The Froogle Scott Chronicles: Mortgaging Our Souls In Paradise

Part 1: Greed And Luck

“My wife and I, first time buyers, purchase a 1940s stucco bungalow in the Grandview area of East Vancouver for the asking price of $355,000. This is about a year and a half into the current eight-year real estate boom/bubble. The lot size is 33 x 117, just slightly smaller than standard. The MLS listing gives the square footage of the house as 1860, which later turns out to be a 20% exaggeration.”

Part 2: Up, Up, Up: Winning the Real Estate Lottery

“In the three years following the purchase of our house in the fall of 2003, its assessed value increases by 72%, or almost a quarter of a million dollars. This windfall changes the way I think and feel about money.”

Part 3: Priced Out Forever? Vancouver Renters and Basement Suites

“In the latter half of the 1980s I was a student at the University of British Columbia, augmenting my student loans by working part time as a bartender in one of the student bars. . . . One evening Mike, one of the food prep guys, told me that he and his mother had just bought a house on the East Side, traditionally the working class area of Vancouver. . . . I remember the price he and his mother paid: $90,000.”

Part 4: Raise or Raze — Prelude

A photo-montage prelude to next week’s story, in which Froogle Scott will look at how the eight-year real estate boom in Vancouver, and the associated renovation and construction mania, have changed the face of his neighbourhood.

Part 5: Raise or Raze

“I walk around our neighbourhood taking inventory: renovation, renovation, that house raised and a new foundation poured, that one with a second storey added, and there, a house demolished — razed with a “z” — and a new house built in its place. In the six and a half years that my wife and I have lived in the Grandview area of Vancouver, a renovation and construction mania has seized the neighbourhood, and it’s still ongoing.”

Interim Report: Raise or Raze Update

“The next couple of episodes of The Froogle Scott Chronicles will cover our major renovation. The renovation was a big, three-year chunk of our lives during which a lot happened — both good and bad — so wrestling that amount of material into shape is taking a bit of time. In the interim I thought I’d give readers a quick update about some interesting things I’ve noticed recently in our neighbourhood.”

Part 6: Renovation Nervosa

“These are the unsexy but expensive things far removed from dreamy notions of granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, and tasteful colour schemes that coordinate walls, window coverings, and upholstery. They’re the guts of a house, the organs, rather than the skin. And when they go wrong, the whole organism can go wrong. Most first time buyers really don’t understand the implications of those fateful words, uttered so blithely: we can fix it up.”

Part 7: Renovation Nervosa Continued

“Animal show. Hellhole. No heat. Nightmare contractor. Bleeding money. And so on.”

Part 8: Renovation Nervosa Finale

“Things get much worse before they finally get better. After fifteen months, our renovation has evolved from a start-and-stop, homeowner-managed undertaking into a bigger, more complex, increasingly expensive project run by a general contractor. We’re learning about renovation and construction the hard way, and even harder lessons are still to come.”

Part 9: So You Want to Buy a House and Fix It Up? Thirty Suggestions for Survival

“My wife and I learned a lot of things the hard way during the renovation of our house. If we had to do it again, there are definitely some things we’d do differently.” …
[Download the collector’s-edition pdf of the entire ‘Part 9′ HERE.]

Part 10: Reversion To The Mean

“If the current bubble follows the pattern of the two previous bubbles, collapsing prices should eventually revert to the mean. What is the mean, or average annual growth rate of Vancouver house prices, in percentage terms? I recently discovered some Vancouver house price data stretching back to 1960..”

Other pieces of writing by Froogle Scott on this blog:

The Disinvested – A Few Disparate Thoughts On The Vancouver Riots, 17 Jun 2011

4 responses to “The Froogle Scott Chronicles: Mortgaging Our Souls In Paradise

  1. Under normal circumstances the value of large assets doubles every 15 years. A house such as that would have cost about $7500 dollars in say 1948, new. It would have reached the value of 120,000 USD in 2008. That is the value to which it will eventually revert, when this bubble has fully played out.

  2. Scott, how do I go about getting in contact w/ Delmore? Seems I’m facing a similar situation and wouldn’t mind doing it right from the start.

    • Tom, I just saw your question today. Contact me offline for Delmore’s information: froogle dot scott at gmail dot com

  3. “The idea is to create public spaces more aligned with what the community wants.”

    The City says this at the same time they are stealing popular and much needed “public access” spaces from around numerous buildings in the Downtown core and converting the m to closed commercial use, either by extending the building’s floor space or by corralling them off for restaurant patio use.

    One of the. Worst examples was the recent destruction of the beautiful, peaceful Mimi-park at the corner of Albernie and Bute. The park is gone and has been built over to accommodate a liquor store and other commercial space.

    Another similar atrocity has occurred on the 800 block of Burrard Street where a popular sitting and sunning spot has been cut in half by a new restaurant patio.

    One must assume that the City thinks “public spaces” are more desirable if they are completely removed or are operated by private enterprise who insist you buy their food or drinks if you enter.

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