Bob Sethi, B.Comm | 604.273.2828

Think housing in Vancouver is too expensive?  That Metro Vancouver is becoming a market only for the rich or foreign investors?  Seems local housing experts don't think so and they've got the numbers to back it up.


Tuesday's Globe and Mail interviewed Vancouver multi-family real estate marketer Bob Rennie and housing consultant Dale McClanaghan regarding Rennie's argument that Vancouver real estate is not expensive.  Rather, as the stats prove, its prices in Richmond and Vancouver west side that are skewing market perceptions.  With 30-year old single-family homes in Richmond selling between $800k-$1.3m and similar homes in Vancouver's west side selling for more adding those sales into the local stats is creating the perception that all of Metro Vancouver is expensive.  Blaming foreign investors for driving the prices up is also not accurate.  Rather, the buyers are new immigrants looking for the best homes for their families.  With safe streets, plenty of schools, government supported medical system plus all the other reasons you and I choose to live here, who wouldn't want to live here?


Both Rennie and McClanaghan do agree that Metro Vancouver does need to do more to ensure a supply of mid-priced housing.  This goal is the same shared by other large cities except Metro Vancouver's policies are not allowing for room to grow or a supply of land for housing.


Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy (MV RGS) has met heavy resistance from housing affordability experts and the housing industry.  The MV RGS is designating where and what type of housing can be built.  In most cases that means high-density multi-family apartments or townhomes with little allowance for new single-family homes.  The MV RGS also locks away buildable land for the next 30 years continuing to drive up the cost of land and the (multi-family) homes built on it.  The majority of these lands include ALR properties - lands that are not viable for farming due to small size, poor soil conditions or proximity to residential/industrial properties but more than suitable for housing.  While these policies may win Metro Vancouver politicians points with special interest groups they are failing to address the current or future needs of homebuyers by limiting the supply of land to build single-family homes.  After all, if buying a house is just attainable for current homebuyers how will future generations buy a home?  


Read more of the interview at  (The Globe and Mail, May 24, 2011)


If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me directly.




Curious where home values in your neighborhood are going?  Click here to find out.




Bob Sethi, BComm
RE/MAX Westcoast
o.    604-273-2828
f.     604-273-0685





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The Best Place on Earth


May 25, 2011

Ministry of Finance



Government commits to 10 per cent HST


VICTORIA –The Province is committing to bold, responsive, and balanced changes to the Harmonized Sales Tax to make British Columbia families better off while ensuring government can meet its commitment to balanced budgets, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon announced today.


The plan, which is to be confirmed by legislative motion, is to reduce the total HST rate to 10 per cent from 12 per cent in two stages. The provincial portion would be cut by one percentage point to six per cent from seven per cent on July 1, 2012. A further one percentage point reduction would take effect on July 1, 2014.


All British Columbia families will benefit from these changes and, on average, pay less on their routine expenditures under the 10 per cent HST than going back to the PST and GST. To help offset the costs of the HST before the rate reduction in 2012, one-time transition cheques of $175 per child would be issued to families with children under 18 years old. In addition, low- and modest-income seniors will receive a one-time transition cheque of $175. The cost of the transition cheques is expected to be $200 million, and they will be issued by the end of the year.


The independent panel that reviewed the HST and the PST plus GST tax systems recently estimated that families now pay an average of $350 more in sales tax under the HST than they paid with the PST plus GST system. With a 10 per cent HST rate, instead of paying $350 more tax, B.C. families will on average pay $120 less tax than under the PST.


The independent panel also noted that while consumers are paying more, businesses are saving money. Furthermore, the Province remains committed to balancing the budget in 2013/14 while reducing the HST burden on families and modest income seniors. To help meet this commitment, government will increase the general corporate income tax rate to 12 per cent from the current 10 per cent on Jan. 1, 2012, and postpone the reduction in the small business tax rate planned for April 1, 2012. The measures would be temporary until the fiscal situation allows for further reductions.


Proposed changes to the HST will only take effect should British Columbians vote to keep the HST.


For more information about the HST, visit:



David Currie

Ministry of Finance

250 387-6591



HST policy change details


The Province plans to reduce the total HST rate to 10 per cent from 12 per cent in two stages should British Columbians vote to keep the HST in this summer’s referendum. The provincial portion of the HST would be cut by one percentage point to six per cent from seven per cent on July 1, 2012, and cut one more percentage point to 5 per cent on July 1, 2014. The rate reduction will benefit all B.C. families. The Independent Panel estimated that, on average, harmonization costs B.C. families $350 more per year on their typical expenditures. By reducing the HST rate to 10 per cent, the $350 average cost now becomes a $120 average benefit for B.C. families.


10 per cent HST


Family Income                        Net increase (Decrease)                    Net increase (Decrease)

                                                Per Independent Panel                     With 10% HST rate (07/14)


$10,000 or less                        ($73)                                                    ($170)

$10,001-20,000                       $32                                                      ($159)

$20,001-40,000                       $129                                                    ($155)                         

$40,001-60,000                       $366                                                    ($81)

$60,001-80,000                       $527                                                    ($53)

$80,001-100,000                     $657                                                    ($61)

Over $100,000                                    $1,029                                                 ($45)

Average                                  $350                                                    ($120)


2011 Transition Payments


All B.C. families will receive $175 for each and every child under 18, and low and modest income seniors will also receive a cheque for $175.


HST Referendum Details


British Columbians will be voting in a mail-in referendum on the HST. Ballots will be mailed in June and must be returned to Elections B.C. or a Service B.C. office by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22, 2011.


For more information about the HST, visit:

You can also follow us on Twitter at:

Connect with the Province of B.C. at



David Currie

Ministry of Finance

250 387-6591

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For anyone still questioning the safety of mid-rise wood-frame buildings, following is the Canadian Wood Council's media release from Friday, May 6, 2011.
Why wood-frame mid-rise is safe c/o CWC Media Release 02 06 11
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Property Photo: 220 13733 107A AVE in Surrey
I have listed a new property at 220 13733 107A AVE in Surrey.
The Future Lives here! Rapidly developing Surrey City Centre is home to your new home at Quattro, South-facing, sunny 1-bedroom unit with balcony overlooking courtyard. Granite counters, tile floors, 9' ceilings, gym access, parking,storage plus more. Ready to move in today!
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Greater Vancouver housing market sees typical spring activity in April

Greater Vancouver saw a typical, solid month of residential home sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April, in contrast to the near record pace witnessed in the two preceding months.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver reached 3,225 in April 2011, an 8.2 per cent decrease compared to the 3,512 sales in April 2010 and a 21 per cent decline compared to the 4,080 sales in March 2011.
Looking back further, last month’s residential sales represent an 8.8 per cent increase over the 2,963 residential sales in April 2009, relatively unchanged compared to April 2008, and a 4.8 per cent decline compared to the 3,387 sales in April 2007.
“While it continues to be a seller’s market in Greater Vancouver, last month’s activity brought greater balance between supply and demand in the overall marketplace,” Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president said. “The year-over-year decline in April sales can be attributed to a less active condominium market on our MLS®, as there were more detached and townhome sales this April compared to last year.”
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,847 in April 2011. This represents a 23.5 per cent decline compared to April 2010 when 7,648 properties were listed for sale on the MLS®, which was an all-time record for April. Compared to March 2011, last month’s new listings total registered a 14 per cent decline.
At 14,187, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS® increased 8.2 per cent in April compared to last month and declined 10 per cent from this time last year.
“There’s considerable variation in activity within the communities in our region. This is causing home price trends to differ depending on the area,” Setticasi said. “Your local REALTOR® is a valuable resource for obtaining the most accurate, up-to-date market evaluation.”
The MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 5 per cent to $622,991 in April 2011 from $593,419 in April 2010.
Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in April 2011 reached 1,402, an increase of 2.3 per cent from the 1,370 detached sales recorded in April 2010, and a 17.8 per cent increase from the 1,190 units sold in April 2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 7.4 per cent from April 2010 to $879,039.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,201 in April 2011, a 21.3 per cent decrease compared to the 1,526 sales in April 2010, and an increase of 1.9 per cent compared to the 1,179 sales in April 2009. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 2.9 per cent from April 2010 to $409,242.
Attached property sales in April 2011 totalled 622, a 1 per cent increase compared to the 616 sales in April 2010, and a 4.7 per cent increase from the 594 attached properties sold in April 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 2.4 per cent between April 2010 and 2011 to $514,670.

May 3, 2011
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Why wood-frame mid-rise construction works
By now you've heard of the fire that destroyed a condo project in Richmond.  If not, check out CBC News or other news outlets for coverage.  Still under construction there were no deaths reported but, undoubtedly, you'll start hearing from 'experts' why they think five to six-storey mid-rise wood frame projects are unsafe versus similiar height concete projects. 
One of the key arguments against six-storey wood frame is in regards to rescuing those out-of-reach of the fire department's ladder trucks.  This argument catches alot of support until you ask yourself "if the fire department's ladders can't reach the sixth floor of a wood frame condo building (making it unsafe) then how is it any easier for them to reach the sixth floor (or higher) of a concrete building?".  The answer is the sixth floor of a concrete tower is no easier to reach than the sixth floor of a wood-frame mid-rise.
Another argument made is that a wood-frame building will burn quicker than a concrete building.  In last night's case keep in mind neither the fire sprinkler system nor the siding been completed.  Both of these componants are designed to stop or slow a fire, allowing residents to get out and minimize damage to the building and surrounding structures. 
As for any argument against the structural strength of six-storey wood frame versus concrete, if you've got a few minutes check out the six-storey wood-frame Japanese Quake test to see why that argument holds no merit.  In this experiment they built a complete six-storey wood-frame condo building on a tri-axial shake table inside a purpose-built facility and subjected it to once in two-thousand year earthquake forces.  The results speak for themselves.
To help you learn more about why wood-frame buildings are now allowed to be built as high as five to six storeys, check out six-storey wood-frame facts at the Wood Works! BC.
B.C. continues to attract new residents and we need to address future housing needs.  Six-storey wood frame condos create a more affordable alternative to concrete towers in municipal downtown neighborhoods.  In fact, did you know that mid-rise wood-frame condo buildings was the norm in the early 1900's and that you can still find examples of these buildings in Vancouver, occupied and in use! 
Take a few minutes to check out the above links to learn more and form your own opinion.
Bob Sethi, BComm
RE/MAX Westcoast
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Bob Sethi, B.Comm
RE/MAX Westcoast
#110-6086 Russ Baker Way
Richmond, BC
V7B 1B4 Canada

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