*SOLD* 78 E 17th Ave, Vancouver

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Location, Location, Location! One block west of Main St, this 1924 character bungalow is the perfect project for a home owner, builder or investor. Bonus, gorgeous backyard for summer parties.  Three bedrooms, two baths and spacious living room home on a 33′ x 120′ RS-7 corner lot. Corner of E. 17 Ave and Quebec Place.


The Importance of Communities for our Wellbeing

Some clients express frustration when looking for a home due to a dying sense of community in neighbourhoods. It is often something they can not define when I ask them what they are looking for; but something they definitely feel when it is absent.  What does community mean to you?  Recently, a friend sent me a link to a TedTalk by Charles Montgomery which presents solid evidence for the importance of communities and social systems for our well being as humans.  I found it very interesting and would like to share it with you in this edition of Corner Lot.

Comments welcomed!

5 Hot Trends in Home Décor

Painted Front Door

Trends come and go…. As a realtor I see many homes, from fresh off the press designs by highly rated interior decorators, to the spectacularly staged  and newly renovated. The following are a few hot trends in home décor which are showing signs of longevity:

  • 50 Shades of Gray

Warm grays with yellow or reddish undertones are the new neutrals. These shades are versatile, warm and enticing, shedding the old boring reputation of gray. If you have beige walls, switching to a warm gray is easy yet impactful. The shades are distant cousins, so the switch should not be too difficult if you find the right shade of gray to replace your beige.

  • Colour is knocking at the Front Door

A front door painted in a vivid colour might be all your home needs to give it a face lift. Popular shades include cherry, dark purple, emerald and teal.  This can be an easy do it yourself project and the colour does not need to be replicated on other accent pieces.

  • Black & White & Marsala

Black & White  combos, as well as Marsala can add sophistication to a room. Black & White patterns can be incorporated in wall paper, table linens, cushions and ceramics.  Marsala,  is a newbie, in that it is a less bold variant to burgundy and wine, which have both been popular over the years, allowing the colour to be used as a neural which adds to its appeal.  Consider using Marsala on accent walls, cushions and drapes to replace darker shades of beige for a punch of colour that adds class and warmth.

  • Holy matrimony of Wood & Metal

This combo revives ordinary wood furniture with a touch of industrial contemporary for a timeless clean-line design.  Wood, especially warmly stained or unstained and heavily grained varieties, plays up the natural look, while bold metals add interest and modern appeal. Dining sets, cabinets, bar stools, bookcases and coffee tables can become more appealing with the marriage of wood and metal.

  • Wallpaper Revival

Forget everything you know about wallpaper.  There are now many great options on the market. You can find just about any design, the only problem you may have is deciding which to choose.  The trend is to use wallpaper for an accent wall or a small space, such as an entryway or powder room.  Transform the dullest room to a chic Parisian escape or go bold for a contemporary oasis.

BC Buyers – Property Transfer Tax

When buying a home in BC, the buyer automatically pays the provincial Property Transfer Tax (PTT).

The tax is payable on the fair market value of the home or other property.

This is different from the property tax. You pay property tax on an annual basis for services you receive from your local government.

How much is it?

The tax is charged at a rate of 1% on the first $200,000 of the fair market value of the property, and 2% on the rest.

For example, if the fair market value of the property is $150,000, the tax is 1% of $150,000 or $1,500.

If the property’s fair market value is $500,000 the tax is 1% of $200,000 ($2,000) plus 2% of the remaining $300,000 ($6,000) for a total tax of $8,000.


Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% of the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $475,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes between $475,000 and $500,000. At $500,000 and above the rebate is nil.

Time to sell?

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Todd Johnson Real Estate

“How much could we get for our house or condo in today’s market?” “How long would it take to sell?” “Does it make sense to make a move now, or should we wait?” “What’s pushing and pulling the market? Interest rates, exchange rate, foreign money?”

Even if you’re not the least bit serious about making a move, you probably ask yourself questions like these from time to time. Most home owners do. It’s natural. So why not find out the answers? How? Give me a call! I’d be happy to drop by to give you a clear idea of what the current market value of your house is and what to expect should you decide to sell. There’s no obligation.


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Vancouver learns how to make an old house pay

Vancouver’s remaining old character houses still have a lot working against them.

There are a lot of people who do care deeply about preserving the charming old houses. Author Caroline Adderson’s Vancouver Vanishes Facebook page, which archives the ongoing demolitions, has 5,131 likes.

But there are people who think old houses can never be energy efficient, and are filled with mould and rot. There are those who don’t find them aesthetically appealing, and there are others who simply don’t care about them. And then, there is the biggest impact of all – the fact that the new market demands bigger, newer houses. The more square footage, the more money for everyone involved.

As we all know, the old houses are coming down to make way for big, new ones. As a result, Vancouver’s west side, and pockets of the east side, have been completely transformed. The sale of an old house, particularly in Kerrisdale, Dunbar or Point Grey, most certainly marks the end of its existence. One Dunbar homeowner currently has an ad posted on Craigslist to sell their solid, well-built, 1,820-square-foot, four-bedroom character home for $1, if someone could relocate it before it’s demolished. The chances are probably slim.

Heritage home at 1828 West 15th Ave. A laneway home has been added to the rear of the property. All photos by Darryl Dyck for The Globe and Mail

Where houses are concerned, we’ve been on a clear-cutting frenzy these last several years. Somewhere in the order of 1,000 demolition permits are issued annually in Vancouver. As a city, we have been big pushers for the big and new. It’s not exactly the greenest of policies.

And so, in an attempt to abate the demolition of nearly 1,000 homes a year – a substantial number of them built prior to 1940 – the city approved a policy that restricts demolitions of pre-1940s houses deemed worthy as having character. The plan includes a requirement that 90 per cent of the materials from a pre-1940s character house that gets torn down must be recycled. As an incentive, if the house is retained, there’s an added floor space allowance.

Not surprisingly, there was some outcry from builders, realtors and architects whose business is devoted to new builds on the west side. Houses will be devalued, they argued. Seniors who own them will suffer financial losses. But really, could a solid arts and crafts house that sits on a 50- or 60-foot lot on the city’s west side really become so undesirable as to drop significantly in value? Is the only answer to Vancouver’s real estate market the big, bulky and generic new house that too often replaces it?

Could the new rules hurt such a robust market?

David Peerless, owner of Dexter Associates Realty in Kerrisdale, specializes in west side homes. He says the answer is no.

“We’ve found that demand for properties that are affected by the policy has not dramatically changed,” says Mr. Peerless. “The pre-1940 house has a slight stigma to it, but what we thought would have been a very big effect on the market, we haven’t really experienced.”

Instead, the value of a house, he says, is still based on many factors, not just the new restriction.

“I think people are trying to zero in on this one policy as [potentially] causing a really dramatic shift in prices in the city, but there are a lot of factors that make up the value of a house.”

Contrary to reports, the old house can be a winning proposition. Adding value to a character home with infill might be harder, more time consuming and sometimes more costly in the short run, but there are other benefits.

The Beaddies increased the value of their 1938 house a couple of years ago by adding a laneway house. They are long-time Vancouverites who inherited an old four-bedroom house at 1830 West 15th, just off Burrard. They already had a principal residence elsewhere, and they didn’t want to sell the house on West 15th and risk their tenants being evicted. So, they decided to build a laneway house on the lot in order to boost their income. They added a two-bedroom, 1,027 square-foot house that is now home to a young family. In the main house are tenants who’ve lived there for 12 years.

Instead of selling off the property, the Beaddies discovered that they could increase its value for the community and make it work for their pocketbook as well. As a result, the house is not only saved, but the property now offers housing for two families.

“It’s an income for us, now that we are retired,” says Mrs. Beaddie, who prefers not to give her first name. “And it also does provide housing, and we try to maintain the houses and be good landlords. If you have property, you have to take care of it, and do the best you can. And you have to provide housing where you can.”

It wasn’t an easy process, mind you. Mrs. Beaddie says there were several headaches, including the fact that they couldn’t install double-glazed windows on the main house, in keeping with the character. That meant expensive storm windows had to suffice.

But asked if she’d go to the bother again, she responds, “Oh yes. I would recommend it.”

The city’s attempt to protect character houses is commendable, albeit far from perfect. It doesn’t make sense that only houses built prior to 1940 are protected, for example, when there are many great architectural designs from the 1950s, 1960s and yes, even the 1970s.

As well, the only way to protect what’s left of the historical housing is to offer bigger incentives to boost their value. When square footage is at such an all-time premium, it’s essential that the old houses become so valuable that the development community is motivated to work with them. That’s the only way they’ll survive.

Laneway housing builder Jake Fry proposes zoning that would allow for laneway strata-titled homes that could be sold off. Such zoning has been used in Kitsilano in years past.

“Those houses are intact and more valuable because they are beautiful and old and had other value components. So it’s in everyone’s interest,” he says.

“The city needs to be credited for taking a step in the right direction. [The new plan] hasn’t been negative. It’s been neutral. But my personal feeling is it should be more rigorous in preserving what’s left of the character stock, by using bigger enticements.”

Rick Michaels, former assistant director in development services for the city, agrees that the current policy isn’t incentive enough to boost the dollar value of character homes. He says the builders and architects are turned off by the many codes and requirements they have to fulfill in order to retain an old house in exchange for more floor space.

“We can do better than the laneway house,” says Mr. Michaels, who is now a development consultant. “Put three units on the site, stratify them and look at different forms of home ownership. It may not impact the market. I don’t know. But you need to go there. There’s no choice in the matter. There has to be a reward there.

“It doesn’t punish the existing neighbourhood by its form and massing and density. It does the exact opposite. It builds the community rather than making it a bunch of strangers or whatever.”

As well, the added density will offer housing for retirees who want to stay in their community.

“That’s a healthy attribute, and it’s needed. They’ve got their doctor in the neighbourhood, family and friends, shopping. They want to stay but want less of an entity.

“You could do that in all of the small density areas.”

From Kerry Gold, Special to The Globe and Mail

Sutton West Coast Realty