“I was walking in the Fraser neighborhood yesterday, I noticed that the population, on average, seem to be composed of workers. I belong to the top 5 percent in terms of income. Nevertheless, I cannot afford any of the houses for sale in that neighbourhood.”

“As I was walking in the Fraser neighborhood yesterday, I noticed that the population, on average, seem to be composed of workers, and may be some middle class family, but I bet the average household income is below the province average. I was dressed in MEC [Mountain Equipment Co-op], I guess one could tell I did not belong to that neighborhood, and some people were giving us the strange look. Now, I belong to the top 5 percent in terms of income. Nevertheless, I cannot afford any of the houses for sale in that neighbourhood. Clear sign we are in a bubble? Are people renting the basement, the attic and taking two homestays? Are they packing 10 people per dwelling? Or are these neighbourhoods gentrifying overnight? I also noticed a huge disconnect between the new macmansions being built and the school next door. I do not mean to be disrespectful to those schools, I was myself brought up partly in an inner city and partly in a rural area where I was surrounded by very nice people. But PC aside, after talking with local educators, I do not wish to send my kids to most Fraser schools. So who are those mcmansions being built for?
– from Anonymous at VCI March 25th, 2013 at 8:30 am

50 responses to ““I was walking in the Fraser neighborhood yesterday, I noticed that the population, on average, seem to be composed of workers. I belong to the top 5 percent in terms of income. Nevertheless, I cannot afford any of the houses for sale in that neighbourhood.”

  1. Should this even be profiled on VREAA. It sounds like rambling nonsense from some anonymous poster who couldn’t even take the time to pick a name. Does this person mean the Fraser Street neighbourhood (which could be any of several neighbourhoods that Fraser Street cuts through) or the Fraserview neighbourhood down by Kerr and Marine?

    “I was myself brought up partly in an inner city and partly in a rural area where I was surrounded by very nice people.”

    So if you were surrounded by “very nice people” in a rural area, are you implying that the people in inner city areas are not very nice. There is some class snobbery in this post.

    “But PC aside, after talking with local educators, I do not wish to send my kids to most Fraser schools.”

    This statement is too vague to make any sense. What did the local educator tell you that put you off the schools in the neighbourhood? I grew up in Vancouver and I don’t think there is anything wrong with the schools by Fraser Street. Yes, John Oliver has always had a bit of a tough reputation. So does Van Tech but it doesn’t mean it’s detrimental to your kids to send them there. Many kids thrive in these schools. Sir Winston Churchill is what all the HAM buyers have been into because it has a strong academic reputation and the IB program. I can tell you, there is not much of a difference between Churchill and JO. They are both big brick prison-like institutions overflowing with students. Unless you are in IB at Churchill, the experience is going to be much the same at JO or Tupper, over by Fraser Street. Also, if you lived on Fraser Street, you could probably send your kid to Churchill if they were in IB or French Immersion.

    “Now, I belong to the top 5 percent in terms of income. Nevertheless, I cannot afford any of the houses for sale in that neighbourhood.”

    This is an incredulous statement and the only way you cannot afford to buy a home near Fraser Street is if you are exaggerating about your income. Do you mean the top 5% of income earners in Vancouver? in BC? in Canada? in the world? Either way, you should be able to find a home near Fraser Street for about a million dollars. Of course that is an overinflated price due to the real estate bubble. But if you truly are in the top 5% income bracket, you should be able to afford a million dollar home. You may not like the value for money you get in Vancouver and you may think your million dollars more or better house in another city. But you are not priced out of East Vancouver if you are in the top 5% of income earners–you could buy a million dollar crack shack if you wanted to.

    • Read the post in a Thurston Howell III accent for extra hilarity.

    • Some of the people who live near Fraser st have lived there for generations. It’s unlikely that a sudden bump in RE prices would drive these people out. But Fraser st still remains “affordable” in terms of the monthly payment. You’re right, someone in the top 5% should be able to afford a 1 mil crack shack here, but I would not pay that much to live in one. Although an owner now, had I not bought for the first time a couple years ago, I would’ve had about a 700K downpayment right now (not including the opportunity costs that went into my current home) but I still would not buy anything over 1.2 mil. However, many people would. The poster probably is like me, not wanting to get into ridiculous debt (he probably would be approved for a 1 million dollar mortgage, a ridiculous sum in normal times). Can’t blame him for that.

    • “if you truly are in the top 5% income bracket, you should be able to afford a million dollar home.”
      Top 5% income is not that high (~ 100k/yr). By any traditional definition, a top 5% earner can NOT afford a 1 million home. However, with creative financing, “anything” is possible.

      • UBCghettodweller

        Being able to buy and being able to afford can be construed to be two different things.

        Not to be didactic, but look at $1 million will buy you in most other West Coast cities in North America and the sorts of people who live in million dollar homes.

    • -1

      I started countering all of the silly points in your post but I’ll just leave it as -1. Some people think that you should be happy for the opportunity to buy a poorly made million dollar home at 10 times your income in a lousy neighbourhood with awful schools. I agree with “Anonymous” that we should expect more.

  2. What he didn’t notice was that all those people are actually very rich (in Real Estate terms) or are up to the eyelids in debt and thus cannot afford very good clothes.

  3. Yikes. Q and BLM — let’s cut the person some slack here. I googled “to 5% of income earners in metro vancouver” and couldn’t find anything. Then changed my search to just “vancouver”. Found a range of info – national info especially but that skews our regional average so….

    Top 5% ranges anywhere from $89K to $160K from what I could see online (quite a range!). The low number is from Stats Can. To be in the top 1%, Stats Can says you have to be making $200K.

    I used to do Marketing for a credit union and its idea of “high net worth” was someone with a net worth of $100K. Now I do marketing for a private wealth management firm and their idea of “high net worth” is $1M. Clearly “top income earner” is as subjective a phrase as “high net worth”!

  4. “Composed of workers”?

    Don’t most people work?

  5. Sure, make fun of the guy at the party in the gortex threads and rain poncho.
    Agree there is definite ‘class-ism’ to his post; the idea of ‘class’ is kinda referenced [“I did not belong to that neighborhood”], and the poster then attempts to be deal with the mention in a common fashion [paraphrasing: “(I swear I’m not a bigot…. some of my best friends/experiences are/were ___)”] which doesn’t work ‘cos we all know that we live in a classless society and it is impossible to mention or deal with any issue pertaining to what some archaic societies refer to as ‘class’ in any vaguely palatable way. So, he bombs.
    Regardless of all that deeply uncomfortable stuff (about which books could, and have, been written), the post (for our purposes) boils down to: “I was in this neighbourhood where I wouldn’t want to live, and where almost everybody clearly earns far less than I do, and I found the houses all priced far higher than I’d dream of paying for them.”

    Making fun of the guy is in some ways legitimate, but in other ways it’s simply doing what all the RE-besotted have done throughout the bubble and that is to taunt critics for expecting “too much” when they consider RE in Vancouver. This guy is saying he expects more for his buck, and I’m completely behind him in that regard. I think his assessment that those houses are preposterously overpriced is completely correct.
    Everybody in Canada can afford a run-down shed somewhere, that doesn’t mean we should tell them to stop complaining about RE prices, and buy the shed at any price. Similarly, to imply that this guy should go and work something out with the bank so that he can stretch to buy a ‘million dollar’ house in an area he doesn’t want to live in, is ridiculous. It’s the very thinking that has pumped the spec mania to current heights and it’s arguably more silly than other whacky human beliefs, even classism.

    Recall this exchange (with update):
    “How much are your sandwiches?”
    “Fifty dollars.”
    “Fifty dollars! — for a sandwich!?”
    “What do you expect? Free food!!? You greedy, entitled snob!”

    • Very well put/said.


    • way to put it all out there … in empathy … http://tinyurl.com/bpxlhhs … pffft!

      • [NoteToEd: You’ve really got to hand it to the OldLadyOfThreadneedleStreet’s Monetary Policy Committee… they’re clearly pulling out all the stops in preparation for LordCarney’s impending enoblement and subsequent coronation.]

      • A NewLyric, DearReaders… to accompany BillyReid and his LondonAccordeonBand’s rendition of “A Bicycle Built For Two”… – AllTogetherNow, just follow the bouncing ball…

        Merkel, Merkel give me your answer do.
        I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
        It won’t be a stylish union,
        Our currency communion.
        But you’ll look sweet,
        Suntanning in Crete,
        No icicles there on you!

        Carney, Carney, here is your answer true.
        Ve’re not lazy, nor vill ve print in lieu.
        There von’t be any marriage…
        Until you get your peerage…
        ‘Cause you’ll be ditched…
        While ve’re enriched…
        On a ContinentSplitInTwo…

        [NoteToEd: I’ll polish it later. That’s polish, not Polish.]

      • rod_jonsson

        truly nem … i do not approve of this ‘display’ in the least … yet relevance to blog of using accordion to advance false ecologix becomes too much to withold … http://tinyurl.com/cr68yhg

    • Dude evidently has other priorities compared to these folks; not to say prices are sustainable, but I’ve been surprised to what extent many will go to own property.

      Some games are are not winnable.

  6. Excellent article from Yahoo:

    All about a 21 yo who jumped into the housing market in 2005 and now regrets the decision. US-based of course…Canadians have yet to learn the painful lessons.

    • Good article, thanks.
      Excerpt: “If everyone and their mom is buying real estate, you probably shouldn’t. It’s a sign that there’s a bubble.”

    • Ralph Cramdown

      21 is a great time to screw up on something like real estate. These things tend to take you for all you’ve got and all you’re good for. The earlier you learn lessons like this, the less it will cost you.

  7. Well, I’m one of those workers. Owned a modest bungalow in the south Main-Fraser area for 25 years. Don’t be too harsh on JO. The teaching staff are just as, if not more committed to their students as at any west side school.
    Even the Fraser report has admitted (reluctantly perhaps) that overwhelmingly, the single most significant factor in a child’s achievement, is the level of education attained by the parent. Not the school which they attend.
    I understand your frustration. I’d like to have lived west side too. But humans are extremely adaptable. I’m sure you and your family to be can make a good life on the east side.
    Maybe even work to improve things as I believe I have.

    • UBCghettodweller

      I know one of the people who used to help put together the standardized provincial tests for highschool students in Alberta and analyse the data collected from the tests. He pretty much told me that if you gave him a student’s parents’ education level and their annual income and whether or not the student was ESL, he could give you a predicted test score with a 95% confidence interval that was a half-letter grade.


      • The grading bias in schools based on income, education and ethnicity has been with us forever. It is so cynical it needs its own web site to be properly addressed.

  8. LOL, The Devil Wears Mountain Equipment Co-op.

  9. i never wear MEC

  10. If folks get caught wearing MEC in my neighbourhood people throw eggs at them, “go back to the West Side slummer!”

    He’s lucky he got out of there alive. He’ll have some stories for his kids one day.

  11. Rational Exuberance

    We know a family of 3 that lives in the JO area… leveraged up to the ying yang – bought at what will likely be the peak of RE in Vancouver (with the help of bank of mom & dad) and is now renting out their basement suite (2 people) while also taking on a homestay (1 person) in order to bring in an additional $2,000 a month (not too shabby but undeclared, of course, because apparently no one reports this type of income on their taxes). Wouldn’t be surprised that they will put up a laneway house in order to further finance their lifestyle some time in the future as well. Dude has to work like a dog to support his kid and wife that works part-time (by choice) so that they can have some of the “nicer” things in life (nice clothes & accessories, trips to hot places, blah blah blah). Seems to be in the race to keep up with the Jones (wannabe Real Housewives of Vancouver?). They’ll likely be ok in the long run as he’s got a solid career with probably some residual inheritance (assuming moms & pops don’t spend it all). Nothing wrong with living that way as many sheeple choose to do so – it’s just not something that I have choosen.

  12. My new business partner & I were talking about office space and got to talking about the cost of RE, as always seems to happen in this city. I don’t like to bring it up having been contrary for so long, but it does come up anyway, and I get a pained look on my face.

    Anyway, happily, we had a shared moment of agreement about renting.
    My partner hasn’t done extensive reading in RE, having decided it was “a ponzi scheme”, but had a simple story that she felt proved her out. Two family members of hers are trapped, underwater, in condos on the East Side. One is looking at assessment (or maybe maintenance increase?) and wishes to move because work situation has changed and he’s commuting to Surrey. The other has too little room for a growing family and is thinking of moving out, renting space, and putting their condo up for rent … “if they can get enough to cover the mortgage”. We both pulled a face at that. Seems unlikely.

  13. I’ve been reading blogs such as this for many years now, started at Calculated Risk when the US was crashing, then off to Garth’s Blog, VCI, etc,etc,etc Never commented at all, just lurked and read as much as I could, gathering intel while sitting on the sidelines…Happily renting…

    I was at the hockey game the other night, standing in line for $9 beers when the two guys behind me were talking about getting together to build a few houses. They talked about how they really needed to get some plans together and I couldn’t help but wonder…In this market?

    So I turned to them, excused myself for eavesdropping and then asked, “You guys want to build and sell right now? in this market? Isn’t that risky?” The both smiled and one of them says,”We can build them fast and cheap and flip them right away and still make money.”

    My buddy asks what they do, and they tell us that they work on the TV show Love it or List It, as contractors. I smile and ask a loaded question,” Since you are both in the market then, is it a good time to buy?”

    They both laughed out loud and emphatically shook their heads. “Hell no. If you have something to sell, do it now. Today. Right away. The only reason NOT to sell, is if you plan on holding on to your place for another 15+ years and hope the market bubbles again. Otherwise, sell right now and make some money before it’s too late”

    I thanked them both for their time and for confirming what most of us here already know….

  14. Wow. ThankYou, CanisMaximus.

    [NoteToEd: That’s a HeadLiner or I’m a Monkey.]

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