Wednesday, January 31, 2007

waiting for some news

All this waiting is putting me to sleep. The MSM is the same thing day after day. This blog is the same day after day. I don't have time for diatribes right now, so all there is to do is cut and paste. The following article is excerpted from the CBC. They seem to have the same trouble I do - just empty reports to fill column inches.

I did have fun with the photoshopping though.

CBC News

The average price of a resale home in Canada rose by 11.1 per cent in 2006, according to year-end figures released Wednesday.

The 11.1 per cent increase was the largest since 1989, CREA said.

The biggest jump was in booming Alberta, where the average resale home was up 30.8 per cent in 2006 over 2005.

The highest average price, meanwhile, was in British Columbia, with an average price of $390,963 in 2006, a rise of 17.7 per cent from 2005.

"The resale housing market became more balanced in 2006 due to an increase in new listings but it was still a seller's market..." CREA said.

However, the real estate association said prices showed unmistakeable (sic) signs of easing in the fourth quarter.

It pointed out that the average year-over-year price in December rose by 8.4 per cent over the previous December. That was the smallest increase of the year.

I did like how at the end they said prices were easing. That's a nice distinction from increases easing. And they did point out that the December yoy increase was the smallest of the year. What's the point?

But what does it mean? Confirmation of a country-wide bubble? We know it's a global one. It's amazing how Alberta had the highest increases, but is still (on average) $100k cheaper than BC. And what's up with NWT? Mining? Oil? Certainly not the climate and the mountains.

I'm waiting for the news about panicked flippers in trouble. We have heard that up to 50% of downtown condos were bought by investors, but no one is blinking yet.

I look forward to having some good news some day soon.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

will you be my friend?

This is kinda OT, but I can't help it. I'm feeling so lonely. I just gotta reach out to you all.

I came across the article exerpted below, and thought that it would be a diversion from the lack of action in the RE biz.
Calgary author says bloggers a lonely bunch unlikely to change the world - link

CALGARY (CP) - Bloggers are living in a world where emotions may be real but everything else is make-believe... But Michael Keren, who has written "Blogosphere: The New Political Arena," suggests individuals who bare their souls in blogs are isolated and lonely, living in a virtual reality instead of forming real relationships or helping to change the world. "Bloggers think of themselves as rebels against mainstream society, but that rebellion is mostly confined to cyberspace, which makes blogging as melancholic and illusionary as Don Quixote tilting at windmills," the author says.
Poor VHB, making up all that make-believe data because he's lonely.

Poor pope, kicked out of seminary school, and now believes that he has a billion-odd odd-balls that worship him. That's not quixotic, that's crazy!

And poor Rob Chipman. Sitting in his mother's basement, believing that he is a real estate agent. What's more sad, he believes that he is really Rob Chipman.

And uncertain buyer, uncertain that he even exists perhaps. It's ok uncertain, I am creating reality, and you do exist - just another of my make believe friends? I dunno, ask mohican (I made him up too).

What is really ironic, is that this guy wrote a whole book about how lonely people writing blogs are. How quixotic...

Gotta go and check my stats - to see how many people like me. Later!

Monday, January 29, 2007

make her gasp!

It's a busy day for me, but a reader sent this in, and I thought you all might appreciate it. I did. (you may need to click on the image in order to read it)

Thanks Dan.

While searching for info on a property I drove by today, I
scrolled past this entry, paused and scrolled back to ensure that I
had actually seen what I thought I saw. I had, and thought you'd
appreciate it as well.

I think the answer to the question asked in the text is "try to sell a
client's home with chauvinistic double entendres in a nationally
accessible database."


I have to wonder (as I'm sure Dan did), would she gasp at your straight-forward manliness in buying in this market, or your sheer foolhardiness.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

the soap box (again #2)

Yes folks, it's time to drag out the soap box again.

Do you think there is a brain?

Does your bubble hurt?

I'm opening anonymous comments for 1 week. Just for fun. It's not an invitation to flame or abuse, so keep it cool. I would prefer that you identify with some manner of moniker, just so we can keep you straight. Just choose "other" at the sign in, and be creative.

Have your say.

Friday, January 26, 2007



Someone sent me an e-mail with their 16 favourite skylines in the world. It's a subjective survey, but I thought that I would share it, and put in Vancouver for comparison.

I was looking for info. on Vancouver's building heights, and came up with this (from 2004) -
January 29, 2004
TO: Standing Committee on Planning and Environment
FROM: Director of Current Planning
SUBJECT: Proposed High Building - Height Increase from 300 ft. to 400 ft. 550 Bute
CONSIDERATION: The Director of Current Planning submits the following for consideration:
That the Development Permit Board be advised that Council would favour the proposed
increase in building height to 121.92 m (400 ft.) for the construction of a 43-storey retail/hotel/office/residential building at 550 Bute as submitted under Development Application 407110.

Different areas must have different height restrictions, or things seem to have changed quite a bit since then - The Shangri-la will top out at 197 m (646 ft). This puts us in league with some of the more famous skylines of the world vis-a-vis building heights.

The List

1. Hong Kong (Metro/Urban Population: 6.8 million)

39 buildings over 200 metres tall. It also boasts four of the 15 tallest buildings in the world. Hong Kong's skyline shows a large selection of distinct towers, with beautiful night lighting and reflection. This city exemplifies the post-modern skyscraper and skyline. Finally, the mountain backdrop makes this skyline one of the greatest on the planet.

2. Chicago, Illinois (Metro/Urban Population: 8.5 million)

Chicago is the birthplace of the modern skyscraper. When Chicago built its first steel high-rise in 1885, it was not the tallest structure in the world but the first example of a new form of engineering that would change nearly every city on earth. Chicago has 17 buildings over 200 metres tall (three of which are among the top 20 tallest buildings in the world, including the tallest in North America). Chicago has some of the finest mid-century architecture and examples of modern skyscrapers.

3. Shanghai, China (Metro/Urban Population: 13 million)

Not to be mistaken for a space station, Shanghai is China's biggest and most advanced city, Shanghai was said to be the most cosmopolitan city in the beginning of the 20th century, but lost its glory during the "Mao era". It is now quickly regaining its position as one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world, as well as a showcase of modern architecture. In Shanghai, you will find 18 structures that are over 200 metres tall, one of which is the insanely tall 468m downtown Oriental Pearl T.V. Tower.

4. New York City (Metro/Urban Population: 21.0 million)

New York City has one of the densest and most diverse skylines, with a huge collection of buildings and building styles. Thanks to Hollywood's obsession with the city, it is also the most easily recognizable skyline in the world. New York City has an amazing 44 buildings over 200 metres - the most in the world. Home of the beautiful Art Deco Chrysler Building, the Empire State building, the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations, New York City is the financial capital of the western world. Upon the completion of the new "Freedom Tower ", it may rank higher on this list.

5. Tokyo, Japan (Metro/Urban Population: 32.0 million - wow! and 30 million pochinko parlours!)

Tokyo is the world's most populated city. Its skyline has a number of unique characteristics that set it apart from other big city skylines, among them 15 structures at over 200 metres tall (including the Tokyo Tower which changes colors every night). But because of the density and vast size of the city, every corner appears to have its own skyline. With the height restrictions and the required red lights that flash atop all mid to tall-sized buildings make the city look spectacular at night. Tokyo is filled with neon lighting and unique, contemporary architecture, and like New York City is also often portrayed in movies for its aesthetic and eye-catching cityscapes.

6. Singapore (Metro/Urban Population: 3.8 million)

One of the best (urban) planned and cleanest metropolitan cities in the world, Singapore looks like an architectural model city come to life. The buildings cannot be higher than 280 metres due to air traffic control restrictions, but that has added a tall (but not too tall) and consistent building height and space pattern that makes this skyline unique: Three buildings are exactly 280 meters tall and 5 others (8 total)stand at just over 200 metres. The buildings are mostly light-colored and there is a large expanse of greenery dotted around the city core. This South-eastern City is definitely in a league of its own.

7. Toronto (Metro/Urban Population: 5.1 million )

Toronto is a meeting place, a crossroads of many cultures and ethnicities. Toronto is downtown Canada, the biggest city in the country with a skyline to match. Toronto has 7 structures in its skyline that stand at over 200 metres, including the astonishingly tall 553 metres, CN Tower, which is often referred to as the tallest freestanding structure in the world. While mostly untrue (because there are taller TV masts in the world), the CN Tower possesses the world's highest observation deck, making this city's skyline one of the most immediately identifiable.

8. Kuala Lumpur (Metro/Urban Population: 1.5 million )

This is probably the most impressive city worldwide that has less than 2 million residents. Marvellous modern buildings reach the sky here, and while the skyline is not too dense, it does allow buildings to soar and stand out. Kuala Lumpur has three of the 25 tallest buildings worldwide, including the tallest twin buildings, the Petronas Towers (which are arguably the second and third tallest overall in the world) as well as the 420 metres Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower.

9. Shenzhen, China (Metro/Urban Population: 4.2 million)

What was a tiny fishing village on the border of Hong Kong in 1970 is now a buzzing metropolis of over four million people. With 13 buildings at over 200 metres tall, including the Shun Hing Square (the 8th tallest building in the world), Shenzhen is a marvel of lights after sunset. You can't help but ask yourself if you are in a video game or in a real city.

10. Seoul, South Korea (Metro/Urban Population: 20.8 million)

This city's skyscrapers are divided into many clusters, spread amongst the main businesses and residential districts. Most of the recent growth in Seoul's skyline, however, has been of residential towers over 60 stories high that are shooting up like blades of grass! There are 10 buildings in Seoul over 200 metres tall and much of the mid-rise to high-rise structures are lined up in a linear fashion, creating a "wall" of buildings like no other. Seoul is where the ancient Eastern world meets the modern west.

11. Sao Paolo, Brazil (Metro/Urban Population: 18.3 million)

"What building did you say they lived in?" Finding it in the largest mass of condensed apartment buildings anywhere would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Sao Paolo has a population of over 18 million people! While the buildings are not super tall (with only a single structure at over 200 metres) this skyline is nevertheless stacked. Sao Paolo has a fleet of over 500 helicopters, the second largest helicopter fleet in the world.

12. Sydney, Australia (Metro/Urban Population: 4.2 million)

Australia's showcase city, Sydney has one of the most recognizable skylines due to its world-famous harbour, often referred to as the most beautiful natural harbour in the world... The Sydney Harbour has many bays, inlets and secondary harbours. It is spanned by the monumental Harbour Bridge, and the Opera House decorates the shoreline like a white flower. The Sydney skyline is world-class with hundreds of skyscrapers in the central business district, and many more high-rise buildings in the outlying neighbourhoods. Sydney has 8 buildings over 200 metres tall.

13. Frankfurt, Germany (Metro/Urban Population: 4.1 million)

Certainly one of Europe's most interesting cities in terms of skylines, Frankfurt's home to five structures that are over 200 metres tall. These modern skyscrapers are marvels compared to those other, mostly nonexistent ones scattered across European cities. The contrast here is interesting: The City combines low-rise, high-density traditional European architecture (some of which is over 1,000 years old), with modern towers that stick out like sore thumbs, but are impressive nonetheless.

14. Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Metro/Urban Population: 1.6 million)

Is this a mirage in the Middle East? Seemingly out of nowhere emerges a city in the middle of a desert. This is Dubai, a city that produces only the best modern architecture in the world. Already home of the world's tallest all-hotel building and the tallest all-residential building in the world, AND currently proposed to build the world's tallest building, this skyline might just leap to the number 1 spot in the near future. While the skyline is not so dense, each building is a marvel all on its own. As a skyline it probably can't compete with the larger cities, however the individual buildings in this city are by far the greatest examples of modern architectural accomplishments. All seven structures in this city at over 200 metres tall were built in 1999 or later. That's how new this city is.

15. Guangzhou, China (Metro/Urban Population: 4.1 million)

Guangzhou is the Chinese name for both the province and its capital city, both of which the English called 'Canton'. This province is the closest to Hong Kong and the language spoken here (Cantonese) is the one is spoken by the thousands of Hong Kong immigrants to North America, (vs. Mandarin, the language spoken in Beijing. (Cantonese and Mandarin are as different from each other as English is from French, but the both groups can read the written Chinese characters since both use the same pictographs to represent the same concepts.)

And not to be forgotten... Wichita, Kansas

Thursday, January 25, 2007


machu picchu - good feng-shui

Most have heard of feng-shui (fung-shway) - the Taoist principle that the land is alive with energy, and that buildings can have good or bad feng-shui depending on how they are situated in the landscape.

Feng is translated as wind, while shui is translated as water. Wind is considered yang (male/light), while water is yin (female/dark). Gentle wind and smooth water are associated with a good harvest and good health, while harsh winds and stagnant water have been linked to famine and disease. Thus, "good" feng-shui has become linked to a good livelihood and fortune, and "bad" feng-shui has become linked to hardship and misfortune.

It is quite a bit more involved than all of that, and it is a study that requires years to master, but we all have an innate sense of it, I think. This may well be one of the great attractions of Vancouver, which abounds with good feng-shui.It definitely feels very different here.
Water is yin, and mountains are yang. Earth is yin, and sky is yang. When water meets mountains or clouds drop from the sky to embrace the earth, nourishing energy is generated. Mountains that seem to disappear and reappear because of shifting clouds are said to contain tremendous energy. source
That's Vancouver in a nutshell, but the pace is slower with the mountains disappearing for days, or weeks at a time, and then brilliantly exposed throughout the summer. Though, by these measures, this last few months of storms and lashing winds and rain have had some bad energy.

Is it perilous to ignore feng-shui? Some say it is. The Chinese are famous for wanting addresses with auspicious numbers, and are willing to pay a premium for them. Some deals are contingent on municipal approval to change those numbers.

Feng-shui is also an issue inside the house. A clear line of sight through the middle of the house is said to be a negative. There needs to be breaks so that the energy does not just flow through - leaving the dwelling less charged. A large tree outside the front window can also be negative. Bathrooms by the entrance doors are very negative. It is said that you flush your fortune out of the house. I have always been turned off places that have "powder rooms" right by the front door. Strangely (to me), a lot of people find this to be a desirous feature.

Feng-shui is not a superstition or a set of dos and don'ts. It is the art and science of understanding the forces of nature in order to design houses and workplaces that blend with the environment instead of clashing with it. It aims to help us live in harmony with the world by promoting the flow of positive energy and neutralizing or avoiding negative or destructive energy. source

As with so many "cliche" philosophies, there is a great amount of common sense to this ideal. It is not magical, but the difference between a good living environment and a bad one can seem so.

I have been thinking of all of this since I posted on the ROAR yesterday. That project seemed to have good feng-shui to me. Then, after thinking about it all day, I read some comments over at the pope's place by will and wg2c, and it was a confirmation.

Too bad this post has poor feng-shui. It just does not flow. I added the picture of North Vancouver shrouded in clouds to bring some balance to it (when I noticed that the tall buildings at the shore were blocking the flow from sea to sky...).

I don't have time to do it justice. Your expansions on the topic are most welcome. I'm sure that some of you are much more fluent (pun intended) on the subject than I.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I read a good article by Trevor Boddy at the Gossiping Mavens about the award-winning ROAR-one on W. 10th Ave. I really ought to stop having fun with their name, as I get so much material from them. To give them some credit, there is an air of bearishness with them these days (despite the major faux pas that VHB wrote about today). Some exerpts are below, but the article is worth a read.
It will take some time to assimilate the past year's key shifts in how British Columbians build and live in new housing. One fact is crystal clear: by almost any statistical or financial measure, the peak of the housing boom has passed.
That is bearish. When did they change the tune?
The demand for fee-simple boxes in space has been so hot since the mid-1990s that the condominium apartment started to resemble a generic commodity — an undifferentiated substance like refined zinc or hog bellies, ripe for speculation.

Because condos sold and re-sold so easily through this period, there was little financial encouragement for developers to invest in better design or include features intended for long life, rather than instant curb appeal.

Boddy does go on to say that things have changed, but I don't think they have that much. There are certainly bold moves - like The "W", but I see the sea of green glass downtown as pretty generic.

Don't forget the not-generic McCondo's though. Some changes are not necessarily for the better. The McCondo's look better from the street, but I wouldn't want to live in one.

If I did have to live in a condo, I would pick something like the penthouse at Roar-one. 1961 sq. ft. for $1,400K. There are also 850 sq. ft. studios for ~ $500K. Still way too pricy, but it seems like a different philosophy altogether, with more European ideals (though the developers are Columbian. I wonder if that is coca money washing itself clean in the fresh rains of Point Grey...).

Boddy goes on...

A number of features make the resulting 10-unit building ...appropriate for families, rare because Vancouver's condo industry tends to direct its all-new product at speculators, young couples and retirees.
His closing words -
I hope mayor Sam Sullivan and councillors who support his EcoDensity Initiative take a tour of ROAR soon, as there is hardly a better example in this city of a building that combines design innovation with livable Green features. While there, they should talk to co-designer Oliver Lang, who says that ROAR could not be built with the recently-revised C-2 zoning. “We were one of the last projects built under the old rules,” says the house-proud Mr. Lang. “The revised rules are supposed to temper impact on neighbours, but they will make courtyard buildings all-but-impossible — we should be increasing building heights along arterials, not reducing them.”
I'm all for densification, but let's do it right.

the courtyard at ROAR

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

making deals with the devil

I have scoffed at Bob Rennie in the past, and even got creative with his name. I never saw him as the anti-christ, or such, but his marketing stance always irked me. I feel better that he is Vancouver's "Condo King", and Brad Lamb, Toronto's "Condo King", is not, after I read this article at the Glum and Malcontent. What a piece of work this guy seems to be. I am going to give some exerpts below from the article.

When Brad Lamb was 10, he used to steal the small national flags that adorned military graves in a cemetery near his house and sell them to neighbouring kids.

The celebrity condo salesman, developer and aspiring reality-TV star tells the story without a hint of shame. “I would gather them up and sell them for five cents outside my house,” he says in an interview. “It always amazed me that the kids didn't realize where they came from.”
Not a hint of shame... Stealing flags from military graves and selling them. I began to despise him right away. Too bad there is a statute of limitations. The little bugger should have been to reform school.
He and a childhood friend would put on summer fairs in Beaconsfield, Que.,...“Kids were bored,” he recalls. “The same suckers would come very time.”
Now he sells condos to the same type of suckers...
Now, at 48, he's a multimillionaire whose Toronto real estate brokerage has sold $2-billion worth of condos since 1988
And that's the problem - scumbags selling inferior (or stolen) product to suckers. Is this the mind-set that you would buy property from? No wonder real estate agents and developers are often seen as sleazy, when guys like this trumpet their sleaze in national newspapers, and are proud of it.
From the tax man's point of view, someone who buys and sells a lot of properties in a year is a real estate trader and subject to the full force of income tax...

But those seen by Revenue Canada as investors will pay only capital-gains taxes...

“People overthink it. But there's a lot of dumb people making a lot of money in real estate.”
True enough.

Mr. Lamb has a personality made for TV: he's...vain (he always wears a crisp suit and gives away his shoes after wearing them for two months).
La-de-da. I like what Aesop said - 'clothes don't make the man, his talk dives him away'.

He's given to colourful rants on unexpected topics, like coffee.

On the show, he blasts a couple of sales associates who want to pick up some java, saying coffee is “for the weak.”

His irritation is directed at the inordinate power of one little bean, he explains in the interview.
Is this guy scared of beans? especially little ones?
“It bugs me that somehow this one bean has a monopoly on the world's morning beverage market. It bothers me that it's got such a hold on our cultural life. . . . People think they're more productive on it but they're not. They're dreaming of the next cup.”
I guess he might want to monopolize that. Maybe he can just steal kool-aid from the kiddies, market it, and change his shoes every month - instead of every two.
His friendships, he notes, are based on getting rich together.
Who are his friends? Satan's Choice MC? The Diablos?

If you're one of the 50 or so people he knows as friends or regular investors, you'll get the chance to pay the lowest prices and have the best selection of suites in the roughly 40 condo projects in which he's currently involved, either as exclusive broker or as co-developer.

By the time suites are offered to the public through official launches, two groups of people will have had a chance to buy at more favourable prices — the regular investors he knows, followed by real estate brokers and their preferred clients.
There you go. The public gets the dregs at inflated prices, and if you are "in the loop" you get filthy rich. That's part of why I call them CON-do's. What blows me away is that this guy is so in-your-face about the fact that we are all chumps. Good grief. You can bet your last dollar that a lot of those friends are politicians. Hey, isn't Gordo a developer? Was Jean Chretien not involved with some real estate deals?

Go and read the whole article. It is quite outrageous.

Addendum - I forgot to add this little nugget from VHB's place -
alpha bear said at vhb

I hear many youth refer to "appearing successful", and spending money they don't have on expensive clothes and flashy cars. Whatever

happened to BEING successful? Perhaps the latest RE boom has been all about inflating egos?
Well put alpha. This wolf in Lamb's clothing is successful, but he has no shame. I'd rather wear rags and walk, than be a scammer.

Monday, January 22, 2007

2 years of salary vs. 7.7 years of salary

Just a quick, cheap post to keep things going -

Regina most affordable place to buy a house: study

(CBC) - A study on the cost of buying a house in six English-speaking countries ranks Regina as the most affordable city in Canada.

In Regina, it takes the average person twice their annual salary to buy a home, according to a 2006 study recently released by the Winnipeg-based Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

The centre looked at how many years of family income it takes to buy a house in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

Winnipeg was tied with Quebec City for second among the 17 Canadian cities surveyed. In those cities, it takes an average of 2.5 years of salary to buy a home.

In Saskatoon, it would take 2.6 years, putting the city fourth on the Canadian list. Canada was the most affordable of the six countries. On average, citizens require only 3.2 years of annual income to purchase a home.

The study considers communities with a 3.0-year rating or smaller to be affordable.

The most affordable community of the six countries is Fort Wayne, Ind., while the least affordable area is Los Angeles and Orange County. In Canada, Vancouver, described as "severely unaffordable," came in last, taking 7.7 years of income, on average, to buy a house. link

Sunday, January 21, 2007

oh, the horror

CUTE & SOLID LITTLE STARTER. New roof, only 6 years old! New gutters, new electr ical. H/W flrs, W/B F/P, walk to everything! Perfect for renovations or builders ! 2264 FERNDALE ST, Hastings, Vancouver East MLS# V615112 $479,000.00

Assessed 2007 at $437,400

How can they? Cute and solid? Perfect for renovators? Maybe with a can of gas and a good insurance policy. I can't even see it being perfect for builders. It has weird lot dimensions (49x66) - what could you build on that?

Walk to everything? You would need to - you couldn't afford to own and operate a vehicle, or buy a bus pass after making the payments on this POS.

This place has been sitting there for sale since the peak of summer with no price reductions whatsoever. Is it an absentee land-lord with an absent-minded realtor? $41,600 over assessed value?


This place is just east of Boundary Rd. (Burnaby), and you truly can walk to just about everything (Metrotown, etc.), plus, it is right across the road from Central Park - which would make for a nice walk. The lot is more than twice the size, the house is much nicer looking, and the square footage is about the same, so don't tell me that the Ferndale house price is worth it because of lot value. You would get double the lot for an extra 60K.

MLS®: V617050 Finished Floor Area: 1214.0 sqft.
Property Type: House Lot Frontage: 59.0 ft.
Basement: None Lot Depth: 134 ft.
Bedrooms: 3 Age: 82
Bathrooms: (Full:2, Half:0)

Is Vancouver worth that much more? Am I out to lunch? Or is it them?

I can't take it any more.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

the grab bag #3

I'm just grabbing lines and more that I have come across having some relevance to my notions.

Regarding the MSM - and marketing (one of my biggest peeves!), I came across these lines on Discover Vancouver Forum (by way of RE Talks) - in reference to a recent Bollywood screening. An (apparently) East Indian girl wrote about how "white" people outnumbered "EI" people, and wondered why. Bollywood and White Folks was the thread.

El Duce Posted - 1/20/2007 4:57:16 PM
It's trendy right now, and we live in the biggest bandwagon town on the planet. There's been a lot of mainstream press on Bollywood in the last year or so.

Trendy. Like dot com and NorTel stocks, beanie babies, granite, and investment properties.

I think there is a "bubble" of people looking for new experiences.

This nugget from The Republic goes well with my
about RE opportunities on the Moon.
I am looking at it as a business investment, but the ultimate dream is to go and live there, without the baggage of the past. I’d like to open the first Israeli restaurant.

Tsiki Nasftaly, Israeli computer programmer, who bought a square kl of land on the moon slated for future settlement
And you thought I was guffin'.

And this, also from The Republic, regarding the expansion of the aquarium at Stanley Park. It catches a few things of interest to me - including a lack of public consultation, and the main industry in Vancouver - tourism. No mention of baristas and burger flippers (not to mention condo flippers), but I think they got a few things right.
I wonder if Kirk and Company asked Vancouverites if they'd favour their taxes going to subsidize a tourist-related service that was too expensive for many of them to attend.

Public subsidies, private profits

With an international reputation, about 750,000 paying customers in 2005, and an income of around $24 million, the Aquarium is an essential part of Vancouver's tourism-industrial complex. As Vancouver has evolved into a resort city, its primary industry is tourism. The only rival to the tourism complex is the real estate development industry, and in many ways they are related (many of the largest real estate investments are simultaneously investments in tourist related projects, e.g., the new "Shangri-La" investment downtown, among many others). There are massive public subsidies to the tourism industry in the form of government grants to the Canada line, designed to transfer tourists from the airport to downtown; the Convention Centre, designed to attract large business groups to Vancouver; and, of course, the underwriting of the 2010 Games.
I have not gone into my rant about the Olympics, and I don't think there is much point. I'm preaching to the choir here, so to speak.

And from Mohican's blog - something that we are all thinking, I think.
dingus said...
Great post, great blog. A great evolution from the housing blogs for those that have been around and around on the discussions there on the lack of value in that market and are trying to figure out what to do with funds they have if they don't have a mortgage to pay down.
I can only make so many crappy jokes, I'm not into whining, so I've been thinking of where to go from here. I can't even begin to imagine what will transpire. Over the last year, it seems like all bets are off (except the one that freako won over at VHB).

I have a growing feeling that things are going to unwind quickly. I thought that a year and a half ago, but I am reminded of hunters' anecdotes of making heart shots, and the prey continuing to run - not realizing that it was already demised. A chicken without it's head is another analogy.

Beware the Ides of March?

Finally, looking at Rob Chipman's numbers, it is starting to look much more like a buyers' market. But we can guess and guess and guess until spring. We will have a better idea then.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

mortgage poverty

pablo picasso - poor people on the shore (1903)

I came across a poll (results below) on my ISP's home page yesterday that asked about the amount to which people are mortgaged, and I was a bit surprised at the low levels reported. It is definitely a questionable result, as it is possible to vote as many times as you want, so things could be dramatically skewed. Further, there is no regional break-down, and the sample size was not reported. Interesting none-the-less though.

The poll disappeared today, but it is to note that they had a poll about the dispute between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump (I haven't a clue about that) that lasted for five or six days. Weird priorities...

the poll

The hot housing market in Western Canada, in particular, has forced many to take on large mortgages. How big is your mortgage?

9% More than $300,000
13% More than $200,000
24% More than $100,000
31% Less than $100,000
15% I rent
5% I live for free with family

Is this believable?

Addendum -

Mohican has a good post on "liar mortgages", or "stated income" approved mortgages. When I was pre-approved (by a bank and a broker) I needed to supply my notice of assessment from Rev. Can. The bank offered me way more mortgage than I would ever even think of taking, and the broker was more stringent (or stingy?).

I do know someone who forged a T4 slip to get their first mortgage. He went on to foreclosure and divorce.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

brain function as related to RE prices

Some may be (and have been) questioning what is so great about Vancouver (besides the balmy winters). I know that I have been questioning that myself, and decided to look up housing prices across this great land - just to see if Vancouver prices have a modicum of rationality. Nope. They don't.

Here are the average resale prices, how much they have moved (either way), and average rents in Canada's major urban centres. House prices are looked at November 2005 - November 2006, and rents are looked at October 2005 - October 2006. (Resale prices of homes are from MLS stats, and rental stats are from CMHC link)

Vancouver - average resale price - $519K (up 16.5%)
- average rent - $1,045 (up 4.4%)

Calgary - average resale price - $360K (up 36.4%)
- average rent - $960 (up 19.5%)

Edmonton - average resale price - $282K (up 42.5%)
- average rent - $808 (up 9.9%)

Regina - average resale price - $123K (up 11%)
- average rent - $619 (up 2%)

Saskatoon - average resale price - $167K (up 9.6%)
- average rent - $608 (up 4%)

Winnipeg - average resale price - $153K (up 14.8%)
- average rent - $709 (up 3.4%)

Toronto - average resale price - $355K (up 4.2%)
- average rent - $1,067 (up 1.1%)

Montreal - average resale price - $218K (up 3.2%)
- average rent - $636 (up 2.8%)

St. John, NB - average resale price - $141K (up 13.8%)
- average rent - $556 (up 2.1%)

Halifax - average resale price - $194K (down 1.2%)
- average rent - $799 (up 3.5%)

NFLD (all) - average resale price - $135K (down 3.4%)
- average rent - $635 (up 0.4%)

Talk about regional disparities. Vancouver % increases pale in comparison to Edmonton and Calgary, but in those cities, houses are still affordable. Further, all of Canada has been heading to Alberta because of the oil boom. There are very well paying jobs there. Even burger flippers and Tim Horton's workers are fetching in the neighbourhood of $20/hr, and could entertain the idea of buying their own home. In Vancouver, even the best paid (Dr's. lawyers, etc.) are hard pressed to come up with the money to buy the crappiest of places (and I include brand new 500 square foot condo's in that assessment).

Anywhere east of Alberta (with the exception of Toronto), I could buy a place pretty much outright. In some places, I could do so and have money left over for a new car, a few holidays, etc. And, Vancouver has some of the lowest median earnings in the country. In a lot of those cities, one could buy a place with 0% down, and the rent would cover the mortgage payments. Here, one would need 50% down and still fall short of the rent covering payments. We have had the hardest winter weather of any city in Canada so far too, so don't tell me about how great the winters are here. We don't even have the equipment to keep the streets free of snow and ice here. Montreal spends $50 million per year on snow removal. I would be curious to know how much ICBC will be paying out to motorists who crashed into each other on our snowy/icy streets. I'd bet that it is in the tens of millions.

So what is it about Vancouver? I think I have an idea. The soil in BC has very low levels of selenium, and hence, low levels in our food (even food from California, etc. Selenium levels fall drastically west of the Rockies). Selenium is crucial for brain function (I take supplemental selenium - so I'm ok!).

There you have it - the brains of British Columbian residents are operating in very low gear. That explains so much - poor driving habits, self-centredness, buying unaffordable real estate, the gov'ts that keep getting voted in, etc.

We are collectively brain-dead. Vegetative. Stunned.

I'm outta here!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

feeling pugnacious

Billy Speary, Pugilist

I heard the news today, oh boy, RBC has raised it's rates, and the other big boys are gonna raise their's too.

Yawn. A fifth of a point. They didn't raise them enough, and the variables didn't change at all. BOC is sitting on it's hands too. A commentator on CBC today likened it to Goldilocks. Everything is just right - except the dollar is falling. Is that an issue? I would think it would be good for Central Canadian manufacturers - who are hurting a bit.

Low interest rates and marketing are what drove this insanity. When I step back and look at the big picture, I wonder who really benefits. Hmm. Banks have increasingly record profits - obscene ones. Oil companies are making like profits. Bub Rainbladder is doing well. The developers are getting obese. There is a lot of money floating around, but it's not homeowners that have it. It's an enormous Ponzi scheme. When they do hike rates meaningfully, it will crush many.

I wonder why they did not hike variables. Is it another manipulation to catch those last dregs of those "afraid of being priced out forever"? (I do understand that variable mortgages are linked to Prime BTW)

I say bring on 6%, 7%, 8% discounted rates. Let's get this over with fer crassness sake.

I'll take it on.

Monday, January 15, 2007

down the memory hole! the bliss of anonymity.

Well, I wasn't sure that I would get to post today, but I ended up reading something of interest, and, well, ...

I'm going to exerpt a few things that jumped out at me.

Forecasting is hardly an exact science.

Many professional watchers were just as surprised as the rest of us by last year's sizzling housing market performance.

...preliminary numbers put out by The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver for 2006.

So what can we expect for 2007?

Three experts who watch the local real estate market very closely...predicted that housing prices will go up again this year but only by 8% or less.

Seems that they haven't noticed the declines and low sell/list numbers yet. And come on - only 8%? That is still double the historical, long-term YOY gains.

Home sales are decreasing and it is taking longer to sell. Why?
Errm, maybe this has something to do with it -

The Royal Bank of Canada released its Housing Affordability Index in December and not surprisingly, Vancouver has the highest index in the country. It now takes 75% of "median pre-tax household income...
" Unless people have a huge increase in earnings, it's going to be difficult for people to step and pay more."
I think that they may have been doing some reading over at VHB. That same argument has been made there for the last year or so.

...interest rates dropped and buyers found they could carry bigger mortgages for less.
Until the rates go up, and the value of their asset falls. Ooops.

Builders scrambled to meet the demand and now a lot of that pent-up demand has been met.
And more, I'm sure. But the "pent-up demand" part kind of stumps me. I believe "instilled (by marketing) demand" would be a more accurate turn of phrase.

Affordability is making it increasingly difficult to pass on...costs to consumers.
On balance, there is still enough of a demand to push up prices slightly. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is predicting a 7% increase on average. It says demand will be fueled by a strong provincial economy, increasing wages and an additional 45,300 people moving here.
Well, it wasn't Cam who said that. I think he may have left his cue cards in his desk for his successor.

...a more balanced market will discourage speculators from buying up several pre-sale apartments at a time, hoping to flip them for a quick profit once they are built. She also says the days of lineups and sellouts of condos may be behind us.
That is so 2006. Do you smell coffee? Good Morning!

There are plenty of others who are not as optimistic for 2007. Discussions in local housing market blogs predict sharp price decreases for the year ahead, although some writers admit their predictions for 2006 were far too pessimistic.
OK! OK! Mea culpa X 3. (smug bastidges)

Should you buy if you can afford it? Both Hennigar and Pastrick say the long term prospects look good for real estate, barring any unforeseen shocks. Short term buying and selling do not make sense however, if prices only go up 6 or 7%, that might not be enough to cover your taxes, real estate and legal fees.

I dunno. Is that bearish? Or just non-commital? I think the latter. The MSM still does not want to stick it's collective neck out too far, it seems. Can't blame them, I guess. Relative anonymity makes that much easier to do. I'm calling for -17% to -23% by September (any of my earlier predictions are as meaningless as this one).

If worse comes to worse, I can just delete this whole blog and disappear down the memory hole!

The article exerpted above can be read in it's entirety at the CBC link up top.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

a proposal for public art

Icarus Point proposal

All world class cities have public art, amd Vancouver is no exception. We don't have a lot of it though, so I've been thinking of projects that would be pertinent to Vancouver. I have photoshopped a couple of ideas for your perusal and consideration.

Stanley Park is in need of some remedial beautification, so I thought that it would be a good venue. It already has the female scuba diver reminiscent of Copenhagen's mermaid on the rock, and I thought that it would be good to stick with bronzes.

The theme that I came up with is Icarus - based on the well-known Greek myth concerning a man, who, in his bird costume, flew too close to the sun and melted the wax that held his wings together and plunged into the sea (as an analogue to the exuberant specu-vestors who have driven this market so unsustainably high). You may recall that Daedelus - Icarus' father (an analogue to the analysis done by VHB, freako, and a few others), warned him not to fly too high, but Icarus heeded not in the hubris of youth, and fell to his end.

Icarus built his bird suit from wood and feathers glued together with wax, and that is rather what all these new condo's will be seem to be made of when they start springing leaks a few years after their warranties expire. They are, after all, mostly built by novices to the construction trades, and I have doubts about the workmanship. Some whom I have spoken to, that have done work in the new buildings, have told me that the quality is not so great.

The bronzes will be enhanced by the shredded remains of Stanley Park. We could even rename Prospect Point Icarus Point. Seems fitting to me.

Icarus falling proposal

Who knows? I may even be able to buy an East Van. crack-shack with the commissions.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

the lightness of being

A friend sent me this bit of humour, which I thought I would share with you. I particularly liked the last line - which I have emboldened.

Day 2 - Vancouver Blizzard 2006

Chilled Vancouver commuters faced their second day of winter hell today, as an additional π centimetre of the peculiar white stuff fell, bringing the Lower Mainland to its knees and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the marijuana crops. Scientists suspect that the substance is some form of frozen water particles and experts from Saskatchewan are being flown in. With temperatures dipping to the almost but not quite near zero mark, Vancouverites were warned to double insulate their lattes (coffees) before venturing out.

Vancouver police recommended that people stay inside except for emergencies such as running out of espresso or biscotti to see them through Vancouver's most terrible storm to date. The local Canadian Tire Store reported that they had completely sold out of fur-lined sandals.

Drivers were cautioned to put their convertible tops up, and several have been shocked to learn that their SUV's actually have four wheel drive, although most have no idea how to use it.

Weary commuters faced soggy sushi, and the threat of frozen breast implants. Although Dr. John Blatherwick, of the Coastal Health Authority reassured everyone that most breast implants were perfectly safe to 25 below, down-filled bras are flying off the shelves at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

"The government has to do something," snarled an angry Trevor Warburton. "I didn't pay $540,000 for my one bedroom condo so I could sit around and be treated like someone from Toronto."

Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm bullish on this real estate!

The Bedroom...

One day perhaps, we will all make it to the Moon. But given that the trip is probably not imminent, we thought you would enjoy a picture of what the view out of your bedroom window may one day look like. Here it is: (

Back in December I wrote about the next boom in real estate here. At that time, NASA announced plans to build a permanent base on the Moon. The idea is to have a base that can be used for further forays into space (Mars is on the agenda), and to facilitate the exploitation of resources present there. One of those resources is Helium3, which can be used in nuclear fusion to provide clean energy here on Earth. With oil taking such a precipitous tumble this last week, people may be thinking less of alternative energy sources. But that's not the end of it - not by a long shot.

There is a group called The Lunar Embassy selling plots on the Moon. You can buy one, I can buy one, anyone can. The "Head Cheese" of the Lunar Embassy is a guy named Dennis Hope, who in 1980 went to his local US Governmental Office for claim registries, the San Francisco County Seat, and made a claim for the entire lunar surface, as well as the surface of all the other eight planets of our solar system and their moons (except Earth and the sun). Obviously, he was at first taken for a crackpot, until, 3 supervisors, 2 Floors and 5 hours later, the main supervisor accepted, and registered his claim. link Is he a crack-pot? A pot-head? A crack-head? Can't say, but he purportedly was awarded a Prestigious Republican Gold Medal for his derring-do. It's a pretty bizarre tale all-in-all, but the guy does seem to make sales, so he is making money. He even charges a "lunar tax" on all purchases.

Now supposedly, NASA has said that Mr. Hope has no right to sell these plots, but it seems to me that the UN, Russia, US, have made no objections, and as stated above, Mr. Hope purportedly won a gold medal from Congress, so who the flak does NASA think they are? (the Better Business Bureau for the Internet) says that they are legitimate, and Moonshop reports that a couple of Presidents of the United States are among over 1700 satisfied customers. They have a plethora of items for sale (besides Moon plots), but here is what 1 acre of prime lunar real estate will cost you -
Prime View Lunar Properties (1 acre)
Normal Deed US$ 19.99
+ US$ 1.51 Lunar Tax (tax payable only once)
Shipping and Handling are: US$ 12.50 (For up to 5 of them, going to the same address).

Like any realty company interested in moving product, they are even offering incentives - in the form of a brand new Chrysler Prowler to be won (they don't say whether they will deliver that to your lunar address). You can even buy a "town site" of some 4400 acres for a paltry ~$5500 US.

It sure does sound crazy (it will cost you about $900 million dollars for a charter flight to the Moon), but what if space travel becomes popularized, and the costs drop? Wouldn't you feel silly? If there is Helium 3 on/under your patch of the Moon, you could be a zillionare if you only but plunked down ~$20 US. Just don't forget to claim your mineral rights.

I'm pretty bullish on this RE. I might just buy 5 acres. I may not get to walk it (I wouldn't really want to), but my great-great grandchildren might think that I was a pretty adroit investor 100 years down the road.

Note - this guy has also laid claim to all of the planets and moons in our solar system - with the exception of Earth...

Finally - sorry to disappoint anyone who waited two days to find out what "the next big thing in RE" is - expecting that it might be Naramata, BC, or Flin Flon, Manitoba, but I've been up to me arse in alligators, and there's nothing like a little suspense!

Houston - there is no problem. Over and out.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the soapbox (again)

I can't keep using this excuse, but I am so busy these days (I truly am), it's hard to post meaningfully every day, so I'm dragging out the soap box again - for you to say whatever you want (so long as it's civil).

Try to keep it on the RE/Vancouver/BC topic if you can, though I am not barring off-topic ideas. Thanks.

Tomorrow, I hope to post about "the next big thing" in RE. We'll see if I can get it all together.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

a treatise on the bombast

above charts from The Canadian Encyclopedia

I have made comparisons here betwixt Vancouver housing prices, and those of idyllic places such as the Loire Valley and the south of France. None of us are likely to pack up and move to any of those places so I decided to take a look at environs closer to home. Montreal seemed a good candidate, so with help from Wikipedia, and The Canadian Encyclopedia, I am going to some comparisons between Montreal and Vancouver.

The City of Montreal is on an island that is roughly three times the area of the City of Vancouver. It also has roughly three times the population, so the density is pretty much the same. Regionally, the GVRD does have less area, and a greater density by about 25%.

Montreal gets roughly 5% more hours of sunshine than Vancouver, and approximately 10% less precipitation. So far this winter, Vancouver has had more snow and colder temperatures than Montreal.

It is easy to think that you are in Europe when in Montreal, in Vancouver, it is easy to think that you are in Prince Rupert.

Montreal has excellent public transportation> Vancouver's public transportation sucks.

Montreal has a stadium whose roof collapsed due to ice and snow. So does Vancouver.

Montreal has lots of jobs in aerospace, electronic goods, pharmaceuticals, printed goods, software engineering, telecommunications, textile and apparel manufacturing, tobacco and transportation (and hashish importation). Vancouver has lots of construction jobs, barista jobs, and, umm, marijuana manufacturing jobs.

Montreal had Expo 67 (it was very cool).Vancouver had Expo 86 (I don't know if it was as cool, or not).

Montreal has Mont Real. Vancouver has the Coast Mountains.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono went to bed for peace in Montreal. Gordon Campbell slept with his assistant (reportedly) in Vancouver. The World Peace Forum found that it was not welcome in Vancouver, and don't forget the APEC Summit and Sgt. Pepper in Vancouver.

Montreal has better riots.

Montreal produced Trudeau. Vancouver produced Kim Campbell and John Turner (the two shortest serving Prime Ministers).

Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. Vancouver will co-host the 2010 Winter Games with Whistler. Montreal just paid off it's Olympic Stadium after 30 years. Vancouver will never pay off the 2010 Games.

RBC's Affordability Index for a detached bungalow for Vancouver is 55.3 per cent. For Montreal, the costs of owning a detached bungalow came in at 34.6 per cent.

Derrick Penner points out -
Your RBC Affordability Index numbers are way out of date. Vancouver detached bungalow stands at 70 per cent. Montreal is 36 per cent.

What else can I say? The only thing obviously better here are the real estate blogs (excluding this one of course).

From Wikipedia -

In 2006, both Traveler's Digest and ranked Montreal as the number one city in the world to live in for its culture, architecture, history and ambience.[5]



- City
sq mi)
4,047 km² (1,563 sq mi)
Population (2001)

4,326.5/km² (11,205.6/sq mi)

population est. 2005


114.67 km²
Metro area
2,878.52 km²
583,267 (2005 est.)
Pop'n rank
Metro pop'n 2,208,300 (2005 est.)
Metro rank
Pop'n density 5252/km²

Monday, January 08, 2007

the grab bag #2

I'm busier than a hen with fleas, so I don't have time for a real post. I'm working on a few things, but need to bring it together.

Today it's The Grab Bag #2. Feel free to add things in the comments that you think are noteworthy.


On Friday E. J. Hughes died. So what? Who the heck is/was E. J. Hughes?, you ask.
Landscape artist E.J. Hughes, best known for capturing British Columbia's coast on canvas, has died at the age of 93.

Often hailed as the successor to Emily Carr, Hughes received the Emily Carr Scholarship in 1947 after being nominated by Lawren Harris.

Born in North Vancouver in 1913, Hughes studied at the Vancouver School of Applied Art and Design under such teachers as Jock Macdonald and Group of Seven member Frederick Varley. During the Second World War, Hughes served as an official war artist.

With his work held in private and public collections across the country, including in the National Gallery and the Vancouver Art Gallery, Hughes is often praised for his bright, detailed, realistic depictions of his home province - its mountains, forests, valleys and coastline - and how it is changing.

Over the years, he was named to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia and also received honorary degrees from the University of Victoria and the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, which administers the Emily Carr Scholarship.(exerpted from here)

Arriving Steamer
by E.J. Hughes

Also -

Reportedly, Vancouver's population increased by six over the weekend. Yawn...but they were all born from the same womb, and are Canada's first sextuplets. Read about that here.

It's those dang fertility drugs that are contributing to the RE prices by increasing our population so dramatically! What is a 7 bedroom house going to cost those parents? They will need at least an 800 sq. foot condo to afford them a miserly 100 sq, feet each.

edited 1:35 am 09/01/07

Sunday, January 07, 2007

nobody put a gun to their heads

I've been wanting to use this picture for a while.

I've been thinking of the exuberance with which people have been taking out their rapidly increasing (but illusionary) home equity (particlarly in the US) to buy frivolities like Hummers, plasma TV's, hideous granite counter tops and Cancun holidays, etc. How could they? It blows my mind. Like any debt, the bank can call it at any time - though they tend not to as long as you make your payments. But what if they did?

What if you are sitting in front of your plasma TV, on your new Italian leather couch, looking out the window at your shiny Hummer, and you get a call from Human Resources telling you that you will be laid off in 2 weeks? Then a piece comes on the news saying the party is over, and housing prices are crashing. That $200K HELOC is going to look pretty scary - especially since your Hummer depreciated 30% as soon as you drove it off the lot.

Someone wrote a while ago (I think at VHB) about how in their parents' day it was shameful to take out a second mortgage on one's home. Are not HELOC's less secure than 2nd mortgages? Or is it just another way of expressing it?

Will all of those upside down on their mortgages look to the gov't to bail them out? Or will they just have to "suck it up"? After all, no one put a gun to their heads...

I won't shed any tears for them,or gloat, but I will put in a low-ball offer on their house.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

mohican's new blog

mohican has started up a new RE related blog - Financial Planning and Personal Sanity. (link in sidebar)

He is off to a good start looking at Rental Vacancy Rates and their relation to Price Growth, with a nifty graph from Sauder showing the inverse relationship between housing prices and vacancy rates.

Welcome to the blogosphere mohican.

Friday, January 05, 2007

an utopian ideal

I heard a fellow speaking on TV a few nights ago who was making New Year projections, and he went further than just 2007. Some of what he said was whacky - which got my own whacky ideas going. He spoke of peak oil (yawn), but one of the things he said was that he believed that by 2020, the personal automobile would be but a memory. Being that I had just posted in a nostalgiac vein, I mentally rambled around that idea.

I can't remember as far back as the time when most urbanites had not personal vehicles, but it wasn't that long ago, and it is more of a North American phenomenon anyhow. So I wondered - would I be able to live comfortably without a vehicle? No, I would not. Why? Because transit sucks in Vancouver. It really does, and the gov'ts have no readily apparent interest in solving that problem in an effective manner. The RAV line is a case in point. I won't rant about that here - because I'm going off-topic on myself... Maybe we will all have electric buggies of some type - I don't care - so long as I can still get around effectively.

Now, what if we reclaimed all of the venal residential streets and built in-fill housing on them? Perhaps give the landholders on those streets the opportunity to buy the land in front of their homes from the city and build small, affordable homes on them? The City could retain title to the sidewalks and boulevards to maintain access. Streets are 33 feet wide, which is a standard lot width. It would hopefully create more green space too, and the city would save millions every year on street maintenance. The laneways would be retained by the city for services - and for yer electric buggy. The money raised from land sales would be put towards an effective transit system a la some exemplary European and Asian cities.

I photoshopped the above pic as an amusement - to help me envision such a street. The result would be world class. We would attract the best of companies to situate their head offices here. Land values would be stratospheric. This city would become the most desired place in the world to live. I'm writing the copy in my head now - The bold can move to Mexico City or Detroit. The smart, peaceful, content money lives in Vancouver - The Garden Paradise on the Pacific.

It seems extreme at first blush, but the City already has some vision of a liveable city, and changes will come whether we like it or not. In the long run, I think we will like it.

The crazy weather has the environment on everybody's minds, and gov'ts will react. Whether (no pun intended) they react with vision remains to be seen.

poll results

Here are the results for the poll of a few days ago.

A whopping 74% expect declines of up to 25% (a few more expect "marginal" declines than "notable" declines), 15% think that prices will be flat, 5% expect more rapid appreciation, and 6% expect declines of between 25% - 50%. I voted for marginal declines, but put a vote in as a bloated flipper too - just to see what colour the bar would be.

Thanks for participating!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

the end

Wow. The commodity markets, the dollar, are taking some lumps these last couple of days.

Oil down over $5 in the last two days. That is about 9 1/2% Copper down. Precious metals down. Winter doldrums? Profit taking? It's hard to say - I'm not a market analyst type, but if oil continues to go down, that would likely slow down Alberta, and by extension, BC. Less Alberta oil money in the BC RE market (if that ever had anything to do with prices...), and if the lay-offs start in the oil patch, there might be a few "investors" that need to dump their holdings in a hurry. Could this be one of the nails in RE's coffin?, or at least a staggering blow to the head? Is the global economy fatigued enough that we might be seeing the beginning of the global recession that a lot of us are muttering about? Or, does it just mean that the mild temperatures are causing a diminished demand for oil? What about copper and other metals?

I'm thinking that a "perfect storm" is brewing.