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VREB April 2014 News

April 1, 2014

VICTORIA BC – The Victoria Real Estate Board today released its monthly report on real estate activity in the Victoria area for March 2014.

575 properties sold in the month of March 2014, compared to 483 in March 2013 – an increase of nearly 20% year over year. However, the average sales for the month of March over the past five years is 607 properties per month, so though 2014 is stronger than the year previous, sales have not yet returned to the longer term average.

Victoria Real Estate Board President Tim Ayres says, “This time last year sales weren’t outstanding – the market was sluggish. Tightened mortgage amortization rules resulted in slower sales as buyers adjusted to the new requirements. Property values were stable, but inventory didn’t move quickly. This year we see more sales than last March.”

The Victoria Real Estate Board uses the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) to report on property values. The MLS® HPI uses the concept of a benchmark home, a notional home with common attributes of typical homes in a defined area. Through the analysis of ten years of Victoria Real Estate Board MLS® sales data, the MLS® HPI defined benchmark homes for Victoria in each category (single family homes, townhouses, condos) and for each neighbourhood. The benchmark starting point was 2005, where each type of property and neighbourhood was assigned an index value of 100.

Current MLS® HPI composite (inclusive of all single family homes, condos and townhomes sales) for the Victoria Real Estate Board area is 139.3 – compared to 139.1 this time last year. While these overall numbers indicate little change in the last 12 months, some areas have changed more than others. Local REALTORS® can interpret what this means to specific neighbourhoods in the region.

President Tim Ayres explains what this means to the local market, “The stable property values year over year, along with the strong inventory of properties we see for sale shows that we have returned to balanced market conditions. There is no extreme upward or downward pressure on housing prices right now. This stability in value combined with the new lower interest rates we see from some lenders may move a lot more buyers into the Victoria and area housing market.”

About VREB – The Victoria Real Estate Board was founded in 1921 and since that time has been a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs aimed at enhancing the professionalism and community standing of REALTORS®. Formation of the Board grew out of the realization in the early part of the last century that there was a need to establish basic standards for those working in the real estate industry.
View our complete statistical package here.

VREB March 2014 News

March 3, 2014

VICTORIA BC – Real estate market activity in the first two months of 2014 remained slightly ahead of the same period in 2013.

Total MLS® sales in February were 412, a 4.6 per cent increase over February 2013 when 394 units sold and a 20.5 per cent increase over the 342 sales reported to the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) in January 2014.

“It’s encouraging that sales activity continues to increase as we move towards a healthy spring market,” noted VREB President, Tim Ayres. “2013 spring sales were quite strong and we’re hoping for a similar level of activity this year.”

The MLS® HPI single-family home benchmark price for the entire Greater Victoria region was $483,400 in February, a 1.4 per cent decrease when compared to the February 2013 value of $490,100.

“With a $5 million condominium sale in February, it was no surprise to see average prices for condos rise last month from $328,130 to $373,749,” said Ayres. “Since the introduction of the MLS® Housing Price Index (HPI) in November 2013, we’ve been saying the HPI is a much more reliable measure of price trend data than average prices. Our February MLS® HPI numbers prove it; even with the $5 million sale, February MLS® HPI benchmark pricing for condos in Victoria remained virtually unchanged with an increase of only $400.”

At the regional level, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home in the Core municipalities was $547,800. This benchmark price is virtually unchanged when compared to both the previous month and February 2013. In Westshore, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home was $408,500, up 0.9 per cent from January 2014 and a 1.0 per cent decrease compared with last February. The MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home on the Peninsula was $502,600 for February, an increase of 1.1 per cent over the previous month and a 4.1 per cent decrease year-over-year.

There were 3,770 active listings at the end of February. While this is an increase from 3489 at the end of January, it is 7.4 per cent less than the 4072 listing that were available in February 2013. Inventory has been on a slow decline for most of 2013 but our normal cycle should result in more inventory as we move into Spring.

There were 107 condominium sales in February 2014, up from 92 in January and down from the 112 in February 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price in February for condos was $277,200, down 1.3 per cent from $280,800 from one year ago.

For townhomes, 42 sold in February compared to 30 in January and 43 in February 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price for townhomes was $401,500, up 1.4 per cent from $396,000 in February 2013.

Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 8
Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 219
Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 15 (4 over $1.5 Million)

VREB February 2014 News

February 3, 2014

VICTORIA BC – Victoria’s real estate market had a solid start in January, re-establishing momentum after the holiday season.

Total MLS® sales in January were 342, a 16.3% increase over January 2013 when 294 units sold. January sales were close to the 355 sales reported to the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) in December 2013.

2014 VREB President, Tim Ayres cautioned, “While we’re pleased with the number of sales this January and the percentage increases over January 2013, it’s important to remember that the market last January was restrained under tightened mortgage amortization rules imposed in July 2012.”

The MLS® HPI single family home benchmark price for the entire Greater Victoria region was $481,200 in January, a 1.7% decrease when compared to the January 2013 value of $489,400.

“Market activity increased as the month progressed,” notes Ayres. “With REALTORS® reporting that attractively-priced and well-presented properties are moving quickly.”

At the regional level, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home in the Core municipalities was $546,300, an increase of 0.6% over the previous month and a 0.5% decrease over January 2013. In Westshore, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home was $404,800, virtually unchanged from December 2013 and a 1.5 per cent decrease compared with January 2013. The MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home on the Peninsula was $497,200 for January, a decrease of 0.5% over the previous month and a 4.9% decrease year-over-year.

There were 3,489 active listings at the end of January, a 10% decrease over January 2013. “Available inventory slowly declined for most of 2013,” says Ayres. “We will continue to monitor this trend and the impact on the market as 2014 unfolds.”

There were 92 condominium sales in January 2014, the same as December 2013 and 81 in January 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price in January for condos was $276,800, down 1.7% from $281,600 from one year ago.

For townhomes, 30 sold in January compared to 32 in December 2013 and 40 in January 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price for townhomes was $398,000, up 0.7% from $395,400 in January 2013.

Total waterfront single family homes sold in January: 7
Total non-waterfront single family homes sold in January: 186
Total single family homes sold over $1 million in January: 10 (1 over $3 Million)

At the heart of the MLS® HPI is the concept of the “benchmark” home, a notional home that has the most common features of a typical home in a given area. The benchmark home does not represent any actual house, condominium or townhome, but merely provides an identical example to track changes in market value. There are separate benchmark houses, condominiums and townhomes in each distinct area of Greater Victoria, enabling the tracking of values on a variety of geographic levels.

For more information on the MLS® HPI benchmark prices and index values, visit www.vreb.org. Those requiring specific information on property values in their area should contact a REALTOR®. The Victoria Real Estate Board has more than 1,225 Members working in more than 80 Brokerages.

Home Staging

Planning on selling your home but baffled by where to begin? Let a home stager give you hands on assistance and expertise to prepare your home with confidence. Home stagers excel in creating spaces that evoke strong emotional responses which say “buy me”. A stager will help you

View the home from a buyer’s perspective and advise you on what changes would add the most value.
Identify and eliminate negative distractions.
Highlight the best features and add WOW factor!
Choose paint colors that appeal to the broadest range of buyers.
Detail your home to be photo ready.
Furnish and accessorize empty, occupied and rebuilt properties.
A consultation can be as litte as $200, and up to several thousand for a complete staging project including furniture, delivery and takeaway.

Exclusive Buyer’s Agency

Most people understand the value of signing an agreement to work with a REALTOR® when it comes to selling their home. But let’s examine the value of signing a similar agreement – an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent contract – when it comes to buying a home.Understanding Agency In British Columbia, A Designated Agent is a specific agent within a brokerage that has been designated to work exclusively with a particular client. This legally separates that agent from all other agents within the brokerage as someone who will work solely for that client.
There are three types of agents: seller’s agent, buyer’s agent, and dual agent.

Seller or “listing” agents are legally obligated to represent the seller’s interests. This includes securing the best possible sale price with the terms most agreeable to the seller. It also includes maintaining absolute confidentiality for the seller and disclosing information about buyers or would-be buyers. The Seller agent’s absolute loyalty is to the seller, and only the seller.

A buyer’s agent represents only the buyer’s interests. The buyer’s agent has a duty to maintain the buyer’s absolute confidentiality, disclose information about the seller, research and advise the buyer on properties, and negotiate for the best possible price on behalf of the buyer.

Dual agency is when an agent or broker represents both the seller and the buyer and, to avoid conflict of interest by the REALTOR®, neither party can be fully represented. A REALTOR® in a dual agency is truly more of a referee or mediator for the transaction. Both the buyer and the seller must agree to allow the REALTOR® to act in a dual agency role.

Advantages of Hiring a Buyer Agent
When you sign an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent contract, you are agreeing to “hire” a personal representative who, by law, must represent your interests to the best of his or her ability.
A buyer’s agent will start by thoroughly evaluating your specific needs to help you locate the right property. He or she will become your personal specialist, seeking out properties, providing property and neighbourhood information, and carefully analyzing the market to help you make informed decisions. He or she will take you to see the properties you are interested in, and help identify any problems or issues.

Once you find the perfect home, your buyer’s agent will thoroughly explain and prepare the many detailed forms necessary for a purchase, help you structure your offer, and present the offer on your behalf. He or she will negotiate hard for the best possible purchase price and terms, and continue to work with you to ensure a smooth closing.

A buyer’s agent can also help guide you in securing appropriate financing and offer references to other services like home inspectors, movers, lawyers, and home improvement contractors. These services are especially helpful to out-of-town buyers who may not be familiar with the area.

The Exclusive Buyer’s Agent contract
If you choose to hire a buyer’s agent then you should clarify this relationship in a written legal contract, an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent contract. This outlines the terms of the relationship between you and your buyer’s agent, including the purpose of the relationship, the services offered, the duration of the agreement, and the terms of compensation.Making expectations clear right from the start – and putting them in writing – helps ensure your expectations will be met.

VREB December 2013 News

December 3, 2013

VICTORIA BC – Greater Victoria real estate sales moderated in November following a brisk June-to-October market. According to the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) MLS® System, 412 properties sold compared to 366 in November 2012, an increase of 12.6 per cent.

“We saw market activity slow down after a very busy five months,” says Shelley Mann, VREB President. “While sales were higher than in November 2012, fewer sales than previous months indicate a pull back in consumer demand.”

Flat employment and weak economic growth are likely contributors to a moderating market. Mann also notes that active listings continued to decline, with 4,017 at the end November compared to 4,488 in November 2012. December and January are typically the slowest months for real estate sales.

For November 2013, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the Greater Victoria single family benchmark home was $482,300 and its corresponding index value was 136.5. (This represents a 36.5 per cent increase since January 2005, when the index was 100). This benchmark price decreased 0.72 per cent over the past month and decreased 3.11 per cent over the last year.

At the regional level, the benchmark price for the single family benchmark home in the Core municipalities was $548,600, an increase of 0.14 per cent over the previous month and a 1.65 per cent decrease over November 2012. In Westshore, the benchmark price for the single family benchmark home was $403,600, a decrease of 1.70 per cent over October 2013 and 5.94 per cent decrease over November 2012. The benchmark price for the single family benchmark home on the Peninsula was $508,000 for November, a decrease of 0.04 per cent over the previous month and a 2.57 per cent decrease year-over-year.

There was a total of 216 single family homes sold in November, an increase of 6.9 per cent over November 2012. November also saw the reporting of 99 condominium sales and 49 townhouse sales in Greater Victoria. Benchmark prices for the Greater Victoria condominium benchmark home and for the Greater Victoria townhouse benchmark home for November were $280,600 and $389,000 respectively.

Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 9, up 3 over November 2012
Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 207, up 11 over November 2012
Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 7 (1 over $2 million)

Form B and Parking

If you have ever purchased a strata property you know how confusing the parking designation can be. Designations can include LCP (Limited Common Property), Common Property with spot assigned by Strata, and may also include a lease. Starting in January 2014 the Strata Form B document will have to include the parking information. It is always prudent to verify the information by viewing the Strata Plan, Common Property Title & General Index. This information is publicly available by visiting the Land Title Office. The General Index is particularity important is it may show a change in designation not evident on the Strata Plan. As an example parking may change from Common Property to Limited Common Property by way of a general resolution, outlined in the General Index.

Depreciation Reports for Strata

Russell Cass from Home Check was here this morning to give us a better insight on depreciation reports. Some of the points Russell made were:

a depreciation report is nothing more than a home inspection with a maintenance budget
a report is good for 3 years
these reports are often difficult to read. As a Buyer it may be prudent to have a third party analyze and explain the document. [Ask me, I can help!]
a Strata can vote against having a depreciation report done but they have to revisit that every 18 months
*STRATA REGULATION REQUIREMENTS OF A DEPRECIATION REPORT
Persons Name
Qualifications
E&O or Statement of NO cover
Relationship with Strata if any
Date
Must state site was visited

Technical Info:
Building Structure
Exterior- Roof, Roof Decks, Doors, Windows, Skylights
Systems- Electrical, Heating, Plumbing, Fire Protection, Security Systems
Common Amenities and Facilities
Parking Facilities and Roadways
Utilities, including water and Sewage
landscaping, including Pathways, Sidewalks, Fencing, Irrigation
Interior Finishes including Floor Coverings and Furnishings
Green Components
Balconies and Patios
Identify Common and Limited Common Property that the Lot owner is Responsible to maintain and not the Strata

Financial Information

Financial Forecasts
Anticipated maintenance/Repair (more than annual)
Replacement Costs (more than annual)
Projected 30 years (use current or previous year financials)
Describe Factors and Assumptions, Interest Rates, Rate of Inflation
Describe Contingency Contributions
Balance in Contingency Fund (minus funds allocated but not removed)
Projected over 30 Years
Beginning with Current or Previous Fiscal Year
Show either or any of a) Fund Balance and Withdrawals b) Special levies c) Borrowings

*As interpretted by Russel Cass of Home Check