Cory Raven | 604-220-9399

If there is one regret I have looking back at my years in real estate, it would be not documenting the thanks and testimonials that I received early on from clients and other Realtors.  In fact, it wasn't until quite recently that I have started doing so.
I have always had great feedback from those that I assist in buying and selling their real estate, but to tell you the truth I think I took it for granted a little bit.  Not the appreciation of the client, that I will never, I think I failed to realize that not every Realtor has past clients signing their praises and I have now made a conscience effort to document the feedback I get.
With the internet moving from a place for companies and professionals to have online "brochures" to a two way communication and fact exchange source, I think giving everyone their say is more crucial than it has ever been.
So now, if someone is googling "who is the best realtor in vancouver" or "which realtor has the most satisfied clients" or "is Cory Raven held in high regard by his past clients?" who knows, maybe they'll stumble upon my website and give me a chance to introduce myself.
Here are two recent testimonials
"I love my new home. The more I speak to my homeowner friends about their real estate experience, the more I appreciate all that you did, to make this so easy. Being a first time home buyer comes with an overwhelming amount of information, you simplified it for me and had wonderful input and advice. When it comes time to relocate, I cant imagine doing it without you. Thanks Cory"
"this was our first home and we had a lot of questions. Cory Raven continually took all of our worries seriously (even when they came late at night!). he guided us through each step of this complicated process but always ensured we were making our own decisions. he was there with information, advice, calm reassurance and continual validation that buying a home is a roller coaster. ultimately we appreciated all of these things in working with Cory, but we also had fun in all the time we spent with him. if you can have a bit of fun while learning about the legacy of leaky condos, it's a pretty good sign! we'd happily recommend him to our friends and family.

barb & kate
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Are you planning a visit to our beautiful city during the Olympics?  Be aware that due to the high demand for short term rentals, there are a large number of scammers out there on various websites.

See article below

Olympics schemers already at start line

Appeared in print: Sunday, Jan 10, 2010

The 2010 Olympics are approaching, but the scams already have arrived, according to the Oregon Better Business Bureau.
These include phony ads for British Columbia rental properties that are popping up on craigslist and other online classifieds, the BBB says.
Victims of these type of rental scams typically say they were told by the supposed landlord that they needed to wire a large deposit in order to receive the keys to the rental home.
When the victims ask if they can check out the property first, the landlords claim that they are out of the country. Often, the scammer lifts photos of actual houses that are for sale that have been posted online — a scam that also showed up in Eugene last year, real estate agents reported.

The BBB advises people who are looking for rentals for the Olympics to watch out for these red flags:

The landlord claims to be located outside the area where the rental is and will only communicate via e-mail. Scammers frequently say they’re out of the country for a job or on missionary work.
The landlord asks the potential renter to wire money through wire transfer services, such as Western Union or MoneyGram. “Money sent via wire transfer service is extremely difficult to retrieve,” the BBB says, “and once the scammers have picked it up, there is little recourse — if any — for getting your money back.”
The landlord requires a big deposit before giving you the keys — or even showing the home. “Don’t pay any money before inspecting inside the property,” the BBB says. If you absolutely can’t inspect the property in advance, the BBB says, get a contract with all the terms, details and conditions spelled out. Make sure the rental is furnished, ask for proof that the person actually owns it, and ask if you can pay when you arrive, after signing a contract, instead of in advance.
Homeowners who are renting out their home, condominium or apartment for the games are required to have a business license through the city of Vancouver — ask for a copy. A license is not, however, required to rent a single room.
Finally, the Olympics has an official Web site, , with a list of hotels, bed and breakfasts, private home rentals and rooms on cruise ships.
Cory Raven
Managing Broker
TAC Real Estate Corp.
604.220.9399 (direct)
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This is a MUST READ 2 page PDF dealing with reflections on 2009 and the Vancouver Real Estate Market.  Will Mortgage rates rise?  Should I lock in my mortgage? Should I buy presale?
Cory Raven
Managing Broker
TAC Real Estate Corp.
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Do you know of a friend or associate who needs mortgage financing?
Existing Home Sales Activity Remains Strong

According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association, existing home sales activity remained upbeat in November 2009. The current strength of housing demand stands in sharp contrast to weak activity recorded one year ago.

A total of 36,383 residential properties traded hands via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) of Canadian real estate boards in November 2009. Up 73 per cent from year-ago levels, activity was down just four tenths of a per cent from the highest level of activity for the month posted in November 2007. Home sales set new records for the month of November in Ontario and Quebec.

“National home sales activity last month shows how strongly the housing market has rebounded since the beginning of the year,’ said CREA President Dale Ripplinger. “As we predicted last April, the rebound in resale housing activity led the overall Canadian economy out of recession.”

The unprecedented year-over-year gain in activity underscores the extent to which demand has recovered from one year ago, when news of the global financial crisis hammered consumer confidence. Year-over-year gains were biggest in British Columbia (165 per cent) and Ontario (77 per cent).

Since the beginning of 2009, some 437,507 homes have been sold through Canadian MLS® Systems. This is up five per cent from activity in the first 11 months of 2008, but below levels for the period in each of the previous three years.

The national residential average price was $337,231 in November, a gain of 19 per cent compared to one year ago. For the year-to-date, the average price is up 4.4 per cent compared to the same period last year. The year-over-year increase in November continues to reflect the high degree to which the average was skewed downward last year by plummeting activity in Canada’s priciest markets, and then upward by rebounding activity. Average price in November edged back from the peak reached in October.

The price trend is similar but less dramatic for the national MLS® weighted average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. The weighted average price climbed 13 per cent on a year-over-year basis in November. This is a smaller increase compared to the year-over-year gain of 14 per cent recorded the previous month.

The residential average price in Canada’s major markets was up 20 per cent year-over-year to $368,665. As with the national counterpart, the price trend is similar but less dramatic for the major market weighted average price which rose 11 per cent from last November.

The return of strong demand and headline average price gains is beginning to draw more sellers back to the market. Seasonally adjusted new listings coming onto Boards’ MLS® Systems across Canada rose five per cent on a month-over-month basis in November to 69,110 units. This is the biggest monthly increase since January 2008.

Despite the uptick in new listings, the sharp rise in resale housing demand continues to draw down inventories. There were 183,710 homes listed for sale on Boards’ MLS® Systems in Canada at the end of November 2009. This is down 23 per cent from levels reported one year ago, and the seventh month in a row in which inventories have declined from year-ago levels.

Nationally, there were four months of inventory in November 2009 on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest level in more than two years. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of months of inventory in November 2009 stood at five months, up slightly from the previous month (4.6 months). An increase is normal at this time of year, since demand tends to ease relative to supply over autumn and winter months. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

“The latest batch of seasonally adjusted statistics may reflect distortions in the seasonal adjustment procedure due to an extraordinarily weak housing market one year ago,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “Deteriorating housing affordability will reign in sales activity as the overall economy further improves and the pool of buyers who qualify for financing shrinks.”

Taking Care of Your Tree

Once you get your tree home, you will need to do a few things to keep it fresh. With proper care, the average fresh Christmas tree should last at least five to six weeks.  

The main thing your tree needs is water. You've probably heard of several home remedies that suggest you add something to the water, such as aspirin, 7UP or Sprite or even bleach! You don't need to do that. Plain water will do just fine.

Once you bring your tree home, if you are not going to set it up immediately, you should put it in a bucket of water in a well-shaded area out of the wind. Most retail locations will put a fresh cut on the tree -- trimming about one-fourth to one-half of an inch (0.64 to 1.25 cm) from the base. It can take as little as four to six hours for the base of the tree to sap over. When this happens, a seal is formed and the tree will no longer take water. If this does happen, you can make another fresh cut and place it in water immediately.

You can trim your tree even after you have put it in a stand. You can cut back some of the bark along the base, exposing the pinkish layer underneath, or you can drill a few shallow holes along the base. This works because it is not the center of the trunk, which absorbs the majority of water, but rather the outermost rings just below the bark. One of the easiest ways to make sure your tree is getting enough water is to select the best tree stand. The average Christmas tree can use as much as 1 gallon (3.79 liters) of water a day, and you should check the water level daily. The general rule of thumb, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, is that one quart (0.95 liters) of water is required for each inch (2.54 cm) of the trunk's diameter. So, if you have a tree that is about 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall with a trunk that measures about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, you will need to have a stand that holds at least 1 gallon (3.79 liters) of water.

When shopping for stands, be sure to find out how much water the stand holds when a tree is placed in it. Many simply tell you how much water the stand holds without taking into account the displacement that occurs once the tree is in the stand. The stands shown below are examples of really great stands.

In addition to keeping your tree watered, you should not place your tree near anything that could be a possible heat source. Avoid fireplaces, furnaces and air vents. It's really amazing that something that starts out the height of a quarter turns into a big, beautiful centerpiece for the holiday season. Please remember that when the season is over, you should remove your tree before it dries out. Several communities recycle trees by chipping them -- check with someone in your area about this service.

New Facebook Privacy Choices

Facebook's new privacy controls make it easy for users to present different information to business contacts and personal friends, but only if the user is willing to accept the added complexity involved in doing so. It's not difficult, but requires time and thought.
This means segregating friends into appropriate sublists and being willing, if necessary, to adjust the privacy settings for each individual post. If you are willing to do that, a single Facebook account can present your life in different ways to different groups of people.
Chiefly, this allows you to keep business contacts from seeing blatantly personal posts or friends from seeing what you are saying to coworkers, customers, etc. This adds value to being your friend on Facebook, by showing your friends only posts they might actually be interested in seeing.

The privacy update, which began rolling out to the service's 350 million members last Wednesday, remains a work in progress. Facebook has already made inline changes to the available settings, once again allowing Friend Lists to be made private. Key to maintaining separate, if sometimes overlapping, business and personal lives on Facebook are new settings that allow posts to be displayed to "Everyone," "Friends," or "Friends of Friends."

There is also a "customize" option, which allows a post to be shown (or not shown) to specific individuals or groups. The same post can include some people and exclude others, as you choose. None of this is useful, however, if you don't create at least one group within your Facebook Friend List. This is done from your Friends page, using the "add to list" button to the right of each friend's name and picture. These lists can also be used with other privacy settings, allowing you to change how your profile and other information are seen, such a preventing business contacts from seeing your religious or political affiliations.

Experiment with small lists first. You also don't have to assign every friend to one or more lists, but you may choose to.Some users will find it makes sense to create a list of business users and use it to help target posts. Others will find it easier to include/exclude a list of personal friends. Create some sample lists and see how you would use them with typical posts.

This is not a perfect solution: If you want totally separate business and personal Facebook identities, you need separate Facebook accounts. The downside is that you will sometimes have to post the same item to both identities if you want it seen by everyone.
Also, expect some leakage between your lists, if only because you sometimes forget to adjust the share settings and a post goes to everyone that was meant for one group or the other. Still, the new privacy settings can make it easy to show different groups of friends mostly just what you want them to see. And they can also keep you from your friends with posts they won't care about.

We work for you, not the lenders!
Wayne Mah
Mortgage Planner
(604) 880-1899
The Mortgage Centre - #103 1245 West Broadway, Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 1G7
* The information and opinions contained in this document are obtained from various sources and believed to be reliable, but their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The publisher assumes no responsibility for errors and omissions, or for damages resulting from using the published information and opinions. This document is provided with the understanding that it does not render legal, accounting, or other professional advice. Whole or partial reproduction is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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B.C. wants developers to help pay for a new roof or build a new stadium at BC Place.

B.C. wants developers to help pay for a new roof or build a new stadium at BC Place.

Photograph by: Peter Battistoni, Vancouver Sun files

VANCOUVER - Vancouver is opting for denser communities at the expense of open public spaces in its bid to become the world’s greenest city by 2020.
The latest plan — endorsed by city council this week — to transform the former Expo lands in northeast False Creek into a neighbourhood for 7,000 people sets aside just 14 acres of the 72-acre parcel for public spaces and amenities.
This translates to about 1.8 acres per every 1,000 residents, well below a “desired target” of 2.75 acres set by the Vancouver park board in the 1980s. Planners had based the target on an amount historically provided to residents in new developments.
But as the city grows, it continues to struggle to provide affordable housing.
The push for denser downtown neighbourhoods is an experiment in urban living that counts on people accepting fewer public spaces in exchange for other amenities and a greener lifestyle.
The False Creek project is the latest example in a series of developments, including Coal Harbour, the East Fraser Lands and southeast False Creek, that have fallen below the park board standards for open space.

For North False Creek to meet the target, the city would have to add another 19.8 acres for public space.

“When you actually look at it, we’ve never achieved the standard,” Vancouver senior planner Michael Gordon said. “The denser you get, the more challenging it is.”

A city report co-written by Gordon says that the “new civic plaza and hard surface recreational area under the viaduct do not deliver the typical neighbourhood park” but are considered amenities.

The report also states there’s a wide array of open spaces and parks nearby.
Mayor Gregor Robertson argues that while most people would like to see more open spaces, the city’s hands are tied because the land base downtown is so limited. But he noted that about 80 per cent of Vancouverites live 500 metres, or five minutes, away from a public park or green space.
“Dense is critical for being green in an urban setting,” Robertson said. “It’s great to have bigger park spaces and we have a couple in Stanley Park and Pacific Spirit Park and the beaches, but downtown we have to shoot for greener objectives that are more realistic.”
That includes more creative use of public spaces and using money from developers to ensure green spaces are provided in the city, even if there is no room in the specific neighbourhood.

He noted that besides being sustainable, the development would create hundreds of jobs in the region.

“It’s a matter of having people living close to their jobs and there’s a number of people wanting to live in Vancouver,” Gordon said.
The northeast False Creek development is expected to be similar to Georgia Street west of Bute toward Coal Harbour, Gordon said.
City Coun. Suzanne Anton argued that while densification will see more people choosing transit and consuming less, it shouldn’t mean they have fewer public spaces or amenities.

“There’s going to be a lot of people living in the area; there has to be a place for kids to take swimming lessons or skating lessons,” Anton said. “I’m worried about the lack of public facilities there.”

But Maureen Enser, of the Urban Development Institute, agreed that northeast False Creek is the ideal location for higher density because it’s within walking distance of Stanley Park and the seawall, and is close to transit.
“From a sustainability perspective, density should be in an area like this because you have all the amenities close by already,” Enser said. “The need to increase the [open space] numbers per person is not as dramatic as other areas.”
However, park board commissioner Ian Robertson says the city and the Vision majority on council are catering to the demands of developers and adding to a continuing decline of park space throughout Vancouver.

Ian Robertson noted that Concord Pacific’s original plan for the area in the 1990s would have met park board standards, but that city council has continued to add more density in the development.

“We’re constantly looking at all quadrants and regions in the city where we’re park-deficient,” he said. “Certainly this is good for the developer, but not necessarily for residents of this neighbourhood.”

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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has released their Sept stats.  Very detailed and very positive!
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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

Special to The Globe and Mail

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."

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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver just released their stats for July 2009 and it reflects what any Realtor in town will be able to tell you; July was an amazingly busy month

July stats:

Strong spring market carries into summer months

VANCOUVER, B.C. – August 5, 2009 – The Greater Vancouver housing market gained further momentum in July with record sales levels and a continued strengthening of home prices.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that the number of residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 4,114 in July 2009, becoming the highest volume of sales ever recorded within the REBGV for that month, outpacing the 4,023 sales in July 2003, which is the only other year that July sales exceeded the 4,000 mark.

Since the beginning of the year, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver has increased 9.2 per cent to $528,821 from $484,211. However, home prices compared to July 2008 levels are down 5 per cent.

“Home sales this summer are seasonally higher than normal, which is due in large part to the price correction that has taken place in the last year and low interest rates,” Scott Russell, REBGV president said. “Although wellpriced listings and lower-to mid-range priced properties remain in the highest demand across Greater Vancouver, recent activity from first-time buyers is beginning to boost demand in the “move-up” segment of the market.”

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties declined in Greater Vancouver, down 17.4 per cent to 5,041 in July 2009 compared to July 2008, when 6,104 new units were listed. At 12,482, the total number of property listings on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) declined 5.8 per cent compared to last month and 34 per cent compared to July 2008.

“It is currently taking, on average, 48 days for a home to sell in the region. Today’s market activity differs by area and property type and it’s important to tap into local housing market expertise to understand why some properties are attracting multiple offers, while others are not moving,” Russell said.

July 2009 home sales declined 3.4 per cent compared to June 2009, but are up 89.2 per cent when measured against the 2,174 sales recorded in July 2008.

Sales of detached properties in July increased 95.2 per cent to 1,614 from the 827 detached sales recorded during the same period in 2008. The HPI benchmark price for detached properties declined 5.5 per cent from July 2008 to $711,702. Since the beginning of the year, the benchmark price for detached properties in Greater Vancouver has increased 9.8 per cent.

Sales of apartment properties in July 2009 increased 76.8 per cent to 1,708, compared to 966 sales in July 2008. The benchmark price of an apartment property declined 4.3 per cent from July 2008 to $365,291. Since the beginning of the year, the benchmark price for apartment properties in Greater Vancouver has increased 9.6 per cent.

Attached property sales in July 2009 are up 107.9 per cent to792, compared with the 381 sales in July 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit decreased 4.6 per cent between July 2008 and 2009 to $452,085. Since the beginning of the year, the benchmark price for attached properties in Greater Vancouver has increased 6.8 per cent.

Bright spots in Greater Vancouver in July 2009 compared to July 2008:


Burnaby up 121.7 per cent (153 units sold from 69)  

North Vancouver up 53.3 per cent (115 units sold from 75)  

Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows up 60 per cent (160 units sold from 100)  

Richmond up 140.2 per cent (221 units sold from 92)  

Vancouver East up 66.4 per cent (208 units sold from 125)  

Port Coquitlam up 236.4 per cent (74 units sold from 22)  

Vancouver West up 104.5 per cent (180 units sold from 88)  

South Delta up 203.1 per cent (97 units sold from 32)  

West Vancouver up 108.1 per cent (77 units sold from 37)  

Sunshine Coast up 60.5 per cent (69 units sold from 43)  


Burnaby up 123.3 per cent (134 units sold from 60)  

Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows up 77.7 per cent (64 units sold from 36)  

North Vancouver up 70 per cent (51 units sold from 30)  

Vancouver West up 110 per cent (105 units sold from 50)  

Richmond up 152.1 per cent (179 units sold from 71)  

Vancouver East up 195.8 per cent (71 units sold from 24)  

Port Coquitlam up 117.6 per cent (37 units sold from 17)  

Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows up 77.7 per cent (64 units sold from 36)  

Coquitlam up 88.2 per cent (64 units sold from 34)  


Burnaby up 72.8 per cent (235 units sold from 136)  

North Vancouver up 47.9 per cent (105 units sold from 71)  

Richmond up 85.5 per cent (230 units sold from 124)  

Vancouver East up 64.2 per cent (179 units sold from 109)  

Vancouver West up 94 per cent (584 units sold from 301)  

New Westminster up 70.6 per cent (116 units sold from 68)  

Coquitlam up 62.3 per cent (86 units sold from 53)  

Port Moody/Belcarra up 138.1 per cent (50 units sold from 21)  

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I have just uploaded a copy of this month's Informed Buyer and Seller Newsletter
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Bentall 5 building has been sold to a German investment company for $300 million in Vancouver, B.C.

Bentall 5 building has been sold to a German investment company for $300 million in Vancouver, B.C.

Photograph by: Bill Keay, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER - News that the Bentall 5 building in downtown Vancouver had been sold to a German investment firm for $300 million dropped like a bombshell in the city's commercial real estate sector Wednesday morning.

It is the highest price paid for a single building in Metro Vancouver in at least the past decade and the second highest in Canada since the end of 2007.

And buyer Deka Immobilien Investment GmbH came forward with an unsolicited, all-cash bid to entice owner SITQ, the real estate subsidiary of the Quebec pension fund Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, into selling.

"For sure it's the largest [sale] in Canada this year," said Tony Quattrin, an executive vice-president in Vancouver for the commercial realtor CB Richard Ellis, Deka Immobilien's broker in the deal.

The Bentall 5 sale ranks as the biggest transaction Metro Vancouver has seen for the decade Paul Richter has been researching the market.

"[The sale] is a bit of a surprise in that you don't see deals anywhere near this [magnitude] generally in this market," said Richter, western Canadian manager for the property research firm RealNet Canada Inc.

He said in an interview that he fielded several e-mails Wednesday morning that included a lot of multiple exclamation points in their punctuation.

"Something coming in at $300 million has caught a lot of people's attention," he said.

The surprise, however, is "tempered a little bit when you think about the property and how high-end it is and how tight the office market is," Richter said. "It's just a gem in the office market."

Located at 550 Burrard downtown, the 33-storey, 583,000-square-foot tower was built by Bentall Properties LP, which is owned in part by SITQ, in two phases. The first opened in 2002, the second in 2007.

The sale comes at the same time tight credit conditions have dampened commercial real estate purchases and the news from U.S. markets is about foreclosures on major assets.

Avtar Bains, senior vice-president at Colliers International, said the fact that Deka Immobilien found an owner in Vancouver willing to sell was the startling part.

"What's somewhat surprising is that it is rare that opportunities like this come up in downtown Vancouver," Bains said in an interview.

Quattrin said the Bentall 5 building is Deka Immobilien's first purchase in Canada. He said the purchase speaks to the confidence the firm has in the Canadian market, which is surviving the recession better than other locations in the world.

"And I think Vancouver's [office-market] fundamentals, regarding its comparatively low vacancy rates, limited new supply [of office construction] and probably better prospects for growth, I think Vancouver becomes a priority."

Quattrin said Deka Immobilien, one of two open-ended property investment funds controlled by the 19-billion euro DekaBank Group, moved quickly when it decided to invest in Vancouver. He said the firm sent an advance team to scout the city last October.

The deal to buy Bentall 5, Quattrin added, was put together over the past 60 days.

Tony Astles, senior vice-president at Bentall Real Estate Services, said Deka Immobilien will retain Bentall as manager of the building.


1. $300 million: Bentall 5, Vancouver, May 2009.

2. $246 million: Central City, Surrey, August 2007.

3. $209 million: Crestwood Corporate Centre, Richmond, August 2008.

4. $151 million: Telus Tower, Burnaby, May 2006.

5. $140 million: HSBC Building, Vancouver, September 2005.

Source: CB Richard Ellis, Vancouver Sun

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1. As with conversations, listen more than you speak (or read more than you Tweet)
Think of Twitter as a busy conference.  If you run up to everyone you meet in real life and try to sell them something, soon enough people will lose interest in you, right?  Same on Twitter.  It is not "whoever Tweets the most wins"  It is more "whoever can provide real information to their followers wins"
Spend some time reading the Tweets of people you follow, you will surely find some interesting topics and unique perspectives
2. Follow, Follow, Follow
Follow people.  You don't have to follow just your heroes, friends and favorite celebs.  When in doubt, follow!  If you find a person Tweets too often, you can always unfollow later
3.Thank people for their @ mentions
If someone takes the time to retweet what you say or mention you in a positive way to their followers, make sure you thank them.
4. Ask yourself "Why is this interesting to people?" Before Tweeting. 
If you are selling a product, don't just tweet that it is for sale, try to convey something of interest.
5. If Tweeting a news story, try to give your thoughts or opinion instead of just linking
Linking is like handing someone a newspaper and saying "read this"  Adding your opinion helps open conversation and perhaps even debate (Twebate? ok, maybe that is a little much)
6. Don't listen to me! 
Ok, I think I have some valid points here, but who knows where social media will go?  If you have something you think works, go with it!
Cory Raven is a Metro Vancouver Real Estate Salesperson currently licensed with MAC Marketing Solutions.  In addition to trying to add his mark to the social media phenomenon and servicing the needs of his clients, Cory is also working with MAC Marketing's owner, Cameron McNeill to create a boutique Real Estate Company of an elite group of Trusted and Committed Realtors to service the Vancouver Real Estate Market.
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Bob Rennie: Priced to Sell

In search of new models of affordable housing

In the past year, prices for homes have dropped throughout B.C., and yet what might be considered “affordable housing” is still in desperately short supply. Construction costs are down, as the demand for new homes has subsided, but the cost of land remains high. Indeed, not only do we have a shortage of developable land in Vancouver – and elsewhere in B.C. – but that shortage is compounded by a restrictive zoning and entitlement process.
The lowest cost for which you can build a home, excluding land, is well over $325 per square foot; land costs alone add another $50 to $200 per square foot (depending on the city and building you’re living in). Your average Vancouver couple – say, a hospital worker and a police officer – can no longer afford the mortgage on a home in the community in which they work.
So who’s to blame for the affordability crisis? Is it the greedy developers? I would argue no. Developers in Vancouver work on very narrow profit margins – 50 per cent smaller than the typical developer south of the border.
Is it the condo investor who’s preventing an increase in affordable housing stock? Again, no. Without that investor, there would be no new rental units coming on the market (it doesn’t take two hands to count the number of actual rental buildings built in Vancouver in the past 10 years).

As unsatisfying as it is to say, the problem is beyond our control: we remain a desirable place to live, and as long as we keep our borders open there will always be someone willing to pay the price of entry.

That’s not to say there aren’t creative solutions out there. Two projects I’ve worked on in recent years point the way to affordability, each offering smart ways of densifying a community and spreading land costs. At Woodward’s the developer Westbank/Peterson was allowed to build 536 market condominiums and obtained 300,000 square feet of density to be transferred to future development sites. In exchange, they agreed to build 200 non-market social housing units, which will be turned over to the city and managed by the Portland Hotel Society.
Similarly, at L’Hermitage at Robson and Richards, the developer Millennium added density by purchasing two building sites next door to the condo development – including the drug-infested Passlin Hotel, which consisted of 47 single-room-occupancy units – tearing them down and replacing them with 47 new single-room accommodations. In return, Millennium was “bonused” enough density by the City of Vancouver to add four floors to the top, where big-ticket condos could be built and sold – and thus make this scenario work for both city and developer.

Of course, the examples above are about creating social housing for society’s hardest hit. But for those hospital workers and police officers, living in a single-­room accommodation is not an answer. For them, affordability is a question of innovative financing, with one possible solution being what

I call the “Optional Affordability Program.”

In this scenario, municipalities allow developers of any site to add 10 per cent or even 20 per cent additional (affordable) suites to current zoning. Let’s say it’s 20 extra condos that are, on average, 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom units, with a land value component of $100,000 each. The municipality would place a charge on title equal to $100,000, allowing those units to sell for $100,000 less – with all subsequent buyers paying market value less the charge on title (plus some specified inflation rate).

The charge on title can be paid off at any time, allowing the condo to then travel with market values. That $100,000 would then be paid back to the city, with the money going (presumably) toward other housing needs.
Vancouver will never be a cheap place to live. In fact, it never was. But with some creative thinking about zoning and financing, we can build a sustainable community in which more people, from all walks of life, can afford to live where they work. That should be our priority.
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Today's Real Deal is a 4 bedroom FREEHOLD townhouse in Champlain Heights.  Rentals not allowed.  This seems like an excellent buy for a family looking to get into the market.
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A question I often get from clients is... "How much has the market changed/dropped since last year"
The answer, of course, is not a simple one.  Different areas have been affected differently and even if similar markets different product has had different % drops in the year May 2008-May 2009.
One thing is for sure, whether you think it is a good time to buy or not.... Houses and condos are more affordable than they were a year ago or two ago.
How much more affordable?  Well lets take an example, realizing that it isn't perfect and won't be the same as a percentage for any two properties.
Let's take a home that sold in May 2007 and then at its value in May 2009.  The value has dropped 13% (again, don't use this number as the gospel, but I am using a specific Metro Vancouver home here)
So, the 2007 value was $700,000
In 2009, it is worth 13% less, or $609,000
So 13% less, right? Someone in 2009 is going to get a WAY better deal than 13% off the 2007 value, even if they pay the $609,000
To understand, let's look at interest rates.
In 2007, the price was $700,000.  Let's assume the buyer is putting down 20% so we don't have top deal with CMHC fees (dispite me making this go away for the sake of simplicity in this example, REMEMBER to ALWAYS FACTOR IN ALL CLOSING COSTS, they add up! - talk to your Realtor)
So, $700,000 with a $140,000 down payment leaving $560,000 to Mortgage.  Interest rates were 5.25% for a discounted 5 year rate (we'll do a 25 year amortization - 5 years is just the mortgage term)
Payments on that $560,000 are $3337 per month
Now, it is 2009, you are buying the house for 609,000 and putting the same $140,000 down, leaving $469,000 to be mortgaged.  The kicker?  Today you are getting a 5 year Mortgage for 3.69% (we'll use 25 years as our amortization again)
Payments on that $469,000 at 3.69% are $2388 per month! That is a savings of $949 per month, or 28.4% less expensive per month!
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I guess there is no shortage of people looking for information on the Vancouver Real Estate market.  Although twitter has been around for some time, I only this past week.  In the past 5 days, over 300 fellow twitter'ers have signed up to follow my "tweets"
I think a big part of that is the buzz around my new service, but it is still an astonishing number.  I hope to send out enough quality "tweets" that more and more people join.  I have set a goal of having 500 twitter'ers following my posts by the end of April and it looks as though that is doable.
Have a great weekend.  Feel free to email me at if you have any questions.
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First-timers drive a rebounding market

'Vancouver detached house prices are the lowest they have been in two or three years,' say one couple convinced that the time is ripe to purchase

Globe and Mail Update

Judging from the many shoes littering the front porches at open houses in recent weekends, it's clear that people are back buying houses.

Without a doubt, the market has picked up, and we're barely into March. It's a far cry from the abysmal real estate market of last fall and January this year.

According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, residential housing sales were up 94 per cent last month compared with January. That translates into 1,480 sales for the month of February alone. January, on the other hand, was a record-setting sluggish month - the slowest for housing sales in 25 years.

The growth defies the sky-is-falling pronouncements that have made headlines since September last year. But there is a growing perception that it's a buyer's market. A recent RBC/Ipsos Reid poll revealed that 26 per cent of B.C. residents surveyed believed they would purchase a home in the next two years, despite the view that house prices will continue to fall over 2009.

The condo market is also feeling a surge of life, real estate marketer Bob Rennie says.

"Sales are up," he says. "We have sold 19 [units] at One Madison Avenue in Burnaby in the past six weeks, and another nine at L'Hermitage at Robson and Richards in the past 10 days.

"I do think that the market is seeing a little bit of confidence, combined with some great opportunities with great interest rates."

Armed with low interest rates and realizing a good deal when they see one, brave contrarians are defying fears.

"People can see the value - and the value is phenomenal," real estate agent Lorne Goldman says.

Mr. Goldman says he had a house for sale last year on the city's pricey west side with an asking price of $2.4-million. The sellers were offered $2.3-million, but the buyer failed to complete. The same house is now on the market for $1.85-million.

"It's also very basic Real Estate 101," he adds. "There are people who are getting married, there are people who are married having more children, people being transferred into Vancouver from other cities. There are people who have inherited money who want a bigger house.

"The market continues, despite what is out there in the general economy. The fundamentals are there. People still need to buy groceries, and they still need shelter."

Karin and Sean Whale are unfazed about talk that house prices may fall further or that it's not a good time to sell a home. They recently had a baby and are motivated by their changing lifestyle.

The couple owns a three-storey townhouse on the east side of the city near trendy Commercial Drive, and with the latest addition, they've outgrown it and are looking to trade up to a detached house. They don't worry about selling and buying into the same market.

"Buying low and selling low is not a scary proposition to us," Ms. Whale says. "We need more space at this time in our lives ...Vancouver detached house prices are the lowest they have been in two or three years."

Long-time Vancouver real estate agent David Campbell says that, unlike a year ago, it isn't the fixer-uppers and in-between houses selling. Demand is high for nice ones that don't require a lot of work, and there aren't a lot of them on the market. And the people buying, he says, are either first-time buyers or homeowners such as the Whale family who are trading up.

"We have many buyers, but we have seen the return of first-time buyers," Mr. Campbell says. "For a good part of, let's say, the last nine months, first-time buyers have been staying out of the market. They were a little scared as to what was happening last fall. But interest rates are at record lows, and prices have adjusted downward, and there are lots of first-time buyers coming back.

"We're getting a lot of move-up buyers as well taking advantage of the low interest rates who say, 'Now I can afford that spread up to the next one.' "

And unlike last fall, when the bottom fell out of the market, they aren't making low-ball offers - the prices have firmed up, he says.

"Last Sunday I had the busiest open house since April," Mr. Campbell says. "I had three offers on a house in 24 hours and it sold over asking."

But not just any house is selling, he adds. Buyers are being selective in this uncertain market.

"They want a good home, so they are picking the better ones," Mr. Campbell says. "That's where we get multiple offers."

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Don't believe all that you read

Burnaby Now

Published: Saturday, March 07, 2009


Dear Editor:

Re: Market not ready for optimism, On the Market column, Burnaby NOW, Feb. 25. Mr. McCarthy slags Bob Rennie for making market prognostications at the same time he holds himself out to be the only person capable of dispensing "truth" about the real estate market.

Yet Mr. McCarthy makes statements such as, "The average or median housing cost for all products are so excessive compared to similar units in Canada and North America ..." When has a home in Vancouver not been "excessive" in terms of price when compared to Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Quebec City, Halifax or Plum Coulee? Perhaps Mr. McCarthy would like to do an analysis comparing home prices in Vancouver with London, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco and New York - some of the other most desirable places to live in world.

His reference to "tens of thousands of units bought entirely on speculation" implies that this is the condition here in the Lower Mainland. Perhaps he could explain why, as of Feb. 27, there are just over 100 units being offered on MLS and other sites such and craigslist etc., for sale as "assignments" or buyers selling contracts before they have to complete and take possession of the property. If there are "tens of thousands" of units sitting empty, why is the vacancy rate low, rents so high?
In many cases, it now costs less to buy a home in the Lower Mainland than it costs to rent the same home. When I refer to homes, I include condos, as they are the home of choice for more than 70 per cent of all buyers, including first-timers and downsizers.
History does seem to repeat itself, yet Mr. McCarthy did not refer to the last really big slowdown in the Lower Mainland real estate market in late 1980 on through the early '80s, nor did he mention that prices did not fall back to pre-1980 levels. Or that interest rates were 19 per cent or more. Nor did he mention that the astute buyers that bought in 1981/82 made returns of 1,500 to 2,500 per cent and more over the following 25 years.
For real estate investment experts, some self-proclaimed, such as Mr. McCarthy, always stand to gain more by buying at the lowest possible price. Anything that an investor can do to lower the price of the commodity he is about to buy works to the investor's advantage. Press releases without hard evidence and bafflegab are just some of the many ways this can be done.
My advice to any investor is to do your own due diligence. Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you read. Any experienced Realtor can supply you with the current market information you need - call a few and compare the info. Check out a few of the properties that are for sale, for rent. It's your money: Invest it wisely knowing that the best investment you can have in the Lower Mainland is a paid for home or a rental property that produces positive cash flow.
Mr. McCarthy quotes from the Realtor Code of Ethics, "Under all is land." It's unfortunate he did not read on: Article 1: A Realtor shall be informed regarding the essential facts which affect current market conditions. Article 19: the Realtor shall never publicly discredit any other registrant, if the Realtor's opinion is sought, it should be rendered with strict professional integrity and courtesy.

Donald G. MacKay, managing broker,

Amex Broadway West Realty

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I have prepared some sales stats for a client looking at buildings that are 5 years old or older in the Westend, sold between October 1st, 2007 and October 31st, 2008 and is in a woodframe, freehold building where rentals are allowed
Click the link below to see. 
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No money for Quattro buyers: developer

Courtesy of


Thanks to a clause in their contracts, the people who have already paid to live in a huge Surrey condominium that was engulfed by fire won't be getting their money back, the developer said Sunday.

Instead they'll have to hold tight while the damage is assessed and Phase Two of the Quattro buildings in Whalley is rebuilt -- or sell their stake to someone else, said developer Charan Sethi.

"If you want to assign the contract to someone else, you can do that," said Sethi at a town hall meeting for Quattro buyers. "We'll put a system in places so you can do so."

The building was fully insured, and unlike other pre-sale projects that have hit bumps, any extra costs won't be passed on to the buyer, he said.

Surrey hinged the promise of revitalizing the neighbourhood on the $625-million condominium project, the largest-ever commercial and residential development the city had ever seen.

More than 100 units had sold out within hours when the project went on the market. Some 116 buyers were planning to move into their units in the spring.

Instead, a fire broke out on Phase Two of Quattro on October 2, sending massive plumes of smoke into the sky and threatening to engulf nearby buildings as well.

The three-alarm fire knocked out power to over 4,000 people and threatened to topple a large construction crane.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the blaze, which they're saying was suspicious.

The contract clause allows for an extension beyond the initial completion date that is equal to the time it takes to repair or rebuild the building in the case of a fire. It also allows the developer a period of 120 days if there is a fire.

Other Surrey developments have had trouble not because of the fire, but because of a global credit freeze.

The developer of the Infinity project near King George SkyTrain Station filed for bankruptcy protection after one of its financial backers, Lehman Bros., went under.

The developer, Jung Developments says it's in negotiations with three local big name developers, and says it's confident that it will find the $100 million extra needed to finish the project.

Other pre-sale condominiums have run out of money as well, leaving some buyers in the lurch.

Vancouver-based Eden group canceled two condo projects due to projected cost overruns before they reached construction. Another of its condos, The Sophia, is nearing completion in the hands of a receiver.

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I had a client ask me to run some numbers and thought I would share.  Given the seemingly daily news about financial crisis, US housing bubbles, $100 million dollar loans for Millennium Development's Olympic Village, and prices now declining in Metro Vancouver, I was curious as to what I would find.
This is just a small snapshot and doesn't look at the "macro" market.  It is for 5 year old (and older) buildings in Kits that are freehold and allow rentals.  I ran each month from October 2007 to October 2008.  We just looked at MLS sales, not at listings that were canceled or expired.  Private Sales are not part of this study.
Some notes that will make it easier to read
DOM = Days on Market, the number of days it took to sell from the time it was listed
PSF= Price per square foot.  In the real estate world, this helps us compare apples with apples.  We take the sale price and divide it by the square footage and get the price per square foot.
This information, although compiled by myself, is courtesy of the Real Estate Board and although assumed to be correct has not been verified.
Have a look, although there are signs of a "Buyer's Market" as we move from Oct 2007 to today, I think the results may surprise you.
I am going to be working on the same type of information sheet for other areas as well.  Is there one you would like to see or some other Real Estate question I can help you with? Drop me a line at
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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
Cory Raven
Cory Raven - Managing Broker
RE/MAX Select Realty
4806 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5V 3R8