Five New Landscaping Trends for Spring

With spring well under way, many of us are itching to get outside and fix up the yard. We all want to spend a little more time outside, basking in the sun after a cold winter. Update your yard this year with these five trends that are on the rise:

  1. Maximize Functionality: It will take a lot of planning and consideration, but maximizing your yard’s functionality will also maximize its space. Take a good look at the systems and features your yard or garden has. Can any of these systems or features multitask? Maybe you have a stone walkway through your garden – can you widen it to accommodate a patio set? Or if you have sprinklers, you can integrate a water feature into the irrigation system, doubling the function of this feature.
  2. Implement the Four Seasons: When you’re planning your garden this year, consider using a variety of plants that will keep it looking beautiful all year long. Bright blooms are perfect for spring and summer, but adding deciduous shrubs and trees will add a pop of colour in the fall when the flowers start to die off. Plus, you can decorate the trees with Christmas lights in winter!
  3. Creative Fencing: Instead of the traditional white picket fence, consider using some more scenic alternatives this year. Bamboo or trees are a creative and decorative alternative to traditional fences. Lacy-leafed leaves trees such as dogwoods or Japanese maples are big enough to create a border but don’t overwhelm. Keep in mind, however, that these foliage fences won’t do much to keep pets or children secure or keep out trespassers.
  4. Go Authentic: Artisanal, handcrafted products are always in style. Instead of picking up a bench from Canadian Tire, hire a local artisan instead. The result will be a beautiful, unique addition to your garden that will stand the test of time.
  5. Outdoor Dining: Fully equipped outdoor kitchens and dining areas have been one of the hottest trends for the past couple years. What’s different about this year is that the dining area is a bit more removed. Creating a unique alcove in the back of your yard or in the middle of your garden will create a much more intimate dining experience.

Which of these five trends will you try this year?


Slow Market Activity for the First Quarter of 2018

The first quarter of the year has seen slow sales activity from home buyers and sellers in Metro Vancouver. Statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reveal that residential home sales in the region fell to 2,517, 14 percent fewer than February 2018 when 2,207 homes sold, and a whopping 29.7 percent decrease from last year’s 3,579. This number also puts this March’s sales 23 percent below the month’s 10-year average.

Additionally, the region saw its lowest first-quarter sales total since 2003. There were 6,542 home sales on Metro Vancouver’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in the first quarter of 2018, down 13.1 percent from the 7,527 sales recorded last year over the same period.

This decline in sales activity is not altogether surprising, considering that January and February of this year also saw sales slump, and sales are typically relatively slow during the first few months of the year anyway. But we’re seeing huge declines and 10 year lows this quarter. What’s causing this decline?

According to REBGV president Phil Moore, “High prices, new tax announcements, rising interest rates, and stricter mortgage requirements are among the factors affecting home buyer and seller activity today.”

There were about 12,469 homes listed for sale in Metro Vancouver during the first quarter of the year, a slight 0.8 percent decrease from the 12,568 listings over the same period last year. This represents the lowest first-quarter new listings total since 2013.

Will this alleviate some of the pressure on home prices?

“Even with lower demand, upward pressure on prices will continue as long as the supply of homes for sale remains low,” Moore continues. “Last month was the quietest March for new home listings since 2009 and the total inventory, particularly in the condo and townhome segments, of homes for sale remains well below historical norms.”

With busy season still ahead of us, it will be interesting to see how the effects of these statistics play out later in the year.


February Sales Slump as Market Prepares for Impact

Home sales in the Greater Vancouver area saw a slump in February, but big changes are in store for the market later on. With new residential taxes by the BC Government coming into effect, home sales in the Vancouver region last month saw a 9 percent decrease. Sales of detached houses, condos, and townhouses totalled 2,207, slightly down from the same month last year at 2,424 sales. That’s not to say prices have decreased – they remain high – but, experts are predicting that the full impact is yet to be felt.

In the NDP minority government’s first budget release, delivered February 20th, a variety of measures were announced in an effort to help reduce home prices. This includes what it calls a speculation tax, imposed on out-of-province residence. The foreign buyers tax was also expanded beyond Metro Vancouver, which was previously the only region to have the tax when the BC Liberal government imposed it last August.

Industry experts advise against putting too much thought into February’s statistics, suggesting that the true impact of these tax measures will become clearer in the months ahead as the market heads into spring – a traditionally busy time for real estate.

While the number of sales may have seen a dip, the average prices in residential real estate saw increases. According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the average price for condos sold in Metro Vancouver increased 24.2 percent from a year earlier, to a total of $750,052. The average price for condos increased 13.5 percent in the same time period, hitting a record $938,805 last month. Detached single family homes were the only market that saw a decrease compared to last year, by a slight 1.2 percent, to an average of $1,737,030.

It was this same type of dwelling that saw the biggest decline in sales volume, with a 16.6 percent decrease from last year to just 621 transactions. This is 39.4 percent lower than the 10-year average for the month of February. Condo sales saw a 7.1 percent decrease while townhome sales slipped just 0.7 percent.


The Best View in Kitsilano

The view is often one of the top selling features when purchasing a new home. After all, a beautiful home simply does not feel complete if the view does not match. Condos, unfortunately, often face this problem. All too often, the windows are restricted to one wall of the residence and there is just a small patio for fresh air. Not so with 502-1819 West Fifth Avenue! This penthouse grants a fantastic view that you get to keep all to yourself, thanks to the private 2,112 square foot rooftop patio. The panorama features views of the downtown skyscrapers, framed by the North Shore Mountains, as well as a beautiful view of the ocean. This view is simply irreplaceable.

Just imagine when summer finally arrives. You’re having your morning tea on the rooftop patio, enjoying your private view of the city as the rising sun warms you. It’s a quiet morning; the sky is just turning blue as the weather warms. It’s quickly shaping up to be the type of day that’s spent at the beach – and luckily, you are just a few steps away from Kit’s Beach. And once the day grows long and you’ve had your fill of the sun, take a stroll down nearby West Fourth Avenue, where some of Vancouver’s best restaurants are for an unforgettable dinner.

Of course, there will be days when you aren’t at the beach, and you won’t want to be on the patio – this is Vancouver after all, and rainy days are not uncommon! Luckily, this brand-new condo is just as beautiful inside as the area that surrounds it. With 1,994 square feet of living space, there is plenty of room to roam. The gleaming Caesarstone kitchen is picture-perfect, and ready for all of your culinary creations. And when you’re ready to retire for the night, the spacious master bedroom awaits you.

Whether you choose to relax at home on your private rooftop patio or go out and take advantage of all the nearby amenities, this penthouse is truly a special one. Your perfect life is waiting for you.

Listed for $3,888,000 with Oakwyn Realty Ltd.


An elegant mansion in the Shaughnessy

An elegant mansion in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood has just returned to the market for a reduced price. Chateau du Pine was previously listed for sale in 2016 at $39,000,000 after three years of construction, but is now available for $35,000,000. This statement home is perfectly suited for both intimate gatherings and large-scale entertaining, with 12,600 square feet of living space and every amenity you would expect from such a grand home.

Designed by Stefan Wiedemann of Wiedemann Architectural Design, the home is a masterpiece inside and out. The grand two-storey foyer gives way to an elegant, sweeping staircase. The commanding great room and formal dining room are wrought with fine details, such as impressive custom millwork and a grand chandelier. The paneled walls display a timeless elegance that is sure to impress for years to come. Top quality Calacatta Gold, Statutario, Bianca Carrara and Thassos marble as well as quarter-sawn oak flooring is found throughout the home.

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Oilers Owner’s Penthouse for Sale

Hockey fans, take note! Daryl Katz, owner of the Edmonton Oilers, has just put his luxurious Vancouver penthouse up for sale. You can live your life just like a top hockey executive – if you can afford the $38 million price tag, that is. It’s certainly worth the price tag, however – sitting atop the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, every inch of the home is immaculately beautiful and modern, and the views are simply irreplaceable. Simply put, it is one of the finest residences Vancouver has to offer.

The spacious two level residence encompases nearly 6700 square feet, with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. There is also over 2900 feet of additional living space outdoors. You are sure to spend many a night in the private courtyard and terraces, gazing mesmerized at the sparkling city lights far below you. Or, when the weather is too cold to be outside, the expansive and plentiful windows offer an excellent alternative. Indeed, nearly every room in the penthouse has floor to ceiling windows – you don’t even need to leave your bed to gaze upon the beautiful Vancouver skyline! Continue reading

A Look Inside the World’s Tallest Hybrid Timber Structure

A unique building is coming to Vancouver, and its designers are revealing the first detailed look into what the inside will look like. Even before this unveiling, Terrace House has generated some buzz. It is set to be the tallest hybrid timber structure in the world, and it is designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. The luxurious 19-storey building will consist of concrete and steel construction on the bottom floors, and timber on the top seven. The tiered building is sure to be another fascinating addition to Vancouver’s Coal Harbour neighborhood.

The show-stealing top seven floors of the building will sit in a triangular shape on top of the concrete portion. Composed of Douglas Fir timber from the Kootenay region in BC, the vertical, tiered orientation allows for only three exclusive units to occupy these floors. Each unit will feature ceiling heights of up to 27 feet and breathtaking, panoramic views of the city. Indeed, these floors will feature moveable floor-to-ceiling walls, so no views are compromised.

A theme that permeates throughout the entire building – not just the top floors – is its decidedly warm interior design, a touch which designer Shigeru Ban is known for. The extensive use of wood, as well as the crisp lines, beautiful, pure finishings, and of course the natural light are all hallmarks of Ban’s designs and will result in a pleasant atmosphere and a feeling of open space. Each residence in the building will come with a full suite of smart home technologies, museum-quality glazing that regulates temperature and provides UV protection, and fully integrated air conditioning and heating systems that extend onto enclosed balconies. The moveable floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow the indoor space and outdoor patios to be merged as one large, extended space.

True to Shigeru Ban’s style, no detail at Terrace House will be overlooked. From the smallest elements, such as carefully designed door handles, cabinet mills, and millwork, to the grandest, such as dedicated concierge services and a plethora of amenities, Terrace House will provide an irreplaceable ownership experience. Each home will be unique to any other in Vancouver, and prices start at $3 million.

Construction will begin soon for completion sometime in 2020.


Easy and Elegant Christmas Decorating Ideas

Christmas is just one week away! If you haven’t decorated yet, now is the time. Dressing up your home for the holidays is the best way to get into a festive mood. Whether your goal is to get your home ready for Christmas, or to create a warm atmosphere for an open house, here are some simple tips to help create an elegant, festive atmosphere.

  1. Does your living room have a mantel? Mantels often serves as a focal point for decorating, but it’s very easy to over-decorate with a too many baubles and trinkets. Stick with just a few items, such as a simple wreath and a trio of candles, to keep it classy.
  2. Looking for a creative way to display all of your Christmas cards? Try stringing them along your staircase! Attach some twine running from the top of the stairs to the bottom, and attach
  3. Red and green are the standard Christmas colours, but if they’re not your cup of tea, try going for another classic – silver and gold! Whether it’s a wall piece, a miniature tree, or an ornament, these metallic tones complement almost any home’s decor and they always look sophisticated. For a modern twist, try implementing bronze pieces!
  4. Bring a little snow indoors! For a unique way to decorate your windows, cut a few strands of fishing line and attach a few white and silver miniature gift bows to each one. Tape them to your window frame, being sure to stagger the bows, and watch your window sparkle.
  5. Looking for a last-minute centerpiece? Dip a handful of clear vintage Christmas light bulbs in green, red, and gold paint, and arrange them in a candy bowl for a creative display.

Getting your home ready for Christmas doesn’t have to involve hours coordinating colour schemes and finding the perfect placement! These simple decorating ideas will have your home beautiful and ready in no time. Happy holidays!


Huntting House Hits the Market

For over a century, Huntting House has graced prestigious Angus Street in Vancouver’s First Shaughnessy neighbourhood. First Shaugnessy is known for its rich history and cultural significance to Vancouver, and this mansion certainly has earned its place in this district. Listed for sale at the beginning of November for $17,885,000, this is your chance to own a piece of history.

The manor was built circa 1912 for William Foster Huntting, the president of Huntting-Merritt Lumber Company. A booming company at the time, WF Huntting was a wealthy man who commissioned the prestigious firm Maclure and Fox to design his home. Cecil Crocker Fox was the junior partner who designed the manor.

One look at the mansion and it’s easy to tell that CC Fox’s inspiration for its design came from England – specifically, the English countryside. With a massive, steep roof and a rough stucco exterior, it is the very picture of a typical English cottage. Therefore, it may come as little surprise that the home is nearly an exact replica of “Orchard,” a manor near London, England. Orchard was the personal residence of Britain’s premier arts-and-crafts architect, CFA Voysey. Perhaps Huntting House’s striking resemblance to Orchard can be explained by the fact that CC Fox studied under CFA Voysey before he was hired by Samuel Maclure in 1903.

One hundred years after it was built, the seven bedroom, 10,000 square foot mansion underwent significant renovations. The kitchen was completely updated, and a separate wok kitchen was added, as well as new marble and hardwood flooring. There are five ensuite bathrooms, as well as two half bathrooms. The lot it sits on a sizeable 22,539 square foot lot, and it has a circular driveway.

This beautiful manor is steeped in history in one of Vancouver’s most prized neighbourhoods. From its ancestry in England to its century-long tenure on Angus Street, this is a home rich in history.