Tag Archives: sellers

Mayor Robertson Selling His House

912 W 23rd

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

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

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

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

pricedoutfornow at VREAA 1 April 2013 7:55 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v982432_4
Unit #1 2482 W 8th Ave; 1132sqft; Ask $699K
Granted this is a garden suite (but a nice one at that), I’m pretty sure that this is the first 3+ bedroom property of any type that I’ve seen since I’ve lived here (5 years) priced below the 700K mark in Kits. MLS blurb states: “NO HST & PRICED $146K BELOW ASSESSED VALUE!”

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

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

v978640_2
Unit #2 2488 W 8th Ave; 1331 sqft; Ask $899K
This one is great because it’s a 2 bedroom and yet priced at a full $200K above the one above…but still “PRICED $106K BELOW ASSESSED VALUE & NO HST!”

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

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

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

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

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

2486 w 8th 1.388M 2008

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

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

I’m only 50 and I can just about retire if I want to, all because of a single simple decision – “When prices rebounded to their former highs, then rocketed another 30% higher to what I considered to be totally unsustainable levels, I decided that only a fool would pass up a second opportunity to harvest such a massive non-taxable capital gain, and in 2011 I sold my place.”

“Fortune does not always smile upon you twice but that is exactly what happened to me. I was not an investor when I bought my west side home in 1998. In 2009, like homeowners all over I watched my home value plummet and my paper wealth evaporate before my eyes. Because of my job situation, and other investments turned sour, I was in a pretty bad spot and considered selling my house, for fear of being completely wiped out. Fortunately, I did not sell and when prices in my neighborhood rebounded to their former highs and then rocketed another 30% higher to what I considered to be totally unsustainable levels, I decided that only a fool would pass up a second opportunity to harvest such a massive non-taxable capital gain, and in 2011 I listed and sold my place at what in hindsight was pretty much the top of the market for my area. I suffered a little during the following year, anxious that maybe I had made a huge mistake, but now two years later I can comfortably say it was the smartest decision I could have possibly made, and I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of calmness I have these days, as I watch from the sidelines as Vancouver’s RE market crumbles.
I may or may not buy back into my old hood in the future, but if I do it won’t be before prices have dropped at least 40% or more. I’ve even come to think of my action as my own personal way to “short” the Vancouver RE market. And if prices don’t revert to the mean no big deal as there are plenty of other BPOE’s to be discovered elsewhere in this big world. In the meantime I’m renting (wife and kids transitioned just fine), and sitting on a pile of cash until the time is right.
In short, my life is changed forever. Thanks to the unfortunate souls that bought my place; I’ve got big time cash in the bank and zero debt. I have extra money to invest (mostly just cash for now), money to help my kids through university (started), money to travel (done), money to take time off (done), and even money to buy a summer cabin on a lake to take the “edge” off renting (done). If all goes according to plan I should have enough to buy back something comparable to my old house in my old neighborhood, in about 24-30 months according to my best guess. If anybody can identify the downside in this scenario I’d love to hear it.
For the record I’m a regular guy that earns a slightly above average salary. While other homeowners were taking out LOC’s or spending all their monthly earnings in order to enjoy life to the max, I would apply my surplus savings at the end of each month to aggressively pay down my house mortgage and invest in equities. Life was still quite bearable and I didn’t really need all that extra stuff anyhow.
I’m only 50 and I could just about retire if I wanted to now, all because of a single simple decision. I used to think I was a bit of an oddball because I lived below my means. Now it turns out I’m a fucking genius compared to my neighbors. I’m pretty sure only a few will end up as lucky as I have.”

‘Good to be out’ at VREAA 24 Mar 2013 12:54am

1. Congratulations to ‘Good to be out’ for having the good sense to see the mania for what it is, and for having the capacity to act on that realization by selling.
2. Anybody who sells in even the very vague vicinity of the top will end up having done fine.
3. It is not normal, nor good for a society, that an individual should be able to retire at 50 simply via the act of selling his home.
– vreaa

2013 West Vancouver Sale At 2007 Prices

“Interesting data point out of West Vancouver. 4820 Headland Dr. sold last month [January 2013] for $1.17M. It sold in July 2007 for $1.2M. Poor location, corner of a 3-way stop, either way, they’ve done ‘well’ to have lost money over the past 5.5 yrs in Van RE. A few more of these coming I reckon….”
NoBid at VCI February 26th, 2013 at 6:00 pm

“Over the years, we refinanced our home a few times to pay off our debts. Now we’re selling our home as we can’t keep up with mortgage payments. In this market, we’re not sure if we’ll break even.”

Q: “Over the years, we refinanced our home a few times to pay off our credit cards and other debts, but we never actually got ahead. Now we’re faced with selling our home as we’re having a hard time keeping up with our first and second mortgage payments. With the market the way it is, we’re not sure if we’ll break even. What can we do?”

A: “… With over a decade of extremely low mortgage rates and fast-rising home values, many homeowners refinanced their mortgages to access the equity in their homes. Unfortunately, this can work against you if you aren’t living within your means.”

- from ‘Evaluate all options before selling your house’, Scott Hannah, The Province, 11 Mar 2013 [hat-tip Alexcanuck]

Savings rates in BC have been negative for years.
The average BC consumer debt is a remarkable $38,837, the highest in the country (up 6.2% in the last year!).
Whether by means of low downpayment or large HELOC, a significant percentage of owners are woefully over leveraged to the RE market.
All of this information represents downside risk for the RE market.
– vreaa

“He said that he is currently managing about 337 foreclosed/court ordered sale properties in Mission and Maple Ridge.”

“Bought a court ordered sale in Mission…
Property manager for the Banks came by, wondered why we were in the house…
Bank had not told him it sold… two weeks ago.
He removed the lock key holder.. we talked a bit…
He said that he is currently managing about 337 foreclosed/court ordered sale properties in Mission and Maple Ridge right now… that’s right… I asked three times just to make sure he didn’t mean 37… 337 is what he said.
… said he was not able to provide a list of the properties as the banks had forbidden him to disclose the list as part of his contract…, that’s in Maple Ridge and Mission… alone…
Yikes…
That was Three Hundred and Thirty Seven property’s in just the two districts…
WOW…Don’t see that in the news… or the real estate/assessment tax vultures sales lists…”

Silver at VREAA 14 Mar 2013 10:08am

Realtor On Marketing Deceit – “They could have just found a waitress or whatever, somebody who didn’t obviously work for them.”

“Amazing quote here [in this article in 'The Vancouver Observer'], regarding the MAC Marketing scandal, from a Vancouver realtor:
“It’s not just what they did, but that they did it so badly. They could have just found a waitress or whatever, somebody who didn’t obviously work for them.”

Nick at VREAA 5 March 2013 at 10:00 am [Thanks Nick. -ed.]

[For those readers unfamiliar with the "Mac Marketing scandal", see VREAA 13 Feb 2013.]

Interesting that a realtor would make this kind of comment after such a scandal.
It strongly suggests that he sees deceit in marketing as simply being part of the game.
– vreaa

“There’s a townhouse up for rent in a new(ish) development near my place that is owned by a realtor. After several unsuccessful attempts to sell he gave up and is offering it for a long term lease.”

“There’s a townhouse for rent in a new(ish) development near my place that is owned by a realtor and after several unsuccessful attempts to sell he gave up and is offering it for a long term lease.
The place is fairly expensive to rent, but still a fraction of what it would cost to buy.
Now get this – when I inquired about it, the reply I got stated that “the owner will pay property taxes, but I would be responsible for maintenance and strata fees” at around $350 a month on top of the rent.
OMFG, I still cannot stop laughing…”

vanpire at VCI 2 Mar 2013 2:05pm

The owner was unsuccessful in their attempt to sell.
This simply means that the owner has an overinflated idea of the value of the property.
Drop the price steadily until it hits a bid. That’s the market value.
And, yes, the statement regarding the addition of the strata fee is indeed laughable.
Trying to make a high rent sound lower. Unlikely to draw anything other than laughs.
– vreaa

“Vancouver Island real estate is crashing.”

“Mid Vancouver Island real estate is crashing.
So many listings have been reduced 4-5 times and over $100,000 in price reductions, and still no greater fools buying.
Nanaimo to Courtney is kapoot!
Someone turn out the lights and end their misery.
This is not ending well!”

unbelieveable at greater fool.ca 1 Mar 2013 10:13pm

“Central Vancouver Island is kaput is almost an understatement. Comox Valley: MLS Inventory, 874. February sales, 36. MOI, 24.4. This is a total wipe out.”
Ford prefect at greaterfool.ca 1 Mar 2013 11:13pm

“I train automotive dealership employees how to use my employer’s software for a living.
Yesterday, one of my clients was a woman who used to be a realtor for 6 years on Vancouver Island……and last week I had another ex-realtor on Vancouver Island with 20 years of experience. Both left the RE industry recently, and just entered the car business.
That’s about 4 of them I have encountered in the last month alone.”

Carioca Canuck at VCI 2 Mar 2013 10:35am

The Blast Radius moves closer to the epicentre.
(cue Jaws theme)
– vreaa

Realtor Tries To Sell Own Home But Can’t – “Buyers are very skeptical, very hesitant because they think prices may go down.”

Hoda Seraji is experiencing Vancouver’s housing slowdown firsthand. A real estate agent, she took her own family’s two- story house in Canada’s third-largest city off the market after failing to get a single bite for the C$2.39 million home overlooking the Pacific. Cutting the price for the five-bedroom, four-bathroom residence didn’t help.
“Buyers are very skeptical, very hesitant because they think prices may go down,” she says.
Seraji blames fading interest from foreign investors, especially in China. Changes to Canada’s mortgage rules designed to cool the market have accelerated the sales drop, she says.

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

Agreed, “buyers are hesitant because they anticipate prices are going to drop”.
The problem is not with the buyers, but with prices that are still very, very overinflated.
What was that “C$2.39 million home” selling for just ten years ago? Less than $500K, most likely.
Because of the very large speculative component to price in Vancouver, price drops will not draw in demand, but rather beget further drops.
– vreaa

New High – “Inventory is now at the highest point it has been in the last 8 years for this time of year.”

RE Inventory Chart130221

“Inventory is now at the highest point it has been in the last 8 years for this time of year.”
– chart and observation care of b5baxter at vancouverpeak.com 21 Feb 2013, created with numbers from PaulB.

West Side Property Example – Resold Feb 2013 At 9% Below 2011 Sale Price

“Just though I would pass along this info as I had the history of the
property at 2662 W KING EDWARD AV because I was watching it:

Sold May 2002 – $495,700 (5 days on market, $27K over ask)
Sold Nov 2009 – $1,230,000 (2 days on market, $41K over ask)
Sold May 2011 – $1,810,000 (25 days on market, $8K under ask)

Oct 2011
New Listing – $2,100,000

July 23, 2012
Price Reduced! – $1,999,000

Listing expired

September 19, 2012
New Listing – $1,830,000

Listing expired

February 18, 2013
New Listing – $1,830,000

Sold Feb 2013 – $1,650,000 (17 months on market, $450K under ask)”

- Many thanks to ‘NSR’ who sent this along by e-mail to VREAA 21 Feb 2013

If this was a flip, and there is a high chance of that given that it was bought in May 2011 and put back on the market in Oct 2011, then the loss is $160K plus transfer/commission costs plus carrying costs.
– vreaa

Large Abandoned Richmond SFH Construction Site For Sale – “Assessed value is $2,300,000. Asking $1,888,888 for quick sale.”

photo-21

“Ad posted in Richmond News Feb 15.
10111 Sidaway Road, Richmond
4 Acre Estate Property, located in area of multi million dollar mansions and is adjacent to Mylora Golf Course.
The property was under construction in 2011 but construction was stopped.
House plans currently include a permit to build a 16,000 square foot house, but buyer can change the plans and build on the Engineer approved foundation that is on site.
Value of foundation is in excess of $300,000 and the assessed value of the property is $2,300,000.
Asking firm price of $1,888,888 for quick sale.
Call 604-abc-defgh.”

– posted by ‘Real Estate Tsunami’ at VREAA 18 Feb 2013 7:41pm

Filed under ‘Misallocation of Resources'; the central tragedy of a speculative mania.
– vreaa

Spot The Speculators #99 – ‘Canada Don’t Let Your Retirees Grow Up To Be Real Estate Cowboys’ – Alberta Couple Late 50’s; Net-worth $196K; RE Holdings $1,850K

“Alberta couple, Edward, 58, and Sue, 56, earn gross income of $247,200 per year from working in two great jobs — his in transportation management, hers in health care. Yet they are almost broke.
The problem is they are shelling out $47,514 per year just in interest charges on liabilities that amount to 6.7 times their annual pre-tax income. Their assets add up to $1.85-million, leaving them with a net worth of only $150,000 as the end of their careers comes into view.
The problem will get worse if not fixed, because they are not making a dent in the principal they owe. When interest rates rise, their debts will become ever more costly to carry. Unless they act, they will not be able to retire as planned. They may not even be able to avoid eventual insolvency. “Should we be selling off investments, some at a loss?” Edward asks. “We are working hard to keep our heads above water, but we feel that it is a losing battle. Our goal is to quit when I am 64. Question is: Can we do it with our heads above water?”
The numbers don’t look good: Their debt is about nine times their equity and their investment income is negative.”

– from ‘High-income couple has to deal with some real estate headaches’, Andrew Allentuck, Financial Post, 11 Feb 2013 [hat-tip kansai]

Breakdown of their assets and debt:

Assets (market value where applicable):
House: $950K
BC ‘income-generating’ property #1: $540K
BC ‘income-generating’ property #2: $240K
Arizona Condo: $120K
Total assets: $1.85M

Debt
House mortgage: $758K
BC property #1 mortgage: $446K
BC property #2 mortgage: $329K
Business Loan: $75K
CC Debt: $32.7K
Car loan: $13.2K
Total debt: $1.654M

Net-worth: $196K
RE holdings: $1,850K
Ratio of net-worth to RE: 1:9.4

By sensible estimates, one should hold no more than (90 minus your age)% of your net-worth in RE.
By that measure, this couple should have 33% or less of their net-worth in properties; the actual number for them is 944% (yes, not a typo – nine hundred and forty four percent).
If RE blinks, these guys are underwater. In fact, given the current market, they very likely are already underwater in that they’d probably have to drop prices by at least 10% to liquidate their holdings.
If prices drop by 30% or 40% or 50%, or even more, their retirement plans will be completely destroyed.
This is a more extreme example, but the fact remains that a very substantial percentage of Canadian ‘boomers’ are overdependent on the health of the RE market for their future financial health. And, like the couple in this example, they will likely be advised, or forced to the conclusion, that they have to lighten up their RE holdings.
– vreaa

“A friend of mine was looking to move up but he was not able to find a buyer.”

“Just came back from a Chinese New Year vacation in Vancouver. From folks I talked to, Vancouver’s market has been falling quick. My cousin’s house near Boundary Road was assessed at 1.1x million last year. Last month he received a reassessment from the city and it is now valued at 850k. A friend of mine was looking to move up but he was not able to find a buyer. The seller of the house my friend was looking to buy also delisted his property because he couldn’t find a buyer.”
Reader 66 at greaterfool.ca 16 Feb 2013 12:06am

CTV TV News Featured ‘Condo Buyers’ Actually Marketers Of Very Same Condos!

Village Whisperer, over at ‘Whispers from the Village on the Edge of the Rainforest’ has unearthed a remarkable story of RE-marketing shenanigans.

Lee sisters
Sisters Amanda (left) and Chris Lee (right) are scouting for condos before their parents visit from China to help them buy one. (CTV photo)

“The CTV-TV story [CTV 9 Feb 2013] featured two sisters who were looking to buy a condo at the Maddox condo development in downtown Vancouver: Chris and Amanda Lee.
Curiously MAC Marketing Solutions has an Administrative Assistant named Amanda Lee who not only works for MAC Marketing Solutions – but her current background says she’s attached to the Maddox Downtown condo development profiled in the CTV-TV story. ..
It wasn’t just CTV-BC that ran coverage of the MAC photo op. So did CBC-TV.”

– Whisperer, 13 Feb 2013

MAC Marketing Solutions, once caught out in this subterfuge, on Wednesday [13 Feb 2013] published an apology for the ‘misunderstanding’, in the form of a facebook page comment:

MAC semi-admission
– facebook screencapture, posted by Whisperer, 13 Feb 2013

Whisperer has followed up with a review of the entire incident:
‘MAC Marketing admits they mislead CBC-TV, BC-CTV and all their viewers/customers’
Whispers from the Village on the Edge of the Rainforest, 14 Feb 2013

Clearly this represents far more than a ‘misunderstanding’, but the exposure of this deceit will barely cause a ripple. We have, sadly, come to expect ridiculously poor standards from local media regarding the coverage of the local RE market.
Well done, ‘Whisperer’, many thanks for the uncovering.
The episode is very reminiscent of similar deceit that we ourselves spotted in April 2012, where a ‘sales representative’ selling condos for Cam Good’s ‘The Key’ was presented by Global TV news as a ‘White Rock Investor’ and apparently interested buyer.
– vreaa

UPDATE 14 Feb 2013:

“MAC president Cam McNeill later confirmed that both women filmed in the segment are in fact MAC employees – and aren’t even sisters.
“I don’t have a full explanation of how things went down, I deeply regret for the fact that it didn’t make it more clear to you that the two women in the story were MAC employees,” McNeill told CTV News.”

CTV News, 14 Feb 2013

Of course, as the two women in the story are MAC employees, and aren’t even sisters, the story itself doesn’t even exist!
– vreaa

UPDATE 15 Feb 2013:

The story of the deceit has now been covered by various ‘media outlets':

‘Vancouver real-estate firm admits faking investor for TV news’
Sam Cooper, The Province, 14 Feb 2013

‘Real estate marketing firm apologizes after employees posed as apartment shoppers from China’
Tracy Sherlock, The Vancouver Sun, 15 Feb 2013

‘MAC Marketing Solutions Exposed For Fake Vancouver Real Estate Investors’
The Huffington Post B.C., 14 Feb 2013

‘Real estate firm apologizes after employees pose as buyers in news stories’
Andrea Woo, The Globe and Mail, 14 Feb 2013
excerpt:
“This is the latest in a number of questionable marketing tactics to be exposed within Metro Vancouver’s real estate community. During a media blitz announcing the Groupon-style sale of units at a Surrey condo development last year, one woman identified to a television news crew as an eager local investor was in fact a sales manager for Key Marketing, the company behind the scheme.
That same company has also taken groups of Chinese buyers on helicopter tours of Metro Vancouver properties, and at least one of those trips was believed to be misleading. Garth Turner, a business journalist and former politician, reported the Chinese buyers on a Feburary, 2011, trip – on which several media outlets were invited – were in fact local real-estate agents and brokers and the trip was meant to promote a new condo development. Cam Good, president of The Key, which includes Key Marketing, was a partner at MAC Marketing Solutions from 2004 to 2009, according to his LinkedIn page.
According to 2011 data by the Landcor Data Corporation, 75 per cent of those who purchased Metro Vancouver condos as investment properties are from Metro Vancouver. About 3 per cent are from the U.S. and 2 per cent are from other countries.
The Real Estate Council of B.C will be investigating the matter.”

‘Condo marketing company admits it duped media’
CTV British Columbia, 14 Feb 2013
excerpt:
“We’re trying to understand how this happened right now, and so I’m just trying my best to be open with you and just say that I’m very sorry that it happened,” said MAC president Cam McNeill.
McNeill maintained that the theme of the story – that Lower Mainland condo sites saw a spike in Chinese buyers around Lunar New Year – was completely true.
“I think that the ladies probably fit the profile of the story,” he said. “At the moment I don’t know whose idea that was; I don’t even know if they took it upon themselves to make that up.”

fake buyers
– image from CTV News

‘Real estate marketer admits to deceiving Vancouver reporters’
CBC News, 14 Feb 2013
excerpt from News clip:
“The owner of a Vancouver real estate marketing company admits his employees misled media over the weekend, including the CBC. … MACs owner admitted the story was entirely false. Two MAC Marketing workers presented themselves as sisters from China in Vancouver looking to buy a condo over the Lunar New Year.” …
“Some say that irreparable damage has been done to the real estate marketing industry, that future claims of sold out success stories will be viewed with scepticism.”

click to enlarge
– Annotated image linked by Canadian Watchdog at greaterfool.ca 14 Feb 2013 10:32pm

“I like the footer below the CTV News clip predicting that the Vancouver bubble will remain intact. Doesn’t that mean they’re admitting we’re in one?”

CTV ran a newsclip entitled ‘Experts predict B.C. real estate bubble will remain intact’ [link here]. mac at vancouvercondo.info [31 Jan 2013 12:17am] posted a commentary, excerpts below:

“That CTV clip is hilarious.

First off, I like the footer below the video predicting that the Vancouver bubble will remain intact. Doesn’t that mean they’re admitting we’re in one?

Then there’s the 1-bed condo in what looks like Kits (West Broadway ish near Alma). Used to be asking 465K and now down to 439K. Uh huh. A friend sold a far more central 1-bed condo at Arbutus Walk about 18 months ago for 419K. So we’re still 20 big ones above the market–last year. But never mind. The agent “feels” a sale is imminent. Hot tip for the realtor: maybe get someone to remove the graffiti off the back of the building just under the gorgeous south-facing balcony.

But why has the realtors spidey senses been piqued? Maybe it’s because “phones are ringing, there’s optimism, and it feels like we’re back into selling real estate again”. AKA: Spring. Listings. Calls.

Then comes the Onni guys. The first one, glassy-eyed, stands in his empty showroom talking about a lot of activity in the sales centres resulting in a lot of people entering into contracts signing, signing, signing. Well? Where are they?

But don’t worry folks. Prices are expected to dip 1% province-wide (no mention of the already 40% decline in some areas of the province like the interior and Whistler) and only 2%-5% in metro Vancouver. Whew!

Don’t believe us? Let’s trot out a Chinese agent from, gosh golly, Onni again. And if you care to notice he’s standing in front of Central 1 –the home of Helmut Pastrick-, where there are absolutely no Onni projects currently going up. WTF is that guy doing being interviewed there anyway?

Any-who… this guy is the obvious expert on the foreign market because he can tell you the exact opposite of what Larry Yatowsky’s realtor survey showed us, that YVR is a destination for a lot of international buyers. That’s the only truthful but anachronistic statement in the whole piece.

Then the news guy, who never asked a question in the whole piece, summarizes that the experts agree that high prices in metro van are here to say. Thanks for the laugh News Guy!”

mac is correct to call CTV out on the internal contradiction of the title ‘Experts predict B.C. real estate bubble will remain intact’. To really say that a market is in a ‘bubble’ is to also predict that it will implode. Most market watchers don’t thoroughly understand the dynamics of a speculative mania.
– vreaa

“They transformed an old Greek couple’s house into a 3 suite main house and coach house. 8 months ago they came up for sale, at a little over $1M ask on each. Now, all 4 are for rent with the same RE company that was trying to sell them.”

“House near me where an old Greek couple lived sold over a year ago for a couple million to a developer. They transformed it into a 3 suite main house and coach house. About eight months ago they came up for sale, averaging a little over a million ask on each.
This weekend I was out for a walk and I saw that all four are now for rent with the same real-estate company that was trying to sell them before.
Yikes! I’m thinking that developer bet the farm on current market softness being only temporary.
Obviously even the professionals are delirious.”

Anonymous at VCI 20 Jan 2013 10:13pm

What would each unit have to rent for to merit the $1M (each!) price tag?
What price would be realistic for each unit, given the likely rental income?
– vreaa

“Now they are waiting for spring “when sales will pick up” and they’ve already bought air-line tickets for June, so they “must sell”.

“Yesterday I met a neighbour who is an immigrant from my hometown. I know that their family was going to move back because her husband couldn’t find a job in the financial field and currently works as a tennis instructor. They had tickets for September, but couldn’t sell their townhouse since last spring and so they returned the tickets. They also relisted their home several times during last year, but gave up in November.
Now they are waiting for spring “when sales will pick up” and already bought tickets for June, so they “must sell”. I haven’t said a word. What could I say?”

Aleksey at VCI 21 Jan 2013 11:03am

You could say: “Steadily drop your ask price until you hit a bid.”
That’d help.
– vreaa

Globe And Mail Features Kerrisdale Condo Sold For Same Price As In 2007

“2105 WEST 42 ND AVE., NO. 212, VANCOUVER
ASKING PRICE $458,800
SELLING PRICE $424,000
PREVIOUS SELLING PRICES $420,000 (2007); $206,738 (1995)”


“This two-bedroom suite was on the market at $524,800 for over a year. But once the price was lowered to $458,800 last fall, agent Keith Roy saw an opportunity to negotiate an even better deal for his homebuying clients, who had already seen 20 other properties in Vancouver and Burnaby.”

– from ‘Kerrisdale condo knocked down $100,000′, Globe and Mail, 21 Jan 2013 [hat-tip VMD at VCI]

“I know three ‘middle class’ families that can’t afford gas. They all live in million dollar houses.”

“I know three ‘middle class’ families that can’t afford gas. Two of them have put their cars away and another said quite frankly that they can’t afford gas.
They all live in million dollar houses. One is even trying to sell their 1.8 million dollar house. No job loss, no divorce, no changes – just too much debt.”

Anonymous at whispersfromtheedgeoftherainforest 21 Jan 2013 10:09am

“I was told that it costs the developer an average of $1,000 a month to keep each completed unsold unit in the development. Ouch!”

“A few anecdotes from today’s trip to Surrey:
-prices on brand new townhouses are (and I quote the sales personnel) “not set in stone. Not anymore” Also “there’s room to move there” as well as “the days of pre-sales are gone”. Offers are welcome – low ball offers are expected.
-I was told that it costs the developer an average of $1,000 a month to keep each completed unsold unit in the development. Ouch! So private sellers can supposedly just hold off and take their places off the market “for now” – developers… not so much.
-majority of units that I saw today are now priced ~5% below the original prices that were announced last fall. Plus, like I said “there’s room to move”

vanpire at VCI January 19th, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Flipping Into The Teeth Of The Storm

4464 W 7th

4464 West 7th Ave, Vancouver West-side (Point Grey)
2,094 sqft SFH; built 1978; 33×112 lot

Listed 22 Jun 2011, Ask Price $1,698,000
Sold 28 Jun 2011, Sale price $1,826,000

Listed 16 Jan 2013, Ask Price $2,190,000

Remember the heady days of 2011, where SFHs sold over-ask?
This flipper appears to have disregarded market signs and is fishing for a big catch.
They have listed at 20% above 2011 sales price, whereas most SFH sales are currently at 5% to 10% or more below 2011-2012 peak prices.
This’ll be one to watch.
– vreaa

“One agent is telling him to drop his price drastically to beat reduced prices in the Spring. The other agent is telling him that he has to keep his price above $1 mil to attract foreign buyers.”

“Just talked to a friend trying to decide which agent to use to sell his house in central Vancouver. One agent is telling him to drop his price drastically to beat reduced prices in the Spring. The other agent is telling him that he has to keep his price above $1 mil to attract foreign buyers. Still too many agents with the former pitch and too many people who want to believe it.”
pathcontrolmonk at greaterfool.ca 17 Jan 2013 at 10:11 pm

“By the time they listed, buyers were no longer competing for the privilege of overpaying. She accepted the fact that her condo just wasn’t worth what she had hoped.”

“Last summer, having surveyed their local real estate market, and finding themselves spooked by deteriorating prices, Rheanna Mushet and her husband, Justin, decided to sell their Burnaby condo. “We wanted to cash out,” Mushet says, adding that they may end up living in her parents’ basement for a while as they wait out the downturn in the Vancouver market. “We’re going to make sure we get the most for our money. There’s no hurry.” She only regrets not acting sooner. By the time they listed, buyers were no longer competing for the privilege of overpaying. For six months, the Mushets waited for an offer and showed their condo to prospective buyers who seemed to be almost looking for a reason to pass. “They were very choosy,” she says. “‘It’s not on the right floor. The ceiling’s not high enough. There’s a stain on your carpet.’ Just the silliest things that before wouldn’t even be a consideration.” They finally agreed to sell for $22,000 below their original asking price to the first person to make an offer. She accepted the fact that her condo just wasn’t worth what she had hoped. Many other sellers are soon going to have to come to the same realization.”
– from ‘How low will house prices go? Prices are headed down for the long term.’, Tim Shufelt, Canadian Business, 17 Jan 2013 [hat-tip Cyril Tourneur, Anon and CanAmerican]

Spot The Speculators #95 – “Each had a house with a mortgage. Then they bought a new residence and used a line of credit to add a rental apartment to the new house. Their $1.5-million of debt is 12 times their gross employment income.”

“A couple we’ll call Tiff (49) and Sandy (45) turned their long-time friendship into a union when they bought a house in British Columbia and combined their fortunes in 2008. The relationship came with a lot of baggage, however. Each had a house with a mortgage. Then they bought a new residence and used a line of credit to add a rental apartment to the new house. Their $1.5-million of debt is 12 times their gross employment income.
Revenue from the income properties barely covers their total costs — mortgage and line-of-credit interest, taxes, utilities, insurance and maintenance. Add in falling prices in the sliding B.C. housing market and the couple is subsidizing losing investments.
They save only $100 a month for RRSPs and $25 a month in an RESP for a Sandy’s nine-year old child from a former marriage. At mid-life, the couple, each of whom works for a large publishing company, has just $31,000 of RRSPs and almost no cash.”

They started with 25% conventional down payments, but now find themselves with about 10% equity in the rental units as a result of falling property prices and debt-financed buyouts of former partners. Their return after paying all interest costs, utilities, insurance and taxes is negligible. Unless they can raise rents drastically or realize future capital gains, the investments are flops.

A financial crisis triggered, perhaps, by unemployment, illness or accident would require them to add debt, for they have just $2,000 in cash. If interest rates rise by 1% or 2%, they would be forced to refinance, but they already have 30-year amortizations. To pay more interest, they would have to face deregistration of some or all of their $31,000 of RRSPs, heavy taxes on payouts or, in the worst case, bankruptcy.

Family Finance asked Adrian Mastracci, a portfolio manager and financial planner at KCM Wealth Management Inc. in Vancouver, to work with the couple. He is candid in describing the issues.
“The couple’s problems are far too much debt, especially for properties that are poor investments, and an excessive concentration in real estate, for each unit is within just blocks of the others,” he says.

Real estate has produced substantial gains for homeowners in parts of B.C., but the boom is waning. When interest rates rise, prices could fall further, for most people buy what they can afford and, with higher borrowing costs, they will afford less.

– from ‘Bad real estate investments leave couple with $1.5-million in debt’, Andrew Allentuck, Financial Post, 11 Jan 2013 [hat-tip JoeQ]

Summary of finances for this couple:
Assets $2M [$1.862M in RE at current market prices; $137K other]
Debt $1.542M [3 mortgages, 1 LOC, CCs, Car loan]
Net worth $456K [Assets minus Debt]
Ratio of RE holdings to Net worth: 4.1 to 1
Put another way, more than 400% of their net worth is in RE.
(I find this figure as shocking as the debt to income ratio of 12)
If/when the market price of their RE holdings drop 25% they would be wiped out.

What, me, a speculator?
Just innocent locals doing what innocent locals do, right? Building wealth with RE.
How many more out there are in similar situations?
– vreaa

“The Richmond home had been for sale for about six months, and rather than lower the price any further, the couple decided to take the home off the market. They are in their late 60s and want to downsize to a condo.”

“Realtor Larry Biggar said one of his clients did just that in November. The Richmond home had been for sale for about six months, and rather than lower the price any further, the couple decided to take the home off the market. They are in their late 60s and want to downsize to a condo, Biggar said. He said everyone who went through the home liked it, but that they all seemed to be waiting to see what would happen with prices.
“We watched the market slow down, and slow down, and slow down. … It just got quieter and quieter,” said Biggar, who works with ReMax Westcoast.
“Finally they said enough is enough. We really don’t have to sell. We can stall our plans if need be, although that’s not our first choice.”
Biggar said the couple will be putting their home back on the market soon, and although they have not discussed the asking price, it will probably be the same price it was when they took if off the market.”

– Richmond News 9 Jan 2013, as quoted by Real Estate Tsunami on VREAA

See The Myth Of The Discretionary Seller for discussion of the syndrome of ‘Sellerpause’©. – vreaa

Update – West-side Houses Selling At 2008 Prices

4549 W 12th Ave, Vancouver West-side
2,569 sqft SFH on a 33×122 lot; built 1933

This particular house previously featured on these pages:
‘Half The Width, Twice The Price’ 25 Apr 2012
‘Next Stop, 2008 Prices’ 19 Nov 2012

Price history:

1:
March 1997: Sold $457,500

[renos in 1998]

2:
April 2008: For Sale at $1,679,000
May 2008: Price reduction $1,595,000
May 2008: Taken off market
June 2008: For Sale at $1,495,000
July 2008: Sold $1,430,000

3:
April 2012: For Sale at $1,975,000
Jun 2012: Price reduction $1,875,000
Taken off market
Aug 2012: For Sale at $1,775,000
Nov 2012: Price change $1,698,000

4:
21 Dec 2012: Sold $1,550,000

Increase of $120K (8.4%) over 4.5 years (since July 2008), for a compound annual rate of 1.8%, pretty much the rate of inflation, so this property did indeed end up selling for the same real price as in the summer of 2008. Of course, with transaction costs factored in, this represents a loss for the recent seller.
According to examples such as this one, west-side SFHs are back to 2008 prices, as much as 25% off 2011-2012 peak, and there does not appear to be any good reasons to suggest that they’re not going to continue to fall. At $1.55M, this property has still sold far above it’s fundamental value.
This is what speculative manias look like when they begin to unwind.
– vreaa

‘It’s Too Expensive To Sell’ – “We’ve lived in the West-End for eight years, three years in the place we are in now, but it is so expensive to sell. I looked into it, realtor’s fees.. we’d like to move east but it costs so much to sell.”

“Two women, early 30s, decked out in fitness gear, fast walking. (Turns out they ended up walking into their workplace, a mountain equipment co-op office. This has little to play in the anecdote but sets the lifestyle scene up well.)
They are speaking about moving: “We’ve lived in the west end for eight years, three years in the place we are in now, but it is so expensive to sell your place. I looked into it, realtor’s fees.. we’d like to move east but it costs so much to sell your place.”
I believe it will be much cheaper than the equity lost over short term, no? I imagine falling prices will also keep these sellers off the market but how many people want to be getting out of the market? I seem to overhear RE discussion on the streets I walk more and more often.”

– anecdote from Aldus Huxtable, via e-mail to vreaa, 27 Dec 2012. Aldus also adds “I have been back in van for a few weeks after a few months away. Sentiments have changed.”

We agree with Aldus. The cost of the trade, while very substantial in RE markets, will pale into insignificance compared with the price drops. These ladies weren’t clearly discussing getting out of the market, though; rather, it seems, a lateral move.
It is possible that “it’s too expensive to sell” may become one of the stories that owners who ride the market down will be using to assuaging themselves.
– vreaa

Westside SFHs At 20%-Off Peak? – “Nobody is willing to pay what other buyers were willing to pay only 3 months ago. And the sellers are blinking first.”

6332 Laburnnum St. 33×125 lot
Assessed at $1.494M (Land only).
Original asking $1.59M.
Reduced to $1.49M.
Sold for $1.365M.

Recent comparables:
6320 Vine st. 33×125 sold for $1.626M in Jan/12
6331 Yew St. 33×125 sold for $1.393M in Jul/12
6225 Balsam St. 33×125 sold for $1.708M in Feb/12
6436 Vine St. 33×125 sold for $1.638M in Feb/12

“I bet they all wished they didn’t “Buy or be priced out forever”
They could have saved $300K by simply…. waiting.”

1706 W59th Ave.
Assessed at $1.697M.
Asking $1.79M.
Sold for $1.6M.
Purchased for $1.7M in August 2011.

“Wow – $100K drop (+PTT and commissions) in 16 months.”

3721 W16th Ave.
Assessed north of $1.2M
Asking $1.288M.
Sold for $1.030M.

Similar sales include:
4583 W16th – Asking $1.098M. Sold for $1.18M in Jan/11.
4067 W16th – Asking $1.198M. Sold for $1.185M in Feb/11.
4591 W16th – Asking $1.249M. Sold for $1.260M in Sep/11.

“All those purchasers must be kicking themselves. They could have saved up for another year and bought for $200K less.”

650 W22nd in Cambie. New construction.
Ask price $2.488M.
Sold for $2.120M.
They paid $1.47M for the land (nearly $100K over asking) and now are hoping to get out with a small loss.

Similar sales in the past year:
905 W20th, 33×122 sold for $2.49M (no mention of HST – assuming HST included then $2.223M) in Aug/12.
856 W19th, 33×122 sold for $2.29M (1 year old home) Sept/12.

“Even since the fall, prices are dropping rapidly – $100K in 3 months or, wait for it, $1,000 a day. Nobody is willing to pay what other buyers were willing to pay only 3 months ago. And the sellers are blinking first.”

- all above stats and comments by ‘timber2012′, in a series of posts at RE Talks, 19 to 28 Dec 2012

We’d recently heard of a small developer saying that houses on the Westside are “down 20%”. This seemed a bit high to us, but the sales documented above appear to bear that out. Some SFHs on the westside appear to be selling for 15%-20% off the peak already.
And, seriously, this bubble hasn’t really begun to deflate yet.
– vreaa

“We accepted our friend’s offer, but the deal fell through… some financial trouble with their bank. We re-listed few months ago and dropped the price, but no offers…”

line_up_at_ski_lift_whistler_mountain_whistler_700-05389295

Overheard the following exchange this am in the ski lift lineup at Whistler:
“Still have this place in Whistler?… Yes, we listed a year ago… it was on the high side… we accepted friend’s offer, but the deal fell through… some financial trouble with their bank… We re-listed few months ago and dropped the price, but no offers…”

Skier on VREAA 27 Dec 2012 4:07pm

Spot The Speculators #94 – They’ve lowered their price to $950K already, but they’re “not going to lower it any more because they want to retire, and they really believe that’s what it’s worth because they built it themselves, and it’s one of a kind, yadda, yadda, yadda.”

“Talking to a colleague at the office this morning over coffee. Her relative is trying to sell their $950K house and acreage on the Sunshine Coast in BC, just a 45 minute ferry ride north of Vancouver. It was built it in 2000…..but they inherited the land for 10 years before that. So, a 50/50 “freebee” from a monetary perspective, but that’s only “IF” they didn’t take all of their equity out, that is……and we don’t know that they didn’t do this already.
I casually asked how long it had been listed, and I got the reply “since late 2008″. ROFL !!
Then I get told they’ve lowered their price already, but they’re “not going to do it any more because they want to retire, and they really believe that is what it is worth because they built it themselves, and it’s one of a kind, yadda, yadda, yadda”. So I go and search the town on realtor.ca and it looks like a really bad case of the measles have hit the Sunshine Coast. Not only is there literally a hundred red dots, but most of them have numbers like 12, 25, 43, 33, 17, 5, etc, overlaid on them, indicating multiple listings contained within that dot.”

Carioca Canuck at VREAA 28 Dec 2012 8:18am who added “Here’s another anecdote from the “willing to sit until I get my price crowd”.

We’re making the point here that any owners who have decided to sell, but then don’t steadily drop their ask price until they hit a bid, are delaying selling on the premise of future market strength.
This is also an example of long-term owners who have, it appears, become dependent on the presumed value of their RE for their future retirement security. We fear that there are many in their position who will have their plans hobbled in the downturn.
– vreaa

“Neighbour has had place on westside listed forever. Had been holding firm on her price. Then decided to take off market. Then accepted offer 10% below ask. Then offer fell through. Now delisted awaiting the spring.”

“Neighbour has had place on westside listed forever…at least 8-9 months. Had been holding firm on her price. About a month ago she told me she was taking it off the market and waiting for spring “when things would rebound”. Ran into her about a week after that conversation and she said she had decided to take a lower offer after all and had sold it because her friends had told her to take the money and run. (Incidently the lower bid was still very reasonable in my opinion and a mere 10% off ask). Anyhoooo, that bid fell through due to financing problems (surprise). So she left it on market until a few days ago when she finally DELISTED it. So I guess she is back to hoping for the spring-time action.
Poor realtor was doing open houses for the entire day both days of the weekend for months and months. It must have been his only listing.”

Girlbear at VCI 25 Dec 2012 9:30pm

Imagine the sentiment now. If they relist in the spring and comparable properties are selling for 15% or more below last year’s ask, how will they respond?
– vreaa

“Priced To Sell” At $4 Million

5575 Elm
5575 Elm, from the backyard

5575 Elm Street, Westside Vancouver
5,101 sqft SFH, built 2006, 50×162 lot
Listed 9 July 2012 $4,880,000
Price reduction 27 July 2012 $4,530,000
Price reduction 19 Dec 2012 $3,990,000
Blurb extract: “Priced to sell.”

Only in Vancouver would a house like this be called ‘priced to sell’ at $4M.
Even at about 20% off original ask it’s sorely overpriced; houses like this will likely sell for well below $2 Million in the trough, and still be pricey in global terms.
– vreaa

UPDATE (with info from Canadian Watchdog and by Whisperer):

5575 Elm Street, Vancouver

2003 May: Sold $680K

2006: Rebuilt

2007: Sold $2,980,000

2010 May: Sold $3,079,000

2012 assessed value $3,545,000
2012 July: Listed $4,880,000
2012 July: Price reduction $4,530,000
2012 Dec: Price reduction $3,990,000

BC Realtors Predict ‘Unsexy’ Market – “Over the next year or so we expect price changes to hover around zero”; “Price increases of the last decade are long gone”

Announcer: “There hasn’t been a crash, thankfully, but Ottawa, and the Bank of Canada, are desperate to raise interest rates once the economy improves. Economists are expecting rates to start inching upwards by late 2014, meaning that the price increases of the last decade are long gone.”

Cameron Muir, BC Real Estate Association economist: “We expect the market in Vancouver is going to be unsexy over the next year or so… uh, uh, long term trend sales activity… prices… probably pretty flat, we expect prices to stay.. hover around zero… percent or two on [inaudible] side.. depending on what community or neighbourhood you’re in.”

- from Global News 19th or 20th Dec 2012 [video archived by GreenhornRET; hat-tip El Ninja]

Next year will likely see the first very clear declaration of substantial price weakness in Vancouver RE.
Yes, we’ve already seen some price drops, but the numbers are not very remarkable (1%, 4%, 7%), and have been easily hidden in reporting. They certainly haven’t yet pervaded group consciousness.
Realtor association predictions tend to (1) extrapolate recent activity and (2) err on the side of optimism. These calls for a flat market are precisely that, and we are close to certain that they will be proven wrong.
It is noteworthy that even Global sees enough evidence to state plainly “the price increases of the last decade are long gone”.


I’d submit that the use of the word ‘unsexy’ is likely an unconscious attempt at delivering a sobering idea in a playful fashion, in the hope that it makes it somehow more palatable.

As an aside, consider these reports from the perspective of our recently discussed (mythical) ‘Discretionary Seller’. If you had already decided that you’d like to sell, and either had your property on the market, or had taken it off awaiting a strong spring, how would you feel about these predictions? What would you tend to want to now do? Those who reply: “Put another log on the fire and wait for a strong market (in 2014? 2015?)”, back of the class.

- vreaa

Bids All Insultingly Low So Taken Off Market – “We will just wait until the spring when the markets come back and we will get a higher price.”

“True story. Ran into neighbour. She just took her place off the market. It has been constant open houses. She told me the bids were all coming in too low. She was very insulted that people would bid so low. So she took it off the market because she “will just wait until the spring when the markets come back and she will get a higher price”. I didn’t say a word.”
Girlbear at VCI December 5th, 2012 12:27 pm

Point Grey For Less Than $1 Million

4148 w 10th
4148 10th Ave, Vancouver Westside
Small 1929 SFH on 33×122 lot
Listed 14 Dec 2012, V982817
Ask Price $998K

Busy street, yes; lot value only, yes; still very overvalued, yes.
But a landmark on the way down, nonetheless.
Properties like this will likely sell for about $400K-$450K in the trough.
– vreaa

The Myth Of The Cool-Headed Discretionary Seller – “I think that’s one of the reasons why the Canadian housing market is likely not going to have a hard landing because you’re not going to have a lot of motivated sellers – people aren’t going to be forced into it by rising interest rates or declining employment so they can take their time and wait for the market to stabilize.”

sellers
Seller’s aren’t competing with buyers, they’re competing with other sellers.

Vancouver sales dropped 27.6 per cent in November compared with November 2011, after tighter lending rules came into force this summer. The average price is down 6.3 per cent for the same period to $682,215, while the MLS home price index is down 1.7 per cent from a year ago. The average price reflects the mix of sales, while the HPI reflects price changes for typical homes.
BMO deputy chief economist Doug Porter called Vancouver a “rather obvious exception” to the soft landing that most Canadian cities would see for their real estate markets. “I don’t know that I’d call it a hard landing in Vancouver, but it’s definitely a bumpier landing than most cities in Canada are going through right now,” Porter said. Meanwhile, it appears people thinking of selling their homes are holding off, especially in Metro Vancouver, which saw the largest drop in the country for new listings. New supply reached its lowest level in more than two years, CREA said.
“That may help avert a harder landing for prices because sellers do have the leeway to back off,” Porter said. “Fundamentally, I think that’s one of the reasons why the Canadian housing market is likely not going to have a hard landing because you’re not going to have a lot of motivated sellers – people aren’t going to be forced into it by rising interest rates or declining employment so they can take their time and wait for the market to stabilize.”
– from ‘Bumpier’ landing seen for Vancouver real estate’, Vancouver Sun, 18 Dec 2012 [hat-tip Edmund Garland]

There have been many stories that served to stimulate Vancouver’s RE mania. The most prevalent latter day myth appears to be that of the discretionary seller. We are all invited by many commentators (bankers, realtors, commenters on the blogs), to imagine the cool-headed seller deciding that, no, this is not the right time to sell, and backing off, biding their time, waiting serenely for the next leg-up in the market; in calm and comfort, perhaps next to a fire with a good book; no hurry, no urgency whatsoever.
I believe that this construct is complete hogwash.
I’d submit that, in the vast majority of cases, once an owner has made the decision to sell, they start the mental preparation for unloading that property. They move into a position where they disinvest themselves of the idea of ownership, and a clock starts ticking.. they have a building desire to convert that asset into cash, to ‘get out’ of the market. In a market where prices have barely budged, but sales are weak, they may be able to convince themselves that a more robust time for sales is just around the corner, so they may take their property off the market. But make no mistake, they remain very much in the ‘sell’ mode, they have their finger on the trigger, and they are waiting to unload. There is no intense urgency at that point; more a mode of expectation, of anticipation of coming action. Imagine now how that group of wannabe sellers responds when prices take their first substantial step down. Suddenly comparables are selling for 10% or 15% lower, and for lower prices than offers they themselves rejected 6 months before. Do these sellers remain cool? Well, a few may, but, here’s the point, a majority will not. They will experience new-found urgency, and many will rush to market. And only a few of them have to do anxious deals for prices to suddenly find themselves 20% to 25%-off the peak. And then more owners holding shadow inventory will respond, and so on. This is how speculative manias unwind.
The other side of all of this is, naturally, the buyers. There will always be some buyers, of course, at each step of the descent, but not enough to rescue the market; not enough to plateau it or take it to new highs. We won’t see a rerun of 2009 (although some of the early buyers will be “buying the dip”, in anticipation of a 2009-type rebound). Buyers will dry up because prices are falling. Yes, but won’t falling prices increase demand? asks the economist. Yes, falling prices increase demand, when those prices are falling from reasonable levels to cheaper levels such that the asset for sale looks like a good deal based on its fundamental value. But, when assets are at stratospheric prices, when people have been overextending themselves to buy at prices that are 2 to 3 times those supported by fundamentals, when people have been buying only because they anticipate future price strength, the dynamics are very different. People stop buying because their premise for buying (“prices will rise”) goes away.
Thus a powerful self-reinforcing system of price increase turns into reverse, and prices collapse. Falling prices beget falling prices. If that seems circular, that’s because it is. A ‘virtuous’ cycle turns ‘vicious’, and by this mechanism price drops that few have anticipated come to pass. Perhaps 2013 will be the first sharp leg down.
– vreaa

“His friend was squabbling over what to do with a house he and his brother inherited. Since neither of them wanted to be landlords, they decided to sell right away.”

“A long time friend told me his friend was squabbling over what to do with a house he and his brother inherited. Since neither of them wanted to be landlords, they decided to sell right away. I suspect they’ll be quite a bit of those in the years to come with our aging demographics. Perhaps adding more pressure on prices in the near future?”
Seeking knowledge… at VREAA 14 Dec 2012 5:24pm

“My wife and I bought our first home in Oshawa in 1989 for $178K. Seven years later, after many renovations, we could only sell it for $148K.”

“My wife and I bought our first home in Oshawa in 1989 for $178K. Seven years later, after many renovations, we could only sell in for $148K. Mind you, we then bought in the same down market in Toronto’s High Park area. The home we bought in Toronto, for $325K, had been listed at $580K just 18 months before we bought it. That gives you some sense of how the market corrected. We sold that same house this spring, for $975K, exactly three times what we paid for it 16 years ago. It obviously does depend on when you buy and when you sell, it always has. BUT, we are experiencing prolonged and historic low interest rates, and Mr. Flaherty’s creation of the 0 down/40 year amortization did create a subprime effect here in Canada. We have never seen a run-up in home prices like this before. The correction, one would think, will be greater than the ones we’ve seen in the past, given that so many people are so over-leveraged.”
– comment by ‘ReMaxed Out’, at The Globe and Mail, 11 Dec 2012 11:27am

“We have never seen a run-up in home prices like this before. The correction, one would think, will be greater than the ones we’ve seen in the past..”
That’s pretty much our opinion, too. Perhaps the Vancouver 1980’s bust will compare. – vreaa

“I took a big gamble and bought a house in the Oakridge area a few years ago for around 700K, on limited income. I sold it last year because I knew I got lucky and didn’t want to push my luck.”

“I took a big gamble when we bought a house in the Oakridge area a few years ago for around 700K on limited income and sold it last year because I knew I got lucky and didn’t want to push my luck. Now we’re renting a condo in Vancouver.”
Dashgall at VREAA 14 Dec 2012 10:45am

This is an example of speculative behaviour being bailed out by luck. Despite that, ‘Dashgall’ does deserve some respect, not for the initial bet (which was, indeed, a rash gamble), but (1) for having the insight to sell rather than “push (his/her) luck”, and (2) [special points for this one] for being able to admit that the profit was the result of luck, rather than attributing it to one’s own new-found investment genius (the commoner explanation used in this scenario).
Only a very small percentage of market participants will end up having sold in even the vague vicinity of the top. The majority will remain invested in the RE market one way or another, and ride their paper-gains down as the market collapses.
– vreaa

“The young couple that moved in is currently listing the same unit for 30K less than I sold it to them for in 2011. If it sells at all it will be far below that.”

“Sold my 2 bedroom condo in Port Moody a year and a half ago in the mid 300K’s and I was lucky to get that. It took 6 months and it was in a really good building during the height of the market.
The buyers were honest and said they were going to live in it for a year or two then flip it for a profit.
The young couple that moved in is currently listing the same unit for 30K less than I sold for. If it sells at all it will be far below that. Flip fail!”

Landbaron at VCI 9 Dec 2012 at 6:28pm

It’s Different Here, Really It Is – “The rich are not the same as most people, otherwise Vancouver’s prices would never have risen so far above average household incomes in the first place.”

“The free-falling Vancouver housing market shows no signs of reversing its slide with the latest figures showing November sales 30.3% below the 10-year average for the month.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver now says consumers have begun pulling their homes off the market rather than settle for a lower prices in what is still the country’s most expensive market to buy a home.
Since reaching a peak of $625,000, the board’s MLS Home Price Index for all residential properties in the city is off 4.5% to an average of $596,900. Prices are off 1.7% from a year ago.
“Home sellers appear more inclined to remove their properties from the market today rather than lower prices to sell their properties. On the other hand, buyers appear to be expecting prices to moderate,” said Eugen Klein, president of the board.”

– from ‘Vancouver homeowners pulling properties off the market rather than settle for lower prices’, Garry Marr, 4 Dec 2012

“Given that Vancouver’s RBC housing affordability ratio has been about 92% of household income for awhile now, that must tell you that most homes here are bought by people with wealth. They can afford to hang on and wait for better market conditions, so it makes sense that listings are getting pulled. Conventional house price economic responses are more applicable to cities like Calgary and Edmonton that will react to changes in their (oil based) economy than they are to Vancouver. The rich are not the same as most people, otherwise Vancouver’s prices would never have risen so far above average household incomes in the first place.”
– ThinkRight commenting at Financial Post 4 Dec 2012
[hat-tip to JS who adds "I love the logical deduction that because the affordability ratio has been so poor, it obviously means that homes are bought by people with wealth."]

Agreed, JS, you’ve got to love some of the bizarre justifications for current circumstances.
From the school of handwaving logic. Also, tautological.
“Prices are high for good reason (trust me on that) therefore they will stay high.”
And the bit about “the rich are different from most people”? (gack!!)
Regarding the article, and sellers pulling their wares in disgust.. they still do think it’s different here, but will discover it’s pretty much the same as everywhere else.
Sales are down; Prices will follow.
– vreaa

Sticky Seller Ignores Bird In Hand – “He bought new in spring 2009. He is very frustrated that he can’t get a sale, but does not think that the problem is price! He thinks he just hasn’t found the right buyer yet.”

“Colleague at work bought a new 2BR 1200 sq ft townhouse in North Delta (Van suburb) for $330K. Now has 2 kids under 3 and has decided said townhouse is too small for his growing family; they want to rent for a couple of years and then “vultch” a house after prices have come off current peaks. Back in March this year he listed his place at $399K. On the market for a couple of months, only one serious offer, I believe $379K or so, they turned down that “insulting lowball offer”. Pulled the listing to try again later in the year.

Re-listed after Labour Day — this time at $409K. I know, why do they list (doesn’t sell), pull, then re-list later at a higher price?! Well, here is his and his realtor’s reasoning: felt in part that the place didn’t sell/attract offers last time for what it was “worth” because they had low-balled on price and therefore were attracting the “wrong perspective buyer” and were cheating themselves out of a deal at what the place was really “worth”. This is how these people think! And my colleague has a math and accouting background, totally understands numbers……

The townhouse is still on the market today — price drops to $405K, $399K, and currently $389K have not attracted any offers. Some young-ish couples have I gather expressed an interest in the high $370s (the price they poo-poo’d in March!), but in all cases (3-4 times I think), the parents of those folks, who are apparently ponying up the downpayment money, have said they think the price is too high for the location — specifically, within a block or so of a major arterial highway (which one might think would be a selling point given the traffic in the Van area – my colleague’s place does not actually hear traffic apparently).

There are so many units listed, buyers do really have a lot more time and options to shop around. I did try to talk to my colleague (he asked for my view as he knows I follow the RE market, even though I am a renter!) about getting ahead of the price reduction curve, to avoid chasing the price down, languishing on the market and STILL not getting a deal…. when it didn’t get any sniffs back at $409K, I said, given what he had told me about last March’s experience — drop the price to $379K, you want to sell, something “drastic” like that could precipitate an offer, multiple offers maybe and perhaps a price in the low $380s? He does have significant equity in the place about a third, depending on what the place actually is “worth”, so he is not at risk of being underwater….needless to say, he did the slow water torture price changes instead…..

I think he will be lucky to sell in the $360s…. and if this goes on until the spring, which it looks like it will if he is still listed, he will be looking at something in the $350s or even lower….which with breaking the term on his mortgage and paying the commission and transactions costs will leave him at net proceeds likely below what he got in at…he bought new in spring 2009…he is very frustrated that he can’t get a sale, but does not think that the problem is price! He thinks he just hasn’t found the right buyer yet…..”

- renters rule at greaterfool.ca 2 Dec 2012 8:36pm

“At a BBQ at the inlaws’ place back in May, they and all their suburban friends were patting each other on the back about how awesome it was to own property that kept going up and up and up.”

“I just recently found out my inlaws are planning on selling their house in Surrey. In April, a near-identical place across the street sold for $520K. Another near-identical (neighborhood/cul-de-sac built by the same builder in the 70s) went on the market late June (just before OSFI and Flaherty brought in the new mortgage rules), sold last month for $450K.
Back in May, was at a family BBQ at inlaws’ place, they and all their suburban friends were patting each other on the back about how awesome it was to own property that kept going up and up and up. I said (because I’d had a few drinks, won’t do this again…) “Yeah, money’s never been cheaper in Canadian history and real estate’s never been more expensive but yet people still think real estate is still going up.”
It was like I’d said “pull my finger” then farted like a trombone solo. Dead silence, imagine a pin dropping in slow motion.
I’ve been half-assed trying to tell my wife’s parents that they should think about cashing out, y’know, on the house they bought in 1979 for $25K, since at least 2010. Oh, god forbid that anyone who isn’t a homeowner AND is under 40 could possibly know anything about financial planning.
Let me just say it’s gonna take a lot of willpower to not say “I told you so” as their house languishes on the market through to 2014 because “It’s worth more than $450K”, but hey, keeping my mouth shut is cheaper than a divorce lawyer. :->”

EinsatzgruppenVancouver at VREAA 2 Dec 2012 12:32am

The loneliness of the RE bear.
Wrong and ignored on the way up; vilified and ignored on the way down.
Only masochists need apply; and only those who value truth over social ease.
BTW, that property has already dropped more than 13% in market value.
– vreaa

“I personally know 5 people that have overextended themselves buying multiple houses and condos, planning to sell in the future. None of them have gotten out yet and I know for a fact they are underwater on some of these and hoping to sell in the spring.”

“I personally know 5 people that have overextended themselves with multiple houses and condos that they only bought to sell in the future. These are not realtors or people that have any investmeny knowledge in general, they are people that have owned for a long time and took advantage of the mania of the last 6 years to leverage up to the max on as many propertiea as they could. None of them have gotten out yet and I know for a fact they are underwater on some of these and hoping to sell in the spring.”
Groundhog at VCI 29 Nov 2012 3:05pm

Of all the ‘springs’ that we’ve been watching over the years, this one is perhaps shaping up to be the most eagerly anticipated.
There appear to be a lot of owners intending to list and sell in the spring. And bears are wondering where the buyers are going to come from.
– vreaa

A Big ‘Thank-You’ To The Insanity Of The Vancouver RE Market – “I sold my loft in a seedy part of Gastown that I bought for $168K in 2005 for $520K in 2011. Paid $220K for a nice 600sqft 1bdrm in downtown Halifax, and now I’m debt free, with $200K in the bank, at 26.”

“I recently moved to Halifax from Vancouver for grad school and its amazing how much more enjoyable life is when your debt free. I sold my loft in a seedy part of gastown that I bought for 168k in 2005 for 520k in 2011. Paid 220k for a nice 600sqft 1bdrm in downtown Halifax, and now I’m debt free at 26. I’ve got 200k in cash in the bank too, how many 26 year olds can say that?! and I have all of this thanks to the insanity that is the vancouver real estate market! I feel for these people though, our generation really got the shaft when it comes to the economy and real estate. I’ve got plenty of friends who did everything they were supposed to do to succeed in life and are working temp jobs to pay off 100k in grad school debts. If I didn’t have supportive parents I don’t know where I’d be right now.”
jj at VREAA 27 Nov 2012 9:22am

Well done, jj. You were fortunate with the timing (because 2008 could just as easily have taken you back to pre-2005 prices), but that is now not material.
jj saw that $520K cash was of far, far higher value than a “loft in a seedy part of Gastown”. Anybody who cashes out in the vague vicinity of a top, by virtue of luck or skill, will do fine.
The point is that the person who overextended to allow jj to cash out, and all the thousands of other Vancouver buyers over the last 3, 4, 5 years who have done the same, are left holding the other side of the deal: A property that is worth far, far less than the future earnings that they have promised to pay to buy it.
– vreaa

Next Stop, 2008 Prices

4549 W 12th Ave, Vancouver West-side
2,569 sqft SFH on a 33×122 lot; built 1933

[Previously featured here 'Half The Width, Twice The Price' 25 Apr 2012]

Price history:

1:
March 1997: Sold $457,500

2:
April 2008: For Sale at $1,679,000
May 2008: Price reduction $1,595,000
May 2008: Taken off market
June 2008: For Sale at $1,495,000
July 2008: Sold $1,430,000

3:
April 2012: For Sale at $1,975,000
Jun 2012: Price reduction $1,875,000
Taken off market
Aug 2012: For Sale at $1,775,000
Nov 2012: Price change $1,698,000