Vancouver Homes With Jay Banks Mon, 14 Aug 2017 09:44:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vancouver July 2017 Market Report: The Buyers are Shifting towards Condos Mon, 14 Aug 2017 09:40:48 +0000

The lazy hazy days of summer have been in the ascendant in 2017. These have been the longest days of no rain and high temperatures since 1958. The fires in the Interior have blanketed the coast periodically with smoke impacting both tourism and breathing. The tourism stats show that there are still people coming to British Columbia but probably re-directing their trip from the national and provincial parks in the Interior to the cities on the coast.

The real estate market always slows down in July and August. This year not so much in the condo sector. According to Jill Oudil President of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver "Housing demand is inconsistent across the region right now. Pockets of the market are still receiving multiple offers and others are not. It depends on price, property type, and location. For example, it’s taking twice as long, on average for a detached home to sell compared to both townhomes and condominiums." The sales to active listings ratio for July 2017 is 32.2 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 16.9 per cent for detached homes, 44.9 per cent for townhouses, and 62 per cent for condominiums.

The impact of the foreign buyer tax and the lower rate of return on detached homes

Last year in July the provincial government announced their foreign buyer tax. It was a mad scramble to close properties before the tax took effect which distorted the market at that moment. However, there was a slowdown in sales for several months afterwards while the market adjusted to the changes. The tax was eventually absorbed by the seller and the buyer of the higher end properties that attracted foreign investment. It did impact the number of detached sales.

Over several years there was a time of rising prices where investors made huge profits on the buying and selling of detached homes. Part of what slowed the market down in that category is the lower rate of return on detached homes. In July 2017 the benchmark price for a detached home in North Vancouver was $1,716,800 up 0.5 per cent in one year, up 75.5 per cent in 5 years and up 99.9 per cent in 10 years. In Richmond, the benchmark price was $1,682,000 down 1.7 per cent in one year, up 70.4 per cent in 5 years and up 140.9 per cent in 10 years. In Vancouver East, the benchmark price was $1,561,700 up 2.2 per cent in one year, up 81.1 per cent in 5 years and up 149.1 per cent in 10 years. In Vancouver West, the benchmark price was $3,666,200 up 2.1 per cent in one year, up 68.8 per cent in 5 years and up 150.3 per cent in 10 years. In West Vancouver, the benchmark price was $3,180,000 down 6.1 per cent in one year, up 64.4 per cent in 5 years and up 109.1 per cent in 10 years. Each year affordability declined for local buyers.

These rising prices coincided with all levels of government looking away from the illegal activities going on in the market. CRA did not inspect false claims of primary residence on empty houses which resulted in many investors, developers and speculators avoiding the capital gains tax and cheating the Treasury of billions of dollars. Nothing happened until the Globe and Mail wrote an expose of Vancouver real estate practices and the Superintendent of Insurance convened a committee to investigate and report back. There have been many improvements with more on the way. Now that CRA is looking closely at tax avoidance and requiring statutory declarations and proof of residence the desirability of detached homes has somewhat diminished.

The buyers are shifting towards the condo market

Foreign investment and local buyers have moved into the condo market. Particularly the pre-sale market. There are many complaints that planned developments are being pre-sold offshore so that there are no affordable units left unsold when the project hits the market in Vancouver. Local buyers are closed out. In July 2017 the benchmark price for an apartment property across the region was $616,000. This was an 18.5 per cent increase from July 2016. In July 2017 the benchmark price for a condo apartment in North Vancouver was $545,100 up 17.2 per cent in one year, up 53.2 per cent in 5 years and up 60 per cent in 10 years. In Richmond, the benchmark price was $582,200 up 26.5 per cent in one year, up 62.8 per cent in 5 years and up 78.8 per cent in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $524,700 up 20.5 per cent in one year, up 68.7 per cent in 5 years and up 91.7 per cent in 10 years. In Vancouver West, the benchmark price was $783,700 up 11.7 per cent in one year, up 64.2 per cent in 5 years and up 79.6 per cent in 10 years.

Metro Vancouver is the fifth most popular city in the world among wealthy Chinese investors

Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun reports regularly on the impact of offshore money on the real estate market in Vancouver. He writes that many immigration lawyers who travel to Mainland China state that the real cause of the flow of money into the Vancouver real estate market is the 10 year Visa instituted by the Government of Canada in 2014. It has allowed visits up to 6 months without any responsibility to pay taxes here and many parents are investing in real estate using their foreign student children as proxies. The 10 year Visas encourage money laundering and tax avoidance and have fuelled the booming Vancouver and Toronto real estate markets according to Immigration lawyer George Lee.

Todd states that Canada is the second most desired country for multi-millionaire Mainland Chinese according to the Hurun Report and Metro Vancouver is the fifth most popular city in the world for wealthy Chinese investors.

The new NDP/Green government has real estate in its sights. Their programs to create affordability have the support of the larger community of voters. They are looking to close the tax loopholes of "bare trusts" that obscure legal ownership and help avoid all taxes due and payable on a purchase of a property. They are looking to add the foreign buyer tax and all other taxes to pre-sales at the time of purchase. This would prevent buyers from selling their contract on for profit with no tax payable. Specific legislation should come down in the September mini-budget.

With the popular demand for accountability in the real estate industry and a left leaning government who ran on that platform, we will be following the outcome of the change in strategy closely. More anon.


]]> 0
Stanley Park Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:46:06 +0000 What could be nicer on a summer day than spending time in Stanley Park? Alberto Cruz captured the magnificent view from one of Vancouver's main attractions.


]]> 0
Two Hummingbirds Tue, 01 Aug 2017 08:49:16 +0000 Bird photography requires patience and knowledge, and one of its biggest challenges is to capture a crisp image of a bird in flight. This photo of two hummingbirds by roaming-the-planet is an excellent example of a well-executed shot.


]]> 0
Diane and Orion Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:13:12 +0000 The Vancouver Resident’s Guide to Alternative Gardening Tue, 25 Jul 2017 14:35:03 +0000 Cherry Tomatoes by Jonas Ingold

With short winters, plenty of fertile soil, and a temperate rainforest climate, Vancouver is the perfect place to grow a lush, beautiful garden. The only problem is that many Vancouver residents don’t have an actual garden space to plant in. This doesn’t mean that gardening isn’t an option in Vancouver, though. Lacking their own garden plot, many Vancouver renters and homeowners have turned to alternative methods for keeping a garden. From community gardens to boulevard plots, here are some of the most popular options in the city for space-challenged gardeners.

Rooftop and Patio Gardens

Because much of Vancouver’s urban space is taken up by highrises, many developers are looking upwards to create gardening options. Rooftop and patio gardens are becoming increasingly common in Vancouver, especially in new condo and apartment buildings. Much of this is thanks to the City’s active promotion of urban gardening spaces within new developments.

Vancouver Rooftop Garden by Kyle Pearce

"We encourage developers to put shared garden plots on their roof or their podium," says James O’Neill, food policy planner for the City of Vancouver. Of course, not all buildings will be well-suited for garden plots, so City staff have to balance the desire for shared gardens along with other needs such as recreation areas and playground spaces.

"There are so many other competing interests that need to be balanced," O’Neill says. Even with all of these competing interest in mind, however, O’Neill notes that adding a shared garden space to a residential development proposal often makes the proposal more appealing for the City.

Small Space Gardens

If you live in a condo or apartment building without a rooftop or patio garden, you may still be able to use the space you already have to satisfy your gardening itch. Even with a small patio, there can be plenty of growing potential – as long as you’re facing the right direction.

According to Michael Levenston, executive director of City Farmer Society, a non-profit group that encourages urban farming in Vancouver, the challenge is first of all finding the space and then finding the sunlight:

If you have a balcony you can grow on the balcony but you want to be facing the sun.

Growing Vegetables on the Deck by Ruth Hartnup

As long as you have adequate sunlight, Levenston says, the space requirements for a balcony or backyard garden are minimal.

You can start with a square foot and grow something in a square foot, and then you can expand that to whatever size you want.

Many people will build their own raised beds for planting out of a few pieces of wood, although if you prefer a professionally-made product, Levenston adds that there are companies that can make raised beds for you to match your exact specifications.

Community Gardens

For those seeking garden space outside of their own property, community gardens are a common solution. However, community gardening has become so popular in Vancouver that finding space can be a real challenge. According to O'Neill:

There are so many people who want to garden in the city and many of our community gardens have several year wait lists.

Davie Village Community Garden by Daryl Mitchell

According to City Hall, there are over 110 community gardens within the City of Vancouver which can be found on city-owned land, at churches, at schools, and on private property. Even this number of gardens, however, is not enough to satisfy the city’s growing population.

But just because a community garden is full, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get your name on the list. Levenston explains that spaces can open up when someone moves away or stops using their garden plot, or when a new community garden opens up.

There’s usually a lineup but that’s not to say you shouldn’t put your name in.

Garden Sharing

While not everyone who wants to plant a garden will have access to one, not everyone who has a garden will be interested in planting it either. That’s why many Vancouverites have turned to a shared space model to meet their gardening needs.

In past years, people who wanted to share gardens in Vancouver could do so through an online forum, but the website is no longer functioning due to lack of funding, Levenston says. These days, garden sharing in Vancouver often occurs through informal networks, although Levenston adds that City Farmer often acts as an intermediary for these sorts of arrangements as well.

I get calls from people who say I’ve got this patch of land, can you find someone?

In addition, residents can look to international websites such as or even Craigslist in order to connect with others who might want to share a garden space.

Vancouver Greens by Ruth Hartnup

Boulevard and Street Gardens

Another option the City has been actively promoting for gardeners is the option to plant on City land in places like boulevards and traffic circles. As O’Neill explains, any resident who has a boulevard in front of their property is encouraged to use that space for growing both edible and ornamental plants.

The boulevard is defined as the place between the curb and the sidewalk. For those who don’t have access to a boulevard, another option could be to become a volunteer with the Green Streets program, which allows volunteers to plant gardens in traffic calming areas such as traffic circles and bulges.

Initially, both the Green Streets and boulevard gardening programs only allowed for decorative gardens, but both programs have now expanded to allow for food growing as well, as long as gardeners follow the guidelines set out by the city. These guidelines include making sure plants don’t reach more than one metre in height in order to preserve sightlines for drivers and pedestrians, and taking precautions to minimize the effects of airborne toxins such as vehicle emissions.

City Beet Urban Farm in Mount Pleasant by Ruth Hartnup

Greening the Greenest City

Year after year, Vancouver has been recognized by surveys such as the Siemens Green City Index as one of the most environmentally-friendly cities not only in Canada, but around the world. In 2016, Vancouver was ranked second overall in North America on the Green Cities Index, and ranked first based on air quality and CO2 levels. And despite the city’s continuously increasing density and growing population, creating green spaces has remained a priority. O'Neill confirms this:

We try to encourage as much food growing and gardening in the city as possible. We’re trying to remove barriers as much as we can to allow it to happen through developments, through multi-family buildings, in high density areas, and also in single-family home areas.

For residents, these varied options for gardening and food growing mean that everyone can have their own role in making the city a more beautiful and eco-friendly place, even if they don’t have a garden space of their own.


]]> 0
False Creek Walking Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:35:39 +0000 There are plenty of Vancouver cityscapes that look great in black and white - and one of them is this False Creek scene captured by Jason Thibault. Thank you for submitting!


]]> 0
Spanish Banks Thu, 13 Jul 2017 09:44:10 +0000 It's summer! There is no better place to meditate, sunbathe, read a book or just relax than Spanish Banks. Photo by Sherwood411.  


]]> 0
Vancouver Real Estate: Low Inventory in June 2017 Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:34:43 +0000 As projected in May the condo is King in June. The trend is for prices to rise continuously in the condo market because it is so in demand and the inventory is low. The detached home market has recovered in value from last summer's Foreign Buyer Tax slow down that followed its implementation but it has impacted the number of sales. Partly because prices rose and affordability dropped further. Suddenly the Hundredth Monkey Effect took hold and the buying public completely gave upon the idea of a detached home being necessary for a happy life and turned its attention to the townhome and condominium market as an alternative. There are multiple offers on almost every property. Some sale prices are 40% above last year’s sale price for a comparable unit. Condo sales all over seem to be coming out around $1000 per sq.ft. and even higher for the luxury market. The sales-to-active listing ratio in June was 24.5% for detached; 62% for townhomes and 93.2% for condos. When the ratio is above 20% for a few months it causes an upward pressure on prices.

The Aquabus making its rounds by David J Laporte

Anecdotally, as the government is still not keeping reliable stats, in Richmond and Vancouver the majority of detached home buyers seem to be from Mainland China. The home prices are higher than what most local people can afford. We are still not sure what the impact of the Chinese currency regulations will be in the long run. The problems of getting money out of China do seem to be real. However creative ways around the restrictions have worked in the past and may work again this time. According to the Vancouver Sun Juwai an important Chinese real estate website states that Chinese investors at home and abroad spent over US$100 billion on overseas property investments in 2016. Canada was in the top 5 countries after the US, Australia and Hong Kong.

In the upcoming month a lot of the historical data will be out of date because the government is stirring the pot again. The anxiety by the Bank of Canada around over-leveraged homeowners is moving the banks to require even more depth for borrowers that already are putting 20% down on their mortgage. Every mortgage transaction is going to require a stress test on the borrower to prove they can qualify fort he mortgage at two points higher than the mortgage rate that they actually receive when they apply. The consensus is that uninsured mortgages are a big risk to the financial market.

The Royal Bank has already raised its long-term lending rates for mortgages and the other banks are following suit. We may see a drop in the sales numbers as fewer people will qualify with these higher mortgage rates on the stress test. It is definitely going to put more pressure on the condominium market as it will be the only affordable source of housing.

There's also a big impact on housing expected of the incoming NDP government. The Green Party has made clear what they will support and the NDP has said that they are working for more affordable housing. The problem is that there is little land to build anything on and that is the largest component of any affordable housing program. There won’t be a Throne Speech outlining their plans until September when the new Legislature meets. Still no solution announced to the problem of appointing a Speaker from the government bench when the government NDP//Green partnership has a one vote majority.

The wildfires currently raging through the Cariboo and central BC will cause a change to government priorities. A lot of discretionary spending of the Liberal billion dollar legacy will need to be put aside to rebuild the shattered and burned communities and economy. Much of that region receives the majority of revenue through tourism which has had to be shut down as the forests burned and the towns were evacuated.

An activist Vision Vancouver councillor has been appointed the Chief of Staff for Premier-Designate Horgan. Geoff Meggs was the strategist for the successful NDP urban campaign platform in the recent election. There is going to be a lot of merging of NDP policy with Vancouver city policy. At the moment Vancouver is busy trying to implement a Vacant Home Tax and short term rental restrictions on all properties. They are trying to create more long term rentals through a huge property tax increase for any property that isn’t a principal residence and sits vacant. According to recent counts there are more than 25,000 empty residences in Vancouver. Airbnb and Expedia are considered the culprits in the lack of rental housing because so many investors would rather have short term rentals that don’t fall under the Residential Tenancy Act. Short term rentals of secondary suites, laneway homes and investment properties are now totally disallowed in Vancouver. It’s hard to predict whether investors will sell their second properties or live with the new regulations.

We are still looking good in the context of climate and political disasters around the globe. It doesn’t appear that house prices in Vancouver will fall to the Golden Mean of yesteryear. Wishful thinking all around. We will keep you posted.


]]> 0
Canada Day 150 Tue, 04 Jul 2017 10:57:09 +0000 Michelle Lee captured this photo during Canada Day 2017, the second largest celebration of Canada's 150th birthday in the country. Some of the two-day program's highlights were the Canada150 parade and a multi-community fireworks show.


]]> 0
Vancouver Neighbourhood Photo Essays: West Point Grey Sun, 02 Jul 2017 20:38:50 +0000

West Point Grey is bordered by 16th Avenue to the south, Alma Street to the east, English Bay to the north, and Blanca Street to the west.

According to the City of Vancouver, the Musqueam people lived in this area’s ancient village. A First Nations legend refers to Point Grey as the “Battleground of the West Wind.” The neighbourhood is named after Captain George Grey, a friend of Captain George Vancouver and it was its own municipality from 1908 until 1929, when it was merged with Vancouver.

This compact neighbourhood attracts with its quiet residential streets bordered by trees and the proximity to Vancouver downtown and the beach. The main commercial area is along West 10th Avenue between Tolmie Street and Discovery Street, offering a popular shopping and restaurant district where old shops sit by new residential blocks.

While it’s one of the city’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, West Point Grey is home to a mixture of residents including working professionals, business owners, faculty members of the University of British Columbia, artists, university students or young families. One of the segments of the neighbourhood’s population are longtime middle class homeowners who moved to the neighbourhood before it became one of Canada’s most expensive residential areas.

10th Avenue

Access and Transit

The access and transit are very simple thanks to the location and character of the neighbourhood. West 16th is a key route terminating at UBC, while West 10th, the commercial heart of the neighbourhood offers many bus lines, too. Alma Street hosts bus routes to the Southlands and Dunbar as well as north to downtown and Kitsilano. Another popular choice of commuters is the Off-Broadway cycling route.

Nature and Recreation

West Point Grey is the place where the view of Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains can be admired the most thanks to the exquisite views created by the natural terracing. There are many spaces for recreation, whether it comes to parks, beaches or forests. The popular beaches of Spanish Banks, Jericho and Locarno have trails across forests and along beaches which are great for a refreshing walk or birdwatching. There are also several dog friendly areas where you can appreciate the natural terrain and play with your dog off-leash. 

Trails lead through Pacific Spirit where the numerous walking, running, hiking, biking, and horseback riding paths offer an escape from the streets and busier seaside. Jericho Park is the easternmost of the beaches, a home to a forest and a waterfront that are home to beavers, turtles or blackbirds. Jericho Sailing Centre offers kayaking lessons.

Spanish Banks
Jericho Beach Park
Jericho Sailing Centre


The main event of the neighbourhood’s social calendar is Fiesta Days, a community festival that combines a carnival and stage performances. This family oriented event is held in June along the West 10th Avenue between Tolmie Street and Discovery Street. In addition, July brings the annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival taking place at Jericho Park.

Where to Drink and Eat

With impressive lunch options and a variety of coffee beans available for purchase, Bean Around The World is an excellent spot for coffee lovers. If you would like to visit the 'home to the world's best cinnamon bun', stop by at Grounds for Coffee and try their organic Arabica coffee. The Diner offers authentic British meals (and humour) while Burgoo Bistro has comfort food at its best from around the world. 

Jericho Pier
Jericho Pier
10th Avenue
10th Avenue
Hasting Mill Store Museum
4th Avenue
Jericho Beach
Panne Rizo (10th Avenue)
Spanish Banks

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.


]]> 0