I offer all sorts of useful information on the local market and am happy to put together both useful tips and reports on conditions in the marketplace. I feature news and information from Greater Vancouver in this section as well.
Just how much of the real estate in Burnaby is being bought up by foreign investors? An informal poll, done by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, shows that number to be between 10 and 12 percent. And of that, all but three percent are buying homes to live in, either for themselves or family members.
But it is that 12 percent of sales that is forcing the price of real estate in certain parts of the city to skyrocket. Some are asking for more restrictions placed on foreign home sales, but Rosario Setticast, with the local real estate board, thinks there is another way to keep prices down.
One way is to look at density. There is a finite bit of land in Vancouver. Once you get to the shoreline, that’s it. This is one other factor that keeps real estate prices on the high side. Setticast believes that by building more multiple home complexes, such as condos, home prices can be kept affordable for all.
As far as the restrictions on foreign sales, other provinces do have them, but most of them pertain to recreational or rural lands, and usually require the buyers to live on the property and work the farmland. Canadians that head south each winter to Florida face higher property taxes. Other countries that have restrictions include Australia, Japan and China.
The awarding of the $8 billion federal shipbuilding contract last week to Seaspan facilities in both North Vancouver and Victoria are boosting the spirits of many in the area. One of those lucky workers is Cameron Ius, a student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Ius just happens to be a first-year millwright apprentice at Seaspan’s North Vancouver location.
The one-time carpenter switched to working with metal after several years of building walls and getting differing opinions on what was what. Ius’ move turned out to be one lucky break. The federal contract could mean more than 4,000 jobs in British Columbia, both at the shipyard and supporting companies. It also means that other graduates of that same BCIT have a better chance of finding well paid work.
Millwrights are sought after because they can adapt to different tasks. They have skills in not only metal fabrication, but in plumbing, electrical and a range of mechanical jobs. Seaspan uses all these skills in shipbuilding, and at present there are not very many certified journeymen millwrights available. Some may be persuaded to move to Seaspan with sizeable salary offers, but it is likely that Seaspan will be training quite a few new workers.
Effects are already being seen at BCIT. This year, in Ius’ Foundation class, almost half the class had jobs before the course was finished. In his prior class less than four students found work by the end of term. The dean of BCIT, Rod Goy, is encouraged. The Seaspan contract will mean there will be available work for decades.
In Burnaby it’s all about the shopping. Dubbed Metrotown, the three shopping centres that line Kingsway do tempt those who window-shop or actually go inside and do a bit of serious buying. Add to that a convenient library, a new SkyTrain Station and an office tower and this shopping haven was considered the place to see and be seen.
Now it seems that this trendy neighborhood will be adding some condos to the mix. Bosa Properties is building Sovereign, a combination hotel-condo-retail development right in the middle of shopping central. The condos went on sale this past February and were sold in a single day, all $98 million worth. This was on spec, since the project won’t be finished until sometime in 2014.
Other developers are taking note. One is Gurkripa Holdings Ltd, who wants to build another condo tower with retail space at 6380 Silver Avenue. This is just a bit south of the SkyTrain Station. The application for rezoning has been submitted, and if it goes through, the new development will replace the vintage three-storey building already there.
Another development in the rezoning stage is at 4249 and 4265 Sardis Street. That developer, Otivo, is also trying to acquire a third lot, but as of now the owner doesn’t want to sell. Designers have altered plans so the two lots will work. Both rezoning applications will be considered on October 25th at a public hearing.
Vancouver has seen a cooler than normal summer so far. While that may put a frown on the faces of local residents at times, the upside is that the fire danger is diminished and the air quality is better. Forest fires have been minimal in the interior of the province. So far this year there have been no air quality advisories. Last year there were two that covered six days.
The hottest days so far this summer were those this past weekend. Abbotsford reached 30.6 C on Saturday and Metro Vancouver got to 27.4 C. That was Abbotsford first day with temps over 30 C all summer. Normal is about seven days by the end of August.
Environment Canada notes that both spring and summer this year have seen markedly lower temps. The lack of heat waves has kept the air quality good, and the hot dry air that fuels forest fires has not materialized. Ozone levels have been minimal.
Julie Saxon from that same agency notes that summer is still not over and it is possible to still get some hot weather through the middle of September. But so far, the mild temps are keeping forestry officials pleased. This fire season has logged only 469 fires covering 11,782 hectares. The average for a season is 2,000 fires, with roughly 100,000 hectares burned. Many of the provinces firefighters have been dispatched to other areas, including Alberta, Ontario and Alaska to help with fires.
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