Tag Archives: British Columbia

‘How badly would you be hurt in a housing market price correction?’ [The Globe and Mail]

“A question for everyone who thinks houses are an investment: How much would a market decline hurt you? …
Houses are a financial asset that can rise and fall in price, just like stocks, bonds and gold. It’s important to remind ourselves of this after a 25-per-cent price gain between 2008 and 2013 on a national basis and a doubling of prices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto over the past 10 to 12 or so years. …

Want to see what a 25-per-cent decline would look like in today’s market? Our Correction Calculator shows you the numbers for the Canadian market as a whole, as well as the Big Three markets of Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

The calculator in no way predicts a downturn in housing prices. It’s only a tool for helping people understand how both declines and increases in house prices might affect them.

Be cautious when viewing how a rising market will increase the value of your home. Interest rates are close to rock bottom levels after a 30-year down cycle and likely to rise in the next couple of years. The impact on affordability will be significant.

“I think it’s going to be a huge shock to the Canadian real estate market,” said Craig Alexander, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank. “I do a lot of real estate presentations from coast to coast and an awful lot of young people think these low interest rates are normal. They don’t see anything abnormal about a 3-per-cent five-year mortgage. I always have to say, can you please have a conversation with the grey-haired gentleman at your table about the normal level of interest rates.”

- from Rob Carrick, Globe and Mail, 21 April 2014

Recorded here as part of our series ‘Incredibly Infrequent Posts’.
The idea of a possibly significant correction is getting mentioned more and more in the MSM.
Our outlook for Vancouver RE has not changed. We still foresee a large correction at some point. And, contrary to some guesses on the last comments thread, we have not capitulated and bought or anything bizarre like that.
Markets can remain irrational for longer than one can stay sane.. the Vancouver RE Bubble has been an absolute doozy.
For evidence, check out the graphic below, keeping in mind that the Vancouver chart is running at a trend that is unsustainable, arguably anything from 2% to 5% more per annum than is justified by any related real growth, and that prices tend to revert to means when they correct.
- vreaa

image
- from ‘Canadian, U.S. housing markets defy expectations, price gap hits record’, G&M, 23 April 2014

A Veterinarian’s Dilemma – “Living in a 300-square-foot closet, moving to northern B.C. or renting for life.”

“My veterinarian, owner of a successful west-side practice, emailed recently to say young professionals like him “are left with a choice between living in a 300-square-foot closet, moving to northern B.C. or renting for life.”
- from ‘Here in B.C., we’re richer than we think — on paper’, Barbara Yaffe, 24 Mar 2014

[Posts are, as you can see, very sporadic. No change in our outlook for Vanc RE market. -ed.]

BC Premier: “I think the market’s good, it’s a buyers market. I want to make sure I get in before prices start to rise.”

“In Kelowna on Thursday, Clark said she has already been on the Internet looking for a home but would also like to hear from anyone in real estate about a home that requires low maintenance.
“I have a cat, but I won’t be bringing her. So no pets, no smoking and low maintenance,” she said.
The premier told reporters at her victory party on Wednesday night that she didn’t want to be “presumptuous” and start looking for a house while she was campaigning, but she’s getting serious now.
“I think the market’s good, it’s a buyers market. And you know the riding is really getting stoked again, so I want to make sure I get in before prices start to rise.”
- from The Times Colonist, 11 July 2013 [hat-tip kabloona]

Announcement:
With this brief (but sweet) post, we’ll be taking another break from our (admittedly very skeletal) posting habits of the past six weeks. We’ll be on hiatus for at the very least the rest of the summer. Refer to VCI and Whispers for ongoing Vancouver RE discussion. We hope to be back in full at some point. Enjoy the fine weather, and keep well, all. – vreaa
(PS: Nothing has changed regarding our overall bearish outlook on the Vancouver RE market.)

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]

“Nothing Wrong Here!”

Maple ridge, lougheed highway and 223rd aldus huxtable
Maple Ridge: Lougheed Highway and 223rd [image and post title care of Aldus Huxtable]

“We spoke to a friend of ours yesterday. Even though she has purchased a house, she wants to keep (and rent out) the condo she’s living in, because she thinks prices will only go up.”

“We spoke to a friend of ours yesterday. Even though she has purchased a house, she wants to keep (and rent out) the condo she’s living in, because she thinks prices will only go up. She estimates her condo to be worth $530K, and rent she would receive to be $1800/mo. After taxes and condo fees, this appears to be a yield of 3%, without taking into account repairs/upkeep on the unit itself. She’s getting a one-year fixed rate of one point something percent to finance the thing. Sounds crazy to me!”
- from ‘s’ via e-mail to VREAA 13 Jun 2013

Families With Children Leave Vancouver – “We bought a townhouse in Port Moody in 2006, sold it in 2011 and bought a house. We couldn’t have done that in Vancouver. Absolutely not.”

“Last month, The Sun reported preliminary results of a Vancouver school board survey that found many families are leaving Vancouver due to the high cost of housing.

The purpose of the survey was to pinpoint the cause of the declining enrolments, which is bad news for school boards because fewer students means less government funding and difficult decisions about cuts to spending and closing schools.

In each of the past three years, the Vancouver school district has had a net loss of 600 to 700 students, the report shows. A typical elementary school in Vancouver has about 300 children.

Tracking where the students who left Vancouver schools went isn’t easy; there is no central source of this information.

Ministry of Education figures show a drop of about 10,000 students in all B.C. schools between 2008 and 2013, which could be attributed to people having smaller families, people moving out of the province or other factors.

While it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly where Vancouver’s students are going, at least some of them are heading to the eastern suburbs.

Catherine Cowan and husband Trevor are among those families, moving to Heritage Mountain in Port Moody from Burnaby in 2006, primarily because of the lower cost of housing but also for the town’s livability, good schools and community feel. Before moving to Burnaby, they lived in Vancouver.

“We bought a townhouse (in Port Moody) in 2006, sold it in 2011 and bought a house. We couldn’t have done that in Vancouver. Absolutely not.”

- from ‘Go East: Families leave Vancouver for suburbs Surrey, Coquitlam, Langley school enrolments rise while more expensive areas see decline, Tracy Sherlock and Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun, 4 July 2013 [hat-tip RESkeptic]

The Economist on Land Taxes – “Taxes on immovable property are the most growth-friendly of all major taxes.”

“Taxing land and property is one of the most efficient and least distorting ways for governments to raise money. A pure land tax, one without regard to how land is used or what is built on it, is the best sort. Since the amount of land is fixed, taxing it cannot distort supply in the way that taxing work or saving might discourage effort or thrift. Instead a land tax encourages efficient land use. Property developers, for instance, would be less inclined to hoard undeveloped land if they had to pay an annual levy on it. Property taxes that include the value of buildings on land are less efficient, since they are, in effect, a tax on the investment in that property. Even so, they are less likely to affect people’s behaviour than income or employment taxes. A study by the OECD suggests that taxes on immovable property are the most growth-friendly of all major taxes.”
- from ‘Levying the land’, The Economist, 29 Jun 2013 [hat-tip clive]

“It’s kinda funny that 3 unrelated Irish blokes all said that this mess in Vancouver/Canada RE is unfolding EXACTLY like the mess did in Ireland, one headline at a time.”

“Been chatting with some Irish blokes who are here working post Irish Bubble. It’s kinda funny that 3 unrelated guys all said that this mess in Vancouver/Canada is unfolding EXACTLY like the mess in Ireland, one headline at a time. Good luck Canada!”
- TBWCB at VREAA 29 Jun 2013

All bubbles are alike in essential nature, even though there may be variations in the minor details.
- vreaa

“I was really fortunate with how things worked out for me in real estate. I definitely took chances when I bought a few presale condos to flip back in 2004, but I was adamant at the time that there was room to grow for Vancouver.”

“I have moved on from residential and have been working in the commercial RE industry for over 8 years now. A lot less ups and downs and I get to deal more with businesses rather than individuals who tend to be less professional. Both sides of the industry have their pros and cons, but I love working with commercial brokers and tenants. I work for a large developer in town looking after their commercial portfolio in Western Canada.

A little about what has happened [to me]:

- Sold 2 of my condos that I bought pre-sale in 2004 in downtown Vancouver just by Rogers Arena. One sold in 2010 and the other in 2012. Both were 2 bedrooms that were purchased for $280K give or take and sold around $560K each. One I lived in with my family and rented out the other.
– Used the profits to upgrade to a spectacular 3-bedroom, 1600 square feet “new” condo in Fairview
– Have 2 lovely young kids
– Love condo living close to downtown with my family for the proximity to work downtown, restaurants everywhere and just the energy that the burbs don’t offer

I was really fortunate with how things worked out for me in real estate. I definitely took chances when I bought a few presale condos to flip back in 2004, but I was adamant at the time that there was room to grow for Vancouver. I still think it is one of the best places to live in the world and I am gladly paying for it by choosing to live close to downtown. I travel a lot internationally and every time my plane lands at YVR, I feel so blessed to be back home to such a beautiful place.

I took some chances, had some luck and stayed away from the extreme negative and positive views of posters on [RE Talks forum]. I would put myself in the Bull camp always, but that is only because I think you need to be ready to seek out deals – and this requires a pro-active mindset. One should never buy what they cannot afford (everyone agrees on this), but you should always be ready to buy a home when you need one (starting a new family, for example). Most of the original bears on [RE Talks] are gone, but I must say, it is funny to look back and see how wrong on the timing they were.”

- Property_Magnate at RET 24 Jun 2013 [cited by 'WhipMaster' (aka Johnny Horton, etc, etc) as an example of a story from a "winner" in Vancouver RE, VREAA 25 Jun 2013 7:14pm]

Nobody is disagreeing with the idea that one could have done well in Vancouver RE by buying in 2004.
And, please, nobody misinterpret the above anecdote as an endorsement for buying “a few” presale condos in Vancouver, least of all in 2013.
- vreaa

“I have been contacted by two of my realtor friends in the past week both proclaiming that the market is turning and that this is a good time to buy.”

“I have been contacted by two of my realtor friends in the past week both proclaiming that the market is turning and that this is a good time to buy. One of them even mentioned that interest rates will be rising this Friday. When they tell me this I argue that they should look at the ten year average. Sales are still around 20% lower than the ten year average and this is with major banks advertising mortgate rates under 3%. If you compare stats between spring 2012 and 2013 it is like comparing chicken manure and cow manure. Yes cow maure is better than chicken manure but it is still manure. One of them had the audacity to say: “You better get in now I bet you five years from now people will say that Spring 2013 was the real estate bottom.” Hearing this I had to refrain myself and asked him to google “Asset bubble graph”. Where we are now is called the “Return to ‘normal’ phase aka “bull trap”; and guess what comes after next? As a matter of fact the Vancouver real estate market is following the graph quite closely. Never bet against human nature. I may be wrong but I highly doubt it. I think we will know for sure by this time next year. Unlike most bulls I know, I am putting my money where my mouth is. I am not buying now even though I have a down payment ready and could afford the mortgage without straining myself. In terms of real estate it will be an interesting rest of the year.”
- Waiting to exhale at VCI 7 June 2013

Trump on Vancouver – “Your people, they go to New York, they go all over the world, and they speak so highly.”

“I love Vancouver. I have had so much experience with Vancouver and with people who live here. You don’t even realize how important it is in terms of a destination and also your people they go to New York, they go all over the world and they speak so highly.”
- Donald Trump, as quoted in ‘Trumps announce exclusive tower deal in Vancouver’, CBC.ca, 19 Jun 2013 [hat-tip jesse/YVR]

Did he try to say that people in New York speak highly of Vancouver, but just couldn’t?
- vreaa

‘Canadians obsessed with real estate, poll suggests’ – “Just as many people reported talking about real estate on a regular basis as they did about hockey.”

hi-realtor
Besotted.

“Most Canadians think about real estate on a regular basis, and a good number of them are obsessed with it, an online survey suggests.

That’s the takeaway of a recent poll by online home selling firm Zoocasa, where the real estate company commissioned Abacus Data to poll 1,000 Canadians online between June 3 and 6, 2013.

The poll found that 84 per cent of respondents across the country think about real estate on a regular basis, and 85 per cent have gone as far as shopping online for a new home in the past year.

“In ever increasing ways, Canadians seem almost obsessed with real estate. And it’s understandable,” Zoocasa president Carolyn Beatty said in a release. “For the vast majority of Canadians, their home is the largest purchase they will make in their lifetime.”

Nationally, more than a third — 34 per cent — described either themselves or a loved one as obsessed with real estate. In the Greater Toronto Area, which has the second-highest average home price in the country after Vancouver, the percentage of people who identify themselves as being obsessed jumps to 47 per cent, the highest in the country.

Zoocasa notes that the survey took place during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and just as many people reported talking about real estate on a regular basis as they did about hockey.

Some 28 per cent of respondents say they have gone to an open house at some point in the past 12 months.”

- from ‘Canadians obsessed with real estate, poll suggests’, CBC, 20 Jun 2013 [hat-tip elchavo]

Not me!
I can quit whenever I want!
- vreaa

‘Doomed’? – “Home prices in Canada are now double what they were in the 1970s in real terms. Historically, over the very long term, real home prices tend to be flat.”

“Home prices in Canada are now double what they were in the 1970s in real terms. Historically, over the very long term, real home prices tend to be flat.”
- from ‘CANADA IS DOOMED: Three Signs The Country Up North Is Screwed Beyond All Recognition’, Josh Barro, Business Insider, 17 Jun 2013

“The bank encouraged her to take the equity in her home to purchase another home. She bought a 2nd home at the peak.”

“I spoke to an older gentleman who bought his home in the 70′s and is now selling. He told me an interesting story of his ex-wife which may represent a lot of Vancouverites. She is unemployed. In 2009 she had 250k left on her mortgage on her primary home. The bank encouraged her to take the equity in her home to purchase another home. She bought a 2nd home at the peak.
How does she pay the mortgage on both properties? By sharing a room with her daughter and renting out rooms individually. Is this a risky scenario or what?! How many people are in her situation?”

- Anon at VREAA 17 Jun 2013 4:52pm

“Let’s remember how we got here” – Looser and Looser CMHC Limits

Let’s remember how we got here:

• Prior to 1999 you needed 10% for a mortgage and that mortgage had a maximum amortization of 25 years. CMHC also had limits on how much you could buy with their insurance.

• Just after 1999 CMHC lowered the down payment to 5% with price limits on how much they would insure depending on the area. Amortizations were still 25 years. There would be no price limit on what they would insure if 10% or more was put down.

• By Sept. 2003 CMHC allowed 5% down on 25 yr amortizations but they removed all price ceiling limitations. Now any mortgage would be insured regardless of the value of home purchased.

• In March 2004 CMHC began allowing Flex-Down products which permitted the 5% down to be borrowed and 1.5% closing costs to be borrowed (essentially zero down, but 95% insured.

• In March 2006 you had 0% down, 30 yr amortizations. This became 0% down, 35 yr amortizations later in the year. Interest only payments were allowed for 10 years.

• In November 2006 CMHC began allowing 0% down, 40 yr amortizations along with interest only payments for 10 years.

• Canadian banks ramped this up by allowing up to 7% cash back offers if you would take on a mortgage with them. You could basically get paid if you bought a house.

• Not only were the rules surrounding the granting of money loosened, but CMHC’s cap for granting mortgages grew from $100 Billion in 2006 to almost $600 Billion today.

- this fine summary from ‘golden_boy’ at VCI 11 Jun 2013 7:40am

Don’t Worry, I’m Sure Somebody Will Sort This All Out – “Policymakers now know better and will be a lot more proactive in preventing a collapse.”

“Risks are undeniably elevated in the Canadian housing market with prices so high relative to household incomes. Many housing bears assume this overvaluation entails a hard landing but I’m not convinced it’s inevitable at the national level. One reason – which seems mostly overlooked in the debate – is that Canadian policymakers will be doing their utmost to avert such an outcome.

In a sense, Canada is fortunate to be facing the spectre of a housing bust after other countries have had theirs. Before 2008, it was generally believed house prices could never fall by much. Policymakers now know better and will be a lot more proactive in preventing a collapse.

Canadian policymakers do have the levers to affect outcomes. One is the regulatory framework for housing, which can be amended in various ways to reconfigure housing demand and supply to the extent required. Indeed, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has tightened mortgage lending several times over the past two years to slow down price increases and give household incomes time to catch up.

Other regulatory changes include tagging Canadian banks with “too big to fail” provisions that require them to put aside more capital. Then there are the “bail-in” provisions that specify when a troubled bank will recapitalize by converting its senior unsecured debt and other liabilities into equity.

In addition to these pre-emptive steps, Canadian policymakers have no doubt given some thought to dealing with the risk that the soft landing could go off the rails. It’s hard to imagine they would allow the housing sector to destabilize the economy and financial system like it did in the U.S. and other countries.

Responses could range from cutting the Bank of Canada rate to relaxing regulatory restrictions on housing demand. Housing bears might complain about such measures but they would allow Canada to reposition back to a soft landing. That would be more preferable than inflicting the trauma that befell the countries hit with housing meltdowns.”

- from ‘Canada’s lucky to come late to the housing-crash party’, Larry MacDonald [a "retired economist"], G&M, 13 Jun 2013

A soft landing will not be engineered in the Vancouver RE market;
it is in the nature of spec bubbles that they burst, ending with a “bang and not a whimper”. Let’s hope that those in charge of Canada’s monetary policy and mortgage rates don’t do even more damage to sensible citizens by trying to avert the inevitable.
While we’re on the topic of “late to the party”, it is interesting to see the Globe and Mail’s Larry MacDonald, who up to now has gone to great lengths to reassure himself and everybody else that the RE market is not at risk [see, for instance, 'Housing bears need to relax and take the long view', G&M 1 April 2013], now stating that “risks are undeniably elevated in the Canadian housing market with prices so high relative to household incomes.” After all, prices have been outrageously high relative to incomes for many years now.
- vreaa

“Things have changed, we are not doing that type of mortgage. We are not interested at all.”

“I am currently interested in a piece of property in the burbs; a unique property which is why I would be willing to move on purchasing now at today’s prices. This is land, no house. I am eminently mortgagable… credit scores at almost 900, dual income, large amount of assets. Approached M-Cap, BMO, Enbridge, People Trust, CIBC, TD, and a couple of others for financing. Still waiting for 1 or 2 answers to come in.. but.. 5 institutions say “things have changed, we are not doing that type of mortgage, we are not interested at all” (without even inquiry into our situation). 3 institutions say “we would only consider a higher interest builders mortgage”. And by higher they really mean higher… Wow. Remains to be seen if financing can be had.”
- Burbs Boy at VCI 24 May 2013 4:51pm

“We are noticing our target type of housing in price decline, albeit slow, as our money increases in value, slowly as well but outpacing housing.”

“Here’s a true story. I’ll call it 20 REASONS THIS COOL SPRING MARKET SUCKS FOR BULLS–Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb!

1. We sold at the last peak.

2. You know what happened after that…housing skyrocketed.

3. We missed that.

4. Our half-house is now worth 165K more than when we sold. Ouch!

5. It was in a neighbourhood we hated. We decided to move every 2 years to try out neighbourhoods before we bought again.

6.. We moved. First into a crazy-expensive dream apt (condo) for a year. Unbelievable view.

7. We wanted to treat ourselves. We did.

8. We loved it but the drug dealers started moving in.

9. So it was more than OK to move out.

10. Got another condo rental. It was unbelievably unique.

11. Patio was under review when we moved in.

12. Patio repair was estimated at 6K and 6 weeks.

13. Patio repair cost landlord 11K and took 8 months. Our rent was reduced. It was one of two patios so no biggie.

14. Landlord had just paid 6K for last year’s repair.

15. We moved out on 2nd year, windows were leaking. Est. repair for building 11K-17K each unit. Plus front walkways were put on hold by 3 years of repair. Majority owner in building refused all repairs. Lawyers might have been needed. We moved.

16. Now in City managed building in OV. Great apartment.

17. Remember #4 above? “Our half-house is now worth 165K more than when we sold. Ouch!” Well, our money is now worth 433K more than when we sold.

18. We now know: no condos for us. We will get a 1/4, 1/3 or 1/2 house on the westside.

19. We know the neighbourhoods we like.

20. We are noticing this type of housing in price decline, albeit slow, as our money increases in value, slowly as well but outpacing housing.”

- mac at VCI 24 May 2013 11:31am

Renter Buys In West Van – “For a few hundred more per month, you could own the place. Which is what I will be doing as my offer for a place down the street has been accepted. There is some value in staying in one place.”

“I am currently renting in West Van. It has been difficult to find decent, “affordable” rental accommodation on the North Shore. For a few hundred more per month, you could own the place. Which is what I will be doing as my offer for a place down the street has been accepted.
Went for 23% below the list price. Owner been in the place for 11 years, and over that time, the value of the property increased on average 5% a year. I negotiated hard, walked away twice, and eventually the seller caved, just like I knew he would.
I’ve been renting for 5 years now, ever since a health crisis with one of my young children moved me back here. I was the bear amongst all my peers who are all “owning”. I still think there will be a crash in the Lower Mainland – but I think it will be an uneven crash. Certain areas will crash worse than others. I don’t think the entry level house market in West Van will crash. I think it will take a 10-15% drop and then move sideways or at inflation for a generation.
There is some value in staying in one place.”

- chumpy le chump at VREAA, 2 Jun 2013 4:36pm

All the best with your purchase, chumpy.
Does the “few hundred more per month” include all expenses (and assume no downpayment?). Share the math if you care to.
Further:
That’s 70% increase over 11 years (5% p.a. compounded)? Is that representative of the price increases on similar properties?
As we’ve said before, we expect all property types to revert to long term means; we don’t expect any to somehow be exempt.
- vreaa

A Bed in the Bathroom, Why Not? [Let Us Count The Reasons...]

image.php

“Here is another great Vancouver rental listed on Craigslist [link no longer active]. A bed in the bathroom..”

“Rental information:
Newly finished 1 bedroom with own ensuite. Furnished.
Access to dining room, living room and kitchen on main floor.
$500/month includes utilities, washer and dryer, and wireless internet.
Close to transit and shops.
No smoking. No pets.
Perfect for international students and short term renters.”

- from ‘Vancouver rentals: A Bed in the Bathroom, Why Not?’, vancitybuzz.com, 28 May 2013 [hat-tip space889]

Outrageous!
The underlying message, of course, is that we are Tokyo.
Again, consider this idea in relation to Canada’s vast expanse of land.
The bubble continues to grossly distort our thinking.
- vreaa

Vancouver-Rental-bedroom-in-a-bathroom

“My husband and kids are pretty happy in our rental house within cycling distance of work that we could never have afforded otherwise. We’re doin’ pretty dang well, thank you, for median income earners in this expensive city.”

“My husband and kids are pretty happy in our rental house within cycling distance of work that we could never have afforded otherwise. My husband is especially happy with the nest egg we’ve put away, and some day, my kids will be happy with their RESPs. We’re doin’ pretty dang well, thank you, for median income earners in this expensive city.
I have been priced out forever, according to any sane financial management strategy, for pretty much the whole time I’ve had a down payment. When the choice became “house poverty for family of four in a purchased 2 bedroom in Port Moody” vs. “responsible savings and a family of four in rental house with yard in Vancouver”, I thought something smelled funny in real estate. Still stinks, and will continue to stink, until prices adjust.”

- Absinthe at VCI May 24th, 2013 at 9:06 am

“I Wish Them Bad Luck.” – Jim Flaherty, on those who wish to profit from Canadian RE price drops

“I wish them bad luck.”
- Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, commenting on recent moves by some U.S.-based hedge funds and other big investors, who worry that the Canadian housing market is heading for a hard landing, and are looking to short, or bet against, Canadian investments.
[as quoted by the Wall Street Journal, 28 May 2013]

Other excerpts from the same article:
“Last year, Mr. Flaherty had voiced concern about the condo markets in Toronto and Vancouver.
“When I look at the housing market, I’m looking for the ‘doom and gloom’. I don’t see the ‘doom and gloom’. I see some moderation in demand. This is a good thing,” he said.

Flaherty’s wish for bad ‘luck’ for the ‘shorts’ is the equivalent of a hope for good ‘luck’ for the (immensely greater) ‘long’ position; a long position that he has, after all, attempted to shore up for many years. Flaherty cannot calculate the damage that the housing bubble has done, nor that which its resolution will end up doing. It’s natural for him to be simply trying to keep it going at this point.
Regarding those betting against price increases:
Any healthy market has to be able to tolerate the possibility of people speculating against price increases.
There are strong arguments that the ability for individuals to short a market improve that market’s strength. Shorts improve liquidity, make for more valid ‘price discovery’, and are around to buy when nobody else wants to (near bottoms).
There are no ways to directly short the Vancouver RE market (it would likely have benefited if that had been possible!).
Some are attempting to indirectly short, and hope to profit from price drops via their likely effects on the values of the shares of certain stocks or other instruments. For the record, vreaa is not trying to do anything like that. We’d simply like to see sane valuation of Vancouver housing.
- vreaa

“We asked why he doesn’t just rent the whole house. He said he can’t, it wouldn’t cover his mortgage – he’ll get more to rent it out as two suites. These new landlords are hilarious, thinking that rent will cover their mortgage!”

“Called a guy today about a house he has for rent. Turns out he’s only renting the upper half (for more than what the market will pay, I think, considering I’ve seen it advertised for awhile). Since we really don’t want to rent half a house and live in fear about who lives in the basement (and share laundry), we asked why he doesn’t just rent the whole house. He said he can’t, it wouldn’t cover his mortgage – he’ll get more to rent it out as two suites. These new landlords are hilarious, thinking that rent will cover their mortgage!
By running the numbers, it looks to me like he put $400k down (he told us how much his mortgage payment is). I also think it’s a failed flip – I’ve been watching it awhile and when I googled the address two weeks ago, it was for sale and there was an open house that weekend, though another google search tells me the Vancouver sun featured it in their real estate section as being bought in December 2012. This guy must be panicking….
I think our time has come, bears! Anyway, it’s a nice house, maybe we’ll be able to buy it for $400k one day (lol).”

- pricedoutfornow at VCI 26th May 2013 12:50pm

“My neighbours, in their late 60s, just put their house on the market. They had said they would die in that house, but now they are worried that with the housing market going south they may be losing a lot of equity and they better sell now before it gets worse.”

“I can’t believe it!
My neighbor and his wife, who are in their late 60s, just put their house on the market.
I talked to them often before, and they said they would die in that house and leave it to their only son.
But now they say they are worried that with the housing market going south they may be losing a lot of equity and they better sell now before it gets worse.
To make matters worse, 1 year ago they took out a HELOC for $30k to help their son buy a condo.
Two week’s ago their son received a note from his strata that a special levy of $40k to cover inefficiences in the building envelope has to be paid.
Another leaky condo!
Needless to say, the old couple has no other assets than their rapidly depreciating house, so they are panicking.”

- Real Estate Tsunami at VREAA 23 May 2013 10:53pm

Hello again to all readers.
Posts recommence with this powerful anecdote from RETsunami.
We will aim to pop up anecdotes here on an occasional and irregular basis; we trust they will be appreciated nonetheless.
Keep well.
- vreaa

“My best guess: this property is now an ‘investment hold’ and will be built ‘when prices recover’. Good luck on that!”

“The dominos start to fall: SFR Project on indefinite hold in Van West!
This is a property I have been watching for some time: 4988 Chancellor Boulevard in University, Vancouver West. A 7,700 square foot lot with an old house in an exclusive area of mostly older homes, with a few new builds. Sold under MLS V951758 in June 2012 for about $2,600,000 listing was at $2,688,000; by June 2012, properties in Van West were already coming under some price pressure. After it was sold, a sign appeared on the site, advertising a new 4,500 square foot modern architectural home to be ‘built in 2013′ with completion by 2014, priced at $5,188,000 under V989612 still active, but listing now says ‘completion in 18-24 months’. However, after about 6 weeks the sign disappeared and from June 2012 through last week the house was vacant and there were no signs of construction. Then last week April 10, several large U-Haul trucks arrived and a pickup toting a boat. Now, there is furniture in the house, a new ‘beware of dog’ sign on the front and from the shoes outside the front door, it appears it has been rented to a family plates on vehicles are BC. Normally, a family doesn’t move lock, stock and barrel into a house on a month-to-month tenancy, so I’m guessing they have a longer lease, but I cannot find a rental listing. The developer of the new house, Natural Balance Premium Home Builders, does not list this house on its website and the purported architect, Frits de Vries’, website does not mention this project.
My best guess: this property is now an ‘investment hold’ and will be built ‘when the prices recover.’Good luck on that!”

- RFM at VCI, April 15th, 2013 at 7:37am

Man Loses $745,000 Vancouver Condo Deposit

“A man who put down and then lost a $745,000 condo deposit when he failed to complete the sale can’t get his money back, says a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling.
Afrasiab Amiri agreed in 2005 to pay a 25 per cent deposit of $745,325 for a $2.9-million condo in the Erickson development, located on the oceanfront on False Creek, before construction was completed.
The condo sale was valued at more than $3 million after the developer agreed to install limestone floors, which increased the price by $71,300.
The balance of the purchase price was to be paid on closing, but the purchaser did not secure financing to complete the deal by the contract deadline.
The seller refused further extensions, and relying on the terms of the contract retained the purchaser’s deposit.
Amiri filed legal action, claiming the seller was in breach of the contract. He sought the return of his deposit, contending the contractual terms calling for its forfeiture were invalid.
The trial judge rejected Amiri’s claim, and on Tuesday three judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s ruling.”

- from ‘Man loses $745,000 deposit after $3-million Vancouver condo deal fails: court’, Canadian Press, 9 Apr 2013

It’d be interesting to know why “the purchaser did not secure financing to complete the deal by the contract deadline”.
Was it for reasons specific to the individuals economic situation, or was it because the market value of the property had plunged and no lender would consider making the loan?
- vreaa

Graphic – Degrees of Housing Overvaluation in Canada

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- forwarded to vreaa via e-mail by ‘B’, 13 Apr 2013; original source of graphic as yet unknown to us.

The Rare Individual With A Negative Ownership Premium

“I love moving. The longest I’ve ever lived in one apartment is 3 years. I usually move every year or two. Sometimes I move after only a few months. Some of my moves have been because I was renovicted by the landlord. Sometimes I move because the landlord never does repairs and I am sick of taking him to the RTB. But even if there are no problems with the apartment, I’ll start thinking about moving after one year. After two years in the same apartment, I start getting really antsy to move. Real estate bubble aside, I could never buy real estate because I could never commit to live somewhere long term. I don’t really understand how people do it? Don’t they get bored with their homes after a few years? Don’t they get tired of looking at the same view every day for years on end?”
- perma-renter at VCI January 22nd, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Advice Regarding Renting In Vancouver, Please – “Unfortunately, the Vancouver rental stock is absolutely atrocious. It just seems like every landlord is looking for someone to pay 100% of their mortgage on a crappy place through rental income.”

“..reading this blog I’m glad to see there are many others like me who eschew real estate and prefer to rent. My wife and I are in that camp. We moved from TO to Vancouver about a year ago, so our perceptions of the Vancouver rental market are pretty uninformed. Currently, we are looking to upgrade our rental from a small 1-bedroom, downtown apartment to something larger (a detached or 2+den apartment >1,000 sf) and within good distance of rapid transit (or at least what qualifies as transit in the rainforest). Unfortunately, the Vancouver rental stock is absolutely atrocious (at least compared to what I was used to in Toronto). Just browsing Craigslist or Kijiji becomes depressing – a large number of “garden” (re: basement) suites, or just places in serious need of some TLC. It just seems like every landlord is looking for someone to pay 100% of their mortgage on a crappy place through rental income (so much for their faith in real estate appreciation, eh?). Another challenge for us is finding a place that will except our small dog – our own doing, but she’s part of our family. Love to hear how others are fairing in their rental hunt.
Where do you guys look to find good rentals in the city? Do you use an agent? Any blogs you can recommend for people like us to share our thoughts on the rental market?”

- rent_vancouver at VREAA 11 April 2013 11:01pm and on

“I just visited Manhattan for a week, and happened to snap some real estate ads on both the Upper West and Upper East sides of the island. Compare to Vancouver. It simply doesn’t compute.”

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“I just visited Manhattan for a week, and happened to snap some real estate ads on both the Upper West and Upper East sides of the island (both very affluent areas). Compare these prices for these apartments, located in the heart of the one of the world’s most important metropolises with all the employment opportunities that go along with it…. to how far one’s money goes in Burnaby, Downtown, etc. It simply doesn’t compute.”
- from ‘L’, via e-mail to VREAA, 8 Apr 2013

Ben Rabidoux In Vancouver Next Week

Ben Rabidoux has asked me to let readers know that he’ll be in Vancouver next week, giving a talk on housing and the economy. It takes place Thursday April 18th, 4-5pm. More info here.

Those readers you who don’t know Ben will find his analysis thorough and thought provoking. We have featured his opinions here on numerous occasions.
His website is ‘The Economic Analyst’. Take a look at his latest article ‘Canadian housing and economic trends: The good, the bad, and the ugly’ [9 Apr 2013]. Excerpt:
“Things have gone from bad to worse in Vancouver, where sales remain very weak (March sales were almost 20% below an already-weak 2012 level) and existing MLS inventory remains elevated. To add insult to injury, the backlog of unsold new homes is growing, units under construction remain high, and the strong population growth needed to absorb all this inventory is nowhere to be found. It’s going to be another rough year for Vancouver, but on the bright side, we can expect the y/y comparisons to get more favourable throughout the year. Vancouver sales fell off a cliff in late 2012. It’s quite unlikely we’ll be seeing 20-30% y/y sales declines come late summer given how depressed sales were last year. So you can bet the real estate board will be waiting anxiously to put their always-positive spin on that.”

“The mortgage company told me they were calling in my 40-year, 0-down mortgage. I have paid nearly sixty thousand dollars towards it, but, nearly five years in, I have yet to touch the principal.”

“There are few other words out there that carry the sense of shame and failure that “bankruptcy” and “foreclosure” do. They are words about having commitments that you couldn’t meet; they are words about loss.

They also carry judgment, don’t they? As though if you go bankrupt it must be because you went to a five-star resort with your lover, spent money you didn’t have on extravagant things. And foreclosure? Well, that’s just the little matter of losing your family home. Of sitting down in the living room and pulling your children close and saying, “We’re going to move, my loves, because Mama can’t pay the mortgage anymore.” Bow your head in shame.

So you can imagine how shredded I was about a month ago, when those words blew into my life, when the house of cards I had so carefully constructed over the last eight years came crashing down. I had constructed it after my marriage split up, when as a single mother-of-two, with a high school education and no work experience, I moved back to Canada, tried to find a job, found one, then bought a little home, and then got laid off, and started university full-time. All the while, I was eyeing nervously the fiasco of my finances and hoping like hell we were going to make it to solid ground. You can imagine that when the house of cards finally collapsed, I was devastated.

And I was shocked. Because in my mind, we had just made it to that solid ground. I got through university, I got a wonderful job. But then the tidal wave I’d been running from for the last eight years crashed over me still.

I had had a sense it might. It was the accumulation of all that time out of work, all that time in school, all those months in which I bought the groceries and school supplies on credit cards, all those late payments.

Seven times in the preceding two years I had approached the bank that held the lion’s share of my credit card debt and asked them to reduce the interest from 20 percent to something more manageable, something more like 10. I explained that I had been laid off, that I was now not only a single mom but a full-time student, living on student loans. I explained that I was trying my best to pay it off but I couldn’t even make a dent in it with interest that high. Seven times they turned me down. The last time I met with a bank officer, she told me to make all my payments on time for a year and then come back and she’d consider it. I shuffled off, head bowed.

And then the mortgage company told me they were calling the mortgage – a forty-year-mortgage with no money down, made back in the day when you could still do that. I have paid nearly sixty thousand dollars towards that mortgage. Nearly five years in, I have yet to touch the principal. Get a new lender, they told me or come up with the pay-out amount, the same amount of money I borrowed initially. Impossible. I cried.

For a week I walked around numb, as though everything I had been fighting for, so hard for so long, had just collapsed. Vanished. As though I had lost my children their home. I couldn’t believe, I told my boss, sobbing, that after all that effort, everything had all fallen apart in the end. I told her I had always been afraid I was going to die alone and be eaten by dogs and here I was – losing the house. I can’t believe, I said, I can’t believe it ended this way.
My boss held up her hand. “Hold on,” she said.”The dogs haven’t gotten you yet.”

And with that I entered into a long period of stillness, and when I emerged I went to a credit counseling place, where they took one look at all my debts and my non-existent assets and went straight to suggesting I declare bankruptcy. And then I went to a bankruptcy trustee who suggested exactly the same thing. He reviewed what that would mean for me.

“I have been paying a thousand dollars a month in credit card debt,” I said, “for more years than I can count, and I haven’t even made a dent in what I owe, never mind that I’ve paid the debt some four times over. And you’re telling me that I can pay less than that, a lot less than that, for 21 months – and then this is over?” He nodded. “Do you just make people happy all day long?” I sniffled through the tears. He said, “If it feels this good to you, you know it’s the right thing to do.”

I keep thinking I should have done this two years ago. But I kept going, kept borrowing, kept paying, kept trying, month after month. And I kept doing that for two reasons. For one, it’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? You borrow money, you pay it back. For two, there was shame. To admit defeat would be to admit failure, would be to announce to myself and the world that I couldn’t cut it.

Now I feel like, hey. I accumulated that debt to take care of my family, and I am grateful for it. And I paid that credit card debt four times over. The bank is NOT getting ripped off here. They’ve done just fine by me. And my house? We loved our little house, it has been just lovely for us. And now it will be just lovely for some other family who needs a home. We’ll find another little house, or an apartment, and we will make it fine for us, too.

Eight years ago, I grabbed my kids and carried them through a whirlwind of challenge and uncertainty. I got us to solid ground. The tidal wave may have crashed over us, but all it did was wash away the wreckage of the past. We are on terra firma. And we are free.”

- from ‘Going Bankrupt’, by Kyla Hanington, The Sunday Edition, CBC Radio, 7 Apr 2013 [hat-tip 4SlicesOfCheese]

‘Vancouver City Hall: Housing Report Card 2012′; Plus Revised Version

The following ‘Vancouver City Hall: Housing Report Card 2012′ appears at VanCityBuzz 8 April 2013.
The cheekily truthpacked revised version below that is from a source that is as yet unknown to us (but was passed on via e-mail by ‘B’, 9 Apr 2013).

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“My folks find themselves at 65 still owing half the value of their home and recreation property to the bank. After almost 30 years of ownership in the BPOE and a number of boom markets, they have very little to show for it.”

“My folks have owned in South Surrey since the mid-70′s, mostly in just two locations, but in their empty nest years yo-yoed between downsizing and re-upsizing to various condos, townhouses, duplexes, etc. trying to ‘find the right fit’, and all of a sudden they find themselves at 65 still owing half the value of their home + recreation property to the bank. After almost 30 years of ownership in the BPOE and a number of boom markets, they have very little to show for it and dad will keep working until the debt is paid before considering retirement. Now they are talking of selling and renting, which I have encouraged them to do, but they would feel ashamed in their peer group to ‘stoop’ to that.”
- Dazza at VREAA 6 April 2013 11:05 am

“Rent for $2,200 a month or buy and have a mortgage of $4,310 per month. Why would anyone buy?”

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7541 Kerr Street, East Vancouver (Fraserview)
2518 sqft SFH on 45×110 lot

“We considered renting this SFH a few months ago. It stayed on the market for a few months, looks like the landlord never got any tenants (rent went from $2500 to $2200) and today when I walked by – - it’s for sale for $999,999! Gee… tough choice, rent for $2200 a month or… buy and have a mortgage of $4,310 per month (based on 3.09%, 25 year, 100k down). Why would anyone buy?
Thanks, I think we will remain renters until prices come back down to earth. Or never buy in Vancouver.”

- pricedoutfornow at VCI 5 Apr 2013 7:38pm

Think of this situation like this:
This landlord can’t find anybody who will pay $2,200 per month to actually use the house as a home, but they are hoping to find somebody who is prepared to pay over $4,310 per month to make use of the house as a financial instrument, by using it to bet on increasing prices.
The house’s fundamental value is that which one could calculate based on a yield of less than $2,200 per month. The speculative market has been valuing it at substantially higher than that. As the speculative mania unwinds prices will fall to reflect fundamental values.
- vreaa

“They were talking about two couples they knew who had recently bought a lot and planned to each build a house on it and live as neighbours.”

“I was in a Starbucks in Kits today listening to two very Vancouver ladies talking RE. They were talking about two couples they knew who had recently bought a lot and planned to each build a house on it and live as neighbours. These ladies were concerned because one of the couples were heavy pot smokers. They wondered how the other couple would feel having clouds of dope smoke wafting in through the open windows on warm summer evenings. I just looked at my wife, who had been listening intently as well and whispered TWEB (This Will End Badly).”
- lexlimo at VREAA 4 April 2013 7:17 pm

Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association Annual First-Time Buyer Seminar Attendance Plummets

“The Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association presented its 19th annual free seminar for first-time homebuyers in Surrey on March 19. This event is the largest of its kind in North America, drawing aspiring homeowners from virtually all Metro Vancouver municipalities – and beyond.
Attendance over the years has averaged 800. One year, registrations were cut off three weeks before the event, as 900 eager people had already signed up. Last year, attendance dipped to a tad under 600.
This year, despite significant promotion and a top-notch panel of speakers, about 500 prospective first-time buyers registered. Moreover, an audience head count revealed less than 300 attendees.
Mind you, I believe a number of external factors contributed to the attendance drop – March break, heavy rain, traffic and a Canucks game. Also, it appears the wealth of information available at folks’ fingertips kept some of the registrants at home that night.”

- from ‘A world of advice’, Peter Simpson, The Vancouver Sun, 6 Apr 2013

Thanks to RG, who sent the above link to VREAA by e-mail, and who adds:
“The interesting bit is Mr. Simpson’s rationalization that the marked drop in attendance may be attributable to, “March break, heavy rain, traffic and a Canucks game” …
Seriously? … “rain” and “traffic” resulted in far less than half of the typical numbers of potential first-timers from seeking critical purchasing information? Wow.”

Mom and Pop Get It Wrong In All Markets, Time And Again

“Villa and White felt “sucker punched” when stocks collapsed in 2008, he reports. The crash “wiped out half their savings.” They sold out of stocks, put their money in the bank, and “swore off stocks,” presumably forever.
Last month, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index surged to new highs, they hired a new financial adviser and plunged into the stock market again.
The problem with Villa and White isn’t that they are unusual but that they are absolutely the typical American investor. Both of them are doctors, meaning they are presumably intelligent and educated. And yet they insist on investing like absolute fools.”

“They buy high, sell low, and the ending is predictable.”
“Share prices fall because there are more sellers than buyers. They rise because of the reverse. So mom and pop investors like the Villa-Whites rush to dump their stocks because they see the market plummeting, oblivious to the fact that the only reason it’s falling is because people like them are rushing to dump their stocks.”
- from ‘Mom and pop: The world’s worst investors’, WSJ Marketwatch, 4 Apr 2013

And so it is with all markets.
Regular folks (in the case of RE, the vast, vast majority of market participants) fell in love with Vancouver RE when prices started running up, became more and more adoring as they ran up more, and were most infatuated at the frothy peak (at the very time they should have been most wary). It is this crescendo of infatuation that drives speculative manias to their ridiculous heights.
As prices fall folks will become less enamoured, then discouraged, then disgusted by local RE, and when the most people are the most disgusted, it’ll be a sensible time to buy.
It’s not rocket-science, but it is emotionally very, very difficult to be a contrarian, and to take a position that is the opposite of that of the crowd.
- vreaa

The average British Columbian homeowner is not going to pay off their mortgage by the time they retire.

“The average Canadian homeowner doesn’t think they’ll be mortgage-free until they’re 57 — two years longer than what they expected last year, a survey by CIBC suggests.
The survey also found that half of those surveyed said other debt, from credit cards to lines of credit, have increased and impeded their ability to pay off their mortgage more quickly. …
The report released Friday also found those in British Columbia expected to be the oldest at 59 when they have paid off their mortgage, followed by those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan at 58. …
Colette Delaney, executive vice-president of mortgage, lending, insurance and deposit products at CIBC, said that the longer someone has to hold a mortgage may mean the less savings they have for retirement.
“Being mortgage free sooner can help accelerate retirement savings, but carrying a mortgage into your late 50s can have the opposite effect and make it more challenging to reach your long term savings goals,” said Delaney.

- from ‘Canadian homeowners don’t think they’ll be mortgage-free until they’re 57′, Canadian Press, 5 Apr 2013

Let’s simply face it that the average British Columbian homeowner is not going to pay off their mortgage by the time they retire.
In a closely related sense, locals are overdependent on their RE holdings for their retirement funding, and are at high risk of their retirement plans being severely hobbled by coming RE price weakness.
- vreaa

“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

“One of my old high school buddies finally got her mother to sell the family home in Kitsilano – sold for over $1M, monies realized after debt paid off $185K.”

“One of my old high school buddies finally got her mother to sell the family home in Kitsilano – sold for over $1M, monies realized $185,000. Home equity loans and “helping” out the kids does take a toll.”
- ex-kitsie at VREAA 30 Mar 2013 3:17pm

Even longstanding owners are speculating on future price strength.
- vreaa

“I know someone who just declared bankruptcy because her condo was assessed at $150k and she bought it presale north of $250k in 2005 or 2006.”

“I know someone in BC who just declared bankruptcy because her condo was assessed at $150k and she bought it north of $250k in 2005 or 2006 (presale). Tried to rent it out for the past few years but the rents kept drifting lower and lower, and the tenants stayed shorter and shorter terms (I think they moved on to better places, this is a city in BC where rents are down significantly since there was a boom-the boom is long over). She was losing more than $10,000 a year and just couldn’t get ahead. Time to hand the keys back to the bank and start over.
I hear stories like this all the time. A friend’s dad in the same city bought a house during the boom “everyone wants to live here!”. Now his mortgage is $2500/month (blue collar worker) and he tries to rent out the basement suite for $1000 a month (no takers-though it worked during the boom). The house is worth about 30% less than what he paid for it (maybe less, not a lot of sales these days).
All we have to do is look north a bit to see these stories.
Quiet suffering. These stories don’t seem to make the news but they do exist.”

- pricedoutfornow at VREAA 1 April 2013 7:55 pm

Sturdy, With Views – “Calling Froogle Scott!… Is Dr. Scott ‘In The House’?” [Not In This One, Certainly]

Poster ‘DNAspark99′, [on the forum bcsportsbikes, 22 Mar 2013 and onwards; hat-tip RE Lurker] has posted images of a ‘building’ that is under construction, with this commentary: “So, my landlord has taken it upon himself to build a ‘toolshed’. For a roto-tiller. At least, that’s the entirety of what he told us – there are, however, some inherent communication issues. (He’s Korean, and not yet well versed in English (though certainly much better than my Korean)). There’s one door so far, and a lawnmower will not even fit through it. (I don’t think he knows that yet though)
So, this is the ‘project’ thus far. For one, the ground it’s being built is mushy moist marshland – your feet sink with every step. Which is always ideal for a good foundation – or complete lack thereof.
It may not be immediately obvious, but I don’t think this man has a background in construction.
It appears he owns a hammer and saw, perhaps a measuring tape, perhaps not. Certainly nothing like a square, straightedge, or level.
I guestimate that he has seen no more than 3 episodes of various home improvement shows, and maybe at best he’s driven by a construction site atleast once in his life. After all, “How hard could it be?”

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And now, in time-lapse video:

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A second time-lapse video [posted 2 Apr 2013], worth the watch for casual efficiency, for the horse, for the stuff falling off the roof, and for the paint-job:

“She said the market was dead in Victoria and that it would remain so for a very long time. I asked how she knew. Her answer was fascinating and should scare the pants off the real estate crowd.”

“Yesterday two old friends, J & M, from Victoria, mid 50′s, both very bright and mid level bureaucrats at separate provincial government departments came to visit us in the Comox Valley. At one point the topic moved to real estate. I began to say that the market was dead here when J interjected that it is the same in Victoria and that it would remain so for a very long time. I was surprised by her response and asked how she knew this because I know that neither of them reads any of the real estate bear blogs. Their answer was fascinating and should scare the pants off the real estate crowd.

First, both live in Townhouses and J is the head of her strata council (46 units). She said that last year about 7 units sold. This year one of the most desireable units was listed and got no inquiries at all. It was pulled. In addition one of the vendors of a unit last year did want to buy back in but could only do so with a 0/40 mortgage, which is of course no longer available. She had no idea what he had done with the equity from the sale.

Second both pointed out that their incomes have remained largely static for years but that housing prices and strata fees (not to mention special assessments) have increased relentlessly to the point where they felt prices are ridiculous relative to income. J was of the opinion that the townhouse unit in which she lives has about $60K of material in it and yet these units were until recently selling for $300k plus. She felt that the spread between material cost and selling price was indefensible. J also pointed out that despite being mortgage free her strata fees and hydro per month were in excess of $500, the better part of a mortgage payment not that long ago.

Third J said that the price of real estate would be down basically forever because our generation had had few children, overall. As a result who was going to buy our houses when we depart for the great hereafter?

Fourth both believe that the potential sales price of their own units have decreased substantially in the past year and will probably continue to decrease but they intend to stay put. They do not see any point, for example, in selling and then renting despite knowing that prices are inflated vis a vis rent.

Fifth both pointed out that they work at very large institutions and that they, of course, interact with many of their fellow employees. One of the constant topics is real estate and these days the virtual impossibility of finding buyers for the units that their fellow employees have for sale. They report that the view of the majority of their fellow employees is similar to their own – real estate is dead.

Finally, and very ironically, at least for most of us at this site, both get most of their news from CBC and CTV. Their overall impression of reports on both channels was that the real estate market is collapsing.”

- Ford Prefect at VREAA 31 Mar 2013 8:46am

Kits Notes – “I’m pretty sure that this is the first 3+ bedroom property of any type that I’ve seen in the 5 years I’ve lived here that is priced below $700K.”

James writes [via e-mail to VREAA, 12 and 14 Mar 2013]:
“A couple of properties that I’ve been watching in my neighborhood with interest...

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Unit #1 2482 W 8th Ave; 1132sqft; Ask $699K
Granted this is a garden suite (but a nice one at that), I’m pretty sure that this is the first 3+ bedroom property of any type that I’ve seen since I’ve lived here (5 years) priced below the 700K mark in Kits. MLS blurb states: “NO HST & PRICED $146K BELOW ASSESSED VALUE!”

History:
Nov 2012 list price: $810K
Dec – price reduced: $799K
Today’s price: $699K -> -14% in 4 months! ouch!”

“Two other units in the same heritage-tear-down-and-subdivide Kits special..

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Unit #2 2488 W 8th Ave; 1331 sqft; Ask $899K
This one is great because it’s a 2 bedroom and yet priced at a full $200K above the one above…but still “PRICED $106K BELOW ASSESSED VALUE & NO HST!”

Previous list price: $950K -> I wasn’t able to find a date on this…
Current list: $899K
Price Reduction: -5.4% in 4 months. Though I bet any money that the $950K price was an interim price drop given the obvious desperation on the other units.”

“Third still listed on one site but not Realtor.ca which means that some poor sucker paid too much money or they are in the process of relisting it:

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Unit #3 2486 W 8th Ave; 1197sqft; Ask $950K
3 bedrooms but $250K more than the “garden suite”. “PRICED $79K BELOW ASSESSED VALUE & NO HST!”

La piece de resistance as they say.
Previous list price November: $1,050,000 (!)
Dec price reduction: $998,000
End of Feb price reduction: $950K
-9.5% haircut on a property that the city has deemed to be worth $1,030,000.
If it did sell, I would bet money it was NOT at $950K and therefore was probably -10% below assessed value at the time of sale. I’m sure all the other people on that street that are trying to sell , and there are a number of them, are not thrilled with this…”

“So, total $110K + $100K + $50K = $260K of assumed profit vaporized in 4 MONTHS.
Further, I managed to stumble across cached web pages with original purchase price of the property that was sold in May 2008 and subsequently torn down and replaced with the 3 “heritage style” Kits units above.
The original house looks like it was sold back in 2008 for $1.388M. Here it was then:

2486 w 8th 1.388M 2008

“I’m certainly not well versed in what it would cost to tear down to the foundations and then some, rebuild, subdivide and then flip a ~4K sq ft home like this, but an educated guess would be somewhere around ~$2-2.3M total for the 3 units once it’s all said and done including costs to sell each unit.
For the original list prices that WOULD have worked out to ~$500K profit. I didn’t consider cost of carrying the original mortgage since I’m not sure how these things work for developers, but 5 years of interest would be significant on a $1M+ mortgage.
Current list prices that profit drops to ~$200K.
And that’s with an assumed 1 out of 3 units sold and the nicest unit at that. No wonder they are getting desperate.”

Thanks to James for the above info and thoughts.
Anybody else got ideas on the math on a development such as this? -vreaa

“A beautiful Belfast home, in the equivalent of 1st Shaughnessy, bought at their RE peak in 2007 for £3.5 million, has now sold for £800K, almost 80%-off. The market didn’t suffer any significant economic shocks. Rates & unemployment didn’t skyrocket. They didn’t build more land. Sentiment just changed and the prices fell and fell.”

3699590935

“My old high school pal works at a Belfast, Northern Ireland newspaper – The News Letter – I believe it is the world’s oldest, continuously published paper. Unlike Vancouver journalists he regularly wrote “this is a bubble” articles during the incredible real estate boom that Belfast endured. It was at LEAST as extreme as the 2000-2012 Vancouver bubble period. Their bubble burst in 2007 and real estate has been a taboo topic at middle-class dinner parties ever since. I must say, my return visits have been much more enjoyable since people there stopped crowing about their real estate winnings.

Anyway, his latest of many articles highlights the plight of the owner of a beautiful home bought at the peak in 2007 for £3.5m. The area is the equivalent of 1st Shaughnessy. It has just sold for £800,000, or [almost] 80%-off. I must stress that 80% is not indicative of the average market which ONLY fell about 55% from peak.

Why this is relevant is that the Northern Ireland market didn’t suffer any significant economic shocks. Rates didn’t skyrocket, neither did unemployment, there is a huge percentage of people there who have safe government jobs with pensions. They didn’t build more land; and for those who don’t know the geography, Belfast is surrounded by the Irish Sea and an agriculture land reserve where there isn’t sea.

Sentiment just changed and the prices fell and fell. I will also add that my friend was considered a kook when he quoted the rare economist who called for a massive price correction. People just couldn’t conceive of such an outcome.

If you’re interested in the article it’s available here.”

- Ulsterman at VCI 29 Mar 2013 9:38pm

A story for Vancouver RE market observers that requires no commentary.
- vreaa

“Two family members of hers are trapped, underwater, in condos on the East Side.”

“My new business partner & I were talking about office space and got to talking about the cost of RE, as always seems to happen in this city. I don’t like to bring it up having been contrary for so long, but it does come up anyway, and I get a pained look on my face. Anyway, happily, we had a shared moment of agreement about renting. My partner hasn’t done extensive reading in RE, having decided it was “a ponzi scheme”, but had a simple story that she felt proved her out. Two family members of hers are trapped, underwater, in condos on the East Side. One is looking at assessment or maybe maintenance increase? and wishes to move because work situation has changed and he’s commuting to Surrey. The other has too little room for a growing family and is thinking of moving out, renting space, and putting their condo up for rent … “if they can get enough to cover the mortgage”. We both pulled a face at that. Seems unlikely.”
- Absinthe at VREAA 27 March 2013 7:59 pm

“Interprovincial migration is not saying good things about BC’s economy.”

extraprovincial flow

- the above table via e-mail from ‘JJ’, 27 Mar 2013. Thank you, JJ.
JJ adds: “Did you need another reason to be bearish on Vancouver real estate? I’m guessing not but here you go anyway. Interprovincial migration is not saying good things about BC’s economy – looks like net international immigration ticked up slightly in 2012 (+1000 or so vs. 2011) but this was more than offset by departures to other provinces.
Q4 was worse than the year as a whole and suggested an annualized rate of negative ~13,500 or something along those lines.”

These figures reflect (1) paucity of good employment opportunities and (2) high cost of living (especially, of housing). Ask any migrant.
- vreaa

Vancouver RE: Not As Expensive Provided You Don’t Think – “It’s clear that our perception of affordability has been coloured by living on a continent where housing is unusually inexpensive.”

Cover_Map_Embedded_0

The following excerpts from ‘Vancouver: Not as Expensive as You Think’, Jim Sutherland, Vancouver Magazine, 1 April 2013 [no joke -ed.]:

“The real estate market is soft, and it’s going to get softer. In the last year, average prices have dropped five percent or so, and they’ll sink some more, guaranteed. Less certainly, the market will…not plunge American-style but rather drift, sometimes downward, sometimes sideways, and perhaps not for very long.”

“… the Cassandras have gained the upper hand lately, and looking at some of the numbers it’s easy to see why. Sales running at only two-thirds the normal pace. Lots of dwelling completions due this year. Historical norms that are way out of whack. The unreasonable chunk of average income that buying a house here requires. Rents that stack up well against buying. Then again, there also exist other, less ominous numbers, some of which will be revealed here for the first time.” [What cheek. MOI has been well know in local RE discussion for years, thanks to the work of jesse (YVRHousing) and others. - ed.]…
The mystic metric is called months of inventory, which is the number of homes for sale divided by a given month’s sales. When the MOI is neutral-around six or seven-average prices change little. Below six, prices rise. And an MOI in double digits results in lower prices. The formula works so reliably, it’s bizarre. … Long before prices respond, anyone willing to make a simple calculation will know.”

“Of course, the mild price drops currently predicted by MOI look nothing like the armageddon forecast by those who believe we’re in a real estate bubble. Why not a U.S.-style meltdown here? The reasons are many (shortage of land, solid financial institutions, impressive livability, fiscal health, low mortgage rates…) even if far from categorical. A major safeguard is the provincial economy.” …
How can this be the case when so many sectors are in trouble? Film production, gaming, life sciences-so much for the halo industries that were going to make us a post-industrial poster child. But at the same time, a lot of industries are thriving. … (goes on to list lumber, mining, pipelines)…
TEDtalks, HootSuite, Plenty of Fish, and Lululemon sure sound like storytime selections at the daycare centre but actually mint money while helping to define the 21st century. Fortunes can be fickle out there on the cutting technical-entertainment-design edge, as a prior generation of civic champions like Angiotech, Electronic Arts, and Ballard Power Systems proves. Still, it’s an indication that at least some cultural creatives can afford to live here. So the local economy is almost certainly going to be just fine, which will help keep the real estate market from crashing, regardless of all those micro-metrics.”

“The monster that threatens to swamp us is declining immigration-and in Vancouver that’s the worst thing that could happen to property markets.”

“But why, one might reasonably ask, are immigrants to Vancouver so fixated on buying real estate? Isn’t it foolish to dive into such a pricey market? Reasons have to do with everything from cultural predilections to the perceived riskiness of other investments; from the apparent solidity and performance of our property market to the essential nature of being adrift in a foreign land. But beyond all that, the fundamental explanation is straightforward: especially to immigrants from Asia, real estate in Vancouver doesn’t seem expensive at all. In fact, it’s pretty cheap.”

“One [analysis], by the Serbia-based crowd-sourced website Numbeo.com, comes up with house-to-income ratios very similar to Demographia’s but analyzes 362 of the world’s largest cities in more than 100 countries. On Numbeo, Vancouver sits not second or even 25th, but as the 125th least affordable city in the world. Our price-to-income ratio is about one-third that of Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen and comparable to or cheaper than most other places where Chinese emigrants might reasonably expect to land. Potboiler settings like Moscow, London, Paris, and Tokyo are up to twice as expensive, while secondary but still global cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Barcelona-the kind that join us on livability surveys-are tightly bunched around us in terms of affordability as well. Comparable American spots like Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego are a little to a lot more affordable, but prices in the U.S. recently experienced a catastrophic plunge and are now bouncing back strongly, even as ours soften. It’s clear that our perception of affordability has been coloured by living on a continent where housing is unusually inexpensive.” [...and why shouldn't our housing be inexpensive? -ed.] …

“None of this means that housing affordability isn’t a problem in Vancouver. We know that mortgage payments are taking up too much of our income, that young people discouraged by the high cost of entry are leaving town, and that the situation isn’t sustainable. We also know that prices are currently falling and that the MOI the formula says they will drop some more. But unless we lose status as a global magnet or immigration is otherwise reined in, a real estate environment akin to that of other Canadian cities or currently depressed American ones is not a realizable dream.”

See below for one reader’s impressions of the article.
Personally, we won’t attempt a comprehensive analysis at this moment.
The author deserves credit for listing evidence that Vancouver RE is overextended and some of the negative effects of high RE prices. At the same time he also throws in many of the mythical reasons for ongoing relentless support.
One critique I would offer is that there is a strong possibility that the BC economy has only seemed relatively resilient because of the RE spec mania (and all its knock-on ‘positive’ multiplier effects), and thus using apparent BC economy resilience as a reason for ongoing future RE strength is a circular argument. We still believe that our economy will suffer badly when our RE inevitably reverts to mean.
Another thing: why shouldn’t our RE be as inexpensive as places such as the US?
- vreaa

Regular reader ‘space889′, alerted us all to the above article with the following [edited] comment at VREAA 23 March 2013 at 10:19 pm:

“OMG!! You have to profile this!!! I just flip through April 2013 issue of Vancouver Magzine’s cover story about Vancouver RE. It is simply unbelievable the extent to which they try to convince people that Vancouver RE is still cheap by global standards. Two things stuck out for me -

“The first is a map of Vancouver, Burnaby and North Shores redraw with new neighborhood names like – Hanoi for most of Burnaby, Macau & Kew Gardens for UBC, Downtown Abby for Cambie from Broadway to 41st, and then North & South Yorkshire from 41st to Marine Drive, Queenstown and Gaslamp Quarter for North Van, and Brighton, Monte Carlo, Chamonix Mount Blanc for West Vancouver. Unbelievable!!”

“The second is they tried to dispel the myth that Demography Survey tries to peddle that Vancouver is expensive by world standards. They gave these reasons why you shouldn’t trust that survey. One the survey only included 7 countries and excluded most of the world including Asia, Africa and South America. Second the backers of the survey is an ultra conservative right wing think tank that opposes any idea to moderate car use. As a counter example, they used data from a Serbia-based crowd-source website that shows on a price to income ratio, Vancouver is cheap, cheap, cheap, especially compared against world class cities.”

“Further, in a comparison they claimed to show that a desirable house in 7 cities with higher price to income ratios – Phnom Penh, Rome, St. Peterburgs, Tel Aviv, London, Mexico City, and Melbroune – all require you to spend “the same for less square footage, less lawn but more history”. However their comparison really got my blood pressure up… They do not compare apples to apples… The ‘desirable house’ in Vancouver they picked is a 4 bed 2 bath house near King Ed Canada Line station and they describe it as TEARDOWN! Let’s just let it sink in for a minute. An example of a desirable home in Vancouver is a teardown on a busy main artery road!!”

—-

Here are the definitely-not-apples-to-apples vanmag comparisons that got space889′s blood-pressure up:

“Around the World in Seven (sic) Homes
What does a desirable (but you know, not outrageous) house look like in cities with higher price-to-income ratios? In many cases, you’re spending the same for less square footage, a lot less lawn, and a lot more history.” 
[P:I ratios cited appear to be median city home price to median city income, not related to the specific properties. -ed.]

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