Macleans Wakes Up – ‘This is how Canada’s housing correction begins’ – “We’re not ready for what happens next”


Kirk Marsh first noticed the mood start to turn in Vancouver’s housing market a year ago. As a real estate investor who buys homes and condos then fixes them up for resale, Marsh has an excellent vantage point on the market. Since giving up his old job in tech three years ago to flip real estate—“Sitting at a desk was killing me,” he says—Marsh has bought and sold six detached homes and condominiums across the B.C. Lower Mainland. “It’s not like TV shows where you see them making $100,000 or more each time, it’s just not like that,” he says. But he’s done well, always able to find buyers and come out ahead.

Or that’s how it used to be. “Today, everything has stalled,” he says.

While visiting open houses over the past year looking for his next flip, Marsh watched the frothing crowds and bidding wars steadily dwindle away. “There’s just nobody showing up at the open houses now,” he says. “Especially downtown. Usually you’d see a group of very aggressive people coming out.” But he’s also keenly aware of the slowdown because he’s trying to unload a renovated two-bedroom condo in New Westminster, just east of Vancouver. The unit, with an asking price of $569,000, had been sitting on the market for two months as of mid-December, with almost no interest.

– excerpt and image from ‘This is how Canada’s housing correction begins’ by Jason Kirby, Maclean’s, 3 Jan 2019

The whole article is worth the read, and nails many things…
Pretty much what we’ve been warning of on these pages for …oooh… more than a decade.
You can only tell who’s been swimming naked when the tide goes out (and that includes entire countries).
Regarding Kirk, starting flipping three years ago was extremely late to the Lower Mainland party and he should count himself very fortunate if he gets out alive.
– vreaa

Vancouver Detached – Sales Down, Prices Down

“Sales volumes are incredibly weak with buyers looking for steep discounts and many sellers still unrealistic with their asking prices. However, sellers who need to sell for whatever reason are increasingly having to lower their prices. There is often a rhetoric that “sellers simply won’t sell” if they don’t get their price, and while this may be true the reality is there are still sellers who absolutely need to move on, such as estate sales, divorces or job relocation. These sellers are ultimately setting the benchmark lower.”
charts and quote from Realtor Steve Saretsky

Classic dynamic for a declining market.
Will crucial technical price supports hold?
Will buyers “rush in” to “snap up ‘bargains'” ??
Fundamental supports are f-a-r below. -ed.

Bloomberg Calls Vancouver ‘The City That Had Too Much Money’


Known abroad primarily for its stunning Pacific Coast setting and athletic lifestyle, the city has since become one of the world’s largest sluices for questionable funds moving from Asia into Western economies. One academic terms the process “the Vancouver model”: a seamy mingling of clean and dirty cash in casinos, real estate, and luxury goods made possible by historic ties to China and by Canada’s lax record of fighting financial crime.

It’s a product of one of the largest financial flows of the 21st century: The money being frenetically shuffled by millions of wealthy Chinese into safe assets abroad, in defiance of their country’s capital controls. Since mid-2014, capital flight from China may have totaled as much as $800 billion, according to estimates from the Institute of International Finance.

In Vancouver, the tidal wave has wrought a dramatic economic, demographic, and physical transformation. Alberni Street, a formerly dowdy downtown thoroughfare, has in the past decade welcomed a two-level Prada boutique with a black marble facade, one of the largest Rolex showrooms in North America, and a 62-story tower with a five-star Shangri-La hotel. All have Mandarin-speaking staff. In May, Rolls-Royce chose Vancouver to unveil its first sport utility vehicle, which starts at more than $300,000, hosting a Champagne reception at its sleek new local dealership in an upmarket neighborhood about two miles south of Alberni. Six sold on the first day—bound, perhaps, for the “car condo,” a kind of luxe garage with customizable suites that’s being built in a majority-Asian suburb. The units start at more than C$800,000, and the first batch recently sold out.

Much of the money coming in has been legitimately earned, if sometimes extricated by gray-market means. But officials say that a substantial proportion is the proceeds of corruption or crime, including the illegal sale of opiates such as fentanyl. With public anger rising over astronomical housing prices and an economy distorted by wealthy outsiders, British Columbia’s left-leaning government—elected last year on a platform focused on calming the real estate market—is building a global laboratory for policies meant to restrain the arrival of Chinese money. The province is hiking taxes, toughening transparency rules, and tightening oversight of casinos and financial institutions.

Change will be difficult and fraught. Vancouver has been closely connected to Asia since the late 19th century, when the first Chinese laborers arrived to help build the trans-Canada railway, and the city is proud of its record of integrating immigrants. Also, beyond real estate, Vancouver’s economic base is shallow. It’s not the business capital of western Canada—that’s Calgary—and it has few major corporate headquarters or large-scale manufacturing operations. “Asian capital has kept this economy alive, end of story,” says Ron Shon, a Chinese-Canadian venture capitalist who arrived as a teenager in the late 1960s. “You can see it in every aspect of our lives.”

The money is arriving so fast, and in such volume, though, that standing by is no longer an option. Vancouver was perhaps the first major Western city to experience the full force of Chinese capital. Soon, it could be the first to learn what happens when you try to stop it.

– excerpt and image from ‘The City That Had Too Much Money’, Matthew Campbell & Natalie Obiko Pearson, Bloomberg, 20 Oct 2018

“Our family loves Vancouver, but we’re leaving because the struggle to live here is simply too hard”


Lee Abrahams and her two daughters in the living area of her tiny suite. [image: Vancouver Sun]

“In the Fraser Valley, about an hour and a half or so from Vancouver, my husband and I live in a tiny home. We occupy 400 square feet with two young children and three pets, and pay a low rent to our family for occupying their property. My husband commutes more than two hours to work, each way, five days a week. He is in a company that treats him wonderfully, but his income is low, as is the same for just about everyone trying to get by in Vancouver and its surrounding areas.

I am a writer and cannot work full time out of the home because the cost of daycare far outweighs anything I could earn despite my extensive resume. I hail from New York City and when people ask me how on earth I was able to afford living in Manhattan, it’s hard not to laugh.

“Easier than I can afford living here,” I tell them. That usually elicits quiet shock. It leaves me speechless, too.

I came here five years ago from my loud and proud city to study at Simon Fraser University. At the time, housing had yet to become the full crisis it is today. I didn’t intend to stay long term, but it seemed like a good place to start over as a single mother. I went to school full time, worked two jobs and had a childcare arrangement with a lovely family that I was able to afford.

That time was a blur. I barely saw my daughter, and I assured myself that it was all for a good cause. I made decent money, was working toward my degree, and not too long after I met my now-husband. I stayed because I worked hard to be here and just as we were considering a house, things went wildly out of control.

We were priced out of the market. My husband’s parents were looking for a house, and it was not uncommon for them to be outbid by well over $100,000 of the asking price. Nine exhausting months later, and through word of mouth, they found a seller with enough property for us to share. My husband and I have been stuck in a weird in-between since finding this property with his parents.

We range from having a great savings nest, to having it completely drained once tragedy or car repairs are needed. Or my husband gets sick and loses hundreds of dollars just from getting the flu. Thus begins the tumultuous climb to paying down the credit cards we needed to rely on, paying double bills from the month we fell behind, and then — four months later — finally having savings again. Rinse and repeat.

Despite the market slowing down, prices are still significantly higher than incomes can afford. In Maple Ridge, the cheapest area of Metro Vancouver, incomes still have to be at least $121,780 a year to afford a house. And housing and low incomes aren’t the only challenges we and others face. We are incredibly fortunate to live with a low cost of housing, but it comes at great sacrifice.”

– excerpts and image from ‘Our family loves Vancouver, but we’re leaving because the struggle to live here is simply too hard’, Lee Abrahams, Vancouver Sun, 22 Sep, 2018

Tendency Towards Corruption Is Inevitable – How Do We Minimize Its Existence?


cartoon by Cheney

Hard Earned Home Savings? Hardly.


image care of long-time reader and very occasional contributor ‘westsidefrank’

A tip for home-owners contesting proposed new taxes: Make almost any argument you want, but do not claim that any profits that you have accrued by virtue of owning Vancouver RE are ‘Hard Earned’. This insults people who work hard, and at the same time insults anybody with a modicum of intelligence. Hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, tax free? As Bing Thom the architect once said “I have done pretty well in my business, but I made more money from sitting on my Vancouver property than I made by working an entire lifetime. That tells you something.”
[BTW, it looks like somebody has graffitied onto that sign, under the “Angry?” question, something along the lines of: “Yeah, because I can’t afford to live in a mansion like you!”]
– vreaa

“You know your real estate is in bad shape when there is a game app that displays Vancouver’s Science World and teaches you how to be a money hungry real estate developer.”


“You know your real estate is in bad shape when there is a game app that displays Science World and teaches you how to be a money hungry real estate developer: #vanRe #vanpoli”
– tweet from Brette A. Mullins @BretteMullins 3:27 PM – 18 May 2018