Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year!

Here we are at the eve of a new year. It has been a good year for me, with the arrival of a bundle of joy, and the accompanying patter of little, bare feet. The RE correction so long anticipated has not come to be realized, but, oh well. Maybe in 2008?

I would like to interrupt myself here to thank each and every one of you that have made this humble little blog a continuing interest and joy for me to write. Over 190,000 hits in the last year. So much more than I could have hoped for when I undertook the production. Thank you for sticking with me when I have under-produced, ranted, and occasionally been snarky. And thank you for the decorum exhibited through it all.

I hope for the very best for all of us, everywhere - bull, bear, ambivalent, home-owner, renter, homeless, but I do hope that all the specuvestors get burned (just kidding...sort of). I believe that we have huge challenges coming to us in the near future.

I picked the picture above because it seemed to have many pertinent elements - a sign warning of a fork in the road, a character (specuvestor?) with a target on his hat, and a generic, uninspiring metro backdrop.

trotter made a few predictions in the last post, which I will bring over here to open up the commentary. Feel free to post your own predictions, rants, kudos, kvetches, etc.

I predict a steady slide in prices beginning in February/March, much hand-wringing and recriminations, a few bank collapses, a stock market crash, and my own committal to a nut-house near you.

Have a happy, healthy New Year. My resolution is to be a bit more regular in my postings.

Let the prognostications begin!

Monday, December 24, 2007

on the ball? or, the sky is falling

I read this commentary on the MSM (our favourite, biased hobby horse) over at the Republic. The last line says much.
So what happened?

Headline in The Globe and Mail, Monday December 3, 2007: “Chevez suffers stinging referendum defeat.”

Headline in The National Post, Monday December 3, 2007: “Chevez heading to referendum win.”

Headline in The Vancouver Sun, Monday December 3, 2007: “Chevez concedes defeat in Venezuelan referendum.”

Headline in The Wall Street Journal, Monday December 3, 2007: “Chevez headed for victory in Venezuela, exit polls show.”

Headline in The New York Times, Monday December 3, 2007: “For Venezuela, tensions mount with close vote.”

Surely a case of corporate media telling the story they want you to hear before telling the story that was.
page link

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the grab bag reprised

William Sauder, formerly of Interfor, and the philanthropist who with a gift of $20 million funded the founding of the Sauder School of Business at UBC, has died. He was 81 years old.

The Sauder data has been the go-to source for RE information for many commentators on RE in Vancouver. The death of Mr. Sauder will not mean the end of the Sauder School of Business, nor the information found there. Condolences to his family, and all of those affected by his passing.

In other news;

Yesterday on CBC, it was said that the pine beetle infestation of BC's boreal forests will lead to an economic recession for BC. Carol Taylor, BC Minister of Finance, said a couple of weeks ago that BC will likely go into recession if the US does, and as the building industry in the US suffers under the housing slump south of the border. A couple of months ago, forest industry commentators said that the forestry sector is already in recession. I did not catch all of the facts, but I believe that I heard that forestry is responsible for between 2% and 3% of the BC economy, and 9% of the workforce. That seems like a small number to me, and my searches have failed to turn up more concise information. I guess that RE is now the dominant part of the BC econmy.

The numbers over at Rob Chipman's appear to be positively nutty. On Monday, the sell/list ratio was 267.09%. Bullish, or just the result of a seasonal slow-down in listings? Fish is not even bothering with numbers until the New Year, and I am not reading anything into them either. I really do look forward to Spring to see what will happen though. I believe that we have topped, and ought to see a cooling in the Spring. Note that I am not vainly calling a top though, I just think that we have finally topped.

I'm sorry for the paucity of posting as of late, it's been a rough, and very busy week. Lil solipsist is fully ambulatory, and really keeps me hopping. I hope that all have a great Crassmess, and that we see some real excitement in the New Year. I will continue to post as I am able.

Friday, December 14, 2007

some call them condors

Thanks to trotter for the video link to Real Estate Vultures.

I just love the close-up of the foreclosure sign, and that big projects, especially condors, are also circling the drain in many markets. Granted, this is in the US, but what happens there, eventually happens here, and here, we are not quite so resilient.

In other news:
Vancouver crowned break-in capital of North America
A new report has given Vancouver a dubious honour: the highest break-in rate of all major Canadian and American cities, nearly four times that of New York City.

Last year, Vancouver recorded more than 1,100 break-ins per 100,000 residents while New York City had just over 300.

The numbers are contained in the annual report by the B.C. Progress Board, which showed Vancouver had the second-highest combined violent and property crime rate among all major cities in Canada and the United States.
Would the BC Progress board have a positive bias?. Is Surrey still the car theft capital of NA?

Nevermind, this is the best place on earth - for those who are connected.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

melting into lorem ipsum

Or, orem ipsum, as the case might be (pun intended).

So, I was thinking of the slow melt-down that is going on (behind the oblivion of the masses), and was/am going to write about it, though, I resist because so many, with a greater understanding than I, have already expounded on it so well. Because I am very visual, and like to have a pikshur with my posts, I did a Google image search for "melting". As expected, I saw quite a few icebergs, glaciers, and other global warming pap, but through serendipity, kismet, fate, or whatever (my life seems to go like that), I came across the pic' below.

WTF does that have to do with the price of RE in Vancouver?, or, the price of tea in China? I think I hear you ask. If you forgive me my loquaciousness, I will elucidate...

I love language and languages, and Latin, being at the root of so many languages, has always fascinated me. I do have a rudimentary understanding of it, but I like to know. I have come across lorem ipsum quite a few times, but never was motivated to understand its meaning, so I did a (and ancillary) query, which led me here.
"Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure? "
OK, so that is a bit esoteric, but to me the key word is "dolorum" (pain), and that is what I see in the future for many.

I beg your pardon if this makes no sense, I am juggling my time between posting, making dinner for Mrs. solipsist, and getting li'l solipsist to bed. The constant interruptions have shattered my train of thought. A kind of melt-down as it where...

I think that the graphic above also illustrates the relentlessness of this RE market, and the loud cries for sanity.

One last bit of Latin for you all - caveat emptor (buyer beware).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

finding comparables

A search confined to Renfrew Heights in East Vancouver between $200k and $900k produces but 40 listings. This has been fairly constant for a while. But there is price compression. You can buy an old place (with few redeeming features) for only $100k less than a brand new place (with a couple of illegal suites), as illustrated below. Who in their right mind would go for that? Granted, the 60 year old place is probably better constructed, but there is really no comparison. The new place is bigger, and has a spectacular view of the NS mountains, and west to downtown. The older place claims a view, but does not elaborate. Somebody dumped $50 k or so into renovations, and is asking a huge premium.$699k


The new place has been on the market for a solid 6 months, with one price reduction (from $829k, if I remember), and is due for another reduction of at least $250k if they want to sell it. The renovated old-timer needs a reduction of at least $300k. Those reductions will happen.

Finding comparables is a joke.


I forgot to mention that these places, and many others, are sitting empty. I think that there is a huge supply overhang in SFH as well as condo's.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

it's not news

image from here

It's probably not news to you, but the BoC cut the prime rate by a quarter point today. I'll bet that all those that scrambled for pre-approval and bought over-priced shacks in the summer will be happy that they did so.

I have read rumours (no links) that the BoC will be cutting rates by another 3/4 of a point before a year has passed. Smoking, impervious economy and all, y'know.

It will not save this (or other) doomed market(s) though, the writing has been on the wall for a while (4 years...), and I believe that the psychology has changed. There will still be sales - there always will be - but for less and less until purchase prices catch down to rents.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

levity and brevity


Pardon my absence. I have been around, but a bit under the weather, and l'il solipsist is going through a very cool stage (just starting to walk), so I am greatly distracted.

Further, there just does not seem to be enough meaningful to write about - beyond the same old/sameold, and the expected "minor" catastrophes as the sub prime debacle continues to begin to unfold. BoC seems to be pumping money in almost daily, but it has become ho-hum to the MSM and sheeple in general. The stock markets continue to be manipulated, but are the beneficiaries of such blind faith in my view. Ignorance is more like it.

So perhaps some levity is in (dis)order.

I found these gems by following a link to Sapperton, and all I can really do is laugh. An MLS search of the area delivers 3 listings between the default $200K-$900K. It really just is nuts.

I sent the links to my sister (who lives in Hamilton, Ont.) and she was so shocked that she has not replied yet. It might be fun to send listings like this to China, and Germany, and you get my drift. Emblazon them with THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH, include the video of the Welcome Wagon at YVR. That might cool the market some.

Monday, November 26, 2007

speculating on speculation

Mike Mac.... sent me this e-mail last week (it's always good to get good reviews!)
Hey man, love your blog.

I was thinking about the "It's different this time" line of reasoning. I'm a big fan of Dickens and this comes out of Nicholas Nicholby. I thought you'd find it interesting:

`Spec--u--late, my dear?' said Mr Nickleby, as though in doubt.
`Why not?' asked Mrs Nickleby.
`Because, my dear, if we should lose it,' rejoined Mr Nickleby, who was a slow and time-taking speaker, `if we should lose it, we shall no longer be able to live, my dear.'

`Fiddle,' said Mrs Nickleby.
`I am not altogether sure of that, my dear,' said Mr Nickleby.
`There's Nicholas,' pursued the lady, `quite a young man--it's time he was in the way of doing something for himself; and Kate too, poor girl, without a penny in the world. Think of your brother! Would he be what he is, if he hadn't speculated?'

`That's true,' replied Mr Nickleby. `Very good, my dear. Yes. I will speculate, my dear.'
Speculation is a round game; the players see little or nothing of their cards at first starting; gains may be great--and so may losses. The run of luck went against Mr Nickleby. A mania prevailed, a bubble burst, four stock-brokers took villa residences at Florence, four hundred nobodies were ruined, and among them Mr Nickleby.

Tell me Rennie doesn't have a villa in Florence. :)

Indeed! I have noticed that many places that I see "For Sale", whether on MLS, or in driving around, are empty. No furniture, no plants, no swing sets in the back yard...empty. Who owns these houses? Speculators is my speculation. And they will be ruined. Unfortunate fools will be too, but nobody forced anyone to buy such insanely priced properties.

And really, RE is the least of our worries.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

bleak friday

At least the weather was not bleak today. In fact, it was another beautiful day on the Lower Mainland. That's why we live here. We can see the mountains on these beautiful days, and dream of the Olympics, and maybe even go up to the mountains, and shout across the whole delta that we are here, and it's the best place in the entire freaking universe. Forget condo appreciation day (kind of like nurse appreciation day), we have condo appreciation years.

Is it unravelling? Rob Chipman's numbers are all over the place, and other realtors who comment haven't got a clue either. The stock markets are all over the map too, up and down, shaking out, teetering on the brink of collapse. There just has to be trouble when the TSX consistently outpaces DJ. It is like Vancouver holding out in RE when all around is falling.

None of that is real news though, the real news (on CBC, anyhow - which I staunchly defend - for all it's shortcomings) is the border line-ups as Canadians return from pumping 100's of thousands, millions even, of dollars into the American economy on it's biggest shopping day of the year. Christmas shopping early! The sales are fantastic! The coverage is breathless. (where is all this money coming from?) So sorry Vancouver retailers - we don't need you. We are rich on RE, and all we need is a few baristas to make our lattes, and a few pool boys for whatever they do. We'll just drive down to Bellis Fair to do our shopping and turn all the empty retail spaces in Vancouver into store-front condo's.

I've been hearing rumblings too of the BoC dropping rates by as much as 1% over the next year. The principle driver of that outlook is not the high dollar, so much as the economy is flagging, and some say (sorry - no links) already in recession. But is it the dollar that is putting the squeeze on the economy? or flagging exuberance? The end of a bull run? That would, of course, exclude Vancouver, because it's different here, and we have all this construction, and mountains, and the weather.

Monday, November 19, 2007

property rights through copyright

I realize that some of my posts are overly self-indulgent (the bitch-slap post being a case in point), but ultimately, I am writing, and fiddling with photo's, for my own amusement. I still want you, the reader, to take something away though...

A year or so ago, there was a lot of talk about oil and gas and mining companies staking private property, and making resource claims on same. A lot of people found this to be outrageous, and I certainly did. There was the guy out in Vernon exercising these staking rights, and was very busy traipsing over people's lands and there was nothing the property owners could do about it. Then there was the ranch up near Ashcroft that had a company mining kitty litter, and generally destroying the land. Again, the property owners had no legal recourse. It gave me pause for thought in buying raw land. Most of the province is being staked, and it would be difficult to protect against such intrusions and trespasses.

Perhaps one could stake claims on any land one chose to buy, but the "companies" have already staked most of it. How to deal with that? I read an article in Canadian Art magazine about one artist's way of protecting his land...he copyrighted his property as an autonomous piece of art.

Peter von Tiesenhausen, in 2005
"...set a legal precedent by successfully claiming copyright of his land as an autonomous piece of art, thereby protecting it from encroaching oil and gas interests." Again, one might view such legal safeguarding as the politico-legal incarnation of the romantic desireto parcel up and control the landscape. But really, when urgent and large-scale legal reforms seem like a pipe dream for environmentalists and concerned artist-citizens alike,how can one resist the legal system by operating in it's extant, if flawed, strictures? Von Thiesenhausen's legal success offers a glimmer of hope in an ever-more-hopeless world. His paintings,like totems salvaged from a fire in the studio of his beleaguered mind, stand as a bittersweet celebration, a small victory for art over the big murder of economic progress.

That same small victory could be claimed by whomsoever would make a mineral claim on Gordon Campbell's land on the Sunshine Coast, and proceed to quarry it for gravel. It was after all, the Campbell government that made it so easy for big business interests to lay claim on the private lands of British Columbians... And since property rights were omitted from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we must protect those rights in any way that we can.

Hurrah for Peter von Tiesenhausen!

Friday, November 16, 2007

bitch-slap ahead

I always enjoy reading The Republic of East Vancouver, and this week, there is a good article about Dan Rather coming to Vancouver with a camera crew (hacked up below). This may be unwelcome coverage for The Best Place on Earth (TM) in the wake of the homicide by police officers of a new immigrant to Canada, the inquest into the police culpability in the death of Frank Paul, and of course, the on-going problems of the DTES. The torched bus on Commercial Drive would have been a cool backdrop for this pre-Olympics survey.

It is easy to pull out cliches right now - like The Wizard of Oz, The Emporer's New Clothes, and another few that I forgot in my drunken musings, but this arrogant city is in for the bitch-slapping that it deserves (no misogyny intended or implied).
Oh my God, what have we done? Everyone’s afraid what skeletons Dan Rather’s gonna find in our closet.

The famous American broadcaster... came to Vancouver this week, and he brought a camera crew with him.

Understandably, the local Mayberry Chamber of Commerce, in double-time rethink mode about all this talk of putting Vancouver on the map, is nervous.

Where is Rather going? Who is he talking to? Why is he looking over there?

Putting aside all value judgment and blame for the moment,...the downtown eastside has come into being. It is what it is, and unless we want to get real ugly with buses and cops and tazers, it’s not going away in time for the media frenzy that is the Olympics, just 27 months away.

Vancouver is one nervous city. Dan Rather risks being shot showing up here, now, with his camera crew. Not now! the city screams in terror behind the shut curtains, too early! We’re still getting the party ready!

Unfortunately, there’s no help. We’re just at the front of this parade and the whole world is behind us thinking we’re the ones who must know where we’re all going, or else we wouldn’t be in front. But what nobody behind us can see yet is the wall we’re staring at in front of us. Yeah, we are the new capitalism and globalization, and yeah, we’re making a whole lot of money. Now what?
Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


On victory born of deceit

I, Virtue, soak the tomb of Ajax with my tears, alas, wretched, having rent my whitening hair. Certainly this matter still remained, that by a Greek judge I should be vanquished: and that deceit should have the stronger defence. link

This is just food for thought. I can't write the situation any better.

It is Amero-centric, and is a departure from Vancouver RE (I seem to be doing that lately), but I think that it is pertinent and applicable to what we are/will be seeing here. (emboldening mine)

How does the government deceive us? Let's count the ways.

Employment/Unemployment: Job hunters vanish without a trace after six months, and ghost jobs are created in the hundreds of thousands by a bogus "birth/death" model.

Inflation: As even the mainstream media is now admitting, official inflation is grossly manipulated to appear half of the true rate (3% vs. 6%). This lowers payments to those costly entitlement retirees and maintains the illusion that interest rates can be kept low because inflation is so low.

GDP: The GDP number always comes in "hot" and is usually revised downward later, when nobody's looking.

Federal Deficit: The Federal deficit contains a huge deception: the Social Security surplus is spent to offset current spending, reducing the "official deficit" by hundreds of billions each and every year. In exchange for these trillions, the Government issues the Social Security fund an IOU. The IOU is now about $4 trillion.

If this fiscal legerdemain were outlawed, then the true Federal deficit would be double or triple the "official" deficit.

"A strong dollar is in the interests of the nation." Hahaha... is that why you've engineered a 33% decline in our buying power since 2002 (the dollar index dropped from 120 to 80 in that time and is currently 78.) I'd hate to see what would happen if a weak dollar were in our interests.

All these accounting tricks serve one purpose: to deceive the citizenry and the world into believing the U.S. economy is stronger than it actually is.

2. The government has opened the floodgates of money and loosened banking regulations to help all those poor investment bankers. Regulators who should have provided oversight of the lending, mortgage and derivative markets have been idling away their time, doing anything but their job. Who's benefitted? Their pals churning all the origination fees, that's who.

3. The banks sold hundreds of billions in "safe investments" to institutions, domestic and foreign alike. Only now are the true risks and illiquidity of these SIVs, MBS, CDOs, etc. being revealed in the grim light of day.

4. Our trading partners who export vast quantities of goods to the U.S. (and who run stupendous trade deficits with the U.S.) have bought trillions in U.S. debt to keep us afloat. Since Americans don't save anything, somebody has to give them a credit card to fund all that spending.

So what's hidden? How utterly dependent the U.S. is on foreign buyers of Treasuries and debt to keep U.S. interest rates low. That's another little wink-wink, of course; when the Fed slashed the Fed Funds rate a half-a percentage point, headlines blared "Fed Cuts Interest Rate." Meanwhile, back at the Long-Term Interest Rate Ranch, 30-year mortgage rates actually went higher after the Fed's cut. Huh? Yes, that's right--because the market sets the long-term interest rates, not the Fed. Not that you'll ever read much about that, though.

So the "debt junkies" in the U.S. get their "fix" of abundant, low-interest debt from the "pushers" who need the junkie to keep buying exports and oil. link

Sunday, November 11, 2007

sinking in seattle

(I picked this photo' because in the smaller version, the hose hanging on the left looks like a person in a green jacket standing there. That, with the trellis, reminded me of the iconic American Gothic, and it seemed kind of fitting.

And what is it with RE agents that frame pictures like drunken land-lubbers at sea in a pitching storm?)

patriotz left a link (on an earlier post about the place in New West.) to a Seattle house listed for $475k (roughly $425K CAN - grin). This is a brick house boasting 1,750 sq', and is close (relatively) to DT Seattle. I might remind you that Seattle actually has industry (Boeing, Microsoft, etc.). Your mortgage interest is tax deductible.

Check out their other listings too, it's interesting to see the reductions, and the $475K, 900 sq' Puget Sound view condo's. If Seattle is going down, so are we.

The unfortunate side effect of this sub-prime debacle (nowhere near over), and the Roman holiday that will be visited on the RE market, and further, is going to make the Depression look like a cake walk. That is part of why I wanted to see this bubble burst a long time ago. It's never so simple as it seems.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


This is normally condohype's bailiwick, but this came into my front door today, and there are two things that irk me (well, much more than two things...); wasted resources, and paper that comes in my front door, and goes directly into the recycling bin (kinda the same).

The paper that this advert. came on weighs 20 grams. I don't know how many people in Greater Vancouver (I refuse to use Metro Vancouver) received this, but let's say (very conservatively) 100,000 households. That equals 2,000 kilograms of wood pulp. How much carbon would that produce - from production to delivery to disposal? (I am not a Global Warming acolyte/fanatic/reactionary) It's a couple of trees that could be sequestering carbon, at the very least. Add in the toxic inks etc., and these chumps are chumps.

As I pointed out, I am not a Global Warming guy, so on to the advertisement itself...

The artist's rendition of the completed project has mature trees, and an established, bucolic atmosphere. The reality is always so much different. Selling dreams and fantasy, and I have the nerve to moniker myself solipsist. Just make it so - build it, and they will come.

The ad. goes on to mention granite, marble, stainless steel (isn't that passe yet?), custom crap etc., and 3.5 acres of private greenspace, blah, blah. Private to whom? The couple of hundred (or more) residents? Does that count boulevards, etc.? How private is it? Can I frolic naked, and have bacchanals at my whim?

Then, there are a couple of pic's - one has a soft focus framing of some seasonal flowers, and is emblazoned with life, the other has people walking so fast that anything less than 1/250th second shutter speed cannot capture them, and is emblazoned with style. Is it life, or style? The imagery is contradictory. The life suggests stopping and smelling the flowers, while the style suggests that it is going to be very fretful to try to pay for this junk.

Then, they admonish to take advantage of your Last Chance for 2007 Prices! There are only about 7 weeks left in 2007, and 2008 is not looking great for RE prices. Do they really think we are that worried about being priced out.

I also wonder at the claim of South Burnaby's fastest selling new residential community. How many new residential communities are there in South Burnaby?

Give me strength.

note: I deliberately blurred all contact information, names, etc. I will not help to promote this crap.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

broader horizons

Mark K sent me an e-mail regarding a property in New West. I do stay focussed on Van. proper, but maybe that is narrow-minded of me. I'm kind of slow on the post building these days too.

Mark rightfully points out that this place is "close to all type of transportation" - namely, the SkyTrain screaming over your head every few minutes. I have a particular predilection for modern vinyl over the old-fashioned variety too.

They are having an open house every Saturday (until the damned place is sold!), but still admonish to act fast. Lots of Park too.


Dude! I know this is New West not Vancouver but you HAVE to see this POS! "Close to all type of transportation." No Sh**t!
Thanks Mark

Beautiful updated 3 bdrm 2 full bath house on 5565 sq.ft lot, OPEN HOUSE EVERY SAT 2-4pm. The house has river view from dining rm, affordable price, 2 blks to skytrain. Close to all levels of schools and shopping. Brand new Washer & Dryer, also fridge & stove are 1 year old, freshly painted. Vinyl exterior, new drive way many updates. This house shows great. Beautiful garden with storage & work shop. Amazing yard & landscaping. An excellent for first time buyer. Quiet street with no thru road. Family oriented neighborhood. In thought after West end location in New Westminster. Super Central location. Close to all type of transportation. Come to the OPEN HOUSE. Act fast, must see to appreciate.

I can't help it - this blurb is so painful to read.

To wit;

1) 2 blks to skytrain

Is a blk a new unit of measurement of 12.5 feet?

2) fridge & stove are 1 year old, freshly painted

Why the hell would they paint one year old appliances?

3) In thought after West end location in New Westminster. Super Central location.

What does "thought after" mean? I thought after I published that blurb, that it might not make sense - especially touting the West end as a Super Central location

Oh, I'm tired now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

fighting the ennui

There is something oddly compelling about this place. I have scoffed at it's West Coast fusion of French Maison en pays/Admiral-range-hood-above-the-entrances with the art deco hut perched on top, but I really do like the red front door. That's...ballsy. Suddenly, I hear the Internationale, and I get to like this oddball infiltrator out of Proust or the like.

It's been on the market for better than 90 days, and the old timer that was originally there was listed in the neighbourhood of $550K. Giving for a deep discount construction cost of $100/sq', plus all the other costs, I would think that this place is priced at the developer's margin. That is why I have been watching this place. The price has not budged since September 30th, but the next cut will be seriously starting to eat into any possible profits. Is it time to cut and run?

There have been no signs on the lawn for a while now, but it still shows up on MLS. I don't know if the real estate agent has been reading my facile critiques of the photographs, but this is the best one yet. (Just a degree and a half counter-clockwise, and you are there.)

Enough of the snippiness (it's the ennui), here is your Deal of the Week. The only place in all of East Vancouver listed at less than $400K, in fact, this one lists at $329K. Not only is it a deal, it is the most realistic pricing I have seen for a while.

But calling Strathcona Mount Pleasant is a bit of a stretch.
Handyman's Special on charming street in Strathcona. Super location - only steps to McLean Park & Chinatown. Bring your ideas & hammers.
The stats claim a 4300 sq' lot (86 front x 50 deep), but I don't see that. If that is a fact, this place is a deal in this market. Still grossly over-valued in my estimation though. Steps away from McLean Park and Chinatown = steps away from DTES. I suppose hammers are recommended for self protection, as much as for hanging pictures. It's a cutesy pie little house though, and I do like the blue front door.

I'm giving the photographer a break on this one because there is an optical illusion with that metal railing.

Friday, November 02, 2007

staging vaudeville

Today I was crawling around in traffic with all the other denizens of this world class city, and found myself behind a 5 ton truck emblazoned with DEKORA. It's Canada's largest home staging company. It got me to thinking about all kinds of things;

- are people actually still "staging" their homes? and will people still "stage" their homes after the melt-down?

- what will happen to all the ancillaries to RE in Vancouver? (Revy, Home Depot, furniture stores, lighting stores, property inspectors, property appraisers, a lot of RE agents and their staff, filing clerks at the building department at City Hall, back hoe operators, for sale sign makers, mortgage brokers, etc., etc.) Some will still be around, but there is going to be a lot of pain. There are a lot of actors on the stage.

Then I started thinking about a post. My mind (of course) went to the Photoshopping possibilities, and I dwelled on that far a while, with all of the economic horror stories yammered at me from the radio.

My thoughts are often oblique (ship hits dam being one), but I amuse myself none the less. As I was working the pic's, I started thinking of vaudeville, and I thought that we ought rename Vancouver Vaudeville. Why not? It's a Hurly-Burly city these days, and spectacle, masks, glitter, spotlights, songs and dances, and dogs and ponies are the thing. It's all a distraction - just like Vaudeville was a distraction from the Depression. And boy! is there going to be a lot of depression when things go south.

Things are going south too - just look south. Look east and west while you are at it. This thing has barely begun in the US, UK, Spain, etc., and has not yet begun here. By the time it does, people are going to be so scared shipless, it will unwind here very quickly. The biggest house staging company in the world won't help much then.

I wonder what next summer will look like.

*It's a cheap post because I wasted too much time on the Photoshopping, and Babby solipsist needs a feed and a diaper change. Gotta go.

Monday, October 29, 2007

msm report - ship hits dam

I found this little piece of joy over at The Sunk, er, The Sun. I hacked it up below, but feel free to wander over there and read the whole thing. Interesting such a piece surfacing there (even though noncommittal on the cost of RE in Van.). The impending doom really is starting to show it's face. They actually do use the word "bubble"!

Who, in the real world, can afford to live here now?
Miro Cernetig, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, October 29, 2007

By the standards of our gravity-defying real-estate market, it didn't sound all that irrationally exuberant: a well-appointed Kits Point pad, with about 1,300 feet of space and a view of the ocean.

Price: a cool $1.25 million.

I don't raise this particular listing as a comment on the value of real estate in this town. (you ought to!) When a condo atop the Hotel Georgia goes for $18 million, I guess even a million-dollar basement suite in Kits Point is easily within the realm of possibility.

But, yikes. Wasn't it only a few years ago you could actually get a penthouse, or something at least above the garden, for a million? Now it's the entry level for a Kits Point basement.

What's really notable -- and worrying -- about this Kitsilano basement, though, isn't just the price tag. It's emblematic of a larger social squeeze now changing the social fabric of this city.

Who, in the real world, can afford to live here anymore? New immigrants? The working class? The middle class? Students? Your own kids?

Of course, the banks are willing to help. As the RBC notes in its survey, a Vancouverite's average mortgage payment of $3,230 a month on a two-storey house could be reduced by $400. The catch? You need to sign up for one of the new, 40-year term mortgages, instead of the 25-year term your parents got.

So, take out a mortgage at 25 and at 65, you can retire a homeowner. What a deal.
Unless you lose your job, or your health, or your partner, or the interest rates are at 12% when you have to renew.

Wait 'til the ship really hits the dam. It will make for some fascinating reading in the MSM.

But could it get so much worse?

Areas that are already hit by the foreclosure crisis will now be hit by investors who are buying up properties to rent them out, which makes neighbourhoods less stable than owner-occupied housing.
Jim Davinie,
Minnesota State Representative
read here

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the slowpokes and the pompous

I suspect that a lot of what I write here may not make a lot of sense, n'or even seem contextual. I tend to think in very broad swathes, and pick up little pieces of information, and junk thought, and imagery, and so on, and try to build a diorama of sorts to understand the world at large. This is a part of trying to understand myself, and my own place in the big picture. Writing is a kind of leavening of all that disparate noise for my own understanding. Ultimately, it is a kind of Unified Theory, and as such, the ideas are ephemeral, and building of that understanding is very slow going.

It is something that I think that we all do, on different levels, and in different ways. How can the RE market reach such unbelievable levels of stupidity? What is really behind it all? How do we end up with the governments that we end up with - who implement legislations so contrary to what we, the people, are really aiming for? Why do people prefer granite countertops and stainless steel appliances? What makes people think that Vancouver is the Best Place on Earth(TM)?

I think that maybe people want Vancouver to be the Best Place on Earth, because they came here, and would not want to think that they had made a mistake. Maybe that is where all the comparisons to NYC, London, Paris, etc., come in. But we are none of that, and ironically, we have destroyed the Vancouver that we loved when we came here. High class in borrowed shoes, but still an unsophisticated street urchin. It amuses me to read on some fora the views of the newly escaped from the Big Smoke called Torrono, who want to turn Vancouver into the very thing that they have fled. Handles like "The604", and such, bely the origins of their holders. As do their writings.

Kevin Potvin, over at The Republic of East Vancouver, posited that;
We tend to think here, in chronically self-congratulating Vancouver, that everyone who comes here was motivated to come to this place rather than to go away from another place. The truth is Vancouver is a refugee camp for dissociated, abused, and discarded people from all over Canada
, and being one of those "dissociated, abused, and discarded people" myself, I would tend to agree somewhat. I never really had an interest in Vancouver until I came for a two week sojourn in 1988, and once here, I liked what I found, and never left. That was 20 years ago though, and that Vancouver is gone. Now, the "dissociated, abused, and discarded people", are looking to Grand Forks, Castlegar, Roberts Creek, etc., for what they once found here.

I lifted the above image from here, because it just seemed so pertinent. The Cafe Pompous - situated at the corner of Malaise and Ennui - where the observation is: Everything is so banal. It makes my lack of context somehow...contextual.

I also just had to lift this quote from the same place:
The name “Slowpoke” comes from an appreciation of the need to slow down to appreciate life. Slowpokes, according to the author, “value quality over quickness” and so don’t always fit into the modern world. The four-panel strips elaborate on that theme, whether presenting personal character insights or larger cultural commentary.
I would have approved more of a quality evolution of Vancouver over a quick one, myself.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

investor alert!

In my last post, I compared a house in Arbutus to a house in Killarney. I mumbled about moving 40 blocks west, and the price about moving 4,000 kilometres east? For less?

I was just fiddling around, looking for some info. for a post that I was thinking of, and serendipited (I think I made a word up) onto this place in Kitchener, Ont.

It's a 20 unit walk-up apartment building, that appears to be fully rented, for sale @ $1.075 million. That is a bit cheaper than the Arbutus shack featured @ $1.089 million, though it does not have the prestige of that W. 16th Ave. address (snort!) The thing is, the Arbutus address is in serious need of a wrecker's ball, and another $300 - 400K to build a swish place that befits it's neighbourhood, and it would have no revenue to off-set your $8100/month mortgage (plus taxes, etc. - and don't forget the new construction...).

Here are the numbers - in case you are interested.

Now, I know that this is not apples to apples, and you would still be augmenting the payments by ~$25K/year, but if you lived in one of the apartments, you could eliminate the superintendent's and management's salaries, and you would only be down about $12K/year. You could probably make that back in appreciation (or is the place way past it's best before date?), and jack the rents up a bit, and you are on the road to riches. You would not need an income of $303 G's a year to qualify either - hell, just about anyone with a minimum-wage job could qualify.

I know that these are very different prospects, but if I was going to dump over a million bucks into a dump, it would be a dump with some income.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

east to west

I had occassion to go out to UBC today, and made my route along 16th Avenue. I did not see a lot of "For Sale" signs (west of Cambie), and the few that I did see, had "SOLD" plastered on them. That struck me as interesting - as I have been seeing an ever-increasing number of signs up east of Main St., and most just sit, and sit, even with "Price Reduced" as an incentive. It seems as if the low high-end on the West Side is still selling, while the lower stratum on the East Side, are not.

Intrigued by this, I did an MLS search of Arbutus, Dunbar and the University Lands. Arbutus has nothing under $1 million, Dunbar has 2 under $1 million (in the high 800K's), and the University Lands has none under $1.1 million.

This place in Arbutus (W. 22nd Ave.) is a cool $1.089 million. A 33x120 lot with a "tear-down"? (and the realtor cannot even be bothered to take a decent photo' for that kind of money...)

So, I thought I'd look for comparables on the East Side, and found this place. (at least the agent looked through his view-finder)

Dang near identical houses on more-or-less the same sized lot, but the second house is in East Van., in Killarney - one of the more "desirable" areas in East Van. The East Van. house is larger by 100 sq' to boot, but is priced at $535K - a bit less than half the price of the Arbutus house. How can travelling 40 blocks west make a shitey shotgun shack "worth" twice as much money?

Something else that I have taken note of, is that most of the blurbs from the East Side tell about how much the house can pull in with rent. This is further indication that this market is all about speculation - never mind "a great house in a great neighbourhood, great for raising your young family". So houses are just another commodity, and as such, are just as prone to boom and bust.

Incidentally, the Killarny blurb says Easily rentable for $1,700 or more for month. Yeah, right. I'd pay $1200 on a good day, but even at $1700 - you would not come close to positive cash flow.

What a disconnect.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

grief in 5 easy stages

Thanks to zed for sending me this link to CBC's story entitled Canadian real estate sales slip. (I have copied their style of a bold red font for the headline. It's like the colour of...blood in the streets. Very provocative.)

There is a lot of blah, blah - pointing out how things are down, but from a giddy escalation. Good news with the bad news, wot?
Vancouver's real estate market once again topped the country's most expensive. The average home sold for $582,354. That's down by about $5,000 from August, but still represents a better than 10 per cent hike in the past year.

"The underlying economic conditions in Canada that affect real estate are still very strong," said CREA president Ann Bosley in a statement. She attributed lower overall sales to the "volume of new listings."
And just what might be driving that "volume of new listings"? Has someone accepted the diagnosis of terminal bubblecoma?

As I read all of this, and along with everything else, I was minded of Kubler-Ross' Five Stages of Grief, and wondered if we were into acceptance yet. The bargaining is yet to come, and then, the depression - in my rosy view.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

between the lines

I just don't get what's going on anymore. I've been trying to get some reading time in, and everything seems confused, confusing, or just plain crazy. But we all have had our fill of crazy, and there is little to say anymore, so I will give you this excerpt from the Grim and Malevolent, and let you read between the lines (I like to focus on Vancouver, but...)

Are we the ones that are crazy? I sometimes wonder.

Towers built on fast food fortune

A Korean entrepreneur who has built an empire from a fried chicken chain is set to transform central Surrey into one of the biggest urban hubs outside of Vancouver.

Just like living at McDonald's?
...suites for the complex near the King George SkyTrain station will go on sale starting at $179,900.

...touted as the highest residential tower in B.C. outside of Vancouver. Construction starts in two months and the move-in date is set for 2010.

Where do I sign my life away - er- sign up?
MAC Marketing Solutions...'s already got a waiting list of thousands of people waiting to buy into the development.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't sell one tower in a day,"..."We are having incredible demand.

"People recognize this will probably be the second largest urban hub outside Vancouver and they're trying to get in early."

Probably? Just the 2nd largest? Ah, outside Vancouver is the new line. Eat your heart out MAC, Rennie could tout OMA being just a minute away from Vancouver.

Mr. Yang...His vision is to transform the previously troubled area...
Sounds like Woodwards. Are they on to something?

...condo prices in downtown Vancouver are estimated to be $800 to $1,500 per square foot, Surrey's price of $450 to $550 is reasonable.
Maybe for top tier places you'll ask for $800-$1500/sq', but there are plenty of CONdo's for sale for less than that, and how can $450-$550/sq' be reasonable in Surrey?

"Surrey...The demand is there."
Whatever you say.
Mr. Yang still owns...South Korea's version of KFC...and Mr. Yang won't stop there.

"He is committed to do more things in Surrey,..may be expanding our operations to other cities.
Spare us Mr. Yang. We have had enough.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

black gold standard

black gold museum

I think that I may have mumbled something about this somewhere in the context of the Gold Standard, Bretton-Woods, foreign exchange, fiat currency discussions (most of which bores me to tears - so no discussion on gold will be tolerated This is about oil).

Since "They" don't like gold for some reason, why not use a barrel of oil (or a gallon) to back our currency? OK, oil is not quite as durable as gold (evaporation, rapid oxidization, etc.), but it is certainly more useful, and becoming just as "scarce". I also recognize that They don't really want to back the currency with anything materially tangible. Electrons and fantasy will suffice.

(Just to keep this in the realm of RE, we use oil to heat our homes, take the garbage away, bring the building supplies in, etc.)

Our dollar certainly has been riding the oil wave. Oil up = $ up, so in essence (pun intended), we are backed by petroleum, and lots of it. An unintended, but beneficial side-effect may be the hoarding of oil (less burnt/global warming blah, blah, blah), and the recognition and respect of it's real value.

Black Gold. Y'see?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

when is a deal not a deal?

I'm proffering a deal of the week that is relative. I write "relative" in the sense that there are no good deals around by my measure.

This house sits on a huge (for East Van.) 57'x115', 6581 sq. ft. lot. That could be subdivided, built on, and turned around for profit. The blurb claims the possibility to live on the main, while renting out the top floor and 4 basement "suites for a gross of $3k/month. Their arithmetic is a bit unsteady though - they claim that 4x$450 = $1900, so they might really be asking $749K for the place.

It is interesting that the house is built of "stone and brick", that is very uncommon here. You can indeed see a stone foundation, but the brick has disappeared behind some hideous plastic siding. The house is 3150 sq. feet, so it is big, and the numbers do kinda work - you could end up paying about $600/month to live on the main, while having a rooming house atmosphere in the rest. Too bad, because it might be a nice place to buy and restore, with a nice big yard for my kids. Not for $828K though.

The blurb (below) mentions a 150 sq' basement too - perfect for a little grow-op to augment the mortgage payments. While I'm on the topic of the blurb, it is a bit over-blown - nestled in quiet alcove, I found jarring. How do you nestle a 3150 sq' house anywhere? - let alone an alcove. And the mention that the house will stand for at least another 40 years is comforting - especially if one opts for a 40 year amortization.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that the picture seems to be from last fall/winter, and the MLS# is 50,000 older than current, so this place has been on the market for quite a while. I wonder if it has some heritage designation or covenant prohibiting subdivision.

Price $828,000.00
Incredible 1910 brick & stone farmhouse w/panoramic views, nestled in quiet alcove & steps from ALRT Skytrain. Totally rebuilt inside the brick outer shell - new fibreglass roof, all new plumbing, electrical & wiring, studs, drywall, insulation, baths, kitchen, flrg, 2 hot water tanks, high efficiency furnace & wndws. Feels like a new home, must see inside to appreciate. Has front entry driveway usually mistaken for side lane, but is actually part of huge lot. Solid & has stood the test of time. Live on the main flr (9 ft ceils) & rent out top AND bsmt & get $3,000 in rent!! Work the numbers. Needs new deck, but can be worked into the price. Check out the antique walnut F/P & some of the original 5 ft high wainscotting/fir flrs, 3 bdrm (possible to convert to 4!!) main flr suite. Top floor separate 3 bdrm unit w/gable balcony; Basement 4 bdrm houses 4 students @ $450 each ($1900/mo). One of the biggest lot sizes in Renfrew Heights. This house will stand a minimum of another 40 years. Unfin bsmt 150 SF.

I've been deep in the doo lately - computer troubles have been overwhelming, and led to major data confusion. I have not yet totally worked it out, but will post as I am able. I'm juggling an incredible amount these days. Babby Solipsist is crawling around like a crazed hyena, The Missus is knee-deep in naps and nappies, business is booming, cyber reconfiguration has etched the blue screen of death into my being, and even though I am the administrator, I cannot figure out how to give myself universal privileges. I have not given up, just been overwhelmed. Blogging seems to be a challenge for many right now. Mercury retrograde perhaps?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

so what gives? - prices, that's what

A couple of weeks ago I brought this place to your attention here (well, 28 days ago). It was listed at $749k. Today it is listed at $728k. A breezy hair cut of $21k - $750/day. Just wait a year, and you can save yourself a cool 1/4 $million, though they may start dropping the price by $1k/day soon.

The cracks are starting to appear in the "sellers' market".

"Bears" will be vindicated.

I have added "dropping prices" to the labels - so that we can follow things down. Finally!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

cheap post 2.0

I'm still plagued by alligators. Just a cheap post to cheer me up.

I know a guy who lived in a kids' playhouse in someones back yard once. Really - that's true. He didn't buy it though, and he didn't even pay rent.

Now here's a new rage - tree house living. Strata-titled, a true shoe box for the growing family. (I don't know where I got the picture, but it seems to be from MLS)

What do you see when looking through your window to the future? I don't like what I see, and I am trying to cheer up, so I'll just leave that hanging... (I lifted this image from The Republic)

Yes, poor people do suck because they whine. I much prefer the braying of bloated parasites myself.

I didn't dig up an image for 2007 (I do still have alligators about), but the image below illustrates that there might be a lot of "poor" people that bought houses in the last few years.

And there's my cheap post for this week end.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

up to me arse in alligators

Sorry folks, I'm up to me arse in alligators again...configuring computer, configuring network, configuring babby, etc.

I'll be right back...soon.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

wait reduction - still waiting

I've been watching this place since July - not because I want to buy it, but because I think that it is a poster child for irrational, speculative exuberance, and I'm going to watch it go all the way down to $400 G's. I might even consider it at that price, though the banks will probably have tightened up credit to self-employed people by then, and I won't be able to get a mortgage - regardless of credit-worthiness or income.

I featured this place on September 12th, at which time it was listed for $825K. A reader wrote that it was no longer showing up on MLS, and wondered if it had been sold., Well, no, it was not sold, just had a new MLS#, and a price reduction of $26K. The MLS# back then was V648709, now it is V668870. Does that mean that there has been 20,000 new MLS#'s since July? Being that there are not 20K listings in Vancouver, it indicates to me that things are being re-listed to show fewer days on market.

It is also interesting that many "tear-downs" in the same area approach this new construction in asking price. Price compression all over the place...

I won't bother going through the "feature sheet", it is much the same as the original listing, though they did clean up the hastily written features (to make it more readable?). A new picture was added - which is still a bad picture, and they are still claiming that it is "heritage style". Whatever, and good luck with that.

I think that we have reached a stalemate, and Chipman's numbers are well towards a buyers' market. This will be the winter of discontent, I think.

Friday, September 28, 2007

the grab bag #10 - bc bud

This new "grab bag" explains the hot Vancouver housing market. Or does it?

It's been a busy week. Forgive me my absence. On top of that, I haven't got too much of a clue as to what is really going on, do you?

There have been all kinds of fallacious explanations as to why Vancouver's RE market "remains so buoyant", and over at Rob Chipman's place, a couple of knuckleheads are convinced that it is the pot "industry" that both drives the market, and maintains it. They have all kinds of different measuring sticks as to the value of that industry, and I suspect that maybe they are themselves grow operators who have bought RE with their proceeds, or they are just knuckleheads. It's as silly as the mountains, the Olimpdicks, and the mountains, in my view.

Today I heard Marc Emery (fighting extradition to the US for selling pot seeds, and also the leader of the Marijuana Party) twice quoted (on CBC) on the effect of the low US dollar on BC's pot exports. Apparently, the price that the growers garner has dropped (relatively) with the strength of the dollar, and demand has not diminished at all - despite the climate of prohibition and interdiction. I did find it amusing that it was a topic of discussion on the national business news. And so what? I smoke pot, and have for thirty years. I do have MS, so it is (now) "medicinal", but really... Reefer Madness was a bit of campy propaganda from the 1930's, but this is the 21st century. Get over it already!

The dollar closed at $1.01 something US today. Yee haw! So what?

GM went off strike after two days. So what?

$13.8 Billion Federal surplus. So what? (National debt is some $1,600 Billion - depending on how measured).

US housing market continues to slide. So what?

I really believe that the Vancouver market is sliding too. So what?

Wake me up when we are back at 2002 prices. I'm going to smoke a joint (because there is nothing like a Mint Julip and a joint).

Monday, September 24, 2007

regime change

picture link

This topic was somewhat pre-empted in the comments on the last post, but I have been thinking about fleshing it out, so here goes.

Much ado about nothing regarding parity with the US$, there is a much bigger story brewing just under the surface.

Some of you more interested types may have already read this, but I have redacted it below for your edification.

The dark cloud? The U.S. economy

From Saturday's Globe and Mail
September 21, 2007 at 11:04 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — If the United States were a patient, a doctor might look at the tumbling dollar like a sudden drop in blood pressure. It's a symptom...of a binge.

For too long, Americans have been gorging on cheap credit and foreign oil, and all things that go with the lifestyle – monster homes, big cars and big-screen TVs. For 15 years, the U.S. economy has been a magnet for global products and credit.

Now the patient is overindulged; his credit card maxed out.

The dollar is falling in large part because foreigners are no longer willing to pay for all this excess...And this week, Ben Bernanke and the U.S. Federal Reserve injected a new concern into the mix – that cutting short-term interest rates could fuel inflation.

This is isn't a story about the Canadian's all about the United States.

The greenback is tumbling against virtually every currency that isn't pegged to the dollar...

“During this period of extreme turbulence, when our attention is riveted on near-term events, it's easy to miss the startling fact that since Bretton Woods ended, the U.S. dollar has never been this low,”...

Over the past five years, the dollar has lost roughly a quarter of its value...the United States could even cede its role as the world's reserve currency...

This week, Saudi Arabia opted not to match the lower U.S. interest rates, even though...the riyal – has been pegged to the dollar since 1986. The move suggests the Saudis may soon abandon the peg, setting off a stampede out of the U.S. dollar by oil-rich Gulf states...

Two of Saudi Arabia's neighbours, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, have already said they want to cut their U.S. dollar reserves...
“Because the oil-rich nations are paid in an increasingly falling U.S. dollar, their purchasing power diminishes and their imported inflation surges,”...“Economic realities are making the current arrangement increasingly untenable.”

There is an estimated $3.5-trillion (U.S.) of Arab money parked in U.S. dollars. If Saudis and their neighbours decide they no longer need to hold U.S. dollars (or price their oil in dollars), the greenback's decline could become a rout.

In an ideal world, a lower dollar should eventually ease the U.S. trade deficit...But at more than 5 per cent of gross domestic product, the trade and current account deficits remain exceptionally high by historical standards.

...Together, China and oil account for roughly 80 per cent of the U.S. trade deficit.

So unless the price of oil falls substantially or China moves quickly to revalue the yuan, the trade deficit is fated to remain high – even as the dollar falls.
It looks like a deep pile of doo-doo for the US economy (and GM went on strike today), and there have been rumblimgs of pricing oil in Euros for some time (some say that that was a big motivator for invading Iraq), and it looks as if that might be closer to a reality every day.

The Iranian President addresses the UN today, Harper? Hmmm. North-west Passage. Alberta oil reserves. High loon. Over-extension of the US military. Blackwater kicked out of Iraq. Big history in the making?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Saigon April 1975
Baghdad 2007

All of this hullabaloo about the Canadian $ at historical highs ($1.15 by Hallowe'en...) has had me thinking about helicopters lately.

The last time the dollar was this high, it was Afro's, bell bottoms, platform shoes, wide ties and the BeeGees The pundits crow. (guilty, but I despised disco). Gerald Ford (Republican) was President. The pundits crow. Then I thought, yeah, and the US was bogged down in a war against "insurgents" in Vietnam, and was doing it's damnedest to get out (and did in 1975). And Nixon was later impeached (though not in relation to the Vietnam debacle). To be fair, it was LB Johnson - a Democrat - who started it.

The Vietnam war was initiated on false "intelligence" - related to the US blowing up it's own ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. And it was against the heathen communists that threatened the American way of life. The Can $ was trading at $1.014*. They used helicopters to evacuate Saigon.

Today, the US is bogged down in an unpopular war in Iraq (going after the heathen Al-Qaeda that threaten the American way of life). Another war against "insurgents". Another war initiated on false "intelligence". People are calling for Bush's impeachment. It's Metrosexuals (or is it something else now?), latte frappuccino low-fat bourgeois biscotti, miniature dogs, and scooters. Bush is a Republican. There are also those who say that 9/11 was a false flag operation - just like the Gulf of Tonkin. They will use helicopters to evacuate Baghdad.

Going back to the high before that, we are in 1959 - when the Can $ traded at $1.042*. Wow! The US was bogged down in a Cold War and arms race with China and the USSR. Around this time, Canada bought it's first Sea King helicopters. It was duck tails, straight-leg chinos, The Big Bopper, and some jazz on the fringes. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, was president.

The high before that was in 1952 - when the Can $ traded at $1.021*. The US was in the middle of another war that they could not win in Korea. The Korean War was the first war that the US used helicopters in a meaningful way. There was no culture to speak of - beyond Mom and apple pie. OK, big bands. Whatever. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, won the presidency (though Truman - a Democrat started the war).

Interestingly, the Can $ was high against most other currencies during those periods as well. It has actually fallen a long way since then. Mind you, that data* is going back to early post- WWII, so a lot of the European nations (and Asian nations) were still in tatters, and rebuilding. and heavily in debt to boot.

In conclusion, helicopters and Republicans are good for the Canadian dollar. So are untenable wars embroiling the US.

One last thing about helicopters. Don't they call Ben Bernanke Helicopter Ben?

*Historical Foreign Exchange data from

Article comparing Vietnam War to Iraq War.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the soapbox (again) and (again)

I haven't dragged out the soap box for a while, I don't know why...but I'm dragging it out now.

I don't necessarily rate the popularity of this tawdry little blog by the number of comments it gets, but I don't seem to have been striking any chords lately, and I'm wondering what you want to talk about. Or are y'all as talked out about real estate, exchange rates, etc. as I am? Are you all waiting with bated (or baited as the case may be) breath for this monster to finally fall flat on it's face, or do you even care any more? Que sera, sera, or whatever.

Does our soaring loon affect you in a positive way, or a negative way? Are we actually seeing a decline in the value of our hoarded cash? Ought we to be using the Euro or Yen as a benchmark against our dollar - rather than the US green back? Do the US Fed, and BOC have a clue? or are they just flailing like I am?

Comments please, I'm getting lonely...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

becoming rich while waiting for the denouemente

aleks posted up a link to Digital Luddite's One-Step Guide to Becoming Rich over at mohican's place that is worth reading. Maybe you will be curious to take the link trip. It's not RE related, but the writing is a good diversion.

This whole RE/financial thing is getting wearying. It's like waiting for the denouemente in the Russian version of War and Peace.

Here is the One-Step Guide to Becoming Rich (redacted), and it is not flipping real estate.
Becoming rich is not complicated. Calculating the launch vector to send a rocket to Pluto is complicated, involving all sorts of higher level math (ie grade 10 and above). Becoming rich involves no math more complicated than addition and subtraction.

The reason most people don't do it is that it's difficult...

The One-Step Guide to Becoming Rich is this: Spend less than you earn. The more you earn and the less you spend, the richer you become.

It sounds like common sense. It should be common sense. And yet, as sense goes it's anything but common. The...collective US citizenry...are in fact following the One-Step Guide to Becoming Poor.

Probably because if you are like most people,... you want to appear rich. You make your neighbours jealous. You don't even know how to calculate your net worth, or what it means when the number is negative.

And ironically, it's the desire to appear rich that prevents people from becoming rich. Trying to impress your neighbours is the very first thing on the list of 10 Reasons You Aren't Rich.

Another good one is #6: You Try to Make a Quick Buck. Gambling is more popular now than ever...

CONdo flipping is gambling

Sure, you can probably do basic addition with a calculator, and some of you may remember what a ratio is, but on a fundamental level you don't understand how numbers work....

...Today's hip internet slacker doesn't want to "save," you want to "invest" and buy "stocks" and "currency hedged mutual funds whose asset mix and investment strategy you don't understand."

...If you spend less than you earn, you can't help becoming rich. Maybe you would become richer faster if you made better investment decisions, but there's a corollary for that too: You are not Warren Buffett.

Every month that you follow the One-Step Guide, you will be richer than the month before. It's a virtually foolproof system.

The only flaw is... Once you spend the money, you're not rich anymore. Like the One-Step Guide itself, it's pretty much common sense, but it's a bit of a catch-22.

In a future rantenspiel I'll outline the Two-Step Guide to Becoming Slightly Less Rich But Still Getting to Go Out Occasionally and Buy New Versions of Guitar Hero.

It's not quite as catchy.
Couldn'a said it better myself.

From the same site -
Of course, what's really happening is that journalists are acting more like bloggers.

Which was pretty much inevitable, if you think about it. The internet at large is always at least five years behind the porn industry, and what is a blog except a low budget, grainy, amateur hand-held version of real journalism?

I like that! Grainy and hand-held is us.

Monday, September 17, 2007

before the drop

The above picture is illustrative of much right now. Markets and economies soaring so headily for the last 6 years or so are paused in a Wile E. Coyote moment, and about to feel the effects of gravity. Everything is going around in circles, and there is not much that interests me enough to write about (in regards to real estate in Vancouver). It's all been said 10,000 times.

Greenspan keeps dropping bombs on his book tour - saying today that UK RE is overvalued.

Tomorrow the US Fed is expected to cut rates between 25-50 bp's, and those expectations seem to be having more of a subduing effect on the markets than a boosting effect. CAN $ is up even more.

Northern Rock in the UK saw a bank run that pulled some 2 Billion Pounds Sterling out in the last couple of days.

Meanwhile, in Canada, the 40 year mortgage trap is set, and ready to snap closed.

Look out below.