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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 flo.ca, 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
Murder, suicide, ghosts…What must be disclosed?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Lawyers.ca LLP.
A hydroponic grow box called Grobo may be the solution for real estate professionals seeking to help select clients grow cannabis safely in their homes once the practice becomes legal in much of Canada, says financial consultant James Zaza.
“The Grobo is going to help (Realtors) get in the door and get leads,” he says. Today’s real estate professionals “need to be more than just somebody who sells a house,” and the Grobo helps them achieve that goal, he adds.
Zaza is an investor in Grobo, a Waterloo, Ont. startup that has developed an indoor growing system that is fully automated from a smart phone app. It’s odourless and care-free and eliminates the problems posed by mini grow-ops in homes, he says.
Cannabis grown indoors requires significant heat and moisture, which can cause water and mould damage to homes, harm their structural integrity and pose fire threats.
The real estate industry has expressed concerns that cannabis grown improperly in homes could cause property values to plummet. However, Zaza says the Grobo provides homeowners with a safe way to grow cannabis indoors.
Zaza, president of Toronto-based Zaza Financial Group, will be demonstrating Grobo at the Ontario Real Estate Association conference in late February. He will also be introducing a scheme in which Realtors can sponsor the devices and provide them to clients or potential clients who have prescriptions for medical marijuana and would like to grow their own cannabis.
Grobo was initially created in 2014 to grow fruit, herbs and vegetables indoors during winter, but co-founders and fellow University of Waterloo mechanical engineering graduates Bjorn Dawson and Chris Thiele soon discovered it could help marijuana patients grow cannabis plants at home.
The cannabis cultivation unit is sometimes described as a “Keurig for plants.” Users need only fill its reservoirs with water and nutrients, drop seeds into its base and then let a connected app control the growing process. The Grobo uses sensors to monitor the condition of the plant, automatically adjusting its watering schedule, and then lets you know when it’s ready to harvest. LEDs inside give the equivalent of 18 hours of sunshine every day and electricity costs are low.
“It’s really a great concept because without even touching the plant, you can watch it grow and add nutrients in the water and light remotely,” says Zaza. “There’s no humidity, there’s no leakage, there’s no drain of electricity. LED lighting provides efficient, concentrated power. It’s safe, it’s clean, it’s childproof.”
At the OREA conference, Zaza plans to sell Grobos at full price or lease them to Realtors who have joined his recently launched insured personal pension and health benefits plan for self-employed real estate professionals.
Under the lease plan, Realtors can sponsor the Grobo and provide it for free to clients with prescriptions for medical cannabis. Panels on the Grobo unit will have space for advertising displays by Realtors.
Clients who receive a Grobo free of charge can also get free cannabis seeds if they agree to give back their surplus cannabis production to Zaza, which he in turn hopes to donate for free as medical marijuana to children with epilepsy or cancer. (The Grobo can produce up to 16 pounds of cannabis a year in four growth cycles. Medical marijuana users would generally require less than one pound a year.)
“A lot of people are going to be keen to grow clean, quality-controlled, reasonably priced cannabis in their own home,” Zaza says.
Although the federal government’s proposed law to legalize non-medical cannabis in July 2018 permits adults to grow up to four marijuana plants at home, it is up to each province to outline their plans for regulating recreational marijuana. Not all provinces are onboard with growing cannabis in homes. For example, Quebec has announced no one will be allowed to grow cannabis in homes for personal use and Manitobans without a medical license will be forbidden from growing plants at home.
Zaza says Realtors can host the marijuana equivalent of Tupperware parties – lead-generating “home Grobo parties” that will educate potential clients on the medical values of cannabis, its proper usage and how to grow it safely in the home.
Agents “will be all over” the sponsorship idea. “It’s a great way to meet people, lets them know you care about their families and their health.” It also allows real estate professionals to “do something unique and exclusive for the community that has never been done before.”
Zaza met Dawson of Grobo a few years ago and decided to invest in the company. (He would not divulge the amount.) He also has investments in his portfolio in several Canadian cannabis companies that represent most of the country’s production.
More than 600 Grobo units have been sold in pre-production at a cost of $1,995 to buyers in Canada, U.S. and Europe. The units, which are five-feet high by 2-1/2-feet deep by 2-1/2-feet wide, should begin shipping in March. Once the company is in full production, about 25 to 30 Grobo units should be made weekly in Waterloo, Zaza says.
Grobo is not alone in the market. In October, marijuana company Aurora Cannabis paid $3.85-million to buy B.C. Northern Lights Enterprises, a Vancouver-based company that manufactures refrigerator-sized grow boxes. The miniature nurseries are loaded up with high-powered lights, ventilation systems and hydroponics equipment.
Zaza plans to roll out his Grobo plan in Ontario before expanding it to other provinces.
He is a strong proponent of the potential health benefits of cannabis. His website contains a “Cannabis Community College” link with information on the drug.
He says cannabis has saved his wife and daughter from opioid addiction. “My purpose is to try to eliminate opiates. I’m trying to get them off the face of the earth.”
Chinese buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to get money out of the country, as Beijing tightens foreign exchange controls in a bid to support its weakening currency. It has been said in recent weeks clients were having difficulty moving money offshore.
Properties below $5 million were likely to be the hardest hit as these buyers often did not already have money offshore.
These people don’t have other ways, like through their business, to get money out of the country. That means they will have to go through the bank which is becoming more difficult. Chinese buyers purchasing properties over $5 million often have offshore business interests, which had allowed them to get money out of the country.
In China, individuals are restricted to moving the equivalent of $50,000 U.S. out of the country each year. There were previously many ways to get around these capital controls, as banks and the government turned a blind eye to money going offshore.
But in recent weeks as China’s currency, the yuan, has come under increasing pressure from capital outflows and those speculating it is set to fall further, the banks have tightened up on existing regulations. State-owned banks are delaying or even blocking money going overseas. The crackdown has seen more stringent checks on documents for both companies and individuals.
“We are now refusing all foreign currency transfers where the documents are not fully complete …. previously the requirements were not so strict,” said a bank executive in Shanghai who asked not to be named.
The tighter rules are in response to a record $108 U.S. billion fall in China’s foreign-currency reserves in December to the lowest level in three years, as capital left the country and the central bank was forced to defend the yuan.
According to the Washington-based Institute of International Finance, China saw $676 U.S. billion in capital leave the country last year, as outflows surged in the second half of last year.
The Chinese currency has fallen 3% since August last year, when the government began guiding it lower.
There are fears Beijing’s crackdown on foreign exchange transactions will spill over into the property market, which has seen strong price gains as Chinse buyers moved aggressively into the market.
the tightening of restrictions could “cause problems for developers as clients may not be able to get their money out of China.”
Business Insider - January 21, 2016