April 25, 2014
Elementary Schools Grow to Accommodate Growth of UBC Area Homes
Education plays a major part of the real estate market here in the UBC area. The "UBC" in this very website domain of course represents the university grounds for those seeking post secondary education within the proximity of favorable homes in the region. However by no means is the community exclusive to undergrads and grad students. You see, the reason that so many families and expectant couples flock to the area is because of the higher level of education and school catchments that allow them access to some of the best programs in the entire Lower Mainland. It all starts with finding a home near a K-7 best suited for your child/children.
One look at the school catchment page in this website evidences the favorable elementary schools located in a wide variety of UBC area neighborhoods, allowing households better flexibility when it comes to matching the perfect home to the perfect school catchment, unlike the trappings of downtown Vancouver and other extremely high-densified locales in the Lower Mainland.
However the flip side of the coin is exposed when many prospective homeowners consult my services and inquire about the population growth of the UBC area. They wonder how it will impact class sizes and ultimately the quality of education that their children will receive. Fair question indeed. I'm happy to say that one literal cruise around the neighborhoods found here within my UBC real estate listings will answer that question. Our elementary schools have heard your concerns and have responded with immediate plans to expand and improve their facilities. Let's look at a couple of recent examples, complete with visuals.
Pictured: Queen Mary Elementary School
You may have noticed the futuristic looking bubble introducing this article. That is found right outside of Queen Mary Elementary school at this very moment (April 2014). The school and grounds are not only undergoing improvements to enhance the education its young students receive, but it is also undergoing construction for a seismic upgrade. Schools here take education AND safety very seriously, because you as parents do too.
Pictured: Our Lady of Perpetual Help expanding
Another obvious example seen by anyone driving along West 10th Avenue is the work being done to renowned private K-7 school Our Lady of Perpetual Help. OLPH is also in the middle of an expansion to improve facilities and to increase the number of classrooms which in turn reduces the classroom size (students per class) resulting in better education for all within its doors and hallways.
Yes, the UBC area is growing. But what's so great about our community is that while we welcome new households into our fold every month we maintain the tight knit charm of the community while ensuring that those that both reside and arrive within receive the best of all worlds, especially the children - they are in fact, the future.
January 22, 2014
UBC Realtor Tips for Protecting Your Home While on Vacation
...and don't advertise it either...
As the end of January approaches many households begin to plan their up and coming vacations to escape the remaining cold winter weeks or have even started thinking about spring break (for those of you impacted by elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schedules). While vacation time should always be a happy one, being away from your house for a significant amount of time can weigh on the mind. Granted while those of you living in UBC area homes enjoy the benefits of living in a safe community environment, it’s only natural to feel over-protective of your abode when away from it. Thus, I thought I would offer a few useful tips to put your mind at ease while on vacation.
5 Tips to Protecting Your Home While Away on Vacation
1. Don’t Let the Mail Pile Up
One tell-tale sign that the residents of a home, are not home, for a long period of time is a pile of mail spilling out of the mail box or flyers and newspaper subscriptions building up on the front steps. Put your mail delivery on-hold with the local post office if gone for longer than a week or have your trusted neighbors pick it up for you every day or two. Another preemptive option, which is a good idea for other reasons (less environmental paper waste and less clutter in the home) is to convert hardcopy mail to electronic alternatives - have monthly bills and periodical subscriptions delivered online instead.
2. Get Someone to Take Care of the Front Yard
If it’s the spring or summer have someone (friends, family, neighbors kid) mow your lawn mid-vacation. If it’s winter and there is snowfall, have them salt and shovel the walkways and paths fronting your home. This will “keep up appearances”, making your home looked lived-in while you are away on vacation.
3. Use Your Smartphone to Create a Smart-Home and Appear that You Are At-Home
There are a slew of iPhone and Android apps out there that will convert your home into a smart home. Depending on your mobile device a simple visit to the respective app store will uncover apps that you can use to turn your home’s lights off and on, in addition to controlling the on/off status of your TV and stereo. By randomly hopping on your mobile device while on vacation and having a little fun with these controls your home will give off the appearance that someone is within. Just make sure you don’t blast your stereo at 2 AM, waking up your neighbors, because you forgot that you are currently in a different time zone while away.
4. Watch the Water
Turn off the outside water valve, preventing leaks and accidents from your garden/carport hoses. In addition, especially in the winter, you should consider having a trusted friend or neighbor drain the water pipes within the home, or turn them off altogether when gone for a week, so that homes in cold climates do not succumb to frozen (and thus damaged) pipes.
5. Don’t Leave a Key Outside
If you can imagine a hiding place for your house keys outside than others can too. While we are all wise enough to no longer place them under the front door mat the other alternatives such as within outdoor planters, garden gnomes, and the rest are also among the usual suspects. If you need a back-up set of keys keep them with people that you can trust that are located within near proximity to your home should you need them to gain access for whatever reason.
I hope you found these tips useful. Of course, as mentioned above one of the best ways to ensure a safe home while you are away on vacation is by first deciding to live in a neighborhood community where such a thing is of little concern. The UBC area is such an area and if you want to learn more about finding a home in UBC then please feel free to contact my UBC real estate office anytime.
May 15, 2013
Are You Asking "Should I buy UBC Condos?"
After accepted into UBC, many students face the daunting task of finding accommodations within or near the UBC Campus. Fortunately the Department of Student Housing and Hospitality Services provides accommodations for more than 8,000 students and faculty members.
However, due to limited number of space available, not all of the students are able to secure student housing. As a result, many Students’ parents consider purchaing a property within UBC. As UBC Realtor, I have helped many families in these situations.
In my years as a UBC Realtor, I have advised many prospects and clients that owning Real Estate within UBC is actually a very good investment considering the time a student will spend at the campus.
For students not able to find UBC Student housing, many will end up paying between $1,500-$1,700/month for 1 Bedroom or $2,000-$2,300/month for 2 Bedrooms.
Alternatively, owning a 1 Bedroom condo in UBC, assuming the purchase price of $350,000 with 20% down payment, and 3% interest rate, 30 years amortization, the monthly mortgage payment is only $1,178. The monthly Strata fee is about $240. And tax is about $1,400/year ($116/month). Gas and utility maybe around $50-$100/month. Total monthly payment is about $1,584/month. However, mortgage payment of $1,178/month includes principle and interest. In the first couple years, interest accounts for about 50% of the mortgage payment. So in effect, the total monthly cost is actually about $995 ($1,584-$589). Roughly around $1,000/month.
That is why many families have opted to own either a 1 Bedroom Condo or a 2 Bedrooms Condo in UBC. If you are considering owning UBC Condos please don’t hesitate to contact my UBC Real Estate office today or call me anytime at 778-991-0649.
April 2, 2013
UBC Homes - 8 Money Saving Mortgage Tips
As a UBC Realty agent, I am consistenly asked by prospective homeowners about how they can save money on their mortgage.
Here in this week's UBC real estate blog, I would like to share 8 Money-Saving Mortgage Tips for homeowners in the UBC area:
1. Increase your payments towards your UBC home to the most you can afford. The upside is that most lenders will allow you to reduce the payment to its previous level if it turns out to be too great of a burden or if your circumstances change.
2. Utilize your RRSP-driven tax rebate as a mortgage pre payment method. Even if you can only prepay annually, make sure your tax refunds are set aside for paying down your UBC real estate mortgage. Many Canadians borrow (at prime) to buy an RRSP to ensure the maximum rebate. When applied to the mortgage principal, the resulting refund is a “gift that keeps on giving.” Combining the refund with the tax-free interest earned on the RRSP over the subsequent years will quickly outpace the short-term interest costs of the RRSP loan.
3. Increase the frequency of your UBC home payments. Make accelerated bi-weekly payments to get a “free” principal reduction equivalent to one full mortgage payment every year.
4. Increase your UBC home mortgage payments a set amount. Round up your payments by adding even a nominal amount of say $10 per payment; the amount of interest you can save is unbelievable. At the end of the month you won't "feel" that small contribution (the old "for the price of a latte" scenario) but your interest will - you win!
5. Use your pre-payment privileges when mortgaging a UBC Home. Make use of double-up privileges where possible. Tell yourself that you will “skip-a-payment” whenever necessary…then skip only when you absolutely must.
6. Take advantage of your lump sum payments when available. Pay a lump sum towards your UBC realty purchase whenever possible to decrease the principal of the mortgage. Your regular payments will not be allocated as much to interest, which will accelerate the end of your mortgage.
7. With your annual income increase – consider increasing your UBC home mortgage payments. Raise payments in line with increased income on an after-tax basis. You've adjusted perfectly well to your lifestyle on your past income so why not speed up the process on completing your mortgage? Sure, the extra disposable income may be fun to spend in the short-term, but the long-term benefits of being mortgage-free at a quicker pace definitely outweighs the immediate "sacrifices".
8. Stabilize your UBC real estate mortgage payments even when interest rates drop. Keep payments the same when mortgage rates have fallen if the payment amount has not been difficult to maintain thus far. Then, keep it the same, thereby paying down the principal faster.
I hope you found these Money Saving Tips for UBC real estate purchaces helpful. Of course there are many things to consider when planning to purchase UBC realty and that is what I am here for. Contact UBC Homes today and find out how pleasant I can make the experience of buying a home in the UBC area for you and your family.
March 25, 2013
Essential Health Care Facility for UBC Campus & Condos
Aside from welcoming a newborn into the world, a visit to the hospital is rarely a pleasant experience for anyone, especially when a doctor or nurse pokes a needle in your arm. I certainly never enjoyed this experience when I was growing up.
However at the same time, living close to a hospital can be a blessing if you or someone in your family requires immediate medical attention. It is a blessing indeed for residents living in University Neighbourhood Association & University Endowment Land, as medical assistance is never too far away. As a UBC Realtor I can say that one of the most often asked questions posed to me by family units seeking homes in the area is in regards to the proximity of essential health facilities, beyond that of standard community walk-ins. While there are indeed fantastic facilities ranging from a UBC dental clinic a quick jaunt down Alma street, to a physiotherapty centre in the John Owen Pavilion, and even a holistic alternative health options in the area, our residents enjoy peace of mind outside of these convenient options.
Located on 2211 Wesbrook Mall, in the heart of UBC campus and within close proximity to UBC homes in the area, is the UBC hospital. The UBC Hospitalcr Urgent Care facility offers specialized treatment for non-life threatening medical emergencies by emergency trained doctors and nurses. This is a critical service essential to residents, faculties, and students.
Part of the Vancouver Coastal Health, UBC hospital is equipped with latest medical equipment and dignities instruments to give accurate diagnose to its patient.
The hospital is in the process of expanding as well. The new Djavad Mowafaghian centre for brain health at UBC hospital will be opening in the summer/fall of 2013. This is a new facility that will combine patient clinics and research in the area of neuroscience, neurology, and psychiatry. It is the first time that all the multidisciplinary areas of brain health are put together under one roof.
This is welcoming news as current and future UBC residents will be able to access these medical services.
With every new UBC real estate development in the area it seems that the services provided to the community grow exponentially as well. As a UBC Realtor I am happy to see that the area is indeed becoming a completely self-sufficient entity with even greater potential in the future. UBC homes will continue to provide both current and future residents with up-to-date information not only on UBC condos and the like, but valuable community information as well.
Until next time, stay happy & healthy!
March 11, 2013
Wesbrook Village in UBC - Latest development on the UBC Campus
Many that have previously worked or studied at UBC are often drawn back by the real estate developments in the area. The Campus landscape is not what it used to be 10 years ago. Many old buildings have been renovated while brand new buildings have been constructed. The topic of today's UBC Realty blog is in regards to the recent UBC real estate development in Wesbrook Village.
This new area, in my view, is the most exciting of them all. Wesbrook Village is the area located between W 16th AVE and SW Marine Drive. It is at the South Campus of UBC. The original Community Plan for Wesbrook Village was for 5,000 residents. However, in the latest Land Use Plan Amendment, the community is projected to grow to between 10,000-15,000 residents in 20 years.
As the community of Wesbrook Village grows, so is the number of shops and services. Currently, there is a Save-On-Foods, a Royal Bank of Canada, a BC Liquor Store, and the Mozart School of Music. Recently, the new University Hill Secondary School just opened its door to welcome its students in January.
Future development includes a new community centre, residential housing, and commercial spaces. Although the area is undergoing a tremendous change, UBC real estate and area development regulations also require that the area have certain Parks and Recreation facilities for its residents. For every brick and mortar an equal (or more) amount of green space is being created/maintained and that is one of the most important developments to the proud UBC community.
I am sure as the area grows more people will be looking for UBC Condos and Townhouses in the Wesbrook Village. As a UBC Realtor, I am here to provide valuable resources for future residents and to help them make the right move to this incredible living and learning environment.
If you are considering a return to, a transition within, or are joining the UBC Community for the first time, please do not hesitate to contact my UBC real estate office today or call me anytime directly at (778) 991-0649.
March 3, 2013
Spanish Banks Beach Park - Just Around the Corner
I feel so blessed everyday to have the opportunity to live and work in UBC. As a UBC Real Estate Agent it is always a pleasure to show properties to buyers planning to move in to this great neighbourhood.
Buyers that are new to the area may not be too familiar with the surrounding neighbourhood. That's what I'm here for. In addition to providing you all with up to date information on UBC real estate market trends and the like, I continue to use this blog as an opportunity to introduce you to some of the beautiful areas in and around UBC.
Take Spanish Banks for example. I was there this morning. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and i took a panoramic shot of the Spanish Banks Beach Park to prove it. This is a stunning beach park on the north-east side of UBC. It is about 5 KM from UBC Campus. You can drive, bike, jog or walk there. I have done so many times in the morning, jogging from UBC Hampton Place to Spanish Banks Beach Park.
In addition to its walking trails and stunning views, Spanish Banks beach park offers plenty in the way of amenities including expansive parking lots, BBQ pits, beach volleyball courts, concessions, restrooms, showers, and park benches for everyone’s enjoyment.
If you are preparing for a move to the UBC area please feel free to contact my UBC real estate office today. Otherwise I am honored to have you "stay in touch" by following me here on my UBC Realty blog.
March 2, 2013
UBC Real Estate Market Report for 2012 - AVERAGE SOLD PRICE
Many people living in UBC have wondered how their property value has changed in recent months. Certainly the media has painted a bleak picture of the Real Estate market in the Greater Vancouver area. I like to take this opportunity to present data from the UBC Real Estate market in 2012.
Above graph illustrate the AVERAGE SOLD PRICE of Attached (Townhouse) and Apartment (Condo) in UBC for the last 5 years.
As seen from the graph, the AVERAGE SOLD PRICE OF Attached and Apartment has been going up steadily since 2008. For Apartment, the price peaked in 2011 at AVERAGE SOLD PRICE OF $812,511. And for Attached (Townhouse), the price peaked in 2010 at AVERAGE SOLD PRICE OF $1,281,516.
At the same time, looking at these figures, it is important to keep everything in perspective. As the AVERAGE SOLD PRICE combines prices of from properties in older residential area, i.e. Hampton Place, and newer neighbourhood, i.e. Wesbrook Village.
Thus, the value of a specific property may differ significant from the AVERAGE SOLD PRICE. It is always important to contact your UBC Real Estate Specialist concerning your property value.
One might ask the question "why the AVERAGE SOLD PRICE of Apartment is going down while the AVERAGE SOLD PRICE OF Attached is going up?"
One explanation for the Attached (Townhouse) price going up is that UBC is developing and building more properties. However, most of the new developments are in the Apartments (Condos). Therefore, the supply of Attached properties has been limited. At the same time, as the population of UBC grows, the demand for Townhouses is increase and translates into higher price.
Looking at the Apartment (Condo), price dropped by about 10% compared to 2011. As mentioned previously, the supply of Condos has increased steadily in UBC. Especially, new condo development in Wesbrook Village and East Campus, e.g. Pacific, Spirit, Ultima, Yu, Academy, Sage, Sitka, and Sale.
For more information about the value of your property, please contact Sam Huang at 778-991-0649.
February 19, 2013
Looking Ahead at UBC Events
As a UBC real estate professional I pride myself in being immersed within the community, from student culture to the support of local businesses and everything in between. Whether a seasoned UBC realty agent, a new resident to the area, or a family browsing listings for UBC condos in anticipation of joining the neighborhood in the near future, one of the best ways to integrate into the community is to come along and partake in one of the many events taking place at UBC.
From time to time I will use my UBC real estate blog as a platform to keep the public informed about events at UBC and this month I thought I'd provide a few varied recommendations. Check out one or more of these events in the area and be sure to keep an eye out for me, your UBC realtor, and say hi.
Opera Tea on the Stage - March 3, UBC Old Auditorium
The Old Auditorium at UBC is a fantastic place to take in the sweet sounds of arias and excerpts performed by the UBC Opera. Intermission is also a treat (literally) as patrons sip on teas and coffees, savory cakes and scrumptious refreshments while mingling with the other attendees.
Karaoke at the Gallery - March 6/7, Gallery Lounge, Student Union Building
This UBC realtor will more than likely be in attendance for Karaoke night at the Gallery Lounge but I won't likely be on stage (your eardrums will thank you). Everyone likes a good karaoke event and regardless if you are seated in the crowd or braving the stage a good time will be had by all.
UBC Business Career Expo 2013 - March 8, Henry Angus Building
While not exactly a casual pre-weekend affair the UBC Business Career Expo is a great event for both the career minded and those budding entrepreneur spirits looking to gain valuable experience in the corporate world. Who knows, perhaps this event could launch the next UBC real estate superstar?
UBC Poetry Slam - March 28 Simply French Cafe (3742 W 10th Ave)
I promised a varied event schedule that offers something for everyone and the Poetry Slam at the quaint Simply French Cafe down the West 10th Avenue hill from UBC provides just that. Join an eclectic group at this great little Parisian cafe and soak up the artisan atmosphere at the UBC Poetry Slam.
Davis Cup Tennis - April 5 to 7, Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 130 nations competing in 2013 (Source: Tennis Canada). 16 countries enter the Davis Cup competition to qualify for the World Group each year and this April, Team Canada will take on Italy right here at UBC. Our community is proud to host the event, the athletes, and everyone in attendance for this portion of the Davis Cup. Very exciting!
Stay tuned for further up & coming event information, and more, on my UBC real estate blog. I also post information about UBC on my UBC Homes social media profiles so please do stop by and follow UBC Homes on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Of course, if you are in the market for UBC condos, homes, or simply wish to have a casual conversation on the matter please feel free to call me directly at (778) 991-0649 or contact my UBC real estate office today.
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