“At potential rental after rental we discovered that the answer to “How long can we stay?” was “Depends on market.”

“As someone who’s spent the last few months trying to find a decent rental in this town, I’d say that my impression is that the majority of would-be landlords on the West Side are looking to sell just as soon as they can, and many of them have only recently bought these properties! At potential rental after rental, house or condo, we discovered a). the place had been bought fairly recently and b). the answer to “How long can we stay?” was “Depends on market.”
- Vesta at VREAA 16 Sep 2011 12:07pm

“Try calling Dr. Aladdin [an individual on craigslist advertising a 2,600sqft Southlands SFH for rent; $3.5K p.m.]… No you cannot view this rental-to-be …he just purchased it and won’t have possession until the end of October.
craigslist has been littered with newly purchased ‘rental-to-be’s this year. Google 6188 Mackenzie St or 3118 West 44th Avenue, both “March madness” sales, now rental properties managed by Macdonald Realty and Advent Property Mgmt respectively. Are they available for long-term lease? No. Vesta is right.
- Epica at VREAA 16 Sep 2011 1:47pm

These landlords may be planning on selling into a rising market, but how will they respond to a falling market? We’re anticipating a good number will try to bail precipitously, and thus add to supply (and price momentum) on the way down.  – vreaa

77 responses to ““At potential rental after rental we discovered that the answer to “How long can we stay?” was “Depends on market.”

  1. “How long can we stay?… Depends on the market.”…

    or, as the VanouverPlayhouse’s Artisitic Director, Reimer put it:

    “We didn’t want to upset the ecology.”

    [G&M] – City bails out Vancouver Playhouse, museum for more than $1-million

    http://tinyurl.com/3zcxyl4

    So, evidently, you’re in good company VESTA…

    • “We didn’t want to upset the ecology”

      Wow.
      Jaw dropper.
      A fudged-up excuse for what appears to be lack of due process, in the guise of something caring and good.
      Love the fallback to green/environment = wholesome.
      The last refuge of the indebted is …. the environment?

  2. I’ve often wondered what will happen in the rental market when the market drops. When we rented our place, our landlord said he chose us over the hoards of other people who applied because I told him (honestly) that we would stay years, whereas everyone else said they’d sign a year’s lease and “see what happens”. At this point, the landlord feels rich because the place is worth double what he bought it for about 6 years ago. But how will he feel when the market drops a bit? Try to get out and sell? Or hold on in hopes the market will “recover”? It’s hard to say.

    • I reckon that there will be a general upheaval in the market when prices drop, and then drop further, that pretty much has the potential to effect everybody. Owners, obviously, will be feeling the pain of 20%, 30%, 40%, etc price drops, some will be forced to liquidate, others will decide to sell to try to lock in whatever paper profits they may still have. Even those who sit tight will experience the discomfort of a very significant drop in net worth (many are leveraged to any RE price drops); there will be a related ‘negative wealth effect’; the local economy will be hit in multiple ways.
      Aside from that, many renters will be forced to move when amateur landlords bail (even though the net result may be an increase in available rentals and a softening of rents themselves): so, at the very least a great inconvenience for all.
      All part of the mess that results from a RE bubble.

      • Unlike in many areas of the US, we have good laws to protect tenants when a landlord gets foreclosed on. Also, hopefully, most tenants know their rights and have the guts to demand landlords follow the law on evictions.

      • Also, hopefully, most tenants know their rights and have the guts to demand landlords follow the law on evictions.

        I don’t think most people do.

        A few years ago while still living in Ontario I had to break a lease early because of a new job. The Landlord then made one big glaring mistake: As we walked through the place he said that he’ll be renovating before renting it out again. *ding*.

        See, in Ontario you have to pay a penalty if you break your lease in the first year, BUT if the landlord tells you they are doing renovations you can cancel the rental agreement without penalty.

        Having read the tenant act I knew this, he apparently though I didn’t and tried to scare me into paying the penalty. I pointed out to him that he was going to do renovations in the unit and as such I had the right based on the tenant act to break the lease without penalty. He didn’t like that at all and tried to scare me by telling me he’d hire a lawyer. I wished him good luck with that because if his lawyer was worth any money he’d point out that he won’t be winning that one. Never heard from him again.

        But the problem is most people do NOT read the tenant act or even know it exists, I think many Landlords aren’t either.

    • I think it will go something like this:

      - Market starts dropping. One half will try to sell as quickly as possible, the other half will hang on hoping it will be a short lived correction. This will be chaotic times where you will see months of great sales with stable prices and even slight increases as the last of the suckers are pulled in and months that have huge decreases.
      - As the decline continues more people will try to sell and at this point it will increase the pressure on the price. Sellers will become “creative”, they may kick out renters in the hopes that an empty house will be more attractive for purchase than a rented out one. Others will go the opposite way, trying to get you to sign multi-year leases and try to market / sell it as an investment property.
      - Finally defaults, where people realize they have overstretched, can’t make the payments anymore. At this point depending if they live in the property or not they may take on more renters in their basement etc. or throw in the towel and try to walk away from it.

      This final stage will see a serious pressure on the rental prices as many will be competing for renters in order to reduce the losses they are taking every month.

      Timeline for this? Hard to say, I think we see the beginning of stage one, until we’re in the final phase though I would guess it’s going to be a year or more until we hit the final stage.

      Of course a serious meltdown in the economy could hasten the whole thing.

      As for the OPs: I’d say be patient. Yes, you may have to move a few times in the near future, but in the end this is little pain for potentially a lot of gain.

      • Yes to Mike above, BC has good laws protecting tenants. Michael, thanks for this helpful information/prediction. VREAA host, thanks too for sketching a scenario you think likely. I agree that the RE bubble situation could at best create horrible inconveniences for renters.

        Almost as an experiment, this morning I went to the Craigslist rental housing ads, typing in “Vancouver” and “3 bedroom” into the search engines. Each of the half-dozen ads I’ve looked at/phoned about so far has involved:
        a). a lovely character house
        b). a contact person with whom I could barely communicate, given that I don’t speak Mandarin
        c). annnnd (wait for it) the answer “Don’t know, depends on market” when I asked the $6,400,000 question about the landlord’s plans for keeping/selling/obliterating the house.

        I’m afraid the evidence that the West Side has been sold off to “investors” and speculators just keeps mounting. Even attractive potential tenants like us are interchangeable gerbils for a temporary cage!

        My question is: What is Vancouver thinking? Who on earth is going to want to live here? Who on earth can afford it? Why does Vancouver have its head in the sand about how this city is being transformed — taken over, gutted — overnight? Who’s asleep at the multiple wheels here? What leaders don’t have the foresight or courage to intervene?

        Thanks again to the VREAA host and commenters for circulating important information and providing sane perspectives, which seem mostly to be lacking in any kind of public discourse here otherwise.

    • If you want my best guess, I think the rental market will remain weak for an extended period — 4-5 years at least — due to reduced in-migration, oversupply, and high unemployment. I don’t foresee a foreclosure wave like in parts of the US but I do think people will be betting on a “reversion” and take losses for years because (insert platitude here).

    • Our current landlords have owned the property for 5 years. It is a character house on a large lot. Instead of just selling and reaping the windfall they will be demolishing the house and building and intending to sell a large new spec house. We sold our principal residence in 2006 intending to rent for a few years. We thought the market was overheated then. Anyways…this will be the 5th time we’ve had to move in 5 years … It is definitely taking a toll.

      • The market was indeed overheated in 2006; it simply proceeded to get white hot thereafter (helped by the perverse drop in interest rates: Vanc.RE was bailed out by the financial crisis without warranting a bail-out). That can happen in speculative manias.
        We know that knowing this doesn’t make it any easier for those on the sidelines.
        Condolences.

      • Meanwhile, the apartment I am renting I am renting for the last 5 1/2 years and I have not seen a rental increase in 2 1/2 years. This is in a Hollyburn property, as far as I can tell everybody else in my building has seen adjustments, yet I am in the supposed “penthouse” and they haven’t touched me in almost half the time I have been renting here. Go figure.

        If you’re tired of moving then take a look at rentals that are owned and run by companies that make their living in the rental business as they will want to keep you as long as possible.

      • Ye gods, that’s horrible. I’m very sorry you’re facing that.

        I do fear that’s what a lot of us will be facing.

        You know, this is SO crazy — I’ve never lived anywhere where things like that happened!

        Maybe some of us should start an archive of decent landlords/rental situations. Then as I write this I think, would there be enough for an archive?

        Another possible area of activism though.

      • Whoops, I meant my comment below to be a reply to Epica.

        Ye gods, that’s horrible. I’m very sorry you’re facing that.

        I do fear that’s what a lot of us will be facing.

        You know, this is SO crazy — I’ve never lived anywhere where things like that happened!

        Maybe some of us should start an archive of decent landlords/rental situations. Then as I write this I think, would there be enough for an archive?

        Another possible area of activism though.

      • This is rather humbling. In retrospect I would have better highlighted that uncertainties in timing a market crash should give people who were considering going short housing some idea of the risks involved.

        I don’t want a time machine, I want a timing machine. :)

  3. OffTopic for purely comedic purposes/relief… (it’s getting harder ‘n harder to mine these ‘jewels’)… [NoteToEd: sometimes, conflation temptation is beyond irresistable]. With thanks to Italy’s PM Berlusconi, whose ‘largesse’ affords our quote ‘o the day:

    “You can’t do [them] all”

    [BBC] – Italy scandal: Silvio Berlusconi in ‘sex boast’

    “In one call dated 1 January 2009, Mr Berlusconi allegedly tells Mr Tarantini that 11 women were waiting outside his door…”…

    http://tinyurl.com/65g2kvb

    [BBC] – Greek crisis: PM George Papandreou cancels US visit – Diverts To Italy

    “The prime minister judged that he should not be away. He wants to ensure that all of Greece’s commitments [to its EU partners] are fulfilled,” government spokesman Ilias Mossialos told Reuters news agency.”…

    http://tinyurl.com/3z2hjt3

  4. One thing I don’t get is why everyone is so much single minded on living in Van West Side (buying or renting).

    Crazy!

    • The West Side seems to have the best view from down ones nose at the rest of Vancouver.

    • Go here:

      http://britishcolumbia.compareschoolrankings.org/elementary/SchoolsByAreaMap.aspx

      Type in “Vancouver” and hit enter.

      Van West has mostly green pins. Van East has mostly orange pins.

      Green means a good education for your kids. Orange means you’re probably surrounded by disaffected youth.

      • “a professional couple, nonsmoking, no children, — Vesta”, so the school system shouldn’t be a factor.

        I don’t get it, anyway, whatever………..

      • At what point does the reputation usurp the content? West Side is the Toyota of the schooling world, never mind others make a better product for cheaper. But hey everyone knows Toyota’s the best.

      • lol Fraser Institute

      • My understanding was that the Fraser Institute rankings are based on annual tests. Nothing to do with reputation.

        Even if Vesta has no kids, they may want them in the future. Even if they don’t want them, they might not want to be surrounded by disaffected youth.

    • Hi Alice. Well, my husband’s job is at UBC. Some people like to live near where they work if possible. The West Side is also considered a nice neighbourhood. Does all this make us crazy? Gee, I hadn’t thought so. The people who seem most single-minded at present about the West Side and are succeeding in living there seem to be these people buying houses as investments. They often live, oh, only an ocean away. Now that could make people who have to work here…. crazy.

      • Although I agree with living close to where you work, pretty much anywhere downtownish you can easily get to UBC so if that is the only reason why you want to live Westside it’s maybe time to reconsider.

      • Vesta: Interesting to read your (and other people’s) posts about RE acitivism. About 10 days ago, I sent e-mail to vreaa host entitled ‘beyond complaining about Vancouver RE.’ I had no time to respond to vreaa with a list of things I would do if I were czar of Vancouver housing. It seems I share similar concerns with many people.

        I renovated my house (located in Van West side) last year and had a 1-bdrm suite worked into the basement. Suite is now rented by a couple, both starting their graduate programs at UBC.

        I have complained on this blog about run-away property taxes. One poster responded that a homeowner who bought in 2000 (me) should not complain, and assumed my suite was illegal. I responded that my basement suite is permitted, was in house plans approved by city hall, inspected, approved, and have a business license. I work at UBC, thus bought a house in this side of town. I am an investor, but longer-term than most, as I don’t plan to sell or vacate the house until I keel over or am no longer able to maneuver stairs in the house. Selling now, even at the height of the market, does not interest me. My house is shelter.

        If I may digress.. When the house across the street from me held an open house this spring (courtesy of realtor/flipper)–after being sold by long-time owner in Dec 2009, then by a young family in Feb 2011– one of the HAM prospectors went up my stairs instead. Luckily I was in the front yard gardening, so I was able to direct her across the street. At that point the landscaper joked that I should tell visitors I was selling my ‘new’ house for $ 5M and see what the market would bear (bad pun). Couldn’t help but laugh–not selling my house. I may be only 1 owner, but I won’t add fuel to the fire.

        I live frugally (widowed in 2008), and figure that I can ride a 30-40% decline. Who knows, a market decline might cause property taxes to stay the same year-to-year (never declines, ctiy hall always finds ‘projects’).

        I know property taxes are not on most people’s radar, esp renters. In my case, it affects how much I charge for my suite, or whether or not I will increase rent (max 2%/ yr) or will be able to maintain my property. My preference would be to maintain the property, as I would not want to rent out the suite if I wouldn’t want to live in it.

        While it is true that, as vreaa puts it, it’s difficult to stop the RE trainwreck with bare hands, it’s also true that if citizens (renters and homeowners alike) unite and tell politicians (sorry for cliche, it’s past my bedtime), they won’t ignore those concerns/constituents for long.

        Thank you for listening.

  5. SORRY, major typo in post above. I meant to say the people who are succeeding in BUYING on the West Side. Freudian slip! One would think that people who buy houses might want to live in them. But I guess if you have 3 on the West Side, like the young woman in her 20s (from Mainland China), we met at one showing recently, it might be hard to spread yourself thin.
    No, we don’t have children, WE TEACH YOUR CHILDREN! At UBC AND OTHER WEST SIDE SCHOOLS! Now do you get why we might want to live here? (Aldus — it’s not so we can look down our noses on anybody. We don’t feel we really fit in among all the Range Rovers and $100,000 convertibles here, actually.)
    Revised post below:
    Hi Alice. Well, my husband’s job is at UBC. Some people like to live near where they work if possible. The West Side is also considered a nice neighbourhood. Does all this make us crazy? Gee, I hadn’t thought so. The people who seem most single-minded at present about the West Side and are succeeding in buying there seem to be these people buying houses as investments. They often live, oh, only an ocean away. Now that could make people who have to work here…. crazy.

    • And if Vancouver doesn’t have a good highway system it’s hard to drive around the city.

      In my western Canadian city it takes a longer time to drive to the central part of the city and it’s annoying with stop lights because of the lack of a highway system into the core. This seems to be common in Canadian cities.

      It strikes me that this lack of easy driving into a downtown puts a premium on houses in easy-to-access areas of a city. Thus the desirability of West Van if one works at UBC.

    • I’ve got good news for you. The west side will probably be closing down most of its schools in the near future so you can finally move to the fraser valley.

    • sry, I missed this post earlier.

      “YOUR CHILDREN”, it’s a beauty!!!!

  6. 10 yrs ago, when we were looking for a house (not as investment), we didn’t bother wasting our time looking at Vancouver Westside. The fact is that we didn’t even look at eastside too, coz we knew we couldn’t afford anywhere in Van city, period.
    ,
    Today, i am still living in a small house outside of van city, and I am not bitter.

    Do we like living in west side? sure, what’s not to like in some of its neighborhoods?

    Do I living near my workplace, sure, but N. Van was also out of my budget (I would assume the higher price in N. Van 10 yrs ago wasn’t HAM’s fault, what a relief :-))

    I don’t know what i am trying to say here.

    I don’t know what i am trying to say.

    I have nothing against finding a solution for more affordable housing although everyone has his/her definition of “affordable”, but what’s the point of bittiness, hate or entitlement.

    That’s it for me.

  7. Alice — I don’t know what you’re trying to say either, but it sounds like you’re implying we have to resign ourselves as you have. Perhaps, but why give up on trying to make things better in whatever way one can? Students live in appalling basements all over the West Side — is that a good thing? No, let’s try to change that too.

    Who’s bitter, hateful, or entitled? Bitterness implies giving up, hate is a waste of energy, and it’s not a sense of entitlement that led me and others to hope we could find reliable places to live near where we work or study This is actually a normal expectation in many parts of the world, isn’t it? — I guess it’s easy to forget that here! And moreover we try not to use our car but walk and get around on public transit, so that’s another reason trying to live on the West Side made sense to us.

    I’ve been talking about legitimate anger about housing being unaffordable here (or unreliable, e.g. rentals being subject to sale at anytime by foreign investors) for reasons that may actually be preventable. I’m glad if you’ve found a place to live outside of Vancouver and maybe we will too. I just keep thinking my husband and I might also move altogether elsewhere (on the continent), for very sensible reasons (um, lack of affordable/reliable housing that doesn’t get addressed, partly because in my opinion people may resign themselves too readily to an absurd status quo). In my opinion, there’s no good reason Vancouver had to have this kind of housing bubble in the first place and no reason it needs to continue to exist.
    THanks again to those commenters who have had such good ideas and positive suggestions about all this.
    It’s been inspiring and educational.

  8. Okay, one last post I hope this online community will find telling: I just got a callback from a residential property manager. He had a house he’d like to show us, he said. It was — guess what — an investment property. The owners had just taken possession yesterday. What were their longterm plans for the property, I asked? He said, “If market goes up, they sell.” He said he had about 15 properties on the West Side he managed and “the story is same everywhere. The days when you could rent for three or four years, they’re gone,” he said. At best we could sign a lease for a year, but if the market changes after that….

    I do wonder if all these hopeful new landlords will find that tenants really don’t want to be treated like furniture to be put out on the curb. One of the problems is that houses like this that don’t get rented, by tenants unwilling to put up with uncertainty, simply stand vacant when if there weren’t an RE bubble, they might be occupied by families, for instance.

  9. So the anesdotal story seems to be. Chinese buyers and their community, (via a bonding of language lets say), have all got talking and decided they can use houses as gambling chips.

    One thing ive heard many times is that chinese families are “deposited” into Vancouver while the husband returns to work in China.

    I wonder how many of these isolated wives have become bored speculators with husbands across the ocean prepared to give them money to keep them quiet and happy.

    One wonders also, what will happen in these relationships, if the bubble implodes?

    Interesting

  10. I agree with Vesta on many things. Bubble or not – who has benefitted from the madness that took place on the westside? Probably mostly realtors the most! Some trickle down for local business who cater too Asians, teachers – have students in west side schools, and some of the driving instructors( don’t even get me started there!!) The fabric of the west side has changed – and not for the better. Just as it did with the Asian boxes of the late 80′s/early 90′s. There is no going back!! People stand up, and take action for your city!

  11. Vesta said – “I’ve been talking about legitimate anger about housing being unaffordable here for reasons that may actually be preventable. … Why give up on trying to make things better in whatever way one can?” …etc.

    Vesta, your frustration is entirely warranted, but I do, respectfully, want to take you to task on your implication that somehow by-stander complacency has caused the current state of affairs. It is important to realize that the speculative mania is a giant beast that has many engines: everything from global low interest rates; BOC policy; Federal finance policy; CMHC distortion of lending risk; banks/mortgage brokers; media collusion; vested interests (including politicians at every level); builders; home-industry retail; financial services; HELOC-pushers; realtors; speculators; owners; (and many players/factors i’ve left out). Almost everybody is co-opted. With something this big, and of this nature, once momentum builds, it keeps going until it self destructs. When you have followed the phenomenon closely for the better part of a decade, you start to understand that the best an individual can do is watch the train wreck, and then see where the pieces settle. Even the policy makers are impotent regarding the bubble’s trajectory. (Witness the US, trying desperately and unsuccessfully to bring their housing market out of a nosedive). I know you see this position as somewhat defeatist and nihilist, but trying to wrestle a speeding train with your bare hands is at best a waste of time and, at worst, fatal.
    The bubble will inevitably implode (we are 95% certain of that), and it is wisest to focus your effort on positioning yourself to weather that as best as possible.

    BTW, your info about landlords on the westside is extremely informative, thanks a lot.

  12. THanks VREAA host, I’m truly delighted if I’ve provided some useful info. for this blog! It looks to me like the VREAA consistently presents information one doesn’t seem to find elsewhere and argues very astutely with dangerous platitudes that really do need to be defied. I definitely understand you have far more expertise about the multiple tentacles of the housing hydra than I do. I respect your knowledge and don’t want to suggest that mere “by-stander complacency” has actually caused what’s going on. It’s just that if I didn’t have faith that if enough people make enough noise, certain things (such as the apparent vaporization of reliable rental stock on the West Side) might be ameliorated, it would just all get too bleak for me. To me it feels too upsetting not to attempt some remediating action, so I’ll head in that direction even if it might seem futile or foolish. (I do hear you on not wasting one’s time wrestling locomotives, and hope I don’t mistake what looks to me like a host of partly-resolvable Thomas the Tank problems with oblivious onrushing freight trains). I love it that you yourself have obviously put a lot of time and effort into gathering extremely helpful data, pointing out the lack of clothes on various emperors, resisting P.R. cant, calling spades spades, and not least allowing contributors here to divulge information, express exasperation (in itself a relief), AND express hope for change. I understand your perspective on what can be tackled may differ from mine, and I know you know more than I do about the big picture, but I’m very grateful you’ve created what looks to me like something of a crucible for activism.
    Pax and thanks again.

  13. “One of the problems is that houses like this that don’t get rented, by tenants unwilling to put up with uncertainty”

    That’s part of the reason why rents look so silly right now. People are buying tenure with uncertain duration and demand a big discount, really the parallels with the bond market are uncanny! The short-term renter anecdotes seem to be gaining some traction, it will be interesting to see where things end up in a few years, if renters become even more frustrated and either leave or acquiesce and buy at exorbitant prices due to deteriorating lease terms.

    The problems I see are so embedded the only way to have a meaningful “conversation” on the matter is when the refrain admits there’s a problem. I’m all for advocating rental equivalence in terms of pricing but from what I’ve seen that just doesn’t resonate with most of the populace. Maybe someday; doesn’t hurt to plant a seed, there just needs to be some organization around it…

  14. Vesta;
    I know this situation that you describe all too well. My wife and I are both profs at UBC (mid-career; mid 40′s) and we own a 1350sq.ft. duplex in KITS, and have a 7 year old. We will need more space when he is a teenager, but yet would like to have him attend a very good school and for my wife and I not to commute back and forth across the city each day. So what do we do?… By a 1.6M VERY AVERAGE (or below average) house on the west side (which is approaching a teardown), live in east van and have our kid in a poor school, live on the north shore and have a commute from hell each and every day….?…..
    Our solution, is this: My wife and I are both applying to many schools this fall (U. Alberta, Montreal, U. Toronto) and are actively seeking to leave UBC and Vancouver. In our view this city has sold out, and we do not want to be dealing with the issue of housing inaffordability for the next decade. We do not see that Canada will ever impose the wise decision that the Aussies did two years ago to limit foreign speculation, and so with the investor class Chinese ingrained in this city and in particular on the west side, we really do not see the situation changing much. In any event, we do not care what will happen as we are committed to leaving; there are many other good universities in Canada to work at, with a living environment that is more local and family oriented. In my department I know of 4 other faculty that have tenure that are actively applying to other places to leave UBC….. Each family makes their own decision, and for us we have had enough….. We are hoping that by the end of the hiring season in March we will have secured posts elsewhere….

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. How frustrating and infuriating! I hope you have good luck in your search.

      And thank you so much for writing in. I have wondered if I just get too excited and/or desperate about housing issues here, and it makes me feel saner to know other people are as shocked as I am by what goes on. My husband and I have had the exact same thoughts about departing. I think we will probably leave — if we can. Jobs in my husband’s field are very hard to come by. We feel grateful to Vancouver in many ways, have wonderful friends here, and yet it’s like we’re in the middle of a Ionesco play: we just can’t believe what’s going on.

      ANother “activist” thing I did one day (VREAA host, hope you won’t think I’m unhinged) was call various UBC administrators to tell them the housing issue was beyond aggravating, when the campus seems to be being sold off to investors while faculty and staff have so much trouble finding places to live. (There are some buildings at UBC, but not nearly enough, for faculty and staff who might like a chance to live on campus.) I was told by one “Communications” person that “We’re doing a study on faculty and staff housing needs.” “A STUDY?” I yelped. I felt like saying, WIth all due respect for research, do you actually need a study to tell you that people can’t find places to live here and need them? Forget the study, hire a few hundred contractors!

      Should we copy these posts and forward them to the UBC Board of Governors? Hmmmm…..

      In any case, I wish you the best and I’m sorry you’ve come to the conclusion that leaving is what you have to do.

      • Good luck — I do think this bubble will burst eventually. But the situation sounds incredibly annoying.

        UBC should really be doing more for profs. I heard they give some sort of interest free loan, but they need to look to Columbia for examples of how to provide housing solutions to employees. Perhaps activisim should be focused on the UBC Board of Governors.

      • And here’s the information on UBC’s interest free loans for housing:

        http://www.treasury.ubc.ca/employee-housing-program/

        It amounts to either a $45k lump sum, or paying $50k worth of interest over five years.

    • Wowzas that’s some strong “solution”.

      I say you should both ask for a 50% raise because you can’t afford the real estate and see what the deans say. Why not get the chancellor’s office all riled up? Being a thorn in the side of management is what UBC profs do better than any other group in Vancouver by a longshot, and they have some decent “world class” contenders operating in Vancouver let me tell you. :)

    • lolz, I love it when the HAM theorists point to Australia’s clampdown on foreign investment as the reason for the market turning here.

      The government removed one loophole that was open for 18 months of an 11 year property boom during which temporary residents were allowed to buy a property and keep it after they left. Now they have to sell if they don’t become permanent residents and have to return home.

      But foreigners are still allowed to buy off the plan properties in Australia. If you go to the predominately Chinese suburbs in Sydney it explains all the near vacant new apartment blocks.

      • I thought that rather a slick move. Get the foreigners to fund growing the housing stock in an already dear market when the new supply would otherwise dry up. Now, this assumes there really is an undersupply and the further the trick will be not overbuilding so much it exacerbates the crash/decline. (Amazing how wildly differing the estimates of shortage/oversupply vary downunder.)

      • Jeff -> Thanks, we’ve been sitting with this report since first finding out about it a few weeks back… will headline some of the anecdotes from it soon (tomorrow?).

  15. We don’t see it as a very radical solution to move elsewhere. My wife is originally from Edmonton, and I was born in Montreal, and raised in both Montreal and Vancouver. We went to the U.S. for our training, and returned to Vancouver in the late 1990′s…. At this stage it is an easy decision to try to leave… in the end it is the right decision on so many grounds….
    Vesta: I now firsthand the person who is in charge of the housing study that is ongoing with the board of governers at UBC… he is from my own department…. they will write some report, collect emails and testimonials etc…, but it will not change anything… the situation in this city is far beyond what a little committee can do…. people need to make their own decisions and I don’t want to be contributing to this blog 5 years from now….chuckle….. I wish you and your husband the best of luck…. tell him that there are many other places to work, and the “prestige factor” of the university is a very overrated concept… it seems important early on when one is establish a career, but there are many other equally important issues (housing, where will the kids go to school, will I be able to give them a good start, etc…etc…)….

    • Not to mention, what possible future is there for your boy in Vancouver when a 450 sq ft condo is more expensive than an average SFH in all but one other city in Canada and professional jobs are so difficult to find. I guess there’s always the lottery for we little people. Vancouver is the new Geneva – either you have serious money or you leave..

      • Yup! And I’ll just have to take my three higher degrees and see if anyone anywhere else might be able to offer me a job in a place where I can actually find affordable housing.

        Funny, doesn’t Geneva make the “best places on earth to live” list each year? Why not have a “best places to live” for people who have to work for a living, ha ha?

    • “they will write some report, collect emails and testimonials etc…, but it will not change anything…”

      You are right. To help new recruits understand their housing options, they should be showing them this report. For example, on page 81 there is a question:

      “If you were advising a potential new recruit to UBC, what type of housing advice would you provide?”

      Well, I was recruited to UBC after this report was written, but no one told me about the report or gave me any of the advice listed there.

  16. Someone really needs to start a rental broker buisness in Vancouver. Rental brokers could locate owners who were good property managers and not just flippers.

    It’s well worth it to pay money not to have to deal with this type of crap.

  17. It’s always fun to read these posts while on the road and get a sense for how insane Vancouver is. I am glad I have decided to move out of Vancouver.

    On a flight from Berlin to Frankfurt I ended up sitting next to a guy from Vancouver on his way back to Vancouver, we did not talk till the end of the short flight. He was shocked when i told him that I was moving my family out of Vancouver. He seems to believe that Vancouver is the best place on earth and it would be heresy to want to move.

    • ams, there’s so much hype that doesn’t of course reflect certain very sobering realities in Vancouver. Yes, the setting is extremely beautiful (the city didn’t ruin it by putting billboards around the harbour, for example — well done!), and there are many pleasant aspects to life here in general. Matt, who was posting earlier about the quality of Vancouver schools, certainly had a point about their holding their own against urban schools in many US or UK cities. Vancouver’s crime rate is relatively low, there are so many lovely parks, etc. But so many people outside and, it sounds like, even inside Vancouver romanticize it. Due to the speculative mania (and other problems like a lack of transit solutions for the Lower Mainland), Vancouver is in the midst of a crisis that will send more people fleeing and attract less talent. I wonder when on earth politicians here are going to wake up to find this city irrevocably weakened.

      • Are politicians rewarded if they make difficult decisions that result in short term pain but are best for the long term health of their constituents?
        No, they are dumped at first opportunity in favour of politicians who promise unrealistically optimistic outcomes.

  18. They should read this blog and sober up!

  19. Many landlords will find themselves underwater with their mortgage. Our last landlord bought in at $425,000. Their house was valued at $380,000 a year later (by a realtor). They couldn’t afford to sell. So that landlord will be stuck renting out their house for a very long time, unless they can come up with the difference. And that difference will only get bigger and bigger when the housing correction hits full swing.

    There will be many landlords in this situation within the next two years. In addition, some landlords won’t be able to survive and their house will end up in the hands of the bank.

  20. Count me in on that study… best places to live for those who work for a living.

    Reminds me of my first and only visit to LA (Monrovia, a suburb of LA) California to see my now husband a guy who worked for a living and was in a typical even a little above average housing. You could tell it was a middle class neighborhood and every single house boasted a riot door. A house with a door that we see on convenience stores here. Furthermore even though it was beautiful and bright and sunny with those ubiquitous palm trees everywhere, the streets totally empties out at 8pm and not one person could be seen walking around enjoying the fantastic weather. It was like a scene from The Stand.

    It was 100% different than the idea I had in my mind for standard of living. Apparently the California we all see on TV is for those rich enough to live in gated communities in the proper part of town.

    The reason was crime, even my husband who is 6’4″ would not walk his dog outside in his local park after 8pm and we drove around if we wanted to go out after that. We also heard three gunshots and police helicopters was a daily occurrence. I was there for one week.

    Here in Canada I live in the wrong part of town but still manage to be able to walk my dog in the local park whenever I feel like it, no matter what time of day or night it is. Without risking my life of course.

    • Rachelle, sorry to hear of your partner’s experience. It’s true that many parts of many American cities are more dangerous than many parts of many Canadian cities — another reason for gratitude to Canada and Vancouver However, I’ve also spent time in California, and there are plenty of nice places to live even in cities like LA that are much more affordable than present-day Vancouver. The rental situation down in LA as I’ve experienced it is also not the nightmare it’s becoming here.

    • I’ve heard of riot doors in South Africa but I have never heard of them in the suburbs of L.A.

      I have some friends from L.A., but I don’t know the area. None of them reported gunshots or police helicoptors. I’ve visited near Claremont, California (near Harvey Mudd College) which was quiet and felt safe.

    • I have lots of extended family in the LA burbs including Monria I have been there many many time over 10 times, even to Rosemead :) No one had riot doors on their homes not in Monrovia where my relatives lived it looked like a typical middle class neighbourhood. Having said that I still like Canada including vancouver more than the LA burbs.

    • If you go to Rio de Janeiro, crime is everywhere and even in the expensive neighborhoods, people have barbed wire on their fences. Armed security guards are common too.

      In the US, I maintain that crime is quite localized. In Seattle Central District or Kent you’ll see a lot of crime; in Bellevue almost none. South LA is famous for crime, but in Santa Monica there’s much less. In the Bronx or Queens you’ll see a lot of crime, but in Manhattan much less. Roxbury or Dorchester are dangerous but Wellesley is extremely safe.

      It is pretty easily to live in a perfectly safe part of the US. Bellevue, Santa Monica and Wellesley are all cheaper than Van West.

  21. Interesting comment about “runaway property taxes” above. While it must be frustrating to deal with the hikes in taxes due to speculator activity, I am shocked at how low taxes are here. When I owned a home in the US, my taxes were 1.1% of the home’s value, with a very modest reduction if the home was your primary residence. My understanding is taxes here are about a third of that. I think increasing property taxes for non-owner-occupied homes might help here – although those increases would likely just be passed on to renters. At least it might result in some infrastructure improvements.

    • Great idea about tax increases, it seems to me.

      And yes, property taxes here are quite low compared to many places in the U.S. Is that another reason investors want to buy houses here I wonder?

    • Our property taxes are 3.5% of value. Of course, what that really tells you is how low the values are around here.

    • ” I think increasing property taxes for non-owner-occupied homes might help here”

      There is the principal residence homeowners grant. Increasing property taxes would be woefully unpopular — just look at the teeth-pulling required to raise it by even 3% — so boosting it by higher than this would be close to a non-starter. Now if residents decided that taking on huge amounts of debt was a bad idea, that would be a great time to raise said taxes. (Remember that people have been taking on huge amounts of debt for a while now, as long as I can remember; the difference today is that if rates go up the amount of debt becomes ludicrous, if not plaid.)

    • I owned a house in the US mid-West–I don’t have the documents anymore so I can’t give my rates. The main difference between there and Vancouver is the stability of my property taxes in the US since rates were based on replacement value (at least in that county), not sale price of comparables. I like the idea of higher taxes for non-owner-occupied homes–I’m biased of course. If tax rates were to be raised for ‘out-of-towners’ who subsequently raise rent on their property, their rentals will probably be passed over by renters for less expensive live-in landlord rentals. However, as someone else has pointed out, most absentee landlords don’t need the extra income and can afford higher property taxes.

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