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September 18, 2015

CONDOMINIUM www.westcoastcondominium.ca


GOOD LIFE Luxury plus community at Private Residences at Hotel Georgia P8-9


CONDO BUILDING ON THE RISE Multi-family buildings leading growth in new housing investment P14


REAL ESTATE INVESTING BASICS It’s easier to create an investment portfolio than you might think P33


UNDERSTAND STRATA MINUTES Condo documents are quite simple really, says GVHBA’s Bob de Wit P16


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2 September 18, 2015







Developer reserves the right to make changes and modiďŹ cations to the information contained herein without prior notice. This is not an offering for sale. No such offer can be made without a disclosure statement E.&O.E.


September 18, 2015 3


SELLERS, WE DELIVER! With over 123 successful transactions negotiated in 2015, we have the marketing skills, the presentation skills and the negotiation experience to assist you in realizing your real estate dreams. To get the Faith Wilson Group TEAM working for you today, just call Faith at 604.224. 5277 or visit FaithWilsonGroup.com





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• Open Layout • Great location • Air Conditioning • 1 parking • Views • Main fee: $244

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• 902 s.f. Suite • 2 Bedrooms • 2 Bathrooms

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702 – 1425 West 6th Avenue




O D L O S T O JUS New Listing

Stunning View suite at “Emerald West” • 1,565 s.f. Suite • Gourmet Kitch • View Windows • 3 Bdrms & Den • H/W Floors • 3 parking • 2 Bathrooms • Insuite Laundry • Main fee: $698

1103 – 717 Jervis Street


Quiet, Top Level Suite • 728 s.f. suite • 1 Bedroom • 1 Bathroom

• Funct Layout • Great Kitchen • Large balcony

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• 578 s.f. Suite • 1 Bedroom • 1 Bathroom

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103 – 2160 Cornwall Avenue


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*see FaithWilsonGroup.com for details




Buying or Selling, you’ve got to have Faith 4 September 18, 2015

A condo often provides the only realistic route into homeownership

Editor-in-Chief West Coast Condominium Joannah Connolly is the editor-in-chief of West Coast Condominium and Western Investor newspaper, and is the editor and content manager of Real Estate Weekly and REW.ca. She appears regularly on radio, TV and conference panels discussing the Vancouver real estate market. W E S T

Beautifully Maintained Home!

• Private patio • 2 Pets OK • 1 Parking

condo prices have increased at one third of the rate of single-family homes. “Condominiums will become a more common and desirable way to achieve property ownership,” says the report. Our own research supports the case for condo development, especially when it comes to first-time buyers and downsizing baby-boomers (the two current largest demographic groups). In our recent readership survey, released last week on REW.ca, we found 40 per cent of local first-buyer respondents are looking for a condo – the largest proportion of all the property types. What’s more, 51 per cent of 51- to 64-year-old respondents said their main reason for selling their home is to downsize. So, are condos truly the way of the future? Here at West Coast Condominium, we believe so – at least for Vancouver’s rapidly increasing population. And for those who bemoan the erosion of single-family home neighbourhoods, I would say this: mourn them, and move on. This city is changing, and we must embrace that fact and change with it, or be left behind.

Joannah Connolly


New Listing

Steps to Kits beach!


t is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the inaugural edition of West Coast Condominium– a new bi-weekly magazine brought to you by the team at long-standing real estate newspaper Real Estate Weekly and REW.ca. Every two weeks, we will bring you all the latest Metro Vancouver condo market news, neighbourhood statistics, buying and selling advice, tips on strata living and management, condo décor and home solutions, investment advice and profiles of upcoming condo developments. All this brought to you by an editorial team and roster of expert columnists with unique industry insight. But why focus on condominiums, you ask? That’s easy. With the price of singlefamily homes skyrocketing and inventory reducing, detached homes are increasingly out of reach for many local home buyers. On the flip side, the average cost of a condo – even in central Vancouver – has risen relatively little over recent years. So, for those who do not wish to move further out of the city for a larger home, a condo often provides the only realistic route into home ownership. Don’t just take my word for it. Earlier this year, a Vancity report called Downsizing the Canadian Dream: Homeownership Realities for Millennials and Beyond pointed out that since 2005, Vancouver

• Conv Location • 1 parking • Main fee: $282


New Listing

Welcome to West Coast Condominium: Intelligent and informed coverage lives here




PUBLISHER: Janai York EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Joannah Connolly CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Frank O’Brien SALES MANAGER: Lynn Fry SALES REPRESENTATIVES: Tracey Aussem, Rebecca Bookham, Audrey White, Audrey Gilson, Jackie Mollenhauer, David Bobenic PRODUCTION MANAGER: Holly Burge PRODUCTION: Darko Isic, Peter Gallagher DESIGNERS: Carol Rui, Arslan Sultan

Rea l Estate W eekly

ADVERTISING SALES AND DISTRIBUTION Tel: 604-435-7977 Fax: 604-439-2630 VANCOUVER HEAD OFFICE: 303 West 5th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V5Y-1J6 COPYRIGHT: WEST COST CONDOMINIUM is published bi-weekly by Real Estate Weekly Partnership. Copyright 2015. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of articles and advertising that appear in each edition of West Coast Condominium, the publisher may not be held responsible for any errors or omissions that may from time to time occur. No part of this publication may be quoted or reprinted in any medium without the express written permission of Real Estate Weekly Partnership.



September 18, 2015

that we assist in realizing their real estate dreams

Condo market snapshots Vancouver North Shore Richmond Tri-Cities

8 10

Burnaby New West Surrey

34 36 38

the peace of mind of

The good life


Amenities and community key at Private Residence at Hotel Georgia

How you know if that condo is a good purchase

Condo construction boom Multi-family buildings driving investment in Vancouver

Noisy neighbours Expert legal advice on dealing with – or creating – high noise levels

Small space solutions Make your condo home seem bigger with GVHBA’s renovation advice


Satisfaction Guarantee* Whether buying your first condo or that palatial penthouse, it is a huge decision... one you literally have to live with. Sometimes, regardless of how rigorous and detailed your home search and your buying process was, lifestyle and family evolution hastens a change in your needs beyond your original requirements.

Strata ABCs



28 24 33

14 18

Who pays for what? First of a two-part introduction to strata finances

Take the plunge into investing Even a novice can create a real estate portfolio with the right approach


So, if your decision doesn’t meet your needs or wants, with the Faith Wilson Group your satisfaction is still guaranteed. FWG THE *

Here’s how it works •

If you find that within 18 months of the completion date the home you purchased with Faith Wilson Realty Group does not meet your evolving needs, we guarantee to sell and not charge you the listing portion of the commission.


To qualify for this guarantee, you must purchase another property of equal or greater value using our services.

The listing portion of the commission on your first home will be credited to you upon the final reconciliation of your new purchase.

With over 450 successful contracts negotiated in the last 3.5 years, the Faith Wilson Group TEAM is ready to assist and guide you through every step of the process.

To get us working for you, just call Faith today at


Create a gorgeous, maintenance-free deck Who has time for tending plants anyways?



6 20 26 32

or visit



September 18, 2015 5



Vancouver Don’t let August’s slower sales fool you. Vancouver’s condo market is still hot MARKET SNAPSHOT


There was plenty of sizzle left in Vancouver’s summer condo real estate market in August. Of the 653 units that sold that month, sales were predominately on the city’s west side (where most of the inventory was). While the 526 sales there were down 8.4 per cent from the previous month, that number was 43 per cent higher than August 2014. Action was slower moving east; sales on that side of the city were down 27 per cent over July but still up 18 per cent compared with August 2014. Of the 87 sales between August 22 and September 4, most of the inventory appears to have been priced right with 70 per cent of sellers accepting offers at or below their asking price. The highest price paid during that time period was $4.69 million for a two-bedroom, veyear-old condo in Yaletown that was on the market for 107 days. The purchaser picked up that particular property for $300,000 under asking. At the other end of the spectrum, the lowest price paid was for a brand new studio in the East Hastings community which went for its asking price of $269,000. The number of days it was on the market? Three. East Hastings is quickly becoming the “it” neighbourhood for purchasers wanting to nd an affordable home within Vancouver’s borders. There were 23

active condo listings here at press time, with an average list price of $325,000. The average price per square foot in this neighbourhood was $472, considerably less than Vancouver’s overall price of $881 per square foot. Yaletown continues to offer plenty of choice for those searching at the higher end of the market. There were just over 100 active listings here as of September 4, including Vancouver’s highest price condo: a brand new three-bedroom home that had been on the market for 11 days and listed for $9,488,800. The average asking price for this always popular neighbourhood isn’t nearly so high and comes in at $1.3 million. The most affordable home in Yaletown? A one-bedroom, 18-year-old condo listed at $289,000 had been on the market 39 days at press time. Buyers looking for extra-large condos could check out ve listings that were in the range of 5,000 square feet. These homes were in the Yaletown, Coal Harbour and Downtown neighbourhoods with asking prices between $4.89 million and $8.98 million. With three or four bedrooms each, their monthly strata management fees ranged from just over $2,000 to just under $3,000 and undoubtedly included many luxurious amenities.


Active condo listings* 737

New listings in August

6 September 18, 2015


Condos sold in August



Vancouver West benchmark price


Vancouver East benchmark price



Average days on market*



Average price per square foot*

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Type of inventory

East Hastings is quickly becoming the “it” neighbourhood for those looking for an affordable home


Studio: 4% 2 BR: 48% 4 BR: 1%

1 BR: 39% 3 BR: 9%

*Active listings up to September 4, 2015



InGastown, Mid-Rise, Vancouver

Churchill, Townhomes, Vancouver

Brentwood, High-Rise, Burnaby

The Grand, High-Rise, Richmond

Chateau Laurier, Low-Rise, Vancouver

Cambie Corridor, Mid-Rise, Vancouver

Citti, Mid-Rise, Vancouver

Union, High-Rise, Coquitlam

Dunbar, Mid-Rise, Vancouver

Park & Metro, Low-Rise, Vancouver

Little Mountain, Low-Rise, Vancouver

Mount Pleasant, Mid-Rise, Vancouver

Boucherie Beach, Cottages, Kelowna

Oval Village, High-Rise, Richmond

Marpole, Mid-Rise, Vancouver

Shine, Mid-Rise, Vancouver

Metrotown, High-Rise, Burnaby

It might surprise you to know how much we’ve done. That’s because we’ve done it quietly. We’ve followed a strategic plan and hired the best and brightest people. While we’re proud of $1.4 billion in sales, it’s the $1.4 billion coming that fires us up. It’s not money and ego that keeps us going, it’s our fanatical dedication to the accomplishment of our clients’ goals and the continuation of our perfect track record.

CALL KEY: 604.688.5566 / keymarketing.com CONDOMINIUM

September 18, 2015 7



The good life: Community and service are key at the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia Developer and resident Bruce Langereis is proud of “neighbourhood” feel and hopes buyers of final three high-end units will contribute


sense of community and belonging. This might not seem synonymous with luxury highrise living in downtown Vancouver, where you might imagine wealthy international types using a unit as a crash pad in their jet-setting lifestyle, leaving it empty half the year and never getting to know their neighbours. But not so in the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia, according to developer Bruce Langereis of Delta Land Group, the company that completed the tower in 2011 after a tough few recession years. “Value is driven by a lot of dynamics but what’s important is having a building where there is a culture of ownership – it’s more than just about kitchens and finishings,” says Langereis. “[The building] has fulfilled our goals and dreams about creating that really good culture. “[Our buyers] are going to rise to the next level and say ‘What’s the culture like at this building?’ – and not just check strata minutes and documentation.” Langereis should know, having himself been a resident at the building since completion. “I’ve lived and breathed this building for seven or eight years now,” he tells West Coast Condominium.

Service and amenities Part of what makes the building so eminently livable is the level of service that residents enjoy. For an additional fee, they can indulge in all the services that the Hotel Georgia provides, such as maid service and room service. And included in their strata fees are access to all the hotel’s luxurious amenities – swimming pool, 8 September 18, 2015


spa and so on – as well as door-to-door garbage and recycling collection. This “good life” vibe is bringing the neighbours together, says Langereis. “When I was growing up in Vancouver, neighbourhood was everything, but it’s not as strong as it used to be. That’s what we’re creating here.” He tells of how, when showing some sports celebrities around recently, they met some residents in the elevator and the guests asked the residents what it was like to live there. “They said it was ‘the best’ and ’awesome’,” says Langereis with pride.

Selling the penthouses That’s a great testimonial, especially for

a building that is still marketing three of its highest end units – including the topfloor “true” penthouse, a 6,830-squarefoot pad with 360-degree views – plus two of the four sub-penthouses. Those are on the market for around $7 million and the penthouse is listed for a cool $18 million. “It’s not a hard-and-fast price,” says Langereis. “There’s some negotiating room for the right buyer.” This wriggle room for the “right buyer” has garnered Langereis some considerable media attention over recent months. Unlike many other developers, Delta has not marketed the property overseas, in the hopes of attracting buyers who will live in the building and contribute to

This isn’t just about business. At the same time, we’re going to be smart about our business Private Residences at Hotel Georgia developer and resident Bruce Langereis.

the community, rather than leave their penthouse vacant much of the year. “We’re going to be choosy in who buys here,” says Langereis. “If for example we see a buyer who we know is involved in organized crime, we simply won’t engage as it will be detrimental to the building.” However, Langereis is quick to set the record straight regarding the potential nationality of the buyer. “The media coverage we received almost made it seem like we were trying to exclude Asian buyers, which we weren’t. In fact our most recent sub-penthouse buyer is a local Asian family, and we’re thrilled with the purchase.” He says that he is simply hoping that someone will come into the building and be a part of the culture – not that he would exclude a suitable buyer just because they might not always be at home. “This isn’t just about business. At the same time, we’re going to be smart about our business.”

In the pipeline So what’s next for Langereis and Delta Land Group? A master-planned community in Whistler is in the pipeline, as Langereis says the company has secured a unique site. “We’re hoping this will be a showcase of how a master-planned community can be done from the ground up.” There are also plans for a 10-storey residential tower in West Vancouver. Langereis’ prediction is for a general slowing of development as developers find land costs and lack of available space making it harder and harder to make the bottom line work. “We’re all proceeding with caution,” he says.

For more information on the Private Residences at the Hotel Georgia: www.residencesatgeorgia.com


September 18, 2015 9



Strata ABCs:

Understanding the basics

Take the time to do your research before making your purchase

Your one-stop source of ower ainland home listings and real estate news. RESALE HOME LISTINGS | NEW HOMES FOR SALE AGENT PROFILES | REAL ESTATE MARKET NEWS HOME BUYING & SELLING ADVICE

10 September 18, 2015


By Tony Gioventu


ow can you tell if the condo you are looking at is a good buy? This is one of the most common questions the Condominium Home Owners Association receives. Buying a condo, whether it is a new development or 40 years old, requires thorough investigation if you plan on making your purchase a great success.

Strata corporations in B.C. are selfregulated by the Strata Property Act, as well as by the corporation’s own regulations and bylaws. When you buy a condo, you are also investing into a strata corporation and the shared interests and liabilities of all of the owners, tenants and occupants of that community.

Creating a strata corporation A strata corporation is created when the owner developer’s strata plan is filed in

the Land Title Registry office. The plan will include diagrams showing the boundaries of strata lots, the common property and limited common property. Establishing the strata lot allows for the title to be created for all the strata lots in the corporation. In new developments of five units or more, an owner developer must create a disclosure statement. This statement includes a description of the property being marketed, a proposed strata plan, a proposed budget, contract agreements the strata will be a part of, information about other strata corporations or other properties that may share common facilities or shared expenses, parking and storage locker information, proposed bylaws for the strata and whether any rental exemptions will be granted.

Voting rights and unit entitlement When the strata plan is filed, two other schedules are filed: voting rights; and unit entitlement. The voting rights show how many votes each strata lot receives and how these apply to decisions made at general meetings of the strata. Residential strata lots are normally one vote per strata lot, and nonresidential strata lots (commercial units) are given an equal number of votes relative to the size of their strata lot. For example, a commercial strata lot that is 7,894 square feet is likely given 7.89 votes. The unit entitlement is one of the most important documents in a strata. This is the schedule that is used to calculate how much each strata lot has to pay for all common expenses. This schedule is used to calculate monthly strata fees, contributions to the contingency reserve funds, special levies, shares of judgements against the strata or any other joint liabilities. All of these documents are also available from an existing strata corporation by requesting an information certificate of the strata or specific documents. Think of a strata as a simple city government. Once a year, the strata approves an annual budget which then results in your monthly strata fees to pay for utilities, insurance, maintenance,

604-263-1144 Kerrisdale

Buying a condo requires thorough investigation if you plan on making your purchase a great success.

604-689-8226 Yaletown

604-263-1144 Main Street



If you are looking to buy or sell a condo or townhouse, management and any other operational requirements. A strata council is elected at the same meeting; its members are responsible to implement the budget. Like a local government, strata corporations must have bylaws that govern the use and enjoyment of common property, common assets, strata lots and the general administration of the strata corporation.

your DEXTER REALTOR ® (backed by the entire Dexter Team) has the knowledge and the experience to support and guide you through the entire process.

Read before you buy! Always read the bylaws of a strata before you buy. Strata corporations are permitted to have bylaws that limit or prohibit rentals, establish minimum age restrictions for occupancy, limit the number of pets or type of pets, and bylaws that control the use of common property and common facilities such as parking, storage lockers, recreation services, pools and marinas. While there may be accommodations under the Human Rights Code and exemptions granted under the Act, never assume dogs are allowed just because you saw a dog in the lobby when you visited the building for the first time. Strata living is a great lifestyle option for many owners. Find the property that fits your needs and price range and take the time to read the strata minutes, review the bylaws, the finances, the depreciation report, and information certificates before you make your decision.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association, which promotes the interests of strata property owners by providing advice, resources and support for its members. Tony has more than 20 years of experience within the local real estate and development industry.

Wherever you are, we can help. Contact us with confidence. Enjoy the security and confidence which comes from dealing with professionals who care. Call or visit us at www.dexterrealty.com


September 18, 2015 11



Home hunters are loving Proximity’s False Creek location Bastion’s new South False Creek residential development is creating a buzz among first-time and repeat buyers alike


ndrew Bracewell spent months looking for the “perfect first home.” “Location was my number one priority. I wanted to buy in the South False Creek neighbourhood,” says the 30-yearold accountant. “It is such a desirable location; everything is there – coffee shops, restaurants, bars and steps to the seawall.” Bracewell, who is relocating from California, looked at countless condominium projects and the only one that ticked off every box for him was Bastion’s Proximity. I’d seen Opsal [Bastion’s tower that bookends this one] and I loved what they had done,” says the fitness enthusiast. “Proximity has the same great floorplans with bedrooms on opposite sides of the living area, expansive windows and a full-size fridge… many other projects don’t have that. “Vancouver is so expensive that I didn’t want to settle for something that didn’t give me everything I wanted; Proximity did that.” With nearly 35 years of excellence, renowned developer Bastion Development Corp. unveils Proximity – a 12-storey building encompassing 77 exclusive condominiums, and soon to be released penthouses and terrace homes, on Ontario Street. The sleek concrete and glass tower will rise adjacent to the heritage site of Opsal Steel, one of the city’s landmark heritage buildings. “Proximity stands apart as an excellent product because we took the best from Opsal and created thoughtfully laid out homes,” says Alecia Rossi, Bastion’s marketing manager. Some of its most unique features – and there are many – are the industrial chic 12 September 18, 2015


concrete corridors, sustainably designed green plots, rooftops and solar panels, LED lighting in most rooms, and its generous patios/decks. Inside each home, which range from 508 to 1,167 square feet, the attention to detail is second to none. Proximity’s beautifully designed interiors feature water-resistant Hydrocork flooring throughout living areas and bedrooms, porcelain tile in all bathrooms, nine-foot ceilings in most living areas (some homes’ ceilings are even higher), and open spaces with lots of natural light pouring in. But it’s the kitchens that gourmet cooks will be sold on. They are showcased by designerselected Caesarstone quartz countertops with tiled backsplash, Moen 90 degree pull-out faucets and soft-close cabinetry in two gorgeous colour palettes – Manhattan or Chicago. “The modern design creates a great balance between the past, present and future in this vibrant and ever-changing neighbourhood,” says Rossi. The building is in arguably one of the most unique neighbourhoods in east Vancouver, minutes away from a thriving urban centre with the Creek Side Recreation Centre, Legacy Liquor Store, Terra Bread Cafe and new ethnic restaurants. This coveted South False Creek waterfront community, which is minutes away from Vancouver’s Olympic Village site and its abundance of community amenities, is where Proximity will leave its legacy within a very historic community. Here is a chance to buy in a building that is set to house some of the most elegant and sophisticated contemporary homes in the neighbourhood. With prices starting at $388,800, you will need to act fast!

The show home and sales centre, located at 1772 Ontario Street, opened to the public on September 12th. Hours are noon to 5 p.m., Thursday to Sunday (closed Fridays). For more information, call 604-828-1029, email info@liveinproximity.com or visit www.liveinproximity.com. Tentative occupancy is slated for spring 2016.

MAKE A STATEMENT Visit our bold new showroom, Opening September 12th Life doesn’t wait, so why should you? This is your opportunity to live in Proximity. Now showing 1 & 2 bedroom homes in trending South East False Creek.

P.C. HOURS 12pm-5pm / Sat-Thurs 1772 Ontario Street 604.828.1029 liveinproximity.com



September 18, 2015 13



Condo construction leads growth in new housing investment in BC: StatCan

Multi-family building investment in the province rises 21 per cent year over year, says statistics agency

14 September 18, 2015


By Joannah Connolly


partment-condo buildings continued to lead the growth in BC’s new housing construction investment in June, according to Statistics Canada data released August 20. Condo construction spend rose 21 per cent compared with June 2014 to a total of $284 million, said the national statistics agency. Total new housing construction investment in BC continued its rise, up 17 per cent year-over-year in June. The province’s $715 million new home construction spend was again the third highest total in the country, after

Ontario and Alberta. BC’s new home investment growth rate was Canada’s second highest after Yukon (up 19.2 per cent year-over-year). Investment in single-family homes increased its growth rate in BC, with its $340 million of spending a 15.4 per cent rise over the same month last year. This was followed by duplexes, investment in which was up 13.4 per cent year-over-year to $29 million. Townhome construction investment in BC continued to rise but at the slowest rate of all property types, increasing 10.6 per cent year-over-year to $62 million. As with previous months, nationwide new home spending increases were much more modest. Investment in new home construction across Canada totalled $4.1

billion in May, up 3.1 per cent from the same month a year earlier. Statistics the













apartment and condominium building construction, up 12.8 per cent to $1.3 billion, as well as higher spending on row house construction, up 4.2 per cent to $384 million. Single-family




construction across Canada both saw year-over-year declines in construction investment nationwide, falling 0.9 and 9.4





detached homes saw the biggest total investment in June at $2.13 billion.

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September 18, 2015 15



Understand strata minutes

when buying a condo

If you’re buying a condo, it’s essential that you understand the strata minutes of your new building, explains Bob de Wit of the GVHBA

By Tony Gioventu


onsidering the purchase of a preowned condo? One of the key steps to ensure you are making a sound purchase will be in reviewing the strata minutes. Not the most exciting of reading choices – however, the minutes will provide you with an in-depth look, not only of the building and operations, but also a peek into the condo culture. How to approach minutes, in four easy steps:

the minutes from oldest 1 Read to most recent

A minimum of two years is a standard request. As you read, keep a running tally of any questions you have, removing from the list questions answered as you read forward through subsequent months. From this summary, prepare a list of any unanswered questions for the property manager or seller.

sure to read 2 Becorrespondence closely

Pay attention to any records of complaints regarding a specific owner. Be sure to enquire about the corresponding unit number and determine proximity to the unit you are looking to purchase. Noise/ harassment disputes are very hard to resolve and wherever possible should be avoided.


Request a copy of all current bylaws and rules

Look for tenant requests and said

16 September 18, 2015


outcomes. If a previous request has been voted down, e.g. access to electrical outlets for electric car charges (often not readily available in older buildings), or acceptance of a pet slightly larger than a 40-pound maximum (not easy sneaking in your Newfie), you can be sure this will not be an easy change.

copies of reports 4 Request

Always request copies of reports referenced in minutes, and if work is done based on these reports, ask for a scope of work to make sure all suggested work was completed. Reports may include: • Current budget and a statement of the contingency reserve fund. This will help determine if there is a sufficient budget to meet the current operations of the building, and enough contingency to cover an emergency repair or replacement. Note: the contingency and required upkeep of the building and property will directly affect monthly strata fees. • Insurance policy and the history of insurance claims on the strata common areas can signal potential problems. • A depreciation report, if available, will include a Form B, providing information on current and future costs to the strata. (Effective December 13, 2013, all strata

corporations of five units or more in British Columbia, must complete a depreciation report as required by the Strata Property Act, unless they have passed a three-quarters vote each year they wish to be exempt from the requirements.) • A copy of the strata plan that shows what property you will be responsible for and what is common property (e.g. decks and balconies), the provision of parking and storage space, or any changes that have been made to the development. Note: your home inspector may not have access to inspect common property areas, emphasizing the importance of reviewing a depreciation report. In today’s sellers’ market, there is pressure to put in quick offers with limited subjects. Realtors can request minutes in advance before the offer is placed, thus removing the subject to review. This can place added pressure on the buyer to “scan” rather than thoroughly read the minutes. Be sure to step back and take the time to read. As a prospective purchaser, you want to obtain as much information as possible regarding the strata corporation, the condition of common property and your new neighbours. It is a story you’ll be glad you gave more than a minute to read.

Bob de Wit is the CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA), the voice of the residential construction industry in Metro Vancouver. GVHBA has more than 850 members and is proudly affiliated with the provincial and national Canadian Home Builders’ Associations. You can reach Bob at bob@gvhba.org.

14 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS SELLERS need answers to before hiring a real estate AGENT to market & sell your home! Literally tens of thousands of dollars are riding on the agent you hire to market, present and negotiate the sale of your Vancouver home. And let’s face it - in real estate, as in life - not all things are created equal. Honest answers to these questions from the agents you are interviewing will help you to decide whom to entrust to market and sell your home for top dollar with the least amount of hassle.

RI EX\HUV ORRN RQOLQH DV WKHLU À UVW VWHS 'RHV KH VKH KDYH D ZHEVLWH GHGLFDWHG exclusively to showcasing their clients’ homes? Does the agent’s internet marketing plan assure accessibility in Chinese and optimization for mobile devices?

9. Do you provide references from past clients? A trustworthy DJHQW ZLOO EH GHOLJKWHG WR SURYLGH UHIHUHQFHV IURP VDWLVĂ€ HG FOLHQWV IRU \RX WR UHYLHZ 10. What homes have you sold in my area? An informed agent will provide you with their performance in your neighbourhood and area.

1. What makes you different? Why should I list with you? 11. Do you provide a written schedule of the services you What unique strategies do you use? Today, it is a much tougher and deliver? A set of performance promises will clearly detail what you can expect more dynamic real estate market than it was even 5 years ago. A successful agent stays up-to-speed on the complex, multi-dimensional marketing needed to reach all buyers, including mobile and internet-savvy consumers and international prospects.

2. How many properties have you marketed and sold in the last 12 months? Did you know that only 10% of Vancouver agents sold more than 10 homes in the last 12 months? Working with top producers ensures you are receiving the EHQHĂ€ W RI WKHLU H[SHULHQFH UHVRXUFHV DQG WKHLU SURYHQ SODQ WR GHOLYHU D VXFFHVVIXO VDOH

from the agent, including recourse if they don’t deliver.

12. Do you provide regular, updated market evaluations on my home? Once your home is listed, how often do you update me on relevant market activity and overview?

13. What is your marketing budget for my home so as to stand out versus comparable listings? What percentage of the agent’s commission will be dedicated to the marketing budget and how does this compare?

3. How many contracts have you negotiated in the last 10 years? The more contracts negotiated and the more exposure to cross cultural 14. What marketing media mix will you use to display my scenarios translate into better advice which delivers better results for you. home to the widest array of potential buyers? Successful agents 4. Do you work solo or with a team? There are simply too many steps in the full process for a solo agent to do a great job of everything. A team approach is the only way to ensure you receive the attention to detail and the full service and consistent coverage that you deserve.

5. How do you manage all showings across all of your listings? Consider that taking off the basic two weeks of holidays, stats and 1 day per week means your solo agent misses 74 days (20%) of the year to meet face to face with prospective buyers and highlight the best of your home. Does the agent have licensed property showing specialists as part of their team or do they miss opportunities to show and sell?

6. What is your pricing strategy for my home? A realistic, market-based price point will attract the full scope of buyers and not just those looking to “steal the deal�. Setting the right price requires skill, experience, plus local market trends knowledge. 7. How long, on average, does it take your listings to sell? Ask if the agent tends to sell a home faster or slower than average and compare that answer to your goals; this is an indicator of their expertise.

use a mix of search advertising, social media plus web sites for Vancouver, China, the U.S. and other international markets, and print media.

In closing, the sale of your home is likely one of the largest ďŹ nancial decisions you will make. The right agent with the skills, the plans and the commitment will deliver distinctly better results. We present these questions for your consideration in order that you make the right decision for you and your family. Please use these questions as a foundation for making the right choice for your needs.

8. Beyond posting my home on MLS and its related pickup sites, where will my home be marketed online? Today, 92% of home buyers use the internet during their home buying process and nearly half

Buying or Selling, you’ve got to have Faith CONDOMINIUM

September 18, 2015 17



Noisy neighbours The law behind condo noise complaints By Neil Mangan


f all the compromises that come with condo ownership, living with noise might be the biggest. Whether you have a neighbour with creaky hardwood floors or a penchant for practicing freestyle clarinet solos or latenight acrobatics, you know all too well how noise can affect your life. Although most strata corporations have bylaws restricting noise and other forms of nuisance, it can be difficult for owners and strata councils to figure out when the noises of everyday life cross the line and become legitimate complaints. Most noise complaints come down to a conflict between how owners wish to use their properties and how different noises travel in buildings. For example, one owner may want to use their spare bedroom as a 24-hour home gym while the person living below can hear every footstep above their bedroom. When both owners have a right to live and use their property, who is responsible to change their behaviour or expectations? From a legal perspective, making a noise that impacts another person’s quiet enjoyment of their property can be considered nuisance. The challenge comes down to figuring out what level of noise or interference is reasonable. We all experience life subjectively and what bothers one person may be entirely acceptable to another. In British Columbia, the courts will normally try to establish whether the level of noise is objectively reasonable to the average person. The courts will look at the nature and frequency of the noise as well as the nature of the neighbourhood and the property. When a neighbourhood changes over time, this too must be taken into account. If you believe that a neighbour’s noise is affecting your ability to enjoy your home, look for ways to create evidence in support of your noise complaint. Take recordings of the noise if you can. Keep a journal of

18 September 18, 2015


Do you have noisy neighbours disturbing your peace? Or perhaps you want to play music but are getting complaints? Strata law expert Neil Mangan has advice from all the angles the timing, frequency and nature of the disturbances. You may also want to hire an acoustic engineer to measure the level of the noise and compare it to normal levels, verify the source and propose modifications in behaviour or building construction. At the other end of the scale, if you receive noise complaints, ask for specific details about the type of noise and the timing of the incident. Your strata corporation has a statutory obligation to provide you with specific details about the alleged offence. If you want to challenge a noise complaint, remember that you will need to show the strata council, and potentially the courts, that you were not engaging in any unusually noisy activities given the time of the complaint. If the issue persists, consider working with your neighbour and strata corporation to come to an agreeable solution. If you are a member of a strata council dealing with noise complaints, avoid jumping to conclusions and take the time to investigate the complaint. Your strata corporation has a statutory duty to enforce the bylaws, make reasonable decisions and provide owners with a fair adjudication process. While a late-night party or barking dog are obvious problems, many persistent noise issues are structural in nature. Your strata corporation is responsible for the repair and maintenance of common

property between strata lots, and if the common property is a contributing factor in the transmission of noise between strata lots, the strata corporation may have a duty to repair or minimize the transmission of sound. The simplest and most cost-effective way to resolve noise disputes is to work with your neighbours and strata council to determine whether the noise is normal and to look for ways to minimize the disturbance. If extending an olive branch doesn’t work, you may have legal remedies. Most of the time, owners have a right to

the quiet enjoyment of their property. If you believe that your neighbour or your strata corporation are failing to respect your rights, or are unfairly targeting you, speak with a strata lawyer to review your matter and provide you with qualified legal advice. For additional information on this and other strata property topics, visit my free online strata law guide at www. StrataLaw.ca. Finally, always remember that this article provides general reference information, not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, always speak with a lawyer.

Neil Mangan is a Vancouver lawyer and owner of law firm Velocity Legal. Neil is the creator of www. StrataLaw.ca and the online editor of www.CondoManual.ca, British Columbia’s most successful print and subscription-based strata law publication.

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September 18, 2015 19



North Shore While North Vancouver remains affordable for first-time buyers, you’ll need deep pockets to get into the West Vancouver market


here are tremendous differences between the West and North Vancouver condo markets and the type of buyer they attract. Just a quick look at the August benchmark sale prices (the going price for a typical condo in a market) demonstrates that. While the North Vancouver number of $365,000 is not out of reach for a rst-time buyer, West Van’s benchmark of $688,400 is 88 per cent higher and not likely to attract your typical property virgin. The number of condos in North Vancouver far outstrips its neighbour. As of September 4, there are 371 active condo listings on the North Shore, 77 per cent of which are in North Vancouver. Sale volumes were down in both areas in August compared to July: 25 per cent in NV and 24 per cent in WV. While it’s not unusual for the market to slow as the summer progresses, the North Shore prices declined signi cantly more than the Greater Vancouver average of -14 per cent. North Shore condo sellers can take heart that, when comparing August 2014 and 2015 sales, these were 26 per cent stronger this year in North Vancouver and remained the same in West Vancouver. Taking a look at recent sales, 19 condos sported “sold” signs between August

22 and September 4. They ranged from a $208,600 one-bedroom, 42-year-old unit in Lower Lonsdale to a $1.23 million twobedroom, 10-year-old unit in Cypress Park Estates. Only four properties went for over asking, one of which is our earlier Lower Lonsdale example. With an asking price of $195,000, its new owners paid seven per cent more. Only two of the recent 19 sales were in West Vancouver. The North Vancouver community to see the most sold signs appear on condos was Lower Lonsdale. Here selling prices went as high as $900,000 with the sold condos on the market an average of 44 days. One owner held out for 127 days, nally accepting an offer $10,000 below their $220,000 asking price. When it comes to active listings, Lower Lonsdale again leads the pack with 105 available condos. Condo hunters here can check out a recently listed studio for $189,000 or, if they have deep pockets, make an offer on a $2.69 million fourbedroom that’s been on the market for over 100 days. Central Lonsdale also has considerable inventory with 67 active listings as of September 4. The range here is from $207,000 for a one-bedroom to $2.35 million for a two-bedroom.



Active condo listings* 155

New listings in August


Condos sold in August



North Vancouver benchmark price


West Vancouver benchmark price



Average days on market*



Average price per square foot*

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The North Vancouver community to see the most sold signs appear on condos was Lower Lonsdale 20 September 18, 2015


Type of inventory*

Studio: 1% 2 BR: 49%

1 BR: 43% 3 BR: 7%

*Active listings up to September 4, 2015


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September 18, 2015 21



Maplewood Place: Charming yet modern townhomes in quaint Deep Cove Family and starter homes situated at foot of Mount Seymour offer Craftsman-style character in a stunning location


estled alongside the iconic Maplewood Farm, only minutes from the quaint shops of Deep Cove and endless forested trails, is where you’ll discover one of North Vancouver’s most exciting new townhome projects. Anthem Properties’ Maplewood Place features a collection of 61 family townhome residences, ranging in size from just under 500 to over 1,400 square feet. Located south of Mount Seymour Parkway on a quiet residential street, the homes overlook a salmon-bearing creek and feature beautifully landscaped courtyards and an interactive children’s playground. “Many young people, who grew up in Vancouver or the North Shore, will have fond memories of Maplewood Farm. It is still a fun family place to visit,” says Peter Edmonds, director of marketing Anthem Properties. “The neighbourhood itself is a great place for families and we saw a need for family-oriented townhomes at a price within reach.” Designed by award-winning Formwerks Architectural, the Craftsman-style townhomes are an ode to the majestic North Shore scenery. The thoughtfully designed residences feature one, two and three bedrooms with den plans, all with underground parking, secured bike storage and generous outdoor living spaces. Much thought went into each Maplewood Place home. Inside, the spaces are airy and bright, with timelessyet-contemporary interiors. They are distinguished by two distinctive colour schemes, laminate flooring, most

22 September 18, 2015


master bedrooms are large enough to accommodate a king size bed (and in some cases window side bench seats), oating cabinets in the bathrooms, and large windows to bring the outdoors in. The gourmet kitchens include tiled backsplash, stainless steel appliance package, composite quartz countertops and choice of dark or shaker white cabinetry. Every amenity you can think of or want is within true walking distance, including great shopping, dining, cafes, parks and sports facilities. Young families will be delighted to know that they are close to exceptional schools, including Kenneth Gordon Elementary and Windsor Secondary, while Capilano University is just up the street. Your home will also be a block and a half from the highly anticipated NorthWoods Village Shopping Centre, which will feature fabulous restaurants, coffee shops and boutique retail including Stong’s Market, a grocer unlike anything the North Shore has seen. The North Shore is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty – from the North Shore Mountains, to spectacular ocean views, serene rivers, and seemingly endless hiking trails. These are the reasons so many young families and outdoor

enthusiasts choose to live here. Within a short drive your home you are at some of the Lower Mainland’s top outdoor destinations, including Deep Cove, Mount Seymour and Grouse Mountain. When you look at the entry price-point level – starting from the high $200s to the high $700s – in one of Metro Vancouver’s most desirable communities, alongside the quality nishings that have been put into the homes, this is good value. “This is an excellent opportunity to purchase a well-designed, affordable home in a

neighbourhood that is just getting better and better,” adds Edmonds. Don’t miss out: sales begin this September. Maplewood Place Presentation Centre is located at #5-433 Seymour River Place, North Vancouver. For more information, call 604-971-5030, email info@maplewoodnorthvan.com or visit www.maplewoodnorthvan. com. Homes will be ready for move-in later this fall.

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September 18, 2015 23



Who pays for what? An introduction to strata finances Wondering what you have to pay for in your strata building? In the first of a two-part series, the experts at FirstService Residential offer a helpful guide By the experts at FirstService Residential


hen you’re buying into a strata building or development, it can be tough to get your head around the various funds and expenses. This outline of strata corporation finances and budgeting, based on the guide from the BC Office of Housing and Construction Standards, can help explain the rules. To take it back to basics, strata lot owners pay for common expenses – those jointly incurred by all (or a group of) owners – through monthly fees and, if necessary, special levies. Strata fees and the budget are approved each year by majority vote at a strata corporation’s annual general meeting (AGM). Special levies are approved by a minimum threequarter vote. Key financial duties of strata owners include: • Paying for common expenses through strata fees and, if necessary, special levies. • Approving strata finances, by voting on the annual budget and other expenditures. • Ensuring financial controls are in place. Although a strata corporation is run by the elected strata council, and may be assisted by a strata property manager, the responsibility for the strata corporation ultimately remains with the strata owners.

Common expenses There are two types of common expenses: • Operating fund expenses are the dayto-day expenses for common property that occur once a year or more often than once a year and are paid from the operating fund. These can include such things as utilities, landscaping, cleaning, minor maintenance, and strata property management. 24 September 18, 2015


• Contingency

reserve fund (CRF) expenses are for common property expenses that occur less often than once a year and are paid from the contingency reserve fund. These include things such as replacing the roof or upgrading the elevator. Contingency reserve fund expenses are usually known in advance, are identified by a depreciation report, and must be approved by a three-quarter vote of the owners. However, the CRF can also be used to pay for emergency repairs and insurance deductibles that are a common expense.

Paying for common expenses Strata fees and special levies pay for common expenses. Contributions to common expenses can also include income from sources such as interest

on investments, fines, parking, monies generated from the laundry room, or the rental of common areas such as a guest room.

Common expenses may not apply to all strata lots It is important to note that in some strata corporations, contributions for common expenses may only apply to some strata lots. Separate sections within a strata

corporation are separate legal entities. • Strata corporations with separate sections must have both separate section budgets and section CRFs for those section expenses that relate exclusively to that section. • Contributions for the section budget are usually based on the unit entitlement of each strata lot in the section. • Contributions to the separate section operating fund and the CRF are approved in the separate section annual budget and collected through separate section strata fees. • Strata lots in a section also contribute to a strata corporation budget and strata corporation CRF for expenses common to strata lots in all sections, or expenses which are shared by more than one section. Note: strata lots that are differentiated as different types of strata lots in a bylaw do not have the power to establish their own operating fund and CRF. However, if a common expense relates exclusively to: • a type of strata lot identified as a type in a bylaw; • strata lots with limited common property; or • strata lot repair and maintenance for which the strata corporation has, by bylaw, taken responsibility; then contributions for those expenses should be assessed only to the strata lot(s) to which the expense relates. Next issue: Operating funds and strata fees

FirstService Residential in British Columbia is a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation, a global leader in the rapidly growing real estate services sector, one of the largest markets in the world. As the leading property management company in North America, FirstService Residential oversees more than 6,500 residential and commercial associations including 1.5 million residential units.

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Richmond Sales in August were close to double what they were in August 2014 MARKET SNAPSHOT


ith a benchmark price of a condo in Richmond sitting at $361,200 in August and plenty of inventory, this sunny municipality offers lots of choice for homebuyers. The Richmond market also appears to have been less susceptible to summer’s traditional downward trends in sales. While the Greater Vancouver area as a whole experienced a decrease in condo sales of 17 per cent between July and August, Richmond’s reduction was a modest ve per cent. And, when it comes to comparing August 2014 sales with this year’s, Richmond enjoyed a whopping 47 per cent increase, which is substantially more than the already impressive 33 per cent increase seen throughout Greater Vancouver. Taking a closer look at the 21 condos that sold between August 22 and September 4, the least expensive purchase was a 36-yearold studio in Brighouse that went for $113,500. At 450 square feet, that unit cost $252 per square foot, well below the $505 Richmond average for current listings. The most expensive property to nd a new owner in this time period was a brand new two-bedroom unit in McLennan North. On the market for $599,000, the offer that couldn’t be refused was below asking: $568,000. Given its size of 885 square feet, its purchaser went over the average per square foot cost, coming in at $642. Only two of the 21 sales from August 22

to September 4 went for more than list price, indicating that there are still deals to be made in the condo market. Let’s take a closer look at what some of those deals could be: • As of September 4, there are four active listings below $100,000. These are a mix of studio and one-bedroom homes in the Brighouse and Granville neighbourhoods. None of these are in new buildings; they range in age from 14 to 41 years and in square footage from 388 to 634. • Buyers hunting for condos within $5,000 plus or minus of the $361,200 benchmark price, have 24 options in a wide variety of neighbourhoods. These homes range from a 573-square-foot, one-bedroom unit in a ve-year-old building to a 1,113-square-foot, twobedroom unit in a 26-year-old building. While some of these listings are relatively new, one West Cambie property is quickly approaching 800 days on the market. • If money is no object, there are 30 $1 million-plus listings available, most of which are located in Brighouse. At the low end of that scale, is a two-bedroom home in a two-year-old building going for $1,080,000. And, if your budget runs to $6,880,000, a three-bedroom condo in another two-year-old building may have your name on it.


Active condo listings* 291

New listings in August


Condos sold in August


$361,200 Benchmark price


Price change from previous month



Average days on market*



Average price per square foot*

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Type of inventory*

Only two of 21 sales went for more than the list price, indicating there are deals to be made

Studio: 1% 2 BR: 60%

1 BR: 28% 3 BR: 11%

*Active listings up to September 4, 2015

26 September 18, 2015



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September 18, 2015 27



Condo renovation solutions How to make your small space bigger

In honour of its upcoming Home Renovation Show, the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association shares some great condo reno tips

28 September 18, 2015



Big ideas for small spaces


ith the rising popularity of the micro-condo and people prioritizing location over square footage more than ever, making the most of the space you do have is essential. With these design and organizational ideas, your condo will never feel like it’s lacking in size. • Dual-functional furniture: The smaller the condo, the more likely multifunctional spaces are already something you embrace. Investing in dual-functional furniture that can be tucked away or serve as hidden storage reduces unnecessary obstructions. • De-clutter: Striving for modern minimalism and only keeping around the essentials opens up a room. Clutter will only cramp up and waste potential open areas. • Built-in, creative, accessible storage is crucial to stay organized. “If you have a mini-pantry or even a closet, these areas are often overlooked to transform them into an efficient storage system. I suggest to start with these areas first and work your way out towards other areas of your home,” advises Joseph Choi, owner of ShelfGenie BC and local ‘cabinet whisperer.’ Choi specializes in designing layouts that transform cabinets and keep everything within reach. • “Organize areas based on themes to

maximize your spaces. For example, keep similar height foods like cans on the same pull-out shelf so you can add more pull-outs. Rinse and repeat with other items such as spices and oils.” Trick the eye: Striving for illusions of openness, such as using light and airy paint colours, enhances a room. Large and strategically placed mirrors are a classic technique to create the impression of a bigger and brighter room. Not only do mirrors add elements of luxury, but illuminate to make the most of natural light. Have big dreams for your small condo: Work with an experienced designer who understands your needs, current design trends, and how to make the most of all spaces to help you in your space-saving endeavour. Visit www.gvhba.org for a list of custom homebuilder, renovator and designer members.

Be creative with limited space in terms of storage and function


September 18, 2015 29


Transforming the smallest room

Approaching a bathroom renovation in a condo is similar to that in a detached home, as it is a value-adding investment and a desirable selling feature. Bathroom renovations deliver a higher return on investment than most, when done right. However, when renovating a condo, it is imperative to read up and do your research before any transformations can begin. All condos are part of a strata, and not all strata laws are the same. Become well versed in the laws regarding your suite to determine which endeavours will require written permission to proceed. Once building permits are obtained and paperwork is out of the way, the fun can begin. Typically, there is less square footage to work with in a condo bathroom, requiring more creativity on the planning front. Depending on the function of the bathroom, it is important to make plans accordingly. For example, a pedestal sink replacing a drawered vanity is an excellent touch of luxury and way to save space, but it limits storage possibilities and wouldn’t be practical for a single-bathroom suite. “Be creative with limited space in

terms of storage and function,” advises Todd Senft, president of reVISION Custom Home Renovations Inc. “Tiled-in recessed niches in the shower or recessed medicine cabinets tuck items away and are a great way to create new storage spaces, freeing up more crowded areas like under the sink.” Even small afterthought space-saving considerations can make a big difference, like “installing a curved shower rod, to make the shower area feel larger,” suggests Senft. When adding value to a bathroom, luxury and quality aren’t synonymous for size. Improvements are all in the quality of the surfaces, fixtures and arrangement of the space to reflect your needs. Do it right the first time. Quality workmanship shows and makes a difference. Book a free one-on-one consultation at the GVHBA Home Reno Show on Saturday, September 19 to sit down with reVISION Custom Home Renovations or other renovators to make your bathroom renovation dreams a reality.

An open floorplan makes the most modestsized condos feel spacious, while bringing everyone together and maximizing natural light.

30 September 18, 2015



Moving walls in a condo

There’s nothing quite like entertaining in a great room with the opportunity to host and mingle with your guests at the same time. An open floorplan makes the most modest-sized condos feel spacious, while bringing everyone together and maximizing natural light. However, many dated condos have unnecessary walls boxing in areas like the kitchen and dining areas, leaving rooms feeling dim or isolated. Removing dividing walls makes a huge improvement on the overall impression and flow of a space. But moving walls is an endeavour that requires careful

consideration and planning, so it’s essential to employ the help of a professional renovator. A renovator “will assist with strata approval and city permits which must be obtained for any renovation,” says Graeme Huguet, owner of My House Design/Build/Team Ltd. “When looking at altering a floorplan or moving walls in a condo, one needs to consider how the building is heated, where ducting and conduits travel, window and door positions, and whether the floor is concrete or wood.” All these considerations will affect feasibility and the finished floorplan. Redoing ceiling plaster and

relaying flooring are all components of a wall removal job and need to be scheduled into your renovation timeline. “Your home renovator can determine what walls can be moved and how, by using existing blueprints and making test holes in walls.” Make sure you work with a professional who understands design, construction, and can readily assess any

unexpected factors that may arise for a seamless and stress-free remodel. Consider hiring a GVHBA RenoMark certified renovator for your renovation. You can book a free one-on-one consultation with local renovators at the GVHBA Home Reno Show on Saturday, September 19 to sit down and make your open-concept dream a reality.


September 18, 2015 31



Tri-Cities Presales account for a large percentage of current listings in both Coquitlam and PoCo MARKET SNAPSHOT


ondos in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody all saw increases in their benchmark sale prices in August. While these rises were slight compared to July, over the past year, they have increased nearly six per cent in Coqutilam and PoCo and eight per cent in Port Moody. The latter city has seen great returns on investment for most long-term purchasers with today’s benchmark price a remarkable 41 per cent higher than it was ve years ago. Combined sales in the Tri-Cities in August equalled 163. That was a 46 per cent decrease over July sales, but still up 36 per cent over August 2014. Of the 15 condos that sold between August 22 and September 4, only one – a two-bedroom, 16-year-old home in Port Moody’s College Park neighbourhood – went for over the asking price. It was listed at $349,900 with the owners accepting an offer of $360,000. All the other properties sold at our below the list price, with an average selling price 1.3 per cent below asking. Looking at the 560 active listings as of September 4, they range from $129,900 for a one-bedroom home in Coquitlam West to a $1,088,000 two-bedroom in Port Moody Centre. The latter is the area’s only million-dollar-plus listing;

the average asking price is a much more affordable $322,913. Most of the current inventory is in Coquitlam where there are 314 active listings. Of these, 48 (15 per cent) are for presales in buildings still in development or under construction. They represent the rapid development and densi cation that are running alongside the Evergreen Skytrain line. Purchasers will be able to move into some of these condos later this year while others are not expected to be ready until 2017. The presales market accounts for an even larger percentage of Port Coquitlam’s active listings portfolio. Here, 65 properties – 36 per cent of active listings – are not yet ready for occupation. Only four of these listings are outside Central Port Coquitlam and their price range runs from $179,900 to $449,900. The three most expensive properties currently listed in the Tri-Cities are all in Port Moody, which also has the highest listings average of the three cities. In addition to the previously mentioned million-plus listing, a two-bedroom home is also available in Port Moody Centre for $849,900 and Heritage Mountain has a three-bedroom listing asking $889,900.


Active condo listings* 203

New listings in August


Condos sold in August

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• $274,700 Coquitlam benchmark price


Port Coquitlam benchmark price

$367,400 Port Moody benchmark price ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••


Average days on market*



Average price per square foot*

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Port Moody’s condo benchmark price is a remarkable 41 per cent higher than five years ago

Type of inventory*

Studio: 1% 2 BR: 64%

1 BR: 30% 3 BR: 5%

*Active listings up to September 4, 2015

32 September 18, 2015




Take the plunge: Investing in rental condos Even small investors can build a cashpositive rental portfolio in Metro Vancouver

Investors rental pool percentage of condominium that are rented North Shore


By Frank O’Brien


ith a 1.1 per cent rental vacancy rate, a shortage of rental apartments, an accelerating influx of new tenants, record low mortgage rates and jaw-dropping price appreciation, Metro Vancouver is the most profitable landlord market in Canada, if not North America. Last month, sophisticated investors competed to pay $360,000 per door for a 61-year-old, 10-suite walkup apartment in Vancouver’s Fairview area, and sales of mostly old apartment blocks are forecast to hit $1 billion across the region this year for the first time. The action has attracted foreign investors, real estate investment trusts and other deep-pocket players. Yet, average condominium buyers also have an opportunity to share in this whitehot rental market, not just this year but for the rest of their lives. The key is to begin by buying a condominium in Vancouver or transit-served suburban markets for less than $200,000, renting it out and then leveraging it to buy another one. And repeat. Within a decade, a savvy investor could acquire a portfolio of five rental condominiums, all with positive cash flow and representing more than $1 million in assets. Five is the magic number: with a portfolio of this size the investor can qualify for long-term government-insured commercial mortgages with interest rates as low as 1.7 per cent.

Condos under $200,000 Let’s start with buying that first condo for less than $200,000. A tour through REW.ca this week





City of Van


Fraser Valley


Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Condo Vacancy survey.

proved there is a wide selection to choose from. There are half a dozen on Vancouver’s eastside alone including: • A one-bedroom on quiet Lakewood Drive, just off Hastings Street in the trending East Village, asking $169,000. • A more modern one-bedroom close to a Skytrain station in Collingwood listed at $174,900. There are also 40 condominiums in Coquitlam priced under $200,000, some close to a new Evergreen Skytrain station. One example: a $178,800 one-bedroom in Maillardville, listed at $178,800. There are a further 14 in Burnaby, based on REW.ca listings. The average rent for a condominium apartment in Metro Vancouver is $1,525 reports Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., and the condo rental vacancy rate

is 0.7 per cent. So, you buy the newer Collingwood condo apartment for $174,900 with a 20 per cent down payment and finance the rest with a five-year mortgage at 2.49 per cent, a rate available through a number of local mortgage brokers. Your mortgage payment will be $813.78 per month and your strata fee for this unit is $200 per month, for a monthly outlay of $1,014. You rent the condominium for $1,350 per month. The benchmark price of an average East Vancouver condominium apartment has increased five per cent in the past year, but even at half this appreciation, the investor’s 20 per cent equity is now worth $39,350 and the annual gross rental income is around $3,600, which covers taxes and incidental maintenance.

Wait for 18 months or less and shop the market with your real estate agent, and then leverage your equity to buy a second rental condominium. And then repeat the process. This strategy is not unique. Rental investors already own 26 per cent of all Metro Vancouver condominiums, but nearly half own just one unit. By shopping carefully for lower-priced apartments in up-trending areas with transit access, you can carefully build a condominium rental portfolio that will pay dividends for life.

Frank O’Brien is editor of Western Investor, the largest commercial real estate investment newspaper in Western Canada.


September 18, 2015 33



Burnaby Nearly 90 cent of recently sold properties went at or under their list price suggesting that condos here, at least, are immune to bidding wars


t’s been a sunny summer to be a condo seller in Burnaby. While August sales were down about 10 per cent over the previous month, they were up 29 per cent compared with August 2014, demonstrating that consumer demand has been far higher this year than last. Benchmark selling prices (which represent a typical property within a market) were up slightly over July sales in Burnaby East (2.6 per cent), Burnaby North (0.9 per cent) and Burnaby South (0.5 per cent). Burnaby East has been a great location to invest… over the past three years, condo selling prices there have increased 30 per cent. As of September 4, there were 41 active condo listings in the area, ranging in price from $145,000 for a 40-year-old, one-bedroom in Edmonds to a $708,000 three-year-old, two-bedroom in the same neighbourhood. If size matters in your Burnaby condo search (and money is no object), head to the South Slope neighbourhood. Here $1.8 million and change will buy you a 2,877-square-foot, three-bedroom home. That property had been on the market for 144 days at press time… a good indication that it is likely a tad overpriced. Of the six Burnaby condos asking more than a million, four were in Metrotown.

That community is experiencing remarkable growth and new condo developments typically sell fast. Thirty per cent of Burnaby condo sales during the August 22 to September 4 period were in that popular locale. While the average condominium asking price throughout Burnaby between August 22 and September 4 was just shy of $430,000, the average selling price for the 17 properties that sold during that time period was $446,712. Notably, 88 per cent of those properties sold at or under their list price showing that Burnaby condos, at least, are immune to bidding wars. Buyers were competing for a smaller number of properties in August, which is typical for this time of year. Only 242 new listings came onto the market, compared with 380 in July, a decrease of 36 per cent. With 717 condos listed as of September 4, there was still plenty of selection, although with the average number of days on the market at 64, many buyers may have already viewed most of the current inventory. Of sales between August 22 and September 4, only one condo sold on the same day as it was listed. That was a 942-square-foot two-bedroom near Central Park. The owners of the 24-yearold home accepted an offer of $375,000 – $4,900 less than asking price.



Active condo listings* 242

New listings in August


Condos sold in August



East Burnaby benchmark price


North Burnaby benchmark price


South Burnaby benchmark price



Average days on market*



Average price per square foot*

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Over the past three years, Burnaby East condo prices have increased 30 per cent

Type of inventory*

Studio: 1% 2 BR: 62%

1 BR: 32% 3 BR: 5%

*Active listings up to September 4, 2015

34 September 18, 2015




Vancouver home building permits rise 64%, driven by condos

More than half of city’s residential construction permits put into multi-family housing

By Joannah Connolly


he value of residential building permits in Vancouver rose 64 per cent year-over-year in June, according to Statistics Canada data released August 7. The city’s $499.9 million total value of permits was a rise of 9.7 per cent compared with May’s figures. More than $255 million of the total value was put into multi-family buildings, with $130 million being spent on single-

family homes. Residential permits across the province were up 41.8 per cent year-over-year to $752 million, a six per cent rise from May. In other provincial centres surveyed, Victoria more than doubled its building permit values in June, rising 118.2 per cent year-over-year to $44 million, which was also an increase of 61 per cent compared with May’s figures. However, reversing the trend of last month, Abbotsford-Mission saw a yearover-year rise of just 0.4 per cent in building permit values, and a 45 per cent

drop compared with the previous month. The value of Kelowna building permits in June totalled $23 million, a drop of 17.5 per cent year-over-year and 50.1 per cent month over month. Across Canada, the total value of residential permits was $4.57 billion, a 16.3 per cent increase over the month before and a 6.8 per cent rise year-over-year. More than half of that dollar figure was









between Vancouver and Canada as a whole.


September 18, 2015 35



New Westminster The Royal City’s benchmark condo sales price has more than doubled since 2005 MARKET SNAPSHOT


ike its neighbours, New Westminster saw a drop in condo sale activity in August compared to July. But don’t let that 11 per cent dip lull you into thinking real estate is here changing from a sellers’ to a buyers’ market. August is traditionally a slow month for home sales but its 2015 condo sales were still a whopping 23 per cent over those in the same month in 2014. The city’s August benchmark sale price of $292,000, representing a typical property within the market, was up slightly over July (0.6 per cent). That number is 4.6 per cent higher than it was a year ago and more than double what it would have been a decade ago. As of September 4, there were 311 condos on the market in New West; 124 of them were new listings added in August. The average days these properties have been on the market is 63, which is considerably less than Greater Vancouver’s average of 82. Of New Westminster’s nine condo sales between August 22 and September 4, all but one went for below asking price. The one anomaly sold for $100 over asking. All of these nine homes were relative newcomers to the market with an average of 20 days on the market. The lowest sale price of $224,500 was for a 20-year-

old, 630-square-foot Downtown condo; the Quay neighbourhood garnered the most expensive sale of the time period: $385,000 for a 26-year-old, 1,116-squarefoot home. There’s a wide range of product available with list prices going from the low-end $94,900 for a 50-year-old, one-bedroom condo in Uptown to the high-end $1.3 million, two-bedroom, 23-year-old Quay residence. Uptown appears to be New West’s most affordable neighbourhood, with nine out of 10 of the city’s lowest priced listings. The 10 most expensive listings can be found in a broad range of communities including Uptown, Fraserview, Queensborough, Sapperton, and the Quay. A closer look at the Quay reveals 59 active listings in this riverfront neighbourhood with an average price of $416,000. (Once you factor out the aforementioned $1.3 million residence, the average asking price drops to $400,000.) You can make a home here from as little as $280,000. That will buy you a one-bedroom, 730-squarefoot, six-year-old unit. If you’re motivated by size, the largest condo listed at press time was the $1.3 million Quay home at 3,542 square feet. Its nearest competition is a 1,937-squarefoot, two-bedroom home also in the Quay; it’s listed for $439,000.


Active condo listings* 124

New listings in August


Condos sold in August


$292,900 Benchmark price


Price increase from previous month



Average days on market*



Average price per square foot*

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Type of inventory*

You can buy a home in New Westminster Quay for as little as $280,000 for a 730-square-foot unit 36 September 18, 2015


Studio: 1% 2 BR: 55%

1 BR: 37% 3 BR: 7%

*Active listings up to September 4, 2015



Affordable ownership: New West leading housing innovation By Theresa McManus, New West Record


he City of New Westminster is hoping to get the creative juices flowing in the housing sector and create affordable housing developments on two city-owned sites in the downtown and Queensborough. The city is requesting proposals for innovative affordable ownership or rental housing projects for two city-owned sites at 630 Ewen Ave and 43 Hastings St. A request for proposals will soon be issued and proponents will need to submit ideas by the end of September 2015. “Cities are not necessarily able to solve affordable housing, but what we are hoping is we can get some housing providers to come up with some unique and creative solutions on ways to provide affordable projects,” Mayor Jonathan Cote told the New West Record. “I am confident we

New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote

will get two really good affordable housing projects in the city, but to me the real success is if we can potentially start to find a housing model that can be replicated in other places in the city or even other cities.” Cote said the city didn’t put too many restrictions on the type of projects that would be considered, as it wanted to get as many people coming forward with innovative

ideas as possible. He said organizations like Habitat for Humanity have already expressed an interest in the concept. ‘We are optimistic we are going to get a number of different proposals, and then we can see which ones provide the best longterm affordability and a model that might actually start to pique some interest in other places as well,” he said. Cote said the initiative demonstrates New Westminster’s commitment to be both a leader and active partner in addressing housing affordability, which is one of the most important issues facing the region at this time. “Affordable housing is going to be one of the key priorities of city council during this term,” he said. “It’s one of the most challenging issues Metro Vancouver is facing. I think we are going to be trying a variety of different policies and see what the municipality can do to assist with this issue.” The City of New Westminster would

make the sites available at no charge to the successful proponent, but the proponent would pay the development cost charges. The city would also cover related expenses such as site servicing costs (sewer, storm drainage, water), development approvals and building permit fees, costs associated with the public consultation requirements (public meetings, mailing costs and communication materials), legal fees, with funding coming from the city’s affordable housing reserve fund. The city is working closely with BC Housing and the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation, which could provide additional support in terms of project financing or operating assistance. “Depending on the quality of the proposals received, we aim to have up to two affordable housing projects under construction by the summer of 2017,” Cote said. “Our affordable housing task force is also exploring other opportunities to facilitate new affordable housing in our community to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities, seniors and young families.” Soon after being elected mayor, Cote establish a mayor’s housing affordability task force to consider the creation of new nonmarket housing for low- and moderate-income households, affordable rental housing and affordable home ownership in New West. The task force recommended that the projects considered through the request for proposal demonstrate short- and longterm affordability, have a design that’s sympathetic to the existing neighbourhoods, be sustainable for families with children, be able to be replicated elsewhere in the city and be under construction by the summer of 2017. “Our objective is to create new affordable housing and demonstrate the development of compact forms of housing, including family-friendly, here in New Westminster,” said Bev Grieve, the city’s director of development services. “Lessons learned will inform our official community plan review currently underway and act as an incubator for housing affordability and innovation that can be applied across our region.”


September 18, 2015 37



Surrey Selling prices averaged three per cent under asking – Surrey condo sellers are willing to entertain reasonable offers


urrey is often considered a good place to get your foot in the door when it comes to homeownership. With the pressure on to increase density, the city is quickly attracting more condominium development, making it a great place to look for your rst home purchase. There’s good news for buyers. Surrey’s August condo benchmark price (which represents a typical property within a market) was $199,500 – down by one per cent over August 2014’s benchmark of $208,700. And, buyers are snatching up homes: Surrey condo sales were up 29 per cent in August compared with the same month last year. With 904 active condo listings as of September 4, there’s a healthy supply of homes to choose from ranging from a 25-year-old studio in Sunnyside Park for $69,800 to a presale on a brand new three-bedroom in Whalley for $1,265,900. Million dollar condo listings are unusual in Surrey, with only the one example above currently on the market. It will in the University District Alumni tower. Three of the top ve most expensive listings are for that building which is expected to be completed in 2017. The other two are in the 20-yearold Odyssey Tower, also in Whalley.

Looking speci cally at entry-level studios, there are 14 homes currently available, ranging from the aforementioned 520-quare-foot Sunnyside Park property to a 425-square-foot, two-year old suite listed just under $200,000. The smallest of the available studios hasn’t been built yet. At 316 square feet, this home in Evolve is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2018. Getting your foot in the door today will run you approximately $180,000. Twelve of the studios currently on the market are located in Whalley and all but one are six years old or less. While you will pay less when you purchase a studio, there are actually plenty of one-bedroom and even some two-bedroom units on the market for list prices below what many of the studios are asking. At an average of $363 per square foot, the studio prices are also running above the overall Surrey condo average of $283 per square foot. Eight of the nine condos that sold in Surrey between August 22 and September 4 were two-bedroom units; the ninth has three bedrooms. Ranging in asking from $173,000 to $391,900, all sold for under their list price. While the average selling price was only three per cent lower than what was asked, it does demonstrate that Surrey condo sellers are willing to entertain reasonable offers.



Active condo listings*


Condos sold in August


$199,500 Benchmark price


Price change from August 2014



Average days on market*



Average price per square foot*

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• With 904 active condo listings as of September 4, there’s a healthy supply of homes to choose from 38 September 18, 2015


Type of inventory*

Studio: 1% 2 BR: 59%

1 BR: 35% 3 BR: 5%

*Active listings up to September 4, 2015



Create a gorgeous and (virtually) maintenance-free deck Who has time to nurture a planted deck or balcony? Here’s how you can create an outdoor oasis with almost no work

By Michelle Hopkins


ost of us live incredibly busy lives and, between work, family, travel and more, who has the time or energy to maintain planting on our balcony or deck? For many of us, the idea of a maintenance-free outdoor space, one that is worthy of our neighbours’ envy but requires no work, is extremely appealing. Linda Rushlow, horticulturalist at Daisy Landscaping, says, “When it comes to live plants, there is nothing that is maintenancefree but you can have low-maintenance plants that require minimal upkeep.” There are many super-low-maintenance plants – think succulents, cacti and ornamental grasses – that need very little watering and look great year-round. You just need to know what to look for (see Rushlow’s tips, below). But what if you want a truly 100 per cent maintenance-free deck? Would you like to enjoy beautiful, natural-looking foliage all year round, without the watering? What about a stylish balcony or deck that requires no maintenance whatsoever? West Coast Condominium reached out to Tommy Smythe, co-host on HGTV’s Sarah’s Rental Cottage series. The interior designer, and frequent TV guest and host along with Sarah Richardson, says more and more of his clients are asking him to minister to their exterior spaces in a way that requires virtually no fuss. “When looking for virtually maintenance-free accessories or furniture, make sure they are weatherproof; as in treated, sealed or stained,” Smithe tells


September 18, 2015 39

West Coast Condominium. So get ready for your most carefree deck ever with tips from both Rushlow and Smithe. You’ll (almost never) have to put on a pair of gardening gloves again!

Smithe’s favourite zeromaintenance deck ideas 1) Install outdoor art: The sky is the limit here. Smithe loves to restore and reuse items and he loves architecturally salvaged items. “Every major city has an urban salvage centre where they sell stuff such as carved limestone, stained glass, bricks, gorgeous pieces of wood from old buildings that have been torn down. With a little imagination and a bit of sweat equity, they can become side tables, outdoor art… anything. Remember eclectic is in and avant-garde is trendy.” 40 September 18, 2015


Or head to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, flea market or second-hand store where you can find great vintage wall art, such as 1950s metal seagulls or three-dimensional copper or bronze wall art, which can be sprayed with all-weather paint in whatever colour suits your overall vision. 2) Use faux foliage for the green look: These are not your 1980s Golden Girls-style, tacky, fake-looking plants, says Smithe. These days, artificial plants can be incredibly realistic and create a great effect. Look for plastic boxwood leaves, which are extremely natural-looking and have a lush green shade that looks beautiful, or fabric-based fake grasses and bamboo plants. Artificial plants can be placed in any outdoor container. You can even make a large trellis against a wall to showcase your smaller faux hanging plants,

or display them on weatherproof shelves along with other accessories. Voila! You have year-round greenery that never dies. 3) Frame low- or no-maintenance plants as a “living wall”: “You can create a living mosaic out of succulents in a weatherproof wall frame that looks especially stunning,” adds Smithe. 4) Gather great accent pieces and furniture: Treat your outdoor space like another room and furnish it. Go on the hunt for antique/ vintage wrought iron, cast iron tables and chairs, mid-century treated teak wood and glass-top pieces of furniture. “Then spray a little colour on to add soul to your patio or deck,” adds the TV personality. “I had a client request that I paint an outdoor cast iron table she found in a fire engine red and we placed a glass top on it ... fabulous. Remember mix it

You can create a living mosaic out of succulents in a weather proof wall frame that looks stunning ” -Tommy Smithe, HGTV

up and no matchy, matchy.” 5) Lay parquet deck flooring: Like the furnishings in your outdoor room, the flooring is important too. Parquet flooring tiles go right over your concrete and are a quick and easy way to create an artistic deck. You can find parquet fairly inexpensively through most hardware stores and they are one of the most versatile DIY materials there are. “It’s a great opportunity to add the softness of wood on your deck,” adds Smithe. “They also come in a variety of colours, including navy blue and emerald green.” 6) Accessorize with eclectic items such as marble candlesticks, ice buckets, vintage bar carts and lanterns: Check out Kijiji, Craigslist or eBay to source out any of these items to add interest and personality to your outdoor decor, says Smithe. Look for chrome or copper lanterns, then paint them if desired and hang them from the ceiling of your deck or on wall hooks. Accent a vintage bar cart with ice buckets filled with your favourite drinks. Marble candlesticks not only add

elegance, they require no fuss and look fabulous on an outdoor table.

Rushlow’s favourite lowmaintenance plants 1) Ornamental grasses such as Pennisetum (Karley Rose). These versatile grasses offer plumes of colours, movement and softness. They grow well in containers and only need to be cut back once a year in the spring and, after the first year of growth, require very little water. “There is lots of choice here and in the fall they look especially gorgeous,” says Rushlow. 2) Succulents: Aloe, scilla, gasteria and haworthia are a few examples of succulents that thrive in the hot sun and need infrequent watering. If you’re looking to increase the beauty of your outdoor planters, consider planting a flowering Autumn Joy, which not only looks pretty but butterflies love them as well. A word of caution: If you are planting succulents in terracotta pots, they tend to dry out more quickly.


September 18, 2015 41
























A selection of open show homes and sales centres across the Lower Mainland


Tsawwassen Springs 5099 Springs Boulevard Open Tues – Sun 12 – 5 pm And open by appointment 604.948.4663 ...................Pg 44


Aragon 260 Salter Street Open Daily 12 – 5 pm (except Friday) 778.398.1344 ...................Pg 2

42 September 18, 2015





West Quay 21 Lonsdale Avenue Open Daily 12 – 6 pm (except Friday) 604.998.8856 ...................Pg 21


Proximity 1772 Ontario Street Open Sat-Thurs 12 – 5 pm 1 & 2 Bedroom 604.828.1029 ...................Pg 13


Seylynn Village 600 Mountain Hwy Open Daily 12 – 5 pm 1, 2 & 3 + Den Bedroom 604.980.5000 ...................Pg 3


Winona Park 344 W 62 Avenue Opening Autumn 2015 2 & 3 Bedroom 604.683.5441 ...................Pg 15


Maplewood Place 433 Seymour River Pl Grand Opening Oct. 17th 1, 2 & 3 Bedroom 604.971.5030 ...................Pg 23







604.980.5000 SEYLYNN.CA

This is not an offering for sale. Any such offering may only be made with a Disclosure Statement E.&O.E.


September 18, 2015 43


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