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Kristi Holz FAQs

Recent Changes to Condo Insurance in Vancouver

NOTE: This column is not a substitute for professional insurance advice. Please speak with an insurance advisor to discuss your situation and options. Always make sure you have a current home owner, landlord or tenant insurance policy in place.

What is Strata Insurance?

As a homeowner, landlord or renter, you need to have home insurance in place to protect you in case of accidents, unexpected issues, theft, etc. Every condo building also has a “Strata Insurance Policy” that covers the owners in case of extensive damage that extends into multiple units and common Strata property.

Your home insurance policy should cover a portion of the Strata Insurance Deductibles in case of an extensive issue originating from your unit. For example, if your washing machine breaks and ends up flooding multiple units below you, you will have to pay the deductible on your home insurance policy (typically a few hundred dollars), then your home insurance policy should kick in to cover the Strata Insurance deductible (typically in the tens of thousands of dollars), then the Strata Insurance will cover the cost of the damage. So, for example, $50,000 in damage may only cost you a few hundred dollars if you’re properly insured.

However! Strata Insurance deductibles have increased significantly in recent months leading to water damage deductibles increasing significantly from $10,000, some up to $750,000! For example, this would mean that any damage up to $750,000 would be the responsibility of the homeowner of the unit where the damage originated to pay for. You can imagine that if your personal insurance policy has to cover $750,000 worth of damage then your home insurance policy is going to be really expensive! Keep in mind a $750,000 Strata Deductible is an extreme example that isn’t common. My own building recently renewed our insurance and our water damage deductible is still $25,000, so it’s not all doom and gloom. I find high rise towers where one issue can damage many units at once and buildings with a lot of previous issues (often buildings that are significantly tenant occupied) have seen the highest increases. For example, if you cause $120,000 worth of damage in your building and your personal policy only covers $25,000 worth of water damage, but your Strata Deductible is $100,000, then you’ll have to pay the $75,000 difference! Make sure your home insurance policy covers ALL the Strata Insurance Deductibles.

The changes to Strata Insurance policies weren’t limited to water damage. Insurance companies are charging more for all deductibles as well as the and for the cost of re-building in case of total damage. This means that the cost of the overall policy has increased for condo owners, which means buildings need to budget more for yearly Strata Insurance, which means your strata fees will increase to cover the cost (this could be hundreds of dollars per month for each unit).

In very extreme cases, some buildings were not able to secure Strata Insurance Policies due to extensive issues. Have a look at this article by CBC describing this issue: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/condo-buying-mark-ting-1.5456945.

Why has Strata Insurance Increased Recently?

Strata Insurance has increased recently due to factors that have increased due to a myriad of factors, including:

  • Increase in the Number of Claims: If your building has a history of water damage claims due to poor system design leading to failures, unfortunate resident activities, aging building systems, or just poor maintenance records, then your Strata Insurance will likely increase significantly due to the high probability of another incident.
  • Re-Build Costs have Increased: Strata Insurance costs are based on the assumed value of the condo and the cost to re-build in case of complete damage. BC property values and construction costs have increased significantly, which means the cost of re-building has increased, which means your policy costs have increased.
  • Increase in Global Emergencies: The more earthquake and climate related emergencies that we see around the world, the more our Insurance companies are preparing for the possibility of a major event at home, increasing your costs due to increased risk.
  • Smaller Insurance Companies are Leaving the Market: With insurance costs and claims increasing, many small insurance companies are no longer offering Strata Insurance policies, which leaves only a few national companies left, reducing the competition for competitive policies.

How does the Increasing Condo Insurance Costs Impact Buyers?

If you’re a Buyer in the market, you NEED to review the Strata insurance policy. This has always been something I review for my clients, but there was rarely a big difference in policies. Now, with potentially massive deductibles, you need to know what you’re getting into and how much your home insurance policy will cost you. Prior to removing subjects make sure you contact a professional insurance broker to get a quote.

If you’re an investor, consider the costs of your Strata Insurance Policy and ENSURE your tenant has their own tenant insurance policy in place (via a requirement in the lease). You may want to consider the potential costs of a tenant insurance policy prior to purchasing a unit. If the cost is too high for them, they may not get the policy (which could lead to a big problem in the case of major damage) or it may lead to fewer potential renters.

If you live in a building where the deductibles are high or there’s a unique scenario that some insurance companies won’t cover, contact Square One Insurance. They aren’t the most economical company, but they do insure odd scenarios. Always search for multiple quotes so you can find the best policy for your situation.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca.

Kristi Holz Market Update

February 2020 Real Estate Market Update

Hi Everyone! We’ve made it through January and the market is picking up steam. We’re seeing new listings every week and Buyers getting excited about their options, which is normal activity for January. What’s interesting this month is the number of multiple offer scenarios we’re seeing and the differences between the Eastside and the Westside. 

On the Westside of Vancouver, inventory is at decent number – generally higher than this time in 2018 and generally lower than this time in 2019. The number of condos and townhouses is at a good number for this time of year, but the number of detached houses is down compared to the last few years. I expect all of these numbers to increase as the market continues to gain steam. Overall the HPI price is similar to both last month and this time last year, though it’s trending upwards. The consistency in price over the year should be an indication that this market has staying power. Overall, the condo market is a Balanced/Sellers market – the area and product affects this distinction greatly – entry level 1 and 2 bedroom condos are getting multiple offers where the higher end market doesn’t have the same extreme activity. 

On the Eastside of Vancouver, the market has some stronger legs. The HPI Price has seen a noticeable increase over last month and is in line with this time last year. It’s the inventory that’s interesting – the number of listings on the market is far lower than this time last year, with detached houses and townhouses being at their lowest numbers since 2016. Inventory levels for Detached Houses are particularly low, which aligns with the fact that we are seeing multiple offers on anything half decent right now. The total inventory for condos is somewhat low right now so I’m hoping for a big increase in good options. The number of townhouses doesn’t vary much but we need to see more options to keep the market moving. Overall, each market in East Van is a Balanced/Sellers market so be prepared for a busy market – work with a good agent (me!) and a good mortgage broker (ask me for one!). 

This market isn’t easy to figure out. Some listings are getting multiple offers, and I can usually pinpoint the ones that will, but others are sitting on the market with some negotiation room. This kind of market leads to a needed reminder for Sellers – you need to ensure your property looks good, is priced right and has an agent truly trying to sell it. Call me to talk about the best plan of action for the sale of your home – you need good marketing  positive open houses, market knowledge and good negotiation. It’s still early in the year, and the market still has a lot of growth to see this Spring.

Have a look at that stats for Vancouver East and West Real Estate below. If you’re interested in learning about specific neighbourhoods, specific price points, specific types of properties or other cities, contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca! There are big differences in market characteristics for different area sand style of homes. Ask if you’re curious!

East Vancouver Real Estate Stats up to and including January 2020

HPI Price for East Vancouver

Median Percentage of Original Price for East Vancouver

New Listings for East VancouverTotal Inventory for East Vancouver

Total Sales for East Vancouver

Sales to Active Ratio for East Vancouver

Median Days on Market for East Vancouver

Vancouver West Real Estate Stats up to and including January 2020

HPI Price for Vancouver West

Median Percentage of Original Price for Vancouver West

New Listings for Vancouver WestTotal Inventory for Vancouver West

Total Sales for Vancouver West

Sales to Active Ratio for Vancouver West

Median Days on Market for Vancouver West

Based on these stats, the bottom of the market was August 2019. The market has been picking up ever since, and based on my conversations with other agents, everyone seems to have some great new listings hitting the market sometime in the next few months. Like I mentioned above, the good listings come and go really quickly, so now is the time to get your financing sorted out and to start learning about the market so you can understand your options and make the most of the slowly increasing market. If you want to start learning about the market, send me a message or give me a call and let’s sit down to chat about the process, your questions, and your options.

If you’d like to slowly dip your toes in the market, I can also set you up on a Custom Real Estate Search, just fill in the form on https://realestatevancity.ca/home-finder/ or feel free to contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca or 778-387-7371.

Kristi Holz FAQs

A Quick Overview of Condo Maintenance

When you’re looking for a home, you need to find a unit you like, and one that’s also in a good building. My job is to help you avoid the bad buildings and make sense of the decent buildings. One of the most common details the Buyers, especially first time home buyers, don’t totally understand is building maintenance and what makes a worthwhile building. Below is a quick overview of some of the most common misunderstandings and considerations to make.

Who Pays for Condo Maintenance?

You do! As the owner of your unit, you have to pay your share of building maintenance to upkeep your investment. This includes everything within your unit and your portion of all building maintenance and repairs.

Every year, owners in a condo elect between 3 and 7 people to be on the Strata Council. These 3 to 7 owners make common building maintenance and management decisions on behalf of all owners. One of these decisions is the total yearly building budget, which stipulates how much money is allocated to various building repairs and costs, and determines your monthly strata fee by applying the % of the building you own to the total yearly budget.

The yearly building budget takes into account all expected costs (i.e. hallway electricity, gas for the heating system, building insurance, etc) as well as a small fund for inexpensive repairs and maintenance (i.e. if a common building pipe leaks) as well as a contribution to a “Contingency Fund” for unexpected costs (i.e. if the parking garage door breaks and needs to be replaced ASAP). However, every building will have to attend to expensive maintenance costs from time to time that fall outside of the yearly budget. These expensive maintenance items are paid for by the owners via something called special levies. Maintenance items that would be paid for via special levies include a new roof, new piping, new windows, new balconies, new elevators, new parkade membrane, new exterior and more.

No condo building in Vancouver has enough money set aside to pay for major maintenance items, which is why you have to expect to pay for some expensive maintenance in a building every few years.

The requirement that all owners pay for regular maintenance (via strata fees) and major maintenance items (via special levies) is why researching the building to understand its maintenance history and future requirements is SO important. Just because a building has maintenance coming up in the next few years doesn’t mean it’s a bad building – we need to make the difference between it being age-related maintenance or issue-related maintenance, and as a potential owner in the building, you want to see a strong history of completed age appropriate major replacement projects. For example, if you’re interested in a unit in a 1970’s building that hasn’t done any exterior updates aside from the roof, then you know that the building will likely need to replace the balconies, windows and exterior soon – all expensive projects that you will need to be financially prepared to pay for.

Another scenario to consider is if you buy into a building that just completed a major, high cost repair (i.e. a full exterior renewal including new exterior, windows and balconies). After paying for an expensive special levy, many owners aren’t eager to pay another special levy anytime soon, so you might have a few years before the building pursues an expensive repair. One thing to remember is if you buy into a building that just completed a major repair, the seller will be asking a premium for the unit, so you end up paying for the repairs indirectly.

Maintenance Costs for New Condo Buildings

One of the only ways to “avoid” building maintenance costs is to buy in a new building – about 15 years old or younger – though this isn’t a fail proof method of avoiding special levies.

Every new building comes with a warranty: 2 years for fixtures, 5 years for exterior work and 10 years for structural work. If one of these items breaks during the warranty period, the Strata can pursue the Developer for the fix. This warranty work can help the Strata avoid costly maintenance, though technically, this warranty is in place to cover poor quality installations, not the expected first repair. In an ideal world, new buildings shouldn’t have to undertake costly replacement projects for years.

Having said that, if something that is not under warranty breaks or needs repair, owners will have to pay for it. Newer buildings don’t have a big Contingency Fund to cover unexpected maintenance and repairs so there is a chance the Owners will have to pay for a small levy.

I’ve also seen a lot of newer buildings levy owners for improvements to the building – for example: extra security features, more furniture for the common room, and a “Contingency Fund Top Up” where the operating budget wasn’t planned properly (the initial operating budget is set by the Developer and often isn’t good enough) and the building needs extra funds to cover cost overruns.

Types of Condo Maintenance and Repairs

Every condo in Vancouver will need regular maintenance and at some point, large repairs. A well built building can help mitigate repairs compared to a poorly built building, but every building will need maintenance and repairs to maintain their value.

Depending on how well the building is maintained, future repairs can be pushed to a later date with some minor fixes. For examples, a lot of buildings can postpone a full re-piping by installing a water conditioning system for a fraction of the cost. This won’t prevent the eventual re-piping, but it gives the owners some time to build up the funds necessary for the re-piping. Buildings with strong maintenance records, and knowledge of construction often fair better in the long run.

There are major differences in maintenance and repairs for wood frame vs concrete buildings. All buildings have the same list of standard components but the type of project used and the maintenance/replacement required can vary. Ironically, sometimes components in older buildings can last longer than new components (i.e. elevators in 1970’s buildings tend to last a long time, whereas new elevators break constantly and need to be replaced sooner… go figure).

This is a very quick overview (definitely NOT an exhaustive list) of the major repairs a building will need to consider:

  • Balcony Membranes: The surface of the balcony. This needs to be replaced to prevent water ingress into the actual construction of the balcony. This usually needs to be updated after 10 years.
  • Roof: Generally an easy project to do, but it does depend on how complicated the design of the roof is. Roofs typically last 20-25 years.
  • Piping: Pipes naturally degrade over time, especially in condo buildings where water is constantly running through them to reach each owner on every floor. Pipes typically last around 25 years.
  • Balconies: The construction of the balconies needs to be replaced after 25-30 years, which includes construction of a new balcony platform and new balcony railings.
  • Windows: Windows have a lifespan. Both sun and rain affect windows and lead to them eventually needing to be replaced. Windows are an expensive project so most buildings replace windows on an “as needed” basis, expect for complete exterior overhaul projects. Windows can last 25-50 years.
  • Exterior: This is a major project, and encompasses that buzzword “rainscreen” that Buyers always hear. The exterior – whether it’s stucco, brick, vinyl, wood or other – has a lifespan and needs to be replaced. The different styles of exterior make a huge difference in how long the exterior lasts and what work needs to be done but you can expect an exterior to need major repairs around 30 years.
  • Elevators: It’s a mechanical items that requires regular maintenance and will eventually break. Elevators can be expensive for small buildings since they’re the same cost if for a 4 unit building as they would be for a 40 unit building. Elevators can last 25-50 years.
  • Parkade Membrane: The parkade membrane is basically the roof of the parkade. The parkade underneath the building typically extends out further than the foot print of the building, and like any roof, it needs to be repaired. This is a big project because all the landscaping and patios need to be removed, the “roof” needs to be replaced and the landscaping needs to be re-done. Parkade membranes typically need to be replaced between 30-40 years.
  • Other projects can include updates to: the lobby and hallways, fire alarm system, hot water tanks, landscaping, fencing, security, amenities (i.e. pools, gyms, etc), and more.

How do we determine what maintenance has been done, what maintenance hasn’t been done and how much it’ll cost? We have to review the Strata Documents provided by the listing agent (from the condo’s Strata Council). Thankfully, there is often a helpful document that most buildings have available: a Depreciation Report.

How Depreciation Reports Help Detail Future Maintenance and Costs

A BC Strata Bylaw changed two years ago with the introduction of Depreciation Reports. These reports – often done by Engineering Companies – take stock of all the components in the building, how old the component is, when the component will need to be repaired/replaced and how much that will cost. All timelines and costs are based on industry standards so these reports are not exact and Strata’s are not required to follow any of the advice in the report. The purpose of Depreciation Reports is to give Strata’s a guidelines as to what to consider and plan for in the short term future and to prepare Owners for the expensive projects they’ll need to be ready to pay for over time. Building’s aren’t required to have a Depreciation Report so not every building will have one – but that in itself can be indicative of how well organized the Strata is. Depreciation Reports, if available, along with Strata meeting minutes, financials and other documents related to the management of the building are available to prospective purchase (via the Listing Agent from the Strata Council) to review during the purchase process.


There is SO MUCH to learn about building maintenance, and it doesn’t happen overnight. These little tidbits are learn with every property you’re interested in and every set of strata docs we go through. There’s lots to know and it’s my job to ensure you’re educated.

Kristi Holz Market Update

January 2020 Real Estate Market Update

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you have a great holiday season filled with lots of holiday and family fun. The real estate market always slows down in December – full stop over Christmas – before gaining energy in January, so I’ll keep the stats review short this month, but instead offer a general recap of the market.

2019 was an interesting year. It was really slow at the end of 2018 into 2019. Listings were sitting for awhile, Buyers weren’t motivated and there wasn’t a lot of excitement in the market. I was getting bored seeing the same listings come up on MLS and I’m certain everyone else was too. Finally, and somewhat unexpectedly given the timing, the market picked up again in late Spring, which lead me to have my busiest Summer in years. This increased activity developed from a confluence of falling prices, good interest rates and Buyers finding opportunities – and it continued for the rest of the year. It’s a great feeling to see Buyers come back to the table because once properties started selling, potential Sellers gain a little more confidence and decide to list their property as well – so more Buyers in the market lead to an increase in new listings too. The increase in interest did lead to a slight increase in prices, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue to see a slight increase over the next year given increasing demand (though inventory levels will make a big difference in prices next year). In the Fall I was seeing multiple offers happen on some really good listings (i.e. a great, entry level detached house) and on some really well priced listing (i.e. those priced far lower than their value to pull in multiple offers). Despite there being multiple offers, I wasn’t seeing any insane price increases or many unconditional offers, so these scenarios weren’t as disheartening for Buyers as they have been in the past. On the flip side, overpriced listings sat on the market because Buyers were not keen to negotiate very much so Sellers had to be reasonable in order to attract Buyers.

Personally, I’m seeing a lot of Buyers enter the market (for the first time, or again after taking a break) in addition to the folks who started searching in the Fall – so I anticipate a busy Spring with high sales numbers. Hopefully the amount of inventory increases to match Buyer demand, and I think it will. I anticipate a Balanced Market, which is good for everyone. It’s a good time for current owners to be thinking about a buy and sell – you can be confident your listing will sell in a reasonable amount of time (assuming it’s not over priced) and you’ll have options to buy as well.

Let’s have a look at Vancouver East and West:

For East Vancouver, the inventory and number of new listings dropped in December, as expected, but the HPI Price increased ever so slightly though it’s within a few percentage points over this time last year. The sales to active ratio was strong, thanks to December having fewer listings and Buyers wanting to get their purchase done before the New Year.

For Vancouver West (i.e. west of Ontario St to UBC), as expected, inventory and new listings dropped in December. HPI Price remained steady in December, and priced are still down over this time last year, with Vancouver West Detached Houses being the furthest behind (at 6.7%), as expected. The detached house market also has the biggest % difference between List Price and Sale Price, so if you’re looking to buy in that market, negotiate hard!

If you’re interested in learning about specific neighbourhoods, specific price points, specific types of properties or other cities, contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca! I find the market characteristics is pretty common across all cities in the GVA, though there may be some minor differences in how different cities have reacted to the market waking up (if anything, cities outside of Vancouver are typically slower to gain traction). Ask if you’re curious!

East Vancouver Real Estate Stats up to and including December 2019

HPI Price for East Vancouver

Median Percentage of Original Price

New Listings for East Vancouver

Total Sales for East Vancouver

Sales to Active Ratio for East Vancouver

Median Days on Market

Vancouver West Real Estate Stats up to and including December 2019

HPI Price for Vancouver West

Median Percentage of Original Price

New Listings for Vancouver West

Total Sales for Vancouver West

Sales to Active Ratio for Vancouver West

Median Days on Market

The market is going to slowly pick up as everyone shakes off the rust from the holidays and gets back to work. If you want to start learning about the market, send me a message or give me a call and let’s sit down to chat about the process, your questions, and your options.

If you’d like to slowly dip your toes in the market, I can also set you up on a Custom Real Estate Search, just fill in the form this page or feel free to contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca or 778-387-7371.

Kristi Holz Market Update

December 2019 Real Estate Market Update

Happy December everyone! I’ve been listening to “All I want for Christmas is You” all week and I’ve got my tree up and a roaring fire on my TV, so it’s officially Christmas season – yay! 

The Real Estate Market is still chugging along.. we have 2 more weeks before everyone really takes it easy for the holidays. November kept up the activity of October, despite what felt like low inventory numbers. The number of new listings dropped this past month but it did seem like everything that was listed was priced to sell. Sellers don’t have as many weeks to test the market at this time of year (with Christmas very quickly approaching) so they’re often a little more motivated. 

The low inventory also lead to increased sales to active numbers indicating that Buyers were out there putting in offers and securing their next home. This time of year is often a good time to find a “deal” since a lot of Sellers may want to get their sale done before Christmas rather than dip their toes in the January/February market. These Sellers may have priced their listing too high from the start, or have been unlucky with the sale up to now, and realize that they have the next few weeks to get the sale done. This sentiment goes for Buyers as well. There have been some buyers who have been looking for months now, and want to get moving, so they’re often the ones taking advantage of the opportunities. If you’re keen on a property, submit an offer! You never know how low the Seller is willing to go until you try. You won’t have any competition and interest rates are still low so you can secure a new place with great numbers to back it up. 

Otherwise, I’m getting a lot of inquiries from potential Sellers and new Buyers right now. So with a bit of time and education, these folks will (likely) be pursuing their options in the Spring. Everyone moves at their own pace, and despite the intention of your move being a smart investment, you also want to ensure that you want to live there (unless, of course, you’re buying as an investment, the make sure the numbers work and find the best deal you can). 

There is always a fine dance to Buying and Selling at the same time, and that’s something that you want to pursue at the beginning of a market, rather than at the end, so I anticipate a lot of buy-sell transactions in the new year. This type of movement is what really keeps the market moving because these folks are truly moving up (or downsizing) and are keen to make it happen, whereas first time buyers know they can stay in they rental until they need too, and investor sellers have time on their side as well. 

Let’s have a look at each market in Vancouver: 

For East Vancouver, the sales to active ratio increased for each market this past month, though new inventory dropped this month and sales remained fairly steady indicating that it wasn’t so much an increase in activity as it was existing listings being sold. The HPI Price remained steady for East Van condos, townhouses and detached houses and I expect this to continue into the New Year. 

For Vancouver West (i.e. west of Ontario St to UBC), the HPI Price remained steady for each market. It’s still down over this time last year, but right now we’re not seeing any major swings. The number of new listings was down across the board – expected for this time of year (it won’t be until mid-to-late January that things start to pick up) – while sales were also a bit down this month, mostly due to lower inventory numbers but I did also see a lot of potential Buyers decide to step back and wait until the New Year. 

Here are the basic stats for Vancouver East and West. If you’re interested in learning about specific neighbourhoods, specific price points, specific types of properties or other cities, contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca! I find the market characteristics is pretty common across all cities in the GVA, though there may be some minor differences. Ask if you’re curious! 

East Vancouver Real Estate Stats up to and including November 2019

HPI Price for East Vancouver

New Listings for East Vancouver

Total Sales for East Vancouver

Sales to Active Ratio for East Vancouver

Vancouver West Real Estate Stats up to and including November 2019

HPI Price for Vancouver West

New Listings for Vancouver West

Total Sales for Vancouver West

Sales to Active Ratio for Vancouver West

Like I mentioned above, now is the time of year when everything starts to slow down, but it’s still a good time of year to get your ducks in a row. Send me a message or give me a call – let’s sit down to chat about the process, your questions, and your options – so if you’re buying you can take advantage of the new inventory that’ll hit in the New Year and if you’re selling you can be one of those great listings! 

If you’d like to slowly dip your toes in the market, I can set you up on a Custom Real Estate Search, feel free to contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca or 778-387-7371.

Kristi Holz Market Update

November 2019 Vancouver Real Estate Market Update

October kept up the activity we saw in September, which is great since it’s a balanced market for Buyers and Sellers. Inventory hasn’t been especially deep and I’m sensing a lot of Buyers are starting or re-starting their searches and getting familiar with what’s happening in the market. I expect this interest to carry over into the new year and keep the Spring Market busy as well. Interest rates are still quite low so it’s a great time to be pre-approved. 

There hasn’t been a lot of inventory this Fall – a part of that is because listings are selling, and a part of that is because of the changing market. The market slowed down significantly in 2018 to the point where nothing was selling, which isn’t a great time to list. Now that the market is picking up, Sellers have more confidence that their listing will sell. This confidence leads to more listings, which leads to excited Buyers, which leads to more activity, and the market keeps rolling from there. This lower than average inventory is why good listings are still selling quickly and often in multiple offers. 

When the market finally picks up after a slow down, First Time Buyers are always the slowest to come back to the table which can create a bit of a log jam in the market. I find they’re always a bit more nervous and slower to move than people who have gone through the process before, and for good reason, it’s a big decision! My message for First Timers is to get pre-approved with a mortgage broker and to start taking to a realtor. Realtors have so much history of buildings, understanding of value, knowledge of stratas and it’s our job to help you find a unit that works great for you. You don’t have any obligation to buy and don’t worry about wasting our time – it’s our job to help you. 

Historically, this year of year is when you can find a deal! There are a lot of Sellers who have likely had their property on the market for a little while now, and likely have some negotiation room built into their asking price, so try an offer and secure your new place while Competition is low and interest rates are good. 

Yet again, the stats show that prices (based on HPI Price) remained steady the last month, which is down about 7% from this time last and more from the height of the market in Spring 2018. Inventory is also down from this time last year, but like I mentioned earlier, part of that is because more listings are selling right now and part is because we’re not seeing as many new listings – 17% fewer new listings compared to this time last year. The sales to active ratio is really strong right now – 22% for Vancouver West and 27% for Vancouver East. In my view, that seems to apply to newer listings as there are still some listings sitting on the market due to a high asking price. 

I don’t foresee prices increasing over the next little while but I also don’t see them decreasing. I’m anticipating a slow time over the holidays with another increase in activity next year, so if you’re keen to buy soon, embrace the next two months, otherwise you’ll be waiting for things to pick up in February.

Here are the basic stats for Vancouver East and West. If you’re interested in learning about specific neighbourhoods, specific price points, specific types of properties or other cities, contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca!

East Vancouver Real Estate Stats up to October 2019

HPI Price for East Vancouver

New Listings for East Vancouver

Total Sales for East Vancouver

Sales to Active Ratio for East Vancouver

Vancouver West Real Estate Stats up to October 2019

HPI Price for Vancouver West

New Listings for Vancouver West

Total Sales for Vancouver West

Sales to Active Ratio for Vancouver West

Like I mentioned before, at this time of year there are going to be a lot of properties that have been on the market for awhile! Many of these Sellers may be keen to sell and would rather negotiate the price rather than drop the price, so try an offer. If you’re looking for a deal, this is the time of year to find it! 

If you haven’t already, now is the time to get your mortgage pre-approval done and start working with a real estate agent so you can jump on the good listing you’ve been waiting to hit the market. I’m happy to give you a referral to a great mortgage broker, just contact me: kristi@realestatevancity.ca

– Kristi Holz

Kristi Holz Listings and Sales

New Listing! 38332 Eaglewind Blvd in Squamish

Don’t miss this 3 bed, 2 bath quality built townhouse in the heart of Squamish! This is a fantastic opportunity for investors or end users & offers space to grow in a super central downtown Squamish location.

The main floor has a modern kitchen with a big island & lots of storage, dining space, large living room with gas fireplace extra room for a kids play area and easy access to the patio & yard. Upstairs offers a Master with ensuite & views of the Chief, 2 extra bedrooms & 2nd full bathroom. 9′ ceilings and both East & West exposure gives the home a light and airy feel.

Downstairs is the attached 2 car tandem garage with enough room for a car (or 2 cars) plus all of your winter and summer outdoor gear. Kayak/SUP holders have been installed too.

This complex is only 5 years old so it’s still under warranty and all the benefits of modern construction! With it being a townhouse, you have no one above or below you except yourself! The Strata Council is very diligent and the property management company (Dynamic) is very detailed.

This Downtown location is a short walk to the estuary trails & the Oceanfront, as well as a playground, dog park & more. You’ll also find Save On Grocery, Shoppers Drug Mart, restaurants, coffee shops, bars & amenities nearby, plus easy access to Hwy 99 to get to the mountains, Whistler or Vancouver.

For more information: 38332 Eaglewind Blvd

Contact Kristi Holz for more information: 778-387-7371 or kristi@realestatevancity.ca.

Kristi Holz Listings and Sales

New Listing! 2721 Prince Edward St

THE UNIT

There is SO much to appreciate about this modern, concrete, 2 level, inner courtyard townhouse in Mount Pleasant! This 983sqft home features an open concept main floor with a large entry way storage space that can fit your stroller, linear kitchen with gas stove, flexible floor plan, large pantry & extra storage. Upstairs you’ll find 2 good bedrooms, 2 full baths, laundry & more storage space. The Master features a walk through closet & ensuite bathroom. Outside, you’ll find a large patio with gas fire pit that opens onto the quiet, secured courtyard, accessed by only 14 units. Embrace this green space as your own backyard and enjoy the neighbourly benefits and extra room for your kids to play. This is a great space to grow your family. You’ll love it here!

THE BUILDING

Uno is a 110 unit concrete complex. It’s only 13 years old with a proactive and discerning Strata. The unit comes with 1 secure, underground parking. You’ll also find a great party room and gym. The building allows rentals and 2 pets. 

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Mount Pleasant, and this building in particular, is perfectly situated to give you access all the best restaurants, amenities and shopping neat Main St and the Fraserhood. You’re a short walk to great parks (Dude Chilling & Robson Park) Main St shops & restaurants, grocery stores (Buy Low, Nesters and Save On), Shoppers Drug Mart, Mount Pleasant Community Centre and Library, and more. It’s quiet at night and family friendly during the day. 

For more information and photos: 2721 Prince Edward St.

For more information or a viewing, contact Kristi Holz at 778-387-7371 or kristi@realestatevancity.ca.

Kristi Holz FAQs

Buying a Pre-Sale Condo

People always have questions about buying a pre-sale condo, and for good reason, it’s a different process than buying a typical (re-sale) condo.

When you purchase a pre-sale condo, you’re buying the unit directly from the Developer and often before construction has even started, if not, it’s typically before construction has finished. You and the Developer are making a contractual obligation with regards to a specific unit: they promise to build it, and you promise to buy it, with a big caveat: You don’t get to see the unit until it’s in your possession.

What to Know about Buying a Pre-Sale Condo

Financing on Pre-Sale Condos

Add a 5% GST to the final sale price. The price you see online, or the price given to you at the Sales Centre, will require an additional 5% GST tax.

Developers Might Negotiate. It’ always worth trying! If the development is in high demand and it was recently released for sale, they may not negotiate, but if they have already started construction or are almost done, they may be more willing to negotiate. Sometimes Developers offer “decorating allowances” rather than price drops. For example, this means that instead of lowering the price by $10k, they’ll offer you a “decorating allowance” of $10k which is a credit you receive upon completion. This allows the Developer to advertise the sale as full price without having to disclose to other Buyers that the final price was actually $10k less. Sketchy, but it happens. If they don’t negotiate the price, they might be willing to negotiate certain upgrades.

Developers Increase their Prices as the Construction Continues. At least, this has been the case for the last few years as the Real Estate Market has been increasing. The least expensive time to buy a unit is before the Developer starts constructions, as the prices typically increase as more units that are sold and as construction progresses. I’ve had some luck with Buyers purchasing the last unit for sale in a building once the building because at that point the Developer is eager to close the file on the development.

Financing will only be a pre-approval. With regards to mortgages, Buyers can receive a pre-approval that they qualify for a mortgage on the property, however, the mortgage doesn’t kick in until the unit is finished years later. This means that if your financial situation changes (i.e. lose your job or lose your down payment, or buy a second property in the meantime) you may no longer qualify for the mortgage – however – you’ll still have to complete the purchase of the property. Keep in mind that new Government Policies or Mortgage Rules can seriously affect your affordability, and what rules might be different at the time of Completion can be hard to predict if it’s still years away. A few months before the completion of construction, you can lock in a pre-approval.

Learn the Deposit Structure. New Developments have a different deposit structure than a typical purchase, which is outlaid in the Disclosure Statement. Typically, the Developer will ask for 1% of the purchase price upon signing the contract (you’ll get this back if you don’t go through with it), another 9% of the purchase price after the 7 day due diligence period, and then a further 5 or 10% a few months later. Buyers should make sure that they will have these funds when needed.

Due Diligence on Pre-Sale Condos

Presentation Centres will have visuals of what the building will look like, floor plans, examples of the materials and colour schemes to be used and potentially an example suite and 3D model of the building. Use these tools to get a sense of where your unit is in the building, what your outlook will be, how the unit will be laid out and where everything else is in the building (parking, storage, garbage, amenities, elevator, front door, etc). When you’re there, you always want to ask a Developer’s representative what you can expect for the unit you’re buying – sometimes presentation centres show you what a unit looks like with all the upgrades to finishings or with higher ceilings than you can expect.

Buyers automatically* get 7 days for due diligence. What this means is once you are in agreement with the Developer to purchase the unit, and have signed the contracts, the Buyer gets an automatic 7 days to decide if they will be going through with the purchase. This gives the Buyer time to review their financing, go through the Disclosure Statement and do any further research on the building and neighbourhood. (*This is the case at the time of writing this blog – this policy may change so ensure a “recession period” is built into the contract prior to signing).

Developer Responsibilities for Pre-Sale Condos

Developer’s cannot start selling units or advertising prices until the “Developer’s Disclosure Statement” is filed in the Land Title Office. This document details everything about the project – from the people involved, to the components of the building, to the deposit structure, to preliminary strata details, to the legalities of the situation. This document is long, and Buyers should go through it with a fine tooth comb, inquiring with their Realtor and a Lawyer about any questionable details.

The Completion Date can be delayed by the Developer. The Developer can delay the completion date of the project (due to construction delays, weather delays, etc) for as long as necessary, and you have no recourse.

The Size of the Unit can change. The finished unit can be a different size than indicated to Buyers during the sale. Developer’s have an obligation to deliver the unit to the best of their ability, but certain building and design details may change during construction and the Buyer will have no recourse, unless the unit is materially different (i.e. you buy a two bedroom unit and end up with a one bedroom unit). A change in sqft (or an extra post or lost window) does not always constitute something that is materially different.

The Project can be cancelled. Developer’s can cancel the project if they don’t receive their Development permit, if they don’t receive financing (which typically happens if they don’t sell enough units during pre-sale) or if they decide to change the project significantly. Buyers will get their deposit back in this situation, though the details of this situation will be stated in the Developer’s Disclosure Statement.

Benefits for Buyers of Pre-Sale Condos

Buyers are always* allowed to rent units purchased from Developer’s. One of the biggest benefits of buying a unit directly from the Developer is that Buyers will always be exempt from any rental restrictions in the building (a big reason why investors like pre-sale condos). The Developer files a “Rental Disclosure Statement” for the building which allows the developer to rent out the units if needed, and this right is passed on to Buyers. Rules have changed recently, where this right is now passed on to all future Buyers of the unit until the expiry date noted on the Rental Disclosure Statement. Rental Disclosure Statements typically have a timeline of a 100 years. (*Assuming these rules haven’t changed since I wrote this blog and assuming the Developer’s did in fact submit a Rental Disclosure Statement with a long expiry date).

Buyers may be able to secure extra parking or storage during pre-sale. Developer’s often sell parking and storage spaces as separate entities to the unit. From a value perspective, it is always useful to buy parking and storage, if not more than one, during the pre-sale. You may also be able to specify that the parking spot is a “large spot” or close to the elevator.

Units come with a Warranty. Not only does the building have a 2 year warranty on finishings, 5 year warranty on the exterior and a 10 year warranty on the structure, but Buyers get a 1 year warranty on the interior finishings and fixtures, and can ensure the Developer fixes all deficiencies in the unit (i.e. is there paint on the floor? does the bathroom need more caulking? does the window not latch property? etc). You want to make sure that you have a thorough inspection done of the unit BEFORE you move in, as it’s easier to claim that something as a Developer Deficiency before they can blame the deficiencies on you living in the unit. Also, the new Strata should work together to ensure deficiencies are fixed since one big group asking for changes is stronger than owners asking for it individually.

Buyers have the opportunity to dictate the management style of the Strata. The initial Strata is formed in the first month or two after Buyers tarting moving into their pre-sale condo. I always suggest Buyers join the Strata in their new building since it gives Owners a stronger voice to affect the future of the building. The first Strata Council will create the overall budget which dictates the amount of maintenance and amount of your strata fees. The first Strata Council will also suggest any new bylaws to be added immediately since the standard Strata Property Act Bylaws any new condo begins with aren’t very detailed. A caveat to this benefit is that it can be a lot of work! You need to be diligent about warranty issues, there are typically a lot of Bylaw infractions as owners and tenants learn the rules of the building and lots of decisions need to be made.

Buying a unit pre-sale entails some risk, and given this risk, the units are often cheaper if it’s purchased as a pre-sale. The hope is that the market also increases while you wait for construction to finish, but there are never guarantees!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask: kristi@realestatevancity.ca.

Kristi Holz
778-387-7371
kristi@realestatevancity.ca

Kristi Holz FAQs

Mortgage Brokers vs Banks

Having a trustworthy relationship with a good Mortgage Broker is a godsend for Realtors. I am happy to help my clients with every aspect of their purchase, but I’m quick to refer my clients to a good mortgage broker. You need a professional because Mortgages are incredibly complex, even more so due to constantly changing mortgage regulations and increasing property values.

I prefer to refer Mortgage Brokers over banks for a number of reasons:

  • Mortgage Brokers have made mortgages their career speciality. Bank associates may specialize in a variety of bank products.
  • Mortgage brokers are self employed, often working days, evening and weekends. This flexibility is very helpful in Vancouver’s fast paced Real Estate World. Bank associates often work standard 9-5pm weekday hours.
  • Mortgage Brokers have access to a number of banks, credit unions, and independent lenders to find you the best mortgage rate and terms for your situation. Bank associates only have access to their own products, which might not be ideal for your situation.
  • Mortgage Brokers are licensed and required to do ongoing industry education to stay on top of the mortgage industry. Bank associates may not require their employees have an official Mortgage Broker license
  • Like many careers, the best of the best typically start their own company. The best brokers start their own team to manage their business without the red tape of a large bank.

One mortgage broker I work very closely with is Eitan Pinsky and his team. I have full trust in Eitan and his team thanks to their emphasis on mortgage education for each client (and Realtor partners!), their quick turnaround with information, their up to date industry knowledge and their love of the job!

Mortgage Information for Buyers

Eitan has written a number of articles about every aspect of the mortgage industry. I’ve picked a few of the most useful articles to share today, with the links below. I would encourage you to use his website as a source of information and to call him for all of your mortgage needs!

Mortgage Basics – What a First Time Buyer should know

Mortgage Options – What to consider when it comes to your mortgage

Mortgage Professionals Now and Where They are Headed – A review of how Mortgage Brokers differ from Banks

If you have any questions about mortgages, re-financing or what you can do to improve your opportunities, contact Eitan: https://pinskymortgages.ca/.