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Vancouver bid for new condos’ charge stations likely won’t hike prices

A City of Vancouver proposal to ensure all parking spots in new condo buildings are equipped with charging stations likely won’t boost the selling price of the units.

City council on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on a staff recommendation to mandate that the number of electrical charging stations jump to 100 per cent from 20 per cent of all stalls, at a cost of $300 per stall, according to the staff report.


“That adds to the cost of the building,” said Anne McMullin, CEO of the Urban Development Institute, which represents developers. “There’s always a consequence for whatever you add to the buildings.”


But she said the cost isn’t expected to increase the selling price to homebuyers because technological improvements to the charging units allow the developer to deliver more electricity to more stalls without a significant outlay of cash for the infrastructure.


“And they’ve grandfathered older buildings” and the change will affect only buildings for which building permits are issued after Jan. 1, 2019, if council accepts the recommendations.


The new electrical vehicle energy management system behind the individual charging stations reduces the amount of electricity required to run the chargers and it’s less expensive to install to 100 per cent of the stalls than to just 20 per cent of the stalls, said Ian Neville, the city’s policy analyst who wrote the report on EV charging stations.


He said the proposal to install EV-ready stalls in new residential buildings hasn’t met any opposition, and the condo owners association has been requesting more outlets.


Some developers have been providing more EV charging stations in new buildings than the 20 per cent required by law, with some at 100 per cent, said Neville.


“We have overcompliance of about 50 per cent,” he said.


The City of Richmond also requires new buildings to have 100 per cent of stalls outfitted with chargers, and other cities in B.C., including Squamish, Port Coquitlam, North Vancouver city and district, and West Vancouver have requirements for at least some EV stations.


Neville said installing EV chargers during construction can be done for one-tenth of the cost of retrofitting a stall with a charger.


His report also recommends the city build more public charging stations, including the DC fast-charging hubs.

The goal is to build enough of the fast-charging stations in Vancouver by 2021 so that every resident would live within 10 minutes of one, said Neville.


The fast-charging stations recharge a battery seven times faster than the Level 2 stations, he said.

Generally, a battery charged at a fast-charging station for one hour would have enough power to travel 200 kilometres, he said.


After allowing free charging for years, the city is experimenting with charging between $2 and $16 an hour for its 70 public stations, in addition to parking fees for the stall.


He said that would ensure turnover of the stations to allow more drivers to access them.


The B.C. Utilities Commission announced this year that it has launched an inquiry to determine whether charging stations should be open to competition or run as a monopoly, and whether the commission should set usage rates and regulate the services.


Neville said the City of Vancouver will recommend the service be open to competition in order to allow the private sector to run it.


There are 8,600 registered electric vehicles in B.C., sales of EVs jumped 53 per cent last year over 2016 and EVs are expected to make up 20 per cent of new car sales by 2030, according to, a Quebec manufacturer of charging stations.


Rebates are available through Plug In BC for installation of EV chargers in single-family and multi-family homes.

Last year in Vancouver, there were more than 35,000 charging sessions at the city’s 70 Level 2 stations.


Susan Lazaruk - Vancouver Sun


BC Housing Demand to Slow Through 2019

BCREA 2018 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update

Vancouver, BC – March 9, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2017 Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast today.


Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 8.6 per cent to 94,855 units in 2018, after decreasing 7.5 per cent in 2017. A record 112,209 unit sales were recorded in 2016. The ten-year average for MLS® residential sales in BC is 84,800 units. Strong employment growth, consumer confidence and favourable demographics have been highly supportive of housing demand over the last four years. However, slower economic growth, tougher mortgage qualification rules, and a rising interest rate environment are expected to slow the pace of housing demand over the next two years


“Housing demand in the province is expected to moderate this year and in 2019,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “More stringent mortgage qualifications and rising interest rates will further erode affordability and household purchasing power.”


The 5-year qualifying rate is forecast to rise 35 basis points to 5.49 per cent by Q4 2018, and another 21 basis points to 5.70 per cent by Q4 2019. “With home prices already at an elevated level, BC households are more vulnerable to rising interest rates.”

The supply of homes for sale continues to trend at or near decade lows in most BC regions. However, this condition hasn’t gone unnoticed by home builders. There are over 60,000 homes now under construction in the province, well above the previous peak of 45,000 units recorded in 2008. In Metro Vancouver, over 42,000 units are in the pipeline, 56 per cent more than recorded in 2008. Slowing consumer demand combined with a surge in new home completions over the next several quarters will create more balance in the housing market and produce less upward pressure on home prices. The average MLS® residential price in the province is forecast to increase 6.0 per cent to $752,000 this year, and a further 4.0 per cent to $781,800 in 2019.


What’s Driving Canadian Homebuyers?

Mortgage rule changes and increasing interest rates—surprisingly—weren’t the top motivators for prospective homebuyers in 2017, according to a new survey from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).


Instead, the 2018 Prospective Home Buyers Survey  found that improved accessibility (i.e., fewer physical obstacles and barriers) and investment opportunity were the main driving factors to purchase a home.


The results were divided into three segments of buyers: first-time buyers, previous owners (who had previously owned a home but do not currently) and current owners.


For first-time buyers and previous owners, the desire to stop renting was ranked as one of the top three motivators to buy a home by 65% and 60%, respectively.


“The majority of prospective home buyers from all groups agree that home ownership is a good long-term financial investment,” the survey noted.


This is the first time CMHC has conducted this specific study, which examined attitudes and expectations of prospective Canadian homebuyers, as well as their understanding of the homebuying process.

There was also some positive news for brokers, as the survey confirmed that a majority of buyers from all three groups—including a full 80% of first-time buyers—planned to consult a mortgage broker before making their home purchase.


Here are some of those findings (with key stats in blue):


Mortgage Rule Changes, Home Prices & Rising Interest Rates

  • 36% of first-time buyers were aware of the 2016 mortgage qualification rule changes(e.g., the 10% down payment required for the home price portion above $500,000 and the requirement for all insured mortgages to be stress-tested using the 5-year posted rate).
    • 53% of previous owners and 58% of current owners were aware.

(Ed. note: On average, a minority of prospective homebuyers were aware of key mortgage rule changes. This helps make the case for the value a mortgage broker can bring in terms of increasing buyer awareness and helping them navigate sometimes complicated and unknown mortgage regulations.)

  • 20% of first-time buyers not previously aware of the rule changes said it will impact their purchase decision in some way.
    • Vs. 18% of previous owners and 14% of current owners.
  • 50% of first-time buyers said the changes would cause them to delay their home purchase, while 23% would purchase a smaller home.
    • 51% of previous owners and 65% of current owners would delay their purchase
    • 35% of previous owners and 32% of current owners would purchase a smaller home
  • 76% of first-time buyers said they are likely to delay their home purchase due to high home prices, followed by 73% of previous owners and 63% of current owners.
  • 70% of first-time homebuyers said they are concerned about the possibility of interest rates increasing before they buy their home, followed by 62% of previous owners and 61% of current owners.
  • 61% of first-time buyers would, as a result, likely delay their home purchase, followed by 61% of previous owners and 50% of current owners.


Homebuying Expectations

  • 69% of first-time buyers agree that they have a good understanding of how much mortgage they can afford.
    • Vs. 79% of previous owners and 83% of current owners.
  • 54% of first-time buyers and previous owners are planning to spend under $300,000 on their next home.
    • Vs. 33% of current owners.
  • 25% of first-time buyers and previous owners are planning to spend between $300,000 and $500,000 on their next home.
  • 34% of current owners are planning to spend over $500,000 on their next home.
  • 68% of first-time homebuyers feel confident they can find a suitable home within their budget.
    • Vs. 83% of current owners.

In a scenario where buyers would not be able to find their ideal home:

  • 43% of first-time buyers would delay their purchase.
    • Vs. 45% of previous owners and 28% of current owners.
  • 42% of first-time buyers would compromise on the size of the home.
    • Vs. 39% of previous owners and 42% of current owners.
  • 38% of first-time buyers would compromise on the location of the home.
    • Vs. 39% of previous owners and 38% of current owners.

 Buying Preparedness

  • 80% of first-time homebuyers plan to consult with a mortgage broker before purchasing a home.
    • Vs. 72% of previous owners and 69% of current owners.
  • 16% of first-time buyers pre-qualify for a mortgage within three months of purchasing their home.
    • Vs. 21% of previous owners and 22% of current owners.
  • 33% of all buyers prepare a detailed budget on their own within six months to a year before purchasing their home.

 Financing home

  • 66% of first-time buyers say they have a good understanding of the full cost of homeownership, including mortgage payments, property taxes, condo fees, utilities, maintenance, etc.).
    • Vs. 79% of previous owners and 85% of current owners.
  • 33% of all homebuyers say they will take additional steps to pay down their mortgage as soon as possible.
  • 40% of first-time buyers and previous owners say they are unlikely to have a financial buffer in case their expenses change in the future.
  • 40% of first-time buyers say they are confident they have the necessary tools and information to manage their mortgage and debt load.
    • Vs. 40% of previous owners and 50% of current owners.

(Ed. note: These numbers are surprisingly low, particularly for previous and current owners, and again illustrates the opportunity for mortgage brokers to play a role in educating homebuyers to prepare them for financially responsible home ownership)


Homebuyers and Technology

  • 68% of first-time homebuyers would prefer to complete the entire homebuying process with help from a professional and be using online tools and resources:
    • Vs. 60% of previous owners and 58% of current owners.
  • 7% of first-time buyers would prefer to use online tools and resources exclusively, without the help of a professional:
    • Vs. 4% of previous owners and 5% of current owners.


This survey was conducted in October 2017 and involved 2,507 prospective homebuyers who intended to purchase a home within the next two years.


The Latest in Mortgage News – After the Stress Test

The fallout from OSFI’s new mortgage stress test continues to play out across the mortgage industry.


Some mortgage brokers are reporting an increase in their clients’ applications being rejected by the big banks and monoline lenders as a result of the new qualification rules. In some cases, the rejection rate has jumped 20%.

Mortgage Rejection Rate Increases in Wake of Stress Test

More mortgage applications are being rejected by the big banks and monoline lenders in the wake of the new B-20 mortgage stress test, according to some mortgage brokers.


The Financial Post ran a story recently that found some brokers are reporting an increase in application rejection rates by as much as 20%.


That’s driving a large number of borrowers to credit unions and—potentially more risky—private lenders.


Dave Teixeira, Vice President of Operations, Public Relations and Communications for Dominion Lending Centres, told the Post that their brokers have seen an influx in rejections and have had to submit multiple applications to multiple institutions to find one that works. As a result, he estimated that about 20% more of their brokers’ business is now going to credit unions.


“The demand is shifting down the ladder, so you have these less regulated lenders with higher risk tolerance now seeing materially more business,” intelliMortgage broker and RateSpy founder Rob McLister was quoted as saying. “And they can charge more, and they can be pickier with the types of borrowers that they lend to.”


The Post reported that business is up at credit unions across the country, and that many have raised their rates in response to the increased demand.

HELOC Balances Rise 7.2%

Canadians are borrowing against their home equity at the fastest pace in more than five years, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.


According to December data from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), home equity line of credit (HELOC) balances rose to a record $230 billion for the month, up 7.2% from a year earlier.


All other forms of consumer debt, including personal loans, credit card balances, car loans and overdrafts, increased 3.2% over the same period.


Bloomberg cited a June report from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada that raised red flags about rising HELOC balances.


“At a time when consumers are carrying record amounts of debt, the persistence of HELOC debt may add stress to the financial well-being of Canadian households,” said Lucie Tedesco, FCAC Commissioner. “HELOCs may lead Canadians to use their homes as ATMs, making it easier for them to borrow more than they can afford.”


Of the 3 million HELOC accounts in Canada, FCAC said the average outstanding balance is $70,000. The agency noted that 25% of consumers pay only the interest portion of the loan, or make the minimum payment, while the majority of HELOCs aren’t paid off in full until the home is sold.


CIMBC Announces New President

The Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada (CIMBC) has named former BMO Bank executive Bob Sinclair as the association’s new president.


Sinclair has held numerous executive roles at BMO, including VP and Head of Specialized Sales, Canada, and was responsible for growth in the loan and mortgage business.


About the challenges ahead, Sinclair said: “There continues to be changes in this industry, we’ve seen changes in the regulatory environment, lender guidelines, the housing market and consumer confidence….Those (companies) that find ways to work within these changes, develop alternative solutions through new products and services for the brokers and agents will be successful in building confidence with their customers.”


Steve Huebl - Mortgage Broker News



Murder, suicide, ghosts…What must be disclosed?


1. Murders or suicides will affect a home’s value.

Most appraisers will tell you that if home has had a murder or suicide in it, it will likely affect the home’s market value, whether it occurred in the past year or even up to 20 years earlier. People still disclose what occurred many years ago when selling the old Paul Bernardo home in St. Catharines, Ont., even though the home where the murders took place was demolished and a new home built. Interestingly, it is also noted that stigmas such as these do not “travel”, meaning that it should not affect the other homes on the same street.

2. Does a murder or suicide in a home need to be disclosed by a seller?

Although the law is evolving, sellers do not have to disclose whether there has been a murder or suicide on the property or adjoining property or whether a pedophile lives on the same street.

In an interesting case a few years ago in Bracebridge, Ont., buyers refused to move in when they learned that the neighbour across the street had been convicted of possessing child pornography. The buyers sued the sellers for not disclosing this. In a preliminary motion, the sellers tried to have the case dismissed because there was no precedent for this to be disclosed. Judge Alexandra Hoy decided to let the case proceed and said, the “buyers’ claim is novel. It raises policy issues regarding the protection of children and the effect this may have on the re-integration of people convicted of certain crimes into society.”

The buyers later sold the property and did not move in and the case settled, so we do not know how a judge might have ruled. In my opinion, the garden pot body-part sellers would not have to disclose this when selling their home.

3. Does a real estate agent need to disclose a murder or a suicide if they know about it?

A real estate agent needs to tell the truth if they are asked a question. They should thus discuss this issue with any seller and get explicit instructions, preferably from the seller’s lawyer, as to how they should respond to any inquiry about these subjects. Agents should remember that sellers who tell them not to disclose something that the seller knows will devalue their property should already be treated as suspicious.

4. What about a haunted house? Does this need to be disclosed?

While most people would laugh at this, there was actually a case in New York in 1990 on this point. Helen Ackley claimed that her home in the town of Nyack, N.Y., was haunted. For a decade between 1977 and 1987 she was in the news off and on, describing paranormal incidents in her house including such things as the bed being shaken each morning by a poltergeist. Her notoriety was such that Reader’s Digest paid her $3,000 for an article, Our Haunted House on the Hudson, which was published in May 1977.

In 1990, she sold the home but did not mention anything to do with the paranormal to the buyer. The buyer sued when he later found out. The judge found that since Ackley had spoken and even made money off claims her house was haunted, she should have disclosed it. This case occurred around the time of the movie Ghostbusters. One of the judges hearing the case said, “Who you gonna call” if you find out. In my opinion, this does not have to be disclosed.

5. How can a buyer protect themselves?

In the Greater Toronto Area, we have more languages spoken and more cultures and communities than anywhere in the world. No matter what the law says, these kinds of stigmas are going to affect people. As such, buyers should Google the property address they are interested in to see if any murder, suicide or other stigma was reported. Visit the neighbours and ask about the house you are interested in and consider putting a clause right in the offer whereby the seller represents and warrants that to the best of their knowledge, there has been no murder or suicide on the property. Sellers must respond truthfully to this statement and can be sued later if they lie.


Mark Weisleder is a partner, author and speaker at the law firm Real Estate LLP.  

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