The limit on property value for applying for a B.C. homeowner grant has been lowered.
The B.C. government says 92 per cent of homeowners in the province are eligible for the B.C. Home Owner Grant this year.
Property values must fall under the threshold for a homeowner to be eligible for the full amount of the grant. This year’s threshold is set at $1.525 million, down from $1.65 million last year.
The grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of assessed value above the threshold, meaning eligible homeowners with properties assessed above the threshold receive a partial grant until it is fully phased out.
Some low-income owners, such as seniors or people with disabilities, can also apply for a supplement that replaces any grant amount they lose due to the value of their home being over the threshold.
The homeowner grant amounts are up to $570 for the basic grant, up to $770 if the home is located in a northern or rural area, and up to $845 for homeowners who are 65 years or older, or if they live with a disability or a relative, who has a disability.
There is also a grant of up to $1,045 for homes in northern or rural areas where the homeowner is 65 years or older, or the homeowner is a person with a disability.
The B.C. government reimburses municipalities for the full cost of the grant to ensure local government tax revenues are not affected.
In 2013, Vesta Properties approached homeowners in the Carvolth neighbourhood of Langley with an offer to purchase and then develop their lots. Fast forward six years and a landmark master-planned community – the largest in the Fraser Valley – is beginning to take shape. Set on no fewer than 74 acres and comprising 31 lots in total, Latimer Heights will provide the area with just under 2,000 new homes.
Latimer Village is the newest section of Latimer Heights to go on sale and represents the urban hub of the entire community with 487 condos. Set for completion in the late summer of 2021, it will include restaurants, retail outlets, amenities and an urban village space. The community will also have more than 17 acres of park space and provide easy access to the Carvolth Exchange, which in turn connects to the SkyTrain system.
Community building on this scale offers potential homebuyers all kinds of options. For Fisher Lietz, it’s the opportunity to own a home for the first time.
“It was very affordable,” said Lietz. “I’m a pretty young guy and don’t have a crazy amount of money to work with so it was really nice to be able to get into a new development like this. It’s not something that I expected to be able to do.”
“It’s a really great area in my opinion or, at least, it will be soon,” Lietz added. “I work in downtown Langley and it’s getting to be really busy. I wouldn’t want to live right downtown, but this is just close enough to it that I can still get there, but still have access to the highway and good transit options.”
Tara Desmond, sales manager at Vesta Properties, said that Latimer Heights will allow different generations to live in the same location based on their different needs.
“We have young families who have bought one of the townhomes and their parents are going to be moving into one of the condos,” said Desmond. “It’s a very walkable community that’s completely sustainable on its own – people can very much age in place if they want to and have the amenities and the facilities they need right on their doorstep.”
“There are schools, there’s shopping and there’s recreation in abundance here,” said Desmond. “I think it also offers a certain amount of accessibility and less traffic congestion than you might find in places like South Surrey. Langley seems to appeal to people because you have all the restaurants and all the shopping, but you’re also close to the border and close to the airport.”
The first two buildings of Latimer Village, comprising approximately 100 homes, are on sale now, with new phases to be released shortly. Homes range in size from 507 to 1,331 square feet. Available homes have between one and three bedrooms – some with a den as well – and are priced from the mid-$300,000 range.
Homes at Latimer Village will have nine-foot-high ceilings, oversized windows and laminate hardwood-style floors. There are three colour schemes to choose from – grey, caramel and dark – and the kitchens come with Samsung appliance packages, gas ranges and french door fridge freezers with ice and water dispensers.
Bathrooms have dual sinks, frameless glass shower doors, large format tiles on shower surrounds and floors, and quartz countertops.
“There’s a ton of variation here,” Desmond said. “A lot of the time with condo buildings you’ll see the same plans repeated on every floor. That’s definitely not the case with the architecture and the design at Latimer Village. There are at least 40 different floor plans – it’s really unique.”
“We are a local, Langley developer so we know what people are looking for,” she added. “We’re very much involved and invested in the community and our head office is here. We’ve been part of the initial transformation of this area and it’s become one of the most popular places in the Lower Mainland to purchase a home as a result.”
At Latimer Village, Desmond said there has been lots of interest from residents of Burnaby and Coquitlam who are attracted by the value on offer, as well as people who already live in the area. Lietz is one of them and he jumped at the chance to own a condo in what is set to become a highly desirable new area of the Lower Mainland.
“I live in Brookswood, south of downtown Langley,” he said. “I like it where I am but I’m really looking forward to going to the new place. I find renting to be kind of an unfortunate situation. All the rent is just going away to nothing, but with a mortgage you get to keep a lot of your monthly payment as equity. It will be really nice to not have to be losing $1,100 a month.”
The Latimer Discovery Centre, showcasing a typical two-bedroom condo at Latimer Village, is open from noon to 5 p.m. every day except Friday.
Latimer Village at Latimer Heights
Project location: 8242 200 Street, Langley
Project size: The first two buildings of Latimer Village, comprising approximately 100 homes, are on sale now, with new phases to be released shortly. Homes range in size from 507 to 1,331 square feet. Available homes have one to three bedrooms – some with a den as well – and are priced from the mid-$300,000 range
The Heights on Austin is a project from Beedie in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive] PNG
Big changes are coming to the Austin Heights neighbourhood of Coquitlam. In recent weeks, one of Western Canada’s oldest Safeway stores was reopened on Austin Avenue after a rebuild by Beedie Living. On either side of the new 65,000-square-foot grocery store, the same developer has just broken ground on the first of two 25-storey residential towers that will be part of a major revitalization of the area.
The new development is appropriately named The Heights on Austin. But buyers of the homes won’t necessarily have to choose a plan at the top of one of these buildings to enjoy spectacular views, according to Beedie’s director of marketing and strategy, Sunny Hahm.
“Our views are one of our biggest selling points and they compare favourably to any development that’s been launched recently in Burnaby or Coquitlam,” Hahm said. “Even when you’re only on the third level, you’ll already have incredible southward views of Surrey, the Port Mann Bridge and the Fraser River. Every home on every residential level in this building has a view to immerse yourself in, which is very unusual. Typically, you’d have to purchase something on the tenth floor or above to get any type of view.”
The east tower will be completed first and have 177 homes (out of a total of 344 for the whole project), including five three-bedroom townhomes. This first phase will also include 12 affordable housing units to be developed in partnership with B.C. Housing and the not-for-profit Vancouver Resource Society. The west tower – the second phase of Austin Heights – will include additional retail space and commercial office space.
“The accessibility that the Austin Heights area provides to the rest of Metro Vancouver is a one of the key reasons why real estate in this neighbourhood holds its value so well,” Hahm added. “You’re still very much part of a residential community, but you’re also only a five-minute drive away from any one of three SkyTrain stations. There’s Burquitlam, Lougheed Town Centre and Braid stations, serving three different SkyTrain lines that connect you to all of Metro Vancouver. You’re away from the craziness and the hustle and bustle, but still well connected to transit options if you’re a commuter. In terms of driving, you can get to anywhere in Metro Vancouver within about half an hour.”
That’s assuming you need to leave the neighbourhood in the first place, of course. The brochure for The Heights on Austin lists no fewer than 60 educational institutions, restaurants, shopping outlets and activities in the neighbourhood. In addition, there are 750 acres of green space within four kilometres of the site, including the prestigious Vancouver Golf Club.
“Just behind our site, Ridgeway Avenue has been designated by the City of Coquitlam to be a new pedestrian area with an incredible new streetscape,” Hahm said. “It will be a beautiful promenade with cafes, restaurants and public art installations – a fully walkable neighbourhood right on your doorstep. Austin Heights is not just another highrise development. We’re building a new town centre for the City of Coquitlam and the local business community.”
“When it comes to the issue of affordability, we’re seeing purchasers shift from west to east and there’s a level of expectation that comes with that,” Hahm added. “Somebody who’s been living for a number of years in somewhere like Yaletown or Coal Harbour will have certain expectations when it comes to the appliances in their homes and the quality of living they’re looking for.”
Beedie is aiming to exceed those expectations at The Heights on Austin. As a result, kitchens will feature premium Fisher & Paykel integrated appliance packages, including 32-inch fridges with bottom freezers, 30-inch stainless steel gas cooktops and 30-inch electric convection ovens. There are white upper Shaker cabinets with wood-grain lower cabinets, soft-close cabinet hardware with polished chrome pulls, LED under-cabinet lighting and quartz countertops and backsplashes.
Bathrooms will have custom mirrors and medicine cabinets, matte porcelain floor tiles, quartz countertops and undermount sinks. There are porcelain beveled subway tiles with niches, as well as polished chrome Grohe shower systems and adjustable shower wands in all ensuites. Main bathrooms feature luxurious soaker tubs.
“We’ve seen mostly end users showing interest in these homes and that’s partly because of the quality of the finishes we’re putting in here and the expansiveness of the floor plans,” Hahm said. “They’re just a little bigger and more livable than what you might typically expect in a development like this. Our primary demographic is an end-use, first-time homebuyer and they’re typically coming from the Tri-Cities or Burnaby.”
There are multiple plans to choose from at The Heights on Austin. East tower homes have one to three bedrooms, range in size from 482 to 1,292 square feet and are priced from $441,900. Completion for the first phase is expected by the spring of 2022 and the presentation centre at 1032 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam is open from noon until 5 p.m. every day but Friday.
The Heights on Austin
Project location: 1045 Austin Avenue (east tower) and 505 Nelson Street (west tower), Coquitlam
Project size: 344 homes with one to three bedrooms. (East tower: 177 homes; West tower: 167 homes) East tower homes range from 482 to 1,292 square feet and priced from $441,900
As the Lower Mainland’s multi-family-home development market has been evolving of late, so too have buyers’ expectations, says Howard Steiss, director of sales and marketing at Aragon Properties.
“It’s a show-me market now: show me that the building is actually built, show me what the quality is, show me that your offering is real-time and authentic,” Steiss said. “It’s quite a change.”
Steiss described the last number of years as being all about pre-sales, and people buying condos that, in many cases, wouldn’t be built for a few years.
By contrast, Amber – Aragon Properties’ soon-to-be launched multi-family development at Ash Street and King Edward in Vancouver – is scheduled to be completed almost immediately.
“The suites will be ready for occupancy early this fall,” Steiss said. “We’ll put in on the market to the public in early July at the latest and homebuyers will be able to see it, touch it and feel it. There’s a tremendous leap of faith required when you’re having to make possibly the biggest financial decision of your life based on something that doesn’t exist yet.
“Renderings and computer animations can do great things when it comes to how it’s supposed to look. But in this case, people can really experience it before they decide on a particular floor plan or location within the building.”
Amber is a boutique development of just 31 suites, but there’s a wide variety of options to appeal to different buyers. The development has no fewer than 18 different floor plans to choose from and homes with one, two and three bedrooms ranging in size from 695 to 1,794 square feet. These include two-level townhomes that Steiss said would be particularly attractive to growing families or downsizers.
The location is similarly appealing. Amber is within a block of the Canada Line station at Cambie and King Edward, so residents will be able to get downtown, to the airport or out to Richmond in quick time.
“The neighbourhood is well known to be one of the most desirable locations in Vancouver,” Steiss said. “Amber’s proximity to Douglas Park, a neighbourhood park about a block away, offers people a great green space to take the kids or the dog. Heather Park and Queen Elizabeth Park are both also within walking distance. There are all kinds of shops and restaurants and coffee places in the Cambie Village. It’s really a great spot.”
The above-mentioned Cambie Village is the type of neighbourhood that has its own blog, social media channels and website, the latter listing a large list of shops, services, coffee houses, restaurants and entertainment options.
As for the homes at Amber, there’s little doubt that this is a luxury building aimed at discerning buyers.
“We create unique experiences,” Steiss said. “The floor plans, the locations and the interior features are carefully designed and chosen. The typical interiors of an Aragon condo or townhouse would include things like millwork finishing that you would normally see in other projects as upgrades or decorator extras. Our approach is that every home should be equally luxurious as standard. The materials, the design and the craftsmanship put us in a different league to most other developers.”
Kitchens feature Caesarstone quartz countertops and backsplashes, Kohler stainless steel undermount single-basin sinks and pull-out stainless steel kitchen faucets, soft-close cabinets and integrated waste and recycling drawers. The Gaggenau appliance packages include stainless steel fridges and bottom freezers, five-burner gas cooktops with automatic fast ignition, electronic-flame monitoring and auto reignition and wall ovens with touch display, automatic door opening and 17 heating methods. There are fully integrated dishwashers, Panasonic built-in microwaves with European-style trim and AEG hood fans.
Bathrooms have quartz countertops, oversized porcelain polished floor and wall tiles, undermount sinks and dual-flush toilets. They also include wall-mounted chrome sink faucets, rain showerheads in showers and main bathroom tubs and floating vanities with undermount lighting. There are medicine cabinets and NuHeat in-floor heating systems in the ensuites.
“We’re committed to future-proofing our developments, which is why Amber will have electric-vehicle charging in each and every stall in the parkade,” Steiss said. “Electric cars are definitely a growing trend, so the time to install the charging stations is now.”
“It’s a very solid four-storey building with a wood frame, steel and concrete combination for the structure itself and brick cladding on the outside,” Steiss added. “That’s not too typical in Vancouver. With Amber, we’re really targeting the end user, the owner occupier that wants to live in that location and put roots down.”
Steiss encouraged potential buyers to register online. Prices start in the high $700,000 range for one-bedroom homes and the high $900,000 range for two-bedroom homes.
Project location: Ash Street and King Edward Avenue, Vancouver
Project size: 31 suites with one, two and three bedrooms ranging in size from 695 to 1,794 square feet. Prices start in the high $700,000 range for one-bedroom homes and the high $900,000 range for two-bedroom homes.
Developer: Aragon Properties
Architect: Public Architects
Interior designer: In-house
Sales centre: Scheduled to open late June/early July
NU Duet is a project from Adera in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive] RAEF Architectural Photographer / PNG
Adera has been in operation for 50 years and the company is celebrating the milestone with the launch of Duet, a 72-home project that will be noteworthy for sustainability in multi-family residential living. Eric Andreasen, Adera’s vice-president of marketing and sales, says the quality of the building is set to be a big selling point.
“We’ve always been a leader in sustainability and we’ve only built in wood in 50 years,” he said. “We’re taking that concept to the next level with ‘SmartWood’, which will allow us to beat code when it comes to sustainability. Financially, it’s cheaper to operate on a monthly basis and it’s also helping the planet.”
“Duet will also incorporate what we’ve trademarked as QuietHome,” Andreasen added. “This is a propriety system of floor design and dividing walls that means our buildings perform better than the competition when it comes to the acoustics. Sound transmission is significantly reduced.”
The sales centre for Duet in Burquitlam Plaza at 552 Clarke Road features a demonstration of Adera’s noise-reducing technology. Potential buyers can compare noise levels in specially constructed rooms built either to standard code or using QuietHome.
Duet also features cross-laminated timber — or CLT — in the floors and elevator shafts of the building. A carbon-sequestering material that uses wood from sustainably managed forests, CLT performs as well if not better than concrete in numerous ways, according to Andreasen. Adera has installed an example at the Duet sales centre so that visitors will be able to experience it for themselves.
Andreasen said the location of the six-storey residential building less than three blocks from the Burquitlam SkyTrain station on the boundary of Burnaby and West Coquitlam is also likely to prove popular with a wide range of buyers. In its neighbourhood plan for the area, the City of Coquitlam envisioned a walkable, complete and transit-oriented neighbourhood with a mix of housing types and access to shopping, jobs and amenities. Duet is part of that transformation, according to Andreasen.
“It’s a very attractive part of the greater Vancouver area right now in terms of the value it offers and the accessibility it provides to downtown,” he said. “Duet will give people an affordable place to live, but also allows them to go anywhere with the SkyTrain or West Coast Express very easily – rapid transit on your doorstep.”
“In times when people are getting a bit more discerning about where they spend their money, they want to make sure they’re buying from somebody who’s been around and has the experience they can count on,” Andreason added. “Over 50 years we’ve worked with the very best trades and consultants in the industry and we’re confident in the product that we’re going to build.”
As for the homes themselves, kitchens will feature quartz slab countertops with porcelain tile backsplashes and single-handle faucets with pull-down sprays in matte black finishes. The appliance packages are a combination of KitchenAid and Fisher & Paykel.
Homes at Duet come in two colour schemes, but there’s plenty of opportunity to customize. Adera’s I.D. By Me program allows buyers to personalize kitchens, bathrooms and living areas according to their liking. Options under the program include custom millwork, upgrades to the kitchen appliances, swapping out the tub for a shower with pivoting glass door and adding space-saving custom closet organizers.
Duet will include a common kitchen and lounge, secure bike lockers, a storage locker for every home and electric vehicle-charging stalls. The interior designer for the project is Cynthia Florano Designs and the building was designed by Integra Architecture Inc.
“One of our architectural influences has always been West Coast modern design and we’ve also leaned on natural materials like cedar,” Andreasen said. “You’ll see from the renderings that Duet has a feature corner with extensive use of natural materials that makes the building look really quite impressive.”
Homes at Duet have one to three bedrooms, range in size between 479 and 1,050 square feet and prices start at $394,900. Andreasen said he expects buyers from a wide range of demographics.
“A lot of people grew up in Burnaby and West Coquitlam and have maybe since been living in Yaletown or Kitsilano,” he said. “Many we’ve spoken to are actually coming back to the area or still have family there. Our demographic is going to be people who work downtown and need easy access to it but also want to be able to afford a home in this marketplace where it’s very expensive to own real estate.”
“We’re also seeing moms and dads who are looking at Duet on behalf of their kids, who may be students at SFU, which is very close by,” Andreasen added. “We’ve had a significant amount of interest already and there’s only 72 homes to choose from. We expect people will get in pretty quickly.”
Project location: 707 Como Lake Avenue, Coquitlam
Project size: 72 homes with one to three bedrooms; 479 —1,050 square feet; prices starting at $394,900