Paul Toffoli Vancouver BC REALTOR®

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Please visit our Open House at 801 2108 38TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Open House on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Enjoy beautiful views from this well appointed 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, one level residence in The Wilshire. With 2,070 sq ft of nicely laid out space, you can keep your house sized furniture. Windows to the North, West & South display mountain views and the beauty of Vancouver. 22' x 15' Master Bedroom, with walk-in closet & ensuite featuring side by side sinks, soaker tub, and walk-in shower. Large kitchen with granite countertop-tops & newer appliances. 2 balconies, tons of storage throughout. In-suite laundry room. 3 side-by-side parking stalls, huge storage locker. Walk 3 blocks to the great shopping and restaurants of Kerrisdale. Walk score of 88. No pets, no rentals. Age restrictions 19+.
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Please visit our Open House at 807 7555 ALDERBRIDGE WAY in Richmond.
Open House on Sunday, October 5, 2014 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
This bright, spacious 2 bed & den, 2 bath suite in Ocean Walk, is 1,065 sq ft and is well located, near the Richmond Oval and near the walking & biking trails by the Fraser River. Unobstructed mountain views are complemented by the great layout. The kitchen features granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, gas stove & eating bar. The open plan is great for entertaining. 2 balconies on the North and East sides. Perfect for coffee in the morning, or drinks in the evenings. 2 side by side parking stalls & a storage locker. Common amenities include 2 guest suites, fitness room, visitor parking and putting green. Pets & rentals allowed.Open House Sat Sept. 27, 2-4pm.
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I have listed a new property at 801 2108 38TH AVE W in Vancouver.
Enjoy beautiful views from this well appointed 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, one level residence in The Wilshire. With 2,070 sq ft of nicely laid out space, you can keep your house sized furniture. Windows to the North, West & South display mountain views and the beauty of Vancouver. 22' x 15' Master Bedroom, with walk-in closet & ensuite featuring side by side sinks, soaker tub, and walk-in shower. Large kitchen with granite countertop-tops & newer appliances. 2 balconies, tons of storage throughout. In-suite laundry room. 3 side-by-side parking stalls, huge storage locker. Walk 3 blocks to the great shopping and restaurants of Kerrisdale. Walk score of 88. No pets, no rentals. Age restrictions 19+.
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I have listed a new property at 807 7555 ALDERBRIDGE WAY in Richmond.
This bright, spacious 2 bed & den, 2 bath suite in Ocean Walk, is 1,065 sq ft and is well located, near the Richmond Oval and near the walking & biking trails by the Fraser River. Unobstructed mountain views are complemented by the great layout. The kitchen features granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, gas stove & eating bar. The open plan is great for entertaining. 2 balconies on the North and East sides. Perfect for coffee in the morning, or drinks in the evenings. 2 side by side parking stalls & a storage locker. Common amenities include 2 guest suites, fitness room, visitor parking and putting green. Pets & rentals allowed.Open House Sat Sept. 27, 2-4pm.
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Please visit our Open House at 807 7555 ALDERBRIDGE WAY in Richmond.
Open House on Saturday, September 27, 2014 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
This bright, spacious 2 bed & den, 2 bath suite in Ocean Walk, is 1,065 sq ft and is well located, near the Richmond Oval and near the walking & biking trails by the Fraser River. Unobstructed mountain views are complemented by the great layout. The kitchen features granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, gas stove & eating bar. The open plan is great for entertaining. 2 balconies on the North and East sides. Perfect for coffee in the morning, or drinks in the evenings. 2 side by side parking stalls & a storage locker. Common amenities include 2 guest suites, fitness room, visitor parking and putting green. Pets & rentals allowed.Open House Sat Sept. 27, 2-4pm.
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Hangout with Paul Toffoli

Voted in the The Straight newspaper as best realtor in Vancouver 4 years in a row! Why are properties in Vancouver so expensive?

 

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation.  We’re here with Paul Toffoli from Toffoli Realty in Vancouver and today we’re going to be doing something that I’m sure everyone in Vancouver always is asking “why are properties in Vancouver so expensive”.  How’re you doing Paul?

Paul:  I’m great Mark.  Having a good day; it’s sunny outside.

Mark:  I’m sweating, so it’s definitely warm.  So what’s the deal, how come it’s so expensive in Vancouver?

Paul:  Well, I was born in Vancouver, 47 years ago and I think since before I was born people have been asking that same question.  Why is Real Estate in Vancouver so expensive and I think there’s some historical reasons for that.  There are also some new reasons for that, but I’ll run through what I think are some of the reasons and what some of the experts and pundits have been saying and at the end of the day, maybe there’s no real rational behind it.  But I’ll tell you what I think the main reasons are.  

First of all historically, part of the explanation has always been that we’re landlocked, so we’ve got the US border to the south, we’ve got the mountains to the north, we’ve got the ocean to the west, we’ve got a little pocket of land that people can live on.  In addition as we go out into the Fraser Valley we also have the Agricultural Land Reserve which has taken some other land out of the buildable areas and municipalities, particularly in the city of Vancouver, set zoning guidelines and zoning bylaws that restrict what can be built where.  Those things combined have restricted the number of housing options for people.  

Now that being said, there’s lots of housing here, there’s lots of big buildings, there’s lots of homes, why is it so much more expensive here than elsewhere in North America.  We are historically and we are now for sure one of the most expensive places to live in North America, particularly in the city of Vancouver proper but also as you get into the suburban areas and into the rest of greater Vancouver, we are also more expensive.  

At the end of the day, housing is a bit of a commodity and housing prices are driven by supply and demand and lots of people love living in Vancouver and the last ten years and projected into the future, we had forty to fifty thousand people  a year moving to the province of British Columbia, some years more than that and the bulk of those people are moving into the lower mainland and the closer you get to the downtown core or the closer you get to the epicentre of activity in the lower mainland the higher housing prices are.  

Now municipalities have tried to mitigate that by giving different housing opportunities, building smaller condos, building townhomes, building more multifamily so that you don’t just have this single family, which is highly desirable but highly expensive, but people still keep on moving here and still keep on buying.  

Interestingly, the demographics of the groups that are moving to the lower mainland have changed significantly in the last ten years so not only do we have the working class, the middle class, professionals that  have traditionally moved to the province to provide for their families, but we’ve also got some really  high net worth individuals and groups that are coming and taking wealth from other parts of the world and enjoying the lower mainland and Canada, generally as a safe place to park their wealth and they find that real estate is a very safe and a desirable place to put their money because it’s concrete, something they understand.  

So that’s it in a nutshell.  It’s a bunch of reasons.  Now the question is, ‘is it sustainable’?  That’s the big question that my clients always ask me.  Is the cost of real estate in the lower mainland sustainable? And the short answer is that really we don’t know and particularly in a short term basis, there will be corrections.  It’s going to happen.  Historically we’ve had corrections in the housing market in the lower mainland; the last one we had was in 2009 when there was a world-wide housing correction and the market went down sharply.  It recovered in six to twelve months.  It was a shock to me.  I was expecting it to stay low for a longer period of time.  We will have real estate prices dropping; they will recover so what I tell my clients is, if you’re buying and planning on selling in a year or two years, there’s no guarantees.  We don’t know what’s going to happen.  Real estate prices have been fairly flat, inching up but they’ve been fairly flat for the past couple years, but if you’re thinking five to ten years to fifteen to twenty years out, the likelihood is, that real estate in Vancouver will be more expensive than it is now.  For some people that’s great if you’re already in the market, for those who aren’t in the market yet that could be a bit intimidating.

Mark:  So, I guess in some ways it’s like, hey it’s a really nice place to live, you’ve got the ocean, the mountains, a really good winter climate certainly compared to the rest of Canada or a big part of the rest of Canada and we also have a lot of people moving in from other countries in the east especially and like you said, supply and demand.  It’s a really nice place so it’s in demand and like you started with there isn’t any more land.  It’s not like there’s a volcano growing more and more land base.

Paul:  And I think, one of the things is that, I would look at and say, there’s land, but in the city of Vancouver you’re not getting any more single family land.  It’s not happening, so and that single family supply is actually shrinking as zoning changes and multifamily is built, so you’ve got single family homes going away and townhomes and condos being built and you know what, they can always go higher.  They have been going higher.  Different areas are going to be zoned, so I think that is what’s keeping it somewhat affordable is they are building new supply.  The challenge is there’s not a lot of supply for single families.  

Municipalities are trying to reduce that urban sprawl and that’s been a sustainability that been going on, the livable city, the livable region, or the livable cities plan that started in the late seventies, early eighties, was big part of that.  But they’re not growing any more land, we’re a really great place to live, we’re a safe place to live.  I know many of the people out there have travelled, I’ve travelled in Asia, I’ve travelled in Europe, I’ve been in some areas of the world that there’s extreme poverty compared to what we have here.  We are dam lucky that we live in a safe, comfortable, beautiful part of the world and guess what a lot of people from the rest of the world want to live here too and people from across Canada.  It’s a great place to live.  There are other great places to live, but we’re blessed.

Mark:  Absolutely.  Well I guess it’s pretty simple really.  Really appreciate that Paul, again we’ve been talking with Paul Toffoli from Toffoli Real Estate.  Toffoli.ca is where you can reach him, you can call him, he’s a good guy to talk to, he really knows his stuff.    604-787-6963. Thanks a lot Paul.

Paul:  Thanks Mark   

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Hangout with Paul Toffoli

Foreclosures - What are they, how does it work in BC, is it a good idea?

 

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation.  We’re here with Paul Toffoli.  Paul’s actually been voted the best Realtor in Vancouver, four years in a row and he’s going to talk to us today about Foreclosures.  So, how’re you doing today Paul?

Paul:  I’m great, thanks Mark.

Mark:  So, foreclosures, the good, the bad and the ugly.  What is a foreclosure?

Paul:  So foreclosures are properties that are being, have been, I’m going to start that again.  Foreclosures are properties that are being sold.  Usually the sale is being conducted by the bank or the finance company that’s had a loan or mortgage on the property that is not being paid back by the owner.  The courts, the banks have applied to the courts for the right to sell the property to get their money back and the courts have awarded the banks Conduct of Sale.  So it’s a long and complex process to get it to where the banks are actually selling it but once it’s there that’s where the real estate community gets involved.

Mark:  So, how does that, how does that process work in BC?

Paul:  Ok, so, were actually, we have quite a, I don’t know if it’s a unique process in BC, but it’s quite a straight forward process once you understand it.  The trick is understanding it and that’s why it’s good to be working with an expert who has been through the process multiple times.  Basically, so say that John Smith has a mortgage on their house. Something unfortunate has happened to John; he’s lost his job or he had too large a mortgage in the first place and he can’t pay the bank back.  So he stops making his payments.  The bank will notify him and ask for him to make the loan good.  If after several months, John hasn’t come up with the money, the bank can then go to the courts and say, say to the judge we need to get our money back.  The only way we can see clear to this is through the sale of the property.  The judge will make sure that all the proper notifications have been given to the owner, to John Smith and then will give the bank what’s called Conduct of Sale.  

The bank then goes and hires a realtor because the courts require any foreclosures in BC to go through a public process to ensure they are sold to the highest and best possible price.  Then, the bank will then hire a realtor who will do a market assessment, price the property what they think is a fair market value and it goes on the typical multiple local listing system just like any other property that would be sold through a realtor would be done.  Typically these or often these properties will have some challenges, they’ll have maintenance issues or they will have, you know, if the sellers not paying back the bank he’s probably spending money on the roof, or on decorating and things like that.  So there can be some challenges.  So that will be priced in.  

Foreclosures typically take a while to sell because the banks price them a little bit higher maybe, they want to make sure they’re being fair to the seller and so lots of people will go through and view the properties and in some point in time one individual who will typically be using their own real estate agent that they’ve got a relationship with will put in an offer in on the property.  Once that offer is negotiated, you negotiate with the bank’s lawyers just like you would any other seller, it goes back and forth on price and all the normal subject to would have, financing, inspection, if it’s a strata, the strata documents and so forth and then once that offer has been accepted then that buyer will do their due diligence.  They’ll put their financing in place, do all those things and remove their subjects.  The only difference between that and a normal sale is the bank is required to have a subject on there that is subject to court approval.  So before the sale can be confirmed going forward it will have to go back to court and the judge or the master will then approve that sale or not.  

At that time in court this is where the twist comes up, any other buyer can walk into court with another offer, the first offer, the amount of that first offer is public knowledge because it’s in the court documents, so if the property’s priced at $450,000, there’s an accepted offer for $400,000 that’s going to be published and then I can walk into court with another buyer and we know that $400,000 so we’re going to think we’ll were going to offer $410,000 or whatever the case may be.  Sometimes you’ll see five or six or seven other buyers in court so then maybe the winning bid is going to be above the original list price, maybe it’s going to be $460,000.  

Sometimes you’ll see a different, case in point, I had a foreclosure that I dealt with about a month ago.  It was a small condominium out in Maple Ridge, it’s a two bedroom, two bathroom, had been on the market for quite a while.  Our client tied the property up at about $325,000, went through her whole due diligence, it was even less than that, but went through her whole due diligence and got her financing in place, read the strata documents, all the things that she needed to do to remove her subjects.  We got a court date, were informed that, we went to court.  We were informed a couple of days before that it looked like there may be another offer coming in.  So we prepared our client.  We said ok we need to be prepared, think about where you may want to change your price and any other changes you may want to make to your contract in order to make your offer more attractive in court.  When we showed up in court there was indeed one other offer that was going to be presented to the courts and so our client thought about it, we went through a process and she wrote her price down and we put an addendum to the contract in, handed it to the banks lawyer to present.  She collected the offer from the other party who was interested and basically the way it works; they all go to a sealed envelope; those sealed envelopes got handed up to the master during the process.  The master who was a lady, lady judge at the time opened up the documents and compared the two.  The other offer was required to be even considered could not have any subjects and had to have a bank draft deposit in hand, typically in the amount of five percent of the purchase price.  When the master read the prices out, amazingly enough our client had increased her price to $351,440.  The other offer $351,300.  We got it by $140.  It was the closest I’ve ever seen and it was just, our client was over the moon.  So that’s the kind of thing that can happen in court.  

I’ve been in other ones where there’s been no other offers, so the first offer was the one we had, it just accepted because it was fair market value.  So it’s a bit of a process to understand but it can be, a very rewarding one and in both those cases I do believe that our client paid a little bit under market value for the property that they bought.

Mark:  So, overall Paul, would you say it’s a good idea?

Paul:  Yeah, so it really depends on your situation, it can be a very good idea.  I think that there’s definitely, um can be a benefit to buying a foreclosure.  I think there’s an opportunity to get, to purchase things under market value on foreclosures but it’s not for everyone.  If you’re the first person in and you can do your subjects and have it subject to financing and put your financing in place, it’s great because then it’s just like any other purchase.  However, if you don’t like the idea of going to court and having somebody able to trump your price and you don’t like, and you need certainty around your purchasing process, then it may not be the best for you.  On the other side of the coin if you’re a person who is financially in a situation where you can pull funds out of another property, through a line of credit and you don’t need that financing certainty it can be kind of advantageous to go in as what they call the ‘stalking horse’, the person who goes into court when the first offer’s in place and then tries to trump that offer with a subject free offer.  So, each situation is unique but it’s really worth sitting down with an expert, someone like myself who can walk you through the process and see whether it might be something that would work for you.

Mark:  That’s awesome, Paul.  Great story too, I mean that must have been pretty exciting when they read that out.

Paul:  For sure.

Mark:  So, we’ve been talking with Paul Toffoli.  You can reach Paul at his website, toffoil.ca , toffoli.ca or you can call him at 604-629-6100.  Thanks a lot Paul.

Paul:  Thanks Mark.   

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Hanout with Paul Toffoli  

Vancouver Real Estate Questions - What Are Authorized and Unauthorized Suites?

 

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation.  We’re here today with Paul Toffoli and answering some common Vancouver Real Estate questions and today’s question is:  What are Authorized and Unauthorized Suites? How are you doing today Paul?

Paul:  I’m well Mark, yourself?

Mark:  I’m good, really good.  So, what are unauthorized and authorized suites and what’s the difference?

Paul:  Sure, so why don’t, I’ll back up a little bit and I’ll just generally talk about housing in Vancouver, as we talked about the last time is expensive, and many families live in single family homes or in condos try to find ways to subsidize those costs, so that could be everything from someone who has a student living with them in a room and provides the meals and gets the money or someone like myself who has a suite in their home that they rent out on a monthly basis, whether it’s furnished or unfurnished and, you know it’s a good way to recoup some of that investment.  The next question that you alluded to is, ok, we hear a lot of talk about an unauthorized suite vs an authorized suite; what’s the difference?  It really comes down to bylaws and zoning and bylaws in different, and of course each municipality will have its own tweaks, you know the City of Vancouver will be slightly different than City of Burnaby or Richmond etc. but I can do some generalizations and then maybe I can talk a bit specifically about Vancouver which is the one I know best.

Generally, in the lower mainland, municipal governments have been encouraging of secondary suites in housing because housing is expensive and we need to find ways to house people, whether its students or people on lower incomes or people on higher incomes who aren’t ready to buy property.  There’s a shortage of rental properties and suites are one way of doing it.  In the City of Vancouver specifically, which is the one I know best, RS1 zoning is one of the main single family zoning types and that will allow a primary residence with a secondary suite which would typically be a basement suite and in the last couple of years they’ve also allowed people to build a coach home or a carriage house that would have rental accommodation in it as well.  Often when people are looking at buying properties, unless it’s a brand new property, it often won’t have a coach house in it so we’ll just talk about basement suites at the moment.

People will go into a basement suite and say, well, how can I tell if this is authorized or unauthorized?  In order to be authorized, it has to, the work to convert it to a suite has to have been done with permits from the city, so building permits like you would do for any other Reno and there’s certain regulations that those permits require and those are really aimed at safety and health.  So some of the ones that I’m aware of:  the minimum height on an exit route, so going through the doors, so in the middle of the night there’s a fire somebody jumps out of bed and they have to get out, the minimum height is 6’6” going on the lowest points on the way out; there has to be interconnected smoke detectors between the upstairs and the basement suite; there needs to be separation, fire separation between the upstairs and the downstairs, so there’s lots of different things that go into making it something that’s legal but the main thing is that the work has to have been done with permits and it has to be on record at the city.  If it was not done with permits or it’s not on record at the city then it’s not authorized.

What are the repercussions of that of that if it’s not an authorized suite?  That’s the big question.  First of all, if you have the those physical things, if you have the right heights downstairs and you can take it through the process to make it authorized it may be well worth your time and energy to do that because it takes any risk away, you know, and what’s the risk?  The risk is that you get a complaint from a dissatisfied tenant or you get a complaint from a neighbour because there’s too many cars parked in front of the house or there’s noise or you know, whatever the reason and the city comes in and says, guess what, you can’t rent this out.  It’s not authorized and then all of a sudden that revenue source is gone and if you counted on that money to help you pay your mortgage, guess what, all of a sudden things get a lot less comfortable.  In addition there’s costs to doing those changes, getting the permits and making sure everything is done to code and done property, there’s costs.  Now, it’s a lot less onerous now to put in a secondary suite than it used to be.  It used to be that you would have to sprinkler the whole house which was very expensive, now you don’t have to do that as long as you meet some of those other, those other rules and regulations.  That sort of answered it in a nutshell?

Mark:  Absolutely.  So, then I guess that’s the general sort of picture across probably with some sub changes in, you know, Burnaby, Richmond etc. but how would you actually find out what those rules are in those other municipalities.  How do I check it?

Paul:  Sure, that’s great.  So the easiest thing to do is, all municipalities have websites.  So first of all, talk to your realtor who’s familiar with the areas, you know, I’m going to have that information usually at my fingertips in terms of being able to tell you but also I think you can do it yourself or you can talk to me.  Go onto the City of Vancouver website, go onto the City of Richmond website, go onto the District of Nor Van, city of North Van website.  They have all of their bylaws, zoning bylaws that state whether suites are allowed and then you can dig deeper into those zoning bylaws and find out what’s required to make a suite legal.  It’s not rocket science.  The cities are very open about it.  They want people to know the rules.  They want people to get informed but I would say as a buyer, probably one of the first things to do, talk to a realtor, talk to myself, talk to somebody who is familiar with those neighbourhoods whose familiar with those bylaws and get the information so that when you’re walking into homes you understand, ok this one’s authorized, that’s great, I don’t have to worry about it anymore or this one’s unauthorized, could it be made authorized if I had to or if I wanted to, you know, and also there can be insurance questions around that.  You need to talk to your insurance broker.  I’m living in a single family home, it has an unauthorized suite or has an authorized suite, make sure those declarations are on your policy because if you have a loss and the insurance company finds out that they didn’t have all the correct information on their policy, guess what, they may disallow that loss or that coverage.   So that’s another thing that you really need to be clear about.  Working with professionals who know all the t’s to cross and i’s to dot so that you get your insurance coverage, that you get everything dealt with before you remove your subjects and are committed to buying that property. 

Mark:  Absolutely.  So, I guess the other thing that comes up is, if you go to the city and you are going to convert it from unauthorized to authorized then do your taxes go up?

Paul:  Depends on the municipality.  That’s a really good question.  So, in the City of Vancouver, all cities if you’ve got an authorized suite you’re required to get a business license which is inexpensive.  I think it’s like thirty-five, something like that per month, per year, I should say.  Your utility costs will probably go up so you will be paying for extra garbage collection; you’ll be paying a little bit extra for water and so forth.  In some areas   your property taxes may go up but it’s more driven by the utility costs than it is the housing value but again, you have to check with the different municipalities to see how they assess those things.  BC Assessment is the one who assesses the value of a property so they’re going to take into account that it’s got a secondary suite and they’re going to say, they’ll probably add a little value for that, so it will go up but also when you go to sell your property, it’s easier for the banks to finance because it’s an authorized suite, they’re going to be more comfortable using the revenue from that, so your buyers are going to be capable or more comfortable paying a little bit more than they would maybe with an unauthorized suite.  So that’s something also to take into account.

Mark:  So, I guess that last kind of question that pops into my mind and this is more a function of where we live, we’re surround by and we ourselves we, you know , it’s a sandwich house.  There’s three generations, you know, our kid, one of our kids is living with us and my parents, was just the easiest way to look after them as they’re in their eighties and I know that there’s, we’re surrounded by houses that is exactly the same, multiples, so how does that . . 

Paul:  That is a question, because, certainly the municipalities and the bylaws are more open to having multigenerational families, because you are right, that is very much, that’s very important particularly culturally you will have a lot of cultures, Asian cultures  where you get three or four generations living in the same home.  It’s very common and because of affordability also it’s becoming local residence, people grew up here like yourself, myself, we’re starting to see the extended family living in, you know, I’ve got young kids, I’ve got an eight year old and a six year old.  I’m not sure how old they’ll be when they move out, it might be another twenty years or twenty-five, thirty years, who knows.  So municipalities are open to that.  What we are seeing is that they used to have more of what they would call in-law suites and so forth.  They seem to be doing away with that, again it depends on the specific municipality, but one of the big things is, it’s driven by the number of kitchens you have in a home so they’ll allow you to have, with a secondary suite, if you have a kitchen in there and somebody’s cooking in there, that’s considered a secondary suite, if you have something that’s just got a door that’s locked and it’s got a bedroom and maybe a wet bar, that may not be considered a suite so that might be perfect for somebody who’s got parents or older kids that come up an use the family kitchen, you know, also or nannies, right?  That’s another situation where somebody may eat with the family but have their own sort of separate locked off area.  That typically wouldn’t be considered a suite, it would be more just, you know, separate living quarters but it’s not a suite so the big thing that people look at is, you know, or the cities will look at, is how’s extra square footage been added onto the house and that’s where they get quite cranky.  If people are adding extra square footage onto a house or taking a garage that’s supposed to be required for parking and converting that into secondary accommodation or second or third suite in a house then the municipalities tend to get a little cranky because, you know, you’re using extra utilities, you’ve got safety aspects, there’s on street parking hassles that become problematic so, it’s just layer after layer that you can peel back so it’s really important to be working with someone who can talk you through the concerns and the risks and you know, you may decide you want to take the risk of having an unauthorized suite but you have to understand what that risk is.  So getting properly informed, that’s really the key to all of this.

Mark:  That’s great Paul.  I really appreciate this.  This is important information that I think a lot of people kind of brush over and don’t know what they’re getting into until it’s kind of almost too late.  So, we’ve been talking with Paul Toffoli.  You can reach him at Toffoli.ca or 604-787-6963.  Thank you Paul.

Paul:  Thanks Mark.   

        

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Hangout with Paul Toffoli 

Answering questions about buried residential oil tanks - what dangerous about it? How do you know? What does it cost to fix?

 

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation.  We’re here talking with Paul Toffoli, one of the best realtors in Vancouver.  He’s been voted that for the last four or five years by his customers, ‘Top Realtor in Vancouver’.  You can reach Paul at toffoli.ca.  How’re you doing today, Paul?

Paul:  I’m great Mark.

Mark:  So, today, I guess we’re going to talk about oil tanks.  So what’s so dangerous about an oil tank buried in your yard?

Paul:  So, you would think there would be nothing really dangerous about an oil tank buried in your yard; however, there is a risk of environmental contamination.  What that means to the normal homeowner is there’s a risk of a cost.  In the last sort of ten, fifteen years provincial regulations have come into effect that make it a legal requirement under the BC Fire Code and under the Environmental Protection Regulation that any oil tank that is found is required to be removed prior to the sale of the property.  So, you can see that if you’re buying a property it would be important to discover whether or not there’s an oil tank on the property before you buy so that you’re not taking on the responsibility of removing it and if you’re a seller, you don’t want to have that oil tank be a surprise when you’ve got the accepted offer and you’ve already negotiated all the terms and then all of a sudden the buyer comes to you and says, hey there’s an oil tank on your property.  I’m not going to go through with this deal or you have to remove it and what are the risks financially? Well, best case scenario, you’re talking five to six thousand dollars if they find no contamination.  Worst case scenario, the worst one I’ve ever heard of and this is sort of through the grape vine and through building inspectors I’ve spoken with, it was over three hundred thousand dollars and that was in West Vancouver where oil had, underground gone through three or four different properties on a steep slope.  So the risks are huge from a financial perspective and you know, your average costs, I’ve personally had clients involved on the buying side where they were perspective buyers and they discovered oil tanks on the inspection and had requested the seller to remove and what heard back from the seller when it was all done and had all the environmental testing done and it was a clean property, you know, it was upwards of fifty thousand dollars just on a basic one.  So it’s a huge financial risk.

Mark:  So, how do you with somebody buying of a piece of property, how do they find an oil tank on that potential purchase.

Paul:  Sure.  So what we do, we do two things to protect our clients.  First is in the offer and this is on single family homes or stand-alone properties, we’re not dealing with strata’s and so forth in this situation, but the first thing we do is, we put a clause in the offer that clarifies that any oil tank found will be removed at the expense of the seller and that they will be responsible for any environmental clean-up, that’s number one.   Number two, as part of the inspection, and we also have a subject to inspection, and as part of the inspection process we have an oil tank specialist come in.  They bring in a piece of equipment usually a very accurate metal detector and they will scan the property with the metal detector, they can also go to city records and see if any oil tanks have been removed previously or if there’s any record of oil tanks and finally, if you know say, there’s a big concrete slab in the back yard or something like that, there is ground penetrating radar that can be brought in.  Usually the scan just with a metal detector is a nominal fee; some of the contractors will do it for free because they are hoping to find an oil tank that then they can get a chance to remove.  The ground penetrating radar, I think the last we had a client to it was around a four hundred dollar cost.  That’s probably the most certain way because you can see what’s underneath the ground.

Mark:  So, is this a fairly common thing in Vancouver?

Paul:  It’s very common, you know, so many of the homes in Vancouver were built prior to 1960 or 1965 when natural gas started to be sort of the norm.  So what we saw, you know, first of all it was coal in the early 1900’s and then those got converted to oil tanks.  They buried all those oil tanks in the early days and then what would often happen is when that oil tank reached the end of its life they wouldn’t remove it , they may fill it with sand or maybe decommission it in another way or just leave it and then they would put an above ground oil tank in place because it was cheaper and easier to put an above ground one in and so even where sometimes there’d been an above ground one if there was no problem there may be an older below ground one that would be discovered.  So, anything up to homes built probably in the sixties or seventies, there’s a risk of an oil tank and even then it’s always a good idea to have it scanned and what I tell my selling clients, my listing clients is let’s get it pre scanned as part of our pre listing, due diligence as part of our pre listing work that we do, we have someone come in, scan it, if there is no oil tank we get a certificate stating there’s no oil tank.  We can give that to any potential buyers.  It puts their mind at ease.  They’re not as concerned about it, so it opens the door for more buyers and if there is an oil tank you can deal with it before it lists, before you have that potential offer coming in and it getting messed up by an oil tank being there.

Mark:  So, what else is there to be aware of around oil tanks?

Paul:  I think those are the main factors, just that it is the law that sellers are responsible to remove them and that there’s a huge financial risk and they’re just best to deal with it ahead of time and of course it is always possible that an oil tank has been removed and there may be contamination that hasn’t been dealt with but that’s a lot harder to find and it usually doesn’t come to the surface or come into play but there are also companies out there that will take soil samples and will test to see if there’s any hydrocarbon residue in the soil and that is actually part of the process when you have a licensed contractor come into remove an oil tank they are required by the bylaws to not only remove the tank but to take soil samples surrounding the tank by a qualified environmental testing company.  Those go into a lab, they test them and they see if those levels of contamination are below or above what would be required by the Environmental Protection Act.   So, that’s pretty much an oil tank in a nutshell.  It’s something to be concerned about for both buyers and sellers and you’re better off to deal with earlier in the process rather than later.

Mark:  So, Paul, I guess if people want to get in touch with you to list or buy a home they can reach you at your website at toffoli.ca – toffoli.ca or they can give you a call 604-787-6963 if you want the best Real Estate Agent in Vancouver helping you.  This is the guy.  Thanks a lot Paul

Paul:  Thank you Mark.  

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This 52,000 sq ft gated estate is truly an oasis in an urban setting. The park like setting, with mature cedar and maple trees, is pleasantly complemented by the unique architecture of the 5,000 sq ft West Coast Contemporary home.Beautiful views South and West, feature the Fraser River, Georgia Strait and the Gulf Islands. The spacious main level is perfect for entertaining & features large, bright, principal rooms with floor to ceiling windows for a seamless transition between interior and exterior. Upstairs there are 5 large bedrooms including a master suite w/private balcony, spa-like ensuite bath, large walk-in closet & wood-burning fireplace. Inspiring beauty in one of Vancouver's most prestigious neighbourhoods.
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