Flooding high priority for homeowners
It’s impossible to not have noticed that our weather has changed over the years. At one time severe weather incidents were seen once in a typical Canadian’s lifetime, now there’s at least one in a decade. Rainfall has increased by double-figure percentages and the cost of insuring homes against floods is increasing. Where once the greatest risk to a property was fire, now it is more likely to be flooded. The cost of natural disasters last year ran into many billions of dollars and we’ve already seen storms causing major damage this year. The Insurance Bureau of Canada is testing a new online tool that will help insurers to assess the potential risk of flood to individual streets. While there is no suggestion that this tool will be available to homebuyers, an insurance policy quote would give a good indication of the risk. The IBC says that premiums will be rising and limits of cover will be restricted. Although overland flood insurance has not been available in Canada, a small firm in Calgary is looking to change that. The Beaufort Group normally deal with energy industry insurance but are offering a limited number of policies to owners of flood-prone homes. Read the full story.
Renovations increase – it’s the HGTV effect
Toronto based real estate consultants, Altus, report that a growing number of Canadians are renovating their homes. The increase is often referred to as the ‘HGTV effect’, a hat tip to the home improvement TV channel. There does appear to be a correlation; the TV channel launched just before the start of a fifteen year period of year-on-year increases in renovations. The sector is now worth over $63 billion a year and spending is not only on essential repairs. The increase can be partly attributed to there being more housing now than in the 90s, but there is also real evidence that homeowners are keen to have a new home, without actually moving. Spending on renovations does not appear to be dependent on property equity; only a quarter of the work is funded through borrowing according to Bank of Canada stats. Read the full story.
Greener homes delayed by red tape
It seems like a win-win situation; an energy efficient house means low environmental impact and lower energy bills; but are we too passive when it comes to what’s called ‘passive housing’? It’s been five years since the City of Vancouver launched its Passive Design Toolkit for Homes and so far there haven’t been any homes reaching the required standards to be fully classed as ‘passive’. There are homeowners who are keen to be the first to receive the classification in the city, but there are obstacles; technological and bureaucratic; that seem to be holding things up. Read the full story.
There’s something brewing in commercial real estate
Coffee shops and gelato parlors are highly familiar sights in our neighbourhoods but now Vancouver is seeing a boom in craft breweries and tasting rooms too. A rule change allowing breweries to have on site tasting rooms and direct sales outlets has been a shot in the arm for commercial real estate in areas such as East Hastings and Mount Pleasant. With neighbourhood regeneration providing new homes and retail outlets, the growth of microbreweries looks set to continue and are especially popular with a young metropolitan crowd. As a change from traditional pubs, the tasting rooms tend to be cool and modern, offering a bright addition to the retail landscape, and we can all raise a glass to that. Read the full story.