It's Labour Day already!  Hard to believe the summer is over and we're about to start another season of school, activities and the busy-ness of life all over again.

 

Here is what is happening in the Langley/Fort Langley area this weekend:

Fort Farm Fest

August 31 - Sept. 1, 10 am - 5 pm


Fort Farm Fest
© Parks Canada

Explore the heritage garden and feed the farm animals at this authentic Hudson's Bay Company fort. Built in 1827, Fort Langley's workers operated a 2000-acre farm. Watch a barrel making demonstration, the container of choice for exporting butter and potatoes! Compete in the farm relay and watch farm-related demonstrations. Regular admission fees apply; free for annual pass holders.

 

You can get the full schedule by clicking here.

 

 

I'd like to wish you and yours an amazing long weekend ... and I will see you next week!

 

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"Record low interest rates that sent Canadians into a binge of borrowing and home-buying are reverting to more normal levels. Still cheap by historical standards, loans are not nearly as cheap as just a few months ago.

 

The general consensus has always been that interest rates could not stay so low indefinitely. But the correction has been much quicker than expected. As the economist Rudiger Dornbusch once said, “in economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought that they could.”

 

Interest rates set by the bond market have soared so quickly that they have already reached heights that some economists didn’t expect to see until the year’s end.

 

For homebuyers the era of record-low mortgage prices is coming to an end.  Mortgage rates, which are determined by a bank’s funding costs in the bond market, have started to climb from the historic lows seen in the past two years, where offers of 2.99 per cent prevailed. The five-year fixed-rate mortgage market, which is based on a 5-year bond yield plus a margin built in by the lenders, is the first to show signs of upward pressure."

 

You can read to full article here.

 

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From the BCREA:

 

Because housing affordability directly impacts the quality of life of British Columbians, BCREA consistently and regularly recommends that the provincial government minimize the negative impact of the Property Transfer Tax (PTT). That’s why BCREA will put the following recommendations forward during the annual provincial budget consultation process, conducted by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

BCREA recommends the provincial government:

  • index the 1% PTT threshold of $525,000 using Statistics Canada's New Housing Price Index, and make adjustments annually, and
  • increase the 1% PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000, with 2% applying to the remainder of the fair market value.

The PTT has always been applied in the following way: 1% on the first $200,000 of the fair market value of a property, and 2% on the remainder.

 

Despite the dynamic nature of the housing market, the structure of the PTT has not changed since its introduction in 1987, when it was described as a “wealth tax.” At that time, the average home price was $101,916, and the 2% portion of the tax was expected to apply to only 5% of sales. In 2012, the 2% portion applied to more than 85% of homes sold in the province.

 

The PTT places an unfair burden on homebuyers, and is by far the highest provincial property transfer tax in the country. While BCREA understands the government’s objective to balance the budget, adjusting the PTT may well stimulate additional activity in the real estate market, encourage spending related to property transactions and would certainly demonstrate an understanding of the important role of real estate and property owners in the provincial economy.

 

For more information about BCREA's government relations role and other public policy positions, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations.

 

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In March 2009, British Columbia became the first province in Canada to license home inspectors. Consumer Protection BC, the licensing body for this industry, enforces the province’s home inspector laws.

 

BC’s Home Inspector Regulation provides added protection to homebuyers by req- uiring that home inspectors are qualified to make professional assessments and are therefore required to:

 

•be licensed by Consumer Protection BC,

•carry errors and omission insurance as well as general liability insurance, and

•meet training standards of one of the following associations:

–Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia

–Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (BC)

–Canadian National Association of Certified Home Inspectors

–National Home Inspector Certification Council

 

A list of licensed home inspectors is available on the Consumer Protection BC website (www.homeinspectionrightsbc.ca). REALTORS® should note that consumers can ask to see home inspectors' wallet-sized licenses issued by Consumer Protection BC before signing contracts for home inspections.

 

Consumer Protection BC would like to remind REALTORS® that they should not request information about the contents of a home inspection report, as it is against the law for home inspectors to disclose the contents, except: •with permission from the consumer,

•as required by law, or

•if, in the opinion of the home inspector, the property poses a serious health or safety risk.

 

REALTORS® should also not make a referral to a home inspector if there is a conflict of interest in relation to a home inspection that results in a material gain for the home inspector. Penalties for a violation of the regulation may include a licence refusal, suspension or can- cellation, or conditions being imposed on a home inspector’s licence. Consumer Protection BC may also impose an administrative penalty of up to $5,000.

 

To find out more information about BC’s Home Inspector Regulation or ensure a home inspector is licensed by Consumer Protection BC, visit www.homeinspectionrightsbc.ca.

 

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I found an interesting article in CanadianRealEstateMagazine.ca that I'd like to share with you.  Of course being in Real Estate I'm always reading and researching about real estate investing also, and found this to be very interesting.  It's all about investing in Canada!  We, according to this write, are a safe haven, a fool proof bet, on investing your money wisely.

 

 

Read on ...

 

"As the world goes through its continuing economic turmoil, Canada has quietly become one of the world's economic safe havens. A haven where international money is being parked for safety and ROI, a haven that is poised to provide the world what it needs for at least the next decade and probably a lot longer.


However, most Canadians are the last to truly believe what we are sitting on. We have been so programmed over our history to look elsewhere for opportunity - always playing small. Well, 2011 - 2020 will be the exact wrong time to be doing so, in fact, we are in the first year of what will prove to be Canada's Economic Decade - one of the best times in history to invest in this country.

Unfortunately, due to a misdirected attitude that cheap equals good when investing in real estate, many Canadian investors have turned their eyes south as real estate prices in the United States continue to plummet.

Investors with their eyes solely on the cheap price of U.S. real estate have flooded Canadian media with their tales of deals and steals. One can only hope that these investors understand the real life metrics involved in analyzing a market's potential (currency risk, taxation, record jobless numbers, massive debt, property supply and demand) and have decided to take the 'buy cheap' risk anyway despite the reality.

This is the equivalent of buying a $1,000 suit for $500 and ignoring the fact that the pants are torn in nine places."

 

If you are interesting in investing in Canada, right here at home, give me a call (604-832-8229) or get in touch with me here and we can set up an appointment.

 

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The following article is from Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine.

 

Fraud and investment scams abound at all levels of the real estate market – whether it be a contractor who charges hundreds of dollars for work not done to an “investment agent” who embezzles hundreds of millions – protecting yourself can require a measure of vigilance and legwork, but it can also come down to exercising skepticism and common sense.

 

1. Title fraud.
Although relatively rare, one of the most devastating frauds for property owners is title fraud. This type of fraud starts with identity theft. The scammer will use false documents to pose as the property owner, registers forged documents transferring a property to his or her name, and then gets a new mortgage against the property. After securing a mortgage or line of credit, the criminal takes the cash and leaves the owner on the hook for future payments.

 

While an identity thief may get a forced discharge of an existing mortgage, it is generally held that fraudsters are more likely to go after homes that are free and clear of mortgages: these have fewer complications and they tend to be held by older people who may be less aware about how to guard against identity theft. Criminal Services Intelligence Canada notes that homeowners who rent out their homes or who have no existing mortgages on high-value properties are more vulnerable to being targeted in title-fraud schemes as a large mortgage can be secured with the property.

 

Sale of a fraudulently held property may also occur, but it is much rarer as potential buyers are unlikely to consider a purchase without inspecting a property.

 

“Title insurance” is the best protection against this type of fraud. As well as protecting against title fraud, it also guards a new owner from against existing liens against a property’s title (such as unpaid debts from utilities, mortgages and unpaid property taxes), encroachment issues (a structure on a property needs to be removed because it is on your neighbour’s property) and errors in surveys and public records.

 

The other key to prevent being a victim is to engage in protection of personal data (see box). Taking precautions can also mitigate against more common types of identity theft –related losses (such as credit card fraud. As well as protecting their own information, investors and homeowners should ensure that trusted parties are taking proper security measures.

 

Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) launched a probe in 2009 after mortgage brokerages reported 14 data breaches in the space of a few months. Among the OPC’s findings: some brokers stacked files containing personal information on the floor or on desks within accessible offices; brokers lacked shredders capable of securely destroying documents; credit reports were sometimes obtained prior to consent from a client being recorded and there was no ability for clients to opt out of secondary uses of their personal information, such as marketing; there was a lack of training about privacy responsibilities.

 

In addition to title fraud by strangers, there have been cases where fraud has been perpetrated by spouses and business partners. For instance, one spouse may mortgage a property for their own benefit by using an accomplice to impersonate their spouse. Fraud can also occur through breach of an undertaking, where the lawyer or notary fails to pay off and obtain a discharge of a mortgage, instead absconding with the funds that had been intended to be used to pay an existing mortgage.

 

2. Foreclosure and home-equity fraud.
Criminals and criminal enterprises can take advantage of property owners who find themselves in a cash crunch, being short on funds for liabilities such as mortgage payments or other purposes. Two common scams that exploit a victim’s need for cash are foreclosure fraud and home-equity fraud.

 

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) warns that foreclosure fraud occurs when a property owner who is having difficulty making mortgage payments is approached by a criminal offering a loan to cover expenses and consolidate loans, in exchange for upfront fees and an agreement to transfer the property title. However, in contrast to real debt consolidation programs, the FCAC says, the criminal will keep all the payments made by the owner and ignore bills and taxes. The criminal then remortgages the property and absconds with the money, leaving the former property owner without the home but still in debt.

 

Cash-crunched property owners or investors seeking can be vulnerable to other scams or unscrupulous behaviour to tap equity. There is always risk when leveraging properties, but a legitimate bank, broker or private lender should be forthright when explaining risks. However, those looking to borrow on equity should be alert for less scrupulous lenders, such as those who invite owners to embellish their application by exaggerating income, down payment or property assessment value sources in order to secure a larger loan.

 

CSIC has noted that organized crime groups often pretend they are buying or selling properties that are much larger, newer or more recently renovated than other homes in the area. These properties receive fraudulently inflated values through illicit property flipping from which a large mortgage is obtained. When the criminals deliberately default on the mortgage, financial institutions and end buyers are left with an overvalued mortgage (or worse, former property owners are without holdings, in debt and possibly implicated in the fraud).

 

Criminal activity can also be in the form of money laundering, a process where dirty money from criminal activity is transformed into “clean” assets. Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRACT), the agency responsible for tracking money laundering, warns that criminal or terrorist groups will purchase big-ticket items such as real estate for laundering purposes. FINTRACT requires that real estate brokers, Realtors, developers and others involved in suspicious transactions (such as large all-cash purchases or “buyer unseen” transactions).

 

3. Online rental/sale scams.
In these scams, rental property is advertised (usually at low costs) on online classified sites like Craigslist or Kijiji. The ads use information and photos describing the property that has been “scraped” from legitimate ads, such as those on the MLS. A scammer will impersonate the landlord, property manager or estate agent and will respond to emails and calls from prospective tenants. The scammer indicates he or she is unable to meet a prospective renter at the property, and instead proposes a meeting off site to exchange keys, sign a tenancy agreement and collect rental deposits. Victims may only learn they’ve been duped when they show up at a property to discover that it is already occupied.

 

Provincial and regional Realtor and real estate associations have warned members to be alert for this type of fraud, which has been common in major markets, but there is little a property owner can do to prevent image or data scraping. Property owners can search for the addresses of their units on search engines and they can use services like Google Image Search to help discover if a scraped picture from MLS or another online source is being used illicitly. Property owners should also digitally watermark any photos they use in rental ads, including business contact details and website.

 

While rental scams are common, online classified advertising and social media have also been used for investment scams and property fraud. Things to be alert for in such listings include claims of urgency, such as “must sell now,” promises of high returns or “low-cost/no-cost” financing. These sort of claims are usually too good to be true, and they also can be prevalent in off-line scams.

 

4. Property investment seminars and courses.
Educating yourself about property investment can be essential for success, but prospective investors should be alert and do their research on seminar providers. There are legitimate speakers and seminars that provide beneficial information, others exist primarily to take money from the credulous … and there are some that are in between.

 

Prospective investors should be cautious when it comes to seminars or courses that offer investor education. The value of the information provided can vary wildly, as can the costs. Some may be free, with sponsorship by a company or association, others will charge money, ranging from nominal amounts to upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. Still, even if someone pays for a course that provides basic information that could be found through a simple Internet search, it does not mean that the seminar was a scam. A rip-off may charge excessive prices but be completely illegal, but a scam typically involves legal wrongdoing, misrepresentation or fraud.

One common type of seminar is designed to hook buyers into “sure-fire” investments that are promoted by the seminar hosts. Potential investors may be invited to these seminars through an ad in a newspaper or magazine, a phone call, an email or other method. These seminars may include a motivational speaker, an “investment expert” or a “self-made millionaire.”

 

Some seminars may make money by charging attendance fees, selling highly priced reports or books and selling property and investments through high-pressure sales tactics. Real estate investment companies holding the seminars may suggest attendees follow high-risk investment strategies, such as borrowing huge sums of money, to buy into an investment offered by the seminar hosts.

 

Some companies have been known to fly prospective investors to view real estate developments. This could be a tactic to pressure commitment to a deal without time to obtain independent information or advice. Investors sometimes end up having to pay for their travel and accommodation if no investment is made.

 

The relatively booming market in Alberta has been a hotspot for these scams, and the Alberta Security Commission has issued a list of “red flags” to look out for when approaching a property investment seminar (see box). The basic advice, be skeptical of claims and do your due diligence before committing any money to an expensive course or investment.

 

5. Home Improvement scams.
As well as being cautious about big investments, property owners should be alert to smaller-level scams. The Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus listed “rogue door-to-door contractors” as among their top 10 scams of 2013.

 

These operators may come with unsolicited offers and deals that are too good to be true. Typical approaches include: offers to seal or repave a driveway, or a roofer who can work cheaply using leftover material from a previous job. BBB warns that fraudulent “contractors” will use high pressure sales tactics and offers of a one-time deal to entice consumers.

 

The BBB advises that property owners take the time to do due diligence. Property owners should get the company, name, address and ensure that all verbal promises are backed by a written contract. A scammer may ask for pay in cash or via a cheque and offer to come back at another time to finish the job. After cash changes hands, the BBB says, “you will probably never see them or your money again.”

 

Generally, for the hiring of any contractor, it is advisable for a property owner to check references and ensure that the company or person has a reputation for fair dealing and quality work. This can be good sense when dealing with legitimate contractors, ensuring that you are likely to receive such as on-time and on-budget estimates.


6. “It could never happen to me”

Perhaps the biggest mistake people make when it comes to scams is to think “it could never happen to me.” It’s a common perception that investment scams are fly-by-night operations that prey on the gullible and operate in dark, unmonitored corners of the economy. That may be often true, but some of the most outrageous scams have operated openly, under regulatory supervision and have swindled the best and brightest.

 

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, for instance, ran a Ponzi scheme that was regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and swindled corporate luminaries such as DreamWorks’ CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, New York property developer Larry Silverstein, director Stephen Spielberg as well as global banks and hedge funds. This was a high-profile entity, watched by regulators (though poorly watched) and many of the investors were highly successful and brilliant people.

 

Closer to home, in 2011-12 there have been more than 20 Alberta-focused property investment firms that have folded or been shuttered resulting in shareholder losses of up to C$20-billion. Many of these firms advertised openly, were licensed by regulators such as the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) and they offered RRSP-eligible investments. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against and shareholder groups have formed to seek compensation. It’s up to the courts and regulators to decide on the finer details of each case: some were high-risk ventures that went bust, while others may have used misleading practices, and the ASC has fined others for outright fraud.

 

What to do if scammed
Federal and provincial law can provide some recourse to Canadians who are victims of a fraud or scam, although losses are almost never made whole and the recovery process can be long and burdensome. For scams involving out-of-country or overseas investments, the recovery of losses may be impossible… and the perpetrators may not be prosecuted.

 

From Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine, a monthly publication focused on building value through property investment, covering topics such as values and trends, mortgages, investment strategies, surveys of regional markets and general tips for buyers and sellers.


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Tomorrow is Fab Forts Day! 

The annual celebration happens at the Fort Langley National Historic Site in memory of the War of 1812. The event had Fort Langley using cannons and fires as well as historical weapons to recreate the war from two hundred years ago. Canadian forces and veterans received complimentary entry for this event.

 

Fort Langley is the exact location where, a century and a half ago, a huge fur trade organization called the Hudson's Bay Company established a small post to trade with the First Nations of the West Coast. The enterprise grew, evolved, and influenced history, leading to the creation of the colony of British Columbia.

 

Furs were shipped to Europe via Cape Horn, produce was traded to the Russians in Alaska, local cranberries found their way to California, and Fraser River salmon was enjoyed as far away as Hawaii!

 

In 1858, rumours of gold on the Fraser River caused a massive influx of Americans to the area. Fearing annexation by the United States, British Columbia was proclaimed a Crown Colony on this site by James Douglas on November 19, 1858.

 

Hope to see you there!

 

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UPADATED: July Home Sales Highest Since 2009


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,650 residential sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC for July, up 18 per cent from July of 2012. Total sales dollar volume was 32.8 per cent higher than a year ago at $4.09 billion. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $534,360, up 12.5 per cent from July 2012.

 

"Home sales in the province posted their strongest July since 2009,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “After six consecutive months of rising consumer demand, it’s now clear that BC housing markets are recovering from tighter lending regulations introduced last year,” added Muir.

 

"Rising home sales are unlikely to put any significant upward pressure on home prices,” cautioned Muir, “as the inventory of homes for sale is expected to keep pace with demand.” Many potential home sellers that have been holding off for improved market conditions are expected to put their homes on the market to meet the swelling ranks of home buyers.

 

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 2.8 per cent to $22.9 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales were down 4 per cent to 42,986 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 1.3 per cent at $531,928.

 

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BCREA is thrilled to announce that its new Quality of Life video is now available online to help REALTORS®, member boards and the Association demonstrate their commitment to improve Quality of Life in BC.

 

This new video provides an overview of the Quality of Life approach and information on BCREA and its member boards’ related actions. It also helps explain, through interviews with BCREA leaders, how and why the Quality of Life approach is relevant to BC REALTORS® and the real estate profession at large.

 

The Quality of Life approach is summarized in five principles:

  • Ensuring economic vitality
  • Providing housing opportunities
  • Preserving the environment
  • Protecting property owners
  • Building better communities

 

 

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RE/MAX agents believe in investing in the future of Canadian children. RE/MAX associates who display the Miracle Home sign rider on the property listed are committed to helping local hospitalized children. The RE/MAX associate has voluntarily pledged a portion of their income from the sale of that home to the Children’s Miracle Network and its 14 member hospitals closest to their community.


RE/MAX associates are very active in their communities and volunteer and hold fundraising events for the Children’s Miracle Network and countless other causes all year long. In fact, every August RE/MAX celebrates a Month of Miracles, whereby we especially thank our clients for helping us raise over $44 million in Canada to help over 2.6 million sick and injured children every year treated at a Children’s Miracle Network member hospital. All fund raised by participating RE/MAX associates are sent directly the children’s hospital.

 

Since 1992, RE/MAX associates in North America have collectively raised over $115 million for the Children’s Miracle Network member hospitals.

 

 

Together we can make a difference.

 

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I received some great information on Preparing for Rising Mortgage Rates, and wanted to pass that on to you today, and also to thank Christopher Collins for this great information! You can find out more about Christopher here.

 

Christopher reports:

 

"The interest rate party for borrowers is almost over. Following almost five years of historically low rates, we’ve started to see some upward movement in the cost of money.

 

Most people watch the central banks for indications that rates are about to take off. But that’s not where the real action is for fixed-rate mortgage holders. This actually takes place in the rarefied world of the bond market, where institutional traders like banks and pension plans operate. By the time the Bank of Canada gets around to acting, the bond market will have left it in the dust.

 

In order to save as much money as possible, a proactive approach is recommended when dealing with rising interest rates:

 

1.     Budget for future plans. Many borrowers opt for the maximum mortgage for which they can qualify. The problem with this approach is that life happens. It’s important to plan ahead for future changes such as starting a family, maternity leave, relationship changes, health issues, career changes, and so on.

 

2.     Ensure you would still qualify for your mortgage if rates continue to increase. For instance, if the five-year rate reached 5.2%, could you still afford the payment? We can sit down and run the numbers to ensure we build a buffer zone into your mortgage.

 

3.     Use your prepayment options. This will enable you to increase your payment in relation to the increased rate. For instance, if you have a five-year fixed mortgage at 2.89% and rates increase to 3.49%, increase your monthly (or bi-weekly) payment to the equivalent. That way, you won’t experience “rate shock” when your mortgage is up for renewal. It’s important to remember that any extra payments you can make will go straight towards paying down your principal faster, which means you will be mortgage-free quicker!

 

It may be worth your while to take advantage of a free mortgage check-up before rates increase any further. This will help you determine if it makes sense, for instance, to renew your mortgage a few months early if this means being able to lock in to a new five-year term before rates increase even more.

 

With rates on the rise, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of mortgage brokering services, since we can shop different lenders and advise which ones not only have the best rates, but also which lenders have the best prepayment options and mortgage offerings to suit your individual needs."

 

Do you have any questions for Christopher?  Please contact him here.

 

 

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I LOVE Social Media! 

 

Click on the different icons to bring you to my various accounts! 

 

 

      

      

 

Let's connect!!

 

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