“I lived in Portland for over 20 years until moving here 4 years ago.”

Simpatico at vancouvercondo.info January 26th, 2011 at 9:44 pm“I lived in Portland for over 20 years until moving here 4 years ago. After meeting lots of Vancouverites (the nature of my work), I can honestly say 1) too many are not critical thinkers nor well-read; 2) developers and real estate industry is much more powerful here (reminds me of Arizona in this respect, where I grew up); 3) Portlanders are also the most well-read bunch you can encounter…more books sold per capita in Portland than NYC, a stat that has held for several years. So, prices never got anywhere near the bubbly amount they’ve reached here, simply because less BS, and not as many bought the BS. With one important exception: The mainline banks and the many fly-by-night mortgage lenders launched a mighty predatory lending assault on the Hispanics, in particular, signing entire extended families on the dotted line, including illegals and people who were not literate in their first language, let alone English. It was these who lost their downpayments, paid outrageous fees at closings, were intimidated out of life savings, and lost their homes in droves. These pushed the price fall, especially in the extended metro area. I know because I built social housing for farmworkers, the poorest, and they were buying homes that were 3 and 4 times what they could afford. Nothing was really affordable to them and they would have continued to be good renters who could sleep at night until these sleazy lenders got hold of them…
And also consider that the average HH income in Portland was about $60K when I left, compared to just over $50K here, and you see how out of whack this market here really is.”

4SlicesofCheese at vancouvercondo.info January 26th, 2011 at 11:40 pm“My uncle is from Portland. At one point he had 3 houses. One primary, two rentals. Occupation – Mailman.
Prices were going up back then and I remember them bragging to my mom about how smart they were. One year I guess something happened. They were up in Vancouver for my cousins wedding and he was talking to my mom that they just got their property taxes worth 10k and they couldn’t pay it. Again house rich, money poor.
My mom offered to lend them the 10k. Thank god he refused to take it. He told my mom he was thinking of selling one of them as it had almost doubled in value, his wife was really against this as she thought prices would go up till infinity and wanted to keep the house for her son.
Thankfully he sold one off to a greater fool, made some good money and paid off the other house (even though its paid off its still worth less then what they paid for it years ago).
Three months later the market tanked.”

12 responses to ““I lived in Portland for over 20 years until moving here 4 years ago.”

  1. Being well-read has nothing to do with being financially savvy. I have a PhD in math, but I have no particular skill at investing. Even Isaac Newton lost a chunk of his fortune in the South Sea company.

    • My point is not that being well-read necessarily makes you financially savvy. My point is that well-read people tend also to be people who do not accept information about anything at face value, but think more critically about whether or not it’s true, and whether the source is sufficiently self-interested to mispresent or outright lie, and likewise whether the medium carrying the message might also be biased. I.e. real estate industry, lenders and their clout as advertisers in all types of media as well as funders of higher ed institutes purporting to jsut report the data.

      • OK, in this case I agree with you. Most well-educated people that I know seem to think more critically about information that they receive.

        Also, I should qualify my remark by saying that having a PhD in anything doesn’t necessarily make one “well-read”. PhDs are about focusing on a (usually small, often useless) topic, and not about a broad understanding of the world in general.

  2. this person doesn’t sound pompous at all …

    • Civility and reasoned discussion suggest that you attack the point, not the person making it, and you will be much more persuasive if you prevail.

      • I rest my case.

        Are you saying someone who isn’t well read can’t think as critically as someone who is? Perhaps they prefer to form their own opinions and don’t need books to teach them how or tell them what to think.

      • You are pompous. Please stop telling people you are from Portland. Thanks.

  3. I live in Portland. As much as I like to hear about how smart we are, I disagree with the poster’s conclusions. We went through all the same stuff here.

    The bubble didn’t get as large here because the Northwest U.S. tends to lag national economic trends by a year or more. The RE bubble began to grow in the sunbelt in the early 2000’s. It didn’t take off in the Northwest until late 2003 or 2004. The bubble wasn’t able to grow as large before the music stopped.

    The deflation of the bubble also lagged here, starting about a year later than elsewhere (2007 as opposed to 2006). I remember the lag time very well, with locals making all kinds of rationalizations why our prices should still be crawling up, when it was clear from other markets that the game was over.

    Anyway, if the post had been in Portland for the last four years, he’d know that we didn’t escape anything, despite our reading habits. Home prices here are down about 25% from the peak.

    If his main point is that the Vancouver’s bubble is much larger than ours ever got, I can’t disagree with that.

    • Snats, no need to be nasty. I’m not on a soapbox about the superiority of Portlanders, nor am I in the dark about real estate there. I still own real estate in the Portland area, and in Manzanita. So believe me, I know exactly what has happened in Portland and it isn’t pretty. But I do live here in Vancouver, and you would find it surprisingly different because the power of the real estate industry and developers has been entrenched in local politics, at the city, metro and provincial level to an extent we didn’t experience in Portland or Oregon. And, the push back here, compared to Portland, just isn’t as vocal, organized or well-respected. This community is more fragmented than Portland, so more susceptible to the BS from the RE industry and its many mouthpieces.

    • And yes, Snats, the YVR bubble is HUGELY bigger than Portland’s, esp. home prices relative to what people typically earn here. One offset is people here have a public healthcare system, and Portlanders are still paying a lot out of their pockets for healthcare. Still, what is unfolding here presents very sad prospects for many families.

  4. Portland is a great city and Oregon is a beautiful state but they are both economically depressed. Its artist friendly and people ride their bikes everywhere (and I guess read a lot of books) because there are no jobs. This Vancouver-centric blog (and many like it: http://www.francesbula.com) is teaming with critical thinkers.

    Pretty sure RE in Bend, Oregon has been decimated by fraudulent loan activity.

    However, the VRE industry is embedded with the civic politicians. No doubt about that.

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