Four Bedrooms on the Bluffs of Vancouver
$2.06 MILLON (2.7 MILLION CANADIAN DOLLARS)
This three-level home in the mountainside village of Lions Bay, West Vancouver, overlooks Howe Sound, about 20 miles north of downtown Vancouver. Built in 1988, with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, the house was extensively renovated to open up the floor plan and install radiant floor heating, among other updates, said Craig Doherty, owner of the Lions Bay office of Sotheby’s, which has the listing.
The house has about 4,300 square feet of living space, as well as expansive decks and an attached garage, on .83 acres. All of the main living areas have ocean views, and despite being built into a hillside, the property has a level backyard lawn.
The main level has oak floors and vaulted ceilings, with a large living room and a wall of glass facing west to the ocean. The kitchen is lined with windows that slide open to a deck and has a center island with granite counters. It is open to an office, den and a spacious eating area, with a covered deck beyond for al fresco dining.
Up an open wood-and-iron staircase, the top floor has two bedrooms, including the master, which has an en suite bathroom and a walk-in closet. The master bathroom has a whirlpool tub and a stone-tile shower, both of which have ocean views, Mr. Doherty said.
The other two bedrooms are on the lower level, along with a family room and laundry facilities. An infrared sauna is on a side deck.
The property is less than a mile from the Lions Bay Marina and Lions Bay Beach Park, “the most idyllic little beach,” Mr. Doherty said. With a population of roughly 1,350, the village has just a few shops for necessities, he said; more shopping and dining can be found about 15 minutes south, in West Vancouver.
Lions Bay is 50 miles north of the American border. Whistler Blackcomb, an internationally known ski resort, is about an hour’s drive up the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway 99, the main road into town. Vancouver International Airport is also about an hour away.
Home prices in Greater Vancouver have rocketed upward over the past decade. In the past three years alone, they have increased more than 40 percent, said Phil Moore, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
“We are the California of Canada,” he said, noting that the area attracts about 40,000 new residents annually.
In the Vancouver area, the benchmark sale price (similar to a median, using value estimates) is around $1.6 million for a detached home. In East Vancouver, that buys a modest two-floor home on a slab; in more exclusive West Vancouver, “that buys you nothing,” Mr. Moore said. “That’s an area that’s $3 million and above.”
An increase in mortgage interest rates over the past three quarters has intensified what was already a looming affordability crisis in Vancouver, said Craig Wright, a senior vice president and chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada. The bank is predicting further increases in the coming year.
In an effort to slow demand, particularly from foreign buyers, the provincial and local governments have instituted a number of financial disincentives. Foreign buyers must now pay a provincial tax of 20 percent of a home’s sale price — a recent increase from 15 percent. Vancouver is also trying to discourage investors who do not live in their homes or rent them by charging an Empty Homes Tax of one percent of the assessed taxable value.
The interventions have slowed sales, especially of high-end properties. In Lions Bay, a softer market has caused prices to slide by 5.5 percent in the past three months, Mr. Moore said. But the higher taxes are also pushing more buyers into lower price ranges, driving up demand for condos. In downtown Vancouver, condo prices start at around $900 a square foot and can go up to $2,500 a square foot, said Andrew G. Carros, an agent with Engel & Volkers.
“A lot of the initiatives on tightening so far have focused on demand,” said Mr. Wright, of the Royal Bank. “The attention on the supply side has not been robust enough. We’ve seen a pickup in new construction recently, though, so moving forward that should help ease some of these price pressures.”
Who Buys in Greater Vancouver
Foreign buyers account for around 3 percent of all transactions, compared with about 10 percent before the introduction of the Foreign Buyers Tax in 2016, Mr. Wright said. Mainland Chinese are by far the largest group of foreigners buying in Vancouver, while the Whistler resort area attracts many American and Japanese buyers, agents said.
Vancouver “is a very international city, and there are people from a lot of different places,” Mr. Carros said. “Every culture is welcome.”
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Canada. Buyers and sellers use their own real estate agents and lawyers. Legal fees are typically about $1,000, Mr. Moore said. The agent’s commission is paid by the seller.
Mortgages are available to foreigners, but lenders may require significant down payments, he said.
Languages and Currency
English; Canadian dollars (1 Canadian dollar = $0.76)
Taxes and Fees
Annual taxes on this home are 4,686 Canadian dollars (about $3,500). The property transfer tax, paid to the province of British Columbia, would be approximately 59,000 Canadian dollars (or $45,000) if the home is bought for the asking price.
Craig Doherty, Sotheby’s International Realty, 604-396-9555; sothebysrealty.ca
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