November 26, 2013
Hiding a Secondary Suite in Surrey Can Cost You Triple Fees
Yesterday I received a letter from the City of Surrey essentially saying fess up or pay up if I'm hiding a rental suite. If I had a secondary suite in my house (which I do not Mr. By-law Officer), I am required to fill out the form they attached to the letter and advise the City of Surrey of its existence.
To give you a little history, Surrey Council changed the zoning in 2010 to allow secondary suites in single family homes in Surrey. There was a little time lag, but following that approval in 2011, a secondary suite fee of $495 per year was introduced. Given the failure to disclose a secondary suite will soon be subject to a $1,000 fine, you essentially pay triple if your unregistered suite is sleuthed out by a By-law Officer. The math is you pay $495 if you disclose your rental ... but you pay the fine of $1,000, plus the $495 fee (grand total of $1,495) if you do not.
The City has two "suite" detectives (i.e., By-law Officers) specifically assigned to outing secondary suites. One of the most common ways they have of learning of a secondary suite is by neighbours reporting it. Neighbours often complain anonymously given noise, pets, and the most common trigger of all --- parking.
There are more that 24,000 registered suites in Surrey right now. If you have a secondary suite and have not reported it, I recommend that you take heed of their "grace" period and report it by January 31, 2014 or pay the piper. The $1,000 is per rental suite, not per home. So, if your house has two rental suites, the non-disclosure fee could be $2,000.
Here's the "fess up" form provided by the City of Surrey.
November 16, 2013
Realtors Care Blanket Drive, Nov. 18-25, 2013
To meet a growing need in our community, and to get an earlier jump on the cold weather, the Realtors Care Blanket Drive is being held a week earlier this year. It starts this Monday, November 18.
The drive is geared towards helping the homeless fend off the cold. As realtors, we'd like to collect gently used blankets and sleeping bags. Clothing to fend off the cold is also accepted, in particular, gently used: coats, jeans, pants, sweaters, scarves, gloves, mitts, hats. New socks and underwear are also gratefully accepted.
There are currently over 400 homeless people in Surrey. It is rewarding to know that all donations collected in a community stay in that community. My office, Homelife Benchmark Realty in White Rock, located at #1 - 1920 152nd Street, White Rock, is one of the drop off locations. If that location is not convenient, a list of drop locations can be found at http://www.rebgv.org/blanket-drive-drop-locations-0
You can also pass any donations on to me and I'll ensure they are dropped off at my Homelife office. If there is another community you prefer to assist, I'm also happy to drop the blankets and clothing off in Langley, North Delta, South Delta, Richmond or New Westminster for you.
Mike Alleyne, 604-785-7066
November 16, 2013
Open House today! 6415 121A Street, Surrey, BC.
I am pleased to let you know that today, November 16, from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm I will be hosting an Open House in the popular Newton area of Surrey, at 6415 121A Street, Surrey, BC. An open house is an excellent opporunity to take a look at a property without having to book a time in advance.
This wonderful property is close to shopping, at the end of a cul de sac, has a private back yard and is an end unit. It has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.
Please call me at 604-785-7066 if I can answer any questions before the open house.
HomeLife Benchmark White Rock
November 12, 2013
"Rake the Leaves" says Man's Best Friend
Is it just me or are the falling leaves bigger and more plentiful than in previous years? We were walking our dogs a week ago and looked back at our yard. Whew, our family has a lot of backbreaking raking to do.
Our house is not for sale, so we are procrastinating on the raking. If your house if for sale, I recommend that you do as I say and not as I do and keep on top of raking. It's not too bad if you do a little each day, and it's great exercise. Your house needs to be well kept because it has a big influence on buyers.
The leaf volume in my yard was so significant that I lost track of my best friend.
Can you find her?
How keen is your eye sight. Did you see both dogs?
November 7, 2013
Fraser Valley Growing - Buy vs. Rent, say CMHC analyst
All eyes were on the Fraser Valley at the recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) annual Vancouver Housing Outlook conference held last Friday. Despite the focus on Vancouver, considerable time was spent discussing the Fraser Valley's future prospects as it's one of the fastest growing regions of not only BC, but also Canada.
CMHC Market Expert on the Fraser Valley, Richard Sam, gave some interesting data. The fastest growing city in the Fraser Valley is Surrey, followed by Chilliwack, Abbotsford and then Langley. Strong economic growth and jobs are attracting people to the Fraser Valley.
Industries leading the local economy are manufacturing, construction, healthcare, retail, and transportation. Also, enhancements to the transportation infrastructure including the Abbotsford Airport are attracting people to the Fraser Valley. Buyers know they can get more for their dollar. Essentially a buyer could get two single family homes for the price of one home in Vancouver. Leading the sales are single family homes with a yard.
The demographics are interesting in the Fraser Valley in that the annual population growth is 1.9 (higher than Vancouver's at 1.7). The two fastest growing demographics are the Millennials (25-39 year olds) and the Boomers (55-74 year olds). Both of these groups generally covet home ownerhsip.
Richard Sam demonstrated that with a 10% downpayment, people are better off buying than renting. That is good news for our real estate market. Even though rents are relatively reasonable in the Fraser Valley, the low interest rates mean that mortgages payments are comparable to rent.
Mike Alleyne 604-785-7066HomeLife Benchmark Realty White Rock
November 3, 2013
Getting to Know the (sometimes spooky) Autumn Real Estate Market
The signs of mid-autumn are all around us. Last weekend, I enjoyed hoisting free pumpkins into passersby cars at the White Rock Homelife Real Estate office. On Halloween night I came home to my 20 year old son dressed up in a costume covered in Jagermeister bottles -- don't ask (I long for the times when I could push him out the door in my favourite hockey jersey). My wife was had all kinds of grey fabric hanging off of black pants and a shirt -- I didn't get it, but it was 50 shades of grey. With the exception of our pets, our family really enjoys autumn, and it’s crown jewel , All Hallow’s Eve -- but to get back to the purpose of the blog, ---- just like Halloween, the real estate market can be a tiny bit scary in the fall.
Real estate markets behave differently in the autumn so the secret is to wrap your head around the market and understand it. This year, mortgage rates are still good, and there are still opportunities to buy or sell homes. Get the stats of the recent market for your area. The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board has not released the October stats yet, but September 2013 showed a 32% increase in sales over September 2012. But, this has not caused any increase in prices because inventory levels have held pace with demand.
Often in fall there are frustrated sellers who have missed the busier summer market. Their reaction is to either re-price their homes or take their properties off the market entirely before the holiday season brings the inevitable market lull. Houses, townhouses, condos and apartments all behave differently. Surrey, Langley, Delta and White Rock homes sales all behave differently from each other. There can also be hot and cool mini housing markets. Talk to your agent about what is happening in your area.
Before dropping out of the real estate market, I recommend both buyers and sellers take the opportunity that the fall market provides. For buyers, late autumn (after the kids are settled in school) is actually a great time to buy a home. Prices have settled back to what is more reflected of the true market value. Beautiful summer gardens do not distract buyers from maintenance issues. Now is the time to really make good and rational housing decisions. Are the gutters draining properly, is the furnace working, does the house smell fresh and free of dampness?
For sellers, remember the importance of the senses and embrace the season. For sight – add fall colours -- pumpkins, gords, mums, fall wreaths or cornstalks at the front door can add decorative homey appeal. For smell, how about apple pie or apple cider, you can whip something up in the kitchen or buy a candle with the appropriate scent. For feel (touch), my suggestion is to ensure the air and surfaces are warm and cozy, the house must be warm and inviting.