Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the view from here

Things still look stoopid out there. Prices and quality are all over the place. I gave up on trying to keep track of asking prices for comparison a while ago, I just don't care that much. My new criteria for judging how things are going is to do a search in the whole of East Vancouver for places under $400K. I found one today; MLS V726307 It's a crack shack on a 55' x 37.22' lot for $335,000. Monthly payment (with 5% down) is $ 2,450, Household Income Required $ 91,866. Great deal for that high school principal. The adjacent lot is for sale as well, and I presume for much the same price, so a 110' x 75' lot will cost you less than $700K! Don't worry about the dubious address, something good will happen.

I have noticed that I don't get the flyers in my door telling me that such and such agent has a buyer for my house (whether it's for sale, or not), and I don't get the free note pads from William Wat and his cohorts anymore. The heady days of lots of paper for shopping lists are over. A free note pad to whomever can guess what the picture above is!

My neighbour had her flipper house for sale for the high $800's, for a couple of months with no bites. She cannot sell it for less without losing money. It doesn't show up on MLS anymore, though the "For Sale" sign is still up. It is now some kind of rooming house that violates the zoning. I am not a jerk enough to complain to the city, and it's kind of cool living next to a rabbit warren anyhow.

It is getting easier to spot flipper houses, the prices don't seem to drop, and they sit empty. People are reporting serious price drops over at the cool blogs like the pope's and Rob Chipman's, but I don't follow individual places closely enough to comment. I still see some old favourites on MLS, but I can't make comparisons to 3 months, or 6 months, or longer ago. Could be a slow bleed. We will have to wait for the economy to worsen. Or, not!

It sure looks like down from here. I heard it on the news!


The picture is of the interior of a plastic watering can with the setting sun high-lighting the tulip pattern embossed on the side. I dunno, there is something poignant about the setting sun, black holes, tulips, RE... I just played with it a bit.

tony danza and blue skies came closest in the contest (the only ones! sheesh!), in that their conjectures involved aqueous solutions.

Unfortunately, the contest is now over, and no note pad prizes were awarded.


Art Vandelay said...

Don't be surprised to see lots of listings sit unsold, but un-reduced.

As in the stock market, where some shareholders refuse to sell at a loss, "There's no way Nortel can go lower than $85. I'm going to ride it out until it's back to $121 where I bought it," some people who bought houses will cling to the hope, however unsubstantiated, that we'll feel the bottom and bounce back before they go bankrupt feeding their money pit, er, investment property.

Wayne said...

It's going down the drain. I've got lots of scrap paper though so keep the notepad Sol.

The bears were right. They are all lined up, now we're waiting for the first domino to be pushed over.

Anonymous said...

I've got a friend in Nanaimo that's looking to buy a place and I keep saying to wait because prices are coming down. And she says, yeah but, you've been saying that for years and besides, I'm tired of waiting to have a place to call home.

I can understand her frustration because I'm sick of waiting, too. Only two things are holding me back; fear and common sense.

arit said...

It's a slow process. We have to wait for each and every desperate seller to break. One today. One tomorrow. Two the day after.

We can already see the desperate flippers in craigslist (Ooh, I am "moving", need to sell fast, willing to lose 20,000, great investment opportunity).

It will take a loooong time, but it is not reversible now. Fatalistic, deterministic, predicted. Next, implemented.



solipsist said...

That is my reckoning too, art.

I'm seeing houses de-listed, and I figure that either the owners have very deep pockets, or the greatest fools are awaiting the fall pick-up of the market, which, I don't believe, we'll see. There will be a lot of sad faces this Christmas. (I'm so cheerful...)

But Wayne, no guess even without the note pad?

I can understand her frustration because I'm sick of waiting, too. Only two things are holding me back; fear and common sense.

Patience is a virtue, and will be rightly rewarded. Be virtuous.

Fear is at the root of anger. Common sense ought to allay those fears.


It's a slow process.

And so is life itself. Slow enough, that I don't care to be shackled to an over-priced POS for all of those years, and years, and tears, and...

Om, again, Om again, jigiddy-jig.

Wayne said...

Just a sec, let me put on my glasses. Nope, still can't figure it out. Very artistic.

markoz said...

As prices begin their inevitable decline, I wonder if they will ever become "realistic" from my particular point of view. Back in '03 I was a single Dad, renting a beautiful 2 bedroom in Oakridge. The 2 bathrooms were small which left plenty of square footage for 2 bedrooms, each of which was 10 x 14, and a good sized living and dining area. There was a very functional galley kitchen with lots of counter space. There was 23 feet of closet space in the unit plus storage downstairs and secure parking. I thought that if I could buy a similar place (in North Van or Burnaby) I would do so. Realtors just shook their heads when I told them about closet space. All the units I saw had huge en suite bathrooms and tiny (think 8 x 10) second "bedrooms". Wall space was wasted in the living rooms by the inclusion of fireplaces and the kitchens were a joke. Many were leakers or had the tell tale signs that they would be soon. My budget was more limited then that it is now (I was looking in the $275,000 range). I have friends who bought units far above my price range that were laid out in a similarly inefficient (though "pretty") manner.

What I'm getting at is, I would not have even considered renting any of those units much less buying them. Other people hurled themselves at those units, snapping them up left, right and centre. If everyone else is conditioned to accept so little for their money, what chance does a more thoughtful consumer have, even with a price crash?

solipsist said...

wayne - hint: it's not a note pad.

If everyone else is conditioned to accept so little for their money, what chance does a more thoughtful consumer have, even with a price crash?

That is a conundrum. $800K for press board junk... There is only one solution - drastic; as in 70% - price reductions.

It is funny that "THEY" tweak inflation by speaking of the improvement in quality of cars, computers, etc., but one of the most important things wherein quality is critical, is houses, and they are going down hill.

Conditioning indeed.

Tony Danza said...

I know what that is! It's some new fangled hydro grow op system with a baby ganj plant in it! Cool.

solipsist said...

tony - you win! Where do I send the papers - er, note pad?

Anonymous said...

Markoz -- agree totally with your sentiments about the size and quality of all the new shoeboxes that have been built in the past 5-7 years. I have told friends that I think that as the market corrects and prices plummet, as much as 50% or more, Yaletown is going to become like a rental slum zone.....who in their right mond would want to live there, in those tiny places? Only remedy will be significant renos, where units are recombined to increase the space...

People think I am weird to think this, but I actually believe that Yaletown is going to go completely down the toilet...imagine the shape those crap buildings will be in 5-10 years from now....

Anonymous said...

hubby & i were in yaletown last weekend, looked at a crap place there. it's noisy and there are dogs everywhere, poopin' & peein'... the world is their toilet. it was really gross.

we had lunch at urban fair and already noticed in the year or so since we had spent time down there that the crowd had changed and not for the better. some very shady looking characters struttin' about... we ruled out yaletown right then as a prospective neighbourhood for us.


blueskies said...


me thinks your thingy is a
(golf) ball washer......

but i've been known to be wrong....

solipsist said...

mk-kids - I did a fair bit of work in Yaletown when it was beginning its transformation. It always reminded me of a carnival of, gee, I don't know...the absurd?

It's like a movie set waiting to be torn down, or, it was then. It always seemed to be a transient slacker's paradise.

Maybe I just don't have the poses.

Vansanity said...

Art - It's true, people's expectations will create a stubborn seller. An interest rate increase or two and that won't matter anymore. There's no surprise there is a direct correlation between housing prices and interest rates, historically.

To those that believe this is going slow, I disagree. I am actually quite surprised that so much has occurred this year. Inventory has climbed significantly and sales have plummeted.

When I first did my own research on the market, I did not expect to see this happen until the fall of 2009. Now we're just way ahead of that. Profit margins for developers and flippers have diminished already. A sure sign of what's coming. Again, I didn't expect that so quickly. Maybe my analysis just sucks? Crystal ball gazing is not easy, afterall.

arit said...


Hey, I am aslo surprised by the speed of the 'unfolding'. I think it is happening so (relatively) fast because the bubble is already experienced. It crashed the US markets in preparation for Vancouver, the last and biggest bubble of them all.

That leads me to think our "loss" (gain) might be even bigger than California.

Solipsist: My one and only guess. A skull's eyesocket through photoshop with Ganga inside.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

did a fair bit of work in Yaletown when it was beginning its transformation.

You came late to the party. I've lived in Vancouver longer than I want to admit. That area was called Shanghai Alley (historically there were some nasty things happened there) and it was always grubby. I remember being busted by the cops in 1974 and that area was still an unknown route over to Main St. That's the street they transported us to jail. That route wouldn't work anymore. For sure. It would annoy the yupsters.

Tony Danza said...

tony - you win! Where do I send the papers - er, note pad?

8/15/2008 11:47 AM

Sol, Just forward it to my fan club PO Box! I know I don't need to tell you the address...