Monday, March 16, 2015

First Time Buyers: Types of Housing - The Apartment or Townhouse Purchase, Chilliwack Values


Purchasing a strata home whether it is an apartment or townhouse can be an wonderful experience.  This series of posts written for "First Time Buyers" of real estate in British Columbia is designed to familiarize the reader with some of the basic concepts, provide handy links, local benchmark pricing and hopefully assist you with your decision making.



The first part of this series discussed the principle of "caveat emptor" or "let the buyer beware".  In this province there is an onus on the buyer to conduct oneself in a thorough and businesslike manner.  This job is greatly assisted with the help of a Realtor whose local knowledge and experience will help lay the groundwork for such investigation and negotiations. 


An Apartment or Townhouse Purchase

It was less than 50 years that the first condominiums were built in the province of British Columbia.  Today, there are many different types of strata or condominiums (condos) they include apartments, townhouses, duplexes, single family houses on a bare-land strata and even commercial/industrial buildings.  For this post we will focus on apartments and townhouses.




Sometimes, terms gets confusing, are strata and condos the same thing? Yes. As a purchaser, I suggest you keep things simple,  call an apartment an apartment and a townhouse a townhouse. When I use strata or condo in this article I will be referring to both.

If almost one quarter of all British Columbia's residential ownership is in strata homes there is good reason. Condos provide affordable alternatives to the more expensive and usually older single family detached house. 

Strata developments also provide flexibility. There are many forms of strata developments catering to specific target profiles.  Chilliwack offers a multitude of apartment and townhouse options tailored to meet the needs of people at a variety of stages in life.  There are complexes designed for seniors, families, workers, people with pets and for investment. They supply in most cases added convenience (no grass to cut), security, extra amenities and as already mentioned value.

Strata developments are in a sense small communities that, beyond the structure of the Strata Property Act, set out their own rules and regulations.  Expect that some compromise, on your part, will be necessary to enjoy the benefits of condo living.  These strata corporations will have bylaws and regulations that will affect your use and enjoyment.  In many cases they will serve to enhance it but not always. The strata corporation will be organized in a democratic form with representatives who are your neighbours. Every strata will be unique to some degree so investigating strata documents is a must.

The obligations of a strata owner are somewhat similar to owning a house with the exception that a monthly strata fee and sometimes a special levy must be paid.  Owner's will usually be responsible for the interior of the home but share in the expenses of the exterior and "common" property of the development.

Both the financial environment and lifestyle attributes of the strata must be weighed carefuly before committing yourself to a purchase.  You are looking for a good fit.  Be sure to ask lots of questions, no such thing as a bad one, and get professional real estate advice.

Values are affected by a number of factors: age, size, finish, location and public acceptance. 

Apartments

Chilliwack* has only three concrete hi-rise apartment buildings partly due to the availability of cheap development land for frame built structures and the expense associated with concrete construction.




Most apartments, then are of frame construction, changes to the building code in 2014 allowed apartment building to rise to 6 storeys when extra fire safety systems are in place. Previously the height had been restricted to 3 storeys above parking. For the most part, Chilliwack has seen very few of these taller buildings but I anticipate that will change.

To provide you with some idea of present listing prices in Chilliwack, March 2015, the following chart is offered.

Apartments

  • HIGH* - $327,000
  • LOW* - $34,900
  • AVERAGE* Total - $147,000
  • Average One Bedroom - $109,000
  • Average Two Bedroom - $160,000
  • Average Three Bedroom + $210,000
  • MEDIAN* - $137,500
* Values as of March 16, 2015 - amounts rounded


Townhouses

Chilliwack has a tremendous supply of townhouses in all areas offering modern interiors and convenient locations.

townhouses under construction

Townhouses
  • HIGH* - $569,900
  • LOW* - $110,000
  • AVERAGE* - $257,000
  • Average One Bedroom - No data
  • Average Two Bedroom - $164,000
  • Average Three Bedroom - $210,000
  • Average Four Bedroom - $232,000
  • MEDIAN* - $254,500
* Values as of March 16, 2015 - amounts rounded


NOTES:
  1. Condominiums whether townhouses or apartments are administered under the British Columbia Strata Property Act. Further rules and regulations can be added by each individual Strata Council.
  2. Suggested reading: Buying a Home in BC by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia
  3. Download a copy of the Condominium's Buyer's Guide from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation at www.cmhc.ca or try this more direct link.
  4. Always use a professional agent to purchase or sell real estate - I know that sounds self-serving - but, real estate is a lot more complex than many know.  If you are looking in the eastern Fraser Valley or want a referral to real agent in your area, please give me a call or send me an email. If you call my office 604-792-0077, ask for Steve Mullock, we have 5 Steve's in the office!
  5. In the First Time Buyer series an earlier post looked at the cheapest Chilliwack's* housing option - the mobile or modular home

Imagine living here...

All pictures from Garrison Crossing, Chilliwack, BC© Stephen Mullock 2015

Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mount Cheam At The Top


Mount Cheam Peak © Stephen Mullock

Mount Cheam (pronounces She-am) offers one of the best summit views in the area. 

On my way up to the top in 2014, I took the above picture. This is the Cheam peak with some of my fellow hikers are already at the top. Others are still climbing. Humans so small against the immensity of the mountain and the sky. There is a feeling of awe to be found here.

It is quite the trek to get to the top, Mount Cheam stands 6,929 feet or 2112 meters above sea level, not that you start at the bottom, still for most, starting at the upper parking lot it is a steady and steep slough for a couple of hours.  I have written about the climb before but today I thought it might be interesting to have a look around the top.  While I have hiked to the peak a half dozen times I realize that many people might never get up here - so please let me share my experience with you.

Let's start with the vista these people are enjoying. This is the reward for all that work. Below we see the Fraser River and the town of Agassiz.  In the top right corner is Harrison Lake.  

How far can you see?  On a very good day, one without any low pacific clouds you might glimpse Vancouver Island.  That would be a remarkable sight.


Agassiz BC, Fraser Valley © Stephen Mullock

It is a ragged looking peak up close. Some 5,000 years ago, this mountain was torn in half. 

An immense landslide that started right at the peak, careened downward burying an unsuspecting aboriginal village with an estimated population of 5,000 people. The end would have been violent and sudden, forever sealing the inhabitants beneath a stone silence. 

The debris field extended right to the Fraser River changing forever its path to the Salish Sea.

The power of this past event is still evident at the summit - its' rock face still looks ripped apart. That is the view at the top.


© Stephen Mullock




© Stephen Mullock


Mount Cheam is the best known mountain peak in the eastern Fraser Valley large part due to its fine triangular shape, its' legendary status, and positioning.  The sun rises behind the Cheam Ridge. It also marks an intersection where the Fraser Valley very quickly turns into the canyon.





This little bandit it will take food right out of your knapsack given half a chance.

All pictures © Stephen Mullock


Imagine living here....





Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Chilliwack* Real Estate Sales Review and Analysis February 2015


February 2015, was a beautiful month in Chilliwack, British Columbia.  While the eastern provinces of our great country were battling snow and double digit below zero temperatures we were enjoying unseasonably warm weather. Flowers were popping up and buds formed on trees. Plenty of sun, blue skies - all seemed right in the world - so why did I ruin it by looking at the Chilliwack* February 2015 real estate numbers?  What a let down.  Is that a cloud on my generally cheerful disposition?  It might well be.



Saint Thomas, Chilliwack©Stephen Mullock


January, was a super month for the sale of single family houses the best since 2007. In contrast, last month very simply was the worst Chilliwack real estate "February" market in 20 years. 

There were still sales of course and prices remained strong. The average sale price for the 73 single family house sales in Chilliwack* rose to $360,000 the median sale price to $374,500.  The list-to-sale relationship for Chilliwack* single family homes a healthy 98%.

The average sale price of the 31 Chilliwack* strata homes was up also, to $240,000 the median sale price $251,500.  The list to sale ratio here - 98%. Just the total numbers of sales were down.

Was this a one off or a sign that the oil economy has a lot more to do with our local real estate market than we'd like to admit?

I am going for a walk in the sunshine, might even say a prayer, tomorrows another day.





The information reported in this post has been prepared by the author Stephen Mullock, using information from the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board.  The information has been drawn from sources deemed to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information are not guaranteed.

In providing such information, neither Stephen Mullock nor the Chilliwack & District Real Estate Board assumes any responsibility or liability.

Copyright © 2015 Stephen Mullock. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without written permission.


Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.