Boffo Homes brings TowneWalk to life in a quiet, residential Burnaby neighbourhood that is close to everything ›› p.4
Metro Vancouver market
October 14, 2010
B.C. Real Estate Association chief economist Cameron Muir says the Metro Vancouver housing market will likely see a modest increase in sales and little to no movement on home prices during the next few months. Martin Knowles photo
Housing: ‘flat is the new up’ As prices flatten out, the Metro Vancouver market balances out TRICIA LESLIE Housing sales in Metro Vancouver are down, then they’re up. Same with home prices and housing starts. One week it’s a buyer’s market and the next, it’s a hot market for sellers.
Homeowners can be passionate about following every single trend and headline related to the Metro Vancouver housing market – but when the headlines focus on decreases in local home sales or prices, many see that as a sign the local market isn’t doing well. But the local residential real estate market has fared better than most Canadian markets – and far better than any in the United States – especially during the recent global economic crisis and related recession.
“I think that part of what’s happened here is we’ve normalized the past few years,” says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation senior market analyst Robyn Adamache. “We’ve gotten so used to crazy hot market conditions, so when the market is balanced, people worry.” Indeed, at two current Metro Vancouver developments – Onni’s Ora in Richmond and Boffo Homes’ TowneWalk in Burnaby – CONTINUED ON P.2
Positive outlook at GVHBA event TRICIA LESLIE It’s a great time to be a homebuilder in Vancouver. At the Greater Vancouver Homebuilders’ Association annual election and awards dinner last week, Polygon president and CEO Neil Chrystal outlined the Top 10 Reasons why it is a great time to be a homebuilder in Metro Vancouver. First and foremost, Cwhrystal told the crowd, we live in a beautiful, safe city with world-class education and health care access in a stable political climate. “Don’t lose sight of that,” he said. Natural land constraints and a pro-busi“B.C. has ness government are the bounced next two reasons, Chrystal said, noting he is back hopeful the GVHBA and quite other industry organizastrongly.” tions are successful in their lobbies to mitigate the impact of the HST and property transfer taxes related to homes. The HST may have become “a bit of a crutch” for the residential real estate sector, as it is easy to lay blame for slower sales at the hated tax’s door, Chrystal said. An excellent infrastructure system, with several new projects underway, is another reason why it’s a great time to build in Metro Vancouver, Chrystal said, while positive job growth is the fifth reason. “B.C. has bounced back quite strongly,” Chrystal said, not only due to the Olympics, but to “continued momentum of job growth” in other sectors including tourism and infrastructurerelated employment. CONTINUED ON P.6
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Central 1 forecasts a brighter B.C. market Home sales will stabilize later this year and trend upward in 2011 and 2012. That’s what Central 1 Credit Union is predicting for the British Columbia housing market. According to a Central 1 report released last Thursday (Sept. 30), the median annual home price in the province is forecast to reach $388,000 this year, a five per cent increase from 2009. Prices will likely drop by five per cent in B.C. in 2011, the report notes, before rebounding by three per cent in 2012. Gains in 2010 primarily reflect higher prices and sales activity earlier in the year. The downward trend in housing sales that has characterized much of 2010 will stabilize in the fourth quarter before trending higher in 2011 and 2012, the report says. It predicts that home sales will fall by seven per cent from 2009 levels before rising by five per cent in 2011 and nine per cent in 2012. “A weak sales environment and elevated inventory levels have led to downward pressure on prices in 2010 and those declines will persist into early 2011,” says Central 1 economist Bryan Yu. “Lower prices and attractive mortgage rates will be a powerful incentive in attracting an increased number of buyers to the market next year.” After a 54 per cent rebound in 2010, housing starts are forecast to rise three per cent to 25,500 units in 2011, the Central 1 report says. In other real estate-related news, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently released a comprehensive report on housing in Canada, and “the critical role housing plays in the Canadian economy.” The 2010 Canadian Housing Observer reports the value of housing activity related to new-home construction, as well as the rental, sale and renovation of existing homes in Canada reached $307 billion in 2009, or more than one-fifth of Canada’s gross domestic product. CMHC released the eighth annual publication last week, a report that “details the far-reaching impact of housing in generating economic activity and employment across sectors, and highlights how housing finance continues to be a cornerstone of Canada’s financial system,” says CMHC president Karen Kinsley. Other key findings in the 2010 Observer include: n the relative resiliency of Canada’s housing finance system derives from several factors, including prudent financial industry practice, government involvement and regulatory oversight, and consumer behaviour n renovation spending for alterations and improvements grew by 2.8 per cent, reaching about $40.3 billion in 2009 n from 2001 to 2006, the number of owner-occupied condominiums in Canada rose by 37 per cent, three times faster than owner households overall n nationally, the incidence of urban core housing need continued to improve, decreasing from 13.9 per cent to 12.4 per cent in 2007 The last item is noteworthy, says senior CMHC media relations manager Charles Sauriol, because “generally, affordability problems have decreased.”
Local real estate professionals check out a model of Onni’s Ora, a Richmond project that sold out in less than a week.
“We’re looking at quite a
robust recovery” Off the front: “It’s
like the housing market has stopped to take a breath.” – Tsur Somerville, UBC expert CONTINUED FROM P.1
the homes released for sale sold out, or came extremely close to a sellout, within less than a week. But even with those two recent successes, Adamache says Metro Vancouver is currently experiencing balanced market conditions. Last year, there were just over 8,000 housing starts locally, she notes, while this year, 12,000 Metro Vancouver Boffo Homes’ TowneWalk, located in Burnaby, only had three homes left after two days of sales. starts are expected. “We’re looking at quite a robust recovery,” Adamache says of starts numbers, but that cannot be expected to last forever. perceived as normal. noting CMHC expects 30,000 starts in B.C. The expectation going forward, Muir says, “When I look at the data, it really looks by the end of 2010 (the latest CMHC stats is that there will be a “modest increase in sales like the housing market raced ahead of the show that number was at 26,500 starts as of toward the end of the year,” and while there’s economy over the past year,” Somerville says. September). A two or three per cent still some softness on home Now, “it’s like the housing market increase in starts numbers is expected prices, active listings are also has stopped to take a breath.” for 2011. decreasing, so “we certainly Somerville has also noticed the flatThe best indicator of what home don’t expect (home prices) to tening out of prices, and says most of prices will do is the sales-to-new-listincrease before the end of the those in the know in the industry exings ratio, and those numbers “have year.” pect they’ll remain flat, at best, which been in balanced territory for several Another area where there he sees as a reasonable assessment. months,” so home prices are flattening has been significant downward Sales, no matter what the headlines out, she says. pressure is mortgage interest say, are “not bust,” Somerville says. “Most of the price growth this year Robyn Adamache rates, and that “allows both Tsur Somerville “Sales numbers are generally has already happened ... I don’t expect homebuyers and homeowners healthy – they’re down from a year prices to drop in any big way,” Adamache says. to get in on mortgages or refinancing at nearago, so they’re down from through-the-roof,” B.C. Real Estate Association chief econorecord-low interest rates,” Muir says. says Somerville, referring to the huge market mist Cameron Muir agrees. Tsur Somerville, director of the UBC rebound in 2009. “Flat is the new ‘up,’” Muir quips. Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, Muir notes there is still inventory in the Muir notes a formerly strong seller’s market Sauder School of Business, does not expect Metro Vancouver market for homebuyers to turned into more of a buyer’s market during fixed mortgage rates will rise dramatically, consider. the summer months. but agrees that part of the public’s mindset “With the market tilted in favour of buyers, In 2009, B.C. “experienced the most draabout the local housing market likely has to there’s time to do due diligence and secure an matic rebound in the market ever,” he recalls, do with exceptional market conditions being attractive price on a home,” he says.
SALES TO STABILIZE
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New Local Home Ocotber 14, 2010 3
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4 New Local Home October 14, 2010
A lifestyle you’ll love
Come home to TowneWalk It’s a neighbourhood of quiet streets and sidewalks lined with mature trees and well-kept family homes. A nearby footpath leads to a local elementary school, while another short walk leads to all 90 hectares of Burnaby’s Central Park, which features tennis courts, an outdoor pool, pitchand-putt, Swanguard Stadium and hundreds of kilometres of trails surrounded by old-growth trees, among other features. Renowned facilities such as BCIT and Burnaby Hospital are just a hop, skip and a jump away, and Metropolis at Metrotown – a massive shopping, service and entertainment destination for all ages – really makes this Burnaby community a pedestrian-friendly paradise. It is here, at 5655 Chaffey Avenue, that Boffo Homes is building an exclusive collection of 26 new homes in a variety of contemporary, livable floorplans: TowneWalk. “The location is a huge positive,” says Flavia Boffo, who runs Boffo Homes with her brother, Daniel. Flavia’s father Tarcisco (Terry) Boffo and brother Mario formed Boffo Bros Landscaping and Construction in 1963; since then, Terry has developed his own niche of companies, including Boffo Homes, Boffo Properties and Boffo Building, among others. “It’s an established neighbourhood in a great community and you can walk to everything.” Only three units remain for sale just two days after TowneWalk sales opened, Flavia notes. “We’re hearing great feedback (from homebuyers). Many of them remark that the homes feel much larger than they are,” she says. “They love the layout, the large patios, the design ... you have your own front door with every home.” The stacked townhomes are designed to appeal to a wide range of homeowners, with one-bedroom single-level TownFlats and two-bedroomplus-flex two-level TowneHomes ranging in size from 622 square feet to 1,176 sq. ft. Outside, an updated, English arts and crafts design features brick and shingle details and the homes are arranged around a lushly landscaped courtyard. Fresh, contemporary Europeaninspired interiors by BYU Design offer two colour palettes, “a perfect canvas CONTINUED ON P.5
Boffo Homes’ TowneWalk is located in a quiet, residential Burnaby neighbourhood that is within walking distance to eveyr conceivable amenity, from parks and schools to Metropolis at Metrotown, SkyTrain stops and other tranist options. “The location is a huge positive,” says Boffo Homes’ Flavia Boffo. “Many (homebuyers) remark that the homes feel much larger than they are.”
‘You can walk to everything’
New Local Home Ocotber 14, 2010 5
New homes, fantastic location CONTINUED FROM P.4
for your living ideas,” with wood-grain laminate flooring throughout the entry area, living room, dining room and kitchen; carpet covers the interior stairs and bedroom floors. Kitchens come with solid quartz, white slab countertops, white ceramic tile backsplashes and seven high-quality appliances, including a fully integrated refrigerator. All TowneWalk residents will have access to a shared outdoor lounge and barbecue area, a children’s sculptoral play area and secured underground bicycle space. Homes start from $290,000 for one-bedroom plans and from $490,000 for two-bedroom-plusflex plans. Occupancy is expected by December. Visit townewalk.ca for more information.
Kitchens at TowneWalk are sleek and clean, with linear, European-inspired design, ceramic tile backsplashes and solid quartz white slab countertops.
6 New Local Home October 14, 2010
Future is bright for local builders CONTINUED FROM P.1
Adera’s Eric Andreasen, left, and Dennis Rithaler accept the award for Built Green BC Multi-Family Builder of the Year from GVHBA past chairman Peter Roskell.
Awards given at dinner event The Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association presented its annual Association Awards of Excellence at the Executive Plaza Hotel in Coquitlam last week. “The awards honour association members for their exceptional level of volunteer commitment and dedication to enhancing the professionalism of the homebuilding and renovation industries in the Metro Vancouver region,” said GVHBA president and CEO Peter Simpson.
GVHBA Association Awards of Excellence n Chairman’s Award of Honour Simone Sunderland, Green Sheet Construction Data Ltd., Port Moody n Builder Member of the Year ParkLane Homes Ltd., Vancouver n Corporate Member of the Year Dick’s Lumber & Building Supplies, Burnaby n Association Marketing Award Black Press and HomeTRADER.CA, Surrey n Technical Excellence Award Ron Rapp, Morningstar Homes Ltd., Coquitlam n RenoMark Renovator Member of the Year Jeff Bain, JKB Construction Ltd., Port Coquitlam n Supplier Member of the Year Monarch Floor and Window Coverings, Burnaby n Community Service Member of the Year Scotiabank, Surrey n Gary Santini Education & Training Award MAC Marketing Solutions, Vancouver n BuiltGreen Multi-Family Builder of the Year Adera Development Corporation, Vancouver n BuiltGreen Single-Family Builder of the Year Springbank Development Corp., Vancouver n Handshake Award (conducting business with the most GVHBA members) Ralph Belisle, TQ Construction Ltd., Burnaby
The lack of inventory in the region is another reason to build, Chrystal said, and noted there are currently 2,600 unsold homes, or a two-and-a-half-month supply, in Metro Vancouver. “That’s not a lot,” he said. Chrystal pointed to Canada’s strong banking system as reason No. 7, and the fact that because of the country’s stringent rules and stricter lending practices, “for the most part, you can get a loan ... try doing that south of the border.” Reason No. 8, said the apparent hockey fan, is that Vancouver is the “future home of the Stanley Cup Champions,” at least, according to the Hockey News, a publication that predicted the Vancouver Canucks will win Lord Stanley’s cup in 2011. Ninth on Chrystal’s list was B.C.’s annual immigration rates. While many U.S. markets are faltering, British Columbia’s market keeps “chugging along” due to the province’s high immigration rates. “We’re going to end up around 50,000 this year,” he said. “If we didn’t have these levels of immigration, the market would be in serious trouble.” And the No. 10 reason it’s a great time to be a homebuilder in Metro Vancouver, Chrystal said, is the stilllow quarterly interest rates related to mortgages. “These are some of the lowest rates we’ll see in our lifetime,” he said. Chrystal’s view that the Metro Vancouver region is a bright spot in North America was applauded by a full house of his contemporaries. GVHBA president and CEO Peter Simpson then announced the annual Association Awards of Excellence – Black Press (New Local Home, RenoNation, U40 Special Edition, Open House) was winner of the Marketing award, as was HomeTrader.ca, for their promotion of the GVHBA and its goals – and held its annual election. The GVHBA elected Todd Senft as its 2010/2011 Chairman at the association’s Annual Election Meeting in Coquitlam Oct. 6. Senft is president of Vancouver-based reVISION Custom Home Renovations Inc., a prominent award-winning Lower Mainland RenoMark renovation professional. Elected to the 2010/2011 GVHBA Executive Committee were First Vice-Chairman Ben Taddei, ParkLane Homes Ltd., Vancouver; Second ViceChairman Blake Hudema, Genstar Development Company, Burnaby; and Secretary/Treasurer Avtar Johl, Platinum Group of Companies, Surrey. Immediate Past Chairman is Peter Roskell, Polygon Homes Ltd., Vancouver. Elected to the 2010/2011 GVHBA Board of Directors were Rob Currie, Basement Systems Vancouver Inc., Delta; Michelle Essery, Walker Door & Window (International) Inc., Vancouver; David Fisher, Mitsui Homes Canada Inc., Langley; John Friswell,
Polygon Homes president and CEO Neil Chrystal addresses the crowd last week at a GVHBA dinner, awards and election event. Christine Reid photos
CCI Renovations, North Vancouver; Rob Grimm, Portrait Homes, Richmond; Ross Gurney, TD Financial Group, Vancouver; Lynn Harrison, Advanced Energy Group, Port Moody; Richard Kaufmann, Pacific Rim Cabinets Ltd., Delta; Don Stratford, Mosaic Avenue Construction Ltd., Vancouver;
and David Worthington, McQuarrie Hunter LLP, Surrey. n The GVHBA comprises more than 700 member companies representing developers, builders, renovators, sub-trades, suppliers, manufacturers and other industry-related professionals.
New Local Home Ocotber 14, 2010 7
Richmond < River Green 5111 Hollybridge Way. 604-233-2633 = Mezzo 7373 Turnill St. 604-725-1250 > Emerald 7180 No. 3 Rd. 604-244-8333 ? Hamilton Station 22788 Westminster Hwy. 604-279-8866 @ Wishing Tree Alexander Gardens. 604-871-4296 A Cambridge Park 9191 Odlin Rd. 778-297-7511 B Saffron 180-8360 Granville Ave. 604-270-2482 < Highland Park 160th & 24 Ave. 604-542-8995 = Glenmore at Morgan Heights 161A St. & 24 Ave. 604-542-8863
Ladner Trunk Rd.
272 Nd St
< 88th Ave
56th Ave 1
< 72nd Ave
South Delta 28th Ave.
48th Ave. Is.
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< Bedford Landing 23015 Billy Brown Road. 604-888-2176
Only a select number of limited edition waterfront homes at ParkLane’s Headwater at Bedford Landing in historic Fort Langley remain available to homebuyers.
< Trend 7445 Scott Road. 604-590-5483 = South Pointe (at Sunstone) 10527 Modesto Place. 604-584-2908 > Atria 120 St. and 75A Ave. 604-453-6666
South Surrey-White Rock
Ma rine Dr .
< = >
Coast Meridian Rd.
< Jewel II 6130 Wilson Ave at Beresford. 604-456-0688 99 at Citi = Motif 4400 Buchanan St. 604-298-8800 > Adera - Green 7438 Byrnepark Walk. 604-439-8858 ? Perspectives 4710 Lougheed Hwy. 604-294-4995 @ Affinity 5695 Lougheed Hwy at Holdom. 604-453-5893
< Victoria Hill McBride Ave. 604-523-0733 = Inter-Urban Begbie and /columbia St. 604-523-0081 > Port Royal Holy Ave. and Salter St. 604-520-9890
< Augusta Walk / Woods at Provinceton 18199 70th Ave, 778-571-1088 = Hazelwood Estates 7881 164A Street. 604-657-5220 > Knoll 7348 192A Street, Surrey. 604-574-0001 ? Quattro 114-10768 Whalley Blvd. 604-581-8000 @ Ultra 105-13339 102 Ave. 604-588-6999 A Taylor 1-8767162 St. 604-584-1114
< The Mark 1035 Seymour St. 604-687-4353 = Pacific Spirit UBC Westbrook Village. 604-221-8878 604-264-6477 > James 289 W. 2nd Ave. 604-275-1000 ? Spice on Robson Nicola and Robson streets. 604-683-5555 @ Local 1661 East 2nd Ave at Commercial. 604-688-5527
< Brighton at Silver Ridge 13851 232 St. 604-270-1889 = Duet 22977 116 Ave. 604-453-4962 > Main Stone Creek 10116-241 St. 604-463-5000
= Seasons & Prelude at Milner Heights 208th St & 72nd Ave. 604-539-9484 > Time at Walnut Grove 9525-204 Street. 604-694-1819 ? Cornerstone 5655 210A Street. 604-534-6000 @ High Point Equestrian Estates 20048 2nd Ave. 604-531-1111
Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows
< Pearl 2343 Atkins Ave. 604-308-0227 = The Shaughnessy (on Lions Park) 2950 Glen Dr. 604-461-2750
North Vancouver < Wedgewood 768 Orwell St. 604-980-2508 = The Kimpton 210 W. 13th St. 604-988-3020
< Skye-Soleil-Aqua Presentation Centre, Unit 3, 1233 Main St., Squamish. 604-616-1215 = Furry Creek-Ocean Crest 415- Furry Creek Dr. 604-787-1456 > Maples at Fintry Park Bryson Way and Finch Ave. 604-894-3344
> Wills Creek 160th & 32 Ave. 604-542-6200 ? Kaleden 2729-158 Street. 604-541-4246 @ Morgan Heights 26th Ave & 164th St. 604-531-1111, 604-420-4200 A Cathedral Grove 2738-158th Street. 604-541-7383 B SouthPort 3677-143 St. 604-292-0871 C High Street 402-2950 King George Hwy. 604-536-9333 D Summerfield 109-172A St. 604-536-1155 E Avra 1456 Johnston Road. 604-531-9030
< Levo Pinetree Way & Northern Ave. 604-464-5856 = The Foothills Burke Mountain, 3381 David Ave. 604-944-3188 > Tatton 1240 Holtby, Coquitlam. 604-552-2220 ? Larkin House (East) 1456 Avondale St. 604-461-7113 @ Belmont 1456 Avondale St. 604-461-7113 A Sterling 3412 Wilkie Ave. B Larkin House 1131 Pipeline Road. 604-552-1113
King George Hwy.
8 New Local Home October 14, 2010