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The cost of hitting the road in style

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CALGARY—The symbol of a retirement filled with travel and relaxation arrived last year for Bruce and Lisa Anderson of Calgary in the form of a 12-metre long package.

That’s how big their diesel-powered Class A motorhome is — about the same size as a city bus with, as Bruce points out, a bigger weight-carrying capacity.

It’s big enough that it doesn’t fit into some campgrounds. It’s so big it has two wry nicknames: “Motorhome” and “My Daughter’s Inheritance.”

“Our camping experience has run the whole gamut from tent to travel trailer to motorhome,” said Bruce, acknowledging that purists might not consider it camping if you stay in air-conditioned luxury with more floor space than a small apartment.

“As a teenager, I camped under a lean-to. At age 60, I like my house on wheels.”

When it comes to buying a trailer or motorhome to get out into the great outdoors or just avoid paying hotel rates on vacation, the choices can be daunting and the price in the window just the beginning of what ownership will actually cost.

The best prices are usually seen now, at the start of the off-season, when more used units are on the market and dealers may be willing to bargain to reduce inventory, said Jeff Redmond, general manager of Bucars RV just north of Calgary.

The range of options and prices mean it’s best to have a good idea of your budget and needs before turning up at the dealership, he said.

“You can get into a really good used RV for around $5,000,” he said.

“In the new market, you can be as low as … $20,000 (for a travel trailer) and we range all the way up to over $1 million for luxury Class A diesel motorhomes.”

A scan of used campers for sale online shows a number actually being given away for free — although sometimes with ominous wording such as: “Toilet works but valve to empty out sewage won’t open,” and, “Floor a little spongy and will need to be replaced.”

The total number of new camping units sold in Canada this year is expected to be about 52,000, up about five per cent over 2017, said Eleonore Hamm, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada.

Private RV sales represent about 50 per cent of used unit sales, with the rest being sold by dealers.

“If you’re buying privately, the main thing is safety,” Hamm said, adding many dealers will do safety checks for a fee.

“You want to ensure that the units have been checked, that the propane has been recertified, make sure there’s no water damage, make sure the braking system is working adequately.”

Renting is the best way to go RVing, says Brian Gronberg, CEO of Calgary-based CanaDream Corp., which counts about 85 per cent of its RV rental customers from outside of Canada.

“Nobody should buy a motorhome. They’re expensive and they are depreciating assets,” he said in an interview.

He conceded, however, that his company sells used RVs as part of its program to continually refresh its fleet of 1,200 rental units — and CanaDream allows renters to apply their rental fees to a purchase.

The fall rental of a two-person RV might cost $100 per night from CanaDream, but a last-minute, midsummer rental of a big motorhome that sleeps six could be $350 to $400 per night, Gronberg said.

The Andersons have learned a lot about RVing since buying their hulking unit for about $390,000. They went on a three-month vacation to Newfoundland and Labrador last summer and they are planning lengthy vacations on Vancouver Island and in the Southern U.S. in future years.

Storing the unit at the dealership costs about $1,000 a year, Bruce said, more than the $500 to $600 he used to pay to store his travel trailer on a rural lot. (Many cities don’t allow RV storage on the street.)

Insurance for the motorhome costs more than for a house. Campground fees start at $40-$50 a night with power and water service but some resort-style campgrounds charge as much as $110 a night, he said. Other regular bills are for maintenance and draining the RV’s water lines before winter’s freeze.

And then there’s the cost of fuel, he said.

“Motorhoming, in my opinion, will not save you money.”

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Victoria real estate agent disciplined for false advertising, encouraging cash deal to avoid taxes

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A Victoria real estate agent is facing $9,000 in fines and a 60-day licence suspension after breaking several professional rules during the sale of her father’s half-million-dollar property, according to a decision by the Real Estate Council of B.C. 

Whitney Garside’s missteps — outlined this week in a disciplinary decision posted on the council’s website — included falsely advertising the property as being almost twice its actual size and advising the buyer they could avoid the property transfer tax if they paid cash directly to the seller.

The property on Burnett Road in Victoria was being sold in 2016 by the real estate agent’s father. That relationship was disclosed and isn’t among the reasons she has been disciplined.

According to the disciplinary consent order, Garside told the buyer — whose name is redacted — that by paying $42,000 cash on the side, the value of the property could be reduced to avoid paying the property transfer tax.

That cash arrangement was not shared with Garside’s brokerage, Re/Max Camosun, a failure that contravened the Real Estate Services Act.

The council also ruled that she “failed to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill” when she advised the buyer the property transfer tax could be avoided by paying cash directly to the seller. 

The council’s discipline committee also found that Garside committed professional misconduct when she failed to recommend the seller and buyer seek independent legal advice, specifically regarding the property transfer tax and the cash agreement.

Another issue the council considered professional misconduct involved the size of the property in question.

The council ruled that Garside published false and misleading advertising and failed to act with reasonable care and skill when the property was advertised as 8,712 square feet, when in fact a portion of the lot belonged to the Ministry of Transportation, and the actual size was just 4,711 square feet.

The discipline committee ordered Garside’s licence be suspended for 60 days, which will be completed Jan. 3, 2021.

She has also been ordered to complete real estate ethics and remedial classes at her own expense.

Garside was also fined $7,500 as a disciplinary penalty and $1,500 in enforcement expenses.

She agreed to waive her right to appeal the council’s discipline committee’s decision in September.

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Frisco apartment community sells to Canadian investor

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A Canada-based investor has purchased a Frisco apartment community as part of a larger Texas deal.

The 330-unit Satori Frisco apartments opened last year on Research Road in Frisco.

BSR Real Estate Investment Trust bought the four-story rental community that was built by Atlanta-based Davis Development.

Satori Frisco was more than 90% leased at the time of sale. The property includes a two-story fitness center, a car care center, a dog park and a resort-style swimming pool.

The Frisco property sold along with Houston’s Vale luxury apartments in a deal valued at $129 million.

“BSR recently exited the smaller Beaumont and Longview, Texas, markets and also sold noncore properties in other markets,” John Bailey, BSR’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are now using our strong liquidity position to invest in Vale and Satori Frisco, modern communities in core growth markets with the amenities our residents desire.”

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House prices on Prince Edward Island continue steady climb

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Residential real estate prices on Prince Edward Island continue to climb at a rate higher than the national average, according to the latest report from a national organization. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association released monthly figures for November 2020 on Tuesday.

They show that the average price for a resale home on P.E.I. is about 21 per cent higher than it was a year earlier. 

Only Quebec had a bigger year-over-year increase, at about 23 per cent. Overall across Canada, prices were up 13.8 per cent year over year in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the fifth straight month, year-over-year sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019,” the report noted.

“Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.”

That lack of houses coming onto the market compared to the demand means that in those provinces, there is “increased competition among buyers for listings and … fertile ground for price gains.”

There have been anecdotal reports for months that Prince Edward Island’s low rate of COVID-19 infection and looser rules around social activities have been encouraging people to buy homes on the Island. 

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