Paul Toffoli Vancouver BC REALTOR®

Cell: (604) 787-6963 | EMAIL |


The real estate market in the Lower Mainland continues to astound, with sales volume and prices continuing to set new records.

This activity seems to be driven by two main factors:


1. Local buyers who buy based on record low interest rates.  This is supported by continued population growth in our region.  Many of these buyers (young and middle age), are being supported in this through gifts of down-payments from parents and grand-parents who have sold the family home.


2. Foreign buyers of many nationalities who are taking advantage of the low Canadian Dollar to boost their purchasing power.

Prices have moved up an incredible pace in the past 12 months, and it is definitely a time for both Buyer and Seller to beware. 


I recommend that you read the following article from the Globe and Mail to understand some of the things to look out for.  Make sure you read all the way to the end of the article.


Do not accept an un-solicited offer to sell your property, without independent representation that you know and trust.  The market is moving very fast, and the best way to ensure that you will maximize the sale price of your property, is to fully expose it to the marketplace.

Please feel free to call me for information or advice for you, or your friends and family.



Well, I finally decided to get into the market. I’ve never been a homeowner and I decided that it was time and I met with Paul. When I met with Paul, like right from the first meeting, I knew he was the guy to go with because the way he talked, how he made me feel really comfortable and at home with like feeling that he was on my side, was the most important thing. The other bonuses were actually like, his education and his experience, I was blown away by what he’s done. I felt like I wasn’t just getting a realtor, I was getting someone with all this experience that had worked in property management and he has his MBA, he’s a smart dude, but he’s also very caring. I really liked that. So when he started working with me, it was funny because he actually said to me, you know this may take a long time and I think we ended up finding a place within like two to three months. He would always meet me, he would find a bunch of places and send them to me and I would respond, he was really quick  getting back to me, he would always set up meetings, he was always there, he was always like really positive about like you know things that were really good and gave me the truth basically. Positive about things that were really good and really critical, analytical about things that you know that weren’t. He made me realize what was really involved in looking at going for a new home. In the end result I ended up purchasing a home with him that I’m really happy with and I think the biggest thing is not only the way he works with you but how you feel after buying the home and purchasing the home I felt this increased sense of security and confidence.



Paul Toffoli Client



What is fantastic about Paul Toffoli is that any referral that I’ve ever sent him, they have always come back to me with great reviews. He likes to work with young couples, new couples, couples that have money, couples that don’t have money, investors, you name it and I always get the same feedback. He’s kind, he cares, he’s invested and he really looks after everybody that work with him. I would recommend him to the entire world if I could. So what’s unique about Paul compared to any other realtor, is he’s got this wealth of information and knowledge behind him. He’s here locally, he’s been a realtor for years, he’s been a property manager before then so he knows all about construction, he knows about general contracting and he can send you in the right direction. He genuinely cares about you and your interests.



Paul Toffoli Client



So my wife and I contacted Paul Toffoli to help us find our first home and the process can get very, you know complicated with hard questions, stress, lot of emotions when you’re buying your first place. Paul came in and had a look with us at all the places, he gave us all the information that we needed, the pros and cons of each place. That way we were able to really make an informed decision. Once we found the place that we really liked, we asked Paul, he pointed out some things about the neighbourhood, about the place where the condo is sitting, the noise and a lot of things that he noticed that we didn’t. His approach was very easy going. You really feel that he is watching out for your interests, not trying to make a quick sale and that is something that we really appreciated. In the end, we were able to find a place where we can live, a house that we can buy and we are very happy with that decision up until now. We would really recommend to work with Paul Toffoli for buying or selling your place. He’s really a great realtor.



Paul Toffoli Client



Talking closing with award winning Vancouver realtor Paul Toffoli 

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Paul Toffoli, he’s an award winning realtor voted by his clients as Best Realtor in Vancouver and we’re going to talk about closing today. How’re you doing today Paul?


Paul: I’m well today Mark, thank you very much.


Mark: So closing, lawyers, notaries - all that stuff.


Paul: Yeah, this is when all the hard work and all the stress and anxiety of going through the home search or the stress of selling your home and having to keep it clean all the time and having all those people traipsing through your home - this is when it all pays off. This is when, oh my god, we have a new home whether you’re selling or buying it’s the day of having a new home. It’s a very straightforward process, it can be very stressful, so just because you’re moving. One of the most stressful things in life, I think what they say, is moving from one home to another. So, the more prepared you can be, both physically and emotionally, the better off you’re going to be.


So let’s just talk about what the process is from a legal perspective, from the paperwork perspective and then can talk about some of the other ins and outs of moving. I didn’t mean that as a pun. So, legally you’ve gone through this contract process, you’ve negotiated your contact with the help of your realtor, you’ve gone through your subject removal, you’ve had your inspection, you’ve done all those types of things. At the time of subject removal, you would of paid a deposit into the realtors trust account. Typically it’s the buyers agents trust account and that’s held in trust just towards the closing of the sale. About the last week before the sale, the buyer will go into their notary or their lawyer’s office, the seller will go to their lawyer or notary’s office and sign the land title transfer documents, the buyer will sign the mortgage documents and will go through that whole process. It’s fairly straightforward, but basically before the buyers goes in, the notary will say, this is the amount of a deposit or a bank draft you need to bring in. So basically the way the funds work, we have the purchase price of say $300,000, you’ve paid a deposit of $15,000, you’re putting 20% down - there’s other fees that come out of that including the lawyers fees, there may be some other items that need to be adjusted for like property taxes etc. The buyers notary will prepare a statement of adjustments that takes all those things into account, the seller’s lawyer or notary will look at those items, confirm that, there will be agreement. A few days before completion, the buyer goes in, goes through all those documents, signs the mortgage documents, the lawyer will send a request to the real estate company holding that deposit and request that those deposit funds be transferred and give them directions as to where any excess funds would go, how commissions are to be paid and so forth - so that money gets transferred to the buyer’s lawyer. 


On the completion day, the buyer’s lawyer will then send a request to the bank or the mortgage company for the balance of funds that are being lent. Those funds get combined. There will also be a cheque, typically that balance of the deposit that would be brought in by the buyer at the time they sell. All those funds are combined. Once the right amount is there, the buyer’s notary or lawyer will transfer those funds to the seller’s lawyer or notary, who will then pay off the mortgage that’s sitting on the title, and any excess funds in addition, any outstanding strata fees etc, will then be paid out to the seller. The seller will then do what they want, if they’re buying another property they may transfer some of those funds to another property, they may put them in their bank account, whatever they decide to do that is up the seller because that’s their money at this point in time.


Things that sometimes stress people out is how do we adjust for property taxes, how do we adjust for strata fess, i’ve got to transfer BC Hydro into my name, got to call Telus, got to call the gas company - all those things. So those are all minor steps that you can take care of well ahead of time. But the statement of adjustments will be prepared by the lawyers, will have all the financial accounting dealt with and you just have to take your time and go through it. Make sure that the lawyer or notary explains it to you, if you’ve got any questions, make sure that you’re questions are answered so you have a real comfort level. Once the buyer’s lawyer notifies the seller’s lawyer that those funds have been gathered and are ready to be picked up by the courier, then permission will be given to transfer the title at Land Titles and that’s really the key moment and that happens on completion day. As soon as that title is registered at Land Titles as having been transferred, previous mortgage is being paid off, all those things are dealt with, then the buyer becomes the new owner. Now does that mean they’re walking in that day, moving into their new home? No, because typically completion is the following day or sometimes 2-3 days afterwards. It can sometimes  be the same day, but that’s rare. that’s to make sure that the seller has received their funds before the buyer actually gets the keys. So say the day after or a couple days after, typically at 12 noon, they buyer is going to get the keys to the property. Those arrangements will be made through the realtors, so the listing agent, the seller’s realtor will make arrangements with the buyer’s realtor to get the keys. If I’m working for the buyer, I meet the buyer at the property, typically we do a walk through to make sure everything is as expected and go from there. Often in this situation is when you discover that the seller’s abilities to clean and the time they had, or the expectations on how they have to leave the property are not the same as the buyers hoped they would be.


I always tell my clients who are buyers to have an expectation that the property may not be as pristine and clean as you hope it will be. Most often we’re pleasantly surprised and the seller’s do an excellent job on cleaning, but it is the one area where due to people being rushed to get out the door, that moving to a new home that they’re probably going to have to clean. Sometimes there are challenges to cleaning. So we just want to be prepared mentally and emotionally that it may not be perfect. And sometimes I’ll get a phone call to help my clients to connect with cleaners etc. It’s really an exciting day.  It’s very stressful day because of the moving and the movers and all those things, but it is a very exciting day.


Mark: So what other than walking into maybe not as clean a home as you’d like, what else can go wrong? What if there’s timing issues? What if somebody doesn’t get out in time?


Paul: Yeah, this is something that happens very rarely, but occasionally you have a situation where maybe, the seller’s mover is late arriving, they’ve over booked themselves. Or maybe it’s a tenanted property and the tenants haven’t been able to organize their move as they will and really that’s why you want to have realtors involved because it can become quite emotional and quite stressful. I’m the buyer and I’ve just moved out of my previous home, I’ve got everything in the truck, I pull up the curb and I see that the sellers are still moving out. This is where you want to have realtors who are communicating with each other and making sure that it’s all clear. Because if I know the day before, as a buyer, that there might be a problem on the timing, I’m going to talk to my mover and maybe talk to the person who’s bought the place I’m moving out of or maybe it’s a rental, the landlord, and say look we might have a bit of a hitch, we might have to leave a couple hours later, how can we work it out? Usually if the realtors are communicating with each other and are doing a good job, you don’t have surprises. It happens occasionally and then it’s like, well maybe,  I’ve got some resources, maybe I’ve got another moving company that I can refer or bring some extra resources in. But it’s going to be a stressful day, you have to be prepared for a few surprises, but the more communication the more conversation there is between various parties ahead of time the more smoothly it’ll go.


Mark: And that’s it. That pretty much sums up closing. Pretty straight forward process and if you are, in my experience, well prepared for your move there’s a lot less stress than if you’re last minute moving and trying to clean as your backing out the door.


Paul: Exactly


Mark: We’ve been talking with Paul Toffoli. Again he’s been voted Best Realtor in Vancouver by his clients. You can reach him at or give him a call 604-787-6963. Thanks Paul


Paul: Thank you Mark



Delving into the details of real estate transactions with award winning Vancouver Realtor Paul Toffoli of   604-787-6963

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Vancouver’s award winning real estate agent, Mr. Paul Toffoli. How’re you doing today Paul?


Paul: I’m well Mark, yourself?


Mark: I’m good. So we’re going to talk about subject removal, and I guess really what we have to start with is what’s the due diligence you have to do before you can do that?


Paul: Sure, as we’ve talked about previously, as part of the negotiation process we’re typically going to have certain subjects that are going to be part of an offer. So that would be things like: financing, inspection, property disclosure, title search - those are typical ones on single family homes. On strata properties like condo’s and town homes we’re going to have reviewing the strata documents, the minutes of the annual general meetings, the regular meetings - there are a whole other layer of things we could talk about when we go into strata’s. But basically over the course of say a week to ten days, we’re going to go through this process of due diligence where we’re going to make sure that the back is going to finance the property for my clients and that there’s no strings attached. People do get pre approval but there are strings attached, so you want to get all those strings dealt with. Then you have the home inspection done, read those strata documents, get any questions answered regarding those strata documents, look at the title and make sure that if there is anything on the title that it is something that can be easily removed - so there’s not a lis pendens or something else, that you’ve got the right names of the sellers on the contract, all those little details. And finally, any disclosure issues that may be dealt with. And there could be other things like the subject to the sale of the buyers current property, those types of things. So we go through that process, tick all those boxes, cross the t’s dot the i’s - however you want to put it - and make sure that everything is in order so that there’s a comfort level. It can be a little unnerving, a little stressful because it’s not something that people do everyday, but we go through that process and get as much information as we can so we have a comfort level when removing those subjects. 


The subject removal is just very simple signature on the addendum of the contract, client or clients sign that, the seller does not need to sign that typically because most of these subjects will for the sole interest of the buyer. There can be seller subjects, but that’s a different story. Once the clients have gone through the process, and their comfortable that they’ve done all their due diligence, they’re ready to commit to 100% of purchasing the property then we sign a simple addendum to the contract that the subjects are removed. In conjunction with that, there’s typically a deposit that’s payable either at the time of the subject removal or within 24 or 48 hours of the subject removal, it’s typically done by bank draft. So the client goes to the bank, gets a bank draft from the teller in the amount of typically around 5% of the purchase price but that’s previously negotiated, part of the contract. They sign the subject removal, that deposit cheque comes into my office and goes into our trust account and goes towards the purchase price on closing. And that’s the next big step, is the closing. What happens then?


Mark: So what are some, you mentioned some strings with say financing. so can you give a couple common strings that people might run into?


Paul: So in financing, banks or mortgage brokers will typically go through a financing pre approval process, but that pre approval may be subject to seeing your notice of assessment of the last two years taxes; it may be subject to a confirmation letter from your employer saying that you’re a permanent employee, that you’re not on probation, stating what your salary is to make sure it lines up with what you told the mortgage broker; it could be subject to confirming any outstanding debts; any credit checks. That type of thing, so there’s usually a list of items. And you just want to make sure, that once you’re ready to remove subjects, all of those subjects from your bank, on your financing, are gone so you don’t have a risk of them saying, oh yeah, it’s fine except for NOA didn’t add up to what we thought it did and you can’t get your financing.


Mark: Right, so we’ve been talking with award winning realtor in Vancouver BC, Mr. Paul Toffoli. You can visit his website or give him a call 604-787-6963. Thanks Paul



How Does a Realtor Help with Your Property Search?

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation.  We’re here with award winning, best in Vancouver, Realtor, Mr. Paul Toffoli.  How are you today Paul?


Paul:  I well Mark, having a great day.


Mark:  Awesome, so we’ve recovered from our power outage here and we’re going to talk about how does a Realtor help with your property search?  How does that work?


Paul:   Sure, and I think that’s one of the main jobs of a Realtor, is to help their clients find properties that may be of interest to them.  One of the things that we know is now with all the technologies and the internet and so many people are so tech savvy and able to do searches on their own.  People can find properties on their own; it’s not magic like it used to be to find properties.  What I find, my clients tell me, is that having someone like myself help them through the process really increases their efficiency so, I’ve been through it, this is what I do full time as my profession, is I help people buy and sell properties, so there’s lots of things that I can do to just make it more efficient.  Sending them properties that I know will be better for them than others, or if there’s questions on properties, I’m kind of a one stop shop , I can get the answers for them.


One of the things my clients really appreciate is that, if we’re going to go look at a number of properties, we just set a time up together, I make all the phone calls, I set up all the appointments, we say we’re going to meet at property A at such and such a time and we’re going to be together til a couple hours later and it’s just a very efficient process, they don’t have to make a hundred phone calls or ten phone calls and listen to the voice mails and so forth.  So it’s just become a much more efficient process and also as we’ve talked about quite a bit on other Google Hangouts, there’s going to be questions, there’s going to be all those things with contracts and so forth so part of it is building that relationship over the course of looking for properties and I have a better understanding of what my client is looking for and they can ask me all the questions that are going to give them a comfort level when it comes time to actually put in an offer and get really serious about buying property.


Mark:  So, my experience, when we bought our last house was we sort of worked in concert.  Our Realtor found houses and we looked and we were able to help him refine what it was we were looking for because we were looking at the same time, so we worked as a team but also I found that often, we would get distracted by perhaps stuff that was not in our target range, maybe a little too expensive and too nice and wouldn’t it be nice, where that’s where I found a Realtor was very focused on finding what would really fit us.


Paul:  And that’s a fact, look it’s really fun to go and look at properties, it can be really fun.  I enjoy it and it can be fun to go see some stuff that maybe not be quite what you started out looking for and sometimes your ideas will change over the course of the process but having somebody who’s been through it, who’s a sounding board, who you can talk to about each property as they come up really I think helps refine the process and again, we’re busy people, as I said we can all look on line and see properties and think that might be a good one but the fact that I’ve seen so many and know the right questions to ask both of my clients and of the listing agent or the other Realtor who may be presenting the property really helps us to save a great deal of time and energy and makes it a much more efficient process.


Mark:  Experience pays off, basically.


Paul:  Experience pays off and I think one of the other big factors is when we’re walking through a property and my clients have questions about, can we renovate, can we update, what about the wiring, what about the plumbing, guess what, they don’t have to ask those questions because I’m already asking them for them before we get into the house.  I’m pointing out areas of concern or areas of benefit and that’s really one of the biggest things because this is what I do because I’ve done so much of it myself and for my clients.  They really appreciate having that instantaneous feedback so that they’re not going home scratching their head and coming up with questions later that, oh, we’ve got to go back and ask the listing agent or whatever, it becomes a much more efficient and enjoyable process.


Mark:  Awesome.  Thanks Paul.  So we’ve been talking with the champ, the current holder of the best in Vancouver, voted by the readers of the Georgia Straight.  Mr. Paul Toffoli, best Realtor in Vancouver.  Thanks a lot Paul.


Paul:  Thanks Mark.   



Talking with award winning Vancouver, BC Realtor Paul Toffoli about financing

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with award winning realtor Mr. Paul Toffoli in Vancouver, BC. How’re this morning, Paul?


Paul: I’m really well Mark


Mark: So, we’re working our way through the BC real estate buying process and we’re up to, what for some people is the challenging stuff, we’re talking about financing. So how does getting your financing pre-approved help you with buying a house?


Paul: Well, it should be self explanatory, but I’m betting for some people it’s not because as part of the process, it’s very important to understand what you can afford. For many people it’s not so clear, I mean even for myself, I look at all sorts of numbers out there and wait a minute, where do I fit in that picture? I’d love to live in a four bedroom house on the West Side of Vancouver. What’s that going to cost me and what can I afford? So, one thing that I highly recommend is to work with a mortgage broker or work with your financial institution to get pre approved for your mortgage. It’s a very straight forward process, all of it can be done over the phone and emails, though some people prefer a personal touch and I think it makes a lot of sense if you have a relationship with someone or there’s a mortgage broker that you would like to work with if you can do some of it face to face I think that really helps the process. But really what you’re going to do, there’s a list of questions that the mortgage broker is going to have, they’re going to run a credit check to make sure you don’t have any skeletons in your closet that you may have forgotten about or you may have not even known about - do you have an outstanding cell bill? is your MasterCard payments down? - things that people don’t even think about sometimes - they think ‘Oh, I make $75,000 per year, I’m paying rent of so much’, etc etc, they forget about that car payment - that’s oh my goodness, that’s $300 bucks a month that’s coming out of my debt service ratio that I can’t put towards my mortgage. So if you go ahead, early in the process and meet with a mortgage professional, they will go through all that with you, they will give you advice, should you accelerate those car payments, maybe take some money out of savings, pay off the car so you don’t have that debt showing up, those monthly payments showing up on your approval. Go through the whole process, they will then say, this is what the banks will lend you comfortably, this is how much down payment you have, if it’s less than 20% down, this is the amount of mortgage insurance it’s going to cost you every month and go from there.


Once you’ve gone through that process then you can comfortably go out and look at properties and you can say, yes this is within my price range. We can afford that $450,000 bungalow in Langley or maybe it’s a $550,000 bungalow in Langley, or we can afford that two bedroom condo in East Vancouver. Knowing what your affordability is, is absolutely critical to the buying process.


Mark: You can contact Paul Toffoli by giving him a call at 604-787-6963 or visit his website


Exploring home purchase fees with award winning Vancouver realtor Paul Toffoli - recently voted "Best Realtor in Vancouver" by Georgia Straight Readers

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with award winning realtor in Vancouver, Paul Toffoli. Paul we’re going to talk about what taxes and fees are payable on a home purchase in BC. How’re you doing today?


Paul: I’m well, Mark, I can’t believe it still summer sort of. So, Mark we agreed we’d talk about taxes and fees that apply to purchasing property in British Columbia and it’s actually really straightforward. If you’re buying a brand new property in Canada, but in BC particularly, there is GST that applies, it’s a 5% tax, there are rebates on that if your purchase price is under, I believe it’s $450,000 dollars, so each transaction needs to be calculated and of course, that only applies to brand new properties. If it’s a resale property, so something that’s been lived in for even six months, or sometimes people will actually have a brand new property that they paid GST on and then they flip it right away, then typically there is no GST payable on those transactions. That being said, I think the CRA may feel that if it hasn’t ever been lived in, that the GST should be paid twice. So that’s a good question for your accountant to clarify that. But typically we only see GST being paid on the property the first time it’s bought, as a pre sale or a brand new property and that’s 5% with rebates.


For resale properties, so that’s something that’s been lived in before or is not brand new, then there is no GST. Now there is another tax, a provincial tax that applies to all properties. So regardless whether it’s a new property and you’re paying GST or resale property where you’re not paying GST, there is always property transfer tax that is applicable. That tax is 2% of the first $200,000 dollars, sorry take that back, it’s 1% of the first $200,000 dollars plus 2% of the balance, that goes on up to the top. 


Now, if you’re a first time home purchaser, purchasing under $475,000 dollars as of this taping, then there is no property transfer tax - there is a full rebate. You will have a rebate up to about $525,000, and it slowly disappears once you hit that $525,000 mark there is no rebate at all. It’s not you get it free on the first $475,000 and it’s gone. Once you hit that number you’re paying the freight.


Again, it’s 1% on the first $200,000 dollars plus 2% on the balance. There are also some other exemptions. If you’re transferring between family, so my first home I bought from my grandmother, it was a family home she’d been in for many years. I did not have to pay property transfer tax on that because it was a transaction between direct family members. So those are the main ones. You do have other fees and other costs. You have home inspection - on 95% of all transactions unless it’s brand new property with the warranty, you’re going to have legal fees. So we’re talking about when you transfer property you have to hire a lawyer or notary to do the conveyancing of that property. That typically on a purchase is around $900 - $1500 dollars, depending on the complexity and who is doing the work, and also on a sale of a property you’re going to have that cost. So those are the main ones.


On selling a property, what are the costs? You’re going to have some legal fees, like we just talked about, but it’s typically a little less - under a $1000 dollars, including discharging a mortgage. The biggest one is real estate commissions, real estate fees and those will vary depending on your realtor so that’s something to talk about. But all of the taxes on those transactions are paid by the buyer. Now unless, it’s a revenue property. 


We’re fortunate in Canada that we have a capital gains exemption for our principal residences. So if you bought your home 20 years ago for $400,000 dollars and you’re selling it today for $1.5 million there is no capital gains tax on that gain. If it’s a revenue property, however, you would be paying capital gains tax and again, talk to your accountant about the details, but generally you’re taxed on 50% of the gain at your marginal tax rate. So if you’re in the top marginal tax rate of 48%, you’re going to pay about 24% tax on that total gain. 


I think that covers most the costs and fees on buying and selling real estate in British Columbia.


Mark: Awesome. Simple, sweet, easy. Thanks a lot Paul. Paul’s an award winning realtor here in Vancouver, just recently voted by the readers of the Georgia Straight magazine as the best realtor in Vancouver. You can reach him at or give him a call at 604-787-6963. Thanks Paul


Paul: Thank you Mark



We're exploring the buying criteria that is so important in choosing the best home for your family with Vancouver award winning realtor Paul Toffoli.

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation.  We’re here with award winning for the fifth time in a row Vancouver’s best realtor, Mr. Paul Toffoli.  Paul, how are you this morning?


Paul:  I’m feeling really good Mark, thanks very much.


Mark:  So voted by consumers as the best realtor in Vancouver, we have to give the props and congratulations.  That’s very, very cool.  So let’s dig into why you’re the best realtor in Vancouver.  Let’s talk about the real estate buying criteria and how to select a home that’s going to fit me, so how do I select an area?


Paul:  So just to clarify that was the readers of the Georgia Straight that voted me best real estate agent in Vancouver, it’s a nice honor for 2014.  So how do we select criteria for where we want to buy property, whether it’s a place to live in, whether it’s a revenue property or even commercial real estate, what is it we’re looking for.  Let’s talk about a place to live because that’s really the bulk of the people I work with are people who are looking for a home to live in and the first criteria is pretty straight forward; it’s what can I afford, how much money do either, will the bank lend me or how much money do I actually want to spend because believe it or not I have a lot of clients that come to me and say but I can’t believe how much money the banks are willing to lend me.  I don’t want so spend that much money and I’m a person who believes in that.  Don’t spend to your maximum if you don’t have to.  Now that can be very challenging in Greater Vancouver.  We find people are pushed to their maximum whether they want to be or not often, but so the first step is talking to a mortgage broker, talking to your bank, going through the process of getting pre-approved for your financing and that has a couple different aspects to it.  Number one is how much equity do I have for my down payment, so where am I getting my down payment from, is this money that I’ve saved over the years, is this a gift that I received from somebody, is this an inheritance that I have been given or left, is this equity that I have in an existing property, pull equity out of a property that I already own so either by selling that property or what is often what I recommend the client’s is if you own a property that you bought quite a while ago and if you’re able to just pull equity out so do a mortgage where you pull a chunk of cash out of that, keep that property as a rental property for your retirement down the road and then buy something else.  It is a great way to go if you can swing it.   


But getting those ducks in a row so talking to your mortgage broker, going through the analysis, do I want to just put five percent down if that’s all I have which is the minimum you can put down under the current guidelines or do I want to put 20% down so I don’t have to pay CMHC fees or do I want to put a little bit more down.  So that’s number one, finding out what you are able to borrow and how much equity you have or how much cash you have so that you can set your price criteria in a realist spot because there’s really nothing worse than in going out and looking and seeing a bunch of properties in a price rant that you think you can afford and then push comes to shove and you find the one you love and make an offer and the bank says no we’re not going to lend you that much money.  It’s absolutely devastating from an emotional perspective and so why go why go through that.  So get pre approvals in place and tick off all those boxes, that’s number one.  


Then number two is, where do I want to live, what fits my lifestyle.  Am I thinking apartment condo, am I thinking townhouse condo, or am I thinking single family home so that’s number one, am I looking at living in Vancouver or am I looking at East Vancouver, West Side.  Do I need to be near schools, am I the type of person who is comfortable living in a strata property where there’s bylaws and rules and regulations and decisions are made on a consensus basis and I don’t have the final say on decisions or am I a person who really wants to have the final say on what I can do with my property, not in all aspects, there are bylaws and so forth, and can I afford that to buy a single family home, and could be I would rather have a single family home in New Westminster rather than a condo in Vancouver.  Am I a person who’ll use transit, do I want to be near Canada Line or Expo Line or one of the other rapid transit options or am I a person who’s going to be and do I need my car at work, am I going to be commuting.  Am I comfortable commuting from Langley to downtown Vancouver or would I rather be in Squamish. 


So these are just some of the things we work through to try and look at the different options about where and what.


Mark:  So it’s lifestyle maybe even a list of here’s what’s important, I like to hike, I like to ski so maybe the North Shore is a better option or you know I’m more of a golfer so maybe Surrey or South Surrey become better options or Marine Drive, etc., etc., all those things sort of become, make a criteria list of your lifestyle and then and then like you said what are my personal requirements in terms of what kind of a place am I going to live in.  Is that right?


Paul:  Absolutely, and this is something that I go through with my clients regularly and most people by the time they’re sitting down with me have already gone through a list and hopefully they’ll have met with a mortgage broker, if they haven’t I can refer them to one to work with but they’ve already got a sense, if they live in an area that they’re happy with that’s number one.  Most people will sort of have a few different options for different areas, but then it’s about what’s happening in their lives.  Am I about to get married, are we thinking about a family, do we need two bedrooms or three bedrooms, what can we afford in our different areas or  from the other side of the equation often it’s people who are getting ready to downsize.  We’ve been in the family home; we don’t need the four bedroom home anymore.  Are we comfortable moving into a condo, are we comfortable moving out of our neighbourhood or do we really want to stay in our neighbourhood.  So it’s those are the questions that we go through a process and people come to me with a lot of questions around that.  I’ve lived in the Lower Mainland my entire life, I’m really familiar with a lot of different communities and neighbourhoods, I’ll often find I have people who want to look in East Vancouver and North Vancouver because you have similar price points and similar demographics in similar lifestyles in those communities.


So what are the pros and cons of neighbourhoods, what are the schools like, those are all sorts of questions that come up and it’s a process to work through.


Mark:  Sure, that’s great stuff.  I think there’s lots of, this is probably, I don’t want to drag this on too much today because you have lots to do today.  You’re basking in the glory of your latest victory.


Paul:  No basking allowed.


Mark:  So I think next time that we should probably talk about how we can maximize getting the best deals like how to fixer-uppers apply into it since you’ve done contracting and all that kind of stuff, how about rental options within a home.  All those other things that might be a little bit outside of the box but really good options for people to try and make things work in Vancouver for themselves.  So thanks a lot Paul.  We’ve been talking with again award winning best realtor in Vancouver as voted by his clients and the readers of the Georgia Straight, Mr. Paul Toffoli.  You can reach him at or give them a call at 604-787-6963.  Thanks Paul.


Paul:  Thanks Mark.



With award winning Vancouver Realtor Paul Toffoli, we're going through some details of the buying process for real estate in BC

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with award winning realtor in Vancouver Paul Toffoli. How’re you doing today Paul?


Paul: I’m well Mark.


Mark: So Paul, I guess we’re going to talk about the real estate buying process in BC, specifically in Vancouver, I guess there’s not a ton of difference throughout the whole province, but I imagine that one of the really key things would be getting expert advice to walk you through a pretty complicated process. Is that right?


Paul: Yeah, it’s one of the things that I would advise people when you’re first starting out the process. We’re going to talk about this more in the upcoming weeks about the entirety of the process because it is a fairly complex process of buying property. One of the first steps that I recommend to people is you know what, get some expert advice. If you’re buying a car are you going to take it to a mechanic? If you’re investing your finances on the stock market you going to talk to professional. It’s all that much more important when you’re buying real estate to get expert advice because boy theres’s lots of things to be careful about. It’s a multi faceted project, I mean there’s a financial component, there’s construction components and then there are the laws and regulations about buying real estate, there’s a legal component if you’re talking about contracts. It’s complicated. So what I suggest to people is interview some realtors, talk to a couple people. If you want to talk to one, feel free to just talk to me. It makes sense to me to talk to a couple people and what I usually do with potentially new clients is we sit down over a coffee and we talk. I talk to people about my background, I talk to people about the process that we go through in the buying process. I lay the cards open on the table and say ask me anything you want, grill me on how I work, ask me the tough questions, how do I get paid, what do we look for when we’re buying real estate. There’s contract questions, there’s inspection questions etc etc. I’m very comfortable saying do this with one or two other realtors as well because you want to be working with somebody who’s a really comfortable fit for you. At the end of the day it can be a very enjoyable process, but it can also be a very intense process. You want to have a level of trust and comfort with the person you’re working with. That they’re going to give you solid advise, that it suits your needs and requirements because it’s not a cookie cutter world. Everybody’s different, everybody’s got different things that they need and you want to have a comfort level with the realtor you’re working with. The same goes with a mortgage broker. There’s lots of different financing options out there right now. There’s the big banks, there’s the credit unions, there’s private lenders. There are a plethora of options. Right now the interest rates are relatively, not relatively, they’re darn low and that may change in the next few years. So you want to have an understanding on what that will mean to you. What is your ability to change your mortgage from the form you may start with to another form, how’s it going to affect your credit rating - those are things you’re going to need advice from a mortgage broker. And again, it makes sense to me to talk to couple different people to get the information, get that comfort level and get an understanding. I have a mortgage broker that I have a strong relationship with and one of the things she says to new clients is, to go to their existing bank and see what the banks can offer them and then come back and have an informed discussion and just find out what all the different options are. 


So the first thing I recommend to people is talk to experts in the field so you get advice moving forward into what can be a really complex process.


Mark: I think that sums it up as far as what we wanted to discuss today. I think having been through it a few times now and had it been easy and incredibly scary and being able to trust the person who’s negotiating on your behalf, guiding you through the process for me was well, when I didn’t it was horrible and horrible in terms of I don’t ever what to buy another house kind of horrible and the second or third time was, well this is just really easy and thank God. All the gotchas were looked after and none of those times were with you Paul, because you’re just to darn far away!


Paul: That’s one of the things, it really is about getting a comfort level with the person you’re going to work with, having that trust because it really is about trust and on making sure you have somebody you’re working with that knows their stuff and has been through it more than once before. That’s how I seek out advise when I’m working in a field that I’m not familiar with and that’s how I recommend people proceed when working in my field of expertise.


Mark: Awesome Paul, thanks you. We’ve been talking with award winning realtor in Vancouver, Paul Toffoli. You can reach Paul at or you can give them a call to set up that coffee 604-787-6963. Thanks Paul


Paul: Thanks Mark



Exploration, Criteria, Financing, Finding Property, Offers, Negotiation and more - How a real estate agent can help you navigate buying or selling your home.


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with award winning realtor in Vancouver, Paul Toffoli. How’re you doing today Paul?


Paul: I’m great Mark. Another beautiful Vancouver day I think we have about a week of summer left.


Mark: Well hopefully a little bit longer I’ve got some fresh lettuce in the garden…anyhow we’re going to talk about the real estate buying process overview with I think is an awesome topic. We’re going to talk about all the pieces of the process - so Paul what is the overview of the whole process of buying real estate?


Paul: Ok, so this is where it becomes interesting. Most people when they start the process think, you know, I’m just going to go to a few open houses, see what’s out there, see if anything tickles my fancy - then lo and behold they see something they like and they’re overwhelmed by the process. Not only are there a lot of steps and a lot of detail but there’s a lot of risk and it can be very scary. One of the things about the process that I work through with my clients is that we try and go in an organized manner. So how does it start? I’m just going to do an overview and then we’ll dig deeper into some of these steps at a later date.


First thing, let’s have a coffee, let’s talk about this process, let’s establish the criteria you are looking for - why do you want to buy a property? Is it an investment? Is it a home? Is it something that’s going to be home for awhile and then an investment? Those types of things. So let’s talk about criteria - that can also be where’s it going to be? Is it a condo? Is it a house? How much can I afford? That’s a big part of that criteria is getting that financing in order. Working with a mortgage broker, working with some members of my extended team. I can refer mortgage brokers etc. So what can I afford…I would like to live in a mansion somewhere, but maybe I can afford a house on a 33 ft lot. So that’s a really important piece of the puzzle that we talk about early on in the process. As part of that process, what are the additional costs that go into, not only home ownership or property ownership - that could be strata fees or insurance etc. What are the costs involved in the buying process? Are there taxes? Are there fees? How does the realtor get paid? all those kinds of questions we talk about and answer. Then once we have that overview in place, then we go and start looking at properties and some of that is the search process. 


So how do I find properties? How do I find what’s available in my process? Am I a person who wants to see every single thing out there or am I a person who just wants to see five things and I’m going to choose one of those five? Everybody has a different process. So we talk about that and we start that process. We go to open houses, going on tour with me - where I set up the tour. Sometimes it’s easy and there’s a nice selection of properties. More often in the Vancouver marketplace there’s not a lot of selection so it’s a patience game where we get educated, get all of our ducks in a row and wait for that one right property to come in place. Then once we’ve found that property, there’s the offer process.


So putting together a contract of purchase and sale. What are the subjects that we put on that property? Financing, inspection, if it’s a strata, then strata documents, all those types of things. Negotiating that contract, those terms, price, dates, subjects all those types of things. Then what happens when, omg, what happens if it’s a multiple offer and four people like the property? … which shockingly enough sometimes happens in Vancouver. How do we make sure we’re the ones that get the property or if we’re not the ones who get the property that we’re ok with that we didn’t because we put our best foot forward. Once we’ve got the contract negotiated and it’s under contract, going through the subjects, getting that home inspection done, getting that financing done so we have everything in place so that instead of being a two week process, it’s a one week process to make ourselves a little bit more attractive to the seller. Getting through that due diligence process - what I do for my clients is I read all the strata documents as well as my clients reading the strata documents. There’s lots of questions associated with those things. 


And then finally, once we remove those subjects, we’re at a place where it’s decision time, we’re going to remove those subjects and then post subjects, getting ready for the closing. Next is finding a notary or lawyer. What do I need to look for? Do I need a notary or a lawyer? Are they interchangeable? And of course, that’s a whole different can of worms that I’m  not going to get into right now. What else do I need to do? What about insurance for the home or the condo? Finding a mover. What happens on the closing day, what happens during the closing week, where do the keys come from? All of those things are part of the process that we go through beginning to end. Then finally the fun one - well wait no moving isn’t fun, but getting the keys is fun. The moving then living in your new home.


So this is a multi step, complex process and I think is really important. When I’m talking to my clients it’s really important to be highly organized around it and having someone to give you comfort because I’ve gone through it how many times a year, 40+ times a year, I’m working with clients on this buying process and holding their hands through it so it’s not a shock when a question come up. Being prepared - that should be my new motto. Be prepared. 


Mark: So what I take away from that is every client that you get is going to have some different wrinkle, some different criteria, some different obstacle or opportunity that changes a lot of what works. And because you’ve got a pretty massive amount of experience in this area for a lot of years - you’ve seen a lot of it already and if you haven’t seen it before its familiar or close enough to something that you actually have done, that you can help people through the process. I’ve been a multi home owner now, there are a few thing that are more stressful than sitting there waiting on something that you missed.


Paul: You don’t want to be the day after you’ve remove subjects - oh god, what about the - whatever it might be. A small example, I’ve renovated properties myself, I’ve worked doing general contracting for myself and for others, I’ve worked in my financial background, I’ve worked on managing thousands of rental properties. I have a deep background that’s not just selling real estate. I own and manage real estate for myself, I’ve managed real estate for others. I had a client last week, we were looking into a house in Vancouver that we thought on first blush, when we went through the open house we thought it would be a great property for them. When I walked through the property within 15 minutes I identified that there was vermiculite with potential asbestos repercussions, there might be an oil tank and about four other things before we got to the offer and inspection stage. so they decided not to put an offer in on that particular property just because there was too much risk, much more than they wanted to do. So often we can eliminate properties before you get emotionally involved. And that is where the pain often comes from, you get emotionally bought into a property and then it’s hard to let it go. I try to walk people through that process or at least help them to understand the risks they’re dealing with.


Mark: So I guess for me, that’s the benefit of having an experienced, professional to guide you through what is an extremely complicated and often scary process. You have that little bit of peace of mind that you’re not on your own and somebody who’s walked the walk and talked the talk and know what he’s doing and is going to help you and make sure you’re not getting into some kind of financial difficulty that you can’t recover from. 


Paul: Absolutely, and we have a little fun in the process as well, you know it should be fun - it’s looking for your home. But we try to take some of the anxiety and stress and manage it, it’s still going to be challenging but at least it doesn’t feel out of control.


Mark: Awesome. So we’ve been talking with Paul Toffoli, he’s an award winning realtor in Vancouver. You can go to his website or give him a call and have that coffee with him 604-787-6963. Thanks a lot Paul


Paul: Thanks Mark



Talking real estate deals with award winning Vancouver, BC Realtor Paul Toffoli

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation.  We’re here with Mr. Paul Toffoli; he’s an award winning Realtor in Vancouver, BC. We’re talking about the art of multiple offers.  How’re you doing today Paul?

Paul:  I’m very well Mark thank you, yourself?

Mark:  I’m good.  So, how do you deal with multiple offers?

Paul:  So, we’re looking at it today from the buyer’s perspective.  Obviously the buyer and the seller have very different perspectives on multiple offers.  The buyers are not very excited about them and the sellers are extremely excited about them, so we’re going to look at it from the buyer’s perspective.  How do you put yourself in the best position to be successful if you’re in a multiple offer or a competing offers situation?  The Real Estate industry has changed a lot in the last 20 years; it used to be that sellers has to deal with offers one at a time, they couldn’t deal with them at the same time.  The Real Estate Act has actually changed to allow the sellers to deal with them at the same time and basically lay them down on a table, side by side, then make a decision as to which one is the best one for their own interests.  So as a seller you have to be much more aggressive with your offer if you’re going to be the successful one.

Mark:  I think you meant as a buyer.

Paul:  Did I say seller?  O.k. Yes as a buyer you have to be much more aggressive if you’re going to be successful and that’s not just necessarily just about price because as we have talked about previously there’s a number of factors that are going to be deciding factors for most sellers.  Those may be subjects, so the subject to the sale, is it subject to inspection, is it subject to financing, all these different things; so as a buyer, if you can eliminate the need for those then that will put you in a better position.  People always say, wait a minute I need to have my subjects, it’s very important, absolutely it’s very important that you cross the t’s and dot the i’s.  So some of the things that I work with my clients on is can we do an inspection before we put the offer in, therefore we know about the house, we don’t have to have that as a subject, can you work with your mortgage broker or your bank to get all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted so that they will, or you will be comfortable going in without a financing subject.  Things like title search and property disclosure statement, those are very easy to deal with ahead of time.  

If you own a home, this is tricky if you have to sell before you buy, that becomes very tricky and that’s a very individual decision that we have to go through, the pros and cons of how to deal with that, and that really depends upon the market.  So, whether it’s a very active seller’s market or if it’s a buyer’s market or a balanced market, there’s different strategies.  So that talks about the subjects, I think.  

Other factors; are you flexible on your dates, so I always talk to the sellers Realtor, let’s find out what the ideal dates are for the seller.  Sometimes they have already bought a property; they have specific dates that they require in order to make it work.  Other times they won’t have bought yet so they want longer dates, three, even four months so that they can take the time and do the home search.  Sometimes, they’re not buying something, they’re just wanting cash as soon as possible and they may also maybe thirty days and they may want to rent back for a period of time depending upon, so depending upon my buyers position if they’re able to buy the property and rent it back to the seller or let the seller live there for thirty, sixty days, sometimes that can be a deciding factor.  

So each specific situation requires proper analysis and then we go together with our clients and we put the best possible offer in that we can put.  Sometimes it’s not possible to remove those subjects ahead of time, so we just have to say this is the best we can do, we’re putting our best foot forward and then always at the end of the day, money talks, and sellers always look at that dollar figure and different sellers handle things differently.  So what I recommend to my clients is, let’s put the best, you know we look at all the comparables, we look at what the value of the property is in the market and I tell my clients, let’s put a number down on the purchase price that is the highest price that you’re comfortable paying so that if you don’t get it you don’t say geez I would have put a few thousand dollars down if I’d known that I would get it or on the converse side if you do get it at that price you’re not saying holy crap, I really paid more than I wanted to.  So, it’s that balancing act, and it’s really, it’s really a gut thing for my clients, what’s their comfort level, what do they think is a fair price and whether they’re going to feel they had more to give and sometimes we only get one chance at it. 

It really depends upon the sellers. The sellers will sometimes come and say, and you don’t necessarily know this before you put your offer in, but we try to find the information out, sometimes they’ll say, one time best price takes it if everything else is equal, other times they’ll look at the offers and they’ll come back to the strongest one or two and say you know you’re really close and often if they’re really close we’ll do this, they’ll come back and say, you know what, is this the best you can do and if everybody says, yes this is the best we can do, they’ll make a decision; sometimes people will bump their offer up a little bit.  So you really have to be very careful when you’re crafting your offers on a multiple offer situation.

Mark:  Getting all the data I’m sure, and knowing who the seller is and what drives their decision to sell, all their circumstances, just like you said, that seems to be the biggest, at least in my experience that’s the biggest thing to get the best deal possible.

Paul:  Yes, asking all the right questions and it helps too sometimes if you know the agent that they’re working with and knowing how they handle things.  So having the experience and you know, I can’t even count how many multiple offers I’ve done now over the years.  I’ve probably have done, wow, it’s got to be in the hundreds and it’s always different every time and it’s always interesting.

Mark:  So, how much has it changed based on the market?

Paul:  It absolutely changes based on the market.  You tend not to get multiple offers in a buyer’s market unless something is really, really well priced  and by well-priced, I mean on the low side where you know, below market value where you’ve got a bunch of different people saying this is a great deal.  In a balanced market you’ll get it occasionally if that’s the case, it’s in the seller’s market where you really get those multiple offers because there’s a lack of supply, there’s a fair bit of demand and buyers are motivated to get that one property so that’s where you usually see something, in the seller’s market.

Mark:  So, there you go folks, if you want somebody to help you deal with the kind of crazy market that we can often have in Vancouver, BC this is the guy to talk to, hardened veteran and an award winning Best Realtor in Vancouver; voted by the readers of the Georgia Strait, Mr. Paul Toffoli.   You can reach him at or give him a call 604-787-6963.  Thanks Paul.

Paul:  Thanks Mark.



Mark: Hi this is Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We're here with Paul Toffoli, an award-winning realtor in Vancouver. How are you doing today, Paul?

Paul: I'm great, thank you very much. Yourself?

Mark: I'm good. So we're getting into the nitty-gritty. We're making deals — making and negotiating an offer. How does a realtor help me with that?

Paul: Sure, I think this is where we're — like you said — 'getting into the nitty-gritty'. We've looked at properties — we've sorted the gems out from the chaff, to mix some metaphors. Finally we've narrowed it down to one and my client is like, 'You know what? This is a property that I would like to own.'

Now it comes down to the contract work. This is a legal, binding contract — it's a big deal. It's not something you can do lightly.

What I do with my clients is the following: I always like to be prepared. I make sure that, as we're going through the process, I give them a blank copy of the contract along with some suggest subjects and terms. This is just to make sure they're familiar with it before we get to that stage of drafting an offer — it may have to be done in the heat of the moment, it may be hurried. It's always better for a buyer if they're comfortable with that contract, and have seen it ahead of time.

The contract form that we use is created by the Real Estate Board and by the Law Society of BC. This contract has been in use, in different forms, for 30+ years. It's always updated annually, as to new quirks and definitions and so forth. It's something that we can be comfortable with — 90%+ of all residential purchases are done using this contract.

What it stipulates is very straight-forward: Buyers' name, sellers' name; Property address, property legal description; Identification number or PID; and then the terms.

Some of the terms that we know are negotiable: Purchase price; amount of the deposit (which, in our marketplace, is typically about 5% of the purchase price), typically payable upon subject removal (though it is negotiable: sometimes it's payable upfront, fully refundable, or a portion of it is payable upfront). The standard practice for deposits right now is about 5% of the purchase price upon removal of all conditions.

Then, completion dates, which is when you pay your money and the title transfers.

Next, possession date, which is usually the day after, or a few days after (depending on the seller and whether they're buying another property and so forth), the completion date.

Then the adjustment date, which is when you adjust property taxes, if there's strata fees, utilities, when do they get adjusted.

Then, what's included. In our marketplace and in the standard contract, anything attached to the walls is included in the purchase of the property. Well, that includes blinds, but does it include drapes? What about appliances? All those things, we just have to make sure that we cross the t's and dot the i's. Another one that's sometimes forgotten — maybe that shed or play palace in the back yard. These are things that you don't want to forget. Those are considered included items.

We also talk about subjects, or conditions prior to purchase. It's typically going to be 'subject to financing', 'subject to inspection', 'subject to the strata documents' if it's a strata, 'subject to title search', and 'subject to property disclosure statement'. All of these things are going to be put in. Then we negotiate not only one of those subjects, but how long does the buyer have to pull through. Is it a week? Is it two weeks? The more complicated the subject, the longer time period to complete it.

Those are all things that we have to put into the offer, and those are all negotiable items. The seller will want those dates shorter, and the buyer will want those dates longer.

So we have to go through all of those items when we're drafting an offer. As I said earlier, it goes much smoother if my clients have a copy of all that information in the contract in front of them prior to us making an offer. They've already seen everything so all that we have to deal with is what have to put in and what items are negotiable. It just simplifies the process and makes the experience less stressful.

Mark: So it sounds like it's a fairly convoluted, complex situation with a lot of information that you need to be aware of. That's where an experienced hand can really help guide you and make sure that you don't miss anything. Is that right?

Paul: It's absolutely true. You want to make sure that you're dealing with somebody who's been through this before, because it's easy to make a little mistake that can end up costing thousands of dollars — or end up losing the property depending on what the situation is.

Mark: Right. So we've been talking with Mr. Paul Toffoli, he's an award-winning realtor in Vancouver. You can reach him at his website or give him a call at (604) 787-6963. He'll look after you. Thanks, Paul.

Paul: Thank you, Mark.




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. 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   



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, , or you can call him at 604-629-6100.  Thanks a lot Paul.

Paul:  Thanks Mark.   


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 or 604-787-6963.  Thank you Paul.

Paul:  Thanks Mark.   




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  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 – 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.  


The following is my personal understanding of “leaky condos”.  


Leaky condos are typically described as apartment or town-home buildings that were built between 1982 and 2002. (I have heard people refer to earlier end dates, but my understanding is that 2002 was the year that the building code changed , and the Rain Screening solved the majority of water ingress problems). 


The leaky condo era began in or around 1982, when the building code changed to a much more energy efficient one.  Buildings were wrapped tight in plastic sheeting, and other measures were taken, so that there was limited air exchange between the exterior and interior of buildings, leading to less heat loss.


An  unintended side-effect of these changes, was that moisture that entered the buildings envelope did not escape, or dry out due to heat leaving the buildings, as it had under the previous building code.


In addition, exterior water proofing relied on “face sealed”  cladding systems.  Buildings are designed so that the exterior cladding keeps water out.  With a face sealed system,  unless there is excellent construction, excellent maintenance, and no cracks, or gaps in the cladding, history has taught us that water will enter the structure.  Water entered around windows, through cracks, and up beneath flashings.  The rainy west coast proved to be too much of a challenge for many face sealed cladding systems, especially when strata corporations often were not doing the caulking and other required maintenance that would have improved the situation.


Be aware that single family homes built during this time period, can also experience many of the same envelope issues as leaky condos.


Steps that one can take to avoid buying a leaky condo, include the following:

  • Be especially careful when looking at buildings built between 1982 – 2002, but also be aware that many of these buildings have been remediated, and have had full “Rain Screen” installed to the current building code.  These remediated buildings can be as good as buildings built after 2002. 
  • Use the services of an experienced Realtor who is familiar with construction practices and  building codes, and can identify the signs  a leaky condo. 
  • Hire a knowledgeable, licensed building inspector to inspect any prospective purchase. 
  • Read strata documents carefully, and if you have questions or concerns, ask pointed questions to the Strata Council, and / or the management company.

Paul Toffoli, mba





Toffoli Real Estate Services offers “Concierge Service”.  This is a service where our clients have work that’s required to be done on their home to prepare for sale and we will coordinate with the trades, supervise the trades, ensuring the work gets done in a timely manner.  Our clients of course, pay for the work to be done, but in a busy household with busy lives, it is a very convenient service we do as part of our premium package.  

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