As we saw in an earlier post, seasonality can play a strong role in influencing market conditions. Aside from seasonal patterns, a slew of other factors also can have a bearing on market activity, and by extension, how much of a premium you might be able to sell your home for:

1. Interest rates. While interest rates are currently sitting at historic lows, there is no guarantee that this trend will continue indefinitely. The Bank of Canada has suggested that rates will likely rise in the coming year. If and when that prophecy comes to fruition, consumer affordability will drop, leading to an overall cooling of the real estate market. Selling a home while interests rates are low and buyer demand is high maximizes your chances for a sale at top dollar.

2. Immigration and demographic shifts. Given the relatively low birth rates in Canada, it’s no surprise that much of our demand for real estate is driven by immigration. Sudden upswings in immigration (e.g., in the years leading up to the Hong Kong handover to China in 1997) have historically had profound impacts on our local market. Here at home, it’s postulated that changing population demographics (e.g., as the Baby Boomers age and downsize to smaller and smaller residences), there might be more pressure put on certain facets of the market (e.g., a shift away from single-family homes to townhome/condo living).

3. The economy. When national economic sentiment is positive, the local real estate market tends to fair well, as consumer confidence is generally high at these times. Due to higher “international” involvement in our local real estate market, increasingly economic forecasts from other nations—most notably the United States and China—seems to have an influence on consumer attitudes.

4. Government policy. Temporary tax credits, grants, and deductions are all tools at the government’s disposal for shoring up real estate demand in the short-term. Knowledge about the timing of these programs can potentially save a home seller thousands of dollars.

In conclusion it’s important to note that while trying to time the market looks simple on paper, in practice it’s rarely easily to achieve. The housing market is constantly adjusting and readjusting itself based on buyer demand and seller supply, as influenced by the principal factors listed above. As such, even the most carefully timed home purchase don’t always work out for the best.

When selling a home and making a subsequent repurchase, it’s important to keep in mind that unless you’re willing to sit by the sidelines and speculate, you will be purchasing in much the same market that you likely sold in. As a result, in particular in these cases, trying to time a sale to maximize cash in hand can sometimes be all for naught. As such, most real estate advisors will recommend that when the time feels right to you to go for the plunge. Who knows what surprises tomorrow might hold!

If you have questions about the market or would like to discuss anything mentioned in this article, feel free to send me an email or drop me a line—I’d love to chat. I’m a Vancouver Realtor who is an expert in residential real estate and sell extensively condominiums, townhomes and detached homes.

This is a question I routinely get asked by both home sellers and buyers. The good news is that generally speaking, the answer to this question is pretty straightforward.

To get things kicked on in addressing this question, a quick vocabulary lesson is in order. The world of real estate, there are essentially two different classes of features to consider:

FIXTURES: objects firmly fixed in place that are considered to be part of the real property or integral to its use or operation

CHATTEL: moveable objects that have not been “annexed” to the property in a legal sense

Why are these terms important? Simply put, if not specified elsewhere, a home must be sold with all fixtures as viewed by the buyer. Any chattels on the premises (even if present when the buyer viewed the property) need not be included with the sale, unless explicitly agreed upon in the Contract of Purchase and Sale. To help simplify things, the standard Contract of Purchase and Sale template for residential property in British Columbia provides specific fields for identifying specific “inclusions” and “exclusions” for a sale.

This sounds all nice and clear-cut, but problems sometimes arise for items that fall into the “grey-zone” zone between fixtures and chattels. Here’s what the strict legal interpretation has been in the past:

A portable/free-standing dishwasher: This is a chattel, because it is not affixed to the property. A built-in dishwasher (e.g., screwed in to the wall or surrounding cabinetry/countertop) conversely, would be identified as a chattel.

Built-in electric light fixtures: The light fixtures would (perhaps obviously) be considered fixtures. Interestingly, the bulbs contained within the fixtures can be construed as chattels that the sellers would be free to remove.

Hanging pictures: Like with the example with the light fixtures, the hooks upon which the pictures were mounted are fixtures, whereas the pictures themselves are chattels. In the unique case where the seller has elected to affix artwork directly to the walls without the use of hooks, technically speaking the pictures become fixtures in that case.

Furnace filters: Although based on the previous examples you might be prone to believe that much like light bulbs a furnace filter should be viewed as a chattel, and free for the seller to remove. However, because the furnace filter is deemed necessary for the regular operation of the furnace (which is itself a fixture), furnace filters are also understood to be fixtures.

Garden sheds: The precedent here indicates that if the shed is securely affixed to the ground, a fence, the house, or another building on the property, it should be regarded as a fixture. However, like the case with the portable dishwasher, if the shed is either entirely freestanding or only modestly secured, it can be treated as a chattel.

In short, the grey area between “fixture” and “chattel” is not always clear. As there is so much potential for confusion, a skilled Realtor will always go the extra mile to ensure determine your needs and then ensure that your interests are protected. At the end of the day, it’s absolutely imperative that what you’re looking to get of a purchase or keep from a sale is well understood by all parties. When in doubt, spell it out!

If you have questions about the market or would like to discuss anything mentioned in this article, feel free to send me an email or drop me a line—I’d love to chat. I’m a Vancouver Realtor who is an expert in residential real estate and sell extensively condominiums, townhomes and detached homes.

The “leaky condo” crisis has ravaged the Vancouver real estate scene for more than two decades now, and while it appears that the majority of buildings in need of substantial remediation have now been addressed, we are by no means out of the woods yet with this issue.

Homeowners, developers, insurance funds, and governments at all levels have thrown in millions of dollars to address water ingress and mould issues in residential buildings spanning from single-family homes, to condominiums to townhomes and duplexes.

The good news is that there are several tell-tale indicators that can suggest a building might be in need of rain screening:

1. It was built between 1982 and 1999. While this rule is not absolutely hard-and-fast, it was during the ‘80s and ‘90s that we began using building materials and building practices that weren’t conducive to our temperate rainforest climate. Fortunately, the building code was amended in 2000 to close up these loopholes and prevent the construction of further leaky condos.

Example of a wood-framed, stucco-clad exterior condo built in the 1990s

This is an example of a building built in the early 1990s, at the height of the leaky condo era.

 

 

 

 

 

2. The exterior of the building is stucco. While stucco-cladded housing is extremely popular and functional in dry and arid climates, unfortunately experience has taught us that stucco may not be the best building material in a city where rainfall is so persistent. Specifically, for many years we applied stucco directly to the main structure of buildings, without a cavity to allow the trapped moisture to escape. Conversely, buildings with brick facades have typically faired quite well in our climate over the years, as the way these buildings are engineered makes it really hard for water to get trapped in the walls.

Example of a wood-framed, stucco exterior building

This is an example of a wood-framed building with a stucco-clad exterior.

 

 

 

 

 

3. The building lacks expansion joints with flashings. In rain screened buildings flashings are installed to redirect water out and way from the interior cavity where moisture would otherwise build up. If flashings are not present at expansion joints, it’s likely that the stucco was applied without a breathable cavity underneath.

Building with Flashings at Expansion Joints

This is an example of a building where flashings have been included at the expansion joints. As you can see, there is a strip of metal at each break point between floors to allow for water egress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The building lacks overhangs above windows and doors. These overhangs prevent driving rain from making contact in at natural breaks in the wall. Door and window frames don’t always match up perfectly with the surrounding exterior walls, so it’s always beneficial that there is as much protection at these interfaces as possible.

Example of a building with overhangs above windows and doors

This is an example of a building where overhangs and been included above windows and doors. The added protection provided by these overhangs helps ensure that water ingress is minimized.

 

 

 

 

5. The building has little or no drainage on roof top decks and balconies. Pooling water on flat surfaces can only ever spell trouble. Water will always find a way of seeping through materials at their weakest point, so the best way to prevent moisture ingress is to have the water flow away through designated channels as quickly as possible.

Flat roof with standing water

This is an example of a building with a flat roof where insufficient drainage is present on the rooftop, leading to ample standing water.

 

 

 

 

While this list of features to look out for when evaluating if a home or condo is leaky is by no means exhaustive, these tips of the trade should give you a better feel if that dream home you’ve been eying might just be a money pit.

If you have questions about the market or would like to discuss anything mentioned in this article, feel free to send me an email or drop me a line—I’d love to chat. I’m a Vancouver Realtor who is an expert in residential real estate and sell extensively condominiums, townhomes and detached homes.

Many phenomena are reported to have seasonal variation. From tidal currents to consumer spending, seasonality is a well-documented phenomenon.

In the context of Vancouver’s real estate market the question “is there a best time to buy?” is often raised. While timing the real estate market with laser precision is virtually impossible–due in large part to the sheer volume of factors underpinning market growth and consumer behaviour—there are still certain seasonal trends that can be surmised:

WINTER. It’s no surprise that days are short and the weather is typically bad in Vancouver during the winter months. This is a time when many folks prefer to hibernate or temporarily relocate to warmer climates on holiday. As such, both prospective home buyers and sellers tend to shy away from the market from the months of November to February. In particular, the second half of December is a time of year where very, very few buyers actively search for homes. It’s reasonable to conclude that if a seller has their home listed for sale over the winter holidays, they are likely reasonably motivated to sell!

SPRING. From a historical standpoint, springtime is by far the most active time of the year for Vancouver real estate sales across houses, condominiums and townhomes. With the increase in daylight hours to view homes, purchasers have more hours at their disposal to sleuth for a new home. By March many of us have settled up our credit cards from winter travel and holiday spending, putting us in a more stable financial position to go out and entertain making a major purchase.

SUMMER. While traditionally the summer holidays have been regarded as a time of slow-down in activity within our local real estate market, this appears to no longer be the case. Since the turn of the millennium, sales activity in the summer months has more often than not mirrored activity levels set in the spring. On average over the last 15 years, sales activity within the summer months has been 35% more than in the decade that preceded that. While summer real estate market activity is Vancouver has grown in strength in recent years, it still pales in comparison to the spring and fall months.

July Home Sales - Greater VancouverThis figure shows the number of home sales in July since 1990. You can see here that the volume of home sales in July is generally higher this decade than we saw during the 1990’s.

 

 

 

FALL. Even today, the fall is still second only to spring in terms of consumer activity. While price appreciation is less common towards the end of the calendar year, that doesn’t seem to stop prospective home purchasers from hitting the pavement. With the return of children to school and adults to a routine schedule, many view it as a perfect time to begin searching for a new home and setting down roots for the new year.

While there are definitely seasonal patterns to how the Vancouver real estate market operates, no two years are ever identical and there are always a variety of forces at play underpinning these broader trends. Every home purchaser and seller has their own unique objectives and timelines, so it’s crucially important to these factors into account when determining to what extent seasonality should play a role in shaping your purchase or sales strategy. A qualified Realtor with a solid understanding of the market fundamental and micro and macro factors influencing market trends should be able to advise you accordingly.

If you have questions about the market or would like to discuss anything mentioned in this article, feel free to send me an email or drop me a line—I’d love to chat. I’m a Vancouver Realtor who is an expert in residential real estate and sell extensively condominiums, townhomes and detached homes.

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