Real Estate Advisor with Engel & Völkers West Vancouver, Canada

Cindy Stanley Realty Blog Engel & Völkers West Vancouver › January 2018

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Vancouver Island couple willing to accept bitcoin for oceanfront house

vancouver couple selling for bitcoin
1885 Widgeon Rd.

by Shane Dingman (The Globe and Mail)

Want to buy some oceanfront property in British Columbia? It'll only cost you 180 bitcoin, or maybe 160 – no wait, it might change to more than 500 bitcoins.

That's the volatile reality Camilla Stephan-Heck and her husband are facing with their decision to accept the cryptocurrency bitcoin in exchange for their Vancouver Island house. Priced in dollars, they are seeking $2.7-million for the five-bedroom, 18-room bluff's edge mansion.

She's a dentist, he's a lawyer, and they bought their dream property on 1885 Widgeon Rd., near Qualicum Beach, in 2001, right on the waterfront of the Georgia Strait. In 2010, the couple retired and moved their three children from Sherwood Park (outside Edmonton) into a custom-built 5,788 square-foot dream home on the 6.7-acre site.

Ms. Stephan-Heck says the couple's children are moving out, scattering across Canada, and the couple wants to downsize and have property near where they settle. They listed in November, and started advertising on cryptocurrency websites in January.

"I read an article about the utility of bitcoin and I said, 'Would we accept bitcoin for our house?' [Her husband] said, 'I'd be open to it.' It's not done every day," Ms. Stephan-Heck said.

It may not have been done in Canada before, even though along with their house there are a dozen other Canadian listings from British Columbia to Quebec on the Bitcoin Real Estate website: everything from other luxury properties, condos, a farm and even one buyer who claims to have $450,000 in bitcoin ready to spend on a house in Calgary.

In recent months, there have been reports in the United States of houses selling for bitcoin, everywhere from Texas to Florida and nearby Seattle.

In part, what's changed is the value of bitcoin itself: The digital currency started 2017 valued at about $980 (U.S.) a "coin," and hit a high of more than $17,500 in December. .

"We dabble in cryptocurrency ourselves," Ms. Stephan-Heck says. She says they jumped on the bandwagon in October, 2017, buying some bitcoin and another crytpocurrency named ethereum. "We're fairly diversified in our investments, bitcoin was gaining notoriety and we started doing some research. We've done reasonably well on it. … It's enough to have fun with."

She says the couple would accept either a full or part bitcoin offer, but her real estate agent has told her he still expects to be paid in Canadian currency. The couple has no mortgage on the property, and is in no rush to sell; they are waiting for the right offer.

Ms. Stephan-Heck is also not sure if she would keep all or just some of her new bitcoins, saying she will be looking at the currency's pricing trend when deciding whether to keep or convert it to Canadian currency.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s $78.8-million Vancouver property tops B.C. housing list

vancouver most expensive

Lululemon Athletica founder Chip Wilson’s waterfront property on scenic Point Grey Road in Vancouver has an assessed value of $78.8-million as of July 1, 2017.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Chip Wilson's waterfront property in Vancouver valued at – take a deep breath – $78.8-million has topped the list of the most expensive residential properties in British Columbia for the fifth consecutive time.

The former chief executive officer of the yoga-wear retailer saw a one-year rise of $3,016,000 in his estate's assessed value, or a 4-per-cent increase, according to data released on Tuesday by BC Assessment for the period from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017.

On July 1, 2017, the assessment on Mr. Wilson's 15,694-square-foot house rang in at $26.1-million while the land value registered $52.7-million.


By Vancouver standards, it marked a notable slowdown in price growth. His total property value of $75.8-million in mid-2016 had jumped 18.7 per cent from $63.9-million in mid-2015.

Mr. Wilson's two-storey mansion along scenic Point Grey Road in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood is worth significantly more than when it was assessed on July 1, 2013, at $54.2-million.

Tuesday's statistics showed mixed results for Greater Vancouver detached properties, which ranged from slipping 5 per cent in value to climbing 25 per cent, said BC Assessment. For the Vancouver region as a whole, the latest assessments for detached houses showed the market cooling off compared with the previous one-year period's soaring values of roughly 15 per cent to 50 per cent.

While most of the detached market slowed, assessed values for condos and townhouses rose 5 per cent to 35 per cent, depending on the neighbourhood, in Greater Vancouver. For all types of residential housing, the average value went up 5.6 per cent in the region.

BC Assessment is the provincial Crown corporation that estimates values annually on behalf of B.C. municipalities, which use the data to help determine how much homeowners will pay in property taxes.

Analysts are watching Vancouver closely for clues on what to expect in 2018, noting that governments and regulators are continuing to seek ways to cool down prices, notably in the Vancouver and Toronto regions. "When looking at the Canadian housing and mortgage market, we think looking at the Vancouver market can be important when thinking about what may happen in the future in other parts of Canada," RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analysts Geoffrey Kwan and Scott Robertson said in a research note in December.

Housing prices slumped for several months after the B.C. government introduced a foreign-buyers tax in the Vancouver region in August, 2016, but began rebounding in early 2017.

The price of detached houses sold in Greater Vancouver in November averaged $1,733,899, up 7.5 per cent from $1,612,469 in the same month in 2016, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. But industry observers point out that price changes vary widely, depending on the neighbourhood.

Price gains for detached properties sold in Greater Vancouver have been relatively modest since BC Assessment compiled its data, while it has been a robust market for condos and townhouses, with prices for multifamily units reaching record highs recently.

In the City of Victoria, assessed values climbed 16.3 per cent on average from mid-2016 to mid-2017 for all types of housing, while they rose 11.4 per cent in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey.

Residential values in rural British Columbia, however, have decreased in several resource-based communities. They tumbled 17.9 per cent in Kitimat in the northwest, where proposals remain stalled for building terminals to export liquefied natural gas.

Assessed values increased 4.7 per cent in Prince Rupert, though the assessment date of July 1, 2017, was shortly before Pacific NorthWest LNG announced the cancellation of its nearby proposal on Lelu Island.

Values declined 9.3 per cent in Fort St. John in the northeast, where natural gas drilling has decreased.

On the luxury end, earning a spot on the list of British Columbia's 500 most expensive properties is getting harder. The lowest-valued home on the latest list is $12,635,000, up 3.7 per cent from $12,184,000 on July 1, 2016.

Mr. Wilson, who owns his top-valued property through 3085 Point Grey Road Holdings Ltd., has numerous neighbours within five kilometres on the top-tier list. The runner-up on the new provincial list is a property at 4707 Belmont Ave. in Vancouver. That home, owned by Pisonii (PTC) Ltd., increased 3.8 per cent in value to $71.8-million.


BC’s new top 10 most expensive residential properties

B.C. Assessment has released its list of the most expensive residential properties in the province and the house that came out on top won’t likely be a surprise.

Chip Wilson’s home, located at 3085 Point Grey Road in Vancouver, once again tops the list with an assessment value of $78,837,000. That’s up from $63 million in 2016, $57.6 million in 2015 and $54 million in 2014.

At 15,694 square feet, the Lululemon founder’s home sits on a waterfront lot on the exclusive “Golden Mile,” which houses many of the city’s most luxurious multi-million-dollar homes.

READ MORE: Chip Wilson’s Vancouver home now worth over $75 million

This assessment information was released on Jan. 2 but is based on market values as of July 1, 2017.

Once again at number two on the list is the property located at 4707 Belmont Ave., about an eight-minute drive away from Wilson’s home.

This house, which overlooks Spanish Banks, is an estimated 25,000 square feet.


4707 Belmont Ave.

4707 Belmont Ave.

In third place, again, is James Island, a privately-owned Southern Gulf Island.

The island now boasts a 5,000-square-foot principal residence, six guest cottages, private docks, an airstrip, pool house and manager’s residence.

READ MORE: Meet the billionaire who’s selling this B.C. island for $75M

The rest of the homes on the top 10 list are all located in Vancouver.

The residence at 4719 Belmont Ave. came in fourth with an assessed value of $46,684,000.

4719 Belmont Ave.

4719 Belmont Ave.

Wilson’s neighbour at 2815 Point Grey Rd. has the fifth priciest home in B.C. with an assessed value of $45,875,000.

Rounding out the top 10 in B.C. is:

6 – 4743 Belmont Ave. with a value of $42,952,000.

7 – 1388 The Crescent with a value of 42,494,000.

8 – 4857 Belmont Ave. with a value of 41,730,000.

9 – 4773 Belmont Ave. with a value of 40,276,000.

10 – 2999 Point Grey Rd. with a value of 38,684,000.

You can check out the value of your home and others’ online here.

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Over 20% of new condos in Vancouver and Richmond owned by non-residents

Large variations from city to city when it comes to the percentage of non-resident buyers

By Justin McElroy, CBC News

vancouver real estate

Statistics Canada with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation examined Vancouver real estate numbers to "address data gaps related to housing." (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Statistics on housing ownership captured for the first time by Statistics Canada show that when it comes to the impact of purchases by non-Canadian residents, geography and building type matter a lot. 

Figures published Tuesday, in a joint project with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, showed that non-residents owned 4.8 per cent in Metro Vancouver — but the number is much higher when it comes to condos, especially newer ones. 

"It's quite substantial when you look at the numbers," said Josh Gordon, an assistant professor at the Centre for Public Policy at Simon Fraser University.

"Non-residents" are defined by Statistics Canada as either a Canadian citizen who no longer lives in the country (but still owns real estate) or a non-citizen who owns property in Canada without using it as a primary residence.

While the percentage of non-resident buyers is still comparatively small, there are plenty of variations in the data worth highlighting. Here are four of them.

Condo fever

In most cases, the number of non-residents with property in Metro Vancouver is below 10 per cent. 

But there is one exception: condos built in and around Vancouver in the last two years. 

More than one in five condos built since 2016 in Richmond and Coquitlam are owned by non-residents, with 19.1 per cent in the City of Vancouver. 

"The main point when you look at the data is to distinguish the stock and the flow," said Gordon.

"That means a huge share of the market, in terms of who is buying in recent years, is non-resident owners. And that will have a major impact in your market."

Geography matters

Sift through the data, and there's a general rule of thumb: the closer the property is to Vancouver, the greater chance it could be owned by a non-resident. 

Non-residents made up 7.6 per cent of residential property owners in the City of Vancouver, 7.5 per cent in Richmond, 6.2 per cent in West Vancouver, and 5.0 per cent in Burnaby. 

But further afield, the figures were 1.9 per cent in Pitt Meadows, 2.0 per cent in Delta, 2.1 per cent in Maple Ridge, and 2.2 per cent in the Township of Langley. 

Non-residents Stats Can data

Chart by Tara Carman

Non-residents own pricier properties

Overall, a non-resident property owner in Metro Vancouver is more likely to own a more expensive property than the average citizen.

The median value of a single-detached house owned by a resident is $1.26 million, while it's $1.62 million for a non-resident. 

That also varies from municipality to municipality: in the City and Township of Langley, there's virtually no variation in values in median values between residents and non-residents. But in the City of Vancouver, there's a 45 per cent gap — $3.24 million for single-detached homes of non-residents, and $2.23 million for residents. 

Million dollar homes no more in Vancouver

Finally, anecdotal evidence and monthly sales figures have made it clear for quite some time that it's virtually impossible to find a single-detached home in Vancouver for less than a million dollars, but these new figures prove it. 

Statistics Canada provides data for 276,274 detached homes in Metro Vancouver, and about one-third (93,511) were valued at under a million dollars. 

Of those 93,511 sub-million homes, just 136 of them were in the City of Vancouver. 

In many other parts of Metro Vancouver, detached homes under a million dollars can still be had, but you might have to travel a bit: only in the Fraser Valley are a majority of detached homes worth six figures.

Foreign buyers may not live in Vancouver, but their money sure does: StatsCan

WATCH: Statistics Canada has released surprising new housing numbers that show what foreign buyers are investing in. It's a small percentage of the overall housing market. But it doesn't account for a loophole. Robin Gill reports.

For years, foreign money has been identified as a key factor jacking up Vancouver’s home prices beyond anything that local residents can bear.

On Tuesday, Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) gave an extensive, if incomplete, picture of just how many of the city’s homes are owned by people from elsewhere — and how much higher they’re valued than the ones owned by locals.

The data, which looked at Vancouver and Toronto, contained many revelations about the share of non-resident ownership throughout Metro Vancouver.

Non-residents were defined as people whose principal residences were outside Canada.

One of the revelations was that single-detached and condominium apartment units owned by non-residents were worth far more than those belonging to Canadians.

The following chart shows the average value of single-detached homes owned by residents and non-residents across Metro Vancouver:

Across Metro Vancouver, a single-detached home owned by a resident was worth an average of $1,568,100, while for non-residents, it was worth $2,275,900 — about 45 per cent more.

There was also a noticeable gap in municipalities.

In the City of Vancouver, a single-detached home owned by a resident was worth $2,882,600 on average, while one owned by a non-resident was worth $3,638,500 — about 26 per cent more.

Non-residents are also interested in bigger homes — on average, the size of a single-detached home owned by people whose principal residence is elsewhere was close to 4,800 sq. ft., or over 32 per cent bigger than those owned by residents.

The following chart shows the average values of condominium apartments owned by residents and non-residents across Metro Vancouver:

The data also identified a value gap between condominium apartments owned by residents and non-residents.

Across Metro Vancouver, an average resident-owned condominium apartment was worth $530,800, while for non-residents, they were worth $692,000, about 30 per cent more.

In the City of Vancouver, a resident-owned condominium apartment was worth $741,000, and a non-resident-owned unit worth $930,600, approximately 26 per cent more.

READ MORE: New Vancouver mortgages took a ‘significant’ hit after foreign buyers tax, data show

The study was compiled by looking at information such as land titles, census of population, property assessments and tax and business register data, while CMHC derived info through telephone interviews of property management companies or building superintendents.

But there were gaps in the research, said Andy Yan, an urban planner and director of SFU’s City Program.



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