Preparing Your Kids for a New Home


Sooner or later, many families face the prospect of moving. Disruptive as moving can be for parents, the experience can be even more traumatic for kids, who may not be a part of the decision to move and might not understand it.

Kids can need some time and special attention during the transition. Try these tips to make the process less stressful for everyone.

Making the Decision to Move
Many kids thrive on familiarity and routine. So as you consider a move, weigh the benefits of that change against the comfort that established surroundings, school, and social life give your kids.

The decision to move may be out of your hands, perhaps due to a job transfer or financial issues. Even if you’re not happy about the move, try to maintain a positive attitude about it. During times of transition, a parent’s moods and attitudes can greatly affect kids, who may be looking for reassurance.

Discussing the Move With Kids
No matter what the circumstances, the most important way to prepare kids to move is to talk about it. Try to give them as much information about the move as soon as possible. Answer questions completely and truthfully, and be receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Even if the move means an improvement in family life, kids don’t always understand that and may be focused on the frightening aspects of the change.

Involving kids in the planning as much as possible makes them feel like participants in the house-hunting process or the search for a new school. This can make the change feel less like it’s being forced on them.

If you’re moving across town, try to take your kids to visit the new house (or see it being built) and explore the new neighborhood. For distant moves, provide as much information as you can about the new home, city, and province (or country). Access the Internet to learn about the community. Learn where kids can participate in favorite activities. See if a relative, friend, or even a real estate agent can take pictures of the new house and new school for your child.

Moving With Toddlers and Preschoolers
Kids younger than 6 may be the easiest to move, as they have a limited capacity to understand the changes involved. Still, your guidance is crucial.
Here are ways to ease the transition for young kids:

  • Keep explanations clear and simple.
  • Use a story to explain the move, or use toy trucks and furniture to act it out.
  • When you pack your toddler’s toys in boxes, make sure to explain that you aren’t throwing them away.
  • If your new home is nearby and vacant, go there to visit before the move and take a few toys over each time.
  • Hold off on getting rid of your child’s old bedroom furniture, which may provide a sense of comfort in the new house. It might even be a good idea to arrange furniture in a similar way in the new bedroom.
  • Avoid making other big changes during the move, like toilet training or advancing a toddler to a bed from a crib.
  • Arrange for your toddler or preschooler to stay with a babysitter on moving day.

Moving With School-Age Kids
Kids in elementary school may be relatively open to a move, but still need serious consideration and help throughout the transition.

There are two schools of thought about “”the right time to move.”” Some experts say that summer is the best time because it avoids disrupting the school year. Others say that midyear is better because a child can meet other kids right away.

To avoid glitches that would add stress, gather any information the new school will need to process the transfer. That may include the most recent report card or transcript, birth certificate, and medical records.

Moving With Teens
It’s common for teens to actively rebel against a move. Your teen has probably invested considerable energy in a particular social group and might be involved in a romantic relationship. A move may mean that your teen will miss a long-awaited event, like a prom.

It’s particularly important to let teens know that you want to hear their concerns and that you respect them. While blanket assurances may sound dismissive, it’s legitimate to suggest that the move can serve as rehearsal for future changes, like college or a new job. However, also be sure to let them know that you hear their concerns.

After the move, consider planning a visit back to the old neighborhood, if it’s feasible. Also, see if if the teen can return for events like prom or graduation events. If you’re moving midway through a school year, you might want to consider letting an older teen stay in the old location with a friend or relative, if that’s an option.

After Moving Day
After the move, try to get your child’s room in order before turning your attention to the rest of the house. Also, try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and bedtime to give kids a sense of familiarity.

When your child does start school, you may want to go along to meet as many teachers as possible or to introduce your child to the principal.

Set realistic expectations about the transition. Generally, teachers expect new kids to feel somewhat comfortable in their classes in about 6 weeks. Some kids need less time; others might need more.

After the move, if you’re still concerned about your child’s transition, a family therapist might provide some helpful guidance.

A move can present many challenges, but good things also come from this kind of change. Your family might grow closer and you may learn more about each other by going through it together.


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  originally posted Dec 18, 2013.

Dispatches from China: The logistics of opening an office in China by Dan Scarrow

I’m now in month 2 of a 4-month long assignment looking into the logistics of opening a Macdonald Realty representative office in China.

To recap, we have gone to China as a response to demand from our clients. We determined early on that we’re likely the only brokerage in BC that’s capable of supporting an economically feasible office in China due to our multiple lines of business: Residential Brokerage, Commercial Sales, Project Marketing for Developers, Property Management and Mortgage Financing. Having one or two of these capabilities would not be enough to sustain an office in China, but having all 4 means that Macdonald Realty and its affiliated companies – Macdonald Commercial, Property Management, and Platinum Project Marketing – can make it work.

In the first month after our arrival, the unexpected changes to the Canadian Investor Immigrant Program had a lot of people scrambling, trying to figure out what the impact would be for the Vancouver housing market. I must admit that I’ve changed my mind about how big the impact would be from Large to Minimal. The reason, as explained by some of our Immigration Consulting partners here in China, is that their wealthy clients are more interested in placing their children and a portion of their wealth outside of China than they are in immigrating themselves. Canada offers a perfect solution for this through student visas for children and an accompanying 10-year multiple entry visa for adults. These immigration consultant partners are fairly confident that many of their clients will choose this route and continue to invest in Canada and British Columbian residential and commercial real estate.

Another issue that we’ve had to deal with is representative fraud. This is something that is quite common and widespread in China and only recently has it made its way over to Canada. We have now verified 3 cases of individuals who have fraudulently claimed to be the Canadian representative of a company in China, and we have several other suspicious incidences to follow up on. The cases seem to follow the same pattern: an individual claims to be the representative of a large Chinese company, he/she knows a lot about the company or a decision-maker in the company but most of the information can be found online, and the individual tells us not to contact the decision-maker back in China because they are ‘very busy’. Through the BC Trade Office here in China, I’ve been able to get a hold of the Chairmen of several of these companies and most of them (though not all) have denied having any sort of official representation in Canada. This is just another area where having ‘boots on the ground’ can help.

Moving forward, this month’s task is to determine and solve the logistical, legal, and administrative challenges of opening an office in China. This is one of the biggest hurdles for Canadian companies and is one of the main reasons why so few have set up shop in the country.

As an aside, I recently made a side-trip to Taiwan to learn about the state of the Taipei real estate market. Much to my surprise, I found that housing prices in Taipei are much higher than in Vancouver and their wages are significantly lower. This goes to the heart of the paradox that we’ve been faced with in this business for several years now: Vancouver house prices, wages, and housing affordability. The oft-cited Demographia study is often twisted in Vancouver headlines as being a study of all markets around the world, when in actuality it only covers 9 (mostly western) countries. It explains the paradox of why Canadians often think that Vancouver is so expensive while our Chinese clients continually tell us how cheap Vancouver is. I certainly can’t explain to you how the economics of Taipei’s real estate market work, I can only tell you that they do. And if Vancouver is the most Asian city outside of Asia, it certainly lends credibility to the theory that Vancouver house prices may still have some room to grow.


Dan Scarrow
VP Corporate Strategy
Macdonald Real Estate Group

Dispatches from China
Dan Scarrow is Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Macdonald Realty.  A second generation Chinese Canadian with fluency in Mandarin, Dan will be spending several months in Shanghai investigating the opportunity to open a Macdonald Realty rep office in China.  Dan will be sending monthly dispatches with stories from his experiences in Shanghai.

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Macdonald Realty has 20 offices and 1,000 staff and Realtors, and offers a full range of real estate services across the province, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, and project marketing.

For more information contact Macdonald Realty at 1-877-278-3888

Jonathan Cooper on Working with International Buyers | Inman News

Don’t take it for granted that you need to know a foreign language to understand where your international buyers are coming from, says Jonathan Cooper, Vice-President of Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based brokerage does a lot of business with Chinese buyers and investors, and Cooper says Chinese clients often bring a translator along with them, or work through an attorney.

For many reasons, Cooper says, Chinese “have a cultural predisposition toward real estate investment.” Often, a home purchase is just the first of several real estate transactions.

Macdonald Real Estate Group makes a point of introducing Chinese homebuyers to the company’s commercial real estate brokers — often over a meal — a practice that’s led to some significant deals.

This article was originally posted on Inman News, Mar 21, 2014.  The video has since been removed.

Macdonald Realty Wins “Most Outgoing International Referral Closings” Award

We are pleased to announce that for the second year in a row Global Alliance Award for “Most Outgoing International Referral Closings” by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Being up against 500+ Leading Real Estate members with over 120,000 sales associate in 40+ countries around the world this is a significant achievement for our Referral Department.

Congratulations to Macdonald Real Estate Group Referral Department for a job well done!


Thank you to Jonathan Cooper for accepting the award!

For more information on the Referral program or to place an outgoing referral please contact our award winning team at 1-877-278-3888.

What Changes to Immigrant Investor Program Means for Vancouver Real Estate | by Dan Scarrow, Macdonald Realty


Last month, Canada announced the cancellation of the Immigrant Investor Program along with its 65,000 applicant backlog. Some analysts have predicted that this will have a negative effect on our housing market and the media has picked up on this sensationalist narrative. We here at Macdonald Realty have been following the situation closely as there is certainly some merit to the theories that these analysts have.

To start, the immigration investor program was introduced in mid 1980s by the federal government to promote the immigration of business people and their families. Quebec subsequently negotiated with the federal government to have its own, parallel program. The investor program enables qualified investors to obtain permanent resident status in Canada and are then eligible to obtain Canadian citizenship after residing in Canada for a number of years. To be qualified for this program (prior to the cancellation), applicants needed to have at least two (2) years of business management experience, have minimum net worth of CDN$1,600,000 and make an investment of CDN$800,000 (interest free loan to the government for 5 years), and meet certain health and security requirements. The federal government admitted about 2500 families per year (with Quebec admitting a similar number) under this program. For the past 8 years the main source of investor applicants are multi-millionaires business people from China and most of these immigrants purchased properties in some of Macdonald Realty’s market areas.

But let’s put some things in perspective first:

  1. In the most recent set of data available (2012), Canada admitted 257,887 immigrants
  2. Of these 257,887 people, 2,616 families, representing 9,350 people, entered via the Immigrant Investor category (3.6%)
  3. Quebec continues to run a parallel Investor Immigrant category that (as of now) continues to process applicants at roughly the same number as the now-discontinued Federal Program (roughly 2,500 families/year)
  4. Canada now has a 10-year, multiple entry VISA that many immigrants in the queue may find even more attractive than citizenship
  5. Canada has announced that they will be replacing the discontinued program with a new one (but apparently not the Quebec one), although details have yet to be announced

So if that’s it, why all of the fuss?

  1. The vast majority of applicants in this category were from mainland China and have large fortunes
  2. The majority of these applicants were likely planning on residing in the Lower Mainland, specifically Richmond, West Vancouver, and the Westside of Vancouver
  3. Most of these applicants would have (or already have) bought a substantial house/condo in these areas
  4. If, for example, 2,000 families each buy a $1 million house, that’s $2 billion in foregone investment in a relatively small market area. Every year.

So on the face of it, it seems as though there is certainly the potential for a correction, but remember, this is foregone FUTURE investment. The money that has already entered the housing market will likely stay here. If there were rampant speculation happening in the lead up to this announcement, we would be worried, but our data shows that speculation has been at a relative low point for several years now after a flurry from 2008 – 2010.

The key question that everyone is trying to answer is how will this impact the housing market moving forward.

The reaction of our immigration consultant contacts in China has been surprisingly muted. Most have already diversified away from Canada and are now focused on the US immigration programs, although they say that, all things being equal, Canada (meaning Greater Vancouver) is still a preferred destination. Some of their clients who were in the Federal Program queue had, because of the long processing times, already given up on Canada and applied to other countries anyway. Others, whose hearts are set on Canada, may find different, admittedly constrained, methods to immigrate (the British Columbia “Provincial Nominee Program, as “international students” for children, 10-year multiple-entry visas, or the revamped federal investor program).  Surprisingly, few China-based immigration consultants express much concern about Vancouver’s housing market.

Our view therefore is that, while there will certainly be some affect from these changes, they will be only another variable in a host of factors that affect BC’s housing market.

This view is shared by others, including respected immigration lawyer, Dave Thomas:

“Will this affect the Vancouver real estate market?

I don’t believe it will.  Firstly, the Investor program has effectively been closed for almost 3 years now.  Quebec also has an Investor program but it had drastically limited its intake of new files.  So even though the immigration route has slowed, we have not seen the slowdown in the movement of capital out of China.  There are more “Chinese push reasons” than “Vancouver pull reason” for that capital to make its way here, regardless of current immigration programs.

Historically, the business immigration programs for “wealthy immigrants” only made up about 2-3% of the total number of immigrants coming to Canada each year. Admittedly, their presence in places like Vancouver was more apparent, especially when it came to high end real estate.

There are other ways to come into Canada. Younger people are coming as students, and then availing themselves of post-graduation work permits that lead to permanent residence.  Younger people with good English language skills and a job offer will have a good chance.

One negative trend, certainly, is that older immigrants with limited English skills will have more difficulty in immigrating to Canada, no matter how much money they have.”


Dispatches from China by Dan Scarrow

Greetings from China.

As explained in the Globe and Mail, I have been in Shanghai for nearly a month to explore the feasibility of opening a Macdonald Realty rep office in China. For the past few years, we have received consistent feedback from our clients asking us how they can access the Chinese market. This is our response to customer demand. Our firm has a large residential presence, along with a separate property management and commercial brokerage division, and a project marketing division so our office in China would look for investors in all three areas: residential resale, commercial properties, and new home construction. We’ve received considerable feedback from homeowners, commercial property owners, and developers who all wish to market their properties in China to Chinese buyers.

I believe we are uniquely positioned to attract investment back to BC because of:

  1. Our focus on this province
  2. The fact that we are BC’s only truly full service corporate real estate company
  3. Our knowledge of the Chinese market

Because our focus is on British Columbia, the goal of our Chinese rep office is to encourage investment back into British Columbia so our clients can be assured that they receive the widest exposure to potential buyers, be it residential, commercial, business, or new construction. Some of Vancouver commercial firms have licenced affiliations with Chinese offices, but the focus of those offices is on building business for China, not Western Canada.

A Chinese rep office is only viable because we are a truly full service corporate real estate company. A few larger local developers have some presence in China, but their focus has been solely their own projects and the results have been decidedly mixed. Our hope is that by combining all of our lines-of-business we will be able to provide the one-stop-shop for investors to look into all British Columbia real estate.

Finally, Macdonald Realty and its affiliated companies have an unparalleled knowledge of the Chinese market. Our owner, President and CEO Lynn Hsu is a first-generation Chinese Canadian who has already accrued a hefty list of Canadian business accolades. I was sent back to China to explore the possibility of an office because of my relative fluency in Mandarin and my cultural understanding from growing up in a mixed Chinese-Canadian household. As a company, we’ve been very successful at luring investment into BC from top Chinese companies and businesspeople, partly because a number of our company’s key staff have in-depth knowledge of BC real estate products and who can speak comfortably to these investors in their own language.

On a more personal note, China has been every bit as interesting as I thought it would be. I’ve been in Shanghai for most of the time I’ve been here, but I expect to go to a few secondary and tertiary cities in the near future (Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Hangzhou, and Qingdao are on my to-do list). The pollution has been noticeable, but not terrible so far. I’ve heard reports that recently Beijing and other northern cities have experienced terrible smog, but I haven’t been restricted in my movements thus far. That said, you can definitely see the difference between an Air Quality Index 50 day vs. 250 day:

For those who have never been, Shanghai is an extraordinary place that is relatively friendly to tourists. It’s transportation system is incredible, with the Metro alone moving 2.5 billion people annually. Rush hour is a sight to behold, both due to the sheer number of people moving through the system as well as how efficiently it does so. While the city is enormous, the main downtown area is quite manageable. I liken it to New York City: if you ever wanted to explore the whole metro area, it would take you forever, but Manhattan can be understood in only a few days. Same thing with Shanghai. A word of caution though, this area of Shanghai is not at all representative of China. As one expat told me: “Living is Shanghai is really fun, but if we were living in any other city in China, we wouldn’t last very long.”

I suppose that’s why they all want to come to Canada.

My plan is to be in China until the end of May, and I look forward to giving you updates of our progress.


Dan Scarrow
VP Corporate Strategy
Macdonald Realty


Dispatches from China
Dan Scarrow is Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Macdonald Realty.  A second generation Chinese Canadian with fluency in Mandarin, Dan will be spending several months in Shanghai investigating the opportunity to open a Macdonald Realty rep office in China.  Dan will be sending monthly dispatches with stories from his experiences in Shanghai.

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Macdonald Realty has 20 offices and 1,000 staff and Realtors, and offers a full range of real estate services across the province, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, and project marketing.

For more information contact Macdonald Realty at 1-877-278-3888

Vancouverism: How Vancouver Invented Itself | UrbanLand by Patrick Kiger

“Vancouverism” is now synonymous with tower-podium architecture, green space, and breathtaking views. But the much-admired Canadian city’s real secret of success may be its value-based development process.

It’s a measure of the universal appeal of Vancouver that more than 7,200 miles (11,600 km) away, on the other side of the planet, one of the city’s designer-developers was hired to create a fastidious replica of it. The United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Marina, developed by Vancouverite Stanley Kwok and erected in what once was an empty stretch of the Great Arabian Desert, seems to lack only picturesque mountains, a harbor, and coastal British Columbia’s temperate climate. “It’s almost a perfect clone of downtown Vancouver,” urban designer and architectural historian-critic Trevor Boddy has written. “Right down to the handrails on the seawall, the skinny condo towers on townhouse bases, all around a 100 percent artificial, full-scale version of False Creek filled with seawater from the Persian Gulf.”

The Emirates’ commissioning of an ersatz Vancouver may be the biggest homage paid to the city, but others have sung its praises as well. “Modernist, sustainable, and performative—is this the model for the future city?” the Guardian, a British newspaper, once asked. The Seattle Times once called it “a glittery, mini-Manhattan, but cleaner and far more livable.”

In terms of both aesthetics and livability, Vancouver is one of the world’s most widely admired cities—a place where the skyline has been painstakingly designed to preserve striking views of the mountains and harbor, where high-density residential neighborhoods are mixed with green space to create a walking-scale environment in which cars are an afterthought.

But while planners and developers elsewhere seek to copy the salient features of what has come to be known as “Vancouverism,” those involved in the shaping of modern Vancouver caution that there is more to it than just view corridors, slim towers juxtaposed with mid-rise development and bike paths, or the breathtaking natural environment. Instead, they say, the real secret of Vancouver’s success has been its deliberative, values-driven evolutionary process, in which local government planners, developers, and the citizenry have labored over the past few decades to form a consensus vision of what their city should be like—and then come up with creative solutions for achieving it.

“The urban form we’ve developed here is resilient,” says Gordon Price, director of the city program at Simon Fraser University, and a city councillor from 1986 to 2002. “It keeps reinventing itself. What stays the same are the values.”

Defying the Car Culture

If there’s one thing that Vancouver is known for, it’s the view of the mountains and the water. Or rather, the multitude of views, which are protected by regulations compelling architects and builders to work around 27 different view corridors that pass through the city. The necessity of protecting those spaces has resulted in a multitude of carefully spaced towers that tend to have smaller floor plates than those in most North American cities. “Vancouver handles its tall buildings better than most cities,” Australian travel writer Kari Gislason wrote in 2012, adding that “the effect on the eye is that the city always seems to be making its way to the water.”

In addition to the public view corridors, Vancouver goes to lengths to protect private views. Proposed apartment towers, for example, must undergo a complex computer analysis to ensure that they don’t affect the vantage point of residents in nearby buildings. Otherwise, “you could have spent $600,000 on an apartment, only to have someone build a building across from it and block your view and cause you to lose half of your value,” explains Larry Beasley, who was codirector of planning for Vancouver during the 1990s and early 2000s. “The city isn’t going to let that happen.”

Vancouver is so committed to protecting its visual beauty that in 2010, city council not only voted to preserve existing corridors, but also added two more.
“We’ve created a visually interesting city,” Beasley adds. “You’ve got the views of the mountains and the water, but you also can see into the city as well. There are some fascinating views in that direction.”

Vancouver’s view corridors are just one of the strictures in what is arguably the most heavily regulated development space in North America. But while there have been periodic complaints that the process has slowed Vancouver’s growth, it doesn’t necessarily stifle creativity. Case in point: architect Arno Matis’s Vertical Forest building, recently approved for construction at the intersection of Main Street and Kings­way in the city’s Mount Pleasant area. The building’s design incorporates six different geometric forms, which not only conform to view corridor regulations but also provide angles that will allow for production of passive solar heating and cooling. The architect and developer, Amir Virani, had to go through an 18-month process that included not only scrutiny by city planners but also meetings with neighborhood residents—who reportedly urged Matis to create an edgier, more innovative design. “One of their key concerns was that we avoid another ‘cookie-cutter tower,’ ” Matis recently told the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper.

The view corridors “are really only one small detail that illustrates the value system we have,” explains Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s chief planner from 2006 to 2012. “We think constantly about our access to nature, how we connect to the mountains and the water. Vancouver used to be described as a setting in search of a city, but over several generations, we’ve been striving to develop a city that’s worthy of the setting.”

As a relatively isolated city that developed later than most other major urban areas on the continent, Vancouver had a chance to learn from everyone else’s mistakes, Lance Berelowitz writes in his 2009 book, Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination. “It was largely bypassed by the worst of North American urban renewal—freeways, elevated and underground pedestrian systems, huge shopping malls, big-box retail, oversized curvilinear dead-end streets in place of the traditional street grid,” he says.

One salient feature of Vancouver, for example, is that—unlike many other major cities—it is not surrounded and bisected by freeways. The city escaped that fate in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when municipal officials of the time—who, like their counterparts elsewhere, feared urban stagnation and decay—proposed a massive urban renewal project that would have obliterated historic neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Gastown to build elevated throughways.

“The citizens rose up and said, ‘No way,’ ” recalls Beasley, who was a college student at the time. “The politicians who were behind it were turned out of office.”

That rebellion—driven by a youthful, idealistic Vancouver counterculture that would later spawn the environmental organization Greenpeace—created a new mandate. Vancouver, founded in the late 1880s as a port and railroad center for the region’s timber and mineral wealth, was still a Victorian-style urban village, and residents wanted it to re­­main that way, instead of morphing hastily into a typically car-centric modern metropolis.

The rebels got their way: Four decades later, Vancouver is “still this old streetcar city,” explains former city councillor Price. “It still works in the pattern that was laid out in that era. People get around by walking and cycling and taking public transit—enough so that the car doesn’t dominate the way it does in Calgary or Phoenix.”

By the same token, though, Price says it’s a mistake to assume that Vancouver has waged “a war on the car,” as some critics have charged. “There’s a place for cars, but they have to be part of the mix. But people have gotten used to not having them.” He cites the example of one condo complex, where the developer provided two parking spaces per unit—only to discover, after the building was occupied, that a quarter of the spaces went unused.

While municipal officials had to honor residents’ desire to maintain the urban-village lifestyle, the consensus also enabled them to design a city that worked to achieve those goals. In the 1970s, then–planning chief Ray Spaxman favored the sort of urban development he had seen in his native England, and developers packed the city’s West End with apartment buildings. Vancouverites were willing to accept mixed-use neighborhoods with population densities that might have been resisted elsewhere—in part, because the city also offered amenities such as 1,000-acre (405 ha) Stanley Park, which University of British Columbia urban designer and historian Boddy describes as “the largest downtown garden and natural reserve on the continent.”

Much of Vancouver’s downtown development is in a tower-podium style, with a few floors that fill up most of the block, followed by a much narrower tower—an effect that Atlantic Cities writer Nate Berg likened to “a tall candle on a big, flat cake.” It’s often assumed that the style was borrowed from Hong Kong or other similarly high-density Asian cities, but Beasley says that it’s a homegrown style that Vancouver architects began experimenting with as far back as the mid-1950s. It’s an approach, he says, that actually reflects the influence of European urban landscapes, because it creates more street-level activity and gives pedestrians a more interesting milieu. “In Vancouver, we didn’t want pigs in space—towers in a vacant plaza,” Beasley notes. “You had to have hous­­ing and shops.”

Seizing Opportunities

Another key point in Vancouver’s development came during the late 1980s, after the city hosted Expo ’86, a world’s fair that commemorated the city’s centennial.

As Dutch urban historian John Punter, author of The Vancouver Achievement, has written, the fair gave the city a chance to pump up the local economy with public works projects during a recession, and left the city with some important assets, including SkyTrain, the rapid transit line. Afterward, the Expo site itself—former railroad land on the north shore of False Creek—provided an opportunity to develop a new urban neighborhood, for anyone bold enough to deal with the provincial government’s requirement that they take over the entire parcel. While other prospects balked, designer-developer Kwok, backed by an investor with deep pockets, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, took the deal and then developed a plan that made it through the arduous regulatory gantlet. One of Kwok’s masterstrokes was to cluster dense development around green parks, rather than along the waterfront. The park created a shared amenity, while connecting the buildings to one another.

The new development eventually became home to 30,000 city residents. As Boddy has written, the buildings came onto the market at about the same time that a surge of well-educated, affluent Hong Kong residents was emigrating ahead of incipient mainland rule, and the development became a huge success.

“False Creek North provided a testing ground for a model of densification with amenity concessions to provide the recreation spaces as well as housing,” design critic Brendan Hurley noted in a 2012 article for Spacing Vancouver, a website devoted to the city’s land use. “The development is now the standard by which we look at the impacts of high-density living and developer contributions.”

“Stanley Kwok promoted the idea that you would work with government,” Beasley says. “We came to call it the cooperative planning model.”

The opposition to freeways and devel­opment of the Expo site created two game-changing opportunities in Vancouver’s evo­­lution. The city hoped for a third when it won a bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. The games’ Olympic Village, built to house athletes and Olympic officials on Southeast Falls Creek, provided an opportunity to erect a complex that used energy efficiency and sustainability systems such as solar heating and green roofs, with the aim of converting the complex to residential and commercial uses afterward. While the development weathered some financial difficulties, a November 2013 report to the city by accounting firm Ernst & Young reported that 91 percent of its for-sale units had been purchased, and 100 percent of its rental properties had been leased.

Is the Vision Sustainable?

As Vancouver heads further into the 21st century, some question whether the city will be able to sustain the vision that has set it apart from so many others. In a digital technology–driven culture in which people increasingly focus on their devices rather than on their neighbors, it is unclear whether Vancouver residents will continue to accept regulations and limits intended to benefit the common good. Government efforts to build inner-city bike paths and bring some outlying lower-density neighborhoods in line with the city’s high-density model have met with uncharacteristic resistance and protests, according to former planner Beasley. “Over time, I think the dedication of the public to engagement has waned a bit,” he says.

One issue that may provide a test of public commitment to Vancouver’s vision is its plan for future redevelopment of the West End. The recent blueprint published on the city’s website would increase residential density, with the aim of creating more affordable housing in an area that accommodates mostly young renters with families. It also would further encourage residents to walk rather than drive, by widening sidewalks and in some cases narrowing roadways.

Other dilemmas challenge Vancouver’s future as well. While municipal policy has long emphasized accommodating low-income residents, until recently there has not been a similar push to help the middle class, and affordable housing has emerged as a major problem. Toderian worries that as pressure for a quick fix increases, the city may compromise some of the long-held values that have shaped Vancouver’s identity. “If you build too much affordable housing and the buildings get too big, and you don’t use the tools you have to build new public spaces and maintain our heritage, you lose our balanced approach,” he says. “Then Vancouver starts to become something different.”

But Vancouver also has much in its favor. “With climate change on the horizon, Vancouver will benefit,” explains Price. “Rich investors will be looking for safe places to put their money, and this location is a good bet. People keep thinking that there’s a real estate bubble in Vancouver, but somehow, the bubble doesn’t burst.”

That’s why Price, Toderian, and others remain believers in the city. “Regardless of the bumps in the road, Vancouver will continue to be an urban innovator,” Toderian predicts. “It’s in our DNA.”
This article was originally posted on UrbanLand, Feb 14, 2014.  Written by Patrick Kiger, a Washington, D.C.–area journalist, blogger, and author.


For more information contact Macdonald Realty at 1-877-278-3888


The Erikson, a twisting tower of luxury residences along False Creek, was designed by Vancouver native Arthur Erikson and was built by Concord Pacific in 2010. It is an example of the tower-podium style of design.


The Marinaside, a waterfront complex of mixed-use towers. (Concord Pacific)


A rendering of Vancouver’s sports and entertainment district, showing the planned False Creek Central development, announced in late 2013. Plans call for eight buildings with more than 1,300 condominiums, and 90,000 square feet (8,400 sq. m) of comme

Macdonald Realty looks for luxury buyers in China | The Globe and Mail

Sales of high-end properties are on the upswing in the Vancouver region, spurring one of British Columbia’s leading real estate firms to search for wealthy buyers by setting up shop in China.

Dan Scarrow, vice-president of corporate strategy at Macdonald Realty Ltd., said he has heard enough anecdotal evidence of well-heeled home buyers with roots in China to make it worthwhile to invest in a Shanghai office.

In February, Mr. Scarrow will start the first of two three-month assignments in 2014 in Shanghai. After his fact-finding mission, he plans to hire Mandarin-speaking staff in China to keep the overseas branch office going.

While real estate experts have estimated the proportion of foreign buyers in the Vancouver region’s housing market at only 1 to 3 per cent, Mr. Scarrow said if the statistics were to include recent immigrants with origins in China, the influence of rich Chinese buyers would be greater, especially on single-family detached homes in pockets of Vancouver’s West Side.

Most high-end transactions occur on Vancouver’s West Side and the Municipality of West Vancouver. In the luxury market, there were 644 properties that sold for $3-million or higher in the Vancouver area last year, up 47 per cent from 439 homes that traded hands in 2012, according to data compiled by Macdonald Realty. Of homes that sold last year, there were 148 that fetched at least $5-million, compared with 107 sales in that category in 2012.

Mr. Scarrow said it is hard to determine how many of those elite sales went to recent immigrants from China, noting that the ripple effect due to an influx of new money can easily be exaggerated. Still, he believes the proportion was significantly higher than 3 per cent last year.

“There isn’t this wave of offshore investors with no ties to Canada who are coming in to buy, but the genesis of their wealth is from mainland China,” said Mr. Scarrow, a Canadian who speaks Mandarin fluently. “Most of these people land in Canada first as investor-class immigrants.”

He dismisses tales circulating of wealthy offshore buyers snapping up Vancouver properties sight unseen as false, emphasizing that he will instead seek to nurture a market in which China-Canada family ties are crucial.

The 30-year-old Mr. Scarrow said that as a product of a mixed-race marriage, he is acutely aware that the issue of foreign shoppers is a sensitive one in British Columbia. “The perception among some sellers is that mainland Chinese money is driving the luxury real estate market here,” he said.

But Mr. Scarrow cautions homeowners against hiring real estate agents based only on ethnicity, stressing that the best representatives know Vancouver’s neighbourhoods well, no matter what their race.

Mr. Scarrow’s mother, Lynn Hsu, moved in 1979 from Taiwan to Vancouver. Ms. Hsu is the president and majority owner of Macdonald Realty, which has more than 1,000 real estate agents and staff across British Columbia. Her ex-husband, Peter Scarrow, is a lawyer who has worked in Asia for the past dozen years, including advising wealthy Chinese on Canadian immigration and tax rules.

Dan Scarrow said there will be opportunities to tap into the Chinese market during his stay in Shanghai. Besides seeking contacts who are interested in single-family residential properties, he will be on the lookout for investors in Vancouver’s commercial real estate market and also new condo projects.

Benchmark index prices, which strip out the most expensive properties, have jumped 17.3 per cent to $2.1-million for single-family detached houses over the past three years on the city’s West Side, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. By contrast, West Side prices have risen only 4 per cent for townhouses and 3.5 per cent for condos over the same period.

This article was originally posted on The Globe and Mail, Jan 19, 2014.  Written by Brent Jang.


Big Fat Deal: $10 million for a castle-like home near Victoria | BCBusiness

Each week, BCBusiness takes you inside one of the most outrageously upmarket real estate offerings in the province in their Big Fat Deal real estate blog.

Price: $9,990,000
Address: 9750 West Saanich Road, North Saanich
MLS: 336209
Listing agent: Peter Nash at Macdonald Realty Ltd. in Victoria

For those seeking a little ooo-la-la in their home life, try this French-inspired chateau sitting on a six-acre estate for size. Even its name ‘Chateau de Lis’ conjures up romance and elegance.

Better still, you don’t have to travel to Europe to find it. Located 30 minutes from downtown Victoria, North Saanich plays host to this 9,800-sq.-ft. residence, which was constructed in 2007.

La noblesse would surely feel at home here. As listing agent Peter Nash explains, the house has been “designed, crafted, engineered and built to a very high standard with great attention to quality and detail.” An exhaustive list of bespoke finishings dominate the house with plastered Italian tile ceilings, turrets, concrete surround with decorative sculptures, travertine fossil floors, custom-made gargoyles, imported antique chimney caps, Juliet balconies, a slate and copper roof, limestone and porcelain floors, and stained-glass windows.

And the gardens wouldn’t look out of place at the Palace of Versailles, either. Along with exquisite landscaping, manicured lawns, fountains, bridges, an orchard, and vegetable gardens comes one of the property’s other showcases: almost 300 feet of easy-access oceanfront and a prime westerly exposure with far-reaching views across the Saanich Inlet.

Beyond the old-world elegance are also two levels of luxurious living, incorporating modern desires such as a theatre room comprising a state-of-the-art projector and two-tier seating with plush leather seats. Of course no stately home would be complete without a wine cellar and this 1,000-bottle temperature-controlled one will not disappoint.

The great room and dining hall would impress even Louis XIV with lofty vaulted ceilings, carved fireplaces, murals and panoramic water views. The commercial-grade kitchen ups the ante with high-end appliances, including a concealed Sub-Zero fridge and freezer and a copper-hooded, vented pizza oven.

There is separate accommodation for guests—designed with the same flair as the main residence—and above the garages for six cars are, of course, those caretaker quarters. After all, what’s a chateau without staff?

This article was originally posted on BCBusiness, January 8, 2015.  Written by Nicole Way.

Nicola Way runs the property listing sites and