Have you been to Chinatown recently?  For some time, Chinatown seemed to be on the verge of fading into the horizon as another forgotten area of Vancouver downtown.  I rarely ventured there for dim sum, nor have I purchased anything in the stores.  The obvious choice for the real Chinese experience was beginning to be Richmond.   With that mentality I was pleasantly surprised at the new restaurant Bao Bei on Keefer.
 
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 An area in Chinatown is becoming a pretty hip place with interesting art galleries, a new club and new condominiums, like the development on Pender St., pictured.
 
Talk about possibilities around Chinatown.  There are serious discussions about removing both the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.  The Vancouver Police building on Main will be rebuilt in the next few years according to the latest news. 
 
Suddenly we have plenty of land to recycle and reuse around Chinatown to revitalize the area.

Chinatown may become a desirable place to live in the very near future.

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BC residents have been very vocal about the HST, but it is coming on July 1, 2010.  This is the combination of the PST 7% and GST 5% combined into a 12% Harmonized Sales Tax HST.  We better start preparing for this change.
 
If you buy a new presale residential property and the agreement is signed and dated on or before November 18, 2009 and you take ownership or possession before July 1, 2010, you do not pay HST and also not eligible for a New Housing Rebate.
 
However, if you take ownership or possession after July 1, 2010 you will pay HST and may be eligible for a New Housing Rebate.
 
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver provides lots of info and answers regarding HST for properties. Do contact them if you have questions at www.realtylink.org .
 
Aki Foster
 
 
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The Strata Property Amendment Act received Royal Assent on October 29, 2009.  That means changes will be coming soon once regulations are passed.
 
Some of the important changes are the audition of the financial statement by a qualified person, Depreciation Reports accessible to owners and buyers, separate fund account for Special Levies, improvements for disputes, and lower percentage of votes for resolutions.  For potential buyers, changes also mean clarifications on  areas such as rental restrictions of strata units, age restrictions, disclosure of parking and storage.  At the moment, the above issues sometimes cause confusion and misunderstanding among buyers and sellers.  As soon as changes are passed, I will update.
 
Aki Foster
 
 
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Seriously Thinking About Rentals During Olympics?
 
Several friends asked me about renting out their home (house, condo) during the Olympics.  There is still plenty of time but homework needs to be done.  Decide whether this is an option or not for you.
 
If you live in a condo, the Strata Council will let you know if temporary rentals are allowed.  All homeowners must apply for a licence, and the fees are different according to municipalities.  For example, in Vancouver it is $106, in West Vancouver it costs $150 and in Whistler the licence fee is $300.  Often forgotten, but extremely important, is your home insurance policy.  You will definitely want to have this temporary rental clause.  Check the sites at rent2010vancouver and rent2010. Since it is a business, there is GST involved too.  I think it will be best to use professional rental companies even though they charge application fees and take a percentage of your rental income. 
 
Aki Foster
 
 
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Every Sunday I read Mr. Tony Gioventu's Condo Smarts column in The Province.  His topics are always current and he answers the complex problems in simple English.  He is the executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association and very well regarded in the industry.  A great source of information for anybody with vested interest in strata properties. 
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Aki Li Foster
Cell:604-671-6269
Office:604-926-6718
Macdonald Realty Ltd.
1575 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC
V7V 1H9 CA