Fraser Valley: REALTORS® Seek Safe Grow Homes for Homeowners and Buyers

SURREY, BC – The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) has launched Safe Grow Homes (, an online resource to help homeowners and buyers understand the potential impact of growing cannabis in a home.

Set to be legalized later this year, Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants in their home. Fraser Valley Realtors are concerned that without sufficient direction and support from government, their clients may unknowingly be at risk when it comes to their largest investment.

With Safe Grow Homes, the FVREB wants to provide greater context on the potential risks related to growing cannabis that homeowners and buyers could face, and provide a resource of information to help them make informed decisions.

“Right now, there is a significant lack of clarity and information surrounding legal growth in the home – especially in regards to what is considered a healthy, safe standard,” said John Barbisan, President of the Board. “Our government needs to ensure that the public is aware of and has access to guidelines, restrictions, and proper processes so that they can make smart decisions when it comes to cannabis.”

To help establish a framework where homeowners and those looking to purchase a home would have their investment protected, Fraser Valley Realtors have outlined three recommendations for government:
Further define the requirements for growing cannabis safely in homes
Create a province-wide system for maintaining and accessing information on the status of illegal grow homes
Outline a process whereby unsafe grow homes can be restored to healthy homes

“Growing cannabis in the home will have a considerable impact on home ownership and the real estate landscape. Through more comprehensive support and policies from government, our clients will be able to feel confident that the home they own or want to buy is safe.”

BC Assessments Vs. What Your Home is Truly Worth

BC Assessment notices have arrived in the mail, giving some homeowners a big smile and a bit more spring in their step (increased property taxes aside), while others wilt and lament at a modest gain or decrease in assessed value.

But hold on a sec. Neither this assessment document, nor either parties’ emotions, are tied to a current true market value. In fact, provincial property assessments can be significantly too high or too low. Values are determined in July of the previous year, and properties are rarely visited in person by provincial appraisers.

For this reason, provincial property assessments should never be solely relied upon as any sort of relevant indicator of true market value for the purposes of purchase, sale or financing.

Think of the assessed value instead as something akin to a weather forecast, spanning far larger and more diverse areas than the unique ecosystem that is your neighbourhood, your specific street, or your specific property. A weather forecast made the previous July, not the previous week. As this is when assessed values are locked in, a full six months prior to the notices being mailed out.

The BC Assessment Authority does offer some useful tools for a high-level view of the market. Go to and start typing an address. You’ll get a drop-down window where you can click on the address you want. Here’s what you can find out:

Details on single address: These come up on the first screen and include: current and last year’s assessed value; size and rooms; legal description; sales history, and further details if property is a manufactured home or multi-family building. There’s also an interactive map as well as links to information on neighbouring properties and sample comparative sold properties.

Neighbouring properties: Here you can compare the assessed value of houses in the immediate neighbourhood. Clicking on any property brings up further details.

Sample sold properties: Find comparable properties and see what they sold for and how their sold price compares to their assessed value. This is a great research tool for owners, sellers and buyers.

These tools can be a starting point, but if you’re looking to set a selling price on your own property, always enlist a professional. Valuing your property is not a do-it-yourself project. In a buying/selling transaction, it is best to order an appraisal, which is a much more accurate reflection of current market value. It is timely and reflects value for zoning, renovations and/or other features unique to the property. An appraiser is an educated, licensed, and heavily regulated third party offering an unbiased valuation of the property in question.

What’s My Home Really Worth?

Usually, market value is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for a home, and what the seller is willing to accept.

A quick survey of recent sales and their relation to assessed values will often demonstrate no clear relationship between sale price and assessed value. It’s often all over the map. Some properties selling well below assessment, and others well above.

You also want an experienced and local REALTOR® to help you determine the selling price of your home. A (busy, local) agent will have a far better handle on what is happening in your area for prices than does a government document, and in many instances will save you from yourself.

In theory, a comprehensive current market review completed by a real estate agent should not differ radically from the value determined by a professional appraiser.

Professional appraisers spend all day every day appraising properties, and their reports are often seen as less biased. Imagine your reaction, as a buyer, to the following statements…

  1. The seller says their house is worth $500,000.
  2. The sellers’ listing agent says it’s worth $500,000.
  3. This house is listed at $500,000 based on a professional (marketing) appraisal.

Most buyers would consider #3 the most reliable of the above statements. And most buyers requiring financing will have the benefit of the lender ordering their own independent appraisal to confirm fair market value. Sellers rarely order an appraisal in advance, which can create some interesting situations.

In practice, agents are relied upon for listing price estimates. Most buyers don’t care much about what anybody else thinks the house is worth. Buyers care what they think it is worth. This is why we say that market value is ultimately determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for the home, aligned with what is acceptable to the seller.

The Two Kinds of Appraisals

It is important to note that there are two kinds of professional appraisals. There is the marketing appraisal, such as one ordered by a seller. And there is the financing appraisal, which is done so the bank is satisfied the house is worth what the buyer and seller have agreed it’s worth. The financing appraisal is a less in depth review and more a matter of answering the question: Is this property worth the agreed-upon purchase/sale price?

A marketing appraisal goes deeper (and costs more), but a lender is not concerned with the actual market value over and above the purchase/sale price. A lender just wants the simple question answered. It is a rare day that the appraisal for financing has a value that differs significantly, if it all, from the sale price. Therefore one should not be surprised if, when buying a home, they find that the appraisal comes in bang on at the purchase price. As they do 99 per cent of the time. The one per cent of the time that the value is off, it is almost always a private transaction where the seller has had no professional guidance at all and has inadvertently set their price below market, by relying on something as inaccurate as their BC Assessment document.

In summary, rather than relying on your out-of-date BC Assessment for your home’s value, you should gather professional opinions from real estate agent(s) and an appraiser – these are the people with their feet on the ground and their heads in the game.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

JUST SOLD!! 31 1075 Parkway Boulevard, Coquitlam

A Reminder to Claim Your Home Owner Grant 2018

Claim your home owner grant online. Starting 2018, there is no longer the option to mail in your grant.

The home owner grant is a provincial program that helps reduce the amount of residential property tax you pay.

Tips for claiming your grant:

  • You must apply for your home owner grant each year
  • Check if you’re eligible and for which grant amount
  • If you pay your taxes at your financial institution, submit your home owner grant to us separately; financial institutions no longer accept home owner grants

To avoid a 5% penalty on the outstanding property tax balance, make sure we receive your claim by the tax due date.

Claim your grant online  

2018 property tax due dates

Advance taxes:  February 2, 2018

Main taxes: July 4, 2018

Home owner grant: July 4, 2018

Get a reminder

Sign-up for eBilling

How much do you owe?

Set up an online account. You will need your access code. It can be found on your tax notice.

Log in to your account

Get your property tax account balance. No login or registration required.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Slower Growth Expected for Economy and Housing Market

BCREA 2018 Second Quarter Housing Forecast Update

Vancouver, BC – May, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2018 Second Quarter Housing Forecast today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 9 per cent to 94,200 units this year, after posting 103,700 unit sales in 2017. MLS® residential sales are forecast to remain relatively unchanged in 2019, albeit down 0.2 per cent to 94,000 units. Housing demand is expected to remain above the 10-year average of 84,800 units into 2020.

“The housing market continues to be supported by a strong economy,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, slower economic growth is expected over the next two years as the economy is nearing full employment and consumers have stepped back from their 2017 spending spree.”

“Demographics will play a key role in the housing market over the next few years,” added Muir, “as growth in the adult-aged population is bolstered by immigration and the massive millennial generation enters its household forming years.”

Muir notes there are, however, significant headwinds in the housing market. “Rising mortgage interest rates will further erode affordability and purchasing power, with the effect being exacerbated by an already high price level. The legacy of tougher mortgage qualifications for conventional mortgagors will be a reduction of their purchasing power by up to 20 per cent, and the provincial government’s expansion of the foreign buyer tax and several other policies aimed at taxing wealth is sending a negative signal to the market and likely diverting investment elsewhere.”

The combination of slowing housing demand and rising new home completions is expected to trend most BC markets toward balanced conditions this year, and lead to less upward pressure on home prices.

Download (PDF, 1.97MB)

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.


Canadian Real GDP Growth Q1’2018 – May, 2018

Growth in the Canadian economy was disappointing in the first quarter of 2018, growing at just 1.3 per cent. That was well below the 2 per cent consensus forecast of economists. Slow growth was the result of a moderation in household spending, which grew at its slowest rate since 2015,  and a decline in residential investment. On the positive side, business investment was strong with purchases of machinery and equipment up 4.2 per cent and investment in commercial and other non-residential structures up 1.5 per cent.

Although economic growth slowed in the first quarter, the Canadian economy is still operating at or above capacity. We expect the Canadian economy to grow at a 2 to 2.5 per cent annual rate in 2018, which is above its estimated long-run trend rate of 1.7 per cent.  As a consequence, inflationary pressure are building and interest rates are very likely headed higher as early as the Bank’ of Canada’s July meeting.

For more information, please contact:  Gino Pezzani.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement – May, 2018

The Bank of Canada decided to leave the target for the overnight policy rate unchanged at 1.25 per cent this morning. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that inflation has been close to its two per cent target and will likely be higher in the near term than was previously forecast due to higher gasoline prices. Economic growth in the first quarter was stronger than expected due to rising exports and business investment, which helped to offset a B20 induced softening in housing activity. Overall, the Bank’s view is that higher interest rates will be warranted to keep inflation near its target.

Although the Bank held steady today, with inflation rising to the Bank’s two per cent target and the Canadian economy operating at or near capacity, interest rates are very likely headed higher, perhaps at the Bank’s next meeting in July. That will translate to higher mortgage rates which, combined with the erosion of purchasing power from the mortgage stress test, will continue to temper housing demand in 2018.
For more information, please contact:

For more Information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

A Lesson In Diplomacy

If you’ve ever had to deal with the thoughtless behavior of someone, you’ll appreciate this story about the great composer and pianist Franz Liszt.

The virtuoso musician once found himself at odds with an important member of his audience. The czar of Russia, Nicholas I, made a late entrance during Liszt’s concert. Even after being seated, the czar continued to speak with members of his entourage. Liszt realized that Nicholas had no intention of ending his discourse, so he stopped playing and bowed his head.

Noticing the silence, Nicholas dispatched one of his aides to find out why the pianist was no longer playing.

“Music herself should be silent when Nicholas speaks,” Liszt replied. After that, Liszt was able to finish his recital with the czar’s full attention. “Music herself should be silent when Nicholas speaks,” Liszt replied. After that, Liszt was able to finish his recital with the czar’s full attention.

Increase Online Security

By now most of us know to not access suspicious links embedded in emails, and we’re aware of the threats posed by public Wi-Fi networks. However, according to Eric Cole, a cybersecurity expert and author of Online Danger: How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from the Evil Side of the Internet (Morgan James Publishing), there are two more ways to minimize risks:

1. Reconsider your credit card use. Cole suggests having four credit cards. He recommends using your debit card at ATMs to withdraw money, using a dedicated card for recurring payments, such as memberships, another for online purchases and a different one for in-person transactions.

2. Separate your high-risk and low-risk activities. Use one device to surf the web, access email, and shop using apps. Dedicate a different laptop or a desktop for encrypted activities such as online banking and online investments. Keep your virus protections current on every device, and be mindful about how you use them.

Power VS Force

An ancient fable tells the story of how the North Wind and the Sun decided which of them is the more powerful force of nature. For years, they both insisted that their strengths were unmatched. One day, they decided they would end their ongoing dispute with a simple challenge: they would both use their powers to try and get the next person on the nearest path to veer off into the river. The first one to succeed in getting the person into the water would be declared the victor and deemed to be the more powerful force.

No sooner had they agreed on these terms when a traveler appeared on the path. The North Wind flexed with all his might and directed a long, concentrated gust at the hiker. The man lost his balance and stumbled for a moment, but then he righted himself, put his head down, and leaned into the wind to push onward. Once the North Wind realized that his actions had produced the opposite effect of what he had intended, he gracefully stepped aside and challenged the Sun to outdo him.

As the wind dissipated, the Sun beamed brightly, showering the traveler in shimmering rays of light. The man began to feel hot as he traveled along the path and decided to cool himself off with a dip in the river. While the traveler relaxed after a refreshing swim, the Sun was declared to be the winner. The moral of the story: warm persuasion is more powerful than blustering force.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.