BC Home Sales Post Strongest October in Four Years

Vancouver, BC – November 15, 2013.  The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 6,673 residential sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC during October, up 26.5 per cent from October 2012. Total sales dollar volume was 34.5 per cent higher than a year ago at $3.6 billion. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $540,432, up 6.3 per cent from October 2012.

“The fall housing market is shaping up to be the most active in four years,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Persistently low mortgage interest rates and an element of pent-up demand have driven home sales higher in the province’s large Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island markets.”

“While the rebound in consumer demand has been significant, home sales are trending near the long-term average and any continued acceleration will depend on stronger economic and employment growth,” added Muir.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 8.2 per cent to $33.6 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales were up 5.1 per cent to 63,020 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 2.9 per cent at $533,321.


For more information, please contact: 

Cameron Muir

Damian Stathonikos

Chief Economist

Director of Communications and Public Affairs

Direct: 604.742.2780

Direct: 604.742.2793

Mobile: 778.229.1884

Mobile: 778.990.1320

Email: cmuir@bcrea.bc.ca

Email: dstathonikos@bcrea.bc.ca

BCREA represents 11 member real estate boards and their approximately 18,500 REALTORS® on all provincial issues, providing an extensive communications network, standard forms, economic research and analysis, government relations, applied practice courses and continuing professional education.

To demonstrate the profession’s commitment to improving Quality of Life in BC communities, BCREA supports policies that help ensure economic vitality, provide housing opportunities, preserve the environment, protect property owners and build better communities with good schools and safe neighbourhoods.

For detailed statistical information, contact your local real estate board. MLS® is a cooperative marketing system used only by Canada’s real estate boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.

To subscribe to receive BCREA publications such as this one, or to update your email address or current subscriptions, click here.

For the complete news release, including detailed statistics, click here.

Strata Property Act and Regulations Update

Since 2009, the BC government has introduced amendments to the Strata Property Act and Regulations at varying intervals.

Amendments address issues and concerns identified in a province-wide consultation with strata owners, associations, legal experts and professionals including REALTORS®.

Five important amendments

1 Depreciation Reports
Depreciation reports will be mandatory as of December 13, 2013 for all strata corporations and must be prepared by a qualified person and updated every three years, unless the strata has:

  • four or fewer units; or
  • five or more units where the strata exempts itself through an annual 3/4 vote. Strata corporations formed after December 14, 2011, must file a depreciation report within six months of their second AGM.

2 Form B (Information Certificate)
Form B is revised. Copies of the strata corporation rules, the current budget, the most recent depreciation report and Form J (the Rental Disclosure Statement) must now be attached to Form B. As of January 1, 2014 strata corporations must identify the allocation of parking and storage lockers on a new Form B.

Learn more by reading the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C.’s (CHOA) bulletin What you need to know about: Parking Spaces and Storage Lockers January 1, 2014 at www.choa.bc.ca/_resources/600-001_Parking_Storage_Lockers.pdf

3 Contingency Reserve Funds
By a majority vote, strata corporations can approve additional contributions to the contingency reserve fund even if the amount in the fund exceeds 25% of the operating budget. Previously, a 3/4 vote was required.

4 Dispute Resolution
Strata corporations, owners and tenants will be able to settle disputes that arise in strata corporations through a Civil Resolution Tribunal system which is currently being developed.

5 Form J (Rental Disclosure Statement)
Owner Developers must provide prospective buyers with Form J – the Rental Disclosure Statement – which is filed with the Superintendent of Real Estate if the Owner Developer plans to rent or preserve the right to rent any residential unit, regardless of any subsequent rental restriction bylaw. The effect of the Form J depends on when it was filed.

  • For Rental Disclosure Statements filed on or before December 31, 2009 a lot that has been designated as a rental lot by the Owner Developer on Form J remains eligible as a rental lot (regardless of rental restriction bylaws) until the lot is either conveyed by the first purchaser or the date the rental period expires on the Rental Disclosure Statement, whichever comes first. This means a purchaser who buys the strata lot from someone other than the Owner Developer does not have the right to rent the strata lot if there are rental restriction bylaws.
  • For Rental Disclosure Statements filed on or after January 1, 2010 the ability to rent a strata lot will be established at the time of the filing by the Owner Developer. A strata lot eligible as a rental remains designated as a rental until the date the rental period expires on the Rental Disclosure Statement and is not affected by any subsequent rental restriction bylaws. This means the right to rent a strata lot continues from one purchaser to the next, so long as the rental period on Form J has not expired.
  • Learn more by reading Guide 15: Rentals Permitted within Strata Corporations at www.housing.gov.bc.ca/pub/stratapdf/Guide15.pdf

A closer look at depreciation reports

The depreciation report is the magic key to opening information about the strata corporation, according to Tony Gioventu, Executive Director, Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C.

“The depreciation report identifies future costs from the buyers’ perspective that can’t be discovered in a typical building inspection,” explains Gioventu.

Here are four valuable sources of detailed information about strata depreciation reports:

Seven sources for strata property information

1 BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas, Office of Housing and Construction Standards www.housing.gov.bc.ca/strata/guides.htm 
Includes 29 valuable guides which include information on:

  • roles and responsibilities – strata corporations and council guides, tenants and landlords;
  • annual general meetings and voting;
  • financial information – budgeting, apportioning expenses, depreciation reports;
  • bylaws – creating and enforcing, including rental, age and pet restriction bylaws;
  • general administration – common property, altering unit entitlements, responsibility for repairs, record keeping, contracting with a strata manager, parking and storage lockers; and
  • disputes – resolving complaints, arbitration, courts.

2 Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. (CHOA) www.choa.bc.ca/resources.html
Includes comprehensive articles, information bulletins and strata education seminars on all aspects of strata property developed by CHOA as well as Tony Gioventu’s Condo Smarts column.

3 Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA) www.visoa.bc.ca
Includes links to legislation and regulations, management company information, privacy guidelines, depreciation reports and a one-of-a-kind useful index to the Strata Property Act organized by subject.

4 Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) www.fic.gov.bc.ca
Includes Strata Property Act overview, the Act, regulations, forms and bylaws, related contacts, information bulletins, instruction guides, privacy guidelines, comprehensive FAQs, and fee information.

5 Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver www.rebgv.org
The Board regularly provides updates for home buyers, sellers and owners on its website.

6 Real Estate Council of BC www.recbc.ca/licensee/newsletter.html
Includes newsletters and special reports on a range of technical topics, including strata corporations.

7 Law firms
Throughout the province some law firms also offer free resources. For example:

Protecting personal privacy

Under the Strata Property Act, owners and anyone authorized by owners can obtain copies of strata corporation records.

Posting records to a website makes for easy access. But documents posted must require a secure login procedure. This is because strata corporation records are not public records, according to the Real Estate Council, and should be accessible only to authorized individuals.

For further information see Report from Council Newsletter, April 2013 available at www.recbc.ca. Go to Licensee Information and then Publications.

10 questions to ask a strata corporation

1 What bylaws and restrictions govern the property? Are there grandfathered clauses?

2 What is the date of the last depreciation report? Is a copy available?

3 Have engineering reports been done on the strata and are reports available?

4 How much is in the contingency reserve fund? How are funds invested?

5 How much are the monthly strata fees and what do they cover, for example, common area maintenance, recreational facilities, garbage collection, hot water, heat, cable?

6 What repairs have been made in the last decade, for example, major plumbing, roof, windows?

7 Have there been special assessments in the past five years? What did they cover and what was the cost per unit?

8 What percentage of units are owner occupied? What percentage are rental units?

9 Is there pending litigation, for example, for leaky condominium repairs?

10 What is the deductible on an individual unit?

Know The Rules When Insuring Secondary Suites

Secondary suites continue to be an affordable housing option for Metro Vancouver area residents, benefitting home owners as mortgage helpers and tenants as a less expensive roof over their heads.

Secondary suites are so prevalent that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates there are now about 101,808 accessory suites in the Metro Vancouver region.

“With so many suites in our area, it’s important to remind home owners to let their insurer know about a suite and to buy insurance to cover the suite,” says REBGV member David Chambers, a licensed REALTOR® and a licensed insurance agent, and vice-president of Chambers Olson Insurance in Vancouver.

Legal or illegal

“Whether the suite is legal or illegal, having insurance coverage is vital,” says Chambers who notes there is a misconception among home owners that their existing policy will cover a suite. “It doesn’t,” says Chambers.

A home owner who doesn’t tell their insurer about a suite and that there are two households living in the home, opens themselves up to significant risk.

An unreported and uninsured suite could potentially void the existing insurance contract on the primary residence if there is a flood or a fire,” explains Chambers.

Some home owners may not properly insure their property because of fear that their insurer will report the suite to the local municipality. “This isn’t true,” says Chambers. “However, we always advise our clients to comply with local bylaws and report and register the suite with the local municipality.”


How much will insurance cost? “About 10 per cent of the cost of your total home insurance. So if you’re paying $1,200, it will cost you an additional $120,” says Chambers.

Home owners who rent their secondary suite can also buy separate comprehensive rental insurance. Depending on the insurer and on the policy, this can cover vandalism and damage by tenants, typically up to a payout maximum limit of $5,000. This insurance doesn’t cover the tenant’s belongings. The tenant has to buy their own insurance for their possessions.

Home owners with laneway homes, coach homes above garages and other authorized or unauthorized accommodation on their property should also let their insurer know and should buy appropriate coverage.

Did you know?

Based on the official community plans for Metro Vancouver municipalities, there is room for an additional 215,000 suites in the region.  Source: Metro Vancouver


Click here to find the secondary suite bylaws for the Real Estate of Greater Vancouver Board area.

Finding the Truth About a Property

What’s not on the property title may be important.

In West Vancouver in 2007, on the advice of her REALTOR®, a property seller checked to see if there was an underground fuel storage tank on her property.

There was and the seller had the tank removed and the contaminated soil remediated. The bill was $202,963.07.

The seller had bought the property in 2001 without using the services of a REALTOR® and had been told by the previous owner that the tank had been removed or decommissioned.

The seller sued the former property owned and won because the owner hadn’t disclosed the severity of the problem.(Note: a REALTOR® was not involved in the 2001 sale).

What do these examples have in common?

• In Richmond, an illegal drug lab in a rental home on a busy street resulted in a neighbourhood evacuation.
• In Marpole, the owners of a non-profit theatre learned from a neighbouring business that the building they own is one of a dozen commercial sites sitting on a midden, the location of Aboriginal artifacts.

None are registered on the property title.

This means that current and future owners may not know about issues associated with their property that could affect its safety, ease of sale and ultimate value.

What is registered on the property title?

The legal description of a property, including:
• the parcel identification (PID);
• taxation authority;
• registered owner and their address;
• the title number;
• the previous title number;
• legal notations against the property (may include heritage);
• charges, liens and interests (under-surface rights, rights of ways, covenants, judgments);
• whether a duplicate title has been ordered and by whom, and
• transfers and pending applications.

What is not registered on title?

• Archaeological sites.
• Former grow ops and illegal drug labs.
• Heritage designations (not always on title).
• Highway entitlements.
• Stigmatized property.
• Streamside issues – if there are fish-bearing ditches or creeks on the property.
• Underground fuel storage tanks.

How can you discover the facts about a property?

1. Ask the owner.
2. Visit the local government (municipal) website where you will find a range of information, for example:
• Richmond provides a road map of designated heritage buildings and homes, and includes photos. (Note: there is no available universal public registry of homes previously used as grow ops and illegal drug labs.)
• The City of Vancouver confirms if a property has been used as a grow op or illegal drug lab to anyone phoning 604.871.6231. The City does not provide the owner’s name in keeping with privacy legislation.
• West Vancouver provides a list of properties known to have underground storage tanks.  Visit:
www.westvancouver.ca and search Fuel Storage Tank Program. Scroll to More Information and see Fuel/ Oil Tank Records Search.

If you don’t find what you need online, phone your local government or go in person. Depending on the municipality, there may be comprehensive data.

• There is a BC Heritage Sites Inventory. Information about its properties comes from local governments, so start there first.
• Check the BC Archaeological Site Inventory at www.for.gov.bc.ca/archaeology/accessing_archaeological_data/index.htm.  You can also phone: 250 953-3338.
• Search the BC Government’s Contaminated Sites Registry which lists some contaminated sites. It is available through www.bconline.gov.bc.ca.(Go to Products). There is a charge to access the database.

Fuel tanks facts

Throughout the Lower Mainland aging fuel storage tanks in yards are potentially corroding and leaching toxic materials into the soil.

In worst case scenarios, the contamination extends to neighbouring properties and the groundwater system.

These tanks, used until the 1960s when natural gas became readily available, were never required to be registered.

In the 50 years since, many tanks have been decommissioned or removed, while others have been long forgotten.

This makes it difficult to determine how many still exist, although estimates indicate there are still tens of thousands remaining underground throughout the Lower Mainland.

In more remote areas such as Pemberton and the Gulf Islands, tanks may still be in use.

Oil tanks are regulated by the BC Fire Code, Part 4, which covers tank installation, maintenance, repair, removal or abandonment.

What happens if your property has an old tank?

Each municipality has different requirements and provisions for enforcing the removal or abandonment of underground or above ground storage tanks.

Contact your local fire department. They will advise you on how to properly deal with your tank.

Tanks can contaminate soil and groundwater, may pose a fire and explosion hazard, and may impact human health.

If you plan on selling your property, you must tell your REALTOR® about the tank and also disclose the tank on the Property Disclosure Statement.

If you are buying a property, your REALTOR® will advise you to have the property inspected and to seek an expert opinion on the matter, especially if the underground or above ground storage tank is thought to be leaking. If you have questions about fuel storage tanks, contact your municipality.

Here’s what you need to know about laneway houses – and the bylaws which govern them.

Laneway houses, coach houses, accessory suites, carriage houses, granny flats and garden suites, are just some of the names used to describe a secondary suite that is situated in a separate, detached building, and not in the principal building. Secondary suites, that is suites contained within the principal dwelling unit, are addressed in the Secondary Suites Bylaw Matrix. This laneway house matrix provides an overview and is for your reference only. Please refer to specific bylaws or policies for more information. If you have questions, please contact Harriet Permut, Manager, Government Relations at hpermut@rebgv.org or 604.730.3029.

The laneway house matrixes are for the following regions: Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, Delta, Gibsons, Maple Ridge, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Richmond, Squamish, Sunshine Coast and Whistler.

For a PDF version of this news release, including data tables, follow this link.