Assessments and Asbestos: two key issues in January
It’s the time of year when property assessment notices arrive and the data so far indicates that assessments are up 30-50% in the Lower Mainland. If one of your clients doesn’t agree with their assessment, or an error has been made, they can appeal it. Here’s information about why they might want to appeal and how to do it. Don't let the February 1 deadline pass - you can’t appeal your property taxes when those bills arrive in the spring.
Click here to read the article
In response to public concerns about significant property value increases, the Minister of Finance has raised the Home Owner Grant threshold to $1.6 million. In Metro Vancouver, 83% of homes will be below the threshold, allowing them to claim the grant. Click here to read the article.
At the same time we’re hearing about the dangers of asbestos in homes and buildings. WorkSafeBC recently launched an awareness campaign. If your clients have pre-1990 homes, chances are they contain asbestos in some form. Be a hero, save a life. Let your clients know the life they save might be their own.
Click here to read the article
A heated year for Metro Vancouver real estate draws to a close
The Metro Vancouver* housing market had its third highest selling year on record in 2016, behind only 2015 and 2005.
Sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in the region reached 39,943 in 2016, a 5.6 per cent decrease from the 42,326 sales recorded in 2015, and a 20.6 per cent increase over the 33,116 residential sales in 2014.
“It was an eventful year for real estate in Metro Vancouver. Escalating prices caused by low supply and strong home buyer demand brought more attention to the market than ever before,” Dan Morrison, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) president said.
“As prices rose in the first half of the year, public debate waged about what was fuelling demand and what should be done to stop it. This led to multiple government interventions into the market. The long-term effects of these actions won’t be fully understood for some time.”
Residential properties listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver reached 57,596 in 2016. This is an increase of 0.6 per cent compared to the 57,249 properties listed in 2015 and a 2.6 per cent increase compared to the 56,066 properties listed in 2014.
“The supply of homes for sale couldn't keep up with home buyer demand for much of 2016. This allowed home sellers to raise their asking price. It wasn’t until the last half of the year that prices began to show modest declines.”
The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver ends the year at $897,600. This represents a 2.2 per cent decrease over the past six months and a 17.8 per cent increase compared to December 2015.
To learn more about activity in your community, click here to view our Stats Centre reports.
First-time buyer’s interest-free down-payment program
The new BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) Partnership program will begin accepting applications on January 16, 2016.
For a first-time homebuyer who has saved a down payment:
- The program offers a down-payment loan of up to 5% of a home’s purchase price, up to $37,500, on a home with a maximum price of $750,000.
- The loan matches a buyer’s down payment and is interest-free and payment-free for five years.
- After five years, the buyer can either repay the loan or make monthly payments at current interest rates.
- Like most mortgages, the loan is due after 25 years.
To qualify for the program, a homebuyer, with a registered interest on title, must reside in the home and be:
- a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least five years;
- a resident of BC for at least one year immediately preceding the date of application; and
- a first-time buyer who has never owned an interest in a residence anywhere in the world.
The home buyer must also:
- use the property as his or her principal residence for the first five years;
- obtain a high-ratio insured first mortgage on the property for at least 80% of the purchase price; and
- have a combined, gross household income of all individuals on title not exceeding $150,000.
To submit an online application once the program begins, a buyer will need the following four documents:
- proof of status in Canada and residency in BC;
- secondary identification (must include a buyer’s photo);
- proof of income and tax filings; and
- insured first mortgage pre-approval.
BC Housing and the Mortgage Brokers of BC are looking for input from REALTORS® on the HOME Partnership at an info session on January 12 in Richmond – learn more and register for free by clicking here.
For additional information, check out these:
Real Estate Errors and Omissions Insurance claims up in 2016
Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance claims increased 11 per cent in B.C. in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Insurance Corporation’s 2016 Risk Report.
The report also offers top tips for avoiding E&O claims when it comes to the foreign buyer tax:
- Give correct information – double check your work
- Don’t act outside your expertise
- Use clear contracts – when in doubt, suggest legal advice
The corporation provides errors and omissions insurance to real estate licensees in the province. They currently have 528 open files across B.C. with 70 per cent of those files in litigation.
Click here to read the full report.
Voting in our 2017 election opens January 13
Voting opens this Friday for our Board of Directors elections. We'll send you an email when the polls open.
There are three two-year terms available. Online voting will be open from January 13 until February 5.
All Area and Commercial elections have been decided by acclamation this year.
During the voting period, access to all of your election resources will also be available on Paragon and www.rebgv.ca. Just look for the “REBGV Votes” button (pictured above) on these websites.
This year's candidates are:
Recommended candidates explained
The Board Development Committee implemented a new process last year that asked director candidates to share more information about their readiness to serve. In December, the committee’s Interview Panel interviewed each candidate and reviewed their qualifications.
This process seeks to identify candidates for the Director at Large election with the knowledge and expertise most needed on the current Board of Directors. It’s with this goal in mind that the Board Development Committee recommends candidates for your voting consideration in this year’s election.
If you have any questions about this year’s election, contact Tina Creed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ethics Guy®: If you’re going to distant parts…
All of us know how challenging it can be, at times, representing buyers and sellers - especially in the Vancouver area.
Changing a residence ranks 32 on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, not far behind losing a spouse, family member, or job. Buying and selling a home involves so much emotion. If you’re a representative, the stress buyers and sellers experience often gets reflected back on you.
There are countless ways of dealing with the stress - from taking a run to listening to music. But I wonder, at this time of year when we often think of turning over a new leaf, wouldn’t it be better to remove as many stressors as possible in advance? There are so many in our world. One key stressor that bothers me at this time of year is the typical explanations we hear from members as to why something didn’t get done. The member says, “I was away on holidays,” or (my favourite) “I was away in some distant place.”
It doesn’t matter what part of the planet we choose to visit. Our obligations to clients, customers, colleagues, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, and Rules of Cooperation remain the same. We’re licensed in BC. We’re a member of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. We’ve made a commitment to follow the rules and to be accountable for our actions.
So, to suggest something didn’t get done or showing arrangements couldn’t be made because you were away visiting relatives in distant parts is not a reasonable explanation. Three top-of-mind examples are:
- “I’m away and can’t show the property to you until the holidays are over.” (See Rules of Cooperation, 3.21)
- “I was away and couldn’t return your calls.” (There isn't a specific rule about this, but if you’re going to be away, arrange for a licensed colleague to look after your [and your client’s] affairs)
- “I couldn’t check the property information because I was away.” (See REALTOR® Code Article 4 and Rules of Cooperation, Rule 3.06)
I wish everyone a successful (and significantly less stressful) 2017!
A member recently sent me an idea based on Andrea Brambila’s interesting article in the Inman News. We’ve all heard about, or may have used, “buyers love-letters” to give their offer more weight. Humanizing a buyer so the seller better understands who's making the offer and why they’d like to buy the property is common, especially in our recent topsy-turvy real estate market. And, I’m told, it often works. But, there is another dimension to keep in mind if you prepare or receive a “buyer’s love-letter.”
Start by reminding yourself who your client is. If the letter is being presented along with an offer to your sellers, you may be able to glean information about the buyer useful to the seller. If you're acting for the buyer, you may want to caution them not to provide information revealing negotiating positions and their level of motivation. (Of course, sometimes that’s the whole purpose.)
Remind your sellers that buyers can write whatever they want. The information in these letters can be difficult to verify. We hope the information is accurate, but there’s always a chance it isn’t. For example, “Don’t worry, I won’t tear your house down. I want to live in it just as it is.” (That is, until I decide differently, probably next week.)
The part of Brambila's article I hadn't considered before is a concern that not choosing a buyer’s offer could result in questions being asked, and even a visit to BC’s Human Rights Tribunal. For example: Three offers are made. One buyer is from a visible minority. That buyer’s representative has prepared a buyer love-letter including a picture of the buyer and family. Perhaps unusually, the seller accepts a lower offer than the visible minority buyer made. That buyer may conclude that the seller’s decision had something to do with race. This is not a good situation.
In Canada we have the Canadian Human Rights Act, and in BC we have the Human Rights Code. And, in our REALTOR® Code, we have an article expressly forbidding us from being a party to “any plan to discriminate against any person for reasons of race, national or ethnic origin, religion, colour, sex, family status, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability.”
Some of our colleagues in America get instructions from their sellers that buyer's love-letters won’t be presented. An extreme solution, perhaps. Stay tuned and just be careful.
Less than a week left to nominate exceptional REALTORS®
Nominate a colleague for Professional Excellence Award
We're looking for the member other Realtors turn to for advice. The person who keeps on top of matters that affect real estate, who places great value on ethical behaviour, volunteering, and who keeps their clients’ best interests at heart.
Nominate a colleague for a REALTORS Care® Award
What about the members you know who have a passion for helping others and strengthening communities? Whether it's fundraising, volunteering, or taking the initiative to do something to improve the lives of those in need, we want to celebrate these deserving Realtors.
Monday, January 16, 2017.
Fiona Youatt at email@example.com or 604-730-3068.
Scam alert: Mobey Real Estate
The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is warning REALTORS® across BC and Alberta about a potential scam conducted by a company referring to itself as Mobey (or Moby) Real Estate.
This unlicensed company is offering Realtors work-from-home employment opportunities. Their emails ask you to complete an employment contract which includes personal and bank account information.
Learn about MLS® Homespotter app with new webinars
Our newest mobile MLS® app called Homespotter launched in November. There are two new webinars to help you learn how to use the app.
Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m.
Get the information you need to start using the app. Register here.
Homespotter Brand and Share
Tuesdays, 7 a.m. - Thursdays, noon
Learn how to share your branded app by email, text, and on your personal website. You'll also learn how to share the app on popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Register here.
Homespotter is available at no extra charge for REBGV members on the Apple App and Google Play stores. If you have questions about Homespotter, contact the Help Desk at 604-730-3020.
Obituary: Ernest Friesen
Former REALTOR® Ernest Friesen passed away in December. He was 88.
Originally from Manitoba, Ernest moved to British Columbia with his family when he was 14. In 1949, he married his wife Rita and they moved to Vancouver. He worked as a delivery man and a mechanic before becoming a Realtor.
He was first licensed with Block Bros. Realty in 1958. It was the only company he worked for during his real estate career.
Friends and colleagues remember Ernest as a friendly soul who loved helping people. He and his wife were active with the Fraserview Mennonite Brethren Church, loved spending time with their grandchildren, and enjoyed travelling to Hawaii.
Ernest was predeceased by his wife Rita, his brother Gus, and his sister Ellie. He leaves behind his daughter Mary Ann (Ernie), his son Eric (Arnette), his grandchildren Melissa (Sheldon), Ryan (Rav), Angie (Steve), and Meghan, and eight great-grandchildren.
The family wishes to thank the staff at The Residence in Mission for their care of Ernest. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Mennonite Historical Society of BC in Ernest’s memory are appreciated.
Off to the right start
In January, we all think about ways we can make the new year better than the last. It’s a time of new expectations, possibilities, and optimism. It’s also an excellent time to acquire new knowledge and improve the skills that’ll help you handle challenging situations in your day-to-day business. What skills are you interested in improving?
The first step is to conduct an assessment of the training you need. Then set some training goals. A commitment to clearly defined goals will result in a more fulfilling and successful year.
What can you do in 2017 that will help you to get off to the right start?
- Set training goals that are specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
- Write them down and create an action plan for each one.
- Read them frequently and visualize yourself accomplishing them.
- Review your progress and revise your action plan if needed.
- Celebrate your accomplishments.
Setting education goals and completing courses relevant to advancing your career increases your self-confidence. You’ll also be letting your clients know that you’re serious about your profession, that you take pride in your professionalism, and that they’ll ultimately benefit from working with you.