Category Archives: 04. Changed my Career

Stories about folks who’ve changed their line of work to RE related endeavours.

Mayor Robertson Selling His House

912 W 23rd

912 W 23rd Avenue, Vancouver
2,922 sqft SFH
Asking price $1,950,000
Assessed (reportedly) $1,600,000

- for the whole story, see ‘Guess who’s trying to cash out of the real estate market in Vancouver?’, at ‘Whispers from the Village on the Edge of the Rainforest’, 9 July 2013
[hat-tip Burnabonian]

“He’s sold all his properties except his current one, which is now for sale. He explained that the market’s currently in crash mode, worst that he’s ever seen.”

“Just spoke to someone in the neighbourhood, real estate came up and it came out he’s invested in real estate over the last 15 years, buying dumps and fixing them up and flipping them. Has done this multiple times I was thinking oh no, this is going to end badly, then he told me he’s now retired and I thought even worse… Then continued to say he’s sold all his properties except his current which is currently for sale and explained that the market’s currently in crash mode, worst that he’s ever seen. He talked about 2008 and thought we were in for something far worst this time. Talked about previous declines he’s seen and thought this is going to be worst. Doesn’t follow any of these blogs. He’s getting close to selling now for about a 40K loss, and thinks he’s close to sealing the deal, but I got the impression he’d be happy taking even more of a loss just to get out.
He’s moving away from the lower mainland and buying farmland to retire on. Mentioned there are a couple others a few streets away that bought/reno’d/now trying to sell, thinks they’re already listed at breakeven and that they need to come down quite a bit more before selling. …
This was in South Surrey, I should add. Was a guy that seemed to have had some very good days in his life and has seen some very tough times…. Sounded like he was in the midst of a tough time job wise in his life in the late 90′s and is a pretty good handyman and kind of fell into the real estate thing, rode it up, and jumped off when he realized he had gained enough money to live out his life without worrying any further about money.
I was taken aback by this guy… Good for him.”

groundhog at VREAA 1 April 2013 at 4:10pm and 4:39pm

“A lawyer, a public company financier, a real estate marketer, a cop, and a real estate agent walk into a diner…”

“I went out for lunch with a few old university friends yesterday. One was a lawyer, one a public company financier, one a real estate marketer, one a cop, and of course, one of whom was a Real estate agent.
Needless to say, the conversation ultimately led to the fact that we all hate our jobs! When it came to the police officer’s turn to gripe, he expressed that after 10 years on the force he was finding his work becoming particularly mundane. In fact he had taken to framing houses on the weekend with a carpenter friend of his in return for free help with a renovation he was doing at his own residence. He said he really enjoyed the labor/results aspect of the work versus what he deals with at his 9-5. But when he began saying that this framer buddy of his and he wanted to build a few houses out in Port Moody and sell them I damn near pulled out his pepper spray and gave myself a good spritzing.
I did my best to casually offer a warning of dabbling in the dark arts of amateur development… but hell, what’s the worst that could happen?”

-nom nom no at VREAA 19 Oct 2012 7:53am

We’d submit that a major reason that so many in mid-career find their jobs ‘mundane’ is the era of bubbles. In typical times, one develops a profession or a trade, strives to do it well, and is rewarded by society for one’s work.
Since the 90’s, we have heard so many stories of those speculating on tech stocks, housing, and sector-whatever, making ‘x’ times their annual income in ‘y’ months, that the fabric that holds together part of the reason for working unravels.
Why should I continue to be a perfectly competent dentist when society will reward me better for flipping condos or trading stocks in my pjs?
This distraction is part of the misallocation of resources that occurs in times of speculative mania/s.
We need police officers to be good police officers, and dentists to be good dentists; not to be taking off to build and flip houses.
– vreaa

Realtors With PhDs – “I’m a fully qualified brain-surgeon! I only do this job because I want to be my own boss!”

“While at the corner store, saw a funny ad on the monitor above the checkout. One of the non stop real estate ads had a RE agent who advertised the fact that he had a PhD! How flipping distorted is the economy in this town when a PhD educated guy abondons that considerable education investment (8 years or so), takes the 5 week RE course, and pursues the “noble” RE profession? Sad part is, he probably made more money flogging RE than applying education.”
– Re-diculous at vancouvercondo.info 20 Apr 2012

“He’s not the only one. /dev/null pointed out Gina Rossi the other day: Local realtor with a PhD in molecular biology and cancer research from UBC medical school.”
– Anonymous at vancouvercondo.info 20 Apr 2012 7:55pm

[image from Gina Rossi's site previously posted here removed in response to comments below. The focus of this post is on the phenomenon of individuals with higher education ending up working as realtors. - ed.]

“After finishing an undergraduate degree in Biology at UBC, I took on a PhD at the UBC Department of Medicine at Vancouver General Hospital. I successfully defended my thesis to earn my doctorate. My graduate studies focused on molecular biology and cancer research.
I’m good at stats and math. These are helpful skills to have in real estate. I can see a little deeper into the monthly Board statistics and often come up with better resolved, more useful information.”

– Gina Rossi, Sutton WestCoast Realtor. Image and excerpt from her blog.

It is not unusual for people with PhDs to end up in occupations unrelated to their training. This happens all over the world. After all, universities produce far more PhDs than they have academic positions for them to fill.
At the same time, we think that these two sightings are significant.
The Vancouver RE mania has drawn human resources away from many useful and productive endeavours; we find it hard to imagine that these individuals’ skills couldn’t serve them, and their communities, in better ways.
Anybody know of any other examples?
Who’s the most (over?) qualified realtor in town?
– vreaa

Housing-Bubble-Headedness – “Since I want to open a wine bar one day, I figured house-flipping was one way to jump-start a savings plan at the beginning of my career, when the money is still tight.”


“George, who lives with his mother in a townhouse, wants to open a wine bar. To get a leg up given his modest income, he is looking to speculate in real estate.”

“George has the lofty goals and dreams befitting a budding entrepreneur: He wants a business of his own, easy money, and the freedom wealth brings to put up his feet and retire by the time he is 55 – with an income of $150,000 a year after tax.
Back down on earth, George is 23, recently graduated from university and has just landed his first “real” job earning $35,000 a year plus bonus and other benefits. He lives with his mother in a townhouse in the Guelph area that they plan to flip for a $60,000 profit. He wonders how best to use his share of the anticipated gain.
George’s big dream is to open his own wine bar. He aims to save $70,000 over the next 10 years as a down payment and wonders whether that will be enough to enable him to get the financing he will need. To get a leg up given his modest income, he is looking to speculate in real estate.
“Since I want to open a wine bar one day, I figured house-flipping was one way to jump-start a savings plan at the beginning of my career, when the money is still tight,” he writes in an e-mail. Mind you, that $60,000 profit he and his mother expect has yet to be realized, and they’d need at least half of it as a down payment to buy a bigger, better home.”


“We asked Kurt Rosentreter, a senior financial adviser at Manulife Securities Inc. in Toronto and author of Wealthbuilding, to look at George’s situation. /… As for house-flipping as a way of making money, “Be careful. A real estate correction in the future could leave this ending badly for a young guy with not a lot of wiggle room.”
Mr. Rosentreter says George would need to accumulate $2.5-million by the time he is 55, excluding his home. Assuming a 5-per-cent rate of return on his investments and a 32-year time horizon, he would have to save $33,000 a year to achieve his goal, so he may want to set his sights a little lower. Mr. Rosentreter’s suggestion: “Save what you can.”


– from ‘Champagne dreams with a chaser of realism’, Dianne Malley, Globe and Mail, 2 Mar 2012

See how the distorted economic playing field that results from the speculative mania in housing has perverted the thinking of the young?
It’s all very distracting.
– vreaa

“Crazy Land” – 9% of the working population employed in construction.

Chart via Kevin at saskatoonhousingbubble, who also points out “The long term average of the Canadian labor force employed in construction is just under 6%. Right now it is over 7%. … BC is in absolute crazy land with almost 9% of the working population employed in construction.” [Thanks Kevin.]

More misallocation of resources.
Sheds light on why the Provincial Government would want to keep this going.
After the housing mania ends, by the next price trough, about 40% of those construction jobs will have evaporated. Possibly 50%.
(Aside, for TA lunatics: Failed double-top.)
– vreaa

Vancouver’s Too Expensive For Entrepreneurs – “Last night during a meeting we realized that of five, only two of us aren’t thinking about leaving the city in the next year or two.”

“Over the past year I began working with a loose group of consultants; there are five of us who work together in complementary ways. We’ve taken steps towards forming a more formal business together, but last night during a meeting realized that of five, only two aren’t thinking about leaving the city in the next year or two. Vancouver’s too expensive to be an entrepreneur and have a family, and we all want other things – like retirement funds, or the ability to travel and take vacations, etc.”
Absinthe at VREAA 20 Feb 2012 11:37am