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Market Insights - BC Waterfront Real Estate

There are a lot of "how-to" articles online that regurgitate the same advice about real estate related topics such as getting a good mortgage or prepping your home for the market. While those things are obviously very important, we want to write articles that are enlightening and valuable for visitors to our site. Rather than write about the same-old, same-old, we endeavour to create interesting and compelling articles specifically for people interested in (BC) waterfront real estate.

Thanks for reading.
Sharleen Kneeland
Publisher, Waterfront West

BC Homeowners: Need an Extra Tax-Free $42, 500? You Just Might Qualify for a Government Housing Rebate

Flipping through the Thrifty Foods' magazine looking for recipe ideas before Christmas, I came across a real estate related article that piqued my interest but left me a little skeptical. The article, in advertorial format, was promoting the services of Canada's Reno Rebate Inc., a company that, together with Ontario based Rebate4U, helps homeowners apply for government rebates and grants on home purchases, building and renovations. It stated that there are "government rebates for new home purchases, owner-built homes and substantial renovations to existing homes during the tenure of the HST, and $42, 500 is the upper limit a homeowner can receive for a project."


Did you build a home, buy a home or do a major renovation during the tenure of the HST? If so, you may be eligible for a government rebate on part of the PST you paid.

Being in the real estate business, I read multiple real estate related articles and I was pretty surprised I had never heard of this before. I knew that buyers of new homes could apply for some of the HST back, but I wasn't aware of any refund for renovations. I figured if this was for real, I would have heard something about it or there must be some sort of a catch.

But then again I thought... my husband and I did some pretty substantial renovations when the HST was in place, maybe we could get some cold, hard cash ourselves? That... along with the possibility of being able to pass on the good news to my clients, my husband's clients (he owns a reno business, Main Street Renovations) and my blog readers about a possible windfall was enough to prompt me to call and find out more about this "so-called" rebate.

It turns out that Sean Leitenberg, Canada's Reno Rebate principal was just as skeptical about the rebate when his brother-in-law, in Ontario, called and told Sean that since he had recently done a major renovation to his BC home, he should look into claiming the rebate on his renovations. A retired construction advisor, Sean decided to go to his accountant, who advised him that there was no such refund, but his brother-in-law persisted and Sean looked into it further and found out that the rebate really was legit. After applying for and receiving his rebate, Sean and his brother-in-law teamed up to form Canada's Reno Rebate to spread the word and help people through all of the paperwork so they can get their refunds. Ever since they have been juggling mounds of paperwork and handing out cheques.


Sean Leitenberg, Principal, Canada's Reno Rebate

It sounds almost too good to be true, so why isn't this rebate common knowledge in BC households? It turns out that I had, in fact,  heard about the rebate and so have many of you. It's the same rebate that applied to buyers of new homes during the tenure of the HST and it's called the BC Enhanced New Housing Rebate. At the time when it came out there were many articles and stories in the media announcing its implementation.

When the HST came into effect July 1, 2010, there was an (understandable) uproar amongst builders, who complained that having to tack an extra 7% onto the sale price of their new homes was going to hurt business. In response, the government came out with the rebate, allowing buyers to claim a portion of the PST (71.43% to be exact) paid on the purchase of their new homes. Initially, this rebate was maxed out to buyers purchasing or building homes up to $500, 000, but in 2012, the threshold was increased for homes up to $850, 000. 

Now here's the kicker....the BC Enhanced New Housing Rebate applies to more than just new home purchases. Sean says that most large-scale builders have known about the rebate and their buyers (or the builders themselves*) have been claiming it since it's inception, but that many homeowners and smaller owner-builders are not aware that this rebate may also apply to them. Furthermore, matters are complicated by the fact that it is a provincial sales tax rebate but the federal government handles it. Even finding the information about the rebate on the government websites is difficult (imagine that?). The refund applies to 71.43% of the PST spent on materials and labour for major home renovations, new home purchases and owner-built homes during the time that the HST was in place. Also, home owners who hired a contractor can apply for a refund for this portion of the PST they paid to their contractor. How's that for a windfall? 


If your reno looked something like this (walls ripped down to the studs everywhere), there's a chance you might qualify for the rebate.

So by now, dear blog readers, you are probably asking yourselves if you or someone you know might qualify for this rebate? Well, if you are thinking to yourself "Hey, we did a major kitchen reno and fixed up our bathroom...maybe we will qualify?" No dice. Basically, Sean says, if you enter the home and it looks like a completely different home than before your reno (i.e. whole home completely changed, walls taken out, new drywall and ceilings or ripped down to the studs, etc...) then you probably have an excellent chance of getting the refund. Likewise, if you are an owner-builder, bought a new home or hired a contractor to build your home during the HST and have not taken advantage of the refund, you should definitely investigate further. Hopefully you saved your receipts (and if you have your building permits, even better)! 

There is one very important thing to take note of: the deadline to apply for the refund is 2 years from the time you finished your build, renovation or purchased your new home. Many of the refunds have already been settled (or lost if people didn't claim them); however, there is still some time to claim if you finished your build or purchased less than 2 years ago and it was when the HST was still in place - so time is ticking. 

If you would like to find out more, there are two ways to get more information: 

1. Contact Sean and or a member of his team at 1-877-724-4624 or www.renorebate.ca.

Reno Rebate works directly with CRA to help process refunds and wade through all of the paperwork on your behalf. Usually refunds take around 4 weeks to arrive. They have a 98% success rate and reps in different communities. There is no up-front fee and their commission (20%) is taken only when you receive your refund. They also include free courier services. Sean says the average rebate is around $12,000 - $14, 000. 

2. Contact the Government Directly and be a DIYer.

When I went online to find resources on how to claim a refund, there was a plethora of confusing information, but I did manage to find this link with claim forms and a phone number: 1-800-959-5525. 

I hope I have helped some of you take advantage of a refund you didn't know you had coming! 

 *Builders could also opt to lower the cost of the homes they were selling and/or claim the rebate themselves (although the buyer had to be made aware that the builder would be claiming it on their behalf at the time of purchase - obviously.)

 Note: I did not receive any compensation for this post, just thought our readers would like to know about it.




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Lakefront Property in BC Popular with Waterfront Buyers

Since we launched the site in 2006, we have been consistently tracking the interest in different types of BC waterfront and the locations of visitors to our site (country, province, city, etc..) to get some insight into the BC recreational real estate market. We have witnessed the ups-and-downs of the market over the last 7 years, but even with the changing market and the corresponding changes to our site traffic, some statistics have remained relatively stable.

One thing that we have historically found to be consistent is the strong interest in lakefront property for sale in B.C.. Since our launch in 2006, BC lakefront real estate search terms have brought an overwhelming number of people to our site. These terms include searches with specific lake names and/or just general searches for lakefront property in British Columbia. In addition, the site overlay typically reveals that the most popular button for waterfront searches is the lakefront search.

The verdict: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that B.C. lakefront property is a hot commodity with buyers looking for recreational property here. So who are these buyers and where are they from? Well, since we have proof that many of our visitors are looking for lakefront, we can look at our general location stats and gain some insight. Here is a look at the breakdown of our Canadian traffic by province over the last 3 years (yip, the Albertans are still looking).


Here are the Top 5 Cities in Canada from which our site visitors hail (July 22, 2010-July 22, 2013):


What to do with all of this information? Well for a start, the next step for us at Waterfront West now that the new site is up and running, is to get some more lakefront property on the site for all of our lakefront buyers to peruse. We also plan to get some BC lakefront sales statistics to post on this blog so that our site visitors have the inside scoop and our buyers can go out lake house shopping armed with some solid knowledge of the market.

Our first area of focus will be Vancouver Island lakefront so please stay tuned! 





© Waterfront West Real Estate

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Edmonton Oilers Owner Investing in Comox Valley?

Last night, Waterfront West staff attended the "West Fest" event promoting business ties between the Comox Valley and Edmonton. The event was held at the Courtenay Museum with Mayors from the Comox Valley (Courtenay. Comox and Cumberland) as well as other dignitaries and numerous business people from both Edmonton and the Valley in attendance.

Various real estate agents and developers were at the event, including Island Coastal Resorts, who are currently advertising their luxury spa and resort in Campbell River, The Grand Coastal, and plan to announce further developments in the Comox Valley in the near future. In addition, the Edmonton delegation made mention of several developers who had come to tour the area. Update: Grand Coastal was not built.

One of the most high profile investors from Edmonton looking at further investment in the Valley is Daryl Katz, current billionaire owner of the Edmonton Oilers and chairman and CEO of The Katz Group (Rexall Drugs, Meditrust Pharmacy Inc., etc...). Rexall recently opened a new store at the corner of 17th and Cliffe Ave and it is rumoured that Mr. Katz is seriously considering further investment in the Comox Valley. That's a strong vote of confidence from a man whose net worth is reported to be C2.37 billion (Canadian Business magazine, January-February Issue 2008). It seems everyone is starting to find our little gem of an area and with all of the developments in the works in the Valley already (Sage Hills, Kensington in Union Bay, Trilogy in Cumberland, etc...) we expect the face of the Comox Valley to change drastically over the next 10 years.
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New Float Plane Flights from DT Vancouver to Comox Harbour

As I opened up the local paper this morning I was excited by the news that a new float plane service is going to be offered between downtown Vancouver and Comox Harbour. The service, which will offer 6 flights M-F and 2 flights daily on weekends is going to be offered by West Coast Air and is scheduled to begin April 1st.

I can tell you as a Comox Valley resident, this service is definitely needed. Many times I have wished for this service with friends coming to visit and/or needing to be in Vancouver for business. The question is, will the price tag of $149 one-way be the right price to make the service fly when harbour-to-harbour flights are available from Nanaimo at nearly half the price? Only time will tell, but hopefully it catches on!

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Nakusp An Affordable Kootenay Gem


As I sat down to decide what my blog would be about this week, I took a look at the stats from 2007 and filtered out some of the more affordable places in the province to buy waterfront. The list includes places such as Ashcroft, Prince George, Port Clements, Smithers, Trail, Kamloops, Merritt, Zeballos and Nakusp. Although many of these places may be worth more investigation, the one that I noticed immediately was Naksup. I had been there for a wedding a few years back and found the picturesque countryside and quiet serenity of the lakefront a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Last year, we featured an investment project on Arrow Lakes (Galena Shores) on our site. The developer, from Alberta, received many inquiries about the project and over-subscribed his project quickly, so I knew there was demand out there for property in the area. Within reasonable driving distance from Calgary/Edmonton and with waterfront prices sometimes half (or even 1/3) of what they are at Lake Invermere, who wouldn't take a closer look at this area? 

Located in the West Kootenays, in south central BC, Nakusp offers numerous recreational opportunities including hot springs, boating, hunting, swimming, hiking, camping, ice fishing, golfing, skiing, etc...With a population of approximately 1, 600, the community has an arena, a small hospital, a waterfront boardwalk and even high speed internet!

Ironically, as I sat down to write this blog last night, I opened my latest weekly email from Jurock.com and one of the main stories was specifically about Nakusp and the affordability of waterfront there compared to other areas of BC. One thing Ozzie pointed to in his article was the millions of dollars going into upgrades in nearby Revelstoke and Fairmont Hot Springs, which should benefit the Nakusp area. Ozzie states that it could be the "sleeper market in the Kootenays." I was glad to know I was on track with one of BC's biggest real estate gurus, but hope he doesn't think I'm stealing his story ideas (!) Although we currently don't have any properties on the site in the area (lakefront listings are scarce), the Kootenay Lake Village on nearby Kootenay Lake has been generating quite a lot of interest. More about Kootenay Lake in a future blog!


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