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The Vancouver real estate market has begun to heat up with a 40% increase in activity for July 2013 in a month-to-month comparison to 2012.  As I predicted back in spring, we saw a delayed Spring Market due to the BC elections holding back the high pent up buyer demand.  Once the results were in, and some consumer confidence returned, the dam began to open resulting in a hyperactive June/July.

The ‘months supply’ (number of months to clear out existing inventory) metric for Vancouver’s Westside has dropped from a 9 month supply earlier in the year to a 5 month supply today – yielding a strong seller’s market as we approach September.  The last few months have been busier than we have seen in 18 months.  This rush in sales has cleared out many of the active listings setting the stage for an extremely active Fall Market.

Bottom line is:  we are approaching what looks like a heated Fall Market where we can expect some strong appreciation in prices across the board.

If you have been sitting outside of the market waiting for prices to hit bottom – wait no longer!  Prices are on their way back and your window to buy back in will not be as large as one might hope for.  So jump back in now before you are priced out of the market.

The pent up demand for homes on the Westside is expected to overwhelm the existing inventory causing a sharp price recovery period over September – October.

For those of you wishing to sell your home – September is your month and the earlier in the month the better.  Adam and I are setting aside the last two weeks in August to meet with clients, advise them on what they need to do to prepare their home for sale, and setup a detailed launch schedule for early September.

Laneway Housing in Vancouver – Including Recent Updates

Laneway housing regulations have been expanding in many local cities and municipalities. These homes are typically built on the back yard of an existing lot with an already exiting home on it opening onto the lane. The City of Vancouver passed some new regulation changes in June that affect the size/ style of laneways that can be built.

The BC government since 2009 has amended the Strata Property Act and Regulations a few times.

There are many reasons to build a Laneway, some of them may include:

•To provide housing for many occupants such as aging family members, adult children, caregivers,  and homeowners looking to downsize.

•More rental options in single family neighborhoods.

•More opportunity to live within the City of Vancouver.

Some of the general guidelines are as follows:

•The property must be serviced by an open lane, dedicated lane, or have a street on the front and back of the property.

•The property must have 32.15ft of frontage, or a property greater than 24ft of frontage can be  granted special approval.

•The laneway must be set back 16ft from the main house.

•A 3ft fire access path must run from the front street to the laneway.

Some of the recent changes now allow for:

•Single storey laneway homes with greater floor area

•Basements in laneway homes

•Laneways are allowed in every “RS” single family zoning district (which opens it up to most single  family homes in Vancouver)

•Larger floor area and square footage for many situations

•The maximum floor area of a laneway house is determined by multiplying the lot area by 0.16. I.E.  on a standard 33’X122’ lot a laneway can be around 644sq ft., and on a 50’X122’ lot a laneway can be roughly 900sq ft., also 900sqft is the max regardless of lot size. These square footage limits also include the parking area.

There are several companies that specialize in the construction of laneway homes in Vancouver.

The most recent bylaws can be found in the Zoning & Development Bylaw 3575 section-  11.24  at this website: or by calling 604-873-7611.

Updates to the Strata Property Act

There have been some more recent updates to the strata property act you may or not be aware of, the changes are to address concerns found in province-wide consultation with owners, managers, and real estate professionals.  There have been some important changes you should be aware of.

►Deprecation Reports – All Strata’s greater than four units must complete a depreciation report by December 13, 2013 unless the strata corporation votes to be exempted with a ¾ vote. Depreciation reports outline capital and mechanical systems in the building, what life is left in them, and approx. costs needed when repair or replacement is required.  Basically it is a great tool for buyers to review and identify upcoming costs for building work. It also will help stratas plan better for upcoming building needs both financially and logistically.

►Form B (Information Certificate) – A Form B information certificate outlines a snap shot of the building, and strata lot it is prepared for. It contains important information like: what the strata fees are, the contingency reserve fund amount, and if there is any pending litigation etc. As of January 1,2014 the following must also be included with the Form B: copies of the rules, the current budget, the most recent deprecation report mentioned above, and any rental disclosure statements. The Form B will also outline the allocation of parking and storage lockers. These are helpful changes in providing buyers more information on the unit, and strata itself.

►Contingency Reserve Fund – By majority vote the strata corporation can now make additional contributions to the contingency reserve fund above 25% of the operating budget.

►Dispute Resolution – Another large change coming is stratas and owners will be able to settle disputes though a Civil Resolution Tribunal System which is under development, this is a large change from the current system in which the only system for dispute resolution is Provincial Court.