Decrepit house in Vancouver Westside sells for $2.5 million, over asking price

Feb 19 2021, 6:27 pm

A boarded up house in the Vancouver Westside sold for over $100,000 above its asking price just from its stated redevelopment potential alone.

The 1928-built, two-storey property at 3469 Arbutus Street — just north of West 19th Avenue, and across the street from the Arbutus Greenway — was sold for $2.5 million on February 11 after being listed for under two weeks, according to MLS records independently retrieved by Daily Hive Urbanized.

The listing by Sutton Group West Coast Realty had an asking price of $2.395 million, with the listing agent stating: “Investor and Builder Alert! Great Value and opportunity! House not livable.”

In fact, the house is in such poor condition that prospective buyers could not even view it. The listing states there is “no access to interior home.”

BC Assessment has provided the property with an assessed value of $2.014 million, with $1.98 million from the land and $33,700 from the structures. The house has a total floor area of 2,385 sq. ft., including two bedrooms. However, it is in such a dilapidated condition that the listing states it technically has zero bathrooms.

3469 arbutus street vancouver

Location of 3469 Arbutus Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Records show this has been a delinquent property for the City of Vancouver, as the previous homeowner has not paid any municipal property taxes since 2016.

According to a city staff report to city council in November 2020, “the property appears to be abandoned” and the homeowner does not live at the property.

The municipal government states it attempted to deliver various notices and messages to the homeowner leading up to and after the tax sale in late 2019, but it is unable to confirm whether it succeeded. Moreover, city staff have had no confirmed communication with the homeowner in four years, and this individual has been unresponsive to other tax matters too.

This property has been subject to Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax, and a lien on the title indicates it is also subject to the provincial government’s Speculation and Vacancy Tax.

The gross property taxes for this property during the last tax year was $7,084.62.

As the homeowner reached their threshold of failure to pay property taxes for three years, a tax sale of the property was held on November 13, 2019. The city indicated the tax sale purchaser bid the minimum upset price of $4,373.74, plus $1.4 million.

Under the tax sale process, the homeowner has one year after the tax sale to make a payment to terminate their property from the process that would cause them to forfeit their home.

When this redemption is achieved, the city refunds all money paid in the tax sale to the bidder, plus interest. However, when a property is not redeemed, the process of transferring the property’s ownership to the new homeowner in the tax sale begins.

3469 arbutus street vancouver

Rear of 3469 Arbutus Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

In their report, city staff sought city council’s approval to declare a “manifest error” in the 2019 property tax sale on the basis that there was no confirmation on whether the homeowner received any tax notices or notices of the tax sale ahead of time. A manifest error declaration would also cancel the tax sale, with the successful bidder receiving a full refund, plus 6% interest (about $84,000).

As well, following the sale, city staff discovered more information that led them to deem that there are “reasonable concerns about the mental competence of the Owner.” City staff found that the homeowner filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court in 2015 over allegations related to a bus accident.

“The claim by the Owner included allegations that she had suffered ‘acute brain injury with a small side brain hemorrhage’. The lawyer who represented the Owner in the personal injury claim told City staff that he has concerns regarding the Owner’s capacity,” reads the city staff report.

However, city council minutes for the meeting show the report containing the recommendation to declare a manifest error was withdrawn by city staff from meeting deliberations. The end result leading to the recent listing and ultimate MLS sale of the property is not known.

The homeowner inherited the property in 1985, and it is mortgage free.

This stretch of Arbutus Street is increasingly seeing low- to -mid-rise, multi-family residential redevelopment. Just one block south of 3469 Arbutus Street at the southwest corner of the intersection of West 20th Avenue and Arbutus Street, there is a proposal to turn five single-family homes into a pair of six-storey buildings with a combined total of 116 secured market rental homes.