584 acres of forested lands on Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain up for sale

Burke Mountain

The provincial government is selling a massive swath of its crown properties on the slopes of Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain in an attempt to balance its budget.

Burke Mountain to account for 25% of Coquitlam’s growth by 2046

On behalf of the province, Colliers International has taken charge of the sale of 584 acres of mountainside, coniferous forested lands at Pinecone Lake Burke Mountain Park in northeast Coquitlam.

The sites for sale have been split up into 21 small parcels and “represents one of the largest long-term single and multifamily residential development opportunities anywhere in Metro Vancouver.”

According to the City of Coquitlam, the parcels lie within the municipality’s Smiling Creek and Partington Creek neighbourhoods and can accommodate between 7,000 to 8,000 residents combined once fully developed. Zoning will allow for single family homes and townhouses, similar to the type of development on the Westwood Plateau.

By 2046, Coquitlam is expected to see up to 95,000 additional residents which will increase the suburban city’s population to 225,000 from the current 132,000. This will include 23,000 new residents on Burke Mountain and another 40,000 residents along the SkyTrain Evergreen Line.

The issue of mountainside sprawl

It is certainly encouraging that Coquitlam city officials are taking advantage and making best use of the new SkyTrain infrastructure investment by centring much of the city’s future growth around it. However, the same cannot be said for the inevitable additional sprawl that will be coming to the slopes of Burke Mountain.

This type of growth completely goes against the principles of what comprises sustainable development and healthy communities which includes refitting existing developed land – to make the best use of the land we have at hand.

Density within the existing urban area and at around major transportation nodes needs to be the region’s growth strategy.

Nevertheless, mountainside sprawling growth and intrusion into forests has been common for decades in the Tri-Cities and at UBC within Pacific Spirit Park, but it is particularly visually evident on the Upper Lands of West Vancouver with development replacing forests – as homes gradually spread uphill towards Cypress Provincial Park and mountaintop ski areas.

Such policies and decisions implemented by our public officials that allow for these developments are largely at fault, but the uncompromising, neighbourhood-focused Not In My Backyard (NIIMBY) and Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything (BANANA) crowds are also accountable for pushing growth away from their centralized, urbanized communities into offensive sprawl elsewhere in the Lower Mainland.

We can argue for restricting density and height limits to protect ‘precious’ mountain sight-lines (among many reasons NIMBY/BANANA groups might have). The alternative to this is the occurrence of growth taking place in the form of highly unsustainable low density sprawl in the far corners and edges of the region like along mountain slopes.

At least everyone will have uninterrupted sight-lines of permanently scarred mountains.










Prices for detached homes hit record high in Greater Vancouver


VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail


Prices for single-family detached homes in Greater Vancouver have climbed to a record high.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s home price index for detached properties hit $976,700 in June, up 6.2 per cent from the same month in 2013.

The index price is calculated by using a formula that strips out the most expensive resale properties on the Multiple Listing Service. The board cautions that average prices give a skewed picture of the market because sales of many high-end homes boost the figures to well above other transactions that are considered more typical.

There were four areas in the region where index prices for detached homes exceeded $1-million in June: Vancouver’s west side ($2,257,100), West Vancouver ($2,053,300), Burnaby South ($1,015,200) and North Vancouver ($1,010,000).

Greater Vancouver sales of detached homes, townhouses and condos totalled 3,406 in June, up 28.9 per cent from June, 2013, but only 0.6 per cent higher than the 10-year sales average for June, board president Ray Harris said Thursday. The composite price index for all three types of resale properties rose 4.4 per cent over the past year to $628,200 – also a record high.

Bryan Yu, the Vancouver-based economist at Central 1 Credit Union, said in a new report that price gains for detached homes are ascending faster than increases in townhouses and condos.

“Rising detached home prices reflects a scarcity of developable land in Greater Vancouver as the geographically constrained land base remains under pressure from a rising population,” said Mr. Yu, who added that income-generating suites inside detached homes have contributed to hikes in real estate values.

The detached index price on Vancouver’s west side has jumped 9 per cent in the past year. Other notable year-over-year gains include: Port Moody (up 8.5 per cent to $895,400), Vancouver’s east side (up 8.6 per cent to $918,900) and Burnaby North (up 9 per cent to $996,300).

By contrast, prices for townhouses and condos have increased modestly across the region over the past year, and even slipped in some neighbourhoods over the last three years. Tighter mortgage lending rules and a flurry of high-rise projects have combined to dampen the condo market, Mr. Yu said.

In Coquitlam, for instance, June’s index price for condos grew 2.6 per cent to $255,000 over the past year, but is down 3.3 per cent from June, 2011.

Mr. Yu said British Columbia’s economy has benefited from new immigrants, but there has been an exodus of many residents who headed east in the last couple of years to other provinces. “Strengthening economic growth and more job opportunities should keep residents within B.C. borders and attract Canadians from other parts of the country in 2015 onwards,” he said.

In the Fraser Valley, which includes the sprawling suburb of Surrey, June’s index price for detached homes reached a record-high $568,600, up 3 per cent from a year earlier. Total residential, commercial and retail sales last month in the Fraser Valley advanced to 1,668 transactions, up 25.7 per cent from June, 2013.

There has been a surge in demand for detached homes and townhouses in the less-expensive Fraser Valley. “Parts of the Fraser Valley have increasingly become bedroom communities for the Greater Vancouver area, given the attractiveness of lower home prices, particularly for those commuting to Surrey and Langley,” Mr. Yu said.

Central 1 Credit Union noted that housing markets in northern British Columbia already have received a lift from preliminary work on liquefied natural gas projects and drilling activity.






CMHC mortgage insurance ends for $1 million+ homes

If a home buyer has less than a 20% downpayment, they’re required to buy mortgage loan insurance by Canada’sBank Act (sec. 418).

A home buyer with more than a 20% downpayment is not required to buy mortgage loan insurance. Yet lenders may ask them to buy this insurance anyway as a condition of approving a mortgage.

CMHC update

As of July 31, 2014, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canada’s largest provider of mortgage insurance will stop providing mortgage insurance for homes that cost $1 million or more, no matter what the size of the downpayment.

In the REBGV area, 5,377 homes sold at a $1 million or more in 2013. Will CMHC’s actions affect home buyers?

“We don’t anticipate any changes,” said Samantha Gale, CEO of the Mortgage Brokers Association of BC.

“This is because Genworth and Canada Guaranty, companies which also provide mortgage loan insurance, will continue to provide this insurance.”

June 3, 2014

Home buyer demand increases across Greater Vancouver housing market

An increase in home buyer demand put Greater Vancouver in the upper reaches of a balanced real estate market in May.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 3,286 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in May 2014. This represents a 14 per cent increase compared to the 2,882 sales recorded in May 2013, and a 7.7 per cent increase compared to the 3,050 sales in April 2014.

Last month’s sales were 6.5 per cent below the 10-year sales average for May of 3,514.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio currently sits at 20.4 per cent in Greater Vancouver, which is the first time that this measure has been above 20 per cent since June 2011.

“Our MLS® statistics tell us that there’s more home buyer demand today than at any point over the last three years,” Ray Harris, REBGV president said. “With sales surpassing the 3,000 mark in May and our sales-to-active-listing ratio exceeding 20 per cent, this is the most active marketplace we’ve seen since the spring of 2011,”

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,936 in May. This represents a 5 per cent increase compared to the 5,656 new listings in May 2013 and a 0.2 per cent decline from the 5,950 new listings in April. Last month’s new listing count was 2 per cent below the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Greater Vancouver is 16,072, a 6.7 per cent decline compared to May 2013 and a 3.6 per cent increase compared to April 2014.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $624,000. This represents a 4.3 per cent increase compared to May 2013.

“Home prices have experienced consistent yet modest increases in our region since the beginning of 2013,” Harris said.

Sales of detached properties in May 2014 reached 1,453, an increase of 19.9 per cent from the 1,212 detached sales recorded in May 2013, and a 23.1 per cent increase from the 1,180 units sold in May 2012. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 5.4 per cent from May 2013 to $966,500.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,286 in May 2014, an increase of 13.2 per cent compared to the 1,136 sales in May 2013, and an 11.2 per cent increase compared to the 1,156 sales in May 2012. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.2 per cent from May 2013 to $377,500.

Attached property sales in May 2014 totalled 547, a 2.4 per cent increase compared to the 534 sales in May 2013, and a 5.8 per cent increase over the 517 attached properties sold in May 2012. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 3.1 per cent between May 2013 and 2014 to $469,100. 

Forecast: more demand for homes in Metro Vancouver

Posted on May 25th, 2014

Metro Vancouver will see more housing starts in 2014 as a result of a pickup in economic and job growth.

Canada Mortgage and Housing forecasts housing starts will reach 18,400 in Metro Vancouver in 2014 compared to 18,200 units in 2013.

Of these starts, row/townhouse starts will rise 4.5% to 2,300 units, while apartments will rise 3% to 12,000 units.

The average price of a detached home is forecast to rise to $1,430,000. The MLS® average price will increase 1.2% to $765,000.

MLS® sales are forecast to increase by 8.2% to 29,000 sales.