Local B&B and Its Proposed New Look

I popped by a Public Information Session a few weekends ago at the Admiral Anson Bed and Breakfast. I’ve never stayed at the Admiral Anson, but it’s a pleasant member of my neighbourhood with a well kept yard. As a fan of B&B’s, I think I’d like it and although I’ve not slept there, I do recommend it frequently to family and friends and have heard no complaints. According to the website, rooms are offered at $45 – $75 a night – which is incredibly reasonable – beyond reasonable, to be honest, when plain Jane hotel rooms in this city go for an average of $100 a night. The owner of the Admiral Anson, Allan Greenwood, held the Public Information Session because he is seeking City approval for a three-fold application: a Heritage Revitalization Agreement for the existing home, approval for a secondary suite below in the basement, and the subdivision of his lot into two separate lots so he can construct another house. 

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How Suite It Is

I am one of the many home owners in New Westminster with a rented suite. We have a sunny, clean one bedroom that is rented to a lovely tenant. When we purchased our home, the suite allowed us to buy a home that we could truly live in, and we did not have to move to Surrey. Try as we might South of the Fraser, we could not find a neighbourhood that we were willing to live in. I was elated to find this house, with all of its heritage quirks, partly because the suite could help make it all happen. My suite, unlike so many in this city, is registered. I have a small 4 x 4 cm aluminum square on my sidewalk to prove it.

Victoria city, that place over the fog that stole our thunder, our capitol status and our streetlamps (fist shaking) has proposed a civic measure to help alleviate the dearth of rental properties in that city and tackle the affordable housing issue. (CBC Report) The city of Victoria will offer a limited number of homeowners $5000.00 to create a rentable secondary suite in their home or to upgrade an existing one to code, and have it registered. FANTASTIC I say. Not only will this place homeowners on better legal ground and assist some to make that reno dream come true, it will provide homes in a town with an unbelievably competitive vacancy rate and bring in a rise in tax revenue from all of the homeowners who took advantage of the program. I am sure that City of Victoria will repay the quarter million program investment quickly with the increased revenues and smell like roses to boot. The homeowners won’t complain about the extra tax as they will be bringing in an extra $800-$1500 per month.

I suggest the same thing happen here. I can not benefit from the program as I am already legal beagle but so many other rented suites are just a few thou’ away from being a reality and so many others can be brought into the cleansing gleam of daylight with just a bit of an upgrade.

Mayor Wayne Wright has comedown strongly infavour of enabling New Wesminster taxpayers to rent suites in their houses where appropriate but to achieve the goal of affordable housing, has had so shy away from rigourous enforcement of the zoning bylaws. I have attached a recent video (October, Queensborough) of Mayor Wright and Mr. Blair Armitage on the campaign trail answering a question on how to enforce the legal suite bylaws to illustrate his position. This program would offer Mayor and Council a way to achieve many important goals. I suggest they adopt a similar policy.

Illegal suites have not been closed down and the likelihood of our city’s bylaw being enforced is remote. What is your position on this?

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Realtors Offer More Detail on The Onni Deal

greg_liz_gvis_worzThe recent announcement by the ONNI development company has generated a lot of interest, a lot of questions and confusion and a lot of traffic to our website here on Tenth to the Fraser. To help clear up the deal, we asked a Real Estate Agents and good friends of ours, Greg and Liz Holmes of MacDonald Olympic Realty to run through the deal and the opportunities here in New Westminster. Remember! Always consult your own professionals when making investment and real estate decisions. Tenth to the Fraser is not going to be responsible for your Darwin Award.

One option for that advice would be to pester Greg and Liz endlessly. Thier real estate chops and contact information can be found on their website www.holmesteam.ca.

Hi everyone,

Onni and MAC Marketing Solutions are doing a very unique event called the “Bulk Real Estate Liquidation Event.” More than $150 million portfolio of prime completed real estate located throughout the Lower Mainland will be sold, at prices far below market value. Each of the 375 properties has been substantially discounted for immediate sale during the event. These are brand new, beautifully-finished homes, set in prime locations, and are ready for occupancy. In New Westminster, Onni’s properties include The Point, a concrete high-rise located on Victoria Street near the New West Skytrain station, and Victoria Hill’s three projects (the Victoria Hill high rises, Nurses Lodge and The Grove). For details on the event, visit: www.onni.com/communities

These homes are from aggressive speculators who lined up overnight at launches to scoop up prime units and then couldn’t flip them before completion (you may remember watching the news with people lined up for hours to buy units). Many couldn’t afford to complete on the purchase and lost 15% deposits. So, much of the available inventory is made up of these homes. They are 375 completed, fully-warranted, brand new, never occupied homes featuring the latest finishings and amenities.

So how inexpensive will they be? These homes will sell under assessed values, current comparables, and independent market appraisals. They will sell at these lower prices because these homes are standing inventory and costing the developer strata fees, property taxes, capital carrying cost and other costs. Also, many of these homes have been partially paid for by the abandoned deposits of speculators.

For this discounted liquidation event, available units currently include:

The Point:

· 2 bedroom or 2 bedroom and a den (ranging from 980 – 1195 sf)

· 3 bedrooms with large balconies (appx 1590 sf)

Victoria Hill (high rises):

· 2 bedroom or 2 bedroom and a den (ranging from 1102 – 1236 sf)

Nurses Lodge (in Victoria Hill):

· 1 home remaining – a 936 sf 2 bedroom heritage home conversion

The Grove (in Victoria Hill):

· 1 bedroom (ranging from 645-650 sf)

· 2 bedroom or 2 bedroom and den (ranging from 870 – 1240 sf)

· 3 bedrooms (appx 1200 sf)

But there’s no guarantee that they’ll still be around when you go to look as the event is drawing big crowds and long lines.

So that is the deal, but what does it mean to you? Will the market punish you for a purchase made in 2009? Greg and Liz offer a broader picture and some context to the deal. Remember, don’t just go spending $5,000,000.00 because you read something here. Do your research and talk to an agent. Like Greg, or Liz for example.

So, is it a good deal? I’d say it is! I’m hearing that the discounts will be a minimum of 25% of the original purchase price, which means many units will be selling at about 2004 prices!

Still, many people say they want to wait to buy until the bottom of the market. Well, I’ve been taught that the best time to buy is just before the bottom because there are still great deals, there is less competition and plenty of inventory to give you options. As an aside, the best time to sell is just before the top, before everyone else floods the market with their homes for sale (which we saw in 2008).

This event should ensure all remaining units are sold. Even with shaky consumer confidence, buyers in BC are willing to make large purchases since the economy in BC is not as bad as other parts of the country. Onni wants these properties gone, so if something is still remaining, there’s a chance that they’ll offer even steeper discounts to sell them off (most likely any remaining units that are the least desirable will have the greater discount). And there are plenty of buyers out there…particularly first-time homebuyers who feel like they missed opportunities by waiting in the last few years. With discounted prices, it should make many buyers jump at the deal.

So, should you hold out for a single family home or buy a strata property (ie-condo or townhome)? Well, that really depends on your individual situation. Like it or not, trying to find an affordable single family home is still a huge challenge in Greater Vancouver. Even as the prices soften, detached houses are still out of reach for many, so condos and townhomes are very attractive options. When a real estate market softens, prices decrease across the board, so if the price of condos and townhomes go down, so do single family houses. However, the thing to remember is that it’s all relative. Lower-priced condos may only fall $10K -$30K, while house prices fall more like $50 – $70K, depending on the price of the homes, of course. So, if you currently own a condo or townhome, 2009 could be a great year to move up to a single family detached home.

When comparing opportunities like this liquidation event of new properties to homes on the re-sale MLS market, consider this. The average length that a homeowner lives in a property is about five years, generally speaking. So, many of the brand new developments simply don’t have as many re-sale units on the re-sale market since owners haven’t lived in them very long. That’s especially true if they bought in the last year or two, and now since they can’t sell their homes to make a profit, rather than turning a loss, many people are staying put, or renting the property, and have taken their homes off the market. Therefore, these discounted new properties by Onni draw even more interest since fewer of these new units are available in re-sale.

One of my favourite things about real estate is that everyone has an opinion about the market, and it always generates lively discussions and debates. Kinda like politics!

If you have any questions about this Onni event or real estate in general please don’t hesitate to ask. You can contact me through my website at www.holmesteam.ca.

Greg Holmes

Macdonald Realty Olympic

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Onni condo blowout: 20-40% off

Good news for first-time buyers and investors in the condo market: Onni is deeply discounting hundreds of brand new units in the neighbourhood.

About 375 unsold condominiums in cities such as Richmond and New Westminster will be offered at 20 to 40 per cent off, a real estate insider told CBC News.

It is not known whether the big discounts are based on prices when the condos were completed or current market values. Onni was to hold a media event Thursday to announce details.

Source: On sale: $350M of real estate in Lower Mainland | CBC.

Go to the Onni website or register online for more.

UPDATE: The condos in New Westminster that will be on sale include The Grove at Victoria Hill by Royal & McBride and The Point at 6th and Carnarvon. According to the Vancouver Sun, a New Westminster one-bedroom that was originally priced at $270,000 will be sold for approximately $215,000.

New course series for heritage home lovers

Heritage home aficionados can now sign up for applied courses on home restoration through the Vancouver Heritage Foundation:

… the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, established in 1992 and best known for raising money and awareness through workshops and its wildly popular annual heritage home tours, to offer a unique educational series.

It’s called Old School: Courses for Building Conservation, and it’s designed to meld heritage theory with hands-on practice.

The $400 certificate program comprises a mandatory core course called Heritage 101, as well as seven elective courses.

Graduation – and it’s expected it will take you about two years to complete the program schedule – is dependent on attendance and most courses are available evenings and weekends, in fall and spring sessions.

If you’re not looking for the diploma, you can pick and choose individual courses, which range in price from $12 to $100, and include Windows and their Conservation, Research the History of a Building, Creating a Budget for a Conservation Project, and Creating a Conservation Plan.

Instructors include familiar names in Metro Vancouver heritage circles, like consultant and author Don Luxton and Eric Pattison, a New Westminster architect who specializes in heritage building.

Source: No longer a deal, vintage homes priced for heritage and “green” benefits”, Vancouver Sun