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What is Title Insurance and do you need it?

What is Title Insurance

Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects you, the home owner, against challenges to the ownership of your home or from problems related to the title to your home. The policy provides coverage against losses due to title defects, even if the defects existed before you purchased your home. A title defect is a problem with the title which prevents free and clear ownership. There are many types of defects such as rights of way, encroachments (from neighbouring properties), unpaid liens, etc.

Title insurance policies protect you for as long as you own the property. It protects against a number of risks that a solicitor's opinion on title may not cover. These risks include:

  • Fraud and forgery, including someone taking your title through fraud or forgery

  • Encroachments that would be disclosed by a new survey (for example, a neighbour's deck being partly on your land)

  • Easements (the right acquired for access to or over another person's property for a specific purpose, such as for a driveway or public utilities. This is referred to as "servitude" in the Province of Quebec) over the property that would be disclosed by a new survey

  • Zoning non-compliance (i.e. where the property use does not meet the local municipal by-laws)

  • Someone other than the home owner having interest (i.e. a previous owner of the property not being discharged from title)

How Do I Know if I Need Title Insurance?

If you are purchasing or refinancing your home, you should discuss title insurance with your lawyer/notary to see if a title insurance policy is right for you. Your lawyer/notary can arrange the purchase of a home owner's policy.

Benefits of Title Insurance

Comprehensive coverage

The policy can provide broader coverage than a solicitor/notary's opinion on title as well as post purchase fraud coverage.

Peace of mind

As the policy covers the items outlined above, you can rest easy knowing if there are defects affecting the title of your home that are covered by the title insurance policy, your title insurer will take steps to rectify the problem.

One time cost

The premium is usually due at the time of closing for purchases or refinances. Some insurers permit you to purchase title insurance at any time.

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Buyers: Should You Always Get A Home Inspection?

The Importance of Home Inspections: What to Look for and Why

A home inspection is important when buying a home to avoid any potential surprise costs. A qualified professional will thoroughly examine the physical condition of a home to look for visible defects, wear and tear, code violations, and potential problems.

After the inspection, the inspector will provide a detailed written report summarizing the condition of the home. This report will help you understand the true condition of the property and highlight any repairs needed.

Typical issues found during inspections include cracked foundations, faulty wiring, water damage, and pest infestations.

We’ll explore what exactly home inspectors look for, and how to find a quality inspector.

What Does the Home Inspector Check?

Home inspectors examine all aspects of the property during the inspection. Here are some of the major features and systems they will evaluate.

  • Roof and Attic: Inspects roof age, condition, and remaining life; checks for leaks, ventilation issues, and water damage.

  • Exterior: Checks siding, paint, trim, windows, and doors for damage and wear. Examines flashings, eaves, and drain spouts for issues.

  • Foundation: Inspects visible foundation walls and structure for cracks or water damage.

  • Structural: Evaluates floors, walls, and ceilings for sagging, cracks, or unusual settling that can indicate structural issues.

  • Electrical: Checks condition of main panel and wiring; tests outlets, switches, and fixtures for functionality.

  • Plumbing: Checks water pressure, piping, fixtures for leaks and damage.

  • HVAC: Tests heating and cooling equipment; examines ductwork; ensures proper air flow.

  • Ventilation: Confirms adequate ventilation in bathrooms, kitchen, and attic to prevent moisture and condensation issues.

  • Appliances: Turns on major appliances to ensure proper operation.

  • Pest/Rot Damage: Checks for evidence of wood boring insects, termites, carpenter ants, and rodents. Inspects for fungus or mold.

  • Safety: Checks for presence of smoke detectors, CO detectors, proper railings, electrical hazards, potential trip points.

 How to Pick the Right Home Inspector

Not all home inspectors are equal when it comes to knowledge and experience. Here are tips for choosing the best one:

– Ask local real estate agents for inspector recommendations, but also do your own research.

– Look for an inspector who has been in business for several years and has extensive experience in your area. They’ll be familiar with local homes.

– Look online for customer reviews and feedback about the inspector. Look for responsiveness and clear reports.

– Make sure the inspector provides a detailed written report. Never accept just a verbal overview.

 

Following up on Inspection Findings

Your next steps after the inspection depend on the findings:

Minor issues: Small repairs or flaws can be addressed by the seller before closing.

Deal breakers: Costly foundation repairs or extensive water damage may mean walking away from the property completely.

Second opinion: If an issue is unclear or you get conflicting estimates about the repair cost, consider getting a second inspection.

Regardless of the findings, it’s up to you to determine if the home still meets your needs and if the price accounts for necessary updates. Use the inspection to make an informed decision, not an emotional one.

If the home inspection uncovers issues, the realtor acts as a facilitator between the buyer and seller to negotiate potential solutions. This includes coordinating any follow-up inspections, repairs, or final walkthroughs. Reach out to one of our market-leading Realtors® today.

article courtesy of Stilhavn Real Estate Services

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Have You Thought of Having an Energy Audit?

The world is shifting to become more aware of the impact we have as individuals on the environment. According to Statistics Canada, 76% of households composted either kitchen or yard waste in 2022, and in 2021, 97% of households reported using their own bags or containers when grocery shopping. But, there’s still work to be done, because on the flip side of things, Canadians generated 10.9 million tonnes of residential waste in 2020—the highest amount on record, according to Statistics Canada. 

There are many ways you can be more sustainable at home, from small changes to larger considerations

Consider an energy audit

Finding ways to upgrade your home that are also energy efficient sounds like a no-brainer.

The federal and provincial governments (depending where you live) offer incentives to help with these changes, and the first step is an energy audit (also known as a home audit or energy assessment). Audits are even more important depending on the age of your home. Even a home built in the 1990s would benefit from an audit, as building codes have changed over the last 30 years. 

What are the steps in an energy audit?

  • Pre-project assessment: where an assessor examines your home from top to bottom and provides you with reports on how your home is currently using energy, a list of recommended upgrades, as well as an EnerGuide label with your home’s efficiency score.
  • Post-project assessment: performed once you have completed the recommended upgrades. The assessor returns to do a new audit and to confirm the upgrades. You’ll receive updated reports as well as a rebate verification. 

Once you’ve received the rebate verification you can apply for rebates. The Canada Greener Homes Program is available nationwide as a federal incentive program. Across the provinces and municipalities there are further incentives available which can be discussed with a registered energy advisor. 

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BC PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX CHANGES
Property Transfer Tax Exemption Changes
 
Property Transfer Tax is 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% thereafter up to $2M (higher PTT over $2M).
Prior to the change, PTT exemption for first time home buyers was up to $500,000, and a sliding scale from $500,000 to $525,000.
 
With the new rules there is the PTT exemption up to $500,000, However, any purchase from $500,000 to $835,000, we ignore the first $500,000 of purchase price. So it is the normal PTT minus $8,000.
 

For example, a first time home buyer purchases a property for $800,000. Normal PTT would have been $14,000 (1% on the first $200,000 and 2% thereafter). However, new rules would allow for a reduction in the PTT of $8,000, making total PTT equal to $6,000.

PTT Change on Newly Built Units from $750,000 to $1,100,000. This is for all owner occupied buyers, even if they are not first time home buyers.

*When it comes to taxes, always seek the advice of your account!

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Should You Talk to a Mortgage Lender or Real Estate Agent First?

Before Purchasing a Home, Should You Talk to a Lender or Real Estate Agent First?

Ready to purchase a new home? Congrats – how exciting! Before you start house hunting, you may be wondering: should I contact a lender or real estate agent first? 

Both play important roles in the home buying process. Lenders secure financing so you can afford the home. Agents help you find and purchase the perfect property. So, who should you turn to first? 

Here we’ll compare the benefits of speaking to a lender vs. an agent first. We’ll also provide tips to help you decide the best plan of action for your situation.  


Pros of Speaking to a Lender First

Starting with a lender has its advantages, like:

– Knowing your exact loan amount helps you to set a realistic budget.

– The ability to make stronger offers since sellers know you can secure financing.

– Locking in low interest rates promptly if they’re trending up. This prevents a higher rate later.

Cons of Speaking to a Lender First

Potential drawbacks include:

– Rates and loan programs can change if too much time passes after getting pre-approved.

– You may not have defined your home must-haves yet, making it harder for a lender to advise you.

– Lenders mainly cover financing, not the home search and purchasing process.

Pros of Speaking to an Agent First

Meeting with an agent first has advantages such as:

– Gaining insights on the local real estate market, inventory and pricing.

– Defining your needs and preferences for a home.

– Getting a head start on the search with listings matching your criteria.

– Viewing homes with an expert by your side.

– Receiving insights on neighborhoods, negotiations and competing offers.

Cons of Speaking to an Agent First

Some potential disadvantages include:

– Not knowing your budget without financing in place first.

– Potentially falling for a home before getting pre-approved, which leads to disappointment.

– Making an offer without a pre-approval carries less weight.

– An agent can’t explain mortgage options like a lender can.

Tips for Deciding

So, what’s the best plan of action for your situation? Here are a few tips:

If your timeline for purchasing is tight, or rates are trending up, go to the lender first to expedite financing and lock in lower rates. In highly competitive markets, lead with the lender as well – pre-approval makes your offers stronger.

If you’ve already defined your home must-haves, starting with an agent can get the search rolling quickly. However, if you need extra care throughout the buying journey, an agent may be the better choice.

Remember – you aren’t locked in your choice. You can always meet with the other shortly after! The key is starting somewhere to gain clarity.

Reach out any time if you would like more details about these choices and more!

Bridget (604-805-6820)

Article courtesyof Stilhavn Real Estate Services

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B.C. Secondary Suite Incentive Loan Program

What is the Secondary Suite Incentive Program?

The Secondary Suite Incentive Program will help homeowners create affordable housing in their communities. The program will provide money to help homeowners create a new secondary suite on their property to be rented out for below market value.

Homeowners who qualify will receive up to 50% of the cost of renovations, up to a maximum of $40,000. The program will provide a rebate in the form of a forgivable loan—a loan that does not need to be repaid if the homeowner follows the terms of the program.

For the loan to be forgiven, the new unit must be located on the same property where the homeowner lives and must be rented out at below market rates, set by BC Housing, for at least five years.

Great opportunity if you are looking to update an old suite or add one to your current home.


Applications will be accepted starting on April 17, 2024 

Reach out if you have any questions

Bridget 

604-805-6820

bridget@bridgetross.ca

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Why Parking and Storage Assignment is so Important

Parking and storage are often key considerations when it comes to strata living. Because of that, we’re looking at the different ways parking and storage can be designated within a strata corporation.


1. Why are Parking and Storage designations important?

 It’s important to understand and be able to describe these concepts to consumers, as the rights they have to parking and storage can often impact their purchase decisions.


While buildings that were built in the 90s or earlier often came with more parking stalls and storage lockers than units, today we’re seeing many new strata developments that have less parking stalls and storage lockers than units, making these components that much more important and valuable.


2. Where can I find information about the Parking and Storage?

You can find information about a strata lot’s parking and storage on the Form B. It’s important to also verify this information on the Strata Plan or Parking Plan filed with the Land Title Office. We’ve come across many Form Bs that provided incorrect information.


3. What are the different ways Parking and Storage can be designated?

When it comes to parking stalls and storage lockers, there are 5 ways you’ll typically see them designated:

  • Forms Part of the Strata Lot - Often found in townhouses.

  • Common Property - The strata council grants permission to use a spot on a yearly basis, and while uncommon (especially if there are enough spots for each unit) can change or take the spot away.

  • Limited Common Property of a Strata Lot - The owner has exclusive use of a specific spot, and the designation can only be changed if the owners pass a unanimous resolution.

  • Limited Common Property for a Group of Strata Lots - Often found in sectioned stratas; the council or section executive grant permission to use a spot on a yearly basis and (like with a common property spot) can change or take the spot away.

  • Owner Developer Assignment (aka. Long Term Lease) - The parking and/or storage are subject to a long term lease associated with the strata lot; a copy of the master lease and assignment document(s) should be obtained from the sellers, as the strata corporation doesn’t usually get or retain copies.

Long term parking and/or storage leases can have significant implications for both buyers and sellers. Here’s an article from the BC Real Estate Association which provides a good example and cautionary note.
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How To Compete in a Multiple Offer Situation

Competing in a multiple offer situation when buying a home can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can employ to increase your chances of success. Here are several ways you can compete effectively:

  1. Offer a higher price: In a competitive market, offering a higher price than the listing price or the competing offers can make your offer more attractive to the seller. However, be sure to consider your budget and the value of the property to avoid overpaying.

  2. Get a pre-approval letter from a reputable lender demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer who is financially capable of purchasing the condo. This can give you an edge over other buyers who may not have secured financing. It can also allow you to leave out that condition in your offer. Allow your realtor to communicate with your mortage broker to confirm your budget.

  3. Write a subject free offer. If the listing agent has all the property documents up front, you can read them before offer presentation time. You can also have a home inspection done prior to offer time as well.

  4. Make a larger earnest money deposit: Increasing the earnest money deposit shows the seller that you are committed to the purchase and willing to put down a significant amount of money upfront. A larger deposit can make your offer more appealing and reassure the seller of your sincerity.

  5. Write a personal letter to the seller: Sometimes, sellers are emotionally attached to their property and may be swayed by a heartfelt letter from a prospective buyer. Use the letter to introduce yourself, explain why you love the condo, and convey your excitement about the possibility of living there. Personalizing your offer in this way can help you stand out from other buyers.

  6. If possible, give the seller the Completion and Possession dates they need to move on to their next property.

My job is to craft a contract that legally protects you as the Buyer, and negotiate on your behalf so that you have the opportunity to put your best offer possible in the multiple offer situation.

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Should You Co-sign your Child's Mortgage?

In Canada, a co-signer on a mortgage is someone who agrees to be legally responsible for the mortgage payments if the primary borrower defaults. Mortgage with a co-signer can help a borrower qualify for a loan if they have insufficient credit history or income on their own. However, it's a significant financial commitment and carries risks for the co-signer.

A bare trust agreement, on the other hand, is a legal arrangement where a trustee holds property or assets on behalf of a beneficiary. In the context of real estate, a bare trust may be used for various purposes, such as holding property for the benefit of a minor child or managing property on behalf of someone who is unable to do so themselves.

If a parent co-signs their child's mortgage and the property is held in a bare trust, it means that the parent may have legal responsibility for the mortgage payments, but the property is legally owned by the child and held in trust by the parent as trustee. This arrangement can have implications for taxation, estate planning, and asset protection.

It's essential to consult with a legal and financial advisor to understand the implications of co-signing a mortgage and entering into a bare trust agreement, as these arrangements can have complex legal and financial consequences.

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How Do You Choose a Realtor?

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent (For Buyers and Sellers)

When taking the first step on the path of buying or selling property, selecting the right realtor is a pivotal decision that can elevate your experience and outcome. Going above and beyond facilitating transactions, a top-performing realtor raises the bar in client-care, ensuring a smooth and successful journey. Here’s how to choose a realtor that’s a cut above the rest.

Tip 1: Look for a Relationship-Driven Approach

The heart of real estate isn’t just brick and mortar; it’s people. A relationship-driven realtor prioritizes your needs, preferences, and family and financial goals. They invest time in understanding your unique situation and are committed to building a lasting partnership. This is the kind of agent who will be by your side every step of the way, offering personalized advice and support. To find them, seek out testimonials that highlight the realtor’s dedication to fostering strong client relationships and delivering tailored service.


Tip 2: Evaluate Their Local Market Knowledge

A realtor with unparalleled local market knowledge provides an invaluable edge. They bring a market-leading understanding of the nuances of your specific area of interest, which is crucial whether you’re buying or selling. This insight can be the difference between an average deal and a great one. Inquire about their grasp of local trends, property values, and community dynamics. A top-performing realtor will demonstrate a depth of knowledge in local market trends, property laws, and the ability to accurately assess the value of properties in a particular neighbourhood.

Tip 3: Assess Their Communication Style

Communication is key in the real estate process. Your realtor should be readily available and willing to communicate in your preferred method, whether it be via phone, email, or text. They should keep you informed throughout the entire process and be proactive in addressing your concerns. A good realtor listens to your needs and communicates clearly and promptly.


Tip 4: Understand Their Niche Experience and Expertise

Experience in real estate can make a significant difference. An experienced realtor will have navigated their niche market conditions and dealt with many types of transactions. They bring a wealth of knowledge and a network of contacts in their real estate expertise, including potential buyers, sellers, and other industry professionals. However, don’t dismiss a newer realtor outright; they often bring enthusiasm and innovative approaches to their work. The key is to find someone who exhibits a strong understanding of the real estate process and demonstrates the skill to handle your specific needs.

Tip 5: Request a Strategy-Led Marketing Plan

In today’s fast-paced market, a strategic, well-executed marketing plan is essential. A top-performing realtor employs a strategy-led approach to marketing, ensuring that your property reaches the right audience. They utilize innovative tools and techniques, from virtual tours to social media marketing, to showcase your property effectively and make it stand out in the market. For buyers, a strategic plan means a more efficient search for the perfect home.

Closing Thoughts

Choosing a realtor who embodies these qualities can significantly raise the bar for your real estate experience. A top-performing, relationship-driven, and results-focused agent with unparalleled local insight and full-service capabilities will unquestionably exceed your expectations. The right realtor is more than an agent; they are your strategic partner in one of the most significant transactions of your life. Choose wisely, and the effort you put into selecting the best realtor for you will serve you well during your real estate journey and beyond.

Article courtesy of Stilhavn Real Estate Services

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Why Should you Pay Attention to Lighting When You Stage Your Home?

When people get their homes ready to sell, they generally do some decluttering, deep cleaning and some minor renos/repairs.

However, I would like to add something that often gets missed and if done right, can help create beautiful photos and a wonderful atmosphere in your home for Buyers to see.

And that is lighting. Below is a list of types of lighting and you need a variety of these types to literally show your home in its best light!

What I would also add, which is equally important, is the type of light bulb you use -make it warm, soft daylight light, not operating room blinding white light.

Various types of lighting in a home serve different purposes and contribute to creating a well-balanced and functional environment. Here are some common types of lighting and their purposes:

  1. Ambient Lighting:

    • Purpose: Also known as general lighting, ambient lighting provides overall illumination to a room. It ensures that there are no dark corners and sets the overall mood for the space.
    • Examples: Ceiling-mounted fixtures, chandeliers, track lights, and wall-mounted fixtures.
  2. Task Lighting:

    • Purpose: Task lighting is focused on specific areas where activities such as reading, cooking, or working take place. It helps to reduce eye strain and enhances visibility for detailed tasks.
    • Examples: Desk lamps, under-cabinet lights in the kitchen, and reading lights.
  3. Accent Lighting:

    • Purpose: Accent lighting is used to highlight specific features or objects in a room, such as artwork, architectural details, or decorative elements. It adds drama and visual interest.
    • Examples: Spotlights, track lighting with adjustable fixtures, and wall-mounted picture lights.
  4. Decorative Lighting:

    • Purpose: Decorative lighting serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, enhancing the overall design and style of a space. It can be a focal point in itself.
    • Examples: Chandeliers, pendant lights, decorative lamps, and unique light fixtures.
  5. Natural Lighting:

    • Purpose: Natural lighting utilizes sunlight to illuminate a space. It provides a connection to the outdoors, enhances mood, and can save energy during daylight hours.
    • Examples: Windows, skylights, and glass doors.
  6. Mood Lighting:

    • Purpose: Mood lighting creates a specific ambiance or atmosphere in a room. It's often used to evoke a particular feeling or to enhance the overall experience in a space.
    • Examples: Dimmer switches, LED strips, and colored lights.
  7. Cove Lighting:

    • Purpose: Cove lighting involves hidden light sources to provide a soft, indirect glow. It adds depth and dimension to a room.
    • Examples: LED strips installed in ceiling coves or recessed areas.

Using a combination of these lighting types allows for flexibility in adjusting the lighting levels based on different activities, moods, and times of day. A well-designed lighting plan considers the function of each space and incorporates a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting for a comfortable and visually appealing home environment.

If you are unsure how to make all this work, I can help. One of my areas of expertise in my job is helping Sellers present their homes, yes, in their best light!


604-805-6820

bridget@bridgetross.ca

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Greater Vancouver Market Update – January 2024

Metro Vancouver’s housing market was off to a strong start in the first month of 2024. The conditions began shifting back in favour of Sellers as the pace of new properties being listed did not keep up with the volume of home sales.

 Residential Home Sales

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential sales^ in the region totalled 1,427 in January 2024, a 38.5 per cent increase from the 1,030 sales recorded in January 2023. This was 20.2 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (1,788).

“It’s hard to believe that January sales figures came in so strong after such a quiet December, which saw many buyers and sellers delaying major decisions. If sellers don’t step off the sidelines soon, the competition among buyers could tilt the market back into sellers’ territory as the available inventory struggles to keep pace with demand.” – said Andrew Lis, Director of Economics and Data Analytics at the REBGV.

Inventory

There were 3,788 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in January 2024. This represents a 14.5 per cent increase compared to the 3,308 properties listed in January 2023. This was 9.1 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (4,166).

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 8,633, a 9.8 per cent increase compared to January 2023 (7,862). This is 0.3 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average (8,657).


Home Price Data Analysis

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,161,300. This represents a 4.2 per cent increase over January 2023 and a 0.6 per cent decrease compared to December 2023.

Metro Vancouver Home Sales by Property Type

Across all detached, attached and apartment property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for January 2024 is 17.2 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 11.9 per cent for detached homes, 22.9 per cent for attached, and 19.9 per cent for apartments.

 

Detached

Sales of detached homes in January 2024 reached 379, a 28 per cent increase from the 296 detached sales recorded in January 2023. The benchmark price for a detached home is $1,942,400. This represents a 7.3 per cent increase from January 2023 and a 1.1 per cent decrease compared to December 2023.


Apartments

Sales of apartment homes reached 746 in January 2024, a 30.6 per cent increase compared to the 571 sales in January 2023. The benchmark price of an apartment home is $751,900. This represents a 4.4 per cent increase from January 2023 and a 0.1 per cent increase compared to December 2023.

Attached Homes

Attached home sales in January 2024 totalled 285, a 82.7 per cent increase compared to the 156 sales in January 2023. The benchmark price of a townhouse3 is $1,066,700. This represents a 4.3 per cent increase from January 2023 and a 0.6 per cent decrease compared to December 2023.

The Stilhavn Report

The Stilhavn Report

Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home or investment property in the coming months, or just curious about what’s happing in your neighbourhood, The Stilhavn Report has you covered. Providing in-depth market information and monthly summaries of what’s happening in the areas we service, this monthly report is the perfect starting point for first time buyers and market savvy investors alike.


All stats are courtesy of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).
*Areas covered by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver include Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, South Delta, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Whistler. 
^REBGV is now including multifamily and land sales and listings in this monthly report. Previously, we only included detached, attached, and apartment sales, and these additional categories, which typically account for roughly one to two per cent of total MLS® activity per month, are being included for completeness in our reporting. 

Article courtsey of Stilhavn Real Estate




 

 

 

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Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.