Macdonald Realty Recognized for Outstanding Referral Services

Macdonald Realty was Recognized for Outstanding Referral Services

Macdonald Realty received the prestigious Global Alliance Award for the Most Outgoing Cross Border referrals from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE), a global network of more than 500 top independent real estate firms. The award was presented at the network’s Annual Awards Gala this spring during LeadingRE Conference Week in Las Vegas.  This was Macdonald Realty’s third consecutive year winning this award, showcasing our position as a local BC company with strong international connections.

Also, in the Marketing category Macdonald Realty received honorable mentions for their 2014 Corporate Brochure of Integrated Real Estate Services and their 2014 Recruitment Video in the Interactive Media / Video category.

“An innovative and creative approach to marketing is critical for success in today’s real estate market. Our award-winning firms have distinguished themselves by conveying their firms’ unique character, while providing essential information to home buyers and sellers.”

Macdonald Realty is the sole Vancouver representative of LeadingRE (www.LeadingRE.com), the largest network of premier locally-branded firms in more than 50 countries. LeadingRE provides its affiliates with an extensive range of brokerage services, which include lead generation, cross-market referrals, branding support, luxury marketing, online exposure, technology systems, and industry-leading professional development.

For more information on placing a referral with our award winning referral team, please email relocation@macrealty.com or call 1-877-278-3888.

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2014 charitable donation to BC Heart and Stroke Foundation | Macdonald Real Estate Group

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Dear Friends, Clients, and Colleagues,

In lieu of cards or gifts this Christmas, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) will be making a financial contribution to the British Columbia Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Many families across Canada are impacted by heart disease, and in the last few years MREG has been affected in several distinct ways. Firstly, two of our long-time managers had major heart surgery; thankfully, both are now recovered and living active lives.

Secondly, on two separate occasions, agents in the Macdonald Realty Victoria office were able to administer life-saving CPR to clients who suffered massive heart attacks. We are thrilled that as a company we were, in the words of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, able to help ‘create more survivors’.

Our contribution will specifically go to support research and education in British Columbia.

If you would like more information about the work of the BC Heart and Stroke Foundation, you can visit their website heartandstroke.com.

Merry Christmas/Season’s Greetings,

Jonathan Cooper
Vice President, Operations
Macdonald Real Estate Group Inc.

The Impact of Asian Investors in Vancouver | Globe and Mail & BNN

Macdonald Realty is mentioned several times in a Globe and Mail article published this morning on the impact of Asian investors on the Vancouver housing market.  See a repost of the full report below including comments from Dan Scarrow, VP of Corporate Strategy for Macdonald Real Estate Group.

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This Globe and Mail article lead to a mid-day live TV interview on the Business News Network, featuring Tony Letvinchuk, the managing director of Macdonald Commercial Real Estate ServicesClick here to watch the interview.

 

Vancouver housing data reveal Chinese connection

One of the largest real estate companies in British Columbia says that more than one-third of all the single-family detached homes it sold last year went to people with ties to mainland China.

Macdonald Realty Ltd., which has over 1,000 agents and staff in B.C., said 33.5 per cent of the 531 single family homes sold by its Vancouver offices in 2013 went to people who the company said were a mix of recent immigrants and Canadian citizens.

Those buyers, the company added, tended to spend more money, too, with the average cost of a house sold to these clients topping $2-million, compared to $1.4-million on average overall.

The figures did not include Macdonald’s sales in suburban areas such as Richmond, Burnaby or North Vancouver.

“This is our snapshot of Vancouver,” says Dan Scarrow, vice-president of corporate strategy at Macdonald Realty.

The information is based on reports from the firm’s sales, anecdotes from its agents and Mr. Scarrow’s own experience working with mainland Chinese clients, and it’s a glimpse into the influence of mainland Chinese money on Vancouver’s real estate market, which is considered among the most expensive in North America.

Vancouver has been flooded in recent years by tens of thousands of investor-class immigrants from mainland China, who have seen the west coast city as a stable – and picturesque – place to park their capital in luxury property.

That has helped drive up the average price of a single-family home in Vancouver to around $1.2-million.

Mr. Scarrow, who noted the firm does not query buyers about immigration status, believes that investment flowing from mainland China into Vancouver real estate is a quantifiable phenomenon, but has not personally seen much of the more controversial type of buyer: Those from abroad who buy for investment purposes but never live in the city. “We still see very few pure investors from China who have no connection to Vancouver,” he says.

Getting a handle on foreign buyers is difficult and Macdonald’s survey is far from exact – though one major property developer in Richmond said “that sounds about right.” The federal government does not collect meaningful data on the number of foreign buyers purchasing Canadian real estate, leaving industry participants to debate the impact of foreign capital on the local market. And that debate has gotten heated recently, with some developers accusing others of racism and criticizing those who want to slap curbs on foreign investment. The issue is complicated by the fact that some of Vancouver’s ethnically Chinese-Canadian citizens with ties to Hong Kong view newer immigrants from mainland China with a degree of suspicion, assuming their wealth might have been accumulated in part by proximity to China’s Communist Party, rather than in a free market with the rule of law like Hong Kong.

The lack of hard data has also complicated discussions about the city’s affordability crisis and fuelled a local cottage industry where analysts attempt to decipher the scope of foreign money by looking at things like electricity usage in downtown neighbourhoods where some suspect foreign buyers have bought condos in which they never live.

“People always say there are no stats. Well, here are the stats,” says Mr. Scarrow. “This is actual evidence.”

There have been some reports and statistics about the scale of foreign money in Vancouver real estate before, but few have been conclusive – and none have settled the debate. One Sotheby’s report based on a survey of its agents found that 40 per cent of the luxury properties it sold in Vancouver were to foreign buyers – but not all of them were from China. Many developers trying to downplay fears about Chinese investment cite a statistic showing that only 1 to 3 per cent of Vancouver real estate purchases are “foreign” buyers – but, as is the case with Macdonald’s sales, many more expensive homes are still sold to people based here but who have come, at some point, from mainland China. A 2011 study by Landcor Data showed that 74 per cent of luxury purchases in Richmond and Vancouver’s expensive west side were by buyers with mainland Chinese names.

Mr. Scarrow says his company is “indicative of the overall market,” since his firm has some real estate agents who target overseas Chinese buyers, but is also firmly oriented toward domestic sales, unlike other real estate firms that deliberately target Chinese buyers.

At the same time, Mr. Scarrow and Macdonald are so bullish on the potential for Chinese investment that he is spearheading the company’s efforts to open an office in China. “While there is very little data about foreign investors in Vancouver real estate, our own internal data is enough for us to commit to investing in a representative office in Shanghai,” said Mr. Scarrow, whose mother Lynn Hsu, who came from Taiwan in 1979, is the majority owner and president of Macdonald.

Others remain unconvinced – not about whether there is an influx of Chinese money, but whether the flow of foreign capital will continue unabated.

Richard Kurland, a Vancouver immigration lawyer who works with wealthy Chinese immigrants, believes Vancouver may see a slowdown in foreign investment. He said some wealthy Chinese buyers might get anxious and sell off second properties because of the current crackdown on corruption in China.

In meetings with top real estate agents earlier this year, Mr. Kurland predicted that luxury residential real estate could drop in value by as much as 25 per cent as foreign investment dips. As evidence, he points to July real estate figures that showed 106 homes for sale on the west side in the $3-million to $3.5-million price bracket, and just nine sales, compared to 73 active listings and seven sales during July of 2013.

Originally published by The Globe and Mail on Friday, August 22, 2014.  Written by IAIN MARLOW.

Macdonald Realty tops 2014 list of “Biggest BC businesses owned by women” | BIV

Once again, for 2014, Macdonald Realty is number one on Business in Vancouver’s list of Biggest BC businesses owned by women.  Lynn Hsu tops this list which in which businesses are ranked by total number of staff.  Thank you to all of our Realtors and staff who make up this impressive number!

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See all the rankings at Business In Vancouver.

Keep the toaster, we’re crowdfunding our down payment

Websites help newlyweds raise money to put toward real estate goals

Newlyweds tend to receive many gifts that end up in the trash or never see the light of day.

Nowadays, many couples have been living together for years before they actually tie the knot, so they’ve probably got the silverware and salt-and-pepper shakers covered.

But what if newlyweds could channel the generosity of all their family and friends towards a big-ticket item of their choosing, like a down payment for a home?

That’s a strategy that people who are set to receive a wave of gifts for a special occasion may take more and more as crowdfunding continues to gain traction.

People have long been using Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other mainstream crowdfunding sites to raise cash for all manner of pursuits.

But more recently, niche crowdfunding sites have been popping up. A number of them focus on helping people raise cash for real estate-related pursuits, including cobbling together enough cash for a down payment.

Feather the Nest, for example, lets users create pages where they can use text, photos and video to describe what real estate aspirations they want contributors to help them fund. Users then share their campaigns through email and their social media accounts.

People can turn to Feather the Nest whenever they want to try to drum up cash for real estate goals, but the site was designed to help people capitalize on the outpouring of generosity that typically comes with special occasions.

The best example would be a wedding, said Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Lindsay Oparowski, CEO of Feather the Nest. The spread of honeymoon registries like Honeyfund.com and Traveler’s Joy show that many couples are keen on funneling the goodwill of friends and family towards a single purpose, rather than sitting back to accept a hodgepodge of smaller gifts.

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Screen shot showing sample DownPaymentDreams.com campaign.

Oparowski envisions soon-to-be-married couples sharing their campaigns for real estate projects with friends and loved ones  and posting them to their wedding websites. The campaigns could either complement the wedding gift menus that couples commonly offer up to family and friends, or they could replace them altogether.

That way, you end up with a house, not “mismatched placemats,” Oparowski said.

Feather the Nest isn’t the only company trying to help people crowdfund down payments. Gift registries Hatch My House and DownPaymentDreams.com both target couples who would prefer down payment assistance over cutlery and candlesticks.

Launched by Wilmington-North Carolina-based real estate agent Teresa Krebs, DownPaymentDreams.com acts as an agent referral service, offering couples a refund of the site’s registration fee and a gift card to a home improvement store in exchange for working with an agent handpicked by the site. Krebs said 20 couples a month sign up on average, with close to 800 having registered since the site launched in 2009.

“In this generation, so many people are wanting to buy a house and they already have furnishings and towels and pots and pans and things like that,” Krebs said. “Among my group of friends that’s what people really wanted for a wedding gift — cash for a down payment.”

HomeFunded.com launched last year, but the website is still listed as being in beta testing.

Hatch My House has helped people raise about $1.7 million for down payments, $200,000 for remodeling and renovations and $100,000 for furnishings and decorations, according to Rieve MacEwen, who founded Hatch My House in 2009 with his wife Erin-Marie. More than 2,000 registeries have received funds on the site, he added.

According to Hatch My House, the average price of a wedding gift is $125, while the average number of gifts for a wedding is 70. That means, theoretically, the typical couple using the site would raise $9,000 to put towards a down payment if every wedding gift went towards their campaign.

PRIMARQ is taking a less romantic approach to the enterprise: The crowdfunder is attempting to enable buyers to obtain down payment assistance from investors in exchange for slices of their home equity.

Screen shot showing Feather the Nest’s campaign directory page.

Oparowski, who was previously a marketing director for two brokerages, said that agents could recommend Feather the Nest to people who are on the fence about buying, or use it as a “touchpoint” to maintain contact with past clients.

The site will generate revenue by taking a cut of the funds users raise through campaigns, but also plans to sell sponsorships to agents, where nest owners would receive some cash for permitting an agent’s advertising to appear next to their campaigns.

This article was originally posted on Inman News, June 30, 2014.  Written by Teke Wiggin.
View the original post at Inman News.

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

Macdonald Realty-LeadingRE #1 Network in North America | REAL Trends 2014

Macdonald Realty is a proud member of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World ® (LeadingRE), a global affiliate network of independent real estate firms. We are pleased to announce that two years in a row, Macdonald Realty-LeadingRE is the number one selling network (by unit sales) in North America – more than Remax, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, and other well known real estate brokerages.

In addition, Macdonald Realty has continued to be consistently strong in the rankings for the REAL Trends 250 Survey, placing in the Top 10 of the Largest Brokers in Canada and Top 5 of Independent Brokers in Canada.

REAL Trends is a company based in Denver Colorado that has been ranking the Top 500 American residential brokerages since 1988 and has been ranking Canadian brokerages since 2009.


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Subterranean Garage in the 2014 Doory Awards with HGTV


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This year it is our pleasure to have a Macdonald Realty listing nominateed in the 2014 Doory Awards by HGTV’s FrontDoor.com! VOTE for our nomination in the category “Your House Has What?!” Click the Love it button to vote for this Victoria home with a James Bond style Subterranean Garage.

Subterranean Garage in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

 

 

 

Make sure to check out the other great nominees!


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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!

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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

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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.”

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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 BestHomesBC.com and AssignmentsCanada.ca.

2014 charitable donation to InspireHealth and the BC Cancer Foundation | Macdonald Real Estate Group

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In lieu of cards or gifts, Macdonald Real Estate Group will be financially supporting cancer research and patient care through the BC Cancer Foundation and InspireHealth.

InspireHealth is a BC not-for-profit which provides integrative care for individuals with cancer.  Their team of doctors, nutritionists, counselors, and exercise therapists focus on the spiritual, emotional, and physical health of patients as they go through traditional cancer treatments like Chemotherapy.

InspireHealth’s cancer care model serves to complement standard cancer treatments.  It helps prepare the individual for the anxiety and emotional complexity that can be major factors when facing a life-threatening illness.  While the cancer itself is treated, InspireHealth ensures that other aspects of the patient’s health – like diet and exercise – are supported.

If you would like more information about InspireHealth you can visit their website or Shelley Ross at sross@inspirehealth.ca.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Cooper
Vice President, Operations
Macdonald Real Estate Group