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Posts tagged ‘townhouses’

How Many Homes Are There At Sooke’s Sunriver Estates?

A beautiful home at Sunriver Estates in Sooke, BC

…And answers to other frequently asked questions about Sunriver Estates in Sooke – one of the most popular new neighbourhoods in the greater Victoria, BC area.

Because I write a lot about Sooke, I get plenty of questions about living here, working here, and of course, about the neighbourhoods. Sunriver Estates is a huge master-planned community on the banks of the Sooke River, sloping up the Sooke Hills with various creeks and other natural features. It’s a very nice looking development, so it’s no surprise that it’s very popular. Also, the lots are larger than most other new developments in our area, so you can have a real back yard instead of a postage stamp. People move out here for the natural beauty, recreational options, quiet lifestyle, and of course the value. It amazes people when they visit Sooke what you get for your money, and how much more a similar house would cost (usually on a tiny lot) in Victoria, or even Langford, just 20-25 minutes’ drive away. Below are some answers to some frequently-asked questions about Sunriver Estates in Sooke.

Q. Is Sunriver Estates a strata development?

A. No, all homes in Sunriver are freehold, fee simple titles (except for the townhouses). Read details in this post.

Q. How many homes have been built at Sunriver?

A. There have been 371 houses built at Sunriver since it broke ground in 2004.

Q. How many homes are planned?

A. There will be 715 houses at Sunriver when construction is completed.

Q. How many more years will construction be taking place at Sunriver until it’s built-out?

A. At the current pace of construction, all homes will be sold and construction complete in approximately 5 years.

Q. What about the building scheme? I’ve heard that boats and RVs, etc are not allowed? Who enforces it?

A. The building scheme at Sunriver allows boats and RVs, etc, but stipulates that they must be behind a fence, lattice, or other sort of screening so that they don’t clutter up the character of the neighbourhood. The developer has sent out letters to offending properties asking them to comply. To date no one has been fined or needed action beyond the letter.

Q. Are any condominiums planned for Sunriver?

A. No, condos are not being built at Sunriver Estates. There are some very nice townhouses at The Pointe, and there may be a few more built.

Q. Will there be any commercial space built at Sunriver? Neighbourhood shops, cafes, etc?

A. When construction is completed, the sales centre will be sold off as commercial space. It will be up to the buyer (and Sooke zoning and business bylaws) what goes in there. Anything is possible – cafe, restaurant, pub? Who knows!

If you have any more questions about Sunriver Estates or other areas in Sooke or would like information about homes for sale in Sunriver Estates and Sooke, give me a call at 250-885-0512, email Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form!

Do you live in Sunriver? What’s your favourite thing about living there?

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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First Time Buyer Friday #8 – Do I Need A Home Inspector?

In my continuing series, First-Time-Buyer Fridays, I answer a common question from a first-time buyer. If you have a question to submit, first-time-buyer or experienced investor, put one in the comments below, or fire me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca.

What lurks in the attic? The home inspector knows!

What lurks in the attic? The home inspector knows!

Q. A friend said that if I decide to purchase a condo or a home with a warranty, I don’t need a home inspector. It that true?

A. I would always recommend that you protect yourself from unforeseen problems by hiring a qualified home inspector as a condition to buying the house. In fact, it’s so important that our standard-form Contract of Purchase and Sale has an inspection clause pre-written into the subjects page.

An inspector will cost you somewhere between $300-$500 and is money well spent. Some offer a lower rate for condos or townhouses, while others are the same for all property types. This is money that is spent before you remove your conditions, so it’s a good idea to get the final approval on your financing before you pay an inspector to look at the house. That way, you avoid the frustrating position of  knowing that the house your bank won’t let you buy is safe and sound.

As of March 31, 2009 all home inspectors are required to be licensed in British Columbia. This is a huge step forward in standardizing the industry and protecting consumers. Prior to this requirement, anyone could call him or herself a home inspector without any real knowledge about homes or any formal training! To be fair, most reputable home inspectors belong to a self-regulating professional organization such as the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI).

With a condo or townhouse, sometimes an inspector cannot get access to all areas of the exterior of the building, for example, the roof. It’s important that you get your REALTOR® to arrange access to these spaces. Otherwise, you only get a limited idea of the condition of the property by having the inspector examine only the strata unit you’re buying. Remember that when you buy a condo or townhouse, you are also buying an interest in (and responsibility for) the common property of the building, so it only makes sense to have it inspected to avoid any unforeseen expense.

If you buy a newer home, it will come with a warranty. The good news is that the warranty will cover many things that could go wrong. The bad news is that a warranty doesn’t prevent problems from occurring. Better to spend the money and get it inspected. Often, the current owners of the property can have any problems found remedied before you move in, saving you the hassle of making a warranty claim.

It can be disappointing to have an inspector examine the home that you really like, only to find some major issues that weren’t apparent to you when you first looked at the house. If you have to walk away, you can think of the fee you paid to the appraiser as an insurance premium that saved you from major financial difficulty down the road.

So, how can you find a reputable inspector? Well, it’s comforting to know that inspectors in BC are now licensed, so you could search Google for home inspectors, or look in the Yellow Pages. You may also ask your REALTOR® who he or she recommends. I have three or four inspectors whose cards I carry and would be happy to recommend any of them.

For more information about home inspection or any other real estate questions, call me at 250-885-0512, e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form. Connect with me on Twitter at Twitter.com/TimAyres.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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First Time Buyer Friday #6 – What Does My Money Get Me?

In my continuing series, First-Time-Buyer Fridays, I answer a common question from a first-time buyer. If you have a question to submit, first-time-buyer or experienced investor, put one in the comments below, or fire me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca.

house-money

Q. I want to spend about $400,000 on my first home – what can I buy for that kind of money?

A. Let’s break this down and see what $400,000 would cost first. To buy a $400,000 home, you’d need 5% down at a minimum, which is $20,000. The remaining $380,000 would need to be mortgaged. If you were to get a 5-year fixed rate at 4%, amortized over 35 years, your monthly payment would be about $1675. A two-income family should be able to afford that payment.

Keep in mind that you should think long-term. While interest rates today are at historic lows, you need to think about what happens in 5 years when it’s time to renew. No one knows where interest rates will be at that point, and you should build in a comfort zone by calculating the payment at a higher rate of interest. At 5%, the same mortgage estimated above would be $1905 – at 6%, $2150, and at 7%, $2401. The risks of this can be offset by choosing a shorter amortization period (25 or 30 years, instead of 35), which would allow you to pay off more of the principal before it’s time to renew, or you could make extra payments where your budget (and mortgage terms) allow.

So, now that we’ve established what $400,000 looks like on a monthly basis, let’s have a look at what that sum would buy you in today’s market.

In the Victoria core area (Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich, View Royal and Esquimalt) there are 27 single family homes under $400,000 as of writing this post. Most are small, and old, but there are always a few gems in this price range. There are plenty of condos under $400,000 – 384 to be exact. In the higher end of the range, there are brand new suites at The Juliet, The Ovation, The Monaco, and other brand new high end developments in the core. At the lower end of the range, older buildings (which usually mean larger suites) offer stability and peace-of-mind for less than $250,000. There are 45 townhouses in Victoria and vicinity under $400,000 as of writing, with lots of variation in style, age and location.

Moving further out of the Victoria core area, you’ll get more bang for your buck. In Langford and Colwood as of this writing, there are 30 single family houses and 44 townhouses in Langford and Colwood for sale under $400,000 – including brand new homes in the Happy Valley area, and townhouses at the foot of Bear Mountain. $400,000 would get you nearly any condo, with 215 condos under $400,000 in Langford and Colwood to choose from. Only 21 are above $400,000, mostly on Bear Mountain, or in that new development on the waterfront in Colwood at Esquimalt Lagoon.

Further out west to Sooke is where many first-time buyers are choosing to go (here are 10 good reasons to move to Sooke.) The drive to Victoria is a little longer (but it’s nice!) and the town smaller, but that means that you get a lot more for your money. There are 49 houses for sale in Sooke under $400,000, including many brand new beautiful houses in new subdivisions. If you buy in Sooke, there is also the option of buying an older home to renovate to your liking. Older homes will most likely have a larger lot, too. There are not many condos or townhouses in Sooke, but more are being built all the time. Almost all of them are under $400,000, including the brand-new townhouses at The Pointe in Sun River Estates and waterfront condos along Kaltasin Road. As of writing, 29 condos and townhouses in Sooke under $400,000 are for sale.

I have found that first time buyers are often surprised by 1) How much they can afford, and 2) What that money will get them. There’s plenty of product out there, prices are declining, and with the Bank of Canada reporting that interest rates will remain low until at least the second half of 2010, there hasn’t been a better time to buy in a long time – if it’s right for your situation.

It may or may not make sense for you to buy right now. To get a clearer picture, or for more information about any of the homes mentioned in this post, give me a call at 250-885-0512, e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form. Connect with me on Twitter at Twitter.com/TimAyres.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Strata Mondays #2 – Which floor is worth more?

A large patio is one reason ground level condos are more expensive

A large patio is one reason ground level condos are more expensive

In my continuing series about strata property, Strata Mondays, I answer a different question about condos, townhouses and other strata property in Victoria, Sooke, and British Columbia. Make sure you subscribe via RSS or E-mail to get each new post!

Q. I was looking at a new condominium project and I noticed that the same floor plan was available on all four floors, but the top and ground level were more expensive. Top floor I understand, but why would somebody pay more for a ground level suite?

A. This is very common – all other things equal, the top and ground floors of a condominium building will typically see higher sale prices per square foot. Most people can understand why somebody would pay more for a top-floor condo. A better view, and no noisy neighbours from above are a couple of reasons. Top-floor condos also often have extra-high ceilings or even lofts, skylights, and so on.

But when many people think of ground-level suites, the immediate concern is always security. Being ground level, an undesirable doesn’t have to break in the front door or scale the outside of the building to break in. Some ground level suites are also somewhat below grade, so lack of light can be a concern.

However, there are also significant advantages to a ground level suite. You may see the term garden-level suite, which as the name suggests, emphasizes one of theses advantages. Ground or garden-level suites often come with extra large patios and sometimes even a fenced courtyard. Lack of outdoor space is one of the biggest drawbacks to condo living. It’s possible to have a thriving, lush, beautiful garden with a large patio perfect for entertaining with a ground-level suite. This also enables you to walk up to your home and enter through the patio door if you desire.

Another advantage is that being on the ground level, you won’t have any neighbours below you to disturb, so you can probably install hard surface flooring such as wood or tile. It’s not uncommon for strata councils to have by-laws in place to prohibit units above the ground floor from having hard surface floors, since noise is more easily transmitted to the unit below.

So, it’s for all these reasons that ground-level suites are often more expensive than similar-sized ones on the between floors in low-rise buildings. High-rise buildings would be a different story – with prices increasing as you go higher in the building.

If you have a question about strata property, or any other real estate matter, please e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca. I can also be reached by phone at 250-885-0512

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Westhills, Victoria BC – A Green Revolution

Langford Master-planned Community Has a Vision For a Green Future.

As a volunteer on the Victoria Real Estate Board‘s Green Task Force, I was invited to a presentation at the WesthillsThe Westhills Master Plan Community Planning Office, at 957 Langford Parkway. The 20-year plan, which envisions an eventual 6,000 housing units made up of condominiums, townhouses, and detached dwellings will sit on a massive 517 acre site on the shores of Langford Lake.

This ambitious development is unique in that it is a large-scale master-planned community, based on sustainability, both resource-based (green building) and social-based (traditional neigbourhood design). The project will adhere to Built Green™ standards for residential construction, and LEED™ (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) standards for commercial buildings. The development is also a pilot project for LEED-ND (neighbourhood development), helping to set a standard for residential construction under the LEED™ guidelines.

The overall idea is to create a community that fosters green living, and healthy social interaction. Sustainable building practices and stormwater management will be used. There will be no asphalt paving in the development; all roads and sidewalks will be paver-stone or a similar permeable material, allowing storm water to seep back into the water table rather than having to manage it through drainage culverts, which can lead to unnatural erosion of the landscape. Two commercial nodes and one town centre will have all the amenities within walking distance of every front door in the community. A network of cycling and walking trails will criss-cross the development. And its location right along the E&N Railway line will enable a future train station for any eventual commuter rail service into downtown Victoria. Homes will be closer to the street, and will feature outdoor living spaces at the front of the house, to foster human interaction. Also, the idea is to have a mixture of different types of housing in the same area, ensuring that the neighbourhood is populated with people of all ages and socioeconomic status.

The master plan calls for 40% of the total acreage to be left untouched, including several forested areas, natural marshland, mountains, hills, and lakes. It is hoped that paradise falls, a small waterfall between two lakes on the property could be harnessed for hydroelectric power.

The property is still in the early stages of development; there are no homes for sale just yet, but the team is just putting the finishing touches on the initial floor plans, and hope to have the first neighbourhood started by the fall.

As green building becomes more and more mainstream, the extra cost associated with building green will gradually fall off. This is the hope of the development team, who struggle with the dilemma of reaching the standards of Built Green™ and LEED-ND™ without putting costs out of the reach of home owners. For example, metal roofs would be the ideal choice – no toxic chemicals leached into the runoff, etc – but as of now it is cost-prohibitive. They are also exploring the possibility of using a geothermal heating and cooling system, which would greatly increase energy efficiency.

The Westhills team is certainly practising what they are preaching. Their office is built just how they want their homes and commercial spaces built in the development. A comfortable flooring material made from recycled rubber tires lines the presentation area. Special care was taken to use low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) adhesive to fix it to the floor. There is recycled/recyclable carpet over a cork underlay. The sitting area has a floor made from the refinished glu-lam beams from the recently-demolished Mayfair Lanes bowling alley (how cool is that!?). All paints, stains, adhesives, etc are low-VOC. Even the office furniture and cabinetry is all sourced from sustainable or recycled product. And of course, lighting is provided by low-voltage halogen or compact fluorescent.

This ambitious project will hopefully highlight how builders and developers can handle future growth, while simultaneously maintaining a strong bottom line and protecting our environment. For more information about this remarkable community and the principles and standards to which it will be built, please visit their website, and check out the various links at the top and left side of the page.

Tim Ayres


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