Board President Ray Werger wraps up 2014 with a heartfelt wish for this holiday season; focus on the people who matter most to you. I could not have said this better myself.

To all my valued clients, enjoy this week and use this time to get back to what is most important in life. You'll be glad you did.

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Buying a home is more than likely one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your life. Here is a great explanation of  Mortgage pre-approval, which is essentially the starting point of the home buying experience.



If you are looking for a great mortgage broker, please let me know as I work with many great ones all the time and would be honoured to refer you to one that will do whatever they can to help you.


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Vancouver Realtor Colette Gerber shares her lessons learned from helping her own daughters out with those first down payments  


It’s no surprise that young people today can have a tough time coming up with a decent size down payment that will get them on the monopoly board of Metro Vancouver real estate.


With the average home price in Metro Vancouver registering more than half a million dollars, you could hear them issue a collective sigh of resignation as they crunch the numbers to find the necessary down payment can easily hit six figures.


I recently helped my two girls to buy their first homes and I’m happy to share some of my experiences to help other parents and first-time buyers making this important purchase.


When I saw my daughters struggling to put together sizeable down payments, I stepped forward and offered financial help, which I think made it easier for them and allowed me to help them secure their future. For reasons I’ll explain later, I, like most parents, made my financial help a gift rather than a loan. Here are some of my tips from going through the experience twice and from helping other first-timers and their parents:

1. Rent or Buy?

There has been lots of discussion in the media suggesting young people should forget about buying, and instead look to rent a home and put their money in other investments. I couldn’t disagree more. Owning one’s home has long been, is now and will be a long time from now, the best way for the average Canadian to build financial security and stability in their lives. Unlike other investments, which can take very specialized knowledge and expertise, buying a home is within the reach of many young adults if they take a realistic approach (see’s article on “Buy Vs Rent: Which is Better Long Term?”).

2. Should Young People Ask their Parents for Help?

Once they have made the decision to buy, the first-time buyer has to get their down payment in place. As a Realtor, I always take young people through the process of figuring out how much they can afford, first asking them how much they have to put down. If that is an issue, then I explore with them their options, including the possibility of approaching their parents for financial help. Noted Vancouver condo marketer Bob Rennie estimated this year that 45 per cent of first-time buyers approach their parents for help, so it’s very common.

3. Bank of Mom and Dad: Loan or Gift?

I gave my daughters a gift because I didn’t want to put an extra financial burden on them of making yet another monthly payment. Personally, I see lending the money as a more complicated process, both financially and emotionally. But many parents cannot afford to do this – very often the funds will have to come from retirement savings, and will need to be paid back. If so, ensure you have a solid, business-like agreement in place for the repayments, including how much and how often, so that everyone’s expectations are aligned. And then stick to it! (More on the legal ramifications of the Bank of Mom and Dad here.)

4. Use a Mortgage Broker

I told my girls – as I tell all my clients – to first get pre-approved for a mortgage once you know how much you have to put down. I suggest using a mortgage broker to do that as they often get better deals on rates than even one’s own bank is willing to offer. There is a lot more to mortgages than interest rates and that is where you can benefit from a mortgage broker who shops your loan around to several financial institutions. And get the mortgage pre-approval in writing.

5. Use a Realtor

A Realtor can be the best asset a first-time buyer can have. An agent representing a buyer knows the market, knows properties, can provide invaluable advice on the buying process, can negotiate the best price, and is objective during what can be a very emotional experience. Most importantly, it doesn’t cost the buyer a penny because it’s the seller who pays all agent commissions.

6. How Much to Spend?

I suggested to my daughters that they think about what sort of lifestyle they want to pursue as they become homeowners. For instance, if they want to travel, go out to dinner, etc., then perhaps they shouldn’t spend to the top of their pre-approval home price.

7. Is Renovating Realistic?

When it came to renovating, I advised my daughters to be very cautious. A first-time buyer has just spent a lot of money to buy a home. I’m not talking about minor things like putting on a fresh coat of paint, which can be a do-it-yourself project.

But when it comes to more involved and expensive renovations, it’s best to live in the property for a few months. What you thought at first was so important to change may turn out to be not so important after all.

8. When to Trade Up

Some young people are impatient and consider moving up to a better home after just one or two years in their first home. My advice is, “You’re young, you have time. It’s not worth it if moving up means compromising your lifestyle or putting a strain on your relationship.” A first-time buyer should only consider moving up when the current property has increased in value and selling could push them up to the next level.


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The increase in BC home sales in both unit numbers and dollar volume is continuing unabated, according to a British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) report released December 12.


The report, compiled from the combined monthly reports of the province’s 12 real estate boards, found that the number of units sold in BC rose 8.8 per cent year over year to 5,972 units, and the dollar volume of sales province-wide totalled $3.4 billion, up 12.1 per cent compared with November 2013.


The average MLS residential price in BC rose to $574,694, up 3.1 per cent from the same month last year.

“BC home sales were robust in November,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist.


“Improving economic conditions, strong consumer confidence and persistently low mortgage interest rates are providing a solid foundation for elevated consumer demand.


“Market conditions have improved province-wide, with most regional markets now in the mid to high range of a balanced market.”


Only three regional boards posted a decrease in unit sales in November. These were northern BC (down 6.8 per cent), Kamloops (down 5.2 per cent) and Kootenay (down 1.1 per cent).


Year to date, BC residential unit sales are up 15.3 per cent to 78,973 units, and residential sales dollar volume is up 22.1 per cent to $44.8 billion, compared with the same period last year. The average MLS residential price is up 6 per cent at $567,292 year to date.

UPDATE: Sales activity across Canada in November stood 2.7 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year, according to Canadian Real Estate Association statistics released December 15.


November sales were up from year-ago levels in about half all regional markets, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Calgary and Greater Toronto.


Nationwide year-to-date sales activity in November was 5 per cent above levels in the first 11 months of 2013. It was also slightly 2.4 per cent above the 10-year average for year-to-date sales.


The nationwide Aggregate Composite MLS house price index rose by 5.19 per cent on a year-over-year basis in November.


The average price for Canadian homes sold in November 2014 was $413,649, up 5.7 per cent from the same month last year.


The CREA said, "The national average home price continues to be raised considerably by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $331,743 and the year-over-year increase shrinks to 5 per cent."

See more at:


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As reported from BCREA:


In stark contrast to the consensus of economists expectations at the end of last year, bond yields have spent most of 2014 trending downward. Indeed, perhaps weary of previous false starts, bond markets have even shrugged off recent signs of a strengthening economy, an acceleration of inflation and the unwinding of stimulus from the US Federal Reserve. Lenders have responded in kind, offering homebuyers record low mortgage rates.



Given well anchored inflation expectations and near consensus that short-term rates will be higher next year, the continued downtrend in bond yields this year is difficult to explain. One factor could be that investors are acclimating to the idea that the neutral rate, or the Bank of Canada’s preferred destination for interest rates once it tightens,
is likely much lower than in the past and that realization is being priced into expectations and therefore long-term interest rates.


Additionally, the performance of Canada’s financial and banking system post-financial crisis has won it a reputation among foreign investors as a safe harbor. Foreign holdings of Canadian government bonds and treasury bills have jumped from 15 per cent to over a quarter of outstanding debt since the global financial crisis. As uncertainty mounts in other areas of the world due to weak economic growth or unresolved conflicts, assets have crowded into both US and Canadian debt securities, forcing yields lower. Given these factors, rates could remain below historical average levels even as the Bank of Canada begins tightening.


While we do not expect the Bank to act on interest rates until late in 2015, bond yields could rise modestly before then in anticipation of higher rates, particularly if economic growth is stronger than expected. If so, we expect to see a slight increase in five-year and one-year fixed mortgage rates by the end of 2014.


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The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,136 sales on its Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in November, an increase of 15 per cent compared to the 986 sales during the same month last year and 22 per cent lower than the 1,448 sales processed in October.


New listings in the Fraser Valley decreased by 2 per cent in November, going from 1,774 last year to 1,748 last month taking the number of active listings to 8,302, a decrease of 4 per cent compared to the 8,641 active listings in November of 2013.


“This is the time of year when families are settling in for winter and the holidays, so we expect to see a decrease in activity,” explains the Board’s president, REALTOR® Ray Werger. “After a busy fall with volumes reaching 5-year highs, we’re winding down the year with sales on par with the ten-year average, but about 8 per cent fewer new listings therefore home buyers will notice a shortage of inventory in certain price ranges.”


Pricing continues along the same trends as seen for most of 2014, with single family detached prices continuing to rise; townhouse prices remaining steady, and apartment prices decreasing. The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in November was $575,400 an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to November 2013, when it was $550,300.


The MLS® HPI benchmark price of townhouses increased 2.2 per cent from $292,400 in November 2013 to $298,900 last month. The benchmark price of apartments decreased year-over-year by 3.5 per cent, going from $196,200 in November of last year to $189,400 in November 2014.


“Prices are a function of supply and demand - which your REALTOR® will explain varies considerably from area to area and within the different property types - as well as local amenities, transportation options and future community development, underscoring the importance of expert guidance when you’re looking to list or buy,” says Werger.

“Overall, 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for Fraser Valley real estate,” continues Werger. “We hit a bit of a trough during the summer of last year, but since then sales have recovered and we’re tracking towards a 15 per cent increase in year-to-date sales for 2014 compared to 2013 with prices remaining relatively stable.”


Find the November Statistics Package here.


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Lights, camera, Christmas! From magical winter wonderlands to wonderfully tacky front lawns, see the most over-the-top holiday decor displays, here are some totally over the top holiday houses, click HERE to see more




What is your favourite Christmas decorating tradition? Share with us in the comments below.


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As an entrepreneur it's always good to get inspiration from those around us, especially those who are making a real impact and a difference.


Here is a video from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board president, Ray Werger with a very inspirational story:



What a great story! You can learn more about John Besh here.



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November 2014 Housing Market Update

Here is the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver monthly housing update:


In this month's stats video, REBGV Vice-president Dan Morrison takes a broader look at the housing market in terms of where we are now and where we may be headed next year.



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The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) rose 1.4 index points to a new record high of 118.4, surpassing the previous high of 117.1 set in the second quarter of 2014.


“Momentum has been building in
sectors most important to commercial
real estate,” said BCREA Economist
Brendon Ogmundson, “That momentum
should translate to a strong year for the
commercial market in 2015.”


The CLI has now advanced for seven consecutive quarters. That trend signals significant strength in the economic environment underlying the commercial real estate market.


A rising trend in the CLI generally points to growth in investment, leasing and other commercial real estate activity two to four quarters ahead. Given the current trend, we would expect growth in the commercial real estate market for the remainder of 2014 and the first half of 2015.


For more information, please contact:

Brendon Ogmundson
Direct: 604.742.2796
Mobile: 604.505.6793


Damian Stathonikos

Director, Communications and Public Affairs

Direct: 604.742.2793

Mobile: 778.990.1320





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