Macdonald Realty Voted Best Real Estate Office in Vancouver

The readers of the Vancouver weekly newspaper The Georgia Straight have voted Macdonald Realty number one in the “Best Neighbourhood Real Estate Office” category.  You can see the rankings here.  Covering Vancouver business and culture, The Georgia Straight is a weekly publication with over 690,000 readers; for the 2010 (15th annual) Best of Vancouver rankings, the magazine received a record 10,000 ballots.

The 2010 Olympics, the Luxury Market, and Asian Buyers | Square Foot Magazine (Hong Kong)

Vancouver’s property market bounces back and is poised to be stronger than ever

With the Pacific Ocean to one side and the Rocky Mountains to the other, Vancouver is one of the world’s most scenic and liveable cities — and anyone from Vancouver will tell you that. Urban without being overwhelming, Canada’s third largest metropolitan area has a laid back pace that belies its economic importance and has been attracting buyers from around the world — and Asia in particular — for years. Only moderately affected by the financial meltdown of 2008, Vancouver’s property market looks to be holding firm, and the immediate future is looking bright.  A bump from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games would be expected, but the rise in interest in Vancouver pre-dates the actual Games. “The Winter Olympics resulted in a bump in the real estate market prior to the event. Vancouver won the bid in 2003 and real estate prices have been on a relatively strongupward trajectory since that time,” explains Macdonald Real Estate Group’s Vice President of Corporate Strategy Dan Scarrow. “The [effects] on real estate prices post-Olympics has been more muted; however, the long-term effect of the Olympics on real estate activity in Vancouver will be positive.”

Few were spared the wrath of 2008’s global financial agony, but things could have been much worse than they were in Canada. The country’s mixed economy spared it from more considerable damage and, “Vancouver, in particular, fared very well through the turmoil,” in Scarrow’s view. Property prices were off 25 percent from their mid-2008 peak but rebounded strongly enough in mid-2009 to surpass their previous peak. “This indicates that the housing market in Vancouver was effected largely by psychology rather than market fundamentals,” theorises Scarrow.

So who is driving the market these days, and what kind of market exactly is Vancouver? Scarrow breaks down the three traditional buyer segments: “The lower end is still driven by local buyers. Before the financial crisis, investors played a large role in Vancouver’s real estate market, however, since then, the market has shifted more towards owner/occupiers as investors remain relatively skittish about the global economy.” Pure investment has been on a slow rise in the last few months, but it has yet to reach pre-2008 levels, as global economies are still in a recovery process.

It comes as no surprise to determine who’s driving Vancouver’s luxury market. “The higher-end of the real estate market (over CA$2 million) is being driven largely by Mainland Chinese buyers. That’s not to say they are the sole purchasers of these properties, but their presence has resulted in this price range being highly active over the pastseveralyears.” According to a February report in the  Vancouver Sun, 31 homes priced over CA$5 million were sold in Greater Vancouver in 2009. But as Scarrow pointed out, they’re not alone: Australians, Europeans and Americans are also getting on the Vancouver bandwagon. Properties in key locations like Shaughnessey, South Granville, urban Yaletown, and tony Coal Harbour, Point Grey and Dunbar (Vancouver’s most expensive location per square foot of land), even with a strong Canadian dollar, are also something of a bargain — with land — for Hong Kong and Mainland buyers.

Vancouver, and Canada in general, has the kind of government and social atmosphere that has made it an investment and immigration preference for decades. “Canada is in a unique fiscal position in the world with relatively low public debt and deficits and a quality of life that is second to none. Thispoliticalandeconomic stability is attractive to a whole host of people from around the world who see troubling times ahead. This, combined with Vancouver’s natural beauty, makes it a perfect place to raise a family,” Scarrow reasons. For Asian buyers, Canada is a strong choice for wealth protection and a good spot to send children for a Western-style education. In addition, Vancouver is, quite simply, relatively close to home.

The same luxury pattern evident in Hong Kong is slowing broadening in Vancouver. The high-end market has been strong for the last few years, including the recent recession, and the city’s burgeoning international image is attracting affluent buyers. “Vancouver’s famous Coal Harbour neighbourhood, overlooking the mountains, ocean, and Stanley Park, now sells at nearly $2,000 per square foot, where less than 10 years ago, it sold for less than $500,” states Scarrow. That’s a middle-class or entry-level price in Hong Kong, where space it at a premium. If Canada has one thing it’s land, and Vancouver has seen its share of shifting with the influx of overseas wealth. “There are two distinct markets in Vancouver, the luxury market and the local market. Like Hong Kong, Mainland Chinese buyers are the largest players in the luxury market and are bidding up prices at a ferocious rate,” admits Scarrow. “This includes former family neighbourhoods like Dunbar and Point Grey, which now boast ‘average’ prices well in excess of $2 million.” But unlike in Hong Kong, the local market can move, and has, “responded by moving east, with former low-end markets such as Main Street, and Commercial Drive gentrifying in order to accommodate local buyers,” who aren’t willing to leave town altogether. “Vancouver is a lifestyle city,” said Macdonald Realty’s Gregg Baker in a press release earlier this year. “It’s no secret that people like being here.”

 

From a 2010 edition of Hong Kong’s Square Foot Magazine.

2010 Macdonald Realty #1 list of largest BC companies owned by women | BIV

Business in Vancouver has compiled its annual list of the largest BC Companies owned by women and, once again, Macdonald Real Estate Group has topped the list! That’s not all though; Macdonald Realty’s owner, Lynn Hsu, is also its President & Chief Executive Officer, growing the company from 1 office in 1990 to over 20 across British Columbia today.

Previously, Lynn has been named the #8 woman entrepreneur in Canada by Canadian Business magazine, as well as the Chinese Canadian Person of the Year. Macdonald Realty is proud to have a strong role model for women in business as our leader.

To see the full list, please visit www.biv.com

 

Moving Tips

Here’s a few tips/suggestions that we thought you might find useful when moving.

About a month before moving day:
– as a client of ours, you will receive a “Holmes Team After the Sale/Moving Checklist”
– call a moving company and book moving date
– notify post office for change of address
– notify school(s) of change of address
– contact your home insurance company to update info
– notify bank of change of address

A couple of weeks before moving day:
– contact your lawyer/notary to ensure they have all the information needed regarding the sale/purchase of your home
– arrange to have utilities disconnected at current home and connected at new home
– hold a garage sale to sell unwanted items
– arrange for transportation and care of your pets
– start packing and labeling boxes
– discontinue newspaper delivery
– plan to carry valuable documents/jewelery with you on moving day
– take down curtain rods, drapes and shelves

A day or two before moving day:
– confirm with Greg and Liz what time you will be leaving your home and moving to your new home
– clean fridge and oven
– finish packing personal items
– set aside items to go into your vehicle with you
– confirm contact information, address and moving time with movers
– verify that utilities have been/will be connected at new home

Moving day:
– have vacuum ready
– empty and clean out your fridge and freezer
– make a final inspection of house before leaving
– check all rooms, closets, cupboards and drawers
– get keys from Greg and Liz for your new place
– enjoy your new home!

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Vancouver Real Estate Supply and Demand in a Global Context

Were we spoiled by the early spring flurry?   Probably.

Does the inventory have to decline at the same rate as the number of units sold to maintain market integrity?  Probably not.

The market appears to be levelling.  Prices are adjusting slightly downward but not in all areas depending on inventory.  Once again proving that one of our principle rules of real estate analysis is “supply and demand” and that rule is absolute.  Inventory is declining and prices may be stabilizing but perhaps not at the same rate.  Buyers and sellers are having trouble reading the market signs.

With the stock markets and the economies of USA, Europe and others regions all are emitting mixed signals, it is hard to pick a cause or effect that has any long term significance.  This brings to mind our second rule of analysis, that of “cause and effect”.  Good things cause good things to happen and bad things cause bad things to happen.  One day consumer confidence is good then the next day builders confidence is down then business leaders are optimistic then Ben Bernanke says he won’t intervene, and then he will.  The stock market goes down and then recovers.  The bank of Canada says interest rates will rise then when they do the banks ignore and keep offering low mortgage rates.  Nobody knows what is to do and nobody can predict how the various markets will react and that I guess is why they call it a market.

 

Today, according to the Conference Board of Canada, consumer confidence in BC is down.  Experts say this is the result of the implementation of HST.  We would guess it is a combination of many factors and externalities.  Although we must admit we have seen a lot of confusion as to the HST and Real Estate.  No doubt our industry could of done a better job of educating the public.  But so could have the government and the fifth estate (who spent a lot of time creating a kafuffle to sell papers rather than explaining the tax).

Throw in our last rule of real estate analysis, that ”history repeats itself” and it gets even more confusing. As we have noted previously, and our friend Bruno recently calculated, that after the last big real estate correction in Vancouver, it took 7 years (from 1996-2003) for prices of West Side detached houses to recover to the previous high .The following 6 years (from 2003 – 2009) saw a compounded average growth of 13% for Westside detached houses. Then in the last three quarters of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 we experienced a 20% plus downward correction but then were fully recovered by the fall of 2009.  Anybody heard of the “dead cat bounce”?

Prices seem to have corrected downward over the past few months by 5%-10% although we may be seeing a levelling.  It should be noted that it is not uncommon for prices to adjust up and down during a cycle, upward or downward cycles.

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Blog post provided by Murphy Costello Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR®  with Macdonald Realty in Vancouver.   

10 Home Repairs that Will Save You Money

Remodels are great, but can get pretty pricey. Not everyone has thousands to add value to their home – but what about those less glamorous repair projects on your to-do list? These simple and inexpensive maintenance items don’t seem like they add to your home’s value, but they’re big money-savers in the long run.

1. Caulk

If you’ve lived in your house a few years, you probably noticed that the caulk along your sinks, countertops and bathtub is coming loose. These gaps may not seem like a big deal, but they can wreak havoc inside your walls. Moisture causes mold and even leaks – expensive repairs that can easily be prevented. A tube of kitchen and bath caulk costs just a few dollars, and you’ll avoid expensive repairs.

 

2. Insulate

The quickest way to save money on your energy bill is to insulate, yet so many of us overlook this simple home improvement project for its benefits. Sure, your walls are insulated, but what about your basement, your attic, and your garage? Just in case the energy cost savings aren’t enticing enough for you, check with the government – there are current credits that allow you to deduct this energy-saving expense from your taxes. (Find out what you can do to improve your chances of having a quick sale, in Selling Your Home In A Down Market.)

3. Change Filters

When was the last time you changed your furnace’s air filters? It’s an oft-overlooked chore, but one that keep your furnace running efficiently, and improves the air quality inside your home. Change your filters at least every three months to keep your furnace working efficiently for years to come.

4. Install a Thermostat

Does your home have a programmable thermostat? If not, invest in one; it’ll earn its money back in no time. By programming heating and cooling, you avoid paying to keep an empty house at a comfortable temperature. Manage the heat appropriately in winter to avoid burst water pipes; in summer, draw your curtains during the day to keep the house cool. Buy a programmable thermostat and you can save big on monthly bills.

5. Fix Leaks

That leaky faucet or runny toilet is draining your water bill, and in most cases it’s a cheap and quick fix. Replace the washer on your faucet, and while you’re at it, consider installing a faucet aerator if yours doesn’t already have one. Faucet aerators reduce water flow from your faucet to save on your water bill; check your home improvement store for this inexpensive fix. (If you’re just looking to get rich quick, you could end up in the poorhouse. Find out how, in 5 Mistakes That Make House Flipping A Flop.)

6. Install Dimmers

Dimmers aren’t just for romance; they can save you big bucks on your energy bill. They’re cheap and easy to install, so look for rooms that could use a little reduction in harsh lighting. While you’re at it, replace your light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. They’re big money savers.

7. Clean Carpets

Clean your carpet lately? With proper care, carpets can last a long time and look great, but everyone needs to clean them sometime. You don’t need to hire an expensive service either – if you can vacuum, you can clean your carpets by yourself. Rent a carpet cleaner at your local supermarket or big-box store for a modest fee. Make sure you vacuum thoroughly before cleaning, and pick a dry day so your carpet dries quickly. With regular cleaning your carpet can last a long time, saving you big bucks on new flooring.

8. Clean Siding and Windows

Windows and siding get a beating in most climates. Wash your windows and siding with a simple hose and water first, and with a cleaning solution as needed; your home improvement store sells specialty products for just this kind of job. Rent a power washer for very dirty jobs. Keep an eye on cobwebs, wasp and bird nests to ensure your home’s exterior stays in good shape. Touch up with paint as needed, and your house will look like new at little or no cost. (Some renovations will mean a bigger sale price on your home, while others will just cost you. Find out more, in Will Your Home Remodel Pay Off?)

9. Fight Pests

Those spiders and ants at your foundation, that mouse nest in your crawl space? Take care of it – pests can destroy a home in a hurry. Hire an exterminator, or for small pests, combat with pesticides. Even if you don’t think you have a problem, inspect every part of the interior and exterior of your home regularly to avoid small pest problems getting out hand.

10. Clean Ductwork

If your home is older, your ductwork likely has dust, grime, and other unwelcome residue inside. For big jobs, pay a professional; a simple cleaning can easily be done yourself. Simply remove the grates from your air vents, and clean the inside with your vacuum.

The Bottom Line

The best way to invest in your home is to take good care of what’s already there. With these simple repair jobs, you’ll even save money – with just a little elbow grease as investment.

 

Source: The Globe and Mail, here are 10 simple home renovation ideas that can save you money in the long run. July 01 2010

How to Move the Green Way

If you are planning on moving and you would like to be more “green” or environmentally conscious, here are some ways to make that happen.

Ask your friends and family if they have any cardboard boxes you can use. Or maybe you have some already that are hidden in your storage locker or garage. Check with your local grocery store, liquor store, hardware store and the like for boxes. They may be in different sizes but that doesn’t matter, sometimes that works better for dishes or books etc.

At the office, photocopier/printer paper boxes are great boxes to use. They are not too big and are fairly strong too. Great boxes for stacking.

If you don’t want to use cardboard boxes, another option is renting moving crates. These are reusable plastic crates that are typically crushproof and stackable. There’s a cost to them, but usually the company rents them to you a couple of weeks before your move so you have them for about a month. They deliver them and then pick them up. No mess and no waste. Also check with your moving company, some of them provide this service as well.

 

What do you do about protecting your dishes, glassware or other breakables? You can use newspaper, used padded envelopes (from work) and old blankets and towels. (The latter may be a bit bulky whereas newspaper ink might get on your dishes).

Decreasing the amount of “stuff” that you have can help make your move easier on you. Hold a garage sale or put up items on Craigslist. Now, just remember not to accumulate too much stuff once you make your move! And the less stuff that you have, the smaller and lighter the moving vehicle will be and thus less gas that is burning.

Use environmentally friendly cleaning products. I like Method and Attitude products (which you can get at Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs and Superstore).

If you do use cardboard boxes for moving, think of recycling them or reusing to a friend or coworker that will be moving in the future.

Good luck with your move!

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

Recreational Real Estate Hot | The Times Colonist

Buyers of recreational property are pushing up sales — especially in the entry-level price range — but the market has not recovered to pre-recession levels, says a new report by real estate giant Re/Max.

“I have never been busier,” said Sandra Smith, an agent for Macdonald Realty on Saltspring Island.

The upcoming long weekend sees her “booked solid with buyers” at a time when inventory gives buyers plenty of choice. Water view properties from $500,000 to $800,000 are especially popular.

“My personal thought is that we are not going to see a big spike in prices,” Smith said yesterday.

Buyers are arriving from such areas as the northwestern U.S., Alberta, Vancouver and the Island, Smith said.

Some are seeking an island getaway that will be a retirement home in a couple of years, while others are young families.

Smith said buyers held off last year because of the recession.

Allan Bruce of Pemberton Holmes on Saltspring is also seeing a steady stream of buyers.

“We still have a steady market but certainly the volume is down,” he said. The strongest activity is for properties below $500,000.

Across Canada, 79 per cent of recreational areas saw an increase in the number of sales for the first three months of this year, compared to the same time last year, the Re/Max report said.

“Stronger than expected economic recovery, combined with additional incentives such as rising interest rates, stricter lending criteria and a new sales tax have served to kick-start activity in recreational markets from coast to coast,” said Elton Ash, regional vice-president for Re/Max in Western Canada.

Buyers are looking to stretch their dollar as much as possible, he said. “This is especially true in Western Canada, where values have softened considerably year-over-year but are now starting to firm up.”

The starting price for a three-bedroom, winterized waterfront property on a standard lot on Saltspring Island would be $750,000 to $800,000, the report said. “Recreational property sales have more than doubled on Saltspring Island over last year.”

Five years ago, international and American buyers were more active in the market than today, it said.

On Vancouver Island’s west coast, the starting price for the same three-bedroom house is $499,000 in Ucluelet, and $875,000 in Tofino.

A two-bedroom waterfront condo starts at $245,000 in Ucluelet and $429,000 in Tofino, the report said.

Inventory is high, creating an “overabundance of listings at all price points,” which affect price, Re/Max said.

Showings have increased in the Comox Valley-Mount Washington region, where an “oversupply of inventory has placed buyers firmly in the driver’s seat,” the report said.

The starting price for a three-bedroom house was pegged at $475,000.

 

Article from The Victoria Times Colonist – May 21st, 2010

The Value a REALTOR Provides

There has been a ton of information tossed around recently in the media about REALTORS® and the value they provide.  I wanted to share a short story about a person I have recently helped who tried to sell their home on their own.  I received a phone call from this gentleman last month regarding coming to list his home and for some professional marketing advise. He had recently undergone the process of selling by owner and had even received an accepted offer from a private buyer. The buyer had committed to purchasing his condo and they went through the legal requirements and were deeply involved financially and emotionally. The deal came to fall apart as the prospective buyer could not close on the deal due to financial and personal reasons. This is where my value as a real estate and marketing professional was valued and called upon.

I listed the home and had it sold within 5 days of having it listed, as a result of my 90 step marketing strategies and knowledge of the area. Not only did I only show the property to the most qualified buyers after screening them personally, I arranged the entire process and assisted in closing the deal. Now many of you may be thinking, “Yah Darin, but the Seller also had to pay you to do this all for him,” and you would be absolutely right. The Seller received an additional $16,500 more than his private sale that was supposed to ’save’ him money. After my compensation, the seller walked away with more money in his pocket, actually, it was an additional $6000.

 

I believe strongly that you pay a professional to do their job. You go to a doctor because they have specialized knowledge and understand how to fix your health issues. You go to a Real Estate professional because you can expect a certain level of service and expertise. I have knowledge you as a Seller may not, and that is okay. Take the example written above, you can bet my Seller is smiling as he not only had the conveyance roll out as smooth as can be, he also plans to take his family on a 2 week holiday with the extra money I was able to achieve for him.

So the next time your body aches or you have the flu, call your doctor. The next time you hear of a friend or family member trying to sell their home on their own, remind them of this story, and have them call me.

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Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at Germyn.ca  

 

Macdonald Realty Named Largest Brokerage Firm in Canada | REAL Trends 2009

With a total sales volume of $4.7 billion in 2009, Macdonald Realty placed first in the REAL Trends 200 survey of Canada’s largest brokers.  The results were published in the May 2010 edition of REAL Trends magazine and reported by the National Post, Vancouver Sun, & The Province.   Based in Castle Rock, Colorado, REAL Trends has been ranking the top 500 brokerage firms in the United States since 1988. This is the first year their publication has included Canada.  We are very proud to have been named the largest brokerage firm in Canada during this inaugural list.

 

Click here to see a list of the top 23 firms in the survey