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Secondary Suites

Posted by Ron Neal on Monday, May 12th, 2014 at 4:55pm.

With affordable housing in Greater Victoria having been in short supply for decades, secondary unauthorized suites are prevalent throughout our region. Of the over 1,200 single family homes sold since January 1 of this year, more than 200 had an existing secondary suite and an another 140 were identified as having suite potential. As a Realtor and a homeowner, I witness the demand and understand well the pros and the cons. Based on affordability alone It's typical for prospective home buyers to specify for example, "we're looking for a home up to $450,000 or we can go up to $600,000 with a suite." The reality is that the income from a suite will easily support over $100,000 in mortgage and the extra gets the home buyer a much nicer home and/or neighbourhood. Lending requirements vary widely from lender to lender but even CMHC will consider the income from a "legal suite" in approving mortgage financing. Sharing your living space is not for everyone and not every property is suitable, particularly those without adequate off street parking. After many years of demand and a blind eye and lack of regulation has led to our streets being cluttered with cars from an increased number of occupants in the average home but without corresponding increase in parking. Each of our 13 municipal jurisdictions have their own and widely varying policies and yet there are no neighbourhoods without their presence. Some area municipalities have embraced and permitted legal secondary suites meeting specific parameters for decades and now most others are adopting similar practices. Oak Bay, historically one of the most resistant to accepting and allowing "suites," have in their recent public opinion survey confirmed that Oak Bay residents are supportive and accepting of allowing secondary suites. They are working now to modify their official community plan. A few years ago Saanich adopted rules allowing suites meeting certain criteria "south of McKenzie Avenue" and is now considering expanding the zone. Even with their widespread existence and general acceptance, unauthorized suites ARE ILLEGAL and at risk to being SHUT DOWN and loss of income if/when neighbours complain. I know of 2 different properties that complaints arose on just in the past 30 days each of which could result in the discontinued use of the secondary suite. Every municipality has a publicly available record on each property which should be reviewed before committing to purchase. For guidance on the various municipal regulations, for information on financing options (even for unauthorized suites) and the many other pros and cons to be mindful of, please call for your FREE consultation today. Currently Offered For Sale: Click picture for details! 656 Head St SM  02


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The Neal Estate Team

The Neal Estate Team is your #1 source for all of your Victoria BC real estate needs. Get in touch with us online or by phone at (250) 386-8181 to speak with a Victoria real estate buying or selling expert today. With decades of experience as a top selling Victoria REALTOR® and ranked in top 1% globally with over 4,000 transactions and $1 Billion SOLD, Ron Neal & The Neal Estate Team have the industry experience and market knowledge to help you make smart and informed buying or selling decisions. 

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