Wednesday, November 29, 2006

top 10 reasons to visit vancouver


1) It's a nuclear free zone, and that is comforting.

2) Brown-water rafting.

3) Touring the ghost town of empty condos bought by speculators.

4) Going over the Cleveland Dam in VHB's rain barrel.

5) The mountains. I'm pretty sure that they are still there, I saw them last summer.

6) Site of the most expensive real estate in Canada.

7) Nowhere else can you see record rainfall followed by record snowfall and record low temperatures, followed by more rain - all in the space of 14 days. A perfect vacation destination!

8) It's just like Mexico! (in that the water may harbour dangerous intestinal parasites)

9)Anonymous posters on the blogosphere -
Anonymous said...
No surprise,same old story,but its not true thing is houses/condo's is not a onion or patato its one unit sells for millions,Can any one tell how many house should be selling in a year?no one is sure no solid answer.I think too many have been sold in 05,06 definitely mkt. will slow down when there is no buyer but sellers only,and only few will sell on low price so price will not go down who want to lose people sell to make profit who will sell if price does not full fill desire to any body wants to live in home do not wait buy it price will not take a reverse turn ever even after 2010.source

10) We're going to need some serious help paying for the 2010 Olympics.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

affordable housing


The other day freako posed this question - Exactly why is it that market cannot provide affordable housing? And what exactly is affordable housing? A nice SFH with a picket fence in a gentrified neighbourhood? Five pieces of plywood? Until we realize that quality of housing is a relative concept, I don't think we can even define the problem. And once we do, how will it be rectified, and who should pay? here.

Good question. One that I cannot think of an answer to, but poses more questions in my mind;

Affordable rental housing?

freako pointed out that the market sets the price, and I am certain that he is reasoned in saying so, but who sets the market?.

SRO's, which are aimed at those with limited income, or on income assistance, tend to be about 50% of the monthly stipend of those receiving benefits. If more than that, they would certainly be unaffordable for the indigent. Underemployed people may take up the slack, or maybe not.

What about the homeowner?

Traditionally, banks have looked to no more than 32% of after-tax income for shelter costs (though I read recently that they are revising that up to 40%). That would include utilities and taxes. But here, we are close to 50% of median household labour income required to make a mortgage payment on a median priced house link. That's with 25% down too. Then another amount for utilities, repairs, taxes, etc. is needed.

So from the lowliest welfare recipient to the median wage earner, things are clearly unaffordable in Vancouver.

What can be done?

Beats me. They (whover they are) have us all by the short hairs. Refuse to pay, and you can try to make it on the street, or go somewhere that you can afford. But what if you can't afford to get to where it is affordable?

I wouldn't expect legislation against foreign ownership (if that's part of the problem) to be very palatable to any but the most disgruntled. Mexico doesn't allow foreign ownership. Mexicans have land rights though, and there is a system of Ejidos where the land is held in common. There is a loophole in which foreign companies can own land, but that feeds a big mess of corruption. It's also quasi-fascist.

Foreigners are not allowed to own land in the United Arab Emirates either, and you can't marry their girls. The state provides a villa to each married couple, and men are permitted to marry up to six women. A villa for each wife. Cool! Emirate men can marry foreign women.

This? source

No, I'm not a communist - just trying to find a dramatic ending to a tedious post. Maybe even provoke discussion.

But really. In the end, who sets the market when it comes to necessities?

Monday, November 27, 2006

snow day

I'm taking a snow day, so no rantin' and ravin' from this blogger today.

I did triple duty today, and the day is not yet over. I have had not a moment to read anything, or think about much at all. Factually, I am too exhausted by a lack of sleep to think.

Yeah, poor me. Priced out, and I had to deal with a foot of snow - just like all of us.

I'll try to get back in the saddle tomorrow.

Go build a snow person in the meantime.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

do you take this blog seriously?

A little bit earlier, someone posted this vituperous little gem -

Anonymous said...
I don't know what's funnier. The fact that a guy who has admitted to have never owning a real estate inveestment, or personal residence for that matter for decades (if ever) has a blog about the future of real estate in Vancouver, or that what appears to be a sizeable number of people are taking his blog entries seriously.

It goes on a bit from there. I found that the scribe's lack of punctuation, spelling, and proof-reading left me not really able to take it seriously, but I was wondering if I have misrepresented in any way, and whether any of my small number of readers takes this blog seriously.

So I'm taking a poll.


Do you take this blog, or the blogger seriously?

Has this miserable little blog influenced you to buy? to not buy?

Do you think that this blogger has any idea what the hell he is rambling about?

Are you troubled that the blogger got a free soapbox on the Internet, and is using it?

I fervently hope that the answers to all the questions is a resounding NO!

Print it off, and fax your responses to:

Bitter Renter
c/o Riverview Hospital,

Saturday, November 25, 2006

gotta trust in something

It looks like things are getting more dicey for the US economy. What could it mean for us? And particularly, for our RE market? Century 21 Canada president Don Lawby doesn't think it's an issue. He figures that the BC economy is more diverse, and has grown faster than the US economy.

What about US investment in our real estate? Will Americans start dumping their empty condo's, etc. in BC as their payments become more onerous? Their profit-taking will be more profitable in a sense, but will buy them less French wine and Mercedes Benzes. Will American developers continue to build into a flagging economy (just to - y'know - be philanthropic), and keep the economy going?

The US is about to get even more protectionist, and the newly invigourated Democrats are pushing for trade sanctions against China. How will China respond to that? Dump more dollars? It seems as if the horse is already out of the barn.

There will be much less demand for oil, lumber, copper, etc. - all we really have besides tourism, and American tourists will stop coming as their dollar sinks, and the passport requirements kick in.

excerpted from The LA Times -
Another issue dogging the dollar is concern that China and other countries that hold trillions of dollars' worth of U.S. securities may increasingly seek to trim those assets in favor of non-dollar-denominated securities.

"The Chinese have been making noises in recent weeks about diversifying their holdings of foreign reserves," Kasriel noted. A People's Bank of China senior official repeated that theme in comments circulated Friday.

The momentum of a falling dollar could feed on itself because each decline reduces the value of foreigners' remaining U.S. assets.

The risk of a sell-off of U.S. securities by China has been a persistent concern for Wall Street in recent years, but it may be taking on more urgency now that the Democratic Party is about to regain control of Congress, analysts said. Some Democratic leaders are pushing for trade sanctions against China to shrink that country's massive trade surplus with the U.S.

In other financial news;
China is considering launching a live pig futures market to stabilize pig prices...

That's comforting.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Richmond construction fee increase

(CBC) - Richmond is planning a substantial increase to the amount of money developers pay to the city's affordable housing fund, as part of an effort to deal with the Lower Mainland's high real estate prices.

Construction companies can now pay 60 cents per square foot in lieu of adding lower-cost housing to new developments.

Under the city's new affordable housing strategy, that charge would go up to $4 per square foot in some cases. "What they've really done is simply increase the cost of new housing stock for Richmond," he said, "which means tomorrow's buyer of housing is being saddled with the cost of affordable housing when it's everybody's issue, not just new home buyers." link.

This seems to me to be wrong-headed. There was a requirement for developers to build "affordable" housing alongside the market housing. Richmond City Council offered them an "out" by tacking on $0.60 per sq. ft. This is not an onerous sum, as it would only add $1200 to the price of a 2000 sq. ft. home. Surely the developer added their 40% to that, which would bring it up to about $0.84 per sq. ft. My question is; how much money has Richmond spent on affordable housing? I would wager not too much.

So now they want to tack on another $8000 to the cost of that 2000 sq. ft. house, and by the time the developer adds his 40%, that number climbs to $12k. Council wants to make housing more affordable by making it more expensive? This is where I bring in one of my favourite quotes - by Tweedledee in Through the Looking Glass:
`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'

I find myself wondering if this is just leger de main by Richmond City Council to cover the costs of the $178 million Olympic Oval - which was never subjected to any public consultation.

Richmond council candidate Annie McKitrick says civic funds spent on the $178,000 Olympic speedskating oval is money that could be used elsewhere.

Council candidate Annie McKitrick says the books need to be opened on Richmond's $178 million Olympic oval because the public was never consulted.

"The decision to make a bid on the oval was made without community consultation," said McKitrick, a former school trustee who is running for council on Nov. 19.

"We have no idea what staff said to sell council behind closed doors. It is $118 million worth of funding which won't be used for other projects like affordable housing. There are concerns about cost overruns and revenues not meeting projections."link

I am reminded daily of Marie Antoinette's exhortation - Let them eat cake!

We truly live in a society gone mad with feeding on it's self.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

dissecting bias

Anatomia del corpo humano...
Rome, 1559. Copperplate engraving. National Library of Medicine.
Juan Valverde de Amusco
(ca. 1525 - ca. 1588)[anatomist]

A flayed cadaver holds his skin in one hand and a dissecting knife in the other. The skin’s distorted face has the appearance of a ghost or a cloud, suggesting that spirit has been separated from, or peeled off of, the fleshy inner man.
from here

There is something about the description above that reminds me both of the spiritless liturgy the passes for reporting, and of how people that fell for the hype and spin will feel when they start to realize negative equity, and their own credulousness. And just wait until they are hit by recession (part of the larger economic cycle).

Below I react to an article in The Sun -
The upside of British Columbia's real-estate-market cycle has been steep, but the downside will not be as rapid as in the U.S., according to the real estate firm Century 21 Canada.

This is garble. They mention cycles, but don't seem to have seen VHB's graph, or any other of the like. They do not seem to be paying attention to their own numbers either, though I suppose that they just added some adjectives to the press release from the dispassionate Huge RE firm. It's reassuring to hear that our "downside" will not be as rapid as that to the south. I must have missed the news about the US market hitting bottom, and beginning to rise to new, record levels.

House prices in select B.C. markets have been flat or risen up to 12 per cent in the last year. That follows a much steeper rise of between 89 per cent and 114 per cent over the last five years, Century 21 reported Wednesday in its annual survey of house prices.
Select BC markets hmm? Have "been flat or risen" (sic) - which is it ferfuxaches? I ought to have used the spin .gif for this post. It "follows a much steeper rise...the last five years", but if prices are flat, there is no more appreciation occuring, and if they are up 12%, that is still a considerable - if flagging - appreciation.

However, while the median U.S. house price dropped 11.5 per cent compared with a year ago, Century 21 Canada president Don Lawby said B.C.'s economy is strong enough and its real estate sector different enough to isolate the province from a similar decline.

Lawby, in an interview, said that while real estate sales have dropped, B.C.'s economy has grown more than the U.S. economy, and is spread across a more diverse base than has been the case in the past.

It doesn't much matter which way you cut with this knife, it still means the market is slowing markedly. And it's only beginning. China has been loading up on copper and other metals, so mining will likely slow. Lumber market already hurting in Ontario and Quebec - and likely in BC too, they just don't report on that. But don't you worry, everything will be ok. Just take this little pill. You did know that things are different here...right?

Just what is this greater economic diversity that we enjoy, that we had not before? Condo construction? The RAV Line? Highway construction? Five years of construction projects has added a great diversity? And since when has the BC economy been equatable with the US economy? Can we compare economies, but not market cycles?

Thanks to Derrick Penner and RET for the article, and the WTF? fuel for this post.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

richie the roughneck from red deer

I came across this article today. I'll only post the opening paragraph because I don't want to contribute to any feeding frenzy that destroys yet another beautiful place.
Alberta money eyeing P.E.I. waterfront

CBC - With big money being made in Alberta, and the high real estate prices that go with it, some beneficiaries of the boom are looking to P.E.I. for more affordable property alternatives

Yesterday Kimberly asked what is the next sexy investment? at VHB. This could be one of the answers. But I think it's a crazy one. There is a reason that land is cheap in Atlantic Canada - there is little in the way of an economy, and little in the way of amenities and infra-structure.

There is Anne of Green Gables, Charlottetown (yee-haw!), and a seasonal tourism trade, potato farms that have suffered bad crops for a few years, but that's about it. That is the charm of the region. The only thing that will happen to it is negative - in the long run. The locals will not be able to live where they are born. It's already bad enough with so many having to move away.

There is some off-shore oil and gas, so I suppose that there will be a demand for experienced oil people. Will they be bringing their derricks and donkey pumps with them to mine the black gold on the useless, deserted beaches?

When will this need to feed stop? I'm awfully sick of it.

I did the photoshop collage.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

let's develop stanley park!

There has been so much talk about the dearth of land to build on in Vancouver, so I have been thinking about it for quite a while. And I have a few solutions. I will be presenting my proposals over the coming days - as time affords.

My first, and best idea is to develop Stanley Park. Sacrilege! you cry. Preposterous! I hear. But my reasoning is sound.

Stanley Park is 405 hectares, or 1000 acres. A fair bit of that land is already missing it's trees, and is covered by asphalt, concrete, tennis courts, cheesy souvenir stands, etc., so the trees aren't that sacred. How about taking just half of it? Cut it, burn it, pave it, and paint it green. Greenspace is greenspace, right? Then, build thousands of exclusive condos, and sell them off to rich Albertans, and displaced Chinese peasant farmers who made it big in Shanghai.

Crime bosses and dictators always have lots of money too, and they know how to run things. Hey, instead of random, petty crime, we can get it more organized. Once the Olympics have faded into a recurring nightmare of debt, VANOC can become the Vancouver Organized Crime syndicate - headquartered in Stanley Park. We need some corporate headquarters here anyway. The other, "pristine" side of the park can be renamed Olly Park, and the Theatre Under the Stars can do laser shows and re-run Laurel and Hardy films. It would be a hit.

I think the condo development could be pretty cool. Turn the Aquarium into a fitness centre - it already has a pool. Just think of the superstars that we could attract. Rich people would be willing to spend tens of millions of dollars on pool-side condos. Bub Rainy would have a great time marketing that. Pamela Anderson could be the icon. Local girl, animal lover, etc.

'Swim with the Dolphins! Ride a Beluga! Feed the Seals! Play with the otters!

Only the incredibly wealthy and smart and beautiful people will get a chance at this opportunity.

If you are none of the above, you can move to Pincher Creek'

I've already got tons of ideas for the circulars.

This could be you!

No need for pets - these are cuter, and are thrown in by the developer as an incentive.

The lighthouse would make a very cool, very tony condo conversion.

The Miniature Railway could be extended to the Rav Line to make airport access a breeze for the priveleged.

Siwash Rock obstructs some of the views, but it could be removed, and the materials used in construction - thereby making construction costs much less expensive.

I could go on and on (and I am), but you get the idea.

Any thoughts?

Next edition will feature Queen Elizabeth Park

(I did the photoshop image of Pam and the pups.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

the changing city

This link is an interesting photo "fade" produced by the City of Vancouver. It shows a transition of the downtown over 25 years from 1978 - 2003.

Vantage points include Stanley Park, and views east and west from the Cambie and Granville bridges.

I have been meaning to do a morph using some of my own photos, but time constraints have...constrained me.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

silver lining

I've been on a bit of a tirade the last few days. Time to soften it up a bit...

The good news about the monsoons that fouled the city's drinking water is that it translates into snow on the Coast Mountains. That translates into Grouse, Cypress and Whistler ski hills opening a couple of weeks early. Grouse has 108 cm/43.2 inches of snow already. The weather is still a bit unstable, and Grouse has released this advisory for today:
Due to strong winds and the uncertainty of the weather this afternoon, Grouse Mountain has suspended operations for the rest of the day. We will be open tomorrow as usual. We appologise for any inconvenience.
There is a palpable exuberance to the report. We opened early, but have to close. And they forgot to check the spelling. But they must be happy after a few lack-lustre years. Any happy skiers/snow boarders out there?

Grouse reports on-going labour shortages. Hardly surprising as the unemployment levels remain low in the Lower Mainland.

Current Conditions at Grouse Mountain: (11:47 AM November 19/06)


Temperature: 3 ºC / 37.4 ºF
Overnight Low: -1 ºC / 30.2 ºF
Humidity: 76 %
Visibility: variable

Average Snow Depth: 108 cm / 43.2 in
New Snow Overnight: 5 cm / 2 in
New Snow Past 24hrs: 5 cm / 2 in
Freezing Level: 2000 m / 6667 ft
Total Snowmaking: 0 cm
Total Snowmaking in past 24 hrs: 0 cm
Total Snow Fall 06/07: 149 cm

Current Conditions at Cypress Bowl (11/19/2006 6:30:00 AM)

Conditions: : EXTREME
Base Temp: 4 deg. Celsius

Visibility: : Unlimited
Winds: : STRONG
Fresh Snow:: 0 cm
Snow Depth: (Mid Mtn): 115cm


Here are the Whistler conditions:

Last Updated:
Nov. 19 at 06:12
NEW SNOW from Snow:
New 24 Hours 48 Hours 7 Days Snowbase
2 cm 12 cm 22 cm 129 cm
1 in 5 in 9 in 51 in
Total cumulative snowfall *Snow depths are measured at Pig Alley Weather
Station - 1650m (Mid-Mountain) on Whistler Mtn.
252 cm
99 in

WEATHER Weather:
Temp at 12:30 Winds Visibility
Peak -3°C / 27°F Strong at 28-55 km/h from the SE Variable
Alpine 1°C / 35°F
Village 3°C / 37°F (Environment Canada Forecast)

Visibility variable, alpine temp-3, valley temp 2, winds srtong from south. Freezing level 1800m and falling. 20-30 cm of new snow today, alpine high 0, alpine low-6, winds strong from south, freezing level valley (Environment Canada Alpine Forecast)

1000 acres of terrain open on Whistler
Upload and download available via Village and Creekside gondolas
Early season conditions apply. Please ski andride with care.
Watch for unmarked rocks and obstacles
Park rails and snow features available at top of Emerald Express

Saturday, November 18, 2006

branding vancouver

This has been bugging me for a while. It really set me off the other day when I read this article over at RET. One of the lines in particular rendered me even more apoplectic -
Baxter said the construction stimulated by the games is "the real issue . . . which brings a lot of people who would otherwise go to [Alberta's] oilpatch."

Then, more importantly, is the role the games' play in reinforcing Vancouver as a brand, because "the Olympics is not a destination event, it's a branding event."

Reinforcing a brand? To what purpose? If I wanted to live in a brand, I would go and live in the mindlessness of Celebration, U.S.A.: Disney's Brave New Town.

I didn't move here 20 years ago because Vancouver was a cool brand, I moved here because I found a laid-back little city that was unpretentious. Now everything is being branded - Science World becomes Telus Land, we have GM Place, what else did I miss? Coffee just isn't coffee unless it's Starbucks or Tim Horton's (it's all crappy coffee - no matter how much it costs you), people walk around with their Tommy Hilfrigger, DINK sweats, Nike this or that, and so on, paying huge money to advertise for rich cats.

Who wants to pay double what it's worth to live in Vancouver TM? I didn't vote for that. Who gains from it? All I do is lose from it. Bub Rainy, Gordon (Jail Bird) Campbell, the owners of IntraWest, and their ilk are getting filthy rich from the branding of Vancouver, and we are paying for it. And our children will be paying for it. It is so sad and ridiculous, it makes me laugh. But it's a nervous, embarrassed kind of laughter.

I voted against the Olympics, and I voted against the hundreds of millions of dollars to be borrowed by the city. There was a fairly clear division between East Van. and Van. West in that vote. East Vancouver voted against it by-and-large, with the opposite true for Vancouver West. The summer that Vancouver/Whistler's bid was accepted, I was in Ontario, and someone congratulated me on the award. Poor guy set me off, and I started railing about what it would really mean - higher home prices, higher taxes, deficits, and debt. I hadn't even considered the branding.

Humans are sickeningly stupid (pardon my misanthropy). A case in point is the water issue right now. People running out to buy brands of water. I heard that a couple of people actually got into a fist-fight because they both wanted the last couple of bottles of Whistler brand water. There was probably generic water from the same source d'eau right beside it for half the price, but it wasn't branded, so they fought over it. Here's a lttle brand trivia for you - Evian (a huge brand of water) spells Naive backwards.

Branding. Hmmph!

Friday, November 17, 2006

third world class

Welcome to Vancouver! Home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games (well, unless the snow doesn't show up in sufficient quantities).

Vancouver is a world class city! It fits in comfortably with Mexico City (though we don't have the weather that they have, and they had the Olympics 38 long years ago), Tegucigalpa (though their water is more potable), and Addis Ababa (though their mountains are not as spectacularly snow-peaked), and Los Angeles (though they only had the piddlin' Summer Olympics, and their cops are tougher).

Yesterday there were 2 million people in the Lower Mainland who were warned to boil their water. Today, that number was halved to merely 1 million people. One million pregnant women, children, elderly, and the heavily mortgaged. The news spread far and wide very quickly. Last night I had three calls from other parts of Canada - concerned for our well-being. I also had an e-mail from the US with the same concerns. I didn't even know of the advisory before receiving these calls.

Hotels in Vancouver were quick to spread the advisory to all hotel rooms, and offered bottled water to their guests. Coffee shops and restaurants were hit where it hurts as they had to refuse their clients anything involving tap water. There were a lot of cranky, caffeine-deficient people in Vancouver the last couple of days.

I can just imagine visitors filling up their bathtubs with the murk that is on tap, and thinking that they might be better off to smell bad for their flights out of town. And what if any of them become sick with Giardia (classically known as Beaver Fever. How very Canadian...), Cryptosporidium, or such. And what if they sent their nice white shirts to the hotel laundry, and they came back looking as if someone had pissed all over them?

I was not personally affected - we have been drinking spring water for years, and have a good supply of 18 litre bottles stocked (because of the chlorine, we avoid tap water for drinking. At least there is no fluoride added.). I have also had amoebic dysentery, and Giardia, and have a pretty tough intestinal tract, but I had those infections in the Third World - where it can be expected. But Vancouver? That's some bad press man.

Third World Class. The city where people live on the streets. Where you can't even brush your flipping teeth unless you use bottled water (good luck finding any). The city where the middle class can't afford to buy the crappiest house.

Are we over ourselves yet?

VHB and The Pope already posted on this, but I am behind the curve. I have been as busy as, well, a beaver. A beaver crapping in the reservoirs.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

journalism and spin

image from here

I heard a conversation with Wendy Mesley (a Gemini Award winning investigative journalist) of the CBC last night in which she was asked a question about journalists, and why there was so little depth to the reportage. Ms. Mesley stated -
"It's really hard now to be a good journalist...there's so much pressure with 24/7 pump it out. The resources are down, so companies - newspapers, or networks - don't want to spend a lot of money digging up complicated stuff. It's really hard to tell a story that people do not want to be told...(they want) easy stuff."

When asked about her own investigative journalism, and how she gets away with it, Ms. Mesley stated further that there are
"hints from the sales department that they are not too thrilled, and it's understandable. What other network (besides the CBC) would want to do a series that takes on it's biggest sponsors?. That's condidered nuts at any other network"

It becomes clear why there is so much blah, blah in the Sun, Province, Glib and Meaningless, etc. - the sponsors. All of those RE advertisements are what keep the rags ragging. This is fairly transparent, and has been discussed elsewhere, but it begs the question - why bother even reading the stuff? It's essentially meaningless. That is why so many people have turned to VHB, Calgary Contrarian, Bubblemeter, etc. Although there is still a bias, it is a transparent bias, and it is not driven by pleasing non-existent sponsors.

I can commiserate somewhat - It must be hard for Derrick Penner and the like. I don't feel that it excuses folks like Cameron Muir though. No advertising there, and CMHC has a duty of care to tax-paying Canadians. Why does he pump the hype?

mea culpa

image from here

Yesterday I made a badly flawed post in which I completely misinterpreted what I was commenting on. I did not proof-read before I posted. I apologize for my blunder, and thank freako for pointing it out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


So, I was trying to extrapolate future trends in Vancouver (un)real estate as we move forward to 2010 - the Big Party year for Vancouver.

It has been said that the median price for an SFH will be $1 million by then. So I crunched the numbers, and they made me think that this is the best time to buy!

Messrs Valouche, Muir, et al have been quite conservative in their forecasts. When I punched the numbers into my trusty calculator I came up with Error: Positive Infinity (see screen shot above).

Where did I go wrong?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Spin it up!

Headline in the Glum and Maladroit Sunday declares Bidding wars disappearing in Vancouver.

It sounds like good news at first. Or is it bad news? Depends on the spin.

I liked this caveat -
Nobody is talking about a crash. Limited land supply, population growth, the 2010 Winter Olympics and a strong regional economy all point to long-term healthy housing demand. But there is a sense the air is leaking out of what had become an overinflated market.
I don't know about that, a lot of people are talking about a crash. The only ones not talking about it are the drunk on appreciation of the last few years, and the just plain drunk. Okay, the vested interests in general. And there is that limited land thing, the Olympics, and the (temporarily) healthy regional economy.

I like this one too -
“On the Labour Day weekend, I sold a house in Shaughnessy for $300,000 over listing [price] with 10 offers,” Macdonald Realtors agent Lorne Goldman says.
Great, 2 1/2 months ago a home sold for over asking. Well maybe they listed at $500k under assessed. Then the aside -
“Those days are becoming less frequent.”
I smell the first inkling of capitulation there.

But anybody hoping that prices may come back within reach for first-time buyers is likely to be disappointed. Slowdown or no, Vancouver real estate remains too expensive for many.
Yet they talk about population growth as part of the formula. Is it possible that there can not be a first time buyers' market anymore? Is Vancouver just going to go into stasis? A ridiculous assertion.
A search for a single-family, detached home under $600,000 on Vancouver's west side yields three listings all on land leased from the Musqueam Indian Band... A heritage home in Mount Pleasant is listed at $799,000, despite having suffered a fire last year.
here they resort to list prices (as if they will get those now), and focus on VW. They're talking like a DJ, but not really saying anything (neither am I, but I am having fun).

“Affordability is a big issue in Vancouver. And affordability is likely getting worse at a [September] rate of increase of nearly 17 per cent. Because there's very little chance that the income growth will grow at the same rate,” says Craig Alexander, deputy chief economist with TD Economics. He anticipates the rate of price increases will continue to slow.

“Twelve months from now, I would bet that home price growth in Vancouver would be in the single digits. That's not a terrible outcome, that's a healthy income.”
Try negative double digits boffin. When will we see them start comparing to 1992 prices to show how well we are doing?

Rick Valouche, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, says the market is becoming more balanced. And this year's total sales are on track to surpass last year's record total, he says.
And Canada is on track to meet emissions reductions too.

Some buyers might be sitting on their hands as they assess whether wobbles in the U.S. housing market will affect Vancouver, says Bob Rennie, whose Rennie Marketing Systems sells Lower Mainland condominiums like proverbial hotcakes. U.S. housing prices took their biggest drop in 35 years in September.
But that won't happen here. Why?
But after a few months, those buyers will be back in, Mr. Rennie predicts, driven by factors that include the coming the 2010 Olympics, a shortage of land and the perception of Vancouver as a safe place to invest.
Indeed. Much safer than Jalalabad or Pyongyang. Oh, and did you notice? Rennie drags out the Olympics and the shortage of land again. I guess everything will keep on going up - until we face the shame of not being able to host the Olympics because of a lack of snow. Salt Lake City will benefit though. Probably start another housing boom over it.
His firm also recently sold 40 per cent of the units in a new Burnaby high-rise over a weekend.
Didn't they used to brag about selling out in a weekend? I guess people are not as bold in Burnaby. Does anyone have any Craigslist reports on what is being flipped in OMA?

And finally -
Mr. Webber, who works in commercial real estate, is confident he'll sell his house, a nearly new, three-bedroom detached townhouse in waterfront Steveston. And he doesn't sound overly dismayed that he's had to drop the price from an original $679,000 to $659,900, which is still well above what he paid three years ago.
This does not sound like a slowing of appreciation, this sounds like a reversal. I guess it depends on how you spin it.

Excuse the cut and paste patchwork, and the lack of direction, I have just been hankering to use the cool animated gif, and have been really busy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

urban renewal

image from save the cob garden

This is an interesting story that has been going on for quite some time in East Vancouver.

There is a lot at the corner of Napier Dr. and Salsbury Dr. in East Vancouver that had become "overgrown" with large trees, a few of which were rare, and two century-old pre-fab worker's houses (which were listed #6 on the City's Heritage schedule of threatened historical structures). In addition, there was a cob house built by local residents (picture above). For decades, local children played in the gardens, which were cultivated by locals. The owner had no objections to this use. The lot became a de facto park over time.

After the death of the owner, his estate sold the lot in 2005 to a developer, Niebuhr Construction, for a reported $700k. The developer had plans to demolish the gardens, heritage structures and the cob house in order to erect two duplexes on the property. These plans were vociferously challenged by local residents, who eventually lobbied the Parks Board to purchase the property and maintain it as a park and learning centre. The Parks Board agreed, and offered the developer market value. The developer refused to sell it, and hired homeless people to squat on the lot, and to keep children and locals out. They also destroyed any work that the local gardeners did.

Finally, the locals appealed to the Board of Variance, who proceeded to overturn the development permits. The developer took the City to court, and the City Council fired the five member board en masse, and hired a new board friendlier to the developer. The new board reversed the fired board's decision, and the court case was dropped. Then the fired Board of Variance went to court to challenge their termination. For the whole saga, check The Republic stories here and here

Recently Niebuhr Construction sold the property to another developer for $1.2 million. Last week I drove by and saw that the two heritage structures had been torn down, and a lot of the trees removed, and the gardens bull-dozed. The cob house still stood. Tonight I drove by and saw that the cob house is now gone, and there is an excavation pit on the contentious property.

Okay, so it's a free market, and the owner is allowed to do as he pleases, but it's a damned shame. A quite nice neighbourhood has had it's guts torn out in the spirit of growth.

Friday, November 10, 2006

living in Squalor

I received this link today from antz.

He saw this posting by Amelia over at Real Estate Talks

oh my lord! Look at what you can "get" for $289,000 of your hard earned dollars!!! (is this madness, or am I just out to lunch?) This is a tear down!
Am I wrong? No wonder there is a homeless situation in the lower mainland.
At these prices, we're all going to be out on our arses.

Here's what $289k begs to be dropped on in Squalor. Er, Squamish. At first blush you might think a nice little cabin to live in while I build my dream home.

But a closer look reveals that it actually needs some work first.

Really, it needs a bit more than that. What the heck is this? Did someone fall off The Chief and crash through the roof?

Are there any skeletons in any of the closets? Worse? Perhaps it's toxic with mine runoff?

It is a 50'x120' lot, but it is a brutal commute from Vancouver, and it's Squamish.

Couldn't the vendors at least have the decency to torch the place and sell it as a vacant lot?

I've never thought too much about Squamish, other than it's a bit of a shame with all the pollution and such, but Lady Luck over at RET seems to loathe the place. Full of crack-heads, rednecks and bikers, and the new and naive real estate refugees from Vancouver. Apparently a lot of absentee landlords too, and a council full of city slickers - bent on cheesy development.

thanks VHB

graphic from the mast-head of the Vancouver Housing Market Blog

Today there was an article in The Tyee about Vancouver Housing Market Blog. It's a good read if you want some background on the best housing blog I have seen. Check it out, and be sure to check VHB's blog.

I won't rehash it all here, but essentially VHB was the first that I have seen that thinks the housing market in Vancouver is ...stupidly out of whack. Most of the readers of my humble little blog will already know VHB (you most likely came from there). I owe it to him and to Vancouver Condo Info for inspiring me to start this blog, and for my readership. Both of these fine gentlemen posted links to this blog on their own blogs, and VHB furthered that by mentioning Vancouver Condo Info, and this blog in a post at The Tyee.

VHB has had in the neighbourhood of 2 million visitors to his blog since he started in March 2005. Many of the commentators on his blog thank him effusively for saving them from jumping in the market before they are "priced out forever" (the mantra of the RE schills).

The analysis there leaves little to be desired - it is concise, extensive, and factual. You will meet people like freako there - a sometimes ascerbic, but always fair curmudgeon with a Spock-like logic.

Anyhow, I am a bit behind on the blogging today, and this serves as my daily post.

Thanks again VHB (for more than the fish).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

discounting the discounters

I came across this in my travels of yesterday.

Lloyd advertising "guranteed" offer on your house. Makes me wonder.

Who is Lloyd? What kind of offer might you get? Maybe a pound of weed as a down payment, and the balance in $20 bills? Would Lloyd write up the offer of purchase and sale (might be an idea to have a Grade 6 teacher look over the offer before taking it to your lawyer)? How would Lloyd "gurantee" the offer?

Full service realtors are not too fond of the 1% realtors and other discount services, how do the One Percenters feel about these types of "agents"?

As this market follows it's natural course (down), will anyone be calling Lloyd?

Looks good though, doesn't it? Lloyd has pretty low overhead - $2.91 for a permanent marker, a couple of bucks for the placard, and $30/month for the untraceable cell phone.

Hey, yesterday's post elicited some interest. There was the suggestion of an offer for $100 - $150, and bc_cele quickly brought that up to $70k (though neither of those were "guranteed").

Maybe I'll give Lloyd a call.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

over-priced shitty houses

For sale! Make an offer!

This cute little 1 bdrm/bathroom charmer is one of the few affordable properties left in the GVRD.

Features a durable roof, and siding, and a fenced yard - all on a compact 9'x18' foot lot.

Bring your decorating ideas!

Monday, November 06, 2006


This place at 2770 McGill (v612788) is a steal for only $628k.

Last year we looked at a place (comparable, if a bit smaller?) just down the block at 2710 McGill, which was listed for $325k.

I'll let you make your own deductions.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

old becomes new

This one is interesting.

Last summer there was a fairly decent house at 5290 Bursill. It was listed at $425K. We felt that it was over-priced, and that the bubble would burst in the fall, so we enquired no further.

This year there is a brand new house at that address (v609708) listed at $698k. It is 1799 sq.ft., (with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms). I have no idea if they paid the list price, or over/under list, so to be fair, I'll guess list. I read not too long ago that 2006 building prices in East Vancouver were about $186/sq.ft., so this house would have cost about $335k to build. Add that to the list price ($425k - 2005), add in PTT and commissions, and these people are losing their shirt on this one.

I'll admit that it is a little bit nebulous, they might have paid $375k for the house last year, and building costs may have been a bit lower. But it does not look to me like anyone is getting rich on this one.

supply and demand

An article in The Sun yesterday gave up this information;

Supply has outpaced demand in some areas of Greater Vancouver, leading to 'a raised level of uncertainty for both the resale and new home market,' according to MPC Intelligence, which tracks the B.C. new housing market. Here's a look at what came into the market in the 61 days from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, and what happened to that inventory.


Total: 3,082

Sold: 1,788

Unsold: 1,294

% unsold: 42%


Total: 710

Sold: 438

Unsold: 272

% unsold: 38%

Single Family

Total: 41

Sold: 9

Unsold: 32

% unsold: 78%

This is interesting, and begs the question - is this inventory languishing because -

a) supply has overridden demand in a physical sense? i.e. are there not enough people to fill the units?

b) prices have so far out-stripped reason that people are just not willing to pay that much?

C) the autumn slump that has been observed forever?

I am curious as to why townhomes have the smallest amount of unsold inventory. Did a lot of people buy up from condo's, but can't yet buy up to SFH? Are people less inclined to that product in general?

Are these numbers a harbinger of what's coming? Are the bulls too tired to run anymore? Will the bears wake up hungry in the spring?

I have no idea, but I am encouraged none-the-less.

Friday, November 03, 2006


exvancouverite provided me with this link to another French house

It sits on an 1800 square metre lot (19,375.2 Square Feet), and is listed at 328,600.00 Euros (471,900.68 Canadian Dollars).

Compare to this house in Vancouver listed for $459k on a 3267 sq. ft. lot

For a piddling $12k more you get ~16,000 square feet more lot, and a pool with the French house. But as exvancouverite points out;
Unfortunately, a 'job' market exists only in Vancouver. Don't know how people managed to survive for centuries before that, but apparently, now, you have to live in Vancouver to be able to scratch a living on this planet.

Now I realize that it is not entirely fair to compare the French place to the Vancouver place (apples to apples), but what is it that makes Vancouver so much more worthy? Besides the Olympics, the mountains and Sam Sullivan? And, it would be an horrendous commute, but...? Further, you can only get pommes de terre frites (those pesky French Fries) there, and no Freedom Fries for 5,000 miles.

For a more pomme a l'orange comparison closer to home, let's look at the OMA listing compared to the place on Euclid.

OMA condo - 647 sq. ft. for $325,900. $502.21/sq. ft of living space. No yard to enjoy (or maintain), and you can almost trick yourself that you are living in NYC. You will receive mail at One Madison Avenue.

The place on Euclid is 1500 sq. ft. of living space (plus ~1800sq. ft. of yard)listed at $459k - or $306/sq. ft. There are two bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement that could be turned into a suite for a mortgage helper. One could probably turn the garage into a coach house as well, so there is a lot of potential for densification. Granted the yard needs to be maintained, but even if you don't have the inclination (or strength) to do that, you can pay someone about $100/month to do it for you, which would cost about $600-$700/year (to cover the growing season). The condo fees at OMA are $130/month ($1560/year). So no grass to cut, or leaves to rake, but no yard to relax in, have a BBQ, etc. Who would want to live like that? Plus, the condo is a depreciating asset, one has to deal with strata rules, neighbours in very close proximity, future assessments for repairs, and so on.

OK , so with the house you have to re-roof every 25 years. Presently that will cost about $6k-$7k. Amortized over 25 years, add another $280/year to own the house. It still comes in significantly less per year to maintain the house. The only real difference would be in the property taxes, but with all else considered, with the house you still have about $600/year less in maintenance to apply to the extra taxes.

What is the upside to the condo?

The new brave

This post One Madison Avenue over at Vancouver Condo Info left me a bit unsettled, but elicited a resigned chuckle too.

It is being marketed by Bob Rennie, and is in Burnaby. But wait a minute - isn't Burnaby a suburb? Didn't Bob say "be brave or move to the suburbs"? I guess that is so yesterday. Today the new line is "be brave - move to the suburbs". Down the memory hole.

The blurb claims that this development is "only one minute from Vancouver", and I guess that's true. If traffic is good you can hit Boundary Road in one minute, and from there, only 20 minutes to get downtown.

The listing is 647 sq.ft., and is sitting on a spacious 294901.20 sq.ft. lot. I wonder if it is possible to build a coach house as a mortgage helper. Of course this spacious condo gives you the option to have a mortgage helper right in the unit itself. Shared laundry, bathroom, and bed itself are selling features that make me want to be bold.

Originally listed for $207,900 in May 2004, now listed at $325,900, this splendid property in a prestigous location has a history of being a money-maker. Be brave now, or move to Spuzzum!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

old is new...again

This quaint charmer (v6184321) was listed last year for $348k (2005 - v526117). It is still (again?) available for $459k. 31% rise in price? Hmmph!

Will we be looking at this self-same listing next year for $601k?

Is an SFH really going to cost $1 million by 2010?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

over priced and shitty

This was posted at bubblemeter and I had to laugh.

I don't care much about condos, but I like this type of guerrilla anti-marketing. A short and sweet statement. Let us see these all over Vancouver. Another variation for over-priced crack-shacks may be in order as well.

Make up your own placards, or get them at Puff Tags

assessed values

A reader sent this listing to me with the note:
MLS®: V617050 A/P:$539k (2006 September) +$151800 more or +39.2% above Ass value [hse# 3786]

I can't verify the assessment (without paying for it), but such exuberance to list at 39% above that.

This place actually has a big lot (7906 sqft), and the house actually looks to have some character, so it's not as stark a "deal" as some of what is out there.

How about offering 40% below assessed "value"?