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House Hunting in Canada: A Modern House in Vancouver for $4.3 Million

House Hunting in Canada: A Modern House in Vancouver for $4.3 Million


This three-bedroom house sits on a lushly landscaped quarter-acre lot in the Southlands section of Vancouver, in the province of British Columbia. Built in 2015, the 2,673-square-foot home has retractable glass walls that open to make the large outdoor courtyard an extension of the main-floor living area.

The home was designed by Measured Architecture, a Vancouver studio focused on modern design.

The owners formerly “lived in the area in a very large home and wanted to downsize to a home that was more easily taken care of and one that made it easier for the family to congregate,” said Rob Zwick, an agent with Stilhavn Real Estate Services, which has the listing.

The main entrance opens into a foyer with 22-foot ceilings and an accent wall of stained cedar, the material used on the home’s exterior. A stairway leads up to the living area.

The open-concept space combines living and dining areas and the kitchen, all with 11-foot ceilings. Two glass walls slide away to open the space to the private courtyard, surrounded by vegetation. The kitchen has a center island with quartz countertops, high-end appliances, and custom cabinetry.

The floors throughout the house are sanded concrete, the cabinetry is black ash and the walls are white. Concrete Moroccan tile adds splashes of bold color in most rooms.

The ground-floor master suite has a walk-in closet, a bath with a walk-in shower with the Moroccan tiles, and sliding doors opening to a private patio.

The upper level has two more bedrooms with en suite baths, and an office with built-in cabinetry and doors to a rooftop balcony.

A separate office was created from a shipping container and it sits in the backyard, Mr. Zwick said.

The home also has a ground-floor laundry room with a dog-wash, an attached two-car garage and a gardening shed.

The Southlands section, in the city’s southwest corner, is distinguished by larger lot sizes, ample parklands and multiple horse stables. This property is close to two golf courses — the public McCleery course and the private Point Grey country club — and the city’s popular Southlands Nursery.

Both downtown Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport are about a 15-minute drive, Mr. Zwick said.

After a slowdown in spring sales activity because of the COVID-19 shutdown in March, home sales in the metro Vancouver area (population 2.4 million) came surging back in June. The 2,443 closed sales last month represented nearly an 18 percent increase over June 2019, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The market had begun to turn around last summer after more than two years of declining sales and prices, said Colette Gerber, the board’s chairwoman. She attributed the slowdown to tighter mortgage lending rules and a hike in the province’s foreign buyers tax to 20 percent of the fair market value of the home.

“Last summer we saw everything plateau and slowly turn around,” Ms. Gerber said.

In the city of Vancouver, with about 630,000 residents, June sales were up 18 percent over the same month last year, while inventory was off by 26 percent. The median sales price for all home types was $944,500 Canadian ($698,930), a five percent increase over last June.

That price range around 1 million Canadian buys you an 1,100 square foot condo in a newer building in the city, or an older townhouse, Ms. Gerber said.

“It’s unlikely it will get you a single-family home — for that you’re looking more at $1.3 million and up,” she said.

Khushhal Bains, a real estate lawyer in the city, said he was “a little bit shocked” at how busy the real estate market is, given the pandemic.

“Of all the scenarios we imagined, we never contemplated it being busier than last year,” Mr. Bains said. “We’re getting a lot of rush closings; buyers are using that as an enticement to sellers. They offer to close right away.”

Mr. Zwick said the brisk sales pace is no doubt due in part to pent-up demand.

“There are people who had planned to move, and their urgency was compounded by staying inside for two months and realizing that they really, really wanted to move,” he said.

Nonessential travel into Canada from the U.S. is currently prohibited. As of July 4, the count of total cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia was 2,947, with 177 deaths, according to the Canadian government. The risk in the province is now considered low.

A highly diverse city, Vancouver has typically attracted large numbers of immigrants. Most foreign buyers are from mainland China, other parts of Asia and Iran, Mr. Zwick said. Lately, however, he’s seen an uptick in American interest.

“I’ve had more American buyers in the last six months than I have in the previous four years,” he said. “Mostly it’s Californians looking here.”

Mr. Bains said he’s seen a rise recently in Canadians living in the U.S. who want to return home. He attributed the trend in part to concern about the way COVID-19 has been handled. “I just got a call last week from a woman with 5-year-old twins who said she doesn’t want them to grow up there,” he said.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Vancouver. Buyers and sellers use their own real estate agents and lawyers. The agent’s commission is paid by the seller.

Second-home owners and investors are subject to additional property taxes, however. The city charges an Empty Homes Tax of one percent of the assessed taxable value for properties not occupied at least six months of the year. And separately, British Columbia has a Speculation and Vacancy Tax that charges foreign owners another two percent if the property is not a principal residence.

Vancouver tourism: www.tourismvancouver.com/

Vancouver government: vancouver.ca/your-government.aspx

British Columbia tourism: www.hellobc.com/

English; Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar = 74 cents)

The property transfer tax is paid to the provincial government at a graduated rate of one to three percent of the purchase price, depending on the price of the home. Legal fees are around 1,500 Canadian ($1,107), Mr. Bains said.

Annual property taxes on this home were $13,323 Canadian ($9,837) in 2019, according to Mr. Zwick.

Rob Zwick, Stilhavn Real Estate Services, 1-604-727-7612; stilhavn.com

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