Thursday, July 31, 2008

the jean gibson fan club

It is still a buyer's market. The number of homes on the market has increased and the asking prices have adjusted to the market. Now is a great time to buy, while Vancouver homes are at rock-bottom prices.

Good grief.They must have started adding mind-addling fluoride (or something) to the water when I was not looking. The above quote is from the Kerrisdale Real Estate blog. The picture is a screen-shot of the blog page.

The previous article, entitled Buy The Dream has seven things that jean (the realtor/author) has learned about Real Estate. They sound to be from Ozzie Jurock's latest $1599 RE Action Week-end, or maybe just from his Insider Alerts.

Now, I'm not usually vindictive, or even nasty, but I am feeling a bit ornery lately (I have my reasons). Jean looks to be a nice, grandmotherly type (In a W.A.S.P.ish way), but how can she believe the crap that she is writing? Will anybody else believe it?
I would like to see every person, who reads this, own their own home. Preferably using me as their realtor.
I hope I have nudged you to go out and buy that dream!
Now, that is just elitest. She wishes every person who reads her article will own their own home. What about the other 3.999999 million people in BC who will never read those words? Too bad. And I love the plug to use her as your realtor. (She forgot the capitalization, and TM. I am more deliberate)

I don't get a huge number of comments here, and I appreciate the ones that I do get, but this lady had ZERO comments until today (other than spam), when a bunch of readers of Rob Chipman's blog trooped over there and started laying on a bunch of snark for her. So, why not join the jean gibson fan club, and mosey on over to leave your good wishes? I am sure that she will be gratified by the traffic.

Just be nice, she is, after all, someones Grandma.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

good and cheap, and fast

Well, the lawns have withered, the trees are thirsty, and the bloom is off the rose. No real relief in sight. Oh, a few raindrops over-night, but that is nothing compared to the rains that are needed, and will come - as sure as November will.

Waidaminit! I am I writing of the weather? Or the RE market? Both, really.

I don't bother checking inventory much any more, I see a lot of "For Sale" signs, a lot have regular open houses marked, but all that traffic on the streets must be heading to Well-mart, they sure are not going house shopping from what I can see. I don't see enough "REDUCED!" signs though. Very few in fact. They will come in November too.

My neighbour finally dropped $35 and had the grass cut, but still, no takers. She has not lowered her ludicrous asking price - I don't think that she can, and still get away clean. The renters moved away, and now she is renting the place out furnished. It seems that a few people have come and gone, so I don't think that it is working out so well. Stagnation seems to be an appropriate descriptor.

Inflation rhymes with stagnation, and I came across a link to an article entitled The Great American Nightmare. I won't rehash it here, but it is worth a read. The author talks about "shadow inflation" - as opposed to official figures, and talks of how the numbers are twisted to make things "look better" than they really are. We all know that though, and it is the same with unemployment numbers.

The article is in relation to the US, and some may be quick to point out that we are somehow insulated from it in Canada because we are special, and have the oil sands, and timber, and weather, and the mountains, and the Olympics, and, and... But we know how goes Amurika, so goes the world. Globalization is just that. No doubt that power and influence is shifting, but he who has nukes, well, still has power.

The US has Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, and we have CHMC. They have subprime, we have zero-down/40 year amort. Oh yes, and then BoC buying junk bonds, or ABCP if you will.

The US has hundreds of banks failing, and we have noises of deregulation of banking, and the big five buying ABCP. I don't even want to touch that.

Inflation is a lot higher than reported in Canada, and we "smart ones", who did not buy in, are seeing our savings erode. Maybe the 0%/40 Year bunch (or at least some of them), are not so stupid after all. The dumb ones are about to lose a lot more though.

Oh well, at least I am sure that the next shoe to drop is higher interest rates. Hopefully, they will be high enough to off-set inflation. But they never are, are they? Maybe randombabble was not so wrong on the future of gold.

I'd rather buy tins of food and ammo.

The title of this post was a lame attempt to tie the picture to the post (it is cheap, and sort of fast, but good? Huh?). We all want to see houses get good and cheap, and fast, do we not? But I can't help but think that anything built in the last five years will not be good - no matter how cheap it is. Too fast.

I ripped off the photo at top from another blog, but at least I straightened it, cropped it, and adjusted contrast, etc.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

our kittinger moment

On 16 August 1960, Joe Kittinger jumped from a balloon into the stratosphere (102,800 ft.) to make the longest skydive from the highest altitude in history. He reached a peak velocity of 614 mph (988 km/h), a mark that still stands as the fastest speed ever reached by a human without a vehicle. Though Kittinger fell short of supersonic speeds, he did get pretty close.

Automatic camera recording Kittinger as he leapt from the Excelsior balloon

I see this as analogous to the RE market that we have. It is stratospheric, and record-breaking. It is very cold and lonely up here, and there is only one way down - free-fall, and hope that the parachute works.

Despite the planning of NASA, USAF, etc., no one knew just how it would go. Kittenger's pressure suit sprang a leak, and he suffered intense pain in his hand. Between 90,000 feet and 70,000 feet, Kittenger had great difficulty in breathing. Jayzus, 614 MPH straight down.

Here is the formula that describes his acceleration:


v = terminal velocity
v/0 = initial velocity, which is zero in this case
a = acceleration, due to gravity in this case
Deltax = change in distance, 12,800 ft (3,900 m) in this case

I wanted to write a formula that would describe the potential of acceleration once this market starts its free-fall, but my calculus sucks. It will be horrific though, and will likely reach a velocity heretofore unheard of.

Canadians owe $100 Billion in unsecured credit card debt, and who knows how many billions in mortgage debt. Our manufacturing sector has imploded, and continues to burn. Job growth in recent years is mostly in the government, and of course, part-time and service industry jobs. Our federal government has no cookies in the cupboard for when things start to get tough in the next year or so. The US (our biggest market) is already in free-fall, with $1 Trillion in unsecured credit card debt, and of course, a 15% decline in property values (nationally - with some markets down ~40%). That $1 Trillion is not so scary - it is 10x what Canadians owe, but they have 10x our population. Per capita, we are in the same boat.

It is a long, long way down from here, and I think that the fall is going to be very swift.

No parachute either.

Friday, July 18, 2008

604 it's over

or, more signs of the times

I rather liked the last post picture, with allusions to perversion, a black hole sucking in the 604 area code, y'know.

The picture for today seemed emblematic as well - a sign advertising "quality homes" that has a mean list to it. I hope they build homes better than they put up signs. It does not instill confidence. Most of us are well aware of the preponderance of cheap construction and poor workmanship these days. Having a sign like that is like going to a job interview downtown unshaven, and unwashed.

Shortly after taking that picture, I saw a roofing crew re-doing a residential roof. The truck driver did not seem to know how to operate the boom crane to load the new shingles onto the roof, and I watched in dread anticipation of a work place accident. Nobody seemed to know what they were doing - the roof was not properly stripped, and it looked as if they were going to shingle over the remaining nails and detritus from the old roof. I had to keep moving.

Somewhat disheartened, I came across this place -

and my heart sang again. I like the style, and the use of the lot. It was refreshing to see after seeing so many dreary New Vancouver Specious - er, Specials. They look to be quality built, it is apparent from the curb. I like the whimsy of the upper floor windows, and half-expected to see The Cat in the Hat lurking about somewhere. It looks like Dutch Modern meets Harbour Grace, NFLD, or such. Why can't tasteful, quality construction be codified? If we are going for density, let's do it right.

A bit further on, I passed another house under construction, and saw a guy putting up the fascia above the front entrance. It was uneven, and there was a gap. I fully expected to see the guy leave it that way, but he actually pulled it off and fixed it! I commented to him as I passed, and thanked him for making it right. Why should that make me so happy? I am just so tired of seeing crap being built, and having to look at it.

Then again, maybe I am just manic today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the tug of gravity...

...or signs of the times

I found this one in my peregrinations. For rent, and for sale. I know that there is some twisted logic to that - such as if it's rented, the revenue income will be a selling point! There has got to be some great big fool looking for an investment property... Thing is;

a) Who is going to rent a house that will be sold out from underneath them, and have to put up with open houses every Sunday, and other showings? I wouldn't rent it. And who is going to buy it if tenanted?

b) Rent would not cover much more than 1/2 of the mortgage payments on this POS.

Meanwhile, the house sits vacant, and sucks money down an ever bleaker black hole.

The only signs that seem to be missing, are REDUCED, and/or FORECLOSURE.


Sunday, July 13, 2008


Thanks to R.Di for pointing out this travesty @2630 FRANKLIN ST, Hastings East, Vancouver East. v718488

$890,000.00?!!! WTF are these people smoking down on Franklin ST.? It reminds me of The Charge of The Light Brigade, or the Kamikaze Cult. No guts, no glory.

IT IS OVER! Shave your price by $600G's, and you might get a low-ball offer of $225K.

I have a mind to get a real estate license - just so that I could arrange to take your 75% off, low-ball offers to people like this. Any bored agents out there?

Actually, I wouldn't buy the place for an even $200K.

Any FTB better hurry to get in on this one to be a FB - as of October 15th, forget about that zero-down, 40 year amort., cash-back action, yer going to have to slap down 5% with a 35 year amortization. The handy Royal Bank mortgage calculator tells us that if you make accelerated weekly payments of $1,245.09 (a measly $4930.86/mo.), you can own this puppy outright in 27 years. It will take an annual income of about $200K to buy this place at these terms. Is here a surgeon in the house? A CEO of a middle corporation?

OK, I know that it is only really move-up buyers that are buying these places, but I am curious as to exactly from where someone would "move up" to this place. The Cecil Hotel?

I'm not normally subject to schadenfreude, but I feel a big, smug smirk coming over me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

strange fruit

I was out wandering with li'l solipsist today, and noticed a lot of strange new fruit (depicted below) amongst the flowers and trees that he demands identification of.

Joe Chan (in the first picture) has had that place for sale for months. Ellie Chan joined him next door, and Winnie Lam is next to her. Two doors down, a house struggling to be completed will soon be for sale (I photoshopped its sign). Half the damn block is for sale! The Joe Chan, and the Winnie Lam both appeared to be vacant. On the block behind me, at least two places were for sale - one of which is vacant.

The new crop continued to flourish, and I could only take so many pictures. I ended with the Wong consortium when I noticed that the wee gaffer had fallen asleep in boredom. Yawn.

There is something wong with this picture (sorry, I could not resist that) - it is starting to look like the pictures we were seeing from California, etc., where everything looked to be for sale - and no buyers.

Strange fruit, come early. I predict a bitter harvest by the time the Harvest Moon rolls through the sky. Especially with the October 15th !Surprise! of revised qualification requirements for mortgages.

It is finally over.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

bestial book ends

(click the pic for biggy)

I spotted these evil twins on Copley - just east of Nanaimo. Good grief! They look like raffle prizes from a monster truck show, or worse. Side-by-side slaps in the face.

I have noticed a "deteriorating" trend in the finishes on these now ubiquitous press board boxes. Gone are the heady days of Mandarin Orange, Venous Red, Fecal Brown, etc. stucco, the final push into oblivion is vinyl siding. I guess that maybe there was a deal on it before the carbon tax kicked in. Way to go on mitigating your carbon footprint folks! (and building hideous houses while you are at it) Way to go on maximizing your profits even further. It's just too bad for you that you are too late to the party. BEEP!

But who would buy such candy floss crap? Really ugly twins? What were these builders thinking? Or not? Do they not realise that the days of buying sight-unseen are over? The half-dead tree liability is a nice touch too. Shoulda been more careful with the excavator.

Vancouver is being left with a sad legacy of soul-less, cheaply built (but very expensive) buildings - from leaking, rotting, crumbling condos to this kind of offense. There ought to be a law.

Monday, July 07, 2008

888 state

Yesterday I was out and about, and noticed more "For Sale" signs than I have seen for a while. It seems that there are 4 or so on every block. It seems that it is sinking in that it is over.

My neighbour has had open houses the last three week-ends in a row. It seemed that it was mostly Chinese looking (I can tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. 19 times out of 20 +/- 3%). No Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, mostly small, less expensive vehicles. Maybe that indicates they are more frugal, and can afford a $900K house on a smallish lot in East Van.? Maybe not. I enjoyed doing yard work while my stereo pumped the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Forgotten Rebels, etc., out my window. Hey! fore-warned is fore-armed. Right? The asking price is 20% higher than it was bought for last year. And the defects are starting to show. Good luck with that.

So, I was all juiced up, and did some MLS searching. Still no houses in East Van. under $400K. I guess we will have to wait for fall for things to sink in. Prices and quality are all over the map, with tear-downs listed in the same price range as new construction, and big lots in the same range as small lots. A little price compression before the price depression sinks in, me thinks.

What I found interesting was all of the houses listed with a bunch of eights. I counted 10 places (out of 160 or so) that were listed for $888K. That is kind of blatant, and if I were Chinese, I would be somewhat offended. Do the listing agents think that they (Chinese) are that stupid/naive/superstitious? You would not want to mess with over/under bids on a place that was listed for $888,888.00 would you? I'll give you $888,888.88 plus my lucky rabbit foot. No Deal? I'll throw in a four-leaf clover!

Sadly, many who over-extended themselves to buy in the last couple of years - with the hopes of insane appreciation - did not see the credit crisis, doubling of energy costs, accelerating property taxes to pay for Olympic cost over-runs, food inflation of 30%, etc., coming when they factored their top line.

Why don't we just start bidding $300K with a bunch of conditions on these $800K places? Let us bring it down!

There are deals ahead. Keep your powder dry.

Friday, July 04, 2008

a buyers' market

Yay! It's a buyers' market!

At least, that is what was breathlessly reported on the CBC Vancouver news at 11:00 PM. The Reasoning is a 43% decrease in sales (timeline not provided), and an 18% increase in listings (ditto, and Huh? It must have been an 80% increase in listings...?). But, it was said, 'prices are still rising, just not at the same pace as recent years.'

Well golly! Colour me finicky, but as far as I'm concerned, the market for any sane buyer will be when the 50% haircut is realized.

And that nice family looks so happy...

side note - I read today (from an unverified authority) that natural gas prices are going to go up by 35% by winter. And that is not going to be due to any carbon tax. Oil hit $145/bbl today.

Energy prices are going to kill the RE market, and the economies of the world. The big shakedown is on. Banks collapsing in the US.

And what would inflation be right about now? 2%? Snicker.

Oh my. If video killed the radio star...