Victoria real estate: Fewer listings, fewer sales in October | Times Colonist

Fewer listings translated into a slow month of home sales in October, according to figures released Wednesday by the Victoria Real Estate Board.

There were 664 properties sold last month, a drop of nearly 10 per cent compared with the same time last year.

At the same time, there were 1,905 active listings for sale at the end of October, a 3.6 per cent drop compared to September and 1.7 per cent fewer than the 1,938 active listings for sale at the end of October 2016.

“As expected, we saw fewer sales than this time last year. Looking at the longer-term picture, however, sales last month were 17.1 per cent above the 10-year average of 567 properties for the month of October,” said board president Ara Balabanian. “So the market is still very active here in Victoria, and this is in spite of the ongoing low inventory levels.”

The benchmark value for a single-family home in the Victoria core last month was $821,900, a 9.3 per cent increase over the $752,000 benchmark value in October 2016.

“The fact that we’ve seen such a controlled levelling off in the market directly following a year which felt so uncontrollable in terms of demand and pressure on prices illustrates the depth and stability of the Victoria market,” said Balabanian. “An unstable market may have experienced a heavy correction or shift, whereas in our market sales are moderating at a reasonable rate.”

Historically speaking, the region’s pricing is unprecedented.

According to a survey conducted by Century 21, the price per square foot of a typical single-family home has increased 238 per cent over the past 10 years to more than $424.

The study gathered the price-per-square-foot for a typical home across the major towns and cities in Canada in 1997, 2006 and 2017.

According to Century 21, Victoria’s 10-year increases — 182 per cent for condos to $435 per square foot and 173 per cent to $354 per square foot for townhomes — was considered healthy.

“It has really changed. It gives you a snapshot of where you are living and Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto have seen some big increases,” said Chris Markham managing broker at Century 21 Queenswood.

The biggest increase was seen on the west side of Vancouver where the typical price per square foot — building and land — increased 400 per cent to $1,210.

Markham said the price point in Greater Victoria is a growing problem that is pushing young people out of the equation. He said the large number of condos that are under construction might help in terms of added supply and improving the 0.5 per cent rental vacancy rate, but might not do much in terms of price.

Markham cited increased building costs and scarcity of skilled trades as factors driving up cost.

He also noted foreign investment in homes and businesses has been great for spurring on growth, but it’s made getting into the housing market that much more difficult.

“[Foreign investment] goes to Vancouver, Vancouver comes to Victoria and we spin it up Island,” he said.

Foreign investment in the capital region remains fairly low, with just 4.3 per cent of all property transfers in the last six months involving foreign nationals.

Markham said the current market conditions are unprecedented, and it’s anyone’s guess when it will slow down. “I do think we are seeing more balance,” he said, noting the market is not building up its inventory but rather matching new listings with sales each month.

But he doesn’t think the market has seen the end of high prices and demand. “If you and I had talked a year ago, I’d have said be in cash and out of the market by the end of this year. But now what I’m seeing is there’s so much momentum that even if they jacked up interest rates and even if a bomb dropped there’s so much momentum I don’t see it dying. There’s too much already committed,” Marjham said, adding the unemployment rate remains low, interest rates are relatively low and in-migration continues.

The VREB said a balanced market will continue over the next few months as low inventory levels will match the traditional slowdown in buyer and seller behaviour.

The article was originally posted on Times Colonist, November 1, 2017. Written by Andrew A. Duffy.

Capital region homeowners consider locking in after interest-rate hike | Times Colonist


Josh Ray is accompanied by his dog, Harley, outside his home in Saanich’s Glanford area on Wednesday. Photograph By DARREN STONE, Times Colonist

First-time homebuyers and owners about to renew their mortgages are nervous about the first benchmark interest-rate hike, a Victoria mortgage broker said Wednesday.

The increase, the first in nearly seven years, might prompt some people to lock in their mortgage rates, Colleen Flynn of Select Mortgage Group said. “It’s a concern for people. They are saying: ‘What’s this going to mean for me?’ ” she said. “I think more people are locking in to be cautious.”

Flynn said she’s also getting calls from homeowners who want to renew their mortgages early.

The Bank of Canada raised its key interest-rate target to 0.75 per cent from 0.5 per cent on Wednesday, prompting the five big banks to raise their prime rates a quarter of a percentage point. At the Royal Bank of Canada, that puts the prime rate at 2.95 per cent, up from 2.7 per cent.

Economists expect a gradual cycle of rate hikes amid rising confidence in the economy and projected growth.

Someone with a $540,000 mortgage over 25 years at an interest rate of 2.95 per cent would have monthly payments of $2,541, up from $2,473 at the lower rate. That $68 a month might not sound like a lot, Flynn said, but it takes earnings of $200 more a month to qualify for a mortgage at the higher rate.

“It’s going to affect their borrowing power,” she said.

Also, a greater share of the monthly payments will go toward interest, so the homeowner will pay $2,300 less toward their principal over five years, Flynn said.

Josh Ray and Nancy Schmidt, who are in their mid-30s, bought their first home in Saanich’s Glanford area on June 30.

Ray, a real estate agent and property manager, said the couple initially went with a variable rate of 2.3 per cent but switched to a fixed rate of 2.54 per cent once news broke of the rate hike.

The increased cost amounts to less than $100 a month and is manageable for them, since the home also has a rental suite.

“That’s still an amazing rate — it’s a no-brainer to lock into that,” Ray said. “They’re talking about raising [interest rates] two or three times this year.”

Ara Balabanian, president of the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board, said the interest-rate hike could push would-be buyers into the market in an attempt to beat another rate increase.

“I think the effects might be more psychological than real financial,” said Balabanian, a Managing Broker with Macdonald Realty Victoria. “There’s a lot of people who have been sitting on the sidelines watching [the market] and they might think, the rates are beginning to move up, maybe this is the time to go forward and buy something and lock it in. This low interest-rate environment will not continue forever.”

The interest rate is only one factor influencing the real estate market, and Balabanian said he doesn’t anticipate a major change in Greater Victoria house prices.

Mortgage broker Maria Dominelli said most first-time homebuyers have fixed mortgage rates, so the rate hike will not immediately affect them.

Variable rates tend to be lower but riskier, since the rates could rise. Borrowers seeking a variable-rate mortgage would have to qualify at the Bank of Canada benchmark of 4.64 per cent, “so there’s already that cushion built in for those borrowers to handle the ups and downs and ride the wave,” Dominelli said.

She said a period of consistent rate hikes could make it harder for people to get into the market.

“Let’s put it this way: It’s not going to make their bottom line any easier,” she said. “A higher rate will mean they have to take on a slightly higher debt load.”

The “bigger bombshell,” Dominelli said, would be the new stress test for uninsured mortgages being proposed by Canada’s banking regulator.

The new rules would mean homebuyers with a down payment of 20 per cent or more will have to show they can handle their monthly payments if interest rates rise.

Currently, only homebuyers with less than 20 per cent down — who must be insured by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation — are required to face the test.

“When these new rules come in, it’s going to be a rude awakening,” she said.


The article was originally posted on Times Colonist, July 13, 2017. Written by Katie Derosa.

Macdonald Realty opens boutique offices in Sidney and Sechelt

Macdonald Realty has opened two new locations, the first in Sidney on Vancouver Island and the second in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.  These boutique offices join the province-wide network of 20 offices operated by Macdonald Realty, a B.C. owned and operated brokerage with a 70 year history of service and excellence.

“We’re focused on serving British Columbians in communities of all sizes” says Jonathan Cooper, Vice President, Operations. “Smaller offices like Sidney and Saanich, led by strong local REALTORS®, have become an important part of Macdonald Realty’s growth strategy over recent years.”

In Sidney, the new office opened with six agents and was spearheaded by Chace Whitson, a multiple MLS® Gold Award winner who has been with Macdonald Realty since 2013.  “Having our large office in Downtown Victoria, and now one in Sidney, allows us to serve our clients better across the whole region,” says Whitson. “Our affiliation with Luxury Portfolio International® gives our high-end clients a unique opportunity to market their home to the luxury elite across the globe, something that no other Victoria brokerage can offer.”

The Sechelt office is the result of a meeting between Managing Broker Patricia Place and Medallion Club REALTORS® Barbie Whitworth and Shay Moudahi who decided to switch their office to Macdonald Realty after being attracted by the company’s strong leadership, systems and brand positioning. “The new office is opening at just the right time with the Sunshine Coast market really heating up,” says Place, a part-time Sunshine Coast resident herself who also manages the company’s Squamish, West Vancouver and North Vancouver locations.  

Macdonald Realty Ltd. – Sidney | 2411 Bevan Avenue, Sidney, BC  V8L 4M9  |  Office: 778-426-2262

Macdonald Realty Ltd. – Sechelt | #3 – 5764 Wharf Road, Sechelt, BC  V0N 3A0  |  Office: 604-747-2222

[Read more…]

Our Year in Review 2015 [VIDEO]

It is the season to look back with a Year in Review 2015 video of Macdonald Real Estate Group’s performance across our residential, commercial sales and leasing, property management and project marketing divisions, as well as the launch of our new office in Shanghai, China.  This success continues to position us as Western Canada’s largest integrated real estate firm.  Watch the 3 minute video for an overview of the key highlights of our last year.

YouTube Preview Image
About Macdonald Real Estate Group
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $7 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management.  With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China.  Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit

Over 300 Macdonald Realty Agents Achieve the Certified Negotiation Expert Designation

VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada (August 11, 2015) – Macdonald Realty is pleased to announce that as of August 11th, 2015, over 300 of its real estate agents have received the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designation – this represents over 50% of the agents from Macdonald Realty’s residential sales offices.

“In decades past, agents were the conduits of listing information.” Explains Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) CEO Lynn Hsu. “Now, there is an enormous amount of listing data readily available to the public online, and the value proposition for the real estate agent has changed.  Agents must provide cogent analysis of the data available, and expert negotiation skills to resolve conflict, build bridges, and bring deals together for the benefit ofsuze-cumming all parties involved.”

Jonathan Cooper, MREG Vice President, adds: “The bottom line is negotiation skills are fundamental to the real estate business.  Successfully managing the ebb and flow of interpersonal communications—often under considerable time constraints—is vital to real estate transactions, and it’s not something that can be replaced by a computer.”

Offered by the Real Estate Negotiation Institute (RENI), the CNE® course applies up-to-date research in negotiation dynamics to the real estate sales process.  It provides agents with tangible tools and insights to achieve better outcomes for their clients.  Since 2006, tens of thousands of real estate agents across North American have earned the CNE® designation.

Suze Cumming, the Canadian Director of the RENI, has collaborated with MREG over the last twelve months – “I  would like to congratulate Macdonald Realty on being the only brokerage in Canada to have successfully certified over 300 of their real estate professionals in this critical area of expertise.  Their commitment to a higher level of service excellence proves that they are leaders in the real estate industry.”


For morJonathon_Cooper_-_Print_MG_2979-Edit-Edit_2e information, please contact:
Jonathan Cooper, Vice President, Operations
Macdonald Real Estate Group, Inc.
Phone – 604 264 6789
Email –
About Macdonald Real Estate Group:
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $6.3 billion and over $1.75 billion in assets under management.  With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China.  Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit




Macdonald Realty #1 in 2015 list of “Biggest BC businesses owned by women” | BIV


In the August 4, 2015 edition of Business in Vancouver, Macdonald Realty was ranked #1 on their annual list of the biggest BC businesses owned by women.  With 930 employees in B.C., Macdonald Realty’s Owner, President and CEO Lynn Hsu tops a list that includes SimpeQ Care, TPD, Purdys Chocolatier and CEFA Early Learning Schools in the Top 5.

Macdonald Realty also ranks 11th on BIV’s list of Biggest B.C. organizations managed by women.

Business in Vancouver newspaper is the flagship publication of Business in Vancouver Media Group. Since its creation in 1989, the weekly newspaper has been an essential source of news, features, analysis and data for Vancouver business leaders and influencers. It remains a must-read source of unique, unduplicated business insight.

See the full list at Business in Vancouver.