671,600 up 4.3% in one year, up 72.8% in 5 years and up 134.6% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $1,573,500 up 6.7% in one year, up 88.6% in 5 years and up 145.1% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $3,573,700 up 1.5% in one year, up 75.9% in 5 years and up 135% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $3,146,100 up 2.9% in one year, up 76.9% in 5 years and up 105.8% in 10 years. Each year affordability declined for local buyers.

As prices were rising to the stratosphere the Liberal government was like the police chief in Casablanca who professed to be shocked, shocked sir, as Rick’s Cafe was raided for illegal gambling just as the croupier approached with his winnings.

NDP Attorney-General David Eby can profess to be shocked at the amount of money that was laundered through the large BC casinos but his government is happily spending their way through the $2 billion surplus in the treasury inherited from the previous Liberal government. Any government having their resource development plans held up by First Nations land claims and foreign supported environmental groups would have been relieved to make $1 billion a year from the Property Transfer Tax on real estate and several billions from the gaming taxes. Unfortunately the supervision by the gaming branch was lax by government design and no agency saw the extent of the illegal money flowing through the casinos. Once the first washing was done then the funds were largely invested in detached homes in Vancouver for the final rinse.

It’s clear that nobody in the government or outside of it appreciated the extent of foreign investment underwritten by criminal elements. When Andy Yan an urban planner with Bing Thom Architects at the time, now of Director of SFU city program, studied all the sales on the west side of Vancouver in November 2015 and correlated Chinese names that weren’t Anglicized as being foreign investors who were impacting the rising prices in the Vancouver real estate market he was called racist (he is Chinese) and loudly booed by the Liberal government and Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vision Vancouver. Now they’re all jumping on the bandwagon of trying to stabilize the prices. It’s a clear case of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Mayor Robertson is hoping the senior governments will allow Vancouver to restrict foreign ownership of property as is done in Australia and New Zealand.

A blue-sky idea floated almost two years ago by a group of academics offering solutions to the housing crisis in Vancouver has now come around to being considered a reasonable possibility. The concept of a property surtax according to the Vancouver Sun would take aim at ‘free-riding homeowners’. Proponents say the people forced to pay more under the change would be wealthy foreign owners who purchase Vancouver real estate to stash their money or those who avoid paying Canadian taxes in various ways. Residents paying income tax would be allowed to deduct the surtax.

The NDP government has promised a full housing report in the February 2018 Budget. Premier John Horgan has stated that housing is the No. 1 issue on his desk. All levels of government are focused on building affordable rental housing to keep families and workers in the province, especially in the Lower Mainland. It would be helpful if they outlawed shadow flipping of pre-sale condo contracts and set up the same rules as for the detached home market. They would collect more tax dollars and probably keep the price per square foot closer to the builder’s original estimate.

The Financial Post stated that the market for condo and attached properties surged in Toronto and Vancouver, as buyer interest in expensive detached homes has withered according to recent data.

In November 2017 the benchmark price for an apartment property across the region was $648,200. This was a 23.9% increase from November 2016. In November 2017 the benchmark price for a condo apartment in North Vancouver was $566,500 up 23.5% in one year, up 61.1% in 5 years and up 62.7% in 10 years. In Richmond the benchmark price was $612,900 up 27.4% in one year, up 77.2%in 5 years and 82.4% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $540,300 up 23.4% in one year, up 75.2% in 5 years and up 90.1% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $811,200 up 17.0% in one year, up 72.8%in 5 years and up 77.2% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $1,154.700 up 17.4% in one year, up 65.3% in 5 years and up 62.3% in 10 years.

It appears that the Bank of Canada is holding interest rates steady at this time. Increases are expected throughout the New Year but right now the mortgage stress test which depends on current interest rates is still doable. According to the Financial Post the International Monetary Fund in October stated that Canada has the second highest gross debt to income ratio in the Group of 20. Royce Mendes, an economist at CIBC World Markets thinks that some of the big international organizations focus too much on one metric. The quality of the debt in Canada is high, the proportion of non-prime mortgages is 10% compared to the 33% in the US before the crash. Distribution of debt is important according to Mendes and if everyone holding debt has a well-paying job and some money in the bank then it could be managed easily. So we shouldn’t worry quite so much about mortgage debt. It would be great if the mortgage debt could be lower because property prices were lower. Wishful thinking indeed. More anon.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Holiday Season.


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Dawne and Mark Mon, 27 Nov 2017 20:22:13 +0000 Dunsmuir Street Mon, 27 Nov 2017 20:06:38 +0000 Urban photography has a special charm in black and white and with an unusual angle. Jason Thibault captured the architecture of Vancouver's Dunsmuir Street with his GoPro camera. Thank you for submitting! 


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Vancouver Restaurants With the Longest Tradition: Roundel Cafe Thu, 23 Nov 2017 23:21:27 +0000

The Roundel Cafe is a small storefront in the middle of the block in East Vancouver’s Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood, an area that retains an old-neighbourhood feel. Inside, the décor is old-style diner with stools facing the counter and booths along the wall. Leonard Cohen sings on the speakers. There are no video screens anywhere. Dena Sananin is the Roundel's co-owner and co-manager:

Our cafe thrives on personality. It’s individual. It’s a cross-section of the neighbourhood of where we live, inside and out. We’ve never really tried to be any particular style,

Sananin and her partner Mick took over the management in 2006, but the the Roundel had existed in one form or another for decades.

Previously, the building was a kitchen even before that. The story is that apparently this building is quite old and was a kitchen for Jack Diamond.

Jack Diamond was a Jewish immigrant from Poland who came to Canada as a young man in the 1920s, and became a businessman and philanthropist. He bought the Pacific Meat Company in 1940 and expanded it into the largest meat packing house in the province. He raised money for the completion of the roof of Empire Stadium for the British Empire Games in 1954. He was involved in the Variety Club, the BC Heart Foundation, and other charitable organisations. His love of horse racing made him the owner and operator of the race track at Exhibition Park. Diamond’s efforts were recognised by the Order of Canada in 1979, and the Order of British Columbia in 1991.

This kitchen became the Roundel Cafe in 1964, owned by Bea Wong and her husband. Wong managed it for 15-20 years alone after her husband died.

In 2006, Dena and her partner Mick purchased it from Bea Wong. Neither of them had much experience in the restaurant business, but Dena realised that her job as a camera assistant was not compatible with raising children. She had worked in some cafes and restaurants before, and was familiar with the area and the establishment. This could be her new career.

My family has a lot of roots in this neighbourhood. As a child and pretty much my whole life, I have walked past this cafe, and have always had a connection with the space. I’d fantasised about having this space and running a cafe out of it. I took a chance and asked the owner if she was willing to sell. She was.

Dena freely admits she entered into this project not knowing what she was getting herself into. The extensive renovation proved to be a challenge.

We added some things to the kitchen. We put a new floor in. We took the drop ceiling out. We covered the wood paneling walls. We changed the lighting, which ended up being a disaster. Don’t ever install track lighting directly to a ceiling.

Under the new management, the Roundel Cafe’s menu offers what might be called "new diner": familiar North American dishes, but made with higher quality ingredients and with an eye to healthy choices.

Though it is no longer open in the evenings, the Roundel has a full range of breakfast and lunch dishes. Breakfast includes gluten-free organic corn pancakes and quinoa bowls and free-range egg dishes. For lunch, there are organic beef, free-range chicken, pork or tofu burgers. Instead of anything deep fried, there are side orders of salad, roast potatoes or brown rice.

The menu includes plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as what Dena calls "vegan-ish" dishes, as they don’t have separate kitchen facilities for true vegan cooking. The cafe also has a liquor license and offers beer, cocktails and spiked milkshakes.

Maintaining a policy of quality, local food has proven to be a challenge, but it means that the Roundel has deep ties to its neighbourhood. "We use a lot of West View bakery, a local bakery. We get all our sausage and ham from a friend across the street at a Polish sausage shop." This gives her strong control over the quality of her supplies, though her establishment was never explicitly all-organic. "That wasn’t anything that we advertised, just more of an inner experiment to see if you could do that."

Later, circumstances forced her to amend her policies on organic foods.

I wasn’t buying enough product to continue to be able to shop from the warehouse I was buying form. I would go and personal shop and buy small amounts. They changed how they operated and I couldn’t shop there anymore. In any case, we decided we could do organic consistently where we can. Coffee, tea, ground beef, all the grains, that kind of thing. It’s more the bulk, the structure of the meals, and not the extras.

The Roundel Cafe has served the neighbourhood clientele for several years with no particular high concept. For example, they serve drinks in mason jars.

We’ve been using mason jars as glasses for years. We started doing that because my glasses kept breaking, and I could buy mason jars down the road at the corner store. It was all about convenience. I found it kind of funny when I remembered hearing someone say, ‘Mason jars are really trendy these days.’

The sample meal was the Blue Goose 70 Mile House organic beef burger. The beef patty has a juicy, meaty flavour, and the lettuce, red onion and tomato are fresh and tasty. Unlike the hamburgers at many upgraded diners, the Roundel’s features a substantial whole wheat bun with sesame seeds, which greatly adds to the texture for a satisfying bite. No flimsy white-bread buns here. No French fries, either; the Roundel doesn’t have a deep fryer. Instead there’s a helping of roasted potatoes and yams, light and tasty, alongside a small green salad.

Dena recommends adding their home-made ketchup or hot sauce. The hot sauce in particular should satisfy those who like heat in their meals.

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.


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Vancouver Real Estate: High Demand Continues in October 2017 Mon, 20 Nov 2017 22:34:57 +0000 And the band played on... Julie and I were recently in the Halifax Maritime Museum and viewed the stories of the sinking of the Titanic.The belief was that the Titanic was indestructible, therefore did not need lifeboats for every passenger. When the rescue ship Carpathia that was 4 hours away arrived on the scene the passengers wearing life jackets in the water were dead of hypothermia, the passengers in the life boats survived.

The Vancouver housing market reminds me of the Titanic saga. At the beginning of the story mistaken assumptions were made as to the safety and buoyancy of the Vancouver market. No thought was given to the Law of Unintended Consequences. The City did not think of zoning restrictions because of voter backlash; the provincial government wanted the windfall income from the Property Transfer Tax, the federal government wanted to borrow money from new immigrants so set up the Immigrant Investor program with no mechanism to enforce residency requirements or income tax payments or rules to keep the money as an investment in Canada. Now we have our two major cities Toronto and Vancouver full of the Haves and the Have Nots mainly broken down along generational lines. And the market continues to rise. The MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,042,300, a 12.4% increase over October 2016.

The sales to active listing ratio for October 2017 is 33.1%. By property type, the ratio is 16.8% for detached homes, 44.8% for townhouses and 66% for condominiums.

In October 2017 the benchmark price for a detached home in North Vancouver was $1,700,200 up 2.1% in one year, up 76.9% in 5 years and up 95.8% in 10 years. In Richmond the benchmark price was $1,690,000 up 2.3% in one year, up 73.4% in 5 years and up 139.4% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $1,566,700 up 3.3% in one year, up 86.2% in 5 years and up 145.3% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $3,626,300 up 1.8% in one year, up 75.8% in 5 years and up 140.3% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $3,095,300 down -5.4% in one year, up 68.4% in 5 years and up 102.4% in 10 years. Each year affordability declined for local buyers.

There was news this month of Amazon expanding their workforce in Canada. They have expanded by 1000 people in Vancouver and 750 in Calgary. Many observers feel that this expansion is in replacement of a new head office that if it opens in Canada will probably be in Toronto. According to the Amazon vice President for Canada and Mexico the jobs in Vancouver are 90% for software engineers and programmers. The very people who will be looking for homes and rental apartments. Of which there are very few available in Vancouver so again there is another competition for relocating employees to either buy or rent accommodation.

In October 2017 the benchmark price for an apartment property across the region was $642,000. This was a 22.7% increase from October 2016. In October 2017 the benchmark price for a condo apartment in North Vancouver was $556,900 up 21.5% in one year, up 56.5% in 5 years and up 60.6%in 10 years. In Richmond the benchmark price was $609,600 up 26.3% in one year, up 76.2% in 5 years and 82.2% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $538,500 up 19.7% in one year, up 74.6% in 5 years and up 90.6% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $806,500 up 18.5% in one year,up 66.4% in 5 years and up 62.4% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $1,163.100 up 18.5% in one year, up 66.4% in 5 years and up 62.4% in 10 years.

Jobs are prized by municipal authorities but there are many openings and few applicants because of the lack of affordable housing. The Vancouver School Board cannot fill open teaching positions because no new teachers want to bear the cost of living in the city. The City of Vancouver is looking to license and control short term accommodation such as Airbnb in order to open up more long-term rentals. The big question is around enforcement. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and the cost of implementing new ideas can often be the deterrent to doing so.

Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun wrote that statistics Canada data shows 140,000 non-permanent residents residing in Metro Vancouver including international students and temporary workers competing with locals for a few rentals and pushing the prices up and up and up.

According to a recent Century 21 report the west side of Vancouver is the most expensive area in Canada. It has increased 400% in 20 years and currently a typical benchmark home comes in at $1,200 per square foot. Using this model downtown Vancouver comes second at $863 per square foot and Toronto follows at $819 per square foot. The purpose of these numbers is to give consumers a realistic idea of how much money they need to buy a home in different areas.

Of course if a buyer cannot qualify for a mortgage under the new stress test where a borrower has to qualify for two percentage points higher than the mortgage for which they are approved all the information is moot. The Financial Post had an article on the rush to qualify and purchase a home before the end of the year. Most buyers if they have a substantial down payment don’t want to jump through the hoops of the new mortgage rules. The question arises in the article as to whether there will be any buyers left in the New Year when the stress test kicks in and the easily qualified buyers have already purchased.

The Bank of Montreal chief economist forecasts continuing action in the housing market from move-up buyers who have built up equity. He believes that Canada is a huge draw to international buyers and that immigrants will be the source of new buyers at every level.

According to SFU Assistant Professor Josh Gordon, writing in the Vancouver Sun, fairness to the next generation of buyers would require a surtax on all homes in Vancouver which is refunded to those paying Canadian income tax. His estimate is that the Canadian citizens who can’t afford to buy a house are subsidizing these non taxpaying residents to the tune of at least $100,000 per year thanks to Canada's lax and unenforced tax laws.He says that it’s no wonder vast numbers of wealthy foreign individuals are lining up to buy properties in Canada. The idea of a surtax is popular but the application of one is more difficult. The devil is in the details. When Professor Gordon hears objections to possible economic turbulence caused by a surtax he wonders how we can think that BC’s economy should depend on tax avoidance.

He writes: "Ultimately, young working Vancouverites are subsidizing the global elite that is pushing them out of their childhood city –an incredibly toxic dynamic."
A chilling statement that brings us back to those few lifeboats floating off the doomed Titanic so long ago.


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Trans Canada Trail Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:49:53 +0000 The Trans Canada Trail was initiated in 1992 as a project to celebrate Canada's 125th anniversary. Stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the Arctic oceans, it became the world’s longest network of recreational trails. The North Vancouver section begins at the Sea Bus terminus at Lonsdale Quay. Photo by leolaub.


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The View East Wed, 08 Nov 2017 22:54:47 +0000 The Vancouver Lookout is undoubtedly the right place to get some of the best views of Vancouver - a photographer's dream! Photo by roaming-the-planet


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Stanley Park Fall Walk Tue, 31 Oct 2017 19:39:40 +0000 It's the time of yellow, orange, red and auburn leaves in Vancouver - and while you can notice the changes everywhere in the City, there is probably no better place to see the transition than Vancouver's most popular park: this photo by Sherwood41 shows Stanley Park in the midst of its changes. Walk, run, bike... or just stop for a moment to enjoy the colours!


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Skyscrapers Mon, 23 Oct 2017 21:44:05 +0000 Even your own neighbourhood can surprise you if you keep your eyes open for unusual details. Roland Tanglao captured a reflection of Vancouver skyscrapers - and the result is this almost abstract, geometric shot. Thank you for submitting!


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