Monday, April 21, 2008

in other words

I checked the listings today to see what's up, and detected a change. There is not a single house in East Vancouver for $2m! For that matter, the highest price was in the $800k range. There are even a couple of places for less than $400K. That and a book of matches will get you a new home in a sketchy area!

Speaking of sketchy, there are some pretty sketchy descriptors in some of the features write-ups on the MLS. Some laughable descriptions of Heritage Style, such as the Pink Manse below. I have used words found in the blurbs in italics.

v690817 this great old timer has many features of a heritage home

I guess post-war salt boxes are heritage now.

v694512 Don't be fooled by it's exterior

I'll do my best. But don't try to fool me with that $799K price tag. Kay?

v695689 Renfrew Heights. Italian style

Not everybody here is a hick, you know. Some people have seen pictures of Italy, and they did not look like this!

By the way, watch what you say about Italians... Capiche?

v693086 This lovely 1912 home

This is indeed a lovely 1912 home - it has HERITAGE writ large all over it. I featured it in "curb appeal" last June. It was not for sale then. I love this place, so when it came on the market (maybe a month ago), I checked it out, and it was asking well over $800k. It's asking $759k today. Note that the foolish exterior above is asking $799k on a 32x110 lot, while this gem is on a 40 foot lot. So things are still whacky as help.


markoz said...

Hey Solipsist! Maybe check some of those prices again! The 1912 beauty shows as $709 on Realtylink, "Italian style" is $719 and "Don't be fooled" is $779. Are those even more recent reductions or do you think someone at Realtylink's data entry crew has accuracy issues.

Deb said...

is it just me, or is that last one kinda cute?
Well I like it, but of course, not at that price.

Anonymous said...

That last one is indeed listed for 709. I thought maybe it was a duplex or up n' down, but it doesn't appear to be. But 19th is a busy street there, isn't it? That is probably why the price is not stratospheric, only unaffordable.

Those other ones are a sad joke, though. Homes of the undead, shall we say. Imagine putting 100k down and paying 3 grand a month on a 40 yr mortgage and hoping like hell mortgage rates don't rise or the house is in such great shape it never needs a repair. Until at least 2048. It's really what a couple who make over 100k a year each had in mind as middle class affluence, isn't it.

Lurks said...

Deb. I agree, the last one is nice....but way too much :-(

goulash said...

Sorry to get off topic, but I'm having a hard time getting overly optimistic.

One of the guys on BNN last week said that the upper middle class in China now number in the high hundreds of millions. He also mentioned that said demographic "didn't exist" ten years ago.

China's economy continues to roll, and we remain a heavy favourite for their immigrants. The number of them with the money to get in to Vancouver appears to be growing exponentially.

I can imagine a smallish (10-20%)correction here that punishes some of the greedier speculators and traps the last wave of panic buyers. Little to no growth for years after that. But I wonder how big a correction we're really entitled to.

Anonymous said...


If things become good in China, why would they come to Vancouver? ;)

Anonymous said...

Clearly you didn't watch the discovery channel's series on China. It sucks there.

Anonymous said...

High hundreds of millions doesn't really sound realistic. China's population is 1,321,851,888 (according to 2007 data) - assuming by high hundreds of millions you mean 600 or 800 million, this implies that 50-60% of China is upper middle class? That percentage seems totally out of whack (ie. much higher) with most other industrialized countries (developing countries tend to have lower numbers of upper middle class in general).

So if you are waiting for hundreds of millions of Chinese to come to Vancouver and save us from our real estate bubble's collapse, you might be waiting for.. well, you'll probably never stop waiting.

Anonymous said...

"High hundreds of millions doesn't really sound realistic."

Also bear in mind differences in currency and standard of living. An income that makes you middle class in China doesn't make you middle class here.

Any Chinese that can afford property in Vancouver is more than middle class in China. There are a number of these folks, but it's far less than hundreds of millions.

macho slob said...

Chinese foreigners are much more likely to sellers than buyers of Vancouver real estate, to take profits from the increased value of the Can$ and to make up for recent losses on the Shanghai stock exchange.

patriotz said...

One of the guys on BNN last week said that the upper middle class in China now number in the high hundreds of millions.

Middle class in China (we'll skip the "upper") means something completely different than in Canada. It basically means you can afford to eat meat regularly.

Even at that I think you're looking at 300 million or so or 1/4 of the population.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the global article on Kelowna condo's? Apparently right now there are 1009 for sale. Yes, that's just condo's. The population of Kelowna is 170 thousand.

Anonymous said...

oh yes and i forgot to add that there is a development there that is just about to add another 750 units to the glut.

solipsist said...

Thanks for the updates on those prices everyone.

This ain't last summer, is it? Some think it still is though - both buyers and sellers.

One of the guys on BNN last week said...and we remain a heavy favourite for their immigrants...correction we're really entitled to.

Thanks for posting goulash. I just need to add some paprika to that.

The guy on BNN is just that. I think that patriotz, and others had it right about just what middle class means in China, and the stock market correction a bit ago culled a lot of those.

Anonymous said...

Goulash actually. Technical difficulties.

I did a little research on Chinese immigration to Vancouver. I see a couple factors that make this wave different than the one in the eighties.

The first is that the Chinese gov't killed most of it's exit restrictions in the 90's. The projection for future immigration here is up.

So forget "hundreds of millions". Tens of thousands arriving in Vancouver annually is enough.

The second factor is how quicly their economy has picked up steam in the last decade.
Between 1990-94 the percentage of immigrants from China in the "economic/investor" class was just over 30%. 1995-99, the number rises to just over 60%. 2000-2003, the number is just under 80%. See figure 3 in the link below.

Could the affordabiltity value in Vancouver(80% of income)be misleading? Is it possibly the result of not taking into consideration the wealth of investor class immigrants, or a lack of financial transparency on their part?

Maybe rents don't really define the intrinsic value of properties here. Maybe it's just what the locals can afford.

I don't know. In any case, the wicked price climb can't be all bubble. We couldn't have gotten into this mess all by ourselves. Which makes me skeptical of the free fall some are anticipating.

Anonymous said...

(rentah, actually, also tech difficulties)-

"In any case, the wicked price climb can't be all bubble. We couldn't have gotten into this mess all by ourselves."

Why not?
As discussed before, there may be a small number of total transactions involving rich immigrants (<5%?) BUT their bigger impact has been the fact that LOCAL speculators have used them as a reason for ever-increasing prices going forwards.
When things slow (as is happening now), look out below. The only debate is regarding how far below the floor is.

solipsist said...

Most of the latest available government stats are for 2006, and based on averages.

Fact: Chinese immigrants have outnumbered all other nationalities every year for the past decade, accounting for roughly 13% of all new permanent residents, followed by those from India (12%), PhiIippines (7%), Pakistan (5%) and the U.S. (4%).

~ 13% of the 250,000 immigrants per year is 32,500 Chinese/year for all of Canada.

It does not matter much how many want to come to Canada, there is a limit on that vis-a-vis immigration targets and regulations.

They are not going to save this market when it crashes and burns.

PS - Blogger is acting strangely these last few days. I do not know why. Maybe they don't like my line of inquiry...

patriotz said...

Could the affordabiltity value in Vancouver(80% of income)be misleading? Is it possibly the result of not taking into consideration the wealth of investor class immigrants, or a lack of financial transparency on their part?

Prices are set at the margin. It doesn't matter what some buyers can afford to buy. What matter is whether all buyers can afford all the units for sale. Housing starts are at record highs. If J6P can't afford them, prices have to come down.

People were saying the same thing in Miami 2 years ago, and in Vancouver in 1981. Look what happened.

Anonymous said...

Vancouver is a humbling city to rent in. Seeing morons who bought in a few years ago acting like rock stars these days is making me sick. I'm sour now attending family functions. My in laws who happened to buy in the late 90's act like they saw this coming, that it's just how real estate works. They tell me that I need to get in to a shack in Mission or Chilliwack while there's still time. Listening to all the junk reasons why Vancouver prices won't drop is tiresome.

I can't buy cause I know a correction has to come. Even a 10% slide, followed by no growth could be a disaster if I bought now. Buying a starter home at 400K+ could mean living in a house I don't really want to live in for ten years, spending too much money on a mortgage payment while I wait to break even, kind of. Paying a huge premium to be trapped. It'd probably feel like getting outta jail when I could sell it for what I paid; I'd walk away with my comb, watch, and original down payment jingling in my pockets, having lost ten years.

On the flip side there is the very real possibility that the huge, necessary correction won't come. That it's unlikely. That prices in 04/05 were about right. The reasons that this city is too far gone for a crash are:

1. There are a lot of people waiting to get in, who feel that the market has peaked, but who will jump in when the market begins to deflate.

2. Chinese immigration. 15,000 a year to BC, 80% of which have serious money, 90%+ of which settle in the Vancouver area. A correction might just mean "deal" to these people.

3. Billions entering BC's economy each year, in hidden wealth, in an industry that didn't take off until the 90's, that doesn't show up in affordability stats, and that is continuing to grow every year. That money will still find it's way into real estate if it slides and help prop up values.

solipsist said...

There is trouble in paradise, and don't fret, it will soon become evident. Think of a park in a former dump.

15,000 Chinese immigrants means at most, 5,000 families, but probably more like 3,500. A lot of immigrants share homes with other families when they first arrive.

It's a non-issue, and I think a symptom of xenophobia promulgated by our governments, and carried by the sheeple.

There is some serious economic rough water bearing down too.

I am now calling for a 75% decline to the bottom. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!