Bunker in Strathconna

The Bunker

The front of the building.

This is an amazing property. It was built by a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor. He had his office on the main floor, he lived upstairs and sat outside on the roof top deck. The building was a mixed use building but has been changed to Residential. Here are a few snaps of the space.

This is the livingroom. The livingroom and dinningroom are all part of one big space. The windows are what are called, turn and tilt. They either open the usual way with the window swinging out or tilt away from the top to let in air. They also have metal shutters so you are totally safe when they are closed.

The Villa Townhome on Little Commercial

SOLD for $305000

#10 – 3477 Commercial Street   $325,000

MLS # V760933

View from the Balcony

View from the Balcony

“In 2000 we went looking for a Vancouver home where we would be in the company of other writers and artists. Opposite the Skytrain and Trout Lake on Commercial Street at 18th Avenue, we found the ideal situation–a sunlit, two level, two bedroom European-style condominium. This small home (800+ square feet) has served us well. It is in brand new condition. A skylight in the kitchen opens to the sun and the evening skies. There is a fine gas fire in the living room, and we can see the mountains from the living room and the balcony off the dining room. Our front door opens onto the Villa’s central garden courtyard. The property is secure, including the underground parking.”

So describes my client about his pied a terre here in Vancouver as he and his wife have finally decided that living in Toronto and having a place on Galliano was enough toes on the earth for any one couple. So now you have the chance to put your toe into one of the best spots to live in Vancouver. There on Little Commercial only steps to Trout Lake. Or take a stroll down Commercial for a cup of Cappuccino and a Biscotti before you do your weekly shopping at the numerous markets along the Drive.

If you wait ’til Saturday you can shop at the Farmers Market and feel righteous as you “buy green”, follow the 100 mile diet and support local farmers.

It doesn’t stop there. The complex is filled with artists and writers so you can enjoy a community of culture while gabbing with neighbours in the central courtyard – without even going down to the street.

These fellow condo-ites recently got control of the strata council and have pro-actively ordered an engineer’s report to bring the condo up to snuff. Coming from the report were many suggestions to fix problems that had been nagging at the property for a while. And last year an assessment was put on the suite and has been paid. So you will be buying a property that is “as good as new” with all known problems being dealt with.

Now check out the pictures and give me a call at 604-760-7342 to view the listing.

Exterior from the street. A bit garrish, eh!

Exterior from the street. A bit garrish, eh!

Once inside you walk down the courtyard to the suite.

Once inside you walk down the courtyard to the suite.


Then up the stairs to the door.

Then up the stairs to the door.

Up the stairs to the suite

Up the stairs to the suite

Up the stairs to the suite!
enter the suite
Top of the stairs is the kitchen and the skylight opens!

Top of the stairs is the kitchen and the skylight opens!

to the right is the dining area and the door to the balcony

to the right is the dining area and the door to the balcony


the living room with gas fireplace

the living room with gas fireplace


Green Tea House Flyers


Download  PDF:  Flyer page 1, Green Tea House Details

Go to full description here.

The Green Tea House: The Harmon|Sill Residence and Studios

The Harmon | Sill residence and Studios (MLS Listing: V746957 – http://www.caroleharmon.ca/sale/index.html ) was designed by architect David Murray from Edmonton Alberta, and was completed in fall 2006. This property consists of a home and two separate studios. One for Gary Sill is a composer, pianist, and music producer, the second is for Carole Harmon – a photographer. His studio is located on the main floor of the main house and includes a sound studio and performance space,  Carole Harmon’s studio is located in a separate workshop building at the rear of the property. She also operates Harmon Gallery in Banff, Alberta.

For more pictures and the blue prints of the Green Tea House go to:


Design Concept

This property is located between Main and Fraser Streets at the head of Brewery Creek. The site was chosen for it’s central location and proximity to the vibrant Main Street corridor which is one of Eastside Vancouver’s most popular neighbourhoods with new shops and services opening almost weekly.

The house and photography studio are built on floating concrete slabs supported by deep drilled helical steel piles. The metaphor of a land-locked houseboat was used as the inspiration for the design. Both buildings are entered over raised cedar bridges which float above the landscaping. A rectangular concrete pond fronts the photography studio building.

The lot contains the last remaining mature trees in the neighbourhood including a Deodar cedar, Douglas fir, and red leaf hazelnut in the front yard and a hawthorn, tamarack and ancient apple tree in the back yard. The yard is being developed with native plants and ground cover. The roofs of the photography studio and the entrance over the main front door have been structurally prepared for green roof plantings which have not yet been actualized. The building concept and execution included, whenever practically possible, environmental considerations and the finishes and materials used were chosen to enhance the original design concept.

The Music Studio

The audio Studio is located in the main house adjacent to the living room. It has a 10′ ceiling and is a 24′ X 15′ room built within a 26′ X 17′ shell with the floor resting on rubber de-couplers. The 14″ space under the floor is heavily insulated as are the walls and ceiling. A 5″ open space separates the insulated structure from the exterior envelope. A 7′ opening accommodates two custom built metal and glass doors which open wide enough to allow the grand piano to roll in from the adjoining live room when absolute quiet is needed. The studio has it’s own electrical which is separated from the rest of the building and an air exchange unit that silently brings in fresh air.

The live room is 25′ X 16′ with 12′ ceiling and opens on one side into the rest of the building. A lighting rail circles the ceiling with various heads and floods that are useful for home concerts. Both studio and living room are floored with recycled pine and heating is in-floor radiant. The studio is connected to the living room by double acoustic steel doors which allow the grand piano to be in either the studio or living room.  The details and a slide show of Gary Sill’s studio can be seen on his website: Gary Sill Music | Creative Music Performance, Composition and Recording Services

This is a light filled space with enough ‘liveliness’ to make it easy and inviting to play in.

kitchen and back yard

The Photography Studio

Carole Harmon’s photography studio is a 616 sq, ft., one story, free standing building located on the north side of the property. The building design is the same as the main house, with large windows overlooking a rectangular concrete pond which is structurally cantilevered to the building. Both are constructed on a floating concrete slab supported by deep drilled steel piles as is the main building. The building is presently configured with a large open studio on the east side of the building and a two piece bathroom and darkroom on the west side. The bathroom has been plumbed and prepared for a future shower. Three skylights have been framed into the ceiling of the main studio space. The studio roof has been built to accommodate a future green roof. It was intended that the shower, skylights and green roof would be completed together after the main construction as a Phase 2 project. To view the work produced in this studio please visit Carole’s personal website: Carole Harmon | Photographic Artist | Canadian Fine Art Photography and Harmon Gallery website: Harmon Photography – Fine Art Nature Photography in our Banff Gallery

photo studio

Description of house

The main house is two story with a cedar deck and hot tub on the second floor in the SW corner accessed from the family room. The open concept plan uses changing levels to define areas.

The living room and music studio are sunken one step from the entrance hallway and have reclaimed fir floors. Reclaimed fir is also used in the exposed fir ceilings of the entrance way and dining room. Fir was chosen as it is an indigenous wood and the actual flooring was reclaimed from a military gymnasium in Nanaimo.

The kitchen, mechanical room and powder room are raised and float above the entrance way by 2 steps. Beneath the raised kitchen is a large storage space.

The dining room is dropped by three steps. Aesthetically this provides separation for the practical areas of the main floor while still keeping the kitchen as the heart of the home. A panorama of windows overlook the rear yard from the kitchen and dining room. In a practical sense this design allows for the services under the kitchen floor as well as some low crawl space storage.

The stairway to the second floor is located centrally and is one of the architectural features of this home. The stairs themselves are of the same fir as the living room, studio and second story floors with open mesh powder-coated aluminum along the north side which is open to the kitchen. An enormous skylight over the stairwell floods the stairwell and interior of the house with light brightening the kitchen below and family room, master bedroom, and master bath on the second floor.

Link here for more pictures and the blue prints of the Green Tea House.

Green Tea House Flyer 1 Click to download PDF flyers

Big Brother is Watching You!

They have come up with a new regulation that I will have to be accountable for. I am checking with the BC Civil Liberties Association, but at present I have no choice but to give the company more of your personal information. The new regulation is part of bill C-25. Check out the information below.

Big Brother is Watching You!

“New federal laws and regulations dealing with money laundering and anti-terrorist financing now in effect require real estate agents and brokers to collect and verify more personal information from buyers and sellers.

Real estate agents now must also track the source of funds received during the course of a real estate transaction, such as the deposit.

The new regulations are part of Bill C-25 passed in 2007 that requires a number of industries, including real estate, to do more to help stop money laundering and terrorist financing. The regulations are enforced by the federal agency known as the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC.

“Real estate agents have had legal obligations under the federal government’s push to prevent criminal activity and terrorism since 2001, when Canada’s first comprehensive laws to combat money laundering and terrorist financing were introduced,” said Canadian Real Estate Association president Calvin Lindberg.

“In the first phase of compliance, real estate agents were required to report only suspicious transactions, or transactions involving more than $10,000 in cash,” he added. “Now, verified personal information must be kept of the buyer and seller for each and every real estate transaction in Canada. That personal information includes details such as occupation.”

Real estate agents are now required to ask for proof of the identity of all buyers or sellers involved in a Canadian real estate transaction — there were 559,325 MLS® transactions last year. If the client is a corporation, that information must include corporate documentation and the names of the corporation directors. Agents must also ascertain if a third party is involved in the transaction.

This also applies if a buyer or seller involved in a transaction is not represented by a real estate agent, but the other individual involved is represented. Those buying or selling privately will be asked by the agent representing the other party involved in the transaction to provide proof of identity as well, and that record must be kept by the real estate agent involved in the transaction.

Also under the new FINTRAC regulations, real estate agents dealing with clients they never meet must also verify personal information. The broker office involved can do this with a service agreement with an agent or “mandatary” (one given the mandate to act in the transaction) in the area where the client is located. That agent or mandatary must then meet the client,

verify the identification of the client, and

provide the information to the broker office

actually handling the real estate transaction.

“There are buyers, sellers or investors from other countries who rely on expertise here rather than visiting the property themselves,” the CREA president said. “They must now meet with an official agent of the Canadian broker, and provide proof of identity. This agreement will add to the business costs of the Canadian broker.”

In addition to verification of personal information, real estate agents must also complete a report on the receipt of all funds received during the real estate transaction, not just those of $10,000 or more.

In order to comply with these new federal regulations, real estate agents are required to keep this identification and receipt of funds information on file for five years and provide it to FINTRAC if requested. It is the individual broker office that will be responsible for the safe keeping of the information, and the brokerage that will have to respond to any FINTRAC information request.

Buying a Heritage Home

Getting an Electrical Inspection to facilitate insurance access.

I went to the big Vancouver Real Estate Conference at Canada Place last month. Following the breakfast meeting we had the choice of lots of work shops that seem to have two perspectives – one to make me richer and one to tell us how to service our clients better. I know I missed out on wealth years ago when I spent 30 years as an artist, but it is never too late for service to your customers.

Most interesting to me was a workshop on buying an old house with outdated electrical systems. They covered knob and tube wiring among other problem systems. The speaker stated that the problem Ken and Morgan’s Housewith old wiring is most often not that it is dangerous, but that you cannot get insurance on your house. (A major biggie.)

Most insurance companies refuse to insure an older house that has aluminum or knob and tube wiring. Up until recently, the only option available was to have the outdated wiring removed (at considerable expense), even though the wiring might in fact be perfectly safe.

To solve this problem, Brian Cook (the presenter), formed a new company called “PowerCheck Home Electrical Safety Inspections”. He approachedLinda’s house BCAA and proposed that they support an inspection that assesses any risk posed by the knob and tube (and other old wiring) to get them to accept the assessment for insurance purposes. BCAA agreed to insure heritage property with this inspection.

According to PowerCheck, (providing there has been no tampering), about 95 per cent of all knob and tube wiring is fine. In such cases, PowerCheck prepares a list of “Corrective Actions”. Once the corrective actions have been remidied, the home is automatically re-rated at a respective lower risk rating.

The insurance companies will automatically give you insurance (at a premium rate) when you buy using PowerCheck with an agreement that once you bring the risk down you will have your insurance lowered.

For more information check out http://www.powercheck.ca or call (604) 684-3630Red house in snow

Reverse Mortgages

The end of the rainbow

The Reverse Mortgage – why not?

I am totally against the Reverse Mortgage. It is a con game organized by the bankers to steal your house and your inheritance.

You know the hype about Reverse Mortgages, “If you are age 62 or older and are “house-rich but cash-poor,” a reverse mortgage may be an option to help increase your income.” They go on to say, “It allows you to access money which is not required to be paid back until you leave the house or it’s sold. However, because your home is such a valuable asset, you may want to consult with your family attorney, or financial advisor before applying for an RM.”


Here are a few of the down sides to the reverse mortgage that you should consider before you jump in.

1. Interest is added to the balance starting with the first month and each month thereafter. This means that the total amount of interest you owe increases significantly because interest is compounding and you are paying interest on the interest.

2. Insured plans charge insurance premiums and some have mortgage servicing charges. Even though you can put these costs on the loan, this reduces what you can borrow.

3. RMs use up a portion of the equity in your home, leaving fewer assets for you and your heirs in the future.

4. Interest on RMs is not deductible for income tax purposes until you pay off all or part of your debt.

5. Because you retain title to your home with an RM, you also remain responsible for taxes, repairs, and maintenance.

The most damning information I have received related to the RM came from a friend whose parents had gotten one and who lost thousands of dollars. Here is her letter!

“I would like to tell you about the experience my parents, both 82, had with the reverse mortgage company, Canadian Home Income Plan (CHIP). I’m sure that you have seen their very seductive television ads; even Gordon Pape is speaking for CHIP suggesting that it is a “good investment”. I believe that the business practice of this company should be exposed. They are preying on the elderly, low-income people in Canada.

Five years ago, my parents signed an agreement with CHIP for a reverse mortgage of $43,000, over a 10 year term. At that time they owned their home outright. Five years later, halfway through the term, they were encumbered with $88,000.00 worth of debt on their home. In exchange for this, they had been receiving an annuity payment of $360.00 per month. So essentially, they had paid $88,000.00 for $21,600.00. Had they let the term run the ten years, they would have been encumbered with $125,000.00 worth of debt on the home, so paying $125,000.00 for $43,200.00. And they would have absolutely nothing to fall back on if either one of them had to go into long-term care.

The implied idea in selling reverse mortgages is that the value of your home will increase, so you are not really “losing” anything. Their home is presently worth about $145,000.00, and is located in a rural area of southern Vancouver Island. Home prices in this area have stayed steady for the last 7 years, and they are not likely to rise much in the future, as it is a fairly depressed area economically.

In order to stop the erosion of the equity in the home they decided to take out a mortgage. Luckily, rates are now low, and their monthly payments are also fairly low and manageable. When I was searching out lawyers for them to draw up the mortgage papers, each one of them agreed with me that the CHIP reverse mortgage was something to be very wary of.”

So, what are your choices?

Had they taken out a standard interest only mortgage of $50,000 at 5.5% for five years – amortized over 20 years, and put the $50,000 in the bank their yearly interest payment would have been 2,750/year. That plus $350/mon ( $4,200/year), would have given them over 7 years before they used up the$50,000 (not counting the interest they would have gotten from the $50,000). It would have dropped their property value down only the 50,000 rather than 125000, and they still would have had a nest egg for emergencies.

Again I urge you to see a lawyer before you get into a reverse mortgage.

Perhaps a more suitable way for you to deal with a need for monthly income would be to downsize your living situation and investing the difference in an RRSP or a retirement fund. Give me a call and let’s work out a solution together, and remember, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Buyer’s Contract

I use a Buyer’s Contract when I work with a buyer. I do this so that there is an agreement that we are working together. A Buyer’s Contract assures that I will work hard.


Here I am taking Babs on a tour of condos. Eventually we found her the best place in town for her. It brings me great joy to have my buyers find their dream homes.

Upgrade the Bathroom

Upgrading the Kitchen or the Bathroom makes the most difference in bringing in a better price.


Here I am taking advantage of a bath in the Great Outdoors! I had to be careful of getting a hot seat.

Buying with Others

Joint Ownership

in the context of residential property joint ownership is where more than one person owns a property together. There are forms of joint ownership that have specific legal grounding. There are two main types, joint tenants and tenants in common.

* Joint tenants: neither party can sell without the other’s agreement. If one party dies, the other automatically inherits the other’s share. This is ideally suited to married couples or partners buying together who are in a long-term relationship.
* Tenants-in-common: each party can dispose of his or her share, either whilst alive or through a will. This is more appropriate for friends buying a property together, where they do not intend to live together as a couple.

(I recommend that you hold the property as ‘tenants in common’ so that if one of the owners were to die, their share in the property passes to their estate.)
If the joint ownership of the property involves a mortgage, then the mortgage will be on the basis of ‘joint and several liability’. This means that each buyer is liable to repay the whole of the mortgage if the others are unable or unwilling to do so.

A lender will make the offer of mortgage on the basis of the joint incomes of all applicants but ultimately it is up to the borrowers as a group to determine how they divide the monthly repayments on their joint mortgage. For example, if one applicant earns more than another, they might have a bigger share of the mortgage (and potentially, the property itself).

In fact, as long as all applicants are comfortable with the repayments, even if they have varying incomes they can agree to split repayments equally giving each of them a straightforward equal share in the mortgage.

Of course, the situation can be complicated where applicants have different deposit amounts. Even with different deposit amounts, it is possible to have equal ownership overall once the mortgage is taken into account. This is because the mortgage can be divided according to how the borrowers choose, and they can choose to divide the monthly mortgage payment so as to ‘even out’ the differences in deposit.

Because buying with others is a complicated process a proper legal agreement between the buyers is of great importance. It sets out the responsibilities one owes to the others and is there for the protection of all the owners.

Key points of a legal agreement for buying together.

1. The share each owner has in the property.
2. The percentage of the mortgage for which each owner is responsible.
3. In the event of one or more owners wishing to sell it specifies that they must first offer their share to the remaining owners, at the current market valuation:
* If the other owner/s wish to buy, they apply to the lender to take over the share of the departing person and if they are successful, the person selling their share is removed from the mortgage.
* If the remaining owners do not wish to purchase, either singly or together, or the lender will not increase the lending to enable them to do so, then the share may be offered on the open market.
* If no purchaser for the share can be found within a period of four months then the seller can require that the whole property is sold, each owner receiving their share of the remaining equity.
4. In the event that an owner wishes to vacate the property but retain their stake in it, he or she may rent out their part.
5. All owners agree to put in place and maintain life and critical illness insurance to the value of their share of the mortgage. Where an owner is unable to obtain cover due to medical reasons, he/she must advise the other co-owners. They may proceed at their discretion.
6. All owners undertake to put in place and maintain Accident, Sickness and Unemployment protection cover, sufficient to cover their share of the mortgage payments..
7. In the event of the death of one of the owners, his/her estate will be required to meet the cost of the deceased’s share of the monthly mortgage payment until redeemed (policy will be payable to the estate/beneficiaries). Their estate must offer their interest in the property, firstly to the other owners at the current market rate and, if they are not willing/able to purchase, then the estate may seek another purchaser – or indeed rent until a purchaser can be found.
8. In the event of a successful claim for critical illness being paid, the policy holder agrees to use the funds received to repay their share of the mortgage.
9. If one of the owners deliberately goes into default by absenting themselves without making arrangements to maintain their share of the mortgage – subject to a time-limit of two months, then the remaining owners can rent the absent party’s space (paying his/her share of the mortgage and retaining any profit for the aggravation) or purchase or sell his/her share of the property at the current market rate. Any residual monies, after deduction of reasonable expenses, will be placed, where possible, in the bank account of the absconder.
10. If one of the owners is in breach of the Agreement by failing to make their share of either the mortgage repayments or insurance premiums, then the other owner/s either singly or together can require that person to remedy the situation and should they fail to comply within a period of two months from the onset of the default, force the sale of the share of the defaulting owner as if they had absented themselves.
11. The owners will open a joint bank account or designate an account for the purpose of the payment of mortgage repayments and any insurance premiums. Each owner is responsible for making a timely payment into the account to cover his/her share of the above payments. Please note that it is not compulsory to open a joint account and a designated account of one of the applicants may be used until one is open.