Cory Raven | 604-220-9399

The Capitol Residences are coming along nicely, as seen in this photo found on
Capitol Residences at 833 Seymour as of January 2010
Capitol Residences, built by Wall Financial (Run by Peter Wall and Bruno Wall) was sold a few years back by Bob Rennie and Rennie Marketing Systems.
What is the address of Capitol Residences?
The address is currently slated to be 833 Seymour Street,Vancouver.  This may change at completion.
Who is the builder of Capitol Residences?
Capitol Residences is being developed by Wall Financial Corp.
What is my condo at Capitol Residences worth?
For a free evaluation of your condo, conact Cory Raven of TAC Real Estate Corp at 604-220-9399
When will Capitol Residences be completed / finished?
Capitol residences is slated to be finished in late 2010.
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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 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.

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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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Last Thursday the Urban Development Institute held its Annual General Meeting and Bob Rennie was the guest speaker once again.
In the buildup to the talk, there was quite a bit of joking going around at the tables "I am sure that Bob will be positive even with what we have seen in this market" and things of that nature.
When Bob was officially introduced, there was even a chuckle in the room as it was said "and I am sure Bob will somehow be positive." 
Let me tell you.  Bob turned the skeptics in the room around really quickly!  Using numbers gathered from an independent source, Rennie dove right into an hour long talk on many issues, but the key to it all was really how little supply there is.
Bob was careful to separate the village of "downtown" from the suburbs, giving a hint that he, like myself, realizes that there is potential for some further downward pressure in the burbs where values must be supported by local incomes.
An amazing time was had, and Bob Rennie, who I have known for years and consider to be a friend did an excellent job.
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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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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