experts: real estate column Thursday, November 13, 2008

Questions, Questions

Ozzie Jurock answers reader questions on historical Vancouver prices, US buying and pre-sale deals.

By Ozzie Jurock

Some questions just cannot be answered ... like: "Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they know there is not enough?" or "If it's 'new and improved'; what was the new improved on?" Well, I like all questions ... and while I may not get to them all here (because of space), you will find most questioned answered on our website ....

Here are some of this week's questions:

Q: I am wondering what home prices have done historically over the last 50 years. Do you have a chart or graph that shows the ups and downs. Homes 50 years ago where worth, what, $15,000 and values have gone up and down but must have shown a somewhat steady increase. I'm curious to see a chart. A picture is worth a thousand words.

A: The fine Vancouver Real Estate Board has great statistics. Go to www.realtylink.org and click on news releases. Click on house price index and/or listed versus sold index and the later is available in graph form. The board also has a graph showing prices from 1960 ($13,500) to today with year end totals for every year in between. You could write to the news department. I am sure they would send the graph to you.

Q: I am planning to buy real estate in Scottsdale, although I wish I had converted my funds into US dollars when it was a $1.10. Where is the best place to analyze different cities in the US and is there a listing service like mls.ca?

A: I did (ahem) advise all my subscribers to lock in their Canadian dollars at $1.02 in May his year and asked Sun readers here on May 29, 2008 as part of an answer: Have you converted your likely down payment now when our dollar stands at over par? Invest $200,000 and if the dollar is down to 95 cents that will cost you $10,000. Well, the best place for real estate is www.realtor.com. The best place for details of a neighbourhood is found at neighborhoods.realtor.com. Hover your mouse over a city and then drill down into each neighbourhood to find school ratings, number of properties for sale and for rent as well as average length of time tenants are likely to stay and a slew of other useful information.

Q: I bought a pre-construction condo this spring. I have been keeping an eye on the condo sales in the neighbourhood of the condo I purchased. Based on recent sales and listings in the area it appears that my condo is not worth what I committed to for it. It is due to be complete this time next year. If it is worth less than the purchase price at time of completion what are my options? Can I forfeit my deposit and walk away? Will the developer come after me for the purchase price? My concern is that I won't be able to obtain financing if the unit is not worth the purchase price?

A: We have already discussed a similar question here a few weeks ago. But I receive at least 10 questions a week just like this one. So, I'll tackle it once more. I assume it is a development that will definitely go ahead? If so, take your contract to a lawyer. Just because you think it is worth less, does not mean that the developer has an obligation to just accept your deposit. Depending on the actual contract you signed, he could sue for specific performance. However, if you feel you do not qualify for financing you may initiate a meeting with the developer now. He may have a financing solution, he may have an amount he will accept as damages. Rest assured, you are not the only buyer with second thoughts.

Published in The Vancouver Sun on November 6, 2008




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Related Links:

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

Realtor.com

Ask Ozzie a Question

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