Seylynn Village investment has potential for great return

This perspective on real estate investment is provided to readers by Mortgage Dave, a longtime Lynn Valley mortgage expert.

Given the North Shore’s high prices, current investors sometimes wonder if buying in North or West Vancouver can possibly provide a decent return. In fact, a well-thought-out real estate purchase can provide not only a decent return, but also one that’s far more lucrative than many current stock and mutual fund portfolios.

I decided to take a closer look at the new Seylynn Village development being offered by Denna Homes in the Lower Lynn District.  The Beacon building will comprise the first stage of new development in an area that is ripe for change. Being situated close to transportation, recreation, the downtown bridge, and Capilano University, it promises to be attractive to renters in an area that is already one of Greater Vancouver’s strongest rental markets (North Vancouver has a current vacancy rate of 0.9%).

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Fixed vs. variable rates: how to choose

 This advice is provided  to LynnValleyLife readers courtesy of Mortgage Dave, a local mortgage expert and busy volunteer in our community.

One of the most important decisions when choosing a mortgage is whether to lock in a fixed interest rate or select a variable (floating) rate.  With interest rates at historical lows, making the wrong decision could cost you thousands.  Let’s look at the difference between the two types of rates, and how this choice might affect you.

Fixed Rate

With a fixed rate mortgage you “lock in” a predetermined interest rate for a set period of time (i.e., term).  The most popular term these days is five years.

A fixed mortgage rate can give you a bit more comfort and security knowing exactly what your payments will be each month for the duration of your term.  This makes financial planning and budgeting relatively easy.

The downside of a fixed rate is that if interest rates remain stable or fall during the term you will end up with higher payments than you’d experience with a variable rate mortgage.

Another consideration is that if you need to get out of a fixed rate mortgage before the term is up, you may have to pay a higher penalty.  The penalty is typically the greater of either 1) three months’ interest, or 2) the interest rate differential (the difference between your fixed rate and the current market rate multiplied by the outstanding principal further multiplied by the remaining years of the term).  Different banks calculate these penalties differently, so I would work with you to ensure the bank you choose matches your needs.

Variable Rate

The payments on a variable rate mortgage fluctuate, based on the prime rate throughout the term that you have the mortgage.

Lenders offer the variable rate as a discount off the prime rate.  Today the prime rate is at 3% and discounts on variables are around 0.40%, so a homeowner choosing this option will pay about 2.6%.  However, your mortgage rate, and therefore your payments, will increase and decrease along with the prime rate.  A great feature of a variable rate mortgage is that you can pay it off early with only a three-month interest penalty.  The lenders cannot charge the dreaded interest rate differential on variable rate mortgages.

Since the prime rate can increase or decrease on a monthly basis, variable rates are not for the faint of heart.  Anyone taking on a variable mortgage needs to be able to handle changes to their monthly payments not only financially, but psychologically as well.  If the thought of paying an extra $200 per month in mortgage payments causes you to lose sleep, a variable rate may not be for you.  I would work with you to manage this risk.

Then And Now

In the past there has been a huge discrepancy between fixed and variable rates.  Five years ago fixed rates were around 4.8% and prime was around 4%.  We had large discounts off prime of around 0.9% so you could get 3.1% variable vs. 4.8% fixed.  Going with a variable rate was an easy choice for most people, especially if they thought that interest rates were moving downward in the coming years.

Today the best five-year fixed rate is around 2.89% and variables are around 2.6%, so the gap has reduced significantly.  Prime has been around 3% for over 2 ½ years and most experts believe it will remain steady for some time, but that it will go up eventually.

Which Is Best For You?

If you are planning on moving in less than five years, a variable may be the best way to go.  If you are staying put I would definitely look at a five-year fixed or even a 10-year fixed at a slightly higher rate.  On 10-year terms the penalty to pay out after the fifth anniversary is only three months interest, so you get the best of both worlds — stability over a decade and the ability to renegotiate or payout in the last five years for a relatively low penalty.

Everyone’s situation is unique to them, and Mortgage Dave is here to provide a mortgage solution that is customized to meet your specific needs.

As always, I would be happy to review your personal situation and make my recommendations for you.  Feel free to call me at 604-315-DAVE (3283) or email me at dave@mortgagedave.ca.

 

 

Mark Sager given mandate to gather public planning views

Last fall, Canada Safeway and Bosa Development sent North Vancouver District some preliminary applications for a newly imagined Lynn Valley Mall area. Their plans called for high-rise towers that got the ‘thumbs-up’ from some residents, but also resulted in an immediate outcry from many people who were concerned about traffic, densification and a change in neighbourhood character. 

There was enough concern, in fact, that North Vancouver District Council voted to re-engage the public in a discussion about redevelopment options for the Lynn Valley town centre area.

Now we’ve learned that Mark Sager, founding partner of Sager LLP and former mayor of West Vancouver, has been given the mandate to be the sounding board for the residents of Lynn Valley. He’ll gather feedback, engage in conversations, listen to questions and concerns, and help Bosa come up with a new proposal that is in line with what the neighbourhood wants while being economically feasible for the developer.

“I am really, really honoured to be given this opportunity,” he said over a coffee in Delany’s. “Bosa is one of the most respected builders in Western Canada. They’ve said to me ‘Go out, and then tell us what’s the right thing to do here.'”

Nat Bosa, he says, lives on the North Shore. While leasing the old Zellers space to Target might be an easy economic answer, Mark says that Nat wants to build something with more neighbourhood appeal.

Mark and a team of students are inviting local residents to visit them in the mall, where they will be setting up a storefront where the pet store used to be (across from CIBC). From Saturday, May 4 to 25, hours will be Monday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to  4 p.m.

 

You’ll also find them at Lynn Valley Day on Saturday, May 25, and Mark is also hoping to snag some tickets for the virtually sold-out May 24 Gala Dinner.”At the end of the day, we have to do something that makes economic sense,” says Mark. “But Nat is completely open to hearing a range of ideas.”

Mark has introduced himself to the neighbourhood via this letter that was mailed out to 7,000 Lynn Valley homes this week. If you’re not able to pop into the mall, he invites you to email your comments to him at mark[at]sagerllp.com. (We’ll also be sure to post any of his team’s feedback forms or community information here on LynnValleyLife, so keep an eye on our Front Porch blog’s Town Planning section.)

Mark says that since his letter hit the streets, the response has been fantastic. “I’ve had many very thoughtful emails in just the first two days,” he said.

While Mark doesn’t want to give his own opinion regarding the best direction for Lynn Valley’s future development – he’s keeping an open mind as well – he does say that many residents seem to want more of a ‘village centre’ feel than a ‘town centre’ feel, one in keeping with our mountainside location. He’s very familiar with our community, he says, having lots of friends here and a penchant for our YYoga studio, and he knows it’s a place where a great many people choose to raise their families.

Mark himself was born and raised above the family shop in Dundarave, where he says his father planted flowers down the middle of the street. “I grew up always being aware of the things that make a community,” he says. He enjoys the challenge of consensus-building, loves listening, and has a reputation as someone who is patient and thoughtful – all qualities that stood him in good stead when he was the West Van mayor, and will no doubt play a major role in his new post as Lynn Valley town planning confidante!

 

Hoskins home construction well under way

The two new homes being built from the ground up at Hoskins and Dempsey have been the focus of much interest, and one has even been sold already!

Whether or not you are currently in the market, it’s always interesting to have a peek at the renovations, new landscaping, or construction that’s going on in your neighbourhood. So we thought we would snap you a few photos now that these two new homes are starting to take shape.

Builder invites homeowner to put up wall.

Homeowner and builder

 

Front of home on Nov 7 / 12

View from upper deck on Nov 7 / 12

Foundation starting on 2nd home – get involved today!

To find out what the finished product will look like, click here. And to learn more about the process of turning an older home on one lot into a double lot for two updated homes, visit this earlier blog post. If you have any questions, please call Jim or Kelly at 778-724-0112.

Lynn Valley town centre plans taking shape

For more than five years, North Vancouver District planners have been trying to get into the heads of Lynn Valley residents. They’ve asked for our views, they’ve brought in speakers, they’ve created opportunities for online education and feedback, they’ve set up shop in the mall, they’ve gone to our youth, they’ve been at Lynn Valley Day, and they’ve hosted charrettes* (who even knew what those were, prior to that weekend in ’07?)

All this was to facilitate the collective creation of a vision for Lynn Valley that would take its place in the Official Community Plan. This plan was adopted by NVD Council in June, 2011, and since then community planners have been fleshing out implementation proposals. We were given a look at some of these last spring, in another round of displays and feedback sessions (please see this blog post from April).

Now, this big subject has once again moved to the front burner because Safeway and Bosa (owners of Lynn Valley Mall) have both submitted preliminary application letters to the District, outlining in some detail their proposed redevelopment plans (click links to read the letters).

Of course, everyone has questions as to the future of our neighbourhood. Many of us are conflicted – we don’t want our community to lose its ‘charm,’ but we have to admit some elements of the current mall are less than charming.

Maybe we’re excited about some of the new public amenities, green spaces and walkways that are proposed under the Town Centre plan, but find it hard to get behind some of the high-rise developments that would help bankroll such additions.

Or maybe we’re happy there will be lower-cost, higher-density housing alternatives for our young families and seniors, but are still concerned about how added multi-family complexes might impact the amount of vehicle traffic in the valley.

And some days, you might feel one way in the morning, and another way by dinnertime! That’s understandable. The revitalization and redevelopment of our neighbourhood is a huge project (most of these plans are expected to take place over 20 years, not all at once!) and it’s hard to weigh out all the pros and cons that each change might bring.

There is a helpful District Identity website that has a good background on the Lynn Valley Town Centre plan, and links to earlier presentations and publications, but we’d also like to help time-starved residents access information quickly and easily. We see it as our job to bring you the info you want, as you need it.

Over the next few months, we’ll be taking some of your top questions about the town centre plans and addressing them, one at a time. We know there will likely be a range of viewpoints (and perhaps no easy answers!) to give you on most of the topics, but we’ll endeavour to explain the basics as best we can, and point you in the right direction if you’d like more in-depth information or would like to share your own thoughts.

So, if you’d like us to focus on a certain aspect of the Lynn Valley Town Centre proposals, please contact us soon at info@lynnvalleylife.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

* For those who still don’t know, a charrette is “a public meeting or workshop devoted to a concerted effort to solve a problem or plan the design of something.” There were many thoughts shared at the Lynn Valley charrettes in 2007!

 

 

Lynn Valley homes on view this weekend!

Thinking about cozying up in a new home before the winter comes? There are a few to check out this weekend, to suit all different needs and budgets.

You can view the incredible family home at 2315 Ennerdale Rd., an open sunny cul-de-sac that’s an easy walk from Karen Magnussen Rec Centre and Kirkstone Park (kitchen shown above).

And it’s the first weekend showing at 1825 Peters Road, a well-kept, one-owner home that’s a great value for someone wanting to get a foothold in the Lynn Valley market.

Looking for a suite in the sought-after ‘Branches’ complex? This two-bedroom unit has top-of-the-line touches and comes with many building amenities such as a gym, garden courtyard and secure parking.

Ennerdale will be open Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m, Peters on Saturday 2-4pm and Branches on Sunday 2-4pm.  For more information, please have a look at the individual listings, or call RE/MAX realtors Jim Lantot and Kelly Gardiner (sponsors of the LynnValleyLife community media website) at 778-724-0112.

 

Pre-marketing efforts pay off! Underwood home sells in one day

Here’s what the happy sellers had to say about their experience:

“We were drawn to Jim and Kelly by their unusual approach to realty and decided that this could be just what we needed to sell our less-than-conventional home.

They offered valuable advice and contractor suggestions as we prepared for our sale, and their clever pre-listing promotion ideas combined with LynnValleyLife.com‘s exceptional local reach proved to be just what we needed to find people with an interest in our property.

At every step we have been impressed by the personal touches, thoroughness and their team’s attention to detail – this has been an all-round excellent selling experience.

Katie & Chris S.

4637 Underwood Ave.

Lynn Valley property rezoning process explained

Not so long ago, LynnValleyLife told readers about a public information meeting that Polygon Properties was holding to discuss a potential redevelopment of the land at the southwest corner of Mountain Highway and 27th.

The event was held in the community room at Silver Harbour Centre, and attendees could browse displays showing the proposed townhome development, ask questions of Polygon staff and North Van District community planners, and help themselves to cold drinks and gigantic cookies.

It was just one of many steps in the road that will need to occur before this development either goes ahead or is rejected by council. Polygon is no stranger to the process – they are the developers behind the ‘Branches’ complex just further down the street – but they won’t be the only company looking for opportunities to take part in the re-creation of Lynn Valley’s town centre.

That being the case, we thought it would be helpful to sketch out the ‘A to Z’ path that must be followed when developers put forward an application that requires the rezoning of a property. As you’ll see, there are a variety of opportunities for public input, ‘tweaks’ to the proposals, and consideration by District staff and council. (A big thanks to Tamsin Guppy, NVD Community Planner, for all her help!)

1. The first step occurs when the ‘proponent’, or applicant, applies for a Preliminary Application, which is a two-month process and involves a staff review, site visit, and soliciting input from the immediate neighbours and the local community association.  The results of the review are then provided to the applicant so that they can address key issues as they work on their detailed drawings in readiness for applying for a detailed rezoning and/or development permit.

2. Next, the applicant submits a detailed rezoning application to the District.

3. The Planning Department swings into action, and coordinates a review of the application by staff and advisory bodies.

4. The Planning Department alerts Council of the applicant’s intention to hold a public information meeting in the affected neighbourhood.

5. A public information meeting is organized by the applicant and held in the neighbourhood.

6. District staff prepare a detailed report on the application, which will include a summary of feedback from the public information meeting. The report recommends that Council either reject the application, or it recommends that Council introduce a rezoning bylaw and set a public hearing date. Council may also choose to request some revisions at this point.

7. If the application is not rejected, a rezoning bylaw is introduced and a public hearing is held to allow feedback from neighbours and other affected parties.

8. Following the public hearing, the bylaw is returned to council.  Council may request some clarification on issues raised at the public hearing, reject the bylaw entirely, or proceed to give it a second and third reading.

9. In a final vote, Council either adopts the Zoning bylaw and allows the development to take place, or defeats it.  (Usually, a bylaw returns for final adoption once all the issues have been addressed and the designs are ready for the Development Permit to be issues, so normally a bylaw returns for final adoption and issuance of the Development Permit.)

For a good description of what goes on at a public hearing, and tips on how you can get your views across effectively and appropriately, check out this page on the North Van District site. While you’re there, browse around and see all the other municipal tidbits that are there for the taking… previous Council minutes and presentations (video clips, too!), parks maps, upcoming public hearing schedules, updated water restrictions, dog-related bylaws, and lots more close-to-home news.

 

 

 

Visions of the valley await your voices and views

There was quite a buzz around the boards set up near the Lynn Valley Mall centre court today, as district planners toured visitors around several graphic displays that gave glimpses into the future of Lynn Valley Town Centre.

Since the Official Community Plan was approved last June, planners have been hard at work developing implementation plans for different town centre sites around the district. For more information about the process, and the tools that will help you contribute your own views about the latest proposals, visit the purpose-built District website, here.

The Lynn Valley plan calls for a variety of housing, street-level storefront shopping plazas, community amenities (an arts facility of some sort is under discussion, for example), parkland features and pedestrian/cycle-friendly trail networks. It promises walkers protection from our infamous local rainfall – and even a ‘rain garden’! It’s quite a change from the current town centre layout, and gives residents plenty to ponder.

If you want to give an opinion, now’s the time – don’t leave it until the last minute. If you want to shape the future, you have to pay attention to the present! The Open House will continue at the mall tomorrow (Sunday, April 29), and in the LV Village Community Room on Tuesday afternoon (1 – 6 p.m.) and at Karen Magnussen Wednesday from 1 – 8:30 p.m.

To view the displays online, go here; to fill out a “report card” with your thoughts (which can be saved or printed), check in here.

 

LV realtor featured in fractional real estate story

We were delighted here at LynnValleyLife when local writer Gail Johnson asked our sponsoring realtor Jim Lanctot to share his experience in fractional real estate ownership.

Her article was recently published in Yahoo! Canada‘s Finance section, and gives insight into the possibilities – and pitfalls – presented by the shared ownership of recreational real estate.

Here in our Lynn Valley residential market, Jim draws on his extensive experience with alternative ownership structures to find solutions that work for homeowners wanting to upsize, downsize, or trade homes.

“I enjoy finding solutions for people who have a real estate dream they think is impossible,” he says. “It’s amazing what can happen when you get different people talking together and looking for win-win solutions.”

 

Gail Johnson is an editor at the Georgia Straight newspaper and award-winning journalist who writes for Yahoo! Canada, the Globe and Mailalive magazine, and other publications. She’s a mom of two young boys and loves living in Lynn Valley. We look forward to reading more of her work!