Tag Archives: Economy

‘Extreme Speculation’ – “The problem is that the diversion of resources into investments that are only justified by the stream of new money and artificially low interest rates will destroy wealth at the same time as it is boosting activity.”

The Vancouver RE market can only be understood as part of a global phenomenon of too-cheap money encouraging ‘extreme speculation’. -vreaa

“When the central bank pumps money into the economy and suppresses interest rates it creates incentives to speculate and invest in ways that would not otherwise be viable. At a superficial level the central bank’s strategy will often seem valid, because the increased speculating and investing prompted by the monetary stimulus will temporarily boost economic activity and could lead to lower unemployment. The problem is that the diversion of resources into projects and other investments that are only justified by the stream of new money and artificially low interest rates will destroy wealth at the same time as it is boosting activity. In effect, the central bank’s efforts cause the economy to feast on its seed corn, temporarily creating full bellies while setting the stage for severe hunger in the future.
We witnessed a classic example of the above-described phenomenon during 2001-2009, when aggressive monetary stimulus introduced by the US Federal Reserve to mitigate the fallout from the bursting of the NASDAQ bubble and “911” led to booms in US real estate and real-estate-related industries/investments. For a few years, the massive diversion of resources into real-estate projects and debt created the outward appearance of a strong economy, but a reduction in the rate of money-pumping eventually exposed the wastage and left millions of people unemployed or under-employed. The point is that the collapse of 2007-2009 would never have happened if the Fed hadn’t subjected the economy to a flood of new money and artificially-low interest rates during 2001-2005.”
– from ‘Setting the stage for the next collapse’, Steve Saville, The Speculative Investor, 22 July 2014

“Yellen will not use interest rates to head off or curtail any asset bubbles encouraged by the extremely low rates that might appear. And history is clear: very low rates absolutely will encourage extreme speculation. But Yellen will, as Greenspan and Bernanke before her, attempt to limit only the damage any breaking bubbles might cause. … I had thought that central bankers by now, after so much unnecessary pain, might have begun to compromise on this matter, but no such luck… The evidence against this policy after two of the handful of the most painful burst bubbles in history is impressive. But not nearly as impressive as the unwillingness of academics to back off from closely held theories in the face of mere evidence.”
– from Jeremy Grantham’s latest newsletter, GMO Q2 2014

“What’s the worst that can happen? You can’t pay your mortgage, so sell your house! No fear.”

Hannah Sung, Globe&Mail: “According to the numbers Canadian’s are carrying more debt than ever; which seems like a worrisome place to be. So I decided to ask people: ‘What is your biggest financial fear?’.”

Man1: “That’d be my mortgage. Actually, I just lost my job, about a month ago. Believe me I’m really happy about it; I can go back to school. I really don’t want the fear to come in front of me. What’s the worst that can happen? You can’t pay your mortgage, so sell your home! No fear.”

Hannah Sung: “‘What is your biggest financial fear?’.”

Woman: “The stereotyped idea of graduating and living in your parent’s basement.”

Hannah Sung: “What is the best way to manage the stress of being in debt?”

Man2: [looking concerned] “Try to think positive. I just had a job interview.”

- from ‘The fears that grip Canadians as debts rise, housing prices fall and incomes stall’, Globe and Mail video, 9 Mar 2013

Housing Makes Up 20% Of Canadian GDP – “This heavy reliance is not healthy. We basically borrowed our way out of this recession. Now, it’s payback time.”

“If the city is any indication of what’s going on in the country, it’s over-reliant on its housing sector.” – Herbert Crockett, a retired World Health Organization executive who lives in France says of Toronto.

“We basically borrowed our way out of this recession. Now, it’s payback time. We will be in for a period of long, slow growth.” – Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at the investment-banking unit of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

“It did seem a little unusual to have every policy maker in Ottawa hectoring Canadians about their excessive debt levels and yet the economic incentive for the average Canadian was completely slanted to taking on debt and not saving. The realist in me would admit it was the only tool the Bank of Canada had. The reality was, they really could not lift interest rates.” – Douglas Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal.

“As an economist working for a Canadian bank, I can’t go into a client meeting and have someone not ask me about housing in Canada. For U.S. investors, they are still a little gun-shy about what happened in the U.S., and I think they worry the same fate will happen to Canada.” – Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC, Royal Bank of Canada’s investment-banking unit, in New York.

Meantime, the share of GDP linked to housing, including construction and renovation, soared to more than 20 percent. A similar U.S. measure peaked at 18 percent in 2005. Canada’s share of construction jobs in total employment was 7.3 percent in January, above the 4.3 percent in the U.S.
“This heavy reliance is not healthy,” CIBC’s Tal says. “I expect to see some softening.”

- excerpts from ‘Canada Losing Debt Halo as Bull Market Housing Peaks With Carney’, Bloomberg, 26 Feb 2013 [hat-tip Nemesis]

As we have been saying here for years.
What percentage of Vancouver’s GDP is linked to housing?
– vreaa

High Paid Vancouver Workers Choosing To Live In The U.S. – “The cost of housing is four to five times what they are accustomed to; He did not want to move because he can have his $400,000 mansion in the U.S., versus getting a little home for $1-million in Vancouver; There are other really pretty places out there.”

Eric Murray is chief executive officer of growing clean-tech company Tantalus Systems, based in Burnaby, B.C. Mr. Murray, however, lives in Raleigh, N.C., where he owns a 3,500-square-foot house and puts his three kids through private school.

He is a Canadian, with several family members in Vancouver. But when his career trajectory sent him to Raleigh, he decided to stay put. Mr. Murray is one of a growing number of workers in the Lower Mainland who live in the U.S. You could call them cross-border jobbers.

“My father’s entire family is in Vancouver, so for our relationship, it would be great if I lived there,” he says in a phone interview. “But for me to pick up and move from Raleigh, where I have a fully wooded lot, and a very nice home, and I can send my kids to private school, this sort of stuff – to do that in Vancouver, I just can’t swing it economically. When we looked at this whole thing, we knew we would have to compromise on housing.

“Absolutely, I would live in Vancouver if I could afford it.”

Technology is the third-largest contributor to B.C.’s gross domestic product, says Bill Tam, president of the B.C. Technology Industry Association. He says there is demand for about 4,000 more employees in the industry, and the majority of qualified people come from the U.S.

“Especially in the Vancouver area, technology has been one of the faster growing industries,” he says. “So when companies have had to expand and recruit managers to come here from the U.S., some have relocated to places like Blaine, Wash., close enough to commute on a daily basis. That’s the level of creativity they’ve had to resort to.”

Others, he says, fly in from more distant U.S. locations, like Mr. Murray. Mr. Murray used to fly into Vancouver every other week. These days, he’s flying in every third week.

“When they come across and recognize the cost of housing is four to five times what they are accustomed to, they end up being commuters,” says Mr. Tam.

Sierra Wireless CEO Jason Cohenour, who was travelling and couldn’t be reached for comment, works in Burnaby and lives in the U.S. Tom Ligocki, CEO of Richmond-based Clevest, says he has several employees who live in a golf course community at Semiahmoo Resort, near Blaine. One of his engineers, Jeremy Westbrook, commutes from his home near Blaine to work in Richmond. It takes them about 30 to 40 minutes to make the drive.

“None of the folks in the U.S. want to move to Vancouver,” he says. “The simple example that I heard from one gentleman is that he did not want to move because he can have his $400,000 mansion in the U.S., versus getting a little home for $1-million in Vancouver.” …

“There’s no point in even talking about the Vancouver market. We are just talking to them about directly moving to the Semiahmoo resort,” he says, on the phone from a conference in New Orleans. “If you can’t bring them to Vancouver, that’s the only option we have.

“And they do certainly make very good wages,” he adds. “These are high-end experts that we are hiring.

“But all these folks are used to living in a house. They are used to American comforts, and they are well paid, and they can afford to have a nice luxury home wherever in the U.S.”

“I get into this discussion all the time with guys. Vancouver is great. The mountains and ocean are super. I get that. I would love to live there. I have a lot of family there. But I don’t see how the economics would work for a young person trying to do both of those things, unless they had a similar opportunity in another really pretty place.

“And I have been in a bunch of different countries and there are other really pretty places out there.”

- from ‘Some Vancouver workers have been priced right out of the country’, Kerry Gold, Globe and Mail, 22 Feb 2013 [hat-tip Aldus Huxtable]

Smart business people know: Vancouver RE is woefully overpriced.
– vreaa

“My friends who are westside realtors are cutting spending budgets and dipping into savings now to keep things going.”

“My conversations with friends who are westside realtors over the past few months (I know a few – hey everyone wanted to be a RE agent for a while, it seems) [reveal that things] are not good (for them). Telling me they are cutting spending budgets and dipping into savings now to keep things going.”
Girlbear at VCI 11 Feb 2013 2:51pm

“Over 6k of the announced 16K job losses in BC were due to real estate development slowdown in the Lower Mainland.”

“Labour Minister Pat Bell was on CBC radio earlier today. He said that over 6k of the announced 16K job losses in BC were due to real estate development slowdown in the Lower Mainland.”
Patiently Waiting at VCI 8 Feb 2013 3:37pm

It does seem that things are slowing down on various fronts.
These are the kinds of self-perpetuating downward-spiral/vicious-cycle factors that will cause lower prices to beget lower prices still.
Our recollection is that we have roughly 7%-8% of the work-force directly involved in RE construction, whereas more normal levels are 3%-4%.
– vreaa

“I am in LOVE with the natural beauty here, but I can’t find work! The more time goes on, the more sad, lonely, desperate and lost I feel in this city.”

“Wow, this is really defeating. I mean, I am in LOVE with the natural beauty here, but I can’t find work! it’s ridiculous! I live in Surrey and the job market seems horrendous. I’ve applied for about five months straight, and nothing. nada. it’s like you’ve got to be super cut throat to find that you’ve competed with hundreds of other sorry applicants. forget having credentials. really? this is sad. I want to believe that it’s possible to find a way to stay here, but the more time goes on, the more sad, lonely, desperate and lost I feel in this city…which feels absolutely awful as I left Toronto feeling the same way. What the hell kind of life are we supposed to live where your next meal is being paid by the service industry job that you abhor and can’t wait until you find your next soul sucking job? where are the JOBS other than the oil loving alberta? what the hell is wrong with this country?”
Tova at VREAA 2 Feb 2013

“We live in Vancouver and it’s all we can afford” – “As though living in Vancouver and having no money go hand-in-hand”

“Have had a listing on Craigslist for almost a month to sell a nice quality baby car seat. Finally got an offer last night, 50% below asking because “We live in Vancouver and it’s all we can afford.” I put obo on the thing and I don’t care why you’re making the offer you are, but I just thought that was interesting, as though living in Vancouver and having no money go hand-in-hand, it’s a given that you have no money.”
Angela at greaterfool.ca 29 Nov 2012 12:24am

Three Vancouvers? – “A recent report paints a picture of a city riven with inequality and the growing geographic segmentation of its classes.”

“The 21st century is shaping up to be the century of the city. But global cities are not only becoming increasingly-important economic forces of the world economy. They are also becoming increasingly divided and segmented. …
A new report, by David Ley and Nicholas Lynch of the Cities Centre, takes a detailed look at Vancouver’s growing class divides and geographic segmentation. Vancouver is a very different city than Toronto. It is a city of tremendous natural assets and physical beauty, noted for its mild climate, perched on the Pacific coast. It is widely thought of as an affluent city, with some of the highest housing prices in North America. It has attracted a huge influx of immigrants, especially from the Pacific Rim. It is a frequent winner of “livable cities” titles, as the study notes. This city is sometimes referred to as “Dream City” or “Lotus-Land.”
But their recent report, “Divisions and Disparities in Lotus-Land: Socio-Spatial Income Polarization in Greater Vancouver, 1970-2005,” paints a Vancouver riven with inequality and the growing geographic segmentation of its classes. …
City #1 is affluent Vancouver, made up of neighborhoods where average individual incomes grew by more than 15 percent of the metro average between 1970 and 2005, comprises roughly 30 percent of the region’s census tracts and covers three distinct areas: the central core, the North Shore suburbs, and scattered areas with high-priced condos and houses close in proximity to valued amenities, such as waterfronts, views, and green spaces.
City #2 is middle class Vancouver, with income changes of plus or minus 15 percent of the metro average. It includes nearly half (47 percent) of the region’s census tracts.
And City #3 is disadvantaged Vancouver, areas where incomes fell by more than 15 percent of the metro average between 1970 and 2005. These areas account for some 22 percent of the region’s census tracts; and as the authors note, they “are relatively concentrated in the southern and eastern neighborhoods of Vancouver and extending out to the southern and eastern suburbs.”
While City #1 consists overwhelmingly of native-born Canadians and is more than three-quarters white, City #3 has an immigrant majority and is 61 percent minority. It has the highest population densities too, as well as the lowest gross incomes, and despite its lower property values, a lower share of homeowners. More of its residents are employed in working class and service occupations than in either City #1 or #2. …
The study concludes:
As a result, the dominantly middle-income City of 1971 is now divided three ways: one-third lower income, one-third higher income, and one-third middle-income. The middle-income city of the 1970s has become the polarized city of the 2000s. …
Even the city widely recognized as the world’s “most livable” cannot escape the growing class polarization of our increasingly spiky and divided world.”

– excerpts and image from ‘The Growing Urban Class Divide, Vancouver Edition’, Richard Florida, The Atlantic Cities, 14 Nov 2012 [hat-tip Aldus Huxtable]

“Substantial declines in home sales are usually a precursor of home price corrections.”

“Our in-house investment managers in NYC have a global portfolio of around $300bn USD; this was their take on Canada sent to me yesterday:
“It is reported that home sales in Vancouver and Toronto metropolitan areas dropped by 20-33% in September from a year ago. Substantial declines in home sales are usually a precursor of home price corrections. While almost all high loan-to-value mortgages in Canada have guarantees from government backed entities, a housing correction will likely impact consumer finances and aggravate credit card ABS credit performance”
Word is getting out there pretty fast now. Housing market correction = recession in Canada.”

Toronto_CA at greaterfool.ca 7 Nov 2012 10:04am

Price follows volume. The weakness we are seeing in sales will be followed by similarly impressive price drops.
And, yes, a housing market correction will have profound effects on our economy, particularly in areas like the lower mainland where we are sorely overdependent on economic activity either directly or indirectly linked to RE.
– vreaa

“73% of homeowners can’t afford their own homes”; “Mark Carney admits to ‘droning on in public about the dangers of household debt'”; “They offered me close to a million last year (25 years old) just because I’m in Fort McMurray.”

“Canadians will learn an ugly lesson if they keep piling on debt the way they are at the moment.
The Bank of Montreal report that came out Monday and noted that almost three-quarters of homeowners would feel a significant squeeze from even a small rise in interest rates shows just how close Canadians are to falling over the edge of their finances. What it means, in essence, is that 73% of the people surveyed can’t afford their own homes. And a lot of them are already feeling the pinch.”


“This is at a time when interest rates are at historic lows, which means they can only go up from here. That they will rise, eventually, is inevitable. Yet 16% of the people in the survey said they might not be able to make their payments if rates rose by even a tenth.
You don’t have to think hard to imagine what the fallout would be from an event like that. You can picture the headlines — “Canadians driven from their homes by rise in interest rates” – and the panic in Ottawa. The papers – well, some of them, anyway – would be full of stories about innocent families who insist they had no idea they were getting into such a mess when they took out the mortgage on their “dream home.”


“Mark Carney, the Bank of Canada governor, has wagged his finger at big borrowers so often he seems almost sheepish about it.
“Me droning on in public about the dangers of household debt is a way of reminding households that: don’t assume that current levels and the current situation will be there forever,” he said on one recent address.


“As the housing market cools and home prices slip, a lot of people could find themselves making monthly payments they can barely cover for a house that isn’t worth what they thought it was. If you can’t cover the mortgage, you just have to pray the roof doesn’t start leaking or the furnace fail.
And borrowers won’t really have anyone to blame but themselves. The warnings are out there. The examples are rife: all anyone has to do is examine the experience of U.S. homeowners over the past few years. The dangers aren’t a secret, they’re just being ignored.
But people keep borrowing, because it makes them feel good to spend, because they’re too busy to think about it, because they figure they can cover the payments in the short term and will deal with the future when it comes. And because they can always blame it on someone else when the roof caves in.”


– from ‘Hard-pressed homeowners just close their eyes and borrow some more’, Kelly McParland, National Post, 24 Oct 2012

And from the comment section below that article:

“When I was shopping for a house in 2010, the bank told me I could afford $850k. I am a compulsive budgeter, with detailed spreadsheets, played with various amortizations, and incorporated all of my expensive, housing-related and otherwise, and the amount I concluded that I could afford was $500k. That’s a huge difference.” – Jc

“They offered me close to a million last year (25 years old) just because I’m in Fort McMurray. Didn’t go anywhere near that mark.” – doodles

“I was also offered a $750K loan 10 years ago, and only borrowed $500K upon my own analysis (based on property costs < 30% of gross income). The Scotia loan officer told me that I was smart, and that she feared for others that were borrowing all they could get." – cash0

“We wanted to move a year ago and decided we could afford about $400K. Bank offered us $750K. We spent $362K fully expecting to pay higher interest rates eventually.” – chmilz

No surprises; Lenders have allowed borrowers to overextend.
Headlined for the record.
– vreaa

“Young people are leaving B.C. for other provinces at the fastest rate in years, raising concerns about a sputtering economy and unaffordable housing.”

“BC stats from January to March show more than 2,500 have uprooted and left.
Both economists and folks who live here blame the economy, housing affordability, and the high cost of living in BC.
A woman we spoke with isn’t shocked by the mass exodus earlier this year. “No, it’s not surprising at all. I was actually thinking of doing that myself, especially towards the US; you get way bigger houses [in the States] for a small amount.”
One man tells us he’s done it before and could do it again.”
[Leave twice?! -ed.]
‘Thousands of people leaving BC for other provinces: Some Vancouverites not surprised, blaming jobs and expensive housing’, news1130.com, 16 Aug 2012 [hat-tip RESkeptic]

“Young people are leaving B.C. for other provinces at the fastest rate in years, raising concerns about a sputtering economy and unaffordable housing.
The latest numbers from B.C. Stats show that from January to March this year, 2,554 people left B.C. for other provinces. That’s an alarming jump that continues a negative trend started in 2011, when B.C. logged a net migration loss interprovincially of 1,920.
In an interview Wednesday Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central Credit Union 1, said B.C.’s negative migration “seems to be accelerating.”
Pastrick said those leaving B.C tend to be young people looking for better employment opportunities, but there also could be a “push and pull” factor of younger families seeking both better jobs and more affordable homes in other provinces. …
B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix said interprovincial migration is “complicated” and B.C.’s negative trend covers a short period, so he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions.
But housing affordability and B.C.’s habit of exporting raw resources without developing manufacturing jobs are likely culprits, he said.
“If this trend continues in the coming quarters it is not good for the economy or the government’s record,” Dix said. “We have to focus on making things and manufacturing in a consistent way, and training our [workforce].”
B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon was not available for an interview for this story.”

– from ‘Young people fleeing B.C. in big numbers: Are bad economy and pricey housing to blame?’, The Province, 16 Aug 2012

For dozens of other stories in this vein, see the ‘Avoiding Vancouver‘ sidebar category.
The bubble has been bad for our society.
– vreaa

600,000 square feet is to be dedicated to office space packed in around Rogers Arena and BC Place – “We have our work cut out for us to fill that space.”

“The city’s planning department, concerned about the loss of key office sites on Vancouver’s small downtown peninsula to the condo boom of the 1990s and 2000s, decided several years ago that the last bit of undeveloped former industrial land that was the site of Expo 86 – Northeast False Creek – should include 1.8 million square feet of commercial space.
Of that, 600,000 is to be dedicated to office or, as the planners call it, “job space,” packed in around Rogers Arena, the home of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team, and BC Place, the government-owned stadium where the B.C. Lions play football and Whitecaps play soccer.
That 600,000 square feet is the equivalent of a whole Park Place tower in Vancouver’s business district or the new PricewaterhouseCoopers tower on York Street in Toronto.
Now, landowners in that area are trying to figure out who they’ll get as tenants.
“We have our work cut out for us to fill that space,” says David Negrin, president of Aquilini Development, one division of the Aquilini family empire that includes the Canucks, Rogers Arena and a host of other businesses and development projects. “It’s just a tough location because it’s on the edge of the [central business district].”

– from ‘Canucks owners gamble on new office district in Vancouver’, Globe and Mail, 30 Jul 2012

“I have a friend I literally begged to sell his Yaletown condo a year ago. Instead he poured in 50 K worth of Miele and Granite and teak floors. He lost his job on Tuesday.”

“We rent in a very nice Vancouver Condo Highrise – average for one bedroom is around a million. (gulp).
Three Open Houses in our Building last weekend.
NOT ONE SHOWING. (The concierge and I are pals).
NOTHING. Nada.

Today – anecdotal evidence of how business is in D/T Vancouver. The ONLY place I saw that was busy is Sears – going out of business – a new tenant is rumoured to be Target. The rest of the stores in the area are DEAD as Stephen Harper’s eyes.

I have a friend I literally begged to sell his condo a year ago. Instead he poured in 50 K worth of Miele and Granite and teak floors. He lost his job on Tuesday.
He called this morning, and he sounded terrible. I dropped in on the way back home (he lives in Yaletown) – and when I got to his shoebox, he looked like he hadn’t slept in a month.
He was nearly in tears. I asked him to tell me what was going on and I just listened.
Maxed credit cards. Leased Land Rover. 60 inch TV – all the toys.
He has one bank account that has $123 bucks in it, and a two week severance check worth $1190.
He was frantic. His Mortgage payment is coming up at the end of the month, $2350.
What could I do for this guy? He can try and list his shoebox – but he owes 412 K on it and it won’t sell.
His student loans total? $45 K – he has an MA in Fine Arts. His animation job was chopped.

I have a sinking feeling that my poor pal is in a crowded boat.
The whole mess makes me sick.
This is just starting.
What is coming is a disaster. I am very concerned that we have a generation of folks that will be destroyed. Maybe two.
DEBT. Easy credit. It’s like Oxycontin. Once you get on it – you are finished.”

- Bill Gable at greaterfool.ca 20 July 2012 6:45pm
[hat-tip 'subterranian']

“Where I work close to Richmond I was stunned at the amount of commercial real estate available.”

“Where I work close to Richmond I was stunned at the amount of commercial real estate available. For example, a 143,000 square foot building previously occupied by Kodak. I don’t know who thinks this is a great time to get involved in a major purchase after seeing the sheer volume of “For Lease” signs…”
Prepmonkey at greaterfool.ca 18 Jul 2012 10:35pm

Vancouver Economy Under Strain

“Lay-offs from Nokia (Burnaby), CBC, Sears, Rogers, game development companies, paper mills, banks, teachers, public sector staffs thus far in the first half of 2012.”
– VMD, who posts the very informative ‘Layoff tracking thread’ at Vancouver Peak

“The evidence of reduced dicretionary spending is starting to mount; last weekend wife’s running-shoe store had eviction notice; going to island tonight and BC Ferries saying that despite recent trial price cuts traffic still at 21 year lows. So has something changed on the island that people don’t go anymore, was the weather worse than last year? No, they are spending everything on re and food presumably.”
market stats at VCI 29 Jun 2012 8:56am

“Speaking of high property taxes for businesses in Vancouver, it’s pretty impressive how many shops have shut down just recently downtown. One of the Starbucks on Robson is gone (along with the White Spot next to it) as is the bag shop across the street from them, Payless Shoes on Robson and Bute gone, Odoul’s is gone, after the American Appeal shops combined there’s another space sitting empty, Book Off just closed up down near Dunsmuir, of course the old HMV has been sitting empty for a while now. It certainly feels like business is drying up downtown very quickly given how many places have closed up in rapid succession.
I did smirk a bit at the Dollar Store that just opened near Shangri La, though. Doesn’t seem quite as upscale as what I think developers were aiming for in that areas.”

Lord Huggington at VCI 29 2012 at 11:53am

“The federal government’s efforts to cool the overheated housing market are raising concerns among Canada’s biggest banks that the changes might hit the economy harder than intended.”
– from ‘Banks warn Ottawa over lending rules’, G&M, 2 Jul 2012

“The rate of insolvency for those over 65 soared by 1747 per cent from 1990 to 2010.”
– from ‘Are bankrupt seniors harbingers of things to come?’, G&M, 29 Jun 2012 [Partly due to poor preparation; partly to low interest rate monetary policy. - vreaa]

“Not that this has much to do about anything … but I could not help but notice that the new Rush tour is not performing in Vancouver this year. I guess they are too. busy playing in world class cities like Columbus, Buffalo, San Jose and many other important hubs around North America and couldn’t squeeze in a stopover.”
condo paradise at VCI 29 Jun 2012 12:53pm

Related:
“Groceries have been trucked in from Calgary to help the Kelowna food bank weather an unexpected surge in demand. Nearly 11,400 kilograms of non-perishables were delivered this week to the Ellis Street depot, where applications for assistance are up 12 per cent from this time last year.”
News1130, 30 Jun 2012 [hat-tip Patiently Waiting at VCI]

Perhaps related:
“The Chinese economy is slowing and is likely to slow a lot more. Get ready for a hard landing.”
– from ‘Falling Star’, Jonathan Laing, Barron’s, 30 Jun 2012

“About a year ago someone bought the house and did a total reno. Then the house went on sale for months with no takers. Then off the market. Then on sale again. Now they are tearing it down. No attempt to salvage anything.”

“Talked to an old friend in Burnaby today. About a year ago someone bought the house next door and spent several months doing a total reno. Then the house went on sale for months with no takers. Then it went off the market. Then it went on sale again.
And now they are tearing it down. No attempt to salvage anything. Remember in decades past you could drive around the city and go to the demo sales where they spent a week or two selling off the fixtures and stuff first.
This is wholesale destruction of wealth. Question is who took or will take the hit – the previous owner, the builders, or the next owner, or some combination of the above.
It’s doesn’t get any crazier than this.”

patriotz at VCI 29 Jun 2012 1:01pm

“Wholesale destruction of wealth”, agreed.
Part of the terrible misallocation of resources that is part of a speculative mania.
It should be obvious to all that this is bad for our society.
– vreaa

“Wages are just not enough to entice anyone to Vancouver. Everyone we’ve interviewed so far says “Hey, I need at least $X to get the same thing I already have”. And no company here that I know of can afford to pay $X.”

“I have to agree on the difficulty in attracting good, well skilled, engineers or technicians here… our company is looking to hire at least 3-4 people right now (pneumatics, electronic, electrical, PLC… that kind of stuff) and wages just are not enough to entice anyone to Vancouver… everyone we’ve interviewed so far says “hey I need at least $X to get the same thing I already have”… and no company here that I know of can afford to pay $X. Tough spot for companies in Vancouver.”
BurbsBoy at VCI 28 Jun 2012 10:20pm [hat-tip jesse]

It is best for a society and for its economy for housing to be priced near fundamental value, as judged by local incomes and price:rent ratios. Vancouver prices are two to three times higher than those determined by fundamentals.
– vreaa

One Chart – Canada is “a country where house prices still haven’t found fair value.”

“A chart that shows those countries where housing prices still haven’t found ‘fair value’.”

- chart and excerpt from ‘Of housing booms and busts’, David Keohane, ftalphaville.ft.com, 26 Jun 2012 [hat-tip Ralph Cramdown and JS]

[If you find charts eloquent, see also this post from two years back: 'Two Charts: All You Need To Know About Canada's Housing Bubble', VREAA, 26 Aug 2010]

White Rock – “Who the hell do they think will buy this stuff at these prices? Especially when so much more is being readied every single week? “Overbuilt” doesn’t begin to describe it.”

“It was so interesting biking through White Rock the other day. Even if I wasn’t an ardent bear, it would have been hard to miss the sheer number of For Sale sings. I have no idea if the official totals reflect it, but there sure seems like a ton of them when you’re on the street, sometimes several in the same block. Three or four carried the “New Price” message.

But on top of that, the flood of new product and new developments just…doesn’t…stop. We rode past at least a half-dozen new condo/townhouse/SFH developments that day alone. Meanwhile, back here in my own between-the-border-crossing neighbourhood, construction continues unabated. They’ve opened up a whole new section of land since my photo essay a couple months ago (building roads, infrastructure, etc) that looks big enough to handle a hundred townhouses and dozens of row houses.

You gotta remember that there are already 90 (!!!!) listings just in this mini-neighbourhood alone, nearly all of which are new. And unloved, apparently. These places were being snapped up a year ago, but not now. The weekend open houses here are seemingly drawing nothing but flies.

There’s one house in particular that bears mentioning. It’s situated where prospective buyers can’t miss it when they drive into the area, and it’s been in a constant state of “open house” for the last two months. Yet there it sits today, un-purchased, while dozens more just like it are nearing the final stages of completion.

Honestly, who the hell do they think will buy this stuff at these prices? Especially when so much more is being readied every single week? “Overbuilt” doesn’t begin to describe it.”

- Gord at VREAA 20 Jun 2012 9:33am

‘Something Is Not Working Here’ – “The median after-tax income for families of two or more people in B.C. have remained unchanged at about $67,000.”

“The median after-tax income for families of two or more people in B.C. remained unchanged between 2008, 2009 and 2010, after adjusting for inflation, said Wendy Pyper, analyst at Statistics Canada. There was a slight increase between 2007 and 2008, from $66,400 to $69,900, but since then incomes have remained unchanged at about $67,000.”

“Something is not working here [in the Canadian economy], this is not a positive report,” said Benjamin Tal of CIBC World Markets.

Canadians are spending beyond their means and it’s starting to catch up with them, said Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “It’s going to be even more of a problem if they continue these behaviours if their incomes are not rising,” Schwartz said. “If we see everything else go up in price, then they’re going to have trouble affording much of anything. It’s really important for Canadians to get their spending in order and reduce their debt.”
– from ‘Despite economic growth and job gains, family incomes remain stagnant’, Vancouver Sun, 18 Jun 2012

Housing prices ultimately follow incomes; if they go through a period of decoupling from rates of income growth, they will eventually reconcile. – vreaa

Spokesman for Homebuilders of BC: “This industry is a massive contributor to British Columbia’s well-being and future success, as well as a huge indicator of the province’s economic climate.”

“Here are some facts about residential construction.
Nine per cent of all employment in British Columbia is in the residential construction field. That’s 192,400 jobs related to new home construction, home renovation and home repair. The home building and renovation community earned $10 billion in wages last year, while $22.7 billion in investment value was created by residential construction.” …
“We can easily see that this industry is a massive contributor to British Columbia’s well-being and future success, as well as a huge indicator of the province’s economic climate. Just think: For every single home we build, 3.5 person years of employment are created and more than $60,000 is generated in spinoff spending.” …
“The next time the housing market in B.C. comes up in conversation – and we know it will – let’s try to remember that without such a successful industry, our economy would be in much rougher shape.”

– excerpts from ‘Benefits of home buying’, M.J. Whitemarsh [CEO of the Canadian Home Builders' Association of B.C.], The Province, 17 Jun 2012

We fully acknowledge BC’s dependence on residential construction — when you add in other aspects of the RE industry, and knock-on spending in household goods, a very substantial percentage of our economy is driven by real estate. Under normal circumstances we would celebrate a robust construction industry, and we certainly wouldn’t wish for anything other than prosperity for BC Homebuilders.
It must be realized, however, that this sector of the economy has ballooned unnaturally with the speculative mania in housing; an example of the misallocation of resources that results from a massive asset bubble. In BC, if 9% of employment is in residential construction (as Mr Whitemarsh reports), this is strikingly large compared with 7.5% for the whole of Canada, and 3.5% for the US currently (they hit 6% at the peak of their bubble) [see chart below].
This overgrowth will shrink back with the demise of the bubble. We don’t ‘wish’ for this, and we don’t point to it to be difficult to the builders; it simply is part of the inevitable boom-bust cycle that comes when speculative manias in RE develop and then dissolve. Unemployment as a result of loss of jobs in this sector will be part of the unfortunate fallout.
– vreaa


[Chart source: BNN interview with David Lepoidevin, 8 Jun 2012.]

“I never like hearing distressed anecdotes but here’s another. Imagine some slightly more severe distressed situation and instead of daycare being the casualty of rebudgeting it’s the mortgage into an illiquid housing market.”

“I never like hearing distressed anecdotes but here’s another. Two teachers (full time, part time) with 3 pre-school-age kids, mortgage, car broke down and they bought another (more expensive) one. Now grandmother is on 5 days/week (up from 3) daycare duty because 1) they lost a few days from the strike 2) the part-time teacher converted to full-time to make the difference. Gran’s in her late-60s, and she’s feeling the stress. This was because of a single random foreseeable event.
I do not wish hardship on anyone but hardship is going to happen and this was, luckily, a manageable case. Imagine some slightly more severe distressed situation and instead of daycare being the casualty of rebudgeting it’s the mortgage into an illiquid housing market. The lines of defense will be increasing earnings (more hours), borrowing from parents, borrowing from the bank, liquidation of assets, and finally…”

jesse at VREAA 11 Jun 2012 8:48am

“If I sold now, I would be in a position of weakness – I’d have to rent.”

“It’s a sunny afternoon in a Toronto industrial park, and a group of about 60 laid-off factory workers are gathered for a farewell barbeque.
The Honeywell workers lost their jobs 15 months ago as the valve and parts maker shifted production to lower-cost factories in Hungary, China and Mexico.
But it isn’t as easy as picking up and moving. “I have to take care of my father – he’s 82,” says Brendan Andrews, a machine operator, who lives in Belleville, Ont.
Instead, he’s accepting an $11-an-hour job – a wage reduction of 50 per cent – that is non-unionized. He started on a 7 am to 7 pm shift last week.
Mario Garofalo also can’t move. The 42-year-old assembler, who worked at Honeywell for 14 years, doesn’t want to sell his house and leave his parents, girlfriend and nieces and nephews behind. “If I sold now, it would be in a position of weakness – I’d have to rent. I would use up money for other things, and on living expenses,” he says.”

– from ‘Stuck in place: Canada’s mobility problem’, G&M, 6 Jun 2012 [hat-tip KC via e-mail, and Makaya at VCI]

Years of RE-cultism blurs the thinking.
– vreaa

“I work in the software industry. I’m preparing to move away. Other high tech employees with the skills and talent to get better work opportunities elsewhere are leaving the company due to the stupid cost of living here.”

“I’m one of those so called bitter renters. I have chosen to rent because I believe that living close to work is important for family health reasons. Our household is also loosely budgeted with the idea that the wife can stay home if she chooses. As we have a young child now, she is choosing to do that for the near future.
An opportunity came up at work for a company transfer to the US of A. Company transfers are pretty sweet. Most expenses are covered. Moving to a state with 0% state income tax, and homes cost oh, 75% less than they do here.
It’s a tough decision, lol. But you know, sacrifices have to be made.
I work in the software industry, and as I’m preparing to move away, I’ve been in informal discussions with some of the higher ups in my company, and in the discussions I’ve heard that other high tech employees are leaving the company (and the lower mainland) due to the stupid cost of living here. These are the shining star employees that are fleeing, as they are the ones with the skills and talent to get better work opportunities elsewhere.
Just in regular meetings, it’s come up with the upper level management, that the housing in vancouver is just CRAZY, and they worry for their children’s futures. Not only do they consider the housing to be CRAZY, but the also point out that salaries are out-of-proportion low. (Those two are likely related.) Also other general feelings that commutes are taking longer. Commutes from white rock to richmond used to be 30 minutes outside of rush hour, but in the past few years, it’s consistently been 45 minutes instead. (outside of rush hour)
VREAA I know you’re reading this, and I’d likely be interested in contributing to a series about my experiences in this new place outside of the ‘Best Place on Earth’, if you deem my writing style and content worthy of publishing.
In any case, after waiting so long and quite a large amount of marital stress over housing, we’re moving away.
I gotta say, at first it was a hard sell with the spouse. She didn’t want to leave her friends, but then she saw the shopping, the beaches (wow!) and um, the housing down there. And she came around.
There’s a lot more to write about. Differences in taxes, health care, car insurance, property taxes, and those HOA fees. Bottom line though, I’ll be paying a LOT less interest when I purchase down there. Credit ratings may be a bit of a challenge. Seems even with large DP’s you need a good credit rating for the best mortgages.
Good luck to all intelligent posters. I’ll still be hanging around these forums. I’ll just have to observe from a distance as the meltdown progresses.”
“I think we will choose to rent for at least the first year.
It just makes sense to take a little bit of time to get familiar with the area before committing to buying a place we have to live in for a long time. It does seem that monthly costs are really high in the area we are moving too.
Maybe we won’t like it down there. Who knows, leaving may open our eyes to the truth that Vancouver really is the BPOE. I’m thinking likely not. I’m looking forward to the adventure of being someplace new and different. Life should be fun and exciting. 30+ years of debt is just not for me. It’s really amazing how much Vancouver demonstrates the ‘emperor has no clothes’ children’s story.”

‘curious lurker’ at VCI 6 Jun 2012 5:27pmand 8:12pm

Thanks for the story, curious lurker. All the very best for the move and with future endeavours. We’d certainly welcome hearing more of your experience living away from Vancouver. Send updates via your own blog (see White Rock renter’s suggestion below) or by e-mail to us (see ‘contact’ above) and we’ll post them here.
Needless to say, we are saddened by the ongoing process of skilled individuals being pushed away from Vancouver due to housing costs, and we look forward to a time when housing here becomes more reasonably priced and less of a hinderance to the health and growth of the city.
– vreaa

“CuriousLurker – If you blog about your experiences moving stateside, I know I’d be interested. My family is in the exact same position as you, except husband hasn’t formally started applying for jobs there yet (software engineer). The only thing that keeps us here is family, really. I would love to know how education and health care measure up from someone actually making the switch. I think too often we dismiss the US as a non-option because of the assumption that schooling is terrible and health care is too expensive. I’m betting with better salaries, cheaper cost of living, and affordable housing that maybe healthcare costs and even private school costs would balance out and maybe we’d still come out ahead. I don’t know. I’m just sick of it here, the rain, and the attitude that somehow its different here. Let us know if you start a blog.”White Rock renter at VCI 8 Jun 2012 3:05pm

David Lepoidevin on BNN – “Yes, there is a Canadian housing bubble; The numbers don’t lie; We’re beginning to see cracks coming from my home town, Vancouver; If you do an Internet search for ‘boom’ and ‘soft landing’ there are no entries.”

“Where we are concerned is regarding the value of Canadian real estate. The lessons from the world have been that real estate has had greater implications than just the value of your investment properties.”

“In Canada if you look at the actual numbers, the numbers don’t lie. If you look at median real estate prices compared with those in the US, at their peak the median US housing price was $265,000. Today in Canada, the latest figures we have is $375,000 for the median real estate price transaction. So therefore we are 42% higher in Canada today that the US was at the peak. And we’re [about twice] the median price in the US today.”

“Many of the banks are more exposed [to the mortgage market] than they have ever been. CIBC has 50% of their loans in real estate. When we got into trouble in the early 1990’s, the average Canadian bank was about 13% exposed to RE, and we know we got into a heap of trouble then [with overexposed institutions].”

“The Canadian bubble has extended far beyond the US bubble. We’re beginning to see cracks in the system and the cracks are coming from my home town which is Vancouver, which may have been the epicenter of the bubble. A stand-alone house in Vancouver was over $1 million and still is over $1 million.
Reports are coming in that Asian money is slowing to a trickle. [Real estate prices in China are dropping.] The frenzy had spilled over into Vancouver almost as a suburb of China. [The money has stopped because the Chinese real estate market has slowed but also because the investor immigrant program has ‘shutdown’.”

“If we look at the percentage of jobs in actual construction (this isn’t realtors this is actually guys swinging hammers) … we can see that Canada, the red line, is way above not only where the US is today, but we are significantly higher at 7.5% compared with 5.5% in the US at their peak.”

“So we need to define whether there is a bubble and what I’m trying to point out to people is, yes, there is a bubble.”

“The myth in Canada is that real estate cannot go down unless there is a spike in interest rates. In the United States interest rates of 2% lower than they were when housing prices will almost double what they are today. So it wasn’t a spike in rates that caused house prices to go down it was a reduction in the availability of credit, tightening credit. We now have the first Canadian majority government we’ve had in 8 years and they are beginning to put the brakes on.”

“If we did an Internet search for ‘boom and bust’ you will find hundreds of examples in history, in various economies, of boom bust cycles. If you do an Internet search for ‘boom’ and ‘soft landing’ there are no entries. There are none. ‘Soft landing’ are the scariest words in investment history because they don’t happen. We are trying to engineer a soft landing in real estate just as the Chinese are. The NASDAQ bubble, the US housing bubble,The Canadian housing bubble… You will not find a soft landing.”

- excerpts from BNN interview with David Lepoidevin, VP & Portfolio Manager, Lepoidevin Group, 8 Jun 2012 [Hat-tip to 4SlicesofCheese]

Regular readers will recognize David Lepoidevin’s opinion as being very similar to our own:
– “Yes, there is a Canadian housing bubble.”
– The numbers show our bubble to be very large: comparable to that of the US, perhaps worse.
– Interest rates do not have to rise for the bubble to implode.
– It is not possible to orchestrate a soft-landing.
– The economic implications of the deflating bubble will be unfortunately broad, reaching beyond the immediate RE effects.
— vreaa

Professional Landlord to Amateur Landlord: “You may find that all your potential ‘dudes and dudettes in the basement forking over $1K per month’ are rare…and getting rarer.”

“Currently we are having difficulty renting in one of our downtown Vancouver apt blocks.
Not to mention the surrey apt is not at full capacity either.
You may find that all your potential ‘dudes and dudettes in the basement forking over a g ‘ are rare…and getting rarer.
Good luck finding renters dawg.
We are pro’s at this and we are experiencing the aforementioned lack of renters right now.
Do you really want to have a battle for renters with a national company that has very deep pockets?
We can rent the apts very cheap indeed if we have to.
Give it some thought eh?”

– a post by commenter ‘bill’ on greater fool.ca, 19 May 2012, who appears to be a professional property manager.

“I have a friend with 2 kids in 2 different daycares costing untold organizational nightmares and $2400 per month so she and her husband can work full time at jobs they don’t really like so they can try to keep their heads financially above water. What kind of life is this?!”

“I have a friend with 2 kids (one just a year) in 2 different daycares costing untold organizational nightmares and $2400 per month so she and her husband can work full time at jobs they don’t really like so they can try to keep their heads financially above water. The dream of a home is still there but the townhome they bought 8 years ago is all they can really afford. They spend 3-4 hours a day with their kids, a few hours in the morning getting them fed and dressed to go to daycare and a few hours in the evening getting them fed and bathed and ready for bed. What kind of life is this?!
And then there are the Bumfuzzles – live on a 44 foot boat in Mexico, spend all their time with their kids and each other, live with less, work for themselves, love their life.
I know which life I’d choose. The idea that you need 3+ bedrooms and 2+ bathrooms and a big yard and stuff and debt is wrong for so many people but they don’t even know it.”

terminalcitygirl at VREAA 5 may 2012 1:11pm

Unrealistic Expectations Everywhere – “Robson is like Rodeo Drive, it’s like Park Avenue” (But 20 Stores Sit Vacant)


Robson Street, circa 1974

“From the departed HMV to the bankrupt Blockbuster, empty stores dot Vancouver’s highest profile commercial street. West of Burrard, more than 20 retail properties on Robson sit empty. And realtors have taken note.
“For years you’ve never seen lease signs up and down Robson,” said Sherman Scott, associate vice-president at Colliers International, which currently has a number of properties open.
“Now there certainly are, which is unusual.”
Tourism Vancouver President Rick Antonson characterized the vacancies as part of a “transition” but he is bullish on the street’s long-term vibrancy.
“Some international operators can anchor a street and draw traffic. What one always wishes to avoid is a generic street or city. [But] Robson street will get through this transition and retain its reputation as having a healthy variety of retail outlets.”
Following the 2010 Olympics, prices climbed to new heights on Robson. According to one real estate report, the average rent last year was $240 US per square foot, trailing only Bloor Street in Toronto for Canadian supremacy.
“Expectations are changing on Robson. The value of real estate has increased,” said Mark Renzoni, managing director of CB Richard Ellis.
He did, however, admit “the economy is not as strong as we’d like.”

“I think you’re going to see a lot more American retailers moving in,” speculated Howard Malachy of DTZ Barnicke, which specializes in commercial real estate.
“Robson is like Rodeo Drive, it’s like Park Avenue. People want to be there to be there.”
–  from ‘More than 20 vacancy signs as Vancouver’s Robson Street undergoes ‘transition’ – Justin McElroy, The Province, 1 May 2012 [Image from Vancouver archives; hat-tip Nemesis]

We find the logic being used by the landlords bizarre and perverse.
They do not ask the question “What will the market bear?” but rather state, based on beliefs and not evidence: “Robson is like Rodeo Drive, it’s like Park Avenue”, and they then set accordingly unrealistically high rents. Unsurprisingly, their properties are sitting vacant.
Are there 20 stores sitting vacant on Rodeo Drive? Even in the midst of considerable economic hardship, no.
The logic is reminiscent of that heard in a recent CBC radio discussion about the closing of the Playhouse Theatre. The argument used by discussants was “Vancouver is a world-class city, it should have a very vibrant theatre scene”. No one asks “Vancouver does not have a spontaneously very vibrant theatre scene, is it really the ‘World Class City’ we imagine it to be?”
As we all know here on the Vancouver RE blogs, a similar unrealistic mindset has contributed to residential property prices that spiral ever upwards; a reconciliation with reality is coming.
Vancouver is a fine city, in many, many ways, and it’ll be that much finer when we see it for what it is, rather than for what some wish it to be.
– vreaa

Minister of Finance James Flaherty’s Letter To Gord Goble – “A Home is a Family’s Most Important Investment”

Here is Gord’s reply to Flaherty’s reply:

“Thanks for your reply.

But here’s the thing (and I’ll make this short and sweet). Right now, one cannot buy a single family home anywhere near Vancouver or its immediate suburbs (Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Ladner, Tsawwassen, New Westminster, or White Rock) for less than a HALF MILLION DOLLARS. Moreover, the few homes that are available between $500,000 and $600,000 are in such a state of disrepair they typically need to be torn down and rebuilt. The situation is, in a word, insane.

I know the housing industry is critical to Canada’s GDP. But through the availability of cheap up-front money and sub-prime lending, and the ease with which offshore investors can purchase homes in this country, your government has allowed a fiscally perilous, fully unsustainable situation to unfold. You have, in essence, funded the growth of a ready-to-burst bubble that’s no less onerous than the bubbles we saw in many US cities before that country’s massive crash. You continually warn us not to go even deeper into debt, yet you facilitate the very debt burdens (now at record levels) you warn against.

Why?

Thank you in advance.

Gord Goble”

Thanks to Gord for sharing this exchange with all of us.
The Minister of Finance talks of the steps that he has taken to “protect and strengthen” the housing market; most of them are simply reversals of steps he himself had put in place in the years before (40 year mortgages are the most blatant example).
It sounds innocuous, but note how Flaherty confidently states: “A home is a family’s most important investment”.
See how easily that statement passes as truth?
It’s not just a home, it’s also a financial instrument.
This is the kind of thinking that has encouraged Vancouverites to overreach and then overreach some more; it’s the fuel of the speculative mania.
Why pay ‘3x’ for a house that by all fundamental valuation methods is worth ‘x’?
Well, it’s not just a home, it’s an “investment”, and next year it’ll be worth ‘4x’.
Anyway, it’ll all play out, we’ll get a price collapse, and only then will the structure of the bubble be obvious to all.
– vreaa

Lawyer In Surrey Washroom – “The market has been slow for many months. I think it will get a lot slower. There are lots of lawyers making a living on real estate convayencing who are scrambling.”

“I was in a washroom in South Surrey yesterday and overheard the following conversation between a 50 something lawyer and another fellow:

Lawyer : “Well, the Real Estate market has not been exactly robust”
Other guy: “Really? I thought it was crazy”
Lawyer: “No. Actually is has been slow for many months and I think it will get a lot slower. There are lots of lawyers who are making a living on real estate convayencing who are scrambling…”
Lawyer before guy could answer: “…I am actually working on importing a new green tea energy drink from China”

A smile crossed my face as I walked out.”

- McLovin at vancouvercondoinfo.ca 21 Apr 2012 9:27am

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

“My wife and I both work in healthcare in Vancouver. We are currently experiencing a flood of applications from our local talent, the USA, and around the world. I know it doesn’t fit with the “message” on this blog, but this is the true reality.”

“My wife and I both work in healthcare, both here in Vancouver, PHSA and VCH. We are currently experiencing a flood of applications from our local talent, the USA (especially), and around the world. It is a very competitive hiring environment. Local nursing schools are producing far too many graduates and few have employment offers upon graduation. My wife tells me that many of our medical school graduates are also having trouble. But please, don’t take my word for it, simply look at the career websites at each of our health regions and you will see very few postings. And though we only have 4 degrees between us, we know of what we speak. My wife was recently part of a team recruiting for a new pediatrician at the Children’s, MANY applicants, hired a physician from Johns Hopkins. Hey, I know it doesn’t fit with the “message” on this blog, but this is the true reality.”
allen at VREAA 27 Mar 2012 9:27am, responding to a post from ‘Vancouver in Rearview’ claiming that “Recruitment to Vancouver for skilled health professionals is nearly impossible.” [VREAA 27 Mar 2012].

Interesting, as we have two different health care ‘insiders’ describing very different recruitment conditions. Perhaps they are looking at different subgroups within the field?

With regard to allen’s comment on “message”: At VREAA we welcome any form of personal anecdote pertaining to Vancouver RE, regardless of what ‘message’ it may seem to project.
Even though we are personally very bearish regarding Vancouver RE, we hold our opinion because of the available data, including accumulated anecdotes.
So, we invite you to submit any personal stories that shed light on what is happening in the market, regardless of your opinion regarding future market direction. In fact, we come across so few ‘bullish’ stories, we’d particularly like to hear any of those.
– vreaa

“Some are saying that there is no legitimacy to claims that working class or low income people should be able to live in the City of Vancouver.”

“Some are saying that there is no legitimacy to claims that working class or low income people should be able to live in the City of Vancouver–and that the suburbs do these groups just fine.”

“But what’s being forgotten here is that, until recently, working class and low-income people have long lived in the City of Vancouver. I grew up in the City of Vancouver in the 80s and 90s and my dad was a working class non-union labourer who really made a pittance wage. My parents rented. They could afford to rent in Vancouver, not in social housing, in private market rental housing. We had half of a house and a big yard in the City of Vancouver on a working class single wage.”

“My mum’s family was also working class–also rented a big house in Vancouver–that house would probably go for $2 million in today’s market.”

“We’ve been forced out to Surrey because of high rents in Vancouver. The move was a slow progression, for me. My first place when I was 19 and living away from my parents for the first time was a rental in East Vancouver. I shared it with two other roommates. My share of the rent was $350 a month. I had a minimum wage full time job and paying rent in Vancouver was easy. That was in the late 1990s–not so long ago. Things don’t work out with roommates so you move around a lot when you’re young. But with each move I made, the rental market became progressively more difficult. It’s not just a problem with high rents. It’s also simply a lack of vacancies–or the only thing available is total dumps (I had a nice place for $350 a month when I started out)–or they don’t allow you to take your cat. So that forced me out of the city I grew up in.”

“I left Vancouver at the very end of 2001 because already by then the rental market was getting difficult in Vancouver. I went to New Westminster–which is a great city. I believe New Westminster is the densest city in Canada. It is very urban. Great place to live if you are an SFU student–skytrain to Production Way and then a bus up the mountain. So I lived in New West and I went to SFU. Incidentally, my ancestors built New West–I’m just learning about my genealogy now but it’s fascinating. I can trace my ancestry back in New West back to 1865.”

“But then I was renovicted out of New West. Transglobe Property Management went on a buying spree in New West in 2006 and bought up lots of apartments. My apartment building had about 70 units–all 70 households evicted–had to be out by Dec. 31–New Years Eve!!! They renovated and jacked up rents after we were gone. Many longterm tenants in that building, including war veterans and one woman who lived there 40 years. So then I ended up in Surrey–along with a lot of the other people who were evicted from that building.”

“Whalley is one of the last areas of affordable rental housing near skytrain (crucial for people renovicted out of Vancouver/New West but still working in Vancouver) left in the Lower Mainland. But Mayor Dianne Watts is putting up high rise condos everywhere. She’s built a new library. City hall is moving here. It’s not King George Highway anymore, it’s King George Boulevard. It’s not even Whalley anymore, it’s Downtown Surrey. This is to become Metro Vancouver’s second tier downtown core, after Downtown Vancouver. But this is also about gentrification. I’m afraid these dumpy rentals in Whalley are going to be demolished for condos. Then where will I go? Langley? Abbotsford? No skytrain there to connect me with work and social connections back in Vancouver. Time to leave the province soon. I’d rather live in Calgary than Abbotsford.”

“Working class and low income people do have a legitimate claim to the City of Vancouver because we (and our ancestors) built the City. It’s where we grew up. We have memories there. We have friends there. We go to school there. We work there. We access services there and amenities. If you’re gay–the City of Vancouver is so important for community and for just walking down the street holding your partners’ hand. Surrey is just a dump. It’s really hard to find community here and services. Everything is worse here. Even the hospitals and the medical clinics and grocery stores are worse in Surrey. And we have to pay 3 zone $5 bus fares to go back to Vancouver to visit old friends or for jobs. Try that when you’re making minimum wage $10 an hour. Your first hour of work is just to pay for your transit costs (and a lot of jobs only give 4 hour shifts–first hour pays transit, second hour pays lunch, you only net benefit from 2 hours–$20 per shift–less CPP, EI contributions–hardly worth it to work–probably make more money staying in Surrey collecting cans than commuting to Vancouver for min. wage).”

“Having said all that, I do think there is a bit of truth in the statement that the suburbs are becoming more urban and Vancouver is becoming more suburban. I mean, there’s actually a costco in Downtown Vancouver (a mark of suburbia)–but I can’t find a costco in Surrey. I used to go to UBC as well, since I’ve been living in Surrey (en epic commute by transit!). It’s weird that we have a rapid transit skytrain system in Surrey that connects us to Burnaby, SFU area, Lougheed, New West, but as soon as you come into the City of Vancouver you have to get off the train and board a bus the rest of the way to UBC. The west side of Vancouver (where I grew up) does feel like some strange enclavish suburb where hardly anybody lives. Surrey, New West, Burnaby, Lougheed area–all way more urban than vast portions of the City of Vancouver. And the feeling of community is coming here. You can see it right outside on King George Highway (I don’t call it boulevard because I don’t like gentrification)–the diversity of pedestrians walking up and down King George is more than the diversity you get in Vancouver, in terms of class and race. Way more working class feel in Surrey. Way more black people and people from all countries of the world in Surrey–compared to Vancouver which is mainly Chinese. The gays are coming this way too. Surrey has a gay pride parade now. There’s gay pizza shop/cabaret on King George.”

“So I’m actually starting to like Surrey now. I’m not sure I want to go back to Vancouver even if it did suddenly become affordable. I mentioned that I have memories in Vancouver–but it’s disturbing to go back there and see all the changes. The way Vancouver is now is not how it is in my memories. So I can remember more easily how it was, if I stay away. My community isn’t there either, increasingly. So I’m turning a page and I’m never going back to Vancouver no matter how affordable it becomes. But I do think working class people like myself still have a legitimate claim to Vancouver if we want to live there because it’s where we’re from.”

- Joe_Blown_Away_By_High_Housing_Costs at VREAA, 23 Mar 2012 8:21am

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

Opinion; Food For Thought – “The people of this region have a near infinite capacity for diminished expectations. Personally, I’m planning to move because I want something better.”

“It may not end.  The people of this region have a near infinite capacity for diminished expectations.  They seem to always do what they are told and accept what they are given, and no matter how ridiculous it is.  They will pay more and more for less and less.  Today it’s $700k for an old basement on a busy road in hookertown.  Tomorrow it could be $1 million dollars for a tent and a license to beg in the rain.  It’s the best place on earth you know.

That’s the true value of Vancouver: chumps.  There is an inexhaustible supply of fools who will never look elsewhere and the media apparatus to direct them.  Pay $10 for a hot dog?  Lineups for days.  Why not $100?  Limited time only.  Buy now.  These people will pay anything and do anything, regardless of whether it makes sense, and that’s why Vancouver is so valuable.  It’s not the land, or the scenery, or the climate, and it’s certainly not the standard of living.  It’s the people.

You can argue from simple mathematics that eventually this must end.  The population will be unable to pay for it.  This is true, but don’t ignore the fact that so many 60 year olds have 40 year mortgages.  When the general population can wield sums of money that they have no hope of repaying the integrity of the system is lost.  Money doesn’t mean anything in Vancouver, and under current policies Canada is sure to follow.  We have socialized credit and destroyed capitalism.  Newcomers don’t own anything in Vancouver and won’t get the opportunity.  It’s like a communist country, which is maybe why HAM finds it so appealing.

As for options, with the precedent established and the trend so firmly in place, there is no reason to bet on a reversal.  In 2008 this new system cracked and the authorities handed out gobs of money to favoured groups until it was fixed and the transformation could continue.  They invited corrupt CPC officials to immigrate and launder an unprecedented amount of money through Canada.  Anyone betting on an ounce of fairness or responsibility was badly burned.

That’s it as far as I’m concerned.  The social structure in Canada is ossifying and the economic structure is in decline.  Our neighbours to the south have once again shown the way, by restoring balance to their system after only a few crazy years.  Despite this enormous cost (or actually, because of it) sensible investment opportunities exist in the United States.  That country is dynamic again.  The fact that an American dollar today buys twice as much food, twice as much house, and twice as much gas is a harbinger of things to come.  Canadians foolishly think they are better off, but Canada is going nowhere.  Trade your Canadian dollars at par while you can, and move to the US to enjoy the standard of living you expect and get the opportunities that everyone deserves.

The worst thing you could do in life isn’t buying a $700k Vancouver basement suite, it’s sitting around waiting for that to change.  It may not change, or if it does, it may take too long, or you may not like it anymore.  So you better have a plan in motion.

Personally, planning to move because I want something better, full stop.  Vancouver is just crap with a zero on the end, and Canada is grossly overrated too.  I’m 50% out of Canadian assets because I don’t think our dollar is worth what the world says it is.  I see China imploding instead of leading the world.  Their model of over-investment is near an end.  I think the next great invention will come from the United States, and the next bull market will be born there.  They have so many small companies working on the next big thing, you have no idea.  If you want opportunity, it’s there.  They have nice houses for $100,000.  Buy one and get on with life.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  It’s as close to economic freedom as you are ever likely to get.  I am astounded that people on this website could be offered this and somehow turn it down.

Real estate and credit bubbles were the last decade, so why is Canada still mired in it?  Who even gives a shit?  In the greater world, nobody.  And nor should they care.  And nor should you.”

- rp1 at VREAA 26 Feb 2012 1:37am

“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

“You’ve Got A Bubble, Canada” Article #47 – Bloomberg – “Canada Housing Poised for ‘Severe’ Drop”


The chart above from Bloomberg shows Canada’s housing investment as a percentage of gross domestic product, and the declines in inflation-adjusted house prices that follow when this ratio tops 7 percent.

“Canada may be on the cusp of a “severe” housing correction as real estate investment surges above a tipping point relative to economic output, according to George Athanassakos, professor of finance at the Richard Ivey School of Business. “Eventually, everything boils down to demand and supply,” Athanassakos said in a telephone interview from Western University in London, Ontario. “Whenever this ratio goes over 7 percent, it signifies overinvestment in housing and two or three years later, we have a severe correction.”
Canada’s housing market is booming as historically-low interest rates fuel purchases, driving up home prices and adding to record household debt. Canada’s ratio of housing investment to GDP has averaged 5.8 percent over the last 50 years and is currently at about 7 percent, based on Statistics Canada figures as of the third quarter of 2011, Athanassakos said. Housing investment includes spending on new homes, renovations and real estate transaction fees.
U.S. housing prices plunged by a third between the peak in July 2006 and November 2011, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Composite-20 Home Price Index. By comparison, Canadian housing prices rose 30 percent in the same period, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
“We have experienced bubbles and busts before in Canada, it’s nothing new,” Athanassakos said. “I don’t know why this time would be different.”

– from Canada Housing Poised for ‘Severe’ Drop, Doug Alexander and Ilan Kolet, Bloomberg, 17 Feb 2012 [hat-tip 'Told-you-so-in-2007']

We’re joking a bit about the “#47″ thing — but there do seem to be an awful lot of articles in the US and international press about a Canadian housing bubble.
We haven’t been headlining all of these articles, but this one is noteworthy because of its focus on the ‘third’ fundamental, namely ‘price’ to GDP. (The other two fundamentals, of course, are price:rent and price:income). By all of these measures Vancouver RE is overvalued, likely by a factor of 2 to 3.
– vreaa

“GDP contracting, but real estate agents still riding high before what’s expected to be a cooling market.”

“Canada’s economy stalled again in November [2011], for the second month in a row, but manufacturers continued to make strides. And real estate agents were still riding high before what’s expected to be a cooling market. …
With so much focus on the housing market of late, it’s worth noting that construction posted a decline of 0.3 per cent, but Canada’s home resale market was still going strong, with a 2.2-per-cent gain for real estate agents.”

– from ‘GDP lag: At least real estate agents are making money’, G&M, 31 Jan 2012 [hat-tip Jason]

“Incomes Haven’t Risen, But Housing Prices Have”


– part of an ‘infographic’ from The Globe and Mail, 18 Oct 2011

One of these provinces is not like the others… – ed.

RE Features In Story And Discussion Of Vancouver Execution Style Slaying – “I’m in business for myself. I know how hard it is to get ahead in this city doing it the legit way.”


“Vancouver police are poring over clues to try to figure out who wanted to execute a 38-year-old mother of four less than two weeks before Christmas.
Thuy Yen “Jenny” Vu was shot several times as she sat in her BMW SUV just after 3 p.m. Wednesday with her three-year-old son in the back seat.
Const. Lindsey Houghton said neither Vu, nor her husband, Stephen Michaelson, are known to police. Nor is Michaelson a suspect in the deadly shooting in front of the house the family shared in the 6400-block of Bruce Street.
“At this point detectives have told me it is far too early to speculate on whether this has any connections to gangs,” Houghton said.
“It is far too early to figure out the motive for this….detectives still have far more questions than they do answers.”
Vu and Michaelson bought the house in November 2010 for $1.11 million, property records show.
Vu is listed as a hair stylist and Michaelson as a businessman on the land title documents.
Houghton could not say what kind of business Michaelson is involved in.
Also in November 2010, Michaelson purchased an acreage in Rossland, B.C. for $468,000.”

– from ‘Husband not a suspect in BMW SUV shooting: Vancouver police’, by Kim Boland, Vancouver Sun, 16 Dec 2011

“What is the name of the business? I have been trying to find that out.”
Kim Boland, the Vancouver Sun reporter, at her blog 19 Dec 2011 12:49am

“I have no doubt there must be some link to organized crime. I have heard she had involvement in grow-ops. But she does not have any charges.”
Kim Boland at her blog 18 Dec 2011 11:31pm

—-
“Wow – Million dollar home, acreage in Rossland and an X5 among probably a lot more – shouldn’t be hard to figure this one out for the police. Likely a message for dad to pay up!”
joe at Kim Boland’s blog, 15 Dec 2011 10:15pm

“Is there anything except for million dollar homes in Vancouver? And Beemers rule the lease market cuz Mercedes won’t play.”
putmeincoach at Kim Boland’s blog, 15 Dec 2011 11:08pm

“Good luck finding a house in Vancouver that ISN’T a million dollars.. dumb comment.”
Anonymous at Kim Boland’s blog, 16 Dec 2011 12:07pm

“Actually, it is not a dumb comment. Sure, the majority of homes in Vancouver are a Million+ but there ARE cheaper, less expensive places to live. The obvious point that the poster was making is that these are people of means, OR people who lived as though they were. Who knows what the truth is at this point. Hopefully the investigation is going well. Obviously there is a lot of information that the police find out that they don’t release to the public. So for now it’s just theories and speculation, AND common sense. I’m big on that.The theory (at this point) that there were loan sharks involved seems credible. More credible than the belief that all the people involved, including the victim, are completely innocent. Only one I know for sure is innocent is that little boy.”
Common Sense at Kim Boland’s blog, 18 Dec 2011 11:39pm
—-

“No one deserves to die like that. [Posters] are right [to point that out]. But people are also trying to figure out why this terrible slaying happened. Police say it was targeted. So it is understandable why people speculate.”
Kim Boland at her blog, 18 Dec 2011 11:40pm

“I don’t know Jenny or her husband so I won’t pretend to know all the facts. That said I won’t stick my head in the sand and pretend like this story sounds innocent.
Jenny apparently was a ‘stay at home’ mom for the past years, spending her time at yoga; and her husband is a ‘businessman’. She apparently owned a home in Burnaby, and they bought $1.5 million dollars worth of real estate in one month. Credit is fairly cheap, but you would have to be earning quite the income to make those moves.
Considering they were only on one income with 4 kids, the story tends to sound all too familiar. Pretty you’d girl; loves the good life. Enjoys the ‘finer’ things in life; is attracted to the bad boy who can provide her that fast luxurious lifestyle. Young meat head is attracted to the hot toys and women he attracts with money. After not too long he’s in too deep or addicted to the lifestyle. Some people in this city rack up huge debt trying to keep up with the ‘Bacon’s’. Others say f’k the 9-5 and light up a grow show or two because working a crappy job and or being broke in this city is harsh and gets you no love.
I’m in business for myself I know how hard it is to get ahead in this city doing it the legit way. I know how hard it is to get approved for a mortgage these days after they tightened the lending rules.
Am I jealous? To be honest sure sometimes when you see these people buying all that expensive stuff, traveling, partying, seemingly with no cares in the world, I’m only human. I’m not jealous of the fact that these things usually catch up to people. I’m not jealous of constantly having to look over your shoulder. I’m not jealous of the pain her family must endure for the rest of their lives. I hope the kids get good care, and can adjust to the reality of life with no mom. No kid deserves that.”

YVRGOODTIMES at Kim Boland’s blog, 20 Dec 2011 2:11am
——–

Even though we don’t yet know all the facts behind this ghastly event, the discussion it has already induced is noteworthy. These thoughts about the discussion as much as the incident itself:

“I’m in business for myself. I know how hard it is to get ahead in this city doing it the legit way.”
There will always be those who chase the quick buck.
But in Vancouver today, things are arguably more extreme than during typical times: almost a decade of too-easy money has subverted our society’s principles and beliefs regarding honest work and honest pay. A frontier mentality appears to prevail.
Honest pay is too meagre; quick profits from whatever source are too attractive. Citizens who work hard for conventional wages are considered suckers. People are drawn to fast-and-loose endeavours, be they legal or not. Property flipping; Grow ops; Loan sharking; Gambling; Smuggling; Stock trading…. anything where the potential rewards are disproportionally large compared to the labour involved.
Our economy has been  juiced by massive amounts of debt, with abnormally large amounts of  money released into the economy through the speculative mania in housing. This has caused alterations in behaviour that are deleterious for the long term health of our society.
The misallocation of resources is the resultant central crime of the bubble; we should all rail against the speculative mania for that reason.
– vreaa

Country Comparison Charts – Canadian RE Overvalued by 35% cf Income, 70% cf Rents


– charts from ‘Global House Price Monitor’ by the International Monetary Fund’s Prakash Loungani, 12 Dec 2011
[Similar data to that in the recent article in 'The Economist' 26 Nov 2011]

Further:
“An econometric model of the determinants of house prices… explains house price growth based on several short-run momentum factors, such as growth in incomes, asset prices and population, and long-run factors, such as the house price to income ratio. The difference between house prices and those predicted on the basis on these ‘fundamental’ factors gives an indication of whether there is room to fall. The results from this exercise show that in many countries the declines in house prices over the past five years (the ‘actual’) are close to, or even exceed, what was predicted by the model. But for many countries, house prices are still resisting the predictions of the model.”

PostCardsFromTheBlastRadius #14 – Windsor – In the ‘RustBelt’ The RE Deals are…. “FingerLickin’Good”‏

Tecumseh Road, Windsor, Ontario, Summer 2011
—–
Photos and commentary for the ‘BlastRadius’ series by ‘Nemesis’.
[Images Ⓒ​2011 ‘Nemesis’ – All Rights Reserved]

Architect Bing Thom – “The city needs a strong vision to avoid becoming a tourist resort and a place to park money.”

“We rely on each other, so it’s really important for us all to engage in dialogue,” emphasizes Thom. Which is why – even though friends warn him that he may be alienating himself from potential clients – he has rallied publicly against the now-defunct bid for a casino at B.C. Place and the “god-awful” Canada Pavilion built in the city during the Olympics.
“Actually, I’m a very optimistic person, so it’s not that I go out of my way to be controversial,” he says with a boyish laugh, throwing up his hands. “It’s just that we have to earn democracy every day, which means caring about your community. And if you care, it’s your duty to speak up.”
Currently irking him is the “issue” of Metro Vancouver: to his mind, Vancouver needs to accept that there are no more boundaries between it and the wider metropolitan area, and to be thinking and acting regionally – especially in terms of economic development – as well as globally. “This little paradise is only here because we simply exported all the dirty stuff to the developing world such as polluting heavy industries and unwanted toxic wastes,” says Thom.
The city needs a “strong vision,” he believes, to avoid becoming “a tourist resort and a place to park money.” For example, as an architect who builds “homes – not commodities to be traded or vertical gated communities,” he applauds social-housing policies that mix people of different incomes in the same building. “It’s a way of building a real community,” says Thom, who lives nearby in a condo – that he designed himself – with his wife Bonnie, whom he met at high school in Kerrisdale.

– from ‘Lunch with Vancouver Architect Bing Thom’, BC Business, 7 Nov 2011

We Came; We Saw; We’re Leaving – “Vancouver is “nice”. I was sent here by my firm 6 months ago for a permanent transfer. My wife and I are leaving. It’s just not nice enough.”

“Vancouver is nice. That’s it. It’s “nice”. I was sent here by my firm 6 months ago for a permanent transfer. My wife and I (we’re just under 30) are leaving. It’s just not nice enough.”
RayRay at VREAA 1 Dec 2011 7:13pm

“Similar situation here … moved permanently but have started considering other options. Not asking for “free lunch” or “entitlements”, I will gladly pay for housing and a city premium, but YVR is off the charts. Have colleagues and friends with similar background in other cities and I can easily compare what value/cost you can get for your money.
People have completely lost perspective of the insane prices or what it takes to generate that kind of money. Prices are raised 100,000 – 200,000 without thought. Or crappy, expensive shoebox condos that would buy a house with acreage 30 mins. south are sold out. Insane, really.”

Clipper at VREAA 1 Dec 2011 10:11pm

“I was in Seattle a couple of times last month. If you like city life and the west coast check it out. Nice houses in nice parts of town are half the cost of Vancouver or less. Hell, you can get a nice house in an inexpensive suburb for $250,000 easy. I’m seriously considering it as I could be mortgage free in my 40s if I go back to the States.”
nobody you know at VREAA 1 Dec 2011 10:33pm

“People have completely lost perspective of the insane prices or what it takes to generate that kind of money.” (Amen)
RayRay, Clipper, nobodyyouknow -> How much would prices have to drop for you guys to consider staying? – vreaa

‘The Economist’ – Rental Income Shows Canadian Home Prices Are 71% Overvalued


‘The bursting of the global housing bubble is only halfway through’.
Home prices tumbled by 34% in America from 2006 to their low point earlier this year; in Ireland they plunged by an even more painful 45% from their peak in 2007; and prices have fallen by around 15% in Spain and Denmark. But in most other countries they have dipped by less than 10%, as in Britain and Italy. In some countries, such as Australia, Canada and Sweden, prices wobbled but then surged to new highs. As a result, many property markets are still looking uncomfortably overvalued.
To assess the risks of a further slump, we track two measures of valuation. The first is the price-to-income ratio, a gauge of affordability. The second is the price-to-rent ratio, which is a bit like the price-to-earnings ratio used to value companies. Just as the value of a share should reflect future profits that a company is expected to earn, house prices should reflect the expected benefits from home ownership: namely the rents earned by property investors (or those saved by owner-occupiers). If both of these measures are well above their long-term average, which we have calculated since 1975 for most countries, this could signal that property is overvalued.
Based on Incomes, home prices are 29% overvalued in Canada.
Based on Rents, home prices are 71% overvalued in Canada
[The most overvalued by this measure of any of the global markets studied. -ed.]
Canada has an even higher household-debt burden in relation to income than America did at the peak of its bubble.
– excerpted from ‘House of horrors, part 2′, The Economist, 26 Nov 2011. Image from the Huffington Post, Canada, where the story was headlined as: ‘Canada’s Housing Market More Overvalued Than U.S. At Its Peak, The Economist Says’.

None of the above comes as anything new to readers here.
Only wackos like Vancouver RE bears and ‘The Economist’ go on about something as passé as ‘fundamentals’.
Gravity will reassert; we will revert to the mean; perhaps overshoot. – vreaa

Tech Startup In Vancouver – “It’s much easier to focus, there isn’t so much noise. The disadvantage is that you also don’t have as many people with experience in the tech industry. We know everyone there is to know in Vancouver, and that’s a few dozen people.”

Why not come straight to Silicon Valley?
“We looked at numerous options other than getting hired by a big company. We could have gotten green cards if we waited a few years. But in the meantime, we found Bootup Labs [a Vancouver startup accelerator and seed fund] that gives you $100,000 [to nurture your startup idea], and that’s also helpful with visas. Basically, if you want to come here, there’s no straightforward way to do it if you want to own your own company. People do it with some tricks, but Canada is a bit friendlier in terms of immigration and helping people start their businesses.

But you’re still in Vancouver and not the Valley. Do you think that puts you at a disadvantage, particularly since a number of companies are trying to solve the same information overload problem as Summify?
“It’s a lot smaller, naturally. But there are advantages, including that it’s much easier to focus, there isn’t so much noise. You don’t hear about people trying to do startups all the time. It’s easy to obtain talent, too. People are excited to work at a startup versus a telecom company or some of their other options. And if you take care of them, they stick around. There aren’t startups trying to steal your employees.
The disadvantage is that you also don’t have as many people with experience [in the tech industry]. We know everyone [to know] in Vancouver, and that’s a few dozen people.”

– Mircea Pașoi, 24, is the cofounder of Summify, a startup that summarizes the top news stories of the day for its users by scouring their social networks for clues. From pehub.com 14 Nov 2011, cited by ‘anonymous’ at VREAA 15 Nov 2011, as an example of people moving to Vancouver.

“We have high responsibility jobs for good employers, and do well financially, but not well enough to afford what we think is reasonable for two people like us, a single family home with a yard.”

“My wife and I have good jobs in high standing professions. Between us, we have five university degrees in hard science fields (with a sixth at the doctoral level underway) all from top three Canadian universities. We have high responsibility jobs for good employers, and do well financially, but not well enough to afford what we think is reasonable for two people like us, a single family home with a yard. We are good with our money and have solid nest egg already built. We cannot justify spending 80% of our income to be able to afford a single family home anywhere within an hour of the downtown core.
We also visit Seattle regularly. In Seattle, we would both make double or more than we would here in Vancouver, with housing at half the price, and the same climate. Similar circumstances exist elsewhere in Canada. While our families are here, we want to start our family in a place where we can provide our children with opportunities, not where every last dollar goes to real estate.
To put a point on it, people like my wife and I are being groomed by our employers to take on senior leadership roles in their organizations down the road. The problem for our employers is that we won’t be here – we can’t have the family we want, along with quality of life we desire and can easily obtain elsewhere.
I look forward to leaving this real-estate obsessed burg. Unless things change, things are going to get a lot worse here before they get better.”

– Vancouver In The Rearview at VREAA 6 Nov 2011 8:06pm

“In my late 20’s; university grad; secure job; happy about how I’m doing professionally. The only depressing part is that owning a place of mine own in Vancouver is fast becoming a dream rather than an option.”

“Being in my late 20’s and happy about how I’m doing professionally relative to my goals (university grad and a well paying secure job), the only depressing part is that owning a place of mine own in Vancouver is fast becoming a dream rather than an option. The alternative is buying east of Burnaby/Coquitlam and then driving daily out to Vancouver … by the time I save up enough for a down payment and mortgage (giving it 5 years realistically). It has nothing to do with a desire to live in upper class neighborhoods, rather somewhere in the city I’ve grown up in rather than be pushed outwards just because of bad luck and timing.”
– sam_i_is at reddit, discussion of ‘Going Going Gone’, 13 Oct 2011