Nanaimo Real Estate Blog
Why does Switzerland have one of the lowest rates of home ownership? This seems unfathomable as the Swiss are ranked as the wealthiest country in the world per capita (per Wikipedia), yet have a home ownership rate of only 44%. The Swiss tend to have a high household savings rate compared to North Americans. According to several studies, retirements savings are woefully inadequate for most North Americans, and that people nearing retirement claim that their wealth is achieved solely through the equity in their home. The mindset becomes one of selling your family home and using the equity to provide financially in the later years. This is quite a different perspective compared to the Swiss. They tend to have a very high rate of savings per household and seem to prepare for retirement during their working years more steadfastly than North Americans. There is no social stigma attributed to renting, and real estate speculation in Switzerland have not seen the meteoric rise as in the US (nor the “housing bubble burst” in the late 2000’s). Swiss profit from real estate is minimal and homes can sit on the market for years without an offer.
It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since the tragedy of 9/11. For most of us, we were shaken to our core as the world held its breath and silently wondered if any of us would survive unscathed. However, for others, their personal loss during 9/11 has been something that they could not have imagined as they sent their loved ones onto a plane or off to work that day. Each year, I do try to share my personal story of 9/11 in hopes of showing respect for those men and women who did not survive and for all of the first responders who acted heroically during those harrowing hours and days while New York City was covered with ash and rubble.
Many of us refer to Labour Day as “the weekend before kids return to school” and this is the case this year for BC families. The tradition of celebrating Labour Day weekend continues as many hotels on the Island are already fully booked After Labour Day, trailers and boats are parked back beside the house and lakeside cottages are once again empty. What about the tradition of not wearing white after Labour Day? It seems that this fashion rule was born in the late 1800's by wealthy high society who had an appetite for snobbery. The thought was that white was worn for summer weddings and resort outfits, while Fall parties required darker colored attire. By the 1950's, many magazines seem to pander to middle class families that Labour Day was the last weekend to enjoy your white clothing. One person who was celebrated by the fashion world, but proudly wore white year-round, was Coco Chanel, who is considered one of the great fashionistas of all time. You can blame your hesitation to don your white pants next week on a bunch of snobby millionaires who lived 100 years ago before television was even created!
Have you ever felt completely stressed out and have difficulty making the “right” decision whether it be a new job, selling your existing home or even building a new home? For many of us, this is called life and although at times, it can feel downright scary and isolating. However, we plow through the pitfalls and face adversity head on. We innately know that things will somehow get better, but we struggle to get through those darker days. Many people react negatively towards their spouse or partner when a job loss, or stress that arises from selling, remodeling or building a home. In fact, according to a study of married couples done by Houzz found that home renovating can be an extremely stressful time for couples with a “surprising 12% even admitted that their projects led them to consider a separation or divorce”!
Have you ever wondered how computer games select the names of their characters? Back in 1981, when Nintendo was still renting space in the US for their headquarters, the landlord made a visit to the location and demanded the late rent be paid. According to Wikipedia, a “heated argument” ensued, and the US president of Nintendo promised Mario Sengale, the landlord, that rent would be paid shortly. Minoru Arakawa, head of the Nintendo US operations, decided to pay homage to the landlord and changed the name of their character in Donkey Kong from “Jumpman” to “Mario”. It has been estimated that over 240 million Mario games sold to date and Mario has appeared in over 200 games since the release of Donkey Kong in 1981! Mario Segale does not speak very much about his iconicly named character, but he may not have the time. He was named as one of the top 50 political donors in Washington State and owns a 490 acre development site in Tukwila, Washington!
The BC Government announced that golf carts will soon be permitted on municipal roads as part of a pilot project in 2 cities in BC - including one on Vancouver Island! Premier Christy Clark said in a statement that golf carts will allow seniors another option in terms of transportation and allow them to maintain their independence. Before you rush out and grab your grandpa's golf cart, please be aware of the many restrictions. Firstly, you can forget about messing with the motor so that you can drive at highway speeds as the carts will max out at 30 km per hour, require seat belts, insurance from the municipality, daytime driving only, possess a valid drivers license, and not drive on any highways. This pilot project is being offered as of September in Qualicum Beach and Chase (located in the southern BC interior).
Vancouver is quickly moving closer to implementing a tax on properties that are left vacant for 12 months or longer. In fact, BC Finance Minister, Mike de Jong, will be hosting a meeting on July 25th to discuss how the taxation rules for Vancouver can be amended to permit this tax. According to the latest Teranet-National Bank House Price Index, house prices in Vancouver have increased by 23.4% since last year. In 2013, a Vancouver housing researcher, Andre Yan, sparked a firestorm of controversy when he stated that at least 25% of downtown Vancouver condos were either not occupied or occupied by non-residents for a fraction of the year. Meena Wong introduced this “tax concept” during her mayoral campaign. Vancouver is not alone in contemplating this “surcharge” as Britain has permitted councils to impose up to 150% of the tax rate for an owner leaving a property empty for more than two years. The Guardian newspaper reports that 70% of housing in central London is being purchased by foreign investors.
The news seems to have a never-ending stream of stories of buyers making unconditional offers on homes that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking price. Simply put, this is a dangerous game for buyers to play as it can end up costing them thousands of dollars after the fact. Some sellers have decided that even full-price offers are undesirable! Lindsie Tomlinson, a realtor in Vancouver, recently wrote about a North Vancouver seller who turned down 4 offers and then contacted one of the potential buyers the next day and advised that if the buyers added an additional $100,000 to their offer (which was already well above asking price), that they would accept it. Needless to say the buyer walked away from the property. We are hearing more stories from Mainland agents that suggest that home sellers are not seeing the dozens of offers on a home far above asking price as they were even 6-9 months ago. Sellers who fail to heed the changing market are beginning to see their home sit unsold on the market.
Muhammad Ali was passionate about real estate. When he visited Vancouver in 1972, he was awestruck by the beauty of Stanley Park and commented that “it would be a great place to train”. In fact, when he returned 2 years later, he stood outside his hotel and did magic tricks for the children walking down the street – much to the amazement of the parents! Earlier this year, Ali’s childhood family home was purchased and renovated so that it looked identical to when a young Cassius Clay lived there in Louisville, Kentucky in 1955. It is a 2 bedroom, one bathroom home and has been repainted the bright pink color it originally was. A Las Vegas investor and longtime Ali fan co-own the home and have turned it into a museum whereby visitors can tour the home exactly as it was when Ali lived there. They also purchased the home next door and have turned it into the gift store. Interestingly, the museum opened for business in May, shortly before Ali’s passing.
Happy Canada Day to all of you! While you enjoy the holiday to mark the start of summer, I hope that you read a book, spend time with family or get out and explore our beautiful city. If you are going to read over this long weekend, I have a book selection that I would like to share with you. I read a fascinating book entitled "Decisive" by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. Psychology research has shown that it is "hair trigger" or "short term emotions" that really do affect our decisions in life. In the blink of an eye, our brains literally scan our biases, irrational fears, beliefs and replay past experiences to create the catalyst for our decisions. With the internet now a source for everything, most of us actually use it to reaffirm the beliefs that we already hold, and simply ignore or downplay any information which we deem not in alignment with our beliefs. A good example of this (which can also be quite dangerous without seeking the professional advice of a doctor) is when you have a rash suddenly appear on your arm. A quick search of this condition on the internet, and you can easily confirm that the rash appears to be similar in nature to that of a heat rash, or if you are a little more pessimistic, you can find another website that will confirm that you are indeed dying of a rare disease.