September 23, 2009
Real Estate Search goes mobile
Well well well, looks like the media is catching on to the technology I have been offering on my www.coryraven.com/m
(go there from your iphone or android, blackberry coming soon)
Starting the house hunt in Metro Vancouver no longer needs to be a static pursuit. A couple of firms have joined the technological wave of text-messaging and map-location to launch services that deliver property information to consumers on their wireless devices.
Photograph by: Graphics, Vancouver Sun
Starting the house hunt in Metro Vancouver no longer needs to be a static pursuit.
A couple of firms have joined the technological wave of text-messaging and map-location to launch services that deliver property information to consumers on their wireless devices.
It is the thin edge of making property searches completely mobile, although not a lot of consumers may be aware they are available.
“There’s no doubt that mobile is where it’s at,” says Kye Grace, a tech-savvy realtor and consultant in Vancouver. “From searching right down to a realtor [website] having a mobile option for iPhones, Blackberrys and Android phones.”
The logic for realtors, Grace said, is that “you want to be where the consumer is. And in all reality, the consumer is going mobile.”
From the consumer’s perspective, Grace said regardless of how much time consumers spend looking up property listings on their computers at home, they still wind up driving around to see the offerings, so its more convenient and efficient if you can deliver information to them where they are.
RealtyText is one program created by the Vancouver-based firm RT RealtyText, which uses text-messaging to deliver information to house-hunting consumers.
Company president George Haddad said realtors can subscribe to the service, which allows them to upload their listings to RealtyText’s system, then put an addition to their property signs printed with the realtor’s special code.
The consumer who sees that sign texts the code to the RealtyText system, which sends back the listing information — including specs, photos and an option to contact the listing agent to set up a viewing.
“Business has been really, really good,” Haddad said of his company’s initial sales campaign.
“What [realtors] like is that they’re providing information to clients 24/7,” he added. “As well, they love the fact they can monitor activity on a property,” by seeing how many people request information.
Haddad, an active developer, said he got the idea for RealtyText out of his own frustration at not being able to get information quickly while he was on the road.
And from watching American Idol and registering the show’s method of text messaging for viewers to vote for favoured contestants, Haddad thought that text would be the way to do it. After about 18 months of development, he launched RealtyText earlier this year.
The technical experts at Myrealpage.com dreamed up a more comprehensive search tool that marries Google Maps with the Multiple Listing Service databases of B.C.’s real estate boards, and provides a search tool accessible through a mobile version of a subscribing realtor’s website.
“With the mobile product, it gives consumers their first opportunity to go and shop for a home away from their home computer,” Ray Giesbrecht, Myrealpage.com’s sales and marketing manager in Vancouver, said in an interview.
The service uses the iPhone’s GPS navigation system to show consumers MLS property listings within the vicinity of their location on a Google Map, and set it to follow them around, plotting more listings as they travel through neighbourhoods.
This gives homebuyers “a more realistic context of the property vis-a-vis its neighborhood,” he added.
Giesbrecht said the system also has options realtors can access for users to flag favourite listings, grade them, and make comments on them for future review at the realtor’s office.
The Rogers-owned search service Zoocasa.com does offer a similar mobile application for the iPhone, but Giesbrecht noted that it aggregates listings from sources other than MLS databases, so its listings are limited compared with Myrealpage.com.
Grace, while he is not a user, offers a favourable review of Myrealpage.com’s offering.
“As far as individual products go, Myrealpage is the best,” he said, “but I don’t think they have any competition either.”
The difficulty right now, Grace added, is accessibility. At this point, consumers probably aren’t aware that the tools are available.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
September 18, 2009
The Return of the Bidding War
This was in the Globe and Mail today. Arg! I know people think multiple offers are a great thing and Realtors must love them, but a balanced market is much healthier and sustainable
JENNIFER VAN EVRA
Special to The Globe and Mail Last updated on Friday, Sep. 18, 2009 09:37AM EDT
When Vancouver real estate agent Terry Flahiff listed the Kitsilano bungalow a few weeks ago, he knew it would generate interest. Located on the city's west side, the 1926 home featured hardwood floors, a large renovated kitchen, a bright two-bedroom basement suite, a white picket fence and a tree swing.
Sure, the yard was small, the view out the back was a giant condo complex, the bedrooms were tiny - the master was slightly more than 100 square feet - and it was just half a block off one of the city's busiest thoroughfares. Still, those shortcomings were quickly forgiven by the dozens of prospective buyers who streamed through the first open house saying, "Honey, I love it" and trying to imagine life without closets.
Five days later, seven agents lined up to make their offers. The asking price was $959,000, but because of the competition, they knew they had to push higher. Only two bids came in at less than $1- million, and in the end, the home sold for a staggering $1.142-million - more than $180,000 over the original price tag.
"My clients were hoping to get around $1-million or maybe $1.05-million," Mr. Flahiff says. "I think they were very happy."
As neighbours south of the border continue to pay the price for their housing market collapse, it seems that home buyers in Vancouver have forgotten the global economic downturn like it was yesterday's news - and that rush of optimism is fuelling a return to bidding wars.
Earlier this week on the Eastside, a partly updated Commercial Drive bungalow with a two-bedroom suite and a new garage and studio drew 10 offers - most of them with no inspections, despite the fact that the 1926 house needed a new roof, electrical upgrades and drain tile work, and had an old oil tank buried in the back yard. The first showing was Thursday last week, and on Sunday it sold for $113,000 over the asking price.
The same dizzying chain of events is being repeated around the city, where homes are selling in a matter of days, some for prices that sellers could not have imagined just a few months earlier. To make matters worse, many are being bought outright, because an offer that includes subjects (that is, the buyers want a few days to get an inspection or appraisal, finalize financing and so on) just can't compete.
According to veteran agent Rod MacKay, prospective buyers who have been waiting in the wings for the past year feel more confident about the economy and want to capitalize on the record low mortgage rates and reduced home prices before they drift outside their financial grasp. And because of the low mortgage rates, home ownership is now within reach for thousands of first-time buyers who had been priced out of the market, adding to the pressure at the bottom. Meanwhile, sellers aren't jumping in nearly as quickly: A third fewer houses were on the market this August than a year earlier, giving buyers a tough lesson in the laws of supply and demand.
"Prices have moved up 10 per cent in the last six months, so people are worried that if they wait for the perfect house, it won't be affordable," says Mr. MacKay, whose client offered $62,000 over the asking price on the Commercial Drive home, but landed near the bottom of the pack because her offer was contingent on getting two weekdays to finalize the financing. "So if someone is offering on a house that's $950,000, but they can afford $1.1-million, they think they'd better pay it now because that house will cost $1.75-million before they know it."
Still, experts say that even though Vancouver posted record sales in August - a whopping 117 per cent over the previous year - the overheated market is not likely to last. The backlog of buyers will purchase homes, and more sellers will enter the market, marking a return to a more balanced situation.
"The volatility has definitely been very surprising. We expected to see improvement from the recessionary lows, but we didn't see it rising this quickly," says Brian Yu, an economist with the British Columbia Real Estate Association, pointing to a steep decline in mortgage rates and low inventory as the central reasons behind the speedy return to a red-hot market.
"But the Vancouver numbers are showing some signs of plateauing, so the markets are probably going to stabilize over the next while," he says. "They can't increase at this rate forever."
September 11, 2009
Vancouver leads Canadian Real Estate Recovery
Courtesy of the Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER — Metro Vancouver new-home prices reversed losses and posted their biggest month-to-month gain in more than a year, according to new data from Statistics Canada.
Contracted home prices for Metro Vancouver on Statistics Canada's new housing price index rose 1.2 per cent in July from June, the biggest increase among Canadian cities tracked by the national agency.
Year over year, however, Metro Vancouver new home prices were still eight per cent below their level in July 2008.
July's increase beats the 0.4-per-cent rise in Metro Vancouver's index score in May, which was the only other month in the last 15 in which Metro Vancouver's index score rose, which appears to indicate homebuilders have stemmed the price cutting they engaged in to make sales during the market downturn.
Nationally, prices for new homes rose unexpectedly in July, marking the first increase in 10 months, as the housing sector showed more signs of recovery.
Statistics Canada said its overall new-house price index edged up 0.3 per cent during the month.
Most economists had expected prices to decline 0.1 per cent in July, after a 0.2 per cent drop in June.
The July reading was the first increase in new house prices since September 2008, the federal agency said.
Following Vancouver, Hamilton saw the next biggest gain from July at 1.1 per cent, and Windsor, Ont., and Calgary, which were both gained 0.5 per cent.
"In Edmonton, prices rose by 0.4 per cent, the first monthly price increase since October 2007," the agency said. "While some builders recorded lower selling prices in July, many builders returned to regular list prices after having negotiated lower prices in previous months."
The biggest price decline was in Victoria, which fell 3.5 per cent. "In response to slow market conditions, some Victoria builders reduced their prices in order to finalize sales," Statistics Canada said.
Millan Mulraine, economics strategist at TD Securities, said "the message from this report appears to be that the buoyancy that has been seen in the Canadian existing homes market may finally be filtering through to the new homes markets."
September 11, 2009
The September issue of my Informed Home Buyer Newsletter is online
The September issue of my Informed Home Buyer newsletter is online
September 11, 2009
Property Transfer Tax in BC
I am often asked about the Property Transfer Tax that applies to Vancouver (and all BC real estate) There is a potential exemption to this PTT for first time home buyers, and I have posted the BC government's information sheet on this exemption.
September 9, 2009
Luxury Real Estate Making a comeback in Vancouver?
,MAC Marketing Solutions
,Raven's Real Deal
,Vancouver Real Estate
,Vancouver West Real Estate
,West End VW
Courtesy of Thane Stenner, published in the Globe and Mail
Looking west from the boardroom in our office, you can just see it: an enormous pit, perhaps 200 feet deep, where the crowning glory of Vancouver's skyline would have been.
Designed by the late, great Arthur Erickson, the Ritz-Carlton's 123 luxury residences would surely have been one of the most prestigious addresses in the city. Fully 58 storeys high, the tower featured a dramatic 45-degree twist from foundation to apex, with spectacular views of the city, the Strait of Georgia and the North Shore mountains.
At least, that was the idea. When the global financial crisis hit last fall, the Ritz-Carlton was one of the casualties. Faced with sky-high construction costs, uncertain financing and sluggish sales, the developer halted the project in October. Recently, there's been some buzz about things starting up again after the 2010 Olympics. Until then, it serves as a poignant reminder of the depth of the global financial crisis.
A time to buy?
I asked Ross McCredie about the project when we met for a working lunch late last week. As president and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, and a 10-year veteran of the industry, he knows full well how tough times have been for anyone buying or selling luxury real estate in Canada. "It was incredible how quickly the market dried up," Mr. McCredie said, shaking his head. "From October of 2008 to the spring of this year, across the country, sales literally stopped."
Since then, however, it's been a different story. "I was surprised at how quickly the market picked up this past spring," he said. "[In Vancouver,] we've sold one home well over $10-million, one at $9.5-million, as well as two in Victoria at $6.8-million and $6.5-million, all in the last six weeks."
Why the dramatic change? Mr. McCredie believes it has everything to do with the psychology of the sellers. "The past year has cut deep into the mindset of many high-net-worth individuals and their families," Mr. McCredie said. "[Many] have decided to dispose of properties they thought they would never sell."
If you're a buyer, this is the kind of mentality you've been waiting for. "In the urban centres, properties over $3-million have a limited number of buyers, and they're taking a great deal more time to sell," Mr. McCredie said. "Often, sellers feel as if they 'missed the market,' and they're panicking somewhat."
If it's a recreational property you're shopping for, the news is equally good.
"Across Canada there are rare opportunities to purchase one-of-a-kind properties at well below assessed values - and often well below replacement cost," Mr. McCredie said. "This is especially true in the recreational markets such as Whistler, waterfront homes in the Okanagan, Muskoka and Mont Tremblant."
Advice for buyers and sellers
Despite his optimism, Mr. McCredie is quick to point out that luxury real estate is far from a "slam dunk," even in this market.
Certainly, great deals are out there, but the rules of real estate still apply: "Location is still the No. 1 driver of value in the upper end of the market," Mr. McCredie said.
At the same time, he points out that buyers are looking for more than just a pretty view.
"The architectural significance of the home is becoming more important. Size has little to do with value, but the actual beauty, quality of construction, and function of a home are key components of establishing a home's value."
Mr. McCredie believes that when it comes to luxury real estate, both buyers and sellers need to think carefully about the investment aspect of their purchase.
"Whenever buying or selling any home - and especially the most expensive home on the block - think about who else would buy it," he said.
As Mr. McCredie points out, building your dream home is all well and good, but your dreams aren't necessarily the same as a potential buyer's.
"People often get carried away building a trophy home for themselves without ever considering the basic fundamentals of real estate," he says.
"As a result, they overbuild for a particular lot or neighbourhood."
As Mr. McCredie candidly explained, such a move is rarely a wise investment decision. "It's a very simple supply-and-demand function," Mr. McCredie said.
"If there are multiple high-net-worth individuals who would want the home, then its value can easily exceed the current market."
As our server brought us the bill, I asked Mr. McCredie where he thinks the luxury market in Canada is headed over the next year.
He reminded me that when it comes to luxury real estate, the market is only one factor in the equation.
"A home's value is always determined by the buyer's ability to believe the home's story," Mr. McCredie said.
"Done poorly, you can sell a home well short of its value. Done well, you can overcome nearly any market."
Thane Stenner is founder of Stenner Investment Partners within GMP Private Client L.P., as well as Managing Director, Private Client. He is also bestselling author of ´True Wealth: an expert guide for high-net-worth individuals (and their advisors). He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of GMP Private Client L.P. or its affiliates.
September 3, 2009
5 year mortgage rates 3.79%*
got an email today from a mortgage broker about 5 year rates at 3.79%!! I am sure conditions apply, contact me for more info.
September 3, 2009
Global Recession coming to an end?
PARIS -- The global recession is coming to an end faster than thought just a few months ago and may already be over, according to forecasts published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on Thursday.
The recovery may even prove a little stronger than previously predicted, OECD chief economist Jorgen Elmeskov told Reuters in an interview where he elaborated on the forecasts for several key economies.
"Compared with expectations a few months ago, we now have a recovery which ... may be coming a little earlier and it may be slightly stronger because financial conditions have improved more rapidly than we assumed a few months ago," Elmeskov said.
The OECD forecasts show a third-quarter return to expansion of economic output, as measured by gross domestic product, in the United States and the 16-country euro zone, led by its two largest economies, Germany and France.
The forecasts showed an annualized expansion of 1.6% in the United States in the third quarter, 0.3% in the euro zone and 1.1% in Japan, and were generally more optimistic than the last update in June.
The pickup that started with a "quite dramatic turnaround" in China and other Asian emerging market economies in the second quarter remained heavily dependent on government stimulus and ultra-low interest rates across the world, Elmeskov said.
The OECD's 30 member countries do not include rising powers such as China but do include the long-industrialized ones where the trouble began in 2007 as the credit and housing boom in the United States turned to bust, triggering a crisis in banking and financial markets that infected the real economy.
TURNING POINT FOR G7
While it predicted continued third-quarter contractions in Britain and Italy, and a rise followed by a fourth-quarter dip for Japan, the OECD said the broad picture for the G7 group of industrialized powers was better.
The forecasts, including information up to Sept 2, show the euro area turning positive in both of the last two quarters of 2009 after five straight quarters of contraction.
In June, it predicted quarter-on-quarter shrinkage of 1.1 and 0.5% respectively in the third and fourth quarters on an annualized basis. It now expects 2% growth in the fourth quarter. The previous forecasts for the United States had been zero and 0.5% -- now upped to 1.6% and 2.4% respectively.
The OECD is still predicting GDP contractions for 2009 as a whole across the G7 group, primarily because of a particularly bad first half, despite the improvement now in the pipeline.
But it sees annualized GDP rises of 1.2 and 1.4% in the third and fourth quarters for the G7 as a whole, also signaling an exit from recession at that level.
"In some countries including the United States it also looks as if the bottom of the housing market might have been hit a little earlier than assumed," Elmeskov said, noting a rise in house sales and a drop in the "overhang" of unsold homes.
DON'T PULL THE PLUG YET
The OECD forecasts came on the eve of a meeting of finance ministers from the G20 group, which spans the big up-and-coming economies such as China and India in addition to the G7 members.
The report said that while authorities needed to map out a strategy for withdrawal of fiscal and monetary stimulus once recovery was surer, now was no time to take the economy off life support, either in terms of government spending or shifts to higher official interest rates.
"Substantial slack combined with the prospect for a weak recovery implies that strong policy stimulus will continue to be needed in the near term," it said.
"Regarding monetary policy, taking the first steps toward normalization of policy interest rates from their current exceptionally low levels should in most cases wait until well into 2010 and in some cases even beyond," the OECD said.
Back in June, the OECD said interest rates should stay on hold in all major economies through all of 2010.
Elmeskov acknowledged that this recommendation was no longer quite so categorical but said the bottom line was that rates needed to stay very low in the euro zone, United States and beyond for the large part of next year.
As for fiscal stimulus, governments needed to roll out all of the measures they had already announced after foot-dragging by some, said Elmeskov. That, one OECD official said, referred mainly to Germany and the United States.
Elmeskov said the OECD, which is due to issue a fuller set of forecast updates in November, also said that the 16% drop in global trade volume it predicted for this year in June would probably turn out to be less steep, due in part to rising import demand from Asia for goods from OECD countries.
"Our estimates suggest that in the second quarter China may have grown at 14% annualized rate," Elmeskov said. "Similarly, the growth rates of other non-OECD East Asia and Southeast Asian countries may on average have been around 10% on an annualized rate."
He said governments and central banks' drastic fiscal and monetary steps to stimulate the economy, their response to the worst crisis since the Great Depression now looked increasingly like a "success story."
September 2, 2009
New property listed in Downtown VW, Vancouver West
I have listed a new property at Downtown VW, Vancouver West.
Assignment sale at the Beasley. A chance to own a well laid out 2 bedroom suite for a great price.
September 1, 2009
Woodwards Opens (with pictures)
The W43 Tower of Woodwards, also known as 128 West Cordova Street has opened.
I have been able to tour the property several times now, and must say I am amazed at the quality of the finishes.
There has already been one reported sale (over asking price on the first day on the market) and there are 11 listings at 128 W Cordova ranging from the low 300's to almost a million.
You can always look at what is for sale at Woodwards by visiting www.128wcordova.com
- It is free and you don't have to sign up for anything to view all the MLS listings
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| Highgate, Burnaby South Real Estate
| King George Corridor, South Surrey White Rock
| King George Corridor, South Surrey White Rock Real Estate
| Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver
| MAC Marketing Solutions
| Main, Vancouver East
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| Market Trendzs
| Market TrendzsPanorama Ridge
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| Mount Pleasant VW, Vancouver West
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| Raven's Real Deals
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| Sunshine Hills Woods, N. Delta Real Estate
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| Vancouver listings
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| West End VW
| West End VW, Vancouver West
| West End VW, Vancouver West Real Estate
Please excuse the mess while I upgrade my website. In the meantime, you may access all my blog posts by clicking here.
Please excuse the mess while I upgrade my website to provide you with even more timely and topical information on our market and the process of buying and selling. In the meantime, you can access my blog by clicking here