250.661.5674 Pemberton Holmes Ltd. Since 1887

New Canadian Mortgage Laws

Fri, 14 Oct by joshuaprowse

The Federal Government has recently changed the qualifications for insured mortgages.

Effective October 17, 2016, all home buyers will now have to qualify at the 5 year posted rate, as opposed to the way it has previously been where you’d only have to qualify for the variable rate, or even for a rate that was given for a term less than 5 years.

Currently, home buyers would need to qualify for the Bank of Canada posted rate of 4.64% for a 5 year term.  That is considerably higher than the best rates banks are offering, which are around 200 basis points lower.

Qualifying for mortgage insurance means that a buyer’s Debt Service Ratio must be lower than:

  • Gross Debt Service – 39% of the household income (The percentage of gross annual income required to cover payments associated with housing. Payments include mortgage principal, interest, property taxes and sometimes include secondary financing, heating, strata fees or pad rent)
  • Total Debt Service – 44% of the household income (all of the above, PLUS any other debt payments you may have)

These changes will apply to NEW mortgage applications received after October 16th.

They WILL NOT apply to mortgage loan applications where:

  • The application was received before October 3rd
  • There’s a legally binding deal between the lender and the buyer already in place
  • The buyer is already in a legally binding deal to purchase a home in which the loan is secured

Mortgages for applications received between October 2 and October 16th 2016 are also not affected as long as the mortgage is funded before March 1, 2017.

As a side note, home owners that have an existing insured mortgage under the previous rules, or those renewing existing insured mortgages are also not affected.

For those of you that are low ratio (more than 20% down payment) but still need their mortgage to be insured, the Federal Government will be instituting new rules as of November 30th and new mortgages must meet the following requirements:

  • A loan whose purpose includes the purchase of a property or subsequent renewal of such a loan;
  • A maximum amortization length of 25 years;
  • For variable-rate loans that allow fluctuations in the amortization period, loan payments that are recalculated at least once every five years to conform to the original amortization schedule;
  • A minimum credit score of 600 at the time the loan is approved;
  • A maximum Gross Debt Service ratio of 39 per cent and a maximum Total Debt Service ratio of 44 per cent at the time the loan is approved, calculated by applying the greater of the mortgage contract rate or the Bank of Canada conventional five-year fixed posted rate; and,
  • A property that will be owner-occupied.


The Bank of Canada hopes that these new criteria will help to lessen the load on Canadian taxpayers for insured mortgages that are defaulted on, but will also make it tougher for first time home buyers to get into the market.

Time will tell if it’s a good move.


Multiple Offers. Buying and Selling in a hot market.

Wed, 20 May by joshuaprowse

Market Meter

Monthly Update

April 2015 Apr Apr
Mon May 1, 2015 2015 2014
Net Unconditional Sales: 840 664
New Listings: 1,413 1,521
Active Listings: 3,945 4,404

The real estate market in Victoria has continued to heat up as we move through the spring market, taking us firmly into seller’s market territory last month. It’s been so busy I’m getting this edition of the R.E.N. out a couple weeks late and I apologize for that.
In the last month I’ve been involved in 5 multiple offer situations, one working for the sellers, and 4 working with buyers, with 100% of my clients leaving the transaction happy. Competing against other people for the house you want can be nerve racking, frustrating, and can just as often end in disappointment as jubilation. There are no guarantees when competing but there are certainly things that can be done to improve your odds.

  • Make sure all your ducks are in a row. I’m reasonably sure one of the competing situations my clients won didn’t have us at the highest price. The house was old and clearly had some issues that were disclosed to us as material latent defects. Because we knew the offers were being held off, and presented the following weekend, we had a building inspection done before we put the offer in, risking the cost of the inspection, but strengthening our offer by being able to go in without an inspection clause. We also had a pre-approval in place for financing, allowing the financing clause to be removed in just a few days.
  • Put your best foot forward. Although it isn’t always the highest bid that wins a multiple offer, it usually is. Forget about the asking price and figure out what the home is worth to you. Put your best offer forward first. Although negotiations can happen in a multiple offer situation, it’s far more common for one of the presented offers to be accepted as written. If you have any flexibility in your terms it can be useful to relay that information. Dates are a common sticking point so your ideal dates may not be the strongest option for the seller. If it’s vacant, a quick close is probably going to be more appealing to a seller.
  • Line up your service providers ahead of time. One of the offers we won required a hole to be dug to verify the existence of an underground oil storage tank. Before submitting the offer we had people ready to dig, scheduled, and we made sure the seller’s knew this when we submitted the offer. It allowed us a quick subject removal, and also helped instil confidence in the seller that we were serious, and ready to go.


  • Preparation is Key. Although the market is hot, with just over 21% of the inventory turning over last month that still means almost 80% didn’t sell. A hot market doesn’t guarantee a bidding war, but careful preparation can make all the difference in the world. The consumer tends to start on-line these days. Presenting them with a high quality set of interactive tools like a virtual walk-through, an interactive floor plan, professional photographs and a carefully crafted and targeted description will help your home stand out, and work to get them through your front door.
  • Put your best foot forward. “You don’t get a second chance, to make a first impression”. In this case I would argue this isn’t entirely true. The first impression happens on-line but the critical impression is the one the Buyer gets when she arrives at your home. De-clutter, tidy, clean, repeat. Water your lawn, paint the front door, fix the leaky tap, and do some staging, either on your own, or hire a professional. The most traffic happens in the first week. Taking the time to make a great impression will pay off in spades.
  • Share your expectations in advance. Want the perfect offer? That may be wishful thinking but if you want a good offer that’s easy to deal with it’s best not to rely on mind reading skills. If there are dates you’d prefer, or a time frame that works for you, let me know so I can let Buyers know. Same goes for the mirror in the bathroom that’s a family heirloom. Although I would recommend removing any items that could be deal breakers, we need to at least make sure it’s clear what you aren’t willing to include. I know of a deal that fell apart over a garden gnome…

Seller’s markets create upward pressure on pricing, so as a buyer, waiting for things to cool off probably means waiting for the next pricing plateau, and this can be a pricey decision. As a Seller it’s a great time however, if you’re also going to be buying, you’re likely to see both sides. Multiple offers can be exciting, and fun, or stressful and frustrating. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

2015 Home Expo this weekend and it’s free!

Thu, 16 Apr by joshuaprowse

Looking for something to do this weekend? the 2015 Home Expo at the West Shore Parks and Rec centre is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday and it’s FREE! If you come down pop by and say hi. I’m in the Hockey Arena, somewhere around the blue line in booth’s 615 and 616.

There’s a map below map below and some details from the home show’s site. There’s a chance to win an IPad mini at my booth. Just look for the houses for sale.


Hope to see you there.


The Victoria Early Spring Home Renovation & Decor Show was such a success with FREE ADMISSION last month, so we’re doing it again! For the first time ever, we are offering FREE ADMISSION to the public for the 30th Annual Victoria Spring Home Show!

This is the BIG show – ONE LOCATION! 3 ARENAS! 3 BIG DAYS!

Victoria’s Largest Building, Renovation and Decor Show!

If you’ve never been before, this is the time to come to Victoria’s Premier Show of the Year! The 2015 Spring Home Expo comes to West Shore Parks & Rec the weekend of April 17, 18, 19.


>> See the HUGE list of exhibitors and show map here! <<

We have the inspiration and ideas you are looking for. We’ll have furniture and mattresses on display for you to try out, closet organization systems to show you how to control your clutter, cutlery and cookware options to outfit your kitchen with, and even food items to get cooking inspiration from! Designers will be on hand to help you with your home decor ideas, and experts in kitchen and bath renovations, painting, flooring, and window coverings to help you turn those ideas into reality.


The Market Is HOT HOT HOT!!!

Thu, 02 Apr by joshuaprowse

Market Meter

Monthly Update

March 2015 Mar Mar
Mon Apr 1, 2015 2015 2014
Net Unconditional Sales: 734 575
New Listings: 1,448 1,286
Active Listings: 3,769 4,050

Last month we approached a Seller’s Market for the first time in years. This means different things depending on whether you’re looking to sell, buy or both in the next little while. Not sure what a Seller’s Market is? Check out my blog post here.

Thinking of Selling?

If you’ve been thinking of selling but have been on the fence, waiting for the market to pick up, it’s here. In a Seller’s Market there tends to be upward pressure on pricing and sales happen quickly. If your home is priced right and presented well it will sell. Notice I mentioned priced right. A Seller’s market doesn’t mean double the price and hit one out of the park. At 19.5% (a Seller’s Market is 20% or higher) that means about 1 in 5 properties listed have sold that month. In real estate, those are good odds, but that still means 4 of 5 haven’t sold.

Thinking of Buying?

If you’ve been thinking of buying although we’re technically still in a balanced market, we’re close enough to a Seller’s Market to give Seller’s Market tactics some serious consideration. You can expect well priced properties to sell fast.

Be prepared to move quickly.
If I send you a listing and you think it might be worth looking at, we should be setting up an appointment ASAP. On your lunch break or right after work. If you wait for the weekend it’ll likely be gone.

Have your ducks in a row.
You’ve probably heard me mention this before but it’s critical you’re as ready to write a solid offer as possible. Make sure you’ve spoken with a mortgage broker or your bank. Don’t have a contact? Let me know and I’ll get someone in touch. Putting in an offer subject to the sale of your home is going to be a harder sell in a hot market, and pretty much a non-starter in a competing offer situation. If you need to sell first let’s get it sold, and we can put a long close on it.

When competing, conditions can make all the difference.
Pretty much every purchase offer comes with conditions. I’ve seen fewer or no conditions win out over the highest offer in a competing offer situation.  “A bird in the hand is worth two in the tree” as they say. Consider how quickly you can remove your conditions and which ones you really need to include.

Don’t be afraid to compete.
I’ve had quite a few clients say they don’t want to compete for a property and I understand. It can be tough emotionally and disappointing if you don’t win, but I’ve always looked at it this way. If you and 4 other people want the property at close to the price you’re going to pay for it, there’s a good chance 4 other people are going to be interested a year later if you’re forced to sell.

Thinking of Selling and Buying?

Both of the above scenarios apply. You need to be ready to move quickly on your purchase and your home will likely sell quickly if presented properly.

Consider bridge financing.
Instead of a “subject to the sale of your home” offer consider talking to your bank or mortgage broker about bridge financing, allowing you to buy the home you want as soon as it hits the market, then list and sell your home without the extra pressure of being homeless, or buying something with more compromises than you’d like due to time constraints.

Prepare to move quickly.
We discussed this earlier for buying but what about for selling? Even if you’re not going to list immediately get your home ready.

  • Pack up what you can and move it into the garage.
  • Take care of that honey-do list, the leaky faucets, touch-up paint etc.
  • Get a market analysis done so you have an idea where you’re at. Don’t worry; we’ll review it when you actually list.
  • Review the listing and purchase contracts ahead of time so you’re familiar with what you’ll be signing.

The market is still balanced but it’s shaping up to be a great year for real estate; the best in years. Understanding where the market’s at and being prepared can get you what you want and need with the least stress, and potentially save you thousands.

If you have any questions or want to get ready feel free to get in touch.

Buyer’s, Seller’s and Balanced Market. How are they determined?

Tue, 10 Mar by joshuaprowse

Market Meter

Monthly Update

February 2015 Feb Feb
Mon Mar 2, 2015 2015 2014
Net Unconditional Sales: 542 412
New Listings: 1,108 1,064
Active Listings: 3,480 3,770

Buyer’s, Seller’s and Balanced Market. How are they determined?

You’ve heard the terms Buyer’s market, Seller’s market and Balanced market Market Meterbefore and you probably have a pretty good idea what they mean, but do you know how they’re calculated and why they’re significant to you? The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) defines the various market conditions as follows;

Balanced Market
“A market in which the sales to active listings ratio is in a range of 14 to 20 per cent. In general, a balanced market results in home prices remaining relatively stable.”

Buyer’s Market
“When there is a higher number of homes to choose from than buyers in comparison. Prices of homes tend to be lower and they remain available for sale longer. Buyers usually have more leverage in negotiating a purchase.”

Seller’s Market
A housing market is generally characterized as a “sellers’ market” when there is an excess of demand for homes over current supply as measured by active or new listings. A sellers’ market typically occurs when the ratio of home sales to active listings is above 20 per cent.

Great! So what is the Sales to Active-Listings Ratio? 

Well just like it sounds it is the ratio of homes sold in a given period (generally calculated monthly pertaining to the previous month) to active listings on the market. It measures the balance between supply and demand in the housing market and is calculated by dividing the number of sales by the number of active listings.Knowing what’s going on in the market can help you prepare for the buying or selling experience you’re going to have. does it make sense to throw in a “low-ball” offer in a hot seller’s market? Probably not, but in early January, when the market tends to swing in favour of the buyers it might not be a bad idea.Likewise if you’re selling into a buyer’s market you should expect some more aggressive offers, even if you’re priced right.Markets can swing month to month and year to year. Check out my blog post Timing the Market to see how you can use this knowledge to your benefit by understand the ebb and flow of the annual real estate market in Victoria.

Why live on the coast?

Wed, 18 Feb by joshuaprowse

Did you know Victoria is the sunniest coastal city in Canada?

Valentine’s Day Special – Love is in the air.

Sat, 14 Feb by joshuaprowse

Chocolates, teddy bears and flowers. Skimpy teddies and tickle trunks.

There are lots of ways to show your partner you love them on Valentine’s day, but what about falling deeper in love, or falling in love again? How can you coax someone to fall just a little deeper in love with you? If there’s a love potion this may just be it!

Psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron’s study geared at creating a closeness and intimacy between two people offers up 36 questions designed to tear down the walls and let the emotions flow.

Valentines-Day-2015-HD-Wallpapers-1Whether you’re out on your first Valentine’s date with “the one” or the kids have finally left for university and you’re trying to remember who you danced in the rain with 25 years ago I recommend some candles, a bottle of wine, a nice dinner and these 36 questions. Answer honestly, go back and forth, and when you’re done, spend 2-4 minutes silently staring into each other’s eyes (I know, this part sounds a bit over the top but it’s from the study).

What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll talk about something other than work and the weather???

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you
change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

My own opinion, and not necessarily that of the study, is that answers shouldn’t be prepared in advance. Print these off, and bring them to the dinner table. That’s my plan for tonight. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.


Good luck and great love!!!


Is there a Bubble?

Sun, 08 Feb by joshuaprowse

Something I’ve noticed over the years is there are two sides to every coin and as such there are two arguments being made regarding the supposed housing bubble here in Canada.

I’ve read reports from economists and banks indicating there is no bubble here. The conditions that created the economic collapse in the US simply don’t exist here. We had a VERY small (less than 5% if I remember correctly) subprime mortgage market in Canada, thanks to Paul Martin. The banks approached him, and asked for a loosening of the lending restrictions so they could compete with the American banks in the subprime market, and they were turned down. As such we haven’t ended up with the junk debt the banks down south got saddled with, or the huge numbers of people owing more than the house is worth, therefore willing to walk away.

We also haven’t seen the excessive runaway growth like we saw in the states due to the subprime market. These are optimal bubble conditions. Some people have been claiming Canada is in a housing bubble primed to burst since 2008 when things went sideways. 6 years of naysayers predicting a future that has yet to come.

Generally when I want to see what’s coming I look behind me. I’ve attached a graph I have put together showing the average sale price of a house in Victoria every year since 1978 (to 2013). I’ve attached it for your reference. In the early 80’s when interest rates hit 20%, the values fell by about 25% in Victoria, but from the peak before the fall, to prices being back where they were before the fall took about 3 years. If you look at the graph, it has a pattern, and rhythm. And too me it looks like we’re at the top of the last aggressive climb, after the pull back (soft landing) and in for a protracted period (5-8 years)of relatively stable (2% +/-) real estate pricing.

Victoria has some factors that have, and will continue to influence values here. If you look at a basic supply and demand model of business, we have a limited supply with water on 3 sides, and the malahat on the 4th, and an ever increasing demand caused largely by an ageing population of baby-boomers, starting their retirement cycle, who have sold their souls in places like Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto etc, and are moving out to the most temperate climate in Canada. Victoria is consistently rated the best climate in Canada to live in, it has the most annual sunny hours of any coastal city in Canada, with great outdoors activities, it is, essentially, del Mar north.

For these reasons I don’t see a bubble or a dramatic decline in pricing in Victoria. We have seen a shift here from a buyer’s market to a balanced market (although only just) which will stabilize prices. As a rule prices hold in a balanced market, recede in a buyer’s market, and climb in a seller’s market.

Having said all that I don’t have a crystal ball. If I did I’d be buying lottery tickets. I don’t see any aggressive movement in either direction for years to come but time will tell.

Timing the Market

Thu, 08 Jan by joshuaprowse

There are a variety of factors that can influence whether you’re getting top dollar for your home or getting a smoking deal on your purchase. One of these factors is timing.

Typically the first couple months of the year, January and February, are fairly slow. The weather hasn’t broken yet, curb appeal isn’t at its peak, and although many people are thinking of making a move, there’s hesitation. Many of the listings are stale, they’ve been on the market for months, with little or no activity, and the Buyers are waiting for the days to get longer and the rain to stop. This is a great opportunity for Buyers as they’re more likely to find motivated Sellers. This is typically a Buyer’s market with a monthly Sales-Active Listings level under 14%.

The spring season is the busiest time of the year. This typically runs from around spring break through the end of July-early August, slowing progressively through the summer. There’s lots of fresh inventory, lots of turn over, and lots of sales. Flowers are out, the sunshine is shining, and people want to be in their new homes by summer. We usually see a shift towards a balanced market. This year April and May had a Sales-Active Listings ratio over 14%, the threshold between a Buyer’s and balanced market.

The end of August and all of September are typically slower, with people taking their summer vacations and families getting their kids ready for school. This is also a good opportunity for the savvy Buyer to get a good deal from a motivated Seller who hasn’t seen much traffic recently.

October and November are strong with Buyers wanting to be in their new homes before Christmas, a shift back towards a balanced market.

And finally December. If someone has their house listed over the holidays there’s a good chance they’re motivated. This is another good opportunity for Buyers to find a good deal.

In short if you’re looking for a dream home the best time to buy is when you find it. There’s a good chance your ideal home will be someone else’s top pick too. If you’re buying an investment, or looking for an opportunity, December-February, and August-September are great times to be checking out homes.

Wondering how the Sales-Active Listings is calculated and what it means to you? Check out my blog post Buyer’s, Seller’s and Balanced Market.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Victoria Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.