Blog › August 2012

Maintenance Fees: A Dilemma

The automatic thought regarding maintenance (strata) fees in a building when buyers are looking to purchase a condo is: The lower the strata fees, the better.

But before you jump into a conclusion, there are a few things to consider:

1) Make sure you find out what is included in the strata fees. Is natural gas included for example? Do you have a gas fireplace which heats up the whole house, thus cutting down on your hydro bill?

2) Understand where the strata fees are going in the building. Is the money going towards maintenance and upkeep of the building, or towards repairs? If the building is maintained very well, then it is likely that you will not be asked to pay for special assessments very often or not at all.

3) What is the insurance on the building? The maintenance fees pay for the insurance on the building so make sure you understand what is covered under the insurance. How much is the deductible? The owners are responsible for the deductible which does not come out of the maintenance fees. 

4) How much is there in the Contingency Reserve Fund (CRF)? This fund is used to pay for some of the long term repairs on the building, like painting after 10 years or resealing the windows. A portion of the strata fees go towards this fund.

So the next time you feel like the strata fees of a condo are too high, look more closely and make sure this doesn't cost you more in the long run. And vice versa, if they're too low, make sure your investment is protected by way of regular maintenance.


Aquarius Buildings Neighbourhood Amenities

The Aquarius family of buildings in Yaletown are located on Davie St. and Marinaside Crescent. right by the Quayside Marina.

In this area of Yaletown, there is no shortage of restaurants, shops and coffee shops. 

Right underneath Aquarius I, 1199 Marinaside, there is a Starbucks, a magazine shop, and Urban Fair. There is also a clinic in the same building.

Underneath Aquarius II, 1111 Marinaside Cr., there is a Bojangles coffee shop, a few restaruants including Provence and Hurricane Grill. There are also other shops such as pet stores in the same area.

If that's not enough, there are a lot of shops and restaurants just a block away from the water and across from the Aquarius complex in the heart of Yaletown. 

Living in this area of Vancouver offers a lot of amenities within walking distance which is why this area is so attractive to buyers and owners alike.


CLUB VIVA - WEST ONE, AZURA I and PARKWEST ONE

Club Viva is one of the most desirable amenities in the downtown Vancouver Real Estate scene. A nearly 20,000 s.f. amenity located on Pacific BLVD between Richards St. and Beach Crescent serving the following buildings:

Azura I (1438 Richards St.), Parkwest One (455 Beach Cr.), West One (1408 Strathmore Mews)

The club includes a large indoor pool, outdoor patio off of the pool, squash courts, fitness centre, billiards lounge, spa, workshop, movie theatre, and a large meeting room. 

The great point about the clun being shared between a few buildings is that the fees associated with the maintenance of the club is shared among a large number of suites, as a result the monthly strata fees of the buildings will not be high. On the other hand the club is never over crowded. 

All in all, the Azura I, Parkwest One and West One are among the most desirable buildings in Yaletown because of the CLUB VIVA facilities that they share. 


Dog Off-Leash Parks in Yaletown close to Azura and Aquarius Developments

A number of my clients who are interested in the Aquarius I or other Aquarius buildings as well as the Azura buildings, have dogs and hence need to know the dog parks in the area.

In the North False Creek area of downtown Vancouver, also known as Yaletown, there are a number of "Dog Off-Leash" parks.

One option is the park at 1020 Marinaside Crescent, just west of the Cambie st. bridge. This park is the closest to Aquarius I, Aquarius II and III as well as the Azura Buildings. Off-leash times are 6:00 a.m. 10:00 p.m.

Another option quite close to Azura I and Azura II is the Emery Barnes Dog park with the same off-leash hours just north of Davie street between Richards and Seymour. 

Nelson park is another option although not too close to either the Azura or the Aquarius buildings. It's located at 1030 Bute at Comox. Off-leash hours are 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and dogs are not allowed into the school's fenced yard.


A Bit About the Current Vancouver Real Estate Market

As you know, there is a lot of talk about the Vancouver Real Estate market in the media. Mainly, there is talk about the market "crashing" and the prices to go down by as much as 20%! 

In my opinion, the claims made by the media are too generalized as the Vancouver market is comprised of many different pockets which have and will always act in a slightly different manner.

I will demonstrate with a few examples: 

1) MLS HPI Price: (HPI is the best and purest way of determining price trends in the housing market. It takes into account what averages and medians do not. Items such as lot size, number of bedrooms, age, etc).

  •  Entire Greater Vancouver Area HPI Price:                        

July 2011:             $612,200

July 2012:             $616,000

This demonstrates an increase in the HPI Price of 0.6% for all of Greater Vancouver over the course of one year. 

  • Vancouver West Side HPI Price:

July 2011:             $814,700

July 2012:             $817,100

This represends a 0.3% increase for the West side of Vancouver.

  • Vancouver Coal Harbour HPI Price:

July 2011:            $667,900

July 2012:            $652,400

This means a decrease of 2.3% in HPI Price from 2011 to 2012, where we had an increase of 3.6% from 2010 to 2011. So in 2012, the HPI Price is still higher than 2010.

2) Median and Average Sales Prices:

The median and average sales prices for almost all of the areas and subareas of the Greater Vancouver region has decreased compared to last year.

However, as previously mentioned, these indicators do not take important factors such as lot size, age, etc... into account.

As a result, using these indicators provides a very skewed perception of the inflation or deflation of the real estate market.

To sum up, I believe that the Vancouver market is becoming more stable and realistic compared to last year where prices suddently went through the roof (as much as 20% increase in some areas!). Additionaly, when my clients ask me where I see the market going, I always ask: "Which part of town are you asking about?"

For a more detailed analysis please watch the following video by the REBGV.


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