Vancouver Reddit Boards – ‘Paid Shills In Our Midst?’ – “Does anybody else find there are too many real estate/property development posts on the /r/vancouver sub-reddit?”

“Does anybody else find there are too many real estate/property development posts on the /r/vancouver sub-reddit?
Moderators, and fellow /r/vancouver-ites: Can we consider banning/pruning the number of real estate submissions as a new rule? It’s rather frequent that I can come to /r/vancouver and see 4-5 posts on the page that certain individuals have posted.”
pfak at 16

From the comment exchanges on that thread:

“I’d say the number of posts are in perfect proportion to the frequency Vancouver real estate comes up in conversation and the local media… “– [nutty buddy]

“The price of real estate in Vancouver is too high. This isn’t controversial, I don’t know why you are suggesting it is, everyone I know down here agrees about this, and some of my buddies overseas, the ones who are familiar with real estate/finance, agree completely.” – [MyFavouriteAxe]

“The fact that it’s subjectively “too high” might not be controversial, but this notion (that almost all of OP’s articles are pushing) that the housing market is about to crash any day now is a complete fabrication, and it’s one we’ve been hearing for at least a decade now.” – [Niyeaux]

“Obviously not everyone agrees the prices are too high, there are people buying houses for those prices, and there are others desperate to join them if the prices drop. Supply and demand my friend.” – [idspispopd]

“In a community as small, as easily accessible, and as geographically centralized as this one, it would be pretty surprising if there wasn’t at last a few paid shills in our midst. I’ve always assumed the aforementioned user /u/derpaderpe (formerly /u/proudbedwetter) is one of them.” – [Niyeaux]

“Paid by whom to sell what?” – [Smallpaul]

“Either the shitty “news” outlets who are peddling these crappy real estate articles, or someone with an interest in making people think the price of real estate in Vancouver is too high. I imagine the list of people who fit the latter description is quite lengthy.” – [Niyeaux]

“Oh, really? Like who exactly?
Agents want people to believe their property is valuable, worth it, and selling well. Developers want to charge as much as possible and make everyone think demand is high. Construction people want as much development as possible. Governments want high assessments so they can charge owners as much tax as possible. Banks want to collect as much interest as they can get on long-term mortgages. Owners want reassurance that their property isn’t losing value…
So, I guess you’re referring to mid to low-income renters and young people who don’t work in a field related to real estate. Yeah, they’ve got a lot of clout. Damn propagandists.”
– [FellSwoop]

“Or, y’know, any prospective investor who is waiting for the market to crash so they can pick properties up for cheap.” – [Niyeaux]

Real Estate infiltrates every discussion about Vancouver, so it certainly won’t surprise any of us here that the subject comes up frequently on the Vancouver reddit boards.
We don’t know whether there actually are any “paid shills” on Vancouver sites (other than the recently publicized OlympicVillage/VancouverIsAwesome ‘arrangement’, of course).
The idea that there are “prospective investor[s] who [are] waiting for the market to crash so they can pick properties up for cheap” is relatively new to the Vancouver RE discussion. It’s an interesting idea to ponder. These ‘vultures’ would have to be people who consider Vancouver RE to currently be appropriately priced, and who are hoping for ‘bargains’ at prices lower than this, such that when the properties recovered what they see as fair price levels, they would profit. We don’t ourselves know any prospective buyers of that stripe; we would certainly be interested to hear about any. All the prospective buyers we know (and there aren’t many of them) see prices as currently being far above fundamental values, and simply have a desire to buy themselves a stable shelter arrangement at a vaguely reasonable price.
– vreaa

53 responses to “Vancouver Reddit Boards – ‘Paid Shills In Our Midst?’ – “Does anybody else find there are too many real estate/property development posts on the /r/vancouver sub-reddit?”

  1. someone with an interest in making people think the price of real estate in Vancouver is too high.

    Very funny 🙂 It’s a bear conspiracy to make Vancouver RE prices appear too high. Otherwise, nobody would have noticed.

  2. reddit is a fascinating microcosm of young, underemployed, stupid people/pedophiles. the only subreddit worth reading is r/nfl. seriously.

    • UBCghettodweller

      reddit is a great example of the male-early 20s-comp sci major-pseudoliberal-mildy misogynistic-IT sector underemployed-cat owning-recently friendzoned-neckbeard set.

      /r/Vancouver does have a ridiculous number of posts relating to real estate.
      There seems to be two camps. One sees the bubble market for what it is and is frustrated with the spill over in to every other part of society in Vancouver, and another which essentially takes the line of “[general comment about BPOE]. If you don’t like how expensive Vancouver is GTFO!” or, if they’re feeling especially vitriolic “Move to Calgary asshole!”

      In reality, reddit’s Vancouver subforum is actually a pretty good sampling and documentation of thinking about the city with a special emphasis on frustrations with young people primarily employed in IT.

      • so if you enjoyed reading atlas shrugged, particularly the galt speech, you’ll love r/vancouver

      • UBCghettodweller

        Yeah, but doesn’t reddit hate anything associated with Republicans except for Ron Paul? Atlas Shrugged is far too tied up with American Republicanism for them to admit that they like it.

        I’ve actually met a shockingly large number of computer science and math majors that buy in to Ayn Rand’s flavour of objectivism. The ideology that’s fantastic when applied to an individual and toxic when applied to a society. Comp Sci majors should be especially sensitive to the problems of scalability!

      • Untrue. I do not have a neckbeard.

      • i love this quote:
        “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

      • I believe metaphorical neckbeards count too.

      • If more people would read East of Eden, the world would be a better place.

    • Atlas Shrugged is heavily pushed by Chuck from lululemon. It is required reading for managers. Also there was the Lulu marketing campaign where their bags had “who is John Galt?” written in them.

  3. And another with the government wanting high prices because they get more tax. This is not completely accurate, government wants activity in real estate because it promotes consumption and triggers transfer taxes as well as capital gains. Not because of property tax though.

    I’m glad vreaa’s here; imagine if the only outlet was reddit!

    • Local governments want property development because of the Development Cost Charges. Some are now addicted to the DCC revenue and will have serious issues when it dries up.

      • Yes, but that’s not necessarily conducive with high prices, it’s conducive with “activity”. But like any good addict they could not exhibit much self-control and brought forward future revenues at the expense of later ones, and haven’t planned accordingly.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Excactly my sentiments.
        So, either see property taxes go up or services down.
        That’s why renting is such a good option now as it provides flexibility.

      • But property development “activity” is conducive with high prices and if a local government wants to development to go on and the DCC to flow in, they would want to high prices to stay. Besides, all the local government bodies election campaigns are sponsored by the development – we had a disclosure published in Richmond newspaper last year and it was really fascinating to see that all the city council members were overwhelmingly sponsored by the construction industry.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        “and haven’t planned accordingly”
        There is a plan? 🙂

  4. Interesting that the accusations are being pointed towards bears desiring a crash.

    I’ve seen a number of proudbedwetter’s posts, the user takes a lot of flack mainly for most of the posts but continues on so. There have been some interesting responses to the MAC marketing posts on reddit;

    The sentiment that it is a terrible idea to get into the market is not just spreading, it’s infecting. I’d love to get a stat on how many units that are listed between Jan 1 and March end are owned by realtors compared to total new listings. The real estate boat, the one where the captains leave first by helicopter and the lifeboats are underwater?

    • “I’d love to get a stat on how many units that are listed between Jan 1 and March end are owned by realtors compared to total new listings.”

      That would, indeed, be a fascinating stat (one would have to compare it with long time norms; we’d guess that realtors always make up a bigger percentage of the market than they do of the population, but, agree, bet that fraction would now be even higher).

    • PBW gets a lot of flack for being a terribly unwell-rounded poster. In most other health city subreddits, users are generally considered borderline spammers if they show up and just hammer away at one topic.

      It’s /r/vancouver, not /r/vancouverrealestate

      • OK. Thanks for the link. I have never looked at that site until today. Was thinking to myself, what the hell is Reddit? Now I know. What a bunch of crap. Won’t be going back.

      • Same here, never been to Reddit and I read 4 hours of Vancouver Real Estate a day.

  5. “All the prospective buyers we know (and there aren’t many of them) see prices as currently being far above fundamental values, and simply have a desire to buy themselves a stable shelter arrangement at a vaguely reasonable price.”

    Yep….Not expecting a bubble of this proportion, or any significant real estate mania again for a couple generations.

    • Most of the (few) prospective buyers that I know would fully accept years of price weakness/underperformance after they buy. Thus, they have no interest in the ‘financial instrument’ component of the price.
      A person buying a home shouldn’t have their future financial health dependent on price increases of that home.

      • 7 years of studying finance and related material has allowed me to convince at least my wife that housing is a terrible investment and the current risks involved with overextending ourselves are large. Not sure if I have her parents convinced yet! If we were to buy something decent in the price range we feel comfortable with, we’d be dealing with a strata. And both of us are in agreement we’d rather rent in a place that has a strata then own. So we wait…. Much easier to wait now, when we hear from friends that bought a few years ago who were thrilled when they bought, but the excitement faded quickly and they are not so thrilled now.

        We’re planning to start looking near the end of 2014, depending on where prices are we might be able to buy in cash by then. If prices are still where they are today then we’ll look at moving elsewhere.

  6. You think redits full of Real Estate Pumpers…Have you talked to the powers that be at the “City hall”… their running lick a bunch of junkies on assessment revenue stream that will never go down….
    and the Assessment increase’s to their own properties…
    I’ve had people physically pushing their chest into me at City hall telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about… prices will Never go Down… Totally red in the face…
    And yah… he was trying to get me to hit him… especially after I told him… that I hoped the drop would put his kids on the street .
    I went from $4000 to $24000 a year in property tax over 5 years…
    at that rate I will pay out some $100,000 cash as tax over the next 3 yearsd so that I can have pot holes broken street lights, and no service from the city except new bills, and a park for city employees to enjoy for large parts of the day…having lunch they always tell me…4 times one in day once … service has fallen through the floors…
    that’s why I sold…in 4 1/2 years of asking, there with not one piece of paper to back their claims of assessment value that did not originate from a real estate board source… of course stamped not to be used as a guarantee for financial evaluations…
    the government loves, and is addicted…to the revenue stream from this rigged assessment ponzi…

    bought a bank sale in Mission for 30 % less than assessment papers and the Bank took a loss of $90+ grand on it as well…


  7. Real Estate Tsunami

    Asian investors have been in retreat since the spring of last year.
    Once the market has gone through a sizable correction (about 50%), they will be back fuelling another bubble.
    RE in Vancouver is no longer a lifestyle choice, but a commodity.

  8. Speaking of “paid shills”…

    [CBC] – B.C. minister accused of misleading bidders on development

    Bell and the government are accused of promising to influence what was supposed to be an independent bid process in favour of two developers with ties to the B.C. Liberal party.

    The allegations are contained in a written complaint filed last November by two Prince George businessmen and submitted to Jane Shackell, the lawyer charged with overseeing the fairness of the bid process.

    …Elections BC records show that Fehr or his company have donated $123,000 to the B.C. Liberals since 2006.

    …According to regulations, government projects are supposed to be awarded without political interference. But the complainants say they were “duped into the deal,” because the outcome was not what they claim they had been promised. McLaren said in the complaint that he now faces foreclosure on the property deal unless he makes a $1.5 million payment.

    [NoteToEd: Persistent rumours to the contrary, ‘JobsMinister’ Bell vehemently denies that his pending retirement has anything to do with growing a NeckBeard.]

    • schilling doesn’t pay anymore … … pffft! ps. comment_purgatory = 1

    • This alleged scandal doesn’t have enough information for a reader to form an opinion. I deal frequently with large politically-sensitive procurements (not this one!), so this story is of interest to me.

      A quick note before I start: I’m *not* a Liberal supporter, but I try to make an objective evaluation.

      The allegations seem to be…
      1. Liberal donor talks to MLA and/or government reps, who say their company would be short-listed if they bought the required land in advance.
      2. They bought the land.
      3. They were not short-listed.
      4. They didn’t get the (illegal) preferential treatment that they were allegedly promised.
      5. So they complained.

      What’s missing from this story is the quid-pro-quo. The reporter needs to follow the money.

      If the unwritten deal was that if Fehr gets the contract, the Liberals get more donations, then obviously that didn’t happen, and so the Liberals likely behaved ethically. And surely, having pissed off a large donor, they can’t expect further donations from Fehr. So they killed a golden goose. If you want to find a scandal, this action wouldn’t make sense– that’s no scandal.

      WHO OWNED THE LAND that Fehr bought? (and did Fehr overpay for the land) If there’s a scandal to be found here, this is how to find it. Land titles are a matter of public record, so it shouldn’t be hard.

      *If* there’s nothing untoward with the previous ownership of the land, then there’s no scandal– it’s plausible that Fehr demanded an audience with the MLA due to his previous donations, and told the MLA that he had to step up to the plate and help the company. The MLA (and/or government reps) made a gratuitous promise (promise to interfere in the process, which they had no intentions of actually doing) in order to get Fehr off their back. This kind of gratuitous promise isn’t legally enforceable, so Fehr has no avenue of redress (disclosure: I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice) other than to try to embarrass the government. Mind you, if this is the case, it would expose Fehr’s own unethical doings, the hallmark of a sociopath– he knows he got screwed, but doesn’t realize that he was corrupt himself.

      And I will point out that in these types of procurements, all parties (the procuring organization and the bidders) are required to follow the rules of the procurement, which always say that questions need to be routed through a specific individual in the procuring organization. If you followed the rules set out in the procurement, and somebody else didn’t, you can seek redress through the courts. In this case, Fehr wouldn’t have protection under the law, as he wasn’t following the rules, since he went outside the procurement to get government influence.

      On the other hand, the MLA could have been peddling his influence in the hopes of donations or land sales– in which case both parties may be guilty– influence-peddling by the politician, and bribery by the company.

      My conclusion: the reporter needs to follow the money.

      • NiceOne, M!…

        I might add that a retrospective AllParties to the action LandTitles/Transfers search combined with Personal/Ministerial Cellular & email logs would enhance the enquiry…

        But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a subpoena… I believe the JusticeMinistry is currently more interested in CrowdSourced ShackCracking than cronyism or HighCrimes&Misdemeanors…

  9. “All the prospective buyers we know (and there aren’t many of them) see prices as currently being far above fundamental values…”

    That sounds about right to me Vreaa. I have been around these boards for a long while and I cannot think of any regulars who would seriously consider buying at these nose bleed levels. They are by and far well read on the subject and for the most part are disgusted with price/rent and price/income ratios. As most are want to say….get out the popcorn and watch the show. They seem to generally acknowledge this is going to be a long slow ride back to reality.

    • Agreed. If anyone wants a reality check, can be open to seeing what can be and a day out then take a drive down to Seattle and it’s burbs. I’ve lived all around the GVRD and now in burbs of Seattle. Roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the price of a Van or suburb for comparable quality. I’ve had friends come down to visit, talk all about BPOE, and scratch their heads on why the price difference is pronounced. Forget the far flung theories, the quality of life is comparable – it’s a bubble in VanTown.

    • Long and slow is right. I had started out thinking this would be a 3-5 year cyclic correction to the mean, but I’m now leaning towards a Japanese style 15-25 year static ordeal.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        I guess than we should change the subtitle “Stories from the Boom and Bust” to “Stories from the Flatline”. 🙂

      • Ralph Cramdown

        I don’t think so. As long as Canada’s economy is tied to the commodity cycle, long periods of grinding mostly sideways seem unlikely. And all the construction workers are going to either keep building stuff, or start having mortgage trouble.

      • I should clarify that I am referring to housing prices being a long slow correction. Rising unemployment related to housing sector is already upon us.

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      Prices in Vancouver and Richmond crested in Spring of 2012, and have now dropped by about 20% in just 1 year.
      My feeling is that 2013 will bring at least another drop of 20%.

      • Is it already that high, RET? Man, time flies. Seems just yesterday some were quibbling with us that prices would never come close to dropping.

  10. Real Estate Tsunami

    “For a decade, Spain has built more houses than France, Germany, and the UK combined. Now it’s a museum of abondend developments”.
    The New Yorker, Feb 25, 2013. Pg 38.
    But, I guess, it’s different here.

    • Compared to the amount of overbuilding in Spain, Canada is an example of conservative development.
      But then again, many foreigners do want to buy real estate there. Tourism-wise, Spain is on par with the US, even though it’s much smaller.

      • What….you’ve never heard of the world famous “Costa del Kelowna”…?

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Cross the bridges over to Ditchmond and observe examples of Canadian conservative development.

      • Yes, I get it, but nothing in Canada can compare to what was going on in Spain. Even after their bubble has peaked, they were building 800,000+ units per year. They are in a different league.

      • OTOH, at least Toronto is trying to top Spanish insanity: “Toronto is awash in real estate. There were 144 skyscrapers under construction in late February, more than in any other city in the world… Proposals for new condos reached 253,768 units at the end of the fourth quarter, up 10 percent from a year earlier”

      • Adjusted for population, this is 2.5 times crazier than Spain at the height of their bubble. I guess I got too used to Canadian craziness…

      • Ralph Cramdown

        Everybody swears that the insanity is contained to downtown condos and will have no effect on SFH. Here’s one agent’s take: “Lots of agents across the city are struggling with the low inventory. In a monthly straw poll I conduct on market activity it is acutely clear that buyers out-number sellers by at least 5 to 1 in my office. I have to believe these results are echoed throughout the downtown core. Perhaps I should clarify, there are lots of houses on the market, just not very good houses.” from which, if I may summarize, advises buyers to get out there and lowball. This is how markets freeze. First the junk stops moving as buyers get increasingly picky, then…

      • All Hail Kabloona! A BelatedHomage to his MostExcellentGravatar!…

        Your ThursdayMorningZen, DearReaders…

        [NYDN] – Graffiti artist Moustache Man returns, this time with a legal, in-gallery show

        …”My days as a graffiti artist are done,” says the 28-year-old Hell’s Kitchen resident who tagged close to 10,000 subway posters in a 15-month run that ended with his arrest in June 2011. “I realized it just wasn’t worth the waste of time and money. So now I put my moustache on legally purchased images from subway posters, bus shelter ads and magazine pages.”

        The exhibit, aptly titled “Moustache Man,” will feature 50 of Waldo’s works, including cursive moustaches written on the work of such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey.”…

        “It subverts the message,” he says. “Some of the pieces in this show are ultra-sexy advertisements and you plop a moustache on it and suddenly you realize that’s a model and this is all canned and very generic.”

        But NYPD wasn’t a fan. After Waldo drew a moustache on an ad next to the police precinct door in the 42nd St. A/C/E subway station, the Transit Bureau Citywide Vandals Task Force launched a full-scale investigation.

        In June 2011, plainclothes police officers arrested Waldo as he left his job as a guide at Gray Line tours. He was charged with felony charges of criminal mischief, making graffiti and possession of graffiti instruments.

        People who knew Waldo were shocked.”…

        [NoteToEd: Fancy that. Being arrested for owning a Sharpie… ¡Viva la Revolución!]

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