Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I came across this (redacted) story in the Glum and Moving (italics and emboldening mine), about a woman who waited too long to list. I wonder how many stories like this there are - aside from the flippers with shooting stars in their eyes.
When Pat Webb moved to Vancouver a year ago, she didn't think twice about buying a condo in tony Kitsilano...

Perhaps she ought to have had a sober second thought.

But in August, the 70-year-old retiree decided to move back to the United States. She had sensed Vancouver's market was slowing, but a neighbour's condo had sold a week earlier, so she too tried to sell.

And she realized that the market is even more fickle than she.

She listed her one-bedroom, 705-square-foot condo for the price she paid – $509,000 – on Aug. 30. Ms. Webb has since reduced that to $485,000. It still hasn't sold.

That sucks. She tried to sell it for what she paid for it, and couldn't. Plus, she has not accounted for the Property Transfer Tax, lawyer fees, RE agent commission, etc. Then, along came the stock market troubles. I sure hope that she didn't get burned on that, on top of the condo losses.

Today time is all but up, as Ms. Webb is moving back to California. Barring a last-minute miracle sale by her agent, Lindsay Wilkinson, Ms. Webb said she will try to rent out the condo this year and relist in the spring.

Waiting for a miracle... That is sad. I don't think that she realizes that when she re-lists in the spring, the market will have eroded by tens of thousands of dollars more. Her best move would be to bite the bullet, and list for $429K now, else she will be following the market all the way to the bottom.

“I'm disappointed, but not overly surprised,” she said. “I was right on the cusp and then [the market] changed. So timing's everything.”
That has got to hurt. It just illustrates that one can't time the market.

Incidentally, thanks Derek and Brian, for the e-mails. I did not get a chance to remark on them here before they became stale.


kabloona said...

There was an even sadder case on CTV National News (you know, the one with ancient Floyd Robertson) last night where a couple of nice oldies were trying to flog their hideous little bungalow on a 75 x 125 foot lot in Calgary. They seemed surprised it hadn't sold, considering they'd reduced the price by $25k and canned their agent. I wuz almost feeling sorry for the sweet old couple until they mentioned the initial asking price: $1,000,000.00!

But wait, it's now a bargain at $975k!!!

At the end of the piece, the little old lady said wistfully: "I guess we should have listed last year..."

Anonymous said...

Yeah...$1 million!!! Cry me a river, they probably bought it for $40k 30 years ago.
Seriously, I think this housing crash/stock market crash may have a serious effect on retirees/nearly retired. Maybe we won't see so many retirements after all in the next ten years as predicted.

solipsist said...

kabloona - I can't believe that ol' Lloyd is still alive. I got a snicker from your description. It is like Kim Jung Il, or Stalin, or Lenin. A break-through in animatronics?

That sweet old couple reminds me of my Grandma in 1992; one day she haughtily turns down an offer for $979K, 6 months later, accepts an offer for $469K - on a lot that she paid $900 (that is nine hundred dollars) for in 1956.

A bird in the hand...

Art Vandelay said...

Our landlords turned down an offer that was below list but still well above 2008 assessed. I couldn't believe it. I'm happy I don't have to move. But I couldn't believe it.

Mike Stewart Downtown Vancouver Realtor said...

There are some unhappy stories, but at the end of the day its a market. It goes up and it goes down. The people who buy in are adults who are responsible for their own actions.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why the blogger comes to the conclusion that this story shows "you can't time the market".

Many people chose to wait out this market for the past couple of years in anticipation of this slow down. Likewise, most buyers are now waiting out this market until the dust settles. Both of these groups are attempting to "time the market". The only difference between them and the old lady in the story is that the former will be successful in their market timing.

solipsist said...

Not sure why the blogger comes to the conclusion that this story shows "you can't time the market".

Sometimes, the blogger is facile, and facetious.

Sometimes, the reader just does not get it.