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January 20, 2017

 

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The REALTOR® Code

 

In my role as a Managing Broker, it is not unusual to hear complaints from agents about other agents acting “unethically”. On occasion I have to deal with members of the public expressing concerns about one of our associates acting in a manner which was considered unethical in their eyes. These allegations tend to stem from the complainant imputing motives on the actions of the agent. They interpret what they have experienced as unethical when the results of a transaction, or negotiation do not conform with their expectations nor provide for their well-being. The insinuation is that the agent manipulated circumstances into their own interest, rather than the interest of the client or customer. What comes into play is the subjective nature of our understanding of the ethical boundaries of our business.

Ethical behavior is described in the Dictionary as follows:

 eth·ics

1. ( used with a singular or plural verb ) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture.

2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.

3. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.

4. ( usually used with a singular verb ) that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

 

Ethics are, in a nutshell, the often unwritten, but internalized, rules of conduct that allow for the well-being of others. While many maintain that it is the religious imprint of our current or past affiliations of faith that give us a moral compass, there is a growing understanding that we all have an innate sense of fairness and communal responsibility. This inborn awareness of what is fair has even been demonstrated in studies with primates that associate in groups.

 

We all have slightly different points of reference when it comes to acting fairly. Although the “golden rule” is a universal axiom, we are also influenced in what our ethical boundaries are through our upbringing, (including where we are in birth order comparative to our siblings), our cultural background, and our religious influences. Due to these variants in one’s personal experience, it is important to set an objective guideline to overcome the elastic nature of moral and ethical boundaries. The statement that there is “honour among thieves”, suggests that even within groups that might be seen as lacking in moral fibre, a certain ethical standard is upheld. One might be tempted to respond to an accusation of unethical behavior with a question of which standard is being referred to!

CREA developed a code of ethics in 1913 for the real estate industry with the specific reason of ensuring that a standard of conduct be adhered to. They created 28 guiding principles help to determine when someone is acting unethically. This code has a higher standard than the existing legal requirements in many cases. The local real estate boards have taken these guiding principles and applied them to their professional standards doctrines. Boards also appoint professional standards committees to police the actions of agents based on the rules of conduct built around the code of ethics.

CREA describes the code this way:

CREA’s REALTOR® Code has been the measure of professionalism in organized real estate for over 40 years.

A REALTOR’s® ethical obligations are based on moral integrity, competent service to clients and customers, and dedication to the interest and welfare of the public.

The REALTOR® Code, by setting high standards of professional conduct for REALTORS®, helps to protect Canadians' rights and interests. It also creates a level of trust between REALTORS® and their clients.
 
There have been instances where a member of the public contacts me with a complaint, and it becomes evident that the designated agent they were dealing with did not instill a level of trust in their relationship with their client. As a result, as soon as something did not go as planned, the agent was seen as acting outside of the standards and values of the client. Even if nothing was done wrong in a technical sense, the client is left with a bad taste regarding their dealings with the agent.
 

When someone complains about unethical behavior to me, I will step back and picture the scenario from every angle possible. In most cases, after getting the details, it becomes clear that the agent was not acting unethically but rather, outside circumstances conspired to create that impression to someone that didn’t have the full details. As the saying goes, “There is always at least two sides to every story”. It is a rare occasion that I have found a REALTOR® acting intentionally against the well-being of others. It is for those occasions that the REALTOR® Code becomes a valuable tool in organized real estate.

Understanding the 28 articles in the CREA Code of Ethics is invaluable toward building a solid reputation as a REALTOR®. It is the ethical standard that sets us apart.

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The number of residential property sales hit a 10-year low in Greater Vancouver for June, while prices remained relatively stable.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties reached 2,362 in June, a 27.6 per cent decline compared to the 3,262 sales in June 2011 and a 17.2 per cent decline compared to the 2,853 sales in May 2012.

June sales were the lowest total for the month in the region since 2000 and 32.2 per cent below the 10-year June sales average of 3,484.

“Overall conditions have trended in favour of buyers in our marketplace in recent months,” Eugen Klein, REBGV president said. “This means buyers are facing less competition and have more selection to choose from compared to earlier in the year.”

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,617 in June. This represents a 3 per cent decline compared to June 2011 when 5,793 properties were listed for sale on the MLS® and an 18.9 per cent decline compared to the 6,927 new listings reported in May 2012.

At 18,493, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS® increased 22 per cent from this time last year and increased 3.7 per cent compared to May 2012.

“Today, our sales-to-active-listings ratio sits at 13 per cent, which puts us in the lower end of a balanced market. This ratio has been declining in our market since March when it was 19 per cent,” Klein said.

The MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 1.7% and declined 0.7% compared to last month.

Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in June 2012 reached 921, a decrease of 37.4 per cent from the 1,471 detached sales recorded in June 2011, and a 19.1 per cent decrease from the 1,139 units sold in June 2010. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 3.3 per cent from June 2011 to $961,600.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,026 in June 2012, a 19 per cent decrease compared to the 1,266 sales in June 2011, and a decrease of 18.4 per cent compared to the 1,258 sales in June 2010. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 0.3 per cent from June 2011 to $376,200.

Attached property sales in June 2012 totalled 415, a 21 per cent decrease compared to the 525 sales in June 2011, and a 27.8 per cent decrease from the 575 attached properties sold in June 2010. The benchmark price of an attached unit decreased 0.1 per cent between June 2011 and 2012 to $468,400.

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Spring and summer are when yards and gardens retake their rightful places at the center of attention. This month, Pillar To Post takes a look at several steps that homeowners can take to make their outdoor spaces and their home live compatibly.


Keep water away from the house

Be sure that the ground slopes away from the house all the way around the perimeter. This ensures that any moisture from rain and sprinkler systems will be directed away from the foundation.

The base of shrubs and other plantings should be kept at least 2' away from the foundation to avoid potential problems with roots and drainage. In addition, window wells should be kept free of debris and lined with gravel to help water drain out of the well and into the ground.

Do not leave sprinklers on for too long. Excessive water will not do plants and lawns any good, and may cause problems if there are drainage issues in certain areas.

The right plant in the right place


When a tree is growing very close to a structure, there can be potentially serious problems if the tree grows too tall or too wide for the space. Damage to eaves and roofs can be caused by overgrowth, and there is even a danger of branches or an entire tree falling onto the home. Existing trees should be professionally pruned to lessen the potential for hazard. When planting new trees, homeowners should research potential "candidates" to find how large the tree will eventually grow and make decisions accordingly.

Homeowners should also consider grouping plants that have similar water requirements to avoid overwatering plants that don't need as much. Not only will plants do better, but water bills will be lower over time as well.

Choose plants with maintenance in mind


Some plants end up requiring more maintenance than a homeowner expects. When selecting new planting material, homeowners should seek advice from qualified personnel at a local nursery who will know what plants will do well in their area, their growth habits and maintenance requirements.

Lawns should not be mowed too short or too frequently. Allowing the blades of grass to shade one another helps with water retention and allows grass to grow in more fully. Many newer turf grasses require less mowing than older varieties, and should be considered for new lawn installations. Homeowners can find out more at their local agricultural or extension office.

These are just some of the ways homeowners can increase the enjoyment of their outdoor spaces while ensuring that home and yard are in good shape.

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Did you know that RE/MAX has launched a new tech tool that is a first in the real estate market in Canada? RE/MAX of Western Canada has recently launched its new Augmented Reality feature, ‘Live View’ on the free RE/MAX mobile real estate search app. This new feature is available on iPhone and Android devices.

 How does it work? When looking through the camera view on your GPS enabled iPhone or Android phone you will be able to locate properties for sale and displays the listing information on top of the physical property that you are standing in front of. The app allows you to save the property in a list of ‘Saved Listings’ which can be connected your remax.ca account making it easy to reference while in the application or on a computer. You can also request more information on the property and have a RE/MAX agent contact you.
This app will be particularly helpful when one is looking for active condo listings in the larger buildings in the Vancouver Downtown area!
 Download the free RE/MAX application onto your device.  Visit www.remax.ca/wc/mobile.htm or the iTunes App Store or Google Play store.
 
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Vancouver continues to be one of the most interesting case studies in North America for Real Estate activity. Predictions abound about the vulnerability of the Vancouver market. Many call the hot market, "a bubble", but from where I stand, I don't see Russia...only the horizon.
 
The unique Vancouver combination of being the primary Pacific port in Canada, locked into a narrow crease of land between mountains and waterways, and being the most temperate climate in the country make it a compelling location for migrants. In deed many point to the "investor class" migrants who see Vancouver as a destination of choice in Canada as being a primary factor in rising house prices. This is just one factor among many for the climbing sticker price on Vancouver properties.
 
A year ago Vancouver was the host city to the Winter Olympics. This cast a concentrated focus on this mountain city by the sea. Not surprisingly since then, prices have continued to climb. Some neighbourhoods have seen double digit growth in already comparatively high prices. The Vancouver westside neighbourhood has some of the most expensive "dirt" in the country. Builders and investors look to purchase lots in some of the more mature neighbourhoods in the hope of tearing down the older home and building a newer luxury class dwelling. The problem continues to be that demand outpaces supply.
 
Multiple offers and bidding wars continue to push prices skyward. As long as affordability remains in reach, Vancouver will continue to demand the highest property values in Canada. Scarcity of supply that meets an overabundance of demand is always the recipe for accelerated prices. That fact doesn't appear to change anytime soon in Vancouver. Not surprising...given that this is best place on earth!
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January 20, 2017


First-time buyers interest-free down payment program


The new BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) Partnership program helps eligible BC residents purchase a home.

The program offers first-time home buyers who have saved a down payment:

  • A down payment loan of up to 5% of a home’s purchase price to a maximum of $37,500, on a home with a maximum price of $750,000.
  • This loan matches the buyer’s down payment and is interest-free and payment-free for five years.
  • After five years, buyers can either repay their loan or enter into monthly payments at interest rates that are current five years from the date of the loan.
  • Loans through the program are due after 25 years – the same length as most mortgages.

To qualify for the program, home buyers with a registered interest on title must reside in the home and be a:

  • Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least five years;
  • resident of BC for at least one year immediately preceding the date of application; and
 
  Click here for larger version of infographic
 
  • first-time buyer who has not owned an interest in a residence anywhere in the world at any time.

The home buyer must:

  • use the property as their principal residence for the first five years;
  • obtain a high-ratio insured first mortgage on the property for at least 80% of the purchase price; and
  • have a combined, gross household income of all individuals on title not exceeding $150,000.

Buyers can begin gathering the documents they’ll need to submit an online application. Buyers will need:

  • Proof of status in Canada and residency in British Columbia.
  • Secondary identification (must include your photo).
  • Proof of income and tax filings.
  • Insured first mortgage pre-approval.

 

• Information and application details
• Questions and answers 

  

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