“When I asked why the owner is selling, the realtor said the owner “Has too many properties, wants to get rid of some”…”

“Speaking of the west side of Vancouver — another appalling/risible anecdote for all to wince at.
6225 Balsam St., an appealing-looking but now somewhat shabby, small older cottage, sold last spring for $1,288,000.
In the last few minutes I noticed a new For Sale sign on the property. Apparently the sign went up today; the property will not even be visible on the web until 3-4 days from now.
New listing price? $1,488,000.
The realtor said this is “below market value,” because the land alone is worth $1.7 million. (The lot is “extra-long” at 125.8 feet as opposed to the customary 122.)
The realtor said she had already had “quite a few” calls about the property and is expecting “multiple bids.”
The property is currently tenanted with renters, so there will be no open houses.
When I asked why the owner is selling, the realtor said the owner “has too many properties, wants to get rid of some.”
I don’t know why I should still feel surprise at some of what continues to happen here.”

Vesta at VREAA 7 Feb 2012 4:35pm

“Vesta – per BC Assessment, 6225 Balsam sold for $1.420M last May 2011. It is currently assessed for $1.502 M. Will be interesting to see what it goes for.”
homelessindunbar at VREAA 8 Feb 2012 12:34am

1. “Below market value”: Hahahaha, really risible. What, the owner is feeling charitable?.. passing on a free $200K to the buyer out of goodwill? Of course, in actual fact, whatever it sells for is ‘market value’. You know the realtor is being disingenuous based on this comment.
2. “The owner “has too many properties, wants to get rid of some.”: More laughter. What, too much of a good thing? More BS. This is the seller’s way of answering the question “If RE in Vancouver is such a good investment, why are you selling?”… “I have so much, I’ve decided to give some away…”
3. Yes, given our knowledge of the May 2011 sales price, it’ll be interesting to see what it now sells for. It is possibly priced in the hope of a bidding war. With all the benchmark changes and so forth, this kind of single property sale/resale may become increasingly important in trying to assess market direction and magnitude of price changes.
– vreaa

69 responses to ““When I asked why the owner is selling, the realtor said the owner “Has too many properties, wants to get rid of some”…”

  1. Probably finding the management too onerous. We shall see how eager developers are this year! Best of luck to the fellow, not everyone will be fortunate.

  2. My favourite part is the bit about the “extra-long” 125.8-foot (not 122-foot) lot. Those extra 3.8 feet make all the difference.

  3. Just looking at op/carry costs plus transaction fees this will pay positive but the margins are getting thin. This hammers to me how large % yoy gains are required just to tread water .

    • ” This hammers to me how large % yoy gains are required just to tread water.”

      LOL but it can still run some more no, just 1.5 million for that “West Side mansion” (read: craphole)? What a steal. I will LOL so hard when this joke implodes.

  4. Renters Revenge

    What is too many properties? In the best place on earth?
    I guess saying “the owner thinks prices are going down” won’t help sell it!

  5. Note the proximity to the large pink and grey crappy recent-builds on either side…. (pink, last ten years; grey, last year or three). Can the occupant of this house breathe in at the same time as their neighbours?
    This sale is clearly an invitation to buy the lot (for $1.5M+), put up your own crappy new-build (for, what, $600K-750K?), for a bottom line of about $2.25M+. Or more.
    The new owners will get to BBQ on their back deck while chatting with neighbours on their conveniently close decks on either side. Conversation will concern the market benefits of extra-long lots.

  6. Question for the construction savvy:
    Consider the new-builds being put up in Vancouver currently (The standard 2400sqft or 3000sqft on a 33×122 lot).
    What does it cost to put up:
    (A) these structures in Vancouver?
    (B) identical structures in (1) California? (2) Alberta?

    • decent spot. mid-kdale, elm park and magee j’suppose. no ham will live in that and rent has trouble to justify 1/2 the ask. buyer = spec_flip, spec-funded teardown, or ham-funded teardown. dad’s been out of the biz longtime but he’d say $275+/-$50 psft in van presently. $250+/- in CA. don’t know AB. those’d be rough contract values but lot of variances. probably most important is skilled labor. circa peak CA bubble, impossible to find anyone good for normal rate – either paid insanity rates or had many quality issues. no way 2400sf. 3k at min, maybe even 4k – check out the bookends. if built, would be ~ max box permissible.

    • I can’t comment on the accuracy of the following tool… But it is certainly interesting… and may shed some light on the proverbial, “How much?”…


  7. Slightly related anecdote RE owning multiple properties:

    A friend of ours was renting two streets down. The owner sold the house to (reportedly) mainland Chinese buyers (they spoke no English) early last summer. The new owners asked the renters to leave because they were going to tear down and rebuild. Two weeks ago our friend went to take a look at the house and discovered it was still standing. She spoke to the neighbours and discovered it had been empty, untenanted and unoccupied since she left last summer. The prior owner confirmed this was the case.

    Is this a principal residence for people who really really want to live in the Best Place on Earth? or could some other factor be motivating the purchase? Hmmm.

    • what does the tenancy act say in this case, where the new owner “intends” to do something (move themselves into the house, or rebuild) and then never follows through?

      • Well, section 49 suggests that the intent to move in or rebuild must be in good faith: a landlord could show that circumstances had changed, and not be in violation. Which I think is fair. Life changes. Shanghai crashes. Markets slow.

        However, even if there wasn’t good faith, the act is pretty toothless. Based on some of the cases that have gone through the courts (instead of the RTO), I think there’s some chance tenants could win costs or damages if it was shown that the landlord evicted them to hike the rent and then rent to new, non-family, tenants. Sitting empty, I think there’s probably nothing a tenant could do. It might be worth a call to RTO, if the tenant suspected an actual deadbeat landlord who would be deadbeat to other tenants – so that the landlord was on file – but if it’s a buy-and-hold, then there’s not really any point. If they’d got the proper compensation at the time, and moved to other digs, then they’re not badly done for.

        Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if empty houses were being listed as primary residences all over the city. Maybe it’s more of a Revenue Canada issue than a tenancy one.

      • I think the tenants are entitled to two months compensation if the landlord “does not take steps” towards using the property for the stated purpose within 6 months. Of course, the interpretation of ‘take steps’ is going to differ depending on your point of view but I’d say two months rent was worth a called to the RTO at least.

    • I’ve been helping a friend who is relocating from elsewhere back to Vancouver find a rental property. I went to view a house around 14th & Cypress which had a lane house. Both the house and lane house empty and converted into most likely 7 or 8 suites between the two. The owner couldn’t meet me on time as he was showing one of his other six properties “like this”.

      May I note, the renos looked shoddy, window surrounds without a straight line, plus, really, would you like to pay $1600/mo for a 1+loft on a property where 8-18 people will be living, coming and going on a boxed in lot? I viewed this place within the last three weeks.

  8. Definitely seeing a few flips right now. Although substantially all the buyers on west side seem to be Chinese, most of the sellers appear to be as well with many listings marked as “Vacant” and having sold in past 24 months.

    In the past 2 weeks, we definitely are seeing a spike of closed sales on West side compared to early in the year. However, we are tracking to have approx 35% decrease over last year for month of Feb in WEst Side detached. For Richmond, it’s a different story. No signs of CNY money. Really only a trickle of sales and almost none over $2 million. Looking like 65% decrease in sales volume over last year and likely over 900 active listings by month end.

  9. Technically the realtor shouldn’t disclose the owner’s reason for selling, so the non-answer you got is to be expected. Of course if the realtor starts disclosing the seller’s motivation info, that’s always helpful.

    But it’s always fair game to ask what the rent roll and expenses are and how long the leases run, then furrow your brow as you calculate how much you’d lose every month as a landlord.

  10. Seller is looking for budding war. 2725 w 30 ave just sold for 700k over asking.

  11. Good comments and questions here, as usual. City Council Housing Affordability Committee, hope you take the VREAA with your morning coffee!

    Wanted to add that it was exactly owners like this one (of 6225 Balsam) that helped make our mad 3-month scramble to find a rental last summer so difficult. I suddenly remembered that in our searches, we’d actually checked out this place as a rental! It was obvious no work had been done on it in a while and when we asked about how long we could stay, the answer was along the lines of answers we heard over and over and over again: a year, “depends on market.” We figured: “flip/investment/tear-down/slumlord” and quickly passed on it. It got to the point in our quest that when similar new owners/amateur landlords were saying we might be able to stay more than a year, we didn’t know if we could believe them. As I’d mentioned on this blog before, we also ran into other would-be renters, including families with younger children who needed to be settled for school, who were facing exactly these kinds of uncertainties.

    In fact, there’s another tiny bungalow just around the corner from this one we’d also looked at for renting — same uncertain deal; owned by a realtor! — and yesterday I noticed it had a “Sold” sign in front of it, even though there was no “For Sale” sign on it as of the day before. Hmmm, wondering what THAT means.

    And speaking of vacant houses: one can’t take a walk through any neighbourhood on the west side without passing vacant houses. In fact, there’s a looming, ugly, pretentious new one right across from 6225 Balsam that’s been vacant since October. I mentioned on this blog some months ago having dropped into an open house for a huge new place in the 4000 block of West 30th, where the realtor told me the family was going back to Beijing for 5 years and had thought about just leaving the house empty, but she’d advised them to sell it. By all appearances, they have indeed just left it empty, or the new owners have.

  12. And another thing! I read a few days ago that the realty industry here has actually blocked from public view information like how many days a house has been on the market, its previous sale history, etc. I’m appalled all over again! In the States, as far as I know, this information is freely available. I mean, come on, what IS this, Stalinist-style censorship arranged and enforced by — realtors? How can we stand for this?

    • 4SlicesofCheese

      Suttons website used to have days listed. But it just disappeared one day.

      • days on market is still reported by the MLS – so if you use a realtor to find a home they will have access to DOM.

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        nuxfan, thats the point, only realtors have access to DOM

        It used to be open information to the public. The only reason to withhold this information is to get people to go through realtors.

      • I don’t recall this ever being open to the public. Realtors might have displayed it on their websites for informational purposes, but it always came from the realtors.

      • nuxfan — it’s totally open to the public in the States — you go through trulia.com to look in the area you want and all the info shoudl be right there.

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        It was previously available on the Suttons search page

        You can actually see the option of “days list” still on “more options” advance search. It just doesn’t work anymore.

    • When you hire an agent, how do you know he’s a great negotiator, or knows the current and future secrets of your chosen neighbourhoods? You don’t. All you know for sure is that he has access to those non-public fields and search functions on the MLS. They guard that database with everything they’ve got.


      • Aldus Huxtable

        Time to start that appeal to make it mandatory public information under some sort of consumer rights item with each listing. Who, where and how do we go about this movement? Any takers?

    • Yeah – this info is all public and easily available in the U.S. I’ve noticed there’s much less info available to consumers in certain areas.

      Various types of trade associations seem to have more power to keep information private from the public.

      • @Aldus, you wrote: “Time to start that appeal to make it mandatory public information under some sort of consumer rights item with each listing. Who, where and how do we go about this movement? Any takers?”

        I’m not sure where to start, but I could try City Hall, my MLA, and the newspapers. Don Cayo at the Sun did a good housing article some time ago and I wonder if he’d be interested– ? Or David Baines there, who’s done some terrific exposes (that second “e” should have an accent over it, but I don’t know how to do that in this forum).

        Aux armes, citoyens! (Don’t mean to suggest bellicosity, just righteous indignation.)

      • Agreed. This is consumer fraud, we want (individual) access to information.

    • Try robchipman.net

  13. And let’s be honest here: this property is going to get torn down if these prices hold. Notice the setback, though; I’m not sure developers can do much interesting with this lot.

  14. “In the housing market, people …. just do not know how to judge the overall level of prices. Much more salient in their minds is the rate of increase of prices.”

    –Robert J. Shiller, Irrational Exuberance, 2nd Ed., 2005. p. 208

  15. This house was bought with the intention to flip.
    Per Vesta, it was sold (over asking/P) last spring.

    Craiglist: 2011 July (222 days ago)
    “$2,500 – 3BR House, 10 Month Lease Only Until april 2012
    3 Bed, 2 Bath
    Full Term Lease
    31% more than median of nearby 3 BR leases ($2,500 vs. $1,900)
    6225 Balsam St Vancouver Bc CA (6225 Balsam, Kerrisdale)”

    Canadianlisted,com: rental ad appeared on 2011 09 Aug
    $2500 / 3br – 1 1/2 bath,
    HOUSE availalble until April 2012
    6225 Balsam Street (Kerrisdale) in Vancouver, British Columbia For Sale
    Lease till April 2012

    [Excellent find. Thanks ToL. – ed.]

    • Question is why lease the house till 2012 April? Is that the cut-over time to move the cheese?

      • Ralph Cramdown

        Buyer declares it as his primary residence, doesn’t declare the rental income, and defrauds the government of taxes on both the capital gains and the rental income (OK, the rent would likely show a loss). Then sell it at a favourable time of year.

  16. I am so tired of this: the truth is, these people always seem to come out ahead while prudent folks like me sit in our crappy, too-small-for-a-growing family rentals with our jaws on the floor. If we are very lucky, our home won’t be sold out from under us for someone else’s obscene profit.

    My husband and I went to see a very nice place for rent a week ago. It was big and well-maintained but we decided it was too expensive for us right now. Anyway, we asked the landlord if he planned on selling and he laughed, “We couldn’t sell this place if we wanted to; we leveraged it to buy our condo downtown. The bank wouldn’t like us very much if we tried to sell!”

    I don’t really understand why he couldn’t sell: they bought the house eight years ago so they must have had plenty of equity, even if it did go towards the condo. Why would the bank care if he sold? Does anyone know what he might have meant?

    • He does not trust the banks and the conservatives economic baskets. To him, real estate is a tangible asset that no robber can carry it away.
      People with high net worth are sensitive to the country’s economics risks. And I’m not talking about flippers who move their cheeses in-out-offshore in the recent decade.

    • The only way this makes sense is if he’s underwater. If the bank heloced him more than the value, despite how long he’s held it, then it is indeed possible that he owes more than the sale price, especially after transaction fees and fixing defects. Maybe he also borrowed money against the equity to fix that place up and buy the condo. You said it looked great.

      • Hmmm… they didn’t renovate or anything. The place was in nice condition but nothing was new. His comment just didn’t make sense to me, considering the gains in value they would have seen over the past two years.

        Can the bank really HELOC more than the value of the home? If so, maybe they used the money to renovate the condo or for some other expense.

      • Based on the crash in the U.S. (and not anything else, mind you) the house as two values: what the appraiser will tell the bank, who always seems to be just dying to loan the owner more money, and the actual amount it will fetch, minus the expenses of selling.

    • “we leveraged it to buy our condo downtown . . . ” Uh-oh. Cue violin music from *Psycho*.

  17. I thought this was interesting:


    The couple that won $50 Million has to wait until the end of Feb to collect, yet already put a downpayment on a $900K 13 bedroom mansion with a waterfront view. That same $900K gets you a shack in East Van here. Amazing.

    • “yet already put a downpayment on a $900K 13 bedroom mansion with a waterfront view. That same $900K gets you a shack in East Van here”

      Very telling indeed. Tulip bulbs cost more in the BPOE.

    • in Hawksbury? What will 900K get you in the “middle of nowhere” BC?

      • Don’t know what your point is, but Hawksbury is less than an hour away from Canada’s second biggest city and less than an hour away from Canada’s capital. Nice countryside, too. Hardly middle of nowhere.

      • the poster intention was to exaggerate the high cost of Vancouver housing with this lottery winning couple buying a mansion in Hawksbury. Comparing apples to anvils

  18. As others have mentioned that CNY HAM are dragging their feet to close deals other than posing for the media and paying lip-service of our “cheap” houses. The voluntary repatriation of one most wanted, incidentally prior to the PM’s visit, may have dampened the HAM.

    I could be wrong, as Lai zhang-xing was acquiring and selling M$ houses (not in his own name according the news) until the year he was deported.

    • The government of Canada had to close the two eyes to let that guy in and enjoy his stolen millions…

      • never forget your govt of canadia is owned by guys stealing billions

      • The bureaucracy is half blind by design. It’s almost impossible to verify many financial/familial details of immigrants, let alone Canadian citizens. Harper’s push is to send a message that hiding money in Canada is no sure bet. That’ll change if prices go into the pooper but until then I think it’s fair to say that Canada has been the recipient of some much-needed foreign capital.

      • The Li brothers landed here on “tourist visas” in 2004. In September 2002, 4 downtown condos were bought and later flipped in 2005, one of which belonged to Gao Shan’s wife (both landed PRs). Li and wife also bought a $3M SFH.
        I agree that it’s hard to housekeeping the finances of immigrants, what more tourists.

  19. Update on 6225 Balsam:

    As it turns out, 2 open houses have now been scheduled, 3-4 p.m. Sunday Feb. 12 and 4-5 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 15, with “presentation of offers” due Thursday Feb. 16.

    Sounds like multiple bids may not be materializing yet.

  20. Nice landscaping! Nice lot! That house is surely worth $10 M in the BPOE – maybe $350K tops anywhere else on earth. Keep buying suckers!

    • In my hood, $110k.

      Is it just me or does stucco just seem insane in a damp climate? (Maybe the new stuff which is over some kind of foam board . . . maybe . . . but the old stuff. Aye.)

      • It’s not just you. Stucco is completely insane in this climate. It sucks up water; gets moldy and dank. Algae appear to like it as a growth medium.
        “Someone left the cake out in the rain!…”

  21. homelessindunbar

    “The realtor said this is “below market value,” because the land alone is worth $1.7 million. (The lot is “extra-long” at 125.8 feet as opposed to the customary 122.)”

    With respect to the realtor’s assessment of lot value, this probably is a good estimate of what lot value was last year in the heat of the spring market.

    The house we were renting last year in Dunbar (west of Dunbar, on 33 x 129.65 lot) sold for just over $1.7 million last March to HAM (it took ten days to sell). Despite the house being a very lovely character home that had been recently renovated (complete with gourmet kitchen and spa master bath), the house was knocked down shortly after we moved out. The realtor suggested that the new owners didn’t even walk through the house.
    Gone are the character home, the fruit trees and vegetable garden. In their place are a massive 4-bdrm home (which towers over the neighbours’ homes) and two-car garage. There is nothing left of the backyard.

    We had the option of purchasing the house ourselves and had financing in place. However at the end of the day, we would still have needed a $1 million mortgage which we couldn’t bring ourselves to do. (One of my girlfriends who recently purchased a home and has mega-mortgage advised “Yah, at first a million dollar mortgage freaks you out, but you’ll get used to it….”).

    I sympathize with Vesta’s search for a rental….trying to find a decent rental last spring was a nightmare. We have small children which was an additional consideration. Fortunately, we found another lovely home to rent (with two year lease) so we are safe….for now.

  22. @homelessindunbar– so glad you wound up in a good place, but I’m so sorry you had to endure this past year’s rental market. I hope your lease gets extended, if that would work for you.

    I’ve often thought that it would be ideal if there could be some kind of informal database of decent rentals/landlords that could be accessible to people searching. I’ve seen/heard about too many families going through hell with renting here recently.

    I did hear that there might soon be a kind of landlord database (under City Hall auspices?), but I have no further details yet.

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